Tag Archives: FACK

FACK Statement: Some justice for Ben Wylie’s family after seven years but much heartbreak

Immediate use 16.3.21

FACK Statement on the sentencing of Ruislip Plant Ltd for the offence that led to Ben Wylie’s death

Some justice for Ben Wylie’s family after seven years but much heartbreak

Mylene Bensley read her Victim Personal Statement to Reading Crown Court yesterday, before the sentencing of the company which pleaded guilty to a health and safety offence that led to the incident that killed her beloved son Ben on a construction site on 14 May 2014.

Ben was killed when stepping forward to help colleagues struggling to get a drilling rig functioning again after a part that had failed the day before had been repaired, altered and refitted, rather than replaced with a new part. When tested, the repair failed under pressure and Ben was hit by a jet of highly pressurised hydraulic oil.  Ben suffered a severe chest injury which killed him but not immediately.

In her statement Mylene said:

Ben was such a wonderful person full of life and he filled a room when he walked in everyone loved him. Ben had many friends and a few close friends. Rhys and Karah his brother and sister meant so much to Ben he always made the effort to be there for their birthdays and special occasions. and they loved him so much

Ben’s death was not immediate, and I will have the visions of my son standing up after being shot by oil and a piece of equipment and stumbling across a building site saying he felt sick and spewing out blood and then falling down forever etched into my mind, due to the inadequate provision for his safety.”

The information started coming through in graphic minutia of detail of how Ben died. I took each blow of information because my son had taken the blow that killed him, and I wanted to be there in my mind in any way I could be because I couldn’t be there for his dying moments. Ben’s body was returned home on my birthday in a coffin.”

We have suffered for seven years with no government assistance and a sham of justice we have to continue despite anger, Deep hurt and insecurity. I am so grateful that FACK and Hilda were so helpful because without Hilda’s help and support this whole horrible experience would have been so much worse.”

“I was asked to identify my son in Maidenhead and as I had no money, I had to rely on someone’s good will to get me there. Seeing my son lying there dead was the worst sight in the world to me. All the hopes and dreams of the future gone and now my son who experienced a terrible death just lying there. I didn’t want to leave him in that cold place and I had to be escorted out.”

There were several companies on site including Ben’s employer, but it took seven years to bring the case against only one, Ruislip Plant Ltd. Thomas Kearney, the sole director carried out the botched repair, but died in 2019. His son David, who bears no responsibility for the incident or charge, with some honour did not liquidate the company and so it had assets to stand trial and pay this fine.

Yesterday the company pleaded guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc.

The Judge fined the company £99,000 plus £116,800 costs..

Hilda Palmer FACK facilitator said:

“Families Against Corporate Killers welcome the sentence but note that justice delayed so long is always to some extent justice denied.  FACK has supported Mylene throughout the HSE investigation, the Inquest and the trial. There is no automatic statutory support for families of those killed by employer’s negligence, no free legal representation at Inquest, and no financial compensation for the family of a young man without dependents to offset the costs of pursuing justice or coping with the effects of grief on health and earning capacity. Families suffer terribly. Mothers like Mylene suffer the most and siblings also suffer badly. None of this is accounted for or deemed worthy of support and help by the authorities or employers who cause preventable deaths like Ben’s.  And since work-related death is little acknowledged, publicised or understood, many employers and even friends and family have no idea of the trauma suffered, the callous cruelty of the process or its costs to individual’s harmed due to no fault of their own but an employer failing to comply with health and safety law. The harms caused included the lack of financial or mental health support immediately or over the very long period it affects those grieving a traumatic death, and long-term impact of bereavement on parents and siblings.  FACK believes that many bereaved families suffer undiagnosed and untreated PTSD and we demand more help for families to alleviate their suffering. FACK commends Mylene for her bravery in pursuing justice for Ben, being his witness, while also being the bread winner, caring for his sister and brother and coping with her own grief. She is truly courageous and inspiring.

“Mylene spoke to the Court powerfully and eloquently about the terrible impact of Ben’s death and the effects on her and Ben’s brother and sister. This is a long-term effect, nearly eight years of severe grief and hardship to get this conviction and some justice, but a life-time of loss and heartbreak to endure. FACK has heard these words many times but we still weep and rage. We urge everyone to heed them and demand more help, support and understanding from the authorities and all concerned. We also demand that employers take health and safety seriously, do not cut corners for profit or bodge repairs to save money and time, but fully protect the lives and health of all workers and that the Health and Safety Executive enforces health and safety more stringently to prevent workers being killed. Employers do not bear the full cost, it is families who bear the burden of employers’ criminal acts.”

After the sentencing Mylene added

It was good to give Hilda and FACK the recognition today, whilst reading my witness impact statement. The efforts and support Hilda, in particular, provided for me throughout these seven years since Ben was killed, have enabled me to pursue justice.  As I sat in virtual Reading court, through the prosecution of Ruislip Ltd, I knew I was there due to Hilda’s support. Thank you Hilda and FACK.“

Contact Hilda Palmer 0161 792 1044 mobile 079298 00240 for more information

Notes for editors

The Charge: Ruislip Plant Ltd of Ruislip Middlesex on 13th May 2014 at West Street, Maidenhead being an employer within the meaning of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (“the Act”), it failed to discharge the duty imposed on it by section 3(1) of the Act, in that it failed to conduct its undertaking, namely the maintenance of a high-pressure grease system, in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons not in its employment who may have been affected thereby, including Benjamin Wylie, were not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety, namely hydraulic injection injury during maintenance, whereby it is guilty of an offence contrary to Section 33(1)(a) of the Act.

FACK – set up in 2006 by families bereaved by negligent employers to support families, campaign for justice and end preventable work-related deaths

https://gmhazards.org.uk/index.php/fack/

In her statement Mylene said:

“I turned to a group called Families Against Corporate Killers run by Greater Manchester Hazards Centre which supports the families of those killed at work. Through them I managed to obtain advice on the process, support and also free legal representation through Helen Clifford Solicitor for the whole of the Inquest, plus some funding to stay in Reading as I had no other means of ensuring I could even be there. There is no statutory help at all for people in my position. Thank you, Hilda, and FACK for your tireless efforts at gaining accountability for workers in unsafe corporate organisations. Without your support the whole terrible experience would have been so much more difficult.”

c/o GM Hazards Centre, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road,

Manchester M16 7WD Tel 0161 792 1044 hilda@gmhazards.org.uk  https://gmhazards.org.uk/index.php/fack/

FACK statement on the fatalities caused by the explosion at Wessex Water, Avonmouth, 3 December 2020

Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) Statement on the fatalities caused by the explosion at Wessex Water, Avonmouth 3.12.2020

The FACK family sends all our love and heartfelt condolences to the families of those workers who were killed, to those workers injured, and to all involved in the devastating explosion at Avonmouth yesterday. We are heartbroken for you all. We have campaigned hard to try to prevent deaths at work and other families going through what you are now.  We have been where you are, and we offer the support and advice of those who know the process as you begin the terrible journey we have been on. We will stand by you and help where we can.

Hilda Palmer, facilitator of FACK said today:

“No-one should ever die for going to work to earn a living. We have health and safety laws that should mean work is safe, that workers can leave home with a wave, a kiss, a ‘See you later’ and come home alive and safe, uninjured, physically and mentally well, unharmed by their work at the end of their shift.  When workers do not come home it is a terrible tragedy for them and their families. But it is almost never a freak accident or a rare illness that has killed or made them ill.  There must now be a full and thorough criminal investigation and until this has been completed we do not know what caused the explosion, whether it was an accident or due to some negligence of health and safety law and procedures.

Having supported hundreds of families after workplace deaths, we urge those involved to act with compassion, care and with as much speed as possible. We specifically ask:

  • The companies involved to behave with compassion and honour their duty of care to workers and families, to support all the workers injured and the families of those killed, not to abandon them. This means many forms of practical support immediately as families have many urgent needs and have lost breadwinners as well as fathers, husbands and partners.
  • The authorities responsible for investigation under the Joint Protocol on Work-Related Death – The Police, Health and Safety Executive and Crown Prosecution Service – to act with their usual professionalism and expertise in investigating the incident, keeping the families informed and coming to as speedy a conclusion as possible.
  • For all those other authorities, organisations and people who deal with the families now and in coming months, to show understanding and compassion as they have suffered a terrible trauma, and the effects will continue for a very long time.
  • To all employers – check your health and safety procedures today. The vast majority of deaths at work are caused by failures to manage health and safety properly.
  • To all workers – you have a legal right to a safe and healthy workplace check that you are safe, if you do not feel safe speak up, join a union, you are safer working with others. Almost all families of those killed at work say the person killed was worried about health and safety at work.

For more information contact:  Hilda Palmer 07929800240

Hilda Palmer,  Facilitator of Families Against Corporate Killers, FACK.

Founder Members of FACK:

Dawn and Paul Adams son Samuel Adams aged 6 killed at Trafford Centre, 10th October 1998

Linzi Herbertsonhusband Andrew Herbertson 29, killed at work in Oldham, January 1998

Mike and Lynne Hutin son Andrew Hutin 20, killed at work at Corus, Port Talbot on 8th Nov 2001

Mick & Bet Murphyson Lewis Murphy 18, killed at work in Brighton on 21st February 2004

Louise Taggart brother Michael Adamson 26, killed at work in Aberdeen, on 4th August 2005

Linda Whelanson Craig Whelan 23, (and Paul Wakefield) killed at work in Bolton on 23rd May 2002

Dorothy & Douglas Wrightson Mark Wright 37, killed at work in Deeside on 13th April 2005

FACK – Greater Manchester Hazards Centre (gmhazards.org.uk)

Hazards Campaign ‘The Whole Story’ of workplace death – far larger than publicised.

UK: FACK Statement – International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2018 #IWMD18

FACK Statement – International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2018 #IWMD18

“I don’t know where to begin.  So I’ll start by saying I refuse to forget you.  I refuse to be silenced.  I refuse to neglect you.”

These words are “for every last soul” who perished at Grenfell, and are spoken by Stormzy at the start of the Artists for Grenfell single.  They could just as easily have been spoken by FACK families.

We will never forget our lost loved ones and ask that you don’t either.  Instead, in their memories, devote your energies to fighting for the living.

We continue to refuse to be silenced.  Instead we use our voices to increase a chorus of disapproval aimed at seeking an end to this era of de-regulation, in which health and safety protections have been undermined and preventative enforcement has been slashed. 1

We want the chorus of disapproval to reach a crescendo.

Because each and every day here in the UK a lack of good health and safety continues to lead to the deaths of 140 people in work-related incidents or because of work-related illness.  The equivalent of 2 Grenfell towers…daily.  2

Let that sink in for a moment.

Opening and closing with the vision of the charred tower block, the music video which accompanies the Grenfell single can’t fail to touch hearts.

And all too often, it is music which evokes memories to tear at a FACK family’s heart, just as a line from the Verve’s “The Drugs Don’t Work” does for Samuel Adams’ mum: “But I know I will see your face again”.  Sam was 6-yrs-old when he went for a family day out to the Trafford Shopping Centre and his face was only to continue to be seen in photos and preciously held memories.

Frankie Miller singing “Let me tell you that I love you, that I think about you all time” transports 26-yr-old Michael Adamson’s family and friends back to the devastation of the walk from the crematorium.

Welsh hymn Gwahoddiad is the one guaranteed to reduce Andrew Hutin’s parents to tears, the one that raised the roof of the chapel at the funeral of a young man who had only recently turned 20 when a tidal wave of molten metal exploded from a blast furnace.

How do you begin to choose the songs for your 18 year old son’s funeral?  FACK families’ intention is that you never have to.  But Mick and Bet Murphy did, guided by those that were among Lewis’ favourites at the time of his death.  A song called “Crossroads” taking on particular poignancy, containing lyrics such as: “Hey, can somebody anybody tell me why we die, we die? I don’t wanna die. Ohhh so wrong.”

Fundamentally wrong that these young men were taken from their families, denied the opportunity to live their lives.  And why?  Because still far too often health and safety is wrongly seen as a burden, red tape, a tiresome impediment to getting a job done, or a costly barrier to making a profit.

There are those whose praises FACK families sing.  Among them:

  • The firefighters whose emotions overwhelmed them on being clapped and cheered by the local community at Grenfell – that community knowing they had done all they could, and more, to save lives.
  • Those who have had the courage to speak out about perils faced by themselves and their colleagues, finding themselves blacklisted as a result.
  • Those who work in our Hazards Centres – in Manchester, London and Glasgow – seeking to prevent work-related harm, committed to improving workplace health and safety.
  • And trade unions safety reps whose life-saving work often goes unnoticed, but whose work needs to be celebrated and built upon. Because, let’s be clear: a union workplace is a safer workplace.

These are the people who prevent injury, illness and death; who prevent suffering and the consequent need for a soundtrack to tears.  They are the ones with whom we must ensure chords are struck.

Because, yes, perhaps a song brings into firm focus a happy moment caught in time…running bare foot from a tent at a bike rally in Edinburgh on hearing Born Slippy by Underworld, Graham and Karen to be the only ones dancing and grinning in the rain.

But Natalie, Dionne, Sharon…they are among those who’d “love, love, love to dance with their fathers again”, who are destined to do so only in dreams.

The dreams and the plans that had been hatched by Linzi and Herbie during long nights spent listening to The Rock from The Who’s Quadrophenia, were not to become reality.

Instead, in the aftermath, songs that filled the void “at the dimming of the day” bring into dark focus the utter desolation.

Just what would Dorothy and Douglas give to hear Mark belting out again: “I gotta take a little time…In case I need it when I’m older”.  He wasn’t to get any older than the age of 37.

Another of his favourites was “I want to live forever”.

We know that no-one lives forever.  But, work should be life-changing in a positive way.  It should never ever be life-ending.

So we intend to continue to build a legacy for our loved ones, that will live on forever through improved protections that keep your family members safe and healthy

FACK facilitator Hilda Palmer has quite rightly described Grenfell as an “Enough is Enough” moment.  And the death of each of our loved ones was our own personal enough is enough moment.

Let us repeat: lack of good health and safety leads to loss of life equivalent to two Grenfell towers each and every day in this country.

Enough is surely enough!    By Louise Taggart Founder FACK member, sister of Michael Adamson.

References:

Hazards Campaign Briefing for #IWMD18

Michael’s Story: Louise Taggart’s blog about her brother Michael who went to work and was killed by employer’s negligence. Video

We Love Red Tape

The Whole Story about work-related death :

FACK was established in July 2006, by and for families of people killed by the gross negligence of business employers, see www.fack.org.uk .

Founder Members of FACK:

Dawn and Paul Adams son Samuel Adams aged 6 killed at Trafford Centre,10th October 1998

Linzi Herbertsonhusband Andrew Herbertson 29, killed at work in January 1998

Mike and Lynne Hutin son Andrew Hutin 20, killed at work on 8th Nov 2001

Mick & Bet Murphyson Lewis Murphy 18, killed at work on 21st February 2004

Louise Taggart brother Michael Adamson 26, killed at work on 4th August 2005

Linda Whelanson Craig Whelan 23, (and Paul Wakefield) killed at work on 23rd May 2002

Dorothy & Douglas Wrightson Mark Wright 37, killed at work on 13th April 2005

For more information and to support FACK, contact Hilda Palmer, Facilitator for FACK: Tel 0161 636 7557

c/o Hazards Campaign, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester M16 7WD Tel 0161 636 7557
mail@gmhazards.org.uk  www.fack.org.uk

FACK Statement on the suicide of George Cheese

FACK Statement on the suicide of George Arthur Cheese, apprentice at Audi Dealership, Reading

The Coroner Peter Bedford has concluded that Audi Reading management were not responsible for the death of apprentice George Cheese. 1

Stressing that there were other factors in play, Peter Bedford said he understood Cheese’s parents’ desire to blame the Audi dealership, but added that steps taken by the management following his death had succeeded in improving conditions there.

Families Against Corporate Killers has taken up this case as it highlights yet again the completely inadequate way in which work-related suicides are handled by the criminal justice system, and especially those relating to bullying of young people.  We were not present at the Inquest and did not hear the evidence the Coroner took into account in making his conclusion.   But whatever other factors were ‘in play’ in his death, the appalling bullying George suffered at work, as reported at the Inquest, must be addressed and those responsible held to account.  This verdict only lets employers off the hook.

We are concerned that there does not seem to have been an investigation under the Joint Protocol on Work-Related Death;  there may be no-one held to account for the bullying George suffered at his workplace, which as  reported at the Inquest was known about and allowed to continue by management.  We do not feel that steps taken by his employer after George took his own life in any way absolve them of their actions.  The catalogue of bullying abuse George faced is heartbreaking and includes:

“His parents said George  “over the moon” when he got the position at the Audi dealership, but he soon  started coming home covered in bruises and had holes burned into his clothes

“George Cheese’s coworkers at the Reading garage locked him in a cage, doused him in brake fluid and set his clothes set on fire.

“The court heard of one occasion when four men held him down while a fifth punched his leg, leaving him with a long-lasting limp.

 “Much of the abuse was dismissed as “banter” and “horseplay” by his then colleagues.

“After the police returned his belongings, his mother found 14 diary entries saved in the calendar app on his iPad, describing traumatic events from his workplace. One said: “My boss told me to hurry up and hang myself because I’m a useless piece of shit.”

“Cheese referred to a “PC” in his diary entries, writing: “PC tied me up, pressure-washed me. Thought it was hilarious. I couldn’t stand up afterwards. He called me a pussy and I had to walk home soaking wet.”

Another entry said “PC” had approached Cheese after his parents complained to the company and called him “a pussy who went telling tales to mummy”.

Work-Related suicides are on the rise and we estimate account for at least 300 deaths per year. 2 The HSE excludes suicides from being reported under the Reporting of injuries, death and dangerous  Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 3  and they are not properly investigated under the Joint Protocol on Work Related Death 4.

Consequently the employers and managers who play a role in the bullying or other work conditions that lead to a death by suicide are not held to account, and there are rarely any prosecutions for the work-related actions such as bullying, or long hours, excessive workloads, low pay and insecurity, all of which are reported to drive workers to take their own lives.

The Inquest is not a place to determine or ascribe blame, but to ascertain who died, when, where and how.  It is the authority responsible for enforcing health and safety in the workplace – the HSE or Local Authority in this case- and the police under the Joint Protocol for Work Related Death which should investigate, hold employers to account, take enforcement action to ensure future compliance,  and if there is sufficient evidence take prosecutions for breaches in the law.

Work-related suicides are not counted by the HSE, therefore do not count and are not taken seriously. Even when there is a blatant link with work, such as taking of a life in a workplace and letters specific work causes.  5

In a similar case to that of George Cheese, in Manchester in 2003 , 18 year old Hannah Kirkham took an overdose and died because she was being bullied at KFC.  Unlike in George’s case, the effect of the bullying was accepted as a major cause of her death.  At the Inquest in 2005,  the jury delivered a narrative verdict saying ‘she meant to kill herself by taking an overdose, was clinically depressed and this was “significantly influenced” by bullying at work. 6

However, as in George’s case, the Coroner ( Simon Nelson) , also noted favourably the employers’ action after her death: ‘KFC’s reaction to this inquiry in my view was appropriate, sensitive and proactive.”  He added he hoped anti-bullying policies made by the firm would prevent “similar tragic incidents”.

In both George’s and Hannah’s case, management were aware of, or shamefully, participated in totally unacceptable behaviour towards a vulnerable young colleague yet are not held accountable for the tragic outcome. In both cases the Coroners referred approvingly to action taken after the death.

‘Lessons have been learned’ are often the cruellest words a family can hear after someone they love has been killed by an employer’s negligence.  While everyone wants to ensure no-one else dies, it is surely only to be expected that improvements will be made? That an employee’s death would be a ‘wake up call’ for a negligent employer ?  But changes put in place afterwards, which should by law have been there before to stop the person dying, are cold comfort and should not be used to absolve the employers’ failures or show them in a better light.  It is not sufficient for justice that future deaths are prevented if employers are allowed to get away with the actions that contribute to a worker taking their life.

FACK are looking into work-related suicides generally and George Cheese’s death in particular.  We feel that work related suicides cannot be left to Inquests alone as they cannot hold employers to account for actions they have taken, or failed to take, that contribute to the suicide.  We are calling for

  • The HSE to change their policy and make it a duty under the Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) – http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/reportable-incidents.htm for employers to report suicide of employees when there is any suspicion  it might be work-related.
  • Ensure that all signatories to the Join Protocol on Work-Related Death – http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wrdp1.pdf-  investigate suicides for work-related issues.
  • The Local Authority with responsibility for enforcing health and safety legislation in George’s workplace to take action to ensure the employers are held to account for the failings that allowed George to be bullied and contributed to his death, and to take enforcement action to ensure future compliance.

Notes:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/25/george-cheese-bullied-mechanic-killed-himself-audi-garage-not-to-blame-coroner
  2. The Whole Story”: http://www.gmhazards.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Hazards-Campaign-challenging-the-HSE-statistics.pdf
  3. RIDDOR:  http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/reportable-incidents.htm;
  4. Joint Protocol on Work-Related Death: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wrdp1.pdf
  5. The Last Goodbye http://www.hazards.org/suicide/suicidalwork.htm

Inquest into Hannah Kirkham’s death: . http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/4508022.stm

FACK Statement International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2017

FACK families spend International Workers’ Memorial Day remembering our dead and further reinforcing our commitment to fight like hell for the living: you and your loved ones.

We do it because this year the TUC focus for the day is on good health and safety for all workers whoever they are.  Because, whoever they are, they are someone’s parent, spouse, sibling, child…they are someone’s loved one.

Until it touches your life, you can’t fully appreciate the impact it has.  Seeing a fiancé going from choosing wedding cars to sitting in a funeral cortege.  Having to visit a cemetery, once a month or more to lay flowers for a son and brother, who didn’t get the opportunity to become an uncle, a husband or a dad.  Knowing you’ll never answer the phone again to hear the words “how you doin’ sis?”  Having to send happy Easter, Christmas, anniversary, or birthday wishes “up there”.  Or wishing you’d been able to say goodbye that morning before they left.

You see, the HSE figure of 144 people killed at work last year is heartbreaking enough in itself: that so many should leave home, never to return.  And so is knowing that the last text you sent your husband read: “Hey sexy husband, hope your day’s got more exciting.  Love you.”  Mark was that sexy husband.  He was dead before he got the chance to read it, all down to lack of health and safety protections which he, his wife Tracey and their now 4-yr-old daughter should have expected to be a given.

It should also be a given that each and every work-related death is recognised, counted and therefore made to count!  We must remember all of the dead.  Because the HSE figure doesn’t include those who die at sea, or as a result of air incidents, or who die on our roads while working (or who are driving home dog tired after having to work excessively long hours of work), members of the public killed by work-related activities, or the huge numbers killed by occupational illnesses such as asbestos cancers.

It also doesn’t count those who die by suicide due to work.  Hazards estimates this at around 300 every year across the UK.  Almost one person every day driven to suicide because of work-related stress, fears over job security and low pay, work overload, bullying, or indeed as a result of injury or illness suffered at work, or the death of colleagues.

We daren’t begin to contemplate the horror of knowing your loved one, a police officer, took his own life after two of his colleagues were killed in the line of duty.  Having written out his own death tag, he hanged himself from a tree at a spot where he’d previously found a suicide victim.

Or the feeling of helplessness felt by the wife of the popular firefighter on hearing he had been found dead at his station having taken his own life.  She had reassured him “it was just a job and it didn’t matter”, that it was her “and the kids who were important”.  He was a man who “had never been the same” after the preventable death of a fellow firefighter two years previous and who a coroner was to find had had “pressure upon pressure piled upon him” at work.

Just as a young teacher had.  Her family state she was “worked to death” after a job promotion, only sleeping for 3 hours a night as her “mind was in overdrive”.  How would you ever being to come to terms with a loved one’s decision to jump to their death from a motorway bridge.

If we’re to effectively fight for the living, we must recognise work-related suicide – just as they do in Japan, Australia and France – and work to eliminate the causes.  We must resist the move to resilience as a means of tackling stress, and instead focus on removing or fixing the hazards, rather than fixating on fixing the worker.

A report in Hazards magazine states that: “when people feel they no longer have a voice in the workforce, they protest in other ways including, in the most extreme cases, by killing themselves.”

The most powerful voice is a collective one.  And we know that a union workplace is a far safer workplace!  Fewer injuries and occupational illnesses.  Less sickness absence.  And better reporting of health and safety problems, so they can be fixed before a worker suffers life-changing, life-limiting or life-ending consequences.

A union workplace is also a fairer, more equal one.

The international theme for today centres on inequality at work.  Because the work a person does often results from inequality and results in health inequality.  The lower your pay grade, the higher your health and safety risks, whether from overwork, exposure to substances which cause cancer, the inability to turn down overtime and shift work, or the worry about speaking up on health and safety for fear you lose your job and your family’s livelihood as a result.

As the “gig economy” and precarious work becomes increasingly prevalent, we see workers expected to survive on contracts that are temporary or casual in nature, with no guarantee as to hours, which are low paid, and which lack access to employment benefits and important legal protections.  These work arrangements negatively impact on the health and safety of individuals, whether in the form of increased incidence of workplace injury, work intensification and stress levels, or decreased collective organisation and trade union membership.  We must counter this and get political priorities properly focused, reiterating that we didn’t – and we won’t – vote to die at work!

We will continue the work of getting to a point where never again does a loved one leave home in a work’s van, only to return in one belonging to an undertaker.

So on this International Workers’ Memorial Day, we urge you to remember not only our dead, but all of the dead…and let’s ensure we fight like hell to ensure all others are able to keep on with the most important job of all, that of living life to the fullest each and every day.

FACK was established in July 2006, by and for families of people killed by the gross negligence of business employers, see www.fack.org.uk

Founder Members of FACK:

Dawn and Paul Adams son Samuel Adams aged 6 killed at Trafford Centre,10th October 1998

Linzi Herbertson – husband Andrew Herbertson 29, killed at work in January 1998

Mike and Lynne Hutin son Andrew Hutin 20, killed at work on 8th Nov 2001

Mick & Bet Murphyson Lewis Murphy 18, killed at work on 21st February 2004

Louise Taggart brother Michael Adamson 26, killed at work on 4th August 2005

Linda Whelanson Craig Whelan 23, (and Paul Wakefield) killed at work on 23rd May 2004

Dorothy & Douglas Wrightson Mark Wright 37, killed at work on 13th April 2005

For more information and to support  FACK, contact Hilda Palmer, Facilitator for FACK: Tel 0161 636 7557