no embargo - 3 June 2009 ( Back to news releases)
FACK says the HSE’s new strategy ‘Be part of the solution’ is not enough to make a difference
"As families of people killed at work by negligent employers, we are horrified by the video to promote the HSE strategy which features a company that could be described as a serial killer. Corus is featured in the video as signing up to the strategy but there is no mention of their poor H&S record as they killed 9 workers in 6 years up to 2007 including Andrew Hutin, son of Mike Hutin a founder member FACK , hardly a good advertisement for taking health and safety seriously!
"This strategy is a severe disappointment. We had to fight to be included in the consultation process and this strategy does not seem to take our comments on board, offers nothing new, nothing strong enough to show us that justice will prevail, nor that the employers like those who felt free to ignore existing H&S law and kill the people we loved, will be forced to comply in the future out of fear of strong enforcement action if they don’t.
"We bear the real burden of health and safety failures and without massive increases in resources, and HSE/LA inspectors behaving like real enforcers, we cannot see how a strategy that merely encourages those who take the risks with our families lives to behave better can possibly succeed. Employers should or course behave in a morally acceptable way, but as we have seen from the current meltdown in the financial sector and MPs expenses, merely relying on people to behave with moral integrity is a recipe for utter disaster. Deregulation, light touch regulation and self-relation have all proved inadequate, and applying them to health and safety continues to put us all at risk.
"Employers who fail to comply with H&S law and behave negligently with workers lives must be treated more severely to reflect the pain they cause and the overall cost to society. They must be held accountable through specific legal duties for H&S on directors – voluntary guidance is worthless. When caught and prosecuted they must receive punishment proportionate to their crimes - £400,000 for killing 9 workers at Stockline is no real penalty. Corus was fined £1.3 million and £1.76 million costs for killing 3 workers in a blast furnace explosion in 2001 but gained a new blast furnace worth £75 million from their insurers.
"The strategy seriously underestimates the scale of health and safety failures by employers -1,500 to 1,600 are killed in workplace incidents each year more than murders, and up to 50,000 from occupational illnesses. While these failures cost society about £30 billion a year, those responsible pay less than a quarter of the financial bill! By downplaying the costs, the HSE reduces their claim on the public purse for the resources to do the job properly.
"We do not feel that the HSE does enough to support workers facing poor H&S, for example in response to the whistle blower at the Stockline plant before it blew up killing 9 people including Annette Doyle, daughter of Fack members Rosemary and Joe Doyle.. We do not think that the resources put into investigating injuries and deaths is sufficient and are unable to understand why the HSE did not send an inspector to the workplace in Bradford that killed Steven Allen on Friday afternoon, until Monday morning. We do not understand why it takes years and years to investigate and prosecute employers and feel that justice delayed is justice denied.
"FACK feel this strategy is mostly empty words that won’t save others from the heart break and destroyed lives we now live. Every death is a tragedy to every family but when you know that death was due to an employer not bothering to do things properly, that it was totally avoidable, and that those responsible will not be held properly accountable by the authorities charged with enforcing H&S, it adds unimaginable to our pain and suffering and prevents us getting on with our lives.’"
For more information contact Hilda Palmer facilitator for FACK on 0161 636 7557
Note to editors
www.fack.org.uk, see about fack for our stories
FACK leaflet outlining our aims www.fack.org.uk/about/fackleaflet08.pdf
Real figures for those killed at work see ‘The Whole Story’ published in Safety and Health Practitioner in December 2008 - http://www.shponline.co.uk/article.asp?article_id=8265&viewcomment=1