no embargo - 6 September 2010 ( Back to news releases)
Families of people killed at work ask Lord Young to ‘FACE the FACKs’ and watch their DVD before he considers deregulating and condemning more workers to death, injury and ill-health
Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) has made a DVD to show how employers’ negligence of health and safety killed ten members of their families and the horrendous consequences. Called ‘Face the FACKS: the human cost of workplace killing’, the DVD is a powerful indictment of employers’ carelessness with workers lives, their flouting of even the most basic, and common sense, health and safety requirements, and how the justice system does not treat the consequent taking of a human life with sufficient seriousness, often leaving families feeling the employers have got away with it, while failing to send out sufficiently deterrent messages to other employers, and so more workers are killed every day.
When a pre-view of ‘Face the FACKs’ was shown to 450 safety reps at the Hazards 2010 conference, it received overwhelmingly positive feedback and the overall message to Lord Young was ‘Before you deregulate health and safety, watch this!’ And to the press: ‘I hope the media who are so quick to rubbish the laws put in place to protect the workers will see this and re-think their current point of view.’
All the members of Families Against Corporate Killers have experienced the death of a member of their family but not in an unfortunate or rare accident. No, they were killed because their employer failed to obey health and safety laws. The sons, husbands, daughters, fathers, bothers and sisters of FACK members were burned to death in explosions in recycling, in garages, in steel works, in demolishing chimneys; electrocuted because live wires were not locked off; fell off unsafely constructed scaffolding; were crushed by heavy railings or by machinery lacking safety cradles; were buried under tonnes of rubble; trapped in machinery being used for prohibited jobs, or killed by defective equipment. All of these deaths could have been avoided, but weren’t as employers failed to obey the law, flouted their own rules, failed to carry out risk assessment or failed to have any noticeable safe systems in place at all. The FACK DVD shows the stories of these far from rare and far from accidental workplace deaths and the consequences, to make people aware that having a safe and healthy workplace is only gained by good laws and strong enforcement, and that many more workers are at risk from negligent employers than the tabloid reports about over-the-top health and safety would have the general public believe.
All of these deaths occurred in the last 15 years under a health and safety regime that the current government derides as over zealous, prescriptive, burdensome on employers and excessively enforced. FACK members only wish this was the true state of health and safety at work which they may have believed before reality hit them. They now know to their cost that the picture of health and safety painted by Lord Young, David Cameron, the business lobby, and much of the tabloid press, exists only in their imagination. They now also know that even where a worker is killed by their employers’ negligence, the punishment will not fit the crime in a way that provides any credible deterrent to other employers to obey the law, doesn’t stop some employers becoming repeat offenders, and some becoming serial killers as the HSE prosecutions database shows. FACK members also learn that the employers pay none of the real costs and little of the financial costs, and that getting even minimal compensation can be very hard indeed for some families.
Give what they know about the inadequacy of current law and enforcement, FACK members feel the government need to drastically improve enforcement, stop trusting employers to do the right things and stop allowing criminal employers to carry on killing, maiming and making workers ill.
Louise Adamson, whose brother Michael Adamson was electrocuted, says: “During the trial of my wee brother's employer we heard evidence that, between 2004 and 2006, seven electricians died as a result of failure to ensure power switches were padlocked shut to prevent their inadvertent reconnection. The HSE inspector who investigated my brother's death was unable to obtain examples of the padlocks from major suppliers. He was told this was because there was "no demand" for them from the industry. This padlocking is a fundamental safety procedure each electrician is taught during his or her apprenticeship, yet it was a procedure not being implemented by employers. It doesn't take a genius to work out that self-regulation of health and safety by employers would result in more such opportunities for employers to cut corners, in turn putting even more lives of loved ones at great risk.”
Linzi Herbertson, whose husband Andy fell off incorrectly assembled scaffolding, says:
Dorothy Wright, whose son Mark was killed when told to bale aerosol containers, says: “Tony Blair took us to war leading to the death of hundreds of British soldiers. We beg that David Cameron does not make war on Health and Safety, which would result in the death of hundreds of British workers.’
For more information contact Hilda Palmer 0161 636 7557
Notes to editors
Dorothy and Douglas Wright; “Our son Mark Wright (37) was killed in an explosion when he was told by his manger to bale aerosol containers despite a risk assessment and the baler’s manual forbidding this.”
Linzi H“My husband Andy Herbertson (29) was killed when he fell as he was dismantling a printing machine using incorrectly assembled scaffolding without training or protective measure”
Bet and Mick Murphy: “Our 17 year old son Lewis Murphy was killed in an explosion when transferring petrol and diesel to a waste tank and fumes were sucked into the flue of gas boiler, in a garage where the employer believed health and safety was ‘just common sense’ and had no safe procedures set up.”
Louise Taggart: “My brother Michael Adamson (26) was electrocuted when a live wire had not been isolated but was marked out of use.”
Paul and Dawn Adams “Our son Samuel Adams was 6 when he was killed at a shopping centre by a heavy18 stone barrier that was designed without any restraining measures...”
Mike and Lynne Hutin: “Our son Andrew Hutin was 20 when he was killed with colleagues when a faulty blast furnace blew up.”