Hazards conference 2012

23rd National Hazards conference 2012 
31st August– 2nd September, University of Keele

Countering the attack on the safe workplace


Presentations and info from Hazards 2012, more to come

Conference statement • Final Programme • Statements from 3 labour MPs

Friday plenary
‘We Didn’t Vote to Die at Work’ Campaign – ‘Stop it: you’re killing us!’

Eurig Scandrett, Scottish Friends of Bhopal – Presentation
Louise Adamson from Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) – Presentation • Notes • YouTube
Ivan Timson, UNITE Safety Rep, Becoming a Hazards campaigner Presentation • YouTube

Saturday plenary

Helen Lynn, Alliance for Cancer Prevention, gave Simon Pickvance’s speech as he is unwell. Presentation • YouTube • Notes
Tony Whitston, Chair of Asbestos Victims Support Group Forum Presentation • YouTube
John McClean, Director Health, Safety and Environment GMB
Nobby Styles Award of the Alan 2012 to Nobby Styles, Convenor UNITE NE 10/348 • Grimsby Telegraph • YouTube • Nomination form for 2013

Key note meetings

1) Lofstedt: Friend or Foe? Chair: Caroline Bedale, Speakers: Dave Whyte, Liverpool University/ IER and Hugh Robertson, TUC
2) Sickness is for wimps Chair: Kathy Jenkins, Scottish Hazards Speakers: John Bamford, Hazards Campaign and Robert Baughan, UNISON
3)The case for regulation and enforcement Chair: Ian Tasker, STUC, Speakers: Simon Hester, Chair of Prospect, HSE and Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign

All YouTube films by Philip Lewis of Camden UNISON)


Booking form • Sponsorship form • the Alan nomination form


Hazards Conference is the UK’s biggest educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists. A mixture of plenary sessions, debates, meetings and a comprehensive workshop programme. Exchange experience and information with delegates from a wide range of sectors and jobs.

The attack on health & safety regulation has continued into 2012. Lord Young was reinstated in 2011, his deregulatory brief re-confirmed. In November, Professor Lofstedt clearly upset his political masters by not quite being the hatchet-man they expected. He didn’t bow to their prejudices, and said that, by and large, the system of health & safety regulation is about right. He also made a positive reference to trade union safety reps, but no recommendation about their activities. The Government then announced their intention to extend the ‘Local Better Regulation Office’ (LBRO) scheme as part of a package of plans to transform front-line enforcement for
businesses. In this way they side-stepped the, for them, disappointingLofstedt report.
In summer 2011, the ‘Transforming Regulatory Enforcement’ consultation. asked businesses to say where reform of enforcement is needed. Responding in December the Government said it wanted business to become more like customers of the enforcement agencies, rather than just being subjected to the enforcement system. So law breakers as “customers” of the policing authority! They want to reduce enforcement and replace it with advice, and promote self-regulation and co-regulation, none of which offer any real protection against employer negligence or wilful disregard. Workers have not been consulted on what they believe would improve regulation.

Meanwhile, Dame Carol Black, appointed to review sickness absence, proposed removing GPs from the process of authorising long-term sickness absence after 4 weeks, and giving that function to a new ‘Independent Assessment Service’. She said that workers exploit the sick pay system, implying they are skivers, and that public sector workers are the worst, and encouraged the government to review public sector sick pay schemes. Such reviews invariably lead to worsening conditions of service.

In January Cameron described health and safety as “an albatross around the neck of British businesses” and pledged to make 2012 not just the year of the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee, but also “the year we get a lot of this pointless time-wasting out of the British economy and British life once and for all”. He supported the anti-trade union group the (so-called) Trade Union Reform Campaign, and told parliament that paid time-off for union reps in the public sector was a disgraceful waste of public money and would be stopped.

So there’s a lot to find out, discuss and debate, and a lot to do to defend safe
workplaces and our union organisation. Come and learn what you can do.


Breast cancer – Hazards Campaign letter to The Guardian

29 May 2012 – No embargo

Breast cancer – Hazards Campaign letter to The Guardian

Dear Editor,

The article seems to suggest the HSE leaping into action (Breast tumour risk increased 40% among night workers, shows study triggering HSE investigation into impact on HSE workers, 28 May 2012 ) which is the opposite of  its lack of action over the past years on all work-related cancers including  breast cancer.  The cancer establishment aids and abets this by claiming to know better than International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and slyly blames women by emphasising ‘lifestyle’ issue such as diet and exercise over work-related factors.  About 400,000 women in the UK are involved in night work (night work, continental shift and three shift working), and we urgently need more preventative action and research on how to reduce their risk of breast cancer, rather than this paralysis by demanding yet more research on the link with night work.

The most serious health effects related to shift and night work are cancer, heart disease and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.  Five years ago, in 2007 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reported that  “shiftwork involving circadian disruption is probably carcinogenic to humans” and classified shift work as a category 2A carcinogen.  Melatonin production is suppressed by the presence of light at night.  Dr Vincent Cogliano of IARC said this was based on a wide range of studies involving both humans and animals and that there was evidence to support the hypothesis that alterations in sleep patterns, suppressed the production of melatonin in the body.    “Melatonin has some beneficial effects in preventing some of the steps leading too cancer.  The level of evidence is really no different than it might be for industrial chemicals”.  Danish and other studies had begun to link this with the risk of breast cancer for women working prolonged night shifts in the 1990s.

Since 2009, the Danish Government has, paid workers’ compensation to a number of women workers, some of whom worked as flight attendants, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and who had no known risk factors other than working night shifts at least once a week for the past 20 years.  Over recent years Danish scientists and others have been researching evidence-based options for preventative action on night work and breast cancer.  The UK has failed to act.  According to the HSE in its 2003 research report Shift Work and Breast Cancer: a Critical Review of the Epidemiological Evidence “Overall, the evidence for an association of breast cancer risk with shift work is appreciable but not definitive.  Further epidemiological research is needed to clarify the relationship”.  In March 2010, Dr Rushton reported  in her HSE commissioned study on the ‘Burden of Occupational Cancer’, that an estimated  2,000 breast cancer cases, and around 550 breast cancer deaths a year could be attributable to shift work,.http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr595main.pdf.  The HSE response was to commission the University of Oxford research, to which your article refers, to undertake an extensive study on the relationship between shift work and chronic disease, with a focus on shift working patterns in relation to cancer and other chronic conditions in men and women.  The study will be completed by December 2015 by which time, according to Rushton’s estimates, over 2,000 more women will have died of breast cancer related to night work.  More avoidable deaths due to a lack of a preventative and precautionary approach to work-related cancers. .

Yours sincerely

Hilda Palmer  Acting Chair of Hazards Campaign

For more information contact:
Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

What a carry-on! Grayling carries on wrecking ‘elf and safety despite the evidence (or lack of it!)

Following the announcements made today by Employment Minister Chris Grayling after the publication of the government’s review of health and safety by Professor Lofstedt, the Hazards Campaign said: “Here we go again! While Professor Lofstedt’s evidence shows there’s no fundamental problem with the regime which is meant to protect people at work the Tories take the opportunity to wreck what they can by exaggerating Lofstedt’s findings – or just by making stuff up. Just like they did with Lord Young. What a carry on!

“The really disgraceful part of all of this is that this review was a real opportunity to look at way of reducing the burden on people at work who are injured, made unwell, disabled and killed – which the government says costs the UK as a whole of up to £32billion each and every year and which the government says is caused by employers not doing what they should to prevent this happening – by law.

“Instead the review was focussed on the so-called burdens on business and it will do nothing, absolutely nothing, to reduce the real burden borne by workers, their families and friends or the state.”

The Hazards Campaign disagrees with the government’s plans to exempt the self employed for health and safety protections and disputes they are currently placed under any burden by health and safety legislation. This change will make things worse, not better, for the self employed.

The Hazards Campaign disagrees with the government’s plan to create an enforcement challenge panel, points out this will create extra bureaucracy and cost as well as that there is an appeals system currently in place.

The Hazards Campaign disagrees with the government’s plan to add extra burden on the Health and Safety Executive who are already facing 35% cuts, by giving them more of a role in local authority enforcement. The Hazards Campaign calls for more resources for the HSE and local authorities so they can do the job they are required to by law properly and adequately.

The Hazards Campaign accuses Chris Grayling and the media of creating a mountain out of a non-existent molehill in his announcements over plans for strict liability compensation cases.

For more information contact:
Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Further information:

We didn’t vote to die at work:

Hazards Campaign:

The Lofstedt report is available at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/lofstedt-report.pdf

The Government response to the Lofstedt review is available at:

TUC comment on the Lofstedt review is available at:

“Clegg – stop talking such utter cobblers!”

Commenting on the speech by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to small business leaders today, the Hazards Campaign asks that instead of publicly regurgitating the disproved and, frankly, discredited, arguments of Lord Young and Chris Grayling to prop up an equally discredited deregulatory philosophy, shouldn’t he at least wait until the evidence the government is seeking through the Lofstedt review is made public?

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has today picked up the ball taken away from Lord Young and run with the line that somehow the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Environment Agency are oppressively preventing businesses getting on with solving the country’s economic woes. Yet again the Hazards Campaign say “What utter cobblers!”

Not only is it cobblers, it is dangerous, toxic, life threatening cobblers.

This is yet another assault launched by the Tories on laws and enforcement which protect workers, now with clear support from the Lib Dems. Every time Lord Young, Employment Minister Chris Grayling or PM Cameron, until today the key players in this assault, have opened their mouths, their utterances have been roundly discredited by the evidence, which disproves their biased and politically motivated theories, and evidence continues to mount up against them, as a recent BIS report shows (1).

Clegg is not only wrong when he implies the HSE over-enforces. It is clear he either doesn’t know the facts or like Lord Young et al, won’t let reality get in the way of a well spun soundbite. On average, a workplace in GB can expect an unannounced visit just once every 38 years. With the 35% cuts the HSE is having to face and the restrictions on preventative, proactive inspections put on them by Grayling, this can only get worse leaving workers lives and health at great risk (2).

The recently exposed links between cabinet ministers including Chris Grayling, and the neo-conservative lobbyist organization Atlantic Bridge (3) with its pro-business anti-worker agenda, looks like getting just what it wants out of this government: the right to make money whatever it costs workers, their families, and the cost to society! The evidence which utterly refutes the lies that regulation and enforcement of health and safety at work is a ‘burden on business’ and costs jobs, has been presented to the Lofstedt Review which will report shortly.

In the meantime we would suggest Nick Clegg stop talking such utter cobblers and show some respect for the facts, the truth and workers lives!

For more information contact:
Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Further information:

1. The SME Business Barometer published by BIS in October 201

‘A brand new survey of small and medium-sized enterprises published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), shows that employment law and health and safety regulation do not even feature in their list of concerns. It would appear that employer organisations are pursuing a fanatical right wing agenda that does not actually reflect the concerns of their members.’

2. Once in a lifetime – Hazards magazine

3. Safety minister was part of Fox’s organisation Risks 528, 22 October 2011

We didn’t vote to die at work campaign

Hazards Campaign

Hazards Campaign comment on employment minister Chris Grayling’s Butlin’s bumper car letter

In response to the publication by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of Chris Grayling’s letter on Butlin’s bumping bumper car ban decision, a Hazards Campaign spokesperson said:

“The first piece of hard evidence published from workplace health and safety’s nemesis, employment minister Chris Grayling, undermines the whole basis for his attacks on workplace health and safety by showing it’s not our health and safety laws or over-zealous enforcement by health and safety cops or “gold plating” EU directives that lead to some of the well publicised “bonkers conkers” decisions.

“In his published letter to Butlin’s regarding their decision to ban bumping bumper cars he clearly recognises it is operational decisions taken by employers themselves under no pressure from the state, the law or its enforcement bodies. In the Butlin’s case the decision in all likelihood was taken to lessen the potential risk of being sued – which has nothing to do with workplace health and safety.

“It’s time for Grayling to come clean and admit his and the Tory attacks on workplace health and safety provisions are based on ideology rather than reality. He must stop his attacks on our legal framework, recognise the real cost of workplace health and safety failures to society and who is responsible. It is criminally negligent employers who kill, maim, disable, injure and make unwell many thousands of workers every year costing the UK economy £32 billion annually and the cuts to the HSE and its enforcement regime must be reversed.”

For more information contact:
Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Further information:

Chris Grayling’s letter: http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/record/2011/butlins260411.htm

We didn’t vote to die at work: http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/

Hazards Campaign: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/

The whole story: http://www.shponline.co.uk/features-content/full/the-whole-story

Hazards Campaign comment on PM Cameron’s linking the riots and looting to health and safety legislation

Hazards Campaign comment on PM Cameron’s linking the riots and looting to health and safety legislation

Following the statements made by PM Cameron yesterday, a Hazards Campaign spokesperson said: “Cameron’s linking of the recent social unrest to “‘elf and safety gorn mad” is not only complete rubbish but completely crass and scraping the bottom of the daft ideas barrel. What next – the unrest in Syria down to ‘elf and safety? Our rubbish summer – ‘elf and safety! The failure of the England football team to win anything – ‘elf and safety!

“To link the looting to health and safety legislation is an absolute insult to the lad who died in crane incident in Lancashire yesterday, the lad who died on the Woolwich ferry last week, the lad who died on the tug on the Thames last week and the family of Noel Corbin whose employers have just been fined only £1. Noel’s employers went into liquidation thus avoiding any accountability or paying the penalty for the crime, not a get out clause available to rioters so why should it be available to killer employers?

“Blaming health and safety for rioting is a disgraceful insult to the 20-50,000 people who die in the UK EVERY YEAR because their employers failed to manage health and safety at their workplaces.“

“Bad and negligent employers cost the UK economy up to £30 billion every year for health and safety failings – not our figures but ten year old government figures which will be far higher now. The government’s answer to this is to let employers get away with even more killing, injuring and making workers ill, as well as looting our economy by attacking and cutting health and safety provisions. We have called on many successive governments to do what Cameron has announced in the war on “gang culture” but against those bad employers and their criminal lack of health and safety culture, and every successive bad government has refused to do it.”

“Until those who run organisations are held accountable for the consequences of their actions – death, injury and illness of workers – they will go on behaving in morally and criminally irresponsible ways. We ask when will those employers be pursued and punished in a similar way to those being sought now by government for rioting and looting?”

For more information contact:
Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Further information

We didn’t vote to die at work campaign

Hazards Campaign

Firm fined £1 over death of satellite TV engineer, Camden New Journal

The whole story, Safety and Health Practitioner

Hazards conference 2011

22nd National Hazards conference 2011, 2-4 September
University of Keele

Conference documents

Who Really Bears the Burden? FACK families can tell you… Louise Taggart, FACK [ppt]

Struggle for OSH Rights in Asia, Sanjiv Pandita, AMRC [pdf]

Health and Safety – Fighting for our rights – and our lives, Hugh Robertson, TUC [pdf]

Is the Government destroying enforcement?, Hugh Robertson, TUC [pdf]

Background and booking

HSE cuts mean we need better organisation – Booking form [pdf] – Sponsorship form [pdf]

The 22nd National Hazards Conference: Hazards 2011 Hazards Conference is the UK‟s biggest educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists. The conference is a mixture of speakers, plenary sessions, debates & meetings and a comprehensive workshop programme. You can network and exchange experience and information with delegates from a wide range of occupations.

Now we know the dreadful hand that the 2010 election dealt us. The ConDem government is now intent on making ordinary people pay the price of resolving the economic crisis caused by the greed of banks and financial institutions. They falsely present the crisis as being caused by the sick and injured, those on disability and other benefits, public sector workers, and the regulation and enforcement of health and safety that they say imposes unfair burdens on business. Enforcement officers and public sector workers are now being described as “the enemies of enterprise.” Workers pay the price; there is precious little evidence of shared “we are all in this together” misery.

The HSE face 35 per cent cuts to their budget, and 201 staff left HSE in February. That means less information, education, research and enforcement for occupational health and safety as inspectors and others lose their jobs. Local authority EHO departments also face similar levels of cuts. Meanwhile Lord Young‟s daft and dangerous ideas like combining food safety with
workplace safety inspections can only weaken both.

We must organise more effectively in the workplace. Last year‟s TUC safety reps survey found that most reps still don‟t fully undertake all their statutory functions. A majority of reps don‟t conduct the 4 workplace inspections a year the SRSC Regulations prescribe; over half spend just an hour or less a week on safety rep work; only a quarter of reps say they are automatically consulted by the employer, while 14 per cent of reps reported they were refused time-off for training. The statutory framework must be defended, best done by extending and improving our workplace organisation and activity against unsafe and unhealthy conditions. If we don‟t, it‟s clear no-one else will.

Join us to debate these crucial health and safety issues, think about what we all need to do and develop some fresh ideas, and help to build the campaign for better workplace organisation, more inspections and effective trade union action for decent workplaces and against the cuts.

How to apply for Hazards 2011 Booking form [pdf]
The absolute deadline for applications is Monday 8th August 2011. Choose 2 workshops plus a reserve and 1 keynote meeting from the list, arrange your delegate fee, complete the registration form, and send it together with your cheque payable to Hazards 2011 for the appropriate delegate fee, to the address on the form. Please do this as soon as possible, as the maximum number of 500 cannot be exceeded.


On Workers Memorial Day the Hazards Campaign says: “Oi, Grayling! We aren’t going to let you send us back to the dark ages!”

Supporters of the The Hazards Campaign will be marking this year’s Workers Memorial Day, April 28th, with a call to arms in the fight to protect workers rights to safe and healthy workplaces.

Hilda Palmer of the Hazards Campaign said: “The path the ConDem government is taking with Chris Grayling at the helm as employment minister will kill, disable and injure more workers, not less. The corrupt equation they have used to justify their attacks on workplace health and safety and the cuts to our safety police has been well exposed. Their absolute failure to take into account the burden on the families and  friends as well as the state, who pick up the bill of billions when workers are killed or injured, or the enormous benefits to society safe workplaces provide exposes their lack of concern for workers health. On Workers Memorial Day we will all be saying “Oi, Grayling! We aren’t going to let you send us back to the dark ages!””

Workers Memorial Day is a global day to mark the damage work does – globally every year more people are killed at work or by work activities than die in wars. Workers Memorial Day’s motto is:

“Remember the dead – but fight for the living!”

Contact: Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Hazards Campaign and other authority estimates: 1,367 – 1,517 killed in work related incidents in GB last year made up of:

•          HSE figs of the 152 workers that are reported to HSE and Local Authorities via RIDDOR which UK Statistics Authority confirms are not national work-related death fatality figures,
•          Members of the public killed by work activity = 85
•          Workers killed at sea and in the air – estimated at 30 a year
•          About 1,000 in work-related road traffic incidents
•          About 100-250 suicides due to the pressures of work

Hazards and other authority estimates of those killed by work-related illness each year

•          Includes 18,000 by work-related cancer at 12% (8-16%) at least 5,000 due to asbestos cancers
•          Heart Disease – 20% of deaths work related due to stress, long hours, shift work = up to 20,000
•          Respiratory Illness -15-20% of obstructive lung disease = about 6,000
•          Other diseases inc. restrictive lung diseases = about 6,000
•          Giving Total of up to 50,000 per year

For more information:

Workers Memorial Day background leaflet and Workers Memorial Day international activity

The ConDem anti-health and safety agenda Regulations don’t kill jobs – lack of regulation kills workers’

Downloadable WMD leaflet

More cuts in health and safety are the real Job Killers!

Responding to Work and Pension minister Chris Grayling’s announcement of yet another review of health and safety with the aim of removing yet more protection for workers’ health, safety and welfare,  the Hazards Campaign says:  “This is dangerously illogical, will have major detrimental impacts of workers health and lives, and is completely false economy as it ignores the evidence that the major burden of poor health and safety falls not on employers, but on workers and their families, but also the tax payer.  

 In his statement Chris Grayling says:  “We will also shift the cost burden of health and safety law away from the tax payer, and instead make those organisations that fail to meet their obligations pay to put things right.”  Hazards Campaign spokesperson Hilda Palmer says:   “if only this were true!  The bill for poor safety and health every year in GB is a minimum of £30 billion but employers pay less than 25% of this!  Workers and their families pay first, then the state in health and other cost, and only finally do employers pay a small proportion for the harm they cause (1).  But all the government’s policies will do the complete opposite of making employers pay:  by reducing HSE’s enforcement, by cutting the requirements on employers with dumbed down tick boxes and trusting them to do the right thing, cutting oversight via proactive inspections, there will be no way of knowing what many  employers are really doing until something goes very wrong.   It is magical thinking for Grayling to claim these proposals will do anything but remove the credible threat of enforcement action and allow non-compliant, criminal employers to get away with harming far more workers with work-related stress, strains and pain, and injuring and killing them. (2)

She added: “We do not support ludicrous bureaucracy or unnecessary restrictions, but there is a widespread but false assumption that simple rules that protect the lives, the health and the welfare of people while at work, are a terrible drain on business and the economy.  This is based on bogus figures that overstate the cost of compliance, underestimate the savings that employers make through good health and safety and completely forget to tell us that failing to comply costs all of us far more than it costs them.  It’s not costing business an arm and a leg – it’s costing us our arms, legs and every other part of our bodies!

“Grayling needs to talk not just to businesses, but to the people who bear the real burdens of poor health and safety such as the families of workers killed.  FACK members are horrified at these actions and fear many more people will be killed.   The major costs of poor workplace health and safety costs those workers injured or killed and their families a massive amount, but it also costs the tax payer £billions every year and at a time of austerity especially, we cannot afford this subsidy to lawless employers. (3)


Contact Hazards Campaign on 0161 636 7557

For more info see http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/; and Hazards Campaign ‘We didn’t Vote to Die at Work Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=123746101003963

Notes to editors
1. Who pays? you do: http://www.hazards.org/deadlybusiness/whopays.htm;http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/pdf/costs.pdf
2. Job killers- Regulations don’t kill jobs; lacks of regulations kill workers. Pesky safety regulations and meddling inspectors are bringing the economy to its knees and stifling job creation, or so the business lobby says. But there are a couple of large flies in their deregulatory ointment – the arguments are bogus and the statistics behind them are rigged.  http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/jobkillers.htm

3. DVD ‘Face the FACKS; the human cost of workplace killing’ stories of workers killed for just going to work where their employers failed to protect them, by Families Against Corporate Killers 

 Order your DVD now and it will be posted to you. Cost £10.00 including p&p. Make cheques payable to GMHC with ‘For FACK DVD’ on back. This money will help to cover the cost of production AND support FACK’s work – you can donate more if you want! THANK YOU 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