News release – 16 December 2020 – No embargo
The Working Dead! Hazards Campaign demands the Government take tougher action on preventing transmission of the virus
The 16 December 2020 Manchester TUC meeting (1) on Zero-Covid to save lives and livelihoods heard from Janet Newsham on why the Hazards Campaign is demanding the Government take tougher action on preventing transmission of the virus. She said:
“The number of workers who have died because of Covid-19 is in the thousands. (2) They are infected in their homes by those they live with who have become infected in schools or in their workplaces , in their communities when they do their weekly shop, on their way to and from work when they use public transport but they are also infected in their workplaces or doing their work activities. Among the thousands who have died, just 189 Covid deaths were reported in six months to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). (3)
“These were reported to the HSE despite them discouraging employers from reporting through their RIDDOR system. (4) However, 189 workers deaths were reported through RIDDOR in six months, compared to 111 fatalities in the previous year. This is a huge increase and highlights the risks that workers are facing in the pandemic and the lack of controls on their health and safety.
“Occupational risks of becoming infected with Covid-19 highlights the lack of information available about how transmission risks can be controlled in all working environments, and that only Covid-safe workplaces should be open, it highlights the lack of enforcement in ensuring employers are controlling the risks, it highlights the failure of Government to take a precautionary approach to transmission especially of airborne aerosol risks in our workplaces (5) and availability of a preventative standard of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), it highlights the lack of priority in all our Nations to the health of their citizens over opening non-essential businesses and it highlights a lack of Zero-Covid strategy by Nation Governments to removing the virus transmission from our society.
“Occupational risks could and should have been controlled. Infection control is a standard risk control in many workplaces. If other workplaces had needed educating in how this could be done, the expertise is out there and available.
“The UK Government from early in the pandemic misrepresented the risks to health and the controls needed to protect people. They didn’t put in place strict infection control procedures in workplaces or broadcast the risks people were facing. They did not make available financial support to workplaces to ensure they are Covid-safe (6) but rather put in place short term solutions like some lock-downs which only partially impacted on the spread of the virus and as a result we are on a roller-coaster of partial lock-down based on how many dead bodies are piling up!
“Our loved ones have become collateral damage in the pursuit of profit and privatisation by our incompetent and inept Government.
“The HSE has been like a secret society, operating in the shadows. (7) They have based most of their assumptions of how safe our workplaces are, on telephone conversations with the people that are supposed to be ensuring the safe workplaces! In normal times HSE / Local Authority (LA) inspectors would also have conversations with Trade Union Safety reps which checks that the information provided by employers is accurate but during one of the most dangerous times for many workers, the HSE thought it fit to believe and talk only to the people who have caused the deaths of hundreds of workers by not controlling the risks.
“We know where the risks to workers health are. We know how these risks should be controlled. The controls needed are just the same in care homes, hospitals, buses, work vans, offices, restaurants, pubs, shops, schools, universities, factories etc. All these working environments are transmitting the virus to our families, communities and other workplaces.
“This isn’t rocket science it is simple message to control the transmission risks and if you cant, shut down until you can. And for the Government to provide additional funding and resources to ensure there is more space, fewer people, greater ventilation, precautionary level PPE, more cleaning, improved hygiene and welfare and greater education of transmission risks.
“On top of this, the Government has a UK wide remit to work with other Nations in the UK to stop transmission from those entering the countries, to ensure test, track, trace and isolate is working to a high level of contact and isolation and that payments are made to workers unable to work because of lock-downs, workers who are sick and workers who need to isolate.
“To achieve it we need a circuit break at Christmas to ensure these Government actions are in place and are working effectively. A Zero-Covid strategy (8) (9) to end transmission of the virus is the only solution that will save lives and livelihoods, will stop deaths, stop infections and disabilities caused by the infection and lead us on a path back to a healthy future until the vaccine is established in our communities.”
1. Manchester Trades Council Event
2. Covid deaths by occupation – ONS
3. Covid Fatalities reported to HSE
4. RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19 – HSE
5. Aerosol transmission – Hazards Campaign and Reel News video
6.Hazards Campaign and Independent SAGE call for no workers to return to workplaces unless Covid safety plans are in place, 1 September 2020
7. Laid Bare: The scandal of expendable workers before, during and after Covid, Hazards Magazine,
8.Hazards Campaign calls for Zero-Covid strategy by all the Governments in the UK, 27 November 2020
9. Zero Covid campaign webpages
Hazards Campaign details
If you need more information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call Janet 07734 317 158
The Hazards Campaign is a UK-wide network of resource centres and campaigners. The Hazards Campaign supports those organising and campaigning for justice and safety at work