Business Daleks say: Deregulate! Deregulate! Deregulate! Hazards Campaign says: “Regulate, Regulate, Regulate!

Hazards Campaign says: “Regulate, Regulate, Regulate! We love red tape and we want a health and safety system with workers at its centre that’s good for all!”

Like a bunch of demented Daleks, six business leaders are rolled out to repeat the same ludicrous robotic mantra: ‘Deregulate, Deregulate, Deregulate!’ in the ’Cut EU red tape’ report released yesterday (1).  Similarly to previous reports attacking workplace health and safety, it is not based on evidence but is part of the government’s ideological drive to leave business free to do what it wants and to hell with workers’ health and lives.

It’s not new, or surprising and certainly not clever, but it is utterly amazing that anyone treats these unevidenced attacks as credible!  Regulations developed over years to protect the safety and the short and long term health of workers, are not pointless meaningless bureaucracy to be derided and ridiculed.  Every report of workers killed in Asian garment and other factory fires and the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, graphically illustrates the consequences of a lack of good health and safety regulation and enforcement in case anyone has forgotten what it used to be like here.

The report talks ignorantly of ‘low risk’ workplaces where in fact occupational ill health is rife – slips trips and falls, violence, musculo-skeletal disorders and stress are at epidemic levels- and 53% of the HSE reported work-deaths occur in this so called low risk sector.  The Report claims deregulation is necessary for us to compete, presumably with Asian countries or the Britain of the last two centuries, with the consequent appalling workplace death rates?

Regulations that protect workers and members of the public from danger are an essential part of a civilised society and when they fail, as they are doing under government policies, people die from, for example increased Legionnaire’s disease outbreaks, horse meat turns up in our food, and workers are killed in incidents or made sick to death by uncontrolled risks.  Relaxing the requirements on employers taking on young people may lead to more tragedies as in the case of 16 year old Cameron Minshull, killed by an industrial lathe in Bury this year when his Mum felt sure he was safe at work, on a government approved apprenticeship (2).

The real burden of current employers’ poor management of health and safety falls mainly on those harmed but it also costs a staggering over £30 billion per year (3). Even more staggering is that employers pay less than a quarter of the cost of the harm they cause.  So the real problem at work is not too much red tape but too many bloody bandages (4). Government should be investing in the health of workers and protecting us, focusing on creating good jobs, as it is also good economic sense, rather than competing in the race to the bottom that deregulation causes. The Hazards Campaign, Hazards Magazine, TUC, Trade unions and many academics have repeatedly challenged the government with facts and evidence over the last 3 years. But this government is only interested in ideological ‘policy based evidence making’ and serving business interests, not workers lives and health.

The ’Cut EU red tape’ report is just another lazy, unevidenced, deadly demand by vested business interests, without consulting any representatives of those harmed by work, to legitimise bad work.

To the business leaders and government Daleks we say

“Regulate, Regulate, Regulate, we love red tape and we want a health and safety system with workers at its centre that is good for all!”

For more information contact Hilda Palmer, acting Chair of Hazards Campaign 0161 636 7557

Notes to editors
1.   https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/249969/TaskForce-report-15-October.pdf
2.    Death of Cameron Minshull, http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/fack/news/teendeath.htm
FACK is furious at Government release of misleading and inaccurate PR on Work Experience and Health and Safety which we fear will put children at greater risk:  http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/fack/news/workexperience.htm
3.    The HSE records the costs of poor health and safety i.e. deaths, injuries and illnesses (over 70% caused by poor management according to the HSE) as £13.4 billion per year, but this does not include the long latency illnesses like cancers.  Each incident fatality costs £1.5 million and each occupational cancer costs £2.5 million (DEFRA costing). So, even taking HSE’s gross under-estimate of 8,000 work cancer deaths per year would add £20 billion to this total making it nearer £40 billion per year.  Taking Hazards figures would make it nearer £60 billion.  Of this cost, according to the HSE:
·         individuals and families pay 54%,
·         the state – us, tax payers, the public purse! – pays 23%, and
·         employers, whose criminal negligence caused the harm, pay 24%
HSE Annual Statistics Report  2011/12: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh1112.pdf
4.    Hazards blueprint for saner Health and Safety Executive ‘We Love Red Tape’http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/citizensane

 

Hazards conference 2013

24th National Hazards Conference
19-21st July 2013, University of Keele

Conference presentation notes:

YouTube clips

Friday plenary
Louise Taggart FACK 
Omana George ANROEV and AMRC OSH rights in Asia

Saturday plenary
Phil Taylor STUC paper • Conference presentation (Abridged) • Download the full prensentation
Scott Donohoe, Unison Strategy and campaigns: Workplace stress

Keynote meetings
Hugh Robertson, TUC Who’s on our side?
Robert Baughan, Unison Sickness absence
Kathy Jenkins, Scottish Hazards Campaign, Defend sick pay
Dr. Aida Ponce Del Castillo, ETUI Whither or wither Europe 
John McClean, GMB Whither or wither Europe

Workshops and Sunday Meetings
Hilda Palmer, Hazards campaign Health and safety: In a sorry state of health?
Irwin Mitchell Access to justice, changes to Legal Aid and civil liability
Susan Murray, Unite Body Mapping
Helen Lynn, Alliance for cancer prevention, Developing the campaign to reduce Occupational and Environmental Cancer
John Crust, UCU, Fire risk assessment • Fire workshop handout
Ian Cole, Unison, Using social media
Julie Winn, GMB, Asbestos in schools,
Ian Draper, Work Stress Network, Excessive workload

 

YouTube clips of conference presentations


Louise Taggart for FACK


Omana George AMRC and ANROEV


Dave Smith Blacklist Support Group


Helen Lynn’s ‘Alan’ award acceptance speech • Further details


Professor Rory O’Neill, Editor of Hazards magazine


Scott Donohoe, Unison Glasgow, Scottish Hazards

Professor Phil Taylor, University of Strathclyde

 

Final programme 2013

2013 Booking form • 2013 sponsorship 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, give opportunities to learn, exchange experience and information with delegates from a wide range of sectors and jobs.
The effects of the government’s attack on health & safety are now being felt in workplaces. Cameron continued rubbishing health and safety in January 2013 telling entrepreneurs of the need to cut health and safety rules that stop young people getting work experience. Just days later, a 16 year old apprentice was killed in an incident with a lathe at an engineering company, only weeks after starting work. Enforcement is in retreat and hiding. It’s almost impossible to contact the HSE, and proactive, preventive inspections by L.A.’s and HSE have been banned in falsely classed ‘low hazard/risk’ sectors which cover the majority of workplaces. New evidence shows proactive inspections not only save lives but save employers money too.  But government continues the ideological destruction of the regulatory enforcement environment that workers won by collective action over generations, using the lie that it is a ‘burden on business’.

Some regulations already revoked, others under threat,  and the review of Approved Codes of Practice threatens to downgrade them to mere guidance.  RIDDOR changes have already removed 30,000 reports of work-related injury and illness, and other proposals would make almost all work-related illness vanish, by removing the employers’ duty to report them. Government acceptance of Dame Carol Black’s sickness absence recommendations continues the punitive approach and includes state funded assessment for employees who are off sick for more than 4 week, increasing insecurity and stress for sick workers. Attacks on union reps facility time, on access to justice via tribunals & legal aid, and proposals to remove civil liability for health and safety breaches, further reduce the right to compensation for work-related injury and illness.

Workers have not been consulted on how work injuries, death and sickness can be reduced, nor has any assessment been conducted of the full human and economic costs of cutting laws and enforcement intended to prevent this work-related harm.  The real burden is on us, not on employers.  As the benefits system declares the sick, disabled and terminally ill ‘fit for work’, forcing them to seek jobs that don’t exist, as pension age rises, and as work becomes more dangerous and unhealthy, paradoxically the need for union safety reps and good H&S at work increases.  Come and learn more, discuss how we can defend safe workplaces, and build a campaign to stop them killing, maiming and making us sick to death.

 

FACK Says: ‘Don’t be fooled by government lies on health and safety’

7th June 2013
Save Our Safety
Lobby of Parliament on 11th June
Organised by UCATT and UNITE (1)
11am photo call on College Green, Houses of Parliament
Post Lobby Meeting in Committee Room 14,  1pm to 3pm

UCATT and UNITE have called this lobby of Parliament at a time when the government is dismantling one of our fundamental human rights: the right to safe and healthy work (2)

“Don’t be fooled by government lies on health and safety, it isn’t a joke and isn’t a burden, an albatross or a millstone round employers necks, but lack of it is a massive burden on all of us!”  said Linda Whelan, founder member of Families Against Corporate Killers, who is speaking at the meeting. She added:

“By cutting health and safety regulations, inspections and inspectors, the government is putting the lives and safety of so many workers at risk. This is  true not only in construction but also in workplaces that they have wrongly classified as ‘low risk’ such as quarries, farming, docks, the whole of the manufacturing sector, road and air transport, the public sector and more!  FACK knows that health and safety isn’t a joke, it’s about life and death. But many people do not realise that, until someone they love goes to work and never comes home. People aren’t killed because of too much regulation and enforcement, but because of not enough! The only people who benefit from removing laws and scrutiny are unscrupulous employers. Employers will not necessarily look after workers health, safety and welfare unless the law says they have to, and inspectors check-up to make sure they do. Many people laugh about health and safety and think getting rid of it will be good for us all.  This is not true. We want the public and MPs to learn from our bitter experience that health and safety is not meaningless red tape but a vital safety net that protects all the people you love at work. We don’t want you crying later when it’s gone.

“Deaths at work will only increase if we let Cameron get away with trashing health and safety. Instead of cuts to the regulation, enforcement and inspection system, the government should value and respecting workers and strengthening their protection at work. The government is lying about the burden on business, lack of health and safety is a massive burden on us, in heartache and lifelong loss, but it also cost the public purse far more than good health and safety does.(3)

FACK wants to make sure a message goes out loud and clear to negligent employers that if you put someone’s life or safety at risk, then the punishment will fit the crime.
No-one voted for this government so they could help bad employers kill us in our work place. On behalf of FACK, my message to the government today is:

Regulations don’t  kill jobs but lack of regulation does kills workers,  so ‘Stop deregulating, you are killing us’“

For more information contact FACK 0161 636 7557 or 079298 00240; Linda Whelan 07919334793

Notes for editors

1. For information on the Save Our Safety Lobby see UNITE and UCATT websites:

http://www.unitetheunion.org/campaigning/events/saveoursafety/ ;
https://www.ucatt.org.uk/saveoursafety.html

2. We Didn’t Vote to Die at Work Campaign : Stop it You’re KiIling us! leaflet summarizing government attacks, lies and the truth: http://gmhazards.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/updated-wdvtdaw-leaflet-september-2012.pdf

Hazards Magazine:  http://www.hazards.org/votetodie
Hazards Magazine http://www.hazards.org/lowlife

3. Cost of the harm caused by poor workplace health and safety

The HSE records the costs of poor health and safety i.e. deaths, injuries and illnesses (over 70% caused by poor management according to the HSE) as £13.4 billion per year, but this does not include the long latency illnesses like cancers. Each incident fatality costs £1.5 million and each occupational cancer costs £2.5 million (DEFRA costing). So even taking HSE’s gross under estimate of 8,000 work cancer deaths per year would add £20 billion to this total making it nearer £40 billion per year.  Taking Hazards figures would make it nearer £60 billion.

Of this cost, according to the HSE, individuals and families pay 55%, the state – us, tax payers!- pay 24%, and employers whose criminal negligence caused the harm, pay only 22%
See HSE Annual Statistics Report  2011/12: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh1112.pdf

Who bears the burden? We do: Real Burdens:http://www.hazards.org/images/h112laurieswift1200px.jpg

 

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 Murphy – son Lewis Murphy 18, killed at work on 21st February 2004
Louise Taggart – brother Michael Adamson 26, killed at work on 4th August 2005
Linda Whelan – son Craig Whelan 23, (and Paul Wakefield) killed at work on 23rd May 2002
Dorothy & Douglas Wright – son Mark Wright 37, killed at work on 13th April 2005

See http://www.fack.org.uk/aboutus  for the stories above.

Cutting health and safety laws is hurting us all, so “Stop it: You’re Killing us!”

All across this country and the world millions of people will come together on 28 April to mark International Workers Memorial Day (IWMD) at tens of thousands of events (1)

What killed 140 people a day, 6 per hour last year in Great Britain?  War? Murder?

No, WORK!

Work kills more than war every year: 2.3 million worldwide.  As Jukka Takala of the ILO said
“If terrorism took such a toll, just imagine what would be said and done?”

In Great Britain, work killed 1,400 killed in work-related incidents and up to 50,000 due to work-related illnesses- cancer, heart and lung disease in 2011/12.  Work also made over 2 million ill, injured 111,000 – 22,000 very seriously – and led to 27 million days off work.  Compare this with about 600 murders per year and 641 GB service personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in 11 years (2)

Workers, their families and their unions will say on IWMD that we need more health and safety protection at work not less, as avoidable deaths every day and disasters such as the recent massive explosion of a fertilizer factory in Texas show all too tragically. “Deregulation kills, we want action not reaction” said Hazards Campaign spokesperson, adding “Any idiot can ‘learn lessons’ after a disaster, after people have been killed and lives ruined, it takes intelligent foresight and a commitment to people’s lives, to prevent work from causing harm.”

You would never guess work caused such death and misery, if all you know is what the government says and how workers safety and health is reported – as one big joke!  Almost all cases of work related death, injury and ill health are preventable, if employers obeyed the law and government and enforcement agencies made them.  But they didn’t and people were killed and families’ lives ruined. Many families now know this, but didn’t know when they sent their sons and daughters, partners and parents to work, expecting them to be safe, but they never came home.  Lack of health and safety is no joke when it happens to you. (3)

Cameron Minshull, 16, from Bury, was killed in January 2013, only weeks after starting his engineering apprenticeship. He died only days after David Cameron told business leaders in Preston that silly health and safety rules must be scrapped to allow more children to get work experience.  In fact his government has already several times reduced the rules on health and safety protection for young apprentices like Cameron Minshull, who’s mum said “I thought he was safe at work on a government apprenticeship scheme” (4)

What is the UK government doing to stop this avoidable death toll? Well not strengthening health and safety law but deregulating it; not increasing preventative inspections but banning them in workplaces where the majority of recorded deaths occur; and slashing enforcement activity to shreds!

Since 2010 government has consistently rubbished health and safety, blamed it for ‘broken Britain’, the riots, and now for the lack of jobs and economic growth! The biggest lie they have perpetuated is that good safety and health is a burden on business. NO! The burden is on us, in heart ache and also on us in terms of economic cost. The poor management of safety and health that leads to 80 per cent of deaths, injuries and illness, costs the economy over £30 billion a year (2).  Of this amount, the individuals harmed pay the largest cost, 55 per cent, the public purse pays 24 per cent, and the employers who caused the problems pay around one fifth.   Hazards added: “On IWMD, we will all be telling this government: that we didn’t vote to die at Work, so stop deregulating and slashing enforcement, it’s killing us! Whether it is hazards in your workplace, horsemeat in your beefburger or Legionnaires’ in your neighbourhood, it is becoming evident that stringent regulation is not a burden, it is a necessity” (5)

For more information contact Hilda Palmer 0161 636 7557,   mobile:  079 298 00240

International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April resources:

1. Hazards/ITUC global country listing of IWMD events TUC listing of GB eventsNW England Listing:

2. Work-Related Statistics for 2011/12

3. Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK)  Statement on death of Cameron Minshull

4. FACK statement on International Workers’ Memorial Day 2013

5. Hazards Magazine: The high cost of neutering watchdogs

 

MPs urged to reject removal of civil liability in health and safety law

MPs urged to reject removal of civil liability in health and safety law in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act in Common today.

“The Hazards Campaign urges MPs to follow the Lords and reject the clause inserted into the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act that removes civil liability from the Health and Safety at Work Act, when it comes back to the Commons for debate today. This clause was inserted into the Act at the last minute, by the Department of Business Industry and Skills, without any consultation or supporting evidence. It will make it far harder for workers to gain compensation to which they are entitled when through no fault of their own; they are injured or made ill by their work, as the bar of proof will be set unfeasibly high. Instead of being able to rely on breach of a statutory duty by their employer as some evidence of negligence, workers will have to prove forseeability, a tough task at a time exacerbated by cuts in legal aid.   It must also be remembered that less than 10% of workers who are injured or made ill actually receive any form of compensation, so there is no actual compensation culture, just employers’ misperception, and a bad reason to change the law.  This is not redressing the balance but penalising workers and giving unscrupulous employers free rein by removing access to justice. It is a scoundrel’s charter that will harm more workers and shift more cost to the public purse by letting bad employers get away with it.” Said a Hazards Campaign spokesperson.

The arguments for removal of civil liability from health and safety regulations are not based on evidence or reality, but according to Lofstedt Report, on ‘the belief of employers in a ‘compensation culture’ has an impact in driving over-compliance with health and safety regulations’. The government’s claim that this clause is implementing Lofstedt’s recommendation on ‘strict liability’ is also false as it covers all civil liability: In his report assessing how the Government was implementing the findings of his review, published in February 2013, Professor Lofstedt stated that the Government had gone much further than he proposed. His report said “My understanding is that the proposed amendment to the Health and Safety at Work Act reverses the current position on civil liability. This means that, unless exceptions apply, claims for compensation in relation to breaches of health and safety legislation will need to prove that the employer has been negligent. The approach being taken is more far-reaching than I anticipated in my recommendation.”

There has always been a widely accepted fair balance in health and safety regulation between different types of obligation, and the majority are qualified by reasonable practicability but including some that are strict, since the Factories Act 1937.  In fact there are very few cases where compensation cases are taken on the basis of strict liability which is why the Lofstedt report had difficulty in identifying any. It also explains why the Government has introduced an amendment that goes beyond strict liability and would, as it stands, apply to civil cases involving breaches of statutory duty under workplace regulations.

Lords calling for the removal of the clause labelled it ‘ugly’. Lord Stevenson said “The requirement to prove forseeability is a very high bar of proof for an individual injured, or killed through no fault of their own. There has been no consultation on this proposal, and what is being proposed goes further than the recommendations made in this area by Professor Lofstedt”.

Lord MacKenzie agreed adding that the changes will “ assist the unscrupulous to ignore health and safety law by reducing the chances of successful civil action. That is going to lead to more workplace injury in the future”. Lord MacKenzie also said that an injured worker is highly unlikely to know about the history of work equipment or be able to investigate whether the employer was at fault. He added that this change in the law would not only shift the balance of power dramatically against employees, but that litigation would become more costly, time consuming for everyone,  and employers would not benefit.”

For more information contact the Hilda Palmer, acting Chair of Hazards Campaign 0161 636 7557

 

 

Tackling occupational cancer should mean preventing it, not taking a ‘3 monkeys’ approach

Tackling occupational cancer should mean preventing it, not taking a ‘3 monkeys’ approach

Photo-op 8.30am Thursday 14th March, British Library, Gate No 5 Midland Road.

Campaigners against occupational and environmental cancer will hold a photo op outside the British Library, HSE conference on Tackling Occupational Diseases.  Women’s work-cancer is almost totally ignored by the HSE so campaigners will leave bras behind as a protest against the denial, delay and dithering that will kill more women from breast cancer especially.

Government, employers and the Health and Safety Executive are consigning thousands of workers to occupational cancer by their ‘3 monkeys’ approach to ‘tackling’ occupational disease.  Occupational cancer kills up to 18,000 men and women each year (1) yet action on prevention has been side-lined in favour of yet more research, and still work-related cancer in women is virtually ignored condemning more women to suffer and die.

HSE’s old fashioned, outdated approaches miss many modern workplace risks but especially ignore women’s cancers, specifically breast cancer, as researchers have recently shown (2, 3).  Campaigners will reinforce this point by leaving their bras outside the British Library as a protest against this approach.

“The Hazards Campaign has accused the HSE of dithering, denying and delaying over occupational cancer, and employers and government are also guilty of doing almost nothing on prevention for all work-cancers.  But this ‘3 monkeys’ approach is especially deadly for work-related cancer in women which has been completely ignored, under-researched and so much less likely to be targeted for preventative action.”  Said Hilda Palmer of the Hazards Campaign.

 “Occupational and environmental breast cancer is largely preventable and we hope this strategic meeting organised by the HSE will call for that.  For female cancers, specifically breast cancer, not to act now in a precautionary way, applying existing knowledge to reduce the occupational and environmental risk factors could be viewed as an act of wilful neglect.”  Said Helen Lynn from the Alliance for Cancer Prevention.

Traditional approaches to try and regulate the amount of exposure to certain chemicals in occupational and environmental settings are unworkable in light of what we know about chemicals which interfere with our endocrine systems (the body’s messenger system).  These endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are intrinsically linked with cancer and act singularly and in combination to increase the risk of breast and other cancers.

WHO estimates that as much as 24% of human diseases and disorders are at least partly due to environmental factors including chemical exposures. The report states: “Many endocrine diseases and disorders are on the rise and the speed at which they are increasing rules out genetic factors as the sole plausible explanation” (4)

Recent research highlighting excesses of breast cancer in occupations such as agricultural, automotive plastics, and food canning industries found women workers had elevated breast cancer risk, up to 5 times higher than the controls in certain sectors such as automotive plastics (3)

And yet another paper on the issue stated: “Primary prevention of cancer of environmental and occupational origin reduces cancer incidence and mortality, and is highly cost effective; in fact, it is not just socially beneficial because it reduces medical and other costs, but because it avoids many human beings suffering from cancer.” (5)

The United Steelworkers union in the US has acted immediately on this research by alerting their members and calling for substitution, chemical law reform and health and safety improvements.(6)

Yet the UK cancer establishment continued to assure women there is no need to worry and falls back on the archaic and limited risk reduction strategy of better diet, more exercise and limiting alcohol. (7)
Hilda Palmer of the Hazards campaign says: “We want this HSE meeting to make publicly explicit the extent, and preventable nature, of all occupational cancers; that prevention must be prioritised by government, employers and the HSE; that exposure to all cancer risks must be eliminated or reduced to as low a level as possible, and that women’s cancer risks must now be targeted for prevention”

Helen Lynn. Alliance for Cancer Prevention 07960033687
www.allianceforcancerprevention.org.uk

Hilda Palmer. Hazards Campaign: 079298 00240
www.hazardscampaign.org.uk


Notes to Editor:
1. Burying the evidence, Hazards Magazine.
2.  This man knows all about cancer Article on the work of Simon Pickvance. Hazards 117, Rory O’Neill
3.  J. T. Brophy et al., Breast Cancer Risk in Relation to Occupations with Exposure to Carcinogens and Endocrine Disruptors: A Canadian Case-Control Study, Environmental Health 11(87) (2012): 1-17, doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-11-87
4.  WHO/UNEP report on the State of the Science for Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Report.
5.  Espina C, Porta M, et al. Environmental and Occupational Interventions for Primary Prevention of Cancer: A Cross-Sectorial Policy Framework. Environ Health Perspect. Advanced publication here
6.  United Steelworkers Hazards Alert on occupational breast cancer
7.  Does your job increase your breast cancer risk? Breakthrough comments on the recent researchpublished in Canada that links occupation to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Here

For more information contact:
Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557