Hazards Campaign Charter
Health and Safety Demands on the Government
third edition 1999
Introduction To The Third Edition: Health And Safety An Agenda For Action
This, the third edition of the Hazards Charter, was produced following debate at the Tenth National Hazards Conference in Bristol, in March 1999 - nearly two years after the election of the Labour government. It includes additions and amendments made at that conference and sets out an agenda for action in the 21st century.
The Charter is a collective statement of the aims and demands of the Hazards Campaign for a massive improvement in occupational health and safety for all workers in the UK. It is not a finished document, but an evolving document which reflects the current concerns amongst activists regarding the hazards and health and safety problems faced every day by people at work. Major changes since the last edition include the key demand of Trade Union Safety Representatives to have wider powers of inspection and authorisation to impose Provisional Improvement Notices.
Despite the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act and all the recent European inspired Regulations, 4 million workers each year suffer some form of work related ill-health, up to 3,000 are killed in incidents in connection with work and 20,000 die from occupational diseases. Penalties for Health & Safety breaches - even if they kill or maim workers - are still derisory. The rate of workplace inspections carried out by HSE Inspectors is now so low that, on average, companies can expect a visit only once in every 17 years.
The present government has begun to reverse some of the worst acts of the previous 18 years. Funding for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been improved. HSE Inspectors have been reminded of the requirement to consult with safety representatives. The requirement for Inspectors to advise employers in advance of the possibility of an Improvement Notice being served has been removed. The government has clearly stated that occupational safety and health is a priority and that penalties for offenders should be raised. New legislation for the offence of Corporate Killing is also being considered.
Is this enough? We welcome the efforts of the government so far but urge greater speed and a higher priority for all occupational safety and health issues. We call on the government to give serious consideration to this charter and the introduction of our major demands. A major fear of Hazards Campaigners is that the government's efforts to be fair to business and enterprise threaten worker's health and safety, as employers tend to take this as a licence to continue killing and maiming workers in pursuit of bigger profits, economies or targets. The government is very keen on partnership between trade unions and employers. The Hazards Campaign demands the only meaningful partnership that can deliver improved health and safety: a partnership of equals. The government must adopt the demands of this Charter which will enhance and empower the trade union and workers side of the partnership and it must ensure employers compliance with all health and safety law through rigorous enforcement. The government's present philosophy of partnership is the existing abusive partnership that kills, maims and diseases millions annually. The cost of industrial disease and serious injuries at work is not only borne by the victims, their families also pay a terrible price. The cost to the nation and the economy, just in terms of welfare benefits and the burdens placed on the NHS, runs to billions of pounds each year. By comparison, the sums awarded to victims in compensation are insignificant.
This Charter is radical in the sense that it points out that at the end of the 20th Century people in Britain are still dying from causes that could be stopped now with appropriate political will. We know the causes; we know what to do. What is lacking are the resources and clear political will to take action. 1999 is the 25th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act and the 21st anniversary of the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations. A great deal has changed in the last 25 years and the assumptions underlying the Health & Safety at Work Act no longer hold true. The legislation does not fit easily with the enormous changes in employment patterns that have occurred since 1974. In 1999 we have a hugely increased number of workers in workplaces not represented by trade unions, mostly small, medium and even micro sized enterprises. We have seen an explosion of the "contract culture" - contracting out, out-sourcing, privatisation - an increase in 'self employment', in homeworking, the casualisation of large groups of peripheral workers through agency work and short term, temporary contracts. A smaller group of core workers are managing to hold onto their higher standards, for the moment. All of this has reduced the standards of health and safety for all workers, but impacted particularly on these marginalised peripheral workers. These developments have led to an increase in insecurity, fear, harassment and bullying, and the stress-related illnesses that follow, for all workers.
The government is presently reviewing safety reps rights and health and safety legislation generally. The Hazards Campaign calls on the government to take this opportunity to revitalise health and safety law by recognising and enhancing the role of trade unions and the trade union safety representative who already save lives, by giving them more powers. We call on the government to give workers more control over their own working conditions and by strict and rigorous enforcement to ensure absolute compliance by all employers with all health and safety legislation NOW.
The National Hazards Campaign
The Hazards Campaign is a national network established in 1988, financed by donations from supporting groups and individuals. It draws together Hazards Centres, Occupational Health Projects, health and safety groups and Trades Union Councils' Safety Committees, specific campaigns and individual health and safety activists. Specific campaign groups include the Construction Safety Campaign, bereaved relatives groups, asbestos support groups, RSI support groups, pesticide sufferers groups, campaigns against hazards affecting black and ethnic minority groups and toxic waste groups.
The campaign works by: sharing information and skills; campaigning on specific issues; acting as a national voice; issuing press releases; holding conferences; establishing national initiatives, including Workers Memorial Day,; lobbying MPs, MEPs and statutory bodies. The Campaign organises the annual Hazards Conference and holds meetings about five times a year which are open to anyone sharing the aims of the campaign.
Establish Corporate Responsibility in Criminal Law for Manslaughter and Bodily Harm
Whilst directors and chief executives are liable to prosecution and imprisonment for crimes and misdemeanours involving money, it is claimed to be extremely difficult to mount a successful prosecution against the corporate officers even when breaches of health and safety law have been aggravated by gross negligence on the part of the company or organisation responsible.
The Law Commission has made a number of recommendations in this area, including the new crime of corporate killing, but they do not go far enough. The Hazards Campaign wants the government to establish a specialised investigation and prosecution unit, staffed by well trained personnel to investigate workplace deaths, serious injuries and industrial diseases. This specialised unit should be clearly separated from the advisory function of the HSE, established in a separate directorate with a regional structure.
Company Law should be extended to include, as the responsibility of named directors, the health and safety performance of the company or corporate body. This would enable the identification of the senior people responsible rather than the present tendency to prosecute employees and managers way down the line of real responsibility. It would allow custodial sentences to be imposed for offences, as well as fines on organisations and the suspension or disqualification of directors.
Sentences allowed under the Health and Safety at Work Act and subsequent regulations should include more custodial sentences for negligent employers. Custodial sentences are essential since despite recent pronouncements by the Law Lords that fines for health and safety offences should be substantially higher, experience shows that fines are insufficient to deter employers from breaking the law often on a serial basis. Existing penalties are failing to reduce the deaths, serious injury and disease caused by work.
There is also a need for more openness and accountability about the whole process following a workplace death, major injury or illness. Reports of the investigations of all major injuries and deaths at work should to be given to the worker or their family. The Hazards Campaign also demands that the obligation on the Crown Prosecution Service to meet the representatives of bereaved families to explain why they are not prosecuting be honoured in every case.
Make Publication of Health and Safety Performance in Annual Reports Compulsory
Make Declaration of Insurers Compulsory
Companies should have to publish their record on health and safety, just as they do on profits and performance. Companies should also have to publish the name of their insurers, to prevent them from evading the responsibility to hold Employee Liability Insurance and to make it easier for sufferers of occupational illness to secure compensation from the insurers. The Hazards Campaign calls for company law to be amended to require this.
Provide Increased Resources for all Enforcement Authorities and Agencies (HSE, Local Authority EHOs, Fire Authority and Environment Agency)
Ensure Stricter Enforcement Policy on all H&S Legislation
Weak enforcement of weak legislation drives safety standards downwards. The Hazards Campaign seeks an undertaking that the HSC, HSE, Local Authority Environmental Health Officers, the Fire Authorities and the Environment Agency, will be properly funded and adequately resourced.
The philosophy and enforcement policy of all the agencies with responsibility for health and safety at work should be greatly strengthened. The Hazards Campaign seeks a comprehensive strategy involving groups and organisations with experience and expertise across a broad spectrum. The current legal framework means that powers of enforcement and prosecution are predominantly the perogative of HSE Inspectors and Environmental Health Officers. Private prosecutions are very difficult and there is no right of appeal against the decision of an enforcement officer not to prosecute. The Hazards Campaign seeks a reform of health and safety law which would allow safety representatives to initiate private prosecutions against employers and which would establish the right of appeal over an enforcement officer's decision not to take action or prosecute.
Take more preventative enforcement action on risk assessments
Enforcement agencies claim that risk assessments are the key to safer workplaces but they are extremely reluctant to prosecute the huge number of employers who either fail to comply with this legal requirement or carry out inadequate risk assessments. The Hazards Campaign demands that the HSE rigorously enforce the requirement for suitable and sufficient risk assessments under the Management of Health and Safety at Work, COSHH and Manual Handling Regulations and other regulations.
Replacement of Guidance with Regulations and ACoPs
The HSE's criteria for selecting Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) or Guidance on Regulations, are not applied consistently. The distinction between ACoP and Guidance is more apparent than real and ACoP should be the preferred supporting guidance to all Regulations
Establish a Review of HSE Philosophy, Restructuring of Health and Safety Commission (HSC)
The Hazards Campaign would like to see wider consultation and representation on the HSC involving minority groups and interests, to counterbalance the overwhelmingly powerful role of business. The current arrangements serve the interests of employers' organisations to the detriment of working people, particularly in areas of enforcement policy and the setting of exposure standards for chemicals.
Ensure that all accidents in connection with work are thoroughly investigated
All accidents occurring in connection with work should be investigated as health and safety incidents. This must include road traffic accidents involving workers or members of the public and these statistics must be added to the other statistics on workplace deaths and injuries to give a truer picture of the human costs of work.
Trade Union Safety Representatives to be given the right to issue Provisional Improvement Notices (PINs)
See section on Safety Representatives Rights below.
Safety Representatives' Rights
Establish the Right to Recognition, Irrespective of Workplace Recognition Agreement
The role of safety representatives in establishing and maintaining safe working environments is integral to both the letter and spirit of the Health and Safety at Work Act. Recent research confirmed this by showing that workers are twice as safe in unionised workplaces where safety representatives are active and have full consultation rights.
Tory anti-Trade Union legislation effectively removed the right of employees to elect trade union safety representatives in those organisations and companies that have denied or withdrawn recognition to trade unions. The Hazards Campaign demands early legislation to establish the right of trade union members to elect safety representatives and establish safety committees on the basis of the 1977 Safety Representatives and Safety Committees (SRSC) Regulations, irrespective of whether the employer recognises a trade union for collective bargaining.
Roving or regional safety representatives are clearly needed in the construction, agriculture, homeworking, hotel & catering, and retail industries where workers are widely dispersed. Changes in the economy, such as casualisation, contracting-out and agency working mean that roving reps are now needed in many more workplaces. In an increasingly complex working environment where unions represent members across multiple employers and where staff work in isolated and hazardous conditions, the SRSC regulations no longer give unions the appropriate power to support their members. The Hazards Campaign therefore demands that the SRSC Regs are modified to reflect this trend and oblige employers to provide facilities for the appropriate union representative at branch and regional levels to support all members of that union wherever and for whoever they work.
Establish "Shared Workplace" Safety Committees
The SRSC Regulations do not provide for safety committees on sites or in organisations where the employees of more than one employer are working. This is becoming an increasing problem in the public sector where the trend towards appointing contractors and the out-sourcing of services and manufacturing is growing. The Hazards Campaign demands that the SRSC Regulations are modified to provide for Comprehensive Site Safety Committees in shared workplaces.
Establish the Right to "Stop the Job"
The Hazards Campaign urges early legislation to establish the right of elected safety representatives to "stop the job" in circumstances where an unacceptable hazard or risk of injury is identified. The latter could be achieved by a clearer definition of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
Establish an automatic right to reinstatement for Safety Representatives
The Hazards Campaign calls for changes in the unfair dismissal law to provide for mandatory reinstatement of safety representatives proved to have been dismissed over representation on health and safety issues and also for the removal on the upper limit to compensation that can be awarded at an Employment Tribunal.
We also call for automatic re-instatement in cases where Safety Representatives have been dismissed for "whistle-blowing" over health & safety issues. The Hazards Campaign believes that the protections given in the Public Interest Disclosure Act do not go far enough.
Provisional Improvement Notices originated in Australia where they are part of the 1985 Occupational Health and Safety Act and give safety representatives the right to impose a notice to take action over health and safety breaches, on their employers. It also forces the employer to justify their decision to the Labour Inspectorate who arbitrate if the employer refuses to take action after a set number of days.
HSE research shows that at least 75% of accidents and injuries are predictable and therefore preventable. Under existing funding, most workplaces will rarely be inspected.- once in every 17 years. Although HSE Inspectors or Environmental Health Officers can impose Prohibition and Improvement Notices, in fact this rarely occurs until there has been an incident. If safety procedures within the workplace are not working properly, such that the health & safety representative feels that workers are at risk of injury or illness, the Hazards Campaign demands the legal empowerment of the safety representative to serve 'Provisional Improvement Notice' (PINs) on their employers. A copy of the PIN would be sent to the enforcement agency, and requires the employer to act within a specified period. The Hazards Campaign believes this would radically improve health and safety and reduce the likelihood of serious accidents and injury.
The demand for UK trade union safety representatives to have the power to serve PINs, has been adopted by a number of trade unions and is official TUC policy. The Hazards Campaign calls for urgent legislation on PINs.
Right for Safety Reps to act on environmental issues
The workplace environment is part of the wider environment, and many work activities contribute to environmental pollution. Communities living near sources of industrial pollution suffer adverse health and reduced life expectancy. It is therefore essential that safety representatives have the right to investigate and take-up environmental problems. The Hazards Campaign demands that safety representatives are included in consultation and negotiation over measures to reduce the impact of workplace activities that damage the wider environment.
Establish a National Inspection Day for Safety Representatives
After 21 years, the Hazards Campaign believes that Safety Representatives should celebrate the establishment of the rights and functions in the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations. We call on the TUC and all unions to campaign to establish an annual National Inspection Day on the anniversary date of the SRSC Regulations, October 1st each year. This celebratory inspection should be in addition to those normally undertaken by Safety Representatives as their statutory right. Where that date falls on a non-working day for any individual Safety Representative, the inspection shall be conducted on the first working day following the 1st October.
Funding for Trade Union Education for Safety Representatives
The Hazards Campaign demands that the SRSC Regulations are amended to strengthen the provisions for training of Safety Representatives, and roving and regional representatives, by removing the qualification "as may be reasonable in the circumstances" in Regulation 4(2)b and making training mandatory. The SRSC Regs. should be amended to provide for appropriate cover for reps undertaking their duties and training so they can exercise their right to attend independent TU Education courses. This right must also be supported by adequate funding to trade unions and the TUC to establish an expanded range of courses to provide this independent, regularly up-dated, training for Safety Representatives on new legislation, latest standards and good practice. Hazards Campaign demands that the government provides adequate funding for TU education and urgently sets aside funding for the training of safety representatives in the use of PINs.
Globalisation and the World Trade Organisation
Resist attempts at blackmail by the WTO
Support the inclusion of social clauses in trade agreements
Compensation action against a parent transnational must be made easier
UK-based transnationals to implement UK health, safety and welfare standards
Ratify all ILO conventions on occupational health & safety
Free market economics have led to world economy and trade being dominated by transnational corporations based in the rich North. This has led to the process of globalisation of production and has been accompanied by a decline in regulatory standards. The World Trade Organisation (WTO), established to ensure free trade comes before worker and consumer protection, is increasingly being used to rule on trade disputes in favour of large corporations. For example, Canada is taking a complaint against France to the WTO, to prevent the French ban on white asbestos. WTO rulings take no account of health, safety, welfare and environmental issues.
The Hazards Campaign calls on the government to resist attempts at blackmail by the WTO and to support the inclusion of social clauses into trade agreements and in the inducements it offers international capital to encourage investment in the UK.
We demand that the government recognises that action in the civil courts for compensation against a parent transnational is an essential means of control, and legislates to make this easier. We demand that the government requires UK-based transnationals to implement as a minimum, UK health, safety and welfare standards when they operate in countries which have lower standards than the UK. We call on the government to ratify all ILO conventions on Occupational Health & Safety, including those which attempt to set basic standards for some of the most exploited workers of the world - children and homeworkers.
Ratify the ILO Convention 177 on Homeworking
ILO Convention 177 on Homeworking explicitly gives homeworkers equality with employees in employers workplaces. There has been a big increase in the number of people working at home mainly due to the growth of teleworking but there are still considerable numbers of homeworkers doing 'traditional home work' such as sewing, manufacturing, soldering and packing. Although all homeworking comes under health and safety legislation, it is poorly implemented by employers and inadequately enforced by the enforcement agencies.
Ensure proper enforcement of the Control Hierarchy for Hazardous Substances as set out in the COSHH Regulations
Ensure rigorous enforcement of COSHH risk assessment provisions
Implement an absolute ban on substances and processes using or generating substances where no safe practical exposure limit can be achieved
The number of serious accidents and industrial illnesses related to substances indicates that working practices where chemicals are in common use, fall below the standard required by the COSHH Regulations. Pressure from the industrial lobby has ensured that the requirement to use safer substitutes has been effectively avoided. Occupational Exposure Standards and Maximum Exposure Levels are set at figures which industry and commerce are prepared to afford and not at those which are necessarily safe.
The Hazards Campaign demands the enforcement of the COSHH Control Hierarchy of elimination, substitution, engineering controls and only Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as a last resort. This will include the stricter enforcement of the requirement to use substitutes, stricter enforcement of requirements to provide adequate control measures, such as ventilation.
The Hazards Campaign also demands
- mandatory penalties for failing to undertake COSHH risk assessments, or for inadequate assessments
- mandatory service of Prohibition Notices on employers for non-compliance with any part of COSHH Regulations
- an increased level of penalties for convicted COSHH offenders
Enforce the training and information requirements of COSHH
There is a low level of compliance with the parts of COSHH that put duties on employers to give their employees full information about the risks to their health from the substances they work with, and to provide sufficient training in safe systems of work to reduce the risks. The Hazards Campaign demands that the enforcing agencies take more action on employers failing to provide suitable training and provision of information for substance users.
Provide more information for members of the public
The Hazards Campaign also calls for the provision of more information for members of the public buying chemicals for domestic use including the provision of data sheets.
Urgent review of all substance control legislation
Reduce the use of all toxic substances
Implement the precautionary principle
Openness and accountability in decision making processes on substances
Far too many workers are killed or made seriously ill due to their work with substances every year. Many communities affected by industrial pollution suffer worse health and reduced life expectancy compared to cleaner areas. The Hazards Campaign demands urgent action to reduce this preventable occupational and public ill-health. Drastic measures must be taken to reduce the overall use of toxic substances. The time taken to act against chemicals suspected of causing ill-health must be reduced and the precautionary principle applied across the board. The whole process of decision making over use and control of substances should be open to public involvement and scrutiny.
Make explicit the risks of biohazards
Micro-organisms encountered at work include bacteria, fungi and viruses such as Hepatitis B and C, Multiple Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in health work; Leptospirosis or Weil's disease in water and sewage work, Aspergillus or Farmers lung, Ringworm in agriculture and other zoonoses. The Hazards Campaign demands the rigorous enforcement of the COSHH Regulations to biohazards, with avoidance of exposure as the first priority but consideration of free vaccinations offered to specific workers at risk.
Ban Lindane, Pentachlorophenol (PCP), Tributyltin Oxide (TBTO), and organophosphates
Give right of public access to pesticide data
The health hazards of pesticides such as lindane, PCP, TBTO, and organophosphates are such that their continued industrial use cannot be justified. The Hazards Campaign continues to demand that these, and all such substances are banned.
As with all substances, the Hazards Campaign demands the right of public access to all pesticide data, from both manufacturers and Government agencies, including the justification the reasoning behind all decisions.
Ban all asbestos
Establish public register of all buildings containing asbestos
The Hazards Campaign has clearly contributed to the recent movement towards a ban on virtually all new use of asbestos. Although the importation and use of all asbestos is to be banned, except for limited and specialised purposes, there is still an urgent need to protect workers who may come into contact with asbestos, and to establish and maintain a public register of all buildings and structures containing asbestos. This should be backed up with regulations requiring the owners and occupiers of such buildings to ensure the health and safety of maintenance workers such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters by safe removal of asbestos before maintenance and repair work. All asbestos and asbestos containing products should be safely removed from the environment.
Enforce stricter standards for PPE and safeguards for removal workers and everyone in the area
The current standards for Respiratory Protective Equipment provided to workers engaged in asbestos removal should be raised to exclude any possibility of fibres entering the equipment. Clearance air test standards should be reduced to the lowest level that is technically feasible. The standard should be reviewed regularly and constantly improved upon.
Acknowledge Asbestos substitutes also present a risk to human health
While the HazardsCampaign demands the use of less harmful substitutes for carcinogenic asbestos, these substitutes are not harmless themselves and they need to be stringently assessed and controlled. There should be greater pressure for research into safer alternatives.
Establish complete review of criteria used to diagnose asbestos related disease for DSS Benefits
Establish a just compensation scheme for asbestos related disease sufferers
Provide easy rapid access to insurance companies files for asbestos compensation claims
Once someone has developed an asbestos related illness - asbestosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer - they are faced with a tortuous fight to establish that they developed the illness due to asbestos exposure and the negligence of their past employers. They have to convince the DSS they are eligible for industrial illness benefits and trace the insurance company for the employers they worked for, often 20 or 30 years ago, if they are to win any compensation at all. Many do not succeed. The Hazards Campaign demands that the government sorts out this whole process to make it work in favour of the sufferers, from reviewing DSS criteria on diagnosis, establishing a systematic and fair compensation system, making it easy for solicitors acting on sufferers behalf to have access to insurance company files.
Provide Government funded research into cancer caused by asbestos and new treatments and palliative care
At present there is very little treatment offered to asbestos disease sufferers. The Hazards Campaign demands that the government puts more resources into possible treatments to alleviate suffering and to investigate new treatments such as gene therapy which may offer hope of longer survival with good quality of life after diagnosis.
Establish Independent inquiry into worldwide asbestos genocide
Asbestos mining, use and removal have caused the deaths of millions of people. The Hazards Campaign demand a full independent inquiry into the whole asbestos story with those responsible for this industrial genocide indicted and brought to court and convicted of crimes against humanity.
Musculo-skeletal Problems / WRULDs / RSI
Ensure rigorous enforcement of existing legislation aimed at preventing musculo-skeletal problems especially the Manual Handling Regulations
Musculo-skeletal injuries continue to rise as a result of poor compliance with the requirements of existing regulations particularly in the area of risk assessments and risk management, and especially under the Manual Handling Regulations.
The Hazards Campaign demands rigorous enforcement of the requirements of the Manual Handling Regulations - from individual risk assessments to risk reduction - and all other relevant legislation intended to prevent musculo-skeletal problems in all areas of work. The level of fines for breaches of this legislation should reflect the seriousness of the offence.
Ensure new legislation specifically to prevent RSI/WRULDs
Because of the failure of existing legislation to prevent thousands of workers developing Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and Work Related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULDs) each year, the Hazards Campaign demands that the government introduces specific legislation requiring employers to address these specific and often permanently disabling musculo-skeletal problems. Diffuse RSI / WRULDs and other 'over-use injuries' should be added to the prescribed illnesses for Industrial Injury Disability Benefits.
Stress and Bullying
Recognise stress-related illness as an industrial injury
Ensure stricter control and management of stress at work
Recognise bullying as a serious hazard at work, which employers have a duty to prevent
Job security and the rights of employees have been eroded in favour of the business and enterprise. Contract culture, short term and temporary contracts, zero hours contracts, casualisation, the conversion of public services into businesses with fewer workers doing the same amount of work, and more lone working, has changed the face of employment. Coercive management practices flourish as pressure increases to cut costs, meet targets and do the same or more work with many fewer staff. This has led to an unacceptable rise in the number of workers reporting stress-related problems. Reported cases of bullying are up and many pieces of research show a great increase in the number of employees suffering mental illness through work-related stress - the latest research reveals that one in five workers feel they are under intolerable stress at work.
The Hazards Campaign demands legislation which will clearly identify stress-related illness as an industrial injury for the purpose of sickness benefits. Factors leading to stress and stress-related illness should be explicitly included in risk assessments, under the Management if Health and Safety at Work Regulations, or specific new 'Stress at Work Regulations' , which must include management style, practice and work organisation. This will involve specifying a set of criteria on factors which cause stress such as hours of work, pressure of work, shift, temporary, casual work, pace of work and management style. The Hazards Campaign demands new separate regulations on preventing stress at work rather than guidance or an ACOP, and for the rights of people at work to be treated with dignity and respect, not to be bullied or abused by employers or managers, to be explicitly stated in these new regulations.
Reduce working hours
Since the original Charter was written, the Labour Government has ratified the Social Chapter and implemented the Working Hours Directive - achieving two of the Hazards Campaign's demands. However, workers in the UK continue to work longer hours than most of the rest of Europe, which contributes enormously to the increase in stress that workers are experiencing. The argument of increased competitiveness through poorer working conditions enjoys neither moral or economic justification. The Hazards Campaign seeks a strengthening of the legislation on working hours and shift work including reducing the opt-outs and improving the enforcement arrangements. But essentially the Hazards Campaign calls for a recognition of the seriously damaging effects of the long hours culture on workers health and on children and communities and demands urgent action on reducing working hours.
Compensation for Occupational Injury and Illnesses
Review all qualification criteria
Abolish minimum 14% disability qualification
Extend limit for industrial injury claims to ten years
The Hazards Campaign is concerned that the Welfare to Work proposals threaten people with work-related conditions by denying them the Incapacity Benefit and Industrial Injuries Disability Benefits to which they are entitled, and thus forcing them back into work when they are in fact disabled, or into poverty. The Hazards Campaign calls on the government to assess the impact of the Welfare to Work proposals, to ensure that people injured, made ill or disabled by work are not further disadvantaged.
The qualification criteria for DSS benefits for many industrial illnesses are inadequate and exclude many genuine sufferers of occupational disease, so a complete review is necessary. The application of the 14% disability qualification before benefits are paid, is unfair and excludes many people who are considered disabled and incapable of work by other agencies. Due to a lack of information from their employers and the health service, many sick people do not realise their illness was caused by work for years, so the limit for industrial injury claims should be extended to 10 years.
Modernise the prescribed list of illnesses
The existing list of prescribed occupational diseases is out of date and needs urgent review taking a wider range of information and evidence than narrow medical studies which underestimate, misdiagnose and fail to reveal industrial illnesses for years and years. The Hazards Campaign demands this review uses worker oriented evidence and wants the following added urgently - neurotoxicity due to organic solvent exposure, Chronic Toxic Encephalopathy, a much wider range of Work Related Upper Limb Disorders such as diffuse RSI , and stress related illnesses.
Abolish compensation clawback
Establish a systematic and just compensation scheme
Clawback of compensation is unjust and unfair and the Hazards Campaign calls for its abolition. A very small proportion of those injured or made ill by their work ever receive financial compensation for this from their employers because the process is weighted against them. The fair way to reclaim the cost of benefits paid to people disabled by work awaiting compensation decisions, is to claim it off the employer directly. The Hazards Campaign demands that the government establishes a fair system to enable those made ill or injured at work to gain the financial compensation to which they are entitled.
Privatisation of Public Services
Stop the privatisation of public services
Establish right of public services to review existing contracts on health and safety grounds
Privatisation, under any name (Compulsory Competitive Tendering, Best Value, Value for Money, Private Finance Initiative, etc), has meant worse health, safety, and other working conditions for those privatised. The Hazards Campaign is opposed to any form of privatisation.
While privatisation continues, the Hazards Campaign at least demands strict enforcement and monitoring of health and safety at all stages of the bidding and operating process. This should include the power to impose strict sanctions, including financial penalties and termination of contract, on existing contractors where agreed safety standards are not delivered. Health and safety and equal opportunities must be included in any new bench marking arrangement. Public sector providers such as local authorities and the NHS, should be required to audit the environmental and health and safety impact of the proposed privatisation of any service as part of the Best Value process.
Apply controls on contract culture
The contracting out or out-sourcing of services and manufacturing is increasing in the private sector too. This contract culture threatens hard won health and safety standards. The Hazards Campaign demands the increased powers of PINs and roving reps and comprehensive site safety committees to enable trade union safety reps to respond to the changed employment circumstances.
Workers Memorial Day
Establish Workers Memorial Day as an official event on 28 April
Whereas those killed in military action are remembered and honoured on a specific Remembrance Day, the casualties of industry and commerce receive no official commemoration. Workers Memorial Day on 28 April each year has now been recognised by the Scottish TUC, the TUC and by most major trade unions in the UK. Spain has just officially recognised Workers Memorial Day, after only a few years, while we have been commemorating it in the UK for 6 years. The slogan 'Remember the Dead: Fight for the Living' is intended to commemorate all those who have died because of their work, and to pledge to continue seeking improvements in people's working conditions. The Hazards Campaign calls on the Government, Local Authorities and other public bodies to officially recognise this day, and to support local events.
Workers' Occupational Health and Safety Services & Centres
Implement the Occupational Health Services requirement in the Framework Directive
Britain is one of the few countries in Europe where all workers do not have access to an Occupational Health Service. The Hazards Campaign calls on the government to implement this requirement of the Framework Directive, particularly the sections on setting up protective and preventative services, and ensuring that the services are multi-disciplinary, and not just medically oriented. Workers must have a say in how any occupational health services are controlled and run.
Support existing worker-oriented occupational health projects and research
Occupational Health Projects have been established in the voluntary sector, funded by enlightened Local Authorities and Health Authorities, and by some grants from the National Lottery Charities Fund. These projects help many people with occupational health problems and have provided a useful service to local health care professionals and organisations. The Hazards Campaign welcomes the interest shown in occupational health by the HSE's 'Occupational Health Strategy' but demands that this should be controlled by working people and not the medical professions. There should also be increased financial support for existing and new projects, and the establishment of a national fund for worker-oriented occupational health research.
Fund Workers' Hazards Centres and groups
Hazards Centres provide excellent services including advice and research for employee representatives, tenants' and residents' groups, and other voluntary sector organisations. They constantly face funding problems which threaten these services. The Hazards Campaign demands the provision of adequate funding for these organisations through Local Authorities, Government Departments and a levy on employers.
Provide funding for victim support groups and families affected by industrial injury and illness
Victim support groups provide an important service for accident and industrial illness victims and their families and save many from utter despair. There are several very active Asbestos Victims support groups, RSI groups and Bereaved Relatives groups within the Hazards Campaign. It is cruel injustice that victims of car theft or burglary are provided with help from government funded schemes, but the families of those killed at work are not. The Hazards Campaign calls for funding for such groups to be provided in the same way in which Victims Support is provided for victims of other criminal offences.
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