Category Archives: Blog

Campaign Call: The fight for Covid safety at work

If workplaces are vectors of transmission can they ever be virus free? Join us on Tuesday 22 June at 6pm to discuss this question with trade union and health and safety activists.

Speakers

Tracy Edwards, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) (personal capacity)
Kathy Jenkins, Scottish Hazards campaign

Chair

Janet Newsham, Greater Manchester Hazards Centre and Zero Covid Campaign

Registration

Notes

PCS members working for the DVLA are currently in dispute over Covid safety failures Morning Star website

Clean Air Day: Register for the Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk and join the TUCAN campaign

Clean Air Day has been held every year since 2017 and is co-ordinated by Global Action Plan. The need for action is clear. From the recent verdict at nine year old Ella Kissi-Debra’s inquest making a direct link between the air pollution she endured and her untimely death to the recent study published by University College London stating that globally we are experiencing at least 8.7 million deaths related to air pollution annually.

Clean Air Day: 17 June 2021On Clean Air Day 2021 join the Hazards Campaign panel of experts from across the UK, to discuss what is happening in their country and what TUCAN should be doing to drive forward the air quality agenda throughout UK workplaces.

Register for the Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk here

Links to more information:

For more information contact janet@gmhazards.org.uk

Hybrid working: Hazards Campaign short survey on where you are working during the Covid-19 pandemic

Hybrid Working: Are you working from home, in a workplace, or a combination of both (hybrid working)? What is your employer doing to support you?
Many people are being encouraged to work in a different way than they did prior to the pandemic, The  Hazards Campaign is conducting a survey to establish  if and how employers are providing the conditions (equipment and processes) to support this changed way of working.

The survey should only take about 3 mins to complete.  The results will inform our campaigning priorities and enable us to better support workers.

Please complete the survey here

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KSWBXJL

Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk – Clean Air Day and what next for TUCAN?

Clean Air Day: Thursday June 17th – 6-7.30pm

Clean Air Day has been held every year since 2017 and is co-ordinated by Global Action Plan. The need for action is clear. From the recent verdict at nine year old Ella Kissi-Debra’s inquest making a direct link between the air pollution she endured and her untimely death to the recent study published by University College London stating that globally we are experiencing at least 8.7 million deaths related to air pollution annually.

On Clean Air Day 2021 join the Hazards Campaign panel of experts from across the UK, to discuss what is happening in their country and what TUCAN should be doing to drive forward the air quality agenda throughout UK workplaces.

Register via Eventbrite for the  Zoom event

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hazards-campaign-thursday-talk-clean-air-day-and-what-next-for-tucan-tickets-137598373439

Links to more information and resources

Greener Jobs Alliance

Greener workplaces for a just transition – a Wales TUC toolkit for trade unionists | TUC

Free online Courses from the Greener Jobs Alliance

The Clean Air Plan for Wales: Healthy Air, Healthy Wales, Welsh Government

Setting standards for employers to meet isn’t an unreachable burden – London’s low emission zone, TUCAN

Toxics Use Reduction: beyond analysis to action Linking public health, occupational health and safety, environmental sustainability and new or better employment: a position paper Toxic use Reduction in the Scottish context

Stop deadly exposures @ work today! Hazards Campaign Briefing Document

Target cancers: Cancers and their work causes Hazards magazine factsheet

Air Pollution: all in a days work TUCAN PowerPoint

For more information contact janet@gmhazards.org.uk

If you would like to take part in the air quality monitoring of your workplace, please contact hilda@gmhazards.org.uk

 

Thursday Talk report: Stopping the abuse of call/contact centre workers

Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk – Stopping the abuse of call/contact centre workers was held on 13th May, 2021.

The discussion was led by the brilliant Lesley-Anne Ure (Call Centre Collective), Professor Phil Taylor (University of Strathclyde) and Tracy Edwards (PCS) covering the fantastic work reaching out to and supporting call/contact centre workers.

To watch the event please go to https://youtu.be/zsH-YbtTtoQ or you can view it below:

Please follow Hazards Campaign
Twitter  @hazardscampaign, @Jnewsham, @hildapalmer @centregreater
Facebook We didn’t vote to die at work- Hazards Campaign, Greater Manchester Hazards Centre,  and Families Against Corporate Killers

Email Hazards Campaign mail@hazardscampaign.org.uk, janet@gmhazards.org.uk and hilda@gmhazards.org.uk

Resources

Controlling Risks in the Workplace Hazards Campaign

Venting: Coronavirus risks are mostly up in the air, Hazards magazine

Hands face space won’t cut it. Ventilation. Ventilation. Ventilation!  Hazards Campaign PowerPoint

Working with a computer at home, Hazards Campaign briefing

https://gmhazards.org.uk/index.php/2020/05/29/working-with-a-computer-at-home/

The COVID-19 Indoor Safety Guideline tool

Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk – Stopping the abuse of call centre workers

Cameron call image
Join us for the Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk – Stopping the abuse of Call/Contact Centre workers
Thursday 13th May – 6-7.30pm

As more work goes online, are you a call/contact centre worker? Call/contact Centre workers face strict and excessive surveillance by their managers, during the pandemic many have been exposed to Covid-19 infections because they have continued to work in unhealthy working environments like those PCS members striking at Swansea DVLA. Call centre workers face abuse by customers, at risk from acoustic shock and some have to listen to suicidal customers that they are not trained to deal with. How can workers challenge these unsafe and unhealthy working conditions?

Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk – Stopping the Abuse of Call/Contact Centre Workers Thursday 13th May, 6-7.30pm
Please register for your link to the event:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hazards-campaign-thursday-talk-stopping-the-abuse-of-call-centre-workers-tickets-153607348715

The discussion will be led by:
– Prof. Phil Taylor University of Strathclyde – Covid-19 and Call/Contact Centre Workers Survey
– Tracy Edwards – PCS National Health and Safety Officer
– Call Centre Collective Speaker tbc

UK: FACK Statement – International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2021

Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) Statement

International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April 2021

  • It is fundamentally wrong that a wife should need to write heartbreakingly about her 6th year on the grief rollercoaster, missing her beautiful angel husband so much with every passing hour of her life.
  • It is fundamentally wrong that a mum should be marking the 18th year since her 17-year-old son was taken from her, the pain she feels, never healing, instead festering like an open wound.
  • It is fundamentally wrong that a daughter should wish her dad a happy 56th birthday, while lamenting that he will be forever 37.
  • And it is fundamentally wrong that a fiancée should go from choosing wedding cars to instead sitting in
    a funeral cortège.

We FACKers are therefore at a loss to understand why we are even having to seek to convince the International Labour Organisation that health and safety should be recognised as a fundamental right at work…!?

Because of course it should!

Read the full statement here

#iwmd21

Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk: Stopping the mental health harm of work

Join us for our Thursday Talk – Stopping the mental health harm of work Thursday 15th April – 6-7pm

What should our employers do to stop the mental health harm at work?  Work related stress continues to be the top concern of trade union safety reps, it is causing the highest loss of working days through sickness and now there are additional mental health impacts from Covid-19. April is Stress Awareness month, we need prevention of this workplace killer!

Please register for your link to the event:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/149826851145

The discussion will be led by:
Peter Kelly – HSE Inspector
Janet Newsham – Greater Manchester Hazards Centre
Further speaker on the the mental health impact of Covid  (tbc)

Report of the Hazards Campaign/TUC Meeting – Breast cancer is an industrial issue

The meeting , held on 10 March 2021, was jointly organised by Hazards Campaign and the TUC to consider the Breast Cancer as an industrial issue.

Helen Lynn from Breast Cancer Alliance and Hilda Palmer Hazards Campaign provided an introduction to the meeting and it was a follow up to a Hazards Campaign meeting Breast Cancer Awareness is not enough held in October 2020 with Helen Lynn, Jane Stewart and Jane Jane McArthur speaking at it.  A link to film recording and resources can be found at: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/blog/hazards-campaign-thursday-talk-breast-cancer-awareness-is-not-enough-video-and-resources

Helen Lynn:

Breast cancer is not a rite of passage

–         it’s a social justice and human rights issue

–         its an occupational and environmental disease while also being an indication of the state of the environment, that’s all environments, the workplace, the home, the wider environment and the first environment

–         the womb. And breast cancer can begin in the womb with pre-birth exposure to toxic chemicals

–         which is why it is so important to protect women and men in the workplace.

We must not forget there are lives behind every statistic.

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in UK women with 55,176 and 390 men diagnosed per year -150/day.
  • Deaths – 11,500 women and 85 men per year – 32 people die from breast cancer each day.
  • In the last 25 years in the UK rates have gone from 1 in 12 to 1 in 7.
  • Incidence risen by 72% in the last 50 years.
  • Up to 70% of cases have no known cause – 30% attributed to lifestyle risk factors + genetic predisposition
  • It’s the 2nd most common cause of cancer death and the leading cause of death in women under 50.
  • There are an estimated 35,000 people living with secondary breast cancer in the UK.
  • Breast cancer deaths in England are more common in females living in the most deprived areas.
  • Ethnic variations – patients known to be black are younger, less likely to be screen-detected and have worse prognosis tumours.

The issues

  • Breast cancer not just a gender issue, it is a health and safety issue.
  • But women are particularly affected because there are sex differences are found in almost every system of the body. There is lifetime of hormonal changes ie pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.

Women are not the default male.

  • Different immune systems – so we are more prone to auto immune disease – women make up 80% of those affected. Thinner skin – may allow great absorption of chemicals. Detox more slowly.
    The solutions
  • The current narrative is that breast cancer is that its all down to poor diet, wonky genes, too much alcohol and not enough exercise is not working, has not worked for the last 50 odd years. Cancer rates continue to rise as do deaths form cancer.
  • The human rights approach – United Nation Environment and the UN Human rights programme have issues key messages for human health and hazardous substances.
  • Stating that states are obliged to respect protect and prevent exposures to hazardous substances and failure to do so is a violation of obligations in relation to human rights and the right to life. Specifically mentions women and girls and workers at heightened risk of occupational exposure.

A cancer free economy –

  • The cancer free economy movement seeks to analysis the system which has created an economy that depends on hazardous and harmful chemicals and bring about a just transition to a cancer-free economy that works for all people and the planet.
  • Recognising environmental and occupational risk factors in all cancer plans.
  • The environmental and occupational risk factors are the missing confounding risk factors in all cancer plans and strategies.

Some solutions:

  • Toxic tours of homes, workplaces, bathroom cabinets.
  • Demand all breast and cancer charities refences any information on risk factors on their website.
  • Toxic use reduction and COSHH (Hilda)
  • Risk perception – Jane McArthur’s work – Interesting approach to understanding breast cancer risk by assessing women’s occupational and environmental risk perception.
  • Need to campaign from a worker, consumer and citizen perspective.

More information:

Hilda Palmer:

Hilda also presented information:

Breast Cancer possible exposure causes at work include: Ionising radiation; endocrine disrupters; solvents; environmental tobacco smoke; PCBs; pesticides, including DDT/DDE, hexachlorobenzene, lindane, heptachlor breakdown products and triazine herbicides; combustion by-products including PAHs and dioxin; reactive chemicals including ethylene oxide; possible links to non-ionising radiation, phthalates; work as a firefighter; also long term nightwork and others

Hilda emphasised the importance of COSHH regulations, requiring employers to identify and risk assess all substances and prevent exposure of workers to substances that harm their health at work using the COSHH control hierarchy. Unfortunately the enforcement of this hierarchy as especially elimination and substitution is poorly enforced.  She said that it was important to use the precautionary principle to the risks by substituting safer substances- Intelligent substitution based on the hazards of whole class of chemicals – TURI www.turi.org/ http://www.subsport.eu/ where possible.  And using high standards of mechanical ventilation where necessary, air monitoring and also a precautionary level of PPE properly fitted for the individual where necessary.

Hilda proposed suggestions for action, including:

  • Explicitly campaign for prevention of cancer caused by work 12%
  • Explicitly link Breast Cancer with work causes not lifestyle
  • Make eliminating exposures to carcinogens (EDCs, Mutagens and Rep Toxics)  an explicit aim
  • Demand Risk Assessments, research, actions all  sex/gender sensitive – resurrect TUC GOSH and develop into whole stream of work 
  • Use existing law COSHH better, demand better enforcement of control hierarchy
  • Campaign for better laws/actions: Toxic Use Reduction;
  • Link Justice, Equality Human Rights, Environmental with workplace health and safety – 20% cancer caused by work+env exposure+ causes linked
  • Avoid Pink washing and putting Breast Cancer in wellbeing box

It was agreed to:

  • Support the setting up of a GOSH-Gender in Occupational Safety and Health committee to look in particular at the impact of work on women health and bodies.
  • To consider the suggestions for action and solutions recommended by Helen and Hilda in their presentations.

Further information:

·       Toxic Use Reduction htps://www.resea

FACK Statement: Some justice for Ben Wylie’s family after seven years but much heartbreak

Immediate use 16.3.21

FACK Statement on the sentencing of Ruislip Plant Ltd for the offence that led to Ben Wylie’s death

Some justice for Ben Wylie’s family after seven years but much heartbreak

Mylene Bensley read her Victim Personal Statement to Reading Crown Court yesterday, before the sentencing of the company which pleaded guilty to a health and safety offence that led to the incident that killed her beloved son Ben on a construction site on 14 May 2014.

Ben was killed when stepping forward to help colleagues struggling to get a drilling rig functioning again after a part that had failed the day before had been repaired, altered and refitted, rather than replaced with a new part. When tested, the repair failed under pressure and Ben was hit by a jet of highly pressurised hydraulic oil.  Ben suffered a severe chest injury which killed him but not immediately.

In her statement Mylene said:

Ben was such a wonderful person full of life and he filled a room when he walked in everyone loved him. Ben had many friends and a few close friends. Rhys and Karah his brother and sister meant so much to Ben he always made the effort to be there for their birthdays and special occasions. and they loved him so much

Ben’s death was not immediate, and I will have the visions of my son standing up after being shot by oil and a piece of equipment and stumbling across a building site saying he felt sick and spewing out blood and then falling down forever etched into my mind, due to the inadequate provision for his safety.”

The information started coming through in graphic minutia of detail of how Ben died. I took each blow of information because my son had taken the blow that killed him, and I wanted to be there in my mind in any way I could be because I couldn’t be there for his dying moments. Ben’s body was returned home on my birthday in a coffin.”

We have suffered for seven years with no government assistance and a sham of justice we have to continue despite anger, Deep hurt and insecurity. I am so grateful that FACK and Hilda were so helpful because without Hilda’s help and support this whole horrible experience would have been so much worse.”

“I was asked to identify my son in Maidenhead and as I had no money, I had to rely on someone’s good will to get me there. Seeing my son lying there dead was the worst sight in the world to me. All the hopes and dreams of the future gone and now my son who experienced a terrible death just lying there. I didn’t want to leave him in that cold place and I had to be escorted out.”

There were several companies on site including Ben’s employer, but it took seven years to bring the case against only one, Ruislip Plant Ltd. Thomas Kearney, the sole director carried out the botched repair, but died in 2019. His son David, who bears no responsibility for the incident or charge, with some honour did not liquidate the company and so it had assets to stand trial and pay this fine.

Yesterday the company pleaded guilty to a charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc.

The Judge fined the company £99,000 plus £116,800 costs..

Hilda Palmer FACK facilitator said:

“Families Against Corporate Killers welcome the sentence but note that justice delayed so long is always to some extent justice denied.  FACK has supported Mylene throughout the HSE investigation, the Inquest and the trial. There is no automatic statutory support for families of those killed by employer’s negligence, no free legal representation at Inquest, and no financial compensation for the family of a young man without dependents to offset the costs of pursuing justice or coping with the effects of grief on health and earning capacity. Families suffer terribly. Mothers like Mylene suffer the most and siblings also suffer badly. None of this is accounted for or deemed worthy of support and help by the authorities or employers who cause preventable deaths like Ben’s.  And since work-related death is little acknowledged, publicised or understood, many employers and even friends and family have no idea of the trauma suffered, the callous cruelty of the process or its costs to individual’s harmed due to no fault of their own but an employer failing to comply with health and safety law. The harms caused included the lack of financial or mental health support immediately or over the very long period it affects those grieving a traumatic death, and long-term impact of bereavement on parents and siblings.  FACK believes that many bereaved families suffer undiagnosed and untreated PTSD and we demand more help for families to alleviate their suffering. FACK commends Mylene for her bravery in pursuing justice for Ben, being his witness, while also being the bread winner, caring for his sister and brother and coping with her own grief. She is truly courageous and inspiring.

“Mylene spoke to the Court powerfully and eloquently about the terrible impact of Ben’s death and the effects on her and Ben’s brother and sister. This is a long-term effect, nearly eight years of severe grief and hardship to get this conviction and some justice, but a life-time of loss and heartbreak to endure. FACK has heard these words many times but we still weep and rage. We urge everyone to heed them and demand more help, support and understanding from the authorities and all concerned. We also demand that employers take health and safety seriously, do not cut corners for profit or bodge repairs to save money and time, but fully protect the lives and health of all workers and that the Health and Safety Executive enforces health and safety more stringently to prevent workers being killed. Employers do not bear the full cost, it is families who bear the burden of employers’ criminal acts.”

After the sentencing Mylene added

It was good to give Hilda and FACK the recognition today, whilst reading my witness impact statement. The efforts and support Hilda, in particular, provided for me throughout these seven years since Ben was killed, have enabled me to pursue justice.  As I sat in virtual Reading court, through the prosecution of Ruislip Ltd, I knew I was there due to Hilda’s support. Thank you Hilda and FACK.“

Contact Hilda Palmer 0161 792 1044 mobile 079298 00240 for more information

Notes for editors

The Charge: Ruislip Plant Ltd of Ruislip Middlesex on 13th May 2014 at West Street, Maidenhead being an employer within the meaning of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (“the Act”), it failed to discharge the duty imposed on it by section 3(1) of the Act, in that it failed to conduct its undertaking, namely the maintenance of a high-pressure grease system, in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that persons not in its employment who may have been affected thereby, including Benjamin Wylie, were not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety, namely hydraulic injection injury during maintenance, whereby it is guilty of an offence contrary to Section 33(1)(a) of the Act.

FACK – set up in 2006 by families bereaved by negligent employers to support families, campaign for justice and end preventable work-related deaths

https://gmhazards.org.uk/index.php/fack/

In her statement Mylene said:

“I turned to a group called Families Against Corporate Killers run by Greater Manchester Hazards Centre which supports the families of those killed at work. Through them I managed to obtain advice on the process, support and also free legal representation through Helen Clifford Solicitor for the whole of the Inquest, plus some funding to stay in Reading as I had no other means of ensuring I could even be there. There is no statutory help at all for people in my position. Thank you, Hilda, and FACK for your tireless efforts at gaining accountability for workers in unsafe corporate organisations. Without your support the whole terrible experience would have been so much more difficult.”

c/o GM Hazards Centre, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road,

Manchester M16 7WD Tel 0161 792 1044 hilda@gmhazards.org.uk  https://gmhazards.org.uk/index.php/fack/