24th National Hazards Conference
19-21st July 2013, University of Keele
Conference presentation notes:
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
Scott Donohoe, Unison Glasgow, Scottish Hazards
Professor Phil Taylor, University of Strathclyde
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.
Countering the attack on the safe workplace
CONFERENCE 2012 DOCUMENTS
Presentations and info from Hazards 2012, more to come
‘We Didn’t Vote to Die at Work’ Campaign – ‘Stop it: you’re killing us!’
Eurig Scandrett, Scottish Friends of Bhopal – Presentation
Louise Adamson from Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) – Presentation • Notes • YouTube
Ivan Timson, UNITE Safety Rep, Becoming a Hazards campaigner Presentation • YouTube
Helen Lynn, Alliance for Cancer Prevention, gave Simon Pickvance’s speech as he is unwell. Presentation • YouTube • Notes
Tony Whitston, Chair of Asbestos Victims Support Group Forum Presentation • YouTube
John McClean, Director Health, Safety and Environment GMB
Nobby Styles Award of the Alan 2012 to Nobby Styles, Convenor UNITE NE 10/348 • Grimsby Telegraph • YouTube • Nomination form for 2013
Key note meetings
1) Lofstedt: Friend or Foe? Chair: Caroline Bedale, Speakers: Dave Whyte, Liverpool University/ IER and Hugh Robertson, TUC
2) Sickness is for wimps Chair: Kathy Jenkins, Scottish Hazards Speakers: John Bamford, Hazards Campaign and Robert Baughan, UNISON
3)The case for regulation and enforcement Chair: Ian Tasker, STUC, Speakers: Simon Hester, Chair of Prospect, HSE and Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign
All YouTube films by Philip Lewis of Camden UNISON)
Hazards Conference is the UK’s biggest educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists. A mixture of plenary sessions, debates, meetings and a comprehensive workshop programme. Exchange experience and information with delegates from a wide range of sectors and jobs.
The attack on health & safety regulation has continued into 2012. Lord Young was reinstated in 2011, his deregulatory brief re-confirmed. In November, Professor Lofstedt clearly upset his political masters by not quite being the hatchet-man they expected. He didn’t bow to their prejudices, and said that, by and large, the system of health & safety regulation is about right. He also made a positive reference to trade union safety reps, but no recommendation about their activities. The Government then announced their intention to extend the ‘Local Better Regulation Office’ (LBRO) scheme as part of a package of plans to transform front-line enforcement for
businesses. In this way they side-stepped the, for them, disappointingLofstedt report.
In summer 2011, the ‘Transforming Regulatory Enforcement’ consultation. asked businesses to say where reform of enforcement is needed. Responding in December the Government said it wanted business to become more like customers of the enforcement agencies, rather than just being subjected to the enforcement system. So law breakers as “customers” of the policing authority! They want to reduce enforcement and replace it with advice, and promote self-regulation and co-regulation, none of which offer any real protection against employer negligence or wilful disregard. Workers have not been consulted on what they believe would improve regulation.
Meanwhile, Dame Carol Black, appointed to review sickness absence, proposed removing GPs from the process of authorising long-term sickness absence after 4 weeks, and giving that function to a new ‘Independent Assessment Service’. She said that workers exploit the sick pay system, implying they are skivers, and that public sector workers are the worst, and encouraged the government to review public sector sick pay schemes. Such reviews invariably lead to worsening conditions of service.
In January Cameron described health and safety as “an albatross around the neck of British businesses” and pledged to make 2012 not just the year of the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee, but also “the year we get a lot of this pointless time-wasting out of the British economy and British life once and for all”. He supported the anti-trade union group the (so-called) Trade Union Reform Campaign, and told parliament that paid time-off for union reps in the public sector was a disgraceful waste of public money and would be stopped.
So there’s a lot to find out, discuss and debate, and a lot to do to defend safe
workplaces and our union organisation. Come and learn what you can do.
Struggle for OSH Rights in Asia, Sanjiv Pandita, AMRC [pdf]
Health and Safety – Fighting for our rights – and our lives, Hugh Robertson, TUC [pdf]
Is the Government destroying enforcement?, Hugh Robertson, TUC [pdf]
Background and booking
The 22nd National Hazards Conference: Hazards 2011 Hazards Conference is the UK‟s biggest educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists. The conference is a mixture of speakers, plenary sessions, debates & meetings and a comprehensive workshop programme. You can network and exchange experience and information with delegates from a wide range of occupations.
Now we know the dreadful hand that the 2010 election dealt us. The ConDem government is now intent on making ordinary people pay the price of resolving the economic crisis caused by the greed of banks and financial institutions. They falsely present the crisis as being caused by the sick and injured, those on disability and other benefits, public sector workers, and the regulation and enforcement of health and safety that they say imposes unfair burdens on business. Enforcement officers and public sector workers are now being described as “the enemies of enterprise.” Workers pay the price; there is precious little evidence of shared “we are all in this together” misery.
The HSE face 35 per cent cuts to their budget, and 201 staff left HSE in February. That means less information, education, research and enforcement for occupational health and safety as inspectors and others lose their jobs. Local authority EHO departments also face similar levels of cuts. Meanwhile Lord Young‟s daft and dangerous ideas like combining food safety with
workplace safety inspections can only weaken both.
We must organise more effectively in the workplace. Last year‟s TUC safety reps survey found that most reps still don‟t fully undertake all their statutory functions. A majority of reps don‟t conduct the 4 workplace inspections a year the SRSC Regulations prescribe; over half spend just an hour or less a week on safety rep work; only a quarter of reps say they are automatically consulted by the employer, while 14 per cent of reps reported they were refused time-off for training. The statutory framework must be defended, best done by extending and improving our workplace organisation and activity against unsafe and unhealthy conditions. If we don‟t, it‟s clear no-one else will.
Join us to debate these crucial health and safety issues, think about what we all need to do and develop some fresh ideas, and help to build the campaign for better workplace organisation, more inspections and effective trade union action for decent workplaces and against the cuts.
How to apply for Hazards 2011 Booking form [pdf]
The absolute deadline for applications is Monday 8th August 2011. Choose 2 workshops plus a reserve and 1 keynote meeting from the list, arrange your delegate fee, complete the registration form, and send it together with your cheque payable to Hazards 2011 for the appropriate delegate fee, to the address on the form. Please do this as soon as possible, as the maximum number of 500 cannot be exceeded.