Category Archives: media

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/

Peoples’ Court verdict: Government Guilty! HSE Guilty! Employers Guilty!

News bulletin for immediate release 

COVID-19
GOVERNMENT – GUILTY! HSE – GUILTY! EMPLOYERS – GUILTY!

The jury at the on-line Workers’ Court, 11 March 2021, found the government, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and employers guilty of all charges that were brought over the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to the preventable deaths of tens of thousands of workers and members of the public.

In his summing up of the Workers’ Court proceedings Professor Steve Tombs, the chair of the court said:

‘The jury has unanimously found the employers, enforcement authorities and the UK Governments, guilty of all the charges laid against them.  Their collective criminal negligence will not be forgotten.  You are the living record, yours is one of the many collective records of the lives of over 130,000 people callously ended, needlessly ended, up to this point in the pandemic.  Not to mention millions more who have been emotionally, physically and financially scarred in many cases for the rest of their lives. As bearers of this record, those for whom you have spoken and about whom you have spoken, we are not going away.  On behalf the Workers’ Court: we demand a public inquiry, we demand legal proceedings for corporate bodies and senior individuals within them;  we demand truth, justice and accountability.  We shall remember the dead but we will also fight for the living.’

The court was organised by the UK Hazards Campaign on 11 March 2021, one year after the declaration of the start of the Covid-19 pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO). One year on, 130,000 UK citizens have died, including many thousands of workers.

Evidence was taken from a broad base of witnesses, including trade union reps, specialist academics and campaigners covering different industrial sectors including: the NHS, public sector, construction, education, manufacturing, telecommunications and transport.  As well as an ex HSE inspector an activist from the Black Workers network, retired GP, national and regional trade union officers.

In introducing the witnesses Janet Newsham of the UK Hazards Campaign said:

The witnesses provided a picture where workers are bullied and victimised, where trade union representatives are sacked and blacklisted, where employers deliberately fail to control the risks leaving workers exposed, infected, disabled and dead.  These are serious allegations which need bringing to justice.  We need employers to understand it is their legal duty to ensure the mental and physical health of their workers, that the enforcement authorities need to stand up and start protecting workers and Government inaction must be challenged to stop the continued deaths of their citizens.’

The witnesses evidence showed:

– how government refused to accept clear and obvious risks to workers throughout the pandemic, especially denying the airborne risk until too many people had died, and failed to act sufficiently to halt the progress of infections, illness and deaths;

– how the HSE abdicated their role as health based standard setter and enforcement agency, failed to recognise the clear and obvious serious nature of the disease and the risk of transmission at the UK’s workplaces, failed to enforce Health and Safety laws and protect workers health and safety in the workplace;

– how employers have failed to meet the legal standards enshrined in our criminal health and safety laws, failed to make “suitable and sufficient” risk assessments and put in place “safe systems of work”, failed to consult with union reps as required by the law, demanded workers who could have worked from home actually go in to the workplace etc.

A full list of the charges is in additional information, at the end of the document.

The Jury that heard the evidence were:

  • Joan McNulty – Unison NW Health and Safety Committee Chair
  • Helen McFarlane – Health Worker, Trade Union Rep, Unite NEC
  • Janet Farrar – UCU President elect, Manchester College Trade Union Education
  • Prof. Dave Whyte – Professor of Socio-legal Studies Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, Uni of Liverpool
  • Prof. Andrew Watterson – Professor Andrew Watterson, Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport at the University of Stirling
  • Phil Liptrott – Personal Injury specialist and solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors
  • Ian Tasker – Senior Advice Worker at Scottish Hazards
  • Andrea Oates – Labour Research Department, NUJ

Verdict and statement of the jury, which was read out by Helen McFarlane, following their consideration of the evidence:

“First and foremost, we find the Government guilty on all charges:
We believe the Government sets the scene for the remaining charges
So, deregulation, privatisation, slow reaction to lock down, herd immunity
Regarding our black and ethnic minority brothers and sisters, the Govt has failed to acknowledge root causes, NOT in genetics but in structural institutional racism in the workplace
and the dangerous cocktail of race and class came to the fore
“That the Government had a wilful downgrading of the serious nature of this pandemic”

“We find the also found the Employers guilty on all charges:
We believe that is was wilful, for example we were struck by the evidence, there was never an accidentally going over the top with PPE, within any risk assessment.
Not utilising RIDDOR
Exploitation of women workers, BAME workers
Failed by the employers to improve on the guidance. So even if they were hiding behind the Government saying that it was just guidance, our employers have failed to improve on that guidance and have ignored TU reps, to put in place better arrangements.
And there has been victimisation of workers, sacking of reps and workers for raising safety issues and particular horror to hear of the UNITE London Bus driver Moe Mahsin Manir and his sacking.”

“The HSE we also find guilty on all charges:
Not the HSE workers but the HSE leadership
Our reps rely on advice and back up from HSE and we recognise that so do good employers who are trying to do right thing.
But the lack of intervention, not intervening on even the RIDDOR allegations.
Not setting standards that could be measured.
Signing off on undermining health and safety guidance led by big business, especially the Construction Leadership Council.
Allowing themselves to hide behind Public Health.
And where there have been fines of 40,000+ individuals ONLY 78 Improvement Notices and no prosecutions.”

“We agree with the witnesses that said they blame employers, but we blame all three for deaths as they put profit before people’ s lives”

“Our judgment is we have witnessed:
Social murder. Social injury. Social illness, both physical and mental.
We further find exonerated the brave workplace reps and we demand their reinstatement.
And we also exonerate all those who protest and call out the guilt of all parties.
And in particular we exonerate Mental Health Nurse, Unison activist Karen Reissmann for the brave move that she has taken.”

For more information contact:
Janet Newsham, Hazards Campaign
janet@gmhazards.org.uk
Tel: 07734 317158

Additional Information:
Hazards Campaign Workers Court 11th March 2021

Aim:
I. To highlight, challenge, and change the negligent response of employers, enforcers and UK Governments to the Covid-19 pandemic at work.
II. To give grass root organisations, workers, trade union reps, trade union health and safety officers and other occupational health and safety activists the opportunity to register their concerns about the direct and indirect effects of COVID occupational health and safety failures on workers including economic and social impact.
III. To provide a living record of the issues workers have faced due to the UKs response to Covid-19.

THE CHARGES

Employers: During the pandemic many employers have:

  1. Compelled employees to return to work during the pandemic when it was unsafe to do
  2. Failed to provide ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessments, as required by law, that use a control hierarchy approach to controlling the risks of transmission via: direct, indirect, large droplets and aerosols and then monitor, review and implement effective Covid risk removal and risk reduction measures. (such as ventilation in indoor settings)
  3. Failed to work with Safety Reps and Trade Unions to protect workers
  4. Failed to provide sufficient pay for workers to allow them to stay off work when sick or having to isolate
  5. Failed to provide adequate PPE at a precautionary level, when and where it was needed
  6. Failed to record or RIDDOR report near-miss, infections and deaths from Covid-19

Enforcement Authorities:
Failed to plan effectively for pandemics and act on international evidence of risks at an early stage.

During the pandemic the HSE:

  1. Leadership has failed to enforce health and safety law compliance on employers who are not controlling the risks of transmission.
  2. Leadership did not present the case to take the lead on workplace Covid outbreaks instead of public health agencies
  3. Failed to carry out proactive inspections until transmission rates in communities are too high.
  4. Failed to release information and detailed reports about infection outbreaks, workplace transmissions, failed to explain where/how transmissions have happened, failed to provide information about how these risks can be controlled and failed to inform how many workers have been infected, developed serious illness or who have died as a result of Covid-19.
  5. Failed to prosecute employers for negligence and issued very few Improvement or Prohibition enforcement notices.

UK Governments:

  1. UK Governments failed to plan and prepare for the occupational health and safety risks of pandemics over several years when international agencies such as the ILO and WHO provided the necessary information
  2. UK Governments failed to provide precautionary PPE, and
  3. UK Government downgraded PPE standards (based on availability not health risk)
  4. UK Government downgraded Covid-19 as ‘significant’ not ‘serious’ workplace infection
  5. That the UK Governments failed to ensure that only workplaces that are controlling all the risks from Covid-19 transmission are permitted to open
  6. UK Governments allowed non-essential workplaces to continue to operate during the lock-downs which has increased transmission rates in communities.
  7. UK Governments have failed to provide transparent data on workplace outbreaks
  8. UK Governments have failed to provide mitigation of the transmission risks in Government buildings, schools and other education facilities and health and social care settings.
  9. UK Governments have provided guidance which does not meet the duties of employers under existing Health and Safety Law.
  10. Contrary both historic and current evidence, UK Governments failed to acknowledge the true airborne transmission risk by continuing to only focus on hands, face, and space.

http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/blog/covid-19-a-workers-court

Further useful information on the issues raised at the event:
Hazards magazine – www.hazards.org
Institute of Employment Rights report – HSE and Covid at work: a case of regulatory failure – https://www.ier.org.uk/product/hse-and-covid-at-work-a-case-of-regulatory-failure/

Hazards Campaign details
website www.hazardscampaign.org.uk
twitter @hazardscampaign
facebook www.facebook.com/groups/123746101003963
If you need more information please email: janet@gmhazards.org.uk
or call Janet 07734 317 158

The Hazards Campaign is a UK-wide network of resource centres and campaigners. The Hazards Campaign supports those organising and campaigning for justice and safety at work.

Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk – Picking up the threads!

Thursday Talk: Picking up the Threads!
21st January, 6-7.30pm

Register for the online event here

Across the UK, transmission of the virus is out of control and workers are dying or being left with Long-Covid because their employers haven’t controlled the transmission risks. What can we do to ensure all our workplaces are Covid-Safe and what does this mean?

We will be joined by experts from different trade unions, sectors and industries, who will lead a discussion in how to keep workers safe and prevent infection risks.

If you have any specific questions you would like to put to the panel, email them in advance or post in the chat on the night.

Links to Information
View a film about workplace Covid-19 transmission in the Hazards magazine Venting article

Register for the online event here

Supporting our work
If you would like to get involved in the work of the Hazards Campaign and/or would like to donate. Then please send an email and/or any donations to Hazards Campaign c/o:
info@hazardscampaign.org.uk

Account Greater Manchester Hazards Centre Ltd
Sort Code 60 83 01
Account Number 20090443
Ref Name/organisation
Or by cheque to Hazards Campaign c/o Janet Newsham
177 Watling Street Road, Fulwood, Preston PR2 8AE

For more information
janet@gmhazards.org.uk
07734 317 158

16 January 2021 – Online conference: Organising for Zero Covid

Please circulate details of this event to members and networks. The Hazards Campaign is part of the Zero Covid organising group  has provided speakers and chairs for sessions in this event. 

2021 must be the year of #ZeroCovid

England’s four-tier system is a failure. Test and Trace is not doing its job. The Westminster government is battling to keep schools open against educators and medical experts’ advice. There is no plan to get us out of this cycle of restrictions. In Scotland too, despite Holyrood steering a different course at times, infection rates are rising rapidly.

What’s the alternative?

Zero Covid is the alternative. It’s a strategy to eliminate the virus, which means a working Test and Trace system, financial and material support for people to enable them to isolate, and ensuring all workplaces which are open are certified Covid-Safe. Restrictions on our lives can be lifted once these elements are in place and as new cases drop off to a level which can be managed by public health teams.

Find out more at the Organising for Zero Covid conference! Register for the online conference

Morning plenary:

  • Professor Michael Baker (New Zealand Ministry of Health’s Pandemic Influenza Technical Advisory Group, pc)
  • Professor Susan Michie (Independent SAGE, pc)
  • Hector Wesley (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts)
  • Janet Newsham (Hazards Campaign for workplace safety)
  • Diane Abbott MP

Breakout groups

Afternoon plenary

  • Richard Burgon MP
  • Disability rights campaigner TBC
  • Workplace activist TBC
  • Helen McFarlane (NHS worker, Scotland)
  • Kevin Courtney (Joint General Secretary, National Education Union)

Workshops

  • Schools (staff, parents and students)
  • Campuses (staff and students)
  • Workplace organising around safety
  • Building a local Zero Covid group
  • Defend Our NHS
  • Poverty, benefit and cuts
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • Zero Covid in the Labour Party
A full timetable is available here

Hazards Campaign 2021 – 10 Organising Priorities

Healthy and Safe Work centred on Precaution, Prevention and Participation

Too many people work in unsafe, unhealthy, precarious working environments.  This has to change.  We will collectively campaign for:

  1. The fundamental human right to safe and healthy work, a safe and healthy working environment for all workers regardless of employment status, that is enforced and protected in law.
  2. A society that prioritises health, safety and dignity of its workers and provides just treatment for the victims of health and safety crime and ensures fair treatment for all workers harmed by work, including compensation and job protection.
  3. The right to safe, decent and secure work with preventive and not purely reactive enforcement including: the entitlement of all workers to minimum living wage, regular and contracted hours, paid holidays, and sick pay regardless of employment status.
  4. Protection from all public health risks, including biohazards which can lead to work-related infections, outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics.
  5. Protection from global risks to workers health and safety including trade deals and a ‘due diligence’ requirement on companies with a  responsibility for safety and working conditions throughout their supply chains.
  6. Continuous assessment and improvement of health, safety and employment legislation, to ensure that prevention of harm from all risks, are increased to the highest practicable standards.
  7. A precautionary approach to be taken to health and safety risks in all employment settings.  All workplaces to be covered by Trade Union Safety reps regardless of recognition agreements, through Roving Reps and the full enforcement of upgraded Safety Reps and Safety Committees Regulations, to cover all workers.
  8. Independence from political and commercial interference in the authorities enforcing health and safety at work and in those enforcing public health and environment protection; with ring fenced funding and resources to ensure these bodies can function independently to ensure the highest preventative and protective standards for workers and public/environmental health.
  9. Full participation and equity for employee representatives, on all health and safety regulator, industrial health and safety and workplace health and compensation bodies/agencies.
  10. Development of a Toxic Use Reduction programme including legislation, financial resources, scientific research and support to enable the elimination of toxic substances used at work and their substitution with safer alternatives to improve workers health, reduce toxic substances in form of plastic and other waste, air pollution and contribution to climate change.

Links:
https://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/manifesto
https://www.hazards.org/deadlybusiness/manifesto.htm

TUCAN comment following the conclusion of the inquest into the tragic death of Ella Kissi-Debrah

New release – 16 December 2020 – No Embargo

TRADE UNION CLEAN AIR NETWORK (TUCAN)

TUCAN comment following the conclusion of the inquest into the tragic death of Ella Kissi-Debra

Our thoughts are with Ella’s family and friends at the conclusion of this inquest’s ground breaking verdict and our congratulations go to Ella’s mother, Rosamund, for her determination with her prolonged campaign for the truth to be heard.

Commenting on the verdict, Graham Petersen, TUCAN, said: “The result of the inquest shows in an all too tragic way what we and many others have been saying for far too many years – the polluted air we have to breathe can and does kill and government must act to ensure the pollutants are reduced and removed.

“TUCAN says the Government must also focus on those employers and industries whose operations contribute to the polluted air of local communities and their own workforce.  Key to all this are our trade unions and their representatives who are in an informed position to discuss and help implement positive actions at work.

“However, we feel the government must take the lead in this firstly by acknowledging the extent of the problem and then taking steps to ensure employers and the authorities act quickly and decisively to reduce the potential for ill health and further deaths.”

The ways in which air pollution can be an issue at your job have not been well discussed and part of TUCAN’s mission is to broaden that understanding. Whether someone is just commuting, working in an office or shop, working on a construction project, driving to and from work or on the road all day they are all going to be exposed to harmful emissions, notably nitrogen oxide and fine particulate matter, and that exposure does not have to be very high for it to affect our health.

Notes

The Hazards Campaign is a founder member of the Trade Union Clean Air Network TUCAN

Contact: Hilda Palmer:  07929800240

Trade Union Clean Air Network:

https://www.greenerjobsalliance.co.uk/air-pollution/

TUCAN Charter:

http://www.greenerjobsalliance.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/GJA-TU-Clean-Air-Charter-EMAIL.pdf

Hazards magazine on clearing the air:

https://www.hazards.org/chemicals/diediesel.htm

Air pollution—a wicked problem: Professor Stephen Holgate, Royal College of Physicians Special Advisor on air quality and UKRI Clean Air Champion, University of Southampton.

https://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j2814

The Working Dead! Hazards Campaign demands the Government take tougher action on preventing transmission of the virus

News release – 16 December 2020 – No embargo

The Working Dead! Hazards Campaign demands the Government take tougher action on preventing transmission of the virus

The 16 December 2020 Manchester TUC meeting  (1) on Zero-Covid to save lives and livelihoods heard from Janet Newsham on why the Hazards Campaign is demanding the Government take tougher action on preventing transmission of the virus. She said:

“The number of workers who have died because of Covid-19 is in the thousands. (2)  They are infected in their homes by those they live with who have become infected in schools or in their workplaces , in their communities when they do their weekly shop, on their way to and from work when they use public transport but they are also infected in their workplaces or doing their work activities.  Among the thousands who have died, just 189 Covid deaths were reported in six months to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  (3)

“These were reported to the HSE despite them discouraging employers from reporting through their RIDDOR system. (4)  However, 189 workers deaths were reported through RIDDOR in six months, compared to 111 fatalities in the previous year.  This is a huge increase and highlights the risks that workers are facing in the pandemic and the lack of controls on their health and safety.

“Occupational risks of becoming infected with Covid-19 highlights the lack of information available about how transmission risks can be controlled in all working environments, and that only Covid-safe workplaces should be open, it highlights the lack of enforcement in ensuring employers are controlling the risks, it highlights the failure of Government to take a precautionary approach to transmission especially of airborne aerosol risks in our workplaces (5) and availability of a preventative standard of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), it highlights the lack of priority in all our Nations to the health of their citizens over opening non-essential businesses and it highlights a lack of Zero-Covid strategy by Nation Governments to removing the virus transmission from our society.

“Occupational risks could and should have been controlled.  Infection control is a standard risk control in many workplaces.  If other workplaces had needed educating in how this could be done, the expertise is out there and available.

“The UK Government from early in the pandemic misrepresented the risks to health and the controls needed to protect people.  They didn’t put in place strict infection control procedures in workplaces or broadcast the risks people were facing.  They did not make available financial support to workplaces to ensure they are Covid-safe (6) but rather put in place short term solutions like some lock-downs which only partially impacted on the spread of the virus and as a result we are on a roller-coaster of partial lock-down based on how many dead bodies are piling up!

“Our loved ones have become collateral damage in the pursuit of profit and privatisation by our incompetent and inept Government.

“The HSE has been like a secret society, operating in the shadows. (7) They have based most of their assumptions of how safe our workplaces are, on telephone conversations with the people that are supposed to be ensuring the safe workplaces!  In normal times HSE / Local Authority (LA) inspectors would also have conversations with Trade Union Safety reps which checks that the information provided by employers is accurate but during one of the most dangerous times for many workers, the HSE thought it fit to believe and talk only to the people who have caused the deaths of hundreds of workers by not controlling the risks.

“We know where the risks to workers health are.  We know how these risks should be controlled.  The controls needed are just the same in care homes, hospitals, buses, work vans, offices, restaurants, pubs, shops, schools, universities, factories etc.  All these working environments are transmitting the virus to our families, communities and other workplaces.

“This isn’t rocket science it is simple message to control the transmission risks and if you cant, shut down until you can. And for the Government to provide additional funding and resources to ensure there is more space, fewer people, greater ventilation, precautionary level PPE, more cleaning, improved hygiene and welfare and greater education of transmission risks.

“On top of this, the Government has a UK wide remit to work with other Nations in the UK to stop transmission from those entering the countries, to ensure test, track, trace and isolate is working to a high level of contact and isolation and that payments are made to workers unable to work because of lock-downs, workers who are sick and workers who need to isolate.

“To achieve it we need a circuit break at Christmas to ensure these Government actions are in place and are working effectively.  A Zero-Covid strategy (8) (9) to end transmission of the virus is the only solution that will save lives and livelihoods, will stop deaths, stop infections and disabilities caused by the infection and lead us on a path back to a healthy future until the vaccine is established in our communities.”

1. Manchester Trades Council Event
2. Covid deaths by occupation – ONS
3. Covid Fatalities reported to HSE
4. RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19 – HSE
5. Aerosol transmission – Hazards Campaign and Reel News video
6.Hazards Campaign and Independent SAGE call for no workers to return to workplaces unless Covid safety plans are in place, 1 September 2020
7. Laid Bare: The scandal of expendable workers before, during and after Covid, Hazards Magazine,
8.Hazards Campaign calls for Zero-Covid strategy by all the Governments in the UK, 27 November 2020
9. Zero Covid campaign webpages

Hazards Campaign details
website www.hazardscampaign.org.uk
twitter @hazardscampaign
facebook www.facebook.com/groups/123746101003963
If you need more information please email: janet@gmhazards.org.uk
or call Janet 07734 317 158
The Hazards Campaign is a UK-wide network of resource centres and campaigners. The Hazards Campaign supports those organising and campaigning for justice and safety at work

Hazards Campaign Thursday talk report and video – Racism and worker safety

Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk – 1 December 2020

Racism and the disproportionate impact on health and safety:  Organising to protect workers

The talk featured:
– Wilf Sullivan, TUC Race Equality Officer,
– Moe Manir, Unite Union London bus worker and
– Ameen Hadi, Chair of NW Unison black members committee and Salford Unison branch officer

The speakers discussed:
1. Why is health and safety an equality issue?
2. Why have black workers been impacted more (infected and died) by Covid-19 and were they disproportionately at risk from injuries, ill health and work related deaths before Covid-19?
3. What has managements response been to the increased risks faced by black workers?
4. How can workers respond to the workplace risks?

View the meeting on YouTube here or below:

In addition we shared information about two NEU safety reps who have been dismissed and need support to be reinstated.  There are links below:

Louise Lewis Louise was carrying out her role as a NEU H&S Rep,  please sign this petition and share widely. We cannot let her employer get away with this!

Action Network petition • Model motion for branches  • change.org petition

Please send message of support for Louise to: hazel.danson@neu.org.uk or melanie.griffiths@neu.org.uk

Sharon Morgan Another NEU rep who is in East London, Sharon Morgan, has also been dismissed, without a hearing or an investigation for raising health and safety issues about Covid.  Members at her school, London Design Engineering UTC, have been on strike today.

A petition has been launched calling on Sharon to be reinstated and the link is: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/sharon

Finally, Wilf Sullivan shared information from the TUC: Dying on the job – Racism and risk at work

Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk: Racism and the Disproportionate impact on health and safety

Join the Hazards Campaign Thursday Talk with an expert panel of speakers from the Trade Union and Health and Safety movement on Thursday 10th December, 6.00-7.30pm – On ZOOM

The speakers will lead a discussion and address the following issues:

  1. Why is health and safety an equality issue?
  2. Why have black workers been impacted more (infected and died) by Covid-19 and were they disproportionately at risk from injuries, ill health and work related death before Covid-19?
  3. What has managements response been to the increased risks faced by black workers?
  4. How can workers respond to the workplace risks?

To book a place and receive the link to the meeting please go to  Eventbrite

For further information relevant to the speakers and subject:

website www.hazardscampaign.org.uk
twitter @hazardscampaign
facebook www.facebook.com/groups/123746101003963

If you need more information please email: janet@gmhazards.org.uk
07734 317 158

The Hazards Campaign is a UK-wide network of resource centres and campaigners. The Hazards Campaign supports those organising and campaigning for justice and safety at work.

If you would like to get more involved or make a donation to our organisation please email: janet@gmhazards.org.uk

FACK statement on the fatalities caused by the explosion at Wessex Water, Avonmouth, 3 December 2020

Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) Statement on the fatalities caused by the explosion at Wessex Water, Avonmouth 3.12.2020

The FACK family sends all our love and heartfelt condolences to the families of those workers who were killed, to those workers injured, and to all involved in the devastating explosion at Avonmouth yesterday. We are heartbroken for you all. We have campaigned hard to try to prevent deaths at work and other families going through what you are now.  We have been where you are, and we offer the support and advice of those who know the process as you begin the terrible journey we have been on. We will stand by you and help where we can.

Hilda Palmer, facilitator of FACK said today:

“No-one should ever die for going to work to earn a living. We have health and safety laws that should mean work is safe, that workers can leave home with a wave, a kiss, a ‘See you later’ and come home alive and safe, uninjured, physically and mentally well, unharmed by their work at the end of their shift.  When workers do not come home it is a terrible tragedy for them and their families. But it is almost never a freak accident or a rare illness that has killed or made them ill.  There must now be a full and thorough criminal investigation and until this has been completed we do not know what caused the explosion, whether it was an accident or due to some negligence of health and safety law and procedures.

Having supported hundreds of families after workplace deaths, we urge those involved to act with compassion, care and with as much speed as possible. We specifically ask:

  • The companies involved to behave with compassion and honour their duty of care to workers and families, to support all the workers injured and the families of those killed, not to abandon them. This means many forms of practical support immediately as families have many urgent needs and have lost breadwinners as well as fathers, husbands and partners.
  • The authorities responsible for investigation under the Joint Protocol on Work-Related Death – The Police, Health and Safety Executive and Crown Prosecution Service – to act with their usual professionalism and expertise in investigating the incident, keeping the families informed and coming to as speedy a conclusion as possible.
  • For all those other authorities, organisations and people who deal with the families now and in coming months, to show understanding and compassion as they have suffered a terrible trauma, and the effects will continue for a very long time.
  • To all employers – check your health and safety procedures today. The vast majority of deaths at work are caused by failures to manage health and safety properly.
  • To all workers – you have a legal right to a safe and healthy workplace check that you are safe, if you do not feel safe speak up, join a union, you are safer working with others. Almost all families of those killed at work say the person killed was worried about health and safety at work.

For more information contact:  Hilda Palmer 07929800240

Hilda Palmer,  Facilitator of Families Against Corporate Killers, FACK.

Founder Members of FACK:

Dawn and Paul Adams son Samuel Adams aged 6 killed at Trafford Centre, 10th October 1998

Linzi Herbertsonhusband Andrew Herbertson 29, killed at work in Oldham, January 1998

Mike and Lynne Hutin son Andrew Hutin 20, killed at work at Corus, Port Talbot on 8th Nov 2001

Mick & Bet Murphyson Lewis Murphy 18, killed at work in Brighton on 21st February 2004

Louise Taggart brother Michael Adamson 26, killed at work in Aberdeen, on 4th August 2005

Linda Whelanson Craig Whelan 23, (and Paul Wakefield) killed at work in Bolton on 23rd May 2002

Dorothy & Douglas Wrightson Mark Wright 37, killed at work in Deeside on 13th April 2005

FACK – Greater Manchester Hazards Centre (gmhazards.org.uk)

Hazards Campaign ‘The Whole Story’ of workplace death – far larger than publicised.