Category Archives: media

Safety police cuts will make more unhealthy and unsafe – despite denial ofHSE chief executive

Following a letter from Mr G Podger, Chief Exec Health and Safety Executive (HSE), responding to an article in the Daily Mirror (see below) on the likely effects of cuts to our safety police, the HSE, the Hazards Campaign wishes to point out Mr Podger’s points just do not stand up to scrutiny as is shown in a very recent report by Professors from the University of Stirling in a report which is linked below. While the report’s title is about Scotland the content of the report covers the issue in the UK. The Executive Summary can be found here.

Further information: Mick Holder, Hazards Campaign or telephone 0161 636 7557.

Daily Mirror article: Health and Safety Executive Will work be the death of you? Workers exposed to dangers because of savage health inspectors cuts

G Podger, HSE’s response:

University of Stirling: Regulating Scotland: What works and what does not in occupational and environmental health and what the future may hold

Related information: Hazards magazine

HSE’s dithering, denial and delay on workplace cancer is deadly!

Workers enquiry needed to identify and eliminate all exposures to carcinogens

The Hazards Campaign says the HSE intervention paper on occupational cancer to be presented to the HSE Board meeting on 22nd August in Bootle, while more detailed than the original rejected paper, “fails to acknowledge the actual scale of cancer caused by work ¹. The paper is based on a fairy tale unrealistic view of the world of work today, ignores many known carcinogens, shows little interest in finding unknown exposures, underestimates the numbers of workers exposed and shows no sense of urgency to tackle this massive but preventable workplace epidemic. Because of the lack of action now, more people will develop occupational cancers and die from them in the future.

Hazards Campaign spokesperson says:

“Rushton estimates that work cancer kills 8,000 (5per cent of all cancers) or at least seven times as many workers as are killed by work injuries every year, and affects a further 14,000.  Hazards estimates, based on work by international cancer specialists, place the toil even higher at 12 per cent of all cancers.  That is 18,000 deaths and over 30,000 cases of cancers related to work each year in GB ².

Occupational cancer researcher Simon Pickvance warns: “The HSE has been in denial about work cancer for over three decades, depending far too heavily on epidemiology which is only capable of seeing widespread, long-established problems amongst large numbers of workers, employed for long periods of time, in large workplaces such as mines, mills and manufacturing. This is totally unsuitable for today’s, smaller and fast evolving workplaces with more complex, and diverse exposures.  It is incapable of picking up high risk exposures affecting smaller groups of workers.

“We welcome HSE’s response to the detection of hazardous exposure to azo dyes in the engineering industry by members of Hazards Campaign, but this is just one of many such high risk groups that can be identified using mass participatory methods of relating workers’ exposures to case reports.  A fully participatory approach towards identifying exposure scenarios and methods for toxic use reduction must be the way forward. The Rushton estimates for the HSE continue to under count the number of workers exposed. On  diesel fumes exposure alone, it is simply incomprehensible that the well over a million workers who have a raised risk of a cancer because they work in diesel-exposed jobs become ‘over 10,000’ in HSE’s estimation – and a million is just a fraction of the total diesel-exposed workforce”.

Simon goes on to explain: “The HSE’s target organ approach is also very damaging as most carcinogens have a very broad spectrum but epidemiology is not clever enough to see it.  Real life workers’ bodies do not play by epidemiologists rules so that even quite large increases in common cancers are entirely and irretrievably invisible to traditional epidemiological number-crunching ³

The Hazards Campaign joins occupational cancer campaigners in demanding a workers inquiry to identify all workplace exposure to carcinogens and urgent action to enforce their elimination;  a spokesperson said: “We need proactive enforcement of existing legislation , and in the absence of reliable figures on numbers of people exposed (the underestimation of diesel-exposed workers is only the latest in a series of HSE blunders in calculating exposed populations) the over-dependence on the Rushton burden calculation (how much cancer is work-related ?),in setting priorities for action must stop.

Helen Lynn spokesperson for the Alliance for Cancer Prevention said: “The HSE approach to occupational cancer ensures thousands more people will develop the disease through exposures at work. Delaying action on better shift work patterns is just condemning more women to greater risk of breast cancer while there is action that could be taken immediately. Although the word ‘action’ is mention exclusively by the HSE in relation to naturally occurring carcinogens such as radon, there is no action on promoting substitution to known or suspected carcinogens when there are safer alternatives available as applies to the chemicals used in dry cleaning. The HSE scope for carcinogens should be widened to include all carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic chemicals and substances (CMR’s), and encompass those not only addressed in REACH but also listed on the SIN list.

Campaigners argue that the response outlined in the HSE paper is based on a combination of
dithering, denial, and delay. Their ‘wait and see’ approach and leaving the job up to other agencies, while they continue to do a little bit more of what is currently ineffective, is completely inadequate to the task of preventing work related cancers.

Simon Pickvance concludes:  “We are sick to death of being treated as second class workers in Europe, who can wait for preventative action till research is carried out, for example on shiftwork, when other member states have adopted a precautionary, pro active approach.  It is not more science that is required before more humane shift patterns can be introduced. HSE’s intervention strategy is based on ignorance, denial and a false view of work today, and its response to the biggest workplace killer is utterly pathetic. It is hard to see what will be achieved by more of the same without the active involvement of workers themselves in finding out where the main problems lie. What is needed is a picture of the risks we face in the jobs we do today via a Trade Union backed workers inquiry to identify all workplace cancer exposures. Plus a massive preventive proactive enforcement of elimination, and an abandonment of the use of cost-benefit analysis in setting exposure limit for carcinogens in EU, as there are no safe levels of exposure to carcinogens”

For more information

Simon Pickvance Tel: 0114 268 4197
Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign  Tel: 0161 636 7557
Helen Lynn, Alliance for Cancer Prevention: Tel: 0207 274 2577, mobile 07960033687


Print quality images of Simon Pickvance and Hazards magazine117 cover ‘This man knows all about cancert are available from:

Jawad Qasrawi, Hazards magazine, 0114 201 4265

Note for editors:

1. HSE supplementary paper on occupation cancer: Occupational cancer, priorities for future intervention – supplementary paper The initial paper was rejected by the HSE board in May 2012.

2. Hazards Magazine work cancer pages, also see Burying the evidence

3. This Man Knows all about Cancer Hazards magazine issue 117 details Simon Pickvance’s criticisms of the HSE strategy on work-related cancer.  His criticism of the HSE supplementary paper includes:

  • Silica Dust – No evidence for the HSE technical innovations on control.
  • Welding and Painting – no active involvement of workers in finding where the main problems lie.
  • Shift work – no action on safer working patterns only a call for yet more research.
  • Dry cleaning – no interventions on safer substitutes, only low cost ‘awareness raising initiatives’.
  • Epidemiology – focus from HSE is on widespread, long established problems while ignoring high risk exposures affecting smaller groups of workers.
  • Lack of participatory approach to risk detection – HSE fails to engage workers in identifying risk in their work places.
  • Lack of Toxic Use reduction methods – HSE ignores reducing exposure to existing and known carcinogens and setting targets for elimination.

4.COSHH- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations

5. The Alliance for Cancer Prevention

6. Workers Inquiry : The inquiry should be trade union backed, and involve workers in mounting an all-out search for carcinogens at work.  It must identify high risk groups within occupations/workplaces; and look at case studies, industrial hygiene and toxicological studies.  What is needed is a true picture of the risks we face in the jobs we do today, not something based on an out of date, fairytale world of work.


Breast cancer – Hazards Campaign letter to The Guardian

29 May 2012 – No embargo

Breast cancer – Hazards Campaign letter to The Guardian

Dear Editor,

The article seems to suggest the HSE leaping into action (Breast tumour risk increased 40% among night workers, shows study triggering HSE investigation into impact on HSE workers, 28 May 2012 ) which is the opposite of  its lack of action over the past years on all work-related cancers including  breast cancer.  The cancer establishment aids and abets this by claiming to know better than International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and slyly blames women by emphasising ‘lifestyle’ issue such as diet and exercise over work-related factors.  About 400,000 women in the UK are involved in night work (night work, continental shift and three shift working), and we urgently need more preventative action and research on how to reduce their risk of breast cancer, rather than this paralysis by demanding yet more research on the link with night work.

The most serious health effects related to shift and night work are cancer, heart disease and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.  Five years ago, in 2007 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reported that  “shiftwork involving circadian disruption is probably carcinogenic to humans” and classified shift work as a category 2A carcinogen.  Melatonin production is suppressed by the presence of light at night.  Dr Vincent Cogliano of IARC said this was based on a wide range of studies involving both humans and animals and that there was evidence to support the hypothesis that alterations in sleep patterns, suppressed the production of melatonin in the body.    “Melatonin has some beneficial effects in preventing some of the steps leading too cancer.  The level of evidence is really no different than it might be for industrial chemicals”.  Danish and other studies had begun to link this with the risk of breast cancer for women working prolonged night shifts in the 1990s.

Since 2009, the Danish Government has, paid workers’ compensation to a number of women workers, some of whom worked as flight attendants, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and who had no known risk factors other than working night shifts at least once a week for the past 20 years.  Over recent years Danish scientists and others have been researching evidence-based options for preventative action on night work and breast cancer.  The UK has failed to act.  According to the HSE in its 2003 research report Shift Work and Breast Cancer: a Critical Review of the Epidemiological Evidence “Overall, the evidence for an association of breast cancer risk with shift work is appreciable but not definitive.  Further epidemiological research is needed to clarify the relationship”.  In March 2010, Dr Rushton reported  in her HSE commissioned study on the ‘Burden of Occupational Cancer’, that an estimated  2,000 breast cancer cases, and around 550 breast cancer deaths a year could be attributable to shift work,.  The HSE response was to commission the University of Oxford research, to which your article refers, to undertake an extensive study on the relationship between shift work and chronic disease, with a focus on shift working patterns in relation to cancer and other chronic conditions in men and women.  The study will be completed by December 2015 by which time, according to Rushton’s estimates, over 2,000 more women will have died of breast cancer related to night work.  More avoidable deaths due to a lack of a preventative and precautionary approach to work-related cancers. .

Yours sincerely

Hilda Palmer  Acting Chair of Hazards Campaign

For more information contact:
Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

What a carry-on! Grayling carries on wrecking ‘elf and safety despite the evidence (or lack of it!)

Following the announcements made today by Employment Minister Chris Grayling after the publication of the government’s review of health and safety by Professor Lofstedt, the Hazards Campaign said: “Here we go again! While Professor Lofstedt’s evidence shows there’s no fundamental problem with the regime which is meant to protect people at work the Tories take the opportunity to wreck what they can by exaggerating Lofstedt’s findings – or just by making stuff up. Just like they did with Lord Young. What a carry on!

“The really disgraceful part of all of this is that this review was a real opportunity to look at way of reducing the burden on people at work who are injured, made unwell, disabled and killed – which the government says costs the UK as a whole of up to £32billion each and every year and which the government says is caused by employers not doing what they should to prevent this happening – by law.

“Instead the review was focussed on the so-called burdens on business and it will do nothing, absolutely nothing, to reduce the real burden borne by workers, their families and friends or the state.”

The Hazards Campaign disagrees with the government’s plans to exempt the self employed for health and safety protections and disputes they are currently placed under any burden by health and safety legislation. This change will make things worse, not better, for the self employed.

The Hazards Campaign disagrees with the government’s plan to create an enforcement challenge panel, points out this will create extra bureaucracy and cost as well as that there is an appeals system currently in place.

The Hazards Campaign disagrees with the government’s plan to add extra burden on the Health and Safety Executive who are already facing 35% cuts, by giving them more of a role in local authority enforcement. The Hazards Campaign calls for more resources for the HSE and local authorities so they can do the job they are required to by law properly and adequately.

The Hazards Campaign accuses Chris Grayling and the media of creating a mountain out of a non-existent molehill in his announcements over plans for strict liability compensation cases.

For more information contact:
Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Further information:

We didn’t vote to die at work:

Hazards Campaign:

The Lofstedt report is available at:

The Government response to the Lofstedt review is available at:

TUC comment on the Lofstedt review is available at:

“Clegg – stop talking such utter cobblers!”

Commenting on the speech by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to small business leaders today, the Hazards Campaign asks that instead of publicly regurgitating the disproved and, frankly, discredited, arguments of Lord Young and Chris Grayling to prop up an equally discredited deregulatory philosophy, shouldn’t he at least wait until the evidence the government is seeking through the Lofstedt review is made public?

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has today picked up the ball taken away from Lord Young and run with the line that somehow the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Environment Agency are oppressively preventing businesses getting on with solving the country’s economic woes. Yet again the Hazards Campaign say “What utter cobblers!”

Not only is it cobblers, it is dangerous, toxic, life threatening cobblers.

This is yet another assault launched by the Tories on laws and enforcement which protect workers, now with clear support from the Lib Dems. Every time Lord Young, Employment Minister Chris Grayling or PM Cameron, until today the key players in this assault, have opened their mouths, their utterances have been roundly discredited by the evidence, which disproves their biased and politically motivated theories, and evidence continues to mount up against them, as a recent BIS report shows (1).

Clegg is not only wrong when he implies the HSE over-enforces. It is clear he either doesn’t know the facts or like Lord Young et al, won’t let reality get in the way of a well spun soundbite. On average, a workplace in GB can expect an unannounced visit just once every 38 years. With the 35% cuts the HSE is having to face and the restrictions on preventative, proactive inspections put on them by Grayling, this can only get worse leaving workers lives and health at great risk (2).

The recently exposed links between cabinet ministers including Chris Grayling, and the neo-conservative lobbyist organization Atlantic Bridge (3) with its pro-business anti-worker agenda, looks like getting just what it wants out of this government: the right to make money whatever it costs workers, their families, and the cost to society! The evidence which utterly refutes the lies that regulation and enforcement of health and safety at work is a ‘burden on business’ and costs jobs, has been presented to the Lofstedt Review which will report shortly.

In the meantime we would suggest Nick Clegg stop talking such utter cobblers and show some respect for the facts, the truth and workers lives!

For more information contact:
Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Further information:

1. The SME Business Barometer published by BIS in October 201

‘A brand new survey of small and medium-sized enterprises published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), shows that employment law and health and safety regulation do not even feature in their list of concerns. It would appear that employer organisations are pursuing a fanatical right wing agenda that does not actually reflect the concerns of their members.’

2. Once in a lifetime – Hazards magazine

3. Safety minister was part of Fox’s organisation Risks 528, 22 October 2011

We didn’t vote to die at work campaign

Hazards Campaign

Hazards Campaign comment on employment minister Chris Grayling’s Butlin’s bumper car letter

In response to the publication by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of Chris Grayling’s letter on Butlin’s bumping bumper car ban decision, a Hazards Campaign spokesperson said:

“The first piece of hard evidence published from workplace health and safety’s nemesis, employment minister Chris Grayling, undermines the whole basis for his attacks on workplace health and safety by showing it’s not our health and safety laws or over-zealous enforcement by health and safety cops or “gold plating” EU directives that lead to some of the well publicised “bonkers conkers” decisions.

“In his published letter to Butlin’s regarding their decision to ban bumping bumper cars he clearly recognises it is operational decisions taken by employers themselves under no pressure from the state, the law or its enforcement bodies. In the Butlin’s case the decision in all likelihood was taken to lessen the potential risk of being sued – which has nothing to do with workplace health and safety.

“It’s time for Grayling to come clean and admit his and the Tory attacks on workplace health and safety provisions are based on ideology rather than reality. He must stop his attacks on our legal framework, recognise the real cost of workplace health and safety failures to society and who is responsible. It is criminally negligent employers who kill, maim, disable, injure and make unwell many thousands of workers every year costing the UK economy £32 billion annually and the cuts to the HSE and its enforcement regime must be reversed.”

For more information contact:
Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Further information:

Chris Grayling’s letter:

We didn’t vote to die at work:

Hazards Campaign:

The whole story:

Hazards Campaign comment on PM Cameron’s linking the riots and looting to health and safety legislation

Hazards Campaign comment on PM Cameron’s linking the riots and looting to health and safety legislation

Following the statements made by PM Cameron yesterday, a Hazards Campaign spokesperson said: “Cameron’s linking of the recent social unrest to “‘elf and safety gorn mad” is not only complete rubbish but completely crass and scraping the bottom of the daft ideas barrel. What next – the unrest in Syria down to ‘elf and safety? Our rubbish summer – ‘elf and safety! The failure of the England football team to win anything – ‘elf and safety!

“To link the looting to health and safety legislation is an absolute insult to the lad who died in crane incident in Lancashire yesterday, the lad who died on the Woolwich ferry last week, the lad who died on the tug on the Thames last week and the family of Noel Corbin whose employers have just been fined only £1. Noel’s employers went into liquidation thus avoiding any accountability or paying the penalty for the crime, not a get out clause available to rioters so why should it be available to killer employers?

“Blaming health and safety for rioting is a disgraceful insult to the 20-50,000 people who die in the UK EVERY YEAR because their employers failed to manage health and safety at their workplaces.“

“Bad and negligent employers cost the UK economy up to £30 billion every year for health and safety failings – not our figures but ten year old government figures which will be far higher now. The government’s answer to this is to let employers get away with even more killing, injuring and making workers ill, as well as looting our economy by attacking and cutting health and safety provisions. We have called on many successive governments to do what Cameron has announced in the war on “gang culture” but against those bad employers and their criminal lack of health and safety culture, and every successive bad government has refused to do it.”

“Until those who run organisations are held accountable for the consequences of their actions – death, injury and illness of workers – they will go on behaving in morally and criminally irresponsible ways. We ask when will those employers be pursued and punished in a similar way to those being sought now by government for rioting and looting?”

For more information contact:
Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Further information

We didn’t vote to die at work campaign

Hazards Campaign

Firm fined £1 over death of satellite TV engineer, Camden New Journal

The whole story, Safety and Health Practitioner

On Workers Memorial Day the Hazards Campaign says: “Oi, Grayling! We aren’t going to let you send us back to the dark ages!”

Supporters of the The Hazards Campaign will be marking this year’s Workers Memorial Day, April 28th, with a call to arms in the fight to protect workers rights to safe and healthy workplaces.

Hilda Palmer of the Hazards Campaign said: “The path the ConDem government is taking with Chris Grayling at the helm as employment minister will kill, disable and injure more workers, not less. The corrupt equation they have used to justify their attacks on workplace health and safety and the cuts to our safety police has been well exposed. Their absolute failure to take into account the burden on the families and  friends as well as the state, who pick up the bill of billions when workers are killed or injured, or the enormous benefits to society safe workplaces provide exposes their lack of concern for workers health. On Workers Memorial Day we will all be saying “Oi, Grayling! We aren’t going to let you send us back to the dark ages!””

Workers Memorial Day is a global day to mark the damage work does – globally every year more people are killed at work or by work activities than die in wars. Workers Memorial Day’s motto is:

“Remember the dead – but fight for the living!”

Contact: Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign – 0161 636 7557

Hazards Campaign and other authority estimates: 1,367 – 1,517 killed in work related incidents in GB last year made up of:

•          HSE figs of the 152 workers that are reported to HSE and Local Authorities via RIDDOR which UK Statistics Authority confirms are not national work-related death fatality figures,
•          Members of the public killed by work activity = 85
•          Workers killed at sea and in the air – estimated at 30 a year
•          About 1,000 in work-related road traffic incidents
•          About 100-250 suicides due to the pressures of work

Hazards and other authority estimates of those killed by work-related illness each year

•          Includes 18,000 by work-related cancer at 12% (8-16%) at least 5,000 due to asbestos cancers
•          Heart Disease – 20% of deaths work related due to stress, long hours, shift work = up to 20,000
•          Respiratory Illness -15-20% of obstructive lung disease = about 6,000
•          Other diseases inc. restrictive lung diseases = about 6,000
•          Giving Total of up to 50,000 per year

For more information:

Workers Memorial Day background leaflet and Workers Memorial Day international activity

The ConDem anti-health and safety agenda Regulations don’t kill jobs – lack of regulation kills workers’

Downloadable WMD leaflet