Hazards 2015 report

We are grateful for the generous support for Hazards 2015 by our sponsors in Unions nationally, regionally, at branches, trades councils, individuals, and union-linked personal injury solicitors. We hope this vital support will continue for Hazards 2016.

Feedback was excellent from 350 safety reps and activists, around half of whom were new delegates, from all types of workplaces, all unions, and from all over the UK, coming together to discuss ‘Safety Reps: Reclaiming the Health and Safety agenda’.

Five years of coalition government attacks on workers’ health and safety plus neoliberal austerity attacks on the working class are continuing under the Tory government.

The terrible toll on workers’ health and lives of deregulation and cuts to enforcement of health and safety continues with the exemption of 1.7 million self-employed people, the on-going negotiation of deregulatory EU-USA TTIP agreement, and the (anti)

Trade Union Bill that directly threatens safety reps. We won’t survive another five years unless we fight back. John McClean, retiring GMB Director of Health Safety and Environment opened the Friday plenary by saying that he had never known it so bad. Peggy Trompf from Australia told us how Royal Commissions have been used to attack construction trade unions. Joanne Hill spoke very bravely about her beloved son Cameron, a 16 year old apprentice, who was killed at a death-trap engineering firm where guards on lathes were deliberately disabled.

Louise Taggart from FACK and Scottish Hazards closed the session summarising activity and families we have supported over the year. Joanne and Louise received standing ovations and, remind us why health and safety is vital. Andy Watterson, University of Stirling, opened the Saturday plenary with presentation on ‘Occupational health provision in the UK – problems and solutions’ showing how the HSE has largely abandoned preventative and enforcement activity. Helen Lynn, Alliance for Cancer Prevention spoke about the need for more prevention of work and environmental causes of breast cancer.

John Byrne, organiser for UNITE Hotel Workers gave a passionate talk about organizing with hotel workers for better health safety, pay and conditions, complete with illustrations.

Keynote meetings looked at organising around health and safety to resist the race to the bottom; the government’s new Fit for Work Scheme which is more about forcing the sick back to work than making sick workers better; how we can use the SRSC Regulations to recapture the health and safety agenda plus Sean Marshall, from Australia, on using a new collective ‘cease work’ provision in New South Wales law, to tackle occupational health issues like fatigue and stress.

Workshops focused on improving safety rep performance, skills and confidence in support from SRSC Regulations in taking up issues with employers, investigating and inspecting. We ran workshops on specific topics such as resisting resilience, fire risk assessment, the hierarchy of control, finding out what harms members, hazardous substances, excessive workloads, older workers, bullying, harassment, and sickness absence.

Please consider our appeal positively. Cheques should be payable to Hazards 2016, and sent to: Hazards 2016, GMHC, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester, M16 7WD. Telephone: 0161 636 7557, email: hazconf@gmhazards.org.uk

Thank you in advance for your support.

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