Hazards Campaign and Independent Sage call for no workers to return to workplaces unless Covid Safety Plans are in place and enforcement bodies have agreed them.
Press statement for immediate release
1st September 2020
Hazards campaign news release,1st September 2020 (No embargo)
The Hazards Campaign accurately predicted that the forced return to unsafe workplaces would fuel an explosion in workplace COVID19 outbreaks1. These continue to grow, now affecting hundreds more workers and their families in existing outbreaks with more new workplace clusters across the UK.
Another tranche of workplaces, schools, are due to open in England and Wales starting this week and the experience of Scotland with several serious school outbreaks highlights the dangers. The existing health and safety system is failing to protect workers communities and the economy.
The Hazards Campaign jointly presented a paper with Independent SAGE on how workers can safely return to workplaces on 28th August 2. The paper calls for government investment in a tougher regulatory system to check up on employers, with more inspections and control by the HSE and LA enforcement authorities to certify Covid-Safe workplaces before they open to ensure workers and communities are safe.
The Chair of the Hazards Campaign Janet Newsham said “Thousands of workers have become ill and hundreds have died because risks of Covid-19 infection and transmission haven’t been controlled in the workplace. As hundreds of thousands of workers are urged to travel and return to indoor workplaces with colleagues, after a period of working alone from home, unless there is external verification that employers have properly assessed and controlled all the risk of infection and transmission, including from aerosols 3, there will be more outbreaks and start local restrictions.
“The joint report includes a Covid-19 safe workplace charter which concentrates on three main areas: Employers responsibilities, Regulators responsibilities and Central Government responsibilities. In addition to certification of workplaces, the charter calls on Government to legislate for ‘Roving Safety Reps’, increased funding and resources for enforcement, and sufficient financial support for workers to be able to self-isolate or take sick leave without loss of earnings.
“For weeks now we have been recording clusters of workers who have tested positive, become ill or died from Covid-19 and the numbers involved clearly indicate they have become infected in workplaces. The reasons are because workplaces have failed to provide the necessary control of transmission risks -physical distancing, increased cleaning and control of aerosol transmission by increased and improved ventilation with fewer workers in confined indoor spaces. They are also because workers have no safe travel to work or they are unable to isolate or take sick leave when they are unwell or have been in contact with an infected person because they do not get full pay either having to rely on Statutory Sick Pay or not entitled to even that pittance. Rapid spread of workplace infections is also caused by the ineffective national privatised Find, Track, Trace and Isolate system in place, and the local much more effective systems are starved of cash and resources.
“If these incidents are not recorded, investigated and acted on then improvements to working conditions that spread the disease will not be implemented fast enough to stop the spread and more workplaces will have to lock-down. This isn’t good for the health of workers or the economy.
“Many employers have worked hard to ensure the mental and physical health of their workers during this pandemic, many working closely with their union safety reps but unless all employers control the risks then the virus will spread into the community and into other workplaces.
“The charter has the support of trade unions, the Society of Occupational Medicine and the Collegium Ramazzini and has been welcomed by the TUC.
“This is an important report and it is welcomed by the TUC. Health and Safety is a paramount concern and employers, government and its agencies all need to take the right and necessary actions to minimise risk and prevent further coronavirus infections, support the economy and rebuild confidence.”
For more information, press only:
Contact: Janet Newsham
Tel: 0773 431 7158
Notes for Editors:
1. We predicted an explosion in workplace Covid-19 outbreaks- 2 weeks later that’s exactly what we’ve got http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/blog/we-predicted-an-explosion-in-workplace-covid-19-outbreaks-two-weeks-later-thats-exactly-what-weve-got
2 .Youtube recording of the presentation: https://twitter.com/IndependentSage/status/1299324316706770944
Joint Independent Sage and Hazards Campaign Report: https://www.independentsage.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/COVID-Safe-document-agreed.pdf
3. KEEP YOUR DISTANCE: Is two metres too far or not far enough to protect from COVID-19 and who benefits and who loses if it is reduced ? Hazards Campaign, 22nd June 2020
For more information:
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.
The Hazards Campaign
c/o Greater Manchester Hazards Centre
Windrush Millennium Centre
70 Alexandra Road
Manchester, M16 7WD