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no embargo - 6 January 2012  Back to news releases

FACK responds to Cameron's "Kill safety' resolution

Families Against Corporate Killers has just sent David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and Chris Grayling a New Year’s Day Card explaining why the government is wrong on health and safety, and imploring a stop to deregulation and slashing of enforcement (1).  Too late it seems, for they had already made their New Year’s resolution to destroy health and safety.

FACK spokesperson says: “David Cameron’s speech yesterday is extraordinary, completely fact-free, ignores the findings of the Lofstedt Review (2), is based in fantasy and has no connection with the workplaces that killed people we love and which we know are common across the UK!  Their employers were so unburdened and unstrangled by health and safety laws, they felt no compunction to be aware of, or comply with, their legal obligations and failed to carry out useful risk assessments at all, and then for example, ordered workers to decant petrol in front of open flames, to bale sealed aerosol containers, to work at height with incorrectly erected scaffolding and no safety equipment, to allow heavy barriers to be left unrestrained, or to even supply safety equipment to lock off live wires (3, 4). 

Far from there being Cameron’s imagined workplaces where employers live in fear of the demands of health and safety, our personal experience, and that of the many hundreds of workplace deaths of which we are aware, is the opposite.  Without regulation, a credible fear of enforcement action for non-compliance plus deterrent penalties, many employers regularly expose workers to appalling levels of risk and so they kill our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives,  brothers and sisters, mums and dads.

Louise Taggart co-founder of FACK, whose brother Michael was electrocuted says:
 "So, David Cameron is to kill off the health and safety culture for good.  If this were a pledge to kill of the culture of complacency on health and safety which is so prevalent in this country, I would jump for joy.  Tragically, it is the complete opposite.  Whereas Cameron believes he is signalling the end of alleged ‘burdens on business’ in fact he has just sounded the death knell for hundreds of workers and members of the public. Loved ones who, like my brother, will leave the house one day only to return in an undertaker's van (4)

FACK Spokesperson adds: “Cameron calls health and safety culture a monster, a burden on employers, but the real monster, the elephant in the room which he refuses to see is the huge burden of over £30 billion a year that employers’ failure to protect workers’ health and safety costs the whole of society every year!  He tilts against the windmills of ‘compensation culture’ but every report commissioned has shown this to be a myth for work-related injury, illness and death.  Many families of killed workers get no compensation at all (5)

“This government has treated us and the whole issue of workers’ lives with utter contempt.  As mere families of people killed due to the failures of employers, who bear the real burden, we have been denied a meeting with Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment, but he has of course met all the business lobbyists.  We have no cash, just our blood, bones and guts, we cannot buy the government policies we need, but they can.

“Professor Lofstedt did meet us as part of his review commissioned by Chris Grayling, minister for employment, and listened with shock to much of what we had to say, including our evidence in his report (6)where he concluded that he had found no evidence of the need for a radical shake-up in health and safety legislation.  This detailed evidential approach despite being accepted by the government has apparently had little effect, as Cameron declare war on workers safety.  We are forced to conclude that rational argument, facts and evidence are pointless, as this government is becoming the political wing of the business lobby’s lunatic fringe. 

This is a government by the 1 per cent, for the 1 per cent, and to hell with all of us, the 99 per cent.  And so in anger and despair we sent them all a New Year’ Sod You’ floral greeting, accompanied by a letter explaining how their deregulation of health and safety, and slashing of its enforcement will kill and injure many more workers and destroy more families like ours, and urging them to  PLEASE STOP NOW!

For more information contact Hilda Palmer facilitator of FACK Tel: 0161 636 7557 mobile:  079298 00240

1. FACK letter to David Cameron, copied to Nick Clegg, Chris Grayling and Vince Cable and below, plus Hazards magazine No 116, back page

2. Lofstedt Report

3. FACK storie Plus FACK DVD  ‘Face the FACKs: the human cost of workplace killing’

4. Louise Taggart’s  brother Michael Adamson, aged 26, was killed at
work on 4th August 2005: [PDF]

5. The cost of employers’ failures to manage health and safety is a minimum of £30 billion every year, and 75 per cent of that cost is borne by UK society/economy more

Fewer than 10 per cent of workers injured made ill or killed by work gain any form of compensation: moreWho bears the burdens?

6. FACK response to Lofstedt Review: [PDF]