Fallen Tears – The unveiling of a new workers’ memorial stained glass window

As we begin organising for International Workers Memorial Day 2019, Greater Manchester Hazards Centre will be unveiling a memorial stained glass window on 23rd November at the People’s History Museum, Manchester, from 3pm to 5pm.

The window will be jointly  unveiled by Rebecca Long-Bailey, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and founders of Families Against Corporate Killers, FACK,.

‘Fallen Tears’, and will be on permanent display in the Peoples History Museum, Left Bank, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3ER

For more information about the unveiling and IWMD 2019 contact janet@gmhazards.org.uk or Tel: 0161 636 7558

Fallen Tears invitation

 

Hazards conference 2019 – sponsorship appeal

We are very grateful for the generous support for the  Hazards Conference 2018 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 2019.

Sponsorship is extremely important as it helps keep down the price of the conference to individuals and union branches. Please consider our appeal positively. Details for payment can be found in the Hazards conference 2019 sponsorship appeal PDF.

Feedback from Hazards 2018 was again excellent from the 320 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 @40: Vital to the future of safe and healthy work!’ You can read the Hazards 2018 cnference report here.

 

URGENT – we need more people at the ‘Breathless’ – Asbestos Film Premiere 27 Oct 2018 @ 4 pm

The UK premiere of an award-winning documentary called “Breathless” on the impact of asbestos in the developing world countries will take place on Saturday 27th October in Central London, followed by a discussion including the United Nations Rapporteur for toxics, Baskut Tuncak.

Breathless, which had its global premiere at the International Film Festival in Brussels in June this year, aims to show how asbestos companies cynically expanded to the less-developed world in order to perpetuate a dangerous industry for profit.

In India, the asbestos industry continues to expand which will cause asbestos-related deaths for decades to come according to the film makers.

The documentary from the Storyhouse production company, tells of Eric Jonckheere, whose mother, father and two brothers died from mesothelioma, who travels to the largest asbestos dump in India to find a community affected by the same Belgian company.

It is a story of profit over people, but also of how ordinary people can stand up to corporations.

Krishnendu Mukherjer, a dual qualified barrister from Doughty Street Chambers, travels to India with Eric and also explains how the asbestos industry spied on him and other campaigners who campaign against the asbestos industry and spread knowledge regarding dangers of asbestos to life.

As you know, I’m a partner at Leigh Day, and my father died of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.  This documentary comes at a crucial time and will assist in highlighting to the world the asbestos industry’s continued threat to life by exposing men, women and children to asbestos.  The film shows children playing in the asbestos dump in India.

Breathless will be shown at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London on Saturday 27th October 2018 from 4 pm.

The trailer for the movie can be viewed here

Accordingly,  I suggest  you or some of your colleagues may wish to attend so that they become aware of the issues.  Many asbestos campaigners and some medics I know are already attending

The tickets are only £12 and can be purchased here: https://www.ica.art/on/films/breathless-discussion.

If anyone requires any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me on 0207 650 1166 / 07776 132718.

Please also tweet and/or insert on your website to spread the word.

Regards

Harminder

Harminder Bains, Partner

Leigh Day

Work Stress Conference 2018 (24-25 November)

The Work Stress Conference 2018 will focus on how we can best defend our hard-won Health and Safety protections in the face of Brexit.

Book your place HERE

Saturday 24 November 9.30 am to 5.30 pm)
Sunday 25 November (9.30 am – 12.30 pm)

The UK Work Stress Network campaigns to secure proper recognition of the damage caused by work-stress and to prevent work-related stress. Webpages

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ILO’s welcome of McDonald’s meaningless pledge is absurd and astonishing

ILO partners with indecent employers like McDonald’s in Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth

McDonald’s has signed up to the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth joining ‘ 43 partners who have pledged to reduce barriers to decent employment for youth while boosting access to decent work around the globe’

ILO  welcomes McDonald’s “decision to pledge a commitment  towards Decent Jobs for Youth, which aims at positive change in young people’s lives through positive action.” This  will come as a great surprise to McDonald’s workers and the unions working with them globally  to achieve decent pay and  decent work conditions as McDonalds’ does nothing but put up barriers! 

This is McWhitewash of the worst kind, surprisingly promoted by ILO,  a tripartite organization which seems to ignore  the on-going global movement of workers and Trade Unions against McDonald’s –  the waves of strikes, the demands for $15 an hour in US and £10 an hour in the UK.

Allowing McDonalds the prestige of respectability in appearing to ‘tackle barriers’ for young people, when they could at a stroke remove the barriers in their own company and pay all workers living wages, is absurd at best. This would be ‘positive action’ but the meaningless pledge is not.

Ian Hodson  President of the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union,  BFAWU which is organising young workers in McDonald’s and supporting the strike they held which won many concessions with more  planned soon said: 

We are disappointed to read of the tie up between the ILO and McDonalds who are global exploiters. For the ILO to give credibility to McDonalds a company that has championed zero hours contracts and low pay is not the type of employer whose support for this initiative should be welcomed – its employment practices are not a model to be praised.  McDonalds is currently under investigation across the EU and other parts of the world for its exploitative employment practices.

 McDonalds operates a fierce anti-union strategy which includes union busting tactics again in breach of what is expected of a decent employer. As we have witnessed in the UK, McDonalds has no hesitation in sacking young workers who join trade unions. In one instance they sacked workers for  raising genuine concerns for health and safety which we believe are contrary to the principles the ILO claims to champion on its website ‘Promoting Jobs Protecting people’.

We urge the ILO to withdraw from endorsing McDonalds’ as a reputable partner – and to scrutinise all other corporations signing up to this pledge- to protect young workers around the world from its low road policies  and to tell McDonalds to make good on its pledge by stopping exploitative employment practices, paying its workers a decent wage and recognising Trade Unions.”

Janet Newsham, GMHC and Hazards Campaign has been working with the BFAWU  and talking to workers about  the appalling health and safety issues in the fast food industry and in McDonalds’ especially, said:

I am astonished that the ILO has accepted McDonald’s as a partner in this Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth when they are a world leader in creating barriers to decently paid work with decent health, safety and other conditions.   I have talked to many young graduates working at McDonald’s who have been treated badly, sacked  for raising genuine health and safety concerns, subject to the insecurity of zero hours contracts and wages so low they can’t afford housing and decent food.  You can recognize a McDonald’s  worker by the burn scars on their arms.  McDonald’s is  the barrier to decent employment . It has the money and power to solve this at a stroke by making wages in its stores and franchises £10 an hour immediately in the UK, $15 an hour in the US, and solving the burn problems along with all the other serious health and safety issues which make work indecent and bad for young people’s  lives and health. “

HSE report shows Mental Heath First Aid training not leading to workplace improvements

Artwork: Andy Vine

The Hazards Campaign notes that HSE’s Research Report RR1135 – Summary of the evidence on the effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training finds: ‘There is no evidence that the introduction of MHFA training in workplaces has resulted in sustained actions in those trained, or that it has improved the wider management of mental ill-health’.

This may be just a lack of research so far, but other reports also raise questions and Hugh Robertson, TUC, writing in Hazards Magazine questions whether MHFA is the right answer.

The Hazards Campaign has warned against employers adopting MHFA as a sticking plaster solution to the suppurating sore of anxiety, depression and worse caused by insecure work, low pay, excessive workloads, impossible targets, long hours, bullying, harassment and lack of support and respect at work.  Prevention of work-stress must be the first task for employers and union safety reps – to prevent work from making workers mentally ill.

We want all those suffering from mental ill-health caused by work (or unrelated) to get the proper, qualified, effective treatment and support they need. We support mental health awareness training to improve our understanding of mental-health.

“The Hazards Campaign has warned against employers adopting MHFA as a sticking plaster solution to the suppurating sore of anxiety, depression and worse caused by insecure work, low pay, excessive workloads, impossible targets, long hours, bullying, harassment and lack of support and respect at work.”

The Hazards Campaign supports and works with  union safety reps in working with employers, putting pressure on if needed, to assess for work-stress factors and remove them , and we want the HSE and Local Authorities to take enforcement action against employers who are failing in their legal duty to do this. This HSE Report makes clear there is no evidence so far that MHFA training achieves that or is effective in a workplace setting.

HSE’s Research Report: “The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training programme was first developed to train the public in providing help to adults with mental ill-health problems. Recently there has been an increase in undertaking MHFA training in workplace settings. As the regulator for workplace health and safety, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) wishes to understand the strength of the available evidence on the effectiveness of MHFA in the workplace. A rapid scoping evidence review was undertaken that considered three research questions on the impact, influence and application of MHFA training in workplaces.

A number of knowledge gaps have been identified in this evidence review that mean it is not possible to state whether MHFA training is effective in a workplace setting. There is a lack of published occupationally-based studies, with limited evidence that the content of MHFA training has been considered for workplace settings. There is consistent evidence that MHFA training raises employees’ awareness of mental ill health conditions. There is no evidence that the introduction of MHFA training in workplaces has resulted in sustained actions in those trained, or that it has improved the wider management of mental ill-health.”

The Government is guilty of breaching human rights over Grenfell

Government guilty of breaching human rights over Grenfell cladding and protecting workers and citizen’s health and safety.

The Hazards Campaign welcomes and supports the statement by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, EHRC, that the  government is breaching its fundamental obligations to protect citizens’ right to life by failing to address the systemic problems of health and safety that led to the Grenfell tragedy.

The Commission expressed its concern that the consultation on the use of external cladding omits any reference to the government’s duty to protect lives under article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998.

The EHRC has written to the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government (DHCLG) outlining its concerns about the continued use of combustible cladding in existing buildings and advising the department of its responsibilities under human rights laws to protect lives.

This paramount duty requires the state to take appropriate steps within its power to effectively protect the lives of individuals and groups in situations where there is a known real risk to life, or where the authorities ought to have known that,” the commission said in its response to the consultation to combustible cladding”

The Hazards Campaign specifically agrees and welcomes the EHRC challenge to the government that their failure to address the risk to life posed by combustible external cladding, similar to that used on the Grenfell Tower, is a breach of human rights. We would argue this existed both before and after the tragedy, but we also argue there is a wider breach of the human rights of workers and citizens in the attack on health and safety regulation generally.

“On the issue of cladding, we call for much stricter building controls, clearer guidance and effective, independent not privatised, outsourced enforcement,” said Janet Newsham, acting Chair of the Hazards Campaign . “We also agree with the EHRC intervention’s wider view which supports our long-held and consistent argument that health and safety is a crucial underpinning of the human right to life and, as such,  the attacks upon it, ironically called Better Regulation but essentially deregulation and enforcement cutting, constitute an attack on workers’ and citizens’ right to life.

She added “ We have long argued that the government has failed to provide a strong and effective system of regulation and enforcement of health and safety at work, adequately funded and independent of concern for business interests which complies with the ILO minimum standards and this breaches workers’ human rights.  We believe that everyone has the right to go to work and come home from a shift alive and well, with their physical and mental health unimpaired in short or long term.

“Further we argue that the process of government attack on this already inadequate system, via un-evidenced,  ideologically biased notions of ‘bonfires of red tape’, ‘ removing the ‘burden on business’,  puts workers at more risk of losing their lives and health, and also led directly to the disaster at Grenfell which killed 72 citizens injured and traumatised hundreds more.

“ In our ‘We love Red tape better than bloody bandages’ campaign, 15,000- 20,000 postcards were sent to the Prime Minster demanding that Grenfell be the ‘enough is enough moment’ when the government deadly deregulation of health and safety was stopped.“

EHRC recognises, that the lack of a good health and safety protection continues to imperil tenants of blocks clad with similar combustible material and has published a paper ‘Following Grenfell: the right to life’ which develops the argument as to how the government is breaching human rights law..

Janet Newsham says: “ Deregulation, Better Regulation and slashing the funding for enforcement agencies – the Health and Safety Executive, Local Authorities, the Environment Agency, Building Control officers, etc – is a  direct attack on the human right to go to work, use products, eat, breath, drink, enjoy leisure activities,  and sleep safely in one’s home. It is a fundamental attack by government on our right to life.   We feel it clearly breaches the paramount duty under human rights law which ‘requires the state to take appropriate steps within its power to effectively protect the lives of individuals and groups in situations where there is a known real risk to life, or where the authorities ought to have known that.’

“Enough is enough, the government must stop destroying an already inadequate protection system which allows work to harm millions every year  killed 72 people at Grenfell, and puts workers and citizens at risk, and begin to develop a system that protects us all.”

The whole story: Work-related injuries, illness and deaths

The Hazards Campaign says the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) underestimates massively the true figures of workplace deaths and injuries focusing instead on only a part of the story.  Millions of workers are made ill and over 50,000 are killed by work yearly, rates significantly higher than HSE estimates.  In the briefing document The whole story: Work-related injuries, illness and deaths  the Hazards Campaign explains these shocking figures.

Offshore workers are at  risk from operators disregarding post Piper Alpha regulations

On the 6th July  2018 the names of all 167 workers killed in the Piper Alpha Explosion and fire 30 years again were read out in remembrance.

Thanks to Scottish Hazards for this list. We should know their names, speak their names, and while remembering them, fight like hell that others will never again be killed in similar way.  However, regulations and safety lessons written in the blood of those  167 men killed in the Piper Alpha explosion have already been weakened and are being ignored,  leaving current offshore workers at greater risk from hydrocarbon leaks, HCR.    And Martin Temple Chair of HSE also says failure of other sectors to learn the lessons led to the fire at Grenfell.

30 years ago Piper Alpha was the worst fire in peace time, resulting from the rush for profit from oil taking all precedence over oil workers’ lives without strong laws and enforcement in place to protect them. The direct consequence was that 167 were killed, 167 families devastated, 61 survivors and others were traumatised.

Image result for piper alpha memorial gardenFollowing the Piper Alpha fire, Lord Cullen headed an inquiry and recommended many broad changes to the regulation of offshore drilling which are well laid out in the Scottish Hazards blog

Removing a conflict of interest by making the Health and Safety Executive, HSE,  rather than the Department  of Energy responsible for health and safety offshore,  and the development of a ‘safety case regime’ similar to that in the nuclear industry were two chief recommendations of Lord Cullen.

The first Offshore Installation (Safety Case) Regulations came into force in 1992 but by 2005 the duty to review the safety case every 3 years was relaxed to leave the safety case applying over the life of the installation, in the Offshore Installation (Safety Case) Regulations 2005.  This weakening of the requirement was driven by oil industry leaders complaining of the myth of over-burdensome regulations and leaves offshore workers burdened by the risk of being killed on deteriorating rigs while oil prices decline and HCRs, with their risk of explosion and fire increase.  The Elgin blowout was one such release that came “perilously close to disaster”

Chris Flint, HSE’s Director of Energy Division, is so concerned he wrote in April this year to all offshore operators urging them to assess their operation and reflect on learning from incidents.

“Every HCR is a safety threat, as it represents a failure in an operator’s management of its risks. I recognise the steps the industry has taken to reduce the overall number of HCRs, however HCRs remain a concern, particularly major HCRs because of their greater potential to lead to fires, explosions and multiple losses of life.  There have been several such releases in recent years that have come perilously close to disaster.”

‘The letter requires operators to respond to HSE by 20 July 2018 with a summary of their improvement activities and plan arising from their self-assessment.  The HSE has also committed to feeding back significant findings from the exercise to the industry later in the year.’

We await developments but note with alarm the lack of enforcement action taken or threatened. When Barry Stott, an offshore worker who was 3 years old when his father died on Piper Alpha, read the HSE warning he told the BBC:

“How can that still be possible? I don’t think there would be any other industry in the world where 30 years on from such a seismic disaster we were on the verge of the same thing happening again? That’s not my opinion, that’s what I’m reading, from the HSE and others. It’s a growing concern for the whole city and the whole industry.” 

Scottish Hazards notes that the OffShore Installation (Safety Case ) Regulations 2015 put a duty on operators to consult with safety reps on the safety case and ‘to make arrangements to communicate national arrangements for anonymously  reporting health and safety concerns.’ While welcome, Scottish Hazards emphasises the reality that without clear evidence of strong enforcement by the HSE  to ensure adherence to safety cases by operators  and penalties  for those who don’t,  workers cannot  develop the confidence to report concerns.

But strong enforcement is exactly what we do not have.  Due to slashing HSE budget  by 50%,  cutting inspector numbers, plus commercialising,  business-friendly measures to ensure health and safety watchdogs consider the business case before workers lives and health since 2010, lack of enforcement  is rampant.  Deregulation known now as ‘Better regulation’ runs  across work sectors, offshore and onshore, covers everything from work, food, construction  materials, electrical and other home appliances, and environmental pollution

The fact that 29 years after the worst peace time fire at Piper Alpha, there was the second worst fire at Grenfell Tower is about far more than failing to learn or forgetting the lessons of Piper Alpha.  The lessons from the killing of 167 men have been deliberately attacked and undermined by the  demands by oil business leaders that health and safety regulation enacted after the disaster are  ‘only pointless red tape’ that is burdensome to their business and  must  be eradicated which has been acted upon by  successive neoliberal governments   as laid out in Hazards Magazine  We must name the causes and consequences of this deadly behaviour as Dave Whyte does in ‘The neoliberal bonanza from Piper Alpha to Grenfell.’

Hazards Campaigns calls for the reclaiming of regulation and enforcement to protect our health and lives as a  social good, the mark of a civilised society  and a complete rejection of deregulating for business interests,  We also call for more rights and powers for workers to organise for better health and safety to participate, to be informed and consulted  and the right to refuse work that put their lives and health at risk

Hazards Campaign comment: Lessons of the Grenfell disaster must spell an end to the Tory deregulation fetish

The Hazards Campaign is launching a drive to reclaim regulation and stop the deadly ‘better regulation’ that caused Grenfell and so many other deaths at work, at home, from unsafe food and from environmental pollution. 

One year on, the Hazards Campaign renews the call that the Grenfell Tower fire must be the ‘Enough is Enough’ moment when deregulation of health and safety is officially acknowledged as deadly and dangerous, the Tory fetish with deregulation ended, and a system of strong laws, strictly enforced intended solely to protect us at work, at home and in the environment is restored and reinvigorated.

Getting truth and justice for Grenfell, workers and citizens means reclaiming strong regulation, strictly enforced, as a social good!

We want an end to the lies and denigration of health and safety as ‘pointless ‘red tape’ and a ‘burden on business’  are banished for good.  6th July is also the 30th anniversary of the Piper Alpha fire which was the worst fire in UK in peace time, killing 167 people.

The Grenfell fire was no accident, but an atrocity graphically foretold by tenants  and rightly called social murder as the state permitted this to happen.  It is also about austerity,  poverty, inequality, housing policies , gentrification, social cleansing, and racism  about which Profs. Dave Whyte, Steve Tombs, and  many eminent people have written.

The root cause of the Grenfell fire is that the system of laws and enforcement on fire and building safety which most people thought was keeping them safe in their homes, became so bad that it allowed flammable material to be wrapped around a previously fire-safe tower block turning it into a death trap, causing an inferno, that firefighters could not put out, killing 72, injuring 70 and traumatising survivors and countless others in the local community.

It was weakening of the laws and enforcement around fire safety to benefit profit making by construction, manufacturers of material and property businesses that enabled the unsafe refurbishment to Grenfell Tower.  This lax system allowed the use of flammable materials in cladding and insulation, the privatisation of building control safety allowing non- fire experts to inspect premises and building works, and sign off safety, refusal by government ministers since 2010 to review and change Part B of the Building  Regulations recommended by the Coroner after the Laknal fire in 2009, and repeated many times by many fire experts. The cuts to fire and rescue services made the job of fighting the fire so much harder.

Hazards Magazine ‘Blue Murder’ shows the dismantling fire safety is part of the wider political attacks on workers and public health and safety over the last 40 years, From Thatcher’s ‘bonfire of regulations’, through Blair/Brown’s ‘better  regulation’, ‘ light touch, limited touch’ regulations up to 2010 and then turbo charged by David Cameron vowing to ‘kill of health and safety culture for good’ and calling for ‘bonfire of red tape’, continued by Tory government s including using trade deals and Brexit as a way to cut protection of citizens  and the environment even more

Grenfell was the real life ‘bonfire of red tape’ David Cameron had demanded.   Hazards Campaign immediately relaunched the ‘We Love Red Tape it’s better than bloody bandages’ campaign as a postcard and ecard to Theresa May:

“When you tear up critical fire, building, product, environmental and workplace safety laws, you are not removing red tape you are removing the protection necessary to keep us safe. The Grenfell Tower fire is one shocking example of the consequences of your government’s ‘bonfire of health and safety regulations’.  Enough is enough, stop undermining safety laws at work in our homes and our communities- instead keep improve and enforce and uphold the laws that protect us.” 

15,000 postcards and ecards were sent to Theresa May.

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, deregulation and the war on red tape was publicly  identified by many as the chief culprit  Even usually health and safety-hating tabloids  accepted that the fire itself showed that fire safety law had failed..

The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, IOSH, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister  calling for an end to deregulation.

Architecture and fire experts including Arnold Tarling , Sam Webb and the Fire Brigades, had warned of refurbishment compromising the built-in fire safety containment  of tower blocks. There were warnings from the 1980s  and especially since the Laknal House Fire in 2009  and  the Coroner’s recommendations for a review of the Building Regulations.

All warnings, even via the All Party Parliamentary Group on  Fire and Rescue  were disregarded, often with extreme contempt,  especially since 2010, by Tory ministers hell bent on removing ‘red tape and burdens’  from business  and ignoring clearly warned of  consequences for fire safety and lives of those in tower blocks. The Scottish Government  did change their Building Regulations in 2005 after a fire in a 14 storey tower block in Irvine, Ayrshire that killed one person, showing it  could be done.

For many years Hazards Campaign and Hazards Magazine have fought  for better health and safety at work and especially since 2010 via ‘We didn’t vote to die at Work’ campaign. We warned again and again of the consequences of deregulation   of workplace safety  

Even though around 140 people die due to preventable incidents and illnesses caused by work each day – the equivalent  of two Grenfell fires every single day – these worker deaths are spread across the country, happen in ones and twos in incidents  which may not even make the local news, or years later as people die in their beds  of lung, heart disease and cancers due to work. link to http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/blog/death-at-work-trend-going-upwards-yet-deadly-deregulation-still-remains-government-obsession

Work deaths are not as horrifyingly public as the Grenfell fire. We hoped the Grenfell atrocity was so terrible  it would be the moment that changed everything, when deregulation could be stopped,  reversed, and a formal recognition that protective laws like fire safety are necessary, a civilised, social good, not bureaucratic ‘red tape or  a burden on business’.  However we expected  a backlash, a blaming everyone lower down, the victims, a retreat from the real causes and attempts to cover things up and a complete lack of urgent tightening of laws to make tower blocks safer.   And so it has proved with deregulation falling off the agenda .

The blame is still not focused on the real culprits, governments and ministers responsible for the deadly deregulation of laws and enforcement meant to keep us safe at work, in the environment and in our own homes, and the businesses that took advantage and profited from it..  Government and ministers should be held to account for Grenfell deaths, not the firefighters who came to save lives in an impossible fire they did not create.

The fire itself showed that the Building Regulations were ‘not fit for purpose’ and that combustible/flammable materials should not be permitted on the outside – or inside – of tower blocks. Yet Dame Judith Hackitt’s Building Regulations Review did not suggest immediate changes to Approved Document B of Building Regulations,  or  a ban on flammable cladding/insulation (or retro fitting sprinklers, or second means of egress).  While  the government has said flammable cladding will be banned, there is likely to be the sort of ‘Red tape’ consultation which may give equal or more weight to the corporate bodies who make, sell, buy and install this material and who are already lobbying against any ban .

The response of the national and local state at the time of the fire, and since,  has been widely acknowledged as abysmal, with victories only being won due to local community organising effectively for  practical relief, and  for justice and truth. Theresa May has ruled outside the terms of reference of the Public Inquiry (PI)  any scrutiny of government policies or questioning of ministers who took decisions that rejected warnings which could have  prevented  the Grenfell fire. The criminal investigation by the Metropolitan Police has also ruled government policies outside of its remit.

This rigging of the PI and criminal investigation shields  and protects those at the top who are not held to account for their action, their culpability hidden, and we have seen the usual victim blaming fall to new lows at the PI. From the man whose fridge caught fire – though not the fridge manufacturers whose faulty appliances  are responsible for  60 house  fires a week –  Grenfell residents have been blamed and demonised as being ‘migrants and scroungers’,  and recently at the PI the obscene spectacle of lawyers grilling firefighters like  Mike Dowden instead of the ex  London Mayor, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea leaders, the KC Tenant Management Organisation,  and Fire Service bosses, who had the power and made decisions about fire safety in Grenfell Tower,  firefighting policy, and  cuts to services, resources and training.  Mike Dowden, a brave and dedicated junior fire officer was questioned as if personally responsible for the  ‘Stay Put’ advice and decisions that turned a safe tower block into deadly inferno by cladding it in flammable plastic products equivalent to 32,000 litres of petrol as a new low.  Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the FBU said “The Stay Put decision was redundant the minute anyone was permitted to slap flammable materials on the outside of tower blocks.”

The PI has a long way to run, but the bizarre chronology of putting fire fighters in line for scrutiny before those who created the inferno, has led to a nasty feeling.  We hope that the manufacturers of the cladding, insulation and all who specified, bought,  installed and inspected it and passed t as safe, will come in for just as rigorous questioning and scrutiny when their turn comes.

On the first anniversary of Grenfell, all around the country directed by the community at Grenfell, moving memorials were held to both remember and mourn all those killed but also to support their families and the community in their fight for justice and truth.  In an event  organised by Salford Trades Council,  held in the shadow of some of the tower blocks clad in similar material to that at Grenfell,  Hilda Palmer of Greater Manchester Hazards Centre, Families Against Corporate Killers and the  Hazards Campaign read out the names of the 72 who were killed,  in a heart-breaking testimony to their legalised social  murder.

For  justice, for those killed and hurt, and for the truth, the Hazards Campaign is launching a drive to reclaim regulation and stop the deadly ‘better regulation’ that caused Grenfell and so many other deaths at work, at home, from unsafe food and from environmental pollution, the  Hazards Campaign demands:

  • An end to health and safety deregulation and reclamation of  the philosophy that regulation as good for all of us and is what a civilised state should provide for its citizens.
  •   Establishing that the primary and sole purpose of health and safety regulatory watchdogs  shall be the prevention of harm to the lives, health, safety and welfare of workers, citizens and the environment, not the protection of business interests first.
  • Provision of adequate funding, resources and independence to health and safety regulatory watchdogs  the HSE, Local  Authorities  etc – given real teeth and power to enforce their primary and sole purpose.
  • Restoration of proactive, preventative inspections to check on employers’ compliance, and far more prosecutions and enforcement actions against non-compliant and criminal employers and businesses.
  • Dismantling of the apparatus of ‘Better Regulation’ which is the mechanism by which deregulation operates, including an immediate end to:  Business Impact Targets – considering only business costs not health consequences;  the One in Three out approach  -no new law unless three laws of equivalent cost are  repealed;   the ‘Growth duty’ on health and safety enforcement authorities meaning they must consider first the impact of regulating on the business interests; the Primary Authority scheme allowing national companies to shop around for a Local Authority regulator and enter into a commercialised  relationship.
  • An end to the dishonest rhetoric denigrating health, safety and fire safety regulation and the  start of honest assessment of the value of regulation, the cost of poor regulation and enforcement, who it falls upon, and the collection and publication of statistic that reveal the true harm caused by employer and business full