Conference workshops in full swing

Hazards conference 2016: pictures and quotes from the opening plenary session

Opening plenary session

Chair Doug Russell, USDAW
Speakers
Hugh Robertson, TUC, Protecting health and safety after Brexit
Aida Ponce del Castillo, ETUI, Post Brexit solidarity
Anne Raynal, ex-HSE senior medical inspector, HSE occupational failure
Steve Tombs, Open University, Better regulation: Better for whom?


Hugh Robertson, TUC


All photographs copyright Jawad Qasrawi, Hazards magazine

Hazards conference 2016: Building the resistance and defending our lives

News release [Immediate]

John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, will address Hazards 2016 Conference on 31st July

The Hazards Campaign annual conference, Hazards 2016, runs from Friday 29th to 31st July at Keele University. 350 safety reps from all unions from all over the UK, and from all types of workplace, will gather to listen to informed and inspirational speakers and to participate in workshops and meetings under the theme ‘Building the Hazards Resistance to support Safety Reps to defend our health and safety in post Brexit world’. 

Hilda Palmer, acting chair of the Hazards Campaign and one of the organisers says:

“We are especially delighted this year to welcome John McDonnell to speak to our final plenary on Sunday 31st July.  John has been an active and steadfast supporter of workers, trade unions, the Hazards Campaign and Hazards Magazine in campaigning for better health and safety for many, many years. Through the Trade Union Coordinating Group John has run successful parliamentary lobbies and hosted International Workers Memorial Day meetings in the House of Commons.

“He is a regular and popular speaker at trade union conferences as he understand the issues workers are facing far more clearly than many,  and was one of the first to speak out against zero hours contracts, blacklisting, other abusive work practices, the need for  a maximum temperature,  and the effects of austerity and neoliberalism on workers terms and conditions, especially on our lives and health. 

“John McDonnell was instrumental in the campaign against Blacklisting, helped to set up the Blacklist Support Group and has supported it through thick and thin. John is a great supporter of workers’ struggles and frequently visits picket lines to show solidarity with workers fighting for decent workIn Parliament he has been a great advocate for workers health and safety and rights generally.” 

John McDonnell will speak at the final plenary of Hazards 2016, which is  the largest health and safety conference for safety reps in UK, run by Hazards Campaign and Hazards Magazine. Speaking ahead of the conference John McDonnell said:

“After a long term decline I am very worried that workplace deaths and diseases are on the rise again. Workers deserve the protection of strong employment rights, trade union rights and a safety watchdog that is up to the job.

“Six years of Conservative-led government have allowed rogue bosses to exploit an increasingly insecure and abused workforce. Labour will protect people at work, rather than create a world where the likes of Sir Philip Green and Mike Ashley can get away with whatever they want.

“Working people earn this country’s wealth and run our public services; these are essential tasks for which no-one should pay with their life.”

Hilda Palmer adds:

“The Tories’ fanatical obsession with deregulation is bad for your health. After a long term decline workplace deaths are rising and workplace diseases are rising. Workers need a regulatory with sharp teeth but the HSE and Local Authority enforcement have been captured by business to the detriment of workers.  Hazards 2016 will discuss the state we are in due to 6 years of Tory/Coalition deregulation and the threats from Brexit and new trade deals. 

“Safety Reps will gain updated information, learn new organising and campaigning tools and set actions to defend workers lives and health in the coming year.  Hazards 2016 will discuss the state we are in due to 6 years of Tory/Coalition deregulation and the threats from Brexit and new trade deals.” 

More information: Hilda Palmer Tel 0161 636 7557  0079298 00240

For notifications of Hazards Campaign news and activities visit our sign-up page

Hazards 2016 http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/hazconf2016bookingform.pdf

Hazards 2016 Programme: http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/?cat=7

Buy me: HSE pimps out its services as regulating takes a back seat www.hazards.org/safetypimp/buyme.htm

HSE is all talk: How it became unsafe to leave policy to the safety regulator www.hazards.org/votetodie/alltalk.htm

John McDonnell supporting Blacklisted workers at High Court: http://www.hazards.org/images/h134poster1000.jpg

Alarm bells as work tragedies strike

In the last three years, the long term downward trend in UK work fatalities has reversed and is plateauing.  HSE’s latest fatality statistics released on 7 July 2016 show a provisional total of 144 workers killed in work-related incidents which is slightly upon last year’s final total of 142 last year and 136 the year before. (1). There has been an increase in deaths in construction, up from 35 to 43.

Also, on 7 July 2016, five men were killed at a recycling plant in Birmingham: Saibo Sillahhe; Alimamo Jammeh; Ousman Jabbie; Bangaly Dukureh; Mohammed Jagana, all Spanish nationals from Gambia.  This was the third work-related multiple fatality in less than a year in England.  Derek Moore, Dorothy Bailey, Derek Barks and Jason Shingler were killed and many injured at Bosley Wood flour miIl explosion on 17th July 2015. Christopher Huxtable, Ken Cresswell, John Shaw and Michael Collings were killed in the collapse of a boiler house while being prepared for demolition at Didcot Power Station on 23rd February 2016. The body of Michael Collings was recovered but the other three workers still lie under the rubble nearly 20 weeks later to the horror and grief of their families.

A Hazards Campaign spokesperson said:

“The past 6 years of Coalition and Tory government have seen huge cuts to the enforcement of laws intended to protect workers, and a constant stream of lies about good health and safety being a ‘burden on business’ (2).  There are of course unforeseeable, unpreventable accidents at work, however almost all deaths and injuries at work are due to the poor management of health and safety by employers.   We will not know the cause of this latest multiple worker fatality incident until the result of the full investigation. But we would be concerned if there has been a fall in proactive, preventive inspections even in the few high risk industries such as waste and recycling where such inspections are currently still permitted.

“We believe that the stalling in the decline in deaths at work and an increase in ill-health due to work, is a direct result of government policies and the attack on HSE and Local Authorities as regulators and enforcers (3)

 “We know, and the families of those killed at work know, that red tape is far better than bloody bandages. No-one died from too much regulation and enforcement but from quite the opposite.  (4). We completely oppose any post-Brexit further slashing of workers’ health and safety.  We demand that the  government put an end to the constant denigration of health and safety regulations and enforcement, and reverse the attacks on budgets and policies at the HSE and Local Authorities, so that workers can be protected properly at work. The HSE’s latest strategy is little more than a business advice brochure and their hashtag,  #helpgbworkwell, no more than wishful thinking (5).

“We also urge ministers to meet with us, with Families Against Corporate Killers (6),  and the families of those killed at work in Birmingham, at Didcot and Bosley, and all across the country in much less noticed single worker incidents, to explain why their lives have less priority than the freedom of employers to make profits.”

Notes:

  1. http://press.hse.gov.uk/2016/annual-workplace-fatality-statistics-published/
  2. Hazards Magazine: ‘Will we survive another Tory term?’ http://www.hazards.org/gallery/willwesurvive.htm
  3. Hazards Magazine: ‘Cuts to HSE hurts workers’: http://www.hazards.org/safetypimp/buyme.htm
    Steve Tombs: ‘Better Regulation- Better for Whom?’ Briefing on cuts to Local Authority enforcement of health and safety, pollution control  and food safety: https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/sites/crimeandjustice.org.uk/files/Better%20regulation%20briefing%2C%20April%202016_0.pdf
  4. Hazards Magazine:  ‘It’s your choice red tape or bloody bandages’; http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/citizensane.htm; ‘We Love red tape it’s better than bloody bandages’: http://www.hazards.org/gallery/weloveredtape.htm
  5. Hazards Magazine ‘HSE all talk’: http://www.hazards.org/votetodie/alltalk.htm
  6.  Families Against Corporate Killers, FACK, founded in July 2006 http://ww.fack.org.uk

Founder Members:

Dawn and Paul Adams son Samuel Adams aged 6 killed at Trafford Centre, 10th October 1998

Linzi Herbertsonhusband Andrew Herbertson 29, killed at work in January 1998

Mike and Lynne Hutin son Andrew Hutin 20, killed at work on 8th Nov 2001

Mick & Bet Murphyson Lewis Murphy 18, killed at work on 21st February 2004

Louise Taggart brother Michael Adamson 26, killed at work on 4th August 2005

Linda Whelanson Craig Whelan 23, (and Paul Wakefield) killed at work on 23rd May 2002

Dorothy & Douglas Wrightson Mark Wright 37, killed at work on 13th April 2005

Hazards conference 2016: Booking form

Hazards 2016 Building resistance to support safety reps

29-31 July 2016 at Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent.

Download the booking form

Unions push for better laws on work cancers

The Hazards Campaign is backing a Europe-wide trade union push for better, more protective laws against occupational cancer.

Unions are to work throughout the Dutch Presidency of the European Union to develop a preventive approach to occupational cancer. During this presidency, which runs from January to June, the Dutch government has expressed a desire to update the EU Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive, a longstanding union objective.

A new report from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) says the union objective is to “eliminate occupational cancer.” Promoting a six-point preventive charter, it urges unions to run a political and awareness campaign. This should include approaching embassies and consulates of the Netherlands to present the union campaign objectives, it notes.

The ETUC report, Why we need to focus on work-related cancer, notes: “At workplaces trade unions are demanding that dangerous substances and processes are eliminated or substituted with less dangerous ones. Likewise we are seeking to improve work organisation in order to avoid or minimise exposures to night and shift work. To reinforce this work we are calling for improvements to the legislative framework at EU level and we are seizing the opportunity created by the initiative of the Dutch Presidency.”

Welcoming the union initiative, the Hazards Campaign’s Hilda Palmer said: “Occupational cancer deaths in the UK occur at a rate of around two every hour, round the clock. They cause massive suffering and immeasurable heartache. And despite costing society considerably more than workplace injuries, they are an ignored epidemic. We want regulatory authorities to beef up the law and enforce the law.”

She said the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was a ‘bad actor’ in Europe, resisting improvements in legal protection from carcinogens and blocking more protective exposure standards.

She points to a 2012 ‘Cancer costs’ article in Hazards magazine, which noted: “In 2012 an officially convened European Union Working Party on Chemicals (WPC) with representatives  from four member states – France, Finland, Germany and the UK – attempted to agree binding occupational exposure limits (BOELs) for 26 workplace carcinogens. Only the UK, when presented with a choice, openly supported a number of proposals to introduce a less protective BOEL.”

Helen Lynn of the Alliance for Cancer Prevention said: “More people are exposed to harmful chemicals than at any time in history, in their workplaces, homes and in the wider environment. Polluting our bodies comes at a massive cost, both human and financial. There are better ways to work, starting with sunsetting the most deadly substances and introducing toxics use reduction policies to phase out others. Doing nothing is condemning another generation to a pointless, preventable early death.”

Resource: Work cancer hazards blog.

 

Workers’ Memorial Day – this year, it’s the law

Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don’t die of mystery ailments, or in tragic “accidents”. They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn’t that important a priority. Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) commemorates those workers. The 28 April annual event is marked all over the world, as workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils and a plethora of other activities to mark the day.

As preparations begin for this year’s event, the TUC has announced the global campaign focus. “In 2016 the theme for the day is ‘Strong Laws – Strong enforcement – Strong Unions’ because across the world we are seeing growing attacks on health and safety protection, including in Britain where the government have removed protection from millions of self-employed workers, and across Europe where the European Commission is pursuing a dangerous deregulatory strategy,” the union body said.

“However strong laws are not enough if they are not going to be enforced. That is why we need proper inspections and enforcement action against those who break the laws.”

The TUC said that in UK the number of inspections has fallen dramatically in the past five years, while in many other countries enforcement is non-existent. “That is why we also need strong unions. Unionised workplaces are safer, yet the government is trying to stop unions protecting the health and safety of their members by restricting the right of health and safety representatives to take time off to keep the workplace safer, and also trying to reduce our right to strike when things go wrong.”

TUC news alert. TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. Add your 28 April event to the TUC listing . For tweeters, use the #iwmd16

ITUC/Hazards global events listing.

For Hazards Campaign Workers’ Memorial Day resources including ribbons and car stickers, contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre by email or phone 0161 636 7557.

14th EWHN conference, Rotterdam, 27-29 May 2016

The European Work Hazards Network conference is to be held on 27-29 May 2016 in Rotterdam.

The theme is Empowerment of workers and experts in Health and Safety at the shopfloor and Empowerment of workers and experts to neutralize deregulation and lack of precautions in an European context.

The programme includes workshops, infomeetings and workplace visits.

Conference flyer • conference website  • EWHN 2016 UK booking form

UK policy is to do sod all about killer chemicals

Despite being a major player in global chemicals production, the UK is showing little interest in efforts to control the most dangerous substances including carcinogens, a report suggests.

The report from the European Environment Bureau (EEB), A Roadmap to Revitalise REACH, notes “most Member States, including several with a strong chemicals industry, such as Italy or Ireland, are not contributing at all to the process, while others, like the UK and Spain, are only contributing marginally.”

The report reveals the UK government has only proposed two Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), chemicals including carcinogens and reproductive toxins targeted for phase-out. Germany tops the table, with 44 chemicals proposed.

Dr Michael Warhurst, executive director of CHEM Trust, a UK-based charity that promotes safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals, said: “We are very concerned about the performance of the UK government, who seem to have a deliberate strategy of not identifying the chemicals of very high concern.”

CHEM Trust is critical of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) approach to the identification and control of the “worst chemicals”. It points to an online HSE strategy document that states there must be “an overriding UK government policy need for the UK to take the initiative on a substance”.

CHEM Trust says “this shows a worrying lack of commitment to human health and the environment.”

UK asbestos giant spied and lied in attempt to discredit critics

Executives at the world’s biggest asbestos factory spied on journalists and  safety and environmental campaigners who exposed the killer dust’s dangers.

Secret industry documents reveal that the executives at Rochdale-based asbestos giant Turner and Newall (T&N) monitored people they considered to be “subversive” and kept a dossier on their activities at the height of the debate about the mineral’s safety in the 1980s.

The T&N documentation was unearthed from the company’s archives by Manchester Metropolitan University researcher Jason Addy as part of 12 years of research into the firm’s toxic legacy.

Those identified in the papers include the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS) – the organisation that set up what became Hazards magazine and whose Work Hazards Group was a precursor of the Hazards Campaign – Alan Dalton, the now deceased former union national safety officer and author of ‘Asbestos Killer Dust’, journalists working on an award-winning asbestos documentary and Friends of the Earth.

Also targeted was Nancy Tait, the founder of the world’s first asbestos victims’ advocacy group, an asbestos widow who died in 2009. The firm then used a media and political campaign in an attempt to discredit its critics.