Deaths at work highest in North West

Figures released by trade unions the TGWU and UCATT show that 104 people died at work in the North West of England in 2003-04, the highest of any region in England, Scotland or Wales. The number of major injuries at work during the same two-year period was 7,218, the second highest of any region. Not one single company director was prosecuted for these deaths or injuries.

In March 1996, when in opposition, Labour gave its support to a law for director liability when Michael Meacher MP said in Parliament, “Responsibility for health and safety must be vested at the highest level of each organisation. Companies should appoint an individual at board level with overall responsibility for health and safety.”

Making a killing

Nearly twice as many people die from fatal injuries at work than are victims of homicide, a new report has revealed. At least 1,300 people died as a result of fatal occupational injuries in 2005-06 in England and Wales, compared with 765 homicide deaths. It was also found that non-fatal workplace injuries requiring hospitalisation were far higher than those needing treatment following a violent crime.

Yet at a time when crime, especially violent crime, takes centre stage and any working class youth who likes wearing a hood is stigmatized as a potential mass murderer, the violent crime and murder taking place in the workplace everyday is never reported. Moreover, while Labour responds to every Daily Mail hang-and-flog-them headline by throwing yet more people into already overcrowded jails the perpetrators of crime in the workplace get off virtually scot-free

Workplace deaths continue

Workplace deaths across the south west of the country are increasing, according to the Health & Safety Executive, a fact which it finds to be “disappointing”. From March 2007 to March 2008, deaths on the job rose by 16%, with a total of 28 fatalities. Despite injuries in the workplace scaling 240,000, the authorities managed a mere 70 prosecutions across the region; a rather low clearance rate, some might say. Some 38% of injuries were due to “slips, trips and falls” in construction, agriculture and manufacturing.

Have your say : A Killer at Work

Though asbestos in now banned in Britain, many buildings we live and work in today predate the ban. For example, about 90% of schools still contain asbestos. As a result, thousands of people are dying, and will continue to die, from asbestos related diseases which very often are not manifest until many years, even decades, after exposure.

Asbestos is a fibrous substance found in seams between layers of rock. The fibres are strong, flexible, and will not burn below 1000 ºC. There are different types but these days 95% of all asbestos mined is white asbestos, or Chrysotile.

Health and Safety at Work - An Anarcho-syndicalist approach

This pamphlet is based on a course organised by North & East London Solidarity Federation called "Organising for Health and Safety" back in 1997. Part 1 introduces the idea of health, safety and welfare standards at work, and places them in the context of capitalism. Part 2 suggests ways of finding out about and taking up health and safety issues. Part 3 details some common problems and definitions, and Part 4 provides a case study from the Norwich and Norfolk Solidarity Federation, and introduces the idea of union support surgeries. Part 5 compares and contrasts modern trade unionism with anarcho-syndicalism as advocated by the Solidarity Federation, and argues for social revolution. Finally, there are appendices on tactics, basic rights and information of practical use.