Scotland’s leading safety charity, Scottish Hazards, has launched a new campaign urging Scots to back their vision for a Scottish Hazards Centre.
The Centre – which is backed by the STUC and trade unions - will provide much needed advice, training and support services to Scottish workers and their families, to ensure health and safety issues are tackled BEFORE they cause debilitating illness, loss of life and limb. The very least families expect is that their loved ones can exercise the basic human right to return to them alive and well after their work has finished for the day.
Louise Taggart who is working with Scottish Hazards on the project knows only too well how it feels to be denied this right having lost her brother Michael Adamson in a work-related incident in August 2005. She has campaigned with Scottish Hazards, Families Against Corporate Killers, trade unions and politicians to get to this stage.
Scotland still has a shocking death and injury at work record and it is feared that Government cuts will make this worse. 20 workers were killed in work-related incidents in Scotland last year but this excludes those who die on our roads while working (or who are driving home after excessively long hours of work), those who die at sea or as a result of air accidents, work-related suicide, or members of the public killed by work-related activities.
It also does not recognise the huge numbers killed by occupational illnesses such as asbestos cancers and Scottish Hazards estimates the annual work-related death toll in Scotland is nearer 132 in incidents directly related to their work and a further 4150 who die from work-related illnesses. The charity believes very strongly that the setting up of a new health and safety centre will play a key role in reducing this awful death toll.
Louise Taggart said: “My brother was killed in an incident which could and should have been prevented. His employer had written processes and procedures in place, but it was not practicing what those preached. I want the Scottish Hazards Centre to be a place where workers and others - concerned about an employer’s health and safety practices - can turn for the help and support they need to get the employer to take its responsibilities seriously. ”
The campaign to set up the new Scottish Hazards Centre has received backing from across the political divide at Holyrood as well as from the trade union movement and the financial appeal is aimed not only at trade unions and their branches, but also the general public and any organisation sharing the aims of Scottish Hazards to prevent other families suffering unnecessary and totally avoidable pain and heartache. Thompsons Scotland has already provided financial and practical support to help the project reach this stage and Scottish Hazards recognises the role they have played and continue to play in making Scotland a safer and healthier place to work.
The Labour MSP Neil Findlay said "Health and safety measures are not the red tape the Tories would have us believe, they’re a matter of life and death. Given the sustained attacks that workers’ rights and protections have endured over the last 5 years, with the prospect of more to follow, this is a hugely important move by Scottish Hazards to make our workplaces safer and healthier and it has my full support."
Bill Kidd MSP from the SNP has also added his support. He commented "I’ve supported Scottish Hazards for a number of years, hosting their exhibitions in the Parliament to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day. The establishment of a Scottish Hazards Centre would be a significant development in “fighting for the living”, one of the principles of IWMD, and they have my full backing.”
The Green Party have also given their full support to the plan. Their MSP Alison Johnstone said "Providing support and training on workplace health and safety is of paramount importance, and the campaign for a dedicated centre to deliver this support deserves widespread backing. As a society we have a duty to reduce workplace hazards to prevent injury, illness and fatalities.
"We've seen appalling workplace failures around the world leading not just to workers being harmed but communities too. And as Scotland faces new threats such as fracking and other forms of unconventional gas drilling, we must protect and strengthen the health and safety of workers and communities."
Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary said “The STUC has supported the Hazards movement plans for a Scottish Hazard Centre for many years. The support that both can provide for workers disenfranchised from trade union membership is invaluable, helping to address the acknowledged health and safety deficit in non-unionised and anti-trade union workplaces.”
Notes to Editors
Scottish Hazards has been registered as a charity with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator since April 2014. It has grown out of the Scottish Hazards Campaign which, for more than 20 years, has acted as a focal point for those committed to improving workplace health and safety, including trade union health and safety representatives, occupational health professionals and politicians.
Scottish Hazards is seeking to secure funding of £100,000 per annum and will launch its new service in August 2015. Louise Taggart is an Edinburgh-based qualified employment lawyer who left the profession in August 2013 to pursue health and safety projects, spurred on by what had happened to her brother and the need to stop it from happening to others. Louise’s brother Michael Adamson was working as an electrician at the time of his death at the age of 26. He was working at the fit-out of a JJB sports store and gym complex in Dundee. He was electrocuted while stripping the insulating material from a cable that was marked “NOT IN USE” but which was in fact live as it had not been safely isolated from the power source. Michael’s employer Mitie Engineering Services Ltd was fined £300,000 in respect of the health and safety failures which resulted in his death
For further information and to arrange an interview please contact Louise Taggart (m) 07812 782534 firstname.lastname@example.org or Ian Tasker, STUC Assistant Secretary (m) 07974 966227