Fellow Safety Campaigners

London Hazards has gone through a torrid time losing all of our funding in March this year, resulting in us having to close our offices, closing all our accounts and laying off 2 part time and 1 full time worker paying redundancy which virtually cleared us out.

One thing the management knew was that this cut was another attack on workers’ Health and Safety along with a 33% cut to the HSE budget. We vowed to fight to continue the proud work that London Hazards has carried out for nearly 30 years, from asbestos, solvent paints, RSI, you name it! Not only warning workers of work place hazards but supporting and leading campaigns, running courses for Safety Reps, helping establish Workers Memorial Day and the European ban of asbestos.

We have raised enough money to employ a part time worker again and get an office and a website up and running again, all on a shoe string budget. We want to rebuild Hazards but can’t do that without peoples support. We’re knocking on everybody’s door who we think can help and we think wants to fight back against this Coalitions vicious attacks. We want to build a network of Safety Reps by bringing together people to help all those most vunerable to these cuts.

London Hazards held their AGM on Thursday 21st November 6pm at Layden House 76-86 Turnmill St. ECIM 5LG.

Speakers included – Leigh Day on Zero Hours and  Dave Smith Blacklisted Workers Campaign

Two of the most important issues to face workers today.

Get your TU and organisation to affiliate.

Tom Lannon (Chairman – UCATT London & South East Regional Council) speaking
at the UCATT memorial statue at Tower Hill, London on Workers Memorial Day

Is this the standard of Health & Safety we can
expect under new Conservative proposals?

Asbestos – The Silent Killer (part 1).
Asbestos kills thousands of people each year.
Have a look at this moving video.

Asbestos – The Silent Killer (part 2)
In the words of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury –
‘Another One Bites The Dust’

Asbestos – The Silent Killer (part 3)
In the words of The Hollies –
‘All We Need Is The Air That We Breathe’

Top Ten Funniest Health & Safety Photos
You’ll Ever See (Don’t try these at home!)

Paul Kenny speaking at Workers Memorial Day 2010

Minister’s Aide Meddled Repeatedly In Access-to-Information Requests

Globe & Mail – Sep 30th, 2010

An aide to a Conservative cabinet minister meddled with at least four access-to-information requests on touchy subjects – such as Barack Obama’s visit to Canada and asbestos – despite testimony he acted improperly only one time.

Documents recently provided to a House of Commons committee, and obtained by The Canadian Press, show Sebastien Togneri directed bureaucrats to remove material that was destined for release.

Mr. Togneri was adviser to then-Public Works minister Christian Paradis, and remains in his employ now at Natural Resources.

The committee began studying political interference into access-to-information requests when it came to light Mr. Togneri had blocked the release of a document to The Canadian Press in July of 2009. In that case, a bureaucrat was ordered to retrieve the package from the Public Works mailroom so as to remove files concerning the government’s massive real-estate portfolio…….

In another instance, involving the backgrounds of members of a government panel examining asbestos, bureaucrats were left scratching their heads when Mr. Togneri directed them to “please exclude the following that is highlighted.”

Below is an article from the Independent newspaper about asbestos. Please read….

Trigger Issue, The Independent, 3 Oct. 2010.

Thousands of families bereaved by the asbestos cancer mesothelioma will discover this week whether insurance companies will compensate them for the deaths of their loved ones. The Court of Appeal will rule in a test case on Friday if insurers must pay out on company policies that existed when people were exposed to the deadly dust.

An estimated 6,000 families of victims have been waiting for compensation for more than five years while insurers squabble over whether claims can date back to the moment a person is exposed to asbestos, or the moment they develop the disease from it – which can be up to 50 years later.

Mesothelioma sufferers – or, in the majority of cases, their surviving families – would gain an average of £100,000 each in compensation for negligent exposure to deadly asbestos if the court upholds an earlier 2008 ruling. This found that industrial insurers should pay out on claims relating to the time from which victims are exposed to the deadly fibres.

However, insurers appealed the decision. If their appeal is successful, many widows affected face the prospect of no compensation at all. This is because the company the victim worked for no longer exists or because the insurance policy that existed at the time cannot be found.

For other victims of asbestos exposure at work, it is simply a case of years of delay while two or more insurers argue about which is liable for compensation. As mesothelioma is such an aggressive cancer, this drawn-out case has meant that almost all of the victims are now dead, leaving their relatives hoping for a ruling in their favour.

The Government also stands to lose millions on the outcome of the ruling. If judges rule that insurers do not have to pay out, the Government will face demands for compensation from employees of former nationalised industries and organisations such as the Ministry of Defence. They will also lose out on the thousands of pounds of benefits paid to victims which are clawed back when insurance companies admit liability.

Ian McFall, head of asbestos policy at Thompsons solicitors, said: “This is potentially the most important test case in the history of asbestos litigation. For over 50 years it has been the insurer on cover at the time the exposure took place which responds to and pays the claim when someone develops mesothelioma. The insurers now argue that because of the way policies are worded they only apply to the time they got ill. We have hoped and expected that the court would continue to hold insurers liable for policies that were sold to employers at the time workers were being negligently exposed to asbestos.”

Hugh Robertson, head of health and safety at the Trades Union Congress, said: “We’ve been through this so many times with the insurance industry trying to claw back from their moral and legal responsibilities. By continually appealing and drawing out this process as long as possible they’re ensuring that victims are never able to put their financial affairs in order before their inevitable death. These tactics are so irresponsible because you’re talking about a disease which, on average, results in death just 18 months from diagnosis. This isn’t just a tragedy for the families, but for the victims, who are denied even that little peace of mind.”

If the insurers’ appeal is successful, hundreds of firms may be left effectively uninsured to pay for any claims. Experts warn some could be forced out of business if they have to fund compensation themselves.

Some insurers have been embarrassed by the decision to contest the case. A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers admitted: “This is being brought by a small group of run-off insurers against the views of the majority of UK insurers. Most active insurers are happy to pay to people with employers’ liability policies.”

Insurers and victims are expected to appeal to the Supreme Court if they lose, delaying any compensation still further. Tony Whitson, chair of the Asbestos Victims Support Group, said: “Whatever happens, it is likely this will be appealed and go to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, people are dying, their families are trying to cope and insurers are just fighting among themselves with no regard for people.”

The Independent on Sunday called on the Government last year to stand up to the insurance lobby and ensure proper compensation. Following the campaign, the Labour government pledged a £40m package of measures, including a research centre, support for mesothelioma victims and to investigate an insurance industry-funded compensation scheme for victims whose policies could not be traced. Now the research centre has been put on hold and there is no sign of the Government pursuing insurers for a compensation fund of last resort.

Case study: ‘I think by the time they decide I won’t be here anyway’

Frances Grinnell, 78, from Birmingham, is one of thousands of widows who face the prospect of getting no insurance payout at all if the Appeal Court decides that compensation applies only from the moment a victim shows symptoms. Her husband Lawrence died four years ago, aged 74. He was diagnosed after the couple had celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. Her husband was exposed to asbestos in the 1950s and 60s while working as a painter and decorator in factories. The painting company he worked for has long since gone out of business; if judges decide the company which then insured them is no longer liable, nobody else will take responsibility.

Mrs Grinnell’s only job was as a part-time dinner lady and she has no pension from that. If it is ruled that the insurers are liable she has been told she would be awarded £90,000, a sum she says would make a huge difference.

“I just keep waiting and waiting to hear. Now I think by the time they decide I won’t be here anyway. The money would make life a hell of a lot easier.”

Case study: ‘It’s about having someone taking responsibility’

Ronald Byrnes died of mesothelioma five years ago, aged 75. He was exposed to asbestos when he worked as a joiner more than 40 years ago. The joinery firm has long since gone out of business, so he hoped compensation would be paid out by their insurance company. His widow, Ann Byrnes, 65, first wrote to the insurers a few months before Ronald died, but as a result of the legal battle they have blocked any payout. They argue they are not liable to pay, as he showed no symptoms of the mesothelioma while he worked at the firm.

Now it has been more than five years of waiting as this test case dragged through the courts. The High Court ruled that Mrs Byrnes was owed £100,000 in compensation, but this was put on hold when the appeal was lodged and now it is unclear if she will ever get it.

“Insurers have no idea what people go through,” she said. “Money isn’t going to bring him back, but it’s about having someone taking responsibility. The insurance companies are just seeing what they can get away with; they’re messing with people’s lives. The coroner said if my husband hadn’t been exposed to asbestos he would have been expected to live late into his eighties. Someone should pay for what’s happening.”

Below is an article from Malcolm Davies (Shrewsbury 24 Editor)

Every now and again someone comes along that makes a difference like – Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana and so on. All these are high profile people with whom the public can relate to.

Well, my unsung hero is little known outside the world of construction. He has not always been liked by trade union leaders, but loved by the men on the work face.

HE has chosen to give up his time in a bid to stop and highlight deaths on construction sites.

He recently wrote a book ‘20 years of the construction safety campaign’ in which he lends an insight to how many deaths there are (in the last ten years we have lost approximately 600, while our army fighting abroad have lost approx 400) . He helped set up Memorial Day march; the day we pay tribute to those who lost their lives or got seriously injured in construction plus he is a leading campaigner against the use of asbestos.

His name is Tony O’Brien who is one of the few men who can look himself in the mirror each morning with pride of what he has helped to achieve. He comes from a working class background and works for a local authority. He is the first man family’s turn to when a loved one is lost. He knows the information they require plus can help them set up campaigns to highlight what happened. His book is well worth reading. I was lucky to be at one of its launches at Millbank, Westminster last night (13/10/10). A very successful evening with Jeremy Corbyn MP giving a contribution and families of victims also contributing (myself and Mick Gilgunn gave a small contribution and our own Pete Farrell chaired the meeting).

We can all feel proud of working class people who give up their time for causes that help others. In a world full of greed and want, it’s nice to see someone giving!

Malcolm Davies
Shrewsbury 24

High court rejects ruling on asbestos compensation


OSAKA — The Osaka High Court repealed on Thursday a lower court decision that ordered the government to pay ¥435 million in damages to workers, residents and relatives who said they contracted asbestosis, lung cancer and other diseases due to the state’s failure to reduce asbestos exposure in Osaka Prefecture.

Presiding Judge Jun Miura acted on appeals from both the government and plaintiffs in overturning the Osaka District Court’s May 2010 ruling. Judge Sumio Tanaka read the decision on behalf of Miura, who has retired.

The 32 plaintiffs — 30 workers and two family members of those who lived in the Sennan area, where several spinning mills were concentrated — sued in May 2006 seeking ¥940 million from the government.

In May 2010, the Osaka District Court held the government responsible for failing to take measures against asbestos exposure and ordered it to pay ¥435 million to 23 former employees who had worked at the plants between 1939 and 2005.

The court ruled that the state must have known about the dangers of lung asbestosis by 1959 and declared it illegal that it failed to require the mills to set up ventilation equipment by 1960, when the pneumoconiosis law was enacted.

But the district court rejected claims from nearby residents and a former worker who hadn’t worked in the area, after the law was enacted. The district court ruling was the first in the country to hold the state responsible for failing to act on asbestos exposure.

The plaintiffs appealed the lower court ruling after a government appeal, and sought to settle the matter via talks with the state in appeals court.

But the government rejected the talks because they would affect similar suits pending at several district courts across the country.