Tag Archives: safety

How long until Gove’s ‘safety net’ that breaks international law becomes ‘the right thing to do’?

Michael Gove: This Site has better pictures but the Spitting Image dummy reflects his shifty personality so well that it is hard to find an excuse not to use it.

Michael Gove is living evidence that you can get further by talking nonsense constantly than by rational behaviour.

He has just said that talks on implementing the EU withdrawal agreement are at a “healthy stage”.

That’s odd, when the EU side is that the UK’s negotiating position is still “far apart from what the EU can accept”.

The issue is the Internal Markets Bill – or at least those parts of it that override the EU withdrawal agreement where it concerns customs borders in Northern Ireland.

The European Commission’s Maros Sefcovic… said there was a “window of opportunity” to come to an agreement on the Northern Ireland protocol, but added that was “rapidly closing”.

And that’s what Gove calls a “healthy stage”!

Mr Sefcovic says the EU wants the UK to remove the “contentious parts” of the bill by the end of September – that’s Wednesday.

He said the EU would “not be shy” in using “legal remedies” written into the withdrawal agreement to address any “violations”.

What do you reckon the chances are that the EU will have to use those remedies – and that when it happens, Gove and the other Tories will say the EU is to blame for the failure of the Withdrawal Agreement?

Source: Michael Gove: Brexit provisions to stay in Internal Market Bill – BBC News

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The idiocy of Robert Jenrick – he’s a bigger danger to the public than the young people he’s attacking

Robert ‘bent as a nine-bob note’ Jenrick: He broke housing rules to save his mate Richard Desmond £50 million; he broke lockdown rules to visit his spare homes and see his family; he voted against safety procedures for tower blocks in the wake of the Grenfell Tragedy; but he thinks young people should be blamed for increased Covid-19 infections and wants them to wash their hands.

Robert Jenrick, who is still the Conservative housing secretary despite a strong of corrupt misuses of the role, appeared on the TV news programmes today (September 8) to patronise the public about Covid-19 safety.

Reading from a script set out by Matt Hancock yesterday, he tried to claim that young people need to stick to the Tory governments rules for not spreading the virus. There is still no evidence to show that people aged 20-29 are spreading it in the same way their counterparts in Europe were found to be.

And Jenrick himself is one of those who broke his own government’s lockdown rules – twice – so he could visit his second home – a huge mansion – and visit family members staying there.

The response was strong:

Jenrick’s own claim to be acting in the name of public safety has been hotly disputed, partly because he is more interested in getting parents back to work and reviving the economy than in the safety of children at school –

If you want to know how that’s going, here are the figures:

– and especially after the man who is, remember, housing secretary helped vote down an attempt to make housing safer in the wake of the Grenfell Tragedy.

The Labour Party tried to amend the Fire Safety Bill currently going through Parliament to include recommendations of the Grenfell Inquiry’s phase one report, published last October – including the removal of flammable cladding from buildings where people live.

Shockingly, despite a government undertaking to remove this potentially fatal substance, the latest government figures released in August showed that Grenfell-style cladding had not been removed from more than 80 per cent of private sector buildings and nearly 50 per cent of social sector buildings.

Jenrick voted against the amendment, alongside the rest of his murderous Tory Party.

If any more fires happen due to this cladding, then the Tories who took part in that vote should be held responsible for any deaths.

To add hypocrisy to this injury, let’s all remember that Jenrick had the cheek to lay a wreath at the memorial wall beside Grenfell Tower for the first anniversary of the tragedy:

Of course he won’t face justice for any of his corrupt choices.

As a Tory minister, Robert Jenrick remains well above the law and the police absolutely refuse to investigate any crimes alleged against him.

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Care home deaths cover-up suggests Johnson and Hancock are guilty as sin

Suppose a disaster happens and people die. The authorities in charge say they failed to anticipate it, take responsibility, someone resigns and we all say: fair enough – they made a mistake and they admitted it.

Right?

Now suppose people die but the authorities pretend they had taken precautions to prevent it – and we find out that they were lying.

That looks far more serious, doesn’t it?

It makes it seem that the authorities concerned intended that the disaster would happen.

Why else would they lie?

Now let’s consider the fact that more than 9,000 people have died in care homes, with a further more-than-10,000 deaths unaccounted-for.

Boris Johnson told the nation in Prime Minister’s Questions that the government imposed safety procedures on homes, the day before they were imposed on the rest of the country – and then he tried to tell us Keir Starmer was lying when he said that wasn’t true.

Starmer then quoted the government’s own guidance back to him in a letter…

…and you know what Johnson did?

He sent Starmer a note warning him to get back in line – because he’s supposed to be supporting the government.

Very revealing, that.

It doesn’t matter, though – because Starmer has already let the cat out of the bag, so Johnson’s attempt to bring him down means nothing.

Oh, and we’ve also got more evidence from first-party sources:

Okay “a care home manager” might not seem convincing to you.

Try this, from talk radio channel LBC:

LBC’s Ben Kentish pointed to tonight’s press conference which saw deputy chief medical officer Jenny Harries state care home advice issued on 25 February stayed in place until 12 March because “they had the view that there was no sustained community transmission in the UK.”

However, Ben Kentish found minutes from a sub-committee at scientific advisory group SAGE on 10 February which said:

“It is a realistic probability that there is already sustained transmission in the UK, or that it will be become established in the coming weeks.”

Ben reiterated that this was dated 10 February – two weeks before the official care home guidance was issued and more than a month before it was withdrawn.

So SAGE advice on February 10 was that “there is already sustained transmission in the UK” but from February 25 to March 12 the government’s line was that “there is currently no transmission of COVID-19 in the community. It is therefore very unlikely that anyone receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected”. But Matt Hancock said the Tories were protecting care home residents from February. Clearly that is not true.

And what happened? Here’s the Office for National Statistics:

And look – all those excess deaths started happening right when the Tories said they were protecting care home residents. How about that?

In fact, the Tories didn’t lift a finger to stop deaths in care homes until April 15, when the epidemic there was well advanced:

So, doesn’t it seem that Matt Hancock has been telling untruths but Owen Jones is right? See for yourself:

And coronavirus infections have broken out in one-third of all English care homes – more than 5,000 homes:

Kerry-Anne is right. It is a massacre.

And all the information suggests that’s exactly what Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock intended it to be. Otherwise, why lie?

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Standards on environment, safety and human rights to be slashed for a grubby trade deal with Trump

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump: Enemies of the UK?

The Tory minister who once complained that the UK imports too much cheese is set to abolish the UK’s environmental safeguards – to get a food import deal with Donald Trump.

Theresa May promised that the UK would keep within EU rules on the environment, safety standards and human rights after Brexit.

But Boris Johnson will get rid of all these rules – that protect you – so he can sign a grubby deal with Donald Trump, to import genetically modified, inferior US food products at a high cost to the UK.

He describes this a way of gaining “flexibility”.

It seems responsibility for scrapping our protections will fall to cheese-loving international trade secretary Liz Truss.

This will require a huge admission of hypocrisy on her part – the woman who said importing two-thirds of our cheese was a “disgrace” –

– now seems perfectly happy to lower standards across the country in order to import all kinds of junk.

EU officials say that British negotiators are particularly keen to jettison EU restrictions on genetically modified foods – a key demand of American trade negotiators.

One EU official with knowledge of the Brexit talks suggested US trade officials appeared to have been in contact with British negotiators and told them standards would need to be slashed if there was any chance of a US trade deal.

Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, said scrapping the protections was “vital for giving us the freedom and flexibility to strike new trade deals and become more competitive”.

And of course rejecting EU standards means there can be no free trade deal with the bloc after the UK leaves it.

The intention seems to be to put the entire country at Donald Trump’s mercy – and he doesn’t seem to have much of that.

It seems clear that this plan is in the interests of nobody in the UK – apart from, possibly, Boris Johnson.

He certainly seems not to be interested in his duty to act in the interests of the people of this nation.

Of course, none of this can happen while the UK remains in the EU – and without an exit deal that MPs and MEPs can support, the UK will do just that.

Source: Brexit: Boris Johnson moves to scrap environment safeguards to get deal with Trump | The Independent

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What’s the REAL reason the DWP destroyed a report on Job Centre safety failings?

The person responsible for this image has asked me to signpost you to their current project. You can find it here.

It isn’t often I disagree with John Pring of the Disability News Service, but I think he’s being far too charitable to the Department for Work and Pensions.

A report on the DNS website has suggested that the DWP destroyed a report on failures by Job Centre staff to have proper regard for the safety of benefit claimants because the government doesn’t want the facts to get out.

I have a simpler suggestion: The Conservatives simply don’t want benefit claimants to benefit from important information that could save them from serious harm or even death.

Failure to provide this information indicates a serious breach of the government’s duty of care to people claiming benefits.

The DNS report shows that the DWP illegally delayed its response to a Freedom of Information request demanding copies of all reports written by “Community Partners” in London in 2017 and 2018.

The report in question had been created by three disabled people who had joined the “Community Partners” initiative that had been set up to improve relations between the DWP and local communities.

They wrote it only weeks after joining, after becoming increasingly alarmed by the failure of 18 Job Centres to take basic actions that would protect people claiming benefits such as universal credit, employment and support allowance and jobseeker’s allowance.

DNS described some of the incidents, as recorded by one of the “Community Partners” going under the pseudonym “Rachel”:

On one occasion, Rachel heard a member of staff explain that a claimant with cancer of the spine, who needed his dressing changed every day, should be found fit for work “so he’s looking forward to the future”.

She also remembers sitting in on an interview with a universal credit claimant, who was 55 and not disabled and had just been made redundant.

He had been hit by the bedroom tax and said repeatedly that he was hungry because he was so short of money, but the DWP civil servant failed to tell him that he could request foodbank vouchers.

When Rachel asked the civil servant after the interview why she had not told him he could ask for vouchers, she was told: “Because he didn’t ask.”

Rachel said: “He said four times that he was hungry and couldn’t afford to go shopping and didn’t have enough money for food.

“That is just dangerous. That person is going to end up with malnutrition and depression.

“It was just a regular guy who was doing his best and did not know how the system worked, let alone that the magic word was ‘foodbank’.”

On another occasion, a man in extreme mental distress who had previously self-harmed in the Brixton jobcentre after being found fit for work, returned to the jobcentre and again began self-harming by banging his head against a window.

Staff were standing around watching, said Rachel, who had to take control, find a manager and tell them to contact the council’s social services department.

Despite her intervention, no report on the incident was written, despite her repeatedly asking for an incident report form.

She believes her insistence that the incident needed to be written up was one of the reasons she was eventually sacked, although DWP claimed it was because she had retweeted a social media post criticising Iain Duncan Smith, even though she believes the tweet was sent before she started working for DWP.

She said: “They all know they are putting people at risk but all they are concerned about is ticking boxes.”

Note the claim that “Rachel” was sacked for criticising Iain Duncan Smith – tacit confirmation that the Conservatives coerce employees into silence about their harmful policies and practices.

According to DNS, the DWP illegally delayed releasing the documents that had been requested, then said the report by “Rachel” and the other two “Community Partners” had been destroyed under a rule that such documents should not be kept longer than 12 months.

This is an unconvincing argument because the DNS Freedom of Information request had been made four months before that period had expired.

The evidence is clear: The Department for Work and Pensions will never willingly help benefit claimants whose safety is in danger.

There are moves to force the department support its own safeguarding rules: The Justice for Jodey Whiting petition demands an independent inquiry into deaths linked to the DWP.

The petition was set up because the department failed five times to follow its own safeguarding rules in the weeks leading up to her suicide in February 2017.

It has been signed 25,000 times in three weeks. If it reaches 100,000 signatures, it may be debated in Parliament.


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Tory council’s money-grubbing led to the Grenfell Tower tragedy and dozens of deaths

If only this revelation had been released last week.

The message is clear: Conservative councils don’t care about people. They don’t care about safety. They don’t care about human lives.

They care about money.

That is why, according to current figures, 72 people died in an inferno that could have been prevented if the Conservative councillors in Kensington and Chelsea had only chosen safety over savings.

Today (May 9), in Prime Minister’s Questions, Theresa May has been crowing about the fact that the Conservatives have managed to hang on to control of councils across the UK.

It means the Tories remain free to terrorise people in those council areas – to inflict lower safety standards on them, and ultimately to put their lives in danger as well. I don’t think that is any reason to celebrate.

A costed proposal to fit Grenfell Tower with panels that did not burn was dropped amid pressure from the Conservative council to slash the cost of the refurbishment, the Guardian has been told.

A cladding company which fits nonflammable aluminium panels claimed it provided a £3.3m quote to fit its system to the 24-storey tower in west London at the request of Leadbitter, Kensington and Chelsea’s preferred contractor in 2013.

But a few months later the council decided Leadbitter wanted to spend too much on the refurbishment and put the contract out to tender to save £1.3m. It selected Rydon, which provided a lower price but fitted the building with combustible cladding which caught fire on 14 June 2017, killing 72 people in what lawyers for victims have called a “national atrocity”.

If the solid aluminium cladding had been chosen it would have almost certainly saved lives, fire safety experts said, and it could also have been cheaper. The council’s housing arm ended up agreeing to a budget which put the cost for the plastic-filled aluminium panels and synthetic insulation which burned so fiercely at £3.5m – £200,000 more than the quote for the noncombustible materials.

Source: Grenfell Tower: fire-resistant cladding plan was dropped | UK news | The Guardian


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Conflict of interest call for Esther McVey to be removed from DWP

Labour expressed ‘grave concern’ about Esther McVey because HSE prohibition notices are an area covered by the DWP [Image: Alastair Grant/AP].

The government wants you to think there’s nothing to this.

Esther McVey, the new Work and Pensions Secretary, was a director of a company served with health and safety prohibition notices in the past – and this is problematic because it’s an area covered by the DWP.

The Tories are saying it’s no big deal – but this is a 180-degree about-face from the situation when she became Employment Minister.

That was in 2013 – 10 years after the notices were served on JG McVey and Co because of unsafe scaffolding. Ms McVey’s brief would have included oversight of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) but that element of her job was removed after her connection to the infringements became clear.

So the question is simple:

If it was sufficient reason to prohibit Ms McVey from responsibility for the HSE then, why isn’t it sufficient reason now?

This seems to be a subject the government is keen to avoid – and the message appears to have been passed down to its compliant media.

When Barry Gardiner raised the subject on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, presenter Sarah Smith tried to shut him up.

Quite rightly, he stuck to his guns, as this clip from the Skwawkbox blog shows:

The issue seems to be clear: If Ms McVey was incapable of preventing breaches of Health and Safety law as a company director, how can the public have faith that she can correctly carry out her duty in that respect, as Secretary of State?

The Departmental spokesperson’s claim that the compliance notices were handled “to a satisfactory standard at the time” is neither here nor there.

We have no evidence that Ms McVey understood the reasons for the enforcement notice – and, after being a part of a government that participated in a wholesale “bonfire” of “red tape”, that she ever understood the need for such things.

How can we expect her to do her duty properly?

Better not to risk any wrong decisions. Better not to give her the opportunity. Better to admit Ms McVey’s appointment was a mistake.

But Theresa May doesn’t have the right qualities. She has too much arrogance and not enough courage.

So we must wait for the mistakes to happen and highlight any cover-ups that may follow.

Labour has called on Theresa May to rethink the appointment of Esther McVey as work and pensions secretary because McVey was a director of a demolition company served with health and safety prohibition notices, an area covered by her department.

Jon Trickett, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, has written to the prime minister saying he had grave concern about McVey’s promotion in this week’s reshuffle because of the two notices served on the firm in 2003 owing to unsafe scaffolding.

The notices from the Health and Safety Executive were against JG McVey and Co, a now-closed firm run by McVey’s father. Esther McVey was a director of the company from February 2003 to March 2006.

In July 2003, HSE inspectors issued an immediate prohibition notice, stopping work at a demolition site in Liverpool after workers were seen using scaffolding without proper protective edge rails. In September that year, work was halted on the site for the same reason.

In 2013, McVey was made employment minister in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), a brief which initially included oversight of the HSE. However, after her connection to the infringements came to light, that element of the job was removed.

As work and pensions secretary – a job she gained after Justine Greening opted to leave the government rather than take on the brief – McVey now has overall responsibility for workplace health and safety among her duties.

Source: Calls for Theresa May to reconsider Esther McVey’s move to DWP | Politics | The Guardian


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NHS spends £600m a year fixing botched ops by private healthcare – and Hunt praises the privateers

Jeremy Hunt: He thinks the NHS is bad because it doesn't have marble foyers.

Jeremy Hunt: He thinks the NHS is bad because it doesn’t have marble foyers.

Why on Earth should the best healthcare system in the world seek “inspiration” from the worst?

It should not. The only reason Jeremy Hunt is making that claim is, he’s so deeply involved with private health he probably needs a paid doctor to help screw him into his underwear in the morning.

His claim that there are diminishing resources (read: funds) for the NHS makes sense only in the context of his belief that health should be a profit-making industry.

But the instant you start clawing back money in search of that profit, you start harming service users. We have evidence of this from the past four years of Tory cuts and sell-offs.

Let’s look at this “revered” Mayo clinic, with its marble foyers. Marble foyers? Clearly this organisation is charging a fortune for its services and investing the money, not in clinical care, but in cosmetic augmentations.

There’s no room in the NHS for that kind of nonsense.

And Hunt wants us to believe that these fabled marble foyers have something to do with “quality and safety”?

He needs proper medical care to bring him to his senses.

The fact is that quality and safety were built into the NHS, right up until his forerunner, Andrew Lansley, passed a law to gut the service and hand its vital organs over to the privateers – and their marble foyers.

Quality and safety are part of the NHS right now – except in areas Mr Hunt has decided to starve of funds, because he wants people to think publicly-funded health provision isn’t as good as that provided by an expensive firm of profit-making money-grubbers with marble foyers.

Oh, and it may interest you to know that Mr Hunt used his King’s Fund speech to complain about the cost of cleaning up patients who are left with infections or complications after operations – around £100,000.

But who, exactly, hands over 6,000 patients per year to the NHS for this expensive service (that’s a cost of £600 million)?

That’s right – firms of profit-making money-grubbers. So much for quality and safety.

I don’t know if they all have marble foyers, but they certainly do all have contracts provided by Mr Jeremy Hunt.

The NHS should look to the USA for inspiration in its battle to meet demand with diminishing resources, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

Speaking at the King’s Fund’s annual conference on Wednesday, he said the Government had not been given enough credit for its investment in the health service during difficult economic times, and challenged managers and staff to make savings by ‘thinking about quality and safety not as an optional extra’.

Mr Hunt said the NHS could learn these lessons from institutions such as the revered Mayo Clinic, which runs 20 hospitals in the USA.

He asked: ‘What does this clinic that Arab kings visit with its amazing marble foyers have that is at all relevant to us? One of the reasons it has marble foyers is they have created so much value by making quality their business strategy.

‘The way we unlock the resources we really need because of the pressures on the NHS is by thinking about quality and safety not as an optional extra but as an intrinsic business strategy.’

Source: BMA – Learn from US clinics and their ‘marble foyers’, says health secretary

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Apprentice death could have been prevented – but government couldn’t be bothered

The late Cameron Minshull: This 16-year-old was killed when he was dragged into a lathe due to poor health and safety measures.

The late Cameron Minshull: This 16-year-old was killed when he was dragged into a lathe due to poor health and safety measures [Image: Daily Mirror].

Work placement providers’ duty of care for people on apprenticeships and other government-sponsored work placements is being questioned after a factory boss was jailed over the death of a 16-year-old youngster.

Cameron Minshull was dragged into a lathe because he was wearing ‘unsuitable’ ill-fitting overalls which hung from his wrists and had not been trained to use the machine, Manchester Crown Court was told.

At the time, he was being paid just £3 an hour, after being rushed into a placement by recruitment agency Lime People Training Solutions – which puts people into apprenticeships in order to get public money from the Conservative Government’s Skills Funding Agency, according to the Daily Mirror.

The factory owner was jailed for eight months and his son received a suspended four-month prison sentence after admitting health and safety offences.

But Lime People Training Solutions was let off with a £75,000 fine – equivalent to its for putting around 17 youngsters in work placements – after denying any such breaches.

This happened because the government isn’t interested in health and safety. It considers calls for proper monitoring to be over-bureaucratic and burdensome.

On the Health and Safety Executive’s website, in the page dealing with work experience, HSE chair Judith Hackett states: “Work placement arrangements are too often seen as over-bureaucratic and burdensome, putting off potential employers.”

She continues: “Employers should already be managing the risks in their workplaces and are best placed to assess whether or not they need to do anything additional for a new young person joining them.”

And she states: “Schools and colleges… should not be second-guessing employers’ risk assessments or requiring additional paperwork.”

This next part is absolutely appalling: “An appreciation of risk and how to deal with it can be one of the biggest benefits offered by a placement.”

Is this appreciation to be gained through the death of an apprentice?

Work placement organiser companies are told: “If you are advised that a particular placement is not possible due to health and safety, the person giving you that advice may well be wrong – there are very few work activities a student cannot do due to health and safety law.

“Remember that the placement provider (employer) has primary responsibility for the health and safety of the student and should be managing any significant risks.” The only step the organiser is advised to take is to talk through the work required of the apprentice/person on the work placement, and discuss relevant precautions. There is no requirement to ensure those precautions are in place.

So that’s all right then. There’s no need to worry about health and safety concerns; they are somebody else’s problem.

Employers are told: “Under health and safety law, work experience students are your employees. You treat them no differently to other young people you employ.

“Simply use your existing arrangements for assessments and management of risks to young people.”

There you have it.

There is no legal requirement for extra measures to ensure the health and safety of young people placed with employers – and nobody checks an employer’s practices to ensure they conform with legal requirements.

The death of Cameron Minshull could have been prevented – but the government couldn’t be bothered.

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PFI schools have fire safety issues: Isn’t this a breach of contract?

According to The Independent, eight schools built under Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts have fire safety issues that could affect the health of pupils.

The revelation raises serious questions about the safety of public facilities built by the private sector, according to the newspaper:

PFI supporters say private contractors generally get major projects done quicker, cheaper and to a higher standard than the public sector. However, these claims are increasingly disputed. A report in 2011 by a Treasury Select Committee of MPs comparing PFI with traditionally procured projects said “we have seen reports which found out that building quality was of a lower standard in PFI buildings”.

Isn’t the issue more that the private contractor – Balfour Beatty – is in breach of contract, having built schools that are unsafe?

PFI has been an enormous waste of public money, with nobody profiting from the contracts apart from the privateers who dictated them.

The contracts were originally employed by John Major’s Conservative government.

When Labour came to office in 1997 and found very little money available for the massive job of rebuilding both the health and education services after nearly two decades of Tory neglect, there was little choice but to take up PFI to achieve these goals.

With safety now an issue, public authorities up and down the country should be demanding checks and consulting their contracts for exit strategies that may provide a way out of the PFI nightmare…

… Or did nobody bother to think of that, back when these things were originally negotiated?

Source: Eight PFI schools built by one of UK’s biggest private contractors have fire safety issues – Home News – UK – The Independent

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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