SHP’s Most Influential
Hilda Palmer named SHP’s Most Influential person in health & safety for 2020
SHP has announced the list of the most influential people in health and safety, voted for by you, recognising Hilda Palmer as 2020’s ‘Most Influential’ for her work as a campaigner, supporting families who find themselves on the wrong side of health and safety failure.
Hilda Palmer has been named as the Most Influential Individual in Health and Safety 2020. This year, an overwhelming amount of votes were recieved and Hilda Palmer came out on top.
Hilda is a campaigner and facilitator of Families Against Corporate Killers, supplier of International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) resources. During the coronavirus pandemic, the Hazards Campaign put on a series of virtual calls, featuring trade union health and safety officers, reps and activists, to discuss how lockdown can be brought to an end using a Zero-COVID strategy and providing guidance on how to keep people safe at work.
Due the nature of Hilda’s work and what she stands and campaigns for, what came through from many of the voters was that Hilda is a person many wish they had not had to meet, but now that they have, she has empowered them to try prevent their misfortune happening to another family.
For over 30 years Hilda Palmer has been campaigning for safer workplaces, via the Hazards Campaign, and has been educating people nationwide to push for improvements. She has promoted changes in law, getting behind individuals who want to launch campaigns and has highlighted and promoted awareness around emerging issues.
Hilda supports families who find themselves on the wrong side of health and safety failures to access justice and get answers as to why their loved ones were killed at work. She is a tireless campaigner for workers’ health and safety, highlighting the failures of employers, ineffective enforcement, continuing excessive deregulation, toxic workplaces, workplace stress and many other health and safety issues that are causing injury, ill-health, disease and deaths at work.
She has played a key role working with trade unions to challenge government and regulators, fighting for people’s rights.
Words like, ‘committed’, ‘class act’, ‘superlative’, ‘dedication’, ‘selfless’, ‘inspirational’, ‘hard work’, were used by voters to describe Hilda.
On hearing of her recognition, Hilda told SHP: “Thanks so much for all those who voted for me. Over 33 years I have met, spoken to and worked with thousands of people and many of them have inspired and influenced me.
“I am not fond of individual awards as we all stand on the shoulders of giants and achieve things by working together. I am pleased to accept this award for all the inspirational, brave FACK Families fighting for justice to prevent others from losing loved ones to negligence of health and safety at work. The Founder FACKers, including Louise Taggart, a winner of this award in 2018. The heroes of workplaces – unions safety reps, who make workplaces twice as safe and who are working overtime now to try to make workplaces COVID-secure. All my wonderful colleagues at Greater Manchester Hazards Centre, especially the management committee and Janet Newsham, who took over from me three years ago and is truly incredible. Our colleagues fighting for justice for asbestos victims in Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group and all colleagues in Hazards Campaign, far too many to mention, Andy Watterson and Scottish Hazards and especially Hazards Magazine Editor Rory O’Neill who is a real inspiration to us all, especially now during pandemic.
“Every year on 28 April, International Workers Memorial Day, which Hazards Campaigner Tommy Harte brought to the UK in early 1990s and which I have done a lot to promote, we remind the public of why people die at work, not due to freak accidents or rare diseases, but because some employers do not care sufficiently to comply with the law and Government’s let them get away with it.
“No-one should ever die just for going to work to earn a living, and we will always Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living.”
Scroll to the bottom of this page to listen to the full interview with Hilda.
SHP Most Influential is brought to you as part of the wider SHP Awards, in collaboration with the HSE and IATP, and recognises those who are successfully creating sound health and safety cultures in their organisations, or the profession at large.
Previous winners include Karl Simons, in 2019, Louise Taggart, in 2018 and John Green, in 2017.
Below are a selection of comments from those who voted for Hilda as their Most Influential Individual in Health & Safety 2020.
“Her knowledge is unsurpassed. Her passion for what she does is enviable. The care she displays is beyond anything I’ve ever known. What she does isn’t a job. It’s not a career. It’s a lifelong commitment to making sure people are kept safe and healthy at work.
“Her commitment has fuelled countless others, inspired them to take action, multiplying her impact plenty-fold.
“There are innumerable lives being lived today because of Hilda. Both of those saved by lessons she has ensured have been learned. And family members whose hearts have been mended enough by her work to help them live on without their loved one.
“She is loved. And I hope she knows just how much. And by how many.”
“Hilda is instrumental in protecting people in the workplace. We should all be safe at work.”
“Hilda has played a key role in UK National Hazards campaign challenging government and regulators on poor health & safety enforcement.”
“Superlative work raising the national and international profile of safety campaigning and protecting the rights of employees.”
“The dedication of this lady is unfathomable. Her commitment to the health & safety of all workers, no matter what the job, or workplace is cannot be questioned.”
“She is an outstanding speaker, personally delivering training to people across the country who want to improve their environment. She has been committed to bringing about safer ways of working. She has personally directly influenced thousands of people who are active in this area and the impact would have been felt by millions of workers – even if they were unaware of her name.”
“Hilda has been an inspirational advocate for worker health and safety, a leader in the Hazards Campaign. Over many years she has worked at the H&S ‘coalface’ and earned the gratitude of thousands.”
“Always goes that extra mile to keep everyone up-to-date or if they need help. She is influential in her safety role and needs to be recognised. Her enthusiasm is second to none.”
“A stalwart of the Trade Union Movement, Hilda has always been available to support any worker or person who needed some help in health & safety and with how they were treated in the workplace.”
“Hilda has worked tirelessly and over many years to secure higher standards of health, safety and welfare in the workplace. She has been an independent voice raising awareness of issues such as asbestos and stress at work and has campaigned on behalf of those unable to speak for themselves. Workers return home at the end of a day’s work because of her efforts.”
“Her track record is second to none in the protection of individuals and fighting for justice.”
“Hilda has spent a lifetime helping everyone, especially the vulnerable, to remain safe in the workplace and in the community.”
“She has been an inspiration to those who fight for worker safety by campaigning tirelessly while supporting and standing with the families of victims of employer negligence as they face the nightmare of inquest and court action.”
“I have absolutely no doubt that the work Hilda has done has saved lives and has empowered thousands upon thousands of workers to better understand health and safety – making them better able to keep themselves and their fellow workers safe.”
“Hilda cares about her work enormously and is always there to support anyone who needs her help.”
“An ordinary person who has been active in her desire to keep people safe and spoken at virtual events during lockdown.”
“She is so knowledgeable on the subject and is educating people on a grassroots level which is where real change happens.”
“Hilda has been at the forefront of the fight for proper health and safety at work, always there for the most vulnerable, and always at the helm of great campaigns to promote health and safety. Hilda is doing this as a person who really wants to improve things for others.”
“Hilda is working with everyday people on the ground to make sure workplaces are safe. She’s an amazing campaigner.”
“She has gone above and beyond to help protect people.”
“Hilda has worked tirelessly for workers’ rights for many years. She has worked to make sure that health and safety in the workplace was a central focus for the benefit of all, educating, campaigning and empowering people. COVID has brought another focus for her but she has brought her usual enthusiasm, compassion and knowledge to it.”
“A truly inspirational woman who has helped many health & safety reps over the years and who cares passionately about the welfare of others.”
“Hilda is internationally renowned for her struggles for justice for families and loved ones who have lost someone to a work-related fatality. She is truly an inspiration in her efforts to ensure safe work for everyone.”
“Hilda has not only been influential this year, but throughout her adult life and has made incredible improvements not for recognition, but for the public and workers safety.”
To see the rest of the SHP Most Influential list, voted for by SHP readers, click here.
Read the full interview with Hilda, here, or listen to her speaking to the Safety & Health Podcast below.
Safety & Health Podcast
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In this episode, we hear from Hilda Palmer about the health & safety system in the UK, Grenfell and building safety, COVID-19 and the importance award recognition brings to her work.