While you were sleeping There’s lots of advice on what we work with and where we work, from chemicals to work at heights. But when it comes to when we work, it’s an entirely different matter – and, says Andrew Watterson, for shiftworkers that could be a serious problem. Hazards 106, April-June 2009 • News release
Drop dead It's the thoroughly modern way to die at work. Top occupational diseases of the 21st century will be heart attacks, suicide and strokes. Hazards argues that none of us should be worked into the ground.
Special online briefing, Hazards, 5 August 2003
Worked to death factsheet. Hazards 83, July-September 2003 [pdf format]
Not what we bargained for We have never been more productive, and we are rewarded with temporary contracts, long hours and back breaking workloads. Hazards lists the top 20 questions union reps should ask on workplace change and gives pointers on a better way to work. Hazards 69, January-March 2000 [pdf]
Overwork Fatigue, long hours and pressure of work are causing sudden deaths and burn-out and leaving us in a hazy, half-exhausted world where a breakdown of body and mind is a real and constant threat.
Hazards 49, January-March 1995
Work schedules and hours resources
NIOSH work schedules and long work hours webpages, USA
Plain language about shiftwork ,NIOSH, USA, 1997 [pdf]
Control over work hours and alternative work schedules, AFL-CIO bargaining factsheet, USA [pdf].
The Job Stress Network, USA.
HSE shiftwork webpages, UK
HSE shiftwork good practice guidelines, UK
The development of a fatigue/risk index for shiftworkers, HSE report RR446, HSE, UK.
HSE fatigue calculator, UK [excel file] and guidance document [pdf]
TUC working time webpages
TUC Working Time Myths report, 27 April 2009. [pdf]
Working Time Regulations, BERR website.
National Work Stress Network, UK.
ACTU reasonable hours campaign, Australia.
Britain: Unite to tackle ‘Victorian’ Sports Direct practices
Unite has launched a confidential advice and support line to help confront abusive ‘Victorian’ work practices at Sports Direct and a culture of fear at the retailer’s Shirebrook warehouse in Derbyshire. Working conditions are underpinned by a ‘six strikes and you’re out’ disciplinary procedure, where workers can get strikes for long toilet breaks, excessive chatting and even having time off for sickness.
Unite news release. Channel 4 Dispatches: The Secrets of Sports Direct. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
Britain: One in five do work for nothing
UK workers gave their bosses nearly £32bn worth of unpaid overtime last year – an average of £6,050 each if these hours had been paid – according to new analysis published by the TUC. The TUC found that one in five (20.3 per cent) of the workforce regularly work extra hours for no pay.
TUC news release. NASUWT news release. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Britain: School support staff are feeling the strain
Threequarters of school support staff work over their contracted hours because their workload demands it, according to a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). Over 1,600 support staff working in UK state-funded schools responded to the survey and 21 per cent reported having to work between four and six extra hours a week.
ATL news release. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Unite rolls out its drivers’ charter
Transport workers’ union Unite is demanding for a fair deal for HGV drivers amid warnings they are being forced to put themselves and the public at risk by working more than a “whopping” 60 hours a week. Low pay and rising demands from employers to do more increase the chances of serious accidents on the roads, the union warned as it launched its professional drivers’ charter.
Unite news release and Unite drivers’ charter. TWU Safe Rates campaign. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Long working hours can drive you to drink
Individuals who exceed 48 hours per week at work are more likely to consume “risky” quantities of alcohol, researchers have concluded. Their overview of studies covering more than 400,000 people showed that long working hours boosted the likelihood of higher alcohol intake by 11 per cent overall.
Marianna Virtanen and others. Long working hours and alcohol use: systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies and unpublished individual participant data, British Medical Journal, volume 350, g7772, published online 13 January 2015. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g7772
BMJ 2015; 350 (Published 13 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:
Cassandra Okechukwu. Editorial: Long working hours are linked to risky alcohol consumption, British Medical Journal, volume 350, g7800, published online 13 January 2015. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g7800
The Guardian. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
USA: Wal-Mart locks staff in at night
Sick and injured workers at Wal-Mart stores in the US have found themselves trapped in locked stores, unable to get medical attention, a New York Times report has revealed. For more than 15 years, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, has locked in overnight employees at some of its Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores.
New York Times. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
USA: More evidence on night shift link to diabetes
African-American women who work night shifts are significantly more likely to develop diabetes than those who have never worked night shifts, a study has found, with more years working the night shift resulting in a higher risk. The authors said their study “has important public health implications”, adding there should be “consideration of avoiding shift work in favour of other work arrangements when possible.”
Varsha Vimalananda and others. Night-shift work and incident diabetes among African-American women, Diabetologia, 14 January 2015. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
USA: Rotating night shift work is bad for your health
A new analysis of data from the world’s largest and longest-running study of women’s health finds that rotating night shift work is associated with higher death rates. The new findings add to a growing awareness that long-term night shift work comes with serious occupational health risks.
Fangyi Gu, Jiali Han, Francine Laden and others. Total and Cause-Specific Mortality of US Nurses Working Rotating Night Shifts, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published online ahead of print, 5 January 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2014.10.018
Eurekalert. The Pump Handle. BBC News Online. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Japan: Unions aim to head off overwork deaths
Workers in Japan have been offered union-run counselling in a bid to reduce the deadly impact of excessive workloads. The trade union confederation Rengo said the two days of telephone counselling was intended to reduce the chances of a worker falling victim to “karoshi,” or death from overwork.
Japan Times • More on deaths from overwork • ILO karoshi case study • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Fat chance of avoiding night shift weight gain
Working night shifts can increase the risk of developing obesity as sleeping during the day burns fewer calories than at night, according to new research. The study found that night shift patterns disrupt the metabolism of employees, causing them to use less energy than they normally would over the course of a day.
Andrew W McHilla, Edward L Melanson, Janine Higgins, Elizabeth Connicke, Thomas M Moehlmana, Ellen R Stotharda, and Kenneth P Wright, Jr. Impact of circadian misalignment on energy metabolism during simulated nightshift work, PNAS, Published online before print 17 November 2014, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1412021111
The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
France: Shift work is bad for your brain
Working an irregular shift pattern may be causing long-term damage to people’s memory and mental abilities, new research has shown. The study suggested a decade of shifts aged the brain by more than six years.
Jean-Claude Marquié and others. Chronic effects of shift work on cognition: findings from the VISAT longitudinal study, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published First Online 3 November 2014. doi:10.1136/oemed-2013-101993 [abstract] • BBC News Online • The Independent • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Canada: Rail firms fight new fatigue rules
Canada’s major freight rail companies are fighting moves by the federal transportation regulator to curb “extreme fatigue” among railway engineers, a CBC News investigation has found. CN Rail, CP and the Railway Association of Canada went on the attack two weeks ago at a “tense and heated” meeting of industry, union and government representatives, according to a number of people present.
CBC News and related story • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Long hours at low pay linked to diabetes
Working long hours in ‘low status’ jobs can increase your risk for diabetes, a new study suggests. Researchers found that people who worked more than 55 hours a week at manual labour or other types of ‘low socioeconomic status jobs’ were 30 per cent more likely to develop diabetes than those who worked 35 to 40 hours a week.
Mika Kivimäki and others. Long working hours, socioeconomic status, and the risk of incident type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of published and unpublished data from 222,120 individuals, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, Early Online Publication, 25 September 2014 • Orfeu M Buxton and Cassandra A Okechukwu. Long working hours can be toxic, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, Early Online Publication, 25 September 2014 • CBS News • The Pump Handle • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Unite wins ambulance service rest time precedent
Unite has hailed an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) judgement concerning the working time arrangements of on-call technicians and paramedics in the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) as “a significant victory” for workers’ rights and patient safety. Relief ambulance paramedics Paul Truslove and Ellouise Wood pursued the SAS for compensation over a breach of their rest entitlements under the 1998 Working Time Regulations, having accumulated 97 and 48 consecutive working hours respectively.
Unite news release • Aberdeen Press and Journal • Herald • Risks 666 • 9 August 2014
Global: Shiftwork linked to type 2 diabetes
Shiftwork is associated with a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes, with the risk greatest among men and those working rotating shift patterns, a review of the evidence has found. The study found that working shifts carries a 9 per cent higher risk of developing diabetes, with most shift patterns, except mixed and evening shifts, associated with a heightened risk of the disease compared with those working normal office hours.
Yong Gan and others. Shift work and diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of observational studies, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Online First, 16 July 2014. doi:10.1136/oemed-2014-102150 [abstract] • OEM news release • Diabetes UK comment • The Guardian • Risks 665 • 2 August 2014
Britain: Doctors working hours cut after commute death
Hospitals in Scotland are being told to reduce the working hours of junior doctors following the death of a young medic on her drive home from work. Scottish government health secretary Alex Neil said NHS managers must end all rotas that make doctors work seven night shifts in a row and more than seven days back-to-back.
Herald Scotland and follow-up story • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Zero hours workers need greater protection, says TUC
Preventing employers from insisting their zero hours staff are allowed to work for them alone will be good news for some employees, but the government needs to go much further if the widespread abuse of these contracts is to be stamped out, the TUC has warned. The union body was commenting on government plans to stop the use of ‘exclusivity’ contracts – which prevent workers on zero hours contracts from working for more than one employer.
BIS news release • TUC news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Firms should push proper lunch breaks
Employers are being advised to encourage staff to take proper lunch breaks after a survey found many were skipping a proper break. Physios’ union CSP said poor work habits like not taking a break, staying late or eating lunch ‘al-desko’ are damaging the nation’s health.
CSP news release • BBC News Online • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Teachers ‘adversely affected’ by social media
The abuse of social media and email is an increasing problem for teachers, leading to more abuse and out-of-hours work, a survey by teaching union NASUWT has found. Over a third (35 per cent) of teachers in Scotland report receiving work-related emails outside school hours, with 42 per cent saying they receive them weekly and 19 per cent daily.
NASUWT news release • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Jobless could be forced into zero hours jobs
A new government ‘Help to Work’ scheme has been strongly criticised by unions after it was revealed jobseekers could be forced into zero hours contract jobs. Under the scheme, jobseekers may lose their benefits for three months if they refuse a zero hours contract - insecure or ‘contingent’ work has been linked to higher rates of sickness absence and occupational injuries and diseases.
TUC news release. Prime minister’s office news release • PCS news release • More on the health impact of insecure work • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Zero hour contracts leave workers hard pressed
The majority of workers on zero hours contracts earn less than the living wage and are at risk of abuse, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting ahead of the publication of new official figures which indicated there are now well over 1 million zero hours contracts in the UK.
TUC news release • PCS news release • Usdaw news release • BBC News Online • The Independent • More on health and safety and insecure work • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Teachers face a ‘home invasion’ of work
Teachers are being swamped with work-related emails on weekends, in holidays and even when they are on sick leave, adding to their already excessive workload and causing rising levels of stress, a survey by the union NASUWT has found. Over two thirds (69 per cent) of teachers reported receiving work-related emails from senior staff outside school hours, with nearly 85 per cent receiving emails during weekends, over threequarters (76 per cent) during holidays and nearly half (43 per cent) during periods of sickness absence.
NASUWT news release • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
France: Unions win ban emails and calls at home
Under a legally binding agreement reached by employers’ federations and unions in France, workers in the technology and consultancy sectors no longer have to answer work emails or phone calls outside work hours. The deal obliges staff to “disconnect” from work calls and emails after working hours; companies must ensure employees come under no pressure to respond to messages, so the spirit as well as the letter of the law is observed.
TUC Touchstone blog. Prospect commentary. The Guardian • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Union urges action on fatigue at sea
The union Nautilus has welcomed a call from the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) for Europe-wide action to address seafarer fatigue. Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: “We are painfully aware of the health and safety problems posed by fatigue and it is essential that the MAIB’s findings are acted on.”
Nautilus news release • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: TUC calls for tougher action on zero hours contracts
The case for tougher controls on zero hours contracts has been confirmed by new research, the TUC has said. Commenting on ‘Zeroing in’, a report by the independent Resolution Foundation, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The report highlights how the government is failing to address many of the abuses experienced by workers on zero hours contracts.”
Resolution Foundation news release and report, Zeroing In, March 2014 • TUC news release • The Independent • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: Government sure to fail on zero hours
Proposals from ministers on zero hours contracts will fail to stem the widespread exploitation of workers, the TUC has said in its response to a government consultation. The TUC submission highlights how zero hours work is dogged by low pay, under-employment, and job and income insecurity.
TUC news release and consultation submission • The Guardian •
More on the health and safety risks of insecure employment •
The TUC is organising Fair Pay Fortnight from Monday 24 March to Sunday 6 April. It will be a series of events across England and Wales to raise awareness about falling living standards • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain: Unpaid hours now at record levels
Employees across the UK worked a record amount of unpaid overtime last year, with over 5.4 million workers putting in around £640m worth for free every week, according to the TUC. The TUC analysis shows that the number of people regularly doing unpaid hours at work increased by 331,000 last year to 5.42m – the biggest annual rise since comparable records began in 1998.
TUC news release • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Record teaching hours are ‘unsustainable’
The hours worked by teachers have soared under the current government, a Department for Education (DfE) study has found. The embarrassing for ministers findings of the Teachers' Workload Diary Survey 2013, smuggled out on a Friday evening without the usual news release, have led to calls from teaching unions for an urgent reduction in the demands on staff.
Teachers' Workload Diary Survey, DfE, 28 February 2014. NUT news release and summary of the DfE survey findings • NASUWT news release • ATL news release • Daily Mirror • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Public sector women bear unpaid overtime burden
The number of staff doing unpaid overtime has gone up in the public sector over the last decade, but has held steady in the private sector, according to a new analysis of official figures by the TUC.
TUC news release and Work Your Proper Hours webpage • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: TUC’s Work Your Proper Hours Day, 28 February 2014
If staff who regularly work unpaid overtime did all their extra hours from the start of the year they wouldn’t get paid until 28 February 2014. This will be this year’s Work Your Proper Hours Day, celebrating the unsung – and unrewarded – hours that staff put in to help their employers and boost the UK economy.
TUC news release and Work Your Proper Hours Day website • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: Yorkshire ambulance staff need a break
The union Unite is demanding an independent inquiry by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) into a long-running Yorkshire ambulance dispute over a plan to impose new shift patterns for paramedics and ambulance staff as part of a package of cuts. Unite’s 375 members, who have been involved in a programme of industrial action related to the changes, say the imminent introduction of elongated shift patterns could mean staff are required to work 10 hours without a meal break.
Unite news release • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: Time for HSE to shift on shiftwork dangers
New research showing that night shifts can cause long term damage to health demonstrates the pressing need for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to update its guidance, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the report reinforced concerns about shiftwork’s links to breast cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and obesity, establishing it as a “major occupational health issue.”
SN Archer and others. Mistimed sleep disrupts circadian regulation of the human transcriptome, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi/10.1073/pnas.1316335111, 2014.The Scientist • The Guardian • BBC News Online • TUC facebook safety page • Risks 639 • 25 January 2013
Britain: Government has too much time for zero hours
The government is “desperately short” of answers to the growth of zero hours contracts in Britain, the TUC has said. The union body was speaking out after the government’s announcement last month of a consultation on changes to zero hours contracts.
TUC news release • BIS news release and Zero hours employment contracts: consultation • UNISON news release • GMB news release • UCU news release • IoD news release • BCC news release • BBC News Online • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: New warning on doctors’ hours
Doctors in Scotland are suffering “stress and burnout” as growing NHS workloads take their toll, medical leaders have warned. Brian Keighley, chair of the British Medical Association in Scotland, said the NHS was struggling to deal with the pressures of an ageing population, Westminster-led funding cuts and rising expectations from patients which include a shift towards a seven-day-working week in hospitals.
The Scotsman • The Herald • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Pressure to review hours of junior doctors
Scottish health secretary Alex Neil has come under pressure to review junior doctors' working hours following the tragic case of Dr Lauren Connelly, who died driving home after a hospital night shift. Her father, Brian Connelly, believes she was fatigued after six weeks of extremely long hours and wants an overhaul of the system and has received support from opposition politicians.
Herald Scotland and earlier article • Daily Record • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Pizza giant ‘broke safety rules 647 times’
A food factory prosecuted last month after a workplace amputation broke the Working Time Regulations several hundred times in a three month period, an investigation by the union GMB has found. The union probe followed multinational Bakkavor’s prosecution for criminal safety breaches discovered after a worker lost the tip of a finger in an unguarded machine at its Harrow pizza factory.
GMB news release • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Europe: Fury at ‘dodgy backroom deal’ on flying hours
Pilots’ union BALPA has expressed dismay at a ‘dodgy backroom deal’ that saw the European Parliament approve contentious new flying hours rules. BALPA says intensive lobbying from the airline industry and ‘dodgy last minute backroom deals’ mean the rules can now be implemented, unless the EU Council of Ministers decides to discuss the rules and vote on them.
BALPA news release • BBC News Online • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Europe: Pilots welcome flight hours change rejection
British pilots have welcomed the vote by the EU Transport and Tourism Select Committee rejecting new Europe-wide rules on pilot flying hours they say will undermine UK flight safety. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) is now calling on the UK government and MEPs to act to protect the safety of our skies.
BALPA news release • BBC News Online • The Independent • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: MPs back union concerns on pilot fatigue
Union concerns that planned European Union changes to flying hours rules would see pilots landing planes while dangerously tired have been supported by a committee of MPs. A report from the House of Commons transport select committee published this week expresses concern about the lack of evidence behind proposed changes which could mean pilots were awake for a 22 hour stretch.
BALPA news release • House of Commons Transport Select Committee report and webpages on flight time limitations • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Bank to review working conditions after death
Bank of America Merrill Lynch has launched a review of working conditions for junior staff after the death of an intern employed at its London office. Moritz Erhardt, 21, was found dead at his home after reportedly working at the Merrill Lynch investment bank for 72 hours without sleep.
BBC News Online • The Guardian • ABC News • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Action at Hovis over zero hours contracts
Hovis staff started the first of a planned series of strikes on 28 August over the introduction of agency workers on zero hours contracts. The action is at the Wigan bakery, one of 10 Hovis sites in the UK.
BFAWU news release and earlier release • The Work Foundation news release • The Guardian and related commentary • Food Manufacture • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Pilot fatigue is a major public concern
A new poll has revealed the overwhelming majority of the travelling public have concerns about European Union plans to make British pilots fly when they are dangerously tired. The ComRes poll found 89 per cent of the British public said they would be concerned about being in an aircraft flown by a pilot who has been awake for 22 hours, something new EU rules cutting British safety standards will allow.
BALPA news release and video • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Bank of America intern dies after long hours stint
A 21-year-old who was interning at a London investment bank has died after reportedly working 72 hours in a row. Moritz Erhardt was an exchange student from Germany studying at the University of Michigan and was interning at the Bank of America in London when he died, seven days before he was due to complete his summer internship. The Independent • BBC News Online • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Fatal 10-year failure by General Motors
The owner of motor manufacturer Vauxhall has been fined £150,000 over the death of a long-serving worker, Ian Heard, 59, who was crushed in machinery at its car factory in Ellesmere Port. The company, part of General Motors UK Ltd, had failed to remedy the fault responsible, despite identifying the problem in a risk assessment a decade before. HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • BBC News Online • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Labour can cure the zero hours plague, says Unite
The union Unite is pressing for decisive policies to halt the ‘alarming rise’ in insecure working. Making the call at Labour's summit on zero hours working this week, the union said a zero hours ‘plague’ is gripping workers across the UK.
Unite news release • Chuka Umunna news release • BBC News Online • New Statesman • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Legal challenge against zero hours contracts
Zero hours contracts are facing a legal challenge, after a part-time worker with SportsDirect.com decided to take her case to an employment tribunal. Elizabeth George, the barrister in the employment team of law firm Leigh Day who is acting for Zahera Gabriel-Abraham, said: “There was no practical difference between the obligations put on my client by the company and those placed on full-time staff,” adding: “The ‘casual’ part-time employees in this case are employees in the conventional sense and denying them their paid holidays, sick pay and bonuses is unlawful.”
Leigh Day news release • 38 Degrees blog • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: Government must act to halt zero hours culture
Urgent action is needed to stop the growth of the zero hours culture, unions have said. The call came after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) admitted it had dramatically underestimated the extent of zero hours work, and then research published by the human resources organisation CIPD suggested the problem could still be much more serious than the government accepts, with a possible one million zero hours workers in the UK – four times the revised government estimate.
TUC news release • CIPD news release • Unite news release • UNISON news release • UCU news release • Prospect news release • BECTU news release • TUC Touchstone blog • The Work Foundation news release • The Guardian • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: Sports Direct faces flak over zero hours contracts
Pressure is mounting on Mike Ashley and his Sports Direct empire over its use of zero-hours contracts for part-time employees as Unite this week demanded a meeting with the billionaire businessman. Politicians, campaigners and charities called on the UK’s biggest sports retailer to change its policy after Unite revealed it was using the no-rights contracts for 90 per cent of its workforce.
Unite news release • The Guardian • The Independent • More on insecure work and safety • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Call for action on ‘excessive’ working hours at sea
Seafarers’ union Nautilus is urging maritime lawyers to address the ‘excessive working hours of seafarers’. The call came ahead of a 24 July EU-sponsored seminar to discuss the results of the ‘Project Horizon’ research into fatigue at sea.
Nautilus news release and Project Horizon webpages • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Pilots accuse aviation agency of ‘maladministration’
The European agency responsible for aviation safety across the European Union (EU) has been accused of “gross maladministration” by British pilots. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has submitted a formal complaint to the European Ombudsman saying the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has breached its own terms of reference in the way it has put together proposals to change pilots’ working hour limits, set to prevent dangerous fatigue.
BALPA news release and BALPA complaint to the European Ombudsman • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: Concern at ‘shocking’ rise in zero hours contracts
The government should look at regulating zero hours contracts, the TUC has said. The union was commenting after figures published by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham MP revealed over 300,000 workers in the care sector alone are employed on zero hours contracts.
TUC news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Resolution Foundation news release and report, A Matter of Time: the rise of zero-hours contracts, Matthew Pennycook, Giselle Cory and Vidhya Alakeson, Resolution Foundation, June 2013. More on the hazards of insecure work • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Canada: Night work linked to double breast cancer risk
Working night shifts for more than 30 years could dramatically increase women's risk of developing breast cancer, a new study has concluded. Nurses, cleaners, care workers, some shop workers, call centre workers and others who work night shifts for long periods can have double the risk of developing the disease than those who don't, the new study indicates.
Anne Grundy and others. Increased risk of breast cancer associated with long-term shift work in Canada, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Online first, 1 July 2013. doi:10.1136/oemed-2013-101482 [abstract] • Medical Daily • Huffington Post • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: TUC wants tougher rules on zero hours contracts
The TUC is calling on Vince Cable to impose tough new regulations on zero hours contracts, after he announced that his officials are conducting a review. Frances O'Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, said: “With the tough times set to continue, now is the perfect time for the government to be reviewing – and hopefully regulating – the increasing use of these exploitative contracts.”
TUC news release • The Guardian • Personnel Today • More on insecure work and health and safety • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: Parliament’s security staff strike over shifts
Up to 300 security staff at the Houses of Parliament took strike action in a long-running row over imposed shift patterns. The workers, employed by the Metropolitan Police, accepted two years ago that shifts had to change, but their union PCS said during protracted talks senior Met officials “repeatedly moved the goalposts” when the union presented a series of proposals.
PCS news release • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: Retailers shopped by exhausted staff
Understaffing and long opening hours are leaving shopworkers stressed, miserable and unable to take breaks, their union has said. The Morning Star reports that delegates at the annual Usdaw conference have called for action to address low staffing levels. Morning Star • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: More firms using zero-hours contracts
Almost a quarter of Britain's major employers now recruit staff on zero-hours contracts that keep workers on standby and deny them regular hours. According to government estimates, 23 per cent of employers with more than 100 staff have adopted the flexible contract terms for at least some staff following a surge in the number of public sector services contracted out to private providers.
The Guardian article and related comment • More on the health impact of insecure work • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Brazil: McDonald’s gets $4m fine for zero hours contracts
In Brazil, fast food giant McDonald's was this year fined US$4 million for operating a zero-hours scheme under which workers sat in the "break rooms" without being paid, until the employer determined there were a sufficient number of customers for hours to be counted. The court ruling required McDonald’s to eliminate the working time scheme throughout Brazil and ordered it to provide healthy meals to its workers.
IUF news report • Equal Times • More on the health impact of insecure work • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: The false economy of unpaid overtime
TUC research published on 1 March has revealed that around one in five workers regularly do around seven hours of unpaid overtime a week. The union body questions whether it’s really necessary for workers to do 1.8 billion hours of unpaid overtime a year – the equivalent of 1 million extra full-time jobs.
Stronger Unions blog • TUC Work Your Better Hours Day website and infographic • TSSA news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Half the office workforce skips their lunch break
More than half of office employees regularly work through their lunch breaks, a poll for BBC Breakfast has found. Commenting on the poll, which found 54 per cent of office staff routinely take no lunch break, TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: “These figures shine a spotlight on Britain's long hours culture.”
BBC News Online • TUC news release • Work Your Proper Hours Day, 1 March 2013 • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Work Your Proper Hours Day is on 1 March 2013
If staff who regularly work unpaid overtime did all their extra hours from the start of the year they wouldn't get paid until 1 March 2013. The TUC has named this day Work Your Proper Hours Day to celebrate their hard work.
TUC news release and Work Your Proper Hours Day website • BHF news release. Morning Star • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: ‘Final warning’ on ‘unsafe’ pilot fatigue rules
Airline unions have issued a final warning about ‘unsafe’ European Union pilot fatigue plans. Pilots from the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) delivered a ‘Tired Pilots Risk Lives’ dossier containing scientific reports, correspondence and testimonials to 10 Downing Street, the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spelling out the dangers.
BALPA news release • ITF news release • ECA website and Dead Tired campaign • Morning Star • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Government warned on working time
The TUC has said the prime minister is ‘tilting at windmills’ by attacking working time rules. In a 23 January speech on the UK’s relationships with the European Union, David Cameron picked out working hours as an issue that should not be decided in Europe. TUC news release • David Cameron’s speech • Institute of Education news release and full report • Stronger Union blog • Touchstone blog • BBC News Online and related article • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: How did xmas work for you?
While many of us enjoyed a few days off over the holidays, the numbers required to work on Christmas Day soared, according to figures compiled by the TUC. The TUC analysis of official statistics shows that the number of people who worked on 25 December rose by 78 per cent between 2004 and 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available.
TUC news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Australia: New safety code will address work fatigue
Australia’s national safety watchdog is developing measures to tackle the health and safety hazards of fatigue at work. Work Safe Australia is proposing a new code intended to “eliminate or reduce the need to work extended hours or overtime” so staff don't get dangerously fatigued.
Daily Telegraph • Preventing and managing fatigue in the workplace: Draft code of Practice, Safe Work Australia • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: High stress and long hours blight universities
University staff are suffering ‘damaging’ stress levels arising from intense workloads and a long hours culture, union research has found. A report of a UCU survey of 14,000 higher education academic and academic-related staff ranks marked the start of UCU's campaign against excessive workloads in post-16 education.
UCU news release and workload campaign • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: Sunday trading suspension was a failure
Retail union Usdaw says latest high street trading figures confirm the union’s warning that the eight week suspension of Sunday trading rules for the duration of the London Olympics would be a costly mistake. The figures released this week by the Office for National Statistics show retail sales in August fell by 0.2 per cent.
Usdaw news release • ONS retail figures August 2012 • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Shopworkers seek assurances on Sunday working
The shopworkers' Union Usdaw has written to business secretary Vince Cable to seek an urgent assurance that the government has no plans to permanently deregulate Sunday trading hours in England and Wales. The action came after the prime minister's official spokesperson, when asked if a permanent law change to extend temporary changes introduced during the Olympics was on the cards, said “a lot of people will want to look at the issue”.
Usdaw news release • The Telegraph • BBC News Online • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: UNISON calls for action on shifts and cancer
Safety reps should demand action to protect workers from shift patterns linked to cancer and other health problems, public sector union UNISON has said. The union was speaking out after a series of reports linked shiftwork with an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and other health problems.
UNISON news release and negotiating on shift work bargaining support guide for workplaces representatives • Alliance for Cancer Prevention • Hazards magazine • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Global: Shiftwork linked to heart disease risk
Shiftworkers are at increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to a new study. The authors, whose findings are published online in the British Medical Journal, say their research is the largest analysis of shiftwork and vascular risk to date and “has implications for public policy and occupational medicine.”
Shift work and vascular events: systematic review and meta-analysis, BMJ 2012;345:e4800, published 26 July 2012 • Newsroom America • BBC News Online • The Observer • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: Public behind flight safety campaign
The overwhelming majority of the British public believe the UK should stick with existing flight safety rules rather than adopt new EU rules that could leave pilots dangerously fatigued. Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the pilots’ union BALPA, said: “The government must realise that the British public take their safety aboard British aircraft seriously and are not content to allow our good quality fatigue regulations to be watered down by Brussels.”
BALPA news release • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Another study links night work to breast cancer
A new study has reinforced concerns that women undertaking night work can face an increased risk of breast cancer. Reporting their findings online in the International Journal of Cancer, the French study concludes the risk of developing breast cancer was 30 per cent higher in women who had worked nights compared to women who had never worked nights.
Florence Menegaux and others. Night work and breast cancer: a population-based case-control study in France (the CECILE study), International Journal of Cancer, published online ahead of print 26 June 2012. DOI: 10.1002/ijc.27669 [abstract]. Inserm news release • Science Daily • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: Screen slavers put health at risk
UK office workers are putting their mental and physical health at risk by working more than two hours extra each night on their commute and at home, a new survey for the physios’ union CSP has found.
CSP news release • BBC News Online • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Unite warning on EU aviation hours plans
Cabin crew union Unite has echoed concerns raised by pilots’ union BALPA and the House of Commons transport select committee that European aviation working hours proposals could jeopardise safety. The union, which represents about 25,000 cabin crew across the airline industry, reiterated their warning that the safety of passengers and crew could be at risk if the proposed rules are adopted.
Unite news release • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Global: Night shifts linked to increase in breast cancer
Working night shifts more than twice a week is associated with a 40 per cent increased risk of breast cancer, a study has found. The long term study, published online on 28 May 2012 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found those who had worked nights at least three times a week for at least six years were more than twice as likely to have the disease as those who had not.
Johnni H and Lassen, CF. Nested case-control study of night shift work and breast cancer risk among women in the Danish military, OEM, Online First, 28 May 2012, doi 10.1136/oemed-2011-100240.
TUC news release and occupational cancer guide [pdf] • Alliance for Cancer Prevention news release • The Guardian • Daily Mail • The Telegraph • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Dismay at Sunday trading laws move
The government’s use of emergency legislation to force through a suspension of Sunday trading rules during the Olympics has left shopworkers “bitterly disappointed”, their union has said. MPs voted through The Sunday Trading (London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Bill on 30 April, after just nine hours consideration and debate in both the House of Commons and House of Lords.
Usdaw news release • House of Commons votes, 30 April 2012 • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: We’ll tell you why we don’t like Sundays at work
Shopworkers shouldn’t lose their Sundays at this summer’s Olympics. Delegates at Usdaw's Annual Delegate Meeting (ADM) reaffirmed the union's opposition to the deregulation of Sunday trading, calling on the government to drop plans to suspend Sunday trading restrictions during the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer.
Usdaw news release and news release on the government employment rights changes • Morning Star • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Global: Passenger jet’s dive exposes pilot fatigue dangers
An incident in which an Air Canada passenger jet dived and caused injuries to 16 of those onboard provides a dire warning of the dangers of pilot fatigue, UK pilots’ union BALPA has said. A report this week by Canada’s Transport Safety Board found a “confused and disoriented” Air Canada co-pilot had just awoken from a “controlled rest period” when he put the airliner into a dive.
BALPA news release • Transport Safety Board incident report • Globe and Mail • BBC News Online • Channel 4 News • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
USA: Shiftworkers face diabetes and obesity risk
Shiftworkers getting too little sleep at the wrong time of day may be increasing their risk of diabetes and obesity, according to a new study. The researchers are calling for more measures to reduce the impact of shiftworking.
OM Buxton and others. Adverse metabolic consequences in humans of prolonged sleep restriction combined with circadian disruption, Science Translational Medicine, volume 4, number 129, 11 April 2012 [abstract and related news release] • BBC News Online • The Huffington Post • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Sunday trading hours extension is ‘ridiculous’
Shopworkers are opposed to ‘ridiculous’ government plans to introduce emergency legislation suspending Sunday trading laws this summer, their union has said. In his 21 March Budget statement, chancellor George Osborne announced there would be a “relaxation” of Sunday trading hours restrictions on eight Sundays during the Olympics and Paralympics, starting 22 July.
Usdaw news release • BBC News Online • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
China: Call for law to stop overwork deaths
A law to prevent a growing number of deaths related to overwork has been proposed at China’s National's People's Congress (NPC). Hu Xiaoyan, China's first migrant worker elected as a representative of the NPC, made the call during the law-making body’s annual session.
China Daily • Global Times’ April 2011 report on Pan Jie’s death • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Australia: Worker fatigue 'epidemic' identified
Australian workers are suffering from an “unrecognised epidemic” of tiredness, a new study suggests, with working parents particularly badly affected. Report authors, psychologists Natalie Skinner and Jill Dorian, recommend a cap the working week, including overtime, at 38 hours, to help avoid harm caused by sleep deprivation.
The Age • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: Surge in older workers doing unpaid overtime
The proportion of employees in their late 50s and early 60s working unpaid overtime has increased sharply in the last decade - despite a fall in unpaid hours for the rest of the workforce. A new TUC analysis of official figures shows across the UK around one in five workers (5.3 million people) put in an average of 7.2 hours of unpaid overtime per week last year, worth around £5,300 a year per person - and a record £29.2 billion to the economy.
TUC news release • The Guardian • Work Your Proper Hours Day • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Excessive working time causes depression
A new study has concluded that working long hours - regardless of job stress or satisfaction - increases the risk of depression. Researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and University College London followed nearly 2,000 middle-aged British civil servants for almost six years.
TUC Touchstone blog. Marianna Virtanen and others. Overtime work as a predictor of major depressive episode: A 5-year follow-up of the Whitehall II Study, PLoS ONE, volume 7, number 1, published online 25 January 2012. CBS News • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Unpaid overtime equivalent to 1m extra jobs
The two billion hours of unpaid overtime worked last year would be enough to create over a million extra full-time jobs, the TUC has calculated. It says the total amount of unpaid overtime worked last year was 1,968 million hours - worth a record £29.2 billion to the UK economy.
TUC news release • CWU news release • Work Your Proper Hours Day, 24 February 2012 • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: UK still high in the long hours league
UK workers remain among the most overworked in Europe, new official statistics indicate. An analysis published by the Office of National Statistics found full-time workers in the UK work longer than the EU average (42.7 hours compared with 41.6), with only people in Austria and Greece working a longer week, both at 43.7 hours a week.
ONS news release • TUC news release • Touchstone blog and Work Your Proper Hours Day campaign • Risks 536 • 17 December 2011
USA: Shiftwork linked to diabetes in women
Women who work a rotating schedule that includes three or more night shifts per month, in addition to day and evening working hours in that month, have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a study has found. Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) reached their conclusion after comparing women on rotating shifts with those who only worked days or evenings, and found the risks increased in line with years working the shifts.
An Pan, Eva S Schernhammer, Qi Sun, Frank B Hu. Rotating night shift work and risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Two prospective cohort studies in women, PLoS Medicine, published online 6 December 2011 • Risks 535 • 10 December 2011
Britain: Tired pilots risk lives
Pilots union BALPA is seeking to alert people to the dangers posed by proposed changes to the limits on pilots flying time. To support their campaign BALPA have produced a short youtube video.
Balpa campaign page • Youtube video • Risks 532 • 19 November 2011
Britain: Proposals would leave pilots drunk on fatigue
Proposed European Union flying hours limits would see pilots working with levels of fatigue-related incapacity equivalent to four times the legal alcohol limit for flying, pilots’ union BALPA has warned.
BALPA news release • Risks 529 • 29 October 2011
USA: Union backs working time restrictions
The Teamsters Union have joined a campaign to support the proposed Hours of Service (HOS) rule proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that will limit consecutive driving hours and prevent abuse of the current regulations. Unions and safety organisations claim that the proposed rule will save the American public more than $2 billion and create nearly 40,000 jobs in the trucking industry.
The trucker • Risks 527 • 15 October 2011
Britain: England abandons doctors’ hours checks
The NHS in England has abandoned its monitoring of doctors’ working hours in response to a government demand to reduce ‘red tape’. A report in BMJ Careers reveals the “ministerial return” hospital trusts previously submitted on compliance with the 48 hours a week working hours ceiling stipulated in the European Working Time Directive was cancelled in August 2010 “to reduce bureaucracy.”
BMJ Careers • Risks 521 • 3 September 2011
Britain: Coach firm fined over drivers’ hours
A Middlesex coach company has been fined £137,500 after being found guilty of abusing drivers’ hour’s regulations. BM Coach and Rental was found guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court of 131 drivers’ hours offences after an investigation by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) in summer 2010.
VOSA news release • Bus and Coach.com • Risks 514 • 16 July 2011
Britain: Long work hours a heart attack risk
Clocking up extra hours at work can increase markedly the risk of heart disease, UK researchers have found. The research team from University College London warned people who work an 11-hour day compared with those who work a standard seven or eight hours increase their risk of heart disease by 67 per cent.
MRC news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star.
M Kivimäki and others. Using additional information on working hours to predict coronary heart disease: A cohort study, Annals of Internal Medicine, volume 154, number 7, pages 457-463, April 2011 [abstract] • Risks 501 • 9 April 2011
Britain: More work unpaid overtime than ever before
A record 5.26 million people worked unpaid overtime last year - the highest number since records began in 1992, a TUC analysis of official figures has revealed. The analysis, published on 25 February to mark Work Your Proper Hour Day (WYPHD), shows over one in five workers (21 per cent) regularly worked unpaid overtime last year, an increase of 0.7 per cent since 2009 and the highest proportion since 1997.
TUC news release and Work Your Proper Hours Day webpage resources, posters and long hours advice clinic. The Guardian • Risks 496 • 5 March 2011
Britain: New warning on pilot fatigue
A recent air crash in which 50 people died was linked to pilot fatigue and exposes the folly of moves to extend pilots’ flying hours, their union BALPA has warned. The UK union said the Colgan disaster on 12 February 2009 when a plane crash-landed at Buffalo, USA, could be repeated in the UK if EU revised rules on pilot fatigue are allowed to proceed as planned.
BALPA news release • Risks 494 • 19 February 2011
Britain: Ministers urged to oppose pilot hours increase
Airline pilots from across Britain lobbied ministers and MPs in parliament last week in a bid to block what they believe is an unsafe plan to increase pilot flying hours across the European Union (EU).
BALPA news release • Risks 493 • 12 February 2011
Britain: Pilots will fight dangerous work hours move
Pilots’ union BALPA is warning an extension of allowable working hours would increase the risk of fatigue-related air disasters. The union has launched a ‘Wake up - Pilot fatigue risks lives’ campaign against European plans to increase the working hours of pilots, warning safety would be put at risk.
BALPA news release • Morning Star • Risks 492 • 5 February 2011
Britain: At Amazon, ’tis the season to be nasty
Britain’s biggest online retailer sent home casual staff in the middle of the night, half way through their shift, an employment rights group has revealed. Some workers had to wait at the giant Amazon warehouse near Gourock, in Inverclyde, Scotland, until public transport resumed in the morning, even though they were not being paid.
The Herald • Risks 487 • 18 December 2010
Canada: Shiftwork is bad for you
Canadians who work night shifts and rotating shifts are almost twice as likely to be injured on the job as those working regular day shifts, according to a study by researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The study, published in the current issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, found that while the overall rate of work injuries in Canada decreased, the rate of injuries did not decline for night shiftworkers.
Wong IS, McLeod CB, Demers PA. Shift work trends and risk of work injury among Canadian workers. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 2010, online first • Science Daily • Vancouver Sun • Risks 482 • 13 November 2010
Britain: Maersk fined for work sea hours failure
A major international shipping company has been fined after overworking seafarers and failing to obey an official improvement notice. AP Moller-Maersk was fined £18,500 this week and ordered to pay costs of £4,439 after admitting eight charges of failing to provide adequate hours of rest for the crew of a UK-registered containership and one charge of failing to improve the situation.
MCA news release • Nautilus news release • Risks 480 • 30 October 2010
Britain: Bus firm fined for over-working drivers
A bus firm boss has had to pay out almost £100,000 after an investigation found his drivers were working exhausting shifts without adequate breaks for weeks at a time. Edward John Martin Bellamy, the director and transport manager of Bellamy Coaches, was also failed to keep records of work, an investigation by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) found.
Nottingham Post • Risks 479 • 23 October 2010
Finland: Exhaustion trebles work death risk
Work-related exhaustion can be deadly for industrial workers, a new study has concluded. Finnish researchers found industrial employees who are under 45 years of age were almost three times as likely to die as other workers, with the most common causes of death tumour (34 per cent), accident (26 per cent), suicide (26 per cent) and coronary decease (22 per cent).
Trade Union News from Finland • Burnout as a predictor of all-cause mortality among industrial employees: A 10-year prospective register-linkage study, Journal of Psychosomatic Research volume 69, issue 1, pages 51-57, July 2010 [abstract] • Risks 464 • 10 July 2010
Britain: Union welcome for medic hours probe
The TUC has welcomed the findings of a government commissioned independent review, which concludes it is possible to deliver high quality training for hospital doctors within the 48 hour limit on average weekly working time.
TUC news release • Time for training - a review of the impact of the Working Time Directive on the quality of training • Risks 461 • 19 June 2010
Britain: Irritable bowel syndrome caused by bad shifts
Bad shift patterns can cause classic symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a study of nurses has found. Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School
conclude that “practising gastroenterologists should be aware of this association and educate patients with IBS on the possible impact of their work schedule on their symptoms.”
University of Michigan news release. Borko Nojkov, Joel H Rubenstein, William D Chey, Willemijntje A Hoogerwerf. The impact of rotating shift work on the prevalence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in nurses, American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/ajg.2010.48 [abstract] • Emaxhealth.com • Risks 449 • 27 March 2010
Britain: Union welcomes ship fatigue inspections
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has warned that serious action will be taken against shipping companies found to be cutting staffing levels and flouting hours of rest requirements. The statement from the marine safety body has been welcomed by seafarers’ union Nautilus.
MCA news release • Nautilus news release • Risks 446 • 6 March 2010
Britain: Overwork stress costs worker his job
A university worker who had to work 65 hours a week has received £110,000 in compensation after he had to give up work due to stress. UCU member Mark Bannister, 49, had a history of anxiety and depression and despite complaining about the excessive workload, nothing was done to alleviate the pressure.
UCU news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 447 • 13 March 2010
Britain: Unpaid overtime reaches ‘extreme’ levels
The number of people working ‘extreme’ levels of unpaid overtime soared to almost 900,000 last year, with teachers and lawyers the most likely to put in hours of extra work, according to new figures released by the TUC. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “A long hours culture is bad for workers' health and family life - whether the hours are paid or not.”
TUC news release • Work Your Proper Hours Day • UNISON news release • UCU news release • The Guardian • Risks 446 • 6 March 2010
Britain: Shorter hours the key to a better future
A UK think tank has said that shorter working hours will be better for workers and the environment - but only if there is greater pay equity. Despite a recent trend to increased working time the new economics foundation (nef) forecasts a major shift in the length of the formal working week as a consequence of dealing with key economic, social and environmental problems.
Green jobs, safe jobs blog • Risks 444 • 20 February 2010
USA: Long hours linked to deadly gas explosion
Workers in a Connecticut power plant that was rocked by an explosion which killed five people last week were often working more than 80 hours a week, reports say. It is also alleged that workers at the Kleen Energy Systems plant smelled gas less than an hour beforehand and were told to open doors wider for air.
Risks 443 • 13 February 2010
Britain: Over five million worked for free
Over five million workers across the UK gave away £27.4 billion in unpaid overtime in 2009, a TUC analysis of official statistics has found. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “This long hours culture causes stress and damages people's health.”
TUC news release • Work Your Proper Hours Day • The Independent • Personnel Today • Risks 439 • 16 January 2010
Japan: Firm worked employee to death
A restaurant chain in Japan has been accused of working one of its employees to death. The Osaka Central Labour Standards Inspection Office sent an investigation report on local restaurant chain Isoji and its 60-year-old president to the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office.
Mainichi Japan • Risks 436 • 12 December 2009
Global: Night shifts linked to diabetes risk
Night shifts have been related to cancer and heart disease – and a new study suggests we should also add diabetes to the list of concerns. Michael Smolensky, co-editor of Chronobiology International, said “intelligent development of more health-preserving shift schedules together with efficient health screening and regular check-ups may be of considerable benefit in maintaining the health of this vulnerable group of workers.”
Medical News Today • Personnel Today • Risks 436 • 12 December 2009
Britain: Long commute and long hours at work
Britain’s workers are facing an exhausting “double whammy” of long commutes and long hours at work, new figures have revealed. A TUC analysis of official statistics published this week shows UK workers spend 21.8 million hours travelling to and from work every day.
TUC news release • Commute Smart week • Risks 432 • 14 November 2009
Britain: Driven to exhaustion in vans and buses
The rules governing the working hours of bus, coach and van drivers are so out of date that many drivers have fewer breaks than office workers, the TUC has warned. In an October submission to a Department for Transport review, the TUC said long hours working is a direct cause of driver fatigue, which contributed to one in five road accidents last year.
TUC news release • Risks 429 • 24 October 2009
Britain: Unite guide on shift and night work
The union Unite has issued new guidance on how union reps can organise shift- and nightwork to best protect health. The guide says: “A world increasingly working around the clock raises an issue which is of increasing concern for Unite – the health and safety implications for members who work shifts and at night.”
Shiftwork and nightwork: Unite health and safety briefing [pdf] • Risks 428 • 17 October 2009
Europe: Air crew protest sky high fatigue levels
Long flying hours are “putting lives at risk”, airline crew have warned. European air crew unions say current rules that govern flying hours are unsafe, with fatigue a factor in up to 15 per cent of accidents.
BALPA news release • ITF news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 427 • 10 October 2009
Britain: Worker unfairly fired for night shift nap
A Glasgow metal worker who was sacked for nodding off on night shift and missing a fire drill has been awarded £25,374 compensation for unfair dismissal. David Hart, 59, was dismissed for gross misconduct and complained he was unfairly sacked by the Waukesha Bearings factory in Glasgow after a clean 37-year service record.
Daily Record • The Herald • Risks 420 • 22 August 2009
Europe: Victory on working hours for drivers
Europe’s transport unions have won support for safe driving hours. The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) applauded the European Parliament’s decision to reject a proposal on a revised working time directive for road transport.
ITF news report • Risks 407 • 23 May 2009
Britain: Shiftworkers get second class treatment
Shiftworkers in the UK are facing serious health risks but are getting second class safety because the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) clocks off outside normal office hours, according to a new report. Report author Professor Andrew Watterson calls for more HSE resources to be targeted at workers on atypical hours, rigorous enforcement of working time law, an end to the UK opt-out from the working time directive’s 48-hour working week ceiling, and for the UK government to follow the Danish government’s lead and compensate workers with breast cancer caused by long-term night work.
Stirling University news release. While you were sleeping, Hazards magazine, Number 106, 2009 and related working hours webpages • Risks 407 • 23 May 2009
Norway: Rail workers win violence protection
Railway workers in Norway have won improved protection against violence at work, following their unions’ lobbying efforts. Workers represented by Norsk Jernbaneforbund and Norsk Lokomotivmannsforbund won an amendment to existing criminal law after the union engaged the government in talks to improve the plight of railway workers who were experiencing increasing violence, particularly at night.
ITF news report • Risks 406 • 16 May 2009
Australia: Night nurses warn of health fears
For the first time, the life-threatening physical and psychological effects of shift work are being used to push for bigger pay packets for nurses and midwives in New South Wales, Australia. The NSW Nurses Association launched its claim in the Industrial Relations Commission this week, calling in experts to cite studies linking shift work with higher rates of breast cancer, heart disease, miscarriage, clinical depression and divorce.
NSWNA news release • Sydney Morning Herald • Risks 405
Hazards news, 9 May 2009
Britain: Government defends excessive working time
The TUC has criticised the government for its role in frustrating discussions in Europe to end the UK's opt-out from the 48-hour working week ceiling. A conciliation meeting last week between MEPs and employment ministers ended without agreement.
TUC news release • BERR news release • Risks 401
Hazards news, 11 April 2009
Europe: Cancer warning on night work
A top UK occupational health researcher has warned that the UK authorities are lagging behind their Scandinavian counterparts when it comes to action on night work hazards, linked to cancer and other chronic health problems. Stirling University’s Professor Andrew Watterson said the problem was being neither properly recognised nor addressed in the UK.
BBC News Online and The Investigation radio show • The Scotsman • Telegraph • Daily Mail • The Guardian • Risks 398
Hazards news, 21 March 2009
Britain: ‘Robust’ action needed on sea fatigue
Seafarers’ union Nautilus is urging the government to act on an official call for measures to combat seafarer fatigue.
Nautilus news release • MAIB Antari investigation report • Risks 396
Hazards news, 7 March 2009
Britain: Recession brings unpaid work pressures
Around five million workers are doing an average of seven hours and six minutes unpaid overtime a week, according to the TUC. The number of people working unpaid overtime across the workforce has been stable since last year, the union body said, but added the recession was leading to some working longer hours and others struggling for work.
TUC news release and Work Your Proper Hours Day (27 February) advice • Risks 395
Hazards news, 28 February 2009
Britain: Unions welcome EU working time action
Trade unions have welcomed December’s decisive vote by the European Parliament to end the UK's opt-out from Europe's 48 hour average working week. To demonstrate the consequences of excessive working hours, GMB published a dossier of recent public and workplace deaths linked to overwork.
GMB news release and dossier • UCATT news release • PCS news release • Risks 388
Hazards news, 10 January 2009
Britain: TUC warning on unpaid overtime
More than five million people worked unpaid overtime in 2008, bringing its total value across the UK to a record £26.9 billion, according to a new analysis of official statistics published by the TUC. The union body warned a recent trend to shorter hours has been reversed and says the economic downturn could increase the pressure to work for free.
TUC news release • Work Your Proper Hours Day, Friday 27 February 2009 • Risks 388
Hazards news, 10 January 2009
Britain: Rail unions to fight job cuts and zero hours
Rail unions have pledged to fight job cuts and plans to introduce zero hours contracts at the Deutschebahn-owned railfreight company EWS. Condemning the firm’s plan to sack 530 workers, RMT challenged EWS to confirm that there will be no compulsory job losses and that the firm will end the “disgraceful” practice of employing people on zero-hours contracts.
RMT news release • TSSA news release • ASLEF news release • Lloyd’s List • Road Transport • Risks 387
Hazards news, 20 December 2008
Britain: Forty-eight hour opt out must go
Ending the UK’s opt-out from Europe’s 48 hour average working week would cause business little difficulty, the TUC has said. A TUC report published on 15 December, ahead of the vote at the European Parliament on the working hours rule, said the move would also improve the health and safety of long hours workers and reduce the risks of accidents caused by overtired and stressed workers.
TUC news release and report, Ending the opt-outs from the 48 hour week - Easy steps to decent working time [pdf] • NUJ news release • PSI news release • Socialist Group in the European Parliament news release • The Guardian • Risks 387
Hazards news, 20 December 2008
Europe: MEPs vote to end working time opt-out
The European Parliament has voted decisively to end the UK's opt-out from Europe's 48 hour average working week. MEPs voted by 421 to 273 to remove the opt-out from a revised working time directive approved by EU employment ministers in June; the European Parliament will now open negotiations with the Council of Ministers to seek agreement with them on the issue.
TUC news release • Risks 387
Hazards news, 20 December 2008
Europe: MEPS vote to scrap work hours opt-out
The TUC has welcomed a decision by the employment and social affairs committee of the European Parliament to scrap the Working Time Directive opt-out within three years. The amendments proposed by the committee will be the considered at a plenary session at the European Parliament’s December meeting, and will need an absolute major vote to be adopted.
European Parliament news release • TUC news release • ETUC news release • Risks 381
Hazards news, 8 November 2008
Britain: Bank holiday needed to ease stresses
As recession and work worries hit home, workers need a break – and a new bank holiday could be just the job. On 27 October - the halfway point of the longest gap between UK bank holidays - the TUC and the UK's leading voluntary organisations put their case for a new Community Day bank holiday.
TUC news release • Community Day campaign • Why the UK can afford a Community Day [pdf] • Risks 380
Hazards news, 1 November 2008
Britain: Commute times starting to decline
The number of people spending more than one hour per day commuting to work fell by 206,000 in 2007, according to TUC. The TUC analysis of official Labour Force Survey (LFS) figures - produced to coincide with Workwise UK's Commute Smart week, the last week in October - shows a fall of one per cent from 2006 in employees undertaking commuter journeys of longer than one hour.
Work Wise UK news release and Commute Smart Week webpages • TUC news release • Risks 380
Hazards news, 1 November 2008
Britain: Work’s stresses and strains are top concerns
Stress or overwork, injuries and illnesses caused by the poor use of display screen equipment and repetitive strain injuries (RSI) top the list of workers' safety concerns, according to the TUC's biennial survey of safety reps.
TUC news release • Wales TUC news release • Northern TUC news release •TUC biennial survey of safety reps 2008 • Risks 380
Hazards news, 1 November 2008
Britain: Unions reduce long hours burden
UK workers still work the longest hours in Western Europe, but UK unions have been particularly effective in winning shorter hours for their members. A report last week from Eurofound - the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions - revealed that full-time employees in the UK put in 41.4 hours per week.
Eurofound news release and full report • Risks 373
Hazards, 13 September 2008
Australia: Sleepy shift workers on crash course
Sleep-deprived shift workers are driving themselves to car crashes, trauma surgeons and early graves. While only 14 per cent of Australians are regular shift workers, they make up half the road trauma patients treated at one hospital.
Herald Sun and related story on fatigued ambulance workers.
Hazards news, 6 September 2008
Britain: Overwork and stress are top work concerns
Overwork and stress are the top problems facing workers, according to new TUC research. Its 'What workers want' report is based on an extensive YouGov poll of more than 2,500 people at work in Britain, and identifies safety as both a top three concern and an action priority.
What workers want - an agenda from the workplace, for the workplace, full report [pdf] and poll figures [pdf] • Risks 272
Hazards news, 6 September 2008
Britain: New bank holiday would benefit businesses
Nearly one million UK businesses could benefit from a new bank holiday with workers also benefiting from improved health and well-being, according to a new TUC report. TUC is calling for a ‘Community Day’ bank holiday in late October “to celebrate and encourage volunteering and community activity.”
Community Day campaign • Why the UK can afford a Community Day, TUC report [pdf] • Risks 371
Hazards news, 30 August 2008
Britain: Action needed on hours at sea
Port authorities need to get tough on seafarers’ working hours, the union Nautilus UK has warned.
Hazards news, 12 July 2008
Norway: Overtime causes anxiety and depression
If you work a lot of overtime, especially on a low income or doing heavy manual labour, you're at increased risk of anxiety and depression. Researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway found even moderate overtime hours appears to raise the risk of “mental distress” and said their results support EU-style regulation setting a working hours ceiling.
Elisabeth Kleppa, Bjarte Sanne and Grethe S Tell. Working overtime is associated with anxiety and depression: The Hordaland Health Study, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 50, number 6, pages 658-666, June 2008 [abstract] • Risks 361
Hazards news, 21 June 2008
Britain: Mixed progress on agency and hours laws
The UK government will keep its opt-out from the European Union’s 48 hour weekly work ceiling, but has agreed a series of improvements to working time rules. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the Socialist Group of MEPs in the European Parliament have both said they will challenge the working time compromise.
TUC news release and briefing on changes to working time rules • ETUC news release • Socialist Group of MEPs news release • BERR news release • Risks 360
Hazards news, 14 June 2008
Britain: Unwelcome return of the long hours culture
An extra 180,000 people across the UK are now working more than 48 hours a week, according to a TUC analysis of official statistics. The figures, included in a new TUC report, ‘The return of the long hours culture’, show the number of people working long hours has increased at a faster rate over the last year than the decline in excessive working between 1998 and 2006.
TUC news release and report, The return of the long hours culture [pdf] • Risks 360
Hazards news, 14 June 2008
Japan: Toyota acts on deadly overwork
Toyota is taking steps to deal with a corporate culture that been linked to deaths from overwork. From June, the company is to pay workers overtime for attending out-of-hours ‘kaizen’ or quality control (QC) circle meetings - it previously only allowed workers to claim two hours' overtime a month for such “voluntary” activities.
Asahi Shimbun • BBC News Online • More on karoshi and karojisatsu • Risks 358
Hazards news, 31 May 2008
Britain: Government warning on driver fatigue
One in five of all crashes on major roads are caused by tired drivers but research shows many motorists are ignoring the simplest sign - the common yawn - that it's time for a break. A new government campaign featuring acting star Joseph Fiennes sets out to remind motorists of the dangers of driving when tired – and says it is a particular problem for working drivers.
DfT news release and driver fatigue campaign • Risks 349
Hazards news, 29 March 2008
USA: Long work hours create deadly risks
Prolonged work days that often extend late into the night may cause Americans to fall asleep or feel sleepy at work, drive drowsy and lose interest in sex, according to a Sleep in America poll released by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Darrel Drobnich, NSF acting chief executive officer, said: “The impact of not getting good sleep is far reaching and has Americans compromising their productivity, safety, health and relationships – both on the job and at home.”
National Sleep Foundation news release • Risks 346
Hazards news, 8 March 2008
Brazil: Injunction forces hours cut for truckers
A court in Brazil has ruled that companies should limit truckers’ working day to eight hours on safety grounds. The preliminary injunction, which was imposed by prosecutors in Cuiaba in Mato Grasso, applies to transport companies across Brazil and came in response to evidence that trucks are involved in 70 per cent of accidents on Mato Grasso highway and that over half (51 per cent) of truckers passing through Mato Grosso use or have used drugs to stay awake.
ITF news report • Risks 346
Hazards news, 8 March 2008
Britain: Capital drivers push bus firms for hours cut
London's 23,000 bus drivers are demanding a standard wage and safe driving hours across all the city's bus operators. Safety measures in the claim include a maximum of 4 hours and 30 minutes of continuous driving duty before a break, 7 hours and 36 minutes maximum time on duty per day, and a limit of 38 hours per week on duty.
Unite news release • Risks 346
Hazards news, 8 March 2008
Britain: Victory on offshore working time
Unions have hailed a “fantastic” tribunal ruling giving about 10,000 offshore workers two weeks' paid holidays. The decision, affecting drillers, caterers and subsea workers, follows a long-running battle over offshore workers’ rights under the Working Time Regulations.
Hazards news, 1 March 2008
Britain: Firms are not learning long hours lesson
The average British manager works the equivalent of 40 days a year in unpaid overtime, a survey has revealed. The Chartered Management Institute’s (CMI) survey of 1,511 managers found 89 per cent regularly worked more than their contracted hours, with the benefit to industry and commerce 184 million extra days of unpaid effort, but the downside lower morale, poor health and declining productivity.
CMI news release • Risks 344
Hazards news, 23 February 2008
Britain: TUC warning on driving hours review
The government must improve driving time rules for professional drivers, TUC has said. Commenting on the Department for Transport's review of the working time regulations for heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and coach drivers, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “This review has identified substantial abuse of the law,” adding: “This must be addressed as a matter of urgency in order to keep our roads safe.”
TUC news release • ITF news release • Risks 344
Hazards news, 23 February 2008
Britain: Go on, work your proper hours!
Nearly five million people are putting in an average of over seven hours unpaid overtime a week. If they worked all their unpaid overtime at the start of the year, 22 February would be the first day they’d get paid, which is why the TUC have named this date 'Work Your Proper Hours Day'.
TUC news release • Work Your Proper Hours Day, 22 February 2008 • Risks 343
Hazards news, 16 February 2008
Britain: Shiftwork linked early retirement in women
Shiftwork may increase the risk of enforced early retirement among women, suggests new research. Researchers used information from just under 8,000 male and female employees, who were part of the Danish Work Environment Cohort Study, which began in 1990, and data from the national welfare register.
Finn Tüchsen, Karl Bang Christensen, Thomas Lund, and Helene Feveile, A 15 year prospective study of shift work and disability pension, Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Published Online First: 15 January 2008. doi:10.1136/oem.2007.036525 [Abstract] • Risks 339
Hazards news, 19 January 2008
Australia: Action call on shiftwork cancer risk
One of Australia's biggest unions has called for a review of working hours after an International Agency for Research on Cancer study found people who work night shifts have a higher risk of contracting cancer. AWU national health and safety officer, Yossi Berger, said the “frightening report” had confirmed the union's worst fears, and added: “You can earn a lot more money working these shifts but you may find yourself using the money on a designer oxygen tent.”
AWU news release • IARC news release [pdf] • Global union zero cancer campaign • Risks 338
Hazards news,12 January 2008
Britain: Overworked probation officer 'forced out'
An overworked probation officer was forced to sell his house and car as he pursued a three-year legal battle to prove he was a victim of discrimination. Now an employment tribunal has ruled that Steven Collingwood, 38, of Carlisle, did suffer disability discrimination and harassment after a nervous breakdown was brought on by overwork in November 2004.
News and Star • Worked to death resources • Risks 338
Hazards news,12 January 2008
Britain: Pilots welcome call for fatigue probe
A call for research into the long term effects of fatigue on air crew has been welcomed by pilots’ union BALPA.
BALPA news release • Science and Technology – First report, House of Lords Science and Technology Committee
Hazards news, 22 December 2007
Japan: Court rules man was worked to death
A court in central Japan has ordered the government to pay compensation to a woman who argued that her 30-year-old husband died from overwork at Toyota Motor Corp, Japan's largest car maker. Hiroko Uchino filed the suit after a local Labour Ministry office rejected applications for workers’ compensation benefits she filed after the death of her husband, Kenichi, said Hiroko Tamaki, a lawyer for the plaintiff.
Japan Times • San Francisco Chronicle • More from Hazards on karoshi and karojisatsu
Hazards news, 8 December 2007
Britain: Long hours working on the rise again
A culture of working long hours is on the rise once more in the UK after a decade of gradual decline, according to figures published this week by the TUC. More than one in eight of the British workforce now work more than 48 hours a week, the maximum allowed under the law unless workers agree to waive that limit - HSE’s enforcement database records just two successful prosecutions for breaches of the 1998 Working Time Regulations.
TUC news release • BBC News Online
Hazards news, 1 December 2007
USA: Work 'the biggest sleep robber'
Time spent at work is the single most important lifestyle factor that impacts on sleep, a new study has reported. US researchers found the more hours you work the less sleep you get.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine news release • Mathias Basner and others. American Time Use Survey: Sleep time and its relationship to waking activities, Sleep, volume 30, issue 9, pages 1,085-1,095, 2007 [abstract]
Hazards news, 8 September 2007
Britain: Civil servants suffer from overwork
Excessive workloads are forcing over half of full-time civil servants to work excessive hours just to keep up, a study has found, with many now working while sick. Research for the union PCS found 45.8 per cent of workers surveyed put in between 40 and 48 hours and concluded 1 in 20 workers was breaking the working time regulations – introduced as a health and safety measure - by working over 49 hours per week.
PCS news release
Hazards news, 25 August 2007
Britain: Workers protest at damaging hours changes
Factory workers held a demonstration outside their workplace on 31 July, angered by plans to introduce “family unfriendly” and potentially unsafe shift patterns. Supported by members of Unite’s TGWU section, workers from the Hilton Food Group plc in Huntingdon protested outside of the premises against the plans to extend their shifts by five hours per day, because they believe the move would have a negative impact on their family life and on workplace safety.
Unite news release • Peterborough Today
Hazards news, 11 August 2007
Britain: Wake-up call on shift work and heart disease
People who are routinely up all night working the late shift are more likely to show stress symptoms linked to deadly heart problems, Dutch researchers report. Investigators discovered more of the shift work group developed 'premature ventricular complexes' (PVC), a condition associated with extra heartbeats and an increased risk of death due to heart disease. Doctors measured changes in heartbeat and variations in heart rate in 49 employees working shifts, including nights, and 22 employees working normal day hours. All the employees were newly in post, and the measurements were taken between one week and two months after starting the new job and again after they had been in post for 12 months. "The incidence of PVC increased significantly in shift workers over the 1-year follow-up, compared with daytime workers," the researchers write in the September issue of the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The study found that nearly half the shift workers experienced an increase in PVCs, while just more than one quarter of day-shift workers saw an increase. The authors suggest that working at night may be a chronic stressor for the body and that the increased frequency of early heartbeat patterns might be a factor in the higher risk of heart disease among shift workers.
Ludovic van Amelsvoort and others. Changes in frequency of premature complexes and heart rate variability related to shift work, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, vol.58, pages 678-81, 2001 [pdf version of technical research paper] • Risks 19
Hazards news, 15 September 2001
For earlier working time news stories, see: