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Hazards news, 3 March 2018

Britain: Don’t force staff to make dangerous commutes
As an icy blast and heavy snow hit Britain this week, the TUC called on employers not to force staff to make dangerous journeys into work. The TUC said that while workers should make every effort to get in where they can, bosses shouldn’t force their staff to travel if it’s not safe to do so.
TUC news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Workers put in £31bn in unpaid overtime last year
UK workers gave their employers £31.2 billion in free labour last year by doing unpaid overtime, according to new analysis of official statistics published by the TUC. The figures were released on 23 February, the TUC’s 14th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day.
TUC Work your proper hours day webpage and unpaid overtime calculator. UNISON news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Government rejects compo call on miners’ hand condition
Thousands of former miners say they are being denied compensation for a debilitating hand condition caused by their jobs, despite an official recommendation backing payouts. The Department of Work and Pensions has refused to recognise Dupuytren’s contracture as a prescribed disease qualifying for industrial injuries benefits, a decision described by mining union NUM as ‘grotesque’.
NUM news release. IIAC 2014 report. Northern Echo. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: ASLEF welcomes decision to put police force merger on hold
A decision by the Scottish government to put on hold the controversial decision to merge the British Transport Police (BTP) with Police Scotland has been welcomed by train drivers’ union ASLEF. The plan has been bitterly fought by transport unions and opposition politicians, who say it would compromise morale as well as safety.
ASLEF news release. Morning Star. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: RMT calls further safety strike action on Southern Rail
Rail union RMT has confirmed that guards and drivers on Southern Rail will take further strike action in the on-going dispute in defence of the role of the guard, the extension of driver only operation and the guarantee of a second safety-critical member of staff on Southern services. RMT’s national executive decided that because neither the company nor the government had made “any serious efforts to resolve the dispute”, further strike action will take place on Monday 12 March 2018.
RMT news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Cheshire firefighters protect fire cover
Following a ‘robust campaign’ sustained over two years, the firefighters’ union FBU has succeeded in overturning a decision to downgrade fire appliances at Crewe and Ellesmere Port from full-time to on call, protecting 40 firefighter posts. FBU secretary Andrew Fox-Hewitt said: “Bottom line is that FBU members refused to allow firefighter and public safety to be put at risk.”
FBU news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: British brands criticised over safety deal footdragging
Twenty British brands have still not signed up to a new safety accord for garment workers, originally introduced following the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, campaigners have revealed. So far, 109 garment companies across the world have signed the new agreement, but 20 British companies, including Debenhams, Marks and Spencer, Next, Morrisons and Sainsbury's, are among those that have not.
IndustriALL news release and list of 2018 Accord signatories. Clean Clothes Camaign news release. Morning Star. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Low level asbestos exposures ruling welcomed
The Court of Appeal has reset the threshold for asbestos-related cases, which could pave the way for thousands of potential claims. Caroline Pinfold, an industrial disease solicitor at London firm Fieldfisher, who represented asbestos widow Veronica Bussey, said: “These data that measured levels of asbestos fibres in the air have been wrongly applied by employers and their lawyers to deny or delay claimants the compensation they deserved.”
Law Society Gazette. Irwin Mitchell news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Worker died in fall at 'lethal' Qatar World Cup stadium
Zachary Cox, a UK-based construction worker, was killed in a fall at a Qatar 2022 World Cup stadium building site where management employed a work system that “was chaotic, unprofessional, unthinking and downright dangerous.” an inquest has heard. Giving a narrative verdict, coroner Veronica Hamilton said: “The site managers at the stadium knew or should have known that they were effectively requiring a group of their workers to rely on potentially lethal equipment.”
The Telegraph. BBC News Online. Business Insider. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Ejection seat firm fined £1.1m over Red Arrows death
Ejection seat manufacturer Martin-Baker Aircraft Ltd, prosecuted over the death of a Red Arrows pilot thrown from his jet, has been fined £1.1m. Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, 35, was ejected while conducting pre-flight safety checks at RAF Scampton in 2011, but the parachute on the seat did not then deploy and the airman was fatally injured.
BBC News Online. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Unguarded machine broke recycling worker’s arm
A Rochdale recycling company been fined after an employee’s arm was dragged into unguarded machinery - despite the worker having previously alerted management to the safety breach. Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 23 March 2016, the Anglo Recycling Ltd worker suffered a compound fracture whilst working on a carpet recycling line, when his arm was drawn into machinery and trapped between a conveyor and roller.
HSE news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Worker seriously injured in fall through fragile roof
A construction firm has been prosecuted after a worker was seriously injured when he fell through the fragile roof of a farm building that was due to be demolished. Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 4 February 2016, an inexperienced labourer working for Fine Dimensions Limited was asked to assist in minor roof work, but fell through a skylight panel the concrete floor below, sustaining head and chest injuries.
HSE news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

DRC: Glencore ‘gravely mistreating’ workers at cobalt mines
A global union fact-finding mission to Glencore’s copper and cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has uncovered alarming mistreatment of workers, directly contradicting Glencore’s claims. At a meeting with about 80 workers from the mines, IndustriALL heard of “systemic human and workers’ rights abuses ranging from constant threats of dismissal, poor health and safety practices, occupational diseases, racism and discrimination, unfair and unjust job classifications, low remuneration, and inferior salaries for local workers compared to foreign workers.”
IndustriALL news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Global: Unions to target multinational LafargeHolcim on 28 April
Global building union BWI is urging union members working for multinational building materials company LafargeHolcim (LH) to use 28 April to highlight the firm’s deadly record and to call for improvements. It said: “Let us stand shoulder to shoulder to make change and save workers’ lives in LafargeHolcim. And the very first condition is the establishment of a fair global social dialogue at all levels.”
BWI news release. TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 campaign website and theme announcement in English, Spanish and French. Hazards Campaign 28 April 2018 resources. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

USA: When you increase wages, you reduce sick leave
When wages go up, workplace sickness absence goes down, a new study has found. Research by the University of California Davis, published in the current issue of BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, concluded better wages led to improved worker health, with improved job satisfaction and better safety programmes coming as part of the better pay package.
UC Davis news release. Juan Du and J Paul Leigh. Effects of Minimum Wages on Absence from Work Due to Illness, BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, volume 18, issue 1, January 2018. The Pump Handle blog. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

USA: Safety regulations deliver massive economic benefits
Not only does a combination of better rights and better regulations save lives, they are good for the economy, an official US government report has concluded. A draft report to the US Congress prepared by the US Office of Management and Budget estimates that for workplace health and safety, costs from regulations in 2015 were US$0.5bn to US$0.6bn, but these were dwarfed by the benefits, calculated at US$1.2 to US$3.1bn.
Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations and Agency Compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, US Office of Management and Budget, published February 2018. Public Citizen news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Hazards news, 24 February 2018

Britain: Government dangerously confused on post-Brexit rights
The UK government’s confused and troubling messages on workers’ rights post-Brexit have been criticised by the TUC. While Brexit secretary David Davis maintained that the UK wanted to lead a “global race to the top” in rights and standards, foreign secretary Boris Johnson had a week earlier said complying with EU rules post-Brexit would be “intolerable”.
TUC response to David Davis. Speech by Brexit secretary David Davis.
Huffington Post. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Boris Johnson says your rights are ‘intolerable’
Boris Johnson has called EU legal protections ‘mad’ and called for major regulatory divergence from the EU. In a 14 February speech, the foreign secretary said: “It is only by taking back control of our laws that UK firms and entrepreneurs will have the freedom to innovate, without the risk of having to comply with some directive devised by Brussels, at the urgings of some lobby group, with the specific aim of holding back a UK competitor.” He added: “That would be intolerable, undemocratic, and would make it all but impossible for us to do serious free trade deals.”
TUC response to Boris Johnson. Speech by Foreign secretary Boris Johnson. IPPR report. Morning Star. The Guardian. Politico. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Union secures movement on excrement dumping
‘Long and hard’ campaigning by the rail union RMT has secured a pledge that rail firms will stop dumping excrement on the railway by the end of 2019. But the union is warning that progress to end the ‘filthy and disgusting practice’ has been far too slow.
RMT news release. Network Rail Strategic Business Plan 2019-2024. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Strike threat as ScotRail axes safety department
A rail union has expressed ‘horror’ after ScotRail axed the health and safety department covering its stations. Manuel Cortes, leader of the white collar rail union TSSA, said the news that voluntary severances and reorganisation at Abellio ScotRail would see all the department’s staff depart, was ‘a potential safety nightmare’.
TSSA news release. The Herald. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Union welcomes sentence after dog bites off postie’s finger
Postal workers’ union CWU has welcomed the prosecution of an irresponsible pet owner after her dog bit off the end of a post delivery worker’s finger. Stockport postwoman Stacey Brennan suffered the horrendous injury while she was delivering post last July, losing the top of her finger when the dog bit her through the letter box.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Union hails victory in fight against bogus self-employment
Construction union Unite has won a major legal victory in its battle against bogus self-employment and the use of payroll companies. The union took the employment appeal tribunal case on behalf of pipefitter Russ Blakely, who was working at Broadmoor Hospital. Russ, 57, had been taken on by On-Site Recruitment Solutions Limited, which had told him that his salary must come through payroll company Heritage Solutions City Limited - which charged £18 a week to process pay.
Unite news release. The Mirror. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Labour would make schools safe
A future Labour government would ensure all new school buildings are fitted with sprinklers and would remove asbestos and flammable cladding from existing schools. Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said Labour’s £14 billion plan would ensure classrooms are safe.
The Mirror and related article by Angela Rayner. Morning Star. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Next steps in group action on coke oven cancers
Hundreds of former steelworkers are believed to have joined a legal case seeking compensation for cancers and lung diseases caused by their jobs. The window to join the multi-million pound legal battle against Tata Steel UK for compensation for respiratory diseases and lung cancers has now closed, after the High Court set a deadline of 23 February to join a group action.
Scunthorpe Telegraph. Background on the case from Hugh James Solicitors and Hazards magazine. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Lidl depot builder poisoned by carbon monoxide
A builder who collapsed after being overcome by poisonous gases while working on a Lidl warehouse was lucky to survive, his lawyer has said. Luke Daniels, 29, and fellow construction workers said they had raised concerns about ventilation at the building in Belvedere, south-east London, before they fell ill.  
Plymouth Herald. Evening Standard. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: MoD censured over death of Royal Navy technician
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been issued with a Crown Censure after a Royal Navy engineering technician was killed during lift maintenance work. Leading engineering technician Neal Edmonds, originally from Kidderminster, was crushed between a moving lift and the lift shaft on 11 June 2014.
HSE news release. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

asbestos Britain: Fines after asbestos jet blasting blunders
A manufacturing company and its contractor have been prosecuted for their criminal failure to prevent asbestos exposures during the jet blasting of an asbestos cement roof. Carter Brothers (Rochdale) Ltd contracted Frank Allan, trading as Jet Blast and Maintenance, to clean its premises in September 2016.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Georgia: Unpoliced workplaces are killing workers
Unpoliced workplaces and high death rates in Georgia are the target of a global cyber campaign. The Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC) has teamed up with online labour campaign group Labourstart to call for an end to the carnage.
GTUC news release. Georgian Trade Union Confederation/Labourstart campaign – sent a message to the Georgian government. Georgia Today and follow up article. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

India: Suicides and deaths blight textile mills
A trail of worker suicides and deaths is blighting textile spinning mills in south India, the global union for the sector has said.  IndustriALL reports that in the latest incident, on 6 February, child labourer Dharshini Balasubramani’s body was found in a hostel at Dollar Spinning Mills in Tamil Nadu.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

India: Unions call for action after deadly shipyard explosion
Shipyard unions have called for a thorough probe into a 13 February explosion that killed five workers and injured several others at Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL). The vessel on which the blast occurred is a drilling ship owned by India's biggest oil explorer, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).
New Indian Express. The Hindu. Deccan Chronicle. Asian Age. BBC News Online. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

USA: School unions call for prevention after gun tragedy
School unions in the US have called for action to prevent further gun deaths, after 17 people were killed and another 16 injured in a 13 February attack by an excluded former pupil. Randi Weingarten, president of the teaching union AFT, said that with 18 school shootings this year in the US, one had to wonder “when is enough enough?”, adding the union “will continue to fight to prevent gun violence from becoming the new normal in our schools.”
EI news release. AFT news release. NEA news release. The Pump Handle. Statement by President Donald Trump. Statement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and related speech. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

 Hazards news, 17 February 2018

Britain: Government ‘good work’ plan nowhere near good enough
Unions have said the government’s new plan for ‘Good Work’ is nowhere near good enough to tackle the menace of job insecurity and employment abuse. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Ministers need to stop making it harder for us to do our job and accept too that the super-charging of low-wage, insecure work can be directly traced to the destructive deregulatory approach of the last 40 years,” and Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, said the government’s response was “like trying to put out a forest fire with a water pistol.”
Good Work: A response to the Taylor Review of modern working practices, HM Government, 7 February 2018. ASLEF news release. GMB news release. Unite news release. Usdaw news release. STUC news release and briefing. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Hermes must ‘come clean’ over danger to couriers
Employment practices used by Hermes, which is forcing couriers who deliver on public highways to work long hours over 13 consecutive days consecutively, must now be considered a major public safety issue, the union GMB has said. GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “Forcing couriers who deliver on public highways to work over 13 days consecutively, and in a number of instances more than 12 hours a day, must now be considered a major public safety issue.”
GMB news release. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Firefighters win payouts after shiftwork shift
Members of the firefighters’ union FBU can apply for compensation after a fire authority imposed a new shift or ‘duty’ system on its employees, which requires periods on duty of 96 hours at a stretch. An Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruling means the FBU can pursue compensation claims for ‘injury to feelings’ for members who were forcibly displaced from their fire stations when the new working pattern was introduced.
FBU news release. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Firefighters' union 'horrified' at increase in fire deaths
A rise in the number of fires and fire deaths in England for the second year running has been described as ‘horrifying’ by the firefighters’ union FBU. Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “It isn’t complicated – the fire and rescue service is cut to the bone, and the result is more people dying in fires because crews can no longer respond promptly and in sufficient numbers to tackle fires professionally, quickly and effectively.”
FBU news release. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Unsafe ‘fish bowl’ windscreens scupper plans for new trains
ScotRail must ensure its new style trains are fit for purpose, train drivers’ union ASLEF has warned, saying that unless modifications are made to their ‘fish bowl’ windscreens, drivers will refuse to work them. Kevin Lindsay, ASLEF’s organiser in Scotland, said: “The windscreen is curved and, at night, is making drivers see two signals.”
ASLEF news release. BBC News Online. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Train split shows the need for train guards
Rail union RMT has called on Northern Rail to withdraw its threat to axe guards and to investigate cost-cutting maintenance after train carriages 'de-coupled' outside Leeds Station. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “What we do know is that there was a guard on board this service who was at the rear of the train with the full suite of safety competencies for exactly this kind of situation.”
RMT news release and related news release. Yorkshire Evening Post and related article. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: UNISON recognises top safety reps
UNISON health and safety reps “go beyond the call of duty,” general secretary Dave Prentis declared at the union’s Safety Rep of the Year awards. The public service union’s event also celebrated the positive difference 40 years of safety reps have made to ordinary people’s working lives.
UNISON news release. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: MPs launch inquiry into workplace harassment
MPs are to examine the use of non-disclosure agreements as part of an inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace. The Women and Equalities Committee will also investigate how to protect staff and make it easier for them to report abuse are among other issues that will be examined.
Women and Equalities Committee news release. BBC News Online. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Action on harassment in parliament ‘not enough’
Unite, which represents hundreds of MPs staff, has welcomed the 8 February publication of a report into tackling the bullying and harassment in parliament. Unite national officer Siobhan Endean said: “The working group has made real progress into starting to tackle the widespread bullying and harassment of parliamentary staff,” but she added: “While the working’s group remit did not include the recognition of trade unions, it is crucial to ensuring that members can receive assistance at an early stage and issues can be quickly and properly resolved, without workers feeling their working lives are a misery and feel forced to resign.”
Statement from Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom, Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy, Hansard, 8 February 2018. Unite news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Potentially lethal disease risks in UK bio labs     
Safety breaches at UK laboratories that handle harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi have spread infections to staff and exposed others to potentially lethal diseases, the Guardian has reported. The paper says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has investigated a series of mistakes over the past two years that led to scientists falling ill at specialist labs run by hospitals, private companies, and even Public Health England (PHE), the government agency charged with protecting and improving the nation’s health and well-being.
The Guardian. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Road works commissioner takes action after near miss
An incident where a worker on a Lanarkshire Council contract was almost hit by a car as he painted road markings without protection has triggered a £5,500 fine from the Scottish Road Works Commissioner. Road Works Commissioner Angus Carmichael said: “Road works carried out on behalf of the authority, by contractors, resulted in endangering road workers and the general public.”
Scottish Road Works Commissioner news release. The Scotsman. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Scaffolder crushed to death in front of his son
A construction firm and its subcontractor have been fined after a scaffolder was crushed to death on a Liverpool construction site. Liverpool Crown Court heard how Henry Jones, 67, was walking across the Redrow site in Knotty Ash when he was struck by a reversing dumper truck in a tragedy witnessed by his son, who was also working at the construction site.
Construction Enquirer. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Firm convicted after employee crushed by lorry
A Fife firm has been fined following the death of a mechanic, crushed under the wheels of a lorry. Robert Purvis Plant Hire was convicted of breaching health and safety legislation after the death of employee Ian Bratchie, 50.
The Courier. Central Fife Times. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Cambodia: Union action call after workplace faintings rise
Unions in Cambodia have called for more government action to protect workers’ health, after latest official figures showed a sharp rise in the number of garment workers fainting at work, with over 1,600 workers affected. Fa Saly, president of the National Trade Union Confederation, commented: “The government should thoroughly examine the fabric and surrounding environmental issues, especially the heat because it has gotten hot recently making it difficult for workers,” adding: “They are still eating insufficient food because wages are limited, which puts them at risk of fainting.”
Khmer Times. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Global: Report reveals the hidden cost of jewellery
Jewellery and watch companies need to do more to ensure their supply chains are free of human rights abuse, a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report has concluded. A total of 29 civil society groups and trade unions have joined the group in an appeal to the jewellery industry to improve its sourcing practices.
HRW news release and report, The hidden cost of jewelry: Human rights in supply chains and the responsibility of jewelry companies, February 2018. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Global: Horrific work pressures are causing suicides
Two recent worker suicides in the US and Canada have illustrated the potentially deadly impact of growing pressures and insecurity in modern workplaces. The tragedies follow recent reports from the UK, US, France and elsewhere highlighting large numbers of work-related suicides.
CBC News. NPR report. Daily Mail. Douglas Schifter’s facebook posting.
Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

USA: Biggest cluster ever of fatal coal miners' disease
US government scientists say they have identified the largest cluster of advanced black lung disease ever reported. In a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), epidemiologists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) confirm 416 cases of progressive massive fibrosis (PMF) or complicated black lung in three clinics treating coal miners in central Appalachia from 2013 to 2017.
NPR investigation and radio report. David J Blackley, Laura E Reynolds, Connie Short and others. Progressive massive fibrosis in coal miners from 3 clinics in Virginia, JAMA, volume 315, number 5, pages 500-501, 6 February 2018. The Pump Handle. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Hazards news, 10 February 2018

Britain: Sexual harassers can’t hide behind secrecy clauses
Non-disclosure agreements must not be used to prevent sexual harassment and other workplace abuses being exposed, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has said. “Scaring workers into staying silent cannot become common practice.”
The Guardian. Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, TUC, July 2016. Protection from sexual harassment, TUC, November 2017. It’s not OK: Sexual harassment at work is more blue collar than red carpet, special report, Hazards, December 2017. Hansard, 22 January 2018. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Union protection is ‘best antidote’ to sexual harassment
Unions play a crucial role in empowering workers to resist sexual harassment, London School of Economics (LSE) researchers have found. LSE professors Sarah Ashwin and Naila Kabeer found organisations working in partnership with local trade unions or worker representatives are more likely to succeed in addressing sexual harassment and violence.
LSE blog. Tufts Labor website. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: TUC alert on looming safety standard
A new international occupational health and safety (OHS) management standard which was heavily criticised by unions throughout the drafting process is due to be launched in March. The TUC says flaws in International Organisation for Standardisation’s (ISO) certifiable ISO45001 standard include the absence of rights to necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) without charge, to refuse dangerous work with protection from victimisation and to OHS training in work time, all of which are in International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards.
TUC facebook posting and briefing on the ISO standard. EHS Today. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Violence injuries in education shoot up
The number of serious injuries suffered by education staff in attacks has shot up by 24 per cent compared to five years ago, the union GMB has said. GMB national officer Karen Leonard said: “Throughout 2018 we will be asking schools to sign up to GMB’s code of conduct to ensure attacks on members, when they happen, are dealt with properly."
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Further rail safety action on ‘pig-headed’ South Western
Rail union RMT has confirmed that members working on South Western Railway will be taking further industrial action from 16 February in a dispute over safety, the role of the train guard and a roll out of driver-only operation. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is frankly disgraceful that South Western Railway point-blank refuse to engage with the union in meaningful talks over their plans to run trains without a safety-critical guard on board across this franchise.”
RMT news release. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Fire lessons not learned in new sprinkler-free schools
Ministers have been accused of a “shockingly cavalier” approach to fire safety after it emerged only just over a third of new schools have been fitted with sprinklers. The revelation has prompted union FBU and NEU to write to education secretary Damian Hinds to demand action.
NEU news release and NEU and FBU letter to Damian Hinds. Huffington Post. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Gig economy action not the ‘giant leap’ needed
The TUC has said the government action on gig worker rights is only ‘a baby step - when it needed to take a giant leap’, with 1.8 million workers left without key protections. It was commenting on the government’s Good Work plan, its response to last year's Taylor Review which recommended changes in conditions to reflect modern working practices.
Government news release. TUC news release. BBC News Online. Daily Express. The Guardian. More on the health and safety impacts of insecure work. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: DPD courier fined for seeing a doctor dies
A courier for the parcel giant DPD who was fined for attending a medical appointment to treat his diabetes collapsed and died of the disease. Don Lane, 53, from Christchurch in Dorset, missed appointments with specialists because he felt under pressure to cover his round and faced DPD’s £150 daily penalties if he did not find cover.
Bournemouth Echo. The Guardian. Daily Mail. The Independent. The Mirror. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Work secretary McVey resigns from Samaritans board
Work and Pensions secretary Esther McVey has resigned from the advisory board of the Samaritans after accusations of hypocrisy. While serving as minister for disabled people under David Cameron, McVey was accused of introducing benefit sanctions to force people with disabilities into work, a move unions and disability rights groups said was driving desperate people to suicide.
Morning Star. Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Government ‘failing to get a grip’ on teacher supply
The Department for Education (DfE) is under fire from MPs for ‘failing to get a grip’ on teacher retention in England, with excessive workload the top reason for the teacher haemorrhage. A Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report concluded the DfE does not have a coherent plan to tackle teacher retention and development.
PAC news release and report. NASUWT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Tata Steel fined £1.4m after crane crushes electrician
Tata Steel has been fined £1.4 million for its criminal safety failings nearly eight years after a crane crushed and killed an electrician at its Scunthorpe steel plant. Hull Crown Court heard how, on 23 April 2010, Thomas Standerline was examining a crane as part of his inspection duties as a maintenance electrician. While carrying out this work, an overhead crane travelled over the cage he was in, trapping and then crushing him.
Scunthorpe Telegraph. Construction Enquirer. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Skip hire company fined after lorry driver fatally crushed
A skip hire company has been fined after a lorry driver was fatally crushed between two vehicles. Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 4 November 2015, MAC Skip Hire Limited employee Beverley Upton was crushed between her lorry and the bucket of a shovel loader while it was being loaded.
HSE news release. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Hazards Campaign resources for 28 April
The national Hazards Campaign has produced new resources for International Workers’ Memorial Day, including commemorative purple ‘forget-me-knot’ ribbons, ‘union workplaces are safer workplaces’ car stickers, ‘organising for safety’ high-vis waistcoats and free posters. The campaign says safety reps can make use of the resources in preparing for their 28 April event.
Hazards Campaign 28 April 2018 resources. TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 campaign website and theme announcement in English, Spanish and French. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Canada: Court rules work injuries are a human rights issue
Canada’s highest court has ruled that a human rights duty to accommodate people with disabilities is applicable in the case of workplace injuries. The legal case was brought by public service union CUPE and injured workers’ groups in Ontario and Quebec.
Canadian Supreme Court ruling. CUPE news release. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Global: Media workers call for end to impunity as 82 die
At total of 82 journalists and media staff were killed doing their jobs in 2017, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has said. ‘Time to end impunity’, the global media union’s report, said the number of work-related killings of journalists fell to their lowest level in a decade, but added “the death toll in journalism remains unacceptably high.”
NUJ news release. IFJ news release and report, Time to end impunity: Journalists and media staff killed in 2017. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Global: New violence and harassment risks in digital technology  
Workers in ‘digitised’ working environments are facing new psychosocial risks and problems with work-related violence and harassment, a study for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found. University of Leicester business professor Phoebe Moore said: “This includes the ’gig economy’, automation practices and algorithmic management, people analytics, computerisation, wearable tracking. Overall, it’s about the use of big data and quantification to make selective, predictive and prescriptive decisions related to work, workers, and the workplace.”
ILO news release and report, The threat of physical and psychosocial violence and harassment in digitalized work, ILO ACTRAV, February 2018. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

USA: Hitech monitoring is getting under our skin
New technologies are being used to monitor employers’ behaviour at work – and potentially outside the workplace. Contract cleaners working for a property management company in the US are being required to upload a Labor Sync app to their personal mobile phones, which uses GPS to monitor both their whereabouts and working hours.
The Guardian. LaborSync app. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

USA: Poultry workers win campaign against speed up
Poultry workers in the United States have won an important victory after campaigning against an industry’s attempt to remove the maximum line speed. If the petition by the National Chicken Council to the Food Safety and Inspection service (FSIS) had been successful it would have reversed an Obama administration decision to limit the number of birds processed to 140 per minute, a ceiling designed to protect workers from strain injuries and other risks.
IUF news report. UFCW news release. RWDSU news release. Confined Space blog. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Hazards news, 3 February 2018

Britain: UK safety laws don’t meet international obligations
The UK’s health and safety laws are ‘not in conformity’ with its international legal obligations, a major review has concluded. The findings are particularly critical of the impact of a UK government move in 2015 that exempted many self-employed workers from the Health and Safety at Work Act.
TUC blog. European Committee of Social Rights news release and decision. European Social Charter. The Independent. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: One in five sites force men and women to share toilets
A union survey has found many construction workers are enduring ‘entirely inadequate’ toilets and washing facilities. The survey of over 3,500 Unite members working in the sector found that on nearly one in five sites (17 per cent) of men and women were forced to share toilet as there were no separate facilities for women workers.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Concern for shopworkers at another shoplifting rise
Retail union Usdaw has questioned whether police cuts are contributing to an increasing in crimes, including shoplifting. The union’s general secretary John Hannett was commenting after the Office for National Statistics revealed a 10 per cent increase in incidents of shoplifting recorded by the police in the year to September 2017.
Usdaw news release. Police recorded crimes in England and Wales for year ending September 2017, ONS, January 2018. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Violent crime payouts to shopworkers cut by half
The number of retail workers receiving criminal injury compensation after a violent crime at work has almost halved since the government introduced cost-cutting changes, research by Usdaw has found. The retail union said its analysis of the impact of restrictive changes in November 2012 to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) “show that applications for compensation by the union on behalf of members injured by a criminal have almost halved, down by 47.4 per cent.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Teaching assistants face daily violence in schools
Teaching assistances are facing daily verbal and physical abuse from pupils, GMB has said. The union, which represents more than a third of support staff, told the BBC Radio 5 Live programme it wants schools to adopt a code of conduct on handling pupil violence against staff.
BBC News Online and BBC 5 Live programme. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Sexual harassment is rife in hospitality, survey shows
Nine out of 10 hospitality workers have experienced sexual harassment at work, according to the preliminary finding of a new survey by Unite. The initial findings of the union’s #NotOnTheMenu survey reveal that of those respondents who had experienced sexual harassment, 56.3 per cent said that they had been targeted by a member of the public and 22.7 per cent said that they had been harassed by a manager.
Unite news release and #NotOnTheMenu survey. Financial Times. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Presidents Club exposes need for sexual harassment laws
The abuse of women hospitality workers at a glitzy men-only London charity dinner shows the need for stronger laws to protect workers from sexual harassment, unions Unite and Prospect have said. They were speaking out after the Presidents Club, which counted billionaires, celebrities and politicians among its high-society patrons, was forced to close down after an undercover journalist for the Financial Times reported how hostesses recruited by an agency were routinely groped and sexually harassed at the charity’s fundraising event.
Unite news release. Prospect blog. Financial Times. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Sexual harassment widespread in theatre industry
Almost a third of theatre professionals in the UK have been sexually harassed at work, according to a survey. The Stage magazine asked over 1,000 people working in the industry for their experiences, with 31 per cent saying they had suffered sexual harassment.
BECTU news release. The Stage. BBC News Online. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Employers urged to let staff 'rest' during working day
Workers should be given places to rest at work to help boost productivity, according to new official guidance. Downtime at work can help employees switch off and get better quality sleep at night, says Public Health England (PHE), adding better sleep maintains cognitive function in employees, as well as cutting health risks.
BBC News Online. Sleep and recovery: A toolkit for employers, Business in the Community in association with PHE, January 2018. Public Health England blog. HSE workplace fatigue webpage.
Fatigue - a guide for health and safety representatives, TUC, July 2016. Tired out: don’t take fatigue risks lying down, a Hazards guide, 2016. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Fracker’s catalogue of safety failings revealed
A catalogue of health and safety infringements has been revealed at Third Energy’s contentious fracking site in rural North Yorkshire. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection found out-dated equipment, inadequate provision of accident and emergency back-up, missing safety documents and lack of provision to deal with gas leaks.
Morning Star. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Cornish gangmaster shutdown for safety abuses
A Cornish gangmaster who systematically exploited her workers through skimming off their pay, sending them to work double shifts with insufficient breaks and charging them to live in unhygienic and unsafe caravans has been shut down by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA). Neringa Butkeviciute, 29, operated her business DNK Recruitment out of the Bosparva Caravan Park in Leedstown, Hayle, where she provided workers for jobs in the GLAA regulated sector.
GLAA news release. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Mother dismayed at son’s ‘accidental death’ verdict
The mother of a young man who was killed in a faulty lift while working in a Swansea pub says she is “totally disillusioned” with the inquest system after a verdict of “accidental death” was recorded. Bar worker Cyran Stewart, 20, was injured while working at a Walkabout pub in Swansea on 24 February 2014, dying in hospital four days later.
FACK news release. Morning Star. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Wind farm worker, 74, dies after being stranded in snow
A 74-year-old man has died after he became stranded in heavy snow while working on a wind farm in East Ayrshire, Scotland. The worker and a younger colleague were left without heat or power at Craigdarroch Farm in New Cumnock when power failed on Sunday 21 January.
BBC News Online. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Farmer gets conditional discharge after man electrocuted
Farmer David Heywood has been given a conditional discharge after a man was electrocuted when the arm of his lorry-mounted crane contacted overhead power lines. Manchester Crown Court heard how on 8 April 2016 self-employed tipper wagon driver Matthew Drummond had been in the process of unloading sand at Heaton Farm near Rochdale, when the incident took place.
HSE news release and guide to working safely near overhead electricity power lines. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Ireland: More than 2-in-5 report mistreatment at work
More than two out of five Irish workers have experienced mistreatment at work, despite most organisations having policies to prevent it, a study has found. Overall, 43 per cent said they have experienced ill-treatment, 47 per cent had witnessed it, and 6 per cent had experienced physical violence.
IOSH news release. Irish Examiner. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

USA: Pork line speed up puts greed before workers
The US food union has warned an official move to speed up pork processing lines puts greed before the health of workers. The union UFCW was speaking out after the US department of agriculture (USDA) announced a proposal to allow pork producers to run their slaughtering lines as fast as they want, in exchange for conducting their own privatised food safety inspections.
UFCW news release. NELP news release. The Pump Handle. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

USA: Las Vegas hotel housekeepers press for panic buttons
The union representing tens of thousands of hotel workers in Las Vegas is to ask casino-resort operators to give every housekeeper a “panic button” as it begins negotiating new contracts amid the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct. Leaders of the Culinary Union will bring the request to the bargaining table this month, on behalf of the more than 14,000 housekeepers who work on the Las Vegas Strip and the destination’s downtown area.
Culinary Workers Union Local 226. National Post.
Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, TUC, July 2016. Protection from sexual harassment, TUC, November 2017. It’s not OK: Sexual harassment at work is more blue collar than red carpet, special report, Hazards, December 2017. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Hazards news, 27 January 2018

Britain: Preventing suicide – the work connection
The TUC has produced a short guide on suicide prevention. According to TUC’s Hugh Robertson: “Unions do not expect their stewards and health and safety representatives to be trained counsellors but we often find that workers confide in their union representative when they have problems and just talking can be a great help. Also, by knowing what warning signs to look out for, sometimes you can make sure that they know where to get help.”
TUC blog. Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Great Jobs Agenda. More on work-related suicide. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Casual workers are more dissatisfied and more anxious
Casual workers experience more job dissatisfaction and anxiety than their permanent counterparts, a TUC study has concluded. The research also found casual staff were five times more likely to drop out of the labour market than those on permanent contracts.
Living on the edge: Experiencing workplace insecurity in the UK, written by the Work, Organisation and Employment Relations Research Centre at the University of Sheffield and by the University of Greenwich, TUC, January 2018 [full report]. TUC blog, related blog posting and Great Jobs Agenda. The Independent. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

HSE drops plans to cut asbestos medical checks
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has abandoned plans to reduce the period between medical examinations for asbestos workers after pressure from the TUC and unions including Unite and HSE inspectors’ union Prospect. Garry Graham, Prospect’s deputy general secretary commented: “Frequent medical checks for those engaged in the dangerous removal of asbestos from old buildings is vital to pick up any symptoms as early as possible,” adding: “We welcome the HSE seeing sense on this issue.”
Prospect news release. HSE consultation. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: New bid to protect retail workers from violence
A member of the Scottish parliament has launched a consultation on his plan for a new law to protect shop and bar workers from violence. Labour MSP Daniel Johnson is seeking views on a member’s bill to create new offences around the assault and abuse of workers who sell age-restricted items such as alcohol and cigarettes.
Usdaw news release. Not part of the job consultation website. BBC News Online. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Lives on Merseyside at risk from cuts to fire service cover
Lives are being put at risk in Merseyside because it will take firefighters far longer to arrive at emergencies due to a cut in the hours that fire engines are crewed, firefighters’ union FBU has said Kevin Hughes, brigade secretary of the FBU in Merseyside, said: “These dangerous cuts could cost lives,” adding: “It puts the public, as well as the firefighters themselves, at greater risk of serious injury or even worse.”
FBU news release. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Pilots welcome end to ‘nonsensical’ HIV medical rules
Pilots’ union BALPA has welcomed an announcement from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that will mean applicants with HIV who want to become a commercial pilot will no longer be barred from obtaining a licence. The union says this addresses an inconsistency in the rules that meant those who develop the condition after getting a medical certificate or their licence, are allowed to continue their career, whereas new applicants with HIV were turned away.
BALPA news release. CAA announcement. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Staff safety fears at Wrexham super-prison
Staff at Wrexham's £250m super-prison have claimed it is unsafe, less than 12 months after it opened. The Prison Officers Association (POA) told BBC Wales a “culture of fear” existed among staff at HMP Berwyn.
POA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Survey drone hits crane on construction site
Hopes that drones will become an important safety inspection tool capable of scrutinising otherwise inaccessible locations suffered a setback. A newly published report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) gave details of an incident last summer when a drone fitted with a Go Pro camera hit a crane on a site in Kent.
AAIB report. Construction Enquirer. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Leaked ledgers confirm Carillion’s blacklisting
Failed construction giant Carillion was a major supporter of an illegal blacklisting outfit that targeted safety activists and trade union reps, leaked documents have confirmed. This month the Canary obtained the Consulting Association’s entire set of ledgers, which confirmed Carillion’s routine payments for data from the Consulting Association files.
The Canary. The Metro. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Construction company fined after worker killed
A construction company has been fined after an employee died after falling over six metres. Plymouth Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee of C&R Construction (SW) Ltd suffered fatal injuries in the preventable incident after falling while installing roof sheets on a new agricultural building; the victim is identified in the HSE fatalities listing as Neil Phillips, 45.
HSE news release and workplace fatalities listing 2016/17. HSE news release on maintenance of agricultural buildings. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Gas storage firm fined after 13 exposed to asbestos
The operator of a natural gas storage facility has been sentenced after 13 employees and contractors were exposed to asbestos fibres. SSE Hornsea Ltd pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,731.
HSE news release. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Refurb job led to asbestos exposures on site
The principal contractor and site manager of a construction site in Derby city centre have been sentenced after workers were exposed to asbestos during refurbishment work. M&S Developments (Bemrose Court) Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,336; Kynersley Management Services Limited was fined £20,000 plus costs of £1,531.66; and site manager Adam Campbell was given a community order to carry out 120 hours unpaid work and told to pay costs of £1,531.66.
HSE news release. Derby Telegraph. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Global: ITUC announces International Workers' Memorial Day theme
Global union confederation ITUC has announced its worldwide theme for International Workers' Memorial Day, 28 April 2018. The ‘Organised workplaces are safer workplaces’ theme echoes the UK and ETUC themes announced earlier, with ITUC saying variants on the tagline could include ‘Unions make workplaces safer and healthier’ and ‘Union organisation saves lives’.
ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 campaign website and theme announcement in English, Spanish and French. ITUC is asking tweeters to use the hashtag #iwmd18 for their 28 April 2018 tweets.
TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Australia: Minister recommends electric shocks for truck drivers
The roads minister in the Australian state of New South Wales, Melinda Pavey, has been slammed after suggesting truck drivers could be zapped with electric shocks to reduce the carnage on the roads. The Transport Workers Union slammed her “offensive” suggestion as “heartless, arrogant and completely incompetent”.
The New Daily. Daily Liberal. The Morning Bulletin. Big Rigs. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Canada: Rail workers cleared over Lac-Megantic disaster
A Canadian jury has found three former rail workers not guilty of criminal negligence for their connection to the Lac-Megantic disaster five years ago. On 6 July 2013, a runaway train filled with petroleum crude oil derailed in the small eastern Quebec town; forty-seven people were killed in the tragedy and much of Lac-Megantic's downtown was destroyed.
Montreal Gazette. Vancouver Sun. CBC News. Confined Space. BBC News Online. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Global: Unions win US$2.3m Bangladesh factory payout
Trade unions representing Bangladeshi textile workers have reached a US$2.3m (£1.6m) settlement with a multinational fashion brand accused of postponing the process of fixing life-threatening hazards in factories. The fashion brand, which cannot be named under the terms of the agreement, will pay $2m to fix safety issues in more than 150 textile factories in Bangladesh and a further $300,000 towards improving pay and conditions for workers in global clothing supply chains.
IndustriALL news release and signatories to the 2108 Bangladesh Accord. UNI news release. War on Want news release. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Pakistan: Unions blame criminal neglect for workers’ deaths
Criminal negligence by government watchdogs and the refusal of employers to provide health and safety measures are killing workers, labour rights campaigners in Pakistan have said. Addressing a demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club, Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), said: “According to the International Labour Organisation, around 2.3 million workers are killed annually at workplaces across the world,” adding: “If the situation here is not improved then it would be no wonder that Pakistan may top that list.”
Daily Times. The International News. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

USA: California passes hotel housekeeper injury rules
California’s workplace health and safety regulator has voted unanimously to introduce new rules to reduce the injuries commonly experienced by hotel housekeepers. Cal/OSHA approved the ‘Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention’ standard, which had been promoted by the union Unite Here, at a meeting attended by hotel housekeepers from across the state.
Unite Here news release and new California standard on Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention. IUF news release. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Hazards news, 20 January 2018

Britain: Flu jab is not the answer to the health service crisis
A shortage of staff and lack of funding is the real threat to the NHS, not too few staff getting the flu jab, health service union UNISON has said. Commenting after the government’s top medical advisers indicated the flu jab should be compulsory for NHS staff, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “It’s important not to lose sight of the real threat to the NHS. It isn’t flu, but the shortage of staff and the lack of funding.”
UNISON news release. Department of Health and Social Care news release and CMO/NHS England letter. NHS flu fighter campaign. BBC News Online. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Esther McVey 'deeply unsuitable' to hold safety brief
The prime minister should reconsider the appointment of Esther McVey as work and pensions secretary, the GMB has said. The cabinet position gives McVey ultimate responsibility for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and work and health, but GMB says when McVey was the employment minister in charge of HSE in 2013, she was ‘unceremoniously stripped’ of this responsibility after it emerged she had been the director of a now-defunct demolition firm run by her father, JG McVey and Co, which was served with two prohibition notices for criminal health and safety breaches.
GMB news release. Prime minister’s office news release. DWP webpage. The Guardian. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: RMT hits out at latest North Sea decommissioning ‘scandal’
Offshore energy union RMT has raised concerns over the North Sea decommissioning industry, following the cash sale of three semi-submersible drilling platforms to a company that transports offshore oil and gas infrastructure to be scrapped in India and Bangladesh. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said sending the rigs to Asia was “a continuation of the disgraceful practice of dumping ships and oil and gas infrastructure on South Asian beaches, where workers are regularly killed and injured in highly dangerous and poorly protected conditions.”
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Stressed-out Anglican priests turn to unions
The unremitting demands placed on Church of England priests is leading increasing numbers to turn to unions for support. Faced with demanding congregations, rarely being off duty, piles of paperwork and disciplinary procedures they often feel are unfair, almost 1,500 priests plus a few rabbis and imams joined the Unite’s clergy branch last year — an increase of 16 per cent in 12 months.
Religion News Service. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Government ‘bung’ stops safety dispute resolution
Rail union RMT says the government has been caught red-handed ‘bunging’ Southern Rail £22 million of taxpayers’ money to keep a rail safety dispute running. The total, revealed in a 8 January parliamentary answer, equates to operator GTR’s lost revenue related to the dispute - this sum is underwritten by the public purse.
RMT news release. NAO news release. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: London fire deaths soar as cuts bite
Firefighters’ union FBU has said its members in London are ‘deeply upset and angry’ after hearing that the number of people killed in fires has risen sharply in the capital. Paul Embery, FBU executive council member for London, said: “This disturbing increase has happened at a time when over a thousand frontline firefighter posts have been ditched, 10 fire stations closed, and specialist rescue equipment and fire engines have been removed from service.”
FBU news release. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Shopworkers challenge attack on injured workers
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is urging the government to drop plans to restrict access to justice for victims of workplace injuries and diseases. The union’s evidence this week to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee argued vulnerable workers would lose out under the proposed government reforms to personal injury cases.
Usdaw news release. Justice Committee hearing. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Reminder of the need to protect aviation safety culture
Ten years after British pilots averted a major catastrophe when their the Speedbird 38 aircraft lost all engine power on its approach to Heathrow, pilots are highlighting the importance of thorough crash investigation. Their union, the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), says that had the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) not been given the time and support to carry out a painstaking investigation, we would never have known the cause of the crash or learnt the lessons that have made flights safer in its wake.
BALPA news release. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Stop bosses exploiting migrant labour
The TUC has called on the government to stop bosses exploiting migrant labour. Responding to a 15 January report on migration from the Home Affairs Committee, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government must work with unions to crack down on employers who use migrants to undercut local labour.”
Home Affairs select committee news release. TUC news release. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Dog handler fitness test was discriminatory
Female police officer Kim-Louise Carter, 31, who completed successfully a gruelling three-and-a-half-hour assault course but who failed the dog handler test because she could not then carry her animal 100 metres has been awarded nearly £15,000 compensation for sexual discrimination. The panel of judges at an employment tribunal in Worle, near Weston-super-Mare, found candidates were unfairly punished and automatically failed the test if they could not complete the “dog carry”, even though a pass mark of 70 per cent should have been applied across the test.
Somerset Live. The Sun. Daily Mail. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: BP takes another £1.2bn hit from Deepwater Horizon
British oil multinational BP has said it will book another US$1.7 billion (£1.2 billion) charge from the deadly Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in 2010 as part of its financial settlement. But the group said despite the fourth-quarter payout, which takes the total cost of the disaster to US$65 billion (£47 billion), the lengthy settlement process for the mammoth claims related to the spill is now winding down.
BP news release. The Courier. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Fatigue is bad for doctors and patients
Lack of sleep resulting from long hours and excessive workloads is jeopardising patient safety and doctors’ health, the doctors’ organisation BMA has warned. A report produced by the association has highlighted how long and demanding hours coupled with frequent changes in rotas and insufficient recovery periods mean thousands of doctors are at heightened risk for sleep deprivation and fatigue, adding that inadequately rested doctors were at greater risk of making errors in patient care as well as occupational hazards such as needlestick injuries and road-traffic accidents.
BMA news release and full report. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Poundstretcher fined £1m for health and safety failures
Budget chain Poundstretcher has faced action by three local authorities for 24 criminal health and safety breaches across three of its stores. Judge Heatherington said the blame did not lie with local management, but with the “complacent attitude” revealed by how “senior management, often at director/company secretary level, dealt with requests for interview by enforcing authorities.”
Lewes District Council news release. Environmental Health News. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: What are you planning for Workers’ Memorial Day?
The TUC is going to start listing events for the 28 April 2018 Workers’ Memorial Day. The theme is “Unionised workplaces are safer workplaces.” The national union body is urging organisation to send details of all local, regional or national events to be included on the online listing. According to the TUC: “As Workers’ Memorial Day is on a Saturday this year it may be that some workplaces will aim to have the two-minutes’ silence or other event on Friday 27 April. However other events should still be scheduled for 28 April.”
TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of events to the TUC health and safety office. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

China: Apple factory suicide reignites concerns
A factory worker at a firm that produces Apple’s iPhones in China has died after jumping from a building, a labour rights organisation has said. China Labor Watch (CLW) said that Li Ming, 31, jumped to his death from a building in the city of Zhengzhou, in the east-central Chinese Henan province, where he had been working for Foxconn.
The Telegraph. Good Electronics. More on work-related suicides. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Colombia: Workers die in motorway bridge collapse
A motorway bridge under construction in Colombia has collapsed, killing at least nine workers and injuring several others. The bridge in Chirajara was to be part of a highway connecting the capital, Bogotá, with the city of Villavicencio.
The Times. BBC News Online. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Namibia: Union protests poor zinc mine safety
Hundreds of mineworkers have demonstrated against worsening health and safety standards at the Skorpion Zinc Mine, about 600km from Windhoek, the Namibian capital. The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) members are demanding improved communication on safety issues at the mine, which is owned by Vedanta Zinc International.
IndustriALL news release. The Namibian. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

USA: New landscape for work injury and illness tracking
US federal agencies should collaborate to improve injury and illness reporting, to account for a shift in the traditional workforce toward a ‘gig economy’ and to collect information on race and ethnicity to identify vulnerable worker populations, according to a new official report. The consensus report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine was developed by a committee of academic experts, regulators, a union representative and Scott Mugno, an employer representative who is now Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – the US federal safety agency.
Business Insurance. Confined Space blog. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Hazards news, 13 January 2018

Britain: Transport unions welcome clamp down on laser dangers
Transport unions have welcomed measures to tackle the sale of unsafe laser pointers, including new safeguards to stop high-powered lasers entering the country. The government has pledged additional support to local authority ports and borders teams to stop high-powered laser pointers entering the UK.
BEIS news release. ASLEF news release. BALPA news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Disabled DWP worker wins large unfair dismissal payout
A disabled member of PCS working in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), dismissed for non-disability related absences, has won her claim of unfair dismissal and discrimination. The member, who had worked for DWP for nearly four years, was awarded £110,165.14 in compensation plus 36 months pension contributions following her dismissal on 5 March 2016.
PCS news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Teacher recruits plummet due to high workloads and low pay
Low pay, excessive workloads and scrutiny and bureaucracy are behind a huge drop in teacher recruits, teaching union NEU has warned. The number of teacher training applications fell by a third from 19,330 in December 2016 to 12,820 in 2017, according to latest Ucas figures.
NEU news release. Morning Star. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: 'Epidemic’ of teacher stress leaves thousands on sick leave
Teaching union NEU has warned of an “epidemic of stress” as research revealed that 3,750 teachers in England were signed off on longterm sick leave last year because of pressure of work, anxiety and mental illness. Figures obtained through freedom of information requests show a 5 per cent rise on the year before, revealing that one in 83 teachers spent more than a month off work in 2016/17.
The Guardian. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Time to turn down the heat in the classroom
The Scottish government is being urged to establish a maximum acceptable temperature in Scotland’s schools. Teaching union EIS says the Scottish government should set a maximum temperature in schools, in the interest of the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff.
EIS news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: RMT demands action after ‘shocking’ cruise boat incident
Maritime union RMT has written to safety regulators and the cruise ship industry body demanding urgent action on lifeboat safety after a routine training exercise on a Bermuda-registered vessel almost ended in tragedy. Five people were hurt in the incident on the Carnival Cruises vessel MV Arcadia in the Azores on 6 January, one seriously.
RMT news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Shop worker murdered for enforcing the law
A 16-year-old boy who is alleged to have attacked a shop worker who refused to sell him cigarette papers has been arrested on suspicion of murder. DI Ian Lott, who is leading the investigation, said: “A man has lost his life for no reason other than trying to uphold the law.”
Metropolitan Police news release. The Guardian. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Scottish emergency services staff assaulted routinely
Attacks on emergency service workers in Scotland have reached a three-year high, according to new official figures. A total of 6,509 common assaults were recorded on police, fire and ambulance workers across Scotland in 2016/17, equivalent to more than 17 per day.
BBC News Online. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Safety warning on nano use in construction
Self-cleaning windows, very high strength concrete and thin, lightweight, super-efficient insulation are among the new construction materials using nanotechnology, and could carry significant risks, new research has suggested. Estimates suggest that by 2025 up to half of new building materials might contain nanomaterials.
IOSH news release and nanotech reports. Construction Enquirer. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Emotionally demanding work is stressing out GPs
The emotional impact of their daily workload and confrontational patients are among the key stressors for family doctors in England, a new study has found. The analysis of feedback from general practitioners (GPs), published in the online journal BMJ Open, reveals dysfunctional working relationships and unsupportive or bullying colleagues, combined with the fear of making mistakes, complaints, and inspections, are additional factors compounding this emotional labour effect.
Ruth Riley and others. What are the sources of stress and distress for general practitioners working in England?  A qualitative study, BMJ Open, 11 January 2018. doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017361 Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Survey exposes bullying of staff by MPs
Research by the BBC has found almost a quarter of staffers working for MPs have been bullied at Westminster, with 1-in-7 of all those responding saying they had suffered at the hands of the MP for whom they worked. The findings came in responses to a questionnaire sent by BBC 5 live to all staff publicly listed as working for MPs in parliament.
BBC News Online and related article. Updated ministerial code. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Civil engineering firm fined after death of employee
A civil engineering company has been sentenced for criminal safety breaches after father-of-three Darren Richardson suffered fatal crush injuries. Sheffield Crown Court heard that on 5 December 2014 RMB Contractors Ltd was laying a new concrete slab at Ballast Phoenix Ltd in Sheffield.
HSE news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Lost leg costs engineering firm just £8k
An engineering company has been fined £8,000 after its criminal safety failings cost a worker his leg. West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court heard how the Puma Engineering and Construction Limited employee was seriously injured when carrying out a lifting operation involving transporting and loading pipe spools onto a flatbed truck.
HSE news release and guidance, Safety in the storage and handling of steel and other metal stock. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Esther McVey is the new work secretary
Conservative MP Esther McVey has been named as the new work and pensions secretary in Theresa May’s mini-reshuffle, replacing David Gauke. Sarah Newton retains her role in the department as Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work.
Prime minister’s office news release. DWP webpage. BBC News Online. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Australia: Rise in truck deaths prompts union warning
A spike in fatal accidents involving trucks in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has prompted the transport union to call for the return of a road safety watchdog. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) said deaths were “out of control” and demanded something be done.
TWU news release. Daily Liberal. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Canada: Asbestos ban moves forward
Unions and campaigners have welcomed progress on Canada’s promised asbestos ban. The Canadian federal government had now published a draft law prohibiting the use, sale, import and export of asbestos and products containing the hazardous material.
CELA/CAUT news release. CBC News. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Global: Half of women journalists suffer violence at work
Almost one in two women journalists have suffered sexual harassment, psychological abuse, online trolling and others forms of gender-based violence (GBV) while working. Overall, 85 per cent say no or inadequate action has been taken against perpetrators and most workplaces do not even have a written policy to counter such abuses or provide a mechanism for reporting them.
IFJ news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Hazards news, 6 January 2017

Britain: The future of safety rep training
The TUC is developing exciting new ways to train its legions of union safety reps. Every health and safety representative recognises the benefit of good trade union training, says Jackie Williams of TUC Education, noting it is what gives reps the skills to do their lifesaving, life enhancing job and to keep a safe distance from the employer.
On course: The future of safety rep training, Jackie Williams, Hazards magazine, number 140, 2017. TUC Education website. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: A million more trains a year to run without guards
Rail union RMT has predicted that over a million more trains a year will run without safety critical guards on the five companies with whom the union is currently in dispute - Greater Anglia Railway, Merseyrail, Northern Rail, Southern Rail and South Western Railway.
RMT news release and new Unguarded: Keep the Guard campaign film. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Sellafield firm faces action over union rep’s dismissal
A civil engineering company working at the Sellafield nuclear site could face industrial action after firing a shop steward who raised serious safety concerns. DSD Construction, based in Carlisle, is undertaking work to enhance security at the nuclear reprocessing site at Sellafield.
Unite news release. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: CWU criticises lax dangerous dog sentences
Postal union CWU has questioned whether the police and the courts are ‘going soft on dog attack crimes’ after a succession of offenders faced no or little penalty after their dogs savaged postal workers. CWU head of safety Dave Joyce said: “Of course every case before the courts is different and it would be wrong to single just one instance, but this is now starting to look like a developing trend – it’s very worrying and it makes me wonder if the law is going soft on dog attacks suddenly at a time when attacks, including fatalities, are on the increase.”
CWU news release. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Pilot medical rules should be reviewed, says BALPA
British pilots’ union BALPA has called for a full review into medical restrictions for pilots, describing the current limitations as ‘outdated’. The union was speaking out after it was revealed in December 2017 that an aspiring pilot had been denied a job because of his HIV status.
BALPA news release and Class 1 Medical requirements on the CAA website. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Parliamentary harassment plan got good enough
A 21 December 2017 statement by leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom on progress by the working group on bullying and harassment in parliament reveals not enough progress has been made, unions have said. The statement commits parliament to a new independent complaints and grievance procedure.
Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy, Hansard, 21 December 2017. Unite news release. NUJ news release. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: ‘Alarming rise’ in teacher stress cases in Scotland
There has been a sharp rise in the number of work-related stress compensation cases among teaching staff in Scotland, the union EIS has said. EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the union had “observed an alarming rise in the number of cases of work-related stress illness and injury claims over the past few years.”
EIS news release. The Express. Sunday Post. The Scotsman. The Herald. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: UCU helps vindicate stressed-out college lecturer
An art lecturer driven to the verge of a breakdown by a succession of maddening management decisions has thanked her union UCU after she was ‘vindicated’ in court. Kate Rawnsley was bullied, shunted between successively worse classrooms, and then found her desk had been dumped in a skip, but her ‘cry for help’ emails to the college dean went ignored.
Unravelling: UCU helps vindicate stressed-out college lecturer, Hazards, number 140, December 2017. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Police drop probe into five Birmingham recycling plant deaths
West Midlands Police has ended its investigation into the deaths of five workers at a Birmingham metal recycling plant. The move takes the possibility of manslaughter charges off the table and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will now have ‘assumed primacy’ in the investigation into the 7 July 2016 tragedy.
HSE news release. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Report calls for criminal sanctions for blacklisters
There should be a public inquiry into the blacklisting scandal and there should be criminal sanctions on employers operating blacklists, a new report has recommended. The report from the independent think tank the Institute of Employment Rights comes eight years after the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found evidence that thousands of workers had been locked out of employment in the construction industry for highlighting dangerous working practices or being a member of a trade union.
IER news release and report, Blacklisting: The Need for a Public Inquiry, IER, December 2017. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Farm fined after 'easily preventable' electrocution
The owners of a farm have been ordered to pay almost £100,000 after a scrap metal collector was electrocuted when his crane hit overhead power lines. Edward Evans, 52, was killed as he attempted to collect broken lightweight metal cages by prior arrangement, from Holme Farm in Ince on 17 January 2015.
HSE news release. Chester Chronicle. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Companies fined after death of road worker
Two companies that admitted criminal health and safety breaches following the death of a Suffolk road worker have been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling nearly £2 million. Sentencing Kier Integrated Services and Ipswich-based Sean Hegarty Ltd, Judge Martyn Levett said the death of 34-year-old Aidan Gallagher in 2014 was “avoidable”.
HSE news release. Ipswich Star. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Canada: GE plant’s compo refusals get reversed
After a decades-long battle for compensation, the voices of ailing General Electric workers are finally being heard. Early indications are that around two-thirds of the previously denied occupational disease claims made by former employees at the GE plant in Peterborough, Ontario - one of Canada’s oldest industrial operations – are being overturned.
Toronto Star. Metro News. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Global: Russia coerces Sri Lanka to reverse asbestos ban
As the first phase of Sri Lanka’s chrysotile asbestos ban was about to take effect, top chrysotile exporter Russia blocked Sri Lankan tea imports to the country, leading international trade unions and health campaigners to condemn the ‘economic blackmail’. On 18 December 2017, Russia abruptly halted imports of tea from Sri Lanka, a serious blow to the Sri Lankan economy - just two days later the Sri Lankan government announced its decision to defer banning asbestos imports from Russia.
APHEDA news release. IBAS news release. ColumboPage. Sunday Times SL. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

USA: Silica court victory will protect millions
An industry challenge to a new occupational silica rule has been rejected in its entirety by a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals. Richard Trumka, president of the US national union federation AFL-CIO, said the court ruling was a ‘huge victory’ for working people, adding: “The court rejected industries’ arguments and directed the agency to further consider additional union safety recommendations.”
AFL-CIO news release. EHS Today. Courthouse News and court ruling. Risks 831. 6 January 2018



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