Hazards news, 27 June 2015
Britain: HSE replaces accountability with ‘experts’
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has appointed a new committee “to provide independent expert knowledge and advice on workplace health”, a move that unions had earlier warned would be “problematic”. TUC warned hand-picked HSE experts “may have no knowledge of what is actually happening in the workplace,” adding: “They are also, it has to be said, often reliant on the government, or bodies such as the HSE, for much of the funding for their work.”
HSE news release. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Korea: Union to sue FedEx over anthrax deliveries
A union in South Korea has accused global logistics firm FedEx of putting workers at risk of deadly anthrax infection. The Korean Public Service and Transport Workers' Union is considering legal action against FedEx Korea for the company's alleged failure to take safety measures in its delivery of live anthrax samples to a military lab in Korea from the United States.
Korea Times. Washington Post. BBC News Online. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Midwife suffered two work stress breakdowns
A former senior midwife suffered two breakdowns caused by stress at work. Royal College of Midwives (RCM) member Angela Jommo, 58, who worked for South London Healthcare NHS Trust, lost her job and felt forced into taking early retirement at the age of 55.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Stressed social workers face courts trauma
Heavy workloads are leaving more than nine in ten (90 per cent) social workers stressed and without enough time to prepare for court cases involving vulnerable children and families, according to a new report from UNISON. Half the social workers questioned (49 per cent) admitted they were not confident when appearing before a judge, with most concerned about the consequences of having their identity revealed in court.
UNISON news release. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Global: ITUC push for independent FIFA commission
The global union umbrella group ITUC is calling on national football associations to push for genuine reform of FIFA through the establishment of an independent commission. The union body says footballing authorities must not blithely accept that FIFA can suddenly reform itself under a leadership which has failed to end corruption after years of multi-million dollar scandals.
ITUC news release. Playfair Qatar. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Train firms in ‘lethal gamble’ on staffing
Train firms in the UK are laying plans for a national dispute as they seek to bulldoze through a ‘lethal gamble’ on driver only operation, the rail union RMT has said. The union says a report by a leading rail industry body funded by the train operating companies is advising rail bosses to plan for 10 days of industrial action to get rid of train guards and introduce driver only operation (DOO).
RMT news release. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Teachers say their classrooms gave them cancer
Teachers must be protected from the “scourge of asbestos” in UK schools, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has said. A report on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme last week noted that between 2003 and 2012, 224 people in Britain whose last occupation was recorded as “teaching professional” died of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.
BBC News Online and Victoria Derbyshire programme. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Canada: Union wants pay-before-you-pump forecourt law
Urgent action is needed to stop the ‘cash-and-dash’ fuel robberies from petrol stations that put forecourt workers at deadly risk, a Canadian union has said. The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is calling on Canada’s federal minister of labour, Dr Kellie Leitch, to use her position to encourage provinces nationwide to enact “pay-before-you-pump” legislation.
NUPGE news release. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Scottish inquiry into the quality of work
The social and health impact of work is to be investigated by a key committee of Scotland’s parliament. The “major inquiry” by the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee will investigate how employment and job quality has changed since the 2008 recession.
Scottish parliament Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee news release and call for evidence. BBC News Online. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Global: Ionising radiation cancer risk at low exposures
Prolonged exposure to low doses of ionising radiation can cause cancer in nuclear workers, a study has found. Research coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which looked at the exposures of over 300,000 nuclear workers in the UK, France and the US, found that protracted exposure to low doses of ionising radiation can cause the blood cancer leukaemia.
IARC news release. ITUC/Hazards cancer hazards website.
Klervi Leuraud and others. Ionising radiation and risk of death from leukaemia and lymphoma in radiation-monitored workers (INWORKS): an international cohort study, The Lancet Haematology, published online 21 June 2015. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Review links pesticides to cancer
Three pesticides that have been heavily used in both agricultural and non-agricultural applications have been linked to cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated the carcinogenicity of the insecticides lindane and DDT and the herbicide 2,4-D.
IARC news release. Dana Loomis and others. Carcinogenicity of lindane, DDT, and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, The Lancet Oncology, published online 22 June 2015. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: He can’t walk or talk but DWP says work
The Department for Work and Pensions has been accused of “humiliating” a man who cannot walk, talk or feed himself by repeatedly asking him to attend a jobcentre interview or face his benefits being stopped. Nick Gaskin, from Quorn in Leicestershire, was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) 16 years ago.
Leicester Mercury. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Manslaughter on Tory peer's estate
Fruit packing company manager Andrew Stocker has been convicted of the manslaughter of two employees who died after being instructed to retrieve apples from an oxygen-deprived storage unit without breathing apparatus. Scott Cain, 23, and Ashley Clarke, 24, were both found unconscious on top of crates of apples in a storage facility at the Blackmoor Estate owned by Conservative peer Lord Selborne, whose company pleaded guilty to three related criminal safety offences.
Daily Mirror. Daily Mail. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Technip UK Limited fined over death on vessel
A company has been fined following the death of rigger David Stephenson on the diving support vessel Wellservicer. Technip UK was fined £160,000 at Aberdeen Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to a breach of the Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessel (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1997.
MCA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Worker crushed to death under forklift truck
A Lincolnshire transport and storage firm has been handed a six figure fine after a father-of-two died when a metal frame being loaded onto a lorry trailer fell on top of him. Jonathan Newham, 52, of Skegness, died in hospital from head and chest crush injuries following the incident at George H Kime and Co Ltd on 10 July 2012.
HSE news release and lifting trucks advice. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Australia: FIFO report a first step to halting suicides
Unions in Australia have said they will push hard to ensure sweeping reforms to reduce the rate of suicide and self-harm among ‘Fly-In, Fly-Out’ (FIFO) workers are implemented across isolated mining worksites in Western Australia. Improved rosters, better accommodation and reliable communications with home are among changes proposed in ‘The impact of FIFO Work Practices on Mental Health’, the final report of a bipartisan WA Parliamentary Committee.
AMWU news release. Manufacturing Matters. WA Today. The Conversation. The Australian. ABC News. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Coach builder had a ‘reckless disregard’ for health
National bus and coach builder Alexander Dennis Ltd has been fined after it ignored multiple warnings about dangers to its workers’ health from overuse of hand-held power tools. For several years, the Edinburgh-based company failed persistently to heed expert advice, specialist reports and complaints from workers of pain, discomfort, numbness and whiteness in their fingers.
HSE news release. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Steel firm fined after teenager is injured
Site Hire Services Ltd has been fined for its criminal safety failings after a teenage apprentice had his leg broken when a large steel sheet fell on it. The firm was fined £6,000 with £2,232.98 costs.
HSE news release. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Four injured as roof trusses collapse
A Worcestershire firm has been sentenced for criminal safety failings after four workers were injured, one of them seriously, when a roof truss in a new extension collapsed triggering a domino effect collapse of other trusses. DP Designs Ltd was fined £24,000 plus costs of £1,106.15 after pleading guilty to two criminal safety offences.
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Britain: Will we survive five more years?
The latest issue of the workers’ health and safety magazine Hazards is out now. The magazine includes a punchy, campaign-focused ‘Will we survive five more years?’ poster, showing David Cameron’s bloody footprints as he returns to 10 Downing Street. Will we survive five more years? Hazards magazine, number 130, 2015. Subscribe and support the work of Hazards. Risks 708. 27 June 2015
Hazards news, 20 June 2015
Britain: Tribunal fees review must not be a ‘political stitch-up’
The TUC has welcomed the announcement of a government review into the impact of employment tribunal fees, but warned that it must not be a “political stitch-up”. Under the fees system, workers can be required to pay up to £1,200 for taking a tribunal complaint about issues including victimisation for workplace safety activities.
MoJ review and tribunal statistics. TUC news release. Prospect news release. Personnel Today. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Britain: Safety ballot at First Great Western
Rail firm First Great Western (FGW) could face industrial action if it fails to address job and safety concerns, the rail union RMT has warned. A ballot of the union’s members for strike action and action short of a strike was called after the introduction of new Hitachi Inter-City trains.
RMT news release. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Britain: BBC Scotland faces bullying action
Workers at BBC Scotland are considering industrial action in a dispute over the handling of grievance and bullying allegations against one of its most senior executives. BBC Scotland’s then head of news and current affairs, John Boothman, was taped in February by camerawoman Zoe MacDonald as he made a series of highly personal and critical remarks about her in a private conversation with a personnel manager.
The Guardian. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Britain: UNISON ‘sorely disappointed’ after safety rep sacking
A company’s decision to uphold the sacking of a UNISON representative after he raised serious safety concerns at work has ‘sorely disappointed’ the union. UNISON health and safety rep Robert O’Donnell was dismissed in May from his job at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC).
UNISON Scotland news release. Morning Star. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Britain: Picket over ‘safety’ sacking of conductor
Grimsby Labour MP Melanie Onn has lent her support to a Grimsby train conductor sacked following an incident with an antisocial young person who was behaving dangerously on the side of his train. The MP said there was a “sense of injustice” over the dismissal.
RMT picket photo. Grimsby Telegraph. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Britain: Deadly bosses evade justice, say campaigners
Firms guilty of deadly safety breaches too often escape with “just a slap on the wrist”, a union conference has heard. Hazards Campaign chair Hilda Palmer told the annual conference of the bakers’ union BFAWU in Southport that even firms guilty of deliberate acts of negligence that lead to deaths or serious injuries often receive small fines, adding that the Conservatives had made clear workplace safety was not a priority.
Morning Star. Safety reps and safety committees regulations ‘Brown book’. Hazards Campaign. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Britain: Lessons must be learned from teacher stabbing
A 14-year-old boy has been charged with attempted murder after a teacher was stabbed at a Bradford school. Vincent Uzomah, 50, was attacked at Dixons Kings Academy on 11 June.
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner news release. West Yorkshire Police news release. NASUWT news release. ATL news release. BBC News Online. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
[deadly bus] Britain: Recycling firm’s failings a ‘fatal combination’
A recycling company has been sentenced for serious criminal breaches after a worker was killed in an incident involving a six-tonne dumper truck. Ben Sewell, 30, was found lying on his back on a bank, a few metres behind the overturned dumper, on a sloping dirt track at Dittisham Recycling Centre in South Devon on 21 September 2012.
HSE news release and waste webpages. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Britain: Builder jailed for exposing workers to asbestos
A builder has been jailed for six months after exposing workers to asbestos while working at a commercial unit on a Welsh industrial estate. Brian Roberts and three men working with him were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos fibres while working in the unit on the Mochdre Business Park in Colwyn Bay around 11 September 2012.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Britain: Total fined over worker’s burns in molten sulphur
Total Lindsey Oil Refinery, one of Britain’s largest, has been fined after a worker suffered serious burns when he stepped into molten sulphur. Grimsby Magistrates heard that tanker driver Jack Vickers, 51, from Immingham, had just finished loading the dangerous substance into the vehicle and was attempting to detach the special loading lance from a loading arm when his foot went into the open lid and into the tanker.
HSE news release. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Britain: Legionella bug may have hastened patient’s death
Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been fined for failing to control legionella. The Trust, which runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court after a joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Sussex Police following the death of cancer patient Joan Rayment, 78, at the Royal Sussex on 9 November 2011 – eight days after she tested positive for the legionella bacteria antigen.
HSE news release. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Britain: Pet food firm in double gassing
A pet food manufacturer has been sentenced after exposing its employees to chlorine gas during cleaning of equipment at its plant in Nottinghamshire. Nottingham Magistrates’ Court heard employees of Sarval Limited were also exposed to hydrogen sulphide fumes at the same premises whilst clearing a blockage from another piece of equipment.
HSE news release. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Global: Union campaign on shipbreaking hazards
The global union IndustriALL has stepped up its campaign to improve safety standards in shipbreaking, the world's most dangerous job. It says the workers in this industry suffer precarious working conditions, lack training, and face serious hazards. IndustriALL says the industry “has a responsibility to provide, and workers have a right to expect, safe, healthy, clean and sustainable jobs.”
IndustriALL shipbreaking campaign. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
[deadly bus/young workers]
Global: Child labour in agriculture website
The International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture, a grouping that includes UN agencies and the global food and farming union IUF, has launched a website to bring together information and news on the elimination of child labour in the sector.
International Partnership for Cooperation on Child Labour in Agriculture website. Paving the way to decent work for young people, ILO, June 2015. IUF alert. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Canada: Manitoba gets presumptive stress law
The government of Manitoba in Canada is amending its Workers Compensation Act to recognise post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as an occupational disease. “This legislation would be unique in Canada and would truly support workers who experience a traumatic event or events in the workplace that lead to PTSD,” said provincial premier Greg Selinger, adding: “Under this new law, the Workers Compensation Board would presume their condition was caused by the job, making it much easier to access supports, treatment and compensation.”
Manitoba Premier’s news release. MfL news release. NUPGE news release. The Canadian Press. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
New Zealand: Disaster lessons are being lost
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has been told urgent reforms promised after a devastating mine disaster are being quickly discounted. Commenting after the ILO presentation, CTU president Helen Kelly said: “New Zealand is now falling behind international standards on health and safety because the National government is indulging the desire of some of our most dangerous employers to exclude workers from proper employee participation in health and safety.”
NZCTU news release. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
USA: Bigger union role follows heat deaths
Family members of two farm workers who died from suspected heat-related illnesses and a union have settled lawsuits against California on the condition that the state does more to ensure labourers are safe when temperatures rise. Under terms of the settlement, the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) has agreed to improve enforcement of newly improved safety regulations and to allow the United Farm Workers to play a watchdog role in the process.
Times Union. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
[deadly bus/asbestos] USA: Three years jail for illegal asbestos removal
A New Jersey man has been sentenced to three years in prison for using inmates from a halfway house to illegally remove asbestos from a former South Jersey hospital, causing the release of toxic dust and debris. Frank Rizzo, 57, who ran South Street Fillit Recycling, last year admitted using day labourers, including inmates from Clinton House in Trenton, to remove asbestos from the former Zurbrugg Memorial Hospital without a permit.
NJ Attorney General’s Office news release. New Jersey News. Risks 707. 20 June 2015
Hazards news, 13 June 2015
Global: G7 starts to address workplace safety
World leaders at June’s G7 Summit took a “huge step” on workplace safety, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting after a G7 leaders’ declaration on 8 June included a commitment to establish a workplace health and safety ‘Vision Zero Fund’ in cooperation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
G7 news report and G7 leaders’ declaration. TUC Stronger Unions blog. ITUC news release. ILO news release.
TUC call on G7 leaders to enforce labour rights in global supply chains. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Global: TUC welcome for overdue Rana Plaza payouts
The TUC has welcomed the announcement that the Rana Plaza Donors’ Trust Fund has finally met its compensation target of $30 million. This means that full compensation can be paid to the victims of the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in April 2013, which killed almost 1,200 workers and left hundreds more with serious injuries.
TUC news release. ILO statement. ITUC news release. Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Joint news release from global unions IndustriALL and UNI. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Britain: Union push for a Scottish Hazards Centre
Trade unions in Scotland are backing a new Scottish Hazards Centre and say it must be given the funds to enable it to undertake lifesaving work from its scheduled August 2015 launch date. STUC and trade unions say the much needed resource will provide advice, training and support services to Scottish workers and their families, to ensure health and safety issues are tackled before they cause debilitating illness or loss of life and limb. STUC news release. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Britain: Unite takes on toxic air cases
Seventeen former and serving cabin crew are planning legal action against British airlines saying they have been poisoned by contaminated cabin air. The cases are backed by the union Unite, which represents 20,000 flight staff.
BBC News Online. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Britain: Union rejects blacklisting pay offs
Blacklisted workers have rejected a “derisory” compensation offer from construction firms trying to head off embarrassing and potentially costly action in the courts. After a preliminary court hearing last month, leading up to the scheduled two-month trial set for May 2016, solicitors acting for major construction firms offered a group of 11 workers blacklisted for their union and site safety activities settlements ranging from £10,000 to £60,000, adding up to £415,000 in total.
Morning Star. The Guardian. Evening Times. LabourList. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Global: GMB warning on hormone disrupters
The union GMB has warned Europe’s lawmakers not to sacrifice safety regulations as part of on-going trade treaty negotiations with the US. It says the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty under discussion between the US and EU “could open the door to a range of chemicals linked to infertility and male reproductive dysfunctions, birth defects, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurobehavioural and learning disorders to be used across the EU.”
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Britain: UNISON warning on safe staffing guidance
The decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to suspend its work developing guidance on safe staffing levels in health care has been greeted with “deep concern” by UNISON. The union was speaking out after NHS England instructed NICE not to proceed with planned new activity in its well-regarded safe staffing programme.
UNISON news release. NICE news release. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Britain: Major fire risk at the UK’s first PFI hospital
Britain’s first NHS hospital financed and built by private capital is a “major” fire safety risk, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. An independent report commissioned by the NHS trust that manages the hospital found that fire proofing materials installed by the private company did not meet the required protection standard to allow for save evacuation and prevent a fire from spreading across the building.
FBU news release. The Independent. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Britain: Son fights for justice after dad’s clay cancer death
The son of a former clay dryer is appealing to his late father’s former colleagues in St Austell, Cornwall for information on the working conditions he endured. An inquest into the death of Walter Patton, 83, found that he died in February 2013 of bronchial pneumonia, pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer related to his employment.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release. Anyone with information on the working conditions at English Clays Lovering Pochin & Company or ECC International Limited/Imerys Minerals Limited should contact Alex Shorey on 0121 214 5493 or email Alex.Shorey@IrwinMitchell.com Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Warning! Sedentary work can kill you
Office workers should spend a minimum of two hours on their feet at work – building up to an ideal four hours – in order to avoid the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle, according to a study co-commissioned by Public Health England. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson responded: “It is true that sitting down to long can be bad for your health, but so is prolonged standing,” adding: “The ideal solution is to give workers control over how much they need to sit or stand.”
John Buckley and others. Consensus statement: The sedentary office: a growing case for change towards better health and productivity. Expert statement commissioned by Public Health England and the Active Working Community Interest Company, British Journal of Sports Medicine, published online 1 June 2015. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094618
London Evening Standard. The Guardian. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Britain: Companies produce the gift of ill-health
Work is negatively affecting the health and wellbeing of workers, causing unnecessary suffering and also leading to a substantial loss of productivity, a survey has found. The study of 2,000 full- and part-time UK workers, published in The ‘Health in the Workplace Report’ by gift card firm One4all Rewards, highlights the importance of employers making a conscious effort to look after the welfare of their workers.
Health in the Workplace Report. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Britain: Work experience turns out to be painful
A Maidstone company specialising in supplying agricultural machinery and motor vehicles has been fined after a teenager on paid work experience nearly lost the tips of his fingers in unguarded machinery. The injured young person, who was employed by Haynes Brothers Ltd, had been told to work alongside an experienced engineer to carry out a pre-delivery inspection of a new combine header unit at a company site in Great Chart, Ashford, Kent, when the incident happened on 16 July 2013.
HSE news release. Kent Online. Maidstone and Medway News. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Britain: Wood job leaves teen with severe hand injuries
A timber mouldings manufacturer in Rochdale has been fined after a young apprentice lost two fingers off his right hand while working on machinery. The 16-year-old was an apprentice with Dresser Mouldings (Rochdale) Limited and was working alongside an experienced colleague on a moulding machine when the incident happened on 23 July 2014.
HSE news release and machinery maintenance webpages. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Britain: Recycler guilty over young worker’s smashed arm
A Rotherham recycling firm has been sentenced after a 25-year-old worker had his arm broken in three places when it was drawn into unguarded machinery. Ryan Jackson also suffered a cracked shoulder blade and had a radial nerve shredded to the bone in the incident at the metal recycling company CF Booth Ltd on 4 December 2013.
HSE news release. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Britain: Private school firm fined after tree felling injuries
A company operating several private schools has been fined and a cleaning contractor given a suspended jail term after a man sustained permanent spinal injuries while felling a tree on school grounds in High Wycombe. Alpha Schools Limited, which had a revenue of £38.7m in the six months to the end of February 2015, was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 costs after pleading guilty to a criminal safety offence and Paolo Mule, 33, trading as P&X Complete Cleaning Services, was given an 18 month prison sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to pay £2,000 costs after pleading guilty to a criminal safety breach.
HSE news release. Bucks Free Press. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Global: Temp agencies accused of ‘false advertising’
Ciett, the global lobbying body for temporary labour agencies, has been accused of ‘false advertising’ after claiming the International Labour Organisation (ILO) supports the expansion of agency work. Global union federation IUF, which represents unions in the food and farming sectors, dismissed Ciett’s assertion that the growth in business for temporary employment agencies advances the ILO's “decent work” agenda.
IUF news report. Ciett news release. Background report prepared by the ILO. More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Global: Qatar risks losing the World Cup
The scandal engulfing FIFA should not just lead to reform of the famously corrupt football governing body, but should also deliver better warning conditions for those building the facilities for football’s greatest showcase, the global union ITUC has said. It said the announcement that FIFA president Sepp Blatter will step down gives hope to Qatar's migrant workforce that FIFA may finally come onto their side, but exposes Qatar to the possible loss of the 2022 World Cup if it fails to reform its labour laws in the coming months.
ITUC news release. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
India: Most e-waste workers suffer breathing problems
Over threequarters (76 per cent) of electronic waste workers in India suffer from respiratory ailments including breathing difficulties, irritation, coughing and choking due to improper safeguards at dismantling workshops, an industry study has found. Research by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) found many of the affected workers are children and become incapable of working by the time they reach 40 years of age.
Assocham news release. The Hindu. Risks 706. 13 June 2015
Hazards news, 6 June 2015
Britain: The trade agreement that threatens our safety
There is still time to tell your member of the European Parliament (MEP) that a major trade deal should not be allowed to undermine workers’ rights and safety, the TUC has said. The union body warned last year that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated between the European Commission and US government aims to reduce “barriers” to trade, a goal that puts hard-won rights to safe and decent work in jeopardy.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and update.
Tell your MEP to reject ISDS and reject the erosion of safety and employment rights. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Bangladesh: Justice is needed for Bangladesh workers
Murder charges filed over two years after the devastating Rana Plaza factory collapse won’t remedy the deadly flaws in Bangladesh’s labour rights and safety system, the TUC has said. The TUC was speaking out after Bangladeshi police formally filed murder charges against 41 people for the Rana Plaza factory collapse over two years ago that killed 1,138 workers, most of them women.
TUC news release. BBC News Online. Common Dreams.
Also see the International Trade Union Confederation’s March 2015 summary of the failures of the Bangladesh labour law to address violations of workers’ rights. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Britain: Are retired Tube trains heading for Wales?
Rail union RMT has called on rail chiefs to “come clean” after speculation that unsuitable old Tube trains were to be “dumped” on railway services across Wales. The union said any use of the refurbished Tube carriages would amount to a “cheapskate, rolling stock lash-up that raises both serious safety fears and a threat to the role of the guard.”
RMT news release. Wales Online. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Britain: RMT slams Boris for ignoring sex attack warnings
Rail union RMT has criticised London mayor Boris Johnson for ignoring union warnings about the dangers of Tube staffing cuts. The union was speaking out after Transport for London (TfL) figures released on 27 May revealed reported sex offences on London Underground have risen by 34.7 per cent in a year.
RMT news release. TfL news release. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Britain: Tanker reversed over waste water worker
A waste water worker from Cornwall has been awarded £9,500 after a tanker reversed into him, causing injuries to his neck and lower back. The incident happened at a sewage pumping station in Fowey, Cornwall, where South West Water was working alongside drainage company, Clearflow.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Britain: Union steps in after drop-off car crash
A father-of-three injured in a head-on car collision on a busy Cornish road has secured compensation with the backing of his union Unite. Nick Brancher’s car was hit by an oncoming car which careered from the other side of the A38 in Glynn Valley.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Britain: Council fined after a decade of asbestos neglect
A London council fined for its criminal failings on asbestos safety should listen more closely to its safety reps, a union has urged. UNISON reps on Waltham Forest Borough Council were speaking out after the local authority was fined for exposing members of staff and visiting contractors to the potentially lethal dangers of asbestos, which it knew to be present in the Town Hall basement.
UNISON Waltham Forest news release. HSE news release. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Britain: Thousands of police officers in asbestos exposure alert
Up to 30,000 police officers might have come into contact with asbestos at training facilities, the Metropolitan Police has said. The force confirmed it was examining a number of buildings used for firearms training between 1980 and 2007 and added it was in the process of contacting “a large number of officers” who might have been affected. Metropolitan Police news release. BBC News Online. The Mirror. The Independent. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Global: Low level solvent exposure linked to breast cancer
Women exposed to low levels of common organic solvents at work are 20 per cent more likely to develop breast cancer, a new study suggests. The authors say the study suggests that there may be an association between occupational exposure to aliphatic and aromatic solvents and the risk of breast cancer at the low levels of exposure experienced by women in their study.
DC Glass, J Heyworth, AK Thomson, S Peters C Saunders and L Fritschi. Occupational exposure to solvents and risk of breast cancer, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, published online ahead of print, 26 May 2015. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22478. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Britain: ‘Risk of death’ basement led to court
London construction company Darma Limited has been fined over £13,000 after an unannounced inspection from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found dangerous conditions on a basement excavation site.
HSE news release. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Britain: Paper shredder caused severe hand injuries
A UK multinational that specialises in destroying sensitive documents has been fined after an unsupervised new worker had his hand shredded in an inadequately guarded paper shredder. Shred-it Limited, which describes itself as an “information destruction partner” for business, appeared at High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court and was fined £18,000 with costs of £1,375 after admitting a criminal safety offence.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Britain: Paper company convicted after safety bypassed
A Swanley firm that makes paper products has been convicted of a safety crime after allowing workers to bypass interlocked guards on machinery, a practice that resulted in an employee trapping his hand. The Swan Mill Paper Company Ltd was aware that engineers would use interlock keys to override the guarding on machines for the purpose of diagnosing faults.
HSE news release and machinery safety webpages. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Britain: Migrant workers and health and safety
‘Safety of migrant workers: A TUC guide for union activists’ has been produced to assist union workplace representatives in their work with migrant workers and to help protect the health, safety and welfare of these workers. The online guide deals with issues including employment status, risk assessments, accident reporting, welfare and first aid, personnel protective equipment, information and training, enforcement and working with others.
TUC publication alert, migrant workers health and safety webpages and full guide, Safety of migrant workers: A TUC guide for union activists, June 2015. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Global: McJobs report documents global abuses
McDonald's fought a losing battle for years to keep 'McJobs' - generally defined as low-wage, insecure, dead-end work with no benefits - out of dictionaries. But global foodworkers’ union IUF and its North American affiliate SEIU says their new report, ‘McJobs: Low wages and low standards around the world’, should see “systematic rights abuses”, including safety abuses, added to the current definition.
IUF publication alert, and full publication: McJobs: Low wages and low standards around the world, IUF/SEIU, 2015. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Qatar: The human toll of FIFA’s corruption
The Washington Post has flipped the focus from the financial corruption gripping football’s global governing body, instead highlighting concerns about the considerable and deadly human price paid as a result of FIFA’s failings. “If FIFA board members did indeed accept bribes from Qatar to let it host the 2022 cup, it would show how backroom corruption can have widespread and fatal consequences,” it notes.
Washington Post. TUC Playfair Qatar campaign. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Japan: Government looks to eradicate overwork deaths
The government of Japan is seeking to use the law to eradicate deaths from overwork, or ‘karoshi’. A Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry panel has prepared an outline bill to promote measures to prevent these deaths.
Mainichi Japan. Japan Times. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
New Zealand: Concern at government backtracking on safety
Measures to improve New Zealand’s woeful workplace safety record after a 2010 mine disaster that killed 29 are already being diluted, with small businesses set to be exempted from some provisions, unions have warned. Unions are now concerned that the conservative National Party government is going to ditch from the Health and Safety Reform Bill a recommendation that there should be an empowered role for safety reps and safety committees in all workplaces.
NZCTU news release. EPMU news release. New Zealand Herald. 3News. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
USA: ‘Silent epidemic’ linked to work chemicals
Workplace chemical exposures are the eighth leading cause of death in the US, but the country lacks any prevention strategy, an advocacy group has warned. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) said these exposures are responsible for more than 40,000 premature deaths each year.
PEER news release and Worker right-to-know chemical exposure database. Risks 705. 6 June 2015
Hazards news, 30 May 2015
Global: World Cup campaign increases pressure on FIFA
A major campaign initiative last week by unions and others campaigners has already succeeding in increasing pressure on FIFA head Sepp Blatter over exploitative working conditions in Qatar. After two days of bad publicity and customers emailing their CEOs, VISA issued a public statement on its website, saying: “We have expressed our grave concern to FIFA and urge them to take all necessary actions to work with the appropriate authorities and organisations to remedy this situation and ensure the health and safety of all involved.”
TUC Touchstone blog and Playfair Qatar campaign. VISA public statement. Send an email to the key sponsors. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: Dying to Work campaign for the Midlands
Workers with terminal illnesses need employment protection and support, unions in the Midlands have said. A new Dying to Work campaign in the region was launched after unions highlighted a loophole in the law that allows firms to dispense with dying workers because of their illness.
TUC news release. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: College staff worn out by work
Working in further education has become increasingly stressful over the past six years with staff worn down by constant change, says a report for the union UCU has concluded. ‘Taking its toll: rising stress levels in further education’ used the Health and Safety Executive’s stress management indicators and found the proportion of staff who agreed or strongly agreed with the statement 'I find my job stressful' rose to 87 per cent in 2014, up from 78 per cent in 2012 and 74 per cent in 2008.
UCU news release. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: Stress blame is stressing us out
A stigma-busting, stress-tackling campaign by the union Prospect is aiming to encourage union reps to seek out preventive measures to tackle the top workplace health problem. Prospect safety specialist Sarah Page is highlighting the union’s initiative after research published by AXA PPP Healthcare in April found two-thirds of managers don’t believe stress, anxiety or depression warrant sick leave.
Prospect health and safety blog, ‘Stress, Stigma, Solutions’ campaign and good work webpages. AXA PPP Healthcare news release. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: Concern about the impact of working longer
Trades unions need to campaign for proper research into the impact of working longer according to physiotherapist Fiona Hall, with particular attention paid to the effect on women and people with disabilities. Addressing the TUC’s disabled workers conference in London, she said the increased state pension age means that employees will be obliged to work into their late 60s or even longer before they can afford to retire.
CSP news report. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: Offshore strike ballot set to go ahead
Offshore unions are set to ballot for industrial action after talks failed to resolve a dispute over changes to working patterns. GMB and Unite officials held further talks on 20 May over unilateral changes to working conditions for workers covered by the Offshore Contractors Agreement (OCA) in UK waters.
GMB news release. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: CBI’s Europe plans could be deadly, says GMB
Demands from the business lobby for European Union reform could see a return to a system that caused deadly disasters, the union GMB has warned. The union was responding to comments made by CBI president Sir Mike Rake at the business lobby group’s annual dinner last week.
GMB news release. CBI news release and related release and response to the Chancellor’s speech. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: Depressed workers need more help
People with depression need more support to stay in and to return to work, a new report has concluded. The paper from Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, ‘Symptoms of depression and their effects on employment’, considers the ways in which some of the symptoms associated with depression can affect an individual’s ability to remain in or to find work.
The Work Foundation news release and report, Symptoms of depression and their effects on employment. TUC report, Good practice in workplace mental health. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: BSG wants key role in undercover policing inquiry
The Blacklist Support Group (BSG) is applying to the Home Office for ‘core participant’ status in the Pitchford public inquiry into failures in undercover policing. The move follows claims in the book ‘Blacklisted’ by BSG secretary Dave Smith and investigative journalist Phil Chamberlain that undercover police officers spied on trade union activists from the construction industry and intelligence gathered was passed onto major construction firms.
Blacklist Blog. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: Skanska to require 360 vision on vehicles
Construction firm Skanska is to make it compulsory for all mobile construction machines on its sites to be fitted with 360 degree all-round visibility cameras. The firm says the new standard is being introduced to help reduce the risk of accidental contact between site operatives and plant, which the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says is one of the top fatality risks on construction sites.
Skanska news release and film. Construction Enquirer. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: Businessman jailed after roof fall death
A businessman in charge of converting an old mill has been jailed, and his father, the owner of the building, given a suspended jail sentence following an incident in which a worker died in a fall. Ivars Bahmanis, a 55-year-old Lithuanian national living and working in Blackburn, was involved in building work at the former canal works building when he fell nearly eight metres.
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: Fertiliser firm fined after worker crushed to death
A fertiliser company has been fined after one of its employees died when he became trapped in an agriculture spreader whilst carrying out maintenance. Kevin Alderton, 34, was working as a spreader operator for Bunn Fertiliser Limited in Seething, Norfolk, when the incident happened in February 2013.
HSE news release and agricultural machinery webpages. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: Medical firm in the dock over worker injuries
A medical equipment manufacturer has been fined after two workers were injured by dangerous parts of machinery in separate incidents at its premises in West Sussex. Welland Medical Ltd was prosecuted at Worthing Magistrates’ Court after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that both incidents occurred because of guarding failures on machines.
HSE news release. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Britain: Development firm guilty of repeated safety crimes
A development company has been sentenced for repeated criminal breaches of the Work at Height Regulations. Landrose Developments Limited was fined £16,000 with costs of £2,221, with HSE saying “this was a proactive prosecution for repeated work at height breaches on more than one site, without any adequate means to prevent persons, materials or objects falling and causing injury.”
HSE news release. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Australia: Truck drivers protest at retail chain HQ
Truck drivers and family members left devastated by truck crashes stormed the headquarters of major Australian retailer Coles in Melbourne to demand that the firm sign up to a safety charter to stop “carnage” on the roads. The group delivered shopping trollies of evidence to Coles chief executive John Durkan, which they said showed how the company’s contracting practices put pressure on truck drivers to drive faster, for longer, with over-loaded vehicles and in a stressed and tired state.
TWU news release. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Cambodia: Government to further weaken protections
Cambodia’s plans to further reduce its weak labour protections have come under attack from the international union movement. A series of new measures, being developed behind the scenes by the government, would further restrict rights for the country’s impoverished workforce.
ITUC news release. Letter from ITUC, IndustriALL and UNI to Cambodian prime minister HE Hun Sen. The Record. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Europe: EU drops pesticide laws at US say so
The European Union scrapped planned pesticide regulations under pressure from US officials over the controversial transatlantic trade deal TTIP, newly published documents have revealed. Documents obtained by the Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe show a visit from high-level officials from the US Mission to Europe and the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) in July 2013 convinced the EU to drop planned rules that could have led to the banning of 31 hazardous pesticides.
EU health policy on endocrine disruption collatoral damage in Commission health service SANTE's power play, PAN Europe. A toxic affair: How the chemical lobby blocked action on hormone disrupting chemicals, Corporate Europe Observatory. ChemSec news report. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
India: Yellow taxis call daytime heatwave curfew
Taxi drivers in Calcutta should not work during the hottest part of the day during a deadly heatwave, their union has said. The West Bengal Taxi Workers' Union is urging yellow taxi drivers to stay off the roads from 11am to 4pm until the weather becomes less oppressive.
Telegraph India. Risks 704. 30 May 2015
Hazards news, 23 May 2015
Britain: Don’t get hurt, get organised!
TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson says the union body “has made organising for health and safety central to our approach.” As well as TUC training courses and guides, the TUC points to examples of good practice where union investigations, negotiations and action have led to safer, healthier work.
What did you do to make work safer and healthier? Email your examples to TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson. TUC health and safety organisation webpages. TUC news release. The Guardian. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Britain: Cornered firms destroyed blacklisting evidence
There was stunned silence followed by audible gasps in the High Court last week when a barrister read out documentary evidence indicating that major firms had deliberately set out to destroy evidence of their complicity in a blacklisting conspiracy. Unions UNITE, UCATT and GMB and the law firm Guney, Clark and Ryan, acting for the Blacklist Support Group (BSG), are representing 581 blacklisted union members in group litigation against 40 of the UK’s largest construction firms, including Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Kier, Costain, Laing O’Rourke, Vinci, Skanska and Bam.
Blacklist blog. GMB news release. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Global: World Cup sponsors must act on Qatar abuses
Top global companies must pressure FIFA to act on the deadly and exploitative working conditions at the 2022 World Cup building sites in Qatar, unions have said. International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) leader Sharan Burrow said the work conditions were “simply slavery”.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and related story. Play Fair Qatar. Email the CEOs of these sponsor companies. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Britain: TUC calls for action on glyphosate
The TUC is calling for union safety reps to ensure workers are not exposed to a cancer-causing pesticide. A new briefing says because of the unquestionable risks posed by glyphosate, which can also cause short- and long-term skin, eye and respiratory problems and serious liver and kidney damage, it is “necessary to try to prevent any workers coming into contact with glyphosate.”
TUC glyphosate briefing. ACP news report. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Britain: School support staff face violence
With challenging behaviour from pupils on the increase, UNISON is urging the government to better protect school caretakers, cleaners, dinner ladies, classroom assistants and other support staff from violent attacks. A new UNISON guide, ‘Managing difficult behaviour in schools’, is intended “to give staff more confidence and practical help when dealing with difficult situations,” the union says.
UNISON news release. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Britain: Scots teachers left exposed to aggression
Teachers in Scotland are being left at risk of violence and aggression from pupils in the classroom, a teaching union has warned. The annual conference of NASUWT Scotland heard concerns that many teachers are being taught crisis management techniques for managing pupil behaviour, but is concerned this could leave teachers vulnerable to accusations of assault from pupils.
NASUWT news release. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Britain: Schools asbestos survey confirms union fears
Concerns about the standards of asbestos management in schools have been confirmed by a union survey. Just published findings of the online survey of a small sample of members of the teaching union NUT found 44 per cent of respondents had not been told whether their school contains asbestos.
NUT asbestos survey. The Guardian. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Britain: Airport parking transfer marred by bullying
The company that lost the parking contract at Gatwick airport is bullying and denying legal rights to the workers that will have to switch to the new provider, their union has said. GMB said that Sara O'Toole, the human resources manager with outgoing parking contractor APCOA Parking, “is largely responsible for the breakdown in industrial relations and for the needlessly poor workplace culture.”
GMB news release. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Britain: Road workers get UV beads as skin cancer risk alert
Road workers at highways specialist A-one+ are being handed strings of UV reactive beads to highlight sun exposure risks over the summer months. The solar beads are to be worn by road workers while working in the outdoors and change colour to warn of increased UV light levels; water bottles, sunscreen, fact sheets and posters are also being distributed to staff to raise awareness across the organisation.
Construction Enquirer. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Britain: Animal feed worker was buried in wheat
An animal feed company has been fined £80,000 after an employee died when he was buried under tonnes of wheat being unloaded from a lorry. Andrew Scott Harrold, 33, was working at Transpan (Scotland) Limited’s Tore Mill site in Inverness, when the incident happened in February 2011.
HSE news release and transport tipping guidance. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Britain: Trainee teen engineer electrocuted
An engineering company has pleaded guilty to criminal safety offences that led to the death of a teenage trainee design engineer. Nineteen-year-old Jake Herring was electrocuted while working for Grundfos Pumps Limited.
HSE news release and electrical safety webpages. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Britain: Lorry leaked corrosive liquid for miles
A lorry continued to leak corrosive potassium hydroxide for a further 12 miles after the concerned driver, who wanted the emergency services called out, was instead instructed to return to the depot. The jerricans toppled over whilst being transported from Whitman Laboratories Ltd, in Petersfield, Hampshire, to Belgium, by a driver working for Allport Cargo Services Ltd, on 30 March 2014.
HSE news release. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Britain: Hospital worker gets serious steam burns
Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (KGH) has been fined for its criminal safety failings after an employee received serious steam burns. On 5 November 2012, a maintenance worker at KGH was stripping down a steam boiler for periodic examination, when he received the serious steam burn injuries to the lower half of his body.
HSE news release and boiler safety guide. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Australia: Most work cancers go uncompensated
Less than 10 per cent of people diagnosed with occupational cancer in Australia get any compensation, a report has revealed. ‘Occupational Cancer Costs’, a new review of workers’ compensation claims undertaken by Cancer Council Australia, found an average of 395 claims a year were made nationwide for work-related cancers, resulting in payouts of Aus$30 million (£15m), but that was a fraction of those who could possibly apply.
Cancer Care Australia news release and report, Occupational Cancer Costs.
The Conversation. The West Australian. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Europe: Transatlantic treaty threatens chemical safety
Ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations could undermine Europe’s chemical safety laws, a coalition of chemical safety, environmental and cancer prevention organisations has warned. The groups are concerned that the European Union’s chemical safety regulations are being wrongly characterised as barriers to trade that must be weakened.
ChemSec news release and Joint NGO letter. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Global: Asbestos industry celebrates business as usual
Governments backing the asbestos industry have derailed attempts to require mandatory warnings on all its cancer-causing exports. Russia and Kazakhstan – the world’s biggest asbestos exporters – headed a group of just four governments that refused to allow chrysotile asbestos to be put on the Rotterdam Convention’s list of hazardous substances for which ‘prior informed consent’ is required by importers. RightOnCanada.ca. End asbestos website. International Chrysotile Association. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Philippines: Row over blame for deadly factory inferno
A prominent safety institute in the Philippines has challenged official safety assurances about conditions at a slipper and shoe factory where at least 72 workers died in a fire. The blaze swept thro ugh the Kentex Manufacturing Corporation factory in Valenzuela City on 13 May.
IOHSAD statement. Working in These Times. UFCW Canada news report. CNN Philippines. New York Times. Partido Manggagawa (PM) statement. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Hazards news, 16 May 2015
Britain: Don’t despair, organise!
The election of a Conservative government that signalled before the vote it intends further attacks on health and safety should spur unions to ‘support and develop’ union safety reps, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the TUC has an action plan, and “will be running campaigns on the issues that matter on the workplace.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog. DWP homepage. Tweeter? Check out the new #OHSforTories series by @hazardseditor. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Britain: Oil price hike should end offshore cuts
The recovering price of oil should bring an immediate end to the oil and gas industry’s ‘opportunistic’ campaign of job cuts and attacks on working conditions, offshore union Unite has said. The union call came in the wake of its consultative ballot which showed over 93 per cent support for industrial action among Unite members employed by firms in the Offshore Contractors Association (OCA).
Unite news release. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Britain: Groups demand ‘ethical’ public procurement
New public procurement rules in Scotland must tackle issues including blacklisting, zero hours contracts and climate change, according to a broad-based coalition. International development charities, environmental groups, voluntary organisations and trade unions are demanding that Scotland’s annual procurement spend of around £10 billion should promote key sustainable and ethical policy objectives.
Unite Scotland news release and the ‘Ten Asks’ document. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Britain: Green activists back blacklisted workers
A key blacklisting court case returned to the High Court this week, with 500 blacklisted workers taking on over 40 of the UK’s largest construction companies. The group litigation brings together cases backed by unions and the Blacklist Support Group, and is being backed by environmental activists who were on a parallel ‘greenlist’.
Blacklist blog. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Britain: Rail union warning on night Tube risks
Boris Johnson’s plan to recruit a student army to help run the new night Tube service could leave these young part-timers and the public at risk, rail union TSSA has warned. The London mayor and newly elected Tory MP was strongly criticised by the union over his plans to recruit up to 200 students to cope with the big crowds using the Tube on Friday and Saturday nights.
TSSA news release. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Britain: Van driver’s fall cost him his job
A delivery driver who suffered head and shoulder injuries after falling from a work vehicle ended up losing his job as a result. The 66-year-old Unite member has received a £75,000 payout after he suffered a head injury and damaged his left shoulder when he fell backwards from a seven-tonne van at a delivery depot.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Britain: Paper mill worker gets recurring nasal cancer
A man cured of a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to wood dust at work has been compensated – and can go back to the courts if the cancer returns. The 63-year-old, whose name has not been released, was diagnosed with nasal cancer in August 2010 after being exposed to wood dust while working at a Stora Enso Newton Kyme Limited paper and wood mill from 1973 until 2002.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Global: Safer chemicals bring more business and jobs
The worldwide market for safer chemicals has a growth rate massively superior to conventional chemicals, brings fewer risks and leads to substantially more jobs, a new report has concluded. The report, commissioned by the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and the Lowell University-based Green Chemistry and Commerce Council found the market for safer chemicals is estimated to have 24 times the growth of the conventional chemicals market worldwide, from 2011 to 2020.
ASBC news release. Making the business and economic case for safer chemistry, Report for the American Sustainable Business Council and Green Chemistry and Commerce Council Prepared by Trucost, April 2015. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Britain: Steel firm fined over death at foundry
A steel foundry has been sentenced after a South Yorkshire worker was killed when he was struck in the face by a shard from an abrasive disc that exploded from a hand-held grinding machine. Stuart Stead, 49, was using the grinder while working on a casting at HI Quality Steel Castings Ltd in Sheffield, on 7 March 2012.
HSE news release. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Britain: Six figure fine for food firm after worker electrocuted
A fresh produce manufacturer with a multimillion pound turnover and that supplies food giants including McDonalds and Pret a Manger has been fined for its role in the electrocution of a worker. Chichester Crown Court was told that Bradley Watts, a 21-year-old sub-contractor, was lagging pipes in the loft space of Natures Ways Foods premises in Chichester, on 2 June 2011.
HSE news release. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Britain: Opiate maker caused job ending dermatitis
Edinburgh pharmaceutical firm Macfarlan Smith Limited failed to protect an employee from hazardous substances, which led to him developing allergic dermatitis and losing his job. The manufacturer of opiates and other controlled drugs, and which is part of the giant Johnson Matthey group, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court and was fined £27,000 after pleading guilty to a criminal safety offence.
HSE news release and dermatitis webpages. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Britain: Famous food firm fined for finger failings
A world-famous food producer has been fined £6,000 after admitting to criminal health and safety failings which left an employee without full use of his hand. Kayode Ogundele had been employed by Baxters Food Group at its Fochabers plant between October 2012 and February 2014 when he was injured in an “entirely avoidable” incident, Elgin Sheriff Court heard.
HSE news release and food manufacturing webpages. Press and Journal. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Britain: National Hazards Conference, Stoke, 4-6 September 2015
It’s time to book your place at the National Hazards Conference, the once a year chance to meet safety reps, exchange ideas and get inspired. The conference organised by the Hazards Campaign has the theme ‘Safety reps: Reclaiming the health and safety agenda’, and will have top headline speakers and workshops that will give you the knowledge and tools to make workplaces safer and healthier.
National Hazards Conference, 4-6 September 2015, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent. Sponsorship appeal and Booking form. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Global: Workers’ guide to health and safety
Workplace disasters, from Piper Alpha to Pike River to Rana Plaza, remind us periodically that health and safety tragedies have common causes wherever you live and work. But a new book recognises that they also have common remedies, based around the informed and empowered role of workers.
For further details and sample chapters, see: Workers’ Guide to Health and Safety, Hesperian, May 2015. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Global: Mineworkers confront Rio Tinto over casualisation
Mineworkers have confronted Rio Tinto over casualisation of coal mining jobs and its dangerous impact on mine safety. Speaking ahead of the global mining giant’s AGM in Perth, Australia, Andrew Vickers of the Australian mining and energy union CFMEU said that insecure work arrangements were a troubling feature of Rio Tinto’s mining operations worldwide and were “a disaster for mine safety.”
CFMEU news release. Mining Australia. More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Global: Dumping e-waste is a costly and deadly crime
Up to 90 per cent of the world’s electronic waste, worth nearly US $19 billion, is illegally traded or dumped each year, according to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The UN body says discarded electronics are recycled in conditions that are hazardous to health, and typically lead to subsequent dumping of the majority of the waste, addding that promoting safe recycling is vital to a better waste management.
UNEP news release and full report, Waste crimes, waste risks: Gaps and challenges in the waste sector. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
USA: Higher nurse-to-patient ratios are good for nurses
A Californian law requiring higher nurse-to-patient ratios is not just good for patient care, it dramatically reduces the injury risk to the nurses themselves. California is the only US state with a law governing minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. Paul Leigh, from the medical school at the University of California Davis, said: “We found that the law was associated with 55.57 fewer occupational injuries and illnesses per 10,000 registered nurses (RNs) per year, a value 32 per cent lower than the expected rate without the law based on injury and illness rates before the law was enacted.”
NIOSH science blog. J Paul Leigh, Carrie A Markis, Ana-Maria Iosif, Patrick S Romano.
California’s nurse-to-patient ratio law and occupational injury, International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, volume 88, issue 4, pages 477-484, May 2015. Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
USA: New rules to govern poisonous nail salons
A growing body of medical research is linking the chemicals found in nail and beauty products to serious health problems affecting salon workers, a recognition that has led New York governor Andrew Cuomo to order new health and safety regulations. The action came after news reports revealed that while clients may be in and out of a nail salon within an hour, manicurists handle the hazardous chemicals and breathe their fumes for hours on end, day after day.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo news release. New York Times and follow-up story.Risks 702. 16 May 2015.
Hazards news, 9 May 2015
Britain: Stickers on a hat don’t make sites safe
Multinational waste firm SITA Sembcorp UK is putting the largely migrant workforce constructing a Teesside facility at risk, the union GMB has said. Minutes of an April 2015 site safety meeting obtained by the union stipulate: “English speaking stickers to be applied to relevant hats”, adding: “Confirmation of 1 in 10… English speakers assigned to each working party.”
GMB news release. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
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: Terminally ill workers can be sacked, OK?
Terminally ill workers need greater protection from heartless employers who are utilising a loophole in the law to dismiss the dying due to their illness, according to the communications union CWU. Delegates to the union’s annual conference heard the loophole stems from the fact that the terminally ill are not classified as having a 'Protected Characteristic' as defined by the Equality Act.
CWU news release. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
Britain: Nationwide impact for 28 April campaign
In over 50 towns and cities and hundreds of workplaces people commemorated International Workers’ Memorial Day, the TUC has said.
TUC facebook health and safety page. Morning Star. TUC News Release on Workers Memorial Day and UK 28 April events listing. ITUC/Hazards global 28 April events, news and resources webpages. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
Britain: Contractor fined for potential asbestos risk
A restaurant leaseholder has been sentenced after illegally removing asbestos from the building during refurbishment work. Aman Ullah was in control of construction work which included the removal of asbestos insulation board soffits from the premises.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
Britain: Asbestos cancers highlight education risks
Recent reports of asbestos cancers in education workers have highlighted the potentially deadly risks in the sector. An inquest last month ruled that the mesothelioma that killed former psychology lecturer Gwyneth Bonnet was an industrial disease; former music teacher Julia Popple, who died aged 54 from mesothelioma, secured a £450,000 compensation settlement last month; and retired teacher Penny Devaney was reported to have developed mesothelioma.
9 Gough Square news release. North Wales Chronicle. Daily Mirror. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
Britain: UN warning on asbestos risk in Europe
One in three people in Europe are at risk from asbestos exposures, with the deadly fibre claiming thousands of lives each year, a United Nations (UN) report has warned. A high-level meeting on environment and health in Europe on 30 April ended with an urgent appeal to all European countries to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.
WHO Europe news release and mesothelioma costs table. United Nations news release. WHO guidelines on elimination of asbestos related diseases. Cancerhazards.org. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
Britain: Pirelli guilty after factory worker’s oven death
Tyre manufacturer Pirelli has been fined £150,000 after an employee died when he became trapped in an industrial autoclave for more than two hours. George Falder was found dead at the Carlisle factory on 30 September 2012 in a machine used to heat parts of tyres to temperatures of up to 145 degrees Celsius.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages. BBC News Online. News and Star. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
Britain: Council fined after worker thrown from tractor
Bristol City Council has been fined for its criminal safety failings after a park keeper suffered serious injuries when she was thrown from a tractor as it overturned. The 51-year-old worker, who doesn’t wish to be named, broke her pelvis and badly damaged an Achilles tendon in the incident and remained off work for a year but has since returned and is undertaking an office job.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
Global: Gold mining causes deadly diseases
The deadly risks posed by silica exposures in gold mines are particularly pronounced in small-scale operations, a new study has found. Research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, which looked at conditions in Tanzania, revealed that exposures to silica are more than two hundred times greater in small-scale artisanal mines than in larger mines.
Perry Gottesfeld, Damian Andrew and Jeffrey Dalhoff. Silica exposures in
artisanal small-scale gold mining in Tanzania and implications for Tuberculosis prevention, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, published online April 2015. DOI: 10.1080/15459624.2015.1029617. Occupational Knowledge International. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
Global: IFJ denounces the deadly war on journalism
Journalism is under attack through repressive press laws, arbitrary detention as well as killings, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has said. Speaking out ahead of World Press Freedom Day on Sunday 3 May, the global union urged the international community to take this intimidation seriously and to put pressure on governments to investigate it promptly.
IFJ news release. NUJ news release. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
Global: Report highlights deadly journalism risks
Journalism has never been more dangerous, and journalists say they have never felt so unsafe doing their jobs, according to ‘Under threat’, a new report from the International News Safety Institute (INSI). INSI found that even those who don’t work in hostile environments face greater dangers than they did in the past, with the majority of deaths over the last decade occurring during peace time.
Under threat: The changing state of media safety, INSI, April 2015. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
Ireland: Enforcer gives safety reps a boost
Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has published a new, free 278-page hazards guide for the country’s health and safety representatives. The new book, published on International Workers’ Memorial Day and produced after an approach by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), is based closely on the TUC's bestselling ‘Hazards at Work’ guide.
HSA news release and electronic version of the HSA guide.
All chapters from the TUC’s Hazards at Work guide are available on the TUC health and safety webpages. Risks 701. 9 May 2015
Hazards news, 2 May 2015
Britain: Happiness report points out some sad truths
The UK government’s way of deciding policy priorities places too much emphasis on economic factors at the expense of the well-being of the people, the World Happiness Report has indicated. The report published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an initiative under the United Nations, puts the UK at 21, squeezed between the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. World Happiness Report. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Britain: Inquiry call into sheep dip poisoning scandal
Agricultural union Unite and over a dozen members of parliament are calling for answers after a government cover-up of widespread poisoning of farmworkers by sheep dip was revealed. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report concluded least 500 farmers across the UK were left with debilitating health problems after using organophosphate-based (OP) chemicals to protect their sheep against parasites, under a compulsory dipping programme that ran until 1992.
Guardian report and earlier story. Leigh Day and Co Solicitors. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Britain: Tribunal victory for blacklisted Unite rep
John Kelly, a rigger/erector and Unite member who was blacklisted by his employer Interserve Industrial Services because of his union activities while working at a Runcorn power station, has won his employment tribunal (ET) case for unfair dismissal. Unite hailed the ruling as ‘a great victory which draws a line in the sand’ for construction industry bosses who victimise union representatives.
Unite news release and full ET judgment. Liverpool Echo. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Britain: Postal workers warned about the blacklist
Postal workers have been urged to make official requests for any information held about them if they suspect their names were kept on a blacklist of thousands of workers. Dave Smith, secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, told a packed fringe meeting at the annual conference of the communications union CWU: “We knew people were being unfairly dismissed for trade union activities... There are almost certainly people in this hall who are on this list.”
CWU news release. ITV News. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
FBU says lessons not learned on deadly fire risks
Firefighters’ union FBU has warned that more firefighters could be seriously injured or killed at work if lessons are not learned from past fatalities. The union said a report by Stirling University, published earlier this year, found that in the last decade the number of firefighter deaths at fires in the UK had doubled from the previous decade. Between 1993/94–2003/04 there were six firefighter deaths at fires but that figure jumped to 14 between 2004/05–2013/14.
FBU news release. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Labour promises action to protect workers’ lives
Labour shadow ministers Stephen Timms and Kate Green have said a future Labour government will take action to improve enforcement of safety standards, support union safety reps and will “prioritise occupational health and the prevention of occupational illnesses.” They indicate a Labour government “will commission a proactive research programme to provide evidence for policy, including on occupational carcinogens,” adding: “We will prioritise occupational health and the prevention of occupational illnesses, and establish a strategy for removing over time asbestos from the built environment.”
Labourlist. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Britain: Charter for asbestos justice launched
The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum is seeking support for a new ‘Charter for Justice.’ The forum says its Charter sets out “easily affordable reforms” that would make a real difference to asbestos victims.
The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK website and Charter for Justice. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Global: Roundup, WHO and the pesticide lobby
The food system must be ‘transformed’ to keep deadly pesticides out of the workplace and the food chain, the global farm and food union federation IUF has said. The union body was speaking out in the wake of a March 2015 report in the journal Lancet Oncology, which revealed the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) new classification of glyphosate - the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup and the world's most widely-used herbicide - as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
IUF report. The Lancet Oncology. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Britain: Action needed to improve workforce health
The next government should review how it is using local organisations to encourage improvements in workforce health and wellbeing, a new report from The Work Foundation has recommended. ‘Healthy, Working Economies’, published by Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, recommends that a more standardised set of measures be included in the Joint-Strategic Needs Assessments that local Health and Wellbeing Boards are required to undertake, including measures of employment outcomes for individuals with health conditions.
The Work Foundation news release and Healthy, Working Economies report. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Britain: Young worker’s electrocution leads to fine
Company director Mark Hammond has been fined £12,500 after a 21-year-old worker was electrocuted whilst carrying out work in a basement on a Westminster construction site. The victim, who was not named in a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) news release, is identified in HSE’s 2011 fatalities listings as Jon Valbuena.
HSE news release and 2011 fatalities listing. Jon Valbuena facebook memorial. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Britain: Multinational fined after driver dies engulfed by soya
An animal feed multinational has been fined following the death of a lorry driver who was buried under a mound of soya meal. Malcolm Harrison, 64, was working at the Cargill terminal at Seaforth Dock in Liverpool on 6 September 2012 when a stockpile of soya meal collapsed on him.
HSE news release. Liverpool Echo. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Britain: Whistleblower get site client in court
A construction client from Birmingham landed in court after a member of the public complained about safety standards on his site. Mark Hewitt was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £1,255.30 in costs at Sandwell Magistrates Court after being convicted of a criminal failure to properly plan or manage construction work.
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Britain: Worker hit by piling hammer on Costain’s site
A worker suffered fractures to his back, hip and leg after he was knocked over by a four-tonne piling hammer when it broke free while being lifted into position, a court has heard. Eric Wilson, 62, was controlling the piling hammer, suspended from an excavator, during work to renew a sewage outfall across the beach in Hartlepool when the incident happened on a Costain’s run site on 16 September 2012.
HSE news release and lifting machinery webpages. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Britain: Worker suffers ‘life-threatening’ injuries in roof fall
Lockheed Martin UK Ampthill Limited has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay more than £7,300 in costs after admitting a criminal breach of Work at Height Regulations. Appearing at Luton Magistrates’ Court, the manufacturing company pleaded guilty in relation to its role in an incident in January 2012, when a contractor fell through the roof at its site in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.
HSE news release. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Global: Want to know what happened on 28 April?
International Workers’ Memorial Day this year broke all records, with more activities in more places. At one point on 28 April, tweets with the hashtag #iwmd15 were ‘trending’ on Twitter UK, getting as high as an eye-catching third on the listing.
ITUC/Hazards 28 April website. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Bangladesh: ‘Industrial homicide’ compensation shortfall
Two years after the deaths of more than 1,100 workers in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, the compensation fund for their families and for the thousands injured is still US$6 million short of the $30 million target. Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the global union umbrella group ITUC, said: “The Rana Plaza tragedy shows how destructive the global supply chain model of today is for working people.”
ITUC news release. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Global: Paraquat ‘too big a risk to life and health’
Campaigners are pressing for the highly toxic pesticide paraquat to be added to a list of restricted products. Global agriculture unions’ federation IUF has produced with Pesticides Action Network (PAN) and the Swiss-based NGO, Berne Declaration, a report on the use of paraquat in India.
IUF news release and report, Conditions of Paraquat Use in India. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Global: Worldwide appeal to control toxic substances
“Chemicals we would have imagined by now would be globally banned keep popping up,” ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow has told reporters from the US Center for Public Integrity. “We see emerging fears around some of the new technological issues such as nanotechnology... it’s extraordinary, really… There’s a lot of fear amongst workers.”
CPI report. ITUC ‘stop deadly exposures’ guides. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Philippines: Citra Mina workers remember the dead
Workers in the Philippines have stepped up pressure on a seafood giant known for its deadly record and abusive employment practices. The Citra Mina Workers Union and their national union centre SENTRO commemorated Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April this year with the families of fishing vessel workers declared lost at sea.
IUF news release and release on the Seafood Expo demonstration. Risks 700. 2 May 2015
Hazard news, 25 April 2015
Britain: Grave reminder of the daily risks faced by workers
International Workers’ Memorial Day serves as a reminder to workers across the globe that many of them are at daily risk of accidents, injury and illness at work, says the TUC. This is the 23rd year it has been commemorated in the UK, and will be marked by a record number of activities nationwide.
TUC news release and UK 28 April events listing. ITUC/Hazards global 28 April events, news and resources webpages. TUC news release on Rana Plaza. Rana Plaza Fund. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: TUC guide to epilepsy at work
New guidance to help trade union representatives support members with epilepsy has been published by the TUC. ‘Epilepsy in the workplace – a TUC guide’ was written for the TUC by Epilepsy Action and is based on the social model of disability, which means epilepsy is not seen as a barrier to work - but it points out there may be external barriers to accessing work in the form of ignorance, prejudice and failure by employers to make workplace adaptations
TUC news release and Epilepsy in the workplace – a TUC guide. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: Sellafield construction workers back strike action
Unite construction members employed by Sellafield Contractor Group Limited have backed industrial action overwhelmingly in a dispute over union representation and safety. Unite said it had been trying for 10 months to have a union official appointed to a health and safety role at Sellafield, adding that talks have now broken down.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. Irish Times. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: Unite calls for an inquiry on cabin air safety
Airline cabin staff union Unite is calling for a public inquiry into the health effects of ‘fume events’ on airliners, amid warnings that there is insufficient monitoring and research into ‘aerotoxic syndrome’. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said that more needed to be done to understand illnesses caused by exposure to contaminated cabin air on jet aircraft, adding that airlines should be required to monitor air quality during all flights.
Unite news release. ITV News. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: Ten shopworkers attacked every hour round the clock
An average of 241 shopworkers are assaulted every day, a survey by the shopworkers’ union Usdaw has found. The survey of over 5,000 retail staff, which forms part of the union’s Freedom from Fear campaign also found that a third of shopworkers (33 per cent) were threatened by customers and over half were verbally abused.
Usdaw news release. Daily Mail. Morning Star. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: Risks mount from unsafe nurse staffing levels
Nursing staff to patient ratios have seen no improvement over the past year, despite government claims of increased nursing numbers, according to a survey of more than 5,000 nursing staff by UNISON. Newly published findings of union’s annual snapshot study, carried out on 10 February, “paints a worrying picture of an overstretched and demoralised workforce”, with almost half of those surveyed (45 per cent) revealing inadequate staff numbers to deliver safe, dignified and compassionate care.
UNISON news release and survey report, Red Alert – Unsafe Staffing Levels Rising. Daily Mail. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: Seafarers demand action after enclosed space deaths
Seafarers’ union Nautilus is calling on the UK to lead a “new and concerted drive to end the appalling litany” of seafarer fatalities in enclosed spaces. The union has written to shipping minister John Hayes following a 13 March incident, in which two seafarers died in the cargo hold of the Isle of Man-flagged Carisbrooke Shipping general cargo vessel Sally Ann C.
Nautilus UK news release. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: Race hate crimes up as rail staff fall
Rail union RMT has demanded an end to staffing cuts after new figures revealed the number of suspected race hate crimes taking place on the railways has continued to rise, with four incidents reported to police every day last year. British Transport Police have confirmed that they recorded a total of 1,468 allegations of racially or religiously aggravated offences in 2014 - a rise of more than 100 compared to the 1,364 in 2013 and a further increase from the 1,351 in 2012.
RMT news release. Daily Mail. Morning Star. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: Essex firefighters face deadly choices
Fire crews across Essex have been understaffed consistently with nearly a sixth of all shifts last year having fewer than the minimum recommended number of firefighters, new figures have revealed. Firefighters’ union FBU said members were being left the ‘horrendous’ choice of delaying lifesaving operations or risking their own lives.
FBU news release. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: Union welcomes Labour’s plan to end exploitation
Construction union UCATT has welcomed a Labour commitment to introduce measures to crackdown on the exploitation of migrant workers in industries such as construction. Labour said it will establish a special Home Office Enforcement Unit with more than 100 staff to root out illegal exploitation that undercuts wages and conditions.
Labour Party news release. UCATT news release. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: Worker crushed to death by steel tubes
A steel company has been sentenced after its criminal safety failings led to a 42-year-old worker being killed when he was knocked off his lorry and then crushed by a three-tonnes load of steel tubes. Father-of-three Robert Ismay, from Thirsk, was delivering two bundles of 7.5-metre-long tubes to Daver Steels Ltd in Sheffield when the incident happened on 6 December 2012.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: Worker dies at animal crematorium
Sally Williams, the owner of a pet and equine crematorium, has been fined after a self-employed worker died falling through a roof while carrying out repairs. Paul Hoskin, a self-employed agricultural engineer, was asked to repair holes in a cement fibre roof at the crematorium in Newton Abbot on 6 September 2013, when he fell 6.6 metres to the floor.
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: Recycling firm sentenced over worker’s severed hands
A recycling firm in Southampton has been sentenced for serious criminal safety breaches after a worker had both hands severed while cutting metal strips on an industrial baler. Spanish-born Ivan Menendez, then 38, had been employed as an operative for seven months by Metal Processing Ltd at its site in Northam when the incident happened on 8 January 2014.
HSE news release. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Britain: ‘Incompetent’ brothers jailed after building collapse
Two Sheffield brothers have been jailed for their ‘greed’ and criminal safety failures after a building collapse left three injured, up to 20 people temporarily homeless, and nearby properties evacuated. Naveed and Rizwan Hussain were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Sheffield Crown Court following the collapse of a three-storey terrace in Brook Hill on 23 March 2013.
HSE news release and construction webpages. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Global: ITUC health and safety e-news
A special issue of ITUC’s occupational health and safety e-news has a substances theme.
ITUC occupational health and safety e-news. To subscribe free, email ITUC. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Bangladesh: Two years After Rana Plaza, problems remain
Garment workers in Bangladesh face poor working conditions and anti-union tactics by employers including assaults on union organisers, a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) has revealed. “If Bangladesh wants to avoid another Rana Plaza disaster, it needs to effectively enforce its labour law and ensure that garment workers enjoy the right to voice their concerns about safety and working conditions without fear of retaliation or dismissal,” said Phil Robertson, HRW’s Asia deputy director.
Whoever Raises Their Head, Suffers the Most’: Workers’ Rights in Bangladesh’s Garment Factories, Human Rights Watch report, April 2015 and news release. IndustriALL news release. The Guardian. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Europe: Action call on workplace cancer risks
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has condemned the European Commission for delaying since October 2013 the adoption of legally binding exposure limits for chemicals that cause cancer and other serious health effects because it is conducting a review of ‘red tape’. The union body says this means that 150,000 have died while EC evaluates ‘better regulation’.
ETUC 28 April webpages and priority list of 50 of the most harmful chemicals. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Global: If you expose us, we’ll expose you
Imagine a killer that strikes more than once every minute and that most of these deaths could be stopped with minimal effort, but preventive measures are being blocked. Well, warns International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) general secretary Sharan Burrow, that killer is occupational cancer and she asserts: “We make this pledge - if they expose us, we will expose them.”
ITUC article and ‘Toxic work – stop deadly exposures today’ guide. Annotated occupational cancer bibliography. ITUC/Hazards International Workers’ Memorial Day 28 April webpages. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Global: ITF resolves to tackle toxics in transport
The global transport unions’ federation ITF is asking its affiliates to raise awareness about the issue of toxic gas and fumigation in containers with their members. It says “this is an increasingly important topic for us given the tragedy in the port of Antwerp,” where three dockworkers died on 11 April.
ITF news release and statement on the Antwerp tragedy. ITF campaigns on container safety for dockers. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Taiwan: Workers win RCA cancers case after 15 years
The owners of a Taiwan-based electronics firm have been ordered to pay millions in compensation to workers who developed liver, lung and other cancers after working on its production lines. On 17 April, a Taiwan district court ordered the parent firms of Radio Corporation of America (RCA) to pay US$18 million in damages to the former workers and their families, who the court heard were the victims of worst work-related health scandal in the country’s history.
China Post. Taipei Times. Taiwan News. GoodElectronics. Risks 699. 25 April 2015
Hazards news, 18 April 2015
Britain: Most paramedics are stressed out
Long hours, staff shortages and the mental demands of the job are placing an enormous burden on ambulance workers, with nine in ten (91 per cent) saying they are suffering with stress, according to new UNISON research. The survey of 2,977 ambulance workers found that threequarters (74 per cent) are suffering with sleep problems, 72 per cent said they felt irritable as a result and experienced mood swings, and more than half (56 per cent) suffer with anxiety.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Britain: Union warning ignored before rail signal collapse
An incident this month where a rusted through signal collapsed on the Norwich to Lowestoft line has once again revealed how warnings from RMT union reps over serious maintenance problems are being ignored by senior managers, the union has said. The semaphore signal which came down at Cantley in Norfolk on 5 April had rusted right through at its base – an issue on this section of line that had been raised with management by RMT.
RMT news release. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Global: Unions target World Cup corporate sponsors
Unions are urging the global corporations sponsoring the 2022 World Cup to make a stand against forced labour. The construction union UCATT said it is part of a global campaign applying pressure to end a system where migrant workers in Qatar are “forced to work in slave like conditions” to build the facilities for football’s most prestigious event.
UCATT news release and Qatar Campaign.
Sign the petition to corporations sponsoring the World Cup. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Britain: Union secures payout for injured photojournalist
Media union NUJ has helped a photojournalist secure compensation after he seriously injured his ankle and finger when he tripped on a cracked pavement. The union member was working as a freelance photojournalist when he suffered a serious spiral fracture to his ring finger and tore ligaments in his ankle in the fall in Hackney, London.
NUJ news release. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Britain: Balfour Beatty worker trapped by track machine
Essex engineer Andrew Tiffin has been awarded ‘significant’ compensation from construction giant Balfour Beatty, after the RMT member suffered a severe crush injury while working at a maintenance depot in Colchester.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Global: Intermittent jobs are bad for your health
People moving in and out of temporary or insecure work are at a heightened risk of physical and mental health problems. New research has found an ‘accumulation’ of health effects linked to multiple spells of unemployment, adding to evidence showing a pronounced health impact of insecure work.
The Age. More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Britain: Welcome for Labour gangmaster and blacklisting pledges
Construction union UCATT has welcomed pledges in Labour’s manifesto to crackdown on exploitation by gangmasters and to end blacklisting. Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: “These pledges demonstrate Labour is on the side of construction workers and that a Labour government will act to prevent exploitation and will deliver justice to workers who have been blacklisted.”
Labour Party manifesto 2015 [pdf]. Green Party manifesto. Plaid Cymru manifesto. UCATT news release. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Britain: Tory plans on work rights and safety condemned
Construction union UCATT has condemned the Conservative Party’s proposals to slash workers’ rights and to further erode workplace safety. The union says the Tory manifesto plans would make it “virtually impossible to hold a lawful strike”, and adds the manifesto “strongly indicates” that the Conservatives are planning a fresh attack on workplace safety, as part of its promise to “cut a further £10 billion of red tape over the next parliament though our Red Tape Challenge and our One-In-Two Out role.”
Conservative Party Manifesto 2015. UCATT news release. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Britain: Asbestos exposures killed art teacher
The family of a former art teacher who died from cancer after years of pinning pupils' work to classroom walls lined with asbestos is taking legal action against the local council. Jennifer Barnett worked Archway School in Stroud, Gloucestershire, between 1980 and 1997, when she left teaching.
Daily Mail. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Britain: Runaway hire truck firm ends up in court
A Leicestershire tool and plant hire company has been fined after a worker was injured by a defective dumper truck it provided to a farmer. Derby Magistrates’ Court heard that JB Tool Hire had hired out a dumper truck and excavator to a farmer based near Hartshorne, Derbyshire.
HSE news release and work equipment approved code of practice and guidance. Construction Enquirer. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Britain: Arm broken after safety mechanism is ‘tricked’
A Staffordshire company has been fined after an employee broke his arm in a machine that was ‘tricked’ into operating while in an unsafe condition. Roger Small, 49, was attempting to repair the computer-controlled machine at Key Precision Ltd on 17 January 2014 when it started working and his arm was caught by the machine’s internal arms. HSE news release. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Britain: Chicken firm wrecked worker’s hand
A Southampton worker suffered serious injuries when his arm was dragged into an unguarded part of a conveyor belt at a chicken hatchery business in Romsey, a court has heard. Supervisor Andrew House was unable to work for several months after the incident at the Faccenda Foods hatchery on 17 March 2014.
HSE news release. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Britain: Distressing result of mailing machine injuries
A Hertfordshire packaging company has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker broke his arm in a poorly guarded mailing machine at a factory in Melbourn. Harry Bracewell, 20, required surgery to have metal plates and screws inserted into his arm as a result of the incident at Ampac Security Products Ltd on 12 February 2014.
HSE news release. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Britain: Tool firm in court for lost finger
A Nottingham firm that makes garden and household tools has been prosecuted after a worker had to have his finger amputated as a result of injuries sustained when it was crushed in an unguarded machine. Nottingham Magistrates’ Court heard that 29-year-old shift manager Jamie Knighton was working at Fiskars UK Ltd’s Bulwell factory when the incident happened on 15 December 2011.
HSE news release and work equipment guide. Nottingham Post. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Global: New 28 April ITUC hazardous substances guide
A new briefing from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) spells out why trade unions should act to protect workers from hazardous substances. ‘Toxic work: Stop deadly exposures today!’ is a key part of a trade union tool box intended to support trade union activities for the International Day of Commemoration of Dead and Injured Workers on 28 April (also known as International Workers’ Memorial Day and the Day of Mourning), which is focusing this year on the need for removing exposure to hazardous substances.
Toxic work: Stop deadly exposures today!, ITUC, April 2015 (available in English, Spanish and French). ITUC/Hazards global 28 April webpages, including guides, videos and an events map. TUC Workers’ Memorial Day webpages and events listings. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Asia: Warning about asbestos disease ‘tsunami’
Use of asbestos is increasing in Asia and the continent could face an asbestos disease ‘tsunami’ as a result, researchers have warned. Writing in the journal Respirology, experts from Australia, Indonesia and the UK note: “Reducing the risks of such diseases will require reduction in the use of asbestos, careful surveillance for asbestos related diseases and improved levels of training in the recognition and diagnosis of these disease, and cooperation among government and non-government groups in the prevention of these diseases.”
Su Lyn Leong, Rizka Zainudin, Laurie Kazan-Allen and Bruce W Robinson. Asbestos in Asia, Respirology, early view, published online ahead of print, 29 March 2015.
Paul Baas and Sjaak Burgers. ASIA: Asbestos stop in Asia, Editorial, Respirology, early view, published online ahead of print, 31 March 2015. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Australia: Pressure brings more site suicides than fatalities
The statistics on suicide in Australia’s construction industry are alarming, with around 50 people taking their own lives each year in Queensland alone, with another 150 workers in the state permanently disabled following a suicide attempt. Suicide outstrips death by accidents in the construction sector six to one, something attributed to the industry’s long hours, high stress and transient lifestyle.
The Courier. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Liberia: Unions key to stopping Ebola spread
In Liberia, no new cases of Ebola were reported in the first week in April and the overall death toll, while horrific at nearly 4,200, is far less than some health experts predicted last year - a result based in part on the coordinated efforts of the Liberian trade union movement.
Solidarity Center news report. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
USA: Even work’s dead go uncounted
In early 2014, North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry had some good news to share. Workplace deaths dropped significantly, with only 23 people having died in accidents on the job in the past year. That count, though, captured only a sliver of the tragedies that met workers on the job, a newspaper investigation has found.
The News and Observer. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
Hazards news, 11 April 2015
Britain: Government gets a ‘fail’ grade on safety
A government claim that its breakneck programme of health and safety deregulation has not reduced the protection afforded to workers is ‘clearly nonsense’, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on the 25 March publication of a government ‘report book’ on its reform of health and safety legislation over the past five years. TUC Stronger Unions blog and TUC review of the government’s safety performance.
DWP news release and A final report on implementation of health and safety reforms, DWP, 25 March 2015. HSE statement.
Hugh Robertson. The Health and Safety at Work Act turned 40, Occupational Medicine, volume 65, issue 3, pages 176-179, March 2015 • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: Relaxing mine safe rules 'could cost lives'
Changes to Britain’s mine safety rules will “save mine owners money but cost someone a life,” unions have warned. Measures that came into force this month include exempting mines from the previously compulsory Mine Rescue Service in the event of workers being trapped underground.
The Independent. Wales Online • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: Job cuts accelerate North Sea ‘race to the bottom’
The announcement of further offshore job cuts marks a dangerous and quickening ‘race to the bottom’ in the industry, the union Unite has said. Its warning came after the 26 March announcement by oil giants Shell and Taqa that they would be axing a further 350 North Sea jobs.
Unite news release. Ten Pathways to death and disaster, Michael Quinlan, The Federation Press, ISBN 9781862879775. Hazards magazine • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: Amazon ‘cover up’ on long term health risks
‘Impossible’ targets are imposing unbearable stresses and strains on Amazon workers who are then being invited to leave, the union GMB has claimed. Amazon has denied it is pushing through redundancies, instead saying it wants “an engaged, positive workforce” so is providing “employees who are ready for a new career with an opportunity to smooth their transition.”
GMB news release • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: Clarkson axe is the ‘right decision’
Media and entertainment union BECTU has said the BBC’s decision to axe Jeremy Clarkson from its Top Gear programme is the ‘right decision’. The millionaire television presenter was dropped after an investigation found he landed a producer in hospital following an “unprovoked physical and verbal attack.”
BECTU news release and Creating without conflict guides. BBC News Online. Morning Star • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: Resolving mental health issues at work
Workers have been experiencing a significant increase in stress, which in some cases has led to mental health problems, as a result of the impact of austerity on their work and home lives, a new TUC report has concluded. ‘Good practice in workplace mental health’ says although there is greater public awareness of mental health, the number of workers affected by mental health issues is ‘enormous’.
TUC news release and report, Good practice in workplace mental health. USI live • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: Union warning on school asbestos toll
Asbestos is claiming the lives of up to 300 former pupils and 15 teachers a year, according to a report from the teaching union NUT. The union is calling for a national audit of all schools to assess the asbestos risk.
NUT news release. The Mirror. ITV News. Morning Star • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: High tech stress and abuse faces teachers
Computers are being used to load out-of-hours work on teachers and to abuse them, surveys by the union NASUWT have found. Nearly 60 per cent of teachers responding to an NASUWT annual survey reported having had adverse comments posted about them on social media sites by pupils and parents, compared to 21 per cent in 2014.
NASUWT news releases on social media abuse and home invasion • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: Appeal against tribunal fees gets the go ahead
UNISON has been granted permission by the Court of Appeal to proceed with appeals against the decisions of the High Court refusing its two Judicial Review applications challenging the lawfulness of employment tribunal fees. These appeals will be heard together in June. Under the fees system, workers can be required to pay up to £1,200 for taking a tribunal complaint about issues including victimisation for workplace safety activities.
UNISON news release. Unite news release. Morning Star • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: Unions welcome MPs’ blacklisting inquiry call
A ‘damning’ report by a House of Commons select committee calling for a public inquiry into construction industry ‘blacklisting’ has been welcomed by unions. Unite said it strongly endorsed the recommendation in a March ‘Blacklisting in Employment’ final report from the Scottish Affairs Committee.
Blacklisting in Employment: Final Report, Scottish Affairs Committee, 27 March 2015. Unite news release. UCATT news release. GMB news release. Morning Star • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: Work compensation scheme is ‘an unholy mess’
Most UK workers suffering occupational cancer and other potentially lethal work-related diseases can forget about any government compensation, according to a new report by University of Stirling health researchers. The report, published in the new edition of Hazards magazine, found the current compensation scheme is an ‘unholy mess’ that excludes seven of the top ten entries on the official UK occupational cancer priorities ranking.
Stirling University news release. Mean test, Hazards magazine, number 130, 2015. STV News. The Herald • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Global: UK asbestos, Irish victim, US court case
A New York appellate court has ruled that a former mechanic in Ireland can sue Ford Motor Co in the US courts because the company’s “substantial role” in the design of car parts distributed by its UK subsidiary.
Law360.com • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: More questions over drug test accuracy
Construction workers are questioning the accuracy of site drug tests, following a landmark case that saw a Bristol bus driver win his tribunal case. Alan Bailes was awarded unfair dismissal compensation from First Bus after proving he didn't take drugs. Construction Enquirer • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: Campaigners want action to protect employees
Workplace safety campaigners are challenging Britain’s politicians to take action to protect people at work. The Hazards Campaign has come up with a 13-point plan for the new government to follow, setting out 10 steps for the politicians and three for workers and union safety reps.
Hazards Campaign 13-point plan. Morning Star • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Britain: Kayak firm fined for corporate manslaughter
A kayak maker convicted of corporate manslaughter after a dad was cooked to death in an industrial oven has been given a six figure fine. Supervisor Alan Catterall, 54, died when he was locked in the oven at Pyranha Mouldings' factory in Runcorn, Cheshire, in December 2010.
CPS news release. Runcorn and Widnes News • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Global: Workers’ Memorial Day? That’s 28April.org
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Hazards have launched their new, dedicated International Workers’ Memorial Day website, www.28april.org. The new resource includes a global event map and listing, videos, a #iwmd15 twitter feed and links to lots of useful information.
ITUC/Hazards International Workers’ Memorial Day website. TUC Workers’ Memorial Day webpages and events listings • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Global: Unions condemn UN asbestos junket
The appearance of asbestos industry lobbyists at a meeting organised by UN agencies and funded by the European Commission (EC) has been condemned as ‘farcical’ and a ‘junket’ by unions. Global building unions’ federation BWI said the event in Geneva on 30-31 March, ahead of a Rotterdam Convention conference in May, was hosted by the convention’s secretariat, the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) and funded by the EC.
BWI news report and model letter to labour and environment ministers • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Korea: Samsung’s payouts plan excludes most
A compensation scheme for people harmed by toxic exposures while working for Samsung places so many restrictions on eligibility that barely three in every 10 affected workers will receive anything. An analysis by Hankyoreh21 magazine found only 14 of 163 cases (8.5 per cent) examined definitely fell within the scope of the scheme. SHARPS report • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Global: Don’t privatise safety responsibility
An occupational health and safety management standard currently in preparation could undermine existing safety provisions, a global union has warned. PSI, the international union federation for public sector unions, said the standard being developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) “grievously undermines the participation of workers at all levels of occupational health and safety management.”
PSI news report • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
USA: Union mines are safer and more productive
Unionised coal mines are safer and more productive than non-union mines, a study has confirmed. Research by SNL Energy found that in 2013 unionised mines in the US coal belt produced about 94,091 tons of coal per injury versus 71,110 in non-union mines, despite research suggesting that unionised miners are more likely to report workplace injuries.
SNL Data Dispatch. AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
Hazards news, 28 March 2015
Britain: Unions make a difference on mental health at work
The prevalence of mental health problems among Britain’s workers is as bad as ever, and is being exacerbated by reductions in the funding of mental health services, the TUC has warned. But he said there is some good news, and that comes in the form of trade union initiatives to prevent work-related mental health problems or to support affected workers in their jobs.
TUC Touchstone blog and report, Good practice in workplace mental health, TUC, March 2015. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Bus driver proved innocent after failed drug test
A Bristol-based bus driver has received compensation from First Bus after proving he didn't take drugs, despite failing a workplace drugs test. Unite member Alan Bailes, who had been employed as a bus driver for more than 22 years, was wrongly dismissed from First Bristol Limited for “gross misconduct” after testing positive for cocaine in a drug test at work.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Bath Chronicle. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Union issues prison safety ultimatum
The government has been given four weeks to review the failing prison safety system before the prison officers’ union POA takes ‘appropriate steps’ to ensure the safety of prison staff and inmates. The 18 March statement from the union came after the Commons justice select committee found “it is not possible to avoid the conclusion” that changes in policy, including efficiency savings and staffing shortages, “have made a significant contribution to the deterioration in safety”.
POA news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Call for tougher sentences for dog offences
Stronger penalties are needed to tackle dangerous dog offences, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has said. The union was speaking at the start of a Sentencing Council consultation on sentencing guidelines for dangerous dogs offences in England and Wales.
CWU news release. Sentencing Council news release. BBC News Online. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Questions remain after firefighter death fine
The firefighters’ union FBU has welcomed the conclusion of a six year fight for justice after the death of member Ewan Williamson, but has warned that the underlying problems that led to the tragedy remain unaddressed. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) was fined £54,000 after earlier admitting criminal health and safety breaches that contributed to the 35-year-old firefighter’s death.
FBU news release. HSE statement. COPFS news release. BBC News Online. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: RMT steps up scrutiny of rail crowding dangers
Transport union RMT has said it will step up its monitoring of crowding and safety on both rail and Tube services after a three-year-old fell between a train and the platform at Baker Street. The union said the latest incident “raises serious questions about the safety of passengers while top transport bosses repeatedly ignore union warnings.”
RMT news release. London Evening Standard. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Work injury cost chef her job
A chef who is no longer able to work after suffering serious injuries in a fall at work has secured a £16,250 compensation payout. UNISON member Yvonne Rupp, 62, was working for Avalon Nursing Home in Poole when she tripped on loose that had been reported to her employer on a number of occasions before the incident, but managers made no attempt to fix the hazard.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Blacklisted agency worker failed by the courts
Building firms that ran a secret and illegal blacklist of workers who were union safety activists have received a Court of Appeal let-off. The test case was brought by engineer Dave Smith, who found it almost impossible to get work after raising safety fears on construction sites.
Court of Appeal ruling, 18 March 2015. Daily Mirror. Blacklist Support Group facebook page. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Blacklisters get off, blacklisted get arrested
Blacklisted workers have vowed to bring an “even bigger crowd” to protest against anti-union practices in the construction industry after a high profile campaigner was arrested during a peaceful demonstration addressed by blacklisted workers and union officials. Blacklist Support Group (BSG) secretary Dave Smith was arrested at the 18 March protest outside the Construction News Specialists Awards dinner at the Hilton Hotel in London’s Park Lane, where they called for the reinstatement a union activist who complained about unsafe conditions on the Crossrail project.
Morning Star. Reel News video coverage of the arrest. John McDonnell MP on twitter. USi Live. ‘Blacklisted’ book. Early Day Motion 899, Covert surveillance of trade unions. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Survey probes construction card fraud
Fraud in the construction skills card system is to be investigated by industry bodies. The action comes in the wake of this year’s National Crime Agency prosecution of an organised gang dealing in false identity documentation, including construction and security industry certification cards.
CITB news release. UCATT news release. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Union concern at security guard licence fraud
The union GMB has said it is seriously concerned by revelations that thousands of licensed security guards could be working in the UK fraudulently after buying qualifications for cash. A BBC investigation has found some colleges were happy to sit or forge exams for untrained students for a fee.
GMB news release. BBC News Online. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Skipper jailed after death of diver
A shellfish boat skipper whose criminal safety failings led to the death of a diver off the Scottish coast has been jailed for nine months. Guthrie Meville's boat The Solstice was fishing for razor clams in Largo Bay in the Forth Estuary, when diver James Irvine died on 24 March 2011.
COPFS news release. HSE commercial shellfish diving guide. BBC News Online. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Toy firm and builder in court over fall death
A builder has been given a suspended jail term and a toy distributor a six figure fine after a worker plunged to his death through a warehouse roof. Craig Gray, 39, had been helping to clear debris from the roof when he fell nine metres through a fragile plastic panel at Halsall Toys Europe Ltd on 19 July 2012.
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Suspended jail term over asbestos exposure
A Leeds trader has been given a suspended jail sentence after exposing a household and workers to potentially dangerous levels of asbestos fibres at a home in Bramhope. Clive Raper, 49, trading as Bramley Asbestos Removals, took on a job to remove asbestos insulating board from the garage of a couple’s home despite the fact that he did not hold the legal licence required to carry out the specialist work.
HSE news release. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Metals firm a ‘serial safety offender’
A metals business repeatedly risked workers’ lives by making them use dangerous machines – notching up a shocking 31 enforcement notices for criminal safety breaches in just three months. Sheffield Crown Court was told that Meadowbank Vac Alloys was a serial safety offender.
HSE news release. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Britain: Two reversing forklifts, two injured workers
Two workers were seriously injured by reversing forklift trucks in separate incidents at the MyFresh Prepared Produce vegetable processing factory in Chicksands, Bedfordshire. The first serious incident at MyFresh Prepared Produce occurred on 15 January 2014 as The firm was fined £38,000 and ordered to pay £8,320 in costs after pleading guilty to criminal safety offences.
HSE news release. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Bangladesh: Two years on, disaster fund has $9m shortfall
With one month to go before the 24 April second anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, the organisations spearheading the campaign for justice have launched a countdown campaign to remind consumers, governments and major brands that this is still eluding the thousands of workers killed or injured. Global unions IndustriALL and UNI together with the Clean Clothes Campaign are ramping up demands on global brands linked to the disaster to fill an US$8.5 million gap in the funding needed to deliver full and fair compensation to each of the over 5,000 individuals with eligible claims.
IndustriALL news release. UNI news release. Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Canada: Public workers demand healthy workplaces
Canadians must be provided better public services delivered by public sector workers in healthy workplaces, unions in the sector have said. Robyn Benson, national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), said the ‘Together for healthy workplaces’ nationwide campaign launched at a 19 March day of action, was the start of a union drive “to negotiate measures for healthier workplaces.”
PSAC news release. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Global: Outrage at India’s ‘discredited’ asbestos push
Dozens of prestigious scientific organisations and scientists from around the world have called on India to end its ‘discredited’ efforts to keep chrysotile asbestos outside the scope of a United Nations treaty on toxic exports. A study by India’s National Institute of Occupational Health is being used to support the Indian government’s argument, and concludes there is no evidence that chrysotile asbestos is harming workers in India.
RightOnCanada.ca news release and statement sent to the Indian government.
Study of health eazards/Environmental hazards resulting from use of chrysotile variety of Asbestos in the country, National Institute of Occupational Health (India). Rotterdam Convention. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
USA: McDonald's workers told to put mustard on burns
McDonald’s workers are filing official health and safety complaints in 19 cities in the US after suffering burns that some were told to treat with mustard, mayonnaise or other condiments. The official health and safety regulator OSHA has launched an investigation in response to 28 worker complaints stating workers often suffered burns, some of them severe, under pressure to filter oil for recycling while it was still hot, and from exposure to grills.
Fight for $15 petition and 'Burned at McDonald's, Treated with Mustard' video. IUF news report. The Independent. Risks 696. 28 March 2015
Hazards news, 21 March 2015
Global: McStandards are no substitute for real rules
TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson has warned that key decisions on health and safety rules being gifted to manufacturers and suppliers. “It is called standardisation, the process of setting standards,” he notes, citing examples like machinery safety and protective clothing where these “British, European and international standards are increasingly used instead of regulation.”
Stronger Unions blog. Standard Deviation, Hazards online report, March 2015. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: Covert police unit spied on union members
An undercover police unit that monitored political groups over a 40 year period gathered intelligence on members of at least five trade unions, a whistleblower has revealed. Former undercover police officer Peter Francis said he spent four years spying on political activists.
Home Office news release. CWU news release. GMB news release. UCATT news release. The Guardian, including full text of the statement from Peter Francis. The Mirror. Morning Star.
Change.org petition calling on Theresa May to ensure the OSA is not used against inquiry whistleblowers.
Blacklisted: the secret war between big business and trade union activists, New Internationalist, March 2015. ISBN 978-1-78026-257-4. eBook ISBN: 978-1-78026-258-1. £9.99. Book video trailer. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: INEOS safety reps plummet, safety breaches soar
A dramatic drop in the number of union safety reps at the giant INEOS oil processing site in Grangemouth has coincided with a marked upturn in enforcement action for criminal safety breaches. The union Unite says the number of union health and safety representatives at Grangemouth had dropped from 64 to single figures.
Sunday Herald. Rob Edwards’ website and leaked Gordon Milne email [word]. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: Clarkson probe a ‘test case’ for BBC bullying rules
The BBC’s handling of the Jeremy Clarkson fracas is a “serious test case” that will reveal if it has learned lessons about handling bullying and harassment claims, according to broadcasting union BECTU. The corporation is investigating allegations that the star of the successful Top Gear show, which makes millions of pounds for the BBC, threw a punch at a producer.
BECTU bullying guidance. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: Asbestos in schools report finally emerges
A long-delayed report into the presence of asbestos in schools was finally published on 12 March, after “sustained pressure” from education unions. Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum chair Doug Jewell said the report was “only one step on a long journey,” adding: “The findings of this review need to be built on and most importantly we need long term strategic policies that will eradicate asbestos from our schools.”
Department for Education asbestos review. NUT news release. GMB news release. IBAS news report. Asbestos Forum news release. Asbestos in Schools newsletter. BOHS news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Europe: Action on work cancers is decades overdue
More protective laws, effective enforcement and unrelenting union action are needed to address Europe’s ‘immense’ occupational cancer problem, a top safety researcher has warned. Laurent Vogel from the Brussels-based trade union research body ETUI points to research showing that cancers induced by working conditions kill over 100,000 people in the European Union each year.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and TUC 28 April 2015 webpages and events listing and ‘Stop the tears’ poster. This and a ‘Hell no!” ITUC/Hazards poster can be ordered from free of charge from Hazards Campaign, which can also provide purple ribbons for £30 per 100. Email or phone 0161 636 7557. ITUC/Hazards global 28 April webpages Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: RMT demands summit into overcrowding and rail chaos
The rail union RMT has repeated it demand for a top level summit into overcrowding and the “continuing rail chaos”. The latest action call came on 16 March as broken down trains and electrical faults hit Thameslink and SWT services.
RMT news releases on the summit call and overcrowding. BBC News Online. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: Work injury ends firefighter’s career
An ex-firefighter who suffered a career-ending injury while working at Ilkley Fire Station in West Yorkshire has secured ‘substantial’ six figure damages in a union-backed case. FBU member Michael Hollings, who had been in the service for eight years, was seriously injured during a training exercise in May 2011.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: Austerity measures create ‘unsustainable stress’
Cuts to local authority budgets are having a profound effect on the services people receive and are leaving the staff delivering them facing “unsustainable stress”, a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found. The report also noted “frontline staff within local authorities are working very hard to cushion service-users from the worst impacts of the cuts, principally by taking on expanded workloads,” adding: “The level of stress this entails does not appear sustainable in the longer term and in many areas staff report feeling overwhelmed by the scale and nature of the problems they are dealing with.”
JRF publication alert. The cost of the cuts: the impact on local government and poorer communities, JRF, March 2015, summary and full report. STUC news release. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: Six figure fine after waste worker’s death
A waste management company has been fined £200,000 for its criminal safety failings after a worker was killed when he was struck by a vehicle at a Watford waste transfer station. Patrick Murphy, a 58-year-old father-of-two who had worked as a groundsman at the site since 2004, was struck and run over by a JCB loading shovel as he was clearing litter the FCC Waste Services (UK) Ltd waste transfer station on 17 August 2012.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: Worker crushed between two lorries
A Cheshire-based transport company has been fined £500,000 after a Hull employee suffered horrific injuries when she was crushed between two lorries. Warwick Crown Court heard that Jennifer Rose was lucky to be alive after the incident at Tip Trailer Services’ depot in Nuneaton on 9 April 2013.
HSE news release. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: Forfar firm fined after teen agency worker injured
A metal galvanising company has been sentenced after a teenage agency worker suffered serious leg injuries when a half-tonne A-frame slipped and fell onto him from a forklift truck. Robert Ramsey, 19, had been working at Forfar Galvanisers Ltd’s premises in Forfar for four months when the incident happened on 20 November 2013.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: Young employee loses his toes
A Kent engineering firm has been fined after a 20-year-old worker had three toes chopped off on one foot and every toe broken on the other when a metal sheet landed on his feet. Anton Hunter, an engineer with G&P Machine Shop Ltd in Queensborough, was helping a colleague unload a delivery of fabricated steel sheets at a nearby site when a 700kg sheet became dislodged from a magnet and fell directly on his feet.
HSE news release. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: Worker crushed by falling conveyor
Three companies have been fined after a worker was crushed and seriously injured by a falling section of conveyor at a major energy plant construction site in Sleaford. The incident happened during construction of the Sleaford Renewable Energy plant on 14 February 2013 when the 4.5 tonne conveyor section overturned during installation.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: Loft company in court after scaffold collapse
A loft conversion company has been fined for its criminal safety failings after an employee was injured in a dramatic scaffold collapse outside a private property in North London. The structure buckled, tipped towards the home and bent in on itself – effectively creating a chute that sent the worker and an array of materials, including plaster boards, wood and lead rolls, crashing six metres to the ground below.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: 28 April - put up a poster, put on an event
Unions are preparing for what is set to be the world’s biggest ever safety event. International Workers’ Memorial Day, held on 28 April each year, involves hundreds of thousands of workers worldwide. The TUC is ensuring the event has a high profile in the UK – a new ‘Stop the Tears’ poster is on its way to thousands of workplaces, spelling out the human costs of unsafe and unhealthy work and providing a ready-made events advert, with a space for you to fill in your 28 April event/time/place to promote local activities.
TUC 28 April 2015 webpages and events listing and ‘Stop the tears’ poster. This and a ‘Hell no!” ITUC/Hazards poster can be ordered from free of charge from Hazards Campaign, which can also provide purple ribbons for £30 per 100. Email or phone 0161 636 7557. ITUC/Hazards global 28 April webpages.
Usdaw and Unite Workers’ Memorial Day resources. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Bangladesh: Outrage after another deadly building collapse
At least eight construction workers have died after a cement factory under construction partially collapsed in Bangladesh. Police say about 70 people were in the building in the port town of Mongla, 200km (125 miles) south-west of the capital Dhaka, when the roof gave way on 12 March.
BWI news release. IndustriALL news release. BBC News Online. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Cambodia: Labour laws don’t protect garment workers
The Cambodian government is failing to protect the workers producing garments for international brands from serious labour rights abuses, Human Rights Watch has found. Its researchers discovered the predominantly female workforce often experience forced overtime, pregnancy-based discrimination, and anti-union practices that neither the government nor major brands have adequately addressed.
HRW news release and report, Work Faster or Get Out’: Labor Rights Abuses in Cambodia’s Garment Industry. IndustriALL news report. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Global: Electronics industry challenged on toxic chemicals
Campaigners from over 200 groups worldwide have challenged the electronics industry to tackle the harm caused by its use of toxic chemicals. The call came on 16 March as the an industry association, the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), met in Brussels to discuss chemical management strategies.
Good Electronics news release. EICC website. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
USA: ‘Vast’ gains in oil safety strike proposals
A safety strike by refinery workers in the US could be close to settlement after a tentative agreement was struck between oil giant Shell and the union USW. The deal, which has still to be ratified by the membership, requires an immediate review of staffing and workload assessments, with USW safety personnel involved at every facility.
USW news release. AFL-CIO Now blog. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Hazards news, 14 March 2015
Britain: The menopause is a workplace health issue
The menopause is an overlooked workplace health and safety issue, teaching union NUT has said. ‘Working through the menopause’ notes it is “important to recognise that the menopause is an occupational health issue for women teachers, as well as being an equality issue.”
NUT news release and Working through the menopause: Guidance for members in England and Wales.
Supporting women through the menopause: A TUC guide for union representatives. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: Rail staff at London Bridge face passenger wrath
Rail staff have been threatened, had hot coffee thrown over them and been spat at by passengers at London Bridge railway station, the rail union RMT has said. The assaults and abuse occurred during continuing disruption caused by major engineering works. RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: Pilots call for a ‘virtual’ black box
A year on from the disappearance of flight MH370, which is thought to have crashed into the Indian Ocean causing the deaths of 239 passengers and crew, British pilots are calling for more technical aircraft data to be transmitted to a ‘virtual black box’. They say this would mean when a flight gets into problems, the site and possible cause of a crash can be identified more quickly.
BALPA news release. The Guardian. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: No public contracts for blacklisters says union
Construction union UCATT says companies involved in blacklisting can and should be barred from public procurement projects. The union is advising its members how to lobby public sector bodies such as local authorities and NHS Trusts to persuade them to adopt policies that will prevent companies involved in blacklisting from tendering for contracts.
UCATT news release and guide. Morning Star. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: Kier boss targeted for his blacklisting role
Campaigners against construction industry blacklisting of trade unionists raising safety and other concerns on site have demonstrated outside the offices of a key firm involved in the practice. The latest leg of GMB’s ‘crocodile tears’ tour arrived on 10 March at the Plymouth offices of construction giant Kier, whose former boss Danny O’Sullivan was involved in blacklisting and was identified over 100 times in a secret blacklister’s database.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: Scottish mental health staff feel the pressure
Scotland’s over-stretched mental health staff are suffering from stress as they feel unable to deliver the service their patients deserve, a UNISON survey has found. The union said 84 per cent of respondents reported their workload had increased, and 76 per cent said cuts had affected the quality of patient care.
UNISON Scotland news release and full report, See us - mental health staff survey. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: Remember the dead, fight for the living
Unions are preparing fast for International Workers Memorial Day, the annual 28 April commemoration and campaign which has become the biggest event on the global health and safety calendar. Public sector UNISON has just published its 2015 campaign materials.
UNISON news alert, International Workers' Memorial Day poster and leaflet. TUC 28 April 2015 webpages and events listing. ITUC/Hazards global 28 April webpages. Purple ribbons can be purchased from the Hazards Campaign, price £30 per 100; it can also supply free posters. Email or phone 0161 636 7557. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: Sluggish roll-out for fit for work assessments
The government has published new guidance for workers, employers and GPs on the Fit For Work assessment service. Announcing the new guides, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) indicated the date for the already behind schedule roll-out has slipped further for England and Wales, with the government now advising the assessment service will not be fully available until autumn 2015, rather than in spring as previously indicated.
DWP Fit for Work webpages and guides for employers, employees and GPs. EEF briefing.
Fit For Work referrals- a TUC guide for union representatives, TUC, January 2015. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: IOSH slams 'unwise' self-employed muddle
An amended government plan to deregulate areas of health and safety remains “unnecessary, unhelpful and unwise”, safety professionals’ body IOSH has warned. IOSH was commenting after the House of Lords last week passed a reworked government amendment to the Deregulation Bill, dealing with self-employment.
IOSH news release. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: Court warning on prison passive smoking risks
Prison guards and inmates should be protected from passive smoking risks in communal prison areas, a High Court ruling indicates. The ruling was made after an inmate brought a case complaining about the health impact of secondhand smoke.
Leigh Day news release. BBC News Online. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: Hormone-disrupting chemicals ‘cost billions’
Common industrial chemicals that disrupt human hormones and damage health could be costing Europe more than £110 billion a year, according to new research. The international team behind the research presented their findings on 5 March at the annual meeting of the Endocrinology Society in Brussels.
Endocrine Society website and news release. BBC News Online.
Leonardo Trasande, R Thomas Zoeller, Ulla Hass and others. Estimating burden and disease costs of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the European Union, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, published online 5 March 2015. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: Nine in ten emergency staff are suffering stress
Britain’s frontline medics, police and firefighters are struggling with mental health problems but are too scared to ask for help, according to a Mind survey. The mental health charity found that almost nine out of ten (87 per cent) emergency services personnel polled admitted to stress, low mood and poor mental health.
Mind news release and Blue Light programme. FBU news release. The Mirror. Nursing Times. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: Unprotected worker died in fall from roof
Northamptonshire roofing firm JBS Roofing Ltd has been sentenced for serious criminal safety failings, which emerged when a worker died after falling through a rooflight. Mark Cooper, 46, died three days after the incident at a commercial unit in Corby on 11 June 2011.
HSE news release and roofwork webpages. Northampton Chronicle. Construction Enquirer. BBC News Online. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Britain: Dangerous director gets fine and broken leg
A director of a building firm has been fined for criminal safety offences after he was partially buried when the high sides of an excavation he was working on collapsed on him, a court has heard. Paul Connolly, director of Bushey-based PNT Contractors Ltd, had to be rescued by workers digging him out by hand after the excavation collapse at a site in Essex in July 2014.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Europe: Work risks to women go ignored
Risks to women at work are under-estimated, under-researched and women continue to suffer as a result. This was a conclusion of a conference on women’s health and work, organised by the European trade union research body ETUI from 4 to 6 March in Brussels.
ETUI news report and video presentations. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
New Zealand: Some port workers do 20-hour shifts
The Maritime Union of New Zealand has accused port companies of being more interested in avoiding liability than in fixing the root causes of injuries and deaths. The union was commenting after port incidents on 3 and 4 March left three workers injured, including one man with serious back injuries.
MUNZ news release. Radio NZ. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Ukraine: Deadly mine is site of another tragedy
More than 30 people are thought to be dead after a 4 March methane gas explosion at a notoriously dangerous coal mine in eastern Ukraine. Officials have so far refused to confirm a final fatality figure at the Zasyadko mine in rebel-held Donetsk, however it is thought it could significantly exceed the initial estimate.
ITUC news release. IndustriALL news release. Kyiv Post. The Telegraph. The Guardian. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
USA: Work injuries force workers into poverty
Injuries at work force workers into poverty and keep them there, a new report from the US health and safety regulator OSHA has warned. Launching a new report, ‘Adding inequality to injury’, OSHA head David Michaels said: “These injuries and illnesses contribute to the pressing issue of income inequality: they force working families out of the middle class and into poverty, and keep the families of lower-wage workers from ever getting out.”
Adding inequality to injury: The costs of failing to protect workers on the job, OSHA, March 2015. OSHA blog. The Nation. The Pump Handle. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.
Hazards news, 7 March 2015
Britain: Government caves on self-employed exemption
In the face of a ‘tremendous’ union campaign, the government has at the 11th hour done an about face on its proposal to exempt almost all self-employed workers from health and safety law. In a 4 March House of Lords debate, government whip Lord Wallace of Saltaire presented a revised amendment to the Deregulation Bill.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Hansard report of the House of Lord Debate, 4 March 2015. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Britain: Alarm sounds over outsourcing of aviation medicals
Passenger safety could be put at risk by a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) decision to proceed with outsourcing of its medical services, unions have warned. Unions PCS and Prospect, which represent staff at the aviation regulator, were speaking out after CAA announced it will look to outsource the Aeromedical Centre (AeMC) that provides medical services to pilots and air traffic controllers, as well as expert advice to airlines.
Prospect news release. CAA news release and consultation response. Risks 693. 7 March 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: Lessons must be learned from Crossrail death
The construction industry must learn lessons from the death of René Tkacik on the Crossrail project, site union UCATT has said. On 3 March an inquest jury gave a narrative verdict, while recording the death of the Slovakian national was accidental, but the jury found that “unclear” processes including the method statement and the definition of the exclusion zone contributed to his death.
UCATT news release. Leigh Day news release. Irwin Mitchell news release. BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Britain: Walkers pulls ‘insensitive’ crisp advert
Walkers pulled the plug on a new TV advert hours after construction union UCATT branded it “insensitive” and “offensive”. The controversial commercial featured ex-England footballer and now TV presenter Gary Lineker having wet concrete poured onto him from a great height for refusing to share his crisps; it aired during peak hours on Monday 23 February - the same day an inquest began into the death of René Tkacik, who died on the Crossrail project after being buried under nearly a tonne of wet concrete.
UCATT news release. Morning Star. Construction Enquirer. Walkers Crisps facebook page. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Britain: Housing group caused carpal tunnel
A Bradford man developed debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in both arms as a result of excessive and poorly managed use of vibrating tools. The Unite member, whose name has not been released, was employed by Incommunities Group plc worked on housing refurbishment schemes and used tools including drills, stihl saws, jigsaws and kango hammers.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Britain: Police implicated in blacklisting spies scandal
An undercover officer with the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) infiltrated UCATT and spied on members, the union has discovered. It says the revelation raises fresh questions about the role of the police in the blacklisting of trade unionists, an illegal practice frequently targeting workers who raised health and safety concerns. UCATT news release. The Guardian. The Mirror. Risks 693. 7 March 20152015
Britain: Network Rail boss attacks rail’s safety record
The head of Network Rail has said the industry’s unsafe working practices are causing “appalling tragedies” and hundreds of workplace casualties each year. Former oil industry executive Mark Carne, who became chief executive of Network Rail a year ago, suggested accident rates were 10 times those in the oil sector.
Network Rail news release and Mark Carne’s speech. RMT news release. The Guardian. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Global: Fifa feels the heat on migrant workers’ plight
Football’s global governing body, Fifa, has been criticised for ignoring the plight of migrant workers enduring slave like conditions in Qatar. A Fifa taskforce reported on 24 February and recommended that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be moved to November and December, to avoid crippling summer temperatures, a move UCATT says fails to take into account that 2 million migrant workers, building the World Cup and the Qatar’s infrastructure, are working six days a week year round in temperatures which can reach 55 degrees celsius.
UCATT news release. BWI news release. The Guardian. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Britain: Deadly basement jobs get two day blitz
A two-day inspection blitz of basement projects in some of the country’s wealthiest postcodes is to be carried out by the Health and Safety Executive. This action follows a succession of fatal incidents and serious injuries in the capital.
HSE news release. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Britain: Farm worker killed by toxic gases
Dorset farm owner Clifford Owen Yeatman and his two businesses have been fined for serious criminal safety failings after 29-year-old worker Matthew Pitt died following exposure to toxic gases. Dorchester Crown Court heard that Matthew Pitt and David Bartlett were exposed during maintenance of an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant developed by Biogas Nord UK at the farm.
HSE news release and anaerobic digestion webpages. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Britain: Cornwall health trust fined for dermatitis failings
The Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust has been fined after failing to report, prevent or monitor at least 23 cases of dermatitis among staff between 2007 and 2012. The Trust pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of health and safety legislation when it appeared before Torquay Magistrates.
HSE news release and dermatitis webpages. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Britain: Liverpool NHS Trust exposed staff to asbestos risk
A hospital trust in Liverpool has been fined £10,000 after it emerged its workers may have been exposed to potentially-deadly asbestos fibres. The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust failed to act on a survey carried out in 2006 which identified that an area of the basement may contain asbestos, and recommended that its condition should be properly assessed.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Britain: Recycling safety managers were a waste of time
A waste and recycling site in Carmarthen was in such a dangerous condition that visiting health and safety inspectors had to issue eight notices to immediately halt potentially deadly work activities. The site run by Mekatek Ltd was subject to a routine inspection by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors on 20 May 2013 who discovered access to unguarded dangerous machinery, exposure to risk of electrocution and areas contaminated by asbestos containing materials.
HSE news release. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Britain: Young worker crushed by a two-tonne frame
Cumbrian engineering firm Tweddle Fabrications Ltd has been fined £12,000 after a worker suffered severe injuries when he was struck by a metal frame, weighing nearly two tonnes. The 21-year-old from Carlisle, who has asked not to be named, sustained multiple cuts and fractures to his left foot and leg, and has still been unable to return to work almost a year on from the incident.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Blacklisted – the story of a secret war
A new book, ‘Blacklisted: the secret war between big business and trade union activists’, delivers a searing indictment of the collusion between the state and the construction industry that saw thousands blacklisted. Authors Dave Smith – a founder-member of the Blacklist Support Group – and investigative journalist Phil Chamberlain reveal how objecting to deadly working conditions could get you thrown out of work for good.
Blacklisted: the secret war between big business and trade union activists, New Internationalist, March 2015. ISBN 978-1-78026-257-4. eBook ISBN: 978-1-78026-258-1. £9.99. Book video trailer. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Australia: Safety cost-benefit sums ‘inherently’ wrong
Workers bear most of the burden of workplace safety failures, research for the Australian government’s safety watchdog has found, with this proportion rising rapidly. The study by Macquarie University researcher Sharron O’Neill found employers are picking up hardly any of the cost at all.
The business case for safe, healthy and productive work – implications for resource allocation: Procurement, contracting and infrastructure decisions, Safe Work Australia. Safety at work blog. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Australia: Call for manslaughter law for work deaths
Employers whose kill their workers should face the prospect of manslaughter charges, Australian construction union CFMEU has said. The union call came as Allscaff Systems Pty Ltd and company director Ralph Michael Smith faced the courts after the 2008 deaths of two workers on a Gold Coast construction site with “woefully inadequate” safety systems.
CFMEU news release. Gold Coast Bulletin. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
China: Apple not as rosy as claimed on the ground
The world’s most profitable company is proving less successful in sorting out worker exploitation in its supply chain, research has found. In late January 2015 Apple reported the largest quarterly profit ever in corporate history, but for many hundreds of thousands of young Chinese workers toiling on assembly lines producing Apple’s slick products, 2014 was not such a good year.
Truth Out. Good Electronics. Apple Supplier Responsibility Progress Report 2015 and Supplier responsibility webpage. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Spain: Asbestos cancers not recorded or compensated
Almost all asbestos cancers are being missed by Spain’s official reporting system, a study has found, raising concerns that frequently terminally ill workers are also missing out on compensation. A team headed by Alfredo Menéndez-Navarro of the University of Granada estimate 93.6 per cent of cases of mesothelioma in men and 99.7 per cent in women are missing; for asbestos related lung cancers, the effect is worse still, with 98.8 per cent of bronchial and lung cancers in men and 100 per cent in women going unrecognised.
García-Gómez M, Menéndez-Navarro A, López RC. Asbestos-related occupational cancers compensated under the Spanish National Insurance System, 1978-2011, International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (IJOEH), volume 21, number 1, pages 31-39, January-March 2015. Eurogip. Risks 693. 7 March 2015
Hazards news, 28 February 2015
Britain: Crossrail death inquest opens
An inquest into the death of a worker on the Crossrail project has opened. René Tkacik, 44, died on 7 March 2014 while working as a concrete sprayer at Fisher Street in Holborn, London.
ITV News. BBC News Online. Sky News. The Standard. Daily Mail. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: Crane tragedy shows the low value put on life
It took nine year gap from a crane collapse that killed two to the start of the related criminal court case. But in the intervening period the government said rules governing crane safety introduced in the wake of the tragedy were unnecessary ‘red tape’ and revoked them, said the union GMB.
GMB news release. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: Fire service admits criminal breaches after death
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has admitted criminal health and safety breaches in connection with the death of an Edinburgh firefighter. Ewan Williamson died in July 2009 after becoming trapped while tackling a blaze at the Balmoral Bar in the city.
BBC News Online. FBU news release. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: Union survey of stressed out Telegraph staff
Editorial staff at the Telegraph are being asked by their union about workload, work pressures and the effect cost-cutting changes at the paper have had on the quality of news. The NUJ said it was acting on concerns arising after a “brutal” spate of redundancies.
NUJ news release. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: Train driver injured on unsafe walkway
A train driver who fractured his calf bone when he tripped and fell while walking at St Pancras Station, has secured £20,000 in compensation. The 40-year-veteran had been told by a manager to exit his train in the sidings, which meant he had to walk along a poorly maintained pathway that runs adjacent to the rail line.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: Latest steps towards justice for blacklisted workers
Construction unions have renewed their appeal for blacklisted workers to come forward and join a claim for compensation for those whose lives were wrecked as a result. The Morning Star reports that UCATT and GMB have both issued the call after an initial court hearing on the compensation claims.
Morning Star. Liverpool Echo. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: UK body refuses to recognise two asbestos cancers
The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) has said cancers of the larynx or ovary linked to asbestos exposure should not be added to the list of prescribed industrial diseases. Cancer of the larynx caused by asbestos is already recognised for state compensation payouts in countries including Germany, France, Denmark and Italy.
IIAC summary and Cancers of the larynx or ovary and work with asbestos: IIAC information note, February 2015. IARC Monograph 100C, 2012. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: HSE defends its asbestos awareness campaign
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said it is “surprised and disappointed” at criticism of its new asbestos awareness campaign. The HSE statement came after an asbestos industry training body said HSE’s Beware Asbestos app could encourage a DIY attitude to some short duration asbestos work.
HSE news release. Daily Star. Construction Index. Hazards magazine. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: IOSH says criminal safety penalties must deter
Safety professionals’ body IOSH has said penalties for criminal safety offences should help improve health and safety standards, remedy defects, deter future offending and reflect societal disapproval. IOSH – the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health - suggested that the use of ‘victim impact statements’ could also be considered, if those affected wished to provide them.
IOSH news release. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: Attacks on Tube workers soar
Labour has called for more protection for London Underground workers after figures showed a 44 per cent increase in assaults on staff since 2009. The figures sparked renewed concern from Labour and unions about plans to cut hundreds of jobs through the closure of ticket offices on the Tube.
Val Shawcross news release. The Standard. RMT ‘Every job matters’ campaign. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Global: WHO calls for use of ‘smart’ syringes
Smart syringes that break after one use should be used for injections by 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said. Reusing syringes lead to more than two million people being infected with diseases including HIV and hepatitis each year.
WHO news release. BBC News Online. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Global: Benetton agrees to pay Rana Plaza compensation
High Street fashion chain Benetton will compensate victims of the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh. A statement from the company said the amount will be announced “in the next few weeks and in any case no later than April 24, 2015” – the second anniversary of the fire - and forms “part of a broader programme of further social engagement by the Group for 2015, the details of which will be announced in the coming days.”
Benetton news release. UNI news release. IndustriALL news release. Bangladesh Accord. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: Worker’s death exposes criminal safety failures
An investigation into the death of a worker installing guttering at a home in Llandudno discovered he was using a ladder in an “extremely poor state” that should have been taken out of service. Gethin Kirwan, 35, who lived in Hoole, Chester, was working at a property in the town on 4 April 2013 when he fell from the ladder, sustaining a fatal head injury.
HSE news release and falls webpages. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: New arrival killed in 5 metre asbestos roof fall
Aberdeenshire business Bruce of the Broch 1886 Ltd has been fined for serious criminal failings after a man died when he fell more than five metres through a fragile roof. Latvian national Nikolajs Naumovs, 57, had arrived in Scotland only two weeks before his fatal fall.
HSE news release. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: Tata sentenced over molten metal burns
Global steel giant Tata has been fined £200,000 after three employees suffered serious burns when tonnes of molten metal spilled onto the factory floor. Swansea Crown Court heard that trainee crane driver Kelvin Watts and two colleagues escaped from the top of a crane and over the boom when a huge ladle dislodged spilling the molten metal, which then caught fire, at Tata Strip Products in Port Talbot on 2 April 2013.
HSE news release and molten metals webpages. BBC News Online. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Britain: National Hazards Conference, 4-6 September 2015
It’s time to book your place at the National Hazards Conference, the once a year chance to meet hundreds of safety reps, exchange ideas and get inspired. As ever, the conference organised by the Hazards Campaign will have top headline speakers and workshops that will give you the knowledge and tools to make workplaces safer and healthier. Topics covered include safety reps and organising, finding out what is harming members, making the most of the enforcement system, and dealing with risks. The event is union-supported and this year has the theme ‘Safety reps: Reclaiming the health and safety agenda’.
Safety reps: Reclaiming the health and safety agenda, National Hazards Conference, 4-6 September 2015, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent. Booking form. Sponsor the conference. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Global: ITF launches aircraft air quality group
The global transport union federation ITF has launched an air quality working group amid concerns about the health risks posed by contaminated air on commercial aircraft and at airports. ITF said it has long recognised the negative implications for flight safety and workers’ health of exposure to engine oil fumes on commercial and cargo aircraft.
ITF news release, cabin air qualitywebpages, GCAQE forum and aviation blog. The Independent. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
UAE: Fire kills migrant labourers in Abu Dhabi
At least 10 migrant labourers have been killed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by a fire that tore through the warehouse they were sleeping in. The workers were staying in the al-Mussafah district of Abu Dhabi, an industrial area filled with warehouses, factories and workshops on the outskirts of the capital.
The Independent. Washington Post. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
USA: Nuke workers hurt by toxic exposures
Evidence “strongly suggests” a causal link between chemical vapour releases and ill-health in workers at a nuclear facility in the US. Since March 2014, nearly 60 workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state have sought medical attention for on-the-job exposure to chemical vapours released by highly toxic waste stored at the site.
Working In These Times. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
USA: Refinery blast highlights oil strike concerns
An 18 February explosion at Exxon Mobil's refinery in Torrance, California, is raising new concerns about high risks, weak standards and lax regulatory oversight in the US oil refining sector. The incident is the latest in a spate of fires to strike US oil plants in the past few years.
USW news release. AFL-CIO Now blog. International Business Times. NBC4 News. Risks 692. 28 February 2015
Hazards news, 21 February 201
Britain: Union links inspection fall with sites deaths rise
The construction union, UCATT, has revealed a big drop in construction inspections in part of Britain that have also seen an increase in construction deaths.
UCATT news release. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
Britain: TUC puts responsibility back on employers
A poll conducted for the British Heart Foundation has shown that millions of workers feel their job is having a negative impact on their health. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said “the answer is not just for employers to encourage their staff to change their lifestyle, it is for employers to improve working conditions, provide secure jobs and treat their workers like human beings rather than machines.”
CIPD news report. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
Britain: Thumbs up from unions to whistleblowing proposals
Health unions have welcomed recommendations on whistleblowing made by Sir Robert Francis. He has said that every NHS trust in England should appoint a guardian to support whistleblowers after warning that staff too often faced "bullying and being isolated" when they tried to speak out.
BBC News Online. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
Britain: Unions and HSE voice concern over offshore safety
Falls in the price of oil have lead to oil and gas companies reducing pay and conditions and putting safety at risk, leading to two unions deciding to ballot their members on strike action. Unite and GMB union members of the Offshore Contractor Association (OCA) will vote on whether to take industrial action after talks with industry bosses in London broke down.
GMB news release. HSE Blog. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
Global: TUC backs striking workers
The TUC has backed workers at nine US refinery and chemical plants who walked off the job earlier, marking the first nationwide oil strike in 35 years. The strikes are not only about, benefits, and work conditions, but also safety.
TUC news release. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
]Britain: GMB gives guarded welcome to mesothelioma payouts rise
The GMB union was said that changes to the way that victims of the cancer mesothelioma, caused by asbestos exposure, do not go far enough. GMB safety officer John McClean said the union was however “greatly disappointment that those victims and their families who received 80 per cent of the compensation since July 2014 will not be getting the missing 20%, and those victims who from February 2010, when the original consultation began, will receive nothing from this scheme.”
GMB news release. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
Britain: Housing workers exposed to asbestos
Construction union UCATT has exposed a significant scandal where several of their members were exposed to the killer dust, asbestos. The members were employed by Sanctuary Maintenance Contractors Ltd a subsidiary of Sanctuary Housing.
UCATT news release. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
TUC welcomes new proposed tougher sentences
The TUC has welcomed proposed new guidelines on sentencing for health and safety and corporate manslaughter offences. The Sentencing Council has published draft guidance for judges in England and Wales that could lead to considerable increases in punishments.
Consultation - justice gov . Risks 691. 21 February 2015
Britain: Warning on dodgy PPE
A supplier of workplace equipment has claimed that the problem of counterfeit and inferior personal protective equipment (PPE) finding its way into UK workplaces is growing. The firm, Slingsb, has welcomed proposed legislation from Europe that would make retailers and distributors responsible for ensuring products they sell meet the required safety standards.
Construction index. TUC Guide on PPE. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
Death ruled “accidental” despite series of safety failings
An inquest has decided that a worker was “accidentally killed” despite an employer having been handed four prohibition notices and one improvement notice for the circumstances that led to his death. Tomas Suchy, a food factory worker at Interfish in Plymouth was killed by “catastrophic” head injuries when a 'wall' of frozen fish pallets fell on top of him as he tried to rebuild a stack that had already toppled over once in a stock room with temperatures of -25c.
Plymouth Herald. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
Britain: Worker killed by snapped timber
A company has been fined £130,000 after a workman was killed by a piece of flying timber which struck him on the head while laying sewerage pipes in Swindon. Fredric March was working at the Cappagh Contractors Construction site in Swindon when a piece of timber being used as a cushion on the ends of the pipes being pushed in place by an excavator snapped.
HSE news release. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
Europe: New guide to electromagnetic fields
The European Trade Union Institute has produced a guide on preventing exposure to electromagnetic fields. It is also designed as an aid to understanding the new EU Directive on occupational exposure to EMFs (2013/35 EU), which will enter into force in 2016.
ETUI guide. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
USA: Keep nurses safe by protecting patients
US nursing unions are saying that the best way to keep nurses from injuring their back is to have safe staffing levels. In the USA it is estimated by the American Nurses Association that 8 out of 10 nurses say they frequently work with joint or back pain, and the nursing profession has the highest rate of on-the-job injuries of any other in the country.
WXXI News. Risks 691. 21 February 2015
Hazards news, 14 February 2015
Britain: Court backs unions on sickness absence
The Department for Transport (DfT) broke employees’ contracts by introducing new, more punitive, sickness absence policies without reaching agreement with unions, the High Court has ruled. Prospect, the FDA and PCS brought breach of contract claims against the DfT on behalf of members in DfT’s central department and its agencies in November 2014.
Prospect news release. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Fail grade for ‘insufficient’ plans on teacher workload
Government plans to reduce “unnecessary and unproductive” teacher workload at schools in England will not have the required impact, teaching unions have said. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and education secretary Nicky Morgan said a series of “decisive measures” to be introduced in England would include an end to major government reforms being introduced during the academic year, with schools also given notice of major changes.
DfE news release. Government response to the Workload Challenge, DfE, February 2015. NUT news release. NASUWT news release. ATL news release.
BBC News Online. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Study explodes EU over-legislation myth
Government claims that the European Union has fuelled an increase in legislation have been proven to be a myth, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting after an an academic study concluded that far from producing too much legislation, the EU is only producing a small minority of the new laws coming into effect in Britain.
Stronger Unions blog. LSE Europp blog. Democratic Audit UK. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Government floundering on self-employed move
Government dithering on plans to exempt most self-employed workers from health and safety law does not mean the much derided proposals will be dropped, the TUC has warning. The union body has been joined by business groups and safety organisations in renewed calls on ministers to drop the exemption, progress on which stalled in a 3 February House of Lords debate.
Stronger Unions blog. Thompsons Solicitors news release. IOSH news release. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: BBC and unions agree bullying policy
Extensive discussions between the BBC and unions within the Federation of Entertainment Unions over a new policy to address complaints from staff and freelancers over bullying and harassment have led to an agreement.
GMB news release. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Government plugs mesothelioma payouts hole
Sufferers of an asbestos-related cancer will in the future receive extra payouts after the government revised its mesothelioma compensation rules. Under new rules for the government’s Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme compensation will rise to match 100 per cent of average civil claims, up from the current 80 per cent.
DWP news release and ministerial written statement. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Welsh asbestos NHS costs law overruled
The Supreme Court has sided with insurers who claimed a Welsh assembly law passed in 2013 to recoup asbestos treatment costs from employers’ liability insurers was outside its competence. The court said Welsh ministers had no right to impose charges to fund the NHS, and insurers should not be given extra liabilities for asbestos exposure which long predated the bill.
Supreme Court press summary. Welsh Assembly statement. Wales Online. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Workers given baby wipes to wash off asbestos
A Suffolk building company has been fined after removing asbestos insulation board without a licence and failing to protect its workers from falls of up to four metres at a farm building in Waltham, Essex. Workers were potentially exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres and only provided with baby wipes or access to a hose for decontamination.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Ipswich Star. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Don’t neglect work causes of cancer
There must be a far greater acknowledgement of the role of work in causing cancers, the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection (BOHS) has warned. Commenting on World Cancer Day - 4 February - BOHS said that neglecting to understand and control occupational exposures to carcinogens, by means of highly effective occupational hygiene solutions, threatens future progress in the battle against the disease.
BOHS news release. World Cancer Day. Global unions zero cancer campaign. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Flawed drug-driving rules about to take effect
People who have been prescribed powerful anxiety or pain relief drugs are being told to be aware of a new drug-driving law. As well as outlawing driving while under the influence of illegal drugs, the new legislation will include some prescription medicines. DfT news release. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Suspended sentence for corporate manslaughter
A Cumbrian building firm and its owner have been sentenced after pleading guilty to corporate manslaughter. On 3 February, Peter Mawson Ltd was fined £200,000 for the corporate manslaughter offence, and £20,000 for the safety breach and company owner Peter Mawson was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, was ordered to undertake 200 hours unpaid work and handed a publicity order to advertise what happened on the company website for a set period of time, and to take out a half page spread in the local newspaper.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. News and Star. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Suspended sentences after scrap worker’s death
Two subcontractors have been handed eight-month prison sentences, suspended for 18 months, after a worker was killed when part of a 33-tonne metal barge he was dismantling collapsed on top of him. William Ward, 56, from Sheffield, sustained catastrophic crush injuries in the incident at European Metal Recycling Ltd’s Kingsbury depot in Warwickshire on 12 October 2011.
HSE news release and scrap recycling webpages. Sheffield Star. Yorkshire Post. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Three firms sentenced after worker’s death
A renewable technology company and two subcontractors have been fined for safety failings after a worker was killed when he fell seven metres from a roof while installing solar panels. Kevin Brookes, 35, from Tamworth, suffered fatal injuries in the incident on a Southam industrial estate on 31 May 2012.
HSE news release and falls webpages. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Stevedores fined for worker’s severe injuries
Briton Ferry Stevedoring has been fined for a criminal safety offence after an employee suffered severe leg injuries falling from a trailer. Nigel Preece, 58, was unloading steel coils from a flatbed trailer when he fell 1.3 metres, sustaining two broken legs.
HSE news release. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Carpet firm in court after worker breaks leg
A Rossendale factory that makes carpet underlay has been fined after a worker was badly injured when he was struck by a 300kg bale of foam. The 59-year-old from Todmorden, who has asked not to be named, broke his left leg in two places and suffered damage to his knee as a result of the incident at Interfloor Ltd in Haslingden on 4 December 2013.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages. Rossendale Free Press. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Britain: Worker loses forearm in printing machine
An Edinburgh manufacturing company has been fined for serious safety failings that led to a worker having to have his arm amputated after it became trapped in a machine. Akshay Phale, then 27, was working at the rear of a machine at Farnbeck Ltd at its Leith premises when the incident happened on 5 June 2012.
HSE news release and machinery safety webpages. Scotsman. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Central America: Sugar cane worker disease is occupational
The strenuous working conditions endured by sugar cane workers in Central America is response for an outbreak of deadly kidney failure, a study has found. The Boston University study, which was part-financed by the industry, found a clear connection between the kidney destroying disease and the work these men are doing.
Boston University news release. NPR blog. IJOEH abstract. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
New Zealand: Safer farms campaign gets it wrong
Workers in New Zealand are worried a flagship official safety programme on farm safety will not work because it overlooks the employment practices that are making the industry more dangerous. Helen Kelly, head of the national union federation CTU said she was “surprised” the government minister announcing the new programme run by the safety regulator Worksafe “does not see a strong role for health and safety inspectors in keeping farm workers safe.”
NZCTU news release. Safer Farms. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
UAE: Migrants silenced on safety fears
Migrant workers building a multibillion-pound cultural hub in the United Arab Emirates, which includes a New York University campus and new Guggenheim and Louvre museums, are facing destitution, summary arrest and deportation if they complain about their squalid and unsafe conditions, an investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) has found.
HRW news release and video report. Migrant Workers’ Rights on Saadiyat Island in the United Arab Emirates, 2015 Progress Report, HRW, 10 February 2015. The Guardian. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
USA: Oil safety strike grows
A strike by United Steelworkers (USW) members protesting at unsafe and unfair labour practices at US refineries has spread to BP facilities in Indiana and Ohio. The strike began on 1 February after major oil companies failed to address serious concerns regarding the health and safety of workers and their communities, according to the USW.
USW news release, audio report and petition. Labor Notes. AFL-CIO Now blog. Daily Kos. Risks 690. 14 February 2015
Hazards news, 7 February 2015
Britain: Stay of execution on deadly self-employed clause
Government plans to exempt most self-employed workers from safety law have stalled. A 3 February debate in the House of Lords to discuss the move, included in Clause 1 of the Deregulation Bill, was curtailed after the government said it needed more time to consider responses to a consultation on the measure.
Lords debate on the Deregulation Bill, Hansard, 3 February 2015. TUC news release. IOSH news release. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Action call on preventable firefighter deaths
The deaths of some UK firefighters “could and should have been prevented,” a research report has concluded. Research commissioned by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) looked into 14 deaths of firefighters in the last 10 years and warned “good practice” had sometimes been ignored.
FBU news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star.
Firefighter fatalities at fires in the UK, 2004-2013: Voices from the fireground, report by Andrew Watterson, Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group, University of Stirling, Scotland, January 2015. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Offshore job losses risk ‘another Piper Alpha’
Jobs cuts across the UK offshore oil industry will compromise safety and lead to the loss of key skills, Unite has warned. The union said “the seeds of another disaster on the scale of Piper Alpha” could result from cutbacks linked to the oil price fall. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Treating rubbish should not mean rubbish treatment
Local authority waste management workers across Scotland are under pressure, facing increasing targets and declining budgets, a UNISON survey has found. Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland’s head of bargaining and campaigning, said local authorities in Scotland “can't expect staff to meet more stringent targets when they are being cut back.”
UNISON Scotland news release and full report, Dumped on: working in Scotland’s waste management services. UNISON news release. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Tube ticket office closures a costly mistake
London mayor Boris Johnson has been accused of mounting his “biggest and most expensive vanity project” as his plan to close over 250 Tube ticket offices in London started to take effect. As the first offices were shut in the capital, rail union TSSA said the Tory mayor was rushing through the plan - and the opening of the Night Tube scheme in September - to boost his long term campaign to become the leader of the Conservative Party.
TSSA news release. The Standard. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Glasgow protests over rail sewage dumping
Rail workers have highlighted the ‘continuing scandal’ of the dumping of sewage on the tracks in protests outside Glasgow railway stations. RMT members leafleted travellers outside Glasgow Central and Glasgow Queen Street stations on 3 February.
RMT news release. Risks 689. 7 February 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: Don’t punish workers for bad weather
When the weather burns bad, employers should not punish staff who find they are unable to make it in to work, unions have said. Midlands TUC regional secretary Lee Barron said bosses must not dock pay or force workers to take holiday if they are prevented from getting to work by hazardous conditions or if, for example, their child’s school has closed.
TUC news release. CWU news release. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Assaults on prison staff hit a record high
Rising prisoner number and falling budgets are putting prison staff at risk, the union Community has said. The union was commenting after latest Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures revealed assaults on prison staff are at the highest level since 2006. Assaults on staff had increased to 3,470 incidents in the 12 months to end of September 2014 from 3,178 in the 12 months to end of September 2013.
Community news release. MoJ Safety in Custody update. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Stuart Pearce admits deadly asbestos fears
England football star Stuart Pearce is warning tradespeople of the deadly risks posed by asbestos. The former electrician said he could have breathed in asbestos while working as an electrician before his football career took off.
HSE news release, Beware Asbestos app and asbestos webpages. The Mirror. Construction Enquirer. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: North Sea workers faced an asbestos risk
Hundreds of North Sea oil and gas workers could have been exposed to deadly asbestos while drilling offshore. Fears for their safety arose after a retired rigger was awarded a five-figure legal settlement after contracting asbestos-related pleural thickening, caused by asbestos used in Flosal, a powdered substance used in the 1970s to lubricate pipes being drilled into the sea floor.
Sunday Post. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Company fined after offshore death
An offshore services company has been fined for serious criminal safety failings following an incident in which a worker died after plunging 23 metres from a platform into the sea. Lee Bertram, then 37, was working for Bilfinger Salamis UK Limited on a platform in the North Sea when the incident happened on 16 June 2011.
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Morning Star. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Suspended sentence for deadly farm director
A Staffordshire dairy farm director has been handed a four-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, after criminal safety failings led to a 75-year-old worker being crushed by a bull. James Leech died in hospital nine days after he was rammed several times against a gate by a Holstein friesian bull weighing around a tonne.
HSE news release and agriculture webpages. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Solar panel firm fined over roof fall death
A Preston-based company that installs solar panels has been fined £45,000 following the death of a worker who fell through a barn roof. Gregorz Sobko had been working on the roof of a cowshed when one of the clear plastic panels, designed to let in light, gave way.
HSE news release and falls webpages. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Britain: Director fined for poor site standards
A Gloucestershire housebuilder and the company’s managing director have been fined after poor welfare facilities and unsafe excavation work were discovered at a construction site near Cinderford. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified a string of concerns at the new-build development in Buckshaft in December 2013.
HSE news release. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Bangladesh: Plastics factory ‘kills at least 13’
A fire swept through a plastic packaging factory on the night of Saturday 31 January in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, killing at least 13 people, a fire department official said. Mohammed Farhaduzzaman said survivors told him about 70 workers were inside the building when the fire broke out at the five-storey factory in Dhaka's Mirpur district. Times Union. The Guardian. BBC News Online.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Europe: Workplaces awash with cancer chemicals
Europe’s workplaces are using 5,675 chemicals that manufacturers or importers consider to be carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction (CMR). The figures come in a January report of notifications to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). ECHA compared the data supplied by manufacturers and importers when notifying the classification and labelling of hazardous substances under the classification, labelling and packaging regulations (CLP) with the registration dossiers submitted by firms handling larger quantities of chemicals under the REACH rules.
ETUI news report. ECHA news release and report. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
USA: Record levels of mine whistleblower victimisation
The US mine safety regulator MSHA took action on a record 49 safety whistleblower cases last year. The cases filed with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (FMSHRC) involved allegations of discrimination made by miners who were fired, suspended of victimised for raising safety concerns.
MSHA news release. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
USA: Oil union goes on safety strike
Workers at US refineries and chemical plants took strike action last week after the firms and the union USW failed to reach agreement over pay, benefits and safety issues. USW international vice president Gary Beevers, who heads the union’s national oil bargaining programme, said: “This work stoppage is about onerous overtime; unsafe staffing levels; dangerous conditions the industry continues to ignore; the daily occurrences of fires, emissions, leaks and explosions that threaten local communities without the industry doing much about it; the industry’s refusal to make opportunities for workers in the trade crafts; the flagrant contracting out that impacts health and safety on the job; and the erosion of our workplace, where qualified and experienced union workers are replaced by contractors when they leave or retire.”
USW news release. Wall Street Journal. Labor Network for Sustainability. Risks 689. 7 February 2015
Hazards news, 31 January 2015
Britain: TUC talks the right language on migrant rights
New online guides from the TUC will help combat the exploitation of migrant workers, the union body has said. ‘Working in the UK’ is available in 13 languages, including Polish, Bulgarian and Romanian. The TUC says it provides workers with information and guidance on crucial issues such as pay, employment contracts, working hours, sick pay, and health and safety.
TUC news release. TUC Stronger Unions blog. The TUC Working in the UK guide is available in Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Slovakian, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French and English. Risks 688. 31 January 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: Firefighters oppose ‘unsafe’ terror drills
Firefighters should refuse to take part in terror drills as part of their ongoing dispute with ministers over pensions and the retirement age, their union has said. Firefighters’ union FBU “strongly advised” its members not to take part because of a work to rule over government plans to enforce an older retirement age of 60, which the union says will see many firefighters lose their jobs on fitness grounds.
Morning Star. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Union raises concerns over rail policing
Rail union ASLEF has expressed concern over plans to split off the transport police service in Scotland. Smith Commission proposals require the devolution of ‘legislative competence in relation to railway policing in Scotland.’
ASLEF news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Nautilus welcomes piracy ransom assurances
Nautilus has welcomed a UK government pledge not to outlaw ransom payments to secure the release of seafarers held hostage by pirates. In a response to Nautilus, Home Office minister James Brokenshire said the government intends to maintain the distinction between ransom payments made to criminals and those made to terrorists.
Nautilus news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Global: TUC supports worker participation in Vietnam
The UK TUC’s global solidarity charity has been helping to give workers a voice at the Vietnamese furniture factories supplying British companies. TUC Aid has been supporting an Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) programme in Vietnam that aims to tackle health and safety problems and low wages.
TUC news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Royal Mail fined after chemical burns failure
A caustic chemical leak that led to a CWU member requiring skin grafts has resulted in a £40,000 fine for Royal Mail. Dacorum Borough Council prosecuted the company for criminal health and safety breaches at the Home Counties North mail depot in Hemel Hempstead last year.
Dacorum Borough Council news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Slip cost aircraft fitter his job
An aircraft fitter was forced to retire from work after falling at work and suffering severe back and leg injuries. Timothy Powell, 58, from Bristol, was working for GKN Aerospace Services Ltd when he slipped on a pool of water on the shopfloor after a machine used for polishing aluminium components leaked.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Lawyers condemn ‘outrageous’ court fee hike
Government plans for dramatic increases in the cost of going to court could have a ‘profound impact on access to justice’, according to personal injury lawyers. “The government’s claim that fees are not a major factor in a person’s decision about whether or not to go to court is completely disingenuous,” said APIL president John Spencer, adding: “This move is bound to discourage people from making valid claims – people who have every right to make them.”
APIL news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Physio killed by lorry while cycling to treat a patient
A community physiotherapist was the first cyclist killed on London’s roads this year. Stephanie Turner, 29, died in the 8am collision with a lorry on 20 January, as she cycled to a patient appointment.
The Standard. Stop Killing Cyclists news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Oil firm messed up on 159 safety-critical jobs
A major North Sea oil firm failed to get approval for the deferral of 159 safety-critical work orders. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found 182 outstanding jobs when it carried out an inspection on Talisman Sinopec’s North Sea Clyde platform, 159 of which had not been approved for deferral.
Energy Voice. Evening Express. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Metalworks boss sentenced for manslaughter
Mohammad Babamiri, the managing director of RK Metalworks, has been received a suspended jail term for manslaughter after one of his workers was crushed by heavy machinery. The victim, Shenol Shevka-Ahmed, was a Bulgarian national with a wife and two young sons at home in Bulgaria.
Metropolitan Police news release. Enfield Today. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Ninth time unlucky for serial offender
A construction company with a lengthy record of endangering the lives of its workers has been fined after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found once again it was putting workers at serious risk of falling from height. Inspectors who paid a routine visit to an AM Construction Ltd site in West Bromwich on 15 May 2014 found men working on the first floor without scaffolding, edge protection, airbags or other fall prevention or mitigation measures.
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Vet in court over x-ray of employee’s foot
A director of a veterinary practice in Maidstone has been given a conditional discharge for allowing an employee to x-ray her own foot after a horse stamped on it. Maidstone Magistrates heard that the employee, a 25-year-old vet and equine intern at Pet Emergency Treatment Services Ltd, was afraid the foot was broken and she might be unable to do that evening’s on-call duty.
HSE news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Worker loses arm clearing sawdust
A Powys firm has been fined for serious criminal safety failings after a woodworker had his right arm severed while clearing sawdust from underneath a circular saw. Brian Morris, 59, was working at Stagecraft Display Ltd’s factory just outside Llandrindod Wells when the incident happened on 23 February 2012.
HSE news release and woodworking machinery webpages. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Worker paralysed in fall from farm shed
An East Lothian firm has been fined for serious criminal safety failings after a worker was left paralysed when he fell almost four metres through a fragile rooflight. Neil Knox, then 69, is confined to a wheelchair after suffering irreparable damage to his spinal cord in the incident on 14 March 2013 as he replaced plastic rooflights on a farm shed in Lauder, in the Scottish Borders.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Australia: Study confirms firefighter cancer risk
Firefighters who worked at a training facility in the Australian state of Victoria have a higher incidence of skin, testicular and brain cancers, a comprehensive study has found. Victorian premier Daniel Andrews told reporters the research confirmed “beyond any reasonable doubt” that there was a statistically significant increase in cancers in firefighters who worked at the Country Fire Authority’s (CFA) Fiskville site.
Monash University news release and full report. UFU Victoria notice and news release. Victorian Premier Andrew Daniels’ news release. ABC News. The Age. The Guardian. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Global: IndustriALL and Total sign global agreement
Global union federation IndustriALL has signed a landmark agreement with Total, the French oil and gas giant, guaranteeing employee rights across the company’s international operations. As part of the agreement, Total, which employs 100,000 workers in more than 130 countries, has undertaken to uphold the rights of workers to form trade unions and to “recognise that health and safety of contractor and supplier employees is as important as the health and safety of its own staff.”
Industriall news release and CSR Total Global Agreement. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Italy: Garment sweatshops set the standard
New research into Italian shoe and garment factories shows that competition with Eastern Europe and Asia is driving down wages and working conditions in Italy. The survey conducted by Campagna Abiti Puliti, the Italian section of the Clean Clothes Campaign, found that big brands including Louis Vuitton, Armani, Prada and Dior are buying back old factories that were previously uneconomic.
Can you earn a living wage in fashion in Italy?, Clean Clothes Campaign report. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
USA: American Airlines sued by mechanics
American Airlines pressured workers to skimp on federal safety procedures and threatened discipline if they reported too many maintenance flaws, union reps have charged. The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) said the actions by maintenance managers violated labour laws.
TWU Local 591 letter to the membership. American Journal of Transportation. Skift.com. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Hazards news, 24 January 2015
Britain: Unite launches asbestos awareness campaign
Unite members who think they’ve been exposed to asbestos are being urged to join the union’s asbestos register. The call forms a part of the union’s new campaign to raise awareness about “the silent killer”.
Unite news release and online campaign pack on asbestos for Unite members. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Violence against shopworkers is ‘still a big problem’
Violence, threats and harassment at work are still major problems facing shopworkers, surveys from their union and the retail industry have shown. John Hannett, leader of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, launched the results of Usdaw’s latest Freedom From Fear survey, which tracks the levels of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.
Usdaw news release. BRC news release. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Nautilus sinks plans to scrap ferry safety rules
Seafarers’ union Nautilus has welcomed the UK government’s decision to abandon controversial proposals to scrap rules requiring roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) passenger ships to be fitted with lockers containing emergency equipment. Following an eight-week consultation and talks between the union and shipping minister John Hayes, the government said ‘persuasive’ arguments had been made in favour of retaining the regulations, which were introduced following the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster in 1987.
Nautilus news release. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Pilots issue safety warning on offshore safety
North Sea aviation safety must not be put under threat by the industry downturn in the industry, helicopter pilots have warned. Their concerns were raised after BP said it would shed 300 jobs.
BALPA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: HSE needs resources to tackle work diseases
The fall in fatalities at work in the Health and Safety Executive’s first 40 years is a testament to the value of a dedicated regulator, GMB has said. But the union warns funding cuts have left the watchdog ‘unprepared’ to tackle the much bigger toll of work-related diseases.
GMB news release. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Overworked nurses to 'make a stand'
Overworked and underpaid nurses are to take industrial action alongside other health service staff later this month in pursuit of better working conditions. The action comes on the heels of new official figures obtained by the Observer showing ‘soaring’ levels of stress in NHS nurses.
UNISON news release and NHS pay campaign. GMB news release. The Observer. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Cotton gloves treatment gives machinist dermatitis
A machine operator who was provided the wrong gloves by his employer contracted occupational dermatitis as a result. Unite member Graham Taylor, from Telford, worked at Mahle Filter Systems where he welded components and dipped seals in ‘P80 solution’.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Business boosting government boasts we are more lawless
The government’s frantic rush to ‘boost business’ by removing safety regulations has come at a cost, the TUC has warned. The union body was commenting after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced that “84 per cent of health and safety rules will have been scrapped or improved in this parliament, freeing employers from unnecessary red tape.”
DWP news release. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Forgers jailed for faking site and security certificates
Two men who made and sold thousands of counterfeit identity documents, construction skills certificates (CSCS) and licences to work in the security industry have been jailed, following an investigation by the National Crime Agency. Medi Krasniqi, 47, and Arsen Meci, 26, were arrested by NCA officers on 9 October 2014.
NCA news release. Construction Enquirer. CSCS safety test. Security industry licensing system. Risks 687. 24 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
Europe: Debate about work cancer links hots up
A union thinktank has welcomed a call for more research and action on the prevention of work-related breast cancer, and has criticised a study that suggested bad luck was the major factor in cancer causation. The European trade union research institute (ETUI), which has its own health and safety unit, was commenting after the publication of two contrasting reports.
ETUI news report. Stirling University news release. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Companies exposed plumbers to asbestos
Two plumbers were exposed to potentially-deadly asbestos because of criminal failures by two Barnstable companies, a court has heard. Employees of Pilkington Plumbing and Heating Ltd were allowed to carry out removal of a back boiler and to drill a wall panel at a North Devon Homes property in Ilfracombe, despite not receiving an asbestos survey from North Devon Homes.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. North Devon Gazette. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Builder jailed for manslaughter of young labourer
West Yorkshire builder Nigel Parker, 56, has been jailed after an inexperienced labourer was killed when a chimney collapsed on top of him while he was left to carry out work unsupervised. Danny Hough, 23, was crushed to death when two tonnes of masonry landed on top of him as he carried out work at a house in Batley.
Huddersfield Examiner. Yorkshire Post. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Farming auction firm fined over worker's death
A major Scottish farming auction firm has been fined £30,000 following the death of a worker in who was crushed by his quad bike. Lawrie and Symington (L&S) employee Allan Frame was found dead on Bonnington Farm in Lanark on 17 September 2012. COPFS news release. The Herald. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Digger bucket broke worker’s back
A building company has been fined for its criminal safety failings after employee Peter McGrellis broke his back when he was struck by the bucket on a digger. RMC Building and Civil Engineering Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation into the incident at the Longleat Estate in Warminster.
HSE news release and construction webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: New consolidated listings of TUC resources
A consolidated alphabetical listing of all the TUC’s health and safety resources is now available online. The new resource pulls together the TUC’s health and safety publications and those on the same theme produced by TUC Education for union safety training courses.
TUC website: Guides and reports for reps. TUC Education health and safety resources webpage. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Australia: Work drug tests ‘a waste of time and money’
Australia’s Immigration Department is wasting its time and taxpayers' money on forced drug tests for thousands of public servants, according to a leading workplace drug and alcohol expert. The tests will be no deterrent, enormously expensive and might even make matters worse by forcing drug users in the department on to harder substances, according to Dr Donna Bull.
Canberra Times. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Canada: Work death jail terms still ‘too rare’
The short weekends-only jail terms handed to two corporate directors in Ontario, Canada following a workplace death are a step in the right direction “but do not address the crying need to enforce the Criminal Code when workers are killed on the job,” the United Steelworkers union (USW) has said. USW Canada national director Ken Neumann, whose union is running a high profile ‘Stop the Killing’ campaign, said: “We are determined to work with governments, Crown prosecutors, health and safety regulators and police across the country to ensure the law is enforced to the full extent whenever a worker is killed or injured.”
USW news release and Stop the Killing campaign. NUPGE news release. Rabble. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Global: Chinese firms choke Ugandan workers
Residents of Kasenge ‘A’ village, a rapidly expanding industrial zone outside of the Ugandan capital Kampala, are learning the price of industrialisation – dangerous jobs and once clean air now choked with fumes. The hamlet of about 1,000 homes is home to over 20 Chinese owned factories.
The Independent. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
USA: Republican regulatory moves threaten safety
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would have been prevented from issuing timely guidelines on protecting health care workers and first responders from the Ebola virus under a Republican proposed law. The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015 (HR 185), which was passed by the House of Representatives– but which President Obama had at an earlier airing of the same legislation threatened to veto - would add dozens of new procedural and analytical roadblocks to any new enforceable rule such as workplace safety or consumer protection regulations and even to non-binding federal guidelines to protect workers and the public, such as the CDC’s Ebola guidelines.
Climate Progress. AFL-CIO Now blog. House of Representatives Committee on Rules statement. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Hazards news, 17 January 2015
Britain: Fit for work scheme starts to dribble into action
The government’s delayed nationwide ‘Fit for work’ system is easing into action, with an advisory service now up and running and a referral system in 20 GP practices in Sheffield starting work this week. The referral system is expected to be rolled out nationwide throughout the year.
Fit For Work referrals- a TUC guide for union representatives, TUC, January 2015. DWP Fit for Work guidance. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Seafarers’ union warning over car carrier safety
A stranded cargo ship which listed dramatically as it left a UK port has highlighted problems in the design and operation or car carriers, seafarers’ union Nautilus has warned. The 51,000 tonne transporter Hoegh Osaka was deliberately beached on 3 January at Bramble Bank, after it began listing as it left the Port of Southampton in Hampshire.
Nautilus news release. BBC News Online. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Government does nothing on rail sewage dumping
Rail union RMT has stepped up demands for urgent government action to end the “shocking practice” of train companies dumping human sewage on the railway tracks. The union was speaking out as a BBC ‘Inside Out’ programme broadcast on 12 January revealed one in ten trains are still dumping human waste on the tracks and that exposure to this excrement has serious health implications for rail workers.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Journalists show solidarity in Paris
Top officers from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) this week attended events in Paris commemorating the deaths of eight journalists and four others in the attack on the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet and assistant general secretary Seamus Dooley were among over 1m people to join the Paris event, adding an NUJ flag and a special ‘Je Suis Charlie’ NUJ placard to the flowers, pens and other tributes.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. BBC News Online. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: UNISON member gets car crash payout
A social worker who suffered nerve and soft tissue damage as a result of a road traffic accident unrelated to her job has secured £3,105 in compensation. The 64-year-old from Somerset was driving on the B3128 outside of Bristol, when another driver suddenly drove into the rear of her car, propelling her forward into a vehicle in front.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Work oven death firm convicted of manslaughter
A kayak manufacturer has been found guilty of corporate manslaughter after a worker became trapped and died in an industrial oven in Cheshire. Alan Catterall, 54, tried to escape using a crowbar but suffered severe burns at the Pyranha Mouldings factory in Runcorn in 2010.
Daily Post. Western Morning News. ITV News. BBC News Online. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Mental health the top work-related health problem
New research shows that throughout the British Isles, mental health disorders are the most common work-related ill health problem. A team from Manchester University found mental health problems linked to work account for over half of all cases reported by occupational physicians.
SOM news release. A Money and others. Work-related ill-health: Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain 2005-2012, Occupational Medicine, volume 65, pages 15-21, 13 January 2015.
Promoting good practice in workplace mental health: A seminar for union officers, workplace representatives and activists, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS. 5 February 2015, 9.00-13.00. Register for the TUC mental health good practice seminar. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Global: Cancer agency slams cancer ‘bad luck’ paper
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has said it “strongly disagrees” with the conclusion of a scientific report that concluded cancer was largely down to ‘bad luck’. IARC, the World Health Organisation’s specialised cancer agency, said the study, published in the journal Science on 2 January, had “limitations and biases in the analysis” and there was a “serious contradiction” between the widely reported paper’s conclusion and the extensive body of scientific evidence on cancer causation.
IARC statement, 15 January 2015. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Canada: More evidence on wood dust and lung cancer
People with substantial exposure to wood dust at work have a greatly increased risk of lung cancer, a study has found. The paper published in January 2015 in the journal Environmental Health concludes there was “evidence of increased risk of lung cancer among workers with substantial cumulative exposure to wood dust.”
Eric Vallières, Javier Pintos, Marie-Elise Parent and Jack Siemiatycki. Occupational exposure to wood dust and risk of lung cancer in two population-based case-control studies in Montreal, Canada, Environmental Health, volume 14, number 1, 7 January 2015. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-14-1. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Finland: Crude oil exposure linked to kidney cancer
A study of refinery workers has found exposure to crude oil may lead to a marked increase in kidney cancer risk. Researchers looked at cancer patterns in 9,454 workers employed in the oil refinery industry in Finland in the period 1967 to 1982 and found there was a threefold increase in the kidney cancer risk for exposure to hydrocarbons in crude oil.
Ahti Anttila and others. Kidney cancer risk in oil refining in Finland: a nested case-referent study, Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, volume 57, issue 1, pages 68–72, January 2015. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Plans for NHS in Scotland to recoup asbestos costs
Plans for the health service in Scotland to recoup the cost of medical treatment from companies that exposed workers to asbestos have gone out to consultation. A bill lodged at the Scottish parliament by Stuart McMillan would introduce legislation to ensure that the NHS can claw back the money spent caring for people who have contracted conditions such as mesothelioma.
Stuart McMillan MSP blog. The Herald. 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
Britain: Changes afoot on site safety management rules
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has given the construction industry six months grace to switch over to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM), due to come into force from April. Under the CDM shake-up, changes to the original 2007 regulations mean there will no longer be an official role of CDM coordinator; instead, clients will need to appoint a Principal Designer and Principal Contractor to fulfil their duties.
HSE news release and draft industry guidance to the CDM Regulations 2015. Construction Enquirer. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Farmer fined over driver’s electrocution
A Wiltshire farm owner has been fined after an HGV driver was electrocuted while making a delivery to his farm. Salisbury Magistrates’ Court heard that self-employed HGV driver Nigel Fox was delivering cattle feed to Tony Slade’s Chestnut Tree Farm in Sutton Mandeville on 2 November 2012. Mr Fox, who was 59 at the time, was raising the tipper body of his articulated lorry when it hit the 11kV overhead power line which crossed the farmyard close to the feed silo he was trying to fill.
HSE news release and guidance on working near overhead power cables. BBC News Online. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Highways Agency gets a ticking off over death
The Highways Agency has been issued with a Crown Censure – an official ticking off delivered by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - for its criminal safety failings after an experienced traffic officer was struck and killed by an out of control car on the M25. Grandfather John Walmsley, 59, was deployed with a colleague to an incident on the motorway, between junctions 4 and 5 clockwise, on 25 September 2012.
HSE news release. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Ink firm’s failings led to worker’s death
A West Yorkshire company has been fined after a worker died when he was crushed beneath a one tonne silo of varnish that slid from a forklift truck and toppled onto him. Wayne Potts, 39, died from his injuries hours after the incident on 25 March 2011 at Gardiner Colours Ltd in Normanton.
HSE news release. Wakefield Express. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Global: Trade ties tie Thailand to Russian asbestos
The Russian government is keen on expanding trade and joint ventures with Thai companies – and Thailand's industry minister admits asbestos trade is one of its targets. Chakramon Phasukavanich said the countries had discussed asbestos after environmental groups had asked the Thai government to ban imports, which mostly come from Russia.
Bangkok Post. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Ireland: Union action call after sharp rise in work deaths
In the wake of figures showing a 17 per cent rise in work related deaths, the union SIPTU has called on the Irish government to stop cuts to the safety regulator and to oppose European Commission deregulation plans for safety. SIPTU health and safety adviser, Sylvester Cronin, said the Irish government must oppose the European Commission’s “attempts to deregulate occupational safety and health legislation or we will see more alarming increases in work related accidents, illnesses and deaths”.
SIPTU news release. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
USA: Public health body wants breast cancer prevention
An American Public Health Association (APHA) policy statement on ‘Breast Cancer and Occupation: The Need for Action’ is thought to be the first such call by a major public health body on breast cancer and the risks faced by women due to the hazards in the work environment. The policy statement says “gender and social class bias” could explain the lack of research and preventive efforts on occupational breast cancer.
Breast Cancer and Occupation: The Need for Action, APHA, posted online January 2015. Risks 686. 17 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
Hazards news, 10 January 2015
Britain: HSE missing the point on safety myths
There are a lot of health and safety myths out there – like workplace safety regulations are a burden or there is a costly compensation culture gripping the country – but the safety regulator’s myth-busting mission is seriously off target, warns the TUC. The union body was speaking out after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published a report it commissioned from the University of Exeter that examined cases referred to HSE’s ‘mythbusters’ panel.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and TUC health and safety myths report. HSE news release. University of Exeter report. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Watchdog and firms doing ‘sod all’ of use on stress
Workplace stress causes heart and other chronic diseases, higher rates of sickness absence and suicides. So why, asks TUC’s Hugh Robertson, are the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and employers doing ‘sod all’ of any use to tackle the bad management practices at the root of the problem?
Distressing failure: Who says work has to be like this?, Hazards magazine special report, December 2014. TUC Safety Reps Guide to the HSE Stress Management Standards. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Unions condemn the killings at French magazine
Journalists’ unions have condemned the killing of 12 people in an attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Eight journalists and cartoonists - including the magazine's editor - died along with two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor when masked men armed with assault rifles stormed the office on 7 January 2015.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. NUJ news release. IFJ news release and 2014 deaths report. EFJ news release. BBC News Online. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: UCATT safety survey exposes industry failings
An online survey of members of construction union UCATT has highlighted the massive safety failings that workers in the industry continue to face. Over a fifth (21 per cent) of the 750 respondents to the survey did not believe that their employer took their health and safety seriously.
UCATT news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: New tanker driver passport sees off cowboys
Cowboy fuel tanker operators face being driven off the road after a new Petroleum Driver Passport (PDP) covering over 6,000 tanker drivers across England, Scotland and Wales came into force on 1 January. The passport, introduced by the Downstream Oil Industry Distribution Forum – a partnership of employers, industry bodies and the transport union Unite - is aimed at driving up health and safety standards.
Unite news release and guide. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: NUT ups its campaign on deadly asbestos in schools
Teaching union NUT is scaling up its campaign on the deadly risk posed by asbestos in schools, and is pressing the Department for Education (DfE) to come clean about the findings of a policy review. The union said it was unacceptable “that the DfE is delaying publication of the findings of its review of asbestos policy in schools, which could set an agenda for change.”
NUT news release – send a supportive email to your MP. Lancashire Evening Post. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Equity secures £3.7m for injured stage manager
Equity member Rachael Presdee has been awarded £3.7 million compensation after suffering a life-changing injury at the Soho Theatre in London which means she now needs to use a wheelchair. Rachael was a stage manager on the Headlong Theatre production of Boys in 2012. On 9 June 2012 she fell through an unguarded backstage door and dropped three metres on to the open stage, suffering serious and permanent injury to her spine.
Equity news release. The Stage. BBC News Online. The Telegraph. The Express. The Guardian. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Shamed fire chiefs agree to deaths payout
East Sussex fire bosses who forced the families of two fallen firefighters into a gruelling court battle have finally agreed to pay compensation. The announcement marks the final chapter in a painful struggle for the relatives of Geoff Wicker, 49, and Brian Wembridge, 63, who were killed by an explosion during a fireworks factory blaze at Marlie Farm in 2006.
ESFRS statement. Morning Star. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Scissor-welding director wanted to ‘kill’ worker
A worker has received a £2,500 payout after a scissor-wielding company director threatened to kill him. BECTU member Peter Fermor was injured in the assault.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Global: Cancer blame industry absolves industry’s real culprits
Bad genes, bad luck and bad habits are frequently blamed for cancers, but stronger evidence of the occupational and environmental origins of our cancers is much more likely to be disputed or dismissed. A December 2014 paper in journal Science, concluded two-thirds of the cancer types analysed were linked to chance mutations.
Cristian Tomasetti and Bert Vogelstein. Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions, Science, volume 347, number 6217, pages 78-81, 2 January 2015.
Lifestyle behind more than half a million cancers in five years, CRUK news release, 26 December 2014.
Ted Schettler. Cancer, stem cells and bad luck, critical online commentary from the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, 6 January 2015.
Silent Spring commentary. BBC News Online on the ‘bad luck’ and ‘lifestyle’ cancer stories.
Risks 685. 10 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
Britain: Call for regulation of mountain guides after fall death
The Scottish government should consider regulating mountain guides, a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) has recommended. Sheriff Derek Pyle made the recommendation following the inquiry into the death of Graham Paterson almost two years ago on the Isle of Skye.
Grough report. Sheriff Pyle’s determination. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Young worker dies on first day at work
A 20-year-old man died on his first day at work for a new company when the four-tonne dumper he was driving toppled over a bank and crushed him. Daniel Whiston, from Dulverton, was allowed to drive the dumper, which had a number of serious defects, before it overturned down the embankment at Sweetings Farm, near Tiverton, on 27 October 2009.
HSE news release and construction webpages. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Glass recycling firm kills temp on day 1
Glass recycling firm Recresco Ltd was fined £180,000 plus £38,693 costs after Ian Aliski, 29, was killed on his first day at work when the unsuitable forklift truck he was driving overturned. He had been hired on a temporary four-day contract.
HSE news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Global recycling firm fined for work death
Global metal recycling company European Metal Recycling Ltd was £150,000 plus £80,000 costs after subcontract worker William (Billy) Ward, 56, was killed when part of a 33-tonne metal barge he was dismantling collapsed on top of him.
HSE news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Home firm fined after lone worker dies
Barnet Homes Ltd was fined £37,000 plus £75,000 costs after heating engineer Alan Young, 68, was found dead in a communal boiler house on one of their housing estates. It is believed the lone worker, whose body was only discovered the next day, fell from an unsafe mobile scaffold.
HSE news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Pheasant shoot business fined after worker dies
Malcolm John Reeve, a senior partner and co-owner of the Urra estate, was fined £20,000 plus £1,681 costs after occasional worker James Gaffney, 79, died in an overturned all-terrain vehicle on remote moorland, used by the business for pheasant shoots.
HSE news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Three firms done after mining museum death
Yorkshire’s National Coal Mining Museum Trust and two companies were told to pay £590,000 in fines and costs after Michael Buckingham, 58, was crushed and killed at the museum in 2011. He died after he became trapped between a tunnel construction machine 138 metres below ground and a dumper loader that he was operating. His employer, Amalgamated Construction Ltd, was fined £110,000 plus £245,000 costs. Machinery supplier Metal Innovations Ltd was fined £80,000 with £110,000 in costs. The museum trust was fined £10,000 with £35,000 in costs.
HSE news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Man crushed to death in quarry machine
Contractor Ward Bros (Plant Hire) Ltd was fined £85,000 plus £55,000 costs and quarry operator CEMEX UK Materials Ltd £60,000 plus £37,500 in costs after Gary Ian Ward, 43, went to investigate a problem with a large mobile crushing machine, which moved and crushed him causing death by asphyxiation.
HSE news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Workers had massive blood lead levels
A Surrey-based civil engineering firm and a Hampshire fabrication company have been fined for exposing workers to lead during refurbishment work on the iconic Nab Tower in the Solent. Russell Leggett and Robert Peach required hospital treatment after inhaling dust and fumes when steel coated in lead paint was cut into and removed from the structure in July 2013.
HSE news release. More on the hazards of occupational exposure to lead. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Global: Gear up for Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2015
The theme for Workers’ Memorial Day 2015 will be “removing exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace”, global union confederation ITUC has announced. The union body says the theme includes an opportunity for unions to highlight chemical-related hazards, asbestos “as well as the Ebola virus and other potentially hazardous biological exposures.” It adds slogans, twitter hashtag suggestions and other communication tools will be posted on the ITUC/Hazards 28 April webpages. Europe-wide, the ETUC has already announced it will use the 28 April event to further its campaign on hazardous substances.
ITUC/Hazards and TUC 28 April 2015 Workers’ Memorial Day webpages. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Canada: Lead at work causes ALS
Individuals with chronic exposure to lead at work are 80 per cent more likely to develop Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Canadian researchers have concluded. Publishing the findings of the analysis of 13 studies of individuals with ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease’ in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the authors found people with a history of work-related lead exposure were 1.81 times more likely to develop ALS.
Ming-Dong Wang and others. A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies of the Association Between Chronic Occupational Exposure to Lead and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 56, number 12, pages 1235-1242, December 2014. The Pump Handle. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
China: Bosses and officials jailed over fire deaths
Seven company bosses and eleven local officials have been given jail terms of up to nine years for their part in China’s worst factory fire in recent history. The fire at Baoyuanfeng Poultry Co killed 121 workers and injured another 76 in June 2013 when an electrical short circuit ignited combustible material inside the factory.
China Labour Bulletin. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Europe: Political backing for cancer rules review
One of the final acts of the Italian presidency of the European Union, which ended on 31 December 2014, was to host a conference on future health and safety at work policy. The event on 4-5 December 2014 heard Laurent Vogel, a researcher with the European trade union research organisation ETUI, call for the Europe-wide directive on carcinogens and mutagens in the workplace to be overhauled.
ETUI news report and Laurent Vogel’s presentation: The point of view of the European trade unions: It is urgent to revitalise the EU occupational health and safety policy. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Europe: Dismay as Stoiber gets new deregulation role
Unions have reacted with dismay to the appointment of a deregulation-obsessed German right wing politician as a European Commission special adviser on ‘better regulation.’ The appointment came two months after the European Commission’s Stoiber-chaired High Level Group on Administrative Burdens published a deregulatory template described by TUC’s Hugh Robertson as “pretty dangerous.”
ETUC news release and better regulation webpages.
The crusade against ‘red tape’: How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation, Corporate Europe Observatory/Friends of the Earth Europe, October 2014. Risks 685. 10 January 2015