Hazards news, 30 April 2016
Britain: All you need to know about Hazards at Work
The new edition of the TUC’s best-selling guide to health and safety at work is now available. The union body says: “It explains the way unions organise to improve health, safety and welfare, how the law has changed in recent years and gives full details of the key legal provisions and how they are enforced.”
TUC Hazards at Work publication briefing, printable order form or order online from the TUC publications shop. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Britain: Brexit could put millions at risk at work
Leaving the EU could put millions of people in the UK at increased risk of work-related injury and ill-health, a TUC report has concluded. ‘EU membership and health and safety’, published on 28 April to coincide with International Workers’ Memorial Day, finds that EU legislation has helped stop illnesses and injuries at work, and saved lives.
TUC news release and report, EU Membership and Health and Safety.
International Workers’ Memorial Day worldwide activities. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Britain: Union warning on conditions on Shell oil platforms
Offshore workers employed by a contractor on Shell’s North Sea platforms are demanding the withdrawal of proposals to cut their terms and conditions. Unite is to meet with the Wood Group’s management team to press home offshore workers’ opposition to further cuts which it says could jeopardise safety.
Unite news release. Socialist Worker. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Britain: Charity fires safety rep for raising ‘fire alarm’ alert
A union health and safety rep working for CGL, a leading drug and alcohol abuse charity, has been sacked after pointing out fire hazards that could have cost colleagues’ lives, her union Unite has said. Alison Morris, a drugs referral team leader, was summarily dismissed earlier this month from her Reach Out Recovery job, following her joint inspection with a fire brigade officer that found non-operational fire alarms in the building.
Unite news release. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Britain: Warnings as fire deaths rise sharply
Fire chiefs have joined the firefighters’ union FBU to raise concerns about the deadly impact of fire service cuts. Reacting to new official figures showing a 21 per cent rise in fire deaths over the past year, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “We are now witnessing the tragic results of such wrong-headed cuts to the fire and rescue service.”
FBU news release. The Guardian. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Europe: Nautilus action call on shipping’s ‘rotten underbelly’
Seafarers’ union Nautilus has called for a further crackdown on substandard shipping in European waters following a UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report on the loss of a cement carrier and its eight crew off Scotland in January 2015. MAIB concluded that the capsize of the Cyprus-flagged Cemfjord in ‘extraordinarily violent sea conditions’ was the ‘predictable’ result of poor passage planning and commercial pressures.
Nautilus news release. MAIB news release. BBC News Online. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Britain: Campaigning successes gets UNISON rep a top award
A UNISON rep who has helped address safety problems at work, in Scotland and across the UK and Europe has won a top award from the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC). Glasgow City UNISON health and safety officer Scott Donohoe is the recipient of this year’s STUC Frank Maguire Award for Health and Safety.
STUC news release. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Britain: Two firms fined over two occupational diseases
Two Derbyshire-based construction firms have been fined for criminal safety offences as a result of separate investigations into reported cases of occupational diseases. Derby Crown Court heard how employees at Sandvik Mining and Construction Limited and Sandvik Construction Mobile Crushers and Screeners Limited were regularly exposed to hand arm vibration that led to separate reported cases of carpal tunnel syndrome and hand-arm vibration syndrome.
HSE news release. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Britain: Explosives to be used in Didcot demolition
Explosives are to be used to demolish the remaining section of the collapsed Didcot Power Station. Four workers were killed and five injured in the collapse on 23 February, with one body recovered from the site. RWE Npower said it knew controlled explosions at the site would be distressing for the missing workers' families.
Construction Enquirer. BBC News Online. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Britain: Explosion at car seat maker injures worker
A vehicle seat manufacturing company based in Ebbw Vale has been fined after a worker was injured from an explosion. Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard how an operator at Sears Manufacturing Company (Europe) Limited suffered burns to his head and hands when a highly flammable release agent used in the manufacturing process ignited, causing an explosion.
HSE news release and fire and explosion webpages. Wales Online. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Britain: Teenage apprentice loses finger on rotary press
The owner of a Leamington Spa business that manufactures specialist adhesive tape for industrial applications has been fined after a teenage apprentice lost his finger on a rotary die press. James Fussell, trading as Tecman Speciality Materials, pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £6,000 with £1,754 costs.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Britain: Site worker seriously injured in fall through void
A construction company based in Derbyshire has been fined after a worker was seriously injured when he fell 4.5 metres through a void. Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard the injured worker, who was employed by a sub-contractor working for Bowmer and Kirkland Limited, dislodged an unsecured wooden board that had been placed over the void and exposed the opening of the two-by-one metre hole.
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Asia: Justice call three years after factory collapse
On 24 April, workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan remembered the dead and demanded improved factory safety, and punishment to those responsible for a garment factory tragedy in Bangladesh three years ago. Affiliates of the global union federation IndustriALL formed a human chain and organised a press conference in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka to mark the anniversary.
IndustriALL news release. ITUC news release. TUC news release. Bangladesh Accord. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
]Europe: Anger at EC inaction on nanomaterials
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) says the decision by the European Commission to set up an EU Observatory for nanomaterials, instead of a Register, fails to protect workers from health risks and does not contribute in any way to the traceability of nanomaterials, and the transparency and accountability of industry. “Workers have a right to know what they are handling and being exposed to,” said Esther Lynch, ETUC confederal secretary.
ETUC news release. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Global: Seafood workers face ‘barbaric’ conditions
International union bodies have joined forces to increase pressure on seafood companies to stop the “barbaric” treatment of their workers. At a meeting coinciding with the Brussels Seafood Expo Global, which brings together more than 2,000 fish and aquaculture companies, the unions said ‘concrete measures’ must be introduced to protect workers producing seafood imported into the European Union.
ITF news release. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Global: One worker killed every 15 seconds
The global union federation ITUC has warned negligent employers of the consequences of putting workers’ lives at risk. Commenting on the eve of International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said: “Over 2 million workers die needlessly every year because their workplaces are dusty, dirty and dangerous.”
ITUC news release. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.
Hazards news, 23 April 2016
Britain: Have you experienced sexual harassment at work?
Recent TUC polling indicates that sexual harassment is still rife in many workplaces. As part of its project on sexual harassment in the workplace, the TUC would now like to hear about your experiences of sexual harassment. It has prepared a short online survey where you can describe your experience. The information you share will be treated in confidence and the survey can be completed anonymously.
TUC news alert. Take the survey now. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Britain: Unite launches lead exposure register
Concerns over exposure to lead at work have led the union Unite to create an exposure register to track members who may have been at risk from the potent nerve poison, which is also linked to kidney and brain damage and cancer. The union says information in this Lead Exposure Register will be used to assist in pursuing personal injury claims for affected workers, to identify members who were employed by the same company or at the same site and may have been exposed and to trace witnesses who can assist with claims.
Unite news release. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Britain: Court of Appeal backs unions on sick absence
Civil service unions have recorded a major victory on sickness absence. A Court of Appeal ruling released on 15 April has confirmed that the Department for Transport (DfT) is unable to change contractual sickness absence rules without the agreement of unions.
Prospect news release. PCS news release. The appeal court judgment in full. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Britain: Call for drone safety action after Heathrow incident
Unions have called for urgent action on drone safety following reports one may have collided with an airliner as it came in to land at Heathrow airport. The unions were speaking out after a police investigation was launched into a reported incident on 17 April where a passenger plane approaching Heathrow Airport and carrying 132 passengers and five crew flew into what is believed to have been a drone.
Prospect news release. BALPA blog. BBC News Online. London Evening Standard. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Britain: Dangerous school closures a ‘national scandal’
The closure of 17 Edinburgh schools because of serious safety concerns makes a review of public private partnerships (PPP) and private finance initiative (PFI) projects unavoidable, the union Unite has said. The action at the 10-year-old schools was prompted after workers attending to structural issues at one Edinburgh primary found “further serious defects.”
Unite news release. EIS news release. Morning Star. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Britain: Tackling prison fight cost worker her job
A former prison worker has been awarded £140,000 after a six-year legal battle with the prison service following an injury that ended her career. While working at a London young offender’s institute, the POA member had been restraining a prisoner after a fight had broken out.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Britain: Prison carpenter developed work-related lung cancer
A POA member from County Durham has received compensation of £220,832 after contracting asbestos-related lung cancer. The retired carpenter, whose name has not been released, was employed in various prisons between 1963 and 1995 where he carried out maintenance work on prison buildings.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Northern Echo. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Britain: Chemicals can hurt wherever you work
You don’t have to work in the chemical industry to be harmed by chemicals at work, two 59-year-old Unite members have found to their cost. One was sprayed with bromine and suffered serious burns, the other exposed to a concrete-curing chemical which aggravated childhood asthma, which had not affected his health since he was 10-years-old.
Thompsons Solicitors news releases on the acid burns and chemical fumes settlements. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Britain: Better pay can fix mental health problems
A new study has found that low-paid workers who received the national minimum wage in April 1999 reported a decline in symptoms of depression for at least 22 months afterwards. The researchers discovered that receiving the national minimum wage was equivalent to the effect of taking antidepressants.
University of Oxford news release. Aaron Reeves, Martin McKee, Johan Mackenbach, Margaret Whitehead and David Stuckler. Introduction of a national minimum wage reduced depressive symptoms in low-wage workers: a quasi-natural experiment in the UK, Health Economics, published online ahead of print, April 2016. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Global: Good ventilation needed for desktop 3D printers
A new study shows that desktop 3D printers release produce airborne nanoparticles that should be controlled to avoid hazardous exposures. A study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) and the University of Helsinki had confirmed nanoparticles are emitted into the air when printers are used.
FIOH news release. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Britain: Firm fined after forklift truck operator killed
North Yorkshire steel fabrication company Severfield (UK) Limited has been fined after a forklift truck operator was killed when the truck he was operating overturned. Teesside Crown Court heard 27-year-old Kelvin McGibbon was not wearing a seatbelt and suffered crush injuries that proved fatal.
HSE news release and forklift webpages. Construction Enquirer. ITV News. York Press. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Britain: Three companies fined after two incidents
Two injuries in three months at the Haverhill site of the Jan Cavelle Furniture Company have led to the firm and two safety consultancies being fined for criminal health and safety failings. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incidents which occurred on 28 February 2014 and 2 June 2014 found that both were the result of unsafe working practices.
HSE news release and lifting operations webpages. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Britain: HSE finds dangerous pit behind front door
A London construction company has been fined after inspectors found a deep unprotected pit had been excavated immediately behind the only entrance to a site. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how RS Construction UK (London) Limited was working at a site when a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector found there was an excavation directly behind the front door, which was the only way in or out of the site.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Global: Union targets mine safety for 28 April
To mark International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, the global mining union IndustriALL, will be tweeting for mine safety. It says: “On this day, mourn the dead, but fight for the living: tell your government to make mining safer by ratifying ILO Convention 176.”
INdustriALL Thunderclap for mine safety: Tweet ‘Mourn the dead, fight for the living: it's time to ratify ILO #C176 on #MineSafety #IWMD16 http://thndr.me/Nw6RC0’.
TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. Add your 28 April event to the TUC. .
For UK Workers’ Memorial Day resources including ribbons, car stickers and free posters, contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre by email or phone 0161 636 7557.
ITUC/Hazards global events listing and resources, including new posters in English, French and Spanish. For tweeters, use the #iwmd16
Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Australia: Deaths expose folly of trucking safety move
A weekend that saw 18 deaths involving trucks on Australia’s roads has exposed the folly of government plans to abolish a tribunal created to lift the pressure on truckers to drive unsafely, the transport union TWU has said. TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon said: “We know that a deadly cycle is at play in transport with major retailers and manufacturers squeezing transport operators and drivers with low cost contracts to the point that our roads are not safe.”
TWU news release and safe rates campaign. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Global: Tribunal attack is an ‘attack on road safety’
The Australian government’s plan to abolish the country’s Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) if re-elected is “an attack on safety”, the global transport unions’ federation ITF has said. ITF general secretary Steve Cotton stated: “To stretch belief even further this decision comes at a time when the Safe Rates model – of safe and fair pay and conditions across the transport supply chain – that was born in Australia is being studied and imitated around the world.”
ITF news release and webpage on the safe rates model. The Conversation. The Guardian. Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Global: Deadly LafargeHolcim must talk about safety
International trade unions have launch an online petition calling on building products giant LafargeHolcim to respect workers’ rights and improve its poor health and safety record. The unions say around 70 workers die each year toiling for LafargeHolcim, 90 per cent of whom are employed indirectly.
IndustriALL news release. BWI news release.
Send the message to LafargeHolcim’s CEO to demand now that LafargeHolcim respect workers’ rights! Risks 747. 23 April 2016
Global: H&M told to deliver ‘safety conscious’ fashion
Labour rights groups in Europe, Bangladesh and North America are calling on high street fashion multinational H&M to deliver a ‘safety conscious’ clothing line. The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), and United Students Against Sweatshops are urging consumers to participate in a global day of action on 3 May, with activities running through the preceding week and spanning International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April.
H&M broken promises website. Clean Clothes Campaign website. 23 April 2016
Hazards news, 16 April 2016
Global: Voluntary standards don’t stand up
Plans for a certifiable international standard on health and safety are well underway. But the International Organisation for Standardisation’s (ISO) proposed ISO 45001 standard, currently being rushed to completion, is a potentially unhealthy alternative to binding and enforceable laws, the European trade union research body ETUI has concluded.
A new ISO standard for occupational health and safety management systems: is this the right approach?, ETUI briefing, 2016. TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Britain: ‘Blacklisting mastermind’ refuses to give evidence
The alleged architect of the construction blacklisting scandal, Cullum McAlpine, has declined to give evidence when the case comes before the High Court next month. Unite condemned the decision by the top director of Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd as ‘a further gross insult’ to the thousands of construction workers who have lost their jobs because of the covert activities of two industry backed organisations, the Consulting Association and its predecessor, the Services Group of the Economic League.
Unite news release. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Britain: Warning on ‘dangerous’ plans to axe marine offices
Shipping union RMT has warned that the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s plans for the phased closure of Marine Offices at Tyne and Plymouth, Beverley, Harwich and Orpington and Norwich are a ‘dangerous’ move that could put seafarers at risk. The union said the offices provide “essential administrative and technical support” which could be jeopardised by these and other planned changes, including outsourcing database, survey and inspection work.
RMT news release. The MCA consultation document. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Britain: Concern over recovery of missing Didcot workers
Unite has expressed ‘increasing concern’ over the time it is taking to locate and recover the bodies of three missing men following the collapse of Didcot power station on 23 February. The union said members across the industry were questioning whether the recovery team has had enough resources to complete the recovery in a safe and timely manner.
Unite news release. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Britain: Six years in jail for building boss after fatal fall
Construction boss Allan Thomson has been jailed for six years after being convicted of gross negligence manslaughter. Two of his employees fell through a roof they were repairing in separate incidents on the same day, with the man who died, 42-year-old Scott Harrower, having also survived a near miss the previous day.
GMP news release. Construction Enquirer. Littleborough Local. Rochdale Online. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Britain: Contractor jailed over trench death
A self-employed contractor has been jailed after employee Hywel Glyndwr Richards, 54, was killed when the trench he was working in collapsed. William Ryan was found guilty at Swansea Crown Court of a criminal safety breach and given a six month custodial sentence.
HSE news release and excavation webpages. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Global: BP gets tax windfall after deadly blast settlement
In the six years since BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 workers and poured millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, there has been a clamour for justice. But the 4 April historic $20 billion (£14bn) settlement against the oil giant has not turned out to be the harsh punishment many hoped for - the settlement's terms are so generous to the UK-based multinational that it amounts to a tax break worth billions.
US PIRG statement. Common Dreams. Forbes. International Business Times. The Guardian. Wall Street Journal. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Britain: Private eye tracks down dangerous demolition firm
A dangerous demolition contractor the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had to track down using a private detective has been given a suspended jail term. Scot Ian Richardson trading as Aztec Demolition was found guilty of a series of criminal health and safety offences, given a four month suspended jail term and 200 hours community service and ordered to pay costs of £1,200.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Britain: Worker suffers chemical burns at electropolishing firm
An electropolishing company based in Hampshire has been fined after a worker suffered chemical burns. Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court heard how Keith Brown, a 51-year-old worker at Poligrat (UK) Limited, was told by his manager to dispose of waste cleaning chemicals at their Aldershot site.
HSE news release and COSHH toolbox. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Global: Study links many jobs to non-Hodgkin lymphoma
New research has identified a wide range of occupations associated with a risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a group of related cancers affecting the body’s immune system. The study concluded: “This pooled analysis supports a role for textile-, hairdressing-, and farming-related exposures in the development of NHL,” adding: “Additional occupations associated with NHL or NHL subtypes include cleaners, painters, printers, and wood workers.”
Andrea ‘t Mannetje and others. Occupation and risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Its subtypes: A pooled analysis from the InterLymph Consortium, Environmental Health Perspectives, April 2016. ETUI alert. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Global: Greenpeace puts its chemical detox research online
A campaign by environmental group Greenpeace “for a toxic-free future where hazardous chemicals are no longer produced, used and dumped into our environment” was behind its decision to create a large and growing ‘chemical detox’ database. The two year project has resulted in a database already including entries on over 17,000 substances.
Greenpeace blog. Greenpeace Detox Campaign Chemical Investigation database and executive summary. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Global: 28 April – campaigning here, there, everywhere
International Workers’ Memorial Day is less than two weeks away, and is once again set to be the biggest event ever on the health and safety calendar. New resources for the ‘Strong Laws - Strong Enforcement - Strong Unions’ themed event, including new posters in English, French and Spanish versions, can be downloaded from the ITUC/Hazards 28april.org website.
TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. Add your 28 April event to the TUC . For UK Workers’ Memorial Day resources including ribbons and car stickers, contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre by email or phone 0161 636 7557.
ITUC/Hazards global events listing and resources, including new posters in English, French and Spanish. For tweeters, use the #iwmd16 Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Australia: Outrage at plan to axe road safety watchdog
The Australian Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has condemned an announcement by the country’s premier, Malcolm Turnbull, that he intends to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal brought in to ensure truckers receive “safe rates” for their work in the notoriously deadly industry. “Malcolm Turnbull is defunding and abolishing independent judicial investigations into holding banks, oil companies, retailers, manufacturers and ports and wharves to account for unsafe, economic pressure on their transport supply chains,” said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.
TWU news release. The Guardian. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Australia: Fears over asbestos in imported building materials
Concerns have been raised about asbestos being imported into Australia in cheap building materials, with more than 50 sites thought to be affected. While the importation of any materials containing asbestos has been banned in Australia for the past decade, investigations carried out by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) have led to the monitoring of buildings across several states, amid concerns that cheap imported materials from China have contained the carcinogenic substance.
ASEA evidence. Supply Management. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
France: Some glyphosate weedkillers to be banned
France's health and safety agency has decided to ban weedkillers that combine the chemicals glyphosate and tallowamine because of concerns over possible health risks. The ANSES agency has sent a letter to manufacturers informing them that it intends to withdraw the authorisation for such products, said Francoise Weber, the watchdog’s deputy director-general.
AgWeek. Sign the IUF/PAN letter to Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; Donald Tusk, President of the European Council; and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
USA: Judgment day for reckless executives
On 6 April, a US Federal District Court judge, Irene C Berger, sentenced Donald L Blankenship, a former chief executive of the Massey Energy Company once known as the “King of Coal,” to one year in jail, with imprisonment to begin regardless of a pending appeal, and payment of a $250,000 fine. Rena Steinzor, a professor in the school of law at the University of Maryland, said the judge’s decision “sets a remarkable precedent: The first CEO ever to be convicted of conspiring to violate industrial safety standards will soon take his place in prison.”
New York Times op-ed by Rena Steinzor and related news report. The Pump Handle. Risks 746. 16 April 2016
Hazards news, 9 April 2016
Britain: HSE to be half the watchdog it used to be
The UK’s health and safety watchdog is not the regulator, enforcer or guide it used to be – and things could be about to get a lot worse, the TUC has warned. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “In 2009/10, before the coalition government came to power, the HSE received £231 million from the government,” but added: “In 2019/20 it will receive £123 million.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog. HSE business plan 2016/17 and Helping Great Britain work well strategy. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: Safety laws could be at risk from Brexit
Years of uncertainty for workers and employers could be the result of a UK vote to leave the European Union, a top labour law expert has warned. The independent legal opinion, commissioned by the TUC from Michael Ford QC of Old Square Chambers, notes that rights that would be most at risk of being diluted or scrapped after Brexit are health and safety protections.
TUC news release and independent legal opinion. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: Report slams schools asbestos ‘scandal’
Decades of failing to deal with deadly asbestos in schools is a national “scandal” threatening the health of former, current and future schoolchildren, a wide-ranging investigation has found. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) said case histories it identified underlined “systematic failings” in the way asbestos in school premises was dealt with by successive governments.
Yorkshire Post. IBAS news report. Morning Star. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: Usdaw scoops top safety campaign award
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has won a top award from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust for its Freedom from Fear campaign, recognising the union’s achievements in improving personal safety. The Trust’s National Personal Safety Awards recognise the work being done across the UK to keep people safe from violence and aggression and highlight best practice in the field.
Usdaw news release. Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: 'Never again' say FBU, as firefighter inquest opens
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said the needless deaths of firefighters in the line of duty has to stop. The union was speaking out on 4 April, as the inquest into the death of Manchester firefighter Stephen Hunt opened. Stephen, who was based at Philips Park fire station in Manchester, was killed fighting a fire in Manchester city centre on 13 July 2013.
FBU news release. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: Teachers warn of action over excessive workload
Teachers are threatening strike action in their campaign against excessive workload.
The National Union of Teachers' annual conference called for “sustained strike action” to back schools challenging a long hours culture.
NUT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: Workload is behind the teaching crisis
Workload is the key driver of the teacher shortage crisis, putting people off becoming teachers and compelling enthusiastic teachers to leave, according to a new survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). The union’s survey last month of 876 education staff asked what they thought might stop people from wanting to become teachers; 93 per cent cited workload and 91 per cent said poor work/life balance.
ATL news release. Morning Star. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: Teachers ‘on brink of drugs and self-harm’
Many teachers are on the brink of turning to medication, alcohol and self-harm to deal with increased stress at work, teachers’ union NASUWT has revealed. More than 20 per cent of members reported increased use of alcohol and caffeine to deal with work-related pressures, the union’s survey found.
NASUWT news release. Morning Star. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: Maintenance worker developed disabling lung disease
The family of a West Yorkshire maintenance worker who developed a disabling lung condition after working with asbestos has received compensation from the NHS. Unite member Jack Coleman from Cleckheaton worked as a plumber at Leeds General Infirmary from 1980 until 2004, where he repaired pipework lagged with asbestos in the hospital.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Telegraph and Argus. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: Family of engineer appeal for asbestos help
The family of a BECTU member Patrick Smith is urging anyone who has worked at aerial transmission sites in the UK to come forward with information about the working conditions. Patrick worked as a technical engineer between 1977 and 2014 at locations including Wenvoe, Wood Norton, Daventry, Sutton Coldfield, Wooferton, Washford, Ascension Island, Droitwich and Bressay.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Anyone who may have any relevant information should contact Jackie Wood at Thompsons on 0207 290 0031. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: Keyboard use led to RSI and job loss
A Unite member has been awarded £30,000 in damages after developing a repetitive strain injury (RSI) from excessive use of a computer keyboard. The 31-year-old woman, whose name has not been released, suffered a strain injury to her right wrist while working as an administrator at an unnamed charity, where she would spend up to eight hours a day entering data onto a computer.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: Action call on pregnancy discrimination ‘disgrace’
The TUC has demanded immediate government action after a report revealed over threequarters of working mothers had experienced pregnancy discrimination. The union body’s call came in response to a report published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which also revealed “4 per cent of mothers reported they left their job as a result of health and safety risks which were not resolved; if scaled up to the general population this could affect 21,000 mothers a year.”
EHRC news release. TUC news release. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: Police Scotland told to act on asbestos
Police Scotland has been told to take ‘remedial action’ over the presence of asbestos in some of its buildings. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) served the force with an improvement notice following inspections at four sites in Glasgow earlier this year.
The Herald. BBC News Online. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Global: Tell FIFA to stop World Cup exploitation
Amnesty International has exposed exploitation of migrant workers building the Khalifa International Stadium, a ground slated to host a football World Cup semi-final in 2022. ‘The ugly side of the beautiful game’, a report from the human rights organisation, says that despite promising to improve protections, Qatar has failed to adequately reform its exploitative migrant labour system.
Amnesty news release, report and online action call on FIFA and its sponsors to take a tougher line in making Qatar act now. TUC Stronger Unions blog. GMB news release. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Britain: Hazards conference, Keele, 29-31 July 2016
Book your place now the national Hazards conference, the country’s biggest annual gathering of grassroots safety and union reps. The theme this year for the Hazards Campaign-organised event is ‘Building resistance to support safety reps’.
Hazards conference 2016: Booking form. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Bangladesh: Worker dies, guards fire on protesters
Seven people, including a 16-year-old boy, were injured after guards at a shipbreaking company in Bangladesh opened fire on people protesting against the death of a worker. Mohammad Sumon was killed instantly when a truck transporting scrap steel from the Kabir Steel yard in Chittagong, ran him over on the morning on 28 March 2016.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Europe: Worker participation makes work safer
Firms across Europe are far less likely to undertake risk assessments where there is an absence of effective worker participation, a survey has found. The findings come in the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2), which also found the most commonly reported reason for addressing occupational health and safety issues was to fulfil legal obligations, reported by 85 per cent of establishments.
EU-OSHA news release. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Europe: Ban glyphosate, get off the pesticide treadmill
Campaigners have said the European Commission must be stopped from proceeding with the renewed authorisation in the European Union of the toxic herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup and the world's most widely-used herbicide. The demand from the global food and farming union IUF and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International, comes as renewed authorisation is being pushed through despite an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) warning last year that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans and other evidence of the impact of glyphosate on food and health.
IUF news alert. Sign the IUF/PAN letter to Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; Donald Tusk, President of the European Council; and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
New Zealand: Meat giant Talleys ‘more dangerous than ever’
Unions have obtained the full accident records of the New Zealand meat processor Talleys/AFFCO group of companies, and say the records show a further increase over the previous year's ‘horrific’ number of workers maimed and injured at the workplace. Workers’ compensation claims for injury at work were paid to 1,773 workers throughout the Talleys Group of Companies in 2015, an increase of 220 workers from 2014.
IUF news release. Risks 745. 9 April 2016
Hazards news, 2 April 2016
Britain: Hey, safety reps, what’s it like out there?
The TUC wants to hear from union health and safety reps about the hazards, safety organisation and related issues in their workplaces. The union body says its latest - eleventh - TUC survey of health and safety reps “is designed to provide the TUC and individual unions with information about who health and safety reps are, and what their experiences and needs are.
TUC news alert. Take the TUC Safety Reps’ Survey 2016 now! The closing date for responses is 1 July 2016. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Britain: Nudge theory isn’t evidence-based or the best option
The ‘nudge’ theory embraced by the government in a bid to change the population’s behaviour by stealth isn’t evidence-based and isn’t a satisfactory alternative to proper rights and properly enforced legislation, the TUC has warned. The union body was responding to a leader in New Scientist magazine that noted: “Nudge is an example of what is possible when you apply science to policymaking,” but cautioned “the well-intentioned politicians who want to use them should always remember: never let nudge turn to shove.”
New Scientist leader, 12 March 2016 and Hugh Robertson’s response, New Scientist, 2 April 2016. Behavioural Insights Team. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Britain: EU has been good for you at work
European Union regulations work and have made a “substantial” contribution to the health and safety of the UK workforce, a TUC briefing has concluded. Arguing the UK should be part of a revitalised “European process”, ‘Health and safety: What Brexit would mean’ notes it is ‘certainly likely’ the protection this has delivered could be undermined if the UK was to leave the EU.
TUC report and pdf version, Health and safety: What Brexit would mean. TUC briefing on issues around the EU referendum. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Britain: Government imposes profits before safety rule
The government is instructing its safety regulator to put company profits before safety, the construction union UCATT has charged. UCATT says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “is being told by the Tory government to prioritise company profits over the health and safety of construction workers” and points to an “immoral and venal” revised Enforcement Policy Statement (EPS) presenting to the March 2016 meeting of HSE’s board.
UCATT news release. HSE paper on the EPS changes and the revised EPS. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Britain: UCATT to meet minister over ‘failure’ HSE
Construction union UCATT has secured a meeting with the government safety minister after raising concerns about a “malaise” at the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE), whose performance is “just not good enough.” The commitment from the minister came after the Labour MP for Jarrow, Stephen Hepburn, secured a 23 March parliamentary debate on “the alarmingly low number of prosecutions” following a construction fatality.
UCATT news release. Hansard, 23 March 2016. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Britain: RMT calls for Night Tube safety assurances
London Underground union RMT called for reassurances on the Night Tube safety case, as a summer start date for the project was announced. The union said it has yet to see a full safety case, despite plans for services to come into operation from July or August.
RMT news release. London Evening Standard. TFL Night Tube webpages. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Britain: Ashley called to account for Sports Direct abuses
A showdown is brewing between billionaire Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, and MPs investigating mistreatment of workers in his sportswear empire. The House of Commons business (BIS) select committee has been trying to arrange a date for Ashley to give evidence on allegations of widespread abuses at the firm but, reports Unite regional officer Luke Primarolo, Ashley hasn’t been co-operative, so the committee has taken the unusual step of formally summonsing him to appear on 7 June.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Unite Sports Direct campaign. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Britain: Stiffer sentences for attack dog owners
Pet owners convicted of dangerous dogs offences will face harsher punishment under new sentencing guidelines in England and Wales. The guidelines, which will come into force from July and were introduced after a high profile campaign by the union CWU, reflect 2014 changes to the law that increased maximum sentences.
Sentencing Council guideline. CWU news release and Bite-Back campaign. BBC News Online. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Britain: Head blow led to hearing damage
A factory worker who suffered a bang on the head a work developed a permanent and debilitating hearing condition as a result. Unite member Paul Kelly, 54, was working on a factory production line when the incident occurred.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Global: On silica, US does what HSE says can’t be done
The US government has gone where the UK had refused to go, introducing new rules to sharply reduce workplace exposures to silica. The 24 March 2016 move by the US Labor Department means the US will halve the occupational exposure standard from the level it currently shares with the UK, 0.1mg/m3, to 0.05mg/m3 - HSE has argued the lower level now being introduced in the US is neither achievable nor practically measurable, issues raised in extensive US government hearings on the draft standard and dismissed comprehensively over two years ago.
Department of Labor news release and US final silica rule website. Finalised rule on the Federal Register. National COSH statement. APHA statement. NELP statement. Public Citizen news release. New York Times. National Public Radio. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Britain: Funds for new asbestos diseases research centre
A new £5 million centre is to spearhead research on the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The initiative was included in Chancellor George Osborne’s March budget. Budget 2016. IBAS news report. The Chronicle. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Britain: New scandal hits site safety tests
A new scandal has hit a safety competence scheme in the construction sector. The Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) is relied on by contractors to prove that operators are qualified to drive machines including excavators and dumper trucks, but trade magazine Construction Enquirer has discovered candidates can now simply buy the answers to the key CPCS theory test online for less than £10. Construction Enquirer. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Britain: Syngenta fined £200,000 for toxic pesticide release
Chemical giant Syngenta has been fined £200,000 after tonnes of a potentially deadly weedkiller was released from a defective vessel at its Huddersfield plant. Kevin Slack, prosecuting, said when a worker moved a handle he was immediately sprayed with paraquat dichloride (PDC) on his face and upper body - he told the court ingesting one or two teaspoons of paraquat dichloride could be fatal.
HSE news release. The Examiner. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Britain: Firm fined 10 years after deadly crane collapse
Falcon Crane Hire has been fined £750,000 following a south London crane collapse that killed the driver and a member of the public nearly 10 years ago. Charges against 71-year-old Douglas Genge, managing director of Falcon Crane Hire Limited, were dropped in February.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. London Evening Standard. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Global: International Workers Memorial Day, 28 April
Health and safety should be a priority every day, in every workplace. But on 28 April unions and safety campaigners ensure the wider public, regulators and policy makers hear clearly that ‘Strong laws, strong enforcement and strong unions’ are the key to keeping workplaces safe and healthy year round, every year.
TUC news release. TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. Add your 28 April event to the TUC . For tweeters, use the #iwmd16
ITUC/Hazards global events listing and resources. For Workers’ Memorial Day resources including ribbons and car stickers, contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre by email or phone 0161 636 7557. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Canada: Union says 2016 is ‘the year of safety’
Canada’s public sector union CUPE has designated 2016 the ‘Year of Health and Safety’. Launching the initiative, CUPE national president Mark Hancock said: “CUPE is renewing our commitment to achieving safer workplaces – for our members and for all workers, in Canada and around the globe.”
CUPE news release and Year of Health and Safety webpages. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Europe: From outrage to action on work cancers
Few realise it, but Europe faces over 100,000 occupational cancer deaths a year, the equivalent of a passenger jet crash every day. Calling on unions to mobilise around the issue, ETUI researcher Laurent Vogel: “We can sum up in four words why 100,000 work-related cancer deaths are not a political priority; inequality, visibility, power and freedom.”
ETUI occupational cancers webpages. The editorial will appear in the forthcoming issue of ETUI’s health and safety magazine, Hesamag. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Europe: Time to ban glyphosate, says IUF
A move to approve the continued use of the toxic herbicide glyphosate in Europe has become the topic of a high profile tussle involving member states, citizens groups, environmental campaigners and unions. Global food and farming union federation IUF said “additional pressure is needed to ensure that the European Commission does not cut a deal with the corporate agrochemical giants which would keep Europe locked into the deadly spiral of increasing pesticide applications for another fifteen years.”
IUF briefing. ENVI news release. Risks 744. 2 April 2016
Hazards news, 19 March 2016
Britain: Safety reps make unions bigger and better
New guidance to help recruit more union members and encourage more existing union members to become health and safety reps has been launched by the TUC. The new TUC guide, published in partnership with Hazards magazine, notes that health and safety is a good way of recruiting members as concerns about workplace safety are one of the main reasons that people join a trade union. BTUC news release and Health and Safety and Organising guide in e-book and pdf formats. Strength in numbers, Hazards, number 133, March 2016. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Britain: TUC renews safety warning on government plans
As the government’s Trade Union Bill continues its progress through parliament, the TUC has reiterated its warning about the dangers of restricting access to facility time for trade union safety representatives in the public sector. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson explained: “Health and safety reps’ functions are extremely variable and they may find that, if an unusual situation arises such as a fatality or the introduction of new safety systems, they are limited to an inappropriate, and potentially unlawful, cap.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog and report on the union effect and the benefits of paid time off for union reps. TUC guide to the Trade Union Bill.
Sign the petition against the Bill. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Britain: Blacklisted workers occupy Skanska HQ
Union safety activists who were blacklisted by major construction firms for their safety and union activities occupied the lobby of Skanska’s Hertfordshire head office on 14 March. Police were called to the peaceful demonstration which lasted several hours, and which stopped only when the protesters voted to end the action.
Morning Star. Construction Enquirer. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Britain: Helicopter tragedy must spur more improvements
Unions have said lessons from the 2013 North Sea helicopter crash that claimed four lives must lead to further safety improvements. The unions were commenting on the publication of the final Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report into the incident where a CHC Super Puma plunged into the sea on its approach to Sumburgh in August 2013.
BALPA news release. AAIB report. BBC News Online. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Britain: Pilots call for an end to mental health stigma
UK pilots’ union BALPA has said pilots must not be discouraged from revealing any mental health problems as this could lead to more incidents like the March 2015 Germanwings crash that killed all 150 people onboard. The union was commenting on the publication of the final report by the French crash investigation agency, the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA), which found that neither Germanwings or its parent company Lufthansa could have done anything to stop Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who crashed the passenger plane into the Alps.
BALPA news release. IFALPA statement. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Britain: Toxic cabin air legal cases rise sharply
The number of legal cases against UK airlines on behalf of cabin crew exposed to ‘toxic cabin air’ has increased dramatically. Unite says concern has been mounting over ‘fume events’ and exposure to contaminated aircraft cabin air, with the number of legal cases being pursued the union increasing from 17 to 61 in recent months.
Unite news release. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Britain: UCATT slams delay in site death convictions
Construction union UCATT has condemned the ‘shocking and inordinate’ amount of time it takes to secure a criminal conviction following the workplace death of a British construction worker. It says latest official figures show that it takes 1,267 days - almost three-and-a-half years - for a firm responsible for the death of a construction worker to be convicted.
UCATT news release. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Britain: FBU wants a supportive firefighter fitness system
Firefighters’ union FBU is looking to train fire service employees as personal fitness trainers in an effort to support firefighters to remain fit enough to do their physically demanding job. The move to provide FBU ‘personal training apprenticeships’ has attracted interest from more than threequarters of fire and rescue services in England, the union said.
FBU news release. National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services guidance, March 2016. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Britain: Under threat Tube staff saved woman’s life
Staff cuts on the London Underground system are putting lives at risk, a rail union has warned after investigators confirmed that a woman dragged along a platform was only saved by the intervention of under-threat ‘safety critical’ Tube workers. Rail union RMT said the loss of “nearly 1,000 safety-critical station staff” has damaged the ability of staff to prevent fatalities — and hit out at Tube bosses for floating the idea of driverless trains.
RAIB news release. Morning Star. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Global: Industry funded studies deliver dangerously biased results
Occupational and environmental health studies with industry funding are more than four times as likely to report negative results, an analysis of hundreds of scientific papers has found. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health also identified a ‘dose-response’ effect, meaning the greater the industry backing the greater the likelihood the study would find nothing to worry about.
Lee Friedman and Michael Friedman. Financial Conflicts of Interest and Study Results in Environmental and Occupational Health Research, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 58, issue 3, pages 238–247, March 2016 [abstract]. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Britain: Britain’s big role in promoting asbestos
UK-based scientists are playing a prominent role in promoting the continued use of asbestos around the world, according to a new investigative report. ‘Friendly fibre?’ notes that Britain has is home to some of the industry’s more turned-to experts, who have shown a ‘remarkable willingness’ to defend chrysotile, the most common and last remaining form of asbestos in commercial use.
Friendly fibre? How the asbestos industry turns to British scientists, Hazards, number 133, March 2016. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Britain: Gas engineer put tenants at asbestos risk
A gas engineer removed potentially dangerous asbestos material during a gas boiler replacement putting himself and others at risk from exposure to asbestos fibres. Brian Hockin, 58, was removing an old warm air heating system at a residential property in Wrafton when he disturbed asbestos insulation board that surrounded the warm air boiler, ignoring concerns raised by tenants.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Global: New ITUC Workers’ Memorial Day guide
An ITUC brochure for use around International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April is available in English, French and Spanish editions. The guide spells out the reasons behind the three pronged theme for this year’s global activities – strong laws, strong enforcement and strong unions.
28 April 2016: Mobilising for strong laws, strong enforcement and strong unions, ITUC, English language edition. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Europe: Unions call for an end to work cancers
Unions are warning that occupational cancer kills 100,000 people every year in the European Union (EU) and are calling for an end to this preventable waste of life. Europe-wide union federation ETUC says occupational cancer is the most common work-related cause of death, with between 8 and 16 per cent of all cancers in Europe the result of exposures at work.
ETUC news release. ETUI news report and publication alert.
Carcinogens that should be subject to binding limits on workers’ exposure, ETUI report no.136, March 2016. Stop cancer at work infographic. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
India: Unilever settles with poisoned workers
A 15-year struggle to secure compensation for hundreds of mercury poisoned former employees of Hindustan Unilever in India has ended in victory. The settlement between the company, part of the UK-headquartered multinational Unilever, and 591 former mercury workers from its thermometer factory in Kodaikanal was described by activists as an ‘unprecedented victory’ in a campaign that has attracted international support.
Hindustan Unilever news release. Kodaikanal campaign news release. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Korea: Winter Olympics workers at risk
At least two chronically overworked workers have died at construction sites for the Winter Olympic Games to be held in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. “This is not a good start to ensuring that Sochi, Russia is not repeated in Pyeongchang,” said Ambet Yuson, general secretary of global construction union federation BWI.
BWI news release Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Japan: Fukushima’s desperate 'decontamination troops'
The ashes of half a dozen unidentified labourers ended up at a Buddhist temple in a town just north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. They were simply labelled ‘decontamination troops’, employed in Japan's massive clean-up campaign to make Fukushima liveable again five years after the area was contaminated with radiation. Japan Times. ABC News. Greenpeace news release. WHO ‘five years on’ questions and answers. Risks 743. 19 March 2016
Hazards news, 12 March 2016
Britain: Don’t treat women like skivers, period
The decision by a Bristol company to implement a ‘period policy’, including the option for women to take time off has been met with a note of caution from the TUC. TUC women’s equality officer Scarlet Harris said: “Instead of menstrual leave policies, how about employers and government stop perpetuating the myth that workers on sick leave are workshy skivers?”
TUC Touchstone blog. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
Britain: Big drop in HSE site inspections
There has been a dramatic decline in the number of inspections the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) undertakes on construction sites, the union UCATT has revealed.
The union said its Freedom of Information request had discovered the total number of HSE construction site inspections had fallen from 10,577 in 2012/13 to 9,656 in 2014/15, a reduction of 8.7 per cent.
UCATT news release. The Herald. Construction Enquirer. HSE strategy webpages. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
Britain: Health and safety leaves your branch stronger
International Workers’ Memorial Day is the ‘perfect chance’ to reinvigorate union health and safety work – and possibly your union branch with it, the public sector union UNISON has said. Encouraging its safety reps to get active around the 28 April event, the union cites the example of its Pembrokeshire County branch, which used UNISON safety campaign materials to up the profile of the issue and in the process recruited 16 more health and safety reps, a new branch health and safety officer and saw safety reps planning more inspections and local health and safety training.
UNISON news report. TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. Add your 28 April event to the TUC . For tweeters, use the #iwmd16
ITUC/Hazards global events listing. For Workers’ Memorial Day resources including ribbons and car stickers, contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre by email or phone 0161 636 7557 Risks 742. 12 March 2016
Britain: Big settlement follows devastating injury
A foundry worker has received a £1.6 million settlement after his left leg was crushed by a falling metal component, resulting in an amputation above the knee. The 58-year-old Unite member, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I hope my case will reinforce the importance of health and safety reps in the workplace and will reduce the chances of a similar accident happening to others in the future.”
Unite news release. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
Britain: NHS staff need time to get healthy
A move by NHS England to improve the health of its 1.3 million staff by offering more support has received a qualified welcome from unions. They were responding after Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said from April hospitals and other providers of NHS care will for the first time be able to earn a share of a national incentive fund worth £600m improve the support they offer to frontline health staff to stay healthy.
UNISON news release. CSP news release. NHS England news release. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
Britain: Nuclear sub workers exposed to radiation
Twenty workers at the Faslane nuclear submarine base were exposed to radiation in breach of safety rules, according to an investigation by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). A series of radiation blunders on Trident submarines docked at the Clyde naval port has been revealed in heavily redacted MoD documents obtained by the Nuclear Information Service, a campaign group opposed to nuclear weapons.
The Ferret. BBC News Online. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
Britain: HSE criticised for occupational hygiene stance
The Health and Safety Executive’s developing approach to occupational hygiene – the measurement of exposures to chemicals, dust and other exposures at work – has come in for scathing criticism. Hans Kromhout, based at Utrecht University’s Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, said he was ‘amazed’ to hear an HSE presentation on ‘hygiene without numbers’, noting: “‘Hygiene Without Numbers’ comes with a price and we all know who will have to pick up the bill.”
Hans Kromhout. Commentary: Hygiene without numbers, Annals of Occupational Hygiene, published online ahead of print, 2016. doi:10.1093/annhyg/mev096 Risks 742. 12 March 2016
Britain: Firm fined £120,000 after coal depot tragedy
A Motherwell firm has been fined for criminal safety offences after long-serving depot supervisor Margaret Corcoran, 66, was knocked down and killed by a truck at its Mossend coal depot. Investigators found Fergusson Distribution had no system in place to separate pedestrians and vehicles while staff “routinely” went into the yard where the tragedy occurred.
Motherwell Times. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
Britain: Ten year wait for justice after son’s death
A mother whose son was killed in a crane collapse in Battersea, south London, has spoken of her agonising wait for justice after a trial date was set for 10 years after the tragedy occurred. Michael Alexa, 23, and Jonathan Cloke, 37, both died when a crane collapsed at a Barratt Homes development on 26 September 2006.
Wandsworth Guardian. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
Britain: Aldi fined for smoke shelter blunder
Retail chain Aldi has been fined £100,000 for criminal health and safety offences after an unsecured smoking shelter was blown into a group of employees on a break. One employee was injured in the incident in October 2014 at the Aldi Stores Distribution Centre in Darlington.
Environmental Health News (EHN). Risks 742. 12 March 2016
Britain: Asda lorry crushed store worker
A Dundee warehouse worker who was crushed by an Asda lorry has receive a compensation payout from the retail giant. David Scott, 69, was working at the Milton of Craigie superstore in Mid Craigie on 25 November 2014 when he was injured.
The Courier. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
Britain: TUC puts safety campaigner on video
The TUC’s YouTube channel is a great resource for union activists – and a new video includes a useful example of union safety at work. The short clip features Pauline, a paramedic and a GMB union rep for the Ambulance Service, who was able to redesign the ambulances her members were using, creating a safer environment where staff can now take better care of their patients.
Video clip on the TUC YouTube channel. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
New Zealand: Meat firm fined, then dismisses workers
The District Court in New Zealand has ruled that Talleys/AFFCO – a meat giant the global union federation IUF describes as a “serial rights abuser” - failed to meet its statutory obligations to provide a safe workplace. The court ruling came after an experienced night cleaner was impaled through the head by a meat hook and dragged along the line at the company's Rangiuru plant.
IUF news report. New Zealand Herald. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
South Africa: Gold miners win landmark silicosis scheme
Former South African gold miners and relatives of deceased ex-miners have reached a landmark settlement in their long-running legal battle against Anglo American South Africa Ltd and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. The 4,365 claimants sued the mining companies for the dust-related lung diseases, silicosis and silico-tuberculosis, which they claim resulted from working in unsafe, dusty conditions in the mines.
Leigh Day Solicitors. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
USA: Uranium workers dying of neglect
The towns of Grants and Church Rock in New Mexico were ground zero for US uranium mining from the mid-1950s until the early 1980s. But years, sometimes decades, after labouring in the mines and mills, workers developed the hallmark diseases associated with uranium exposure.
In These Times. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
USA: Health workers crumbling under the weight
In the United States, where two-thirds of adults are classified as overweight or obese, larger patients are increasingly the norm, and the healthcare industry has evolved in many ways to accommodate them, from developing sturdier medical equipment to building heavier-duty hospital beds. The sector has been much slower, however, to tackle other, subtler ways obesity weighs on the healthcare system, such as the toll of physically handling larger patients, despite the vast medical and financial benefits of doing so, nurses and other medical experts say.
International Business Times. Risks 742. 12 March 2016
Hazards news, 5 March 2016
Britain: Safety reps have it all to play for
The TUC has said it is crucial the government’s Trade Union Bill faces a robust challenge – not least because it could make work a far more dangerous place. Hugh Robertson, the union body’s head of safety, said the proposed measures would allow the government to restrict the time given to trade union health and safety representatives in the public sector, allow inexperienced and inadequately trained agency workers to substitute for skilled, safety savvy workers during strikes, and restrict the ability of workers to strike over safety issues.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Britain: Brexit could put safety rights at risk
The TUC has warned that workplace employment and safety rights underpinned by EU rules would be at risk if the UK votes to leave in the June referendum. ‘UK employment rights and the EU’ says decisions on which rights to keep – and which to amend or drop altogether – would be left to the government as it reviewed all UK laws linked to the EU.
TUC news release and full report, UK Employment Rights and the EU: an assessment of the impact of membership of the European Union on employment rights in the UK. TUC Stronger Unions blog. The Herald. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Britain: UNISON to continue fight over tribunal fees
UNISON has welcomed a decision by the UK’s top court that means its fight can continue against imposition of ‘punitive’ fees to take a case to tribunal. The Supreme Court has granted the union permission to continue its legal challenge.
UNISON news release. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Britain: Drone near-misses prompt new union action call
Pilots are calling for research into what would happen if a drone hit an airliner, after 23 near-misses around UK airports in a six month period last year. Steve Landells, BALPA’s flight safety specialist, said there was a large amount of data on the effects of bird strikes on planes, but he said specific drone research was needed because “birds don't have a big lump of lithium battery in them.”
BBC News Online. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Britain: Unions steps up safety fight for rail ticket offices
Rail union RMT is targeting train operator Govia in a new phase in its fight over rail ticket office closures, a plan the union says will make the rail system more unsafe. RMT general secretary Mick Cash warned the company was looking to shed safety-critical staff cross at dozens of stations.
RMT news release. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Britain: Supreme Court ‘landmark’ case on prison work
The Supreme Court has backed a prison employee’s right to claim damages from the Ministry of Justice after she was seriously injured when an inmate dropped a 25kg bag of rice on her. The landmark case, brought by the prison officers’ union POA, will change the legal definition of ‘employee’ and the law around vicarious liability.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Britain: Why health and safety requires ‘cooperation’
Unions should remember that health and safety has lots of ‘special’ features that make it good for members and good for organising, a union safety specialist has said. Sarah Page, the national safety officer with the union Prospect, said it was worth considering “how unions achieve health and safety ‘voice’ at work.”
Prospect safety blog. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Britain: Four believed dead in power station tragedy
A worker has been killed in a building collapse at Didcot power station and three others are “highly unlikely” to be found alive, Thames Valley Police has said. The Birmingham-based Coleman Group was awarded the contract to dismantle the Didcot A coal and gas-fired station, which collapsed while its workers were preparing the structure for demolition.
Thames Valley Police update. UCATT news release. HSE statement. Morning Star. The Guardian. Construction Enquirer. Coleman Group news release. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Britain: Equality watchdog criticises sickness benefits cut
Conservative proposals to cut disability benefit by £30 a week have been attacked by the government's equalities watchdog. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHCR) said the cuts to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will “exacerbate, rather than reduce, existing inequalities”, in addition to disproportionately affecting disabled people.
The Independent. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Britain: Waste firm fined £200,000 after worker tragedy
Derbyshire waste firm Rainbow Waste Management Limited has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a worker was crushed by the bucket of a motorised loading shovel. On 7 June 2013, Ashley Morris, known as Will, sustained fatal injuries to his head and spine when the bucket of the loading shovel he was operating crushed him.
HSE news release and transport checklist. Derby Telegraph. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Britain: MoD gets ticking off over squaddie training deaths
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to receive a formal reprimand over the deaths of three soldiers on a training exercise in the Brecon Beacons in July 2013. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found a failure to plan, assess and manage risks associated with climatic illness during the training, this resulting in the deaths of the three men and heat illness suffered by 10 other on the training march.
HSE news release. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Britain: TUC health and safety and organising guide
The TUC says an effective union needs two things: the first is a strong membership within the workplace; the second is high membership involvement. By encouraging members to participate, much more can be achieved than if members expect the union to ‘sort things out’.
TUC publication alert. Health and safety and organising - A guide for reps, TUC, March 2016, pdf and e-book versions. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Britain: HSE strategy document out
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published its safety strategy for the next five years. The document, which repeats the same ‘six strategy themes’ announced in December 2015 ahead of the series of seven HSE ‘conversations’ around the country, does not include details of any concrete policy initiatives, targets or outcome measures. Helping Britain Work Well 2016, HSE strategy document, February 2016. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Australia: Unions to build ‘safety army’
Unions in the Australian state of Victoria as setting out to build a ‘union safety army’ – and will be starting by meeting potential union members before they ever set foot in a workplace. Launching the new trade union safety network, Luke Hilakari, secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC), said: “We want to build this OHS safety army,” identifying this as the union body’s ‘key performance indicator’ for the year.
Safety at work blog. We are union campaign and OHS webpages. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Europe: Better regulation – no, it really isn’t
A union campaign exploding the dangerous flaws in the ‘better regulation’ strategy in operation in Europe has been launched. The campaign slogan adopted by UNI Europa, the European services workers’ union, is ‘Better regulation – It really isn’t.’
UNI Europe news release and Better regulation – It really isn’t campaign. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Global: Seafarers get Zika virus guidance
The global transport unions’ federation ITF has issued a new guide “to help seafarers around the world to protect themselves from the Zika virus.” ITF maritime coordinator Jacqueline Smith said: “The reality for seafarers is that if they’re going to be able to take any precautions against contracting the virus – things like sleeping under mosquito nets, using repellent, wearing light covering clothing, covering water containers – they need to prepare in advance, before they are at sea for a number or weeks or even months.”
ITF news release and Zika virus guidelines. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Russia: Mine tragedy kills 36 workers
Explosions in a Russian coal mine have killed 36 workers, including rescue personnel. On 25 February, two explosions at the Severnaya coalmine in Vorkuta, believed to have been caused by methane gas, rocked the mine leaving four dead and 26 missing, and a further explosion on 28 February killed six rescue workers.
IndustriALL news report. Tass news agency. ABC News. Risks 741. 5 March 2016
Hazards news, 27 February 2016
Britain: Unions are a live-saving, money-saving success
For every £1 spent on paid time off for public sector union reps to represent their members, taxpayers get at least £2.31 back in savings, according to a new study published by the TUC. The safety contribution is even more stunning - half of these savings come from the union success in reducing work-related injuries and ill-health.
TUC news release and full report, The benefits of paid time off for trade union representatives, TUC, February 2016.
The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety, TUC, February 2016. Risks 740. 27 February 2016
Britain: Unions defend absence management ruling
Civil service unions have defended in the appeal court a 2015 High Court ruling that said the Department for Transport (DfT) broke employees’ contracts by introducing new, more punitive, sickness absence policies without reaching agreement with unions. Prospect, the FDA and PCS were at the Court of Appeal on 16 February to defend the judgment, which held that the sickness absence policies applied to employees in the central Department for Transport and its agencies are contractual.
Prospect news release. Risks 740. 27 February 2016
]Britain: Union wins ‘livesaving’ action on asbestos in housing
Action is being taken to protect tenants and maintenance workers in Wales against the danger of asbestos, after discussions between the union UCATT and the Welsh government. As a result of the talks, communities minister Lesley Griffiths has written to every local authority and registered social landlord in Wales calling on them to ensure contractors are fully informed of asbestos in a property before starting maintenance work.
UCATT news release. Free Press. Risks 740. 27 February 2016
Britain: Union veteran puts rail asbestos risks on record
People across York probably breathed in deadly asbestos dust from the former York rail carriageworks in the late 1950s and 60s, a former union leader has warned. Former Unite (TGWU) rep and branch secretary Paul Cooper, 72, who worked at the factory in the city from 1959 until it closed in 1996 and has long campaigned about employees' exposure to asbestos, said huge extractor fans were fitted in an asbestos spraying workshop in the late 1950s which pumped dust into the air.
York Press. Slater and Gordon briefing on York carriageworks and asbestos. IBAS 2007 paper on rail union asbestos campaigns in the UK. Risks 740. 27 February 2016
Global: Study confirms aircraft fumes risks
Union warnings about the dangers of toxic chemicals inside aircraft have been borne out by a new scientific study. Research carried out in Germany has confirmed flight attendants and passengers are exposed to toxins in cabin air.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Unite keep cabin crew safe campaign. Risks 740. 27 February 2016
Britain: Why no action on ‘worst UK gangmaster ever’?
A corporate accountability group has welcomed news that for the first time, a British businessman has been prosecuted and sentenced for human trafficking offences, but has questioned why there has been no prosecution in a similar case involving a company described by officials as the ‘worst UK gangmaster ever’. Marilyn Croser, director of CORE, the UK coalition on corporate accountability, said Lithuanian workers were trafficked to the UK and put to work in chicken farms by British company, DJ Houghton Catching Services Ltd and its director, Darrell Houghton, and company secretary, Jackie Judge.
CORE statement. Leigh Day news release. Risks 740. 27 February 2016le]
Europe: Chemical rules pay for companies
Chemical safety rules are not a burden on businesses, but deliver a substantial net benefit, a new report has concluded. ‘The bigger picture’, published by the chemical safety think tank ChemSec, concludes chemical regulation creates opportunities for many progressive companies and shows these companies are not only opting for safer chemicals, but are finding the alternatives are frequently better too.
ChemSec news release and full report, The bigger picture: Assessing economic aspects of chemicals substitution, ChemSec, February 2016. BBC News Online. Risks 740. 27 February 2016
Britain: Teenage farm worker drowned in grain
A Scottish farm has been sentenced after a teenager worker was killed while trying to clear a blockage in a grain bin. Jedburgh Sheriff Court heard how Zach Dean Fox, 19, was working for Seamore Farming at their premises at Deanfoot farm in Hawick.
HSE news release and grain silos guidance. Risks 740. 27 February 2016
Britain: Company ignored HSE improvement notices
A London based company that fabricates structural steel products ignoring official safety notices demanding improved practices. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how William Fry Fabrications Limited failed to thoroughly examine two cranes used by the company, despite receiving both improvement and prohibition notices on this issue for its cranes in 2011.
HSE news release. Risks 740. 27 February 2016
Australia: Union wins black lung public inquiry
An Australian union campaign to ‘Make Black Lung History’ has taken a big step forward with the announcement of a public inquiry into the devastating occupational lung disease. Tony Maher, president of the union CFMEU’s mining and energy division, said he was now confident there would soon be a solution to the growing health crisis.
CFMEU news release and Dust to dust: Make black lung history campaign. Risks 740. 27 February 2016
Canada: Union praises first responder trauma law
A union has welcomed a new law in Ontario, Canada, recognising post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in emergency first responders. The legislation includes a presumption that PTSD diagnosed in first responders is work-related, leading to faster access to resources and treatment.
OPSEU news release. Risks 740. 27 February 2016
Egypt: Call for justice for murdered researcher
Unions, the Italian government and human rights advocates have called for justice for Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old Cambridge university postgraduate student tortured and brutally murdered in Cairo. Global union confederation ITUC said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi must ensure there is a full investigation.
ITUC news release. Education International news release. NUJ news release. Sign up to the Labourstart campaign for justice for Giulio Regeni. Egyptian Streets. Risks 740. 27 February 2016
USA: Ford spent $40m to influence asbestos science
Ford Motor Company spent $40 million on scientific studies designed to cast doubt on the link between asbestos brake linings and cancers including mesothelioma, an investigation has found. The probe by the Washington DC-based Center for Public Accountability said:“All told, testimony shows, Ford has spent nearly $40 million funding journal articles and expert testimony concluding there is no evidence brake mechanics are at increased risk of developing mesothelioma.”
CPI investigative report. Risks 740. 27 February 2016
Hazards news, 20 February 2016
Britain: Union safety reps save lives, save millions
The UK’s network of 100,000 trade union health and safety reps not only reduce the toll of injuries and ill-health at work, but save the economy many millions of pounds, according to a new TUC report. ‘The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety’ reveals that workplaces with a union presence have a 24 per cent lower rate of injuries than non-unionised workplaces.
TUC news release and full report, The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Blacklisting exposes Trade Union Bill’s folly
Britain’s blacklisting scandal, which saw thousands of construction union reps victimised or denied work for raising safety concerns, provides ‘clear proof’ of the dangers posed by the government’s Trade Union Bill. TUC head of safety, Hugh Robertson said: “The blacklisting scandal is clear proof of why we need trade unions.”
Left Foot Forward blog. Blacklist blog. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Higher fines should spur safety improvements
New sentencing guidelines recommending much higher fines on firms that break health and safety laws should increase the pressure on unsafe employers ‘to clean up their act’, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said to make the system work better, there should also be more resources for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to cover the costs of bringing more cases to court.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Supreme Court win on protective equipment
Employers face having to provide protective footwear for staff following a landmark court ruling involving a care worker who slipped on ice at work. GMB member Tracey Kennedy fell and injured her wrist as she made her way to the home of a housebound woman in the Crookston area of Glasgow in the harsh winter of December 2010.
GMB Scotland news release. Video recording of the Supreme Court ruling. Digby Brown Solicitors news release. The Herald. STV News. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Lasers are ‘offensive weapons’ says pilots’ union
Lasers should be classed as ‘offensive weapons’ and banned in the UK, the pilots’ union BALPA has said. The union was speaking out after a New York-bound plane was forced to turn back to London Heathrow Airport after a laser beam hit the cockpit after take off, causing a ‘medical issue’ for one of the pilots
BALPA news release. The Telegraph. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Train drivers also at risk from lasers
Rail union RMT has warned that the risks from illegally wielded lasers are a threat to rail as well as aircraft safety. The union said any review in the wake of the Virgin Atlantic incident must include the impact of the ready availability of high-powered lasers on the wider transport industry.
RMT news release. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Bullying widespread in the police service
Around half of all police staff surveyed by the union UNISON said they had been bullied, with female staff significantly more likely to have been targeted. More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of female police staff told the union that bullying is a problem at work, and almost threequarters (72 per cent) reported they were not confident that their force will deal fairly with any complaints of bullying.
UNISON news release. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Unite member compensated for asbestosis
A former pipe fitter who developed the debilitating asbestos-related lung scarring disease asbestosis has received an undisclosed compensation payout. Unite member Michael Adcock, 64, worked as a pipefitter for a Leicestershire engineering company from 1968 to 1986, where he refurbished boilers that were insulated with asbestos. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Big win after postal workers back sick colleague
Postal workers in Somerset who stood up for a victimised sick colleague have won his reinstatement. CWU members at Bridgwater delivery office took action in support of Andrew Mootoo, who is profoundly deaf and also has multiple sclerosis, because management refused to allow him back to work after a bout of ill-health.
Bridgewater Mercury. Central Somerset Gazette. Morning Star. Socialist Worker. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Public back union on London fire safety
London’s fire chief should listen to the public and drop unsafe plans to axe fire engines in the capital, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. The union call came after a London Fire Brigade (LFB) public consultation found the overwhelming majority of Londoners are against mayor Boris Johnson’s plan to permanently axe 13 fire engines.
FBU news release. LFB news release. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Mental health plan at risk from service ‘salami slicing’
A record of ‘short-termism’ and ‘salami slicing’ by government ministers could undermine a new blueprint to get more people suffering mental health problems back to work, Unite has said. The union was speaking out after the prime minister launched ‘The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health’, a report by the independent taskforce on mental health.
Prime Minister’s Office news release. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Port health authorities in the dark over Zika
Most port health officers have not been told what they should do if they suspect air crew and travellers coming into the country have the Zika virus, the Association of Port Health Authorities has warned. Lynnette Crossley, a senior port health officer and APHA committee member, said Public Health England (PHE) had not yet circulated any guidance to ports other than those receiving direct passenger flights from the affected areas.
Environmental Health News.
INSI advisory on Zika and related guidance from the National Travel Health Network and Centre, US Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organisation Zika factsheet. Public Health England guidance for pregnant women. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Firefighter killed himself after colleague died
A firefighter found hanged at his station had been left traumatised by the death of a colleague, an inquest has heard. The coroner indicated that the death of firefighter Stephen Hunt may have tipped father-of-two Lee Gaunt, 41, over the edge, and said he was “concerned” at the adequacy of occupational health support provided to firefighters.
Manchester Evening News. More on work-related suicide. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Bed firm boss jailed over 'slave workforce'
A factory owner who ran his bed-making business on a “slave workforce” of men paid as little £10 a day has been jailed for two years and three months. Mohammed Rafiq, 60, employed large numbers of Hungarians at his firm Kozee Sleep and its subsidiary Layzee Sleep, which supplied retailers like John Lewis, Next and Dunelm Mill – but their ethical audits failed to spot what was going on.
West Yorkshire Police news release. BBC News Online. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Director convicted of explosives crime
Bryan Peacock, the director of a Shrewsbury company, has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after a 45 gallon steel drum that previously contained flammable liquid caught fire and exploded while being cut in half. Shrewsbury Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee of SPEL Products had reported the incident, and indicated this particular method of work had been in operation for a significant period of time, and that previous incidents had occurred.
HSE news release. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Britain: Star Wars to feel the force of law
A Star Wars production company is to be prosecuted over an injury to Harrison Ford during the filming of The Force Awakens, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced. Ford, reprising his role as Han Solo in the latest episode of the space blockbuster, was hurt by a hydraulic metal door of the Millennium Falcon during an on-set accident in June 2014 at Pinewood Studios near London.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Ireland: Death threats against journalists condemned
The Irish prime minister Enda Kenny and the media union NUJ have condemned the threats made against a number of journalists in the Republic of Ireland. The threats follow two killings in a gangland feud in Dublin.
BBC News Online. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Global: Fyffes accused of plantation abuses
Irish banana giant Fyffes has been accused of having “no respect” for workers’ rights, amid allegations that staff on Central American fruit plantations are being serially mistreated. The UK union GMB has called for Fyffes to be thrown out of the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), which promotes labour rights, over reports of abuses including chemical poisonings by Fyffes subsidiaries in Costa Rica and Honduras.
GMB news release. ETI response. Banana Link news report. The Guardian. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
USA: How to bury occupational brain cancers
A chemical giant responded to unexpectedly high numbers of brain tumours at one of its US plants by launching a flawed study to obscure the extent of the problem, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) has found. The CPI investigation, the latest in its ‘Science for sale’ series, examined the cancer cluster affected workers at the sprawling Union Carbide plant in Texas City but found the company’s researchers counted only one of the 23 brain tumour deaths at the plant in an influential study.
CPI investigative report. Work Cancer Hazards blog. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.
Hazards news, 13 February 2016
Britain: TUC condemns government attack on safety reps
A government attack on basic trade union rights could not only make workplaces more dangerous, it is at odds with the legal rights of trade union safety reps, the TUC has warned. Criticising the ‘nasty’ Trade Union Bill, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said clauses in the proposed law to curtail ‘facility time’ for union representatives in the public sector would have a ‘cynical’ knock-on effect on the lifesaving work of union safety reps.
TUC news release, Stronger Unions blog, Touchstone blog and Trade Union Bill briefing. ASLEF news release. The Mirror. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: ‘No excuse’ for widespread violence at work
One in eight people has experienced violence at work, according to new research published by the TUC. The poll over of over 1,600 adults carried out by YouGov for the union body, which has launched a new guide, reveals that 12 per cent of people have experienced work-related violence such as being pushed or spat on, punched or stabbed.
TUC news release, violence at work guidance and reporting form. Morning Star.
Hit list: TUC violence and abuse reporting form, Hazards magazine. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Unions back TUC violence action call
Unions representing health and retail workers have backed a TUC call for action to stem the widespread violence directed at workers. UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said the figures confirmed “the level of violence against medical and health care workers is unacceptably high” and John Hannett, general secretary of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, said: “All too often criminals who assault staff are not even sent to court, and those who are can receive derisory sentences.”
UNISON news release. Usdaw news release. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Under pressure blacklisters pay out millions
Victims of a construction industry blacklist which targeted union safety activists have been awarded up to £200,000 compensation. So far 71 former site workers have received “full and final settlements” worth £5.6m from major construction companies.
UCATT news release. The Mirror. Blacklist blog. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Union demands blacklisting public inquiry
Firms guilty of blacklisting safety and union activists should face an official public grilling, the union Unite has said. Unite head of legal Howard Beckett said not only did the construction companies’ blacklist amount to an illegal conspiracy, but it also involved defamation and misuse of private and confidential personal data — in breach of the Data Protection Act.
Morning Star. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Tube maintenance workers in safety action
Maintenance workers on London Underground (LU) are planning a series of 12-hour and 24-hour strikes in a dispute over safety. Rail union RMT said seven separate strikes are planned up to June over what it calls “lethal changes to track access.”
RMT news release. Evening Standard. BBC News Online. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Trade unions act on offshore crisis
Unions have joined forces in a new move to protect workers in the offshore oil and gas industry. Speaking at the launch in Aberdeen of the Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG), Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, said: “The collapse in the oil price since summer 2014 has had profound consequences for the oil and gas workforce,” adding: “There have been thousands of job losses, unprecedented attacks on terms and conditions and growing fears over the safety regime.”
STUC news release. Nautilus news release. BBC News Online. The Herald. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Public sector workers sleep-deprived, says study
Gruelling working hours across the public sector are leaving workers sleep deprived, with many only managing six hours sleep per night, a study has found. Research led by the University of Leeds and commissioned and funded by bed firm Silentnight found nearly a third of Britons suffered from sleepless nights as a result of long work hours and job-related pressure and stress.
Leeds University news release. TUC news release. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Asbestos-backed scientists caught out again
Asbestos financed scientists cited non-existent evidence to support claims made in a paper that downplayed the risks posed by chrysotile (white) asbestos, the only form of asbestos currently in commercial use. Two of the four authors of this paper - Fred Pooley and John Hoskins – are UK-based scientists, while a third, Edward Ilgren, is listed as formerly of the faculty of biological sciences at Oxford University.
Work cancer hazards blog. Edward B Ilgren, Frederick D Pooley, Yumi M Kumiya, John A Hoskins, Critical reappraisal of Balangero chrysotile and mesothelioma risk, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Public Health, volume 12, number 1, 2015. Erratum. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Fuel giant fined £3m over offshore leaks
One of the world’s largest oil and gas exploration and production companies has been fined £3 million after gas leaks on a platform off the Lincolnshire coast put workers’ lives in danger. ConocoPhillips (UK) Limited admitted serious criminal safety failings in Lincoln Crown Court after two uncontrolled and one controlled but unexpected gas release, which occurred on the Lincolnshire Offshore Gas Gathering System (LOGGS) between 30 November and 1 December 2012.
HSE news release and guidance on risk assessment for offshore installations. Grimsby Telegraph. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Exploding cylinder killed recycling worker
A scrap metal recycling company based in Sheffield has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was killed when he was hit in the head by an exploding gas cylinder. Sheffield Crown Court heard how Tony Johnson, aged 55, was working at the Walter Heselwood Ltd recycling site on 16 June 2009 when a pressurised gas cylinder was put through a shearing machine, causing it to explode.
HSE news release and waste and recycling webpages. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Window firm ignored safety warnings
A company that manufactures and installs windows has been fined after carrying out work in the West End of London with no measures to prevent workers falling eight metres. The lack of safety measures by Ideal Glazing (Euro) Ltd allowed part of a window to drop onto the pavement below.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Six figure fine after track worker is injured
Engineering company Babcock Rail Limited has been fined £400,000 for a criminal safety breach which led to a rail worker suffering serious injuries while renewing rail track in Flintshire, north-east Wales. Lee Woolly was helping to replace a line at Hope Railway Station when the incident happened in March 2013.
ORR news release. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Chemical giant fined for dangerous gas release
Multinational chemical producer, Solvay Solutions UK Limited, has been fined after a dangerous gas was released to the atmosphere causing disruption to the M5 and thousands of homes nearby. Warley Magistrates’ Court heard how the uncontrolled release put both employees and members of the public at risk.
HSE news release and COSHH webpages. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Britain: Salad firm fined over lost finger tips
A company that grows and packages salad has been fined after an employee lost the tips of two fingers in a dangerously modified bagging machine. Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court heard how the operator had reached under the guard to pull film through the machine at Vitacress Salads Limited.
HSE news release and packaging machinery webpage. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Global: Does your work pose a Zika risk?
The Zika virus began ringing public health alarm bells in May 2015 in Brazil and is now spreading rapidly – and may pose a risk to those working in or visiting affected countries. An advisory from the London-based International News Safety Institute (INSI) says so far there are confirmed cases in at least 23 countries – almost all of them in tropical South America, extending into Central America and the Caribbean.
INSI advisory on Zika and related guidance from the National Travel Health Network and Centre, US Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organisation Zika factsheet. Public Health England guidance for pregnant women. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Pakistan: Union roadmap to improve brick kiln conditions
A detailed roadmap for local agencies to address bonded labour and unsafe working conditions in Pakistan’s brick kilns has been created with the assistance of the US union organisation the Solidarity Center. The proposed programme includes incentives for employers to ensure their facilities meet decent work standards.
Solidarity Center news report. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
USA: ‘Rented’ scientists defend toxic chemicals
‘Rented white coats’ – scientists in the pay of vested interests – are defending toxic chemicals with horrific consequences for the workers these substances make ill. A ‘Science for sale’ investigation by the Washington DC based Center for Public Integrity (CPI) found industry-backed research has exploded “as government-funded science dwindles. Its effects are felt not only in courtrooms but also in regulatory agencies that issue rules to try to prevent disease.”
CPI investigative report. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
USA: E-recyclers take lead home to the kids
In 2009, when Anthony Harrell accepted a $10-an-hour job at an electronics scrap recycling facility in Cincinnati, he was happy to have found work that he liked and that would let him provide for his wife and two children. But Harrell didn’t know that when he went home his kids would inadvertently come in contact with the lead contaminating his hair, skin and clothes, suffering lead related mental problems as a result. Huffington Post. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.
Hazards news, 6 February 2016
Britain: Incidents highlight risks of ‘aerotoxic’ syndrome
The revelation that two flights in two days were forced to turn back to the UK last week following an outbreak of sickness among the cabin crew has added further weight to calls for a public inquiry into ‘aerotoxic syndrome’, the union Unite has said. The union said the abandoned flights, one to South Africa and one to the US, provided further evidence that leaks from aircraft engines are finding their way into the cabins causing the crew to feel sick but may also be further impairing the crew’s health.
Unite news release and Keep cabin crew safe campaign. Evening Standard. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Britain: Pilots want drone safety rules
A spate of serious near misses involving drones highlight the need for urgent action to prevent a collision with other aircraft, pilots’ union BALPA has said. It was commenting after a UK Proximity Board examination of seven incidents involving drones classed four in the most serious category A, where a serious risk of collision existed
BALPA news release. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Britain: UCATT concern at five year justice delay
Construction union UCATT has said it is ‘highly concerned’ at a five-year delay in bringing criminal charges relating to the deaths of four workers on a development project. Adam Taylor (28), Peter Johnson (42) and brothers Thomas (26) and Daniel Hazelton (30), died on 21 January 2011, in what the union said was the worst fatal accident in the industry for many years.
UCATT news release. HSE news release. Morning Star. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Britain: Action call after sharp rise in retail violence
Retail union Usdaw has called for action to prevent violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers after the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported a sharp rise in incidents during 2015. Trade body BRC found offences involving abuse or violence against shopworkers were up by 28 per cent.
Usdaw news release. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Britain: Education staff under attack at work
Forty-three per cent of education staff have had to deal with physical violence from a pupil in the last year, according to a survey by the teaching union ATL. The union says of those who have experienced physical violence from a pupil: 77 per cent reported they had been pushed or shoved; 52 per cent had been kicked; 50 per cent had an object such as furniture thrown at them; and 37 per cent had been punched.
ATL news release. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Britain: Massive increase in railway race hate crimes
Race hate crimes on Britain’s railway networks have risen by 37 per cent in the past five years, an average of more than five reported incidents of abuse or harassment a day. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “These are truly shocking figures and match up with the reports that RMT members are feeding back to the union from the sharp end..”
RMT news release. The Guardian. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Britain: Large firms face higher penalties for safety crimes
New official sentencing guidelines should lead to a dramatic increase in penalties on larger firms for serious workplace safety crimes. An analysis by Howard Fidderman, editor of Health and Safety Bulletin, showed 16 of the 21 fines imposed on large companies were lower than the new starting point, while 14 of the 17 fines imposed on small and micro companies were higher.
Health and Safety Bulletin, number 445, January/February 2016. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Britain: Tribunal awards overwork payout
A construction worker forced to work 70-hour weeks has won a constructive dismissal case. David Brown, who worked as a site manager for Ogilvie Construction, was awarded £14,000 at a tribunal against the firm.
Planning and Building Control Today. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Britain: Report slams ‘well-being vacuum’ at work
Despite increased business awareness of the importance of actively supporting health and well-being in the workplace, there remains a stubborn ‘implementation gap’ in UK workplaces, human resources body CIPD has said. Its new report, ‘Growing the health and well-being agenda: From first steps to full potential’, states that fewer than one in ten (8 per cent) of UK organisations currently have a standalone well-being strategy that supports the wider organisational strategy.
CIPD news release and report, Growing the health and well-being agenda: From first steps to full potential. Workplace well-being programmes: A guide for safety reps, TUC, December 2015. Hard to swallow, Hazards magazine, Number 132, December 2015. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Britain: Port firm fined after crushing death
Clydeport Operations Limited has been fined for criminal safety failings after 22-year-old maintenance engineer Craig Logan suffered fatal crush injuries on a faulty crane at its Hunterston Coal Terminal site in Ayrshire. The company was aware of the problem with the crane, whose cab had repeatedly become stuck along the boom, but over an eight month period had failed to fix it.
HSE news release. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Britain: Runaway HGV crushes worker to death
A Runcorn haulage firm has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after an employee was crushed to death by a runaway lorry. Tony Schulze, 49, had been trying to connect a cab to a lorry trailer when the incident happened at Freight First Ltd’s premises on the Astmoor Industrial Estate on 22 January 2011.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Britain: Worker mown down whilst assisting reversing lorry
A Shropshire company has been fined for criminal safety failings after the death of an employee. Mold Crown Court heard how Philip Ledward, 62, an employee of Arkenfield Stable Hire Limited (ASHL), was assisting one of the company’s lorry drivers when he was struck by a passing car and received fatal injuries.
HSE news release and workplace transport guide. Shropshire Star. Daily Post. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Britain: Company guilty after worker crushed by bricks
A Cheshire construction company has been prosecuted following a fatal accident in 2011 at a site in Wilmslow. Liverpool Crown Court heard that Edgemere Projects Ltd of Tarporley, Cheshire, was the main contractor at a construction site when on 7 January 2011, 23-year-old Andrew Dytiche sustained crush injuries when a pack of bricks fell on him.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Global: Unilever and unions in harassment agreement
Global soaps-to-snacks manufacturer Unilever has joined IndustriALL and IUF, the international trade unions representing the company’s union workforce, in a joint commitment to prevent sexual harassment in its workplaces worldwide.
IUF and IndustriALL news releases and joint statement. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Qatar: World Cup dream is a nightmare for workers
A union investigation has confirmed the migrant workers toiling to get Qatar ready for the 2022 World Cup are still facing overcrowded, squalid accommodation and deadly working conditions. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey was part of delegation that made a secret, after-dark trip to a labour camp in Al Khor, north of the capital Doha, to see the conditions and speak to the workers.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. TUC Playfair Qatar campaign. The Mirror.
ITUC multi-media investigation: Qatar Exposed and full report: Qatar: Profit and loss. Counting the cost of modern day slavery in Qatar: What price freedom? Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Korea: Samsung job caused ovarian cancer
A South Korean court has ruled that exposure to carcinogens at a Samsung semiconductor factory caused a worker’s ovarian cancer. The Seoul Administrative Court said it saw a “significant causal relationship” between the disease and even a low level of toxic chemicals because the worker Lee Eun-joo was exposed to carcinogens over a long period.
ABC News. Daily Mail. CNBC News. New York Times. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
New Zealand: Deadly abuses continue at meat plant
Global foodworkers’ union federation IUF is seeking support in its campaign for a respect for safety and labour rights at meat processing company Talley’s/AFFCO. IUF says “Talley’s/AFFCO is a serial rights abuser,” adding: This employer with a horrific record of workplace accidents has fired union health and safety representatives for meeting with their members and locked out 200 workers at the company's Wairoa meat plant to force them to abandon collective bargaining and accept individual contracts.”
IUF alert. Sign the letter to Talley’s: Lockout, dismissals, intimidation - serial rights abuses by New Zealand meat company Talleys/AFFCO. Risks 737. 6 February 2016
Hazards news, 30 January 2016
Britain: Insurers want to curtail work deafness payouts
The insurance industry wants to make it more difficult to claim compensation for occupational deafness, the TUC has warned. The union body says despite a dramatic fall in the number of compensation settlements – down from 183,342 in 2002 to 103,401 – insurers have complained that noise induced hearing loss claims increased threefold in the last four years, from 9,334 to 27,490 - but the TUC says this represents statistical sleight of hand, not a genuine trend.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: Union calls for charges after safety cards scandal
A union has called for those responsible for a construction safety skills card scam to face the courts, after it was announced thousands of the cards had been revoked as a result of widespread fraud at five test centres. The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) confirmed this week they have revoked 4,615 cards followed the discovery of fraudulent activity at centres where candidates were taking tests accredited by both CITB and the British Safety Council (BSC).
GMB news release. UCATT news release. CSCS news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: UCATT exposes hidden migrant site deaths toll
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is being urged to review urgently its work methods and record keeping, following new evidence on migrant worker deaths. An investigation by construction union UCATT has discovered that of the seven construction workers deaths in London in 2014/15, five of the victims were migrant workers.
UCATT news release. Construction Enquirer. Morning Star. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: Site firms ordered to release blacklisting information
A High Court judge has ordered 30 construction firms, including Sir Robert McAlpine and Balfour Beatty, to disclose all emails and correspondence linked to the blacklisting of union reps and safety activists. The ruling came at the end of a two-day hearing last week where it emerged that documents had been destroyed linking the firms with the illegal covert blacklister, the industry-controlled and financed Consulting Association.
Blacklist blog. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: POA to seek judicial review on smoking in prisons
The prison officers’ union POA has told the prison service it is seeking a Judicial Review on the continuing risks posed by smoking in prisons. A phased move to smoke-free prisons was announced by the government in September last year, but POA says contact with Treasury solicitors since then has led the union to doubt “that a smoking ban will ever be implemented to protect the health and safety of both staff and prisoners from the damaging effects of second hand smoke.”
POA statement. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: Firefighter fears over PCSOs fire sideline
Firefighters fear lives could be put in danger over a controversial scheme to train police community support officers (PCSO) to do their jobs. Firefighters’ union FBU said cost-cutting is behind the move and could lead to conflicts of duties if the PCSOs were dealing with a policing incident at the same time as a fire.
The Mirror. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: Renewed warning after teacher dies of asbestos cancer
The death of a teacher from an asbestos cancer shows that school staff and pupils are still at risk of deadly asbestos diseases, unions have warned. The alert came after Lincolnshire coroner Paul Kelly recorded that Elizabeth Belt, who taught in schools in the county from 1968 to 1995, died as a result of an industrial disease, the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. Morning Star. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: Union approach leads to shipbreaking breakthrough
The UK government has agreed to sign up to an international convention on shipbreaking safety after an approach from the union Unite. Confirmation of the government’s willingness to ratify the Hong Kong Convention on shipbreaking came in a letter from transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. IndustriALL news release and shipbreaking campaign. The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: UK joins the fight to end modern slavery
The UK government has joined the vanguard of the fight against modern slavery, the TUC has said. Commenting after the UK became the third country after Niger and Norway to ratify a landmark International Labour Organisation (ILO) agreement to outlaw forced labour and modern slavery, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We welcome the Home Office’s move to ratify the ILO Forced Labour Protocol.”
TUC news release. TUC Touchstone blog. ILO news release, Forced labour protocol and recommendation and 50 for Freedom website. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: ‘Slave workforce’ conviction at bed maker
A West Yorkshire businessman has been convicted of employing large numbers of Hungarian men as a “slave workforce” at the now defunct Kozee Sleep bed factory in Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury. Mohammed Rafiq, 60, was found guilty of conspiracy to commission a breach of UK immigration law and will be sentenced on 12 February. BBC News Online. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: Balfour Beatty fined £1m after road worker death
Civil engineering giant Balfour Beatty has been fined £1 million after the death of a father-of-four repairing a barrier on the A2. Larry Newman, 37, was killed when he was struck by the arm of a crane being used in the work in October 2012.
HSE news release. Kent Online. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: Fine of £1m after worker gets trapped in gas cloud
One of the UK’s largest gas distributors has been fined £1 million after a worker became trapped in a ruptured gas main in Scunthorpe. On 24 June 2014, National Grid Gas (plc) was supervising repairs to the gas main when sub-contract worker Ryan Spencer was trapped between two gas pipes after one of them burst, breaking his femur.
HSE news release. Scunthorpe Telegraph. Construction Enquirer. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: Port operator fined £1.8m after ignoring workers
An Essex maritime terminal worker was serious injured when his arm became wrapped around a powered capstan, while mooring an ocean-going vessel. Basildon Crown Court imposed a fine of £1.8 million on port operator C.RO Ports London Limited, after the company plead guilty to criminal safety offences that contributed to the incident.
HSE news release. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: Pet food firm fined over worker death
A pet food company has been fined £80,000 over the death of a Lithuanian worker almost six years ago. Renatas Timofejevas, 36, was operating a loading vehicle at Alba Proteins at The Racks, near Dumfries, when he was found crushed under the boom arm.
BBC News Online. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: Wilko fined following forklift death
Retail chain Wilko has been handed a £200,000 fine after an employee was killed in a crash between two forklift trucks at one of the firm’s distribution centres. George Hancock, 52, died in December 2011 after sustaining injuries in the incident.
Bassetlaw District Council news release. Hucknall Dispatch. Environmental Health News. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Britain: Polish migrant worker electrocuted on farm
Pengelly Farms Ltd has been ordered to pay £125,000 for a criminal safety breach that led to the death of a young worker. Konrad Miskiewicz, 24, from Poland was electrocuted by an overhead power cable when working on a potato harvester near Falmouth, Cornwall in July 2011.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Falmouth Packet. West Briton. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Global: New guide to tackle bullying at sea
New guidance to combat bullying and harassment at sea has been developed by the industry body the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the global union the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). As well as providing advice on company policies on reporting, complaints and grievance procedures, the guidance addresses the responsibilities of seafarers and their employers to use these procedures appropriately and for being aware of any harassment or bullying that might occur within the maritime workplace.
ICS/ITF Guidance on Eliminating Shipboard Harassment and Bullying. Nautilus publication alert. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Canada: Union calls for national asbestos registry and ban
A Canadian union leader has called for a national registry of the location of asbestos materials. The call from Philip Venoit, president of Vancouver Island Building and Construction Trades Council, came after latest figures from Statistics Canada revealed new cases of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma had doubled across the country, from 276 cases in 1992 to 560 cases in 2012.
Work cancer hazards blog. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Europe: Unions push for better laws on work cancers
Unions are to work throughout the Dutch Presidency of the European Union to develop a preventive approach to occupational cancer. During this presidency, which runs from January to June, the Dutch government has expressed a desire to update the EU Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive, a longstanding union objective.
Work cancer hazards blog. Why we need to focus on work-related cancer, ETUC, January 2016. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Japan: Cancer victims press for justice and prevention
Two of five workers who developed bladder cancer while working at a chemical factory manufacturing dyes and pigments are demanding that the Japanese government recognise their illness as job-related. Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, the pair called on their employer - Tokyo-based Mitsuboshi Chemical - to make urgent improvements in conditions at the plant in Fukui Prefecture.
Japan Times. Work cancer hazards blog. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
USA: GE workers fear PCB health effects after job loss
Workers set to lose their jobs at a General Electric plant in the US fear serious diseases linked to their exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) could hit them later in life. The union representing the workers at the GE Fort Edward plant is citing concerns over exposure to toxic PCBs – used in manufacture of capacitors at the plant - in pressing the company to pay for health testing after workers lose their jobs.
Work cancer hazards blog. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.
Hazards news, 23 January 2016
Britain: Workers' Memorial Day – this year, it’s the law
As preparations begin for this year’s 28 April Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) event, the TUC has announced the global campaign focus. “In 2016 the theme for the day is ‘Strong Laws - Strong enforcement - Strong Unions’ because across the world we are seeing growing attacks on health and safety protection, including in Britain where the government have removed protection from millions of self-employed workers, and across Europe where the European Commission is pursuing a dangerous deregulatory strategy,” the union body said.
TUC news alert. TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. Add your 28 April event to the TUC . For tweeters, use the #iwmd16 ITUC/Hazards global events listing.
For Workers’ Memorial Day resources including ribbons and car stickers, contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre by email or phone 0161 636 7557. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Britain: ‘Purgatory’ for workers on North Sea slave ships
A Scottish government committee has called on the UK Coastguard Agency to respond to safety concerns after offshore union RMT condemned conditions aboard some vessels operating in the North Sea as “purgatory.” RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy said the conditions aboard some ships were “appalling” with “less competent, less able and less willing workers being exploited in order to exploit our natural resources.”
Scottish Parliament economy, energy and tourism committee news release. Morning Star. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Britain: TSSA action warning on rail safety in Scotland
Rail workers in Scotland have warned a train operator it will face industrial action if it presses ahead with cuts to the numbers of “safety critical” control staff. White collar rail union TSSA said plans to reassign ScotRail Alliance train control staff - the rail equivalent of air traffic control - will place a huge strain on the safe management of Scottish trains and so increase the risk of accidents on the network.
TSSA news release. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Britain: Waste staff balloted after phone-in sacking
Sheffield council workers are being balloted for industrial action after a private firm sacked a union member for asking a question about safety and employment conditions on a BBC local radio phone-in programme. GMB member Martin Lyons was fired by Veolia-run Green Co on 14 January after the company claimed he had brought it into disrepute by asking council leader Julie Dore on air about a long-running dispute on the contract.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Britain: Government wrong to go easy on gangmasters
Construction union UCATT has warned that the government’s proposal to relax the licensing of gangmasters will lead to greater exploitation and the mistreatment of workers by employment agencies. The union was commenting on the government’s plans to reform the powers, function and scope of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), changes the TUC warned could increase exploitation of vulnerable workers.
UCATT news release. BIS/Home Office response to the consultation on tackling exploitation in the labour market. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Britain: Poor prison training led to medical retirement
A former prison officer has been awarded £185,000 in compensation after he suffered a permanent shoulder injury when taking part in mandatory control and restraint training at work. Robert Warren, a member of the prison officers’ union POA, was working at HMP Wealstun in West Yorkshire at the time of the incident.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Britain: Blacklisters up offers in bid to evade courts
Payouts of more than £150,000 have been offered by major construction firms to victims of the construction blacklist. In a statement, the Blacklist Support Group said: “The High Court litigation has reached a crucial point with the companies offering money in an attempt to buy themselves out of any justice.”
Construction Enquirer. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Britain: Snooping at work is an unhealthy intrusion
Unions, human resource experts and employers’ bodies have said that snooping on staff is an unwelcome and sometimes unhealthy intrusion. The organisations were speaking out after Europe's top court ruled a Romanian man whose employer read his messages had not had his rights violated.
TUC news release. IoD news release. CIPD news release. BBC News Online. Hazards magazine workplace privacy webpages. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Global: Supply chain audits fail to report abuses
The ethical audits used by global companies to establish their adherence to decent labour, safety and environmental standards could in fact be a convenient and damaging alternative to effective regulation and enforcement, according to a new report. Researchers’ from the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI), a part of Sheffield University, interviewed business executives, non-profits, supplier firms and auditors, and concluded “ultimately the audit regime is ‘working’ for corporations, but failing workers and the planet.”
SPERI news release. Ethical audits and the supply chains of global corporations, SPERI Global Political Economy Brief No.1, Sheffield University, January 2016. TUC Touchstone blog. The Guardian. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Global: Supply chain abuses cause injuries and deaths
Research by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has revealed the global supply chains of 50 companies employ only six per cent of workers in a direct employment relationship. Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said the system results in “indefensible workplace injuries and deaths”, adding: “Only by exposing the practices of these companies to consumers and citizens around the world will companies begin to take responsibility for their supply chains and follow the rule of law.”
ITUC news release and report, ITUC Frontlines Report 2016: Scandal Inside the global supply chains of 50 top companies. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Britain: Woman finished for chemotherapy time off
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been accused of sacking an employee just days before Christmas after telling her she had taken too much time off work while undergoing chemotherapy. Pauline Fisher, 65, who has been diagnosed with incurable kidney cancer, had worked at a DWP-run disability centre in Blackpool for 10 years before being signed off sick for six months last June.
ITV News. The Independent. The Mirror. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Britain: Peril for night shift workers on drive home
Workers driving home after a night shift are at an increased risk of a road traffic accident, a US study suggests. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Liberty Mutual Research Institute found that for post-night shift drives nearly 44 per cent were ended early for safety reasons compared to none of the post-sleep drives.
Michael L Lee and others. High risk of near-crash driving events following night-shift work, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, volume 113, number 1, pages 176–181, 5 January 2016. Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety news release. Pump Handle blog. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Global: Textile dust linked to rheumatoid arthritis
Occupational exposure to textile dust is associated with almost three times the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to new research published online in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. The research, which led the authors to call for better control of dust in the textiles industry, also linked exposure to genetic changes that hasten progression of the disease.
BMJ news release. Chun Lai Too and others. Occupational exposure to textile dust increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis: results from a Malaysian population-based case-control study, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 14 January 2016. doi 10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-208278 Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Britain: Worker suffered cement burns on first day Building products manufacturer Stressline Limited has been fined after an agency worker suffered serious cement burns on his first day of work. Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard how the inexperienced 21-year-old – on his first day of full-time employment – was exposed to alkaline cement slurry while standing in a drainage pit.
HSE news release and cement hazards factsheet. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Britain: Director fined after skylight fall
The company director of a sash restoration company has been fined for his criminal safety failings after a worker fell three metres through an unprotected skylight. Salisbury Magistrates’ Court heard how on 14 July 2014, an employee of the Sash Restoration Company (Dorset) Limited fell through an unprotected skylight while replacing sash windows on a large manor house, breaking his wrist, although the firm failed to report the injury.
HSE news release and work at height toolbox Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Canada: Manager gets jail time after work deaths
Unions in Canada have said health and safety laws across the country now have real clout, following the jailing of Metron Construction manager for this role in the death of four employees. Vadim Kazenelson, 40, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail for an incident in which four workers died and another was critically injured after falling 13 storeys from a scaffold outside a Toronto apartment building on Christmas Eve 2009.
OFL news release. CLC news release. Toronto Star. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
DRC: Kids mine the cobalt used in smartphones
Children as young as seven are working in perilous conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to mine cobalt that ends up in smartphones, cars and computers sold by household brands including Apple, Samsung and Sony, according to an investigation by Amnesty International. The human rights group claims to have traced cobalt used in lithium batteries sold to 16 multinational brands to mines where young children and adults are being paid a dollar a day, working in life-threatening conditions and subjected to violence, extortion and intimidation.
Amnesty International news release, video and report, This is what we die for: Human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo power the global trade in cobalt. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Thailand: Worker rights activist faces prosecution again
Workers’ and migrants’ rights activist Andy Hall has faced the courts in Thailand again, after exposing the abuse of migrant workers in a Thai pineapple canning factory. Andy, a British passport holder, faces a seven-year prison sentence and a hefty fine for his part in writing a research report critical of the Natural Fruit Company Ltd’s employment practices.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Glenis Willmott MEP news release. The Telegraph. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
USA: Wellness programmes now come with threats
Dale Arnold, who worked for plastics maker Flambeau in Wisconsin, USA, chose not to take his work-sponsored health assessment and biometric screening. The company responded by pulling his health insurance coverage. Bloomberg News. Workplace well-being programmes: A guide for safety reps, TUC, December 2015. Hard to swallow, Hazards magazine, Number 132, December 2015. Risks 735. 23 January 2016
Hazards news, 16 January 2016
Britain: Bad employers could benefit from gangmaster reforms
The TUC has raised serious concerns over government changes to the role of Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). Commenting on the government’s 12 January announcement of its intention to reform the powers, function and scope of the GLA, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We are concerned that government proposals to make licensing more flexible will lead to fewer workplace inspections, leaving workers more vulnerable to exploitation.”
BIS/Home Office response to the consultation on tackling exploitation in the labour market. TUC news release. GLA news release. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: TUC dismay at asbestos cancer levy cut
The government should not cut the levy on insurance companies introduced to meet the cost of otherwise uncompensated cases of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on a government announcement that the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Levy for 2015/16 will be reduced to £23.2m from £32m in 2014/2015.
TUC news release. Ministerial statement 12 January 2016. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: Cameron’s flaky thinking on Euro deregulation
The British demand for a Europe-wide “target to cut the total burden on business” might not just be wrong, it might be unachievable, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said even with the stated support of vice-president of the Commission, Frans Timmermans, the attempt by Britain has far from universal approval.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: Post union acts until asbestos all clear
Union members at a Merseyside postal delivery office have returned to work after securing assurances about asbestos safety in the building. CWU members at the Kirkby office walked out after suspected asbestos was discovered while contractors were renovating the building.
Liverpool Echo. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: Privatised back to work tests a failure
The government's privatised system of assessing sick and disabled social security claimants is still failing claimants and taxpayers, civil service union PCS has said. The union was commenting after a National Audit Office (NAO) report concluded the Department for Work and Pensions has not achieved value for money in its management of health and disability assessments for employment and support allowance (ESA) and personal independence payments (PIP).
PCS news release. NAO report and news release. Statement from Commons public accounts committee chair Meg Hillier. Morning Star. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: RMT slams ‘pathetic’ death penalty on contractor
Rail union RMT has criticised as “pathetic” and “wholly inadequate” a fine handed out to a major rail construction company for a series of failures that led to the avoidable death of one of its workers. Carillion Construction Ltd was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £36,570.39 following a prosecution for the criminal breach of health and safety laws that led to the death of a Scott Dobson.
RMT news release. ORR news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: UK not pulling its weight on worst chemicals
Despite being a major player in global chemicals production, the UK is showing little interest in efforts to control the most dangerous substances, a new report suggests. A report from the European Environment Bureau (EEB), reveals the UK government has only proposed two Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), chemicals including carcinogens and reproductive toxins targeted for phase-out.
CHEM Trust news report. EEB news release. A Roadmap to Revitalise REACH, EEB, December 2015. Health and Safety Executive online document on ‘Selecting substances to propose for authorisation, restriction, evaluation or harmonised classification and labelling’. ECHA SVHC webpages. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: Bad employers sometimes pay
While employment tribunal fees have drastically reduced the number of cases and typical awards for claimants are generally four-figure sums, tribunal decisions still occasionally cost employers dear. A round up six-figure employment tribunal awards in 2015 compiled by human resources magazine Personnel Today shows that far more substantial settlements can occur – and discrimination against sick workers was behind almost half of these bigger payouts.
Personnel Today. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: UK asbestos giant spied on activists
Executives at the world’s biggest asbestos factory spied on journalists and safety and environmental campaigners who exposed the killer dust’s dangers. Secret industry documents reveal that the executives at Rochdale-based asbestos giant Turner and Newall (T&N) monitored people they considered to be “subversive” and kept a dossier on their activities, then used a media and political campaign to try to discredit them.
The Independent. IBAS blog. Hazards magazine. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: Academy fined over asbestos risks
An academy trust has been fined for its criminal failure to manage asbestos and ensure the safety of builders working at a Medway school. Representatives from the Williamson Trust pleaded guilty at Medway Magistrates Court, where it was heard asbestos had been uncovered during work in 2012 at the Hundred of Hoo Academy, one of the trust’s schools.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Kent Messenger. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: Firms fined after asbestos failings
A food company and its contractor have been fined after asbestos was disturbed during building work and only identified by chance when an asbestos removal contractor came to the site. Stafford Crown Court heard no asbestos survey had been carried out by Mizkan Euro Ltd or DH Welton & Co Ltd.
HSE news release. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: Man escapes jail after apprentice dies in fire
A gas supplier whose workshop fire escape was padlocked shut, resulting in the death of an apprentice in a fire, has been given a suspended jail term. Poorly trained teen Jarrad Swan died after becoming trapped in Steve Adams' workshop when an oxygen bottle he was trying to fill exploded.
Kent Police news release. Thanet Gazette. ITV News. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: Firms fined for agency worker’s devastating injuries
Two companies have been fined after a construction worker suffered life changing injuries when he received an electric shock from an overhead power line. Ashley Coe, an agency worker working on site for Pascon Limited, was part of a group of workers laying cables in a trench for a British Solar Renewables Limited (BSR) windfarm when the incident happened on the 13 March 2013.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Western Morning News. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: Family loses home after cement mixer death
A cash-strapped mum and sister had to move out of their home after a family member was killed when his arm got caught on a conveyor belt and he was pulled into a cement mixer. Billy Ridge, 26, was clearing sand around the base of a conveyor belt at a cement bagging plant when his arm got drawn into a roller.
Daily Mirror. Barking and Dagenham Post. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Britain: TUC working in the UK online rights guide
The TUC’s international department has produced ‘Working in the UK - a guide to your rights’, an employment rights online guide in 17 languages, to help inform people of their working rights in the UK. TUC says this resource, which includes a detailed health and safety section, is a good organising and recruitment tool for union organisers.
Working in the UK - a guide to your rights. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Canada: Lung cancer added to firefighter scheme
Firefighters and fire investigators in Ontario, Canada, no longer have to prove their lung cancer is work-related to claim workers’ compensation. From 1 January 2016 the condition has been added to a list of cancers presumed to be work-related for Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) benefits.
CBC News. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Italy: Olivetti asbestos trial gets underway
Seventeen ex-managers at the electronics firm, Olivetti, are on trial over allegations that asbestos exposure at a factory in the Piedmont town of Ivrea caused 14 deaths. The accused, who include Franco De Benedetti, the current chief of scooter manufacturer Piaggio, worked for the company between the late 1970s and 2000.
The Local. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
[chemicals]Global: Electronics firms pressed on substitution
Electronics companies are starting to respond to pressure to reduce their use of chemicals that are known to be hazardous to human health, the environment or both. The industry’s slow steps away from damaging chemicals follows increasing recognition that electronics manufacture is causing cancer and other serious health effects in exposed production workers, all the way along the supply chain.
Ensia. IPEN. International Campaign for Responsible Technology. Green Chemistry & Commerce Council. Substitution Support Portal. GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Global: Prevention of cancer ‘demonstrably’ works
A greater emphasis on prevention of cancers would reap considerable benefits, the director of the UN’s cancer agency has said. Christopher Wild, who heads the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said figures vary, “but one can safely estimate that 40 to 50 per cent of cancers could be prevented if the accumulated knowledge about causes could be translated into effective primary prevention.”
Christopher Wild. Precision in the fight against the global cancer problem, Health Management, volume 15, issue 4, 2015. IARC monographs and prevention guides.
ITUC/Hazards work cancer hazards. Risks 734. 16 January 2016
Hazards news, 9 January 2016
Britain: TUC action call on flooding hazards
The TUC has called for a properly thought out government strategy together with the funding necessary to address funding risks. The union body, which has updated its flooding guide for safety reps, was speaking out in the wake of widespread flooding across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire.
TUC news release, Touchstone blog, Stronger Unions blog and guidance on flood risks. CWU news release and guidance. Government floods guidance. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: FBU calls for coordination not cuts in flood response
Better national coordination of fire and rescue and investment, instead of cuts, is required if emergency services are going to be respond properly to flooding, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. The union said the threat posed by the large scale floods witnessed in recent weeks is beyond the capacity of local services to cope.
FBU news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Firefighters laid low by water-borne bug
Thousands of pounds of compensation has been paid out to firefighters from across the UK who fell ill after taking part in training at the National Watersports Centre. The training was carried out at the centre, at Holme Pierrepont in Nottinghamshire, between 2009 and 2012 and led to 66 firefighters falling ill with sickness and diarrhoea. Each firefighter received between £1,000 and £10,000, with Nottinghamshire County Council paying out a total of £88,312.50 in compensation after settling 54 claims without accepting liability. Water at the centre flowed from the River Trent, which was found to contain harmful bacteria. Due to the physically demanding nature of the training, it led to almost all of those attending the courses ingesting the water and falling ill. The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) South West branch instructed Thompsons Solicitors to carry out investigations into cause of the sickness. Despite evidence establishing contaminated water was responsible for the ill-health, the centre was still advertised to fire brigades as a safe place to carry out the ‘Swift Water Rescue Training’. Tam McFarlane, executive council member for South West FBU, said: “Rather than accepting their mistakes, bosses have fought every claim in full, wasting vast sums of taxpayers' money on legal defence fees that should be spent protecting the public.” Kevin Digby, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Sixth-six FBU members have been laid low by this failure and there are many others who have been affected.” He added: “Listening to your staff, listening to experts, and basic health and safety isn't rocket science.”
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Nottingham Post. Buxton Advertiser. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Safety criminal guilty, but workers were fired
A serial offender sentenced in December 2015 for its criminal safety failings had previously fired workers after blaming them for the incidents, their union GMB has said. Anglian Water Services Limited (AWSL) was fined £400,000 with costs of £41,711 after pleading guilty to criminal safety breaches.
GMB news release. HSE news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Unite says ‘say no to unsafe jobs’
Unite is urging its union reps to reject to unsafe jobs. A new guide, part of Unite’s ‘Looking for trouble’ health and safety campaign, urges reps to ‘say no’ to taking risks, dangerous work, cutting corners and to putting production before safety.
Unite Say No to unsafe jobs, say Yes to make it safe guide. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Fall caused physical and mental injuries
A Unite member who suffered a workplace fall that caused physical and psychological injuries has been awarded more than £100,000 in compensation. The 56-year-old man from Rotherham, whose name has not been released, was sent by his employer to fix a roller shutter door at a client’s premises when the ladder he was using slipped and fell from under him.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: HSE to revisit GB health and safety strategy
‘Leading industry figures and other key influencers’ are being urged by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to join a ‘conversation’ on the future strategy for Great Britain’s health and safety system. Pre-empting these responses, the safety regulator has published six themes that the five-year strategy will cover: Promoting broader ownership of workplace health and safety; highlighting and tackling the burden of work-related ill-health; supporting small firms; enabling productivity through proportionate risk management; anticipating and tackling the challenges of new technology and ways of working; and sharing the benefits or Great Britain’s approach.
HSE news release and strategy webpage and twitter discussion, hashtag: #HelpGBWorkWell. HSE’s new facebook page. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Unhealthy workplace trend confirmed by reports
Two new reports have confirmed an upward trend in work-related ill-health under the Conservatives. Since the Conservatives defeated Labour in 2010/11, self-reported work-related illness has increased by 7 per cent, up from 1.16m cases to 1.24m in 2014/15.
Doctor? No: HSE defends its impotence in the losing battle against work’s diseases, Hazards, number 133, December 2015. IHE news release and preliminary Marmot indicators.
Hard to swallow: TUC warns that firms and government have an unhealthy preoccupation with your lifestyle, Hazards, number 133, December 2015. Workplace well-being programmes: A guide for safety reps, TUC, December 2015. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Bad exposures not bad luck causes cancers
Workplace, environmental and other ‘extrinsic’ exposures cause of up to 90 per cent of cancers, researchers have concluded. The study by a team at Stony Brook University in the US was prompted by a heavily criticised paper in the journal Science which in January 2015 claimed ‘bad luck’ was behind most cancers.
Stony Brook University news release. Scientific American. BBC News Online.
Song Wo, Scott Powers, Wei Zhu and Yusuf A Hannun. Substantial contribution of extrinsic risk factors to cancer development, Nature, published online 16 December 2015. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Global: BP boss says deadly blast was a ‘near death’ experience
The explosion on a BP rig off the US coast in 2010 led to a ‘near death experience’ for the company, its chief executive has said. Bob Dudley was commenting on the Deepwater Horizon blast that killed 11 workers, caused one of the worst environmental disasters in the US and saw BP pay fines and compensation and sell off more than £30bn ($45bn) in assets.
BBC News Online. BBC Radio 4 Today programme. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Blacklisters can’t bid for Scottish public contracts
Companies that are involved in ‘blacklisting’ will be excluded from bidding for public contracts in Scotland, under new regulations being laid in the Scottish Parliament in December 2015. From 18 April 2016, it will be a legal requirement for public bodies to exclude businesses found to have breached the Blacklists Regulations 2010, or which have admitted to doing so.
Scottish government news release and consultation responses. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Military veterans to quality for asbestos lump sums
Military veterans with mesothelioma can now receive lump sum payments of £140,000, after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) revised compensation rules. The move came after the Royal British Legion said British veterans who developed the terminal cancer caused by asbestos exposure during their military service were being unfairly treated, as they were only eligible for incremental war pension payments after being diagnosed with the rapidly lethal cancer.
MoD news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: College student dies from Weil's disease
A student has died of Weil's disease after helping at an animal charity, Public Health England has confirmed. Following the death, a court order was granted which restricts public access to Northamptonshire Animals in Need of Nurturing and Adoption at Irthlingborough.
Northamptonshire Telelgraph. Northampton Chronicle. BBC News Online. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Firm fined £700,000 for crane driver’s manslaughter
Baldwins Crane Hire has been fined £700,000 after the death of its operator Lindsay Easton at the Scout Moor wind farm in East Lancashire four years ago. Following a trial in November 2015, the company was found guilty of corporate manslaughter, failing to ensure the safety of its employees and failing to ensure the safety of other persons.
Lancashire Police news release. Construction Enquirer. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Slough Observer. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Suspended sentences for deadly directors
Wooburn Landscapes Limited was fined £50,000 with £9,680 costs after landscape gardener Russell Meech, 27, was killed when he fell under the wheels of a telehandler. The company’s directors Andrew Schofield and Mark Schofield were each given a four and a half months prison sentence, suspended for eighteen months and 250 hours of unpaid community service.
HSE news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Community service after road roller death
Globalreward Limited was fined £10,000 with £30,750 costs after employee Andrew Poole, 56, was killed as a result of crushing injuries to his head when the ride-on road roller he had been operating drove over him after the driver’s seat sheared off. The company’s director Paul Thomas Andrews was sentenced to two months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to do 200 hours community service.
HSE news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Six figure fines for two death firms
Cemex UK Operations Limited was fined £700,000 plus £90,783.78 costs and Cape Industrial Services Limited £600,000 plus £90,783.78 costs after John Altoft, 29, was killed when he fell to his death after being struck by falling debris inside an industrial tower.
HSE news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Hanson fined £750,000 after crushing death
Manufacturing company Hanson Packed Products Ltd was fined £750,000 plus costs of £29,511 after 26-year-old worker William Ridge was fatally crushed when his arm was caught in a powered roller.
HSE news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Britain: Power firms fined after wind turbine death
Siemens Public Limited Company was fined £107,000 and RWE Innogy UK Limited (RWE) £45,000 after 27-year-old Colin Sinclair was killed when he came into contact with the unguarded rotating shaft of a gearbox within a turbine at Causeymire windfarm. HSE news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Australia: Historic ruling on safe rates for drivers
Global transport unions’ federation ITF has welcomed an historic ruling in Australia requiring firms to pay minimum safe rates to truck drivers. Australia’s Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal ruled on 18 December 2015 that drivers should be paid for waiting at depots, loading and unloading and for the time it takes to clean, inspect and service their trucks and trailers.
ITF news release and Safe Rates campaign. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Europe: Commission breached law on endocrine disrupters
The European Court of Justice has ruled that the European Commission has not been quick enough in identifying and banning potentially harmful ‘endocrine disrupting’ chemicals, linked to cancer, reproductive and other adverse health effects. The December 2015 ruling came in a case brought by Sweden on behalf of the Nordic states.
EU Court news release. ClientEarth news release. Swedish government news release. ChemSec news report. BBC News Online. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Qatar: Companies profiting as workers die
A report from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) estimates that a $15 billion (£10.2bn) profit will be made by companies working in Qatar on infrastructure for the controversial 2022 FIFA World Cup, using up to 1.8 million migrant workers as modern day slaves. The report is critical of Qatar for failing to deliver changes to labour rights or compliance, and warns implicated construction companies, hotels, retail chains and UK and US universities of the cost of doing business in a slave state.
ITUC news release, multi-media investigation: Qatar Exposed and full report: Qatar: Profit and loss. Counting the cost of modern day slavery in Qatar: What price freedom? Risks 733. 9 January 2016
USA: Tighter silica exposure standard ‘in sight’
The Obama administration in the US is moving forward with long-delayed rules intended to protect workers from potentially deadly exposures to silica dust. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirmed on 21 December 2015 that it had sent the rules to the White House for final approval, a step that comes after years of delays.
In These Times. Politico. Silica, part 2: A line in the sand, Hazards, number 127, 2014. Silica, part 1: Dust to dust: Deadly silica standard is killing UK workers, Hazards, number 126, 2014. Risks 733. 9 January 2016
Hazards news, 12 December 2015
Britain: Improving well-being at work – the union way
Unions need to know how to respond effectively to health and ‘well-being’ issues in the workplace, the TUC has said. Introducing new TUC guidance, ‘Workplace well-being programmes: A guide for safety reps’, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Too many workers are still becoming ill through work and simply introducing ‘well-being programmes’ is not a substitute for stopping workers becoming ill, by addressing issues such as long hours, stress, unsafe conditions and a lack of respect at work.”
TUC news release. Workplace well-being programmes: A guide for safety reps, TUC, December 2015. Other workers’ health resources. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: Storm damage highlights emergency service cuts
The impact of the underfunding of the fire and rescue service has been highlighted by the firefighters’ union FBU as the country reels from the effects of Storm Desmond. The union said every fire and rescue service responding to the floods across northern England has seen unprecedented funding cuts over the past five years.
FBU news release and briefing on the impact of firefighter job cuts. FBU Scotland news release. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: Bus drivers strike over unsafe timetables
Over 200 Arriva bus drivers in Kent have taken two days of strike action over the introduction of unachievable, fatigue-inducing and unsafe timetables. Their union Unite has said drivers are being kept at the wheel for five and a half hours at a time with as little as four minutes ‘recovery’ time and limited access to toilet facilities.
Unite news release. Kent Messenger. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: RMT calls for a rail safety summit
Transport union RMT has repeated its call for a rail safety summit, saying current operational practices are ‘a recipe for disaster.’ The union was speaking out after it emerged that Oxford Circus was closed 113 times in the past year because of overcrowding.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: Court fees go – and so should tribunal fees
Public sector union UNISON has said the government should follow up its decision to axe one unjust set of legal fees by ending another – the tribunal fees barring access to justice for many workers abused, victimised or unfairly dismissed by their employers. UNISON has campaigned for the removal of Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal fees – which can mean a £1,200 charge to take a safety victimisation cases - since their introduction in July 2013.
UNISON news release. The Mirror. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: ‘Box ticking exercise’ makes dismissal unfair
A Prospect member fired by BT under a performance management system following a serious operation has won an unfair dismissal claim. Trevor Edwards, who was a programme manager with almost 40 years’ service with BT, was dismissed in 2014, with an employment tribunal ruling concluded BT had “seemingly carried out a box ticking exercise with no regard to the practical realities of what they were doing.”
Prospect news release. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: Whistleblowing prison officer fights dismissal
A prison officer who revealed serious concerns about rising levels of violence in her jail and who warned that prison officers ‘are in danger’ is challenging the decision to sack her for speaking out. Kim Lennon, a member of the prison officers’ union POA, talked to the BBC, local newspaper the Argus and the Guardian of her concerns about the soaring levels of violence and overcrowding in Lewes prison, but was dismissed in November, when a disciplinary panel found she had brought discredit on the prison service by disclosing official information.
The Argus. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: Work on trains led to deadly cancer
A software engineer from South Yorkshire who was exposed to asbestos in a short stint on the railways in the 1960s has been awarded £245,000 compensation after he developed a deadly cancer as a result. The 64-year-old Unite member worked on the railway for three years and then left to join the Royal Air Force as an aircraft engineer, and later became a software designer at an IT company.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: INEOS warned about ‘multiple fatalities’ risk
The INEOS oil and petrochemical complex at Grangemouth in Scotland is facing a legal crackdown by the UK workplace safety regulator in a bid to prevent leaks, fireballs and explosions from killing workers. The concerns about the company’s safety and environmental performance have led to union calls for a greater worker voice on health and safety matters.
The Ferret. The Times. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: London Assembly blacklists blacklisting
The London Assembly has criticised the blacklisting of construction workers who raised health and safety concerns. The elected body has also called on London mayor Boris Johnson to drive home the message to organisations under his jurisdiction that every employee must be protected if they identified health and safety problems.
London Assembly news release. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: Construction safety faces new ‘red tape’ blitz
The freshly revamped Construction, Design and Management (CDM) regulations could be watered-down under a new government blitz on ‘red tape’. On 2 December, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) launched a Cutting Red Tape review for the house building industry, noting it was “keen to look at the changes made to the Construction, Design and Management Regulations, as well as any examples of EU rules that are being implemented too strictly.”
BIS news release and review, Cutting Red Tape review of housebuilding (closes on 13 January 2016). Cabinet Office Cutting Red Tape website. Construction Enquirer. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: Death firms fined in HSE inspector’s ‘most horrific case’
North West companies Sonae Industria (UK) Ltd and Valmet Ltd have been fined following the death of two workers in what a senior Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector described as perhaps the ‘most horrific case’ he had encountered. James Bibby, 25, and Thomas Elmer, 27, were both killed when carrying out maintenance work on a conveyor belt which started up without warning at the Sonae woodchip factory in Kirkby.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Liverpool Echo. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: National Grid fined £2m over boy’s death
One of the UK’s biggest gas distributers has been fined £2 million after admitting criminal safety failings in relation to the death of a young boy. On 24 April 2014, 11-year-old Robbie Williamson and two friends were crossing the Leeds and Liverpool Canal using a pipeline running on the outside of Dugdale Bridge in Burnley, when Robbie fell into the canal, dying as a result of a head injury and drowning.
HSE news release. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: Worker killed in fall from unsafe loft ladder
A sub-contractor has been given a suspected jail term after a worker was killed when he fell from a dodgy loft ladder during an inspection of a domestic boiler. Piotr Kowalczyk was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay costs of £12,404 after pleading guilty to criminal safety offences.
HSE news release and ladder safety guide. Southern Daily Echo. Hampshire Chronicle . Risks 732. 12 December 2015.
Britain: Suspended sentence for director after site fall
The director of a construction company has been given a fine and suspended jail sentence for criminal safety failings after a worker fell from a ladder, resulting in brain damage and other injuries. Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard an employee of MP Jacobs fell from a ladder whilst replacing guttering on a two-storey block of residential flats in Havant on 29 October 2014.
HSE news release and working at heights webpages. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Britain: Unlicensed firm removed school asbestos
A construction firm removed an asbestos ceiling in a school despite not having the legally required licence to do the work. Luton Magistrates’ Court heard that Clarks Construction Limited was contracted by the board of governors of Caddington Village School to refurbish changing rooms, toilets and associated areas at the school complex, but ignored the findings of an asbestos survey.
HSE news release and asbestos licensing webpage. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Azerbaijan: Caspian Sea oil rig fire claims many lives
Two oil workers have been confirmed dead and 30 more are missing presumed dead after a fire broke out on an oil rig in the Caspian Sea. Tragedy struck the oil platform off the coast of Azerbaijan on 4 December.
IndustriALL news release. Wall Street Journal. ABC News. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Canada: Firms alone can’t define work violence
A top Canadian court has ruled that employers cannot arbitrarily decide what constitutes workplace violence or rely on internal investigations when incidents occur. In a groundbreaking decision, the Federal Court of Appeal has supported a legal challenge brought on behalf of a member of the public service union PSAC, who had complained about the harassment and humiliation he suffered at the hands of his supervisor.
PSAC news release. Canadian Labour Reporter. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
USA: Tobacco farms are no place for teens
The US government and tobacco companies are failing to protect teenage children from hazardous work in tobacco farming, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said. A new 72-page report from the group, ‘Teens of the tobacco fields: Child labor in United States tobacco farming,’ documents the harm caused to 16- and 17-year-olds who work long hours as hired labourers on US tobacco farms, exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides, and extreme heat.
HRW news release, video and full report, Teens of the tobacco fields: Child labor in United States tobacco farming. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
USA: Mine boss guilty over 29 coalminer deaths
More than five years after 29 miners were killed in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has been convicted of safety crimes. The tragedy, which was the largest loss of life in a mine in the United States since 1970, could result in a maximum sentence of one year in jail for Blankenship.
UMWA statement. AFL-CIO Now blog. Charleston Gazette ‘Coal Tattoo’ blog. The Pump Handle. The New Yorker. New York Times. Charleston Gazette. Risks 732. 12 December 2015
Hazards news, 5 December 2015
Britain: Violence – you must report it to sort it
The TUC is urging union reps to ensure violence at work is reported. It says telling management formally how violence directed at employees – including physical attacks and verbal abuse – “is critical in tackling the issue at source.”
TUC briefing and draft reporting form.
Have you had success tackling violence at work? Tell the TUC. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Britain: Driving examiners back more industrial action
Driving examiners have said they will continue their programme of industrial action in a bid to head off dangerous changes to their contracts. Their union, PCS, is in dispute over road safety fears as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) imposes changes to working conditions, including extending the working day and increasing the number of driving tests examiners would be expected to carry out.
PCS news release. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Britain: Unite helps family of asbestos cancer victim
The family of a mechanical fitter from Lincoln who died from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma has received a six figure compensation payment, with the help of his former union, Unite. The victim, whose name has not been release, was exposed to asbestos while working at a power station in the early 1960s.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Britain: Big workloads are ‘grinding down’ teachers
Four out of every five school staff say their workload is still unmanageable, one year on from the government's Workload Challenge, according to a survey from the teaching union ATL. The union research found 81 per cent of teachers and 85 per cent of ‘senior leaders’ in state schools in England reported their workload was unmanageable.
ATL news release. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Britain: Rail unions unite against driver only trains
Rail unions are to work together to oppose driver only operation (DOO) on trains. A joint statement from Mick Whelan, general secretary of the train drivers’ union ASLEF, and Mick Cash, general secretary of RMT, says the unions “are completely opposed to driver only operation and its forms, including driver controlled operation (DCO) and driver door operation (DDO), throughout the network.”
ASLEF/RMT statement. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Britain: Union safety warning on sales fever
Shoppers are being urged to keep calm as the frantic sales season gets into full swing. The call from the shopworkers’ union Usdaw came ahead of the ‘Black Friday’ sales event on 27 November.
Usdaw news release. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Global: Blood and tears mark Qatar World Cup build up
The failure of the Qatari authorities to address the deadly exploitation of migrant workers in Qatar has been condemned by the construction union UCATT. The union was commenting after Amnesty International found Qatar had done “almost nothing effective to end chronic labour exploitation” in the five years since it was controversially awarded the 2022 football World Cup tournament.
UCATT news release. Amnesty International news release. BBC News Online. TUC Playfair Qatar campaign. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Britain: Cuts are hurting London Ambulance Service staff
Funding cuts have damaged the London Ambulance Service, hurt its staff and have left it in crisis, the union UNISON has said. Commenting after a Care Quality Commission report saw the service put into special measures, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is a shocking indictment of the lack of funding that has gone to the ambulance service over the last five years. “
UNISON news release. CQC news release. London Evening Standard. The Guardian. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Britain: Crane firm convicted of corporate manslaughter
A crane firm has been convicted of corporate manslaughter over the death of an operator at a wind farm in East Lancashire. Baldwins Crane Hire Ltd now faces the prospect of an unlimited fine after being held responsible for the death of Lindsay Easton at Scout Moor wind farm in Edenfield.
Lancashire Police news release. Lancashire Telegraph. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Britain: Roofer killed in fall through gaps in scaffold
A scaffolder has been given 200 hours of community service after a roofer fell to his death through a gap in an unsafe scaffold. Walter Booth, trading as WB Roofing, fell from a roof while carrying out repairs to Micklegate Methodist Church in Pontefract on 10 January 2015.
HSE news release. Pontefract and Castleford Express. Construction Enquirer. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Britain: Cinema director fined for asbestos failings
A St Albans cinema director has been fined after he put workers and members of the public at risk of exposure to asbestos. James Hannaway, 68, the sole director of The Alpha Cinema (St Albans) Limited was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after he allowed refurbishment of the derelict multiscreen cinema to begin in 2010 without proper checks for asbestos.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Britain: Cement burns left site worker in hospital
A Salford construction firm has been fined after a 54-year-old employee suffered severe cement burns to his knees while laying concrete flooring. Sefton Magistrates’ Court heard that on the 26 November 2014, an employee of DLP Services (Northern) Limited, knelt in wet concrete and suffered cement burns to both his knees resulted in 12 days hospitalisation and ongoing treatment.
HSE news release and cement hazards webpage. Construction Enquirer. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Britain: Pet food firm fined for teen’s serious injuries
A Nottinghamshire pet food company has been fined after a teenage worker was seriously injured when a forklift truck he shouldn’t have been allowed to drive overturned. The teen, whose name has not been released, had been employed for just two weeks as a factory operative at the Retford site of Alpha Feeds Limited, which has now changed its name to Grove Pet Foods Limited.
HSE news release. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Australia: Union anger as black lung returns
Four Australian coal miners have been diagnosed with pneumoconiosis or ‘black lung’ - a potentially fatal disease thought to have been eradicated in Australia more than 60 years ago. The mining union CFMEU said it fears the cases, all the state of Queensland, could be ‘just the tip of the iceberg’, with hundreds, possibly thousands of workers potentially at risk.
CFMEU news release. ABC News and related story. Yahoo7 News. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Europe: A quarter believe their work is risky
Almost one in four workers (23 per cent) believes their work presents a risk to their health, according to Europe-wide research. Dublin-based Eurofound, presenting findings of its 6th European Working Conditions Survey, said they give a “diverse picture of Europe at work over time across countries, occupations, gender and age groups.”
Eurofound news report and infographic. Eurofound: First findings: Sixth European Working Conditions Survey, 24 November 2015. ETUI news report. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Korea: SK Hynix agrees to compensate electronics workers
Korean electronics firm SK Hynix has agreed to provide compensation to current and former semiconductor factory workers, and even those of its subcontractors, who may be suffering from a range of occupational diseases including cancer. The company said it would accept “immediately” the recommendation of an industrial and public health review committee that conducted a year-long inspection of Hynix semiconductor workplaces.
Cancerhazards.org. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
USA: Construction causes chronic lung disease
Many cases of a debilitating lung disease in construction workers that is commonly attributed to smoking could be caused by their jobs, a study had found. The union backed US Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) and researchers from Duke University found workplace exposures to an unhealthy combination of vapours, gases, dusts and fumes (VGDF) accounted for nearly one in five chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) cases.
CPWR news report and research summary. Risks 731. 5 December 2015
Hazards news, 28 November 2015
Europe: TUC slams EC for ‘insulting’ safety gaffe
The European Commission has been urged by the TUC, a global union and an industry body to withdraw an ‘insulting’ ‘better regulation’ information sheet that includes a serious safety gaffe. The newly published factsheet promotes an EC work plan that contains no positive action on workplace safety and drops commitments to act on workplace musculoskeletal disorders and cancers.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. UNI/Coiffure EU letter to the Commission. European Commission Better regulation and transparency information sheet. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Police apology must lead to justice for blacklisted workers
Unite has welcomed the ‘unreserved apology’ from the Metropolitan Police to the seven women duped into relationships with undercover police officers specially assigned to infiltrate politically active groups or causes. The union said that the time has now come for those responsible for the Special Demonstration Squad to acknowledge its role in destroying the lives of dozens of blacklisted men and women working in construction and associate industries.
Unite news release. Metropolitan Police news release. Morning Star. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Scottish government must protect shopworkers
Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett is urging the Scottish government to do more to protect shopworkers from violence. The union general secretary, who has written to Paul Wheelhouse MSP, minister for community safety and legal affairs, said: “The Scottish government no longer records assaults of shopworkers or other public-facing workers, which concerns me because we believe that incidents of violence at work are increasing at a time when overall violent crime is falling.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Pilots must be central to aviation safety plans
Pilots are an untapped resource of expertise and experience in the fight against terror and the other major threats to the safety of passengers, planes and crew, their union BALPA has said. In a speech to the Airport Operators Association conference, union general secretary Jim McAuslan said: “Evidence tells us the next major accident is just as likely to be caused by an inexperienced crew, flying on a temporary contract and suffering fatigue after a disrupted day.”
BALPA news release. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Two killed in Celsa steelworks explosion
Steelworkers from across the UK took part in a minute's silence at a union rally on 21 November to remember the two Celsa workers who died in an explosion at a Cardiff plant. Hundreds of steelworkers from Wales travelled to Sheffield for a rally for the Save our Steel campaign event organised by steel trade unions.
BBC News Online. Wales Online. Construction Enquirer. HSE news release. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Another teacher suicide linked to Ofsted inspections
An award-winning headteacher hanged herself shortly after Ofsted downgraded her school, an inquest has been told. Carol Woodward, the long-serving head of Woodford primary school near Plymouth, suffered a swift decline in her mental health that coincided with an inspection by Ofsted as well as disruptive building work to expand the school.
Plymouth Herald. The Guardian. More on work-related suicides. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Fit-for-work tests are bad for mental health
Tougher ‘fit for work’ tests introduced to assess eligibility for disability benefit have caused relapses in patients with serious mental health conditions, according to a consultant with the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Dr Jed Boardman, a consultant psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS trust, said the work capability assessment (WCA) discriminates against those with mental health issues and called for an overhaul of the process.
The Guardian. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Government rejects levy for mesothelioma research
The government has refused to back a call to make insurers pay for potentially life-saving research into a treatment for the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. The rebuff came during the 20 November second reading in the House of Lords of Lord Alton’s Mesothelioma (Amendment) Bill.
Mesothelioma (Amendment) Bill, House of Lords debate, Hansard, 20 November 2015. Morning Star. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Company fined after failure to act on asbestos risks
Blue Diamond Engineering Limited has been fined after asbestos was found in its County Durham factory but the firm failed to document or manage the risks to employees or visitors to the site. Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard how the company was notified of the presence of asbestos materials discovered during a survey in 2006.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Construction guide to ‘end’ deadly site diseases
New guidance to encourage better management of occupational health risks has been prepared by the Health and Safety Executive’s construction committee (CONIAC). HSE said it is now “urging the industry to put an end to the hundreds of construction workers that die of occupational diseases every month.”
HSE news release and guide on the HSE and IOSH websites. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Stone masonry boss ignored health advice
The owner of a stone masonry company has been fined after exposing his workforce to serious health risks from silica and vibration. Despite receiving previous advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on the control of health risks posed by silica and vibration, Thomas Bushby failed to act, the regulator said.
HSE news release and stone masonry webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Builder admits manslaughter after farm death fall
A builder has been sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years, after a worker was killed in a fall. MT Construction owner Michael Turner, 49, appeared at Inner London Crown Court after pleading guilty to gross negligent manslaughter after Robert Bird, one of his employees and friend of 15 years, fell 30 feet through a roof and died.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary news release. Construction Enquirer. Cambridge News. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Teesside firm fined after worker’s fatal port fall
A north east port has been fined £400,000 following the death of an agency worker who fell eight metres onto the steel deck of ship’s hold. Robert Harrison, 59, from Middlesbrough, was one of six men who were loading 12m long steel pipes into the hold of a vessel at PD Teesport Ltd at Hartlepool Dock when the incident happened on 9 September 2012.
HSE news release and work at height webpages. More on safety on the docks. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Worker killed by swinging metal crucible
A company that specialises in metal and alloy products has been fined after a worker was killed when he was struck by a load on a moving crane. Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard how ATI Speciality Materials Limited employee Nigel Hall, 47, was killed when a crane stopped but the load swung forward hitting him on the head.
HSE news release and machinery safety webpages. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Britain: Worker was crushed to death by lorry
A commercial vehicle company has been fined after one of its workers was killed when a lorry travelling at less than 5km/h crushed him. Warwick Crown Court heard criminal safety failings by Imperial Commercials Limited led to the death of employee Craig Stewart Dunn in January 2014.
HSE news release and safe manoeuvring webpages. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Australia: Six time more site worker suicides than fatalities
A national suicide prevention group has revealed construction workers are six times more likely to die by suicide than in workplace accidents. The industry-run MATES in Construction organisation also said suicide and suicidal behaviour cost the industry more than Aus$1.5 billion (£0.72bn) a year.
MATES in Construction. ABC News. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Bangladesh: Three years after 120 deaths, zero justice
Three years after the deadly Tazreen fire in Bangladesh, many high street brands that sourced garments from the factory have yet to contribute to a compensation fund, the global union federation IndustriALL has said. Firms yet to pay up include US brands Walmart, Disney, Sears, Dickies and Delta Apparel; Edinburgh Woollen Mill (UK); Karl Rieker (Germany); Piazza Italia (Italy); and Teddy Smith (France).
IndustriALL news release. Tazreen Claims Administration Trust. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Japan: Firms must check mental health of staff
Businesses in Japan will be obliged from December to offer their employees an annual test to check their level of mental stress amid an increase in workers suffering from mental disorders, the health ministry has said. Under the Industrial Health and Safety Law’s revision last year, the test, in the form of a questionnaire, will target more than 20 million employees at around 16,000 businesses nationwide, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
Japan Today. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Myanmar: Landslide kills 90 dead at jade mine
A landslide at a jade mine has killed at least 90 people in northern Myanmar, according to preliminary reports. The victims were buried when a vast heap of waste material, discarded by the mining companies, collapsed in Kachin state, Burmese media reported.
BBC News Online. Jade: A Global Witness investigation into Myanmar’s ‘Big State Secret, Global Witness, October 2015. Radio Free Asia 9 June video on landslide risks in jade mines. Risks 730. 28 November 2015
Hazards news, 21 November 2015
Global: Unions and their allies make dangerous firms listen
When firms embroiled in deadly workplace disasters improve their safety performance it is primarily because of the heat they feel from unions and campaigners, a researcher has said. Juliane Reinecke, associate professor of organisational behaviour at the University of Warwick, said her research, which examined several major incidents including the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, said “the real change came about thanks to the increasingly organised alliance of unions and campaign groups.”
The Conversation. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Nearly a third of people are bullied at work
Nearly a third of people have been bullied at work, according to new research from the TUC. one in five (22 per cent) had to take time off work as a result of being bullied. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Anyone worried about bullying at work should join a union, to get their voice heard and their interests represented.”
TUC news release and guides, Bullying at work - Guidance for safety representatives and Bullied at work? Don't suffer in silence. Acas news release and discussion paper, Seeking better solutions: tackling bullying and ill-treatment in Britain's workplaces, November 2015. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Driving examiners take action over safety fears
Driving examiners walked out on 19 and 20 November over planned legal changes they believe could undermine road safety. The action by PCS members came after the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) failed to give assurances over safe working hours.
PCS news release. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Bridge workers caught in high level lift drama
UCATT has said it will “resolutely support” construction workers caught up in safety drama when a bridge’s lift failed high above the Firth of Forth. Seven men were inside when the lift broke down at around 2pm on Thursday 12 November, approximately 350ft above the platform where they would normally get off.
UCATT news release. STV News. Edinburgh Evening News. Construction Enquirer. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Shops must improve security on Black Friday
Shopworkers’ union leader John Hannett has welcomed advice from the National Police Chiefs' Council saying that shops must put adequate security in place to avoid a repeat of the scuffles seen during last year's Black Friday sales. The Usdaw general secretary said the union’s members “have real concerns” about the Black Friday sales event on 27 November.
Usdaw news release. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: First scalps after CWU 'bite-back' campaign
The first two private prosecutions brought by Royal Mail following attacks on postal workers can be credited to the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) 'Bite-back’ campaign, the union has said. CWU said a dozen more private prosecutions by Royal Mail are pending “thanks to the CWU's campaign, which brought about new and tougher dog control laws and sentences, and an agreement whereby Royal Mail prosecutes wherever possible when the police and Crown Prosecution Service have failed to do so.”
CWU news release and Dangerous Dogs - Bite Back campaign. Manchester Evening News. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Harm from stress is an industrial injury, says union
Stress and anxiety caused by work pressures should be officially recognised as an industrial injury, teaching union NASUWT has said. Rex Phillips, NASUWT national official for Wales, said: “Treating the breakdown in health that is suffered by those subjected to such practice as an industrial injury will assist in holding those that indulge in such practice to account.”
NASUWT news release. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Caledonian Sleeper staff ballot over safety fears
Workers on the Caledonian Sleeper service are being balloted for industrial action after claiming private operator Serco has failed to address “potentially dangerous” defects in rolling stock. RMT said the service, which links Inverness and Fort William with London, has been suffering from defects such as broken toilets and fire alarms.
Morning Star. BBC News Online. Inverness Courier. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Lawbreaker HSE fails to protect workers’ health
Workers in Great Britain are not being protected from occupational diseases and deaths, and the official health and safety regulator shares the blame, according to an editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). Occupational physician Anne Raynal, a former HSE chief medical inspector, predicted that “occupational medicine is unlikely to survive as a specialty because of a lack of enforcement of the employers' duty not to harm the health of their workers by the Health and Safety Executive.”
BMJ news release. Anne Raynal. Editorial: Occupational medicine is in demise, British Medical Journal, volume 351:h5905, published online 11 November 2015. BMJ rapid responses to the paper. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Nearly half refurb sites are criminally dangerous
Almost half of the refurbishment sites targeted during a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection blitz fell criminally short of the required safety standards. In total 2,274 individual inspections were carried out, resulting in 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Unhealthy class bias in workplace health initiatives
Studies show low paying, lower status jobs tend to come with much higher safety and health risks. So, it might come as a surprise to many that workplace health interventions are twice as likely to target those on the higher rungs of the workplace ladder, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson has said.
TUC health and safety facebook page. D Montano, H Hoven, J Siegrist. A meta-analysis of health effects of randomized controlled worksite interventions: Does social stratification matter?, Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment and Health, volume 40, number 3, pages 230-234, 2014. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Suicides linked to fit-for-work test areas
Nearly 600 suicides in England could be associated with the government's "fit-for-work" tests, researchers have found. A team from Oxford and Liverpool universities looked at 2010-13 data and also that each additional 10,000 people subjected to a WCA was associated with an additional six suicides, 2,700 cases of reported mental health problems, and the prescribing of an additional 7,020 anti-depressants.
B Barr, D Taylor-Robinson, D Stuckler, R Loopstra, A Reeves, M Whitehead. ‘First, do no harm’: are disability assessments associated with adverse trends in mental health? A longitudinal ecological study, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Online First, 16 November 2015. doi:10.1136/jech-2015-206209
The Guardian. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Worker killed by falling half tonne power press
A Wrexham firm has been fined after a worker was killed when a machine weighing around half a tonne fell on him. Chester Crown Court heard Christopher Williams, a maintenance supervisor at Morgan Technical Ceramics Limited, was using a pallet truck to move a power press that was stored in a shipping container in the yard behind the factory when the press toppled over.
HSE news release and safe maintenance webpages. Daily Post. BBC News Online. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Britain: Scaffold fall caused ‘life-changing injuries’
A scaffolding firm has been fined after a worker was seriously injured in a nine metre fall. Bristol Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee of Bristol-based Tubular Access Scaffolds Limited, whose name has not been released, was dismantling a scaffold structure when he fell, causing life-changing head injuries.
HSE news release and working at height webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Korea: Angry Samsung victims throw a ‘Sam Ba’ party
Korean campaigners rallied at Samsung’s corporate headquarters in south Seoul to call on the company to re-establish an arbitration process with occupational disease victims. Campaign group SHARPS and individuals who say they were harmed working in Samsung’s electronics factories held the 13 November ‘Sam Ba’ party outside the company HQ
SHARPS news report. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Korea: Death a month at world’s biggest shipbuilder
Trade unionists from Korea travelled to a UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva to protest at the growing number of fatalities at the world’s biggest shipbuilder, Hyundai Heavy Industries Group (HHI). They say 16 workers died in 15 separate incidents in the period from March 2014 to October 2015 - almost one a month.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Libya: Union action call after attempted murder
The global transport union federation ITF has demanded immediate action to protect trade unionists in Libya after the attempted murder of a prominent activist. Nermin Al-Sharif, leader of the ITF-affiliated Dockers’ and Seafarers’ Union of Libya, was driving a car near Benghazi that was followed by two other cars and shot at, crashing as a result.
ITF news release. Action: Sign the petition calling on Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to protect trade unionists and human rights activists. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Spain: Less secure work equals more work injuries
Deregulatory labour market reforms in Spain in 2012 led to more job insecurity and higher staff turnover and a subsequent sharp rise in workplace injuries, unions have said. Pedro J Linares, safety secretary with the CC.OO trade union confederation, said the reforms had “made dismissals cheaper, weakened trade union bargaining power and slackened investment in occupational health and safety.”
Equal Times. TUC health and safety facebook page. More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 729. 21 November 2015
Hazards news, 14 November 2015
Britain: Fight against the trade union bill will go on
The TUC is to take its campaign against the government’s Trade Union Bill to the House of Lords. Commenting after the Bill completed its third reading in the House of Commons, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady described the 10 November Commons vote as “disappointing”, but said: “We will continue to oppose it as it goes through the House of Lords. As was shown in Parliament today, there is widespread concern about the threat this Bill poses to good industrial relations.” TUC news release and Stronger Unions blog. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: Traffic wardens win proper sick pay
Traffic wardens in Hackney, in east London, have secured the London living wage and a proper company sick pay policy after last ditch talks to avert strike action. The 30 Unite members at APCOA Parking, their private sector employer, won a sick pay scheme allowing 15 days paid sick leave over a rolling year, the London living wage backdated to November 2014, and a 1.5 per cent pay increase.”
Unite news release. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: Attacks on firefighters condemned
Firefighters have condemned attacks on fire crews around Bonfire Night, Halloween and other events. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) also warned that a downward trend in attacks of this kind in recent years could be reversed if the neutrality of firefighters is undermined by a government plan for a police takeover of the fire service.
FBU news release. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: One in five shopworkers don’t report attacks
Shopworkers are suffering in silence as more than one in five (22 per cent) fail to tell their bosses about attacks by customers, a union survey has revealed. Many feel reporting incidents would be a waste of time and consider dealing with violent and abusive members of the public ‘part of the job’, the survey by shopworkers’ union Usdaw revealed.
Usdaw news release and Freedom from Fear campaign. The Mirror. Morning Star. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: Long hours, short breaks in private schools
More than four out of every 10 teachers (41 per cent) in independent schools are only getting a 20 minute uninterrupted lunch break during their working day of six or more hours, according to a poll by teaching union ATL. Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said: “It is driving experienced and valuable staff from the profession and is having a hugely detrimental impact on personal lives.”
ATL news release. Morning Star. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: Shameful delay in getting death justice
An eight year delay in securing the conviction of a firm responsible for the death of an electrician cannot be justified, the construction union UCATT has said. The union was commenting after 777 Demolition and Haulage Co Limited was convicted of criminal safety breaches related to the August 2007 death of John Walker on a south London demolition site.
UCATT news release. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: Union welcomes recall of suspect skills cards
Site union GMB has welcomed a decision to cancel thousands of site safety qualifications after widespread fraud in the process was discovered. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) announced it was to recall 6,000 Health, Safety and Environment Test (HS&E) cards - construction workers across the UK can use a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to prove their skills, and a pass in CITB’s health and safety tests is a required step in obtaining a skills card.
GMB news release. CSCS news release. CITB blog and earlier statement. Construction Enquirer. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: Working wounded face multiple pressures
High job demands, stress and job insecurity are among the main reasons why people go to work when they are ill, according to a new study by researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Concordia University in Canada. The study found one of the most significant causes of presenteeism is the severity of organisational policies used to monitor or reduce staff absence, such as strict trigger points for disciplinary action, job insecurity, limited paid sick leave, or few absence days allowed without a medical certificate. und to be key reasons why people might not take a day off.
UEA news release. Mariella Miraglia and Gary Johns. 'Going to work ill: a meta-analysis of the correlates of presenteeism and a dual-path model', Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, published online first, 9 November 2015. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: Working while sick heightens site dangers
Construction union UCATT has warned that the absence of sick pay can endanger not only the lives of the sick staff who miss out but also the safety of their co-workers, as workers carry on working while ill to protect their income.
UCATT news release. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: Unfair dismissal case reinforces tribunal fees message
The father of three sisters who brought employment claims against an award-winning chef has said tribunal fees could put people off challenging workplace abuse. Dick Palmer, whose daughters, Bethany, Lucy and Esme had claims including sexual harassment and unfair dismissal upheld, said: “The costs just keep on going up and up and, when you sit down and think of it all, it would be enough to put most people off but my daughters were convinced something had to be done and we had to bring this case forward.”
BBC News Online. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: Review promised on asbestos payouts to veterans
The prime minister has said the government will review the way in which veterans dying as a result of exposure to asbestos during their military service are compensated. During prime minister’s questions, David Cameron was challenged by Labour MP Dave Anderson over a system that means former service personnel suffering from mesothelioma, a deadly lung cancer caused by asbestos, get much lower payouts.
The Independent. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: Roofing firm fined for exposing workers to lead
A Gloucestershire roofing company has pleaded guilty to criminal health and safety neglect after workers were exposed to highly toxic lead. Worcester Magistrates’ Court was told that during a routine Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection, the company was observed carrying out replacement lead work on a roof in Worcester.
HSE news release. More on the hazards of occupational exposure to lead. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: Skipper fined £20,000 after death on fishing boat
The owner of a Scottish fishing vessel where a man died after inhaling dangerous fumes has been fined for his criminal safety failings. James Thores, who was charged following the death in 2011 of 37-year-old Artis Sterkis, his ship’s engineer, was told to pay a £20,000 penalty.
Press and Journal. STV News. BBC News Online. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Britain: Director dodges jail after excavator tragedy
A director of waste management firm South Coast Skips Ltd has received a suspended jail sentence after one worker died and an agency worker was left seriously injured when they fell from the bucket of an excavator. Lindsay Campbell, a 66-year-old father of ten from Waterlooville in Hampshire, was killed when the bucket of the excavator he was working in tipped, causing him to fall nine metres to the ground.
HSE news release and working at height webpages. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Cambodia: Garment worker dies, many other collapse
A Cambodian garment worker died and 21 others were hospitalised after they collapsed at a Chinese-owned factory, the latest spate of similar incidents to hit the country’s textile industry. A 21-year-old woman reported dizziness and difficulty breathing on the morning of 5 November at the Or Sambath Trading factory in eastern Prey Veng province before she collapsed and later died at hospital, local governor Duch Kunthea told the media.
Straits Times. Daily Mail. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Global: Proof more enforcement equals fewer injuries
There is strong evidence that regulatory health and safety inspections that result in enforcement action are effective in reducing work-related injuries, a major study has concluded. Dr Emile Tompa, said his team found strong evidence for the effectiveness of inspections with citations and penalties in reducing injuries, but there was moderate evidence that inspections without penalties have no effect in reducing injuries.
At Work, issue 81, Institute for Work & Health, 2015. OSHA quick takes. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Pakistan: Workers reported cracks before factory tragedy
Workers warned management about cracks in a four-storey plastic bag factory in Lahore before it collapsed on 4 November, local unions have said. Press reports say at least 45 of the 150 workers known to have been in the building have been killed, with some of those rescued in a critical condition.
IndustriALL news release. Solidarity Center news report. Al Jazeera. The Express Tribune. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Philippines: Expert targeted after exposing pesticide risks
A renowned chemical safety expert in the Philippines is being subjected to a protracted campaign of legal and professional harassment after warning that banana workers were being poisoned by pesticides, safety advocates have said. They said the latest attacks, by banana producer Lapanday Agricultural Development Corp (Ladeco), came after he advised against aerial spraying of pesticides.
IPEN news release and appeal. PANAP statement. Business Mirror. Risks 728. 14 November 2015
Hazards news, 7 November 2015
Britain: Protect yourself and your union rights
In early November, the Trade Union Bill will have its final vote in the House of Commons. The TUC says the proposals would fundamentally undermine UK workers' right to strike and attack key civil liberties, and would seriously hamper the life-saving trade union safety role.
Tweet your MP now and tell them to oppose the Trade Union Bill. If you (or your MP) aren't on Twitter, send them an email about the vote instead. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Europe: Nothing doing on worker health
Workplace health initiatives including planned Europe-wide rules to reduce the toll of occupational cancer are to stay shelved, latest documentation from the European Commission has confirmed. The TUC berated the Commission’s decision only to “review” the occupational health and safety situation.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. No time for business as usual, Commission work programme 2016, October 2015. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Nautilus backs call for UK maritime investigations
Maritime union Nautilus has called for UK authorities to take responsibility for investigations into suspected serious crimes at sea involving UK nationals. The union was speaking out in the wake of renewed calls for a police investigation into the disappearance of ship worker Rebecca Coriam.
Nautilus news release. Handy Shipping Guide. Liverpool Echo. BBC News Online. Daily Mail. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: UCATT calls for better industry safety tests
Construction union UCATT is calling for a clearer, better system for certifying construction skills to ensure safety on construction sites. The union call came after it was revealed rogue companies were rigging Construction Skills Certification Scheme card exams and providing cards for cash.
UCATT news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Union calls for continued vigilance on site safety
A welcome drop in the number of workers killed on site should not lead to complacency, the construction union UCATT has said. The union said the industry was still far more dangerous than most other sectors, despite new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures revealing a 17 per cent drop in deaths in the UK construction industry in 2014/15, with the provisional annual fatalities total in the sector down to 35 from 42 in 2013/14.
UCATT news release. HSE statistical report and industry specific data, including construction breakdown. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Unite calls for action on stress
Unite has called for its members to take action on stress. Making the action call on 4 November, National Stress Awareness Day, Unite national safety adviser Susan Murray said the union “is aware that many of our members are suffering as a result of bullying, job uncertainty, changes at work and the government cuts - all of which can have an adverse effect on mental health.”
Unite news release. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Killer companies to face bigger fines
Major companies convicted of corporate manslaughter could from next year face fines of up to £20m under new sentencing guidelines. The guidelines, published by the Sentencing Council and due to come into force on 1 February 2016, suggest that judges in England and Wales should impose fines reflecting the size of the convicted organisation.
Sentencing Council news release and definitive guideline. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Firms sentenced after construction death
Two linked companies have been fined after a worker was killed when concrete joists dislodged by remotely controlled demolition machines fell on him. Electrician John Walker, who worked for 777 Environmental Limited, met his death while working on a demolition site at Elephant and Castle, London.
HSE news release. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Casual worker fatally injured falling through roof
A self-employed worker has been fined after a casual worker he employed to repair a shed roof fell, dying of his injuries several days later. Ayr Sheriff Court heard how on 26 August 2012, William Sproat, 63, had been employed by David William McVey to repair a storm damaged shed roof at Brunton Farm in New Crummnock.
HSE news release and working at height guide. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Director fined over chemical tank death
A company run by a former Dundee Football Club director has been fined £50,000 after one of its workers was overcome by toxic fumes and died in a chemical tank. Diamond Wheels (Dundee) Ltd, owned and operated by Paul Marr, admitted a catalogue of criminal health and safety failings over the death of Steven Conway at its premises in the city.
HSE news release. STV News. The Courier. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Pirelli fined after teen apprentice is maimed
International tyre manufacturer Pirelli Tyres Limited has been fined after a 17-year-old apprentice suffered serious injuries to his hands while using a metalwork lathe. Stafford Magistrates’ Court heard the apprentice was using emery cloth whilst wearing gloves to perfect the finish, but the cloth snagged pulling him into the lathe.
HSE news release and related guidance. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Nightmares follow Hotel Chocolat finger loss
Chocolate manufacturer Hotel Chocolat has been prosecuted after a worker suffered serious hand and arm injuries when cleaning a machine tank. Piotr Podgorski, 35, was emptying a tank when a blue cloth he was holding became entangled in the rotating stirrer, and continued to wrap around his finger, twisting his arm and then tearing the finger off, stripping the tendon from his arm
HSE news release. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Shell delay on dealing with offshore explosion risk
A deadline for Shell to address a risk of an offshore fire or explosion has been extended by the safety regulator. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) improvement notice was issued in August 2015 after an undersea gas leak. The leak happened when a towline snagged on a pipe nearly 300ft below the Curlew floating production vessel in the North Sea, causing a valve to rupture and gas from the Fulmar Gas Line to leak out into the sea 130 miles south east of Aberdeen.
STV News. HSE enforcement database. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Subway worker was locked in chiller overnight
A franchise of the sandwich chain Subway has been fined after a worker was trapped overnight in a chiller and tried to escape by writing 'help' in ketchup. Karlee Daubeney, 20, was working the late shift alone on 27 December when a cold store door which had been reported as faulty closed behind her and locked her inside.
Gloucester City Council news release. Western Daily Press. Bath Chronicle. BBC News Online. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Britain: Waste firm fined £100,000 for crushing arm
A waste and recycling company has been prosecuted after a worker suffered serious fractures when his arm was dragged into the rollers of a moving conveyor belt. The 32-year-old F&R Cawley Limited employee, whose name has not been released, was working at the firm’s Luton site on 28 February 2014 when he was asked to clear a blockage on a material recycling facility machine (MRF).
HSE news release. Luton Today. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
France: Pesticides blamed for cancer ‘homicide’
The French wine industry’s attachment to routine pesticide use is coming under increased scrutiny over concerns about its health impacts. In June this year, the French criminal court launched the unprecedented inquiry into a lung cancer victim’s “involuntary homicide”, officially recognised as being linked to his profession in 2011.
The Guardian. Earlier coverage in The Telegraph. CBC News. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Global: Call to end impunity for attacks on journalists
Global media union the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is urging governments worldwide to extend judicial cooperation in investigating and prosecuting the killing of journalists. The IFJ also called on financial institutions and aid donors to make respect for press freedom and media protection among key criteria for development aid to countries with high levels of violence in journalism.
IFJ news release and End impunity webpages. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
USA: Poultry industry abuses ‘widespread’
Poultry workers in the United States suffer extremely high rates of injury, earn poverty wages, and work in a climate of fear, Oxfam America has said. The group says its report, based on two years of research, is central to a new nationwide campaign to expose the human cost of the modern poultry industry.
Oxfam America news release. Lives on the Line: The Human Cost of Cheap Chicken, Oxfam America, October 2015: full report, executive summary, multimedia website and social media kit. The Pump Handle. Think Progress. Ecowatch. Risks 727. 7 November 2015
Hazards news, 31 October 2015
Britain: Trade Union Bill could worsen ‘worrying’ deaths figures
Concerns that government policies are behind an upturn in workplace injuries and diseases could be heightened if the Trade Union Bill becomes law, the TUC has warned. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Unions play a crucial role in keeping people safe at work but these new reforms will make it much harder for unions to work with employers to identify potential hazards.”
TUC news release. HSE news release, statistical report and industry specific data.
Find out what you can do to help stop the Trade Union Bill. Protect the right to strike lobby, London, 2 November. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Strike busting with agency workers a threat to safety
Government plans to allow firms to use agency labour to replace striking workers will lead to “very serious safety concerns”, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson explained “take a group of people from an agency, put them into a workplace at a few days’ notice, and you have an accident waiting to happen,” adding in some instances, the effect could be “catastrophic”.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Union outrage as 7/7 memorial is obscured
Tube union RMT has demanded immediate action from Transport for London (TFL) after an automatic currency machine was placed directly in front of the memorial to victims of the 2005 7/7 bombings at Kings Cross station. The union says Tube staff are furious that the memory of those who died and were injured, and the personal risks that underground staff themselves took in the rescue operation, “is being tarnished in such a disgraceful and cynical fashion.”
RMT news release. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Firefighters fume over police plans
Firefighters’ union FBU has warned that government plans to hand control of Britain’s fire services to the police could undermine public trust and increase the risk from fires. The government wants to transfer control of fire services to police and crime commissioners (PCCs), removing control from fire authorities which are made up of councillors from local authorities.
Morning Star. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Death linked to fire station closure
The decision by London mayor Boris Johnson to close a fire station last year may have contributed to the death of an elderly man in a fire, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said. The fire broke out on 26 October at a property in Camden Road, London, but firefighters from Kentish Town fire station, the nearest to the scene, were unavailable as they were tackling another large fire.
FBU news release. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Prison slip cost officer his job
A prison officer who suffered a career-ending fall at work has secured a six-figure compensation payment in a claim backed by his union, the Prison Officers Association (POA). The 48-year-old, whose name has not been released, was on guard dog patrol at a prison when he slipped on a stretch of path which had not been gritted, fracturing his right foot and has been told by doctors that he faces a 25 per cent risk amputation in future.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Construction skills scammers caught on camera
The skills scheme for certifying construction workers has been called into question after a string of test centres were caught rigging health and safety exams. Construction workers across the UK are required to hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to prove skills and grasp of health and safety - but a joint BBC London/Newsnight investigation revealed widespread, organised cheating, allowing untrained builders on to dangerous sites.
BBC News Online and BBC London video clip. CITB statement. BSC statement. Construction Enquirer. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Deadly silica exposures are not being controlled
Companies are continuing to expose workers to excessive levels of silica dust, which can cause deadly cancers and lung diseases, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has admitted. HSE this week urged the stone industry to do more to protect workers’ health after an inspection initiative in the south of England found a failure to control the potentially lethal dust was commonplace, with many not knowing the exposure standard had been tightened nearly a decade ago.
HSE news release and stonemasonry webpages. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Fracking firm disputes known fracking risks
A major fracking firm has gone on the offensive, attacking claims by a campaign group that there are potentially serious occupational and environmental risks associated with the controversial process. Cuadrilla hit out after a leaflet from the campaign group Friends of the Earth (FoE) highlighted warnings, many made by official US government agencies, about the dangers posed by the toxic chemicals and crystalline silica used in large volumes in fracking operations.
Friends of the Earth blog report, supportive letter from academics and fracking webpages. The Times. BBC News Online. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Top judge confirms there is no compensation culture
The UK’s second most senior judge has dismissed the government-promoted notion that the country is suffering from “compensation culture”. Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls and Head of the Civil Justice, said in a speech that “we should remind ourselves of what the law actually requires and do what we can to explode the false perception of compensation culture.”
Lord Dyson’s speech, 13 October 2015. Thompsons Solicitors news release. International Business Times. The Compensation Myth, TUC/APIL, April 2014. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Dying military veterans denied asbestos justice
British veterans who develop terminal cancer caused by asbestos exposure during their military service are being unfairly treated by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), campaigners and victims have claimed. Current laws mean that the MoD does not have to pay compensation for accidents or injuries suffered before 1987, which rules out those with mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure decades ago.
Royal British Legion asbestos justice campaign. The Independent. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Agency worker dragged into machine and killed
A company that manufactures and supplies high-strength bar and cable systems has been fined £200,000 after a worker was pulled into an inadequately guarded machine and killed. Alan Gerrard, 47, suffered fatal crush injuries while working at McCalls Special Products Limited when his clothing got caught in the machine, used to apply adhesive tape to bars to stop corrosion. HSE news release and work equipment webpages. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Serco fined £200,000 for teen deckhand death
Serco Ltd has been fined £200,000 over the death of a teenage deckhand who fell from a River Thames ferry. Ben Woollacott, 19, died in 2011 after being dragged from the Woolwich Ferry while mooring ropes were being untied.
London Evening Standard. Gravesend Reporter. BBC News Online. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Balfour fined after worker is electrocuted
Two companies have been sentenced for criminal safety failings after a worker was electrocuted during work on a data centre in Middlesex. Balfour Beatty Engineering Services Ltd (BBES) was contracted to carry out multi-million pound infrastructure upgrade works at the data centre in Hounslow, while Norland Managed Services Ltd (NMS) was already contracted to provide mechanical and electrical maintenance and had effective control of the site.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Britain: Director fined for ignoring safety watchdog
The managing director of a Hertfordshire company specialising in recycling of wood waste has been prosecuted for criminal safety failings. Stevenage Magistrates’ Court heard how Janbor Limited was served with three Health and Safety Executive (HSE) improvement notices in October 2014 relating to work activity at its plant, but failed to comply with them.
HSE news release. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Bangladesh: Deadly shipbreaking yards claim more lives
The notoriously deadly shipbreaking yards operating in Bangladesh have claimed three more lives. The latest tragedy occurred on 20 October at the Chittagong yard of SR Corporation, one of the main shipbreaking companies in Bangladesh.
IndustriALL news release. The Hong Kong Convention. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Europe: Move to ban some chemical use in clothes
The European Commission is considering far more stringent controls on the use of substances in consumer goods that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction (CMRs). The Commission, which on 22 October launched a consultation on the proposals, will look into a possible ban on 291 hazardous substances – including certain phthalates, flame retardants and pigments.
ENDS news report. ChemSec news report. The European Commission public consultation. UPI news report. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
USA: Chemical industry ‘blowing smoke’ on self-regulation
Chemical industry claims that its ‘Responsible Care’ self-regulation programme is protecting the public are untrue, new research has indicated. ‘Blowing Smoke’, a report and interactive map released by the Center for Effective Government (CEG), warns that a “significant number of chemical manufacturing facilities are endangering workers and the environment, despite what the chemical industry tells policymakers, regulators, and the American public.”
Center for Effective Government news release and full report, Blowing Smoke: Chemical companies say “Trust us,” but environmental and workplace safety violations belie their rhetoric. Risks 726. 31 October 2015.
Hazards news, 24 October 2015
Britain: A worker is made ill by work stress every two minutes
Every two minutes, a worker somewhere in the UK is made ill through stress at work, the TUC has revealed. New TUC advice on managing stress at work highlights three key points: Stress is not a weakness or your fault; Don’t suffer in silence, but instead talk to someone like your union rep, a friend, your GP or a support service; and stress-related illnesses caused by work are preventable.
TUC news release and guide to coping with workplace stress. HSE stress statistics. ETUC news release. EU-OSHA healthy work/stress webpages. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Britain: Management ignored hospital asbestos for years
Unite is calling for answers and action after it was revealed more than 20 workers have been exposed to asbestos for years in a Manchester hospital. The union says the exposures came after Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust failed to deal with the cancer causing substance, putting staff, patients and visitors at risk.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Britain: Sorry Carillion slammed for blacklisting hypocrisy
Construction giant Carillion has been branded a hypocrite after demanding thousands of pounds in legal costs from a blacklisted worker only days after issuing an unreserved apology for blacklisting in the High Court. Blacklisted former UCATT safety rep Dave Smith commented: “Over the years, these people have sacked me, blacklisted me, fought me in the courts and bad mouthed me on their corporate website all because I tried to improve safety for my fellow workers,” adding: “I have no intention of paying a penny towards the legal costs of these money grabbing hypocrites.”
Blacklist blog. Carillion statement. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Britain: Pilots want clear no fly zones over conflicts
Pilots are calling for accurate information about where it is safe to fly to be shared by nation states and operators worldwide. The demand from the UK pilots’ union BALPA is in response to the full report into the shooting down of the passenger jet Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014.
BALPA news release. BBC backgrounder. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Britain: Lab staff walk out over work pressures
Laboratory assistants at a Yorkshire hospital took strike action last week over “enormous” work pressures and rotas that are causing sickness rates to skyrocket. The action involved 18 members of the public service union UNISON who work at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, which is run by Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. UNISON Yorkshire and Humberside. Morning Star. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Britain: Unions voice concerns 15 years after Hatfield tragedy
Fifteen years on from the Hatfield disaster, rail unions have raised serious concerns about safety on the network. Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, said: “In a safety critical industry there is no room for a company, or chief executive, who wants his managers to take short cuts at the expense of fare-paying passengers, and those of us who work in the industry, and put safety, delivery, and public service first.”
ASLEF news release. RMT news release. TSSA news release. Union Solidarity International. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Britain: TUC backs MPs’ call for asbestos removal
The TUC is demanding immediate action after MPs accused the government of complacency on the risks of asbestos in buildings and called for an asbestos eradication law. ‘The asbestos crisis: why Britain needs a new law’ was published last week by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. The Mirror. Morning Star.
The asbestos crisis: why Britain needs a new law, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, October 2015. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Britain: Unions say end the deadly asbestos gamble
Unions have given their strong support to a report from MPs calling for the urgent removal of asbestos from Britain’s buildings. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health warned that at least 5,000 people die annually as a result of exposure to asbestos.
Unite news release. GMB news release. UCATT news release. NUT/JUAC news release. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Britain: European regulation really is good for you
The June 2015 report of an evaluation of Europe’s workplace safety directives which the European Commission had hoped to keep under wraps until at least next year has been published online, seemingly by mistake. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the full report only became available for public scrutiny after the Irish employers’ organisation IBEC put the document on its website in what the TUC has called “an apparent mistake”.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and health and safety manifesto. IBEC posting of the EU review document. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Britain: IoD urged to sack its chair for fatal mine blast role
The UK Institute of Directors (IoD) is being urged to dismiss its high profile chair because of her “indefensible” role at the company responsible for America’s worst coalmine disaster in 40 years. The CtW Investment Group, a pension fund formed by unions affiliated to the US Change to Win union federation, wants Lady Barbara Judge to go because of her role at Massey Energy where she sat on committees overseeing safety and corporate governance.
CtW Investment Group letter to IoD. The Guardian. The Pump Handle blog. West Virginia Gazette and Blankenship trial webpages. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Britain: Two jailed after farm ladder electrocution
Two men have been sentenced to four years in prison following the death of Jason Morgan who was electrocuted when his ladder touched an overhead power cable. After the tragedy at Great Brynn Barton Farm in 2011, Roger Matthews, Norman Treseder, Philip Tucker and Matthews Plant Hire Ltd went on trial at Truro Crown Court.
Devon and Cornwall Police news release. Construction Enquirer. North Devon Journal. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Britain: Firm fined £200,000 after death in an industrial blender
A pellet manufacturing company has been fined after an employee was killed when he was pulled into an industrial blender. Father-of-one George Major, 51, was clearing material from the blender at Rettenmaier UK Manufacturing Limited, a pellet manufacturer based in Mansfield, when it unexpectedly started up.
HSE news release. Nottingham Post. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Britain: Recycling giant Sita fined £200,000 for criminal breach
A national recycling firm has been fined after an employee was struck and seriously injured by a 7.5 tonne telehandler. Preston Crown Court heard Sita UK Limited failed to provide adequate segregation between pedestrians and moving vehicles at a waste transfer station in Darwen, Lancashire.
HSE news release. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Global: ILO green light for road transport action plan
A key meeting of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has agreed a far-reaching resolution intended to tackle the low pay rates in road transport that can lead to dangerous driving. The resolution of a tripartite transport health and safety meeting at ILO calls on the ILO, a UN agency, to research good practice in the area and makes explicit mention of the highly successful union ‘safe rates’ campaign in Australia.
ITF news release. TWU news release and Safe Rates campaign.
ILO Resolution Concerning Best Practices in Road Transport Safety. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Global: G7 presses ahead with new ‘vision zero’ fund
The world’s major industrialised nations are pressing ahead with plans for a new fund to improve workplace safety. In June 2015, the G7 group of nations, which includes the UK, formulated a plan for the ‘Vision Zero Fund’ in cooperation with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), spurred by the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in 2013 in which more than 1,200 workers died.
G7 news release. TUC Stronger Unions blog. ITUC news release. ILO news release. EC news release. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Global: H&M ‘spinning the facts’ on garment worker safety
H&M has been accused of ‘spinning the facts’ in its response to a report critical of its approach to safety at its supplier factories in Bangladesh. The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) said the retail giant’s comments on its report, 'Evaluation of H&M Compliance with Safety Action Plans for Strategic Suppliers in Bangladesh 2015', are “replete with false and misleading statements, demonstrating that the company remains unwilling to address the issue in a serious and forthright manner.”
CCC news release and report, Evaluation of H&M Compliance with Safety Action Plans for Strategic Suppliers in Bangladesh 2015. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Japan: Fukushima worker to get radiation cancer payout
The authorities in Japan have acknowledged that a worker involved in clean-up work at the Fukushima nuclear plant may have developed cancer as a result. Officials say the man will be entitled to compensation for work-related leukaemia, in the first cancer case linked to the Fukushima plant meltdown.
ABC News. CNN News. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.
Hazards news, 17 October 2015
Britain: Real resources are needed to tackle labour abuses
A proposed new labour standards tsar must be given the resources to effectively coordinate regulators and combat exploitative employers, the TUC has said. The union body was speaking out after the government opened a consultation on proposals to tackle the exploitation of workers, including a new position of Director of Labour Market Enforcement.
TUC news release. Labour market exploitation: improving enforcement, government consultation, ends 9 November 2015. Financial Times. Risks 724. 17 October 2015
Britain: Under wraps official report says EU laws are working
The Conservative government’s repeat refrain that European health and safety laws are a costly burden has been comprehensively discredited. But TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the final report, running to over 400 pages plus some lengthy appendices, is being “kept under wraps”, with the EC having no intention of publishing until at least next year.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. EC ACSH opinion, September 2015 and opinions webpage. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: Blacklist campaigners hail major court breakthrough
Trade unions have welcomed a ‘massive breakthrough’ in the long-running legal case over blacklisting of safety and trade union activists in the construction industry. It follows an admission by some of Britain's biggest construction firms that they defamed workers and infringed their rights and an accompanying apology. UCATT news release. GMB news release. Unite news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Construction Enquirer. Morning Star. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: Sellafield victory in safety dispute
Construction workers involved in the nuclear decommissioning and renewal project at Sellafield have hailed a ‘groundbreaking’ victory at the end of a major dispute over health and safety and productivity. The deal secured by their union, Unite, sees Sellafield Ltd and the 14-strong group of on-site sub-contractor companies drop their refusal to a union demand for a senior shop steward to deal with health and safety, workplace welfare and training issues and also sees the formation of a health and safety committee spanning all contractors on the site.
Unite news release. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: Mental health problems widespread in shopworkers
Nearly one in four shopworkers has taken time off work because of worry, anxiety or depression, a survey by Usdaw has found. The retail union also discovered over half of those affected said that they didn’t feel able to be honest about the reason for their absence.
Usdaw news release. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: Sports Direct in the dock over treatment of workers
Sports Direct’s treatment of workers and poor corporate governance have been exposed this week at the start of criminal proceedings against the company’s chief executive, David Forsey. A protest was organised by the union Unite outside Chesterfield magistrates’ court to mark the start of proceedings.
Unite news release. Sign up to the online petition to Sports Direct chief executive David Forsey: Sports Direct: Stop your shameful work practices. Unite Sports Direct campaign. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: Hackney traffic wardens strike for sick pay
Traffic wardens in Hackney, east London, have been driven to industrial action in a bid to get a fairer sick pay policy. The five day walk out was by 30 employees of APCOA Parking, the private firm that has the contract from Hackney council to run the service.
Unite news release. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: PCS calls on ministers to tackle civil service bullying
PCS has called on ministers to tackle bullying in the civil service. The union was speaking out after the Independent revealed the Baxendale review commissioned by the government and “slipped out on the Cabinet Office website in the run-up to the election” had warned that the senior civil service is like a 'snake pit' with a 'macho culture'.
PCS news release. The Independent. Baxendale report. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: Faulty machine caused permanent nerve damage
A Unite member is to receive £5,750 in compensation after his hand was damaged in a faulty machine. The production operative, whose name has not been released, was employed by Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council in south Wales making double glazed windows and doors.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: Road crash cost worker his job
A production fitter who was forced to retire after being injured in a road traffic accident has received an undisclosed payout in a union-backed claim. Kenneth Welham, 67, suffered serious fractures to his lower right leg when he was hit by a motorcycle as he stood on a central reservation.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: Scaffolding firm guilty of corporate manslaughter
A Merseyside scaffolding firm that admitted a charge of corporate manslaughter has been fined £300,000. Adrian Smith, 44, had returned to work at Kings Scaffolding in Netherley on light duties after having had a heart attack just two days before he died on a cut-price roofing job in September 2012.
Merseyside Police news release. Liverpool Echo. BBC News Online. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: Working while sick is on the increase
New research has found long hours and a focus on operational demands over employee wellbeing is fuelling an increase in in the numbers working while sick. Nearly a third of employers reported an increase in people coming to work while they are ill, according to the annual CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence Management Survey.
CIPD news release. Morning Star. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: Most Sheffield schools contain asbestos
Campaigners and politicians have called for drastic action amid revelations eight out of ten schools in Sheffield contain asbestos. Figures obtained by the local newspaper, the Star, revealed 86 per cent of primaries and 35 per cent of the city’s secondary schools contain the potentially deadly dust.
Sheffield Star. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: ‘No excuse’ for unguarded piling machine
A specialist piling contractor has been fined after it was found to be operating a powerful rig without a safety guard around the rotating auger. Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court heard how Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Melvyn Stancliffe visited the site in Maidstone, Kent, in December 2014 and witnessed the piling rig in operation without a safety guard.
HSE news release and machinery safety webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Britain: Steel frame company fined for safety crime
A company that erects steel frames has been fined for its criminal safety failings while cladding a steel framed building. Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard how a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) site inspection on 15 May 2015 found that Industrial Steel Frames Limited was not taking suitable measures to prevent falls from height, putting its workers at risk of serious injury.
HSE news release and working at height webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Australia: Three workers killed every week this year
Latest official figures show there have been 126 workplace fatalities in Australia already this year. Michael Borowick, national secretary of the union federation ACTU, said: “Worker safety is just another in a string of issues where the government is prioritising its big business backers, rather that supporting the rights of everyday Australians.”
ACTU news release. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
USA: Cargo ship goes down with 33 crew
Search and rescue teams officially gave up hope on 7 October, after a failed five-day effort to locate 33 cargo ship workers lost at sea in the waters near the Bahamas. The sailors and other shipboard workers are presumed dead in the wreck of the US-flagged commercial vessel El Faro, which disappeared on 1 October in the high winds and heavy seas of Hurricane Joaquin.
AFL-CIO statement. SIU news release. In These Times. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
USA: Bad jobs cut your life short
New research from the US is indicating your life expectancy is closely linked to the job you do. Research published in the journal Health Affairs examined the effect of workplace exposures on racial and educational disparities in life expectancy and found that between 10 and 38 per cent of the difference in life expectancy across demographic groups could be explained by different job conditions.
Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Stefanos Zenios. Exposure to harmful workplace practices could account for inequality in life spans across different demographic groups, Health Affairs, volume 34, number 10, pages 1761-1768, October 2015. Pump Handle blog. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.
Hazards news, 10 October 2015
Britain: Ambulance count exposes Sports Direct work practices
Ambulances were called out to the warehouse headquarters of one of Europe's largest sports retailers 80 times in two years, an investigation found. Unite, which has launched a campaign for decent work at Sports Direct, says poor conditions are not limited to the company’s warehouses.
Sign up to the online petition to Sports Direct chief executive David Forsey: Sports Direct: Stop your shameful work practices. Unite Sports Direct campaign.
Investigating Sports Direct, BBC Inside Out, 5 October 2015. BBC News Online. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Britain: Maintenance and inspections cuts hurt rail travel
Rail union RMT has said speed restrictions placed on some train services have exposed the impact of cuts to maintenance and inspections on the railways and the dangers of running services on untested tracks. The union was speaking out after Arriva Trains Wales was forced to impose blanket speed restrictions on sections of the network that had not been tested within agreed safety schedules
RMT news release. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Britain: Over half of teachers could quit within two years
More than half of teachers are considering leaving the profession in the next two years, a union poll has revealed. The joint NUT and YouGov survey found 53 per cent of teachers are looking to quit, mainly due to low morale and high workloads made worse by cuts in pay and the number of teachers and support staff.
NUT news release. DfE news release. Morning Star. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Britain: Usdaw concern over carrier bag charge ‘flashpoint’
The introduction of a 5p carrier bag charge in England must not lead to customer frustration once again being directed at shopworkers, their union has said. Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said “a new law, like carrier bag charging, can be a flashpoint for verbal abuse, threats or even violence.
Usdaw news release. Defra news release. Morning Star. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Britain: Hospital work left engineer under the doc
A Unite member from Bradford who suffered an acute back injury at work has secured more than £6,000 in compensation. The maintenance engineer at Bradford Royal Infirmary, whose name has not been released, worked from a plant room, which he could only access by climbing a set of ladders and entering through a small hatch.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Britain: Blacklisted to be heard at undercover cops inquiry
Blacklisted workers have been granted ‘core participant’ status in the government-ordered Pitchford public inquiry into undercover policing. The confirmation came in a letter to Imran Khan & Partners solicitors, who had applied to the Pitchford inquiry on behalf of the Blacklist Support Group.
Pitchford Inquiry webpage. Union Solidarity International. Morning Star. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Britain: Better to act together than be resilient alone
‘Workplace resilience’, an increasingly popular intervention in workplaces intended to help us withstand the pressures of work, was criticised two years ago by the TUC for treating the distressed worker and not the dysfunctional workplace as the problem. Now the approach is coming in for flak in Australia, with Andrew Thackrah and Susie Byers, nothing “individually-focused programmes can't overcome the structural realties and power imbalances that characterise the employment relationship.”
The Age. SafetyAtWork blog.
Hugh Robertson, TUC: Tough luck, Hazards, number 123, July-September 2013. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Britain: Long hours and repetitive work led to constant pain
A factory worker suffering with chronic back pain as a result of repetitive work over long shifts has called for employers to improve their assessments and safety measures. Anthony McCarthy, 26, who has received an out-of-court payout, first began to suffer with muscle pain in his mid- to lower- back in early 2012, with the intensity and severity of the pain increasing throughout his 11-hour shifts at HVR International Limited.
Irwin Mitchell news release. Shields Gazette. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Britain: Man arrested after latest deadly workplace blast
A man has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after a deadly workplace blast. The blast on the afternoon of Saturday 3 October at an industrial site in Hoddeston, Hertfordshire, left two workers dead and another injured, and was the third workplace explosion in less than three months to lead to multiple deaths.
The Mirror. Hertfordshire Mercury. Daily Mail. The Guardian. ITV News. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Britain: Soup giant done again for maiming a worker
Baxters Food Group Limited, one of the UK’s most well-known food manufacturers, has appeared before Elgin Sheriff Court for the second time in five months after another worker was injured while working at its Fochabers plant. The court heard that on 30 January 2014, short term contract worker Jodie Cormack climbed onto the conveyor belt to clear potatoes into the auger in-feed, but slipped from the belt into the collecting hopper.
HSE news release. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Britain: Global firms sentenced after worker killed
Two global companies have received six figure fines after a worker was killed and another seriously injured during construction of an offshore wind farm. During the loading of wind turbine components at Pakeston Quay, Harwich, a part of the blade transport arrangement weighing over 2 tonnes fell off, crushing and fatally injuring one worker and seriously injuring another; both workers were employed by Siemens Windpower A/S (SWP) but were working for Fluor Ltd, the principal contractor.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Britain: Restaurant owner had no employer liability insurance
A restaurant owner has been fined for failing to provide Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI). Hasret Sasmaz, trading as Starburger, was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay full costs of £1,779 at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to three offences under the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.
HSE news release and Employers’ liability insurance webpages. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Global: Eliminating occupational cancer in Europe and globally
A new working paper from the European trade union research body ETUI presents arguments for a stronger policy to eradicate occupational cancer in Europe and globally. The working paper present a new estimation the burden of occupational cancer, noting the condition is responsible for 666,000 deaths worldwide, 102,500 of these in the EU alone and with the UK figure is put at 13,330 occupational cancer deaths a year, over 66 per cent higher than the Health and Safety Executive’s estimate.
ETUI publication alert. Jukka Takala, Eliminating occupational cancer in Europe and globally, ETUI, 2015. OSHwiki. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Global: HP and Dell suspend use of interns in China factories
An investigation by Danish human rights group Danwatch has found that thousands of Chinese students are being compelled by their schools to work on the assembly lines of some of the world’s biggest electronics manufacturers, making servers destined for European universities. The Danwatch probe into conditions on the assembly lines of Wistron Corporation in Zhongshan, China, which manufactures servers for HP, Dell and Lenovo, found students working against their will for often between 10 to 12 hours a day for up to five months.
Good Electronics news release. Servants of Servers, Danwatch/Good Electronics, 2015. Responses from electronics companies. The Guardian. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Global: UN network backs chemical risk reduction
A United Nations (UN) convened network has agreed on a plan that could prevent the annual deaths of more than one million people exposed to toxic chemicals. More than 800 participants, including government ministers, industry, union and civil society leaders, hammered out a strategy to reduce risks from chemicals at the International Conference on Chemicals Management, a weeklong UN Environment Programme event that ended on 2 October.
IPEN news release and video, The true costs of the chemical industry's products. PAN news release. VOA News. Fourth Session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management: Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) report.
Supporting SAICM implementation through fighting toxic work: Unions for a sustainable management of chemicals, Sustainlabour/ITUC, September 2015. Related video. ICCM4. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
New Zealand: Union holds firm to account for work death
A New Zealand logging company is facing a hefty legal bill after a union body took a private prosecution when enforcement agencies refused to bring charges after a workplace death. M and A Cross Limited was fined NZ$25,000 (£12,000) at Rotorua District Court and ordered to pay reparation of NZ$105,000 (£45,000) to the family of 45-year-old forestry worker Charles Finlay.
Radio NZ. New Zealand Herald. Risks 723. 10 October 2015
Hazards news, 3 October 2015
Britain: TUC provides graphic proof of the safety rep effect
A defence of the life-saving role of safety reps is an increasingly visible theme in the TUC’s campaign against the government’s rights-robbing Trade Union Bill. Announcing new infographics spelling out why the government should be addressing the damage to health caused by a neglect of safety rather than attacking employment and trade union rights, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson notes: “One of the things that completely shows how the Bill is based on ideology rather than any desire to change things for the better is the focus the government is putting on the number of strikes we have.”
TUC safety poster to print off and use and related Twitter and Facebook versions for use online.
TUC Stronger Unions blog, The Union Effect report and Trade Union Bill briefing.
We’re here to stay! Unions challenge wrong-headed government attack that could cost lives, Frances O’Grady, Hazards online report, September 2015.
National rally and march on the Conservative conference, 4 October 2015. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Britain: Aviation regulator falls down on safety
The UK’s aviation regulator no longer has safety as its paramount concern and should be split up, the union Prospect has said. In a letter to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin the union, which represents more than 5,000 aviation specialists, calls for the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) regulatory functions to be hived off to a separate regulator after the union’s ‘extensive’ research raised serious problems caused by its dual role monitoring the economic and safety performance of the industry.
Prospect news release and report, Towards a sustainable aviation industry for the UK. Morning Star. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Britain: Smoke-free prisons a union victory
A government announcement that smoking will be banned in all prisons in Wales and four in south-west England from next year has been hailed as a ‘victory for health and safety’ by the prison officers’ union POA. The phased roll-out, which will eventually see all jails in England and Wales go smoke-free, will from next month see smoking barred inside buildings at all open prisons in England and Wales.
POA news release. MoJ news release. BBC News Online. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Britain: Diesel fumes are putting workers at risk
Diesel exhaust fumes on Britain’s streets are putting workers at risk of serious and potentially deadly health conditions, the union GMB has warned. The union says excessive levels present a health risk to members working on the roadside, noting “street cleaners, refuse workers, parking enforcement staff, utility workers, police community support workers and others are particularly exposed to such pollutants.”
GMB news release. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Europe: Shocking new estimate of the asbestos death toll
Over 47,000 people in the European Union are dying of asbestos related conditions each year with the UK topping the fatalities list, a new report has concluded. ‘Eliminating occupational cancer in Europe’, published by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), puts deaths caused by exposure to asbestos at three times previous estimates.
IBAS news release. Eliminating occupational cancer in Europe, ETUI, 29 September 2015. ETUI asbestos webpages. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Global: Metalworking fluids linked to irreversible lung disease
Occupational exposure to a fluid commonly used in metal machining operations may be related to a rare, irreversible and disabling lung disease, according to research presented this week at the European Respiratory Society’s (ERS) international congress in Amsterdam. Although metalworking fluid is known to be associated with the lung diseases asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis -an allergic type of pneumonia – the study authors say their research appears to be the first to establish that exposure to metalworking fluid is associated with lymphocytic bronchiolitis.
ELF news release. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Britain: Lorry driver got farmers’ lung
A former HGV driver who developed the occupational disease ‘farmers’ lung’ hopes his case will lead to better protection for other workers. Ian Gear, a 53-year-old from Stafford, was diagnosed with the condition, also known as extrinsic allergic alveolitis, in September 2012 after working as an animal feed delivery driver for Ed Weetman Limited.
Irwin Mitchell news release. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Britain: Zoo director in court after tiger kills keeper
A zoo director has been bailed after a court hearing related to the death of a keeper fatally mauled by a Sumatran tiger. Sarah McClay, 24, was pounced on in the keeper's corridor of the tiger house at South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, on 24 May 2013.
The Herald. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Britain: Company execs escape jail after site death
Two company executives have received suspended jail sentences after a bricklayer was crushed to death under a falling wall. Trevor Hyatt, 50, and project manager Alfred Barker, 59, both received six month prison sentences suspended for two years following the death of Gareth Jones, 28, who died in St Albans while working for Linley Developments.
Herts Constabulary news release. Welwyn Hatfield Times. BBC News Online. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Britain: Steel firm fined following worker’s death
Steel supply company CMC UK Ltd has been fined following the death of an employee who was crushed by a two tonne steel beam at a warehouse in Cardiff. Mark Walker, a 37-year-old father of one from Newport, suffered fatal injuries as he was trying to move a steel beam onto a conveyor on 24 June 2012.
HSE news release. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Britain: Hydrogen blast blew a hole in factory roof
A chemical firm has been fined after a hydrogen explosion blew a vessel lid through a factory roof, injuring a worker. Catalloy Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at its plant in Widnes on 25 November 2011.
HSE news release and hazardous installations webpages. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Britain: Four figure fines after devastating fall injuries
Roofing firm Practical Cladding Solutions Limited and senior manager Anthony Hibbard have been fined for criminal safety failings after an employee suffered life changing injuries when he fell through a fragile roof. The firm was fined £9,000, after pleading guilty to three criminal breaches of the Work at Height Regulations and Hibbard fined £3,000, after pleading guilty to the same criminal offences.
HSE news release. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Britain: Teen agency worker lost a finger in machine
A Hampshire metal manufacturing company has been fined for criminal safety offences after a teenage agency worker suffered an injury to his hand which led to the amputation of a finger. Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court heard how on 6 October 2014, an 18-year-old agency worker at Independent Ductwork Limited of Basingstoke was operating a three-roll machine when his gloved fingers were drawn into the rollers.
HSE news release and machinery safety webpages. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Global: Consolidated list of banned pesticidesPesticide Action Network (PAN), comprising over 600 non-governmental organisations, institutions and individuals in over 90 countries, has released ‘The Consolidated List of Banned Pesticides’. The newly compiled list shows whether these pesticides are regarded as highly hazardous pesticides (HHPs) by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation, with the ban list including 316 pesticide active ingredients.
The Consolidated List of Banned Pesticides, PAN, 2015. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Britain: TUC guidance for supporting staff with cancer
To coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which runs through October, the TUC has issued a second edition of its guidance for union representatives, employees, line managers and employers for how best to support colleagues with cancer at work. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “There is enormous scope for union reps to ensure employers support their staff effectively, and everyone should be in a trade union to get their voice heard and their interests represented at work.”
Publication alert and full report: Cancer in the workplace: A workbook for union representatives. TUC guidance on occupational cancer prevention: Occupational Cancer - A Workplace Guide. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Global: New union tools to fight toxic work
Occupational exposures to chemical hazards – and how to identify them and avoid them – is the topic of new resources launched this week at a major international conference. The fourth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4), which started in Geneva on 28 September, considered next steps towards a previously agreed 2020 goal of ensuring all chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimise significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment.
Supporting SAICM implementation through fighting toxic work: Unions for a sustainable management of chemicals, Sustainlabour/ITUC, September 2015. Related video. ICCM4.
Related video resource: The true costs of the chemical industry's products, IPEN, September 2015. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Malaysia: Union calls for leave for haze affected workers
Employers in Malaysia should allow smog-affected workers to stay away from work until air quality in the country improves, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has said. The union call came after acrid smoke billowing from agricultural fires in Indonesia caused a spike in air pollution in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur.
MTUC news report. Borneo Post. ABC News. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
USA: New pesticides rules to protect farmworkers
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released updated rules intended to keep farmworkers from being poisoned by pesticides. Under the changes, employers will now have to train workers on the risks of pesticides every year, rather than every five years, workers have to stay farther away from contaminated fields, farmers will have to keep more records on exactly when and where they use specific pesticides, and no children under the age of 18 will be allowed to handle the chemicals.
EPA news release and related radio broadcast. NPR report. Farmworker Justice news release. Risks 722. 3 October 2015
Hazards news, 26 September 2015
Britain: Your best defence at work is to be organised
With the government intent on introducing more anti-trade union laws and continuing its attack on workers’ rights and essential safety protections, your best defence at work is to be organised and active, according to Mick Holder of the train drivers’ union ASLEF. In a pep talk for safety reps in the new issue of Hazards magazine, he spells out how union health and safety reps can ‘turn it on’, using their rights and organising power to protect and improve workplace health and safety.
Turn it on!, Hazards magazine, number 131, 2015. TUC health and safety organisation webpages. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Britain: A creative guide to organising for safety
Dave Smith’s long history as a workplace safety activist, union safety rep and trade union health and safety tutor has meant he’s heard many union reps relate inspiring examples of the most creative ways to get a workplace safety message across. And now he’s writing them down, in a regular ‘Organising 101’ column in Hazards magazine. Organising 101: Dave Smith's guide to organising. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Britain: Unite warns that ‘welding fumes can kill’
New guidance from Unite is warning that ‘welding fumes can kill’. The union says it is concerned about the long term health risks of being exposed to the fumes generated during welding operations.
Unite welding leaflet and posters. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Britain: Fit for work could mean bullied back to work
UNISON has warned that government changes to the role of the fit for work service could increase bullying of sick staff. The public service union says prior to the change only GPs could refer to the Fit for Work Service, but now employers can refer employees “who have been off sick from work, or are likely to be off sick from work, for 4 weeks or more”.
UNISON news report. Fit for Work guidance for employees, DWP, updated 8 September 2015. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Britain: We are teachers, not boxers
Teaching union NASUWT has expressed concern about the increase in violence towards teachers. NASUWT president Graham Dawson said: “The only people who go to work expecting to be hit are professional boxers.”
NASUWT news release. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Britain: Shopworkers get recognised at TUC awards
Usdaw reps Brenda Shaw and Janise Corfield have been honoured at the national TUC awards. Janise Corfield received the 2015 TUC health and safety rep award for her extensive campaigning to improve safety for staff in her workplace, an out-of-town large supermarket
Usdaw news release. TUC news release. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Britain: Nearly half of teachers in Wales ‘think of quitting’
Nearly half of teachers surveyed in Wales said they are thinking of leaving the job in the next two years. The union NUT Cymru asked 450 teachers about their intentions for the future.
BBC News Online. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Britain: Fit for work ruling ‘caused suicide’
A man with severe depression hanged himself as a direct cause of being deemed “fit for work” by a medically unqualified government assessor, a coroner has ruled. The Disability News Service (DNS) unearthed the coroner’s report on the suicide of Michael O’Sullivan, 60, saying that it appeared to be the first case in which a coroner explicitly linked Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) sanctions to a death.
Disability News Service report. The Independent. Morning Star. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Britain: Scaffold horrors captured by passer-by
A scaffolder has been given a suspended jail sentence after repeatedly ignoring official warnings about seriously unsafe work above a busy London street. Greg Pearson, trading as ‘Pearsons Scaffolding’, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a member of the public raised concerns about scaffolding work being carried out on Tavistock Street in central London.
HSE news release, work at heights webpages and Safer Sites facebook page. Construction Enquirer. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Britain: Abattoir worker’s hand maimed by pig saw
An abattoir worker suffered severe hand injuries in an incident with an industrial saw that led to a major Scottish food processing firm being prosecuted. Recent recruit Steven Murray was working at the AP Jess plant on the outskirts of Brechin when his left hand came into contact with an unprotected band saw on the production line used for killing all of the Tulip bacon company’s Scottish pigs.
HSE news release and machinery safety webpages. The Courier. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Britain: Maintenance firm firmed after joiner’s electric shock
Berneslai Homes Ltd has been fined following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into safety standards on a council maintenance contract. Barnsley Magistrates Court heard that HSE was following up an incident involving a Berneslai Homes Ltd joiner who received an electric shock while replacing a wooden garden fence around a domestic property in Barnsley on 26 November 2013.
HSE news release. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Britain: Tackling HIV discrimination at work
There are more than 100,000 people living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the UK, mostly of working age, of whom a quarter are unaware of their status. Most of those who live with HIV in the UK have normal life expectancy and lead fulfilling working lives. ‘Tackling HIV discrimination at work’, a new TUC guide, provides basic facts to help trade unionists deal with issues that might arise.
TUC publication alert and guide, Tackling HIV discrimination at work. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Bangladesh: Shipbreaking deaths lead to action call
The deaths of four workers in a single incident in a Bangladesh shipbreaking yard underline the importance of the global campaign for ratification of the Hong Kong Convention, aimed at making perilous shipbreaking jobs safer, the global union IndustriALL has said. The union body was speaking out in the wake of the 5 September fatalities in the Shital yard in Chittagong.
IndustriALL news release. The Hong Kong Convention. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Global: Unions dismiss KiK’s comments on fire payouts
Global unions and labour rights campaigners have criticised German retail multinational KiK for stalling on a commitment to properly compensate victims of a deadly garment factory fire in Pakistan. Global unions IndustriALL and UNI and the Clean Clothes Campaign have expressed dismay at the company’s “attempts to obfuscate issues related to compensation for the victims of the Ali Enterprises factory fire in Pakistan.”
Joint statement from IndustriALL, UNI and the Clean Clothes Campaign and earlier IndustriALL news release. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
USA: Common solvent is killing people
Methylene chloride, a powerful solvent whose use is heavily restricted in Europe, remains widely used and poorly regulated in the US – and is continuing to kill as a result. “People have died, it poses this cancer threat… and everybody knows it’s a bad chemical, and yet nobody does anything,” said Katy Wolf, who recommends safer alternatives to toxic chemicals as director of the non-profit Institute for Research and Technical Assistance (IRTA) in California.
CPI feature. IRTA reports on solvent alternatives. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
USA: Chemicals killed him; but they only tested for drugs
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspector who investigated the suspected chemical asphyxiation death of truck driver David Simpson at an XTO Energy Inc. site deemed the safety practices at the facility ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ in his report. But OSHA dropped the case after the Oklahoma medical examiner listed Simpson's cause of death as “unknown,” with Byron Curtis, toxicologist with the medical examiner's office, admitting: “We just did what we usually do for on-the-job, which is an alcohol and drugs of abuse screen.”
E&E News. Risks 721. 26 September 2015
Hazards news, 19 September 2015
Britain: How to stop the job safely
One very important right is missing from the health and safety law poster required in every workplace in the country. TUC’s Hugh Robertson says that crucial right is “the right to stop work.”
TUC Strong er Unions blog and Trade Union Bill backgrounder. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
Britain: Real threats from the Trade Union Bill
A vicious attack on the rights of workers is set to create “state-sponsored victimisation” of trade unionists, the construction union UCATT has said. And TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, speaking after the Trade Union Bill was voted through its second reading in the House of Commons this week, said “the campaign against this bill is far from over.”
UCATT news release. TUC news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online.
We’re here to stay! Unions challenge wrong-headed government attack that could cost lives, Frances O’Grady, Hazards online report, 4 September 2015. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
Britain: Stretched ASOS workers forced to pee in water stations
Breakneck work rates required at the Barnsley distribution depot of the online retailer ASOS are so hard to achieve that employees are sometimes forced to urinate in nearby water stations rather than make the trip to the loo, their union has said. GMB said pressure to maintain ‘pick rates’ meant some staff did not have the time to make the 15 minute return walk to the toilets.
GMB news release. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
Britain: Stress could force senior doctors out of the NHS
The NHS is facing an exodus of senior hospital doctors as new figures show that more than 80 per cent may retire early because work-related stress is causing them sleepless nights, marital breakups and illness such as ulcers, anxiety and even strokes. A union survey of NHS consultants has found that huge numbers are becoming burned out and having their lives damaged as a result of the escalating pressures at the service’s frontline, including rising demand, long hours and the need to meet targets.
HCSA news release. The Guardian. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
Britain: Scottish lecturers get new stress busting tool
A Scottish union has launched a new toolkit to help university lecturers combat work-related stress. The University Lecturers’ Association (ULA), part of the union EIS, is distributing the kit to members and university human resources departments.
EIS news release. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
Britain: CWU welcomes prosecution protocol for dog attacks
New arrangements for investigating and prosecuting Dangerous Dogs Act offences have been welcomed by the postal and telecoms union CWU. The new approach, agreed by the union and Royal Mail with police chiefs, follows CWU's high profile ‘Bite-Back’ campaign.
CWU news release and campaign, Dangerous Dogs - Bite Back. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
Britain: Council urged to come clean on schools asbestos
Unions should be told how an east London council is dealing with the asbestos found in half its schools, GMB has said. The union called for “a more proactive approach” from Barking and Dagenham council after a freedom of information request from a local paper discovered 31 of 61 schools in the borough contained asbestos.
GMB news release. Barking and Dagenham Post. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
Britain: Travelling for work 'is work', European court rules
The TUC has welcomed a ruling by the European Court of Justice on working time and a worker’s travel between their home and a client. The ruling affects workers with no ‘fixed or habitual’ place of work, and requires a worker’s travel time between home and their first and last customer appointments in a working day to be considered in relation to the 48 hour maximum working week introduced under the Working Time Directive.
TUC news release. TUC Touchstone blog. UNISON news release. CWU news release. ETUC news release. IoD news release. CBI news release. BCC news release. BBC News Online. Personnel Today. European Court of Justice judgment. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
Britain: Car worker killed, firm fined the price of a car
The family of a man killed while working for Jaguar Land Rover have said the £30,000 fine on the firm is a “disgrace”. Liverpool Crown Court heard Graham Begley, 49, from Halewood, was found trapped between two 24 tonne dies on 26 September 2011 at the firm’s factory in Halewood.
HSE news release. Liverpool Echo. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
Britain: Polythene giant trapped worker in machine
A Widnes polythene manufacturer has been fined for serious criminal safety breaches after a night shift employee was badly injured when he became trapped in a machine. British Polythene Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at BPI Widnes Films on 21 January 2014.
HSE news release and safe maintenance webpages. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
Britain: HSE finally acts after firm’s offending decade
A Cheltenham firm that left workers at risk of potentially deadly diseases and injuries over a period of a decade despite repeat warnings from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has finally found itself facing justice. Welsted Joinery Ltd was fined for failing to use a local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system to extracting asthma- and cancer-linked wood dust and for failing to have lifting equipment on its rider-operated trucks thoroughly examined.
HSE news release. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
India: Truck crash kills 18 workers
At least 18 workers have been killed after the truck they were travelling in overturned in India's southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The truck carrying cement and other construction materials was taking the workers to a construction site southeast of the capital, Hyderabad.
BBC News Online. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
Pakistan: Workers killed making clothes for big name brands
Four workers died and sixteen were injured when the roof of a garment factory collapsed on 5 September in Lahore, Pakistan. The factory was operating in a poorly constructed building and producing garments for Primark, Topman, Burton, New Look and River Island.
IndustriALL news release and related news release. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
India: Tea report exposes failures by Rainforest Alliance
Child labour, exposure to highly toxic chemicals and diseases related to extreme poverty and dismal, insanitary housing have been discovered at tea plantations in India despite the tea producers boasting certification by the corporate responsibility auditor the Rainforest Alliance. A BBC investigation found the firms supplying some of Britain's biggest tea brands, including PG Tips, Tetleys and Twinings, were Rainforest certified despite major violations of national law and Rainforest's own standard.
BBC News Online. IUF news release and related release. Rainforest Alliance statement. Risks 720. 19 September 2015
Hazards news, 12 September 2015
Britain: TUC warns of the re-emergence of ‘Burnout Britain’
The number of people working excessive hours has risen by 15 per cent since 2010, according to a new TUC analysis. Regularly working more than 48 hours per week is linked to a significantly increased risk of developing stress, mental illness, heart disease and strokes and diabetes.
TUC news release. Morning Star. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Britain: Trade Union Bill a ‘major attack on civil liberties’
Leading human rights groups have warned that the government’s Trade Union Bill is “a major attack on civil liberties in the UK”. In a joint statement Liberty, Amnesty International and the British Institute of Human Rights said the bill “would hamper people’s basic rights to protest and shift even more power from the employee to the employer.”
TUC news release and responses to the government consultation on the Trade Union Bill. BBC News Online.
Can you send an email to your MP? Make sure all supportive MPs attend the forthcoming vote on the Trade Union Bill, and that government MPs realise their constituents are concerned. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Britain: Liverpool agrees breakthrough construction charter
Construction firms that want to build in Liverpool will have to agree a six-point charter to ensure that workers have guaranteed health and safety rights and decent employment conditions. The charter, which has been drawn up by the unions Unite, UCATT and the GMB, is designed to stamp out ‘notorious’ industry practices, such as bogus self-employment schemes, blacklisting and health and safety breaches on any construction site within the city limits.
Unite news release. GMB news release. UCATT news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Britain: Bus driver fired after breaking his neck
A bus driver was fired after his neck was broken as he made his way to work. Describing the decision by Metroline to dismiss Manelson Chivela as “sickening”, his union GMB is now demanding his reinstatement. “Clearly, Metroline no longer allow their employees to recover from serious injuries, they simply dismiss them, and try to recruit replacements,” GMB’s Richard Owen said, adding that the union is demanding his reinstatement with no interruption of his employment rights.
GMB news release. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Britain: Unions welcome death knell for tribunal fees in Scotland
Unions have welcomed the Scottish government announcement that it intends to abolish fees for employment tribunals in Scotland. The announcement came as public service union UNISON vowed to go to the UK Supreme Court in its ongoing fight against the UK government's decision to introduce employment tribunal fees across the UK.
UNISON Scotland news release. Prospect news release.
A Stronger Scotland: The Government's Programme for Scotland 2015-16, Scottish government, September 2015. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Global: Survey identifies issues facing women seafarers
Seafarers’ union Nautilus is to seek better tailored guidance and action to address health problems faced by women seafarers. The union’s commitment follows the publication of the findings of a large scale international survey of the health concerns of women working at sea that found the problems encountered mirror those of their male counterparts, with back and joint pain, and stress being the most commonly reported health concerns.
Nautilus news release. Nautilus Telegraph. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Britain: New Merseyrail trains must have guards
Plans for a new generation of Merseyrail trains will be welcomed by all, the union RMT has said – but it adds these trains must have guards on board to maintain safety and security. The union said both passengers and rail workers will be horrified at the prospect of Merseyrail trains without guards, saying networks without staffing descend into an “anti-social abyss”.
RMT news release. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Britain: Firefighter badly injured in pig rescue
A firefighter from Louth, Lincolnshire has received £108,000 in compensation after suffering a serious shoulder injury at work. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) member, whose name has not been released, was part of a team responding to a call where a lorry that was transporting pigs had turned over.
FBU news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release and new industrial diseases website. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Britain: Low pay is a workplace ‘well-being’ issue
In an increasing number of workplaces, workforce ‘well-being’ has become a favourite management preoccupation – often as a more palatable alternative to dealing with health and safety concerns, according to the TUC. But a new official report suggests employers may be ignoring the key driver of poor well-being – low pay.
TUC Touchstone blog. Relationship between Wealth, Income and Personal Well-being, July 2011 to June 2012, ONS, September 2015. Low blow: Low paid work comes with high work risks, Hazards, October-December 2014. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Global: New warning on deadly work stress
Job insecurity, long working hours and other common workplace stressors can all damage a person's health, raise the odds of them having an illness diagnosed by a doctor and even leading to an early death. A Harvard Business School and Stanford University study found that high job demands increased the odds of having an illness diagnosed by a doctor by 35 per cent, long work hours increased the chances of early death by almost 20 per cent and worry that you might soon lose your job increased the odds of having poor health by about 50 per cent.
Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Stefanos A Zenios, Workplace stressors and health outcomes: Health policy for the workplace, Behavioural Science and Policy, volume 1, number 1, September 2015. Daily Mail. CNN News. Boston.com. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Britain: Law project wins 95 per cent of 'fit for work' appeals
Almost all of the 200 “fit for work“ test appeals undertaken by a student volunteer project have been won, providing more evidence of the unreliability of the government’s controversial work capability assessment (WCA). The programme was created by Avon and Bristol Law centre, two years ago using a handpicked team of law students to fill the gap created by legal aid cuts in 2013.
The Guardian. The Mirror. Lawyer 2B. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Britain: Study looks at the impact of work on health
A major ongoing research project is turning its attention to the effects of work on health. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson described the new evaluation by the UK Biobank study as a ‘fantastic opportunity’ to learn more about how certain workplace hazards are resulting in illness or death.
UK Biobank news release and website. TUC health and safety facebook page. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Britain: Scotland urged to plug asbestos loophole
Scotland’s groundbreaking asbestos compensation laws need an immediate tweak to stop the most seriously affected individuals losing out, occupational health researchers have said. The University of Stirling team said Scotland leads the way in protecting the rights of people affected by asbestos, but found people who suffer from pleural plaques, an asbestos-related chest condition, are being forced to second-guess their chances of subsequently developing a potentially fatal condition such as lung cancer or mesothelioma.
Stirling University news release. Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release. Glasgow Evening Times. Hawick News. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Britain: Labourer aged 16 died in site fall
A north London company has been fined £325,000 following the death of a 16-year-old labourer. Enfield firm Rooftop Rooms Ltd was fined £325,000, ordered to pay the Crown costs of £12,187.78 and health and safety costs of £7,334.84 after teenager Alfie Perrin fell from a scaffold on 14 November 2012.
Metropolitan Police news release. Construction Enquirer. Ilford Recorder. Wanstead Guardian. Enfield Today. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Britain: Fall into recycling machine proved fatal
A waste recycling firm has been sentenced after admitting criminal safety failings related to a worker’s death. Bradford Crown Court heard that on 17 August 2012, Simon Brook, an employee of Gwynn Davies-McTiffin Ltd, was found lying seriously injured at the bottom of a horizontal baling machine and died two days later.
HSE news release. Dewsbury Reporter. Morning Star. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Europe: European Health and Safety Week, 19-25 October
European Health and Safety Week will take place in the third week of October, running from Monday 19 October to Sunday 25 October. The theme is workplace stress for the second year running, with Wednesday 21 October the TUC National Inspection Day when all safety representatives are encouraged to inspect their workplace.
TUC European Health and Safety Week webpage and resources Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Canada: Study shows unions keep site workers safer
Unionised construction workers are significantly less likely than their non-unionised counterparts to be seriously injured on the job, a new Canadian study has shown. The report found that workers with unionised firms reported 23 per cent fewer injuries that required time off than those at non-union shops, and unionised workers, 17 per cent less likely to experience muscle, tendon, and nerve injuries that affect mobility, and were almost 30 per cent less likely to suffer critical injuries — defined as those that place workers’ lives in jeopardy.
IWH news release. OCS union safety effect infographic. FIU news release.
Benjamin C Amick, Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Desiree Latour-Villamil and Ron Saunders. Protecting construction worker health and safety in Ontario Canada: Identifying a union safety effect, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published online ahead of print, September 2015. doi 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000562 [full paper]. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Europe: EC refuses access to glyphosate assessment
The European Commission has refused to make available the risk assessment report on glyphosate prepared for the European Food Safety Authority. Global food and farming union federation IUF said: “The Commission's ongoing refusal to make available its risk assessment data violates a 2013 ruling by the European Court of Justice requiring public disclosure.”
IUF news report. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Global: Lawyers bid to hide scientist’s asbestos links
In a document filed on 4 September, lawyers for Union Pacific Railroad Company made a court bid to suppress evidence that an expert witness in an asbestos compensation case was a regular recipient of money from a global asbestos lobbying group. Robert Nolan is a key scientific witness for the company in a US court case concerning the death of a worker from asbestos-related lung disease.
RightOnCanada.ca. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
South Africa: Miners march for pay and safety
South African miners marched to the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg on 5 September in protest at poor working conditions. Thousands of National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members marched through the city to deliver a list of demands to the goldmine owners’ federation.
NUM video and news release. Morning Star. Risks 719. 12 September 2015
Hazards news, 5 September 2015
Britain: TUC slams ‘vindictive’ and dangerous Bill
The government’s ‘vindictive’ Trade Union Bill could put your life at risk, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has warned. In a special feature in Hazards magazine she says David Cameron’s plan would rob union safety reps of the time and rights they need to perform their role
We’re here to stay! Unions challenge wrong-headed government attack that could cost lives, Frances O’Grady, Hazards online report, 4 September 2015. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Britain: Have you taken strike action to protect your rights?
The TUC says government’s Trade Union Bill “threatens the right to strike – and that’ll make it harder to raise safety concerns, oppose job cuts or service closures, or win better conditions.” The union body adds: “That’s where you come in. If you have been involved in a recent dispute that has resulted in strike action, please tell us your story.”
Tell TUC what you did and why. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Britain: Rural safety threat as fire cover is axed
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in North Yorkshire has stepped up its campaign against cuts to the local fire and rescue service. It says an area in excess of 3,000 square miles could be left with the number of fire engines pared back to about half the pre-cuts level, and with hundreds fewer firefighters.
FBU news release and www.no2firecuts.com campaign website. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Britain: UNISON to continue tribunal fees fight
UNISON has vowed to go to country’s top court after the Court of Appeal rejected its appeal against the government’s introduction of ‘punitive’ employment tribunal fees. The Court of Appeal did describe the fees evidence as ‘troubling’ and expressed a “strong suspicion that so large a decline [in claims] is unlikely to be accounted for entirely by cases of ‘won’t pay’ and [that] it must also reflect at least some cases of ‘can’t pay’.”
UNISON news release. Court of Appeal judgment, 26 August 2015. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Britain: Long hours warning must be heeded at sea
Research linking long working hours to higher rates of heart disease and strokes should spur a reduction in the notoriously long hours worked at sea, seafarers’ union Nautilus has said. Allan Graveson, Nautilus senior national secretary, said: “Unlike asbestos, ignored for decades, employers now need to take responsibility,” adding: “A 91/98 hour working week is unacceptable.”
Nautilus news release. Project Horizon. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Britain: Work capability assessments not ‘fit for purpose’
The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Work Capability Assessments are not fit for purpose and should be scrapped in their current form, Unite has said. The union was speaking after the release of figures showing more than 4,000 people died within six weeks of being found ‘fit for work’.
Unite news release. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Britain: Healthy workplaces ‘a must do’ says NHS chief
The NHS “must put its own house in order” and create healthy workplaces for its 1.3 million staff, NHS England's chief executive has announced. Simon Stevens was outlining his £5m solution for cutting the NHS bill for staff sickness, which currently stands at £2.4bn a year.
NHS England news release. BBC News Online. The Mirror. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Britain: Dundee firm admits failings in chemical tank death
A Dundee company has admitted criminal health and safety failings after a worker died while cleaning out a chemical tank with a highly dangerous chemical cocktail. Steven Conway died while working at Diamond Wheels (Dundee) Ltd, while using a product containing methylene chloride, methanol and hydrofluoric acid.
STV News. BBC News Online. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Britain: Coatings firm in court for legionella failings
An international firm that refurbishes turbine blades has been fined for failing to manage the risk to the public and employees from exposure to potentially deadly legionella bacteria. Chromalloy UK Limited, which has sites in Eastwood in Nottinghamshire and Somercotes in Derbyshire, failed to properly manage the risk of bacteria growing in their cooling towers for over a year, from May 2011.
HSE news release and legionella management guide. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Britain: Steel coating firm ignored Legionella risk
A steel coating company has been fined for failing to manage the risks from legionella bacteria at two cooling towers over a period of five years. Newport Crown Court heard how in February 2014, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited Coilcolor limited in Newport, Gwent and found it had since 2009 been operating two cooling towers on site without taking necessary measures to control proliferation of the bacteria.
HSE news release and Legionnaires’ disease webpage. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Britain: Teen worker disfigured by unguarded machine
A Glasgow manufacturer of foam plastics and rubber materials has been fined after admitting criminal safety failing that left a teenage worker permanently disfigured. Glasgow Sheriff Court was told that on 28 January 2013 a 19-year-old employee of Paulamar Company Ltd was seriously injured while feeding foam sheets into an adhesive backing machine that had no safety guardings.
HSE news release. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Britain: Worker pollaxed by boards falling from crane
A worker on a Balfour Beatty site in Dorset was knocked out and seriously injured after being struck by falling boards being lifted by a crane. The half a tonne load of sound bloc boards was being lifted from the fourth floor at the rear of a block of flats under construction in Poole to the second lift loading bay at the front of the building.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Britain: Contractor didn’t provide safety cover
A contractor has been fined after admitting unsafe work at height practices and insurance breaches. James Young, trading as Watertight Home Improvements, pleaded guilty at Chester Magistrates’ Court after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE news release. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Australia: Unions call for offshore safety action
There must be urgent reforms to regulatory oversight of Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry to improve safety, unions have said. In a new report, ‘Offshore OHS – Protecting our oil and gas workers’, national union federation ACTU outlines nine recommendations for occupational health and safety law reform.
ACTU news release and report, OHS Offshore - Protecting our Oil and Gas Workers, Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Global: Asbestos industry lobbyists still at work
Top public relations firms are continuing to ply their trade for the global asbestos industry, helping maintain the deadly fibre’s marketshare. The latest evidence, obtained by Canadian human rights organisation RightOnCanada.ca, comes from Malaysia.
RightOnCanada.ca. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Global: Samsung pressed on cancers foundation
A broad group of civil society organisations from Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and South America is urging Korean electronics giant Samsung to deliver justice to those harmed by chemical exposures in its factories. The letter to Kwon oh hyun, CEO of Samsung Electronics, says Samsung should abide by the recent recommendations of a high profile mediation committee and fund an independent non-profit foundation and resolve all outstanding issues arising from the cluster of occupational diseases such as leukaemia and lymphoma among
IndustriALL news release. Support and endorse the open letter. Good Electronics news release. Korea IT Times. Risks 718. 5 September 2015
Ireland: Fearful rail staff dare not report 'near misses'
Under pressure workers at Irish Rail are failing to report “near misses” or incidents on the country's railways for fear of being blamed by senior management, a damning safety audit has found. The draft report, commissioned by the Railway Safety Commission (RSC), also warns of “poor morale” among workers due to recently imposed pay cuts.
Irish Independent. Risks 718. 5 September 2015