Hazards news, 2012
Hazards news, 22 December 2012
Britain: Quick fire move leaves workers dangerously insecure
A government move that will make it easier to for firms to fire their staff will do nothing for the economy but will leave workers much more insecure, the TUC has said. The warning came after ministers announced the 90-day consultation period before large-scale redundancies can take place is to be cut to 45 days from April 2013.
TUC news release • BIS news release • BBC News Online • More on job insecurity and health • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Injury highlights Crossrail safety concerns
Unite has demanded an investigation into an incident on the Crossrail project that left an electrician in hospital with 70 per cent burns. The man, who has not been named but who was working for subcontractor Barhale, was seriously injured on 12 December 2012 when he struck a below ground electrical cable on a Holborn site in central London.
Unite news release • YouTube video of Crossrail protest • Union News • Construction Enquirer • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
USA: Low wage workers hurt most by work
Low waged workers injured or made ill at work face multiple disadvantages, with poor employment protection and health care costs compounding their suffering, a new study has found. ‘Mom’s off work ‘cause she got hurt: The economic impact of workplace injuries and illnesses in the US’s growing low-wage workforce’, found workers earning the lowest wages are the least likely to have paid sick leave, so missing work to recuperate from a work-related injury or illness often means smaller pay cheques.
Mom’s off work ‘cause she got hurt: The economic impact of workplace injuries and illnesses in the US’s growing low-wage workforce and related reports • The Pump Handle • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Nautilus welcomes maritime safety report
Seafarers’ union Nautilus has welcomed a parliamentary report that echoes the union’s concerns over UK government cuts in maritime safety provision. Following a further inquiry into changes in the UK Coastguard service, the loss of emergency towing vessels (ETV) and the closure of the Maritime Incident Response Group’s specialist at-sea fire-fighting service, the House of Commons transport committee warned search and rescue standards could be at risk.
Nautilus news release • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Retired train driver gets work cancer
A train driver who was exposed to asbestos has received a ‘substantial’ payout after he was diagnosed with a devastating occupational disease. Robin Gould from Westbury, Wiltshire was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2012 after suffering from breathlessness.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: HSE gifts us a seasonal sanity clause
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has no intention of grounding Santa, the safety body’s top official has confirmed. HSE chair Judith Hackitt was responding after a 14 December 2012 front page splash in the Daily Star headlined ‘Elf and safety Santa ban’ proclaimed: “Health and safety nuts have banned Father Christmas from an annual parade that has been staged without a problem for almost 50 years.”
Daily Star article and HSE response and The Twelve Myths of Christmas • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Double standard should have workers fuming
A pollution double standard that means workers can be permanently exposed to levels of fumes several times the public safety limit has been highlighted by concerns raised at Edinburgh’s Waverley train station. The Sunday Herald reported that exhaust fumes from trains and taxis, coupled with toxic dust kicked up by construction works, are endangering the health of commuters, tourists and workers – particularly those with asthma, lung or heart conditions.
Sunday Herald • Rob Edwards • IOM news • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Korea: Samsung job did cause breast cancer
A South Korean government agency has accepted that working at a Samsung Electronics factory caused the breast cancer of a worker who died in March 2012. The Korea Workers' Compensation and Welfare Service, a part of the labour ministry, ruled there was a “considerable causal relationship” between the woman's cancer and her five years of work at a semiconductor plant near Seoul.
SHARPS news release • CBS News • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Legal challenge to unfit fit for work tests
A man who was incorrectly found fit for work under the government's disability benefit assessment is launching a legal action against the government and Atos, the private company performing the tests. Patrick Lynch, a former social care worker who was forced to stop work because of a condition affecting his brain, is seeking a judicial review of the controversial “work capability assessment”.
The Guardian • Public Interest Lawyers • Morning Star • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Japan: Fukushima nuke plant operator admits blame
The operator of a Japanese nuclear power plant that blew up after the 2011 tsunami has admitted its lack of a safety culture and bad habits were behind the world's worst nuclear incident in 25 years. The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), said it accepted the findings of a parliamentary inquiry into the Fukushima nuclear disaster that accused the company of collusion with industry regulators.
The Guardian • Morning Star • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Birth defects linked to solvent exposures
Exposure to organic solvents during pregnancy increases the risk of certain types of birth defects, a new study indicates. Researchers found mothers with greater exposure were 4 to 12 times more likely to have babies with oral clefts than mothers with less exposure.
Cordier, S, R Garlantézec, L Labat, F Rouget, C Monfort, N Bonvallot, B Roig, J Pulkkinen, C Chevrier and L Multigner. Exposure during pregnancy to glycol ethers and chlorinated solvents and the risk of congenital malformations. Epidemiology, volume 23, number 6 pages 806-12, 2012 [abstract] • Environmental Health News • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Global: Union pressure on Walmart after fire
Three powerful global union organisations are demanding that Walmart acts to prevent deadly working conditions persisting in its supply chain. The call from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), UNI and IndustriALL comes in the wake of a 22 November 2012 fire at Tazreen Fashions in Bangladesh, a firm producing Walmart’s ‘Faded Glory’ brand clothing, in which over 100 workers died.
IndustriALL news release • Wall Street Journal • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Crane driver drowns in icy river
A crawler crane driver drowned while dredging an icy river in Cambridgeshire when his machine tipped into the freezing water. The Environment Agency was fined £220,000 and ordered to pay £28,584 costs after admitting a catalogue of errors led to the employee Simon Wenn, 43, losing his life.
HSE news release and cranes safety guidance • Construction Enquirer • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Skip firm fined following death of worker
A skip company has been fined for a criminal safety offence at a West Bromwich site where an employee was killed when he was run over by a 13-tonne shovel loader. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Need a Skip Ltd at Wolverhampton Crown Court for failing to ensure that workers and vehicles were safely segregated on the site.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Herdsman died after falling through dairy skylight
A herdsman died after carrying out unplanned and unsupervised repair work on a dairy roof and falling through a plastic skylight, a court has heard. William Luscombe, 65, was carrying out the work for his employer, TRD Griffin and Son Partnership at Willsworthy Farm, North Tamerton on 14 October 2010.
HSE news release and falls webpage • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Dangerous scaffold leads to life-threatening fall
A plumber suffered life-threatening injuries in a fall at an outdoor activities centre after proper scaffolding was replaced with a defective tower scaffold. The 64-year-old man from Llandovery, who has asked not to be named, was working on the refurbishment of an accommodation block at the site near Gwynfe in Carmarthenshire when he fell three metres on 15 March 2012.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Britain: Pupils and school staff exposed to asbestos
Staffordshire County Council and a refurbishment firm have been fined for exposing a nursery class, school staff and two joiners to asbestos fibres. Rugeley firm G Evans (Services) Ltd was refurbishing Glenthorne Community Primary School in Cheslyn Hay for the council when the incident happened on Friday, 13 February 2009.
HSE news release and ‘Hidden Killer’ asbestos resources • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Europe: SUBSPORT case histories on substitution
SUBSPORT, the Substitution Support Portal, is an online resource that provides information to aid a reduction in the use of harmful substances used at work, including a database of alternatives to hazardous chemicals. The rapidly developing database now includes more than 200 substitution case stories. The information is not just provided by companies; a number on substitution case histories have been submitted by trade unions and other organisations, such as the Swedish National Substitution Group - a network of practitioners at universities and hospitals that promote substitution.
ChemSec news report and information about sharing your case histories • SUBSPORT web portal • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Australia: Xmas rush is fatal for truck drivers
A spate of fatal truck crashes on Australian roads in the run up to Christmas is a reminder of the pressures facing truck drivers every day when they step into the cab, their union has warned. Speaking on 17 December 2012, Tony Sheldon, national secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) said: “These incidents should be investigated not only by State road authorities and coroners, but also by workplace accident investigators, because the roads are a workplace for truck drivers.”
TWU news release • Risks 587 • 22 December 2012
Hazards news, 15 December 2012
Britain: Safety doesn’t come in a vending machine
Construction union UCATT is warning that using vending machines to sell life-saving personal protective equipment (PPE) on sites risks workers’ safety and could be illegal. The union alert came after UK vending machine specialist VendEase announced it had “secured business with Barr Construction to help solve the costly problem of providing personal protection equipment (PPE) to sub-contractors.”
UCATT news release • VendEase news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
USA: Site workers fear reporting injuries
There are layers of disincentives to reporting work-related injuries in the construction industry, a new report has concluded. It says the routine under-reporting hampers the understanding of risk and poses a threat to workplace safety and productivity.
EHS Today • CPRW website • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: MPs back union over coastguard cuts
A committee of MPs has echoed a union’s concerns over the loss of local knowledge and experienced coastguard staff as the government seeks to make massive cuts to the service.
Follow up report on Coastguard, Emergency Towing Vessels and the Maritime Incident Response Group, HoC Transport Select Committee, 11 December 2012 • PCS news release • BBC News Online • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: Crossrail in Unite’s crosshairs
Site union Unite has called for answers after contractors on the £15bn Crossrail network across the south-east of England were linked to blacklisting. The union said it has “continuing and serious concerns” about how workers are treated by contractors working on the scheme, Europe’s largest construction project.
Unite news release • Construction Enquirer • ITV News • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: Shipwright compensated for pleural thickening
A former shipwright and union rep diagnosed with a disabling lung condition has received ‘substantial’ compensation in a union-backed compensation case. GMB member Robert Kemp, 75, from Sunderland diagnosed with diffuse pleural thickening, a condition related to asbestos exposure.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Syria: Execution threat highlights media safety crisis
Fears are mounting for the life of Anhar Kochneva, a journalist who was kidnapped in October by the Free Syrian Army (FSA). At least three other journalists and media staff are either missing or held by warring factions in Syria.
IFJ news release • BBC News Online • Kyiv Post • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: Work strain injury victims are being let down
A lack of positive practices to support people with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in work is leaving hundreds of thousands at risk of lost earnings, reduced productive working time and early retirement. ‘Taking the strain: the impact of musculoskeletal disorders on work and home life’ found just over half of employed respondents reported a loss of earnings due to the condition.
The Work Foundation news release and report, Taking the strain: the impact of musculoskeletal disorders on work and home life • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: Miners slam 'political' knee injury verdict
A miners’ charity has slammed a “political” appeal court decision to throw out miners' compensation claims for the crippling occupational disease miner's knee. Durham Miners Association (DMA) general secretary Dave Hopper said; “We are bitterly disappointed.”
Morning Star • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: HSE rethink on legionella inspections
Businesses and organisations with cooling towers in the west of Scotland are facing checks to ensure they are managing legionella risks, in a pilot that is expected to be rolled out across Britain. After a dramatic decline in legionella inspections in recent years and two major deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks in 2012, HSE is now liaising with councils on plans to visit all cooling towers and evaporative condensers in Britain over the next 18 months.
HSE news release • EHN • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: Plastics company fined after worker is hurt
A Suffolk plastics company has been prosecuted for safety breaches after a worker crushed a finger on a poorly guarded printing machine. Robert Waters, 62, caught his left hand between two rollers as he was cleaning the machine at Tenza Technologies Limited in Saxmundham on 12 October 2011.
HSE news release • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: Firm fined for loco risk assessment job
The owner of a Norfolk aggregate site has been prosecuted for failing to complete an adequate risk assessment for moving rail wagons without a locomotive. King's Lynn Magistrates' Court heard that during a site visit to Sibelco Ltd, in Leziate, near King's Lynn, in November 2010, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that although a risk assessment had been completed, it was unclear and failed to address all the hazards associated with the activity.
HSE news release and risk webpages • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: Refurb job led to asbestos exposures
Safety failures by plumbing company Superior Plumbing Installations Ltd may have led to two workers being exposed to asbestos fibres during a major refurbishment project on flats in Aberystwyth. The workers - a site manager and a subcontractor - were not provided with information about the presence of asbestos while working at the flats from November 2010 to February 2011.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: Firm didn’t report chainsaw maiming
A Burton upon Trent builder has been fined for criminal safety offences after failing to report an incident where a worker seriously injured his hand on a chainsaw. The worker, from Swadlincote, who does not want to be named, caught his left hand on the moving teeth of the chainsaw after it snagged during work to cut felled trees. His thumb was cut to the bone, breaking the joint, and he also injured his fingers.
HSE news release and guidance on working safely with chainsaws • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Britain: Site worker ‘will never recover’ from injuries
Construction companies Parkstone Group Limited and Galliford Try Construction Limited have been fined for serious criminal safety failings after a Coventry worker suffered “life-changing injuries” when he fell more than six metres through a badly-covered hole in a floor. Contract worker Ian Howells, 33, punctured his lung, broke every rib on the left hand side of his body, shattered all the bones in his left hand and fractured his pelvis in three places when he stepped onto what he thought was a pile of wood covered by plastic.
HSE news release and falls webpage • Construction Enquirer • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
USA: New guide on chemical alternatives
US-based Clean Production Action (CPA) has released a new ‘Guide to safer chemicals’, a practical tool setting benchmarks for how users of chemicals - purchasers, retailers and product manufacturers - can track their progress towards safer chemicals use. The guide builds on four key principles: Know and disclose product chemistry; assess and avoid hazards; commit to continuous improvement; and support public policies and industry standards.
CPA news release and report, Guide to safer chemicals • ChemSec news report • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
USA: New website on site work and silica
The US based Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), has launched a ‘Work safely with silica’ website. CPWR, an organisation working closely with US construction unions, says as well as giving details of US silica regulation and official research, the new resource includes other research, articles, and training materials, as well as responses to frequently asked questions.
Work safely with silica • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Europe: Work cancer action edges closer
The European Commission has moved a step closer to improving Europe’s law on cancer exposures at work. The European Advisory Committee for Safety and Health at Work (ACSH), the industry-government-union body advising the Commission on workplace safety issues, adopted an opinion on 5 December 2012 backing the inclusion of new occupational exposure limit values (OELV) to a revised version of the Carcinogens Directive, which if implemented would have to be introduced European Union-wide.
ETUI news report • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Global: Documents ‘make a mockery’ of Walmart fire assurances
Two news reports have undermined Walmart’s efforts to distance itself from the Bangladesh factory where at least 112 workers died in a 24 November 24 fire. One shows the role of the world’s largest retailer in defeating a proposal for retail corporations to pay for safety improvements; the other shows that multiple Walmart suppliers used the factory this year.
New York Times • The Nation • Risks 586 • 15 December 2012
Hazards news, 8 December 2012
Britain: Union backs HSE Olympic role
The Prospect union has backed research that demonstrates the contribution the HSE made in ensuring that the Olympics construction project was not only delivered on time and to budget, but set a new benchmark for health and safety. The research, from Loughborough University, showed that the injury rate on site was 0.16 per 100,000 hours worked, which is far less than the building industry average of 0.55.
HSE report and related research • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
USA: History repeating itself after disaster
It has been claimed that US federal, state and local governments are ignoring health and safety enforcement in the clear-up of Hurricane Sandy which hit the East Coast . It is believed that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is operating at a reduced enforcement state known as 'compliance assistance mode,' in which the agency warns employers about safety problems and helps with fixes instead of issuing citations.
In These Times • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Britain: TUC condemns council inspection freefall
The TUC has expressed grave concern after the HSE revealed that estimated figures for 2012/13 indicate that Local Authorities will have reduced their unannounced proactive inspections to 16,400. This is a drop of 86% since the baseline year of 2009/10.
HSE report • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Britain: Union calls for justice for explosion victims
The Fire Brigades Union have called for justice for two firefighters, who were killed at an explosion six years ago. The two firefighters, Geoff Wicker and Brian Wembridge, were killed and a further nine firefighters were injured at an explosion at Marlie Farm fireworks factory in December 2006.
FBU press release • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
USA: Walmart also under fire at home
Retail giant Walmart is facing new lawsuits over unsafe labour practices. However this time it is over the practices of their warehouse contractors in their home base of the USA.
In These Times • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Britain: Rail union warns of 'another Hatfield'
Rail union RMT has warned that we could face another Hatfield crash because of track faults. It came as they released a picture showing 5 inches of rail head that had crumbled away to nothing on the InterCity East Coast Mainline where trains normal travel at 125mph.
RMT press release • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Britain: Fines not a deterrent warns union body
The TUC has warned that the levels of fines being imposed by magistrates’ courts are generally too small to act as a deterrent. Despite unlimited fines being available to the courts fines for incidents that do not involve a fatality are often only a few thousand pounds.
HSE news release • HSE news release • HSE news release • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Britain: Crossrail blacklist allegations
The Observer newspaper has claimed that a senior manager on the Crossrail project used a secret list of trade union members provided by a blacklisting company at his previous job. According to evidence given at an employment tribunal, Ron Barron, the project's industrial relations manager, cross-checked job applicants against a secret list of workers to be barred from the industry, a list that he helped to compile.
The Observer. Daily Mirror • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Britain: Blacklisting scandal greater that phone-hacking row
As the blacklisting scandal continues to unfold, a leading journalist, Seamus Milne, has said that the impact on the victims has been just as great as the phone-hacking scandal, but there has been no enquiry. Mr Milne says that in both scandals, the evidence of illegality, surveillance and conspiracy is incontrovertible.
Guardian • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Britain: Starbucks sink to new lows
The ‘immoral’ US coffee company, Starbucks, which is already under pressure for its tax affairs has now cut the rights to sick pay for its 7,000 UK workers. Martin Smith, national organiser of the GMB union, which represents some Starbucks workers, said the company was sewing “confusion and fear”, adding: “On the removal of sick pay, do we really want our coffee to be made by someone struggling to work with a cold, because that is what will happen. It is not a good look for a top flight coffee maker.”
TUC blog • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Welsh plan new 'polluter pays' law on asbestos
Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw, has introduced a bill in the Welsh aimed at introducing a law to force businesses and insurers to foot NHS medical bills for asbestos victims. He said: “The Bill will enable the Welsh government to recover the cost of the medical treatment in cases where legal liability for the disease has been established.”
BMA notice • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Britain: Needlestick loopholes claimed
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has claimed that a consultation on new regulations aimed at preventing needlestick injuries is flawed and injuries inflicted with needles and other sharp instruments in the healthcare sector could be avoided if regulatory loopholes were closed.
APIL news release • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Britain: Branch secretary compensated after help from union
Unite Barking and Dagenham branch secretary Adele Kaplan has received compensation with the help of her union. Mrs Kaplan ended up on crutches for six weeks after she fell on uneven paving and fractured her foot.
Thompsons news release • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Bangladesh: Union organisation would have saved lives
The TUC has said that union rights in Bangladesh could have saved the lives of the 112 textile workers who died in the horrific fire at Tazreen Fashions in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The TUC is working through the Ethical Trading Initiative to improve labour standards in international supply chains.
TUC blog • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Global: Walmart linked to fatal fire
One of the companies that are claimed to have used the Tazreen Fashions in Bangladesh where 112 workers died in a fire is the US retail giant Walmart. The Washington Post has revealed that officials who toured the site after the disaster found clothing with a Faded Glory label, a Walmart brand.
New York Times • Washington Post • Risks 585 • 8 December 2012
Hazards news, 1 December 2012
Britain: Call for an inquiry and action on blacklisting
Unions and safety campaigners are demanding an inquiry and justice after a convicted blacklister undermined construction industry attempts to distance itself from the systematic victimisation of grassroots union and safety reps. The calls came after Ian Kerr, who headed the covert industry-financed blacklisting organisation The Consulting Association (CTA), gave evidence to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee on 27 November.
Transcript of the HoC Scottish Affairs Committee hearing, 27 November 2012 • UCATT news release • Union News • The Independent • Financial Times • Construction Index • Construction Enquirer • Building • SHP video report • Morning Star • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Government's ‘shame’ as crime victims are hurt
Compensation payments to people injured in violent crimes have been slashed or withdrawn completely after the government railroaded through changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. The changes took effect on 27 November, scrapping five payment levels.
USDAW news release • CWU news release • Blog by Labour MP Michael McCann • BBC News Online • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: CWU welcomes report’s lead on dangerous dogs
Postal workers’ union CWU has welcomed a new report that concludes the law in England and Wales offers “inadequate” protection to postal workers who are attacked by dogs. The report recommends a change in law to help deal with the owners of dogs who attack.
CWU news release and Dangerous Dogs - Bite Back campaign • Royal Mail news release • Langley report: Inquiry into dog attacks on postal workers • BBC News Online • The Guardian • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Healthcare assistants face routine violence
More than 70 per cent of healthcare assistants have been the victim of aggression and violence at work, research by the health service union UNISON has revealed. The survey of nearly 1,200 healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners revealed that 13 per cent of those who had been the victim of violence at work had been threatened with a weapon, while nearly a fifth had been the victim of an assault that required medical assistance or first aid.
UNISON news release • Morning Star • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Bullying and harassment rife in universities
Harassment, friction and bullying are often the hallmarks of working relationships in Britain's universities, union research has confirmed. A survey of 14,000 higher education staff, carried out by the union UCU, found that every one of the 92 UK universities covered had a higher average stress level than that for the British working population as a whole.
UCU news release • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Second payout after deadly work disease progressed
The family a chemical worker who died after years suffering from a debilitating asbestos-related disease has received a second compensation payout. The 75-year-old from Cheshire, whose name has not been released, died from a heart attack in May 2012.
Thompsons Solicitors • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Two injuries led to no job
A medical assistant who was injured twice moving heavy trays of equipment while working for the NHS was forced to give up her job. The 47-year-old Unite member from Staines, whose name has not been released, was left with chronic pain syndrome in her neck, shoulder and wrist after the incidents at Ashford and St Peter’s NHS Trust’s central sterilising department.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Hospital pays after ignoring injury warnings
A hospital worker who injured her shoulders and neck jerking a defective curtain around a patient's bed has been awarded £50,000 in compensation. Linda Mitchell, 59, sustained the injuries at Belford Hospital, Fort William, Scotland.
Daily Mail • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Global: Call for action on work-related breast cancers
A dramatic policy switch is required towards elimination of workplace exposures to a slew of chemicals now believed to cause breast cancer, a campaign group has said. The Alliance for Cancer call came after a Canadian study reported higher breast cancer rates in agriculture, plastics, food packaging, metal manufacture and the bar and gambling industries.
Alliance for Cancer Prevention news release • Huffington Post • UNISON news report • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Work-related road injuries must be counted
Work-related road traffic accidents should be reported by employers to help cut the number of people killed or injured while driving for work, a health and safety professionals’ body has said. With hundreds of people dying on UK roads each year while at work, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) said it wants the government to include work-related road traffic accidents (RTAs) in the national accident reporting system, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995.
IOSH news release • TUC transport webpages • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Builder ignored stop work warning
A Lancashire builder has ended up in court after he ignored a formal warning to stop working at the top of a dangerous scaffolding tower. Jack Sanderson and another builder were spotted carrying out work to the roof of a two-storey building in Bacup by a passing inspector from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 26 January 2011.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Companies sentenced after worker’s fatal fall
A major construction company and a concrete structures firm have been sentenced after a worker died following a fall from height at a Swansea building site. Carillion Construction Ltd and with Febrey Ltd were jointly prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at the Meridian Quay apartment development in Swansea on 22 January 2008.
HSE news release and falls webpages • GMB news release • Morning Star • Construction Enquirer • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Pub chain fined after cleaner’s death
Major pub chain Mitchells and Butler has been fined £235,000 plus £65,000 costs for the criminal health and safety failings that contributed to the death of a cleaner. Richard Pratley, 65, died from a fractured skull after falling from a ladder as he tried to clean the roof of the "boathouse" inside the Snuff Mill Harvester in Bristol. Bristol Crown Court heard the restaurant's only stepladder was “unfit for service” and was too short for the job, damaged, dirty, greasy and rusty.
Bristol Post • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Firm fined for worker's forklift injuries
An employee Smurfit Kappa Corrugated UK Ltd suffered leg injuries when a reversing forklift truck struck him. Michael Jones, of Abercarn, was inspecting production in an area of the factory when the incident happened on 11 April 2011. Although the forklift was travelling at a slow speed when it struck him, he suffered a broken ankle and fractured heel and subsequently developed deep vein thrombosis.
HSE news release and forklifts safety guidance • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Injury after plastics firm failed to add guards
An employee at a Burnley plastics firm narrowly avoided severing his fingers when his hand came into contact with a rotating blade, a court has heard. The 43-year-old from Bury, who has asked not to be named, suffered damage to the index finger on his right hand in the incident at Industrial Anti Corrosives Ltd in Dunnockshaw, which trades as IAC Plastics, on 2 April last year.
HSE news release • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Britain: Laundry fined after worker is ironed
A commercial laundry in Southend has been fined after an employee crushed and burned his arm when it was pulled into an industrial ironing machine. Badrul Islam, 23, lost two fingers on his right hand as a result of the incident at Exclusive Cleaners UK Ltd on 25 August 2011.
HSE news release and laundries guidance • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Australia: Action urged on workplace bullying
An Australian parliamentary inquiry into workplace bullying has urged the government to set up a national service to provide practical advice on bullying and how to deal with it. The service would include a hotline where both employees and employers could receive help to prevent and resolve cases of bullying.
Employment minister Bill Shorten’s news release • Workplace bullying: We just want it to stop, report of the Australian House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment’s inquiry into workplace bullying • ABC News • News.com.au • Sydney Morning Herald • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Bangladesh: Managers arrested after deadly factory fire
Three managers at a Bangladeshi clothing factory have been arrested and accused of locking a main gate of the facility hampering people trying to flee a 24 November 2012 inferno that killed more than 100 workers and left at least 200 injured. The arrest of the mid-level managers at Tazreen Fashions , situated in the industrial zone of Asulia, about 30 kilometres north of Dhaka, did not stop the continued protests of thousands in the capital city on 28 November, as many mourned and called for a full investigation into what happened.
IndustriALL news release • Walmart statement • CNN News • Equal Times • BBC News Online • Labor Notes • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
New Zealand: Union safety reps need more power
Union health and safety representatives must be given increased powers if New Zealand’s poor workplace safety record is to improve, unions have said. The Council of Trades Unions (CTU) is urging an Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety to act on the recommendations of a Royal Commission which called for an expanded safety role for union reps (Risks 581).
NZCTU news release • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
USA: Unsafe construction sites squander billions
Occupational injuries and fatalities in the construction industry cost California residents $2.9 billion (£1.8bn) between 2008 and 2010, according to a new report. ‘The price of inaction: A comprehensive look at the costs of injuries and fatalities in California’s construction industry’, quantifies the estimated costs of deaths and injuries in the state’s construction industry by considering an array of factors.
Public Citizen news release and report, The price of inaction: A comprehensive look at the costs of injuries and fatalities in California’s construction industry • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
Hazards news, 24 November 2012
Britain: Fitness-to-work tests are not fair
Fitness-to-work tests used by the government to determine benefits entitlements must be made fairer and more humane, the TUC has said. The union body was responding to a report by Professor Malcolm Harrington on the government's incapacity tests which said the system “needs to be made fairer and more effective by improving both the process and the technical descriptors used to assess eligibility.”
TUC news release. DWP news release and related papers, 'An independent review of the Work Capability Assessment – year three' and the government response • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Global: Chemical firms failing on substance safety
Chemical companies worldwide are not doing enough to make their products and practices safer and more sustainable, an investment rating agency has concluded. Oekom Research’s evaluation of 101 chemical companies from 25 countries found the industry brings large numbers of new chemical compounds and products into the market every year, but only a small proportion have been comprehensively analysed to determine the risks associated with them.
Oekom press release and report, Oekom industry focus chemicals. ChemSec news report • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Government 'reckless' on equality checks
The TUC has accused David Cameron of being ‘reckless’ after he announced plans to scrap the requirement on government departments and other public bodies to undertake equality impact assessments before the introduction of policy changes.
TUC news release • David Cameron’s speech to the CBI conference • Morning Star • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Global: Concern at targeting of journalists in Gaza
UK journalists’ union NUJ is backing international union calls on the international community to investigate deliberate attacks by Israeli military against media buildings in Gaza. Three journalists were killed on 20 November when their cars, marked with press signs, were hit in two separate incidents in Gaza city.
NUJ news release • IFJ news release and earlier related news release • TUC news release • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Union campaign wins call centre improvements
A union campaign backed up by industrial action in Department for Work and Pensions call centres has won improvements in working conditions. The new agreement commits DWP to “providing interesting work, flexibility, rewards, a safe supportive environment and development of skills and capabilities.”
PCS news release • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Global: BP’s top brass get off the hook
By admitting fault, paying a huge fine and allowing two rig level managers to take the rap for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, London-based oil giant BP has avoided any member of its board facing the courts. Following a deal cut last week with federal authorities, where the firm agreed to a record $4.5bn fine and rig supervisors Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine were indicted for involuntary manslaughter, questions have reemerged about the apparent immunity of the company’s leaders from prosecution.
Department of Justice news release • Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant Attorney General Lanny A Breuer speak at the BP news conference. BP news release • BP guilty plea • Washington Post • Businessweek • The Guardian • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Driving instructor forced to change direction
A driving examiner knocked off his motorbike by a car suffered injuries so severe they forced him to change jobs and give up bike riding. PCS member Daryl Donaldson, 49, was able to return to work after six months but was unable to ride a motorbike and, after the operation on his right wrist and more than a year off work, lost his job on capability grounds.
PCS news release • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Rail warning on tragedy’s anniversary
Unions have called on the government to heed the lessons of a rail tragedy 25 years ago that claimed the lives of 31 people. This week relatives of those who died in the fire at King's Cross Underground station on 18 November 1987 were joined by firefighters and union members at a commemoration.
RMT news release • ASLEF news release • BBC News Online • Huffington Post • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Global: ‘Toxic soup’ of chemicals causes breast cancer
Working in a “toxic soup” of chemicals can double a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, new research suggests. High risk jobs include those in agriculture, plastics, food packaging, metal manufacture and the bar and gambling industry, according to the University of Stirling study.
Brophy JT, Keith MM, Watterson A and others. Breast cancer risk in relation to occupations with exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors: a Canadian case-control study, Environmental Health, 11:87, 19 November 2012. Stirling University news release • Center for Public Integrity article • BBC News Online • Huffington Post • Fox News • Daily Mail • Manufacturing Weekly • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Judge rules building occupier is liable for cancer
A 65-year-old London man has received compensation of £205,000 after a legal judgment against the firm on whose premises he was exposed to asbestos, rather than against his employer. Frank Baker worked as a lagger’s labourer for Climax Insulation & Packing Limited in the early 1960s, working for five weeks at the Tate & Lyle sugar factory in Silvertown, London, where he was exposed to asbestos.
Leigh Day & Co news release • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Lords criticise plans to end strict liability
Injured workers will be disadvantaged if the government goes ahead with a plan to end the strict liability of employers for safety offences, the House of Lords has heard. An amendment inserted in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill by the government seeks to change safety law to remove the right of individuals to make civil compensation claims for criminal breaches of statutory health and safety duties.
Report of House of Lords debate on the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, Hansard, 14 November 2012. Unite news release • TUC briefing • IER briefing •
Sign the petition opposing the changes • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Well-being study shows all isn’t well
Financial issues and psychological distress are commonplace in the UK, an official study has found. The Office for National Statistics’ new web-based tool, the ‘National Well-being wheel’, found around 1 in 8 people were finding it quite or very difficult to manage financially and about 1 in 5 reported some kind of psychological distress.
ONS news release and well-being website and health and safety section, full report, and interactive National Well-being wheel of measures • ONS mortality figures for England and Wales • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Job loss increases heart attack risk
Job loss can raise your heart attack risk as much as smoking, with those who have lost a succession of jobs at higher risk still. A study of 13,451 people in the US found heart attacks increased by over a quarter (27 per cent) among people who were recently unemployed, regardless of occupation.
Matthew E Dupre, Linda K George and others. The cumulative dffect of unemployment on risks for acute myocardial infarction, Achives of Internal Medicine, Online First, November 2012. doi:10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.447. BBC News Online •
VJC Mc Carthy, IJ Perry and BA Greiner. Age, job characteristics and coronary health, Occupational Medicine, volume 62, number 8, pages 613-619, 2012. Irish Independent • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Violent patients to lose free NHS treatment
Thousands of patients who are abusive or violent to doctors and nurses will be banned from getting free treatment on the NHS. Under radical new proposals, the NHS constitution will be changed to give all hospitals the right to refuse patients, the Mirror reported this week.
The Mirror • UNISON news report • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Australia: Bosses are telling docs how to treat workers
Australian employers are interfering in their employees’ visits to the doctors, going so far as to dictate the treatments worker are allowed. National union federation ACTU organised a seminar last week to discuss how to tackle this “growing trend.”
ACTU news release • The Age • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Worker injured in fall into sewage well
A company has been fined after a worker fell and slid seven metres into a sewage well stuffed with nappies and other debris. The 34-year-old from Walsall, who has asked not to be named, was clearing a blockage in the Halesowen sewer for Tardis Environmental UK Ltd when the incident occurred on 26 August last year.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Halesowen News • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Two tonne slab lands on excavator driver
A demolition firm has appeared in court after part of a stand collapsed onto an excavator driver at Old Trafford Cricket Ground. The 33-year-old worker from Warrington, who has asked not to be named, suffered serious injuries when a two-tonne concrete slab landed on his vehicle's cab.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Britain: Some firms need more than persuasion
A construction firm that failed to remedy serious safety breaches despite six visits from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and seven stop work notices has been fined. Peak Construction (London) Ltd was working on a redevelopment project in Bristol city centre.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Australia: Unions plan for global asbestos ban
The Australian government must use its influence to curtail the international trade in asbestos, national union federation ACTU has said. ACTU president Ged Kearney made the call as the union body prepared to welcome a delegation of trade unionists from Canada, Laos and India.
ACTU news release • Risks 583 • 24 November 2012
Hazards news, 17 November 2012
Britain: ‘Savaged’ criminal injuries scheme to go ahead
The introduction later this month of a ‘savaged’ version of the government scheme to compensate people injured in violent crimes has been condemned by retail union Usdaw. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority has confirmed that the revised Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) will come into force on 27 November.
Usdaw news release and CICA email announcement and CICA webpages and application details • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
USA: Bad jobs make you fat
It’s not our bad habits but our bad jobs that make us fat, a new study has concluded. ‘Obesity/overweight and the role of working conditions’ found that hotel housekeepers, janitors and other blue collar workers who rarely sit during the day have neither the time nor the energy to benefit from traditional healthy lifestyle recommendations.
MassCOSH news release and full report, Obesity/overweight and the role of working conditions • UMass Lowell news release • Boston Workers’ Alliance • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Call for action on betting shop violence
Bookies’ union Community is calling for urgent action to protect its members after a TV documentary revealed a dramatic increase in violent attacks on betting shops. Panorama revealed this week that violent crime in betting shops increased by 9 per cent between 2008 and 2011.
Community news release • BBC Panorama • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Union rep gets posthumous anti-violence award
An FBU rep who died last year has been given a posthumous award for her work tackling violence in the workplace. The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) welcomed the decision by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to recognise the campaigning work undertaken by Linda Shanahan, who succumbed to cancer in September 2011.
STUC news release • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Europe: Worker protection is lost in nano-space
Effective measures to address health risks to workers are missing from Europe’s latest nanotechnology blueprint, trade unions have warned. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) said the latest regulatory and job creation reviews on nanomaterials published by the European Commission pay insufficient attention to the protection of workers and adds “modifications” to the Europe-wide chemicals registration law REACH “are urgently needed to ensure the potential high risks of nanomaterials are properly controlled.”
ETUC news report • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Prison officer suffered a fractured jaw
A prison officer who was attacked by an inmate who had been transferred from HMP Broadmoor because of bad behaviour has received compensation after it was revealed prison staff hadn’t been warned about the prisoner's aggressive history. The 45-year-old Prison Officers Association (POA) member from Bicester suffered a badly fractured jaw in the attack at HMP Bullingdon, a category B prison.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Sign the petition to oppose ‘sneaky’ law change
Health and Safety Executive inspectors’ union Prospect is urging members to sign a petition calling on the government to remove an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (ERR) Bill that would make it harder for workers to claim legitimate compensation for injuries at work.
Prospect news release and e-petition • TUC briefing • The Guardian • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Global: Offshore criminal BP to get record fine
London-based multinational BP is set to receive a record fine of between $4.5bn to settle criminal charges related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The settlement is the biggest criminal penalty in US history.
BP statement and third quarter results • BBC News Online • The Guardian • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Stress ‘timebomb’ ticking at Johnston Press
Overworked journalists facing a stress ‘timebomb’ at work are demanding urgent talks with Johnston Press after the company announced further massive cuts. Journalists’ union NUJ is warning that increased workload and stress levels are endangering both staff and the publications they produce.
NUJ news release • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Construction deaths still high
Construction deaths remain appallingly high and are set to get higher still, a union has warned. New research conducted by construction union UCATT found that fatalities in 2011/12 were highest in the Midlands, north-west England, eastern England, south-east England and south-west England.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Boris challenged to support construction safety
Construction union UCATT is calling for a meeting with London mayor Boris Johnson after he refused to answer a straight question about whether would support the direct employment of construction workers to reduce deaths and injuries. The union says sites where workers are directly employed rather than ‘falsely’ self-employed are safer because workers are better organised, safety laws are more likely to be properly observed and there is a stronger likelihood of independent safety reps working on sites.
UCATT news release • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: ODA pressed on Olympics blacklisting action
Construction union UCATT has told the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) it will not be allowed to sweep blacklisting at the London Olympics construction project under the carpet. UCATT made the demand after ODA chief executive Dennis Hone told the London Assembly that there was no evidence that blacklisting occurred on the Olympics and that Olympic contractors had given assurances that they were not involved in blacklisting.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Leaked report warns of ‘catastrophic’ legionella risk
Poor management of cooling towers and evaporative condensers could lead to a ‘catastrophic’ legionella outbreak in London, according to an unpublished Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report. “The headline to arise from this project is the poor level of compliance,” it states, warning an outbreak in London would be far worse than the legionella outbreak in Edinburgh in June, where over 100 people were infected and three people died.
EHN Online • The Guardian • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: HSE clarifies big enforcement fall
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provisional figures show 680 prosecution cases were heard in Great Britain in 2011/12, with 1,165 offences prosecuted, a drop of 3 per cent from the previous year. The fall is explained by a dramatic decline in local authority prosecutions and in cases brought in Scotland.
HSE statistics revisions and HSE statistics 2011/12 • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Offshore firms must ‘innovate’ on involvement
The offshore industry must improve its performance on worker involvement, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said. A report on the watchdog’s KP4 inspection programme on the management of ageing offshore installations warns “more innovative work is required across the industry to involve the workforce in this issue which is vital to everyone’s long-term future.”
KP4 interim report, HSE, November 2012 • SHP Online • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Dock deaths expose ‘low risk’ folly
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) decision to treat dock work as low risk and not subject to routine preventive inspections is being called into question by two recent deaths in the North East. In March this year Hazards magazine queried HSE’s ‘low risk’ rating for dock work, pointing out the industry last year had a death rate several times the all industry average.
Northern Echo • The Gazette • Hartlepool Mail • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Defence firm fined over explosion death
Wallop Defence Systems Ltd (WDS) has received a six figure fine for the criminal safety failings that caused an explosion that killed one worker and injured several more. Anthony Sheridan, 37, died from injuries sustained in the blast at WDS when ovens contained high levels of nitroglycerin (NG) exploded, the blast destroying the factory.
HSE news release • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Untrained scaffolder suffered horrific brain injury
An untrained scaffolder had to have part of his brain removed after suffering severe head injuries in a 2.5m fall. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Paramount Scaffolding Ltd and director Luke Jessop following the incident at a property in Meopham, near Gravesend, on 25 January this year.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Britain: Drinks firm ignored ozone dangers
A soft drinks manufacturer has been fined after a contractor developed career-ending asthma caused by ozone exposure. Richard Sharp, 49, from Wetherby, West Yorkshire, wasn't told that ozone was present in the plant room when he was given a permit to work at Cott Beverages in Kegworth.
HSE news release • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Australia: Lying asbestos directors lose appeal
Seven former directors of the one-time asbestos giant James Hardie have lost an appeal in the Australian courts to scrap penalties and disqualifications, ending a marathon legal battle over a 2001 board decision to release misleading information to the Australian Stock Exchange about the adequacy of a compensation fund for asbestos victims.
ABC News • The Herald • Risks 582 • 17 November 2012
Hazards news, 10 November 2012
Britain: Job fear is affecting the health of UK workers
The harsh economic climate, austerity-related job cuts and job loss fears in those still in work is having a real impact on the health and well-being of workers, according to the newly published findings of a TUC safety survey. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber commented: “Fears about how austerity is affecting peoples' jobs and their families is having a real impact on the health and well-being of UK workers.”
TUC new release and biennial survey of safety reps • More on insecure work and safety • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
USA: Mine watchdog protects more whistleblowers
The US mine safety watchdog has demanded a record number of fired miners be reinstated after they were dismissed for standing up for safety. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reports it filed more than 39 requests during fiscal year 2012 for temporary reinstatements on behalf of miners.
MSHA news release • State Journal • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Ministers ‘stacked’ committee on crime payouts
Unions and Labour have accused the government of “stacking” a parliamentary committee to ensure that controversial changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) were passed. Shadow justice minister Robert said: “They had to pack the committee with effectively the payroll vote because they couldn't rely on ordinary backbenchers.”
Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, House of Commons Debate, Hansard, 7 November 2012 • Usdaw news release • CWU news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Suicide death trauma for train driver
A train driver who suffered psychological injuries when his train killed a suicide victim who had laid his head down on the tracks has received compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS). But his union ASLEF warns cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) being pushed through by the government will mean train drivers will no longer be able to claim for the trauma caused by witnessing a suicide.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
New Zealand: Unions welcome recommendations on rights
Unions have welcomed the Royal Commission report into the Pike River mine disaster, which concluded workers must be given more safety rights, information and an expanded role. The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) said that the report of the investigation into the tragedy, which killed 29 miners in a 19 November 2010 explosion, “is a damning indictment of both the company and weak regulation of health and safety by government and brings shame to this country that now must be addressed.”
NZCTU news release and Pike River Phase 4 NZCTU submission • EPMU news release and submission • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Train driver medically retired after suicide ‘horror’
A London train driver suffered such severe psychological injuries when her train killed a suicide victim she was medically retired as result. RMT member Karen Jordan said: “I am appalled that drivers who might go through what I saw and experienced are to be banned by the government from getting any compensation for the horror. ”
RMT news release and related RMT news release • Morning Star • Daily Mirror • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Usdaw calls on MPs to ‘Back the Bill’
Retail union Usdaw is calling on MPs to back a law that would give shopworkers legal protection against violence and abuse. The Protection of Workers Bill was introduced into parliament last week by Labour MP Graeme Morrice and is scheduled to get a second reading on 1 February next year.
Usdaw news release and Freedom from fear campaign • Early Day Motion 574, calling on the government to back the Protection of Workers Bill • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Union says McAlpine had an Olympic blacklist
Construction union UCATT has accused construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine of using blacklisting checks to vet workers building the 2012 Olympic stadium. Union leaders gave evidence last week to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee probe into the industry’s blacklist run by the now defunct The Consulting Association
UCATT news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Teachers can call the asbestos register
Teaching union NASWUWT has set up an asbestos exposure register “to assist those worried about exposure to asbestos in Welsh schools.” NASUWT says the new asbestos register, which is accompanied by an asbestos guide, will help people in the event they ever develop an asbestos-related disease.
NASUWT news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Unions secure official schools asbestos guide
Union pressure has led to the government publishing new online asbestos guidance for school chiefs. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) said the new guide from the Department for Education (DfE) is “a step in the right direction in the campaign to make all UK schools and colleges safe from the dangers of asbestos
Asbestos guidance for schools, DfE, 2012. JUAC news release • GMB news release • Morning Star • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Gas cuts will lead to ‘explosions and loss of life’
A dramatic cut in the number of gas distribution workers “will lead to major gas explosions and loss of life”, the union GMB has warned. The union believes up to 3,000 workers could lose their jobs as a result of funding cuts proposed by the regulator Ofgem.
GMB news release • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Gas depot worker suffers horrific injuries
A supervisor at a gas depot suffered life threatening injuries in a huge gas blast, leading to his medical retirement. The 56-year-old Unite member from Bristol suffered severe burns to his head, leg, wrists, ears and back in the horrific incident.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
New Zealand: Mine deaths report calls for radical changes
A New Zealand coal mining company ignored 21 warnings that methane gas had accumulated to dangerous levels before an underground explosion killed 29 workers two years ago as official regulators failed to provide the necessary oversight, a Royal Commission has concluded. Its report into the Pike River mine blast in November 2010 said “the drive for coal production before the mine was ready created the circumstances within which the tragedy occurred,” adding that “warnings were not heeded.”
Royal Commission report • New Zealand Herald • Three News • Morning Star • The Guardian • TCE Today • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Tightfisted firm caused painful hands
An engineering worker developed a debilitating skin condition after his employer refused to provide new gloves because they were too expensive. The 49-year-old Unite member from Birmingham, whose name has not been released, developed dermatitis after he was exposed to mineral oil in his role as a press setter for LTI Ltd in Coventry. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Occ docs oppose ending work disease reporting
Britain’s occupational doctors have said they ‘strongly counsel’ the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to drop a proposal to end a duty on employers to report occupational diseases. In a submission to an HSE consultation, the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) says the move would be damaging, noting it would “signal to employers that the occupational health of employees is no longer seen as important.”
FOM news report and full response • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Man arrested over death of shopkeeper
A man has been arrested in connection with the death of a shopkeeper who was fatally stabbed in his Renfrewshire store. Lee Anderson, 30, made no plea during a brief appearance at Paisley Sheriff Court this week and was remanded in custody.
Scottish Daily Record • BBC News Online • Hazards magazine • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Council safety spending and prosecutions slashed
New figures have revealed spending on local authority environmental health and trading standards services in England has fallen by 32 per cent since 2009, with ‘regulation and safety’ spending particularly hard hit, and has been accompanied by a similar drop in safety prosecutions.
IFS briefing note • EHN Online and related story on falling local authority health and safety prosecutions • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Second conviction after roof fall death
The boss of a maintenance firm has been fined after one of his employees fell to his death through the fragile roof of a Fife warehouse. Boyd Lamont from Buckhaven, Fife, was fined £20,000 at Dunfermline Sheriff Court following the death of Thomas Sturrock on 29 September 2008; the prosecution came nearly two years after the owner of the site received a six figure fine for criminal safety offences related to the 32-year-olds death.
COPFS news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Demolition firm removed asbestos illegally
A Cheltenham demolition company has been prosecuted after exposing its own workers to dangerous asbestos fibres and illegally removing asbestos waste from a property in Gloucester. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted DA Environmental Services Ltd at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court for three breaches of regulations relating to asbestos removal.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Britain: Pupil hurt in design and technology lesson
A Solihull school has been fined after an 11-year-old pupil suffered serious hand injuries in a design and technology lesson. The year seven student from Alderbrook School was using a bench sanding machine when his hand became trapped between the rotating face of the sanding disc and the machine's table edge.
HSE news release • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Australia: Firefighters to gain cancer compensation
An Australian state is to compensate firefighters for job-related cancers. The South Australia government says it will give firefighters automatic access to WorkCover payments for cancers including primary brain, bladder and kidney cancers.
Government of South Australia news release • ABC News • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Hazards news, 3 November 2012
Britain: TUC slams changes to liability laws
The TUC has strongly criticised moves to prevent workers from gaining compensation when they are injured and the employer has broken a health and safety law that has 'strict liability'. In these cases the employer cannot claim that they did everything 'reasonably practical', but can be convicted simply for not obeying the law.
TUC briefing • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Government ploughs on with compensation cuts
The TUC has condemned the reintroduction of proposals to cut compensation for workers who are the victims of crime through their work. Proposals to slash payments were introduced by the government earlier this yet and then withdrawn in September following cross-party opposition, but have now been hurriedly reintroduced in exactly the same form as before, despite a promise to reconsider the proposals and bring them back 'in a better form'.
APIL news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
New Zealand: union slams mine contractor's fine
The New Zealand union EPMU has hit out at the fine imposed on a Pike River contractor, labelling it as shockingly low. Drilling company Valley Longwall International was fined $46,800 for failing to ensure employees' health and safety at a mine where 29 miners died in an explosion.
EPMU news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Gibraltar: Safety law needs to catch up
A union has called for an overhaul of the health and safety regulations in Gibraltar, in particular over worker involvement. Unite tutor Alistair Robertson told the Gibraltar Chronicle that under UK law, union representatives are afforded the right to inspect the workplace, and employers are also obliged to hand over documentation such as past inspection reports and accident records.
Gibraltar Chronicle • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Agency worker regulations criticised by Unite
Unite has warned against complacency as many agency workers are being poorly treated, the current Agency regulations have too many loopholes and the enforcement of the legislation is not strong enough. An independent survey by Unite showed that in the vast majority of workplaces that employ agency workers (78 per cent of those surveyed) these workers are still second class and are not getting equal treatment.
Unite news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Union steps up blacklisting campaign
Construction union UCATT has launched a postcard campaign in their fight for justice for blacklisted workers. The postcards are to be sent to MPs and request that MPs sign an Early Day Motion 609 on Blacklisted Workers, seeks support for a public inquiry into the blacklisting scandal and for calls for blacklisting to become a criminal offence.
UCATT news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Blacklisting goes far beyond construction
Rail union RMT have demanded full disclosure of a secret 'RMT File' held by blacklisting organisation The Consulting Association as evidence mounts of police and security services involvement in the targeting of union activists in the construction and railway industries.
RMT news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Violence rises as cuts bite
UNISON in Scotland have claimed that a "toxic cocktail" of cutbacks and violence against public-service workers has resulted in a huge increase in the number of violent incidents reported to employers. In their annual survey of violence, Unison Scotland revealed that 34,739 staff reported violent incidents last year.
UNISON news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Union says cuts to reporting could cost lives
Trade union Prospect, which represents over 16,000 HSE inspectors and specialists, has warned that plans to simplify regulations for reporting injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences must not be used as a vehicle to cut back on this vital reporting, The union said it was "alarmed at the signals" sent out by an HSE consultation calling for an end to employers' obligation to report occupational health absences from diseases such as lead poisoning and many disabling lung and skin diseases of which many workers are at risk. Prospect response • APIL news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Justice for rail workers involved in Grayrigg tragedy
The RMT rail union has repeated the call for justice for all of the rail workers caught up in the Grayrigg derailment five years ago and specifically those wrongfully accused of playing some part in the incident and who were later fully exonerated by official investigations. The call came as a BBC documentary highlighting the treatment of two RMT members who “were left to hang out to dry by the company.”
RMT news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Union renews safety call after latest helicopter ditching
The RMT has launched a joint, industry-wide campaign on safety with Norwegian union colleagues after the latest ditching of a Super Puma helicopter off Shetland in late October. This ditching, where due to prompt action by crew all on board were rescued, followed a similar gearbox related emergency in the North Sea in May.
RMT news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Journalists union says members should report abuse
Following a range of reports of abuse against staff at the BBC, the National Union of Journalists has contacted all NUJ members asking them to report abuse to the NUJ and be part of the union's campaign for safer working environments.
NUJ news release. • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: New workplace statistics published
New HSE health and safety statistics show an estimated 1.1 million people said they were suffering from an illness caused or made worse by their work, down from 1.2 million in 2010/11. Of these, 452,000 were new illnesses occurring in-year and a further 700,000 people were suffering from an illness which was caused or made worse by their past work.
HSE statistics 2011/12 • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Workers trafficked and beaten
A gangmaster has had its licence revoked after a joint operation by Kent police, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and the Serious Organised Crime Agency to liberate more than 30 Lithuanian workers who are alleged to have been trafficked in to the UK. The Guardian • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Australia: Docks protest after employers jeopardise safety
Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members from Sydney, Newcastle and Port Kembla have taken to the streets to protest over 'industry inaction' on safety issues following the recent death of a fellow dockworker. They were calling for the introduction of a national safety code in response to the reaction of employers who blocked a new code of practice the day after Greg Fitzgibbon was crushed to death on the dockside by 20 tonnes of aluminium in September.
MUA news report • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Welsh asbestos campaign launched
Following the closure of Cwmcarn school in Caerphilly after claims that children may have been exposed to asbestos, a campaign for a national database of schools' asbestos has been launched. The Parents' Right To Know campaign wants information on the levels of asbestos, and its condition, in every school in Wales.
Wales Online • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Construction giant's safety failings
Construction company Balfour Beatty has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,347 for criminal safety failings after an unsupported floor deck collapsed during work at the Plymouth Life Centre. Plymouth Magistrates' Court heard that two workers fell two-and-a-half metres in the incident on 8 July last year, and were lucky to escape with only minor injuries. Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Quad bike death probe
Farmer Eric Simpson, 41, died in a quad bike incidenct at Newhall Farm near Innerleithen, Scotland. There have been a growing number of quad bike deaths in farming and safety campaigners have called for more enforcement in the sector.
BBC News Online • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Britain: Workers loose end of fingers
Two workers each had the ends of fingers sheared off while operating inadequately guarded guillotine machines at a Hampshire filtration company. The two incidents happened just weeks after one another at Porvair Filtration Group Ltd in Segensworth, Fareham, last year.
HSE news release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Europe: Anti-regulation official is tobacco lobbyist
The man leading the attack on safety regulation in the European Union has been exposed as a lobbyist for tobacco interests. Edmund Stoiber, a German politician who heads the European Commission's high-level group on cutting administrative burdens and has been a vigorous opponent of safety rule, lobbied former Health Commissioner John Dalli on the controversial tobacco directive during one of his group's meetings according to an investigation by EurActiv.
EurActiv release • Risks 580 • 3 November 2012
Hazards news. 27 October 2012
Britain: Shock as true extent of blacklist is revealed
Unions are demanding answers after it was revealed a secret industry blacklist of union reps and safety activists could be 20 times bigger than previously thought, targeting tens of thousands of workers. The union call came after a 17 October session of the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Select Committee heard that in 2009 when the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) raided covert, construction industry-backed blacklisting organisation The Consulting Association it only removed 5 per cent of the organisation’s files, a blacklist of 3,213 workers.
UCATT news release • The Mirror • Morning Star • Financial Times • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
USA: Pesticide threat to farmworker families
The children of US farmworkers are facing deadly health risks from exposure to pesticides. An analysis by the Pesticide Action Network North America (PAN) has found while public concerns have centred on pesticides in food, it is the children in farmworker communities that are facing the greatest risk.
Working In These Times • A generation in jeopardy: How pesticides are undermining our children’s health and intelligence, PAN North America, 2012 • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Labour demands answers from ICO
Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has written to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), demanding to know why it did not seek a wider search warrant for its blacklisting raids, and whether it is investigating the existence of other lists targeting union and safety activists. The letter from the Labour MP calls the saga a “tragedy” and adds it was a matter of “great concern” that the vast majority of documents at the offices of The Consulting Association raided in 2009 were left untouched.
Construction News • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Blacklisters to go before a judge
Some of the UK’s biggest construction firms are being dragged into court to answer allegations they blacklisted trade union safety activists. Ahead of the union-initiated legal action, Carillion chief executive Richard Howson apologised for his firm’s part in the scandal.
GMB news release • Carillion apology and blacklisting response webpages • The Scotsman • Financial Times • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Guatemala: Aluminium workers face abuse
When Emeterio Nach suffered a shoulder injury at his job, he asked his supervisor at the Ternium aluminium processing plant in Villa Nueva, Guatemala, for time off to see his doctor. In an interview with the US union backed Solidarity Center, he says the supervisor continued to refuse, finally telling Nach he would be fired if he kept asking - and if he was sick, he'd be fired anyway because the factory needed healthy workers.
AFL-CIO Now blog • Solidarity Center interview • SITRATERNIUM facebook page – tell the union you ‘like’ it.
Take action now: Write to Paolo Rocca, chair of Ternium SA • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: ‘Savage’ fire and rescue cuts put lives at risk
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is raising the alarm over unprecedented risks to public safety posed by “deep and dangerous” cuts to the fire service. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, is urging the public to join firefighters in defending stations threatened with closure.
FBU news release • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Union praises pilots of ditched helicopter
The pilots of a faulty helicopter that ditched in the sea off Shetland have been praised by their union BALPA after executing the ‘extremely challenging’ manoeuvre with no casualties. BALPA said the incident “again highlights the importance of trained flight crew.”
BALPA news release • AAIB incident report • BBC News Online and follow up story • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Unions press for schools asbestos audit
Schools cannot be left to self-regulate on safety and the government must order a national audit of asbestos in all UK schools, education unions have said. Commenting in the wake of a school asbestos contamination controversy in Wales, the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC), said the government should follow the lead of the Welsh Assembly and order an audit of asbestos in all UK schools.
UNISON news release • NUT news release • ATL news release • JUAC webpage • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Europe: Chemicals watchdog is failing on REACH
European companies are failing to produce the legally required information on the chemicals they use and the watchdog that should be making them comply is not doing so, new evidence suggests. A report from the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and ClientEarth says the chemical industry has largely failed to provide the necessary data to make the REACH chemical safety law work, adding the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has allowed them to get away with it.
EEB press release and report, Identifying the bottlenecks in REACH implementation - the role of ECHA in REACH's failing implementation • ChemSec news report • The SIN list • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Union forces council asbestos rethink
A union’s criticism of ‘misinformed’ statements on asbestos risk on a council website has led to the offending passages being removed. Construction union UCATT last week condemned the ‘outrageous’ safety advice given out by Caerphilly council after the discovery of the asbestos contamination which led to the closure of Cwmcarn High School.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Court says smokeless fuel plant did cause cancer
Workers at a now closed smokeless fuel plant in Wales did develop potentially deadly illnesses caused by their work, the High Court has ruled. The men said making the fuel briquettes at the Phurnacite plant at Abercwmboi, Rhondda Cynon Taf, left them with cancer and respiratory diseases.
Hugh James Solicitors news release • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Wales Online • ITV News • BBC News Online • Global unions cancer prevention campaign • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Major site contractors launch safety drive
The UK Contractors Group has launched a new health and safety plan to spread best practice down the supply chain. The plan includes a “supply chain charter setting out what UKCG expects from its supply chain and what support they can expect from us” and “a road map to excellence, signposting the industry to appropriate best practice.”
UKCG news release and related health and safety materials • Construction Enquirer • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Paper firm fined after ‘foreseeable’ fatality
A paper mill in Devon has been fined £200,000 after a worker was crushed to death. Richard Zebedee, 45, from Ivybridge, died after being trapped in machinery at the Arjowiggins plant in the town.
HSE news release and guidance on paper industry machine safety • BBC News Online • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Builder in hot water after fall into bath tub
A building worker broke his leg and had to be airlifted to hospital after falling from a roof and hitting a disused bath tub. Andrew Hosking, 34, broke his left femur in the incident at Glascoed Lane, Glascoed, on October 17 2011 and has been off work since.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Hoof-friendly floor saved roofer
A facilities and cleaning company has been fined after one of its employees fell six metres through a riding school roof on the Longcross estate in Surrey. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the worker, who does not wished to be named, ‘miraculously escaped’ with only minor injuries in the fall because a sand-covered floor cushioned his impact.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Man survives six metre roof fall
A Somerset construction company has been fined after a worker plummeted six metres from a roof he was working on in south-west London. Wayne Bird, 28, was cleaning dead leaves from the gulleys of a building in Feltham on 18 January 2011 for AR Berry Design and Build Ltd.
HSE news release • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Waste firm injures two in a week
RG Wastecare Ltd’s criminal disregard for safety saw two workers injured in just one week. One worker fell ten feet into a skip as he clung to a conveyor belt that began to operate; the other suffered serious injuries to his arm when it was drawn into the rollers of a large crushing machine.
HSE news release and waste and recycling webpages • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Britain: Grinding wheel left bone fragment touching brain
A company that manufactures metal components has been fined after a young worker was seriously injured at its Lincoln factory. The 20-year-old agency worker at Wyman-Gordon Ltd suffered a fractured skull and severe facial injuries when the grinding wheel broke on the hand-held grinder he was using.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Canada: ‘Grave concern’ over imported coal miners
An ‘abuse’ of a temporary foreign worker scheme risks jeopardising safety in British Columbia’s mining sector, trade unions in the Canadian province have warned. In an open letter to prime minister Stephen Harper, the Bargaining Council of BC Building Trade Unions said it has ‘grave concerns’ about plans by Canadian Dehua International Mines Group Inc to bring in more than 200 workers from China to mine coal in northern British Columbia.
Bargaining Council BCBTU • BC Federation of Labor news release • Global and Mail. OHS Canada • Risks 579 • 27 October 2012
Hazards news, 20 October 2012
Britain: Concern over self-employed site deaths
A dramatic increase in the proportion of construction fatalities involving self-employed workers must be addressed by the government, construction union UCATT has said. Latest provisional Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show 49 construction workers were killed in 2011/12 of which 23 were self-employed workers - 47 per cent of all construction fatalities.
UCATT news release • HSE fatality statistics 2011/12 • Morning Star • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: Offshore unions call for caution on offshore flights
Flights to and from the UK’s oil platforms should be stopped in extreme weather conditions rather than opting to rely on a cargo retrieval system to pluck crash victims from the sea, unions have said.
Sign the Unite petition • For more information and video clips of the Dacon Scoop in use, see the Unite website • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
India: Compensation breakthrough for dead shipbreakers
A three-year union struggle had succeeded in securing landmark compensation payouts for the families of workers killed in the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India. Global union federation IndustriALL says when it started a shipbreaking organising project in 2003, it was common knowledge that whenever a shipbreaking worker was killed the body was tossed unceremoniously into the sea.
IndustriALL news report and report on the 6 October deaths • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: NUJ calls for safer media workplaces
The government and media employers must acknowledge the extent of sexism and harassment in the media industry and take action to combat it, the leader of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has said.
NUJ news release • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: Usdaw takes crime fight into Parliament
Shopworkers' union Usdaw has taken the fight to save compensation for victims of violent crime to Parliament. A House of Commons meeting on 17 October organised by the union saw MPs brought face to face with victims of violent crime, including shopworkers who had been stabbed, beaten and brutalised in attacks at work.
Usdaw news release • New Usdaw Stopping violent crime at work poster • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Global: Retailer urged to compensate fire victims
A German retailer is being urged to compensate the bereaved relatives of the workers killed when a fire ripped through a garment factory last month. At the time of the fire the Karachi factory was producing jeans for the German low cost retailer, KIK, which has more than 3,000 stores in eight European countries.
Clean Clothes Campaign news release • Sign the CCC Urgent Appeal • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: Highways cuts mean danger ahead
Construction union UCATT is warning that ‘savage’ cuts to the highways management contract in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire will risk the lives of commuters and workers. The Area 10 highways management contract - the second largest in the country, covering the M60 and M62 area - is set to be transferred from existing contractor A1 plus to Balfour Beatty/Mott McDonald on 4 November.
UCATT news release • Build • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: Staffing cuts compromise Scottish rail safety
Services and safety on Scottish railways are being undermined by staffing cuts, which are leaving engineers struggling to keep up with repairs, RMT has warned. The rail union has demanded urgent action after Virgin Rail was forced to suspended services between Glasgow and Carlisle last Wednesday night.
RMT news release • Morning Star • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Global: Work to blame for substance misuse
Work factors including stress, work pressure and injuries sustained at work are the root cause of much drug and alcohol misuse, new reports indicate. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said employers must recognise stressful, unsocial, monotonous or highly pressurised work environments can contribute to drug or alcohol misuse by employees and US researchers have found another factor in drug misuse which would normally result in the worker being blamed – dependency on the strong painkillers prescribed to work injury victims.
ICTU news release and guidelines for negotiating fair and legal drug and alcohol policies • WCRI news release and report • The Pump Handle • TUC drugs and alcohol webpages • TUC guide on drugs and alcohol policies [pdf] and drug testing in the workplace [pdf] • Hazards drugs and alcohol webpages • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: School worker suffers bromine poisoning
A school science technician was poisoned by toxic bromine gas after staff complaints about a poorly ventilated chemical cupboard were ignored. UNISON member April Walsh, 34, was exposed to bromine fumes while working as a senior science technician at Richard Rose Central Academy in Carlisle.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: Government in new attack on safety
A government amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill is “completely illogical” and “also sends a clear signal to bosses that the safety of workers is no longer to be considered a priority,” according to a not-for-profit legal group. Karl Tonks, the president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) said changing the law on civil liability could not be justified.
APIL news release • Hansard report of 16 October 2012 House of Commons debate. BIS updates on the progress of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill • ASLEF news release • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: HSE is seeking to outsource asbestos campaign
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is planning to outsource the next phase of its campaign to warn the public about the life-threatening danger of asbestos. This week marketing trade magazine PR Week reported it believed three briefs have been drawn up for agencies to lead the communications work, provide insight and offer partnership marketing.
PR Week • Hazards magazine • 20 October 2012
Britain: Closure leads to asbestos surveys of all Welsh schools
Emergency asbestos surveys will be carried out at schools across Wales after the closure of Cwmcarn High School. The school in south Wales was shut last week following the discovery of asbestos contamination, with 900 pupils sent home.
NASUWT news release • Caerphilly County Borough Council webpage on Cwmcarn High School and asbestos • South Wales Argus • BBC News Online • Construction Enquirer • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: HGV firm banned from the road for two weeks
A Yorkshire firm has had its HGV licence suspended for two weeks after its director failed to disclose convictions for health and safety offences to the Traffic Commissioner. In a written decision issued after a public hearing in Leeds, North East of England Traffic Commissioner Kevin Rooney said he had been persuaded “by the finest of margins” to allow Birstall Demolition and Plant Services Ltd director, Virginia Walker, to keep running HGVs in connection with her plant and demolition business.
Huddersfield Daily Examiner • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: Worker buried by poles as lorry topples over
A worker unloading scaffold materials from a flatbed lorry was thrown from the vehicle and hit by its load of boards and tubes when it overturned. Martin Sapec, 54, of Edwardsville, Treharris suffered a broken pelvis and ankle in the incident at Bryntirion, Mountain Ash, on 15 August 2011.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Australia: Unions call for quad bike safety measures
Mandatory crush protection devices must be installed on all new quad bikes in Australia to prevent any more fatalities from rollovers, Australian unions have said. Ahead of a national forum on quad bike safety this week, Michael Borowick, the assistant secretary of national union federation ACTU, said the death of a 58-year-old man in a quad bike incident last week was the 160th quad bike fatality since 2001, and the tenth in Australia this year.
ACTU news release and follow-up action call • ABC News • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: Worker crushed to death by girder
A South Yorkshire firm has been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £42,471 costs after a worker died when he was crushed by a one and a half tonne steel girder. Steelworker John Mott, 47, who had worked in the steel industry since leaving school, received fatal injuries in the incident at the Bespoke Precast plant in Barnsley on 30 March 2009.
HSE news release • Irwin Mitchell news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: Injury robs caretaker of his healthy retirement
A school caretaker was left with permanent disabilities when he fell through the school hall ceiling five days before his retirement. David O'Hanlon, 62, was putting a new light bulb in a roof void of the old Beckfoot School in Bingley so he could empty it safely before demolition.
HSE news release and falls webpage • Telegraph and Argus • BBC News Online • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: Waste worker crushed under quarter tonne bales
A worker had his lower body crushed when a stack of bales, each weighting a quarter of a tonne, collapsed on him as he sorted waste in a processing shed in Somerset. Aleksandras Fomenkouas, 40, suffered serious injuries in the incident on 8 September 2011 while working at the recycling and processing yard of Cannington Enterprises Ltd. HSE news release and waste industry webpages • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Britain: Cardboard company crushed worker
A Leigh cardboard box manufacturer has appeared in court after one of its employees almost lost his right arm when it became trapped in a machine. The 26-year-old from Leigh, who has asked not to be named, was trying to retrieve a piece of card to clear a blockage when his arm was dragged under a roller, causing severe crush injuries.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Wigan Observer • Bolton News • Risks 578 • 20 October 2012
Hazards news, 13 October 2012
Britain: No driverless trains due in the ‘foreseeable future’
Tube union RMT has praised a Bakerloo Line Tube driver which prevented a potential tragedy involving a 12-year-old boy, and has said it exposes the folly of the newly shelved proposals to move to driverless trains on London Underground.
RMT news release • ASLEF news release • The Independent • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Ukraine: Miners at risk as union is frozen out
Neglected safety regulations, outdated equipment and low safety standards make the Ukraine one of the world’s most dangerous countries for miners. But unions are warning a recent law excluding them from accident investigations is making a deadly situation worse.
Equal Times • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: Council accused of ‘cheating’ sick workers
Shropshire council has been accused by UNISON of ‘cheating’ workers out of their sick pay and increasing pressure on workers to turn in when ill. The public sector union said it believes sick pay changes forced through by the council combined with “the fear of being sacked or earmarked for redundancy could lead to more employees continuing to work or returning to work while still feeling sick – a concept known as ‘presenteeism’.”
UNISON news release and guide, Making us better – sickness absence agreement: a guide for branches and safety representatives • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: Harassing councillor escapes sanctions
A Wiltshire councillor found to have bullied and sexually harassed a UNISON member and council worker will escape meaningful sanctions. Julia Densham, a Wiltshire council worker whose health suffered as a result of the “harrowing” experience, raised a complaint in July 2011 about inappropriate language and behaviour from councillor Chris Humphries.
UNISON news release • Gazette and Herald • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Europe: Nanomaterials review won’t protect workers
Workers will remain at risk from nanomaterials under measures set out by the European Commission this month, a European trade union group has warned. ETUI, which is part of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and has a dedicated health and safety unit, was commenting after the publication on 3 October of the Second Regulatory Review on Nanomaterials. not sufficiently informed.”
European Commission news release and Second Regulatory Review on Nanomaterials • ETUI news report and 2010 working paper, The EU Approach to regulating Nanotechnologies • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: High stress and long hours blight universities
University staff are suffering ‘damaging’ stress levels arising from intense workloads and a long hours culture, union research has found. A report of a UCU survey of 14,000 higher education academic and academic-related staff ranks marked the start of UCU's campaign against excessive workloads in post-16 education.
UCU news release and workload campaign • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: Unions condemn attack on violent crime victims
Indications the government may proceed with plans to slash compensation for people injured by criminals have been greeted with dismay by unions. Ministers want to cut a quarter of the £200m awarded annually by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme in a move that has attracted criticism from senior Tories as well as unions and legal experts.
Usdaw news release • The Observer • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: Faulty crane linked to crushed foot
A welder needed surgery after a steel beam fell on his foot from a faulty crane. The 51-year-old GMB member from Wetherby, who suffered severe crush injuries including a broken big toe and a large open wound in his foot, received an undisclosed payout.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: Cleaner felled by building debris
A cleaner fractured her foot when she slipped on debris from building works as she walked to work along an unlit pathway. The RMT member from Pwllypant Caerphilly, whose name has not been released, was walking to Arriva Trains’ Canton Depot, where she was due to begin a night shift cleaning trains, when she fell.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Bangladesh: Toxic tanneries harm child workers
As workers as young as 11 fall sick in tanneries in Bangladesh, the government is standing by and doing nothing, according to a new report. Research by Human Rights Watch (HRW) reveals workers in many leather tanneries in the Hazaribagh neighbourhood of Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital become ill because of exposure to hazardous chemicals and are injured in horrific workplace accidents.
Human Rights Watch news release and report, Toxic tanneries: The health repercussions of Bangladesh’s Hazaribagh leather • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: Government wants workers to give up their rights
Unions have angrily attacked government plans to use employee ownership schemes to encourage workers to give up hard won employment rights. Chancellor George Osborne told this week’s Conservative Party conference businesses will be allowed to remove “gold-plated employment rights” in exchange for handing out shares to employees.
BIS news release • TUC news release • GMB news release • UNISON news release • The Guardian and Guardian articles on facilities time comments from Eric Pickles and Francis Maude • The Independent • BBC News Online • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: Prime minister spouts deadly nonsense
The prime minister, in a throw away sound bite in his conference speech, said he wanted he wanted “less nonsense about health and safety.” Bereaved relatives group FACK responded: “As the families of people who went to work hard to provide for their families, but never came home, we know that treating health and safety as ‘nonsense’ is deadly.”
FACK news release • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Europe: Commission told to back off on offshore safety
A move to give Europe control of offshore oil and gas safety has been watered down by a committee of MEPs. The European Commission planned to introduce tough regulation following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, fearing the risk of a major offshore incident in European waters is unacceptably high.
European Parliament industry committee 9 October meeting webpage • Oil & Gas UK news release • BBC News Online • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: HSE accused of burying gas enforcement call
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been accused of sitting on a report backing stringent enforcement of gas safety laws. PHCA, the umbrella organisation for plumbing and heating contractor trade groups across the UK, made the charge in a 4 October open letter to HSE.
PHCA news release • Enforcement Review 2010, undertaken by Frontline for the Health and Safety Executive • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: Minister defends scaled back Legionella inspections
New health and safety minister Mark Hoban has defending the scaled back legionella inspection levels criticised after two major and deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks. Critics say in the absence of preventive inspections it is impossible for enforcement agencies to identify which businesses present the highest risk.
EHN Online • Public Health Wales news release • BBC News Online • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: We’re still sick, we’re just sick at work now
A fall in absence levels could be masking deeper problems in the workplace, as workers fearing for their job take their sickness to work, a new report suggests. The average level of employee absence fell by almost a day compared with last year, from 7.7 days to 6.8 per employee per year, according to this year’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey.
CIPD news release and CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey • Personnel Today • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Australia: New safety code will address work fatigue
Australia’s national safety watchdog is developing measures to tackle the health and safety hazards of fatigue at work. Work Safe Australia is proposing a new code intended to “eliminate or reduce the need to work extended hours or overtime” so staff don't get dangerously fatigued.
Daily Telegraph • Preventing and managing fatigue in the workplace: Draft code of Practice, Safe Work Australia • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: Fatal fall-related infection costs builder £548,000
A building contractor has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after a worker died of an infection over two years after he fell through a roof while working on a shopping centre construction project. Thomas Whitmarsh, 21, fell nearly six metres through an unguarded opening in the roof to the floor below, sustaining serious head injuries, and subsequently contracted acute meningitis.
HSE news release and falls and construction webpages • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Britain: Fireball firm ignored official safety warnings
A Doncaster solvents firm destroyed in a huge fire had ignored two official warnings about the potentially deadly procedure that led to the inferno. Employees were transferring highly flammable toluene from a bulk container into a smaller drum at Solvents With Safety Ltd, when a build-up of static electricity in the drum ignited the vapour and sparked a fire that quickly took hold and spread to other containers of flammable and dangerous solvent mixtures at the site, some of which exploded.
HSE news release • The Star • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Europe: Improving worker participation, European safety week, 22-28 October
The European agency for safety and health at work, in collaboration with the Europe-wide union confederation ETUC, has published a guide on worker participation for European Health and Safety Week.
Worker participation in occupational health and safety: A practical guide, EU OSHA, October 2012 • EU OSHA news release • TUC European safety week webpages and union effect and health and safety inspections guides • Risks 577 • 13 October 2012
Hazards news, 6 October 2012
Britain: Women’s health and safety is neglected
Health and safety issues affecting women are either ignored, under-researched or unrecognised, problems that must be addressed by unions, Unite has said. According to the union, which has just published online its negotiators’ guide to raising the issue: “Working women’s health and safety at work is a major priority for Unite.”
Women’s health, safety and well-being at work: Negotiators’ guide • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Global: World Bank backs stronger safety enforcement
The World Bank has released the jobs-themed 2013 edition its World Development Report, its flagship annual policy research publication. The report notes: “Health and safety at work also necessitate attention by governments and employers… Strengthening institutions for enforcement and grievance redress is another necessary building block.”
World Bank news release, overview and full report, World Development Report 2013, Jobs • Stronger Unions • Touchstone Blog • ITUC analysis • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
USA: Work in a depression is depressing
Watching people lose their jobs all around you will make you sick, even if you hold onto your own job, new research has found. Researchers from the University of Michigan examined the impact of the current ‘Great Recession’ found perceived job insecurity “was associated with significantly higher odds of reporting fair or poor self-rated health at the time of interview, symptoms over the past 2 weeks suggesting major or minor depression, and an anxiety attack in the past 4 weeks, even after adjustment for workers' socio-demographic characteristics and previous health problems.”
Burgard, Sarah A; Kalousova, Lucie; Seefeldt, Kristin S. Perceived Job Insecurity and Health: The Michigan Recession and Recovery Study, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 54, issue 9, pages 1101–1106, September 2012. The Pump Handle • More on health and safety and insecure work • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Blacklisting campaigners call on Labour to act
Unions have taken their campaign for better protection against blacklisting to this week’s Labour Party conference in Manchester. Speaking in a 1 October debate on employment rights, UCATT delegate Terry Renshaw called for a public inquiry into the role of the state in blacklisting construction workers and said the next Labour government should outlaw the “nasty, deceitful, vindictive activity” which targeted union reps for their safety and other workplace activities, while outside the event, GMB members - one dressed as Death - protested against Carillion.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Daily Mirror • Evening Standard • Union News • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Global: UNI demands call centre action
The massive global call centre industry would benefit from a shake-up, with a global union is demanding these urgent reforms. A new UNI report, ‘Making the right call - redesigning call centres from the bottom up’, points to negative psychological and physical impacts on the world’s call centre workers of poor management practices.
UNI news release and Call Centre Action blog • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Action threat to stop train bullies
Transport union RMT has confirmed that security and safety staff employed by STM Security Group on London Overground services will be balloted for both strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over bullying and an attempt to impose new terms and conditions.
RMT news release • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: RMT strike against Mitie victimisation
Rail union RMT has announced strike action and action short of a strike by rail members working on the Mitie contract on First Great Western over the “blatant victimisation” of union representative Sharon Petrie, who had raised safety and other concerns.
RMT news release • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Bus drivers victimised for wearing union logo
Two bus drivers threatened with the sack for being union reps have won £16,000 in compensation from transport giant Arriva. The RMT pair was awarded the cash after an employment tribunal ruled the bus and train company unlawfully discriminated against them for wearing “unauthorised” high visibility safety vests displaying the union logo.
Daily Mirror • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Global: Unions challenge agency labour ‘explosion’
The ‘massive expansion’ of insecure agency work is undermining employment and safety standards and should be reversed, unions worldwide have warned. “Employment via agencies, labour brokers, dispatchers and contractors is being used to wholesale replace permanent, direct employment,” said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of body IndustriALL.
IndustriALL news release, Stop precarious work campaign and The Triangular Trap report. More on health and safety and insecure work • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Union concern at new crime compensation threat
Retail union Usdaw has expressed concern at a second attempt by the government to force through cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. The proposed cuts mean 90 per cent of the 30,000 injured crime victims currently helped each year would see their compensation slashed or axed completely.
Usdaw news release • House of Commons future business. • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Asbestos widow driven to a nervous breakdown
A Bradford woman who has won a six-year compensation battle over her husband’s death from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma says no amount of money will ever repay her for the toll it has taken on her own health. Margaret Cooper, who suffered a nervous breakdown after dealing with her husband’s illness and death, will find out in November from the High Court exactly how much she will be awarded in a legal case backed by the construction union UCATT.
Telegraph & Argus • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Drainage worker suffered serious facial injury
A Unite member was left with a three inch scar after he was hit in the face by a high pressure hose. The 60-year-old from Dagenham, was using the hose to unblock a sewer at a council house in Hornchurch as part of his role on a drainage team for Morrisons Facilities Services, owned by Anglian Water Services.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Body shop worker made deaf
A GMB member who was exposed to dangerous levels of noise by his former employer has been compensated. David Neall, 61, received £10,000 in damages after developing occupational tinnitus and hearing loss as a result of working for JB Weightmans, a vehicle body builders in Scunthorpe, from 1966 to 2005.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Row over HSE diminishing workplace health role
A dispute over the Health and Safety Executive’s perceived inability to oversee effectively workplace health issues looks set to escalate. A 2 October article in the Daily Mirror, headlined ‘Will work be the death of you?’ was refuted by HSE chief executive Geoffrey Podger, whose rebuttal was then refuted by the Hazards campaign which said it “did not stand up to scrutiny.”
Daily Mirror • HSE rebuttal • Hazards Campaign rebuttal • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Safety regulation is ‘good for business’ – official
The work of frontline Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been backed by the chief executive of the Department for Business's Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO). Graham Russell, BRDO chief executive, wrote in his online column this week that a series of “powerful stories” compiled by HSE inspectors’ and specialists’ union Prospect “caught my eye because it perfectly illustrated how a regulator’s approach can make such a huge difference,” adding “I thought it could do with a wider airing.”
BRDO blog • Prospect news release • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: HSE starts to bill law breakers
The Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) new £124-per-hour cost recovery scheme came into force 1 October. Under The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, those who break health and safety laws are liable for recovery of HSE's related costs, including inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action.
HSE news release, FFI guide and basic mistakes pointers • Construction Enquirer • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Canada: Union warning on ‘survivor syndrome’
An epidemic of ‘survivor syndrome’ is affecting overworked and demoralised workers in workplaces shedding staff as job fear grips the working population, a Canadian public sector union has warned.
PSAC news release • More on health and safety and insecure work • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Family docs miss most work-related wheezes
Family doctors are missing the link between work and asthma in threequarters of patients visiting them suffering from the serious breathing disorder caused by their job, a new study has found.
GI Walters, EE McGrath and JG Ayres. Audit of the recording of occupational asthma in primary care, Occupational Medicine, volume 62, issue 7, pages 570-573, 2012. SOM news release and Royal College of Physicians’ guidance for GPs, Diagnosis, management and prevention of occupational asthma • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Britain: Plastics firm fined after machine death
A plastic recycling company has been ordered to pay £240,000 in fines and costs after a worker was killed at a St Helens factory. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted JFC Plastics Ltd, previously known as Delleve Plastics Ltd, after Steven Bennett died at the company's former premises in Bold.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 576 • 6 October 2012
Hazards news, 29 September 2012
Britain: Unite urges Crossrail to enter into victimisation talks
Unite is calling for urgent talks with Crossrail to thrash out cases of trade union victimisation, including the firing of union reps who raised safety concerns. The union has been seeking a project agreement for over a year with Crossrail which it says could benefit the thousands of workers employed on the largest construction project in Europe.
Unite news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
USA: Why cost-benefit analysis gets it wrong
The use of ‘cost-benefit analysis’ to inform safety rulemaking in the US has skewed the costs calculations and put the public and the workforce at risk, an independent watchdog has warned. Washington DC-based OMB Watch warned the system fails because it relies on information “provided by regulated businesses,” adding: “If these businesses are resisting the need to change their production processes or business practices to comply with a new standard or regulation, they will tend to overestimate the compliance costs of the rule.”
OMB Watch • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Teachers angry at official ‘work harder’ jibe
Teachers already facing a pay freeze have expressed anger after England’s chief inspector of schools called on them to ‘work harder’ or face further hardship. The comments from Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw, in a 22 September interview with The Times newspaper, reignited union concerns that the Ofsted chief is fronting government policy and ignoring the serious and damaging stresses of the job.
NASUWT news release • BBC News Online • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Global: Voluntary factory audits aren’t enough
The textile factory in Karachi, Pakistan, in which nearly 300 workers burned to death on 12 September had received the coveted Social Accountability International's (SAI) SA8000 certificate in August, wrongly suggesting it was in compliance with the standards on working conditions and safety standards.
IUF news report • SAI statement • RINA statement • New York Times • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: RMT to ballot for action over driverless Tube
Tube union RMT has confirmed it is to ballot for strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over plans to “rip up the safety rule book” and begin the testing of driverless trains on London Underground. Initially, RMT will be balloting all members who are test train drivers but the union has also made it clear that it will be looking at other grades that could be called upon to test-drive units with a view to balloting those staff as well. RMT news release • London24 • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Drivers have no truck with driverless trains
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has told London Underground its members will play no part in development tests relating to driverless trains. A letter from general secretary Mick Whelan has informed the company that ASLEF members who are Test Train Operators and Duty Team Leaders will not work on any project to test driverless trains from 29 September.
ASLEF news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Global: Safety toolkit planned for steel sites
A global health and safety committee at ArcelorMittal is keeping a keen eye on safety standards at the steel giant’s plants worldwide. Over 50 union and company health and safety leaders met in Luxembourg last week to review safety performance across the group, leading to a commitment to develop a new improvement toolkit for sites. IndustriALL news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Sunday trading suspension was a failure
Retail union Usdaw says latest high street trading figures confirm the union’s warning that the eight week suspension of Sunday trading rules for the duration of the London Olympics would be a costly mistake. The figures released this week by the Office for National Statistics show retail sales in August fell by 0.2 per cent.
Usdaw news release • ONS retail figures August 2012 • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Warm welcome for union safety passport
The new health and safety qualification - the Creative Industries Safety Passport – launched by theatre, film and TV professionals’ union BECTU received a warm reception on its first formal outing. This positive response at the PLASA2012 trade show this month was followed by the news the training course has been accepted as part of the industry-endorsed Production Safety Passport (PSP) scheme.
BECTU news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Safety breaches implicated in mine death
The family of a miner crushed to death by a giant boulder has received compensation. After a lengthy legal battle, union solicitors were able to prove his employer’s failure to follow health and safety rules contributed to the tragedy. NUM member Steve Cosh from Bath was 37 when he died in September 2006 after a roof collapse at Stoke Hill Mine, owned by Bath Stone Group.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: First aid trip ends in injury
A GMB member badly damaged her leg at work after a pothole on a public road caused her to fall on top of a trolley full of first aid supplies. The 38-year-old from Nottingham, whose name has not been released, was left suffering from severe bruising to her left leg.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Cyclist knocked off his bike en route to work
A cyclist was left unable to work after his back was fractured in a collision with a car on his way to work. Sixty-two year old Unite member Gordon – whose surname has not been released - had to give up his job of 20 years as a fitter/turner for Bombardier after the incident, the first Gordon had experienced in 40 years of commuting to work by bike. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Health at risk as watchdogs are neutered
The effective enforcement of workplace health standards is being undermined by government cost-cutting measures packaged as recession-busting cost-benefit calculations, a new independent report has concluded. Regulating Scotland, a detailed Stirling University analysis of environmental and workplace health and safety enforcement trends, warns that ideology rather than evidence is behind cuts in enforcement agencies including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Stirling University news release • Regulating Scotland: What works and what does not in occupational and environmental health and what the future may hold, Research Report from the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group, Centre for Public Health and Population Health Research, Stirling University, September 2012. Executive summary • Sunday Herald • The Scotsman • SHP Online • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: IOSH tells parties to end safety ‘distortion’
Politicians have been urged to quit “distorting perceptions” of workplace health and safety – or risk lives. At the start of the political party conference season last week, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) called for a shift in the way the “political elite” talk about protecting people at work.
IOSH news release • London Evening Standard • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Assessor 'forced to judge disabled fit for work'
A former nurse who was employed by the Department for Work and Pensions’ outsourced capability assessor Atos has claimed she was forced to manipulate tests so that disabled people were deemed fit for work. Glasgow’s Daily Record reports that Joyce Drummond alleged candidates were considered more able to work if they arrived for their interview with brushed hair, had a toddler with them, or wore make-up.
Daily Record • Huffington Post • The Independent • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Canada: Voluntary safety rules ‘ineffective’
An unpublished voluntary action plan to address horrific injury rates on Alberta farms is a “19th century” strategy that evidence shows will fail with deadly consequences, academics and unions have warned. The director of the Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research said that his group’s advice to a government-appointed committee - that the Canadian province introduce health and safety regulations on farms like those in operation in every other jurisdiction in the country - was ignored.
AFL news release • The Calgary Herald • Alberta Diary blog • Alberta Labour blog • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: HSE action not enough on deadly Legionella risk
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) safety notices urging employers to do more to prevent Legionnaires’ disease risks have been dismissed as “too little, too late”. Specialist lawyers representing 48 survivors and the families of four victims who died in two major outbreaks in Stoke-on-Trent in July and Edinburgh in May have repeated a call for a public inquiry into the problems.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release. Stirling University case history on HSE enforcement and Legionnaires’ disease, September 2012 • EHN survey of HSE Legionella inspections, EHN, 8 August 2012 • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Site firm fined after explosion death
A construction company has been ordered to pay £210,000 in fines and costs after employee Ioan Boboc, 22, died of his injuries over three weeks after an explosion on a construction site in central London. The explosion occurred when an 11,000 volt live cable within an excavation was damaged.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Worker was soaked in corrosive caustic chemicals
A Tyneside firm has been fined after a worker was soaked with a concentrated, corrosive chemical and suffered serious burns. Michael Reid, 66, was employed as an electroplater at DMI (UK) Ltd when the incident happened on 30 January 2011.
HSE news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Head crushed in pneumatic press
A West Midlands company has been fined after a worker suffered severe head injuries when his head was crushed in a pneumatic metal press. Wayne Hill, a maintenance engineer at H&E Knowles (Lye) Limited, was repairing the press when it unexpectedly started working and clamped on his head.
HSE news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Hazards news, 22 September 2012
Britain: Women’s work gets more insecure
Falling numbers of women in full-time work and a rise in their self-employment and involuntary part-time and temporary employment has left women increasingly insecure at work, a TUC economic report reveals. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Replacing full-time jobs with low-paid, insecure work will drive down wages and keep this country mired in recession.”
TUC news release and Economic report: Women and work • Hazards insecure work webpages • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
New Zealand: Action call on work injuries ‘disgrace’
New Zealand’s workplace injury record is a ‘disgrace’ and would be improved dramatically by beefed up enforcement, worker participation and union representation, the country’s top union body has said. The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) was commenting as a government commissioned Taskforce published a consultation on how to reduce the toll.
NZCTU news release • NZ Department of Labour news release • Business Day • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Unions condemn unfair dismissal changes
Government plans to reduce payouts for unfair dismissals will do nothing to boost economic growth and make it easier for bad employers to mistreat their staff, unions have warned.
TUC news release • BIS news release • STUC news release • Unite news release • GMB news release • BECTU news release • CWU news release • Morning Star • The Guardian • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Global: TUC calls for action after Pakistan tragedies
The TUC has backed calls for an independent and impartial inquiry into last week’s factory fires in Pakistan and is demanding justice for the victims. And the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has “pledged to support the families of the victims of the Karachi garment factory fire and announced a plan to strengthen workplace safety, to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.”
TUC letter • ILO news release • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Union alleges contractor was dumped over safety
A union has warned that targeting unions reps for raising safety concerns could lead to tragedy on a London site. The comments from Unite came as union members protested outside a west London Crossrail site at the dismissal of 28 workers, allegedly for raising health and safety concerns.
Morning Star • Construction Enquirer • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Shopworker is TUC safety rep of the year
A Liverpool shopworker has won the TUC's Health and Safety Rep of the Year award. Usdaw member Peter Ammundsen, who is 57 and a night shift worker at Tesco's, received his award at the union body’s annual congress in Brighton.
Usdaw news release • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Global: Garment firm adopts fire safety programme
A German retailer has become the second firm to sign up to a union-backed fire and building safety programme at its suppliers in Bangladesh. The global union body IndustriALL, working with international labour rights campaign groups and Bangladeshi trade unions, reached the agreement with Tchibo to implement a fire and building safety programme in the Bangladeshi garment factories.
IndustriALL news release • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Mexico: At least 26 dead in gas plant blaze
A huge blaze erupted at a Mexican gas plant near the US border on 17 September, leaving at least 26 people dead and dozens injured or missing. The site, operated by the state-run Pemex energy firm, is located near Reynosa, a city in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas that sits across the border from the Texas town of McAllen.
Global and Mail • The Telegraph • CNN • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Concerns raised about hands-off Legionella strategy
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging firms to do more to prevent Legionnaires’ disease, as concerns heighten about the government-driven removal of official scrutiny by the safety regulators. New research found nearly half of English local authorities responsible for cooling towers have not carried out any proactive legionella risk inspections within the past five years.
EHN News • Legionella, Hansard report 10 September 2012 • HSE news release, Legionella safety notice and guidance • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Work stress raises heart risk
A combination of high demand at work and low control over decision making increases the risks of deadly heart problems, a major new report has found. UK researchers analysed 13 existing European studies covering nearly 200,000 people and found “job strain” was linked to a 23 per cent increased risk of heart attacks and deaths from coronary heart disease.
Mika Kivimäki and others. Job strain as a risk factor for coronary heart disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of individual participant data, The Lancet, published online 14 September 2012. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60994-5. BBC News Online • The Guardian • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Canada: Government ends asbestos safety veto
The Canadian government has announced it will no longer oppose the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under the ‘prior informed consent’ export rules of the Rotterdam Convention. It followed another blow for the industry, when the new Quebec government of Pauline Marois stated that it will cancel the $58 million (£36.7m) loan, given by the previous provincial government to three investors intending to open the Jeffrey underground mine and export millions of tons of asbestos to Asia.
BWI news release • RightsOnCanada • National Public Radio • Toronto Star • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Tories back dangerous boss
An employer whose criminal neglect left his workers at risk of serious occupational disease is being presented by the Conservatives as a champion of their safety deregulation plans.
Hansard report of prime minister’s questions 12 September 2012. UNISON news release • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Asbestos criminal escapes jail
The director of a south London firm has been given a suspended jail sentence, a curfew and community service after removing asbestos from a house without a licence and deceiving the householders by providing a doctored air test saying the room was safe to re-enter. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the circumstances of the incident and brought the prosecution against Peter Horrey under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Government backtracks on cancer benefits
The government has caved in to pressure from cancer campaigners fighting a policy that has required cancer patients to seek work if they wanted to keep their benefits. The fit for work policy meant those getting oral forms of chemotherapy and radiotherapy could be placed in a “work-related activity group”, a category that required them to make efforts to return to work or lose their Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
DWP news release • Macmillan news release • Morning Star • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Life-threatening fall when mobile scaffold moved
CME Ceilings Ltd has been sentenced after a worker received life-threatening injuries when he fell from scaffolding at a Croxteth sports centre. The 43-year-old man from West Derby, who has asked not to be named, suffered a brain haemorrhage, fractured skull and collapsed lung in the incident on 18 January 2011.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Roof fall worker saved by bush
A roofer narrowly escaped death when his six metre fall from a roof was broken by a bush. Refurbishment company Newlook Roof Coatings Ltd was fined after the incident in Cirencester. Cheltenham Magistrates' Court heard 26 year-old Lee Hanson, from South Shields, was using a roof ladder as he replaced tiles on 28 October 2011.
HSE news release and roof work guide • Construction Enquirer • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Snack giant crushed worker’s leg
Walkers Snack Foods Ltd has been fined after a 400 kilogramme block of compacted snack waste fell on a worker, breaking his leg. The employee, who has asked not to be named, was working as a forklift truck driver at the company's site in Lincoln, when the incident happened on 17 December 2010.
HSE news release • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Britain: Recycling firm fined over lost finger
A worker lost a finger when it was crushed in machinery as safety procedures were ignored at a recycling centre in Wales. GLJ Recycling Ltd appeared before Caerphilly Magistrates Court in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive and was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a criminal safety offence.
HSE news release and waste webpages • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Global: More Hazards, more answers
The latest issue of the workers’ health magazine Hazards is out now. Check it out for latest news and resources on issues ranging from job insecurity, to Legionnaires’ disease and whistleblowing rights at work.
Hazards magazine and subscriptions webpage • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Australia: Workplace death toll on the rise
Workplace deaths in Australia have hit a three-year high and middle-aged men working in transport or trades have been identified as the most likely victims. The rise has triggered union calls for tougher fines and more official safety inspections.
Safe Work Australia worker fatalities webpage • Herald Sun • Workplace relations minister news release • Risks 574 • 22 September 2012
Hazards news, 15 September 2012
Britain: TUC warns Cable his deregulation plans will kill
A renewed government drive to abolish official safety inspections in hundreds of thousands of businesses and to force regulators to take a hands-off approach will put the health of millions of workers at risk, the TUC has warned. Vince Cable, the business secretary had said: “Removing unnecessary red tape and putting common sense back into areas like health and safety will reduce fears and costs for businesses.”
TUC news release • BIS news release • CBI news release • BCC news release • FPB news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Personnel Today • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Pakistan: Justice demand after hundreds die in factory fires
Unions are calling for justice and safety action after more than 300 people were killed in two fires that tore through factories in Pakistan. The tragedies have again raised questions about inadequate safety checks and rampant corruption in the country. IndustriALL news report • The Independent • BBC News Online • Sign the Labourstart/Industriall letter to the Pakistan prime minister calling for safety improvements and justice • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Government ‘will have blood on its hands’
Government plans to leave most workplaces exempt from unannounced, preventive safety inspections have been condemned by unions. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It is simply absurd to describe the health and welfare of people at work as a burden.”
PCS news release • UNISON news release • GMB news release • NASUWT news release • CWU news release • BECTU news release • UCATT news release • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: As enforcement goes down, injuries go up
A marked decline in Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections and enforcement activity has been accompanied by a sharp rise is fatal and major injuries at work, new research has found. An investigation by the union-backed workers’ health journal Hazards found the chances of HSE investigating a major injury had dropped by 40 per cent in five years.
Give up, Hazards magazine special report, September 2012 • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Global: Insecure work leaves workers ‘trashed’
A global epidemic of insecure work is leaving a trail of sick and injured workers in its wake, a new report had concluded. ‘Trashed!’, published in the workers’ health journal Hazards, says the “most reliable product of many modern workplaces is now insecurity, with those in permanent jobs fearing the axe in the name of automation or austerity, and a growing slice of the workforce already outsourced or semi-detached from employment, on zero hours contracts, temping or skirting around for scraps in the informal economy.”
Hazards magazine and insecure work webpages • Industriall news report, leaflet and details of the 7 October 2012 precarious work day of action • Sign up to the ‘Stop precarious work’ cause • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Nine out of 10 workplace health inspections to go
An estimated 90 per cent of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) occupational health inspections will cease as a result of a planned change to the law, the union Prospect has warned. It says the proposals to amend RIDDOR - the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 – will mean the safety watchdog will ditch all occupational health-related inspections unless they relate to a biological agent at the workplace.
Prospect news release and 40&40 case histories • Morning Star • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Blacklisters should be jailed, say unions
Blacklisting of workers for their union and safety activities should be made an imprisonable offence, delegates to the TUC’s annual congress has heard.
UCATT news release • Unite news release • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Carillion was a blacklister, GMB insists
GMB has dismissed complaints from construction giant Carillion that the union is “presenting a grossly distorted and misleading portrait of Carillion insofar as blacklisting is concerned.” Carillion, which said the union’s claims were “a disgrace”, was responding after the union gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee and protested outside Swansea Crown Court, where the firm is facing a prosecution following the death of a construction worker.
GMB news release • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Criminal injury compensation cuts shelved
Unions CWU and Usdaw have welcomed a decision not to proceed with drastic cuts to scheme to compensate victims of violent crime, but are seeking assurances from the government after the Ministry of Justice indicated the idea may have been just shelved rather than dropped entirely.
Usdaw news release • CWU news release and briefing for MPs • House of Commons Delegated Legislation Committee, 10 September 2012 • BBC News Online • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Civil servant suffered permanent injuries in attack
A Newcastle civil servant who had both his arms broken in an unprovoked assault whilst he was walking home, has been awarded damages from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). Gary Miller, 47, was just a few metres from his home when he was assaulted by two men in April 2009.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Insurer drags its feet on sore skin payout
A factory worker who developed painful dermatitis after he was exposed to harmful materials at work has received compensation in spite of an insurer’s delaying tactics. Paul Eames, 47, was exposed to epoxy resin at Hepworth Building Products in Swandlicote, a part of Wavin UK Holdings.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Burton Mail • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Global: Enforcement cuts raise disaster risks
Cutbacks in safety enforcement agencies and a shift towards voluntary systems and self-regulation could lead to a repeat of earlier catastrophic mistakes, a study has found. ‘Safety failures the offshore oil industry: from Piper Alpha to Deepwater Horizon’, a report of a study by Linköping University Professor Charles Woolfson to be published in 2013, provides a siren warning about the UK government’s current anti-regulatory, business-friendly shift in safety enforcement.
Linköping University news release. • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Job insecurity linked to soaring hospital admissions
Rising numbers of people are being admitted to hospital with stress caused by the recession, official figures have revealed. A total of 6,370 people were hospitalised with stress in the 12 months to May, a seven per cent rise on the previous year and 47 per cent up on 2007/8 when the economic crisis hit, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIS).
HSCIC news release and full report • The Independent • Morning Star • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Labour to review of bogus self-employment
The Labour Party is to launch a review into bogus self-employment. In his speech to the TUC Congress in Brighton, shadow chancellor Ed Balls said: “On the issue of bogus self-employment in the construction sector and more widely, I am determined that we look at this issue again.”
Ed Balls’ speech to TUC • UCATT news release • Daily Mirror • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Australia: Insecure work is making work less safe
The rise of insecure work in Australia over the past few decades has made employees less able to speak up for their rights and workplaces less safe, Australia’s top union body has warned. ACTU president Ged Kearney said a constantly changing workforce often meant safe systems of work were not fully-implemented, and casual, contract and labour hire workers were also less likely to speak up if they thought something was unsafe because they feared the sack.
ACTU news release and Ged Kearney’s speech • ABC News • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Warning over surge in waste and recycling deaths
A massive surge in deaths in the already notoriously hazardous waste and recycling industry has prompted a warning from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The watchdog is calling on industry to renew efforts to improve worker safety, following a spate of deaths over the summer.
HSE news release • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Death of factory worker was ‘entirely preventable’
The death of a Bradford factory worker who was crushed beneath an unsecured racking system was ‘entirely preventable’, a court has heard. Jim Murphy, 61, died from head injuries when the 'A' frame metal racking unit, weighing more than a quarter of a tonne, toppled over and pinned him underneath.
HSE news release • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Worker survives giant drill horror
A worker survived serious internal injuries after he became trapped in an industrial drilling machine, a court has heard. Joseph Spencer narrowly avoided being paralysed when a rotating drill passed through his overalls and jeans, and became lodged close to his spine.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Concrete pump sprayed the public
A concrete pumping company has been fined after members of the public and a police car were sprayed with concrete when a delivery pipe ruptured. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted London Concrete Pumping Limited over the poorly maintained equipment that caused the incident on 24 May 2011.
HSE news release • concrete webpages and guidance on pipeline maintenance • Construction Enquirer • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Britain: Firm fined after fall from cherry picker
A Shropshire plant hire firm that specialises in equipment for working safely at height, has been fined after a worker fractured his skull when he fell from a cherry picker. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted UK Platforms Ltd following the incident at the company's depot in Halesfield, Telford.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 573 • 15 September 2012
Hazards news, 8 September 2012
Britain: Too young to retire, too ill to work
Disability and poor health are preventing nearly half a million people approaching retirement from working, according to a TUC analysis of official labour market data. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “While more people are working past their state pension age, often as the only way to get a decent retirement income, a far greater number of older people are unable to work due to ill-health or because they are trapped in long-term unemployment.”
TUC news release and Touchstone blog • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
USA: Lawsuit highlights warehouse subcontracting perils
The warehousing industry typically involves complicated layers of companies using, owning, operating and staffing warehouses, making the sector ripe for labour abuse. Warehouse worker groups, including the union-based Warehouse Workers Uniting (WWU), have long argued that unrealistic and escalating productivity quotas are among the things that lead to high chronic and acute injury rates in warehouses.
In These Times • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Just 1-in-20 know they were blacklisted
Only 194 of the 3,213 workers on a construction-industry run blacklist exposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in 2009 know they were targeted three years on, the union GMB has said. The situation is an “indictment” of the ICO, the union said, describing the privacy watchdog’s excuses for not contacting blacklisted workers as “so weak as to be a joke.”
GMB news release • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Grim reaper visits Carillion death hearing
Workers employed by Carillion who were blacklisted after raising safety concerns have protested outside a court in Swansea where the firm is being prosecuted after a site death. Protesters, one dressed as the grim reaper, carried placards bearing the words ‘Carillion blacklisted health and safety representatives says GMB’ and ‘Carillion corporate bullying risks death and injuries on sites.’
GMB news release • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Assaulted photographer gets Topshop apology
A photographer who was assaulted by security staff while photographing a demonstration in Topshop’s flagship Oxford Street store has received a full apology from the firm. The move came following a meeting between Jess Hurd and her legal advisers from the journalists’ union NUJ and Adam Goldman, company secretary of the chain’s owner, Arcadia Group, and Topshop's regional controller Tracy Dixon.
NUJ news release • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Global: Commitment to play fair in future Olympics
Unions have welcomed a joint human rights communique signed this week by the governments of the UK, Russia, Brazil and Korea, the countries holding the current and next three summer and winter Olympics. The communique adds to the pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ensure companies linked to the games respect workers' fundamental rights, a key demand of the Play Fair campaign run by unions and NGOs since the 2004 Athens games, the unions say.
TUC news release • Playfair 2012 • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Australia: Union welcome asbestos eradication plan
The creation of a new national agency to oversee the management and removal of asbestos is an important step towards eradicating all asbestos from Australia by 2030, unions have said. Michael Borowick, assistant secretary of the national union federation ACTU, said the new Office for Asbestos Safety must move quickly to implement a plan to make Australia asbestos-free within two decades.
ACTU news release • Workplace Relations Minister’s news release • ABC News • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Derailment shows the “crucial” safety role of rail staff
The safe evacuation of a Northern Rail train derailed near St Bees in Cumbria on 30 August underlines the “crucial” safety role played by guards and other train staff, the union RMT has said. But the union warned these essential jobs are under threat as a result of “wrong-headed” government policy.
RMT news release • BBC News Online • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: MPs told dogs laws must change
The government is endangering the lives of children, young people and others who come into contact with dangerous dogs by failing to improve the law, the union CWU has warned. In 5 September evidence to a House of Commons select committee the union said both Scotland and Northern Ireland had introduced improved dangerous dogs laws, and Wales plans to legislate later this year, “but Westminster continues to drag its feet while savage dog attacks rise.”
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
China: Deadly blasts highlight mine dangers
A coal mine explosion in eastern China on 2 September has killed at least 14 people just days after a blast in the country’s southwest left 44 dead. Official figures show that 1,973 people died in coal mining incidents in the country last year.
Washington Post • BBC News Online • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Union warns of dangers of recycling cuts
A reduction in opening hours for Sheffield’s five recycling centres is leaving workers and the public at deadly risk, the union GMB has warned. GMB’s Peter Davies said there were serious safety implications of limiting access to the centres, including “queues that could, quite frankly, result in serious incidents affecting the public and the workforce alike.” GMB news release • Morning Star • The Guardian • HSE waste and recycling webpages and related transport movements webpages • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Union says air safety must be the priority
Pilots’ union BALPA has said the controversy over the impact of prime minister David Cameron’s reshuffle on the chances for a new runway at Heathrow is diverting attention from the big issue, the looming threat to air safety. Patrick McLoughlin, the new secretary of state for transport, should put the EU's pilot fatigue proposals at the top of his pile, the union said.
BALPA news release • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Car transporter driver ruptured Achilles
A driver who ruptured his Achilles tendon at work is still suffering from the effects two and a half years later. Unite member Kenan Mason, 49, got his foot caught in the plate covering the hydraulic pipes and air lines of a car transporter in January 2010 whilst he was loading cars at Southampton Docks.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Injuries set back star apprentice
A talented apprentice suffered multiple injuries that stalled his progress when a car ploughed into his Ford Fiesta as he made his way to a training course. Unite member Scott Dennis, 22, was housebound for four months after the BMW ploughed into him when its driver swerved to avoid a van.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: New safety minister in Cameron’s reshuffle
David Cameron’s 4 September reshuffle saw controversial safety minister Chris Grayling promoted to replace Ken Clarke as justice secretary. Iain Duncan Smith remains secretary of state at the Department of Work and Pensions, the department responsible for employment, workplace health and safety and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and the new minister of state for employment, a job that includes health and safety, is former accountant Mark Hoban, the Conservative MP for Fareham.
DWP news release • BBC News Online • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Sick to face big fines for breaching work plan
The government has drawn up plans to withdraw £71 a week from sick and disabled benefit claimants if they fail to take steps to get back into the workplace, according to the Guardian. The paper says a leaked draft of a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) template letter warns sick and disabled claimants they will lose 70 per cent of their weekly employment support allowance (ESA) if they refuse to take part in work-related activities, more than doubling the current penalty.
The Guardian • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Safety woes continue to dog BP
The hangover from BP’s deadly safety errors is continuing. This week the company received two more doses of bad news, with investors seeking damages relating to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster and US authorities accusing BP of gross negligence. Investment Week • The Telegraph • BBC News Online • Financial Times • The Guardian • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: New worker badly hurt at milking firm
A worker was hit on the head by an 80kg steel beam and suffered a fractured skull at a Derbyshire farm just a day after he started his job. The 49-year-old employee, whose name has not been released, was asked to help an experienced engineer install a milking parlour at Brookley Meadows Farm, Thurvaston, Derbyshire, on 5 July 2011, his second day at work for Shropshire-based United Milking Systems Ltd.
HSE news release • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Britain: Engineering firm sentenced over severed fingers
A Skelmersdale firm that makes outdoor shelters has appeared in court after a 36-year-old employee lost parts of three fingers when his hand became trapped in a forklift truck. PRF Engineering, which manufactures shelters for bikes and supermarket trolleys, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident on 19 May 2011.
HSE news release • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Australia: Deregulation will put miners at risk
A “frankly ludicrous” industry bid to weaken Queensland’s strict mine safety laws is “dangerously naïve” and could endanger the Australian state’s mineworkers, the union CFMEU has warned. The union says it will fight any attempt from industry or government to tamper with the state’s best practice occupational health and safety regulations, including a threat to reduce the powers of union-appointed safety inspectors. CFMEU news release • CQ News • Risks 572 • 8 September 2012
Hazards news, 1 September 2012
Australia: Keeping quiet about work-related ill-health
Australian workers are keeping quiet about their doctor-diagnosed work-related health problems, and this is leading to a massive under-estimate of the extent of work-related ill-health in the country. Researchers at the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research (ISCRR) found over 22 per cent of workers didn't make compensation claims even though their GP had determined that the illness was work-related, with the figure rising to 45 per cent for work-related psychological problems.
ISCRR news release • WA Today • Safety at Work blog • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: PCS backs fit-for-work protests
The union representing staff in benefits offices and job centres has backed a national protest against Atos, the private firm undertaking the controversial government fit-for-work tests. Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) organised the five days of action against Atos, which ran from 27-31 August.
PCS news release • DPAC news release • The Independent • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: Sun stripping stunt exposes bullying culture
Journalists’ union NUJ has expressed dismay after a woman doing work experience for the Sun newspaper was asked to strip off and pose with a member of staff for mocked-up pictures of Prince Harry. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said although 21-year-old Sophie Henderson said she was not forced to do it “she should not have been asked to in the first place.”
NUJ news release and evidence to the Leveson Inquiry • The Guardian • Huffington Post • The Bureau of Investigative Journalism • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Venezuela: Chávez orders deadly refinery blast probe
Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has ordered an urgent investigation to find the cause of a huge explosion at the country's biggest oil refinery. At least 41 people died in the 25 August blast at the Amuay plant in Falcon state, in the north-west of the country.
BBC News Online • The Guardian • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: ‘Punitive’ lesson observations target the sick
Teachers in Wales say they are being subjected to ‘punitive’ monitoring and surveillance practices in their classrooms, teaching union NASUWT had said. Online survey responses from over 1,000 members indicated sick workers were being targeted for extra scrutiny.
NASUWT news release and classroom observation survey • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: New creative union health and safety passport
The union for film, television and theatre technical staff has devised a new safety passport scheme. BECTU’s Creative Industries Safety Passport (CISP) is to be available to those passing a one-day course accredited by the Institution for Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).
BECTU news release • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
New Zealand: Deadly forestry industry slammed
The New Zealand forestry industry has a death rate 34 times higher than the UK’s but is a ‘one trick pony’ when it comes to prevention, concentrating on testing its workers for drugs. National union centre CTU said despite ‘massive’ drug testing programmes, the forestry industry had failed to arrest sky-high fatality and injury rates.
NZCTU news release • Forestry Industry Contractors Association news release • New Zealand Herald • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: Blacksmith gets union-enhanced asthma payout
A council blacksmith who developed asthma when he was exposed to dangerous fumes from metalworking fluids has been awarded a payout six times the original offer from his employer, thanks to help from his union. GMB member Simon Litherland, 47, was eventually awarded £104,000 in damages when the union-backed case went to court.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: Bar blacklisters from official contracts – MP
Labour MP Jim Sheridan has called for construction firms guilty of blacklisting trade unionists to be barred from publicly funded projects. The MP, speaking at a 27 August Blacklist Support Group protest outside the Glasgow HQ of construction giant Balfour Beatty, said: “Any contracts from British taxpayers' money - don't give them to criminals like Balfour Beatty who are blacklisting people.”
Jim Sheridan MP news release • Morning Star • Blacklist blog • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: Balfour Beatty boss accused of perjury
A blacklisted construction worker has accused a top executive of construction giant Balfour Beatty of perjury. Colin Trousdale, a blacklisted electrician and UNITE member from Manchester alleged the company’s human resources director, Gerry Harvey, had sent a letter to the court asserting “there is no blacklist, we are not blacklisting you, you are paranoid” – but his blacklisting file contained company documentation proving this wasn’t true.
Blacklist blog • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: Fall firms fined after subbie is seriously injured
A construction firm and a roofing company have been fined after a self-employed subcontractor suffered serious injuries in a fall at a Lincoln retail park. Taylor Pearson Construction Limited was the principal contractor building a new retail unit, and sub-contracted roof cladding work to Roofwise (Bourne) Limited, which in turn engaged a sub-contract labour team of its own.
HSE news release • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Australia: Poor safety laws fuel offshore dangers
The deaths of two workers on a drilling rig off the Australian coast on 27 August underlines the need for offshore petroleum workers to be given the same workplace health and safety rights as those on dry land, national union federation ACTU has said. It is believed the men died when part of a 40-year-old drill dislodged and struck them as they worked on the Stena Clyde rig, which was involved in exploration for a new gas field.
ACTU news release • AWU news release • NOPSEMA news release • ABC News • Herald Sun • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: Leg gets crushed in poorly guarded brick maker
A brick-making firm has been prosecuted after one of its employees suffered ‘life-changing’ crush injuries to his leg in a poorly-guarded machine. Nikoloz Demetrashvili, 42, was in hospital for three weeks with a multiple fracture of his right leg after the incident at Michelmersh Brick and Tile Company Ltd on 12 October 2011.
HSE news release • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: Firms guilty over mill asbestos danger
Two companies have been prosecuted after workers were exposed to potentially deadly asbestos fibres at a mill in Bolton. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took legal action against mill owner Hazelwise Ltd and letting agent RH Property Management Ltd after finding dozens of damaged asbestos boards stacked up at Brownlow Mill during a visit on 20 October 2010.
HSE news release and asbestos webpage • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Britain: Firms overlooked hospital asbestos risks
Two Lincoln companies have been fined after workers were exposed to asbestos during the refurbishment of a Northamptonshire hospital ward. Contractors Simons Construction Ltd and Rilmac Insulation Ltd both pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence, after asbestos insulation boards damaged by unwitting and unprotected workers.
HSE news release and asbestos webpage • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Australia: Office work can really harm you
Better workstations and posture are not delivering the anticipated benefits as computer-bound office workers creak under the strain of escalating workloads. A new study has found even good posture and ergonomic office equipment do not prevent back, neck, wrist and shoulder injuries and are failing to protect overburdened sedentary workers from a raised risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Karin Lindgren Griffiths and others. Prevalence and risk factors for musculoskeletal symptoms with computer based work across occupations, Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation, volume 42, number 4, pages 533-541, 2012 [abstract] • The Age • Risks 571 • 1 September 2012
Hazards news, 25 August 2012
Britain: TUC calls on Sun to check their facts
TUC has called on the Sun newspaper to check their facts before criticising health and safety. The call came after the Sun started a campaign to 'Stop the nonsense!' on health and safety amid claims that public bodies have suffered a collective loss of common sense. The campaign made a number of claims, not one of which was about workplace health and safety, and included a number of stories that had already been thoroughly discredited. TUC director of organisation and services, Paul Nowak said “Anyone who has had an injury or an occupational illness will know only too well that there is not an 'overzealous' interpretation of health and safety in the workplace.”
TUC stronger unions blog • The Sun’s Stop the nonsense campaign • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Britain: Union threatens legal action over blacklisting
The GMB trade union has called on the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to take proactive action to inform 2,863 builders that they are on a 'blacklist' that the ICO has been in possession of since 2009. GMB also wants to see the 44 blacklisting companies prosecuted and has threatened to take legal action if this does not happen. The move follows a long campaign for action that followed the revelation that there was a secret database of 3,500 construction workers which was used by 44 companies to vet new recruits and keep out of employment trade union and health and safety activists.
GMB news release • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Britain: Rail union backs 'No bonus' call
The General Secretary of rail union TSSA has backed a demand Network rail bosses forgo their bonuses if they are responsible for fatal crashes on the network. The Office of Rail Regulation, in a letter leaked to the TSSA, stated "It would be helpful, to be clear, that in the event of a catastrophic accident for which Network Rail was culpable, no bonuses would be paid". The ORR intervention comes after Network Rail was fined a total of £5 million for safety failures at fatal accidents in which three people died at Elsenham in 2005 and Grayrigg in 2007. The union states that the regulator is locked in a behind the scenes row with Network Rail over plans to pay top bosses a total of £18 million in annual and long term bonuses over the next three years.
TSSA news release • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Britain: Union welcomes new dog sentencing guide
Owners of dangerous dogs in England and Wales now face tougher sentences under new Sentencing Council guidelines which have been issued to judges and magistrates. The new advice aims to encourage the courts to use harsher sentences when dealing with offenders. The Communication Workers Union has welcomed the publication of the guidance on sentencing the owners of dangerous dogs, but says that a change in the law is needed to get the full benefit.
CWU news release • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Britain: Assessment company criticised by TUC
A report from the National Audit Office has said that the Department for Work and Pensions has failed to penalise private provider Atos for 'under-performance' on the £112 million a year contract to manage the Work Capability Assessment for Employment and Support Allowance. In addition, the DWP had not set 'sufficiently challenging targets'. TUC Senior welfare expert Richard Exell said “With appeals adding more than fifty per cent to the bill from Atos, this episode illustrates the risks of privatisation and contracting-out. The Work Capability Assessment is a terrible example of how not to design and implement welfare reform”.
BBC news online • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Britain: Safety professionals praise Olympic safety
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health has praised the safety record of the 2012 London Olympics. IOSH executive director of policy Luise Vassie said the planning and hosting of the London Olympic Games had given a twofold health and safety legacy leaving lasting impression on the construction sector and providing a blueprint for how to organise safe, large-scale events. TUC's Head of health and safety Hugh Robertson added the games had been a success mainly because the joint approach involving the ODA, contractors and unions had led to more cooperation
HR Magazine • IOSH podcast • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Britain: Call for action on cancer
The Hazards Campaign has criticised an HSE intervention strategy on occupational cancer saying it 'fails to acknowledge the actual scale of cancer caused by work'. The paper, which was discussed by the HSE board on 22nd August, outlined a detailed plan of activities that the HSE was undertaken to prevent further exposure to carcinogens, including asbestos, diesel fumes and silica. The Hazards campaign said 'The paper is based on a fairy tale unrealistic view of the world of work today, ignores many known carcinogens, shows little interest in finding unknown exposures, underestimates the numbers of workers exposed and shows no sense of urgency to tackle this massive but preventable workplace epidemic. Because of the lack of action now, more people will develop occupational cancers and die from them in the future.'
Hazards Campaign news release • HSE cancer paper • TUC guide • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Global: Nanotech dangers outlined
It has been known for some time that inhaling tiny fibres made by the nanotechnology industry could cause similar health problems to asbestos. This is borne out by new research by the University of Edinburgh published in Toxicology Sciences. Research on mice, suggests the longer nanofibres are even more dangerous. Some of these fibres are similar in shape to asbestos fibres, which cause lung cancers such as mesothelioma. Ken Donaldson, Professor of Respiratory Toxicology at the University of Edinburgh, said: "Concern has been expressed that new kinds of nanofibres being made by nanotechnology industries might pose a risk because they have a similar shape to asbestos.”
The threshold length for fibre-induced acute pleural inflammation: shedding light on the early events in asbestos-induced mesothelioma, Schinwald et al. Published online: May 12, 2012 Toxicological Science TUC nanotechnology guidance • Hazards nanotech webpages • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Britain: Fraudsters put children at risk
Two men have been prosecuted for making false claims to have removed asbestos from a school. They colluded to commit fraud by falsifying a record stating that a school in Abingdon had been properly cleaned of asbestos. Ricky Gray, of Hoddesdon, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs; and David Gray of Botley, was fined £1,000 with £250 costs after both pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act.
HSE news release • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Britain: Lawyers call for Legionnaires Inquiry
Law firm Irwin Mitchell is calling for a Public Inquiry following the recent outbreaks which have caused five deaths and left more than 120 other members of the public ill. The outbreaks were in Edinburgh and Stoke-on-Trent. They claim that plans outlined six years ago following a review of an outbreak in Barrow-in-Furness that affected 180 people and led to seven deaths have failed. Clive Garner, an illness expert at Irwin Mitchell said: 'Ten years ago the Barrow Legionnaires' disease outbreak was so severe that two public meetings were held and eventually the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published a special report with a view to avoiding this kind of tragedy from happening again. To put it simply, these plans to prevent further outbreaks of the illness have failed.” The call for a Public Inquiry comes as figures show the number of inspections by the HSE for legionella bacteria in cooling Towers in the UK has fallen, from 237 in 2010 to 134 last year despite them being a well-known potential source of infection. Irwin Mitchell news release • Hazards infections webpages • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Britain: Firm fined after waste site injury
Waste company, Rugeley Environmental Waste Services Ltd, has been fined £5,000 with £4,306 costs after a worker was injured. The 23-year-old employee was handpicking waste from a skip at Rugeley Environmental Waste Services Ltd on 5 September 2011 when a skid steer loader reversed into him, pinning him against the skip. He suffered soft tissue injuries to his groin. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed the vehicle was being used in a relatively confined space and no measures were in place to segregate vehicles and pedestrians. The investigation also revealed the company had failed to carry out a risk assessment of its workplace transport activities.
HSE news release • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Global: More concerns over health effects of popcorn flavouring
Concern has been expressed that a chemical used as a substitute for a food flavouring that causes lung disease is comparably toxic. Researchers claim the ingredient 2,3-pentanedione, used to impart the flavour and aroma of butter in microwave popcorn, is a respiratory hazard that can also alter gene expression in the brains of rats. Many companies switched to using pentanedione when the butter flavouring, diacetyl, was found to cause the serious and non-reversible lung disease bronchiolitis obliterans, also called 'popcorn lung'.
UPI.com • Hazards diacetyl webpages • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Britain: Worker off for two years after bank injury
Another worker has won compensation for a serious injury received in an industry deemed by the government to be 'low risk'. Bank cashier, Mary Deller, who has not worked for almost two years after suffering a back injury while lifting bags of money, has been awarded more than £18,000 from former employer NatWest.
Kent online • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Britain: Runaway trolley crushes leg
Multinational company Cape Industrial Services employee Colin Fletcher has received £70,000 after his leg was broken when working at Drax power station. He needed an operation requiring a bone graft from his hip and a metal plate inserted into his knee and still suffers on-going pain. Cape Industrial Services admitted liability and settled out of court. Thompsons news release • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Canada: Asbestos mine suffers financial crisis
Less than two months after the Quebec government gave the Jeffrey asbestos mine a $58 million loan it is in financial crisis, according to weblog RightOnCanada. The mine, in the Canadian town of Asbestos, was once the world's biggest asbestos mine and was given a rescue package by the Quebec government earlier this year, causing outrage among campaign groups (Risks 563).
RightOnCanada • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Global: Fight against pirates 'must go on'
The European Union should continue to use warships to tackle pirates off the coast of Somalia following a reduction in the rate of kidnappings, a UK parliamentary committee has said. The Lords EU committee report looked at Operation Atalanta, which involves putting armed guards on ships and has been in place since 2008, since when hostage-taking had more than halved. The Lords Committee also said funding should go beyond a planned cut-off at the end of 2014. Kidnappings involving shipping travelling past the coast of the east African country have become rife in recent years. The international campaign against piracy, Save our Seafarers (SOS), reports that, during in the last four years, over 3,500 seafarers have been kidnapped and held hostage. Trade union, Nautilus International, has called for consideration to be given to a boycott of high-risk piracy areas if things do not improve. BBC news online • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Global: Company safety record challenged
One of the world's leading oil companies, Chevron has had its reputation for having a good safety record challenged in a leading US newspaper. The San Francisco Chronicle pointed to a number of serious and fatal accidents in recent years and asked if something has gone wrong with Chevron's vaunted safety culture. Chevron is a strong proponent of behavioural safety systems.
San Francisco Chronicle • TUC Behavioural safety guide • Hazards Behavioural safety webpages • What are we to make of safe behaviour programs? A. Hopkins, Safety Science 2006 • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Canada: Alberta erases farm workers deaths
The Alberta provincial government in Canada has been condemned for removing farm fatalities from reports on occupational deaths. Alberta Federation of Labour says the move is an example of how ''agricultural workers are being erased in Alberta.'' The federation says the province announced its plans on a government website and offered no meaningful explanation for the change. Alberta is the only province in Canada where farm workers aren't covered by occupational health and safety laws.
OHS • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
Hazards new, 18 August 2012
Britain: Topshop gets a dressing down over press ‘arrest’
Top managers of Arcardia-owned Topshop have asked for talks with journalists’ union NUJ after a photographer was manhandled by security guards and police while covering a demonstration in the retail giant’s flagship Oxford Street store. Photographer Jess Hurd had been attempting to photograph arrests of peaceful UK Uncut protesters in Topshop, Oxford Circus in March 2012.
NUJ news report • Jess Hurd Photography • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Firms ‘vicariously liable’ for worker-on-worker assault
Public sector union UNISON is calling on its safety reps to take ‘active steps’ to tackle violence at work after a court said employers can be held liable for worker-on-worker violence. The Court of Appeal ruled that, where an employee inflicts violence on another employee or third party, there can be vicarious liability of the employer for the employee’s violent act where the incident is linked somehow to the employee’s job. UNISON news release • Court of Appeal case transcript • It’s not part of the job, UNISON’s health and safety guide on tackling violence at work [pdf] • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Survey reveals injury under-reporting in schools
There is widespread under-reporting of accidents and dangerous occurrences in schools in England and Wales, with some schools discouraging reports, a survey by teaching union NUT has found. In its response to the findings, NUT is calling for greater clarity from employers about “what has to be reported, how it is to be reported and the importance of doing so,” with accessible and robust reporting and recording systems. NUT briefing • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: UNION campaign forces progress on sharps
The UK safety authorities have been jolted into action by a high profile Europe-wide UNISON campaign for the introduction of a law to protect workers from sharps injuries. On 8 August the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) started a three month consultation on the implementation of an EU directive which requires member states to introduce regulations to protect health care workers from potentially life-threatening sharps-related infections.
CD244 - Consultation on proposed regulations to implement Council Directive 2010/32/EU on preventing sharps injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector. The consultation began on 8 August 2012 and ends on 8 November 2012 • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Jobcentre strike over oppressive targets
Jobcentre staff took strike action this week over oppressive working conditions and unrealistic targets. On 13 August, more than 6,000 PCS members in 32 call centres in England, Scotland and Wales reignited industrial action first taken last year against “draconian conditions” they say prevent them from providing the kind of service callers require and deserve.
PCS news release • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Shopworkers seek assurances on Sunday working
The shopworkers' Union Usdaw has written to business secretary Vince Cable to seek an urgent assurance that the government has no plans to permanently deregulate Sunday trading hours in England and Wales. The action came after the prime minister's official spokesperson, when asked if a permanent law change to extend temporary changes introduced during the Olympics was on the cards, said “a lot of people will want to look at the issue”.
Usdaw news release • The Telegraph • BBC News Online • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Binman loses leg under bin wagon
A refuse collector who was run over by the bin wagon had to have his leg amputated. UNISON member Kenneth Armstrong, 50, from Barry in South Glamorgan, who has received a £400,000 payout, needs to use a prosthetic limb following the incident in October 2009.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Probation worker buried in barrows
A Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Trust worker had to change jobs after she was badly injured when she fell at work and seven metal wheelbarrows came down on top of her. The 45-year-old UNISON member, whose name has not been released but who received a £45,000 payout, was left suffering from severe long term back and hip pain after she tripped on a builders’ line and fell.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Fall outside hospital leads to operation
A healthcare assistant ended up having knee surgery after falling in the hospital grounds. The 63-year-old UNISON member from Colchester, whose name has not been released, was walking from the staff car park to the entrance of Colchester General Hospital on an evening in May 2010.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Blacklist firm has a director on HSE’s board
A blacklisted construction worker has expressed concern at the appointment to the Health and Safety Executive’s board of a top director with construction giant Laing O’Rourke, one of the companies named in a major UK safety blacklisting scandal.
Howard Shiplee, who joined Laing O’Rourke as an executive director in October 2011, took his place on the HSE board on 13 August 2012.
Blacklist blog and list of firms linked to The Consulting Association • DWP news release • 18 August 2012
Britain: Government policy is promoting suicides
The UK recession has led to a sharp rise in suicides, a new study has found. The researchers warn that the government’s austerity programme is not worth the human cost and efforts should instead centre on job creation.
David Stuckler and others. Suicides associated with the 2008-2010 recession in England: time-trend analysis, www.bmj.com, published online 14 July 2012 • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Work cause missed on death certificates
Doctors are failing to give an accurate cause of death for one in four patients, according to the results of a pilot scheme that double-checks death certificates - and work-related deaths may be significantly under-estimated as a result. Alan Fletcher, who is leading the Sheffield medical examiner pilot scheme, told Hazards there “are definitely a significant number” of cases where “industrial causes” are overlooked.
The Guardian • Hazards magazine • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Clamp down on site safety test cheats
A man who provided cheat sheets to workers taking a construction safety test has been ordered by a court to publicise his offences and is facing a bill for thousands of pounds. CITB-ConstructionSkills, which operates the industry skills-card schemes, won a High Court action against Peter Balint.
Construction Enquirer • H&V News • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Prefab firm fined after back-breaking fall
A company making modular timber buildings has been fined after an employee was seriously injured when he fell from a canopy at a Shropshire school. RG Stones (Buildings) Ltd had been contracted to replace the canopy between two temporary buildings at Lakelands School in Ellesmere when the incident happened on 8 August 2011.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: ‘Blatant disregard’ shown for site safety
A property developer has been fined after the routine inspection of an Essex construction site discovered safety failings that endangered the lives of workers. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors visited Stefano Di Piazza's construction site in Waltham Abbey during a 10 February 2011 inspection blitz.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Britain: Safety takes a holiday on horror site
A routine inspection at a construction site in Wales revealed no-one was running the dangerously substandard job. T Richard Jones (Betws) Ltd was operating the site in Manselton, Swansea on 10 August 2011 when Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors visited as part of a routine inspection.
HSE news release • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Colombia: Hunger strike by injured GM car workers
Workers injured at a subsidiary in Colombia of the US multinational General Motors (GM) have gone on hunger strike a year after being fired. The members of ASOTRECOL, an association of ex-workers and injured workers at Colmotores, say they have been fired illegally and their medical records have been handled illegally.
AFL-CIO news release and AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
USA: Child labour rife on farms
Children are being hurt, brutalised and poisoned toiling for long hours on US farms, an investigation has found. Introducing an NBC News multi-part investigative series, ‘Children in the field: American kids pick your food’, the channel’s anchorwoman said: “They are too young to drive, work in an office, or even a local fast food joint, but thousands of them work long hours in brutal conditions to make sure we eat well, and on the cheap.”
Children in the field: American kids pick your food, NBC News • The Pump Handle • US National Library of Medicine on green tobacco sickness • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
USA: Groundbreaking law to protect temporary workers
Temporary staffing agencies in Massachusetts will no longer be allowed to send temporary workers to jobs without informing workers of the name of their employer, the wages they will be paid, or the basic safety training they need to protect themselves from jobs that are often hazardous. The law, which will come into effect in January 2013, has been welcomed by safety campaigners, who say it shines a light on those temp agencies operating in the darkness of Massachusetts’ underground economy, where worker injuries are often unreported and millions of dollars in overtime and minimum wages are unpaid.
Governor of Massachusetts Office news release • MassCOSH news release • Temporary Worker Right to Know Act • Boston Globe • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012
Hazards news, 11 August 2012
Britain: UNISON calls for action on shifts and cancer
Safety reps should demand action to protect workers from shift patterns linked to cancer and other health problems, public sector union UNISON has said. The union was speaking out after a series of reports linked shiftwork with an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and other health problems.
UNISON news release and negotiating on shift work bargaining support guide for workplaces representatives • Alliance for Cancer Prevention • Hazards magazine • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: FBU attacks government refusal to act on flood risks
The firefighters’ union FBU has attacked a government decision it says will risk public safety by refusing to require fire and rescue services in England and Wales to respond to flood emergencies. Although the fire service routinely responds to serious floods, it is not mandated to do so by law.
FBU news release • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
USA: Construction injuries cost the public a fortune
Injuries and fatalities in the construction industry cost residents of the US state of Maryland $712.8 million (£456m) between 2008 and 2010, a study has found. ‘The price of inaction’, a report from the thinktank Public Citizen, concludes public construction contracts should only be awarded to companies that have strong safety records.
Public Citizen news release • The price of inaction: A comprehensive look at the costs of injuries and fatalities in Maryland’s construction industry, Public Citizen, August 2012 [pdf] • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: Liberty backs union blacklisting inquiry calls
The surveillance and blacklisting of thousands of workers, many targeted for their union safety activities, should be investigated immediately by the privacy watchdog, human rights watchdog Liberty has said. Liberty has written to the Information Commissioner, Sir Christopher Graham, accusing him of inaction over a privacy scandal that it compares to phone hacking.
The Independent • People Management • Belfast Telegraph • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: Union welcomes Scots rail crossing progress
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has welcomed Network Rail’s decision to fit barriers across every open rail level crossing in the Scotland’s Highlands. “This is the first major sign of progress on the issue of level crossings for many years,” said general secretary Mick Whelan.
ASLEF news release • Network Rail news release • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: HSE wants to take diseases out of RIDDOR
A dramatic revision of the legal system for reporting workplace injuries, dangerous occurrences and diseases is being proposed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The HSE’s consultation document would mean an end to the current duty under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995 to report conditions including certain strain injuries, poisonings, vibration diseases, dermatitis and occupational cancers, dust diseases and asthma.
HSE news release and consultation document 243 [pdf] • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Global: Indian unions outraged at Canadian asbestos push
Indian trade unions have called on the nation’s leaders to ban asbestos immediately to thwart an ‘immoral’ Canadian plan to flood Asia with the lethal fibre. The unions said they are ‘outraged’ by the Quebec government’s decision to underwrite a new asbestos mine that plans to export of over 5 million tonnes of cancer causing chrysotile asbestos to developing countries.
BWI news release • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: HSE wants to leave some self-employed lawless
A controversial move to exempt many self-employed workers from safety laws is being pushed forward by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This week the safety watchdog opened a three-month consultation on the proposal, which it says would limit the exemption to people whose work activities pose no potential risk of harm to others – however, the situation is confused, as some sectors identified as high risk in the consultation document, notably docks, are classified by HSE for its enforcement purposes as ‘lower risk’ and exempt from preventive inspections.
HSE news release and consultation document 242 • Hazards magazine • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: Worker's legs amputated at ‘low risk’ dock
An Essex dock firm has been fined £20,000 for criminal safety failings after an employee had both legs amputated. William James, 73, was working on Stanton Grove Limited's berth 47 within the Port of Tilbury his legs were crushed by a cargo container on 26 March 2010.
HSE news release • Hazards magazine ‘Safety in the dock’ report • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Global: Olympic projection spotlights Adidas ‘exploitation’
On 5 August - the night Olympic champion Usain Bolt won the fastest 100m race in history - campaigners projected a huge reminder on a building overlooking London’s Olympic Park that the Olympic sportswear partner Adidas is “making millions out of the exploitation of workers who make its clothes.” The anti-poverty charity War on Want beamed the 65 feet high image – which proclaimed “exploitation – not OK here, not OK anywhere” underneath the Adidas three-striped logo - as the sell-out 80,000 crowd left the stadium after the Olympic highlight, the men’s 100 metres final.
War on Want news release and Not OK Anywhere campaign. Playfair 2012 report [pdf] • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: Deaths mar offshore ‘improvements’
Two workers died in the UK offshore industry last year, the first deaths since 2007. Steve Walker, the head of the Health and Safety Executive’s offshore safety division (OSD), said a continuing decline in hydrocarbon releases was welcome, but expressed regret at the deaths.
HSE news release and offshore statistics bulletin [pdf] • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: Tata guilty after worker dies in molten slag
Global steel giant Tata has been fined £500,000 for serious criminal safety offences after employee Kevin Downey, 49, died when he fell into a channel carrying molten slag waste. Covers over the channel had been removed for maintenance and not replaced.
HSE news release and molten metals webpages • This is South Wales • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: Workers survive four storey lift shaft horror
Three companies have been fined for criminal safety offences after two workers on an Exeter building site suffered severe injuries when the platform they were working on collapsed and fell four storeys down a lift shaft. Exeter Crown Court heard the men were working on a site building new student accommodation for Exeter University when the incident happened in February 2008.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Western Morning News • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
France: Researcher snubs top honour over 'industrial crimes'
A top researcher and campaigner on occupational health issues has refused France's highest honour in protest at official inaction over what she described as “industrial crimes”. Annie Thebaud-Mony, director of research at France's National Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM), turned down the Legion d'Honneur in a letter to housing minister Cecile Duflot made public last week.
France 24 • Herald Sun • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: Council fined after road worker is crushed
Dumfries and Galloway Council has been fined after a subcontractor suffered severe crush injuries when a tar tipper lorry reversed into a paver machine he was driving while carrying out road repairs. The 20-year-old, who does not wish to be named, was one of two subcontractors working for Hamilton Tarmac alongside a squad of men from Dumfries and Galloway Council to undertake repairs on a minor road.
HSE news release • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Britain: Second Legionnaires' disease death in Stoke-on-Trent
A second person has died following an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Stoke-on-Trent, health officials have said. Businesses were told last week by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to do more to protect workers and members of the public from Legionnaires' disease.
HPA news release • BBC News Online • Risks 568 • 11 August 2012
Hazards news, 4 August 2012
Britain: Eurotunnel strike vote over cancer sacking
Transport union Unite is balloting 68 drivers operating trains on Eurotunnel for strike action over the sacking of a driver facing a cancer diagnosis. On 13 April, Ray Field - who for 15 years had been a Unite union representative at Eurotunnel - was diagnosed with suspected skin cancer after a GP noticed lesions on his skin.
Unite news release • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
USA: Walmart delivers low prices and high pain
Walmart might be the world’s largest retailer, but that is little consolation to the bruised and broken workers toiling in the warehouses supplying its stores. These “lumpers”, required to work inside dark, hot, metal shipping containers with little ventilation or water under pressure to meet high quotas, filed a complaint with the state agency responsible for workplace conditions.
New York Times • Guardian news report and related commentary by Juan de Lara.
Warehouse Workers United website and news release • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: Long-term sick must not lose out on holidays
A landmark ruling involving NHS Leeds has established an employee is still entitled to paid annual holidays, even if they have been off sick for the whole of that year. The Court of Appeal ruled that part-time, 20 hour-a-week NHS Leeds clerical worker Janet Larner was entitled to her paid leave for the year 2009/10 when she was off sick for the whole year.
Unite news release • Union News • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: Refuse workers spiked by needles in black bag
UNISON has repeated its call for an end to government stalling on needlestick hazards, after two refuse collectors from West Sussex were pricked by hypodermic needles. The two workers, who were employed by waste giant Biffa on a contract to collect household waste for Arun District Council, are facing the possibility of infection and two years of blood tests after being pricked by the needles, which had been left in black plastic waste bags by a resident.
UNISON news release and needlestick injuries guide for local government safety reps. BBC News Online • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: Hospital hand rub caused sore skin
A hospital worker developed painful dermatitis after being made to use a strong alcohol-based hand rub up to 40 times a shift. GMB member Georgina Thornton, 62, was eventually forced to leave her job as a lead healthcare assistant for Derriford Hospital in Plymouth because the skin on her hands became so sensitive to the alcohol rub she developed painful reoccurring sores.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Plymouth Herald • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: RMT calls for Tube maintenance cuts probe
Tube union RMT has demanded an urgent investigation into the real impact of cuts to fleet maintenance schedules after a 31 July incident on the system’s Central Line. The union says the probe should pay particular attention to brake inspections and renewals, as it emerged defective brakes may have seized up on a Tube train causing a fire scare and lengthy delays.
RMT news release • The Telegraph • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: Compensation bill follows fine at work death firm
The family of a maintenance engineer who was killed at work has received compensation. The 43-year-old Unite member, who worked for printing giant Wyndeham Peterborough, died after being crushed by the printing press he was trying to fix. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Painter gets whiplash from scaffold limbo
A painter was off work for three months after suffering whiplash injuries when he struck his head ducking under a scaffold bar deliberately positioned at waist height across a walkway. The 22-year-old Unite member from Kent, whose name has not been released, was injured whilst working for CBI Ltd on the Isle of Grain, Rochester.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Japan: Teacher’s suicide was caused by work
A schoolteacher’s suicide was work-related, the Tokyo High Court has ruled. Kimura Yuriko started teaching in 2004 at an elementary school, but quickly admitted to problems coping with the behaviour of some pupils, raising the issue repeatedly with school management.
Japan Press • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: Blacklisted workers launch £600m court action
Blacklisted workers in the UK have launched a High Court claim against construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine which could potentially be worth £600 million. Law firm Guney, Clark & Ryan served a claim on behalf of 86 claimants for ‘Tort of unlawful conspiracy’ at the High Court.
Blacklist blog • The Observer and related comment piece • Morning Star • Irish Times • Construction Enquirer • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Global: Work can be damaging in late pregnancy
Working after eight months of pregnancy could be bad for your baby, according to a new study. Women who worked after they were eight months pregnant had babies on average around 230g (0.5lb) lighter than those who stopped work between six and eight months according to the study, published in the July edition of the Journal of Labor Economics.
Emilia Del Bono, John Ermisch, and Marco Francesconi. Intrafamily resource allocations: A dynamic structural model of birth weight, Vol. 30, No. 3, pages 657-706, July 2012 • Medical Daily • CBC News • The Guardian • Scottish Daily Record • Marie Claire • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Global: Shiftwork linked to heart disease risk
Shiftworkers are at increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to a new study. The authors, whose findings are published online in the British Medical Journal, say their research is the largest analysis of shiftwork and vascular risk to date and “has implications for public policy and occupational medicine.”
Shift work and vascular events: systematic review and meta-analysis, BMJ 2012;345:e4800, published 26 July 2012 • Newsroom America • BBC News Online • The Observer • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: Job strain linked to circulatory disease in women
A major US study has linked high strain, active jobs to a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in female health professionals. The study examined the relationship between job strain and job insecurity and rates of CVD among the 22,086 participants in the Women’s Health Study (WHS).
Slopen N, Glynn RJ, Buring JE, Lewis TT, Williams DR and others (2012). Job Strain, Job Insecurity, and Incident Cardiovascular Disease in the Women’s Health Study: Results from a 10-Year Prospective Study. PLoS ONE 7(7): e40512. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040512 • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Canada: Temp workers are falling through cracks
Complex employment relationships, gaps in the regulatory system and job insecurity can leave low-wage temp agency workers more vulnerable to workplace injuries, according to new research from the Toronto-based Institute for Work and Health. Researcher Ellen MacEachen and colleagues found “that low-wage temp agency workers are less well protected because of the complex working relationship in which they find themselves.” At Work, Issue 69, IWH, Summer 2012 and related research presentation, The management of OHS and return-to-work issues in temporary work agencies [pdf] • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Global: BP’s bemoans $multibillion burden of being unsafe
A much worse than anticipated decline in the fortunes of the UK-based oil giant BP can be explained in a large part by its safety-related woes, the company has admitted. Commenting on publication of its ‘weak’ results for the second quarter of 2012, chief executive Bob Dudley said factors including a fall in oil prices had hit the industry as a whole, but added the results that prompted a steep drop in the company’s share price were down to “a combination of factors affecting both the sector and BP specifically.”
BP news release and Stock Exchange announcement • The Telegraph • The Guardian • The Independent • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: Chemical firm’s management was ‘abysmal’
A North Wales company handling high volumes of extremely hazardous chemicals has been criticised by a judge for its “abysmal” management and “incompetence”. Judge Philip Hughes fined Euticals Limited £100,000 plus £8,344 prosecution costs, noting: “An aggravating feature is the defendant company’s reckless regard for adhering to the law and somewhat dismissive attitude to those in the HSE trying to guide them and neglecting to take preventative measures to reduce the risks.”
HSE news release • Daily Post • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: HSE tells firms to tackle Legionnaires’ risks
Businesses are being told to do more to protect workers and members of the public from Legionnaires’ disease. The safety notice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which warns of the dangers of reducing planned maintenance and cleaning schedules, came as Britain’s second outbreak in three months claimed its first life.
HSE news release, guidance and safety notice, Management of the risks from legionella in cooling towers and evaporative condensers • Health Protection Agency news release • BBC News Online and update on the Staffordshire death • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: Firms urged to follow example of Olympics project
Innovative communication techniques that helped to prevent worker deaths during the Olympics construction project could be harnessed to benefit other projects, a study has found. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) jointly commissioned Loughborough University to investigate how safety techniques were communicated, along with their impact on multiple contractors during the Olympic build.
IOSH news release • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: Safety call after sea deaths rise
Marine accident investigators have called for improved safety in the fishing industry, after the number of fatal incidents rose last year. Eight fishermen lost their lives in 2011, up from five the year before, while the number of vessels lost at sea, 24, increased to its highest level since 2005, the annual report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) reveals.
MAIB annual report 2011 • The Herald • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Britain: Suicide 33 years after devastating work injury
A Cambridgeshire man shot himself 33 years after an injury at work left him in a wheelchair, an inquest has heard. Brian Longridge of St Neots left a note to his sister Margaret Corke saying he was “sorry” before shooting himself with a 12-bore shotgun in his bedroom on 3 April.
News and Crier • More on work-related suicides • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Australia: Study confirms insecure work is dangerous
New official Australian research showing casual workers are 50 per cent more likely to be injured at work is solid proof that insecure work leads to unsafe working environments, the country’s top union body has said. ‘Australian work-related injury experience by sex and age, 2009-2010’, published by national safety regulator Safe Work Australia, found that casual workers without leave entitlements reported 54 injuries per million hours worked compared with a rate of 35 for those with leave entitlements.
Safe Work Australia news release. Australian work-related injury experience by sex and age, 2009-2010, Safe Work Australia, 30 July 2012 [pdf] • ACTU news release. ABC News • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012
Hazards news, 28 July 2012
Britain: Scandal of workers forced to pay for protection
More than one in five workers is being forced to pay for lifesaving personal protective equipment (PPE), despite laws that say employers must provide it free of charge. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The fact that so many employers are flaunting the law is an absolute scandal,” adding: “Safety equipment is needed to ensure that workers are protected from injury or disease, yet there appears to be very little enforcement of the law.”
TUC news release • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
USA: Oil industry ignored lessons of tragedy
Safety lessons from a deadly 2005 BP oil refinery explosion that could have helped prevent the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy were not learned by either oil firms or the regulators, an official investigation has concluded. Noting the lack of sustained focus on process safety, US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigator Cheryl MacKenzie described an “eerie resemblance” between the 2005 explosion at the BP Texas City refinery and the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon.
CSB news release • The Guardian • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Warning on influx of Fake Protective Equipment
An influx of substandard and fake personal protective equipment (PPE) to the UK is putting lives at risk, the TUC has warned. The union body says the problem sometimes arises when firms purchase PPE made for use outside Europe, where standards are lower, but it says some workers are also being put at risk as a result of counterfeiting, with cut-price products available online attracting employers looking to reduce costs.
TUC briefing and full document: Checking your Personal Protective Equipment: Guidance for safety representatives, TUC, July 2012 [pdf] • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Olympic brand protected, so safety is not
Trading standards officers are being required to spend thousands of hours protecting the Olympic brand and corporate sponsors, instead of protecting the public, UNISON has warned. The union believes the switch of resources away from key safety work is “hard to justify in the light of swingeing cuts to Trading Standard budgets”.
UNISON news release • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
USA: Agency work can kill
Lax regulations, loose enforcement and employer resistance to union health and safety committees inflict a ghastly toll of illness, injury and death on the job, the global foodworkers’ union federation has warned. IUF was commenting after the grisly death of a contract worker at a US Nestlé plant, a tragedy it says provides further evidence that agency workers face even greater risks due to their precarious employment status.
IUF news release • MASSCOSH news report • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Stories from safety’s frontline
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) union Prospect is celebrating the 40th anniversary of a ‘ground-breaking’ report that transformed the UK’s health and safety landscape. Members of the union’s HSE branch have shared 40 ‘stories from safety’s frontline’ to mark the anniversary of the 1972 Robens report, which laid the foundations for the Health and Safety at Work Act and the creation of the HSE.
40@40: health and safety stories from the frontline • Read the tweets at hashtag #40at40 • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Stabbed social worker wins right to sue
A social worker stabbed by a psychiatric patient has won a Court of Appeal case giving her the right to sue two health authorities responsible for her attacker’s care. UNISON member Claire Selwood worked for Durham County Council and was responsible for the care of the patient’s child.
UNISON news release • Community Care • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: College safety rep targeted for redundancy
Further education union UCU is calling for support after effective trade union safety rep Mike Whatmore was targeted for redundancy. The union branch commented: “Mike is an effective UCU rep, who robustly defends members and has been proactive in highlighting health and safety issues at the college,” adding: “The branch believes that this is the reason he is being faced with the sack at such short notice.”
Newcastle College UCU branch news release and UCU petition to save Mike Whatmore • Email a message of support on send your message on Twitter @NclCollUCU using the hashtag #SaveMike • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Bakers turn up the heat on work temperature
As the rain stops and Britain’s sizzling summer puts in a late appearance, bakers’ union BFAWU is urging sweltering bakery workers to spell out just why a legal workplace temperature ceiling could save them from cooking at work.
BFAWU news release • TUC information sheet on heat • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Forklift crushed worker’s leg
A factory worker whose leg was crushed when he was run over by a forklift truck has received compensation after help from his trade union. The 61-year-old Unite member from Rugby was left with crush injuries to his left leg after it became trapped under the 2.5 tonne truck when he was knocked over at Cov Press in Coventry, where he works as a print operator.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: New asbestos fund must be extended say unions
A new government fund to compensate some asbestos disease victims is much too limited, the TUC has said. The union body said the fund announced this week is limited to people who have the cancer mesothelioma but who until now have been unable to claim because their employer no longer exists and the responsible insurer cannot be traced.
TUC news release • DWP news release • UCATT news release • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Japan: Officials probe bogus radiation readings
Subcontracted workers at Japan’s earthquake wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station may have been forced to submit bogus reports on their radiation exposures so they could remain on the job longer. An official investigation began last week after media reports of a cover-up at the plant, which suffered multiple meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters.
Washington Post • The Guardian • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: New scheme excludes half of asbestos victims
A new tariff scheme designed to plug a loophole that denies many asbestos victims compensation will not cover half of those affected, a campaign group has warned. The Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ Forum says the scheme is flawed, excluding those suffering from asbestosis, pleural thickening and asbestos-related lung cancer.
Asbestos Forum news release [pdf] • Morning Star • Derby Telegraph • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Government ‘turns its back on asbestos victims’
The union Unite has slammed the government for turning its back on many victims of asbestos exposure who cannot trace employers' liability insurance. It believes the scheme announced this week by the government falls short because it excludes asbestos disease victims other than those with one cancer, mesothelioma, and says even those who receive payouts will get far less than a court would have awarded where an insurer could be traced.
Unite news release • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: ASLEF concern at upturn in high risk incidents
A marked upturn in potentially high risk train accidents must be tackled, train drivers’ union ASLEF has said. The union was commenting after this week’s publication of the annual safety report from the Office for Rail Regulation (ORR).
ORR news release and ORR annual health and safety report 2011/2012 • ASLEF news release • Hazards magazine • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Six figure fine for corporate manslaughter
A company has been fined nearly £500,000 over the death of a maintenance worker who fell more than 40ft (12m) from a factory roof in Greater Manchester. Lion Steel Equipment Ltd admitted corporate manslaughter over the death of Steven Berry, 45, at its factory in Hyde on 29 May 2008.
R -v- Lion Steel Equipment Ltd - Judiciary, full Lion Steel manslaughter judgment [pdf] • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: Deadly roof support warning not sent to UK mines
A dodgy UK-made roof support that had been the subject of a manufacturer’s safety warning in Australia failed and claimed the life of a Yorkshire miner, a court has heard. UK Coal and global machinery supplier Joy Mining Ltd were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court last week for serious criminal safety failings that led to the death in October 2009 of Kellingley Colliery worker Ian Cameron.
HSE news release • York Press • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: UK Coal pays damages to injured fitter
A UK Coal worker who was badly injured in a car crash at work and went on to develop a chronic career-ending condition has received more than £419,000 in compensation. The 36-year-old Unite member from Newthorpe is in constant pain in his right shoulder and arm since the incident in 2007 when a colleague crashed the UK Coal van they were travelling in into a tree.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Britain: One Legionnaires’ outbreak ends, another begins
The Edinburgh Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that affected over 100 and which killed three has been declared over by officials. But this week a new outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease was confirmed in Stoke-on-Trent, with 11 confirmed cases.
NHS Lothian news release • Stoke-on-Trent NHS Primary Care Trust news release • Health Protection Agency news release • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • BBC News Online on the Lothian and Stoke-on-Trent outbreaks • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Global: First blood to gold miners in Anglo fight
Anglo American South Africa Ltd (AASA) has been ordered by a High Court judge in the UK to disclose an array of documents to ex-gold miners who are suing the company after developing the debilitating occupational lung disease silicosis. London law firm Leigh Day & Co is representing more than 1,500 claimants who worked in Anglo's mines in South Africa up to 1998.
Leigh Day & Co news release • Risks 566 • 28 July 2012
Hazards news, 21 July 2012
Britain: Victimised over safety? That will be £1,200 please
Workers victimised for raising safety concerns will soon have to pay £1,200 if they want to seek justice at an employment tribunal. Unions have branded the move, announced last week by the government, ‘a disgrace’.
TUC news release • UNISON news release • Ministry of Justice news release • Government response to the consultation Introducing fees in employment tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal, 13 July 2012 • The Guardian • Morning Star • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
USA: BP agrees to massive refinery safety penalty
BP has agreed to pay over $13m in safety penalties for ‘wilful violations’ at its Texas City refinery. The official US safety watchdog OSHA announced that it had reached an agreement with BP Products North America Inc under which BP will pay $13,027,000 in penalties, and already has abated or will abate all existing violations by the end of 2012.
OSHA news release, timeline on OSHA actions regarding BP and final agreement [pdf] • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: Union blacklisting campaign gathers pace
A union campaign for a comprehensive law to protect union safety activists from blacklisting has led to the issue being progressed at the highest levels in Europe. Labour MEP Glenis Willmott gave a cautious welcome to a confirmation from the European Commission that, as part of its upcoming review of health and safety legislation, it will ensure that EU law is being followed and that workers’ health and safety reps are not being put at a disadvantage by employers.
Blacklist blog • Glenis Willmott MEP news release • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: RMT exposes secret driverless train plan
A ‘shocking’ London Underground (LU) internal document obtained by the rail union RMT exposes a ‘secret agenda’ to move the entire Jubilee Line to driverless operation within three years, the union has said. The document reveals the system will be trialled later this year, with the other deep level Tube lines to follow.
RMT news release • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
South Africa: Fatal crash highlights poor farm transport
South African unions have called for action after a devastating collision between a train and truck claimed the lives of at least 25 farmworkers. The Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) said it was “shocked and angered” by the deaths, which happened in Mpumalanga province on 13 July when a truck believed to have been transporting 45 workers to an orange farm failed to stop at a railway crossing and collided with a train.
IUF news release • COSATU news release • San Francisco Chronicle • The Telegraph • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012.
Britain: Union action to protect coastguard service
Coastguard workers this week took industrial action over jobs losses and closures they say will place the public and seafarers at risk. From 16 July until 24 July, PCS members across Britain will end their shifts an hour early and start the next shift an hour later.
Morning Star • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: Coca Cola worker suffers chemical burns to eyes
A Coca Cola worker feared he had been blinded after he had powerful cleaning chemicals sprayed in his eyes when a pipe burst on the factory floor. Unite member John Houghton, 56, suffered the injury after a colleague stepped on a pipe full of a hot caustic cleaning substance used to clean the lines of a machine in the process of making Coke. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: ‘Underhand’ insurer tried to dupe injury victim
Trade union GMb is warning members who are injured at work not to accept offers of compensation from their employers or insurance companies without taking independent legal advice. Factory worker Shaun Powell, whose foot was crushed by a huge metal beam while working for Joseph Ash Chesterfield Ltd, was called into work by a senior manager and offered just £1,700 in compensation by the employer’s insurer, but has now received more than £122,000 with the support of the union’s legal service.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: Sports mad fitter not fit enough after injury
A mechanical fitter who was badly injured when he was struck by 15 kilos of unsecured cabling has been forced to abandon his sporting pastimes. Nathan Byron, 34, suffered a hairline fracture and ligament damage to his right shoulder as well as a neck injury when a large section of cabling fell from 15ft above him as he worked inside a huge generator. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: HSE pulls the plug on rock show lies
A claim by a rock show promoter that stars Bruce Springsteen and Sir Paul McCartney had the plug pulled on them at a Hyde Park concert for ‘health and safety’ reasons has been rubbished by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Kevin Myers, HSE’s deputy chief executive and a self-confessed ‘longstanding Bruce Springsteen fan’, attended the gig and said: “The fans deserve the truth: there are no health and safety issues involved here.”
HSE statement • Wall Street Journal blog • The Telegraph • CME • NME • BBC News Online • Contactmusic.com • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Guatemala: Unions condemn rising tide of violence
Anti-union violence in Guatemala has reached untenable proportions, the global union confederation ITUC has warned. It was commenting last week after the latest murder, which claimed the life of trade union leader Enrique Linares from the Río Chiquito community.
ITUC news release and letters • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Prime minister is ‘totally opposed’ to asbestos trade
The UK government deplores Canada’s plans to produce millions of tonnes of asbestos for export to the developing world, David Cameron has indicated. The response to Labour’s Jim Dobbin came at prime minister’s questions on 11 July.
Prime minister’s questions, Hansard, 11 July 2012 • International Ban Asbestos Secretariat • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
USA: Your job could put your offspring at risk
The jobs men and women do can lead to birth defects in their offspring, two new papers suggest. The studies, both US-based, were published online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine and were based on data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, an ongoing population based study.
Gilboa SM, Desrosiers TA, Lawson C and others. Association between maternal occupational exposure to organic solvents and congenital heart defects, National Birth Defects Prevention Study, 1997-2002, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Online First 17 July 2012. doi:10.1136/oemed-2011-100536
Desrosiers TA, Herring AH, Shapira SK and others. Paternal occupation and birth defects: findings from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Online First 17 July 2012. doi:10.1136/oemed-2011-100372 • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: Two directors fined after teen’s death
A Northumberland firm and its father-and-son directors have been fined after a teenage worker died following a fall from a barn roof. Jamie Lee Duddin, 18, and another Scotts of Whittington Ltd employee were carrying out repairs to the roof lights of the barn at Heddon Low Farm at Heddon on the Wall when the incident occurred on 23 July 2010. HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: Demolition director fined for ‘staggering’ failings
A demolition firm and its director have been fined for endangering workers at a site in Lancing, West Sussex. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Rabbit Demolition and Excavation Ltd and its director, Colin Bell, for not providing a safe means for working on a roof during the demolition of the Ball Tree Inn in Sompting, between the 12 and 21 September last year.
HSE news release • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: Dangerous builder ignored verbal warning
A Lincolnshire builder who ignored both verbal and written advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been fined for running an unsafe site. Andre Wilkin, trading as Hillen Projects, was the main contractor on a refurbishment scheme when an HSE inspector visited the Lincoln site as part of a national construction safety initiative on 1 March 2011.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Britain: Asbestos job exposed work experience teen
A teenager on work experience was part of a construction team exposed to asbestos during a botched removal job at a top public school. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Sherborne School and Peter Eldridge, the director of the company responsible for the refurbishment project, after an investigation found they had failed to identify and prevent the risk of asbestos exposure at the school.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Australia: Fire authority regrets inaction on cancer risk
A long-awaited report into the use of harmful chemicals at a fire training centre in Victoria, Australia has concluded fire chiefs reacted too slowly to concerns about cancer risks. Investigators had looked into the use of chemicals for live firefighting training at the Country Fire Authority's (CFA) Fiskville training facility west of Melbourne, between 1971 and 1999.
UFU news reports • Fiskville investigation – report and response, CFA Victoria webpage, Fiskville Q&A, full report [pdf] and news release • ABC News and related story on the union response • Sydney Morning Herald • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Europe: Policymaking is ‘captured’ by big business
Expert groups set up by a European Commission’s enterprise and industry directorate are dominated by industry experts and corporate lobbyists, a new study has found. The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) examination of the composition of DG Enterprise and Industry expert groups found they involve 482 corporate lobbyists versus only 11 union representatives.
ALTER-EU news release and full report: Who’s driving the agenda at DG Enterprise and Industry?, ALTER-EU, July 2012 [pdf] • Sajjad Karim MEP news release • The Parliament • Risks 565 • 21 July 2012
Hazards news,14 July 2012
Britain: UCATT says site deaths still ‘far too high’
Construction union UCATT has said the latest construction fatality figures are a worrying sign site ‘deaths are likely to increase substantially.’ The provisional figures published by the Health and Safety Executive, show that there were 49 construction fatalities in 2011/12, compared to 50 deaths in the previous 12 months.
UCATT news release. Statistics on fatal injuries in the workplace 2011/12, HSE, 5 July 2012 [pdf] • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
USA: Black lung surge linked to long hours and lax laws
Black lung diagnoses in the US have doubled in the last decade, and a new investigation blames a combination of factors, including operators longer working hours and lax enforcement by regulators. “This is clearly a public health epidemic,” said epidemiologist Scott Laney of the US government’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, adding: “This is a rare disease that should not be occurring.”
Center for Public Integrity’s i-Watch News • Charleston Gazette • San Francisco Chronicle • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Stop violence against public sector workers
It is an ‘outrage’ that public sector workers continue to be assaulted when carrying out their duties, UNISON has said. Following a 2 July parliamentary debate on attacks against NHS workers, the union called for the government to take urgent action to recognise the human cost of verbal and physical assaults on public sector workers.
UNISON news release and related release on the parliamentary debate and full 3 July House of Commons debate transcript • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Firefighters want deadly lessons to be learned
Firefighters’ union FBU has said it will ensure key lessons are learned from a tragedy that claimed the lives of two firefighters. A four week inquest that concluded this week into the deaths of Jim Shears, 35, and Alan Bannon, 38, in a Southampton tower block fire returned a verdict of death by misadventure.
FBU news release and Hampshire FBU statement • BBC News Online • Southampton Daily Echo • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Canada: Immigrants face greater injury risk
Recent immigrants who take jobs for which they are over-qualified are more than three times as likely to sustain an injury at work as their appropriately qualified peers who have been in the country for some time, Canadian researchers have found. Those who are over-educated may not have the knowledge and skills required to perform their job safely, say the authors, and language barriers and lack of familiarity with the country may get in the way of being able to understand or voice health and safety concerns, they suggest.
Stephanie Premji and Peter M Smith, Education-to-job mismatch and the risk of work injury, Injury Prevention, Published Online First: 9 July 2012 [abstract] • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Global: ILO spells out why stress at work matters
A decision by a French judge to subject France Telecom and two former top executives to a judicial review regarding their alleged role in a wave of staff suicides highlights the dangers of stress at work, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said. The suicides at France Telecom in 2008 and 2009 coincided with the unfolding global financial crisis and restructuring of the company.
ILO news release and related publications: Stress prevention at work checkpoints, a guide to auditing safety and health controls and SOLVE: Integrating health promotion into workplace OSH policies • Financial Times • The Guardian. More on occupational suicides • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Fire brigades could refuse flood role
Firefighters’ union FBU is warning that this month’s floods threaten to expose the impact of frontline cuts and the absence of a legal duty on fire services to respond to flooding. It says nearly 3,000 frontline firefighter posts have been axed since the 2007 floods, which stretched the fire service to breaking point.
FBU news release • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Cable pulled on Plusnet dog bite advert
Top cable company Plusnet has agreed to pull a TV advert after an approach by postal workers’ union CWU. The union had told the company its advert, which makes a joke out of dog attacks on postal workers, was ‘irresponsible’.
CWU news release and Bite back campaign • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Rail union concern at toxic flytipping peril
Transport union RMT has demanded a full investigation by the safety authorities and assurances on staff and passenger safety after the union received reports that police had arrested a gang of toxic waste flytippers on 6 July. The gang is thought to be responsible for the dumping of thousands of tons of asbestos and other hazardous waste adjacent to the Dockland Light Railway’s (DLR) Beckton station, where the main DLR depot is also sited.
RMT news release • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Nearly half refurb sites are run by safety criminals
Almost half of the refurbishment construction projects around North East London have failed health and safety spot checks. A day-long inspection initiative by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) last week saw a small team of inspectors visit 22 construction sites in Haringey, where the criminal breaches of safety law were observed.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Canada: Miners down tools to protect safety rep
Almost half the day shift at a Canadian copper mine downed tools last week in support of a health and safety representative who was disciplined after raising safety concerns. The 300 United Steelworkers (USW) members at Highland Valley Copper in Kamloops, British Columbia (BC), got their union safety rep’s suspension lifted, along with the safety investigation he was calling for.
Kamloops Daily News • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Safety body opposes scrapping safety laws
Ministers are rushing to scrap the tower crane register without giving it long enough to prove itself, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has warned. CIEH, the professional body for the environmental health officers who undertake official safety inspections in local authority-enforced workplaces, echoed calls made by unions and safety campaigners, who last week protested outside the Department for Work and Pensions’ London HQ.
EHN Online • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Cleaner killed by asbestos in council flats
A cleaner died of cancer as a result of being exposed to asbestos in council flats. The 58-year-old from Kent, whose name has not been released, was exposed to the dust whilst working as a cleaner for a London council from 1976 to 1988.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Firm prosecuted after two injured in platform fall
A West Midlands vehicle engineering, design and testing firm has been fined after two employees were injured when they fell over 2 metres from a platform. Mira Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £9,305.
HSE news release and falls webpage • Leicester Mercury • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Fingers cut off after machine guards are disabled
Stockport engineering firm Hayles Pressings Ltd has been fined £2,500 for criminal safety offences after one of its employees lost four fingers when his hand was crushed in a power press whose safety guards had been disabled days earlier. The 62-year-old from Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire, who has asked not to be named, had been using the machine to cut electrical components from a thin strip of steel when his hand became caught between the unguarded cutting tools.
HSE news release • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Cheshire manufacturer fined over severed finger
A Cheshire firm which makes large steel containers has been sentenced after one of its employees lost part of a finger at a factory in Ellesmere Port. Greif UK Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation into the incident on 23 September 2011.
HSE news release • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Australia: Tougher penalties needed on work bullying
Workplace bullying is a hidden problem in Australian workplaces and must be treated as seriously as physical hazards to workers, unions told a parliamentary inquiry this week. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) submission to the House of Representatives Inquiry into workplace bullying recommends tougher penalties, including jail terms for extreme cases, and a greater recognition that employers have a responsibility to provide a bullying-free workplace.
ACTU news release and Submission on Inquiry into Workplace Bullying [pdf] • The Age • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Warehouse workers could have been killed
Three Wirral employees could have been killed if they had fallen while carrying out work to a warehouse roof in Birkenhead, a court has heard. The Davidson Williams (Merseyside) Ltd employees wore hard hats and high-visibility jackets, but that neither of those items would have saved their lives if they had fallen through one of the fragile panels or off the edge of the roof.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Britain: Sedentary lifestyles could mean a shorter lifespan
If you top off a day slumped in front of a computer with an evening on the couch, you could be lopping a year or more off your life, new research suggests. A US study concluded limiting the time we spend sitting to just three hours a day could add an extra two years to our life expectancy.
Peter T Katzmarzyk and I-Min Lee. Sedentary behaviour and life expectancy in the USA: a cause-deleted life table analysis, BMJ Open, volume 2, issue 4, 9 July 2012. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000828 • BBC News Online • Risks 564 • 14 July 2012
Hazards news, 7 July 2012
Britain: TUC alert as work death rate stays up
The TUC has called for a change of direction from the government after statistics on deaths at work showed the rate had remained the same for a second year, up over 17 per cent on the record low figure in 2009/10. Deaths normally dip in a recession as a result of reduced activity in the economy.
HSE news release and statistics website • TUC news release • Morning Star • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Scottish workplaces more likely to kill
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has expressed concern at an ‘unacceptable increase’ in workplace fatalities in Scotland. New Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show the number of fatalities in Scotland in 2011/2012 was 20, up from 14 the previous year; the fatality rate of 0.8 deaths per 100,000 workers in the country compares to 0.6 per 100,000 in Britain overall.
STUC news release • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Europe: Unions call for a new work safety strategy
Unions are calling for an ambitious European agenda on workplace health and safety, and are demanding EU-wide action to tackle work-related cancers and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). They warn that the economic crisis should not be used as an excuse to backtrack on safety standards.
ETUC news release and resolutions on a new occupational safety and strategy and action on musculoskeletal disorders • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Protest at government attack on safety rules
Protesters demanding the government ‘Stop it, you’re killing us’ gathered outside the London HQ of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on 3 July. The event, attended by over 50 placard and banner waving union and safety campaigners who want the government to stop eroding legal safety protection, came a day before the end of a government consultation on 14 measures that could see some safety rules, including the cranes register, axed.
GMB news release • Demotix.com • SHP Online, including video clips of the demonstation. Stop it, you’re killing us poster • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
USA: Watchdog steps back from voluntary programmes
The official US workplace safety enfor cer OSHA is stepped back from the controversial Voluntary Protection Programmes (VPP) that reward workplaces reporting lower-than-average injury and illness rates, and is supporting greater employee involvement and whistleblowing instead.
Testimony by Jordan Barab, OSHA, to the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Committee on Education and the Workforce, US House of Representatives, 28 June 2012. i-Watch news • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Unions demand a halt to coastguard cuts
Unions representing coastguards and seafarers have demanded a halt to the government's planned cuts and closure programme to coastguard and maritime rescue centres. The move by unions PCS and RMT came as it emerged one of the threatened rescue facilities, Clyde, is set to be closed in December this year even though a planned new national Maritime Operation Centre is not due to open until 2014.
PCS news release • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Union no to relaxed train breakdown plan
Network Rail plans to relax train breakdown safety procedures during the London Olympics have been condemned by train drivers’ union ASLEF. Last week Network Rail management told union representatives they wanted to introduce ‘temporary working arrangements’ for the duration of the London Olympics, which start on 27 July.
ASLEF news release • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Rail emergencies show need for safe staffing
Travel emergencies and a safe evacuation after a fire on a Virgin train last week demonstrate the crucial role of the train guard and other safety-critical staff, rail union RMT has said. The union said last week’s weather-related travel chaos, including the safe evacuation of a Virgin Voyager train after a fire, “are the most graphic recent demonstration of the kind of emergency situations that are thrown at rail and transport staff without any notice and which only skilled and trained staff in adequate numbers can safely deal with.”
RMT news release • BBC News Online • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Public behind flight safety campaign
The overwhelming majority of the British public believe the UK should stick with existing flight safety rules rather than adopt new EU rules that could leave pilots dangerously fatigued. Jim McAuslan, general secretary of the pilots’ union BALPA, said: “The government must realise that the British public take their safety aboard British aircraft seriously and are not content to allow our good quality fatigue regulations to be watered down by Brussels.”
BALPA news release • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: School’s out for caretaker injured in fall
A Nottingham school caretaker who was injured when he fell from a stepladder at work while trying to repair a faulty window had to take medical retirement as a result. The unnamed UNISON member, who was 64 when the incident occurred in 2008, suffering tendon damage to his neck and left shoulder, making it painful to work with his hands above head height.
UNISON news release • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Injured groundsman never returned to work
A council groundsman suffered a knee injury at work so serious he wasn’t able to return to his job. UNISON member John Brown, 65, from Mitcham in Surrey needed surgery on his right knee after he suffered ligament damage when he tripped on a piece of protruding concrete at Morden Recreational Ground.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Piece work increases the work injury rate
Almost twice as many piece rate workers suffer from workplace injuries as those on standard contracts, according to research from Lancaster University Management School. The increased productivity gained by employers from piece rate work is lost through increased absence and the cost of compensation, the authors note.
Keith A Bender, Colin P Green and John S Heywood. Piece rates and workplace injury: Does survey evidence support Adam Smith?, Journal of Population Economics , volume 25, number 2, 2012 [abstract] • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: UK workers are overwhelming drug free – study
A study by a global drug testing firm has confirmed the overwhelming majority of UK workers are drug-free. However, the report from Concateno, which looked at drug tests conducted by 856 UK employers in industries including logistics, haulage, policing, utilities, retail, occupational health, manufacturing, construction, commerce, and healthcare, also suggests there has been an increase in companies demanding testing. TUC drugs at work webpages and guide to drug testing at work • The Guardian. Concateno global drug testing service • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Global: Outrage at new asbestos mine in Canada
Asbestos victims have joined a global chorus of disapproval at a decision by authorities in Canada to underwrite the development costs of a giant new asbestos mine. On 29 June, the provincial government in Quebec announced it would provide a multimillion dollar loan guarantee to allow the reopening and expansion of the Jeffrey Asbestos Mine.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) •
National Post • Toronto Star • Globe and Mail • Mineweb.com • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Lawbreaking firms to face £124-an-hour charges
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has confirmed its delayed cost recovery scheme, Fee for Intervention (FFI), will now start on 1 October 2012. The new approach, which is subject to parliamentary approval but has already got the green light from ministers, could see HSE recover costs of £124-an-hour from firms who break health and safety laws.
HSE news release and guidance on the fee for intervention scheme • Construction Enquirer • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Regulation low on burdens hitlist for business
In a marked contrast to government claims, regulations are not a big concern to business, who would much rather see ministers take action to drum up business and free up cash, an official survey has concluded. The Business Perceptions Survey 2012, published last week by the government’s business department (BIS), found while only 14 per cent of businesses cite regulation as the main barrier they face, 45 per cent say that attracting and retaining customers is their biggest challenge and 16 per cent cite access to finance.
TUC Touchstone blog • BIS Business Perceptions Survey 2012 [pdf] • Update on review of health and safety guidance, paper to the March 2012 HSE board meeting [pdf] • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Firm guilty of manslaughter but bosses go free
A company has admitted the corporate manslaughter of a worker in a 40ft fall - but three of its bosses have walked free from court after manslaughter and criminal safety charges were dropped. Maintenance worker Stephen Berry, 45, died while working on a leaky roof at the premises of Lion Steel Equipment Ltd in Dukinfield in May 2008.
CPS statement • Oldham Chronicle • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: AMEC convicted over worker's fatal fall
Construction giant AMEC has been convicted of criminal safety offences after a worker fell 22 metres to his death in Manchester. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted principal contractor, Amec Group Ltd, and employer Shawton Engineering Ltd after 25-year-old Christopher Heaton suffered fatal injuries after falling approximately seven storeys on 29 April 2004.
HSE news release • BBC News Online • Manchester Evening News • Construction Enquirer • Hazards magazine • Shawton Engineering • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Company boss fined after worker left paralysed
A demolition boss has been prosecuted after a worker was left paralysed following a fall from the roof of a Sunderland pub. The 67-year-old injured man from Sunderland, who has asked not to be named, was working for David Brian Riseborough, trading as The North Eastern Demolition Company, when the incident happened on 29 June 2010.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Sunderland Echo • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Britain: Blacklisters face professional abuses charges
Top construction industry managers implicated in a blacklisting scandal are facing allegations they are guilty of serious professional misconduct. The first complaints referred to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD), whose new Code of Conduct came into effect on 1 July, were submitted this week by the Blacklist Support Group (BSG).
Blacklist blog • Risks 563 • 7 July 2012
Hazards news, 30 June 2012
Britain: Olympics rail proposals are ‘potentially lethal’
Last minute Olympics rail proposals are designed to cut corners on existing safety procedures in the event of a broken down train “with potentially lethal consequences”, rail union RMT has warned.
RMT news release and 28 June update • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Korea: Protesters confront Samsung on work diseases
Dozens of environmental and labour rights advocates from across the globe rallied outside the Seoul headquarters of electronic multinational Samsung on 20 June, in protest at what they describe as an “occupational disease crisis” on its production lines.
About 30 international activists joined the large demonstration by bereaved families.
Stop Samsung blog • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: UCATT demands answers after site fatality
Construction union UCATT is demanding answers after a site worker was killed and another was seriously in Glasgow in an incident involving a lifting boom it is suspected was defective. A year earlier the fire brigade had to rescue workers from the same machine, provided by Craig Services and Access Ltd, when its boom broke in the same place.
UCATT news release • Daily Record • The Scotsman • STV News • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: UCATT welcomes Labour gangmaster pledge
Construction union UCATT have welcomed a commitment by Ed Miliband to extend the reach of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). The Labour leader made the pledge in a 22 June speech on immigration policy to the IPPR thinktank, promising to extend the scope of GLA to all sectors where workers are being exploited.
UCATT news release • People Management • The Guardian • Morning Star • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: Vibration failures cost worker his job
National Grid has been made to twice pay compensation to a worker who was forced to take medical retirement, aged just 48. Keith Rydings, now 49, developed painful carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) after working with vibrating tools for employer National Grid Gas, but six years later, new management made him use vibrating tools again.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: Pipe fitter suffered serious scalding
A self-employed pipe fitter was left with a nine inch scar on his thigh after he was scalded by boiling water. Unite member Graham Tyers, 61, needed to take five weeks off work as a result of the injury, which happened when he was working as a sub-contractor for Ailsen Limited.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Global: Union action on ‘Black Sea of shame’
Trade unions from Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine say they intend to shame governments into action over the shocking condition of shipping on the Black Sea. Steve Cotton, maritime coordinator with ITF, the global union federation that published the report, commented: “Our inspectors and our member unions are dealing with the human costs of unsafe and ageing shipping, and managements who consider crews a dispensable luxury, to be paid at whim and undeserving of basic protections, including insurance against death and injury.”
ITF news release and report, Black Sea of Shame • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Europe: Firms could benefit from better sick leave rights
Workers who fall sick during their annual leave are entitled to take corresponding paid leave at a later date, the European Union’s top court has ruled. And the ruling could be good news for businesses too, with a forthcoming US study linking paid sick leave to a dramatic reduction in workplace injuries and related costs.
European Court of Justice news release [pdf] and full ruling • BBC News Online •
Abay Asfaw, Regina Pana-Cryan and Roger Rosa. Paid sick leave and nonfatal occupational injuries, American Journal of Public Health, 2012, e-view ahead of print.
doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300482 • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: HSE admits Legionnaires’ concerns
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has admitted concerns about the possible extent of Legionnaires’ disease risk after inspections at six firms in Edinburgh found two were falling criminally short of the legally required safe practices. So far two deaths have been linked to the Edinburgh outbreak, with three patients in intensive care and the number thought to have been affected by the outbreak had risen to 95, with 48 confirmed cases and 47 suspected cases.
Daily Herald • BBC News Online • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: HSE chair to remain in top seat
Judith Hackitt has been reappointed for a second term as chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The former director of chemical industry lobby group the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) has already occupied the top seat for five years, and her tenure has now been extended until October 2015.
DWP news release • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: Asbestos compensation timebomb for academies
Academy and free school governors have been warned that they are legally and financially liable for occupational diseases linked to asbestos exposure in their schools. The Asbestos in Schools (AiS) group says that some academies have been led to believe that they have full public liability insurance to cover pupils for asbestos exposure risks when in fact “the wording in policies fails to give that cover”.
SecEd • Asbestos in Schools • Irwin Mitchell news release • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Europe: Unions to be ‘REACH ambassadors’
Unions in Europe are to become ‘REACH ambassadors’ in companies using chemicals. ETUC and IndustriAll Europe, part of the global union federation covering workers in the chemical sector, say they “are calling on their member organisations to alert employers about their responsibilities through a new campaign in collaboration with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).”
ETUC news release and REACH leaflet • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: Another study links night work to breast cancer
A new study has reinforced concerns that women undertaking night work can face an increased risk of breast cancer. Reporting their findings online in the International Journal of Cancer, the French study concludes the risk of developing breast cancer was 30 per cent higher in women who had worked nights compared to women who had never worked nights.
Florence Menegaux and others. Night work and breast cancer: a population-based case-control study in France (the CECILE study), International Journal of Cancer, published online ahead of print 26 June 2012. DOI: 10.1002/ijc.27669 [abstract]. Inserm news release • Science Daily • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Global: Standing at work is bad for a pregnancy
Standing for long periods at work while pregnant may curb the growth of the developing fetus, new research indicates. Dutch researchers, who published their findings online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found women who spent long periods on their feet during their pregnancy, in jobs such as sales, childcare, and teaching, had babies whose heads were an average of 1 cm (3 per cent) smaller than average at birth, implying a slower growth rate, and those who worked more than 40 hours a week had smaller babies than those who worked under 25 hours a week.
Claudia A Snijder, Teus Brand, Vincent Jaddoe, Albert Hofman, Johan P Mackenbach, Eric AP Steegers and Alex Burdorf. Physically demanding work, fetal growth and the risk of adverse birth outcomes. The Generation R Study, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 27 June 2012, Online First doi 10.1136/oemed-2011-100615. TUC working feet and footwear guide [pdf] • More on the occupational hazards of standing • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: Roads are workplace too, MP says
An MP has criticised an enforcement anomaly which means workers killed or injured on the roads do not come under the Health and Safety Executive’s enforcement umbrella. Sheffield MP Meg Munn, speaking in a Commons debate last week, said even a government “underestimate” suggesting 24 per cent of serious injuries and 30 per cent of road deaths in 2010 could be linked to work-related road traffic accidents meant “on average, 11 deaths and 105 serious injuries every week.”
Meg Munn MP news release • SHP Online • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: Dye worker in Leek suffers severe burns
A Leek company that makes webbing for seatbelts and harnesses has been fined after an employee trapped both arms in a machine and suffered severe burns. Stewart Wood, a dye machine operative at Marling Leek Limited, was working a night shift on 2 August 2011 when webbing became wrapped around the machine's rollers.
HSE news release • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: Wood planer shaves off finger
A glazing company has been fined for safety breaches after a worker lost part of a finger in a woodworking machine at its factory in Aldershot. Norbert Pietrzkiewicz's little finger on his right hand was drawn into a cutting block rotating at 7,000 rpm as he worked on reducing the thickness of lengths of timber at the Total Installations Ltd factory on 18 February last year.
HSE news release • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Britain: Jack fractures fitter’s skull
A Suffolk haulage operator has been prosecuted after one of its workers suffered a fractured skull as he tried to recover a 17-tonne abandoned excavator. Experienced fitter Paul Collins, 51, had worked for Tannington Transport for only three months when he was struck on the head by a heavy-duty vehicle jack when it 'popped' out of position. HSE news release • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Canada: Feds knew ‘safe’ asbestos was a lie
Canada’s federal government acknowledged years ago that the dangers of chrysotile asbestos warranted limits on its export - but still fought against international restrictions over the past decade – according to official internal records.
Vancouver Sun • Risks 562 • 30 June 2012
Hazards news, 23 June 2012
Britain: Government must act on work cancer findings
Urgent action from the government is required to deal with the huge death toll from work-related cancer, the TUC has said. The TUC call came as government-backed research published in the British Journal of Cancer confirmed 37 new cases of occupational cancer are diagnosed every day of the year, with a worker dying of the condition caused by their job once every hour around the clock.
TUC news release • Occupational Cancer in Britain, British Journal of Cancer, volume 107, issue S1 (S1-S108), Guest editors Lesley Rushton and Gareth Evans, supplement published 19 June 2012 • The Telegraph • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
USA: Unions are good for your health
Unions are good for your health, a new study has found. Researchers from Duke University in the USA found that more unionised American workers consider themselves healthy than do their non-union counterparts, an indication that membership is good for the body as well as the pay cheque.
Duke University research blog • Megan Reynolds and David Brady. Bringing you more than the weekend: Union membership and self-rated health in the US, Social Forces volume 90, pages 1023-1049, 2012 [pdf].
CEPR blog • National Electrical Contractors Association news report • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: HSE accused of ‘deplorable’ rogue consultation
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been accused of a ‘deplorable’ attempt to ‘to stitch together a case to scrap regulations which save construction workers’ lives.’ Construction union UCATT said it has caught HSE undermining its own formal consultation procedures by embarking on a ‘rogue’ parallel consultation involving only construction contractors.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Hazards magazine • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Screen slavers put health at risk
UK office workers are putting their mental and physical health at risk by working more than two hours extra each night on their commute and at home, a new survey for the physios’ union CSP has found.
CSP news release • BBC News Online • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Japan: Work suicides, heart disease and depression up
Official compensation payouts for work-related suicides and depression in Japan are running at a record high, the health ministry has said. Figures for 2011 reveal the number of payouts approved for work-related mental illnesses climbed to an all-time high of 325 in the 2011 tax year.
Japan Times • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Health problems rife in call centres
The physical and mental health of the UK’s million call centre workers is at significant risk, a survey by the public sector union UNISON has found. The union says the findings highlight the toll that pressurised, target-driven and closely-monitored working can take on call centre staff, preventing from taking the necessary measures to protect their health and wellbeing.
UNISON news release • Morning Star • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Sacked for requesting a waterproof coat
A Barnet parking attendant required to brave the recent heavy rains was sacked by contractor NSL when he asked for a waterproof jacket. The union GMB is calling for the reinstatement of Babatunde Ojikutu, a GMB member and one of 60 Barnet council employees who transferred to NSL along with the parking enforcement contract on 1 May this year.
GMB news release • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: RMT exposes ‘lethal cocktail’ of rail reforms
Rail union RMT has told MPs they should demand the government abandon its support for the “catastrophic course of cuts and profiteering” recommended in an official rail review. RMT general secretary Bob Crow told the a Transport Select Committee inquiry on 19 June the McNulty rail review, whose findings were accepted in their entirety by the government, would create the perfect ‘lethal cocktail’ of conditions for another Hatfield or Potters Bar disaster on Britain’s railways.
RMT news release • Transport Select Committee Rail 2020 inquiry • The Telegraph • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Traumatised gardener left unprotected from pricks
A gardener contracted a life-threatening infection because his employer ignored his requests for thorn-proof gloves. The 59-year-old from Derbyshire, whose name has not been released, was in intensive care for two weeks after being pricked by the Berberis bush whilst working as a gardener for Broxtowe Borough Council.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Bottle factory worker loses his senses
A plastic bottle factory worker was left with a 90 per cent reduction in his ability to taste and smell after suffering two injuries minutes apart. The Unite member was initially injured when his hand was dragged into a bottle labelling machine at Artenius PET Packaging UK Ltd in Wrexham as he tried to fix it.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
India: Union concern after deadly steel blast
A massive explosion at a government-owned steel plant in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has killed at least 11 people. The blast occurred at about 8.30pm on 13 June and triggered a fire in the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) plant in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam.
IMF news report • BBC News Online • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Axe-wielding minister hides behind ‘burdens’ lie
The government’s drive to cut health and safety regulation is going to plan, safety minister Chris Grayling has said, reiterating unsubstantiated government claims about safety ‘burdens’ to justify it.
A progress report on implementation of health and safety reforms, DWP, June 2012 [pdf]. DWP health and safety policy updates webpage • SHP Online • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: UK dust standard leaves waste workers in peril
The waste industry must adopt “much lower exposure limits” for dust at work or workers will be left at risk of potentially life-threatening occupational diseases, a study has concluded.
BOHRF project description • Review of health risks for workers in the waste and recycling industry, IOM, 2012 [pdf] • Dust in the workplace, TUC, September 2011 [pdf] • Hazards magazine workplace dust webpages and graphic guide to occupational dust diseases • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Brain damaged worker gets lifetime care package
The family of a Bristol man left fighting for his life after he was hit on the head by a section of scaffold pole that fell 18 floors down a lift shaft is calling for improved health and safety in the construction industry after he had an undisclosed ‘substantial’ seven figure lifetime care package approved at Bristol High Court. Father-of-five Richard Chodkiewicz, 54, was left with horrific, life changing head injuries as a result of the July 2008 incident during the construction of the Radisson Blu Hotel in the city. It was almost 18 months before.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Nordex UK fined after teen’s wind farm death
A wind turbine manufacturer has been fined £26,000 after admitting criminal safety failings at a site where a teenage worker fell 100ft to his death. Basilio Brazao, 19, from Brazil, died instantly when he fell down the shaft of a wind turbine at the Earlsburn wind farm near Fintry, Stirlingshire.
BBC News Online • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Concrete slab kills carpenter on university site
A carpenter died when a large slab of concrete fell on him during construction of a new accommodation block at Bath University. Philip Hames, of Weston-super-Mare, was working for Creagh Concrete Products, which was convicted of a criminal safety offence and was fined £100,000 plus costs of £140,000 at Bristol Crown Court.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • BBC News Online • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Europe: Unions demand action on strains
Union bodies have called on the European Commission to “assume political responsibility” and produce “without delay” a draft European Union-wide law to protect workers from musculoskeletal injuries. The demand for action on workplace strains comes in a statement from the European Trade Union Confederation and four other Europe-wide trade union bodies.
ETUC news release and Joint ETUC-ETUI-EPSU-UNI-EFBWW statement [pdf] • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Scaffold collapsed after firm ignored safety pleas
A now defunct Croydon construction company has been prosecuted after a worker fell eight metres from a scaffold tower that he hadn’t wanted to build for safety reasons. Green Acre Homes (South East) Ltd, which ceased to operate a year ago, failed to listen to the concerns raised by handyman John Morgan, who had been instructed to build a tower scaffold on a building site in Peckham, south London.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Fine after worker has his body ripped open
A West Yorkshire engineering firm has been fined after a worker miraculously escaped death when he became entangled in a rotating machine tool that caught him by the neck. P Craven Engineering Co Ltd employee Tomas Cisarik, 33, suffered a deep gash running 20cm long and 8cm wide on his back, which left his internal organs exposed.
HSE news release • Dewsbury Reporter • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Teens ‘narrowly escaped death’ at work
A Derbyshire manufacturing firm and its director have been fined after two teenage agency workers ‘narrowly escaped death’ in a fall from a platform above a heap of supermarket trolleys. Derby Crown Court heard that the two 18-year-olds were helping to put scrapped trolleys into a skip using a makeshift lifting platform designed by Storetec Limited director Brian Crossan to fit a forklift truck.
HSE news release • Derby Telegraph • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Hazards news, 16 June 2012
Global: Unions call for action on diesel fumes cancers
Unions have called for urgent action to protect workers and the public from diesel exhaust fumes after the common workplace hazard was confirmed as a proven cause of cancer in humans. An expert panel convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a United Nations body, announced on 11 June that diesel had been reclassified as a top rated ‘Group 1’ carcinogen.
IARC news release [pdf] and interviews, video casts and report, IARC Monographs – volume 105, Diesel and gasoline engine exhausts and some nitroarenes • GMB news release • The Pump Handle and related article on the industry’s bid to undermine the evidence • OH-world.org • The Scotsman • BBC News Online • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
USA: Officials recognise post-9/11 dust cancers
People who developed cancer after being exposed to the toxic ash that was dispersed over Manhattan when the World Trade Center (WTC) collapsed on 9 September 2001 would qualify for free treatment of the disease and potentially hefty compensation payments under a rule proposed by US federal health officials. They say 50 different types of cancer should be added to the list of sicknesses covered by a $4.3 billion fund set up to compensate and treat people exposed to the toxic smoke, dust and fumes in the months after the incident.
NIOSH statement • New York Times • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
USA: Union workers keep workplaces ethical
Workers protected by a union contract create more ethical workplaces, a US study suggests. A report by the Ethics Resource Center (ERC), ‘Inside the mind of a whistleblower,’ found union employees, who are often provided explicit contractual protections, had much higher rates of reporting specific misconduct than non-union employees.
AFL-CIO Now blog • Inside the mind of a whistleblower, Ethics Resource Center, 2012. Government Accountability Project commentary • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Screw turns on blacklisting employers
Firms who were involved in a massive covert blacklisting scheme targeting union and safety activists are facing a three-pronged attack and public exposure. A report from the union GMB released this week exposes widespread use of the blacklist by construction giant Carillion.
GMB news release and full report, Blacklisting - illegal corporate bullying endemic, systemic and deep-rooted in Carillion and other companies [pdf] • Blacklist blog • Public Sector Construction • The Scotsman • Express and Star • Building • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: MPs hear blacklisters named and shamed
The House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee has heard a marathon two hour evidence session from Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith as part of its ongoing investigation into blacklisting in employment. As part of his 12 June evidence, the former UCATT safety rep who an Employment Tribunal this year accepted was blacklisted for his union safety activities, revealed a number of elected politicians had files kept of them by covert blacklisting company The Consulting Association.
Blacklist blog • Parliament TV coverage of testimony by the Blacklist Support Group’s Dave Smith to the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee enquiry into blacklisting in employment • ITV News • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Safety should be an election issue
Health and safety must be put firmly on the election agenda, bakers' union BFAWU delegates has declared. Delegates to the union’s conference this week raised concerns over a phased 35 per cent cut in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This has already led to a dramatic decline in HSE’s activity, including a fall of a third in proactive inspections, with most workplaces now exempted entirely, and has seen the virtual disappearance of HSE’s occupational health wing.
Morning Star • We didn’t vote to die at work campaign and ‘Stop it, you’re killing us’ poster • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Sick notes get computer-generated
The TUC is urging union reps to make sure their employers are aware of changes to the sick note procedure. The current sick note, also called the ‘fit note’, Med3 and medical statement, is to be computer generated from this month, although some GP surgeries will not be using it until later this year or even early in 2013.
Updated TUC fit note guide [pdf] • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: CWU calls for end to dog law delays
The mauling of a Swindon toddler by an out of control dog shows why the government must act now to tackle irresponsible owners, the union CWU has said. Keiron Guess, aged two, had his nose and left ear were ripped off in the attack last week by a neighbour’s dog.
CWU news release • Daily Mirror • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Injury stopped printer working
A print factory worker is still unable to return to work almost two years after injuring his elbow in a fall. The unidentified 35-year-old printer has since lost his job with Impression UK, which has agreed to pay the Unite member an out of court settlement of £190,500.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Electrical engineer suffers vibration injury
An electrical engineer suffered permanent damage to his hands caused by the vibrating tools he used at work. Graeme Kelly, 56, from Jarrow, developed carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) after working with vibrating tools for 34 years at Gateshead-based De La Rue Currency.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Airport fall ended in hospital
A civil servant member needed hospital treatment after falling at Gatwick Airport. The 54-year-old PCS member from Croydon still suffers from exacerbated arthritis in her knee and limps as a result of tripping over loose wiring in April 2011.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Prospect says inspection prevents infection
The union representing Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors and specialists says the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Edinburgh, which by 13 June has claimed one life and left 11 others in intensive care, is a stark reminder that cuts to public services can create dangerous and ultimately expensive health-related problems in the longer term.
Prospect news release • Sunday Herald • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Over 80 cases suspected in Legionnaires' outbreak
The total number of cases of Legionnaires' disease confirmed in the Edinburgh outbreak had risen to 41 on 13 June, with a further 47 suspected cases. One person, 56-year-old building worker Robert Air, has so far died of the disease.
BBC News Online • HSE news releases on the Macfarlan Smith Ltd and improvement notices and Legionnaires’ disease advice • The Guardian • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Global: Union rights violations worsened in 2011
The situation faced by trade unionists across the world grew steadily worse in 2011, according to the annual survey of trade union rights violations published by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). This year's survey, which reported on 143 countries, found that 76 trade unionists were murdered in 2011, with thousands more dismissed and arrested.
ITUC news release and survey findings • TUC news release • IMF news release • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Cutbacks ‘could have allowed’ disease outbreak
Severe cutbacks in the number of safety inspectors and inspections could have allowed the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Edinburgh and may cause future outbreaks in Scotland, experts have warned. Official figures obtained by Hazards magazine show the number employed at HSE’s Edinburgh office has dropped by 8.5 per cent since 2009, from 102 to 94 staff.
Rob Edwards’ online report • Hazards magazine • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Anger at axe threat for cranes register
A proposal to revoke the register of tower cranes, introduced just two years ago, had provoked anger from safety campaigners. The move to axe the Notification of Conventional Tower Cranes Regulations 2010 was announced in a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) consultation document published in April.
CSC/BCDAG demonstration and meeting announcement • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Cranes safety protest at DWP HQ on 3 July
In a protest at official moves to axe crane safety legislation, the Construction Safety Campaign (CSC) and the Battersea Crane Disaster Action Group (BCDAG) have called a 3 July demonstration outside the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) London HQ, to be followed by a public meeting in the House of Commons. An HSE consultation on the changes closes on 4 July.
CSC/BCDAG demonstration and meeting announcement • 16 June 2012
Australia: Businesses not bothered by safety rules
The common claim by governments that businesses, particularly small businesses, are clamouring for deregulation of safety has taken another knock. The media release accompanying the June 2012 Sensis Business Index notes small businesses have many concerns about ‘red tape’ – contractor management, energy rebates, fair trading – but health and safety does not get a mention.
Safety at Work blog • June 2012 Sensis Business Index [pdf] • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Unpaid labour firm in minibus smash
The security company at the centre of a row about its treatment of unpaid workers has faced fresh questions after a minibus carrying 15 of its stewards overturned on a motorway and its driver was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving. Close Protection UK Ltd, which apologised after unpaid stewards employed on a £500,000 contract for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations were forced to sleep under London Bridge in abysmal weather, confirmed that all the people on board the vehicle were its employees.
The Independent • Morning Star • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Network Rail fined after another death
Network Rail has been fined £356,250 after a women died on an unsafe level crossing in Wiltshire. It was the fourth time the company had received a six figure plus fine this year.
ORR news release • BBC News Online • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Decorator fell through dodgy guard rail
A Reading building firm has been prosecuted after a decorator was seriously injured when he fell through a substandard guard rail at a housing development in the town. Phillip Williams, 63, fractured his hip, broke five ribs, chipped a bone in his spine and was left with internal bleeding and clotting around his lungs as a result of the fall on 30 August last year.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Director fined after failing to control asbestos
A Brighton estate management director has been fined after failing to manage the spread of asbestos during the demolition of a building. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Brian Marshall, 44, managing director of Supply on Demand Ltd, for breaching asbestos safety regulations.
HSE news release and duty to manage asbestos webpages • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: Safety lobby gives heart attack advice
Employers should do more to help workers with heart problems, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has said. Unions and campaigners have warned that 20 per cent of all heart disease deaths could be work-related, with occupational stress, unfair treatment, noise, shiftwork, long hours, infections, passive smoking, chemical and dust exposures all implicated.
IOSH news release and Occupational Health Toolkit • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Britain: What’s your experience of ‘well-being’ at work?
The TUC wants to hear of instances where unions have been involved in “well-being” initiatives at work, aiming to promote good health in the workforce. This differs from traditional health and safety approaches, which focus on the avoidance of injury and illness.
Email your examples to the TUC health and safety department • Risks 560 • 16 June 2012
Hazards news, 9 June 2012
Britain: Whistleblowing law undermined by the ‘back door’
The government is bringing in an amendment which will undermine the law on whistleblowing “by the back door”, an employment law expert has warned – and the protection of safety reps and whistleblowers is in the firing line. David Lewis, professor of employment law at Middlesex University and convenor of the International Whistleblowing Research Network, says the section 12 one-line amendment introduced in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill would mean disclosures made by whistleblowers would have to be “in the public interest” in order to protect the individual if they are made redundant or suffer detriment as a result of doing so.
Public Concern at Work news release and briefing • Personnel Today • The Bureau Investigates. Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill [pdf] • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
USA: Employers don’t pay injury costs
‘Cost-shifting’ by US employers and insurers is landing the bill for work-related injuries and ill-health on the public purse and the community at large. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concludes this cost shifting leads to artificially low workers' compensation premiums for employers and provides little incentive for companies to promote workplace safety.
Paul J Leigh and James C Marcin. Workers' compensation benefits and shifting costs for occupational injury and illness, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 54, issue 4, pages 445–450, April 2012. Harvard Business Review. Medical Xpress • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Deadly delays on sharps injuries law
The government must end the ‘horror’ caused to NHS nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and other health workers at risk of bloodborne diseases from sharps injuries, health service union UNISON has said. UNISON head of health Christina McAnea accused the UK government of “dragging its heels” and said: “An EU Directive in 2009 set May 2013 as the deadline for the introduction of safer needles across the European Union,” adding: “But why wait till then to stop the misery of needlestick injuries?”
UNISON news release • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Suspended safety rep back at work
Unite safety rep Jason Poulter, who was suspended after trying to stop a workmate stopping a mechanical saw with his hand, has been reinstated after a show of support from union members. More than 600 workers walked off the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in a show of support for the suspended safety rep.
Morning Star • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: CWU opposes government violence plans
CWU is opposing proposals by the government to make cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS). The postal workers’ union is concerned that victims of dog attacks who previously relied on CICS as a last resort will now receive no compensation to help deal with serious injuries.
CWU news release, submission and Bite Back campaign • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Electric shock trauma cost worker his job
An electrician who fell onto a live electrical board and suffered serious burns to his hand four years ago has been unable to return to his work as a result of nightmares. The Unite member, whose name has not been released, was asked to assess an electrical fault at a local primary school by his employer AD Antrobus when the board was still live so parts could be ordered without disrupting the school's electricity supply.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Pressure hose split worker’s eye ball
A council worker suffered permanent damage to his eye when he was struck by a defective pressure hose. UNISON member Jason Symmonds, 41, needed surgery after the industrial hose hit him in his right eye, splitting his eye ball and causing him to suffer a detached iris.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Union concerned over offshore helicopter safety
Pilots’ union BALPA has warned that decisions on which helicopters are used to serve Britain’s oil rigs must be based on safety, not cost. BALPA’s comments came after oil giant Shell decided against entering into a contract with Bond Offshore Helicopters, the aviation firm that has suffered three major safety incidents in three years.
BALPA news release • BBC News Online • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Unite warning on EU aviation hours plans
Cabin crew union Unite has echoed concerns raised by pilots’ union BALPA and the House of Commons transport select committee that European aviation working hours proposals could jeopardise safety. The union, which represents about 25,000 cabin crew across the airline industry, reiterated their warning that the safety of passengers and crew could be at risk if the proposed rules are adopted.
Unite news release • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Global: Preventing work cancers is possible and preferable
A dispute about priorities for cancer prevention is simmering in the medical press, with top occupational and environmental cancer experts hitting back at those who say the focus should be limited to improving ‘lifestyle’. The debate resurfaced this week in The Lancet Oncology, with US and UK academics challenging the view “that people will be diverted from addressing their risky lifestyles by too much public concern about environmental and occupational exposures,” adding: “This view implies that people cannot hold two thoughts in their heads at the same time and we cannot as a society try to prevent cancer with several causes.”
Jamie Page, Paul Whaley, Andrew Watterson and Richard Clapp. Priorities for cancer prevention, The Lancet Oncology, volume 13, issue 6, Page e230, June 2012 [preview] • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
USA: Employers don’t pay injury costs
‘Cost-shifting’ by US employers and insurers is landing the bill for work-related injuries and ill-health on the public purse and the community at large. A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concludes this cost shifting leads to artificially low workers' compensation premiums for employers and provides little incentive for companies to promote workplace safety.
Paul J Leigh and James C Marcin. Workers' compensation benefits and shifting costs for occupational injury and illness, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 54, issue 4, pages 445–450, April 2012. Harvard Business Review. Medical Xpress • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Fewer promotions mean more heart attacks
Civil servants working in departments with high promotion rates were 20 per cent less likely to suffer heart attacks, a UK study has found. The authors say their findings reinforce a growing body of research that indicates upward mobility and socioeconomic status have important effects on physical health.
Michael Anderson and Michael Marmot. The effects of promotions on heart disease: Evidence from Whitehall, The Economic Journal, volume 122, issue 561, pages 555–589, June 2012 [abstract]. The Observer • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Government can’t leave safety to business
The government’s insistence that workplace safety laws hold back the economy and that safety enforcement is a diversion business could and should do without is “a cynical – and ultimately deadly – lie,” a new report has charged. A new issue of the safety journal Hazards magazine examining the government’s safety strategy notes: “Safety regulations and enforcement are out of favour, and for more and more workers, this could mean they are out of luck.”
You lie, we die and Dark hearts, special features in Hazards, number 118, 2012 • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Korea: Blood disorder claims another Samsung worker
Campaigners in Korea say another young worker has died as a result of toxic exposures in a Samsung electronics factory. Former Samsung worker Yun Seul-ki, 32, died of aplastic anaemia, a condition she developed aged 18 while working for the company.
SHARPS news report and 5 June 2012 joint statement from SHARPS, Committee for Samsung Leukaemia Victims in Chungnam Province, Federation of Korean Metal Workers Trade Unions and Korean Confederation of Trade Unions • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Multinational recycling firm fined over death
The UK arm of an international recycling giant with a turnover in the billions has been fined £200,000 after a 21-year-old employee died from head injuries at its paper baling site in Tipton. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted SITA UK Ltd after Mark Bate was killed instantly when the arm of a JCB skid steer loader crushed his head on 12 June 2008.
HSE news release and workplace transport guide [pdf] • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
USA: Rules on workplace toxics stalled
Workers in the US are suffering slow, agonising deaths from occupational diseases because improved standards on well-established killers like beryllium and silica are being stalled by industry interference and a legislative system that can keep new rules on the back burner indefinitely. Rena Steinzor, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and president of the Center for Progressive Reform said: “OSHA hasn’t made a serious run at regulating chemicals in the workplace in a couple of decades.”
iWatch News • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Equipment supplier fined after hand is severed
A worker from County Durham had his hand severed while carrying out maintenance on glass cutting machinery. Equipment manufacturer and installer Lisec (UK and Ireland) Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at Solaglas (Architectural) Ltd, in Bishop Auckland on 12 September 2007.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Suffolk roofer’s unbalanced power tool exhibition
The director of a Suffolk roofing firm has been fined for safety failings after he was caught on camera using a power tool while balancing on the ridge of a house roof. Anthony Nightingale, the director of 3A Roofing Ltd, was filmed using a petrol-powered disc cutter to cut through a tile while he and an employee worked on the roof without any measures in place to stop them being from falling.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Britain: Furniture firm gets fined for fire breaches
A furniture firm has been prosecuted by the fire service for flouting fire safety laws. CFS Furniture was fined £14,000 for seven offences that put workers at risk.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service news release • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
China: No change for iPad workers
A controversial independent labour standards audit of a key Apple subcontractor in China which led Apple to promise sweeping changes has not so far delivered improvements, a study has concluded. The findings of the Hong Kong labour rights organisation Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) were released on 31 May, two months after the report of an Fair Labor Association (FLA) investigation of Apple supplier Foxconn was published.
SACOM news release and full report • Good Electronics news release • IMF news report • iSick and iTired, Hazards magazine, number 118, 2012 • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Global: Doubt cast on ‘ethical’ production claims
When multinationals are discovered to be using exploited labour to manufacture their products, it doesn’t go down well with consumers. But a study has found their typical responses - codes of conduct, compliance programmes and audits - do not deliver sustained improvements in labour conditions over time, instead identifying problems then leaving them to fester.
The Economist • Risks 559 • 9 June 2012
Hazards news, 2 June 2012
Britain: HSE health expertise ‘destroyed by stealth’
The retirement in May 2012 of the chief medical adviser for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has left its Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS) close to collapse, a top HSE trade union rep has warned. Simon Hester, a frontline HSE field inspector and chair of the union Prospect’s HSE branch, said 20 years ago it employed 60 occupational health doctors and 62 nurses but is now down to 2.2 doctors, only one of whom is full-time.
The Guardian • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
USA: Fracking workers in deadly peril
If you work in the hydraulic fracturing industry - better known as “fracking”, a process used to free natural gas and oil from shale rock - you may be exposed to high levels of crystalline silica, putting you at risk of silicosis, lung cancer and other debilitating diseases. The warning comes in a letter sent by US unions to top federal safety agencies. AFL-CIO blog and letter. NIOSH science blog • Bloomberg • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Worker fired after challenging unsafe work
A woman who was fired after challenging a management move she felt would leave her at risk of violence has won an unfair dismissal claim. GMB member Karen Seacombe, 48, lost her job as a social club steward after a dispute with her employer over attending burglar alarm call-outs at night on her own.
GMB news release • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Thailand: Walmart told to stop abuses
In April 2012, 2,000 migrant workers in a factory in Thailand that processes shrimp for a major supplier to global retail giant Walmart revolted against their abusive and degrading conditions, the global foodworkers’ union federation IUF reports, and were shot at for their trouble. According to IUF, Walmart's internal systems claim to protect against these abuses, some of which have been described by the Bangkok Post as “the equivalent of actual slavery.”
IUF news release and SumOfUs petition • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Union slams ‘know nothing’ ministers on safety
Ministers who “know nothing” about workplaces should stop attacking safety, a union leader has said. UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy said: “Ministers who know nothing about workplaces claim that red tape is strangling business, that the health and safety monster must be tamed,” but added: “Perhaps they should try telling that to the families of the 47 construction workers who were killed last year.”
UCATT news release • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Warning on dangerous flying hours
An influential Commons committee has backed pilots’ concerns about new European flying hour limits. A report from the Transport Select Committee says that the proposals, which could see pilots landing planes after being awake for a 22 hour stretch, could jeopardise safety.
Transport Select Committee news release and report • BALPA news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Europe: SUBSPORT route to chemical safety
A new online tool intended to help businesses move from toxic chemicals to less dangerous alternatives has been launched. The SUBSPORT project, which has involved unions in its design and development, provides free-of-charge multilingual tools. ChemSec news release • ChemSec news report, portal and case history database • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Olympics deal done, but safety still a concern
Tube union RMT has reached an agreement with London Underground (LU) over Olympics recognition and rewards, but has unresolved safety concerns it is demanding are addressed. RMT says it remains “deeply concerned” at the staffing levels planned by LU and “the use of untrained volunteers at a time when safety and security will be absolutely paramount.”
RMT news release • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: RMT warning after another Network Rail fine
Rail union RMT has demanded a halt to safety-critical job cuts after Network Rail was fined £150,000 for criminal safety breaches related to the death of a track maintenance worker and devastating injuries to another in two separate incidents in the Thames Valley region. It had already received two seven figure fines for criminal safety breaches this year.
RMT news release • ORR news release • Reading Post • Construction Enquirer • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: More activity on blacklisting at work
The companies and security services believed to be involved in a notorious blacklist of union safety activities are to face closer scrutiny from a union and a parliamentary committee.
Scottish Affairs Select Committee blacklisting in employment inquiry • Morning Star on the blacklist law call and the Scottish Affairs Select Committee inquiry • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Global: Night shifts linked to increase in breast cancer
Working night shifts more than twice a week is associated with a 40 per cent increased risk of breast cancer, a study has found. The long term study, published online on 28 May 2012 in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found those who had worked nights at least three times a week for at least six years were more than twice as likely to have the disease as those who had not.
Johnni H and Lassen, CF. Nested case-control study of night shift work and breast cancer risk among women in the Danish military, OEM, Online First, 28 May 2012, doi 10.1136/oemed-2011-100240.
TUC news release and occupational cancer guide [pdf] • Alliance for Cancer Prevention news release • The Guardian • Daily Mail • The Telegraph • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Cutting regulations is costing millions
The government is spending more than £10 million annually on efforts to ‘ease the regulatory burden on business’. Top spenders include the Better Regulation Executive (BRE), which develops policies to ‘reduce regulation’, costs £3.9m a year to run and employs 44 civil servants.
Environmental Health News • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Businesses don’t care if staff suffer
Many employees feel it to be true and now research has proved it – businesses really don’t care how constant change affects their staff. Business failure is directly related to senior managers not understanding or caring that change can knock a workforce off its feet, according to researchers from the University of Portsmouth Business School.
University of Portsmouth news release • . Gary Rees and Sally Rumbles. Continuous organizational change and burnout, International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 11, Issue 3, pages 179-194, 2012 [abstract] • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Scaling back gangmaster watchdog invites exploitation
Fruit pickers, shellfish gatherers and farm labourers could be at greater risk of exploitation under plans to reduce regulation of gangmasters, unions have warned.
Ministers want to scrap automatic inspections for businesses applying to use or supply groups of workers.
TUC news release • Defra announcement • BBC News Online • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Labour promises clampdown on phoenix firms
A Labour government will stop dangerous companies using a legal loophole to fold and evade safety fines. Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said it was wrong the government was prepared to stand by while negligent businesses evade justice after workplace deaths.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Construction Enquirer • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Accidental death verdict on illicit distillery deaths
An inquest has returned accidental death verdicts on five Lithuanian nationals who were killed when an illicit vodka distillery on a Lincolnshire industrial estate exploded. The inquest was told vapours in the air may have been ignited by a spark when a cigarette was lit inside the industrial unit on 13 July 2011.
Boston Standard • ITV News • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Fit-for-work checks should be scrapped, say GPs
Family doctors have called for an end to the work capability assessment introduced by the government in a bid to get more people off benefits and back to work. The British Medical Association’s conference last week called for the fit-for-work checks to be scrapped because of the harm they do to vulnerable patients.
BMA news release • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Fines imposed following scaffolding fall death
A firm, its director and a supervisor have been sentenced for safety failings after a worker died from injuries sustained in a fall from scaffolding at a construction site in East Sussex. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Apex Scaffolding (Sussex) Ltd, its director, Michael Walsh, and Leslie Hustwayte, a supervisor, for negligence and defects that contributed towards the incident on 10 August 2009.
HSE news release • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Shopworkers cheat death in building collapse
A Sheffield property developer has been fined after a building partly collapsed and sent tonnes of rubble through a neighbouring shop roof - just missing two shopworkers. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said developer Ghulam Rasul put the lives of the workers and of the local community at serious risk when he deliberated flouted a legal enforcement notice ordering him to halt all demolition work at the site because the building was potentially unstable.
HSE news release • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Hazards news, 26 May 2012
Britain: Safety cuts already causing hurt
The government’s drive to reduce regulation and enforcement of workplace health and safety is already causing harm at work, the union Unite has said. The union has been asking its union reps how the changes are impacting on standards at work, ahead of the government’s own progress report later this year.
Unite report • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
USA: Groups say styrene has earned cancer tag
One of the USA’s largest unions and leading environmental advocacy groups started legal proceedings last week aimed at making sure the US government can alert the American public to the potenti l dangers of top cancer suspect styrene. The legal action by USW, the Environmental Defense Fund and Earthjustice is in support of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ listing of styrene as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” in response to a chemical industry lawsuit attempting to force the agency to withdraw the styrene warning.
Earthjustice news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: NUJ victory on Dale Farm production order
The NUJ and other media organisations have won a judicial review at the Court of Appeal overturning a court decision to grant a production order which could have left journalists at increased risk of violence. The appeal came after journalists were told they had to hand over to the police unbroadcast footage of the eviction of travellers from Dale Farm in Essex.
NUJ news release • IFJ news release • BBC News Online • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: Dangerous backdrop to offshore gathering
Activists from the offshore branch of maritime and transport union RMT gathered in Dundee this week for a conference where safety issues were a looming concern. The meeting came less than two weeks after Bond Helicopters was forced to ground their fleet for urgent safety checks following a ditching and safe recovery in the North Sea and also follows ongoing safety fears in the wake of the March 2012 gas blowout on the Elgin platform, which lead to an evacuation and an exclusion zone.
RMT news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: Warning on ‘hidden killer’ in schools
UNISON is calling for urgent action to protect education staff from the dangers posed by asbestos in schools. The union was speaking out after a school caretaker and member of UNISON died from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.
UNISON news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: School plumber gets mesothelioma payout
A former plumber has received more than £245,000 in compensation after being diagnosed with a deadly asbestos cancer. The 62-year-old GMB member from Whitchurch, Cardiff, was exposed to asbestos while working as an apprentice plumber for Cardiff Corporation, later known as Cardiff County Council, from 1965 to 1970. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
USA: Inspections are good for safety and jobs
Stopping those nit-picking safety inspectors turning up at firms without so much as an invitation and then taking action against law-breaking employers turns out to be a seriously bad business move. A May 2012 study led by Professor Michael Toffel of the famously-business friendly Harvard Business School discovered a surprise visit from an official safety inspector is good for both jobs and the bottom line, and the benefits just go on and on.
Harvard Business School news release and related Science paper • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: Concern as hauliers ‘abuse’ drivers
A small number of independent Suffolk haulage operators has been accused of “systematic abuses” of their drivers. Unite highlighted the plight of the drivers ahead of a scheduled meeting of a union delegation with Labour’s shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle.
Unite news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: We told you not to cut staff, says RMT
Cuts happy London Underground Ltd is having to undertake a massive recruitment drive after ignoring union warnings about the dangers of cutting staff. RMT said the recruitment of the latest wave of additional staff is an “outright admission that they got their station staffing cuts programme wrong and that if they had listened to the union in the first place they could have saved themselves a huge amount of disruption and embarrassment.”
RMT news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: Government publishes ‘sunsetting’ bill
The government has published a Bill that will build ‘sunsetting clauses’ into new regulations and that includes a presumption the laws will be scrapped unless a government department argues for their survival. The government also says the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill will include measures for “reducing inspection burdens on businesses of all sizes and increasing SME access to reliable, consistent advice on complying with regulations in areas such as trading standards, health and safety and environmental health.”
BIS news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: Vulnerable worker protection must be widened
The government should act urgently to stop the widespread abuse of foreign workers, according to a University of Manchester crime expert. Professor Kauko Aromaa from the university’s School of Law says gangmasters’ legislation drawn up after the 2004 Morecambe Bay disaster in which 23 cocklers are believed to have died could be widened to include other employment sectors.
Manchester University news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: Behavioural safety gets a drubbing
Behavioural safety “came in for a bit of a bashing” at a major safety event last week, where even proponents of the approach agreed that it can go horribly wrong. SHP Online, published by the Institution of Occupational Health, was commenting on contributions at last week’s Safety and Health Expo in Birmingham.
SHP Online • Unite Beware Behavioural Safety campaign • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: Death exposes wood dust cancer risk
A young carpenter and joiner from near Stamford died from a form of cancer which is thousands of times more common in people working with wood dust, an inquest has been told. John Montgomery died at the age of 37 on 4 August 2009, as a result of a sinonasal carcinoma.
Peterborough Today • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
New Zealand: Union welcome for ships move
Unions have welcomed a decision of the New Zealand government to ban foreign-flagged fishing vessels in its waters. The move followed a series of labour abuses and tragedies in New Zealand’s waters, in ships under foreign flags and carrying horribly exploited and abused crews.
ITF news release • NZCTU news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: Award for Olympic construction safety record
Safety standards during union-organised construction of the Olympic park have been recognised with a special award to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) presented the Diamond Jubilee Award to the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA).
RoSPA news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: Adhesive firm comes unstuck as worker loses thumb
An adhesive tape manufacturer has been prosecuted after a 19-year-old agency worker severed his thumb in machinery at a factory in Wellingborough. Joe Reynolds had only been working at Latrave Ltd for three weeks when the incident happened on 25 August 2010.
HSE news release • Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: Worker injured after safety device is disabled
A component engineering company in Cheltenham has been fined after an employee suffered head injuries on a machine that had a safety mechanism deliberately disabled. Grzegorz Chylenski, 33, was working with a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine at PG Components Ltd at the time of the incident on 22 August last year.
HSE news release • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Britain: Haulage firm punished after warehouse death
A Grimsby haulage company has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was killed when a row of steel coils 'collapsed like dominos' trapping him under their five-tonne weight. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted ABC (Grimsby) Ltd after Alan Burr, a warehouseman and forklift truck driver, was fatally crushed when he tried to repair some torn packaging on a roll of coil at the firm's warehouse in Immingham Docks on 27 January 2010.
HSE news release • Grimsby Telegraph • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Japan: Rare cancer deaths at printing firm
Four former employees of a printing company in western Japan died after developing bile duct cancer, raising concerns about the use of chemicals at the plant. Shinji Kumagai, an associate professor at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health who was part of the team that uncovered the deaths, said chemicals used at the factory are the probable cause of the cancers.
Mainichi Japan • Risks 557 • 26 May 2012
Hazards news, 19 May 2012
Britain: Workers are taking fewer days off sick than ever
Workplace sickness levels have fallen to a record low, official figures show, but the TUC and two prominent employment thinktanks believe this points to a worrying epidemic of ‘presenteeism’ rather than an improvement in the health of the working population.
TUC news release • ONS news release and full report, Sickness Absence in the Labour Market - 2012 • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
USA: How to make injury reports disappear
An official US report has exposed how safety incentive programmes and post-incident drug and alcohol testing can discourage workers from reporting workplace injuries and illnesses. The report from the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) presents the results of its survey of US manufacturing companies and found that 75 per cent of firms had safety incentive programmes or other workplace safety policies that can affect workers’ reporting of injuries and illnesses.
Workplace safety and health: Better OSHA guidance needed on safety incentive programs, GAO, 2012 [pdf] • USW news release • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Teachers dismayed at Ofsted pressure
The head of the schools standards body Ofsted has angered teachers by saying he is not interested in hearing about stress of their jobs. In comments to a May 2012 conference of independent school heads, new chief inspector of schools Sir Michael Wilshaw said he didn’t want excuses for poor performance, among them “this job is far too stressful.” BBC News Online • The Observer • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
USA: Even nuke safety not safe from Republicans
Some of the USA’s most hazardous job sites are in the Department of Energy’s (DOE's) nuclear weapons facilities. But that doesn’t mean safety rules governing those sites are safe from deregulation-crazed Republicans.
USW news release and letter [pdf] • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Union concerns persist after helicopter ditching
Concerns have been raised by unions after offshore helicopter operator Bond Aviation decided to recommence flights less than a week after one if its craft developed a fault and undertook a controlled ditching in the North Sea.
Unite news release • BALPA news release • BBC News Online • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Usdaw backs police cuts protest
Drastic government cuts in police numbers will leave shopworkers at an increased risk of violence, their union has warned.
Usdaw news release and petition • Police Federation news release • BBC News Online • The Guardian • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Union welcome for action on retail violence
The shopworkers' union Usdaw has welcomed the latest move by the country's top retailers to ensure the best possible measures are in place to protect shop staff from violence and abuse. It was commenting on the publication ] of a British Retail Consortium (BRC) best practice guide on tackling violence against staff.
Usdaw news release • BRC news release and report, 'Tackling violence against staff - Best practice guidelines for retailers • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Philippines: Probe demanded after deadly store fire
Authorities in the Philippines must conduct a comprehensive investigation into a 9 May department store fire that killed 18 workers, a top safety body has said. The fire at the three storey Novo Jeans and Shirts department store in Butuan City started at around 3am as around 22 female employees were sleeping on the second floor.
IOHSAD news release • BBC News Online. • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Dangerous dog action won’t close loophole
New official sentencing guidelines on how to deal with dangerous dog offences have been welcomed by CWU, but the union warns they will do nothing to plug a gaping hole in the legal protection offered to workers. The new Sentencing Council guidelines will come into force on 20 August.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign • Sentencing Council’s forthcoming danger dogs guidelines • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Injury costs prison officer his job
A prison officer had to give up his job after he broke his ankle breaking up a fight. Iain McCallum, 61, needed surgery to repair his right ankle following the incident at HM Prison Camp Hill in Newport, Isle of Wight. The senior prison officer was breaking up a fight between two offenders when he slipped on water which had accumulated on the floor from a nearby shower room.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Rail firm did not see sense on poor lighting
A rail union safety rep who had complained to management about poor lighting in the yard subsequently hurt his wrist and knee when he tripped on discarded rails at night. The ASLEF member, whose name has not been released, had warned managers that the poor lighting at the depot was an accident waiting to happen.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Union protection on the job and on your bike
A Norfolk County Council worker was forced to take medical retirement after she suffered nasty fractures to both her wrists when she fell from her bike. The 57-year-old UNISON member from Norwich, whose name has not been released, was left needing surgery in both wrists after she came off her bike as she cycled over electrical cables laid across the road on a country lane.
UNISON news release • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Disaster risk firms asked how they like their enforcement
The government is asking those British chemical firms with the potential to cause the worst devastation if they go bang how they’d like their safety enforced. Under a Focus on Enforcement initiative announced by the Department for Business (BIS) on 8 May, “the government is inviting companies in the chemicals sector to feed in their experiences of working with national regulators and local authorities on the enforcement of the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulations.”
BIS news release and Focus on Enforcement webpages • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: ‘Rank exploitation’ blights the food sector
Migrant workers continue to live and work in inhuman conditions and indebted to gangmasters, a study has found. Researchers from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation conducted one of the largest studies into conditions experienced by workers in the food sector, from farm and factory workers through to those toiling in restaurants.
JRF news release. Sam Scott and others. Experiences of forced labour in the UK food industry, JRF, 15 May 2012 , summary [pdf], full report [pdf] and e-book [pdf] • TUC news release • Unite news release • BIS news release on the government announcement of a new Groceries Code Adjudicator • The Independent • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Recycling firm fined after crushing death
A recycling firm has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a yard foreman was crushed to death. Norman Mayne from Newport died after he became trapped between a container and a skip at Amber Services Ltd's recycling yard.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Worker crushed to death in mini digger
Two Leicestershire companies have been fined after a worker was killed when a lorry overturned onto his vehicle. Richard Kenny, 48, was killed instantly as the mini digger he was driving was crushed when a tipper lorry suddenly overturned on uneven ground while delivering around 20 tonnes of aggregate to a construction site.
HSE news release • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Printer crushed to death after warnings ignored
A retail marketing company has been fined for serious criminal safety failings after a worker at its Wakefield printing site was crushed to death. Bezier Ltd, which employs some 700 people across nine UK sites, failed to heed warnings that could have saved the life of 49-year-old William Aveyard.
HSE news release • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Britain: Firms in the dock over crane collapse
Two construction firms have been fined after a crane collapsed onto a city centre apartment block in Liverpool, resulting in the crane driver being paralysed from the waist down. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the site's principal contractor, Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd, and structural engineering company Bingham Davis Ltd following an investigation.
HSE news release • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Korea: Cancer kills another young Samsung worker
A 32-year-old Korean worker has become the latest cancer casualty of Samsung’s assembly line. Safety campaigners say on 7 May, Lee Yunjeong was the 55th person to die as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals in the multinational’s Korean factories. SHARPS report on Lee Yunjeong’s death • IMF news report • Risks 556 • 19 May 2012
Hazards news, 12 May 2012
Britain: Abuses still exist in Olympic supply chains
Workers making London 2012 Olympic sportswear for top brands and high street names including Adidas and Next are being paid poverty wages, forced to work excessive overtime and threatened with instant dismissal if they complain about working conditions, according to a new report.
TUC news release and action call • ITUC news release • IMF news release • Independent on Sunday • Fair games? Human rights of workers in Olympic 2012 supplier factories, Playfair 2012 report, May 2012 [pdf] • Playfair and Playfair 2012 and what-you-can-do online action call • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Thailand: Asbestos supporters ‘are liars’
The asbestos industry has turned its promotional efforts towards Thailand, with critics saying it is using lies emblazoned on t-shirts to drive home its asbestos-is-good-for-you message. Laurie Allen of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) notes that “it comes as no surprise that asbestos vested interests in Thailand are liars.”
IBAS report • Bangkok Post • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Global: Tanker crew finally fed and paid
The Russian and Ukrainian crew of the Liberian registered tanker Leon, which has been stuck at anchor outside the UK Port of Hull since 20 April, finally received their owed wages and fresh food provisions last week following the intervention of the global union federation ITF.
ITF news release • Nautilus news release • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Britain: Government set to ignore deadly rail lessons
Rail union RMT has warned the government another tragedy on Britain’s railways is “inevitable” if government plans to bulldoze through the McNulty Rail Review’s proposals go ahead. The union comments came ahead of a commemoration to mark the tenth anniversary of the Potters Bar disaster, which claimed seven lives and injured 76 others when a train in Hertfordshire derailed on a faulty set of points.
RMT news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
New Zealand: Big increase in safety agency welcomed
Plans to boost the number of frontline health and safety inspectors in New Zealand are a step in the right direction, the public sector union PSA has said. The government, which has seen workplace safety spend months in the headlines throughout a lengthy hearing into a mines tragedy, has announced a full review of New Zealand’s health and safety system along with a 20 per cent increase to the number of health and safety inspectors over the next three years.
PSA news release • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012 .
Britain: Unions and MPs slam rail proposals
More than 100 MPs have signed an early day motion (EDM) criticising government proposals for the future of railways in the UK. The EDM warns that the government's plans will “worsen passenger services through the loss of thousands of frontline workers from trains, stations, ticket offices, safety-critical infrastructure and operational roles,” and “will result in higher fares, cuts in services and more crowded trains.”
TUC news release • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Thailand: Asbestos supporters ‘are liars’
The asbestos industry has turned its promotional efforts towards Thailand, with critics saying it is using lies emblazoned on t-shirts to drive home its asbestos-is-good-for-you message. Laurie Allen of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) notes that “it comes as no surprise that asbestos vested interests in Thailand are liars.”
IBAS report • Bangkok Post • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Britain: Robot operator suffers brain injury
A system of inspection that would have spotted the need for a simple repair could have prevented an incident which left a welder with a brain injury. GMB member Peter Hibbert has memory problems and is unable to lift heavy objects after suffering the injury at Linde Material Handling in Basingstoke.
GMB news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Britain: Polish cleaner suffers costly slip
A GMB member who suffered a knee injury after a fall at work has received £12,000 in compensation. Arkadiusz Chmiel who lives in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, but who is originally from Poland, twisted his knee after slipping on flooring whilst working for Timbet Door Solutions in the town.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Britain: Regulators to face ‘sunsetting’ threat
A law intended to push forward the government’s plans to strip employment regulation and further limit or even abolish regulators will form part a key part of the government’s plans for the next session of parliament. The Department for Business (BIS) said the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, trailed in the 9 May Queen’s Speech, would include measures to “reduce inspection burdens on business and strengthen the legal framework for sunset clauses on regulation” and “repeal unnecessary legislation, cutting the burden on business and citizens.”
BIS news release • TUC news release and related TUC news release • CBI news release • British Chambers of Commerce news release • BBC News Online. Environmental Health News • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Britain: Grayling turns again to job killer ‘claptrap’
Employment minister Chris Grayling has told employers he believes “unneeded” workplace safety regulations “stifle” economic growth. Speaking at an Enterprise Forum meeting in London last week, he said: “That's why we are cutting health and safety bureaucracy.”
Morning Star • The Telegraph • The Express • The Sun • The real job killers, Hazards online guide and the We didn’t Vote to Die at Work campaign. • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Britain: If retail is low risk, why’s it so dangerous?
A national chain of newsagents has been prosecuted for the second time in 18 months for serious safety offences. The criminal prosecution of Martin McColl Ltd, which has 1,200 stores nationwide, is the latest incident to raise questions about the government stipulation that ‘low risk’ workplaces, include retail premises, farms and docks, should be exempted from routine preventive health and safety inspections by regulators.
Cornwall Council news release • Plymouth Herald • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Britain: Cautious welcome for rail safety plan
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has given a qualified welcome to some “very encouraging remarks about health and safety” in the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) business plan for 2012/13. ORR says its plan, published on 1 May, is “focused on bringing the rail industry together to ensure high levels of safety, delivering more for customers and reducing costs.”
ASLEF news release • ORR news release and Business Plan 2012-2013 [pdf] • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Canada: Campaign to enforce work deaths code
On the 20th anniversary of Canada’s deadly Westray mine explosion, the United Steelworkers union (USW) has embarked on a renewed effort to ensure enforcement of the 2004 Westray Act. The landmark changes to Canada’s Criminal Code, introduced after a lengthy union campaign, were intended to make corporations, their directors and executives criminally accountable for the health and safety of workers.
USW news release and related YouTube video • . CLC news release • CUPE report • AFL news release • BC Federationist • Straightgoods • CBC News • Chronicle Herald • Ottawa Citizen • Death and injury at work: A guide to investigating corporate criminal negligence in the event of a serious injury or fatality in a workplace [pdf], CLC, May 2012 • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Britain: Risks posed by debt-ridden private fire firm
Debts at the private company operating London's fleet of fire engines threaten its ability to tackle blazes in high-rise buildings. A report by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, warns that AssetCo, which owns the capital's 500 appliances and 50,000 pieces of critical safety kit, is beset by crippling financial problems that are affecting its aerial operations in particular.
The Observer • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Britain: Guilty director fined £2,500 after fall death
The director of a building firm has been prosecuted after a self-employed contractor fell to his death through a fragile roof on an industrial building in Penryn. Paul Gibbons, 59, was carrying out re-roofing work for Acryflor Ltd on 22 September 2008 when he fell eight metres through the asbestos cement roof onto the floor below.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Britain: Egg firm fined for broken legs
A Shropshire egg supplier has been prosecuted after a female worker suffered serious injuries falling two metres through a hole in the floor of a poultry barn. The 43-year-old Shropshire woman, whose name has not been released, fractured two bones in her left ankle and the heel bone in her right leg as result of the fall on 26 July 2011.
HSE news release • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Britain: Firm convicted after forklift mangles leg
Brookvale Homes (SW) Ltd has been convicted of criminal safety offences after a subcontracted worker suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a forklift truck. Experienced ground worker Paul Daniels, 50, suffered shattered bones and almost lost his foot in the incident on 10 September 2010.
HSE news release • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Australia: Asbestos criminal duped the stock exchange
Seven former directors of Australian building materials giant James Hardie misled the Australian Stock Exchange about the company’s ability to fund compensation claims from asbestos victims, the High Court has ruled. The High Court appeal by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission found that former chair Meredith Hellicar and ex-directors Michael Brown, Michael Gillfillan, Martin Koffel, Dan O'Brien, Greg Terry and Peter Wilcox approved misleading and deceptive statements about the company’s ability to meet its asbestos compensation liabilities.
ACTU news release • AMWU news release • ABC News • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Britain: Fruit packer suffers slashed hand
A horticultural business in Southampton has been prosecuted after a worker injured his hand on an unguarded machine. General labourer Edmund Skweres, 52, suffered a deep cut that required 11 stitches in the incident at AE Roberts (Fruitgrower & Nurseryman) Ltd on 7 February last year.
HSE news release • Daily Echo • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Australia: Warning on blue collar cancer risks
More than 90,000 blue collar workers in Australia could be at risk of cancer owing to a lack of coordination between regulators to reduce exposure to carcinogens and the absence of any incentive for industries to act. A national cancer at work forum hosted by Cancer Council Australia (CCA) and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) heard the highest numbers of at-risk workers are employed in machinery manufacture, printing and allied industries, the food industry and plastics manufacture.
CCA news release • Herald Sun •TURI website • 4 December 2009 news release announcing the Ontario Toxics Use Reduction law • ITUC/Hazards global union cancer campaign • Risks 555 • 12 May 2012
Hazards news, 5 May 2012
Britain: Bad stats and policies add up to deadly workplaces
A government safety strategy ‘built on myth and dogma’ is making the UK’s workplaces more deadly, unions have warned.
Unite news release • UNISON news release • UNISON Scotland news release • PCS news release • NASUWT news release • CWU news release • TUC 28 April Workers’ Memorial Day events listing • ITUC/Hazards Workers' Memorial Day webpages, including a worldwide list of events and resources and the ITUC/Hazards 28 April facebook page • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
USA: Obama drops child farm labour rules
The Obama administration has scrapped a plan that would prevent some children from working in dangerous farm jobs. The move has provoked a furious response from safety and child welfare advocates, who claim the president caved in to election-year pressure from the farming lobby and Republicans.
Child Labor Coalition news release • CPR blog • Washington Post • Daily Kos • Star Tribune • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Unions condemn ‘dangerous’ low risk line
The official decision to abandon official spot-check inspections in ‘low risk’ sectors including docks, agriculture, quarries and retail ignores the real dangers of the jobs and is driven by government-imposed cuts in the safety enforcement budget. Safety campaigners, speaking out on the 28 April, Workers’ Memorial Day, warned the hands-off policy sends a signal to businesses they need not be so concerned about the safety of their staff.
Usdaw news release • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • The Independent • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Global: Italian widows highlight worker suicides
The grieving wives and family members of more than 25 businessmen who have taken their own lives because of financial woes linked to Italy's economic crisis took to the streets of Bologna on 4 May. The organisers of the march, including the Italian Women's Union, believe there has been too little dialogue and not enough state support for families that have fallen into despair over unemployment, bankruptcies and loan defaults.
ILO news release and full report, World of Work Report 2012: Better Jobs for a Better Economy • TUC Touchstone blog • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Hazards occupational suicide webpages • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Hull ship’s crew ‘has had enough’
The crew of tanker anchored outside Hull has called for union help after being left without adequate food and water. The owners of the Liberian registered tanker Leon had refused to take on food at the port, claiming UK prices were too high.
ITF news release • Nautilus news release • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Dismay at Sunday trading laws move
The government’s use of emergency legislation to force through a suspension of Sunday trading rules during the Olympics has left shopworkers “bitterly disappointed”, their union has said. MPs voted through The Sunday Trading (London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Bill on 30 April, after just nine hours consideration and debate in both the House of Commons and House of Lords.
Usdaw news release • House of Commons votes, 30 April 2012 • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: BT engineer speaks up on hearing risks
A British Telecom engineer from Sheffield who suffers from a high pitch buzzing in his ears after years of working with faulty equipment is warning others of the risks. Stephen Starosta has now received £7,500 from BT to cover the cost of equipment to help deal with his tinnitus, which can be caused by exposure to excessive noise.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Global: Top asbestos industry lobby group folds
The organisation that has for decades spearheaded the asbestos industry’s global sales drive has folded. The closure of the Quebec-based Chrysotile Institute has been welcomed by unions and asbestos campaigners.
CLC statement • International Ban Asbestos Secretariat • Chrysotile Institute notice of intention to surrender its charter, Canada Gazette • Montreal Gazette • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Tanker drivers say safety is the top priority
An erosion of safety standards is the number 1 concern for tanker drivers, their union has said. Conditions for drivers - who on average carry 36,000 to 42,000 litres of flammable liquid on board a tanker every time they make a journey - have been eroded for years, Unite says.
Morning Star • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Tube train narrowly escapes disaster
Tube union RMT has demanded an independent investigation into London Underground maintenance and staffing cuts. The call came after photographic evidence emerged suggesting that a train that hit the buckled lining of a Bakerloo Line tunnel during rush hour on Thursday 26 April came within inches of being “ripped open like a sardine can with potentially lethal consequences.”
RMT news release • Daily Mirror • The Guardian • London Evening Standard • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Union fears the ‘Bad Tempered Games’
Train drivers’ union ASLEF believes Londoners have no idea how much disruption the Olympics will cause to their commutes – and is worried about angry passenger reaction when they are faced with travel chaos during the Olympics and Paralympics.
ASLEF news release • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Electric shock director turns on HSE
A director of a company prosecuted after pleading guilty to criminal safety offences has claimed the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) only took the case to recoup is costs. Derek Offord, 45, suffered serious burns to his left arm and knee and open wounds to his forearm and left palm after receiving an electric shock while working at coating and treatment firm Tecvac Ltd’s factory in Swavesey, near Cambridge.
HSE news release and electricity webpages • SHP Online • Hazards magazine • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Waste giant Veolia burned agency worker
Serial safety offending waste management firm Veolia Environmental Services has been fined after an agency worker was seriously burned by hot ash at an incineration depot in Deptford, London. The Eastern European employee sustained 17 per cent burns to his body whilst cleaning ash from a filtration hopper at the Veolia plant on 29 December 2009.
HSE news release • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Global brick maker fined after worker crushed
The world’s largest brick manufacturer has been fined £20,000 after a worker suffered serious injuries when he was crushed on a conveyor belt at its Worcestershire factory. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Wienerberger Ltd, which had global revenues of £1.65bn in 2011, following the incident on 19 October 2009 at the company's site at Hartlebury, near Kidderminster.
HSE news release • Kidderminster Shuttle • Wienerberger 2011 annual report • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Roofing boss tagged for dumping asbestos
The boss of a roofing firm has been electronically tagged after flytipping asbestos. Wallace Sharpless, who runs Advanced Roofcare in Gillingham, attempted to dump the hazardous material at two scrapyards on an industrial estate but both refused to take the asbestos.
Medway Council news release • Kent Courier • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Asia: Warning over epidemic of workplace deaths
Asia is facing an onslaught of fatal occupational diseases, but this suffering is ignored, unreported and uncompensated, according to a new report by a labour rights group. Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) says unsafe workplaces are creating untold numbers of “invisible victims of development.”
AMRC news release and report webpage, draft report, postcards and videos • AFL-CIO now blog • The Guardian • CNN • South China Morning Post •
Check out what happened worldwide on 28 April • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Farm firm partner fined after quad bike injuries
A partner in a Derbyshire farm business has been fined after an employee suffered life-changing injuries when his quad bike overturned. The 42-year-old employee of JD and RL Spalton, who has asked not to be named, was driving the all terrain vehicle (ATV) along a track at Lodge Hill Farm, Barton Blount, on 9 June 2010.
HSE news release • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Contractor fined after demolition tragedy
A building contractor has been fined after a worker was killed by a falling piece of masonry dislodged by his own son during a poorly planned demolition job. Agency workers Jamie Ford, 24, and his father, Stephen Ford, 50, were working under the control of contractor Do It Al to demolish a barn at Dunbury Farmhouse in Winterbourne Houghton near Blandford in November 2008.
HSE news release and demolition webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Britain: Worker hurt by Crazy Frog
A fairground ride operator has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after a worker was thrown from a ride during the 2010 May Bank Holiday fair in Barnard Castle. Martin Brown, now 19, was working for Elliot Crow, of ride owners Alan Crow Amusements, as a ride attendant on the Crazy Frog Ride.
HSE news release • Northern Echo • Risks 554 • 5 May 2012
Hazards news, 28 April 2012
Britain: Remember the dead, fight for the living
The TUC has called on unions and safety campaigners to make 28 April a day of action to defend health and safety from attacks by the press, politicians and employers. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said it was “reckless employers that we need to target and the government’s rhetoric will only encourage yet more of them to think they can get away with unsafe workplaces – without fear of ever getting a visit from the HSE or their local council.”
TUC news release and 28 April events listing • ITUC/Hazards Workers' Memorial Day webpages, including a worldwide list of events and resources and the ITUC/Hazards 28 April facebook page • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
USA: Government contracts go to deadly firms
Throughout the United States, government agencies at the state, local and federal levels routinely award construction contracts to companies known to be unsafe, according to the independent watchdog Public Citizen. Its report, ‘Contract killers,’ highlights cases where companies with suspect safety records win government contracts around the country, often with disastrous consequences.
Contract killers: Government agencies award taxpayer dollars to contractors that disregard worker health and safety, Public Citizen, 2012 [pdf] • The Pump Handle • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Unions and industry oppose offshore rule change
Trade unions and the oil and gas industry have joined forces to warn of the dangers of the European Union’s proposed regulation of offshore oil and gas safety. The concerns were raised this week in a joint statement from Oil & Gas UK and offshore unions RMT and Unite.
Joint UK industry and trade union position paper: On the European Commission’s proposals for a Regulation on the ‘safety of offshore oil and gas prospection, exploration and production activities’ [pdf] • Oil & Gas UK news release • BBC News Online • . STV News • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
India: Many confirmed dead in blanket factory collapse
At least 23 workers are now believed to have died in a factory collapse in Jalandhar, India. The majority of those killed in the 15 April tragedy were migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Police have arrested the factory owner, Shital Vij, who has been charged with ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’, press reports say.
DNA India. • India Express • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: We’ll tell you why we don’t like Sundays at work
Shopworkers shouldn’t lose their Sundays at this summer’s Olympics. Delegates at Usdaw's Annual Delegate Meeting (ADM) reaffirmed the union's opposition to the deregulation of Sunday trading, calling on the government to drop plans to suspend Sunday trading restrictions during the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer.
Usdaw news release and news release on the government employment rights changes • Morning Star • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Global: Justice fears jeopardise sea accident probes
Almost half of all seafarers are reluctant to assist enquiries into casualties and other dangerous incidents at sea because of concerns about their treatment at the hands of the legal authorities, a study has found. Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI) found: “Concerning casualty inquiries and accident investigations, 46 per cent of seafarers who answered the question said that they would be reluctant to cooperate fully and openly with such inquiries.”
SRI news release • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Further dogs law delay criticised by CWU
Postal workers’ union CWU has said it is disappointed the government has launched another consultation on dangerous dogs, “instead of the action which is desperately needed to protect thousands of victims of dog attacks.” CWU said while this Defra consultation takes place, 12 postal workers will be attacked every day.
CWU news release • CWU 'Bite back' campaign • Defra news release and consultation • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Union warning on heavy-handed Olympic guards
Journalists’ union NUJ has said it will act to defend journalists from heavy-handed treatment by security staff at the Olympics. The union is concerned photographers taking pictures outside the Olympic site have been forcibly stopped from filming by security staff.
NUJ news release and video of the incident • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Scaffolder forced out of his job by injuries
An experienced scaffolder with ThyssenKrupp Palmers Limited suffered a leg injury so severe when he was trapped by a pallet of scaffolding poles he was forced to leave the industry. But in response to a Unite-backed compensation claim, the firm not only settled Craig Cording’s claim out of court for a “significant” sum but also paid for his physiotherapy, rehabilitation and training as a welder. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Firefighter compensated for asbestos cancer
A former firefighter who was exposed to asbestos at work and recently developed an incurable cancer has received compensation with help from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). John Stone, 64, was diagnosed with asbestos-related mesothelioma in March 2011.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Canada: Action call after sawmill deaths
The United Steelworkers (USW) is calling for urgent action after workers were killed at two sawmills in British Columbia (BC), Canada. USW, which represents the sawmill workers, also is urging provincial authorities to make public information it hopes could prevent further tragedies.
USW news release • CBC News • Vancouver Sun • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Disease campaigners win asbestos reprieve
The government has said it will for the moment exempt people suffering from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma from highly contentious measures in its legal reforms. The concession came after a well-organised national campaign co-ordinated by the Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ Forum UK (AVSGF), which argued the changes in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill would deny justice to victims of often fatal occupational diseases.
AVSGF news release [pdf] • Commons debate on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, 24 April 2012, Hansard report • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Parent firm liable for work-related disease
An asbestosis sufferer from London has won an historic case at the Court of Appeal against former global asbestos giant Cape plc. Law firm Leigh Day & Co says the ‘landmark’ judgment sets a new legal precedent for holding parent companies accountable for work-related health problems in employees of their subsidiaries.
Leigh Day & Co news release • Uxbridge Gazette • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Top Tories were behind safety bashing headlines
A series of headlines ridiculing workplace safety rules, some taken up by ministers to justify the government’s deregulatory plans, were part of a strategy cooked up by Tory high command to try and to spin the government out of trouble. Conservative ministers have been ordered by Downing Street to come up with eye-catching right-wing initiatives to deflect media attention from the government's Budget woes.
The Independent • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Cut price coins could cause allergies
Fears are being raised that high nickel 5p and 10p coins being introduced into circulation could cause skin problems. Dermatologists have warned “consideration must be given to the potential costs to health from skin disease related to nickel exposure (allergic contact dermatitis and hand dermatitis); financial implications to the NHS for clinical management of affected people; and other taxpayer costs (inability to work because of hand dermatitis related to nickel allergy).”
Danielle T Greenblatt, David J Gawkrodger and Ian R White. Allergy risk from Royal Mint’s new nickel plated steel coins should be publicly assessed, British Medical Journal, volume 344:e2730, 2012, published online 19 April 2012. BBC News Online • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Mass lead poisoning at recycling firm
A London recycling company has been fined after large numbers of its employees were found to have “significantly high” levels of lead in their blood, with two exhibited symptoms of poisoning so serious they required drastic chelation therapy. Metal and Waste Recycling Ltd in Edmonton had bought and was stripping some lead-sheathed copper cabling from British Telecom (BT) after the network began to be changed from copper to fibre optic cable.
HSE news release and 9 November 2009 HSE statement on lead exposure • Hazards magazine ‘Dangerous lead’ report • HSE lead webpages • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: How did growing mushrooms get so dangerous?
A mushroom grower has been prosecuted after placing its poorly trained migrant workforce at deadly risks. Suffolk Mushrooms Limited, which had spent over £1m on a factory refurbishment, didn’t spend a few hundred pounds to keep its employees safe and housed the 37 migrant workers from Eastern Europe in a disused office block with a potentially unsafe gas boiler.
HSE news release • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Australia: Toyota faces legal action safety rep sackings
Toyota in Australia targeted safety reps and shop stewards for redundancy because of their union activity, industrial union AMWU has charged. AMWU’s David Smith said the treatment of unionised workers and health and safety representatives was disgusting and could have wider ramifications.
AMWU news release • Maurice Blackburn Lawyers news release • Google News • Herald Sun • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Drycleaning chain fined for safety failings
A chain of drycleaners in Bedford has been fined after putting workers' lives at risk from a gas boiler a safety inspector described as ‘a disgrace’. Bedford Magistrates' Court heard inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered the gas-fired steam boiler was severely corroded, the flue was cracked and damaged, several burners were not working properly and there was a high risk that workers and members of the public were being exposed to toxic carbon monoxide emissions.
HSE news release • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Britain: Egg firm shells out after fingers are cut off
Egg company Bumble Hole Foods Ltd has been fined after a worker severed two fingers while cleaning a drain on a production line. Redditch Magistrates' Court was told Bumble Hole Foods Ltd were aware of the risks following a similar incident in 2008.
HSE news release • Bromsgrove Advertiser • Risks 553 • 28 April 2012
Hazards news, 21 April 2012
Britain: Workers’ Memorial Day is days away!
Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April, is nearly upon us, and looks set to send a serious message to the government about its deadly safety plans. The TUC’s call for a Day of Action to Defend Health and Safety is being heard nationwide, with events planned all the way from Penzance to Aberdeen, and Newport to Newcastle.
IOSH news release and 28 April tweets #workersmemorialday, mentioning @IOSH_tweets.
TUC resources: 28 April webpage and events listing, Infographic, guides to dealing with the press [pdf] and lobbying MPs [pdf] and 2012 Workers' Memorial Day and TUC Day of Action list of activities.
Check out the newly revamped ITUC/Hazards Workers' Memorial Day webpages, including a worldwide list of events and resources and the ITUC/Hazards 28 April facebook page • See what happened worldwide on 28 April 2011 •
Other resources: Get kitted out with Hazards Campaign forget-me-knot ribbons, free posters, lapel/stationery stickers [pdf order form], window stickers and t-shirts [pdf order form] - the perfect attire for a 28 April event. Further information from the Hazards Campaign, telephone 0161 636 7557 • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
USA: Concern after oil worker is boiled to death
California's largest oil company failed to warn employees of the dangers in an oil field where a worker was sucked underground and boiled to death last year, state authorities found - and then they fined the firm $350. The small regulatory penalty has angered union leaders and reignited a debate over the risks of the extraction technique that led to the worker's death.
Los Angeles Times • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: TUC cops safety minister in high heels scandal
Health and safety minister Chris Grayling has been criticised for intending to use a story invented last week by the Daily Mail to justify an attack on workplace safety rules.
Stronger Unions • Policy Exchange conference, 18 April and YouTube clip of Chris Grayling’s speech • National Hairdressers’ Federation news release • Daily Mail • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Bird-brained Daily Mail tells another hair-raising lie
If you want facts served along with your news and you are a Daily Mail reader, you’ll have been left sadly wanting over the last few days. The paper condemned a supposed ban on high heels for hairdressers in “nanny state proposals being drawn up in Brussels” - but the European Commission has no intention to regulate on high heels and the paper’s claims are based on a scaremongering press release from the National Hairdressers’ Federation, an industry lobby group.
HSE statement • London Fire Brigade statement • National Hairdressers’ Federation news release. • Daily Mail getting it wrong on seagulls and high heels • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
South Africa: Anglo American blamed for dust disease
A South African miner who believes he contracted tuberculosis as a result of digging gold on behalf of Anglo American this week used the mining giant’s annual meeting to demand compensation. Daniel Seabata Thakamakau, 66, represents more than 1,200 former miners, many with silicosis and tuberculosis, who are suing Anglo American in a mass tort action.
Leigh Day & Co news release • ACTSA news release • Unite news item [pdf] • The Guardian • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Global: Passenger jet’s dive exposes pilot fatigue dangers
An incident in which an Air Canada passenger jet dived and caused injuries to 16 of those onboard provides a dire warning of the dangers of pilot fatigue, UK pilots’ union BALPA has said. A report this week by Canada’s Transport Safety Board found a “confused and disoriented” Air Canada co-pilot had just awoken from a “controlled rest period” when he put the airliner into a dive.
BALPA news release • Transport Safety Board incident report • Globe and Mail • BBC News Online • Channel 4 News • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Tube bosses taking ‘cavalier risks’
London Underground (LUL) bosses faced with a self-inflicted Olympics station-staffing crisis are taking “cavalier risks” with passenger and staff safety, the rail union RMT has warned.
RMT news release • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: RMT fears over Tube strike plans
Rail union RMT is demanding safety assurances from Transport for London (TfL) after the company said it aims to run services during next week’s strike action regardless of whether essential maintenance and repairs work has been being carried out. The safety-critical Emergency Response Unit will be joining the strike action, the union said, heightening its concerns.
RMT news release • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Olympic 'bullying' risk for staff
The union GMB has warned that over one million shop and distribution workers face being ‘bullied’ by retailers that extend Sunday opening hours during the London Olympics and Paralympics. GMB is concerned people will be pressured into working longer shifts.
Morning Star • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Apprentice abuses must end, says UCATT
The government must take urgent action to stop safety and other abuses of apprenticeship schemes, the construction union UCATT has said. The union was commenting after “serious safety concerns” were revealed in a BBC Panorama investigation broadcast earlier this month.
UCATT news release • The Great Apprentice Scandal, Panorama, BBC, 2 April 2012 • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Finland: Workplace injuries up again
Workplace injuries in Finland are following ‘a fairly alarming’ upward trend, latest figures show. Raili Perimäki, occupational safety expert with the union SAK, said the worsening statistics show those responsible for occupational safety should be required by law to undertake training in occupational safety and there must be more resources for safety inspection.
Trade Union News from Finland • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Physio injured in wet floor fall
A physiotherapy technical instructor needed two operations after her shoulder was dislocated in a workplace fall. The 61-year-old from Nottingham, a member of the Chartered Society for Physiotherapy (CSP), had to take early retirement following the incident.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Lorry driver injured by falling fridge
A lorry driver damaged his shoulder after his employer failed to act on his warnings about the dangerous way vehicles were being loaded with scrap and rubbish. Unite member Alan Snook, 61, from Frome, Somerset, was working as a shunter for Wincanton Logistics on the firm’s Comet contract when the incident happened in July 2009.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Global: Study highlights workplace lung cancer risk
A new study has confirmed the high numbers of lung cancers related to work. The research study in the Lombardy region of northern Italy showed significantly increasing risks of lung cancer for exposure to asbestos, crystalline silica and nickel-chromium exposure.
OH-world.org blog. S de Matteis and others. Impact of occupational carcinogens on lung cancer risk in a general population. International Journal of Epidemiology, published Online First, 31 March 2012 • L Rushton and others. Occupation and cancer in Britain. British Journal of Cancer, volume 102, pages 1428–1437, 2010 • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Europe: Industry opposes strain injury rules
Employers’ lobby groups from across Europe are opposing rules to reduce workplace risks from work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). In a letter to Antonio Tajani, vice-president of the European Commission’s Industry Committee, and László Andor, the Social Affairs Commissioner, nine European employers’ associations say the European legislative initiative is “neither necessary nor desirable”.
ETUI news report • Joint Employers' letter on MSD [pdf] • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Government plans a ‘big mistake’ on work diseases
A campaigner who won a Supreme Court battle last month on industrial disease compensation has warned government legal aid plans could leave others without access to justice. Ruth Durham, who was involved in a landmark asbestos cancer compensation case, says a law being pushed through by the government would force those who contract illnesses at work to pay legal costs out of their damages.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Full judgment exposes blacklisting scandal
A tribunal judge has issued a damning verdict on construction giant Carillion's use of blacklisting - and the weak laws which denied its victims justice. The judgment by Judge Snelson, which had been reserved from January, said: “It seems to us that he has suffered a genuine injustice and we greatly regret that the law provides him with no remedy.”
Blacklist blog • Morning Star • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Call centre workers suffer voice problems
One in four call centre workers suffer voice problems because managers are failing to properly protect their health, a study has found. Researchers commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) found around one in 10 call handlers had been diagnosed with a voice problem, while the same proportion said their work was now suffering because of the stress placed on their vocal cords.
IOSH news release • Working voices: An epidemiological study of occupational voice demands and their impact on the call centre industry, IOSH, 2012 [pdf] • Hazards voice loss webpages • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Trustee fined after death of worker
A trustee of an estate Trust has been fined after an employee was crushed to death when a tractor overturned and landed on him. Christopher Fox, 60, from Osberton near Worksop, was killed instantly when the tractor overturned during a tree felling operation. HSE news release • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Britain: Director fined after scaffold collapse
A former scaffolding company director has been fined after two employees were injured in a scaffold collapse. Robert Leslie Butler, 46, a director of the now defunct company RB & Son Scaffolding Limited at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to criminal safety offences and was fined £3,000 by Nottingham magistrates and ordered to pay costs of £2,000.
HSE news release and HSE falls webpages • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012
Hazards news, 14 April 2012
Global: The world is gearing up for 28 April…
Unions and campaigners are gearing up for 28 April, Workers’ Memorial Day – the largest annual health and safety event anywhere in the world. Global union federation ITUC and UK-based Hazards magazine are tracking the events, resources and strategies unions and safety campaign groups are employing worldwide to publicise workers’ rights to a safe workplace and to expose efforts by governments to deregulate safety.
Check out the newly revamped ITUC/Hazards Workers' Memorial Day webpages, including a worldwide list of events and resources and the ITUC/Hazards 28 April facebook page • See what happened worldwide on 28 April 2011 •
TUC resources: 28 April webpage, Infographic, guides to dealing with the press [pdf] and lobbying MPs [pdf] and 2012 Workers' Memorial Day and TUC Day of Action list of activities• Other resources: Get kitted out with Hazards Campaign forget-me-knot ribbons, posters, lapel/stationery stickers [pdf order form], window stickers and t-shirts [pdf order form] - the perfect attire for a 28 April event. Further information from the Hazards Campaign, telephone 0161 636 7557 • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Action call after another rail runaway
Rail union RMT has renewed its call for secondary protection to prevent rail runaways after another potentially fatal incident late last month. A road-rail dumper truck ran free for a quarter of a mile before hitting buffers at Bradford Interchange station on 25 March.
RMT news release • RAIB investigation notice • ITV News • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
USA: Regulatory axe aims to speed up chicken plants
A plan to privatise meat inspection in the US linked to a government assault on regulation has been criticised widely for putting public health at risk. But the “despicable plan” will have other casualties, primarily workers in the already notoriously hazardous sector, according to law professor Rena Steinzor, president of the Center for Progressive Reform.
CPR blog • Working in These Times • USDA proposal • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Teachers blast ‘reckless’ safety cuts
The government’s ‘reckless’ and ‘simplistic’ attitude to health and safety threatens to put the lives of children and adults in schools and colleges at risk, a teaching union has warned. Delegates at April annual conference of NASUWT condemned the removal of ‘vital’ health and safety protections in the workplace.
NASUWT news release • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
USA: Amazon warehouse jobs push workers to the limit
Claims by web retail giant Amazon that it has an industry beating safety record have been called into question. A former warehouse safety official said in-house medical staff were asked to treat wounds, when possible, with bandages rather than refer workers to a doctor for stitches, a treatment that could require federal reports.
The Seattle Times • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
USA: Shiftworkers face diabetes and obesity risk
Shiftworkers getting too little sleep at the wrong time of day may be increasing their risk of diabetes and obesity, according to a new study. The researchers are calling for more measures to reduce the impact of shiftworking.
OM Buxton and others. Adverse metabolic consequences in humans of prolonged sleep restriction combined with circadian disruption, Science Translational Medicine, volume 4, number 129, 11 April 2012 [abstract and related news release] • BBC News Online • The Huffington Post • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Work pressure makes school staff sick
School workers are falling ill as a result of the pressure of their jobs, teaching unions have warned. ATL has said in the current academic year four in ten education staff have visited the doctor and a quarter taken sick leave because of job pressure.
NUT news release • ATL news release • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Overheated schools cause lethargy
Many classrooms are so overheated that sweltering pupils are finding it impossible to study, a union survey suggests. NASUWT said its survey shows that one in three teachers have had to give lessons in temperatures that are over 30 degrees celsius.
NASUWT news release • BBC News Online • The case for a legally enforceable maximum workplace temperature, TUC, 2009 [pdf] • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Bullies and cyberbullies blight schools
Over two-thirds of teachers have experienced or witnessed workplace bullying in the last 12 months and one in five teachers have left their job because of bullying from colleagues or managers, a survey by teaching union NASUWT has found.
NASUWT news releases on the bullying epidemic and use of social media to bully • The Guardian news reports on schools bullying and cyberbullying • BBC News Online • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Border Force falls down on footwear
A UK Border Force worker slipped and suffered a catalogue of injuries because he hadn’t been provided with the replacement work boots he had requested. Just a week before the incident the PCS member, whose name has not been released, had written to bosses saying he needed the new boots as a matter of urgency.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Working feet and footwear, TUC guide, 2008 [pdf] • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Hospital injury shows need for proper staffing
A hospital worker needed two operations on her shoulder and had to take over a year off work after she was injured helping a 20-stone patient. The 53-year-old CPS member, whose name has not been released, has been left unable to lift heavy items with her left arm after the incident at Alcester Community Hospital in Warwickshire.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Train door slamming caused tinnitus
A train driver was left unable to carry out his job for a year after his hearing was damaged by an explosion-like bang of a faulty door. The ASLEF member, who is employed by Northern Rail Ltd and was driving a train from Manchester Oxford Road station to Liverpool Lime Street at the time of the incident, was left with tinnitus in his right ear which meant he was unable to drive trains for almost a year.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Signal box fumes caused disabling chronic fatigue
A railway worker who was exposed to chemical fumes at work went onto to develop Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). It is not known if the 44-year-old, from Liskeard in Cornwall, will ever recover from the debilitating condition which has already seen him lose his job as a signalman for Network Rail.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Daily Mail’s insane crowing on gull rescue
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) myth busting challenge panel launched this month to counter the ‘health and safety gone mad’ stories that appear routinely in the press has had an inauspicious start. The Daily Mail, which has a history of running myth-propagating stories about health and safety ‘jobsworths’ and killjoys, wanted HSE’s view on an incident when 25 firefighters called by RSPCA to rescue a gull decided it wasn’t a justified use of resources, but stuck around in case a member of the public got in to difficulty in their own rescue bid.
DWP news release • HSE Myth Busters Challenge Panel • Morning Star • Daily Mail and related story • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: HSE confirms docks rules are for the chop
A union prediction that essential safety rules protecting dockworkers were to be targeted as part of the government’s drive to cull or revise 84 per cent of workplace safety regulations has been confirmed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The Docks Regulations 1988 are included in the latest list of regulations HSE has lined up for the axe, despite a union warning that this will lead to the removal of safeguards in an industry with a fatality rate at least five times and possibly over 20 times the national average.
Proposals to remove fourteen legislative measures, CD239. Consultation closes 4 July 2012 • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Controversy over accident reporting changes
A dramatic reduction in the number of workplace injuries required to be reported by employers will deliver scant savings to business but could mean early warnings of problems are missed. Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, commented: “There will be 30,000 fewer accidents reported, which is not the same as 30,000 fewer accidents.”
DWP news release • HSE news release • BCC news release • BBC News Online • The Telegraph • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Another seven figure fine for Network Rail
Network Rail has been fined £4m over the Grayrigg crash in Cumbria in which an 84-year-old woman died and 88 people were injured. Margaret Masson died after the Virgin train derailed on the West Coast Main Line in February 2007, after going over a “degraded” set of points.
ORR news release • Network Rail statement • ASLEF news release • RMT news release • BBC News Online • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
India: Taking education into the stone quarries
A union-backed mobile school is providing education for children in India who might otherwise be employed in some of the most hazardous industries around. The school-on-wheels is based in Jodhpur in the Western State of Rajasthan, and will serve families working in the stone quarrying industry.
BWI news release • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Britain: Firm fined after driver impaled on steel tube
A Darlington engineering firm has faced a criminal prosecution after a delivery driver was seriously injured when a 6cm diameter steel bar passed through his chest. Jason Ripley, 42, was delivering timber to Henry Williams Group Limited, which pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of safety law was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,424.80.
HSE news release • Report in The Sun, 16 November 2009 • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Bangladesh: Dangerous work campaigner is brutally killed
A Bangladeshi union rights activist and former garment worker was tortured and murdered last week in the country’s capital Dhaka, according to authorities. Aminul Islam's body was dumped outside of the city and was found by local police on 5 April. ILRF news release • Worker Rights Consortium memo regarding the murder • ABC News.
ACTION: Sign up to the ILRF letter to the prime minister of Bangladesh calling for a thorough and impartial investigation • Risks 551 • 14 April 2012
Hazards news, 7 April 2012
USA: Bad work is more costly than you think
A study that revealed the annual “economic burden” of occupational injury and illness in the US is at least $250 billion underestimates the true costs, government workplace health researchers have revealed. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) experts, writing on the agency’s blog, note “the national investment in addressing occupational illness and injuries is far less than for many other diseases with lower economic burden even though occupational illnesses and injuries are eminently preventable.”
NIOSH blog • JP Leigh. Economic burden of occupational injury and illness in the United States, Milbank Quarterly, volume 89, number 4, pages 728-772, December 2011 [pdf] • Hazards ‘We didn’t vote to die at work’ webpages • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Safety reps do the business
Union safety reps have saved ‘countless lives’, a new TUC briefing has revealed. The message comes in the latest bulletin from TUC ahead of its national 28 April Day of Action to defend health and safety.
Defend health and safety: 28 April Day of Action, Bulletin 5, April 2012.
TUC resources: 28 April webpage, Infographic, guides to dealing with the press [pdf] and lobbying MPs [pdf] and 2012 Workers' Memorial Day and TUC Day of Action list of activities.
Other resources: Get kitted out with Hazards Campaign forget-me-knot ribbons, posters, lapel/stationery stickers [pdf order form], window stickers and t-shirts [pdf order form] - the perfect attire for a 28 April event. Further information from the Hazards Campaign, telephone 0161 636 7557.
ITUC/Hazards Workers' Memorial Day worldwide list of events and resources • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Government makes jobs less secure
Increasing the time before workers are protected from unfair dismissal from one year to two years could leave 2.7 million people at increased risk of losing their jobs, the TUC has warned. Job insecurity has been linked to higher rates of injuries at work and of work-related suicides, sickness and ill-health and has also been shown to drive down productivity.
TUC news release • BBC News Online • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Russia: Migrant workers die in blaze
At least 17 migrant workers have been killed by a fire that swept through a market warehouse in southern Moscow. The victims are believed to be market traders from former Soviet states who were staying in a metal storage warehouse at a construction materials market which “was not meant for people to live in,” Sergei Gorbunov of the fire department said.
Itar-Tass report • BBC News Online • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Unite acts on safety problems in fuel industry
A 'turn and burn' culture is forcing fuel drivers to deliver faster for less, raising fears about public safety, Unite’s Len McCluskey has warned. And he added this is why the union has been forced to consider industrial action.
Unite news release and You Tube ‘enough is enough’ clip • Guardian article and Len McCluskey comment piece • Left Foot Forward • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Global: Apple hit by China Foxconn factory report
An independent investigation has found “significant issues” including concerns about safety, excessive hours and low pay at Chinese plants making Apple iPhones and iPads. The independent report, however, has been criticised by campaigners for going easy on Apple and ducking issues like subcontractor Foxconn’s notoriously ‘militaristic’ management style.
FLA news release • SACOM news release • SumOfUs.org news release • San Jose Mercury • BBC News Online • New York Times • Al Jazeera • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Government criticised for petrol panic
Panic-buying of fuel and mixed messages over the safe storage of petrol have exposed the irrational decision to close the government agency that specialised in public information, the union PCS has said. And firefighters’ union FBU has warned a minister’s advice that householders should keep jerry cans of petrol in the garage is “wrong” and “massively dangerous.”
PCS news release • FBU news releases from 30 March and 28 March • Huffington Post • ITV News • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: The shocking reality of sickness absence
Nearly half of public sector workers in Scotland believe sickness absence policies encourage staff to turn up ill or injured at work, a UNISON Scotland survey has found. A quarter of workers (25 per cent) said they had worked in the previous month when too ill to do so, while almost two thirds (60 per cent) said they had worked when ill during the past year.
UNISON Scotland • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
The Netherlands: We won’t make it to retirement age
A survey by the Dutch health care union Abvakabo FNV found six out of ten workers in the health care sector are afraid they won’t be able to work until retirement age as are result of the increasing pressure of their jobs.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide • 7 April 2012
Britain: Offshore union wants wider exclusion zone
Offshore union Unite has called for the exclusion zone around the crippled Elgin platform in the North Sea to be extended. Unite regional officer Willie Wallace said “the oil companies must put people before profit and we are now calling for them to bring forward plans for an immediate evacuation of the impacted area.”
Unite Scotland news release • Daily Record • BBC News Online • HSE statement • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Usdaw fights for violent crime compensation
Retail union Usdaw is fighting government cost-cutting plans which would deny thousands of workers compensation after violent attacks at work. Usdaw, whose members are in the service sector frontline for violence at work, has initiated a petition opposing the changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICA).
Usdaw news release • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: CWU fury over broken danger dogs promise
Postal union CWU has reacted angrily after the government broke its promise “yet again” to strengthen the law on dangerous dogs. The government had said an announcement would be made before the Easter recess but parliament broke up on 27 March and nothing had been debated.
Morning Star • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Unions welcome improved asbestos rights
Unions have reiterated their ‘delight’ at last week’s Supreme Court ruling which will allow many more asbestos victims to receive compensation for related cancers. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC), which includes the six main education unions, said the ‘landmark’ decision “means that thousands of families will be able to seek compensation for the loss of loved ones.
JUAC news release [pdf] and website • The Guardian • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Improved asbestos law takes effect
In an unrelated move, a new asbestos at work law took effect on 6 April. The changes to the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations extends the law’s protection to a wider group of workers, after European Commission lawmakers indicated the UK’s law was too restrictive to meet minimum Europe-wide requirements.
Unite alert on changes to the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations [pdf] • 7 April 2012
Asthma: Docs warned on high work asthma rates
Doctors are being advised to explore the potential job-related causes of asthma when diagnosing patients. The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) says an estimated one in six cases of asthma in people of working age is either caused or aggravated by work-related factors.
RCP news release and report, Concise guidance: diagnosis, management and prevention of occupational asthma • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Heart disease risk for asbestos workers
Workers exposed to asbestos as part of their job are at a significantly greater risk of heart disease and stroke than the general population, with women more likely to be affected than men, according to new research. The study was conducted by researchers at the Health and Safety Executive’s research arm, HSL, and was published online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Anne-Helen Harding and others. Cardiovascular disease mortality among British asbestos workers (1971–2005), Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published online 2 April 2012. doi:10.1136/oemed-2011-100313
Daily Mail • Scotsman • Nursing in Practice • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Dust and heart disease link not new
Hazards magazine warned last year that cardiovascular disease is a common but frequently overlooked consequence of exposure to dust at work. The magazine mentioned this effect specifically once again in a graphic on effects of dust.
Hazards magazine ‘Dust up’ campaign and How does dust hurt you? graphic • 7 April 2012
Britain: Dad’s asbestos-ridden clothes killed daughter
A mother-of-two died of cancer because she used to welcome her shipyard worker father home from work each night with a hug. Annette Bhatti, who was just 49, also helped her ill mother to scrub her father’s asbestos contaminated work uniform by hand more than 40 years ago.
Daily Mail • Daily Star • Daily Mirror • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Mental health chief quits welfare panel
The head of a mental health charity has left a government panel implementing changes to the welfare system, describing the system as “deeply flawed.” Chief executive of Mind Paul Farmer said he quit the government’s review panel for the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) because ministers refused to listen to his criticism of the fitness-to-work test.
Mind blog • BBC News Online • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Action call over capital’s travel violence fears
Transport union RMT has called for urgent action on transport safety and staffing after a survey found more than a quarter of women do not feel safe using London public transport, even in the day. The End Violence Against Women coalition’s YouGov survey found 28 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men do not feel safe travelling on London transport at any time of the day and night.
RMT news release • End Violence Against Women website. BBC News Online • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Lift firm fined after Heathrow death
Lift manufacturer Schindler Ltd has been fined £300,000 for criminal safety failings after an employee was crushed to death while installing a passenger lift at Heathrow Airport. Lift engineer Kevin Dawson, 45, was helping with the construction of Terminal 5A at London Heathrow when the incident occurred on 27 October 2007.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Schindler Ltd safety webpages • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Cleaning firm fined over porter's death
A national cleaning company has been fined £175,000 after a hospital porter was killed by an industrial waste compactor in Bolton. ISS Mediclean Ltd employee Peter Bonomy's neck was broken when the lid on the large metal container slammed down on him at the Royal Bolton Hospital in Farnworth in 2006.
HSE news release • Manchester Evening News • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Britain: Health screening firm left workers at risk
A health screening company has been fined after using unqualified staff to assess the health of workers from dozens of firms across the UK. Audio Medical Services Ltd (AMS) carried out tests for 59 companies over a period of at least four years - but failed to provide employers with information to prevent workers' health deteriorating and did not refer employees to occupational health professionals when required.
HSE news release and vibration webpages • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
Hazards news, 31 March 2012
Britain: Asbestos victory at the Supreme Court
A Supreme Court ruling which this week found against insurance companies that had been seeking to deny compensation to the victims of asbestos cancers has been welcomed by unions.
TUC news release • Unite news release • BBC News Online • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Relief at asbestos trigger case victory
Relatives and supporters of victims of asbestos cancers have expressed relief at a Supreme Court ruling which ends a six year block on many compensation payouts. The court rejected an argument from four insurers - Excess Insurance, MMI, Builders Accident and Independent Insurance Company - that the date when an asbestos cancer develops should be the date when the insurer’s liability is triggered.
Asbestos Forum news release [pdf] • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • John Pickering Solicitors news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Cases expose ongoing asbestos disease crisis
The ongoing risk posed by asbestos exposure has been illustrated by two recent mesothelioma cases, affecting a school caretaker and a wife exposed to the fibre on her husband’s work clothes.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Gloucester Citizen • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Global: Workers best at monitoring supply chains
High tech giant Apple must give workers a voice in their future and demand more information about the factories where its components are made, labour and consumer groups have said. In a joint statement issued on 22 March, unions and NGOs called on Apple to rely on workers themselves to monitor the labour conditions in the manufacture of its products, not a top-down auditing approach.
IMF news release and ‘Give Apple workers a voice in their future’ joint statement [pdf] • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Unions call for dock safety action
The UK government must undertake an ‘urgent rethink’ of its hands-off policy on safety enforcement in Britain’s deadly docks, UK and international union bodies have said. The unions were commenting on the ‘grave loophole’ after a safety report this month challenged the official classification of the ports industry in the UK as ‘low risk’, pointing to a death rate five or more times the national occupational average.
ITF news release and Hazards ‘Safety in the dock’ report • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Bad gloves cost railway worker his thumb
A Wakefield railway worker provided with unsuitable safety gloves ended up losing part of his thumb after it became infected by contact with human waste. ASLEF member Darren Skelton, 41, ended up in hospital hooked up to an IV drip after his thumb became seriously infected.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Europe: Stress in the workplace to rise
Job-related stress is a concern for the large majority of the workforce, a Europe-wide survey has found. The 2nd European Opinion Poll on Occupational Safety and Health, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), found eight in ten (80 per cent) of the working population across Europe think the number of people suffering from job-related stress over the next five years will increase, with over half (52 per cent) expecting this to ‘increase a lot’.
EU-OSHA news release, full results of the pan-European poll and EU results, country summaries and methodology • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Unite says no more slip ups
The union Unite has called on employers to deliver workplaces free from avoidable hazards after a member suffered a serious knee injury in a slip at an industrial lubricant manufacturer. Russell Scragg, 59, slipped on a step at Fuchs Lubricants in Stoke on Trent where he had worked in a skilled role as a blender for 10 years.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Dodgy surface floored firefighter
A firefighter who broke his ankle ended up having to resign from the service as a result of his injuries. The 37-year-old FBU member from Porth, Mid-Glamorgan, gave up his 10-year career as a retained firefighter after he broke his right ankle when he tripped on uneven ground in Porth Fire Station during a weekly exercise wearing breathing apparatus in 2007.
Thompsons Solicitors • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Government silent on safety law cull targets
The government has confirmed a Budget commitment to cull or revise 84 per cent of the UK’s health and safety laws, but can’t or won’t say which laws are in its sights. A Treasury spokesperson confirmed “167 of the 199 health and safety regulations considered as part of the Red Tape Challenge” will either be withdrawn or improved but would not give a more detailed breakdown.
SHP Online • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Warning on the UK’s dangerous role in Europe
A senior member of the European Parliament has warned that the UK government is bidding to undermine UK workplace safety law in Europe as well as at home. Glenis Willmott, a UK MEP and Labour’s leader in Europe, said “it is a critical time for health and safety.”
Glenis Willmott blog • UCATT news release • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: ‘Massive relief’ at safe gas platform evacuations
Offshore union RMT has expressed its “massive relief” at the safe evacuation of the Elgin gas platform. A gas leak on the Total E&P UK (TEP UK) Elgin PUQ platform, about 150 miles (240km) off the coast of Aberdeen, led to the withdrawal of all 238 workers.
Total webpage on the Elgin gas leak • RMT news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Global: Call for action on safety for journalists
The UK government must do more to encourage the international community to take sanctions against regimes which perpetrate acts of violence against journalists, the union NUJ has said. The call came ahead of a Council of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) meeting that agreed to start a process “toward the creation of a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers in both conflict and non-conflict situations, with a view to strengthening peace, democracy and development worldwide”.
UNESCO news release and Decision on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity [pdf] • NUJ news release • House of Commons debate on safety of journalists abroad, 21 March 2012 • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Dust disease widow’s information plea
The widow of a Durham man who died from a debilitating disease caused by asbestos dust just a week before their golden wedding is appealing for his former colleagues to come forward to help shed light on conditions where he worked. Thomas William Flower died in October last year from the lung scarring disease asbestosis, which was diagnosed after the 74-year-old’s death following a four year battle with illness.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Northern Echo • Anyone who can help is asked to call Isobel Lovett at Irwin Mitchell on 0191 279 0104 • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Deadly print firm ignored warnings
Wyndeham Peterborough, one of the UK's leading printing groups, has been fined £112,500 at Peterborough Crown Court after maintenance engineer Ian Ebbs was crushed to death in a printing press. Earlier incidents that should have alerted the company to the danger had not been acted on, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered.
HSE news release • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Shipbuilding firm sentenced over welder death
A Merseyside shipbuilding firm has been fined £120,000 over the death of a welder who became trapped while driving a forklift truck. Robert Dunroe suffered mortal injuries while using the truck to transport heavy welding equipment at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead on 18 August 2010, dying four days later. His employer, Cammell Laird Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found he had not been trained to drive a forklift.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Leisure park worker trapped in trench collapse
A worker at a Devon holiday park suffered serious injuries when a trench he was working in collapsed on top of him. Grzegorz Waluszkowski, 40, was helping to lay a drainage pipe at the park on Lady's Mile Farm in Dawlish on 23 July 2010, when the wall of the two metre deep trench caved in.
HSE news release and excavations webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Australia: ‘Red tape ideologues’ must be challenged
The safety profession must challenge the ‘entrenched ideologies’ of conservatives baying for deregulation of workplace health and safety, an Australian expert has said. Kevin Jones, writing in his ‘Safety at work’ blog, says the country’s conservative political parties persist with the “ideological fantasy” that occupational health and safety laws impede growth by disrupting work and adding unnecessary operational costs.
Safety at work blog. TJ Larsson. Safety management systems – Culture, cognition or cash?, Safety Science Monitor, volume 14, Issue 2, 2010 • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Employers can’t demand Facebook details
The Information Commissioner's Office has warned employers in the UK that it would have “very serious concerns” if they were to ask for Facebook login and password details from existing or would-be employees, following reports of such demands in the US.
There are indications sick workers in the UK could already have their Facebook and other social networking pages scrutinised by employers and insurers.
Facebook news release • The Guardian • The Telegraph • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Britain: Workers’ Memorial Day 2012 resources
TUC has assembled a top class package of resources to help organise, publicise and effectively run 28 April events and campaigns. Available on the TUC website, you’ll find a series of briefings giving all the facts and figures you’ll ever need to win an argument for better regulation and enforcement, an infographic spelling this out at-a-glance, guides on dealing with the press and lobbying MPs, and a listing of events nationwide.
TUC resources: 28 April webpage, Infographic, guides to dealing with the press [pdf] and lobbying MPs [pdf] and 2012 Workers' Memorial Day and TUC Day of Action list of activities
Other resources: Get kitted out with Hazards Campaign forget-me-knot ribbons, posters, lapel/stationery stickers [pdf order form], bumper stickers and t-shirts [pdf order form] – the perfect attire for a 28 April event. Further information from the Hazards Campaign, telephone 0161 636 7557.
ITUC/Hazards Workers' Memorial Day worldwide list of events and resources • Risks 549 • 31 March 2012
Hazards news, 24 March 2012
Britain: Rich make a killing, others will be killed
The TUC has condemned this week’s Budget as a series of measures “for the rich by the rich” incorporating a “regurgitated mish-mash” of pro-business moves that tell employers safety is unimportant and can be ignored. It added the Budget focus on safety deregulation “shows very clearly exactly why the TUC is organising a Day of Action on 28 April to defend health and safety.”
Budget 2012 Statement • TUC news release • CBI news release • Personnel Today • BBC News Online • Defend health and safety: Day of Action, 28 April 2012, TUC bulletin number 4. TUC Workers’ Memorial Day webpages and infographic • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
USA: Republicans seek to silence whistleblowers
Republican lawmakers have indicated it is more important to let employers police themselves on workplace safety than it is to give workers protection when they blow the whistle on unsafe practices. In comments to Daily Labor Report last week, Republican Representative John Kline revealed Republicans are particularly opposed to the additional $4.9 million (£3.1m) for worker whistleblower protection and the $3.2 million (£2m) cut in the voluntary employer compliance program that was the hallmark of the Bush administration.
AFL-CIO Now blog • AFL-CIO Executive Council statement • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Sunday trading hours extension is ‘ridiculous’
Shopworkers are opposed to ‘ridiculous’ government plans to introduce emergency legislation suspending Sunday trading laws this summer, their union has said. In his 21 March Budget statement, chancellor George Osborne announced there would be a “relaxation” of Sunday trading hours restrictions on eight Sundays during the Olympics and Paralympics, starting 22 July.
Usdaw news release • BBC News Online • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Vietnam: Steel firm accused of fatal blast cover-up
A major steel firm in Vietnam has been accused by officials of failing to report an explosion that killed two workers and injured six others. An official from the Hanoi Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs said the site of the incident at the Vietnam-Korea Steel and Iron Corporation located had been disturbed and that two bodies had been buried in the two days before the tragedy was reported.
Thanh Nien News • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Strain on NHS takes its toll on staff
The government’s handling of the health service is leaving staff facing soaring stress levels, the union UNISON has said. The union was commenting on the publication this week of the official NHS Staff Survey findings for 2011.
UNISON news release • NHS Staff Survey news release and National NHS Staff Survey Coordination Centre and NHS Information Centre • BBC News Online • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Warning on ‘deplorable’ seafarer ransom ban
Seafarers will pay with their lives if governments outlaw the payment of ransoms to pirates, the union Nautilus International has warned. General secretary Mark Dickinson has written to David Cameron expressing concern about the prime minister’s plans for an international taskforce to discourage the payment of ransoms.
Nautilus International news release • The Guardian • London Conference on Somalia including David Cameron’s speech • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Why the media must protect its staff
Media organisations must ensure women journalists are safe in their work, unions have said. A motion from the journalists’ union NUJ was passed unanimously last week at the TUC women’s conference.
NUJ news release • TUC Women’s conference 2012 • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Engineering firm injured apprentice
An apprentice engineer who was trained to remove safety guards from machinery suffered a severe head injury as a result. The 22-year-old from Bournemouth, who has received a ‘substantial’ settlement in a Unite-backed compensation claim, was struck on the face when a solid nylon billet he was attempting to work on at a precision engineering firm in the Bournemouth area flew off the machine.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Network Rail guilty of ‘corporate blindness’
Unions have said the prosecution of Network Rail after two girls were killed on an Essex level crossing has exposed the extent of the criminal culpability of those running the company. The rail infrastructure giant was fined £1m plus costs of £60,015 last week in a case brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).
ORR news release • TSSA news release • ASLEF news release • BBC News Online • The Independent • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Insurers turn a blind eye to work’s real harm
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has called “for action to free businesses from the fear of the UK’s compensation culture and overzealous interpretations of health and safety rules that could hold back Britain’s economic recovery.” ABI, though, makes no mention of life-threatening and disabling occupational diseases, instead focusing on “‘slip and trip’ style liability claims.”
ABI news release • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Cameron ignores call for a blacklisting public inquiry
The prime minister has said the police should investigate police complicity in the blacklisting of trade union and safety activists. The response came in parliament this week after two Labour MPs had called separately for a public inquiry into revelations from the Information Commissioner’s Office that information held by covert blacklisting outfit The Consulting Association could only have been provided by the police or security services.
Blacklist blog • Hansard, 15 March 2012 and 21 March 2012 • Construction Enquirer • 24 March 2012
Britain: Scrapping unfair dismissal ‘will horrify employees’
Government plans to scrap protection from unfair dismissal are a charter for nasty bosses, the TUC has indicated. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said “while this proposal does nothing for growth, it does show the kind of economy those close to the prime minister want to create - one in which nasty bosses are given full license to undermine those trying to maintain decent standards.”
BIS news release and call for evidence • TUC news release • CIPD news release • BBC News Online • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Benefit tests are not fit for the job
Government figures showing over a third of incapacity benefit claimants are fit to work are ‘hardly surprising’, the TUC has said, charging that the government tests have been designed specifically to get people off the benefit. There was a 56 per cent rise during 2010/11 in the number of people appealing rulings that they are fit for work and the tribunals system has become overloaded.
DWP news release. TUC news release. The Guardian on concerns about the fit for work system and the rise in appeals • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: HSE charging scheme is delayed
Plans to introduce a pay-as-you-go-wrong scheme for workplace safety offenders have been put back by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). HSE now says its cost recovery scheme, Fee for Intervention (FFI), which was scheduled to start in April 2012, is now expected to be delayed until the autumn.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Surveyor died because of Costain’s failures
Leading construction company Costain Ltd has been fined £250,000 for safety failings after a surveyor was killed by a reversing lorry during work to widen the M25 near Dartford. Employee Richard Caddock, 38, was talking on a mobile phone and could not hear the approaching truck above the noise of nearby motorway traffic, when he was hit from behind on 8 April 2008.
HSE news release • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Worker crushed to death in front of his son
A firm specialising in the manufacture of wooden doors and windows has been fined £26,000 for criminal safety failings after a worker was crushed to death by a stack of boards. Andrzej Rokita, a 55-year-old Polish national, had been with MM Contracting Ltd for only 10 days when he attempted to help his son, also an employee, to remove a large board from the middle of a pile stacked upright against a wall in the workshop.
HSE news release • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Britain: Hazards 2012 conference, Stoke, 31 August-2 September
This year’s Hazards Campaign conference – the largest annual grassroots safety conference in the Northern Hemisphere – will take place from 31 August to 2 September 2012 at Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent.
Hazards 2012 conference, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent, 31 August-2 September 2012: booking form [pdf] and sponsorship appeal [pdf] • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Australia: Truck union wins fight for safe pay rates
The Australian government has passed a law aimed at improving road safety for truck drivers. The new rules follow a long-running “safe rates” campaign by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), which lobbied for more regulation to protect drivers from pressure to work long hours, speed or take drugs just to keep going.
Ministerial statement on passage of the Bill • TWU news release and ‘Safe Rates’ campaign • TWU SA news release • Nine News • ABC News • Risks 548 • 24 March 2012
Hazards news,17 March 2012
Britain: TUC warning on work diseases ‘timebomb’
Occupational diseases kill at least 100 times the number killed in workplace ‘accidents’, the TUC has said. The union body warns government claims that Britain’s workplaces are among the safest in the world fail to take account of this chronic disease toll, adding there is a systematic failure to address the real problem as a result.
Defend health and safety: Day of Action, 28 April 2012, bulletin 4, TUC and TUC Workers’ Memorial Day webpages • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
USA: Union-won law saves thousands of lives
A US union-won law to protect health workers from needlesticks injuries and related bloodborne diseases has led to a dramatic reduction in injuries and related deaths. A paper in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes: “Our findings… support the concept that well-crafted legislation bolstered by effective enforcement can be a motivating factor in the transition to injury-control practices and technologies, resulting in a safer work environment and workforce.”
Elayne K Phillips, Mark R Conaway and Janine C Jagger. Percutaneous injuries before and after the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, New England Journal of Medicine, volume 366, number 7, February 2012 [pdf] • SEIU YouTube clip on the role the union played getting the law passed • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: The numbers behind Workers' Memorial Day
TUC has made an ‘infographic’ to explain why workplace safety is still a “huge” issue in the UK, and why we still need the focus of Workers' Memorial Day. Inviting you to ‘do the maths on health and safety’, it notes that even official figures indicate at least 20,000 people in the UK go to their graves each year as a result of hazards encountered at work.
TUC briefing and infographic • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Union no to offshore flying in extreme weather
The union representing offshore oil industry pilots has said its members could refuse to fly in extreme weather. BALPA said pilots had concerns over a new ‘Dacon Scoop’ safety device, a net system for retrieving casualties from the water.
BALPA news release • BBC News Online • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Women still treated unfairly on site
Half of women working on building sites believe they are treated unfairly at work because of their gender, a survey by the construction union UCATT has found. However, safety was one area where conditions for women construction workers appeared to be improving, the survey found. More than 7 in 10 respondents (71 per cent) reported that sufficient attention is given to health safety and welfare facilities.
UCATT news release • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Turkey: Union condemns site safety after deadly fire
At least 11 workers died after fire swept through a tent at a building site in the Turkish city of Istanbul. The Turkish Union of Road, Construction and Building Workers (YOL-İŞ) blamed subcontracting and the anti-union climate in the Turkish construction industry as the main reasons behind the tragedy.
BWI news release • Washington Post • BBC News Online • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Women worried about work journey
One in seven women has safety concerns about the journey to and from work, a survey by the retail union Usdaw has found. 'What's happening on your journey to work?', the report of Usdaw’s survey, says the union found women members are also twice as likely as men to feel unsafe on their journeys to and from work.
Usdaw news release, campaign materials and full What's happening on your journey to work? report • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
China: Call for law to stop overwork deaths
A law to prevent a growing number of deaths related to overwork has been proposed at China’s National's People's Congress (NPC). Hu Xiaoyan, China's first migrant worker elected as a representative of the NPC, made the call during the law-making body’s annual session.
China Daily • Global Times’ April 2011 report on Pan Jie’s death • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: CWU welcomes Royal Mail dog attacks inquiry
The communications workers’ union CWU has welcomed an announcement by Royal Mail that it is to conduct an independent inquiry into attacks by dogs on postal workers. Led by high court judge Sir Gordon Langley, the inquiry is expected to report later this year and will examine why so many employees suffer dog attacks when delivering mail, the consequences of these attacks and the adequacy of existing laws and enforcement.
Royal Mail news release • CWU news release and Bite Back campaign, leaflet and poster • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Unions slam plan for a cut price rail system
Unions have criticised government plans to slash billions from public investment in the railways and have said they will campaign to defend the service. Commenting on plans announced by transport secretary Justine Greening, RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “If the train operators get their way they will seize control of infrastructure and drag us back to the lethal days of Railtrack that led us to Hatfield and Potters Bar.”
DtT news release • TUC news release • RMT news release • TSSA news release • ASLEF news release • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Global: Unions can help banana workers
For you, the banana is the ultimate convenience food. It’s full of natural goodness, available year round and comes in its own easy-to-remove entirely natural wrapper. But it is not so good for the workers around the world that tend the banana plants on the plantations or that wash and process the crop in packhouses.
Banana Link Union-to-Union appeal and photofile • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Report finds hidden docks deaths
Docks union Unite has condemned a ‘ludicrous’ government strategy that labels docks a ‘low risk workplace’ and that will seek to to scrap dock safety regulations. The union was speaking out after a ‘Safety in the dock’ report in the new issue of Hazards magazine revealed that far from being low risk – and so not subject to preventive Health and Safety (HSE) inspections - the dock industry has a fatality rate at least five times and possibly over 20 times the national average.
Safety in the dock, Hazards magazine, number 117, 2012. Morning Star • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Deadly docks anger of bereaved mum
A grieving mum whose young son was killed in a horrific dockwork incident has said she is “appalled” at the government’s ‘low risk’ designation for the industry and plans to remove docks-specific safety laws.
Labournet • Simon Jones Memorial Campaign and facebook news release • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Campaigners to remember dead dock worker
Agency worker Tim Elton, who died aged 28 at Immingham Dock on 27 January 2012 and who is one of the deaths listed in research by Hazards magazine that uncovered five dock work deaths since 23 October 2011, will be commemorated in 28 April Workers’ Memorial Day events in Immingham, Grimsby and Cleethorpes.
Grimsby Telegraph • Safety in the dock, Hazards magazine, number 117, 2012 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Anger over Battersea crane deaths verdict
The families of two men killed in a London crane collapse could seek a judicial review of the coroner’s court ruling after a narrative verdict was returned. Although the verdict was highly critical of the crane operator, Falcon Cranes, the families of Michael Alexa and Jonathan Cloake had hoped for an unlawful killing verdict.
Construction Enquirer • Wandsworth Guardian • Surrey Advertiser • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Food giant Nestle fined after machine death horror
A Halifax man was killed at a Nestle factory in the town because the company failed to implement basic safety measures, Bradford Crown Court has been told. Father of three Nazar Hussain died at food giant Nestle's Albion Mill plant in December 2008 after a colleague re-started a conveyor-type machine, known as a depalletiser, unaware that Mr Hussain was inside.
HSE news release • Yorkshire Post • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Countryside firm sentenced over death strimmer
A countryside management firm has been sentenced over the death of father-of-four Tony Robinson, 37, who was struck by a piece of metal that flew off a strimmer at high speed. Allen Shute, the investigating inspector at HSE, said: “The chain attachment has since been banned across Europe, and I would urge anyone who still has one to dispose of it immediately.”
HSE news release • North West Evening Mail • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Lords vote down ‘cruel’ legal aid move
Dying victims of occupa tional cancers should not be penalised as a consequence as a government’s drive to trim £350m of the legal aid bill by 2015, peers have said. An amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill blocking government plans to force asbestos victims to use some of their damages to pay legal bills succeeded this week in the House of Lords.
House of Lords debate, 14 March 2012, Hansard. BBC News Online • Yorkshire Evening Post • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Australia: Workers bear the cost of hazardous work
It is workers, not employers, who overwhelmingly bear the costs of workplace injuries and diseases, an official Australian report has shown. The report by Safe Work Australia revealed threequarters of the costs of workplace injuries and diseases is borne by the injured workers themselves, with just 5 per cent borne by employers.
ACTU news release and Safe at work webpage • Department for Education, Employment and Work Relations news release • Safe Work Australia Report • Herald Sun • More from around the world on the real cost of workplace deaths, injuries and ill-health • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Fire service privatisation an ‘unmitigated disaster’
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned that the safety of Londoners is being jeopardised. The warning came after the publication of an official report exposing serious failures arising from the privatisation of some services in the capital.
FBU news release • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Global: Women journalists in danger zones
The challenges faced by women journalists working in conflict and danger zones around the world have been highlighted in a new book. The International News Safety Institute’s (INSI) 'No Woman's Land: On the Frontlines with Female Reporters' describes the risks, challenges and the emotional and physical impact of danger on newswomen around the globe.
INSI news release and video of the related panel debate • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Hazards news, 10 March 2012
Britain: Why won’t HSE treat cancer seriously?
The UK is ignoring an occupational cancer epidemic and needs to put far greater efforts into preventing work-related cancer deaths, a top workplace health researcher has said. Simon Pickva nce, who based at Sheffield University where he is investigating occupational bladder cancer risks, believes this cancer illustrates a flaw in HSE’s figures that systematically disappears real cancers from the statistics, by dismissing or ignoring risks by job, by industry or by substance.
This man knows all about cancer, Hazards, Number 117, 2012. Alliance for Cancer Prevention blog • Occupational cancer – a workplace guide, TUC, February 2012 • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: Security services linked to blacklist of site reps
The police or security services supplied information to a blacklist funded by the country's major construction firms that has kept thousands of people out of work over the past three decades. It says the connection was made by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which believes records that could only have come from the police or MI5 were included in a vast database of files held on 3,200 victims, most targeted for their trade union - and particularly safety - activities.
The Observer • Blacklist blog • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
USA: Diesel exhaust a serious cancer risk in miners
Miners exposed to high levels of diesel exhaust face a dramatically increased lung cancer risk, a long delayed official US study has found. “This landmark study has informed on the lung cancer risks for underground mine workers, but the findings suggest that the risks may extend to other workers exposed to diesel exhaust in the United States and abroad, and to people living in urban areas where diesel exhaust levels are elevated,” said Joseph F Fraumeni Jr, director of the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics.
NCI news release and Q&A on the diesel exhaust and miners study • iWatch News • The Pump Handle • Hazards magazine.
Silverman DT, Samaniac CM, Lubin JH and others. The diesel exhaust in miners study: a nested case-control study of lung cancer and diesel exhaust, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2 March 2012. doi:10.1093/jnci/djs034 [pdf].
Attfield MD, Schlieff PL, Lubin JH and others. The diesel exhaust in miners study: a cohort mortality study with emphasis on lung cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2 March 2012. doi:10.1093/jnci/djs035 [pdf].
Rushton L. The problem with diesel, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2 March 2012. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djs137 [pdf]
Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: RMT demands publication of secret ‘RMT File’
Rail union RMT has demanded full disclosure of a secret ‘RMT File’ held by The Consulting Association. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “The Information Commissioner’s Office knows that an ‘RMT File’ exists in The Consulting Association records, as it is cross referenced in information from the construction industry files that we have in our possession.”
RMT news release • The Observer • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: Worker involvement saves lives and money
There are substantial business benefits from worker involvement in health and safety, Prospect’s Sarah Page has told an audience of industry figures. Giving a series of examples, Page, the national health and safety officer with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors’ union, said the benefits of involving the workforce in health and safety would be visible in the balance book as well as the accident book.
Prospect news release and ‘union safety effect’ webpages • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: Ministers told to act on shipping
Unions and MPs are putting urgent training and safety issues in the maritime industry back on the agenda “big time”. They are worried that the lack of provision for training, education and safety for shipping workers will result in a huge crisis in recruitment.
Nautilus UK news release • Morning Star • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
USA: Jail for death mine security chief
The former director of security at a Massey Energy mine in West Virginia has been sentenced to three years in prison for lying to federal agents and destroying documents sought by investigators looking into a deadly blast that killed 29 in 2010. Hughie Elbert Stover was also handed two years of probation and a $20,000 fine after he was convicted of two felonies, making a false statement and obstructing a government probe of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.
US Attorney’s Office news release • The Charleston Gazette • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: Court decision puts journalists in danger
A legal appeal against a court ruling forcing journalists, media organisations and broadcasters to submit all their footage to the police, has been submitted by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). The union says the appeal against the production order raises fundamental issues about the ability of the press to report matters of public interest impartially and without fear of intimidation.
NUJ news release • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: DIY tenants scheme ‘is dangerously flawed’
The government’s proposed do-it-yourself home repairs Tenant Cashback Scheme could result in tenants endangering themselves, construction union UCATT has warned. UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy said: “Councils and housing associations employ qualified repairs and maintenance workers who should be undertaking this safety critical work.”
UCATT news release • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: Train victim's son 'disgusted' by knighthood
The son of a Glasgow woman killed in a train crash in Grayrigg, Cumbria, says he is “disgusted” Network Rail's former boss was given a knighthood on the same day the firm admitted its criminal safety failings had led to the tragedy.
ASLEF news release • BBC News Online • Scottish Daily Record • Scotsman • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: PM’s approach to health and safety ‘not helpful’
The man who was charged with reviewing workplace health and safety regulation for the government says he never described safety as a “burden” and instead believes his review showed that it “is not the case” that health and safety holds back business. Professor Ragnar Löfstedt said his mandate was “clearly a deregulatory one” but his overall conclusions were that there is no need for a major overhaul of the system and that bad health and safety practice is already a considerable burden on business and society.
IOSH news release • SHP Online and video of Professor Lofstedt's speech • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: Gangmasters watchdog told to cut 'red tape'
Ministers are moving to ease regulation and oversight of gangmasters. Reacting to industry complaints about the “burden of administration and inspection” from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), the government has said it will instruct the GLA to “minimise disruption” when conducting spot checks or planned visits to interview workers, and was considering extending a trial of “lighter-touch” regulation. The Guardian • 21 February House of Commons debate on the Gangmasters Licensing Authority • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: Sock firm hit by asbestos fine
A sock company in Carmarthenshire has been fined £25,000 after being found guilty of failing to protect its employees from asbestos. Corgi Hosiery Ltd, which makes socks for Prince Charles, hired unqualified contractors to carry out work on the roof of its Ammanford factory.
HSE news release • BBC News Online • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: Film company fined after cameraman hurt on set
A production company has been fined after a cameraman fell more than three metres from the set of a forthcoming major film. The 62-year-old, whose name has not been released, was working on the set of 47 Ronin at Shepperton Studios, Middlesex, when he fell through an opening in the floor.
HSE news release • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Britain: Demolition worker turned into fireball
A contractor has been convicted of a criminal safety breach after a demolition worker was engulfed in flames when he cut through a live 11,000 volt cable at an electricity substation in Worcester. Birmingham firm DSM Demolition Ltd and Halesowen-based Gould Singleton Architects Ltd (GSA), which pleaded guilty, were sentenced on 2 March 2012 following the incident on 14 July 2006.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Australia: Worker fatigue 'epidemic' identified
Australian workers are suffering from an “unrecognised epidemic” of tiredness, a new study suggests, with working parents particularly badly affected. Report authors, psychologists Natalie Skinner and Jill Dorian, recommend a cap the working week, including overtime, at 38 hours, to help avoid harm caused by sleep deprivation.
The Age • Risks 546 • 10 March 201
Hazards news, 3 March 2012
Global: Olympic merchandise agreement starts to deliver
A landmark workers’ rights agreement between the TUC and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has already started to deliver. Just one day after the agreement was signed, LOCOG published a list of their licensees and suppliers. This included details of the locations worldwide where production is taking place.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • ITUC news release • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Israel: Foreign site workers at greater risk of deaths
Half the 315 construction workers killed on Israeli construction sites over the past decade were West Bank Palestinians or foreign nationals, an official study for an Israeli parliament committee has concluded. The Knesset Research and Information Centre report found although half of all site victims over the past decade were West Bank Palestinians or foreign nationals, these groups represent only 15 per cent to 30 per cent of construction workers.
Haaretz • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Tube boobs lead to violence against staff
Blatantly misleading service announcements from London Underground (LUL) are leading directly to assaults and threats against staff, the union RMT has said. The union said the “catalogue of abuse” of the announcements system has been raised by RMT reps at a senior level meeting with LUL managers.
RMT news release • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Driverless trains plan dismissed as ‘tosh’
A pledge by Boris Johnson to introduce driverless trains on the London Underground network has been rubbished by unions, with RMT describing the plan as “lethal and unworkable.” Kicking off his bid for re-election as London mayor, Boris Johnson vowed to introduce driverless trains within two years.
ASLEF news release • London Evening Standard • The Telegraph • The Guardian • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Guatemala: More murders of banana union members
The murder of union members in Guatemala’s banana industry is continuing. The US Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP) reports the most recent casualty, Miguel Angel González Ramírez, a member of the Izabal banana workers’ union, was shot on 5 February while he was holding his young son.
USLEAP news release and action call – you can send a protest letter online • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Tube driver’s vigilance saved child’s life
An incident on London Underground’s Jubilee line on the evening of Sunday 26 February – where only a driver’s vigilance saved a child - has underlined how the Mayor of London’s “obsession” with driverless trains is “irresponsible, callous and opportunist,” according to ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan.
ASLEF news release • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Grayrigg ‘more like history than justice’
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has criticised the five year gap between the Grayrigg disaster and Network Rail facing a court for related criminal safety offences.
ASLEF news release • The Independent • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Firefighter injured by faulty fire station doors
A retained firefighter needed surgery on his ankle after he was injured trying to close antiquated heavy doors at his fire station. The FBU member was attempting to close the huge 12ft high by 16ft wide front doors to the station when he suffered the injury in 2008.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Surge in older workers doing unpaid overtime
The proportion of employees in their late 50s and early 60s working unpaid overtime has increased sharply in the last decade - despite a fall in unpaid hours for the rest of the workforce. A new TUC analysis of official figures shows across the UK around one in five workers (5.3 million people) put in an average of 7.2 hours of unpaid overtime per week last year, worth around £5,300 a year per person - and a record £29.2 billion to the economy.
TUC news release • The Guardian • Work Your Proper Hours Day • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Deregulation savings are a government 'fantasy'
Government claims that slashing red tape will save businesses millions have been challenged by trade unions and health and safety campaigners. Business and enterprise minister Mark Prisk claimed the "one-in, one-out" regulations rule and the government's Red Tape Challenge will save businesses more than £4 million in the first half of this year.
BIS news release and one-in-one-out policy • Morning Star • HSE Red Tape Challenge webpages • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Work victims attack ‘abhorrent’ legal fees plan
People with deadly work-related diseases are demanding justice secretary Ken Clarke ditches his “abhorrent” reforms that would force them to pay two new fees. Shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter said: “This is all part of a campaign to protect insurance companies and badly behaving industrial giants at the expense of people who worked hard all their lives and did nothing wrong.”
Daily Mirror • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Washing work clothes killed woman
A woman died of asbestos cancer aged 56 as a result of washing her husband's asbestos-covered work clothes for a decade. Jill Bolstridge would shake off the dirt from overalls worn by her husband James – who worked at Derby engineering firm S Robinson and Sons – before putting them in the washing machine.
Derby Telegraph • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Trailer firm fined £100,000 over driver's death
A worker died when a six-metre steel machine landed on top of him after it was dislodged from overhead brackets at a factory in East Yorkshire. Ronald Wood, 59, was struck on the head by the steel vacuum lifter, which weighed two-thirds of a tonne, when it was knocked from its mountings by a trailer being towed out of the Montracon factory.
HSE news release • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Lathe crushes young worker's leg
A Fife engineering company has been fined £10,000 after a lathe weighing more than a tonne toppled onto a worker’s leg. AG Brown Ltd employee Craig Stewart, 21, was working with a colleague to move a 1.2 tonne lathe from a workshop in Glenrothes to one of the metal fabrication company’s other workshops in the town.
HSE news release • BBC News Online • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Engineering worker suffered high voltage burns
An employee of an Oxfordshire-based engineering company sustained life-threatening burns after striking a high voltage electric cable during construction work on the new Crossrail railway. Fugro Engineering Services Ltd employee Samuel Langley was using a hydraulic breaker to create an inspection pit for a borehole when he struck a high voltage electric cable.
HSE news release • BBC News Online • London Evening Standard • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Gust blows worker off shipping container
A food manufacturing firm has been fined after a worker was blown off the top of a shipping container while moving corrugated metal sheets. Barry Walton, 64, an employee of Vion Foods UK Ltd, fell more than two-and-a-half metres to the ground, breaking his ribs and damaging muscles in his leg and shoulder.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Stress Network Annual Conference, 23-25 November 2012
The National Work Stress Network’s 2012 conference will be held in Rednal, near Birmingham on the weekend of 23-25 November. Marking the bicentenary this year of the birth of Charles Dickens, the event has a theme of ‘Hard Times, Great Expectations and Victorian values – combatting workplace stress in hostile times.”
National Work Stress Network conference, 23-25 November 2012, Hillscourt Conference Centre, Rednal, Nr Birmingham B45 8RS. Flyer and booking form [pdf] • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Egypt: Refinery blames former minister for deadly blast
An Egyptian petroleum company’s top legal adviser has blamed the country’s former finance minister for a deadly refinery blast. Araby Abdel Hamid, head of the legal department at the Suez Company for Petroleum Manufacturing, has said he holds Youssef Boutros-Ghali responsible for the 22 February explosion in which five workers were killed, because the minister refused to allow investment in new equipment.
Egypt Independent and related story • Egypt.com • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Global: Apple supplier challenged on ‘fair labour’ claims
Claims that a major supplier to hi-tech giant Apple is having its labour practices subject to effective external scrutiny have been dismissed by labour rights organisation as “a PR stunt.” In an open letter to Apple shareholders, the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF), GoodElectronics and makeITfair are critical of the investigations by the Fair Labour Association (FLA) at Apple supplier Foxconn.
IMF news release • Good Electronics • FLA news release and earlier release on Apple joining FLA • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Hazards news, 18 February 2012
Britain: Compensation ‘under threat’ from government
Workers are facing an ‘onslaught’ by the government on their ability to claim compensation, the TUC has warned. The union body says compensation is facing a triple whammy, with for workplace injury and ill-health victims, victims of criminal violence and those unfairly dismissed all set to lose out.
Compensation under threat • Defend health and safety Day of Action, 28 April 2012, Bulletin Number 3, TUC, February 2012. TUC Workers’ Memorial Day webpages • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
USA: Joint call for stricter beryllium standard
A beryllium producer and trade union have made a joint appeal for a stringent legally-binding exposure limit for the highly dangerous metal. The call from the United Steelworkers (USW) and Materion Brush came as they announced they had reached agreement on a model beryllium standard and had sent it to the official Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as a joint recommendation.
USW news release • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: RMT demands action on Tebay deaths anniversary
Rail union RMT has marked the eighth anniversary of the disaster near Tebay in Cumbria, where four rail workers were killed by a runaway wagon, with a renewed call for action to stop a repeat of the safety failure. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “RMT members up and down the country are rightly angry and disgusted that a secondary protection system, which has been the subject of countless meetings, still hasn’t been introduced eight years on.”
RMT news release • BBC News Online • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: NUJ condemns ‘bullying newsroom culture’
Journalists are being bullied by newspaper management and put under huge pressure to deliver the story at all costs, the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics has heard. Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the media union NUJ, gave evidence compiled from personal interviews with journalists that reveals what NUJ describes as a shocking catalogue of bullying and abuse in the newspaper industry.
NUJ news release • Leveson Inquiry and pages including NUJ evidence • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Italy: Big jail terms for asbestos killings
Two former executives of a Swiss building products conglomerate have been convicted in Italy of causing the asbestos-related deaths of more than 3,000 people. The defendants, the former owner of the Eternit conglomerate Stephan Schmidheiny and Belgian baron Louis de Cartier de Marchienne, a major shareholder in the firm, were each sentenced in Turin to 16 years in prison on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
International Ban Asbestos Secretariat blog • iWatch News • CNN • Euronews • BBC News Online • Swissinfo • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: North Sea union probe uncovers ‘exploitation’
A union investigation of working conditions in the North Sea oil and gas sector has found evidence of the ‘exploitation and humiliation’ of Romanian workers in the port of Hartlepool. The Offshore Task Force Group convened by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) says it plans to ask the UK government’s Low Pay Unit and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to investigate the alleged abuses, which include workers ‘so frightened’ they are working for food only.
ITF news release • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: Latest tragedy exposes dangerous dogs problem
Dog attack deaths will continue unless there is a comprehensive overhaul of dangerous dogs laws, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has said. The union was commenting on the death of an 83-year-old man following an attack by a neighbour’s dog.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign • Daily Mail • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: Union card pays off as bakery worker uses his loaf
A bakery worker who was approached directly by an insurance company after suffering disabling injuries at work could have lost almost £150,000 had he not turned to his union for advice. The 53-year-old from Birmingham, whose name has not been released, was initially offered just £69,000 for his injuries by his employer’s insurer, but received a £211,000 settlement – more than three times the original offer – after calling in the union.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: Self-employed are not alone in a union
A self-employed worker who fell from a faulty scaffolding platform, breaking his hip and leg, has received compensation after help from his trade union. GMB member Michael Ramsey, 66, wasn’t trained to work at height.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: Knee injury worsened by botched surgery
A Unite member who damaged his knee at work was then left even more seriously injured when private surgery funded by his employers went wrong. The 58-year-old maintenance fitter from Cheshire, whose name has not been released but who as received as substantial payout, has been left with a limp and unable to undertake heavy work after the injury suffered at Albion Inorganic Chemicals Ltd in Sandbach and the subsequent operation.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: Injury victims left out as PM does insurers’ bidding
Victims of negligent employers have been left in the cold by the prime minister, who has held a Downing Street ‘summit’ with insurance industry top brass and employers’ organisations to discuss cutting the compensation bill. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson asked why no representatives of the victims of poor workplace conditions had been invited to the summit, adding: “Clearly they seem to have been written out of this process which is all about helping increase the profits of the insurance industry and stop people with legitimate claims from getting the compensation they should be entitled to.”
Downing Street statement on insurance summit • The Telegraph • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: Downing Street freezes out grieving families
The prime minister continues to make damaging policy about health and safety at work based on a business wishlist and not the ‘massive costs and burdens on families of people killed by negligence’, Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) has said. FACK’s Hilda Palmer said: “Cameron failed to reply to a letter we sent him expressing concern at his new year's resolution to 'kill off health and safety culture‚' yet holds a summit with the insurance companies and only hears the side of the story he wants to.”
FACK news release and We didn’t vote to die at work campaign • Morning Star • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: Asbestos killed school worker
A school cleaner and caretaker died as a result of exposure to asbestos throughout her career, an inquest has heard. Brenda Ann Butcher, 65, was diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma on 7 March last year and died on 26 April 2011.
South Wales Argus • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: Director convicted after gas explosion
The managing director of a St Helens gas supply firm has been convicted of a criminal safety breach after he and an employee suffered multiple burns in an explosion where the fact no-one died “was simply down to luck”. Liverpool Crown Court heard that John Webster, 55, and another worker, who has asked not to be named, had been attempting to remove the valve on an LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) cylinder at North West Gases Ltd on 10 April 2008.
HSE news release and gas safety webpages • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Britain: Site firm fined after worker badly injured
A construction company working in one of the London’s most expensive postcodes has been fined £30,000 after a Romanian worker suffered life-changing injuries when he fell seven metres from an unguarded roof. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted R&G Construction Ltd as a result of the incident on 7 March 2011.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Central America: Work link in killer kidney disease outbreak
An outbreak of kidney disease that has killed thousands of workers in Central America has been linked by experts to workplace hazards. Chronic dehydration and arduous work appears to a possible trigger for the chronic kidney disease, which is normally caused by diabetes and high blood pressure, maladies absent in most of the patients in Central America.
Seattle PI • Daily Mail • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Global: Monsanto guilty of poisoning French farmer
A French court has found the US biotech giant Monsanto responsible for the poisoning of a farmer who inhaled a powerful weedkiller. Monsanto says it will appeal against this week’s verdict by a court in Lyon. Grain farmer Paul Francois, 47, suffered from dizziness, memory loss, stammering, headaches, muscular aches and other problems after examining a sprayer in 2004 which contained Lasso, a product which remained on the market in France until 2007, despite earlier bans in Britain, Belgium and Canada. France 24 • RFI • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Daily Mirror • Risks 543 • 18 February 2012
Hazards news, 11 February 2012
Britain: Work cancer kills two an hour round the clock
Cancers caused by the jobs we do kill one person in the UK every 30 minutes around the clock, a TUC report has revealed. ‘Occupational cancer – a workplace guide’ says the prevention of workplace cancer has a much lower profile in the workplace than preventing injuries, “despite the fact that only 220 to 250 workers die each year as a result of an immediate injury as opposed to the 15,000 to 18,000 that die from cancer.” Occupational cancer – a workplace guide, TUC, February 2012 [pdf].
Occupational cancer – the figures: briefing for activists, February 2012 • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
USA: Industry stalls diesel fumes cancer action
Publication of a landmark US government study probing whether diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in miners — already 20 years in the making — has been delayed by industry and congressional insistence on seeing study data and documents before the public does.
Washington Post • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Prison workers face smoking dangers
While other workers benefit from lower cancer and heart disease risks resulting from the workplace smoking ban, workers in prisons do not, their union has said. POA has presented evidence to the Ministry of Justice showing prison staff are “exposed to considerable quantities of secondhand smoke during their work time.”
POA news release • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Bill targets deadly ‘phoenix firms’
Construction union UCATT has welcomed a parliamentary Bill designed to stop negligent bosses dodging punishment when their workers are killed or maimed. Liverpool MP and UCATT member Luciana Berger presented her 10 minute rule Bill demanding new powers to stop guilty companies avoiding punishment by going into administration.
UCATT news release • Morning Star and related article on Noel Corbin’s death • Liverpool Echo • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Network Rail bonus decision ‘too late’
Rail union TSSA has said a decision by Network Rail bosses to donate their six figure annual bonuses to improving safety at level crossings is welcome but comes too late for some victims of the company’s negligence.
TSSA news release • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Europe: Unions campaign against exploitation at sea
Seafarers from across Europe descended on Aberdeen to pay their respects to fallen colleagues and to demand an end to the exploitation of crews servicing oil and gas fields in the North Sea. Maritime union members from Britain, Norway and Denmark joined a sombre ceremony at the city's seafarers memorial before touring the harbour to talk to workers.
ITF news release • Nautilus news release • Morning Star • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Manslaughter probe over Chevron refinery deaths
Police investigating the devastating Pembroke Refinery explosion that killed four people last year are considering bringing manslaughter charges and have interviewed two refinery employees under caution. The move follows a painstaking investigation by Dyfed Powys Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the 2 June 2011 blast that ripped through a storage tank at the then Chevron refinery, now operated by Valero Energy Limited.
Dyfed Powys Police news release • Western Telegraph • BBC News Online • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
USA: Social network pics used against sick workers
When your job harms you it may not be good enough just to be sick; you may have to demonstrate you are perpetually miserable as well. US workers are discovering that any suggestion of enjoyment posted on social networking sites, could see the injured party’s workers’ compensation payouts stopped.
MSNBC’s The Bottom Line • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Blacklisting firm held file on oil industry academic
A secret blacklisting file opened on an academic who researched health and safety following the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster claims the offshore oil industry threatened to cut funding to his university if he “continued to cause problems”. Professor Charles Woolfson had published extensively on safety regimes in the North Sea while he was industrial relations professor at the University of Glasgow and wrote a well-regarded book, Paying The Piper.
Taking out the Trash blog • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: ‘Disgusted’ fiancée expected jail for site death
A grieving woman has said she is ‘disgusted’ no-one is facing a jail term after her partner was killed on a London construction site. Craig Page died in what the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) described as an ‘entirely avoidable’ incident where a crane carrying three times its maximum load toppled over, smashing its boom into the father-of-one.
HSE news release • Ham and High • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Alert electrician spots asbestos blunder
Workers and residents were put at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres until an alert electrician raised the alarm. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told Chippenham Magistrates' Court that DB Construction (West Wilts) Ltd carried out unsafe work while refurbishing a house in Bradford-on-Avon between 29 November and 10 December 2010.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Tour bus crushed a mechanic
A major London tour bus operator has been fined after a mechanic suffered serious injuries while working underneath one of its vehicles. Westminster Magistrates' Court heard the 58-year-old employee of The Original London Sightseeing Tour Limited was working underneath the vehicle when the axle dropped onto the mechanic breaking his pelvis and several ribs.
HSE news release • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
USA: Truck drivers shut port over safety
Trucker drivers working for the major haulage contractors at the port of Seattle turned off the engines, got out of their cabs, and stopped hauling to draw attention to their serious safety concerns. As a result of this action by the Clean and Safe Ports campaign, commerce at the major trading hub slowed to a trickle.
Clean and Safe Ports news release and website • Change to Win reports • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Worker died in unguarded machine
Railcare Limited has been fined £133,000 for criminal health and safety failings after an employee died from head injuries while carrying out maintenance work. John Smith, 53, died as a result of the injuries sustained whilst working at an axle lathe that had an unguarded chuck.
COPFS news release • BBC News Online • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Arm skinned and broken at fencing firm
An international fencing manufacturer has been fined after a worker suffered severe injuries to his left arm at a production plant in Sheffield. Sheffield Magistrates' Court heard how on 7 August 2009 the Betafence Ltd employee suffered a dislocated elbow, compound fractures to his lower arm, and had parts of his skin ripped off as he tried to re-thread some wire through a machine block.
HSE news release • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Two injured in eight metre fall
Construction contractor Chalcroft Ltd has been prosecuted after two workers fell eight metres from a temporary structure at a factory building job in Coleford. Cheltenham Magistrates Court heard that Spencer Gosney and Matthew Brewer had been subcontracted to build a concrete core as part of a new GlaxoSmithKline factory when the formwork on which they were standing collapsed.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Farmworker suffers smashed face in fall
A farmworker suffered severe facial injuries after falling 16ft through a shed roof in Cornwall. Bodmin Magistrates' Court heard self-employed worker James Best, 24, was asked to help remove fibre cement roof sheets from a shed at Park Farm, Washaway, near Bodmin when he fell 16ft on to the concrete floor below.
HSE news release • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Stonemason gets belated payout for diseased lung
A stonemason who developed a life-limiting occupational lung disease after he was exposed to silica dust at work has received compensation more than 13 years after he was diagnosed, and despite one set of solicitors turning his case down.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Britain: Government confirms schools asbestos inaction
The government has confirmed it is not intending to the take the ‘urgent’ action needed to control asbestos risks in schools. The call for action came this month in a report from parliament’s all party group on occupational health and safety.
Adjournment debate, 7 February 2012: Columns 277 – 284, Hansard • Morning Star • GMB news release • IBAS blog • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Canada: Horrific crash kills 10 farm workers
Ten migrant farm workers in Ontario, Canada, have been killed when the van transporting them collided with a flatbed truck. The tragedy, which occurred early evening on 6 February, has led to renewed calls from agricultural workers’ organisations for improved safety in the industry.
UFCW Canada news release • Globe and Mail • Risks 542 • 11 February 2012
Hazards news, 4 February 2012
Britain: Justice under threat from all sides
Workers are facing a government “onslaught” on their ability to get justice after being abused at work, the TUC has warned. TUC’s head of safety Hugh Robertson notes an attack on access to employment tribunals forms part of an injustice triple whammy, with personal injury and criminal injury compensation also in the government’s sights. Stronger Unions blog • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Union helps to secure crossing deaths justice
A rail union has been instrumental in securing the criminal prosecution of Network Rail on health and safety charges. Network Rail has admitted safety failings at a level crossing where two teenage girls were killed more than six years ago, saying it will plead guilty to three breaches of health and safety laws and promising to press on with checks on thousands of other crossings.
ORR news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Daily Mail • The Telegraph • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Global: Fishing nations fail to tackle deadly risks
The fishing industry worldwide needs to take urgent action if it is to jettison its reputation as one of the most dangerous and unregulated occupations, a global union federation has said. The London-based International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) wants governments to sign up to an International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention underpinning basic safety and employment rights for fishers.
ITF news release and new guide • ITF/IUF ‘From Catcher to Counter’ campaign • Hazards magazine • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Global: Apple bruised by worker abuse revelations
Apple’s public image has been dented by revelations about working conditions in the factories of some of its network of Chinese suppliers. A steady stream of critical articles, highlighting dust explosions, labour abuses, long hours and mass poisonings of workers at Chinese subcontractors have been bad enough PR, culminating in a front page feature in the New York Times, headlined: ‘In China, human costs are built into an iPad.’
New York Times and related article • Los Angeles Times • The Observer • The Pump Handle • International Campaign for Responsible Technology • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Health and safety goes south-west
The South West TUC has called on the government to abandon its dangerous workplace safety plans. There has been a downward trend in workplace injuries in the region but, with eight people in the region killed in the course of their work last year, the TUC’s regional centre says David Cameron is wrong to halve the number of health and safety regulations.
TUC news release • South West TUC health and safety conference, 8 February, Bristol and the new manual for union reps • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
USA: Action on deadly silica hits a brick wall
Progress on a new safer official US workplace exposure limit for deadly silica dust has been frustrated by the business lobby for over a decade. But a bid by the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to finally introduce stricter controls on silica has hit a second brick wall – a review process run by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that has stalled the ready-to-go standard since 14 February last year.
National Council for Occupational Safety and Health silica campaign and letter to President Obama [pdf] • Union of Concerned Scientists news release • NPR Morning Edition • Huffington Post • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Faulty system left car worker in a jam
A toolsetter for a car parts manufacturer suffered a painful back injury after a machine with a known problem jammed. The 57-year-old Unite member from Walsall suffered a slipped disc as he was fitting a four foot long beam to reinforce a car bumper for Wagon Industries in May 2008.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Knee injury stops train driver
A train driver was off work for nine months after being injured in a fall on an icy platform. The 30-year-old ASLEF member from Oxfordshire, who fell on snow and ice on the platform at Frome station in January 2009, has received a “significant” out of court payout.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
MPs call for urgent action on asbestos in schools
MPs have warned urgent action is needed to address the asbestos “timebomb in our schools”. A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, sent to MPs and peers on 1 February, says more than 75 per cent of Britain’s state schools contain asbestos.
News release from Jim Sheridan MP and full report, Asbestos in schools: The need for action, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, 1 February 2012 [pdf] • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Asbestos like ‘capital punishment’ for workers
A coroner has said asbestos at work was like “capital punishment” for hard workers. Dr Janet Napier, deputy coroner for Cheshire, was commenting at the inquest into the death of a former Crewe Works employee, William Martin, who worked at the railway as a fitter and turner between 1956 and 1988.
Crewe Guardian • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Excessive working time causes depression
A new study has concluded that working long hours - regardless of job stress or satisfaction - increases the risk of depression. Researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and University College London followed nearly 2,000 middle-aged British civil servants for almost six years.
TUC Touchstone blog. Marianna Virtanen and others. Overtime work as a predictor of major depressive episode: A 5-year follow-up of the Whitehall II Study, PLoS ONE, volume 7, number 1, published online 25 January 2012. CBS News • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Firm guilty after worker’s head is crushed
Construction worker Steven Allen, 23, died from massive crush injuries when his head became trapped in the jaws of a grab machine being wrongly used to move a pallet of cement bags. JN Bentley was fined £106,250 and ordered to pay costs of £90,000.
HSE news release • Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) news release • Telegraph and Argus • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Young driver crushed by one tonne pallet
Hampshire lift manufacturer Wessex Lift Co Ltd has been fined after a driver was killed while making a delivery to the firm. Father-of-one Adam Millichip, 27, was delivering sheet metal to the firm on 16 November 2007 when he was hit by a one tonne pallet, being moved by a forklift, which crushed him against his lorry.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages • BBC News Online • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Radiation found on Dounreay workers' shoes
Traces of radioactive contamination have been detected on shoes worn by workers preparing to leave a condemned building at the Dounreay nuclear site. It was understood 14 workers were involved.
DSRL news release • BBC News Online • Scotsman • Press and Journal • Construction Enquirer • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Scaffolder survives seven metre fall
A construction firm has been prosecuted after a scaffolder suffered multiple injuries when he fell seven metres through a roof. Fred Lewis Scaffold Company Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal safety breach and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £19,000 costs.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Staffordshire Sentinel • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Three firms fined after worker falls from roof
Three Dundee companies have been fined a total of £336,000 after a 23 year old Christopher Carson fell six and a half metres through a roof light onto a concrete floor. Robert AS Crockett and Partners Ltd was fined £66,000; Electroguard Security Systems and Dundee Cold Stores were each fined £135,000.
HSE news release • Daily Record • The Courier • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Global: Unions gets help to sunk cruiseship crew
Unions have brokered an agreement to help crew members who survived the sinking of the Costa Concordia cruiseship. The team led by Francesco Di Fiore of the global transport unions’ federation ITF liaised with affiliated unions in crew members’ home countries and acting as a link with the ship’s operator.
ITF news release • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Turkey: Denim sandblasting takes another life
The deadly legacy of Turkey’s denim sandblasting trade has accounted for another life. Press reports from the country say 28-year-old İdris Oral died after suffering from silicosis caused by his work at a denim sandblasting workshop.
Bianet • Clean Clothes Campaign appeal • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Hazards news, 28 January 2012
Britain: Obeying safety rules is a responsibility, not a burden
Health and safety regulation is not the burden on business the prime minister suggests, but something any responsible business should embrace, the TUC has asserted. “Regulation should not be seen as a burden on business, a TUC briefing says, adding: “It is a responsibility, just as paying taxes is a responsibility, and no business should be able to operate unless it can do so safety.”
Defending regulation, TUC Day of Action to defend health and safety bulletin No.1. TUC Workers’ Memorial Day webpages • ITUC/Hazards International Workers’ Memorial Day webpages • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: Enforcement works, non-enforcement kills
A drastic cut in the UK’s already under par workplace safety enforcement activity will lead to more death and injuries, the TUC has warned. The union body notes: “Good employers have always supported both regulation and enforcement because it means that their competitors cannot take short-cuts with people's safety and undercut them,” concluding: “It is only unscrupulous or incompetent employers who fear consistent and fair regulation of health and safety.”
The need for enforcement, TUC Day of Action to defend health and safety bulletin No.2. We didn’t vote to die at work campaign • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
USA: Union demands action on refinery safety
Workers at US oil refineries took their safety campaign to the streets on 21 January. A United Steelworkers (USW) union National Day of Action for Safe Refineries and Good Jobs saw members in refinery communities visit petrol stations and distribute leaflets to drivers highlighting the importance of refinery safety.
USW news release and Safe refineries and good jobs campaign • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: Girl’s mauling shows need for new dogs law
The arrest of the owner of a dangerous dog that attacked a six-year-old girl has been welcomed by the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU). Commenting after the serious mauling, CWU, which says postal workers alone are the victims of 6,000 dog attacks each year, repeated its call on the government to change “outdated” dogs laws.”
CWU news release and Bite back campaign • Sky News • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Global: Union urges investigation before cruiseship blame
Serious safety failings could be obscured in the rush to blame the captain and crew for the Costa Concordia cruiseship sinking, the union Nautilus International has warned. Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said “there is a danger that just blaming individuals will obscure the serious and profound safety lessons that may need to be learned, as well as the matter of justice and a right to a fair trial.”
Nautilus news release • Corriere della Sera • The Guardian • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: Union nips in to get finger payout
A Unite member who suffered permanent damage to his fingers at work and waited almost three years before he claimed compensation has received a payout of more than £8,000. The 65-year-old from Isleworth in Middlesex, whose name has not been released, suffered from tendon damage to his little and ring fingers after using an unsafe drill whilst working for Field Systems Design.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: Honda ignored grate warning
Car manufacturer Honda ignored a worker’s warning about a hazardous grate, which subsequently caused the concerned employee to suffer serious knee injuries that “destroyed” his life. Unite member Patrick Scanlon, 47, had warned his bosses at the Honda factory in Swindon that a raised grate on the factory floor was an accident waiting to happen but nothing was done to fix it.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: Government is ‘peddling myths’ and misusing Löfstedt
The expert who carried a government commissioned review of workplace safety regulation has raised concerns about his report being ‘misused’ for political purposes. Professor Ragnar Löfstedt told a forum in London on 17 January he was not in favour of “radical” reform, contradicting David Cameron's attack earlier this month on the 'monster' of health and safety.
Prospect news release • Law Society Gazette. House of Commons debate on health and safety regulation, 23 January 2012, Hansard report. Proposals to revoke seven Statutory Instruments, Consultative document CD238, responses by 12 March 2012 • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
USA: Study reveals massive costs of bad work
The cost of workplace injuries and illnesses is soaring in the US, and now runs to US$250 billion (£160bn) a year, a study has found. The total, which outstrips the direct and indirect costs of all cancers, coronary heart disease and diabetes, demonstrates the need for a greater emphasis on prevention, according to author J Paul Leigh.
JP Leigh. Economic burden of occupational injury and illness in the United States, Milbank Quarterly, volume 89, number 4, pages 728-772, December 2011 [pdf].
The Pump Handle • EHS Today • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: HSE ‘challenge panel’ to target safety myths
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to invite the public to tell it about claims and decisions that bring health and safety into disrepute, so that a new dedicated challenge panel can quickly disprove them. The new panel comes hot on the heels of the ‘Independent Regulatory Challenge Panel’, imposed on HSE by the government as a means for businesses to challenge decisions by safety regulators.
SHP Online. Where’s that watchdog?, Hazards magazine and ‘Who you gonna call?’ contact list for HSE offices. HSE’s contact webpage • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: Law fails blacklisted agency worker
The construction giant Carillion has admitted a construction worker was blacklisted because of his trade union activities and efforts to improve site safety, but has escaped responsibility because he was an agency worker. The revelation came during an employment tribunal brought against the firm by engineer and former UCATT safety rep Dave Smith.
Blacklist blog • Daily Mirror • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • Socialist Worker • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: Employers must track three day-plus injuries
Proposed changes to the official injury reporting system will not exempt employers from a legal requirement to record most injuries sustained at work. The Health and Safety Executive says from 6 April 2012, subject to parliamentary approval, the legal requirement to report to the authorities injuries requiring more than there days off work will change - but that doesn’t mean employers do not have to track these three day-plus injuries.
HSE information note and related guide • Unite safety rep alert • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: London Olympics facing sweatshop allegations
The London 2012 Organising Committee (Locog) is probing claims over poor pay and working conditions at a Chinese factory where toy Games mascots are being made.
SACOM news report and full criticism of Locog • The Sun • BBC News Online • Huffington Post UK • Morning Star • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: Woman blows up factory that killed her dad
A woman whose father was scalded to death at a Norfolk soup factory in 1995 said she had gained “closure” after being given the opportunity to blow it up. Sarah Griffiths, 41, triggered the demolition of the former Campbell's factory tower in King's Lynn on 15 January.
Lynn News • BBC News Online • Houston Chronicle • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: Assaults at work increased last year
Physical assaults at work increased last year but threats of violence fell, official statistics have revealed. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report, based on British Crime Survey (BCS) and RIDDOR reports, reveals there were an estimated 341,000 physical assaults to British workers during the 12 months prior to the interviews, up 10 per cent from the previous year.
Violence at work: Violence at work statistics from the 2010/11 British Crime Survey & RIDDOR, HSE, January 2012 [pdf] • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
USA: Miscarriages in nurses linked to work exposures
Nurses who worked with chemotherapy drugs or sterilising chemicals were twice as likely to have a miscarriage as their colleagues who didn't handle these materials, a US study has found. Nurses who gave patients x-rays had a slightly elevated risk of miscarriage too, about 30 per cent higher than nurses who didn't work with x-rays; and nurses who handled sterilising agents, such as ethylene oxide or formaldehyde, more than an hour a day also had a doubled risk of miscarriage, but only during the second trimester. Christina C Lawson and others. Occupational exposures among nurses and risk of spontaneous abortion, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, published online ahead of print, 30 December 2011 • MedlinePlus • Mother Nature Network • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: Driver left in a coma after digger horror
A worker suffered severe injuries when his excavator struck a bridge on the M1 motorway in the East Midlands. Simon Foulke, a maintenance fitter with engineering contractor Van Elle Ltd, was driving a wheeled excavator during widening work on the motorway between Junctions 25 and 28 when its boom hit a bridge.
HSE news release • Mansfield Chad • Construction Enquirer • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: Molten metal sprayed on a second worker
An aluminium casting company has been fined £6,000 after a man was burned by molten metal at its Worcester factory in a repeat of an earlier incident. Asim Qureshi, 41, was operating a die cast machine at JVM Castings Ltd when molten metal sprayed from the back of the machine on 27 July 2010.
HSE news release • Worcester Standard • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Britain: Severed finger rap for bubble wrap giant
A multinational manufacturer has been prosecuted after a worker lost three fingers in a bubble wrap making machine. Milton Keynes Magistrates' Court heard Daniel Winters, 29, was cleaning debris from the machine at Sansetsu (UK) Limited’s Milton Keynes factory, when his right hand became caught on an “in-running nip” and was trapped between two powered rollers.
HSE news release • Milton Keynes Today • Risks 540 • 28 January 2011
Hazards news, 21 January 2012
Britain: TUC says stand up for safety
The TUC is gearing up for the biggest ever national workplace health and safety event on 28 April. It has designated Workers’ Memorial Day 2012 a ‘Day of activity to defend health and safety’, which is facing an unprecedented attack.
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2012 webpage, leaflet [pdf] and poster [pdf] • TUC call for action • Hazards 'remember the dead, fight like hell for the living' images and WMD artwork gallery • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Union concern at increased abuse of shopworkers
The retail union Usdaw has expressed concern at a ‘huge leap’ in abuse of shopworkers. The union was commenting after the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC’s) annual survey of retail crime found the total number of reported incidents of verbal abuse, threats and violence against shopworkers rose by 83 per cent in 2011, driven by a more than three-fold increase in threats and a five-fold increase in incidents of verbal abuse.
Usdaw news release and Freedom from fear campaign • BRC news release and Retail Crime Survey 2011 [pdf] • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Korea: Speed-up led worker to set himself on fire
A South Korean Hyundai Motor worker set himself alight after management responded to his request to slow the pace of production by stepping up discipline. The 44-year-old trade unionist, Shin Sung-hun, is in critical condition after his 8 January protest at the engine plant in Ulsan.
Labor Notes • Economic Times • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Cruiseliner tragedy should be a wake-up call
Maritime unions have blamed inadequate safety measures for Europe's worst maritime disaster in a generation. Nautilus International said the 14 January wreck of the massive Costa Concordia cruiseliner should be a wake-up call to the entire industry.
Nautilus UK news release • ITF news release • Morning Star • BBC News Online • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Unite criticises Tory ‘smokescreen’ on unions at work
The Conservative Party should turn its attention to the challenges facing the economy instead of “peddling distortion” about the union role, the union Unite has said. The union was commenting after a failed attempt by Tory MP and former Barclays investment banker Jesse Norman to introduce legislation to reduce facilities and time provided by public sector employers for trade union work.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Global: Apple supplier audit reveals abuses
Electronic gizmo giant Apple, the company that brought us the Apple Mac, i-phone and i-pad, seems to be adding a far more candid appraisal of problems in its global supply chain to its business portfolio. In January, the firm published its previously closely guarded list of 156 suppliers, after a succession of reports had highlighted safety, labour and environmental abuses in some of the firms.
Apple Supplier Responsibility 2012 Progress Report and Supplier Responsibility website • Financial Post • This American Life • International Campaign for Responsible Technology • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Vibration caused ongoing health problems
A plater who suffered permanent damage to his hands after he was exposed to vibrating tools at work has received a second dose of compensation. The 54-year-old GMB member from Doncaster developed the painful wrist condition carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) after working with vibrating machinery for 25 years.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Union protection extends outside of work
A UNISON member who was involved in a car smash and left needing spinal surgery has received compensation with the help of union lawyers. The grandmother-of-four from County Durham, whose name has not been released, suffered a slipped disc after her car was hit from behind by a 4x4 as she was waiting at a roundabout.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Europe: Temp jobs are bad for your health
A study of workers in the European Union has found getting stuck in a series of temporary jobs has a significant negative effect on your health. Researchers from Germany’s Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI) looked at data from 27 European countries, including the UK, to evaluate the impact of temporary employment on health.
Christoph Ehlert and Sandra Schaffner. Health effects of temporary jobs in Europe, Ruhr Economic Papers, Number 295 [pdf] • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Workplace dust contributed to miner’s heart death
A former coal miner died as a result of an industrial disease, an inquest has ruled. Although Thomas Gill died on 24 September last year as a result of a heart condition, the inquest heard a lung condition, caused by more than 30 years of dusty work on the coalface, was a “major factor” in his death.
News and Star. TUC ‘Dust in the workplace’ report [pdf] • Hazards ‘Dust up!’ campaign and report • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Job pressures led to suicide
A Hampshire firefighter who took his own life had been taken on too much work, an inquest has heard. Father-of-three Martin Coles was found hanged in a wooded area in Wickham on 9 August last year.
Portsmouth News • More on work-related suicide • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Unions welcome Grayrigg rail death prosecution
Unions have welcomed a decision by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) to prosecute Network Rail over the rail crash at Grayrigg in which one passenger died. Margaret Masson, 84, from Glasgow, died after the Virgin train derailed on the West Coast Main Line in Cumbria in February 2007.
ORR news release • ASLEF news release • TSSA news release • BBC News Online • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Suspended sentence after fall death
A man has been given a suspended prison sentence after worker Robert Jozwiak, 44, was killed when he fell through a roof at a disused factory unit in Leicester. Musa Suleman was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for two years and was also ordered to pay compensation of £13,800 to Mr Jozwiak's family and full costs of £17,337.
HSE news release and Shattered lives webpages • Leicester Mercury • Daily Mirror • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Businessman fined £112k over roof fall death
A Liverpool businessman has been fined £112,000 after a labourer died following a fall from the roof of an industrial unit, just months after another worker was injured in a fall at the same site. John McCleary fell 15 feet while fitting roof panels at the construction site in Toxteth being managed by Taj ul Malook Mann, who failed to report the incident to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Steel beam crushing death was preventable
Specialist crane supplier JH Carruthers Ltd has been fined £180,000 after a worker was killed when a large steel beam fell on him at an incinerator in Slough, Berkshire. Colin Dickson, 38, of Motherwell, Lanarkshire, died when the temporary suspension points on a suspended beam he was under failed at the Lakeside Energy from Waste installation in Colnbrook.
HSE news release • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Horrific death of plastics technician was avoidable
An experienced technician at a plastic products factory in Cornwall was killed after he was crushed between the plates on a machine used to make plastic lids. Shaun O'Dwyer, 54, died in the incident on 30 May 2008 at the Curver UK Ltd factory.
HSE news release and guide on safety at injection moulding machines [pdf] • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Social care firm fined for violence risks
A social care organisation has been fined for exposing workers to the risk of violence and aggression. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation at Dimensions (UK) Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation that provides support services for people with learning disabilities, after a support worker was kicked in the eye by a client on 31 December 2009.
HSE news release and health and social care webpages • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Britain: Safety fraudsters given jail terms
Health and safety fraudsters are facing lengthy jail terms after being caught in two separate scams. Gurpreet Singh and Parampreet Singh took health and safety tests on behalf of other construction workers to obtain skills cards and eight people were sentenced, five given jail terms, for fraud after more than £500,000 was claimed from two colleges for safety training that did not take place.
Construction Enquirer • BBC News Online • CITB-ConstructionSkills health and safety test • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Canada: Red Cross tarnished by asbestos links
A board member of the Canadian Red Cross, criticised for her ties to the asbestos industry, has resigned abruptly from the humanitarian group’s governing body. The departure of Roshi Chadha came days after the organisation had rallied behind the "valued member" of its team, spurring protests from asbestos victims and campaigners around the world.
Montreal Gazette • International Ban Asbestos Secretariat • Risks 539 • 21 January 2012
Hazards news, 14 January 2012
Britain: This time, it’s personal protective equipment
The TUC is investigating the use of personal protective equipment at work, from the tip of your steel toecaps to the top of your hard hat. The union body says it is concerned that workers may not be getting the coverage they require and may even end up paying for the purchase and upkeep of legally required protection at work.
TUC survey on the use of Personal Protective Equipment at work • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
USA: Arrest warrant on professor after lab death
A university chemistry professor could face a jail term on charges relating to the horrific death of a UCLA laboratory research assistant. Sheri Sangji, 23, suffered severe burns on 29 December 2008 while working with tert-butyllithium (tBuLi), a substance that will spontaneously ignite when exposed to air, dying from her injuries on 16 January 2009.
LA Times. UCLA statement and 6 January 2012 message to staff from the UCLA chancellor. The Pump Handle • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Unpaid overtime equivalent to 1m extra jobs
The two billion hours of unpaid overtime worked last year would be enough to create over a million extra full-time jobs, the TUC has calculated. It says the total amount of unpaid overtime worked last year was 1,968 million hours - worth a record £29.2 billion to the UK economy.
TUC news release • CWU news release • Work Your Proper Hours Day, 24 February 2012 • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Tackle teacher stress or pay, says union
Schools must tackle soaring teacher stress, Scottish teaching union EIS has said. The union was speaking out after revealing the union had settled a six figure out-of-court compensation claim for a member who suffered a stress-related psychiatric injury after the employer failed to act on a series of warnings about excessive workloads.
EIS news release • The Scotsman • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Power station pilots joint safety training
A major energy firm is working with Unite to encourage union safety reps to take a bigger workplace health and safety role. Drax Power Ltd is implementing a programme of joint manager and safety rep training, with the full backing of the union.
Unite news release • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Nuke firm ignored safety warnings
Managers at a major nuclear firm had dismissed safety concerns raised by workers moments before the dangerous job led to a worker suffering a serious injury. The GMB member from Cumbria broke her right ankle after she was ordered to move heavy archive boxes down a flight of three narrow steps at Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Seascale in February 2010.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Cancer strikes 50 years after exposure
A shipyard worker developed a deadly cancer 50 years after being exposed to asbestos in Merseyside’s shipyards. The 80-year-old Unite member from Liverpool was diagnosed with the asbestos related cancer mesothelioma in February 2011.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Merseyside Asbestos Victims Support Group • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Newsagent caused cleaner’s painful trip
A street cleaner has been awarded compensation by the courts after a newsagent failed to dispose of his waste responsibly. The GMB member from Bedfordshire was cleaning outside shop fronts in Luton in January 2004 when her feet became entangled on plastic newspaper strapping which had been dumped in a public rubbish bin.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Health and safety culture? I wish…
David Cameron’s resolution last week “to kill off the health and safety culture for good” has drawn fresh criticism from unions, safety bodies and corporate killing campaigners. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the prime minister’s comments “represent probably the biggest verbal assault on health and safety by a senior politician for many years, which is saying something, given that only last summer the PM was blaming the English riots on our health and safety culture.”
Strongerunions blog • FACK news release and ‘Sod you’ postcard to David Cameron and Nick Clegg • London Evening Standard. The Guardian. HR Magazine.
The TUC is organising a day of action to defend health and safety on 28 April, International Workers Memorial Day – watch this space • We didn’t vote to die at work campaign • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Cameron is ‘irresponsible and dangerous’
The prime minister’s “repeated attacks” on workplace health and safety measures “are irresponsible and dangerous,” the union representing Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors has warned. Commenting after David Cameron’s 5 January resolution to a business audience that his government would ‘kill off’ health and safety, Prospect said two recent reviews commissioned by the government had concluded the existing system worked.
Unite news release and Left Foot Forward blog • Prospect news release • ASLEF news release • BFAWU news release • Morning Star • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
USA: Official probe into enforcement opt-outs
A US scheme that allows “model” firms to opt-out of official workplace safety inspections is the subject of a top level investigation. A federal task force is conducting a “top-to-bottom review” of the controversial Voluntary Protection Programme (VPP), a top Department of Labor official has confirmed.
CPI news release • In These Times • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Scaffolding industry backs tighter safety regulation
The scaffolding industry is calling for tighter safety regulations. In a move which calls into question government claims that industry sees safety regulations as a “burden”, the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) wants an amendment to the Work at Height Regulations to require licensing of scaffolders.
NASC news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Poorly trained scaffolder suffered devastating injuries
A poorly trained and supervised scaffolder from Manchester will never walk again after being crushed by metal tubes that fell from a crane. David Collins, a 31-year-old father of two who worked for Bury firm Spectra Scaffolding, suffered severe injuries to his head, back and leg and is now paraplegic.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Men arrested on suspicion of manslaughter
Two men have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter following a death at a Holmfirth construction site. Mark James Taylor, 36, from Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire, is thought to have been killed while using a Green Piling Ltd pile-driving machine on the construction site on 18 April 2011.
Huddersfield Daily Examiner • Construction Enquirer • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Campaign call after rise in betting shop violence
A campaign is being launched to tackle violence against betting shop workers, after a rise in robberies and assaults at bookmakers in the west of Scotland. Community’s Scottish regional organiser, John Paul McHugh, said: “The union believes that until betting shops completely remove the operation of lone-person working and beef up all other measures, we will not deal with the vulnerability of workers in betting shops.”
BBC News Online • Community betting shop ‘No single staffing’ campaign • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Global: Conflict and downturn encourage child labour
Worsening global security and the economic downturn has led to a marked increase in child labour worldwide, a study has found. Research by the risk analysis firm Maplecroft concluded 76 countries now pose ‘extreme’ child labour ‘complicity risks’ for companies operating worldwide.
Maplecroft news release • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Palletways fined after neck broken fiasco
A logistics firm has been fined after a forklift driver broke his neck and was then walked around the workplace in search of a first aider, who eventually drove him to the wrong hospital. Palletways (UK) Ltd employee Barry Hill, 60, suffered the injury when a computer cabinet he was loading onto a trailer fell on him.
HSE news release and guide, Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training [pdf] • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Gas exposed Palletways workers hospitalised
A total of 23 workers at Palletways warehouse in Livingston, Scotland, were hospitalised with breathing difficulties after a container of denatonium benzoate - which is used to make inedible liquids, such as anti-freeze, bitter – leaked after being punctured by a forklift.
BBC News Online • 14 January 2012
Britain: Metal firm worker crushed by 1.5 tonne weight
Palletways (UK) Ltd’s has been prosecuted for safety failings after a maintenance engineer was crushed by a 1.5 tonne weight that landed on his back. The worker suffered a broken shoulder, two cracked ribs and the tops of three vertebrae were snapped off when he was trapped between the counterweight of a large zinc galvanizing machine and a junction box.
HSE news release • The Star • BBC News Online • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Chocolate giant fined over broken finger
High street chocolate chain Thorntons has been fined after a worker broke her finger while operating a wrapping machine. Ellen Yardley, 37, was attempted to clean part of a foil wrapping machine that had become covered in caramel when the cloth she was using became tangled in rotating parts and her right hand was dragged into the machine.
HSE news release • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Britain: Two-thirds of nurses face work abuse
Six in 10 nurses have been verbally abused over the last two years while working in the community, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned. Eleven per cent have also been victims of physical abuse, RCN found.
Morning Star • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Global: ILO workplace stress prevention checkpoints
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has produced a manual of “easy-to-apply checkpoints for identifying stressors in working life and mitigating their harmful effects.” According to ILO the negative impacts of stress “can lead to poor work performance, high accident and injury rates, and low productivity.”
Stress Prevention at Work Checkpoints. Practical improvements for stress prevention in the workplace, ILO, January 2012 [full text pdf] • Developing a workplace stress prevention programme • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Hazards news, 7 January 2012
Britain: TUC slams Cameron move ‘to kill off safety’
A claim by the prime minister that UK businesses are in a “stranglehold” of health and safety ‘red tape’ and compensation claims has been dismissed as “out of touch” by the TUC. David Cameron, speaking to a business audience on 5 January, said the government was “waging war against the excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses.”
Prime Minister’s Office news release • BBC video clip of David Cameron’s comments on the safety ‘monster’ • London Evening Standard • Maidenhead Advertiser • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: You want the truth, prime minister?
The TUC has said the prime minister’s resolution “to kill of the health and safety culture for good” exposes how he is more interested in listening to unfounded business grumbles than evidence that millions are hurting and tens of thousands die each year because their workplaces were not safe enough.
TUC news release • We didn’t vote to die at work campaign • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Russia: 53 oil workers die as oil rig capsizes
The sinking of an oil rig on 18 December in icy seas off the Russian coast claimed 53 lives, officials have confirmed. A total of 67 people were on board when the Kolskaya rig capsized under tow in icy seas off the country’s east coast. Russian media have questioned why so many people had been on the rig, when regulations stipulated that only the captain and a small crew were allowed to be there while it was being towed. ICEM news report • BBC News Online • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Governors can’t manage schools asbestos
Responsibility for the management of asbestos in state-funding schools must not be transferred to school governors, trade union campaign group has warned. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) is calling on the government to abandon its plans to make the governors of all state-funded schools responsible for the health and safety of their pupils and staff.
NUT news release • Asbestos in Schools • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Union safe case gets a promising reception
MPs have heard that work is set to get more dangerous as government cuts in the official safety watchdog’s resources continue. The warning came at a reception in parliament in December 2011, organised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors’ union Prospect.
Prospect news release • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Global: Call for action on media killings
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has urged the United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon to take drastic action against the governments of the most dangerous countries for media. The call came as the global union body revealed 106 journalists and media personnel were killed at work in 2011.
IFJ news release • NUJ news release • INSI • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Disability is a health and safety issue
Health and safety can play a “strong role” in ensuring fair treatment of workers with disabilities, according to the union UNISON. A new guide from the public sector union says seven million people of working age – almost 20 per cent of the working age population - have a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability.
UNISON health and safety guide to disability [pdf] • Usdaw ‘Talking about mental health’ briefing and poster • TUC disability and health and safety webpages • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Union alert on sexual assaults on health workers
The public sector union UNISON has called for extra vigilance by employers to avoid health workers being put at risk of sexual assaults by patients. The call comes after a 58-year-old care assistant received compensation after she was sexually assaulted at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough when she was helping a patient in the shower.
Thompsons Solicitors news releases on the UNISON call for vigilance and assault compensation case • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Australia: Unions ‘speak up for health and safety’
Australian unions have launched a nationwide awareness campaign to inform workers of their rights and employers of their obligations under newly harmonised health and safety laws. Announcing the ‘Speak Up’ campaign, Michael Borowick, assistant secretary of the union federation ACTU, said. “They have an iron-clad right, under law, to elect their own health and safety representatives,” adding: “These reps act as watchdogs within the workplace, making employers comply with the law well before regulators have to become involved.”
ACTU news release and Speak Up website • Canberra Times • Nine News • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Injured workers need safety insured
A welder whose hands have been left permanently damaged by his work has lost half of his compensation because the firms responsible have folded and their insurers could not be traced. Unite says its member’s plight highlights why an Employer’s Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB) is necessary.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Redundancy threat follows injury claim
A worker who suffered permanent damage to his hand at work was threatened with redundancy when he pursued a claim for compensation. A few months after initiating a compensation claim, GMB member Craig Dunwell was forced to sign a letter abandoning his compensation claim when his employer threatened to make him redundant. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Print fumes caused occupational asthma
A printer who developed asthma when he was exposed to dangerous fumes at work has received compensation. Unite member Jason MaCann, 35, was diagnosed with the condition after he was exposed to isocyanates used in laminating machines at FFP Packaging in Northampton.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Civil servant gets payout after office fall
A civil servant has received £8,000 in compensation after needing surgery following a fall in the workplace. PCS union member Marilyn McKenzie, 58, needed an operation on her left knee after she tripped over the lid of a socket hatch embedded into the floor at her offices at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in Sheffield.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Panel finds safety reps are ‘crucial’ offshore
Safety reps are ‘crucial’ to ensuring safety offshore and should have more support from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a government-commissioned report has concluded. A panel headed by Professor Geoffrey Maitland of Imperial College, London concluded “workforce safety representatives have a crucial role to play.”
DECC news release • Offshore oil and gas in the UK – an independent review of the regulatory regime, December 2011 [pdf] • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Occupational health is a victim of the NHS cuts
The coalition government’s pledge to protect the NHS has been questioned after four out of five doctors said they had seen patient care suffer as a result of health service cuts during 2011 – and occupational health is one of the key casualties.
The Guardian • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Government accused of mine rescue ‘complacency’
A Labour MP has accused the government of “serious complacency and a total lack of understanding of mining”. Shadow Welsh secretary Peter Hain accused Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, of a “disgraceful” government response to his call for state aid for mining rescue services after four men died in the flooded Gleision valley colliery on 14 September 2011.
The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Global firm fined over factory worker's death
A global manufacturer has been fined £180,000 after a worker was killed at an Andrex factory in Barrow-in-Furness. Christopher Massey was struck by a piece of machinery while working on a night shift at the Kimberly-Clark plant on 8 November 2007.
HSE news release • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: HSE warning on hiring self-employed workers
Firms hiring self-employed contractors must be vigilant as they may not have the competence to do the job, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned. The warning came after Roger Jary, a 79-year-old self-employed maintenance contractor, died while carrying out minor repairs on a rented bungalow for an estate agent.
HSE news release • BBC News Online • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Workers buried in giant cement mixer
One worker died and another suffered severe shock after being buried under tons of limestone dust in a giant cement mixer. Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd and Robert Alan Taylor, who was then trading as Quarry Maintenance Service Engineers, were both prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Taunton Crown Court.
HSE news release • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Steel giant prosecuted after workers are crushed
A global steel firm has been fined after two workers suffered major injuries when a warehouse door, weighing over 300 kilograms, collapsed on them. The employees at Corus, now Tata Steel UK Ltd, were trying to repair a roller shutter door at its plant in Workington when the door and a supporting pillar gave way.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Farmers fined after worker is run over by tractor
Three farming brothers have been fined after a farmworker was severely injured when he was run over by a tractor with a faulty handbrake. Derek Benney, Richard Benney and Roger Benney, of FH Benney and Sons, were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at Higher Nansloe Farm near Helston in September 2010.
HSE news release and agricultural maintenance webpages • Western Morning News • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Global: Workers’ Memorial Day 2012
It’s time to start preparing for Workers’ Memorial Day, Saturday 28 April. In December, TUC called on “unions, trades councils, and others to make 28 April 2012 a 'Day of activity to defend health and safety'”. Now, Hazards magazine has produced a series of new ‘remember the dead, fight like hell for the living’ images for union reps to use in the campaign.
Hazards ‘remember the dead, fight like hell for the living’ images and WMD artwork gallery • TUC call for action • TUC Workers' Memorial Day webpages • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012