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Hazards news archive - January 2018-December 2018

Hazards news, 17 December 2018

Britain: Santa’s drones could be dangerous, warn pilots
Anyone buying or being given a drone this Christmas needs to understand the new drone laws, or they could end up in court, the pilots’ union has warned. BALPA says that drone users who flout safety rules introduced this year “could face a fine, up to five years in prison, or both.”
BALPA news release. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: RMT warns of escalating violence on de-staffed railways
Rail union RMT has warned of a growing threat from violence on Britain’s railways as a result of understaffing on the network. The union says staff numbers have been ‘hacked to the bone’, which could lead to major problems coping with demands over the festive season.
RMT news release. Network Rail news release. The Independent. Yorkshire Evening Post. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: New MoD advice on Sea King asbestos checks ‘not good enough’
The latest advice from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the estimated 1,000 former employees who could have been exposed to asbestos while maintaining Sea King helicopters ‘does not go far enough’, the union Unite has said. The union was commenting on a 5 December MoD statement that said veteran and former civilian employees ‘may wish’ to complete ‘MoD Form 960 Asbestos – Personal Record Annotation’ - if they ‘consider’ they have been exposed to asbestos from the Sea Kings.
Unite news release and online asbestos register. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Cladding plans do not go far enough, say firefighters
The first changes to fire safety legislation since the Grenfell Tower fire 18 months ago do not go far enough, firefighters’ union FBU has said. Echoing concerns raised by the TUC, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Buildings up and down the country are unsafe - the government must address it as a whole, rather than providing a sticking plaster.”
FBU news release. Morning Star. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: No confidence vote after firefighter safety reps ignored
Firefighters in East Sussex have passed a vote of no confidence in their senior management teams after they ignored union warnings about serious safety blunders. The unanimous vote by FBU’s East Sussex Committee came after East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) managers ignored repeated FBU warnings about planned changes the union believes “seek to reduce both public and firefighter safety.”
FBU news release. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Positive signs on protection for shopworkers
A round-table discussion between the Home Office, retailers and the union Usdaw on how to protect staff from violence, threats and abuse was ‘positive’, the retail union’s leader Paddy Lillis has said. Home Office minister Victoria Atkins agreed to the 11 December talks last month during the report stage of the Offensive Weapons Bill.
Usdaw news release. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Work ‘resilience’ programmes stop ‘meaningful activity’
Workplace resilience programmes are of no proven value but could deflect energy from ‘meaningful activity’ researchers have warned. The initiatives, which are intended to bolster mental health and wellbeing, might not make any difference at all, according to the study published online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Norman Jones and others. Resilience-based intervention for UK military recruits: a randomised controlled trial, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, e-publication ahead of print, 19 December 2018. doi:10.1136/oemed-2018-105503
Hugh Robertson. Resilience: A case of pointing the finger and missing the point, Hazards magazine, 2013. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Work wellbeing ‘comprised’ by ‘incoherent’ practices
Employee wellbeing is being compromised by a lack of understanding of how to implement effective programmes, a safety body has found. A new British Safety Council (BSC) ‘comprehensive review of the existing literature and market intelligence’ found only one in six (17 per cent) organisations evaluate the impact of their health and wellbeing initiatives. It also reported that in nearly two-thirds of companies (63 per cent), other priorities take precedence over employees’ wellbeing.
BSC news release and full report, Not just free fruit: Wellbeing at work, December 2018.
Your Health at Work: an indispensable guide to physical and mental well-being, TUC, September 2018. Order form.
TUC Work and well-being’ guide and related article. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Rail tragedy’s lessons ‘forgotten’ warn safety experts
Thirty years on from one of Britain’s worst train crashes, a rail safety expert has warned that the lessons learned have been forgotten and lives are being put at risk. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Railway Group has said several incidents and near-misses in recent years have sparked new concerns for rail safety.
IOSH news release. ASLEF news release. RMT news release. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Stress and depression hit firefighters post-Grenfell
The main reason for sickness absence in the London Fire Brigade (LFB) is now stress, anxiety and depression, Commissioner Dany Cotton has said. LFB has seen a "small increase" in the number of days taken off as sick leave over the last three years, the brigade's most senior firefighter said, but for the first time mental health has been the leading cause of the absences, she told the London Assembly.
ITV news release. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Nine out of 10 NHS trusts have asbestos in hospitals
About nine out of 10 NHS trusts say they have hospitals containing asbestos, research by the BBC has revealed. Of the 211 trusts to respond to a BBC inquiry, 198 said they ran hospitals containing the material, which can cause potentially fatal illnesses including cancer.
BBC News Online. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Plastics firm fined after employee killed by machine
Plastics firm Nylacast Engineering Plastic Solutions has been fined £293,000 plus costs of £10,205.61 for criminal safety failing after a worker died in an incident at its factory. Tarsem Singh, 52, died of a heart attack a day after being hit by machinery in April 2016.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Director fined following concrete pumping fatality
Concrete pumping company Anytime McDaids and its sole director Laurence McDaid have been fined after an employee was struck and killed by concrete. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how on 13 February 2017 Kevin Hoare was attempting to clear a blockage in a vehicle mounted concrete pump when the pump ejected concrete, which struck and killed the 26-year-old, who had only started work for the firm in December 2016.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Balfour fined £333,000 after rail worker crushed
Balfour Beatty Rail Limited and London Underground Limited have been fined £333,000 and £100,000 respectively after a worker was crushed at Whitechapel station in east London. Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that in the early hours of 4 June 2016, Adrian Rascarache, 36, was struck by a Road Rail Vehicle (RRV), and his lower body was crushed between the RRV and the platform edge of the station, resulting in serious injuries to his pelvis.
ORR news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Bakery fined after workers suffer flour dust allergy
A bakery company has been fined for criminal safety breaches after employees suffered long term exposure to flour dust, a respiratory sensitiser. Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that between April 2002 and April 2016 employees of Coopland & Son (Scarborough) Ltd were exposed consistently to risks to their health, with some being diagnosed with occupational asthma.
HSE news release. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Turkey: Court frees 31 airport safety campaigners
An Istanbul court has ordered the release of 31 construction workers that had been jailed since September after protesting about poor conditions and fatalities on Istanbul’s giant site third airport site. Fifty-two people have died while building Istanbul’s giant new airport, according to official figures on workplace deaths at the site disclosed this month by Turkey’s official Presidential Communications Centre (CİMER). Hurriyet Daily News. Amnesty International news release. Ahval News. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

USA: Union sues over company’s safety let off
The US mining union UMWA is suing the federal mine safety regulator MSHA after it reduced its oversight of a West Virginia coal mine with a poor safety record. MSHA has the power to declare mines with a history of significant safety violations as having a “Pattern of Violations.”
UMWA news release. NPR report. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

USA: Amazon robot puts 24 workers in hospital
Twenty-four employees at an Amazon warehouse in the US were taken to hospital on 5 December after a robot accidentally punctured a can of bear repellent. The 255g pepper spray can containing concentrated capsaicin, a compound in chilli peppers, was punctured by an automated machine after it fell off a shelf.
RWDSU news release. The Guardian. ABC News video report. Wall Street Journal. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Hazards news, 8 December 2018

Britain: Government cladding ban ‘ignores most workplaces’
It makes no sense that under the terms of the government’s new cladding restrictions developers will still be able to build office blocks, stadiums, concert halls and private schools with combustible cladding, the TUC has said.  TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson sai: “There is no doubt that hundreds, if not thousands of workplaces in the UK could have some form of combustible cladding.”
TUC blog and fire safety guidance. Ministry of Housing news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Unite vindicated over academy’s asbestos blunders
A ‘scathing’ report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into refurbishment work at the Bridge of Don Academy in Aberdeen has vindicated Unite for raising safety concerns, the union has said. The HSE report highlights a catalogue of health and safety breaches by Aberdeen city council officials, requiring the regulator to issue legal improvement notices.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: MoD member injured in the US wins injury compensation
A Ministry of Defence worker who fractured his wrist when opening a security door at the British Embassy in Washington DC has been awarded compensation in the British courts. PCS member Nicholas Callow fractured his wrist while working as an information officer at the embassy.
PCS news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Warning over ‘dangerous’ downgrading of pole testers
Telecoms union CWU is calling on Openreach to reconsider urgently an apparent ‘dumbing down’ of safety-critical pole tester roles in the company’s fibre networks. The union says that despite the fact that ‘pole testing is generally regarded as crucial for the safety of not just the engineers who climb them – but also for nearby residents and the public at large’, at a meeting Openreach ‘dropped the bombshell’ that the role was to be downgraded to a lower pay band.
CWU news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: More support for Usdaw's injured workers campaign
The British Safety Council has become the latest organisation to back Usdaw’s Justice for Injured Workers Campaign, which seeks to stop the government from forcing more workers into the small claims court. The government proposes to double the threshold for employer liability cases taken in the small claims court to those likely to be settled for £2,000 or less, with claimants unable to recoup their legal costs.
Usdaw news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Home Office to talk about legal protection for shopworkers
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has welcomed a commitment from the Home Office to a round-table discussion with the union and retailers on how to legally protect staff from violence, threats and abuse. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis welcomed the Home Office move and added: “A specific offence of obstructing a retail worker who is enforcing the law, which is easily understood by employers, staff, police, judiciary, shoppers and most of all violent criminals is absolutely necessary.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Backing for compensation reform in Scotland
People who have suffered traumatic personal injuries should have their long-term compensation determined in a fairer and more transparent way, a cross-party group o members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs) has said. Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst said: “We heard compelling evidence for payments which allow those that have suffered a personal injury to receive lifelong compensation instalments.”
Herald Scotland. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Spy-in-the-cab is a dozy idea on trains, says union
Plans to introduce monitors in train cabs in a bid to keep drivers awake is a dozy idea while train companies refuse to deal with work-related fatigue, ASLEF has said. The train drivers’ union was commenting after it emerged Britain's rail safety body is considering installing monitoring devices in trains that constantly scan driver's faces and vibrate their chairs if they start to doze off.
LBC News. Seeing Machines. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Deaths firm Stagecoach had ignored 24 bad driver complaints
Stagecoach firm Midland Red (South) Ltd has been fined £2.3 million after ignoring 24 letters of complaint about a bus driver who went on to kill two people in a crash. Kailash Chander, now 80, lost control of the Midland Red bus after working 72-hour weeks.
CPS news release. The Mirror. Coventry Observer. Daily Mail. Labourlist. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Three port firms fined after security guard killed
Associated British Ports, DFDS Seaways plc and ICTS (UK) Ltd have been fined after a security guard was fatally injured when he was struck by an articulated vehicle. Hull Crown Court heard how, on 9 September 2015, Lyndon Perks, a 50-year-old security guard, was hit and dragged underneath an HGV as it turned towards a warehouse.
HSE news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Contracting firm fined after wagon driver killed
A contracting firm has been fined after a driver died when his wagon overturned. Sheffield Crown Court heard how on 17 September 2013 tipper wagon driver Alan Clements was fatally injured when his wagon overturned while he was tipping spoil onto a stockpile.
HSE news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Dad crushed to death was working with son
A metal recovery company has been sentenced for criminal safety offences after a worker suffered fatal crush injuries when cutting up metal for scrap. Sheffield Crown Court heard how, on 4 March 2013, employee Michael Dwyer was working with his son, also called Michael, dismantling a 3-core reactor vessel when an unsupported metal section weighing approximately 1.3 ton fell and fatally crushed the 48-year-old between the fallen cylinder and a shipping container.
HSE news release. Sheffield Star. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Europe: Work cancers cost hundreds of billions a year
Work-related cancers costs between €270 and €610 billion (£240bn to £543bn) a year across the EU, the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) has said. The trade union health and safety thinktank says occupational cancers are the primary cause of work-related deaths in industrialised societies, with more than 100,000 people losing their lives each year as a result of exposure to workplace carcinogens.
ETUI news release. Cancer and work: understanding occupational cancers and taking action to eliminate them, ETUI, December 2018: Free pdf downloadHesaMag 18, Work-related cancer: emerging from obscurity, ETUI, December 2018. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Global: World of false promises on occupational health
The UN agencies with a role in occupational health and safety have been given monumental tasks but only trivial budgets, a new analysis has found. The authors, members of the occupational health experts group the Collegium Ramazzini, warn that the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have limited capacity to press for the changes necessary and are further compromised by interference from ‘vested interests’.
Joseph LaDou, Leslie London and Andrew Watterson. Occupational health: a world of false promises, Environmental Health, 17:81, 2018. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Australia: It should be Uber in the dock after taxi deaths
The Australian Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) is calling for Uber and not just drivers to face criminal prosecution over the deaths of passengers. The call came as an Uber driver was convicted in Sydney over the death of a passenger.
TWU news release. ABC News. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Australia: Emergency workers in suicidal thoughts crisis
Police and other emergency service workers in Australia report suicidal thoughts twice as often as other adults and are three times more likely to have a suicide plan, a study has found. The research found one in three emergency service workers experience high or very high psychological distress compared to one in eight Australian adults.
UWA news release and Answering the call report executive summary and final report. Beyond Blue news release. Canberra Times. More on work-related suicide. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Hazards news, 1 December 201

Britain: Brexit deal threatens your rights at work
Theresa May’s Brexit deal has failed to deliver any essential protections for working people, the TUC has warned. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady warned that a future government of Tory Brexiteers could under May’s template “try to negotiate a free trade agreement that undermines our hard-won workplace protections.”
TUC blog. Prime Minister’s Office news release. Huffington Post. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Global: UCU calls for review of rights on overseas campuses
Lecturers’ union UCU has welcomed the pardon of British postgraduate student Matthew Hedges, who it said had been unjustly sentenced to life imprisonment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). But UCU head of policy and campaigns Matt Waddup said: “UK universities with overseas operations should launch reviews covering human rights, trade union representation, academic freedom and ensuring that local workers employed by the institution are not exploited,” adding: “It is vital that the profits from overseas operations are not achieved on the back of the dilution of staff and student rights and personal safety.”
UCU news release. BBC News Online. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Bus driver was unfairly dismissed after botched drugs test
A bus driver and former union rep who was sacked after testing positive for cocaine has been ‘exonerated’ and awarded almost £40,000 in compensation at an employment tribunal. Employment Judge Tobin said Ken Ball had, 62, was unfairly dismissed by First Essex Buses because managers had “closed their minds to all possible explanations that did not fit their predetermined conclusions,” adding the company’s approach was “puerile” and “grossly unfair”.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Amazon ignores call for a joint safety probe
Amazon had turned down a joint plea from the union GMB and a shadow minister for a joint health and safety review to determine how to reduce the hundreds of ambulance call outs to the company’s warehouses. Jack Dromey, the shadow minster for work and pensions and fellow labour MP Emma Reynolds, whose constituency includes the giant Amazon warehouse in Rugeley, made the unanswered request in a letter to Lesley Smith, Amazon’s public policy director for UK and Ireland.
GMB news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Sales season is not a jolly time for Asos workers
High pressure times in the retail sector put unbearable strain on warehouse workers, the union GMB has said. Commenting as the ‘Black Friday to Cyber Monday’ sales bonanza got underway, the union said thousands of Asos workers at the company’s Barnsley distribution warehouse endured a “frantic work rate pack to meet the demands of customers, whilst little regard is paid to their health and safety by the retail giant.”
GMB news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Materials giant Hanson works with Unite on welfare facilities
Unite and building materials giant Hanson UK have joined forces to upgrade welfare facilities at the company’s sites, including new toilets, showers, washing amenities and rest areas. Hanson and Unite’s shop stewards worked together to audit existing facilities and formulate an action plan to make improvements where needed.
Unite news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: ‘Disgusting’ toilets at Deeside construction site
The controversial Parc Adfer energy from waste construction site in Deeside, north Wales, has become the first to be named and shamed by construction union Unite for the poor state of its toilets and welfare facilities. Photographs of the ‘disgusting’ welfare facilities were provided to Unite by a whistleblower.
Unite news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Research exposes 'significant issues' with MHFA at work
Days after a plea was issued to government for ‘mental health first aid’ (MHFA) to become mandatory, new research has highlighted “significant issues around the lack of clarity with boundaries and potential safety concerns”. The University of Nottingham feasibility study, published by the professional body for occupational safety and health IOSH, found examples where staff felt unsupported and where, for example, they had co-workers contacting them outside working hours: there were significant issues around lack of clarity with boundaries and potential safety concerns for the trained person.”
IOSH news release and full report, MENtal health first aid in The wORkplace (MENTOR): A feasibility study, November 2018.
Mental Health First Aid England news release and Letter from business and union leaders.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Amnesty suicide linked to ‘serious’ management failings
Amnesty International failed to support a London-based researcher who killed himself at work after feeling “abandoned and neglected” by the organisation, an investigation has found.  The independent inquiry commissioned by Amnesty into the May 2018 suicide of Gaëtan Mootoo, 65, has concluded that multiple failures to support the veteran research amounted to “a serious failure of management.”
Amnesty International news release and independent report. The Guardian. The Times.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists , January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist , Hazards, 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: When it gets busy, logistics firms should take care of workers
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has called on employers to look after the health and safety of warehouse staff and delivery drivers at particularly busy times of year. In an article ahead of Black Friday for the trade publication HSS Magazine, HSE’s Michael Paton wrote: “Staff across Britain are expected to work longer hours to cope with demand – whether that’s those in shops dealing with customers, warehouse staff lifting and moving heavy parcels or delivery drivers on the road for hours on end.”
HSS Magazine. Usdaw news release.
HSE Go Home Healthy campaign, including guidance on musculoskeletal problems. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Site workers facing needless dangers, study shows
Construction union Unite has called on employers to start taking workers’ safety seriously, after a survey highlighted the extent of the carnage on Britain’s building sites. The study by Direct Line for Business reported there were 196 fatalities and 26,196 non-fatal injuries in the construction industry in the five years from 2012 to 2017, while at the same time, the number of prosecutions being taken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in construction has substantially declined.
Unite news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Industry wants big boost in occupational health capability
Britain’s manufacturers are urging the government to use its review of occupational health provision in the UK to ensure all companies have access to an occupational health service (OHS). Manufacturers’ group EEF said this should be part of a wider ‘overarching strategy’.
EEF news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: TUC webinar on harassment at work, 11 December 2018
Workers suffer abuse from customers and members of the public all too frequently, from harassment through to violent acts. In its latest webinar, TUC young workers policy officer Kathryn Mackridge, will present young workers’ experiences of third-party abuse and show what unions can do to tackle this problem.
‘Don’t put up or shut up’, TUC webinar on workplace harassment, starts 2pm, 11 December 2018. Free. Register. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Canada: Border agents at risk of cancer, report finds
Workers guarding the Canada-US border are at a higher risk of developing cancer, according to researchers. Their report, published online in the peer-reviewed journal New Solutions, examines evidence from a workers' compensation case involving a female border guard who worked for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on the Ambassador Bridge for 20 years before developing breast cancer.
Michael Gilbertson and James Brophy. Causality Advocacy: Workers’ Compensation Cases as Resources for Identifying and Preventing Diseases of Modernity, New Solutions, Online First, 22 November 2018. CBC News. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

China: Silicosis sufferers protest and are attacked by police
Over 300 silicosis victims and their family members from Hunan Province who staged a peaceful 7 November march and sit-in protest in front of the Shenzhen city government were attacked and tear gassed by police. The workers, some of whom were hospitalised as a result of the attempt by police to disperse the group, were demanding the city government help them with medical expenses and compensation issues.
HKCTU news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Korea: Samsung must now work with unions on safety
Global electronics giant Samsung has said it is sorry for the work diseases it caused but it must now engage with unions to make its plants safer, the global union IndustriALL has said. The union call came after the company sealed a comprehensive occupational disease compensation deal with a public apology.
SHARPS news report. IndustriALL news release. Korea Times. Good Electronics news report. NPR news report. BBC News Online. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

USA: Poultry industry workers living in fear
The poultry industry “has created a culture to keep people living in fear,” a union official has warned. Brandon Hopkins of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the union that represents workers at US poultry giants including Sanderson Farms, JBS and Pilgrim’s Pride, says in his 10 years as a union representative in Texas and Louisiana, he has “had employees go to the bathroom on themselves because they are so scared of getting in trouble that they don’t leave the line.”
The Guardian. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Hazards news, 24 November 2018

Britain: UK workers routinely denied toilet access
Tens of thousands of people do not have access to basic toilet facilities in their workplace, according to Unite. The sectors where Unite has identified problems are wide-ranging, including banking, bus driving, construction, finance, lorry driving, warehousing and agriculture. 
Unite news release. The Guardian. iNews. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. More on health and safety and toilet breaks. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: 'Report it to sort it' message to under attack shopworkers
Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis is urging retail staff not to suffer in silence as Usdaw’s latest survey shows that 59 per cent of those who experienced violence, threats or abuse at work did not report the incident to their employer. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said “it is very concerning that over half have never reported an incident, with one in six not reporting something as serious as an assault to their employer.”
Usdaw news release and Scottish release. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Unions slam ‘unacceptable’ failure on schools asbestos
The lack of earmarked funding to make schools free from the “scourge” of asbestos is “totally unacceptable”, unions have said. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) comments came after the Department for Education revealed it would not be publishing the results of its much-anticipated school asbestos survey until next spring, prompting fears the report could come too late to influence long-term spending plans.
JUAC news release. Schools Week. Asbestos management assurance process, DfE, updated 12 November 2018. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Payout for driver after badly loaded lorry tipped
A lorry driver who injured his arm when his vehicle overturned on a road near Wolverhampton has secured £35,000 compensation with help from his union. The Unite member, whose name has not been released, fell awkwardly on his right arm after the HGV he was driving toppled and landed on its side because it been loaded unevenly by a third party working on behalf of his employer, whose name has not been released.
Unite legal report. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Court again rules Addison Lee drivers are workers
Addison Lee has lost its claim at the employment appeal tribunal (EAT) that its drivers are self-employed. The EAT ruling upheld a previous decision that the taxi and courier company’s drivers are workers and should quality for minimum employment rights, including working hours limits, holiday pay and breaks.
GMB news release. Leigh Day news release. Personnel Today. The Guardian. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: RMT rep who was ‘grudge’ victim is reinstated
A prominent activist and safety rep with the rail union RMT has been reinstated following negotiations between management and union representatives. Benjamin ‘Ben’ Frederick, a guard on Great Western Railway (GWR) got his job back following an announcement that workers would ballot for industrial action in support of their colleague.
Morning Star. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Union heads call for justice for injured workers
Five trade union general secretaries have written a joint letter to The Guardian condemning government proposals that will deny access to justice for workers suffering injuries that could include a collapsed lung, a fractured wrist or elbow and loss of front teeth. The 16 November letter, written ahead of the Civil Liability Bill completing its passage through parliament on 20 November, states: “The government’s proposed changes are a green light to irresponsible employers to cut corners on safety in the knowledge that injured workers will either not seek compensation or struggle to do so on their own.”
Usdaw news release. Letter to the Guardian. Civil Liability Bill progress. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Call to make mental health as important as first aid
Business leaders and unions have called for mental health to be given the same weight as physical first aid in workplace legislation. An open letter urging Theresa May to prioritise manifesto pledges to act on mental health has been signed by some of Britain’s biggest employers, including Royal Mail, WH Smith, Mace, Channel 4 and Ford, as well as the unions Unite, NASUWT and Community.
Mental Health First Aid England news release and Letter from business and union leaders. The Guardian. BBC News Online.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018.
Summary of the evidence on the effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training in the workplace, HSE Research Report, RR1135, 2018. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Amber Rudd becomes the latest work secretary
Theresa May has appointed Amber Rudd as the sixth work and pensions secretary since 2016. Sarah Newton remains the DWP minister of state responsible for work and health, the HSE and industrial injuries and disease benefits.
Labour Party news release. DWP ministers. BBC News Online. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Families say ‘foreseeable’ deaths were no accident
The families of five men who died while working at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in Birmingham have rejected an inquest ruling that the tragedy was ‘accidental’. Reacting outside the court to the verdicts of accidental death – reached at the direction of the coroner - the men’s families said they would continue to look for “justice” following the “very violent deaths.”
Birmingham Mail. Morning Star. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

[work and health] Britain: Furnace firm fined after poor controls hurt workers
Furnace relining company, Calderys UK Ltd, has been sentenced for failing to control exposure to both vibration and silica for its workers. HSE inspector Julian Franklin commented: “Exposure to vibration can cause HAVS, a loss of nerve function, strength and dexterity in the fingers which is permanent and untreatable while exposure to silica can cause silicosis, leading to impaired lung function, lung cancer and death.”
HSE news release. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Dyeing firm fined for separate serious injuries
A dyeing company has been sentenced for criminal breaches of safety law after two separate incidents saw employees suffer serious injuries. Holmfirth firm Premier Hank Dyers Ltd pleaded guilty to criminal safety offences and was fined a £12,000 and ordered to pay £12,014.70 in costs.
HSE news release. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Facilities contractor fined for lab biohazard blunders
A facilities management contractor’s failings could have put staff at an animal lab at serious risk from ‘high hazard biological agents’, a court has heard. Interserve (Facilities Management) Ltd was fined £93,600 with £32,056 costs for multiple criminal safety failings at an Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency laboratory in Weybridge.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Nuke weapons site fined £1m after worker injured
The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) has been fined £1 million after admitting criminal health and safety breaches that saw a worker injured in an ‘electrical incident’. AWE was also ordered to pay costs of £26,096.88 during a sentencing hearing at Reading Magistrates Court.
ONR news release. AWE news release. In Your Area News. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Australia: Over six in ten women sexually harassed at work
Some 61 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men say they have experiencing sexual harassment at work, according to a survey conducted by Australia’s top union body. Preliminary findings of the ACTU survey on workplace harassment, which has so far received over 7,500 responses, reveal the widespread nature of sexual harassment in the workplace as unions lobby for the Fair Work Commission to be given powers over workplace disputes including harassment.
ACTU news release. The Guardian. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Global: Unions call for better protection for dock workers
Unions representing dock workers have called for better protections and safety protocols for all dock and port workers following the death on 14 November of Dennis Gomez Regana. The seafarer, from the Philippines, was killed on Southbank Quay in Dublin, Ireland, doing a job the unions maintain can only be done safely by skilled dock workers.
SIPTU news release. ITF news release and lashing campaign. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

USA: Suicide increasing among US workers
The suicide rate in the US working age population increased 34 per cent over the period 2000 to 2016, with construction topping the at risk list for male workers and creative jobs for females. The new official analysis published in the US government’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) examined lifetime occupations of 22,053 people aged 16-64 years old who died by suicide in the 17 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) in 2012 and 2015.
CDC news release and Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policies, Programs, and Practices and the National Violent Death Reporting System. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 15 November 2018.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists , January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist , Hazards, number 141, 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Hazards news, 17 November 2018

Britain: Microchipping workers is a terrible idea, warns the TUC
The use of technology that allows employers to chip their workers must be discouraged, the TUC has said. Commenting on news that the UK firm BioTeq, which offers the implants to businesses and individuals, has already fitted 150 implants in UK workers.
TUC news release, blog and report on surveillance at work. More on privacy and health and safety. The Observer. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: New official work stress-busting toolkit is just a start
A new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) toolkit on tackling workplace stress has its uses, but won’t on its own lead to stress prevention, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson advised that “preventing stress is something best done collectively across the organisation, not just individually, and that in many workplaces the line manager has no power to make the kind of changes the toolkit suggests.”
TUC blog. HSE talking toolkit – preventing work-related stress and stress management standards. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: BECTU wants to break the menopause taboo
With more women aged over-50 in the workplace than ever before, thousands of people are finding themselves forced to juggle the impact of the menopause with career demands, while employers have failed to keep pace with workers’ needs. But the film, TV and theatre union BECTU says handled right – with empathy and understanding hand-in-hand with practical support measures – employers could hold the key to not only easing the burden, but also celebrating the positive contribution of female workers both during and after the menopause.
BECTU news release. Supporting working women through the menopause: Guidance for union representatives, 2018. The Menopause Exchange. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Avoidable strain caused hernia at work
A delivery driver has received a substantial payout after suffering a hernia at work. Unite member Peter Warwick, who was a DHL driver when he suffered the injury, strained his groin trying to move an unusually heavy pallet as part of a delivery to a TK Maxx store.
Unite legal report. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Corby council signs up to Unite’s construction charter
Corby borough council has signed up to a Unite construction charter that seeks to ensure employment and safety conditions for workers on construction projects under the local authority’s control meet the highest standards. Health and safety clauses are prominent in the Unite construction charter, which notes: “It is a recognised fact that the presence of trade union safety representatives significantly improves safety in the workplace. Contractors and their supply chain are required to work collaboratively with the appropriate trade unions to identify and implement reasonable real-world initiatives.”
Unite news release. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: RMT calls for immediate halt to plans to axe guards
Rail union RMT has demanded plans to axe guards from trains should be abandoned immediately after a government minister admitted that these guards are in the front line in the fight against crime and drug gangs. A letter from organised crime minister Ben Wallace spells out his concerns that driver-only trains will mean the loss of the guards in a position to spot children recruited to carry heroin and cocaine.
RMT news release. Daily Mail. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Attacks on shopworkers up, police numbers down
Retail trade union Usdaw has called on the government to increase funding and resources for the police to help them tackle a rising tide of attacks on shopworkers and theft from shops. The union was speaking out during its annual Respect for Shopworkers Week, 12-18 November.
Usdaw news release, related news release and Respect for Shopworkers Week. Suzy Lamplugh Trust news release and survey. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Education workers call for backing for school safety charter
Education workers are urging local schools and councils to add their weight to a union charter aimed at ending violence against school staff by pupils. Between January 2017 and November 2018 1,594 physical assaults were carried out by pupils against school support staff across 13 local education authorities (LEAs), a Freedom of Information request by the GMB union has revealed.
Morning Star. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Serious safety incidents toll at Amazon tops 600
The true number of recent serious health and safety incidents reported at Amazon warehouses has been revealed to have topped 600, a GMB investigation has revealed.  The union has discovered that since 2015/16, a total of 602 reports have been made from Amazon warehouses to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
GMB news release. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Global: Agency pays ‘substantial’ damages in asbestos spying settlement
K2 intelligence has agreed to pay ‘substantial’ damages to five prominent anti-asbestos campaigners after evidence emerged it had orchestrated a secret surveillance operation intended to undermine efforts to ban the deadly fibre. The campaigners took legal action after discovering details of ‘Project Spring’, where K2 retained Robert Moore to infiltrate and spy on the campaigners’ anti-asbestos network, including covertly recording phone conversations and meetings.
Leigh Day news release. The Guardian. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Study warns of link between burnout and mental harm
People feeling burned out at work are likely to experience symptoms of paranoia according to a new study. Pahl, chief executive of the Society of Occupational Medicine, commented: “It is important to ensure people experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition are supported.”
R Bianchi and L Janin. Burnout, depression and paranoid ideation: a cluster-analytic study, Occupational Medicine, published online 12 November 2018. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Sister of killed electrician backs culpable homicide bill
The sister of an electrician killed at work has backed a proposed law in Scotland that would give families new ways to pursue corporate killers. Louise Taggart, whose brother Michael Adamson was electrocuted aged 26 in 2005, said Labour MSP Claire Baker’s culpable homicide bill would “plug the justice deficit.”
Claire Baker MSP news release. Unite Scotland facebook page. Scottish Hazards. Morning Star. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Director convicted after narrow escapes in roof collapse
A director of a construction company has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after three workers narrow escaped injury during the partial collapse of a building during roofing work. Company director Jason Lycett was found guilty of a criminal safety breach and fined £30,000 with £7,026.58 in costs.
HSE news release. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Dairy company fined after yoghurt machine injury
A dairy company has been fined after a worker's toe was crushed by unguarded part of a machine. Marybelle Pur Natur Limited was found to have failed to ensure that access to dangerous parts of the machine was prevented and was fined £32,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,767.09.
HSE news release. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Unveiling of workers’ memorial stained glass window, 23 November
In the build-up to International Workers Memorial Day on 28 April 2019, Greater Manchester Hazards Centre will be unveiling a memorial ‘Fallen Tears’ stained glass window on 23 November at the People’s History Museum, Manchester, from 3pm to 5pm.
GMHC news release and Fallen Tears invitation. Workers’ Memorial Day. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Canada: Widow thrilled as anti-bullying law is introduced
A new bill to be introduced in a Canadian province is designed to offer better protection from bullying in the workplace. Prince Edward Island’s (PEI) Eric Donovan Bill is in memory of a man whose death was linked to harassment on the job.
CBC News. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Global: Port unions press for ‘safety through solidarity’
Union members from Hutchison ports in Indonesia, Pakistan and Australia have joined forces to form a regional safety committee. The move comes in the wake of at least six deaths and many other serious incidents in Hutchison terminals in the three countries over the past two years.
ITF news release. MUA news release. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

USA: Tesla medical clinic designed to ignore injured workers
When a worker gets smashed by a car part on Tesla’s factory floor, medical staff are forbidden from calling emergency services without permission. The electric carmaker’s contract doctors rarely grant it, instead often insisting that seriously injured workers – including one who severed the top of a finger – be sent to the emergency room in a Lyft taxi.
Reveal. Confined Space blog. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Hazards news, 10 November 2018

Britain: Work stress is a ‘growing epidemic’, warns TUC
Warm words won’t fix the ‘growing epidemic’ of work-related stress, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 31 October that show that across Great Britain 15.4 million working days were lost to work-related stress, anxiety and depression in 2017/2018 - an increase of nearly 3 million on the previous year and the highest level on record.
TUC news release. HSE news release and report, Health and safety at work: Summary statistics for Great Britain 2018, HSE, 31 October 2018.
Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. More on work-related stress. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Over 30m days lost last year to work-related health problems
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show 1.4 million workers were suffering from work-related ill health and around 555,000 from non-fatal injuries in 2017/18. A total of 30.7 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury; workplace safety crimes resulted in 493 convictions, with fines totalling £72.6 million – however the report shows HSE enforcement action has fallen sharply.
HSE news release and report, Health and safety at work: Summary statistics for Great Britain 2018, HSE, 31 October 2018. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Work with safety reps to tackle stress, Prospect says
Civil service union Prospect has called on employers to work with safety reps to tackle record-high levels of work-related stress. The official Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show stress-related absence is at the highest level since the regulator started routinely collecting the data in the early 2000s.
Prospect news release and guide to preventing work-related stress. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Mental health concerns in BT under the spotlight
Union reps in BT are continuing to press for urgent action at the telecommunications giant to address harrowing stress problems in the workplace. CWU assistant secretary Dave Jukes said: “All the indications to date are that BT is keen to work alongside the CWU to address just the sort of concerns that have been raised by branches – but the proof of the pudding will ultimately be in its actions, not words.”
CWU news release. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: After two losses, Uber takes gig economy case to appeal
Cab hailing firm Uber has taken a court challenge on the status of its drivers to the Court of Appeal. In earlier GMB-backed legal hearings, the union argued successful that Uber’s drivers were ‘workers’ and not self-employed, entitling them a swathe of employment and safety protections.
Leigh Day news release. The Independent. More on the health and safety risk of insecure work. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: No hiding place for bullies in the ambulance service
There should soon be no hiding place for bullies at the South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS), health service union UNISON has said. The union was commenting on the publication of an independent four-month study found a third of staff had witnessed bullying, mostly of their colleagues, but of managers in some cases too.
UNISON news release. Independent report. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Rail union issues ‘phoney guards’ safety warning
Rail union RMT has told the rail safety regulator the use of inexperienced, under-trained managers as ‘phoney guards’ is creating a ‘serious’ safety risk on the railways. The union was blowing the whistle on ‘serious breaches’ including three instances of ‘ready to start’ signals being used by ‘contingency guards (PUGs)’ when lights were at red.
RMT news release and related news release. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Strike threat over the sacking of assaulted RMT activist
Rail workers at Great Western Railway’s Paddington depot are to vote on industrial action over the victimisation of RMT activist Ben Frederick, the union has said. RMT general secretary Mick Cash he was fired because of a “vexatious and false allegation” as the result of a management grudge against a respected union activist.
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Deadly risks increase as firefighter numbers plummet
The loss of 500 firefighters in England in the last year has left the fire service struggling to protect the public, their union said. In a safety warning issued ahead of bonfire night, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the loss of professionals and services means it is now taking 30 seconds longer for crews to reach callouts compared to 2010.
FBU news release. Morning Star. Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Teachers sent home for refusing to teach violent pupils
Teachers at Kaimes School in Edinburgh have had their pay stopped and been barred entry to their classrooms after refusing to teach eight pupils in a dispute over violent and disruptive behaviour. Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: “The action the council is taking against our members is far more disruptive to children’s education than any action the teachers themselves are taking.”
NASUWT news release. BBC News Online.
TUC violence at work guide and related violence and assaults reporting form. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Global: Unions welcome Google walkout over harassment
Unions have demanded Google toughens up its act in dealing with sexual harassment claims, after the tech giant’s staff across the globe walked out on 1 November in a protest over the issue. An estimated 17,000 Google employees worldwide joined the action against a pattern of sexual harassment, gender inequality and systemic racism they say goes “all the way to the top” of the transnational company.
Unite news release. New York Times and related article. Wall Street Journal. Bloomberg News. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: 'Audit culture' causing burnout in school staff
The Department for Education (DfE) has pledged to ease pressures on teachers in England, after it accepted the recommendations of a new report that said an “audit culture” in schools was causing anxiety and staff burnout without improving results. The report by the DfE’s teacher workload advisory group says teachers have to waste time producing data on their pupils, with the recording, monitoring and analysing of data being demanded by multiple sources, including local and central government, Ofsted school inspectors and multiple tiers of school management.
DfE news release and DfE Workload Advisory Group report.. NASUWT news release. Schools Week. The Guardian. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Study identifies a workplace ‘exhaustion epidemic’
Britain’s workers are falling victim to a workplace ‘exhaustion epidemic’, a study has concluded. The research from Westfield Health found almost half of British workers regularly turn up to their job feeling too tired to work, 3 in 10 have had an accident or made a serious mistake due to fatigue, and 13 per cent have even drifted to sleep whilst driving.
Westfield Health blog. IoD news report. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Global: Attacks on journalists are bad for democracy
More than a thousand journalists were killed between 2006 and 2017, according to a UNESCO report published ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November. The UN agency said last year the percentage of journalists murdered in countries free of armed conflict (55 per cent) exceeded that of journalists felled in conflict zones for the first time.
UNESCO news release. NUJ news release. IFJ proposal for an International Convention on the Safety and Independence of Journalists and other Media professionals. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Japan: Serious overwork common in school teachers
Teachers and officials at elementary, junior high and high schools across Japan are working more than 11 hours per day on average, raising concern about serious health repercussions or even deaths. In a government survey, which drew responses from some 35,000 school teachers and officials, 80.7 per cent said they have stress or concerns related to work, of whom 43.4 per cent cited long working hours as the cause of their distress.
Japan Today. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Korea: Samsung agrees to payouts after work disease deaths
A major campaign spearheaded by occupational disease victims and their families has forced Samsung to agree a wide-ranging compensation scheme. Those affected - and workers' children with related ailments - will receive up to 150m won (£102,907) per illness.
Sharps ‘Stop Samsung’ blog and SHARPS webpage. BBC News Online. Yonhap News. NDTV News. More on health and safety in the electronics industry. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Hazards news, 3 November 2018

Britain: TUC action call on ‘workplace killer’ diesel exhaust
Diesel exhaust is one of the biggest workplace killers, the TUC has said, but has warned the UK is failing to take the action necessary to protect workers. In response, the TUC has published a guide to diesel exhaust that highlights the practical and simple steps that employers can take to protect their workers.
TUC news release and Diesel exhaust in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, October 2018. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Shiftwork increase makes it time for action
The number of people working night shifts has increased by more than 150,000 over the past five years, a TUC analysis of official figures has revealed. The union body says the number working nights now stands at more than 3 million workers – or one in nine of the total UK workforce.
TUC news release and analysis. TUC blog. HSE webpage on shiftwork and breast cancer risk. The burden of occupational cancer in Great Britain – Breast cancer, RR852, HSE, December 2012. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: UPS is denying drivers night-time toilet facilities
Global logistics giant UPS could face industrial action in the new year in an escalating row over drivers denied access to night-time toilet facilities at its depots. Unite said about 350 HGV drivers were not allowed to use toilets at some of UPS’s 50 depots if they turn up with deliveries during the night.
Unite Live. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Lack of clarity on BT changes causing ‘stress and anxiety’
BT managers’ union Prospect has warned the telecoms giant is creating “a perfect storm of stress and anxiety” among members by rolling out fundamental jobs restructuring without first agreeing the related changes to pay, terms and conditions with the union.
Prospect news release. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Lack of support implicated in suicide at Amnesty
A veteran worker at Amnesty International killed himself after complaining of a lack of support from management, the union Unite has said. In a statement, the union’s Amnesty branch noted “popular and highly-respected colleague” Gaëtan Mootoo, who worked out of the London office, took his own life at Amnesty International’s Paris office on 25 May 2018, leaving a note that stated he had not received the support from the organisation he had requested.
Unite news release. More on work-related suicide. Amnesty International statement, 8 June 2018. NDTV News. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Unite welcomes RSPCA chief’s commitment on harassment
The head of animal welfare charity RCPCA has promised action to address high levels of bullying and harassment in the organisation. New chief executive Chris Sherwood pledged to tackle his organisation’s toxic culture, revealed in a major survey undertaken by Unite.
Unite news release. Third Sector magazine. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Welcome progress on harassment and bullying in parliament
The union Prospect has welcomed a decision of the House of Commons Commission to implement the recommendations of the independent report by Dame Laura Cox into bullying and harassment of staff in parliament. Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham responded: “This is a long overdue and very welcome decision that is a vital step in rebuilding trust between parliament and the staff who work there. Parliament may write our employment law but it has certainly not led the way on employment practices and it is disappointing that it has taken such public pressure to drag it into the 21st Century.”
Prospect news release. House of Commons Commission statement. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Dismay at government ‘no’ to a maximum work temperature
The union Unite has said it is ‘extremely disappointed’ the government has rejected a call from MPs for a maximum working temperature. Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “By failing to take action the government is making life more difficult for the good employers who try to do the right thing and look after the welfare of workers as they fear they are being placed at a commercial disadvantage.”
Unite news release. Heatwaves: adapting to climate change, Environment Select Committee report, 26 July 2018 and the government’s response. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Unions make a stink over ScotRail backsliding on human waste
Railway unions have called for urgent action to prevent train operator ScotRail from breaking an agreement not to dump human waste on Scotland’s railway tracks. A deal between the unions and the Scottish government ended the dangerous and disgusting practice in December 2017, but a shake-up in the ScotRail fleet is set to see its return.
RMT news release. TSSA news release. The Guardian. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: CWU wants falling accident rates, not falling workers
CWU area safety reps (ASRs) and their management counterparts are to carry out a series of ‘spot-checks’ at Royal Mail delivery units around the country, as the union and the business jointly launch a safety campaign targeting slips, trips and falls on 5 November. CWU national safety officer Dave Joyce said: “It’s about firstly working out how best to prepare, identifying what the potential hazards are, making sure that the walk risk assessments and dynamic risk assessments are carried out, and fully complying with the appropriate safe system of work.”
CWU news release. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Usdaw vows to continue its fight for injured workers
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has vowed to continue its Justice for Injured Workers Campaign after MPs pushed through ‘unfair and unnecessary’ changes in the government’s Civil Liability Bill. The government’s proposal doubles to £2,000 the threshold for employer liability cases taken in the small claims court, a move strongly opposed by the union.
Usdaw news release. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Stronger protection from violence for NHS staff
The first ever health service violence reduction strategy is to be introduced, the government has said. UNISON head of health Sara Gorton, welcomed the new strategy, noting: “It is encouraging that the government has listened to unions and agreed to review measures in place to ensure staff safety.”
Department of Health and Social Care news release. The Sun. Daily Mail. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Government accepts compo call on hand disease
Thousands of former miners and other manual workers may soon qualify for state compensation for a debilitating hand condition caused by their jobs. After a long delay, the Chancellor’s autumn statement this week included provision for Dupuytren’s contracture to be added to the list of prescribed diseases qualifying for industrial injuries benefits.
Chancellor Philip Hammond’s 29 October 2018 Budget statement. Budget 2018: Policy document. Budget 2018: Policy costings. IIAC 2014 report. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Employers need to act to end dangerous skills card fraud
Construction union Unite is calling on construction employers to ‘up their game’ to root out fake Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards, warning the practice is putting site workers at risk. The union was speaking out after a fake CSCS card seller was jailed for fraud.
Unite news release. Warwickshire County Trading Standards news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Director jailed after waste worker’s crush death
Waste and recycling company director Jonathan Gaskell, 47, has been jailed after the death of a 39-year-old worker eight years ago. Liverpool Crown Court heard how Polish national Zbigniew Galka was crushed to death in a baler with a deliberately disabled safety system while working at Gaskells Waste Services in Bootle on 23 December 2010.
HSE news release. Gaskells statement. BBC News Online. Liverpool Echo. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Shed firm fined after worker killed by forklift
A Leeds garden shed manufacturing company has received a six figure fine for criminal safety offences after a worker was killed. Leeds Magistrates' Court heard how, on 23 July 2012 sawmill worker Andrew Hanshaw, a 45-year-old Woodlands Homecare Ltd employee, was moving wood offcuts when he was struck by a side loader forklift truck (FLT) that had been unloading a delivery wagon.
HSE news release. Yorkshire Evening Post. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Farm fined over worker’s tractor death
Carlisle farm partnership JS Wood and Son has been fined £100,000 after a worker died when he was hit by a tractor. Labourer Stephen Toppin, 57, suffered fatal head injuries at Wragmire Bank, near Cumwhinton, Carlisle, in January last year.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Global: Worker representation ‘critical’ to protecting miners
More employer and state commitment to worker representation on health and safety issues is ‘critical’ to the protection of coal miners, an international study has found. The Cardiff University study, funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), found “a clear regulatory steer, managerial commitment and well trained and informed health and safety representatives, supported by strong workplace trade union organisation, were critical to the effectiveness of the arrangements for worker representation.”
IOSH news release. Representing miners in arrangements for safety and health in coal mining: a global perspective, IOSH, 2018. Research summary. Volume 1: A comparative analysis of findings from five countries. Volume 2: Case studies in five countries. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Turkey: Union safety campaigners behind bars as airport opens
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opened Istanbul’s third airport on 29 October amid a labour safety dispute that has led to the jailing and criminal investigation of 31 workers, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said. Union representatives told HRW that an unrevealed number of workers who joined the protest were promptly dismissed from their jobs an d that the airport construction site is being heavily policed to prevent any further demonstrations.
HRW news release and video. The Independent. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Hazards news, 27 October 2018

Britain: Warning - your accident book could be hazardous
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced a new accident book – and it includes changes of crucial importance for the work of safety reps. The new version confirms safety representatives must have access to information on work injuries, regardless the requirements of the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
TUC blog. HSE Accident Book, 2018 edition, TSO – make sure your workplace has the ticked-boxed up-to-date version. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Cleaners at the sharp end of needlestick injuries
Almost two-thirds of workers who claim compensation successfully for needlestick injuries are cleaners – mainly because the needles weren’t correctly disposed of, the health service union UNISON has revealed. A UNISON analysis of nearly 100 successful compensation claims for needlestick injuries lodged by union members over a five year period showed that 62 per cent came from cleaning staff across all sectors, including health, social care, education and local government.
UNISON news release. More on needlestick safety. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain:Scottish government must end public services ‘aggro’
Public services union UNISON has called for action from the Scottish government to “end the aggro” faced by council and NHS workers. The union’s 2018 survey of violence at work revealed assaults on public service workers are running at more than 40,000 incidents for the third successive year.
UNISON news release. Violence at Work: A Survey of UNISON employers and staff in Scotland 2018. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: PCS to train reps to challenge sexual harassment at work
Civil service union PCS is to launch a one-day sexual harassment awareness course in the wake of ‘shocking’ reports exposing the culture of bullying, harassment and intimidation across the civil service. In conjunction with TUC Education, the union has designed the workshop to “raise awareness among all union reps, and give them the confidence and tools to challenge management where change is not forthcoming.”
PCS news release. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Commons staff press for action on bullying and harassment
Union members working in the Houses of Parliament may have “little other choice” but to resort to action unless there is a tough response to the widespread bullying and sexual harassment revealed by a just-published probe, the union representing senior civil servants has warned. Amy Leversidge, assistant general secretary of the FDA, which represents top civil servants, said staff had been “pushed to breaking point” and Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham has written to the leaders of all parties at Westminster, stressing the need for effective leadership to put the wellbeing of staff ahead of political interests or personal agendas.
FDA news release. Prospect news release. Morning Star. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Compensation changes could create court chaos
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is warning ministers that their proposals to force more injured workers through the small claims court could overwhelm the compensation system. Government proposals in the Civil Liability Bill would force more injured workers through the small claims court, by doubling to £2,000 the value of claims referred by this route.
Usdaw news release. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Retail staff need protection as shoplifting continues to rise
The government must act in light of new Office for National Statistics (OHS) figures revealing a further increase in shoplifting in England and Wales in the year to June 2018. The union says these police-recorded reports confirm an upward trend that has seen a 32 per cent increase over the last decade.
Usdaw news release. Police recorded crimes in England and Wales, released 18 October 2018. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Prospect reps highlight safety and enforcement concerns
Civil service, science and specialists’ union Prospect has warned that a combination of workplace hazards, inadequate enforcement and difficulty getting time off for union safety training are worrying commonplace. The union’s analysis of aggregated data provided by Prospect reps to the TUC’s latest biennial survey “reveals that stress is of particular concern and, despite the considerable expertise of our health and safety reps, many employers fail to effectively engage with them when making decisions about health and safety.”
Prospect news release. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Slashed firefighter jobs stoke safety fears
The government has continued to cut firefighter jobs in England, the firefighters’ union FBU has said, despite the service dealing with more incidents, more fires, and more fire deaths. Official Home Office figures show since 2009, the number of firefighters in England has decreased by 23 per cent; as of 31 March 2018, there were 32,340 full-time equivalent firefighters, with 421 firefighter jobs having been lost over the past year.
FBU news release. Home Office fire and rescue workforce statistics for England, April 2017-2018. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Public inquiry call after coroner’s toxic cabin air warning
A coroner’s warning on the deadly risk posed by toxic cabin air on board aircraft should be a catalyst for a public inquiry, the union Unite has said. The union was speaking out after finding new guidance was issued to coroners in England and Wales, following the unprecedented letter of concern in April this year from the senior coroner in the inquest into the death of Unite member and British Airways cabin crew Matthew Bass.
Unite news release. Why Matt died website. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Virgin staff safer after union bodycam ‘victory’
The use of bodycams by frontline workers on Virgin Trains has resulted in assaults on staff falling by more than half, in what the union RMT has described as a campaign ‘victory’.  Following a pilot scheme, Virgin Trains said assaults on Virgin Trains staff have fallen month by month, from 20 in March 2018 to 6 in September.
RMT news release. Virgin Trains news release. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Blockbuster profits for Asos, gut-busting conditions for staff
Soaring trading that saw Asos post a £500m rise in sales last year should be reflected in much better conditions for its under pressure warehouse staff, the union GMB has said. GMB said while the blockbuster sales figures are great for the Asos owners, workers at its giant Barnsley warehouse still face ‘draconian’ working practices and unsatisfactory pay, terms and conditions.
GMB news release and Respect Asos Workers campaign. BBC News Online. Sky News. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Scrap metal deaths firm families 'await answers'
Relatives of five African men killed in a Birmingham scrap metal plant in July 2016 have expressed dismay at a lack of answers to questions about how their loved ones died. All five, from The Gambia and Senegal, died when a 15ft concrete wall fell on them at Hawkeswood Metal in the city’s Nechells district.
BBC News Online. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Australia: Unions welcome work manslaughter recommendations
Australia’s national union body ACTU has welcomed a Senate inquiry’s call for a uniform national system of industrial manslaughter laws. The report released by the committee on 17 October also recommends that unions and families be given the right to bring cases under the new laws on behalf of workers.
ACTU news release. Senate inquiry into industrial deaths in Australia: Recommendations. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Canada: Relief at asbestos ban, dismay at exemptions
A nationwide ban on asbestos introduced in Canada has been welcomed by unions and campaigners, however loopholes that allow some asbestos exports and the exploitation of asbestos tailings have caused alarm. Critics point out the occupational exposure standard for asbestos to be used on an Alliance Magnesium (AMI) asbestos wastes project, to be run with financial backing from the government, is that favoured by the asbestos industry.
Government of Canada news release. CLC news release. Globe and Mail. CBC News. National Post. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Europe: Unions and employers want reprotoxins action
The chemical industry and trade unions have agreed a future framework to better protect European Union workers from the risks associated with exposure to substances toxic to reproduction. In a joint declaration, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the union federation for the chemical sector IndustriALL Europe, the European Chemical Employers Group (ECEG) and the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) call on the European Commission to strengthen the current system of protection of workers’ reproductive health.
Joint ETUC-IndustriAll Europe-Cefic-ECEG news release and Joint Declaration, 16 October 2018. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

USA: Miscarriages linked to lack of protection at work
Pregnancy discrimination is widespread in corporate America. But for women who work in physically demanding jobs, pregnancy discrimination often can come with even higher stakes, with women suffering miscarriages, premature labour or, in one case, a stillborn baby after their employers rejected their pleas for assistance.
New York Times. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Hazards news, 20 October 2018

Britain: No place for vaping in the workplace
Caving into pressure from Big Tobacco to allow vaping in enclosed workspaces could put non-vaping workers in harm's way, the TUC has warned. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said while e-cigarettes may be safer than traditional cigarettes, “that doesn’t mean we should allow vaping in enclosed workplaces, despite growing pressure from the vaping industry for employers and public transport providers to allow it in enclosed spaces where it is currently banned.”
TUC blog and updated Ensuring smoke-free workplaces guide, including an e-cigarettes section, June 2018. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Union warning on the workplace fatigue culture
Pilots’ union BALPA has told MPs that more needs to be done to create a workplace culture that understands, prioritises and manages fatigue, particularly in safety-critical industries like aviation. BALPA head of flight safety, Dr Rob Hunter, told a ‘sleep and health’ seminar at the Houses of Parliament: “In aviation, and in-fact any safety-critical industry, we must understand fatigue and create a culture that prioritises and mitigates it.”
BALPA news release. Sleep and Health meeting. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Police copped barring the sick from jobs
Public sector UNISON has expressed outrage at the revelation that the police operate a blacklist that can bar staff for life from jobs in the service based on their sickness record. The police ‘barred and advisory lists’, brought in by law less than a year ago, contain the names of police staff, special constables, and officers who have been dismissed, however UNISON’s police and justice conference heard inclusion on the lists is not limited to those fired for misconduct, but also includes workers dismissed over attendance and performance evaluations.
UNISON news report. Police Barred and Advisory Lists Regulations 2017. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Pay worries are damaging to mental health
A survey of over 10,000 retail workers has laid bare the issues that working people are facing as a result of low pay, short and zero hours contracts and insecure work, their union has said. Usdaw’s research found 92 per cent of respondents have seen no improvement in their financial situation over the past five years and nearly two-thirds of workers (63 per cent) say financial worries are having an impact on their mental health.
Usdaw news release, It’s good to talk mental health campaign and Time 4 Better Pay campaign. More on the health and safety risks of low pay. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Community mental health charter gets another sign on
Mitie Care and Custody Ltd has joined a growing list of employers from across the UK economy that have signed up to the union Community’s mental health charter. The union says its initiative sets out to get employers to make mental health a priority in their workplaces.
Community news release and mental health charter. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Bigger push needed to reduce teacher workload
The government and the education standards watchdog Ofsted must do much more to reduce the crippling administrative burden on teachers, the union NEU has said. NEU’s latest survey of 11,341 primary and secondary teachers working in 6,908 schools found: “Unnecessary accountability tasks and measures previously enforced by government and Ofsted were one of the biggest contributing factors to teachers’ excessive workload and a major reason for many teachers leaving the profession.”
NEU news release. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Hundreds of serious injuries blight Amazon warehouses
Amazon warehouse workers suffer hundreds of serious injuries each year, including fractures, contusions, head injuries and collisions with heavy equipment, a GMB investigation has found. The union’s freedom of information requests found more than 440 serious health and safety incidents at Amazon warehouses have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) since 2015/16.
GMB news release. More on Amazon’s safety record. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Time for proper legal protection from dangerous dogs
A change in the law to protect workers and the public from dangerous dogs and their irresponsible owners should be introduced as a priority, the postal workers’ union CWU has said. The union was commenting after a House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee report on ‘Controlling dangerous dogs’ called on the government to ‘commission a comprehensive review of existing dog control legislation and policy’, with a view to focus on prevention, early intervention, and consistently robust sanctions for offenders’.
CWU news release and branch briefing. House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Parliamentary Select Committee – Report on ‘Controlling Dangerous Dogs’ and Recommendations to the UK Government, 17 October 2018 – news release and full report. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: ‘Precarious’ footballers to get protection from ‘injury calamity’
Amateur and semi-professional footballers deserve protection, as well as advice and support for their lives both in and out of football, the GMB has said. The union’s call came as it launched a ’Footballers United’ branch, which it says will protect ‘precarious’ players from ‘injury calamity.’
GMB news release. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Brexit mustn't be ‘Trojan horse’ to scrap safety rights
Brexit must not be a ‘Trojan horse’ to scrap necessary health and safety laws, campaigners have said. The call from the Hazards Campaign came as a study from the manufacturers’ body EEF urged the government to avoid any “disruption” to business that would arise from replacing or abolishing current labour laws when the UK leaves European Union.
EEF news release. Morning Star. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: New report must signal end of parliamentary bullying
A newly published independent report into parliamentary bullying and harassment should be ‘the final nail in the coffin’ of the culture of abuse of parliamentary staff by MPs, the union Prospect has said. The report from Dame Laura Cox found a culture of “deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence” in Westminster where abuse was “tolerated and covered up”.
The bullying and harassment of House of Commons staff: Independent Inquiry Report, Dame Laura Cox DBE, 15 October 2018. Prospect news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Contentious RIDDOR changes should be reversed - official
A legally-required Health and Safety Executive (HSE) review has concluded the official workplace safety watchdog should reverse much-criticised changes to the workplace injury and disease reporting regulation. The move, to capture less common occupational health conditions and reduce the number of non-workers included in work accident figures, is recommended in a government-required post implementation review (PIR) of the effectiveness of the RIDDOR reporting regulations.
Post Implementation Review of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, HSE, 2018. Environmental Health News.
Hugh Robertson. The Health and Safety at Work Act turned 40, Occupational Medicine, volume 65, issue 3, pages 176-179, March 2015. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Prison union welcomes safety equipment roll out
Prison officers across the country will be equipped with incapacitant spray to help keep them safe and maintain order, prisons minister Rory Stewart has announced. The news, which has been welcomed by the prison officers’ union POA, “will ensure every prison officer in the adult male estate is equipped with PAVA - a synthetic pepper spray which temporarily incapacitates those it is sprayed upon,” the government said.
Ministry of Justice news release. POA news release. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Firm failed to assess vibration risks
British Airways Avionic Engineering Limited has been fined for failing to assess the risk to workers from vibration. Cardiff Crown Court heard how people working at the company were exposed to vibration from use of a wet blasting cabinet and vibrating hand tools – but it was not until late in 2013 that action was taken by the company to assess and reduce vibration risk, despite the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations having been in force since July 2005.
HSE news release. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Get ready for National Inspection Day, Wednesday 24 October!
This year National Inspection Day falls on Wednesday 24 October, the middle of European Health and Safety Week. The TUC is urging union health and safety representatives to inspect their workplace on that day. This could be a general inspection, or a topic-specific inspection on issues like fire safety, shiftworking or short-and long-term health risks.
TUC facebook safety page. TUC guide to safety rep inspections and guide to fire safety inspections. European Health and Safety Week guide. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

China: Destitute migrants ravaged by work dust disease
Migrant workers dying of horrific dust-related lung diseases are struggling to pay for medical treatment or to raise enough money to cover their funeral costs. More than 600 workers from Hunan province in central China are seeking money for medical care and to support their families – a reflection of the forgotten human cost of turning Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, from a sleepy fishing village into a city with a gross domestic product of US$338 billion in 2017.
South China Morning Post. Love Save Pneumoconiosis. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Europe: New ‘compromise’ standard for diesel fumes
The Europe-wide trade union body ETUC has welcomed a new diesel exhaust fumes exposure standard. It says 3.6 million workers in the EU are at risk of exposures, adding the new European occupational exposure limit will prevent at least 6,000 deaths per year from lung cancer.
ETUC news release. Socialists and Democrats news release. SCOEL recommendation Risks 871. 20 October 2018.

India: At least 12 dead in steel plant blast
A gas pipeline explosion at the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) Bhilai steel plant in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh on 9 October has killed at least 12 workers, with several others suffering life-threating burns. Global union federation IndustriALL said the tragedy “is yet another fatal accident in the Bhilai steel plant, exposing the safety crisis at Indian public sector steel plants.”
IndustriALL news release. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Hazards news, 13 October 2018

Britain: Stress is top workplace health concern, say reps
Almost seven in 10 (69 per cent) trade union health and safety union representatives say stress is a top health and safety concern they deal with at work.  The TUC’s biennial health and safety rep survey found bullying and harassment rated the next most common problem, and then overwork was a concern for 36 per cent of the 1,073 union reps who took part in the TUC’s survey followed by slips, trips and falls 31 per cent).
TUC news release, stress guidance and Safety representatives survey 2018. Usdaw news release. Personnel Today. Morning Star. The Mirror. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Shoppers agree that shopworkers deserve protection
The overwhelming majority of shoppers believe the government should protect shopworkers from violence and abuse when enforcing age-restricted sales laws, according to a new poll published by the Co-operative Party. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis commented: “When parliament passes laws that shopworkers have to enforce, they should also provide legal protection for shopworkers.”
Cooperative Party news release. Usdaw news release and Freedom from Fear campaign. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Asbestos checks ‘Catch 22’ for former helicopter repair staff
An estimated 1,000 former Ministry of Defence (MoD) employees, who may have been exposed to asbestos while maintaining Sea King helicopters, are now caught in a Catch 22 situation over getting tested, their union Unite has said. The union, which is calling for the government to advertise the availability of screening, said the MoD’s advice for former workers to fill out a personal asbestos record form was ‘inadequate’, because those ex-maintenance staff servicing Sea King helicopters since 1969 would be unlikely to know of the form’s existence.
Unite news release and asbestos register. MoD health and safety forms. Daily Echo. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Study confirms the vital safety role of train guards
New research from the rail union RMT has revealed the vital role train guards play in delivering a safe, secure and accessible railway. The union says the crucial safety critical role of guards is demonstrated by the fact that 80 per cent of guards have prevented an emergency situation and used their safety critical training in an actual emergency situation.  
RMT news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Rail violence hike shows need to halt staff cuts
Rail union RMT has called for an immediate halt to plans to axe train guards and ‘de-staff’ stations after new official figures from the British Transport Police (BTP) revealed a sharp 17 per cent increase in violent incidents on Britain's railways. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the “shocking figures” demonstrate “nothing short of criminal negligence on the part of those rail companies that have axed guards and de-staffed stations‎ in the drive for profits."
RMT news release. BTP news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: New dignity at work agreement protects postal workers
A new dignity at work collective agreement between the postal workers’ union CWU and Post Office management pledges the organisation will be “a safe space for all, where everyone feels valued and treated with dignity, courtesy and respect.” CWU postal executive member Lynn Simpson, who played a leading role in constructing the new policy, said: “It sends a clear message that bullying, discrimination, intimidation or threatening behaviours are not acceptable and there are robust procedures in place to ensure a safe working environment.”
CWU news release and joint statement. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Long hours on film and TV sets are bad for you
The mental health of workers in film and TV is being damaging by the sector’s long hours culture, the union BECTU has said. The union is calling for all parts of the industry to come together to form a commission dedicated to reducing the industry's reliance on a long hours working culture.
BECTU news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Coal chiefs plotted to ‘delay’ payouts to dying miners
British Coal plotted to ‘delay’ payouts to tens of thousands of miners dying from occupational lung diseases, newly discovered memos have revealed. The firm hatched plans to make it “costly and unattractive” for miners and their families to pursue claims, the documents show.
The Mirror and related editorial. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Construction firms targeted in health inspections blitz
Construction firms across Great Britain will be targeted throughout October to check their health standards. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it would be the first time its inspections had included a specific focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease, looking at the measures businesses have in place to protect their workers’ lungs from exposures including asbestos, silica and wood dust. HSE news release and free #DustBuster selfie cards. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: B&CE launches site occupational health pilot
Construction benefits organisation B&CE has launched a pilot scheme involving 18 companies to help develop a new approach to improving occupational health provision across the construction industry. The new tech is intended to allow construction workers to access their site occupational health records on their mobile phones.
B&CE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Doctors hit by stress, burnout, depression and anxiety
A lack of resources has left UK doctors facing a ‘toxic’ work environment that is placing them at greater risk of work-related stress, burnout, depression and anxiety than the general population, a new study has found. The report by the Society of Occupational Medicine and The Louise Tebboth Foundation also found the incidence of suicide, especially among women doctors, GPs and trainees, is comparatively high.
University of Bedfordshire news release. SOM news release and report. NHS Employers news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Electric cars halve taxi drivers' exposure to toxic emissions
Zero emission capable taxis can halve their driver’s exposure to toxic exhaust pollutants, according to new research. The study into air quality by King’s College London’s Environmental Research Group (ERG) found that drivers of diesel taxis are exposed to pollution levels 1.8 times higher than those driving less polluting and more air tight electric models.
Fleet News. IOSH news report. Air Quality News. Motoring Research. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: IKEA worker lost two fingers in Bristol store
Swedish furniture multinational IKEA has been prosecuted after a worker lost part of two fingers while checking a faulty roof fan at its Bristol store. The maintenance engineer carrying out the work had not had any health and safety training from the retailer.  
Bristol City Council news release. Bristol Post. BBC News Online. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Australia: Two-thirds of cabin crew sexually harassed
Two-thirds (65 per cent) of airline cabin crew have experienced sexual harassment, with one in five crew reporting more than 10 incidents, a union survey has found. The findings “show that airlines are not taking the problem seriously and are not supporting workers when they are faced with what are daily assaults on them,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.
TWU news release. Skift. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Bangladesh: Five years on, injured workers face poverty
Those bereaved or injured in garment factory tragedies in Bangladesh are still facing “dire poverty”, despite the focus on the issue resulting from the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse which killed over 1,100 workers. The Clean Clothes Campaign is calling for the creation “of a national employment injury insurance scheme and a bridging solution would be the realisation of one of the major lessons learned after the Rana Plaza collapse and end the insecurity and dire poverty of the workers that were killed and injured at the workplace in the five years since the collapse.”
Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Europe: New report finds exploitation of non-EU drivers
A new report on the working conditions endured by non-EU professional drivers paints a picture of ‘an unappetising race to the bottom’ that must be resisted, UK union Unite has said. Unite was commenting on research by Dutch trade unions that found non-EU drivers from countries including Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine were driving for extreme hours on western European roads on wages starting as low as €0.79 an hour.
Unite news release. The Black Sea. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

USA: Outrage as government sets faster poultry line speeds
Already overworked poultry workers will suffer more work-related repetitive strain injuries and illnesses as a result of a shock government decision to allow much faster line speeds, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) has warned. Debbie Berkowitz, programme director for worker safety and health with the National Employment Law Project, said: “Overwhelming evidence supports the conclusion that allowing poultry processing plants to operate with faster line speeds than allowable by law is inconsistent with the USDA’s waiver regulation, undermines the rulemaking process, violates the Administrative Procedure Act, and most of all, endangers both workers and consumers.”
NELP news release. Citizenvox. Food Safety News. Food Integrity Campaign blog. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Hazards news, 6 October 2018

Global: Amazon improves wages, but is still bad on unions and safety
Trillion-dollar corporate behemoth Amazon’s announcement that it will increase the wages of its lowest paid workers in the UK and US shows that pressure from national and international unions is having an impact, unions have said. However, they warn the pay rise comes with a cut in benefits and the company still shows no sign of improving working conditions and ending its global anti-union strategy.
TUC news release. GMB news release. ITUC news release. ITF news release. Amazon UK news release and related blog on the minimum wage scheme. Amazon USA news releaseThe Guardian. BBC News Online. Morning Star. More on Amazon’s poor health and safety record. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Why a ‘no-deal’ Brexit threatens workplace standards
The government's own papers show that crashing out of the EU without a deal would put the UK’s workplace health and safety regulations at risk, the TUC has warned. Hugh Robertson, the union body’s head of safety, said “we must ask for respect for EU health and safety standards to be at the heart of any future partnership agreement between the UK and EU to ensure that UK regulation remains, as an absolute minimum, at the level afforded to EU workers both now and in the future.”
TUC Blog. A right mess. Brexit waffle worrying for workers; safety watchdog loses its head, Hazards magazine, Number 143, 2018. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: PCS call for mental health awareness and action
In the run up to World Mental Health Day on 10 October, civil service union PCS is urging all union branches to hold workplace events to promote good mental health – but is also calling for action to address the workplace causes. “The hard work of union reps in supporting individual members is valued and important, but we don’t want just a ‘sticking plaster’.”
PCS news release. Mental health in the workplace, TUC Education workbook, 2018. TUC mental health awareness training. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Government pressed to reduce teacher workload
Teaching union NEU is urging the government to reduce teachers’ workload after new research revealed that unnecessary tasks are the main reason for teachers quitting. The union’s report says that 78 per cent of secondary school teachers and 69 per cent of primary teachers think that the amount of marking they do is unmanageable.
NEU news release. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Union praises ‘brave’ prison officers
The disturbances at Long Lartin prison are a further illustration of the crisis engulfing Britain’s prison system, the prison officers’ union POA has said. In the wake of a weekend of riots at the prison, the union said its call for protective measures to help staff quell the ‘unprecedented levels of violence’ had been vindicated.
POA news releases on prisons in crisis and the Long Lartin disturbances. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Union says tyre giant’s £500,000 fine shows safety pays
A six figure fine handed to Pirelli after two workers were injured in separate incidents on the same machine demonstrates that health and safety regulations should never be diluted, Unite has said. The union was commenting after the tyre multinational was fined £512,000 at Carlisle magistrates’ court following separate incidents in 2013 and 2015 where workers were injured by inadequately guarded machinery.
Unite news release. HSE news release. News and Star. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Partial cladding ban does not go far enough, says FBU
The government’s announcement of a partial ban on the future use of some flammable cladding does not go far enough, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. Commenting after housing secretary James Brokenshire told the Conservative Party conference that new high-rise residential buildings, hospitals, registered care homes and student accommodation will be covered by the ban, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This is not the outright ban on combustible cladding that firefighters have been calling for.”
FBU news release. IOSH news release. ABI news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Rail union strike over Underground safety concerns
Members of the train drivers’ union ASLEF working on the London Underground’s Central line took 24-hour strike action on 5 October after a breakdown of industrial relations with London Underground. Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s organiser on the Underground, said: “The strike on the Central line is the result of management’s failure to deal with the issues our reps have raised regarding service control problems affecting our members; abuse of the attendance at work procedure; breach of agreements regarding managers driving trains; abuse of the case conference procedure; harsh and unfair use of the disciplinary procedure; and imposition of new and unsafe ‘flash and dash’ working practices.”
ASLEF news release. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Crime rising on trains as staff are cut, RMT warns
Crime levels on Northern rail services are climbing because ‘greedy’ operators are putting profits before passengers by shedding staff, rail union RMT has said. The union said the problem will worsen if the company succeeds in removing safety-critical guards from trains.
RMT news releases on the Piccadilly Line strike and on Northern Rail. Morning Star. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Global: Scientists hid Monsanto’s hand in their ‘independent’ research
An academic journal has conceded that agrochemicals giant Monsanto didn’t fully disclose its involvement in published research that claimed Roundup, the world’s best selling herbicide, is safe. The ‘Expression of Concern’ issued by Critical Reviews in Toxicology, a journal that analyses health risks of chemicals, may bolster arguments that Monsanto, acquired by Bayer this year, ghost-wrote safety reviews.
Work cancer hazards blog. Bloomberg News. 26 September 2018 Expression of Concern and main article:  Williams GM, Aardema M, Acquavella J, Berry SC, Brusick D, Burns MM, de Camargo JLV, Garabrant D, Greim H, Kier LD, Kirkland DJ, Marsh G, Solomon KR, Sorahan T, Roberts A, Weed DL. A review of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate by four independent expert panels and comparison to the IARC assessment, Critical Reviews in Toxicology, volume 46 (supplement 1), pages 3-20, September 2016.
D Bernstein and others. Health risk of chrysotile revisited, Critical Reviews in Toxicology, volume 43, number 2, pages 154-183, 2013.
TUC glyphosate guide. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Global: Study finds breast cancer risk in women working nights
Women who work at night, especially during pre-menopause, may be at greater risk of developing breast cancer, a new study has found. The findings, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, revealed the rates of certain breast cancers increased with the number of hours worked per night, as well as the number of years spent on the night shift - however, the risk seemed to diminish two years after going off the night shift.
University of Montreal news release. Emilie Cordina-Duverger and others. Night shift work and breast cancer: a pooled analysis of population-based case–control studies with complete work history, European Journal of Epidemiology, volume 33, issue 4, pages 369–379, 2018. doi: 10.1007/s10654-018-0368-x Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Dangerous site director gets community service
A construction company and its managing director have been sentenced for criminal health and safety failings on a London site. CJ Langs Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,000; company MD Kewie Doherty pleaded guilty to a criminal health and safety offence was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid community work and to pay costs of £1,673, and was also disqualified from being a company director for a period of three years.
HSE news release. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Waste firm fined after two workers burned in explosion
A Bedfordshire waste company has been sentenced after two of its employees suffered burns when a flammable gas cloud released by shredded aerosol containers exploded, with one worker suffering ‘life changing’ injuries. B&W Waste Management Services Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,603.14.
HSE news release. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

India: Cuts linked to death of Mondelez worker
Mondelez worker Milkhi Ram was killed in late September while operating a moulding machine in the company's Baddi, India plant. Global foodworkers’ union IUF said the death of the 35-year-old father of two followed ‘massive’ workforce reductions accompanied by a ‘voluntary separation scheme’ initiated by Mondelez India management, which workers were pressured into accepting at the food multinational that owns household names including Cadbury, Oreo and Toblerone.
IUF news release. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Global: Airport workers protest for decent treatment
On 2 October, 48 airports in 13 countries saw simultaneous demonstrations as workers demanded fair pay and conditions and airport safety and security. Under the banner Airport Workers United, the protests took place at airports controlling 36 per cent of global air travel and that see nearly 4 million people pass through every day.
ITF news release and ITF/UNI report, Fix what is broken: Why airport workers demand change. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Turkey: Workers describe appalling conditions at airport site
A union representing workers at a Turkish airport construction site where hundreds were arrested last month for taking strike action over safety concerns has said the employer wants to treat them like ‘slaves’. Dev Yapi-Is union president Ozgur Karabulut, who was one of those arrested, said the workers were engaged in “a fight to be human,” adding: “They are attacking us to make us slaves.”
Morning Star. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Vietnam: Workers get sick peeling shrimp for export
Tiger shrimps produced for export to European supermarkets are being processed in ‘outrageous’ conditions in Vietnam, a Danish labour standards group has found. Danwatch uncovered practices including 17 hour shifts and exposure to chlorine gas that has left workers with chronic, physical disorders.
Danwatch news release. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Hazards news, 29 September 2018

Britain: Injured workers facing a safety double whammy
Shopworkers’ union leader Paddy Lillis has called on the government to pull back from ‘deeply damaging’ proposals in the Civil Liability Bill. The Usdaw leader said the current plan leaves workers facing the double whammy of worsening health and safety conditions and restricted access to justice.
Usdaw news releaseRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Rise in violence and threats against shopworkers
The government has been urged to stem a rising tide of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. The call from retail union Usdaw came in the wake of its latest survey results, which reveal two-thirds of shopworkers were verbally abused last year, 42 per cent were threatened and there were over 265 assaults every day.
Usdaw news release and report on violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers in 2017Risks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Wilko safety rep wins award and gets sacked
A safety rep with the retailer Wilko who won a prestigious national award for health and safety has been fired by the company. GMB rep Teresa Farmer picked up the safety rep of the year gong at the TUC’s 150th congress in Manchester this month; her sacking came after she raised a series of serious safety issues.
GMB news release. 2018 Congress AwardsRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Overworked public service staff at ‘tipping point’
Public services support staff – including teaching assistants, hospital porters and police community support offers (PCSOs) – are doing more than 40 million hours of unpaid overtime a year and facing ‘intolerable pressures’, according to a report from UNISON. The union says the figure is the equivalent of 25,000 extra public service staff working full-time.
UNISON news release and We can’t go on like this report. The Mirror. More on the hazards of low payRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Top Tories back Brexit push to axe safety protections
A plan published by a right-wing thinktank and backed by prominent Tories is calling for key safety and environmental laws to be ditched as part of a ‘hard’ Brexit. The Institute of Economic Affairs report, ‘Plan A+: Creating a prosperous post-Brexit UK’, was unveiled by former Brexit secretary David Davis and leading Tory Leave campaigner Jacob Rees-Mogg, and has been backed by ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson.
IEA news release and report, Plan A+: Creating a prosperous post-Brexit UK, Institute of Economic Affairs, September 2018. GMB news release. DeSmog. The Express.
A right mess: Brexit waffle worrying for workers; safety watchdog loses its head, Hazards magazine, September 2018. Risks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: HSE asks who you gonna call? Dustbusters!
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors are planning to visit construction sites across Great Britain to see if businesses have measures in place to protect their workers’ lungs from the likes of asbestos, silica and wood dust. The watchdog “will specifically be looking for evidence of construction workers knowing the risk, planning their work and using the right controls,” and adds that it wants workplace ‘#DustBusters’ to show their support for the campaign “by downloading our free selfie cards and sending us your photos via the #DustBuster and #WorkRight hashtags on Twitter at @H_S_E, or on Facebook via @hsegovuk and @SaferSites.”
HSE news release and Selfie signs enjoy retirement, kids, occupational asthma, play footy, die young and die young #2.  HSE pointers - is your site ready for a health inspection? Risks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Garden centre fined over chemical spill injuries
A popular Essex garden centre that failed to undertake adequate checks to protect staff from hazardous chemicals has been fined over £100,000. In a prosecution brought by Colchester Borough Council, Perrywood Garden Centre and Nurseries Ltd admitted to three criminal safety offences after a member of staff developed breathing difficulties after clearing up a spill of garden chemicals in April 2017.
Colchester Borough Council news release. East Anglian Daily TimesRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Yorkshire Water fined after fitter’s fire death
Yorkshire Water has been fined £733,000 after a worker suffered fatal burns at a water treatment plant. Mick Jennings’ clothes caught fire while removing valve bolts at the Tadcaster sewage works in July 2015. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the valve was half open and sparks reacted with high oxygen levels; a near miss report had been recorded at the same location in September 2014 but no action had been taken to reduce the risks.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. York PressRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Firm fingered after woodworker suffers saw injuries
Timberline DIY Limited has been fined after an employee seriously injured three of his fingers while cleaning a band saw. South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 30 June 2016, the worker was cleaning the saw at the premises in Jarrow, when he made contact with a moving blade.
HSE news release and woodworking machinery guideRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Two site firms foot over £1m in fines for lost toes
Two construction companies have been convicted of criminal health and safety offences after a worker’s foot was trapped in a rotating screw. Liverpool Crown Court heard how, on 5 March 2015, Costain Limited and Galliford Try Building Limited were upgrading water treatment works in Cheshire when a worker’s foot became trapped in a large rotating screw, which led to the amputation of three toes.
HSE news release. Construction EnquirerRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Global: World Day for Decent Work, 7 October 2018
Workers from around the world will be holding activities to mark the 11th World Day for Decent Work on 7 October. International trade union confederation ITUC, which coordinates the event, says year’s global theme, ‘Change the Rules’, highlights the deeply entrenched injustice of the global economic system alongside shrinking democratic space and deteriorating labour rights in many countries, documented in the ITUC Global Rights Index.
ITUC news release and World Day for Decent Work webpage. ITUC Global Rights Index. For more information on the World Day for Decent Work, and to obtain examples of the logos, infographics and social media messages, please send an email to wddw@ituc-csi.org. Risks 868. 29 September 2018

Europe: Fighting cancer ‘should not be a trade secret’
Organisations representing governments, employers and trade unions have agreed to extend a collaboration to fight work-related cancers in Europe. The commitment, agreed at a Vienna conference organised by the EU’s Austrian Presidency, extends the initiative launched in Amsterdam in May 2016 by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), BusinessEurope, the European Commission, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and two EU countries, the Netherlands and Austria.
ETUC news release. EU-OSHA news release. EU Roadmap on CarcinogensRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Japan:  Sexual harassment still not taken seriously
Progress this year towards an International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention on harassment and violence in the workplace has focused attention in Japan on an issue often ignored or downplayed in the country. On 19 September, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's Labour Policy Council began serious talks on the subject.
Mainichi Shimbun. Reports of the Standard-Setting Committee on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work: Summary of proceedings, ILO, 2018. Risks 868. 29 September 2018

South Africa: Unions call for action after ‘protest suicide’
A South African union has expressed dismay at the inaction on stress and bullying that drove a parliamentary worker into a ‘protest suicide’. Section manager Lennox Garane shot himself dead in his office, leaving a note saying his suicide was a protest at 20 months of bullying.
IOL News. Sunday Times. Business Live. Eyewitness News. The CitizenRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Turkey: Dozens of site workers jailed after airport protest
A Turkish court has jailed 24 workers, including four union leaders, pending formal charges for their alleged roles in a safety protest at Istanbul’s new $13 billion (£9.9bn) airport. The workers complain of deadly pressure to complete the airport, a flagship project for president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in time for the 29 October anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.
VOA News. Al-Monitor. The Independent.  Risks 868. 29 September 2018

Hazards news, 22 September 2018

Britain: Better protection for emergency workers
Unions have welcomed a new law that will make it a criminal offence to assault emergency workers including police, paramedics, firefighters, prison officers, search and rescue personnel and custody officers. The current six-month maximum sentence for common assault will be doubled to a year for the new crime created by the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, which will also enable judges to increase terms given to people committed for a range of other crimes where the involvement of emergency services was an “aggravating factor”.
GMB release The act Protect the protectors campaign. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Prison workers act on violence
The prison officer’s union, the POA, has taken protest action over the huge rise in violence in Britain’s prisons. It was triggered by a letter from Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke to the Secretary of State issuing an Urgent Notification Notice at HMP Bedford following a catalogue of failures.
POA new release. POA update. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Shopworkers welcome amendment on weapons
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw, has welcomed an amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill that will make it a specific offence to obstruct a shopworker in their duty to enforce the law on the sale of offensive weapons. Shopworkers face growing violence and intimidation when they refuse to sell prohibited items such as acid and knives to those considered underage.
Usdaw release. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: TUC warns that compensation is at risk
The TUC has added its voice to calls for the government to withdraw its proposals to increase the small claims limit for workplace injury claims. The small claims limit is the level at which you can reclaim legal costs if a claim is successful.
TUC Blog #Feedingfatcats. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Union warns about cladding
Unite the union has issued a timely reminder of the importance of employers doing across the board checks on all workplaces which have cladding following the Grenfell fire tragedy. After the fire, the government ordered safety checks of cladding on residential buildings, NHS properties and schools, however even this is not always being done.
Unite press release TUC fire safety advice. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Union calls for action on weedkiller
The GMB union is calling for urgent action to protect workers from the effects of the weedkiller glyphosate which, in 2015, was classified as "probably carcinogenic" by the World Health Organisation. Glyphosate, which is sometimes sold as Roundup, is the biggest selling weedkiller in the world and is used both in agriculture as well as gardening and forestry.
GMB press release TUC guidance. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Union aims to change unhealthy shift patterns
Unite has raised a “collective grievance” with one of the operators in the North Sea over the impact of three week off, three week on (3/3) rotas and seeking reviews with many more, including all those working for BP. This follows a report from the Robert Gordon University (RGU) in April, which said workers on three-week, equal-time rotas were nearly twice as likely to experience ill health as those on two on, two off rotas.
EnergyVoice. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Changes needed to avoid another Grenfell
The author of a report into fire safety and building regulations following the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire has warned that another “catastrophic event” cannot be ruled out unless there are changes to the regulatory system. Speaking at the IOSH conference, Dame Judith Hackitt said she was “truly shocked” about standards in the built environment when she started her review.
IOSH press release. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: £1.5 million fine after worker killed
A Dudley logistics firm has been fined £1.5 million following the death of an HGV driver who was trapped between his vehicle and a trailer. Leighton Jardine, who worked for Tuffnells Parcels Express Limited, was fatally injured in 2016, whilst attempting to
HSE press release. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: NHS bullying to be tackled
The government has said that it will crack down on NHS directors who fail to act on what ministers say are “alarming” levels of bullying of hospital staff. Stephen Barclay, a health minister, has told The Independent he wants the current “fit and proper” person test for NHS directors to be widened to require action on harassment and discrimination.
Independent. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Company fined after broken spine
A structural steelwork contractor has been fined £150,000 after a worker was injured while demolishing a farm building. Northern Structures Ltd of Amble, Northumberland, pleaded guilty to breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act when they appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
HSE press release. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Anti-union laws threaten safety
A research report from Harvard University in the USA gives very clear confirmation of the union effect when it comes to preventing fatalities, as well as sounding a warning about the implications of anti-union regulation. These findings are consistent with research in the UK, Canada, Australia and several other countries that show clearly, that unionised workplaces are safer workplaces.
Research summary The Union effect. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Global: Toxic substances are a global health crisis
The UN Human Rights Council has been told that exposure of workers to toxic substances can and should be considered a form of exploitation and is a global health crisis. A UN expert on hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak, told the Council that governments and companies must strengthen protection for workers, their families and their communities from any exposure to toxic chemicals.
Report. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Belgium: Country wakes up to asbestos crisis
According to research from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB – Free University of Brussels), at least two million tonnes of cancer-causing asbestos were imported into the country between 1948 and 1998. This is much higher than previous estimates
Brussels Times (in English). Risks 867. 22 September 2018

USA: Research confirms work and suicide link
The USA is finally waking up to the link between work and suicide. While the subject has received a lot of attention in France, Japan, Australia and the UK, less attention has been paid to the connection in the US. Now however, the government’s The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has highlighted the importance of suicide prevention and the organisational structures that can contribute to poor mental health. CDC report TUC suicide prevention guidance. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Hazards news, 15 September 2018

Britain: Exploitation is part and parcel of Amazon’s business model
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos this year become the world’s first 100 Billion Dollar Man - but one man’s fortune is built on a world of pain, the union GMB has warned. In a new feature in Hazards magazine, GMB director of safety Dan Shears notes: “On the back of labour exploitation, unhealthy workplaces and cost-shifting to the public purse, his global firm was valued in September 2018 at $1 trillion.”
Dan Shears. Rich pickings? Exploitation is part and parcel of the Amazon business model, Hazards, number 143, September 2018 and accompanying That’s rich! poster. GMB news release. Daily Express. Birmingham Mail. Morning Star. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Unions want justice for Grenfell and harassment victims
There must be justice for the victims of the Grenfell fire and those harmed by workplace sexual harassment, unions have said. Delegates to the TUC Congress, held from 9-12 September in Manchester, called for politicians to be held to account over the decisions that led to 72 people dying in the Grenfell Tower blaze last year and endorsed a motion calling for changes in the law to empower victims.
TUC Congress 2018 webpages and Congress motions. TUC blog. Morning Star coverage of the TUC Congress on Grenfell and sexual harassment. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: New union push for justice for injured workers
Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis is urging MPs on the Civil Liability Bill committee to opposed damaging changes that would hurt injured workers. Usdaw is calling on MPs to address concerns about government proposals that will restrict injured workers’ access to justice, by forcing more cases in England and Wales through the small claims court.
Usdaw news release. Use Usdaw’s ‘Justice4InjuredWorkers’ webpage to send a message to your MP. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Over 1,000 helicopter repair staff need asbestos checks
Every worker who has serviced Sea King helicopters since 1969 should be offered checks for the effects of asbestos exposure - not just those currently employed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the union Unite has said. The union said it believed that there were more than 1,000 former MoD employees who could have been exposed to asbestos while repairing and maintaining the Sea King helicopters, which first came into service nearly 50 years ago.
Unite news release. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: School support staff experiencing ‘shocking’ violence
Half of school support staff have experienced ‘shocking’ violence at work, with incidents including stabbings and attempted strangulations, a study by the union GMB has found. More than half of school staff had first-hand experience of violence at work – with more than 16 per cent suffering attacks every week, the new GMB figures show.
GMB news release. The Independent. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: School staff buckling under intolerable stresses
Intolerable cuts, restructuring and rocketing stress levels are becoming the norm in UK schools, according to a survey of school support staff by UNISON. The study highlights a funding crisis the union says is having a ‘devastating’ effect on workloads and morale.
UNISON news release. Lessons in Austerity: A UNISON survey of school support staff, September 2018. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: The TUC wants to stop work hurting mental health
The need to address the factors at work that cause or exacerbate mental health problems must be prioritised alongside providing support for those affected, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Robertson points out that the newly updated edition of TUC Education’s ‘Mental health in the workplace’ workbook “places more focus on the need to link supporting individuals with the importance of preventing mental health problems being caused, or made worse, by work,” adding : “It also makes the role of the union representative clearer with more emphasis on changing workplaces.”
Mental health in the workplace, TUC Education workbook, 2018. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018. HSE news release. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Poor mental health at work 'widespread'
Poor mental health affects half of all employees, according to a survey of 44,000 people carried out by the mental health charity Mind. But only half of those who had experienced problems with stress, anxiety or low mood had talked to their employer about it, with fear, shame and job insecurity some of the reasons people may choose to hide their worries, the survey found.
Mind news release and Mental health at work gateway and toolkit on Workplace stress: fulfilling your responsibilities as an employer. CBI news release. BBC News Online. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: House builder’s concern after site injuries increase
Barratt Developments has launched a safety review after injury rates on its sites increased by over 20 per cent. A statement from chief executive David Thomas in the company’s final results for the year to 30 June, said: “Increased activity levels across the industry in terms of site openings and production volumes combined with shortages of skilled workers has contributed to an increased risk of accidents on sites.”
Barratt final results for the year ended 30 June 2018, 5 September 2018. Construction Enquirer. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Supermarket mutilated worker's hand in meat slicer
A Birmingham supermarket firm has been fined £36,000 plus £3,268 costs after a member of staff had four fingers mangled in an unguarded meat slicer. MAS Bazar Birmingham Limited pleaded guilty to criminal health and safety offences at Birmingham Magistrates Court.
Birmingham Mail. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Apprentice slips into gastropub’s deep-fat fryer
A Michelin-starred gastropub has been prosecuted after an apprentice fell into a deep-fat fryer and severely scalded his foot. The 18-year-old had been told to clean an extractor fan at The Cross in Kenilworth when his foot slipped and fell into the fryer, which was running at roughly 180°C.
Warwick District Council news release. Kenilworth Weekly News. The Caterer. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Fine for motor repair firm with no liability insurance
A company that carries out maintenance and repair of motor vehicles has been fined for not having the legally required employers’ liability insurance. AE Motors Birmingham Ltd pleaded guilty to breaking the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 and was fined £726 and ordered to pay costs of £557.
HSE news release and Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance guide. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Australia: Warehouse workers suffering in Amazon ‘hellscape’
Workers at two Amazon warehouses are being subjected to ‘horrific’ pressure to meet daily targets and are afraid to use the bathroom outside of specified times, a media investigation has found. Fairfax Media found that casual employees aren't hired by Amazon, but by a third-party labour hire firm Adecco.
NUW news release. Sydney Morning Herald. Daily Mail Australia. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Japan: First officially recognised Fukushima work cancer death
Authorities in Japan have accepted for the first time that a worker at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant died from a radiation-related cancer. The man, who was in his 50s, died from lung cancer..
Asahi Shimbun. New York Times. BBC News Online. Sky News. The Guardian. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

New Zealand: Driver escapes injury as boss turns off vehicle remotely
A worker driving a company van narrowly escaped injury after her boss remotely turned off her vehicle while she was going through a roundabout, causing the van to stop abruptly in traffic. The Blenheim vineyard employee said: “I'm halfway through the intersection and all of a sudden my van is immobilised with workers inside and a semi-trailer is coming at me through the roundabout.”
Radio New Zealand. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Qatar: Global unions welcome end of migrant exit permits
Global unions have welcomed the announcement by Qatar on 4 September of new legislation that means many migrant workers, who have faced exploitative and dangerous work conditions, will no longer have to seek their employer’s permission to leave the country. Commenting on the amendment to the labour code, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said: “An estimated 1.5 million workers will now have the freedom to leave Qatar without their employer’s permission with this elimination of a central part of the kafala system of modern slavery, which is still in place in other Gulf countries.”
ILO news release. ITUC news release. BWI news release. ITF news release. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Hazards news, 8 September 2018

Britain: RMT demands urgent talks with SWR over safety breaches
Rail union RMT has demanded urgent talks with South Western Rail (SWR) after the safety regulator confirmed there had been a series of serious and potentially lethal safety breaches during earlier strike days. The letter from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) identified safety problems arising from what the RMT described as the company “winging it by deploying scab ‘contingency guards’ in a desperate effort to break the workforce.”
RMT news release. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Union concern after new evidence of prison safety crisis
Further revelations of the extent of the safety crisis in prisons should spur the government to act, the prison officers’ union POA has said. In a 3 September statement, POA said in the preceding seven days 33 members of staff were the victim of unprovoked and sometimes serious assaults; seven involved “potting”, where prisoners throw urine and excrement over staff.
POA news release. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Overworked drivers told to work extra hours ‘or else’
Overworked UK Mail drivers who are victims of ‘bogus self-employment’ have been told they must accept additional Saturday working, lower pay rates and fewer breaks or give up their jobs. GMB said its organising drive at the Gildersome depot has seen more drivers opting to join the union because of “the outrageous demands that are being put on them.”
GMB news release and GMB drivers website. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Long hours in TV and film production damage families
The long hours culture in film and TV production is not just bad for workers, but for their entire families, their union BECTU has warned. The latest phase of the union’s ‘Eyes Half Shut’ campaign against excessive working hours is emphasising how hard families are being hit by long hours.
BECTU news release and Eyes Half Shut campaign. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Train company tries to recruit ‘slaves’ in place of workers
A privatised train company is asking for unpaid ‘ambassadors’ to do a job essential for the provision of decent services and safety to passengers, train drivers’ union ASLEF has said. Mick Whelan, the union’s general secretary, said: “It’s outrageous that Grand Central expects unpaid volunteers to turn up to work and look after passengers at stations which are unmanned because the company wants to boost its profits by not employing – and properly paying – people to do a job.”
ASLEF news release. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: TUC repeats calls for prevention of mental health problems
The TUC has reiterated its warning that increasingly popular mental health first aid (MHFA) initiatives at work should not substitute for effective preventive action. The TUC’s comments came after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) research report confirmed there is ‘no evidence’ that MHFA training leads to improvements.
TUC blog. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Fire chiefs take ‘revenge’ against campaigning crew
Fire chiefs on Merseyside have been accused of “an act of revenge” by breaking up crews from two fire stations who successfully campaigned against life-threatening cuts. Firefighters’ union FBU said bosses told the crews at Liverpool city centre and Wallasey fire stations they would be dispersed to other sites across Merseyside.
Morning Star. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Investigation after schools supplied with asbestos mats
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched an investigation after being “made aware that two UK laboratory supply companies have supplied schools and potentially other users with gauze mats which contain asbestos.” Commenting on the ‘shocking’ discovery, Chris Keates, general secretary of the teaching union NASUWT, said: “There are serious questions to be asked and answered about this appalling situation, including why it has taken so long to identify that suppliers are using such hazardous materials and what action the government intends to take to support schools in the light of this revelation, including the costs that may incurred as a result of the disposal of this material.”
HSE news release. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: HSE blasts oil firm of relying on trainee cover offshore
An oil company has been criticised for using trainees and apprentices to cover shifts on a North Sea platform. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the firm Apache was “significantly failing” to meet its safety obligations on the Beryl Bravo platform.
BBC News Online. HSE improvement notice. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Emails while commuting should count as work hours
Commuters are so regularly using travel time for work emails that their journeys should be counted as part of the working day, researchers have said. Wider access to wi-fi on trains and the spread of mobile phones has extended the working day, the study from the University of the West of England found.
UWE news release. BBC News Online. The Independent. The Sun. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Experts warn embracing vaping is ‘irresponsible’
Environmental health experts have echoed union concerns and urged ‘caution’ over calls to ease restrictions on e-cigarette use in public places and to promote their use in smoking cessation programmes. Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) head of policy Tony Lewis said: “Whilst we whole-heartedly support measures to encourage smokers to give up, we believe that the evidence gap on the long-term health implications of vaping needs addressing as a priority and more research carried out.”
CIEH news release. EHN Online. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Serial criminal Tata fined after worker's pit fall
A major steel company has been fined £450,000 after a worker was badly injured when he fell back into an uncovered pit. The prosecution came in the same year steel firm Tata was fined over £1 million over the death of a worker, and two years after it was fined nearly £2 million for criminal safety offences at another plant.
BBC News Online. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Machining firm fined after workers exposed to asbestos
A Birmingham machining company has been fined after workers were exposed to asbestos fibres when demolishing an internal wall. Birmingham Specialities Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,454.40.
HSE news release and guide to managing asbestos in premises. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Kent council fined after school asbestos exposures
Kent County Council (KCC) has been fined £200,000 after asbestos was disturbed at Lansdowne Primary School. The council pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £21,500.
HSE news release. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Want to know more about musculoskeletal risks at work?
The TUC has produced a short online guide for union health and safety reps, signposting where they can get Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice and guidance on musculoskeletal disorders. The guide is badged jointly with the HSE. It provides links to HSE toolkits, regulations and guides on musculoskeletal disorders.
Musculoskeletal disorders - HSE material for health and safety reps, TUC/HSE, September 2018. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Australia: Union push for work manslaughter legislation
Australian construction union CFMEU is continuing its push to make industrial manslaughter a specific criminal offence under workplace health and safety legislation. The union wants the offence to encompass all circumstances where any person is killed in a work-related incident; this would ensure justice for members of the public killed by work activities and workers in industries such as construction where multiple contractors and sub-contractors work on a site.
The West Australian. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Global: UN expert urges firms to take action on chemical risks
The UN’s expert on toxics and human rights has urge firms to take action to protect workers from chemical risks throughout their supply chains. Baskut Tuncak, the UN’s ‘special rapporteur’ on the implications for human rights of hazardous substances and wastes, makes the call in a paper for the UN’s Human Rights Council.
OHCHR news release. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, OHCHR, 2018. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Global: Latest dock death part of a ‘global epidemic’
The death of a young New Zealand dock worker has left the global union for the sector ‘in shock’. Paddy Crumlin, the chair of ITF’s dockers’ section and the national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, said: “Another dock worker, has been killed at work,” adding: “This is fast becoming a global epidemic.”
ITF news release. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Korea: Worker asphyxiated at flagship Samsung chip plant
A gas leak has left one worker dead and two critically ill at Samsung Electronics’ flagship chip plant in Korea - an event reminiscent of a fatal gas leak that hit another Samsung plant five years ago. On 4 September, three workers passed out in a basement unit of Samsung’s Giheung plant in Gyonggi province, suffocated by carbon dioxide as they carried anti-fire cylinders containing the gas.
Stop Samsung blog. Yonhap News. Korea Joongang Daily. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Hazards news, 1 September 2018

Britain: Government’s Brexit waffle pretty worrying for workers
Government guidance on employment rights after Brexit should no deal be reached “says pretty much nothing”, the TUC has said. “It basically says that nothing will change, which may of course be true on day one but after then all the coming changes to EU regulation, including proposed improvements to chemical safety limits will not apply to Britain,” commented TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson.
TUC safety blog. TUC news release. Workplace rights if there’s no Brexit deal, BEIS, 23 August 2018. Prospect news release. Personnel Today.
Department for Exiting the European Union webpages. HSE EU Exit web community. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Lloyds signs up to TUC’s ‘dying to work’ charter
Lloyds Banking Group has added its name to a charter aimed at helping employees living with terminal illnesses. The firm is the latest to follow in the footsteps of employers including Rolls Royce, Royal Mail and the Co-op in signing up to the Dying to Work Voluntary Charter.
Accord news release. TUC news release. TUC Dying to Work campaign and signatories. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Fatigued ambulance staff treated ‘like machines’
Sickness levels among overworked paramedics demonstrate how close the system in Wales is to breaking point, a union has warned. The GMB said staff were fatigued due to increasing workload, a lack of br eaks and working over their hours.
BBC News Online. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Union hits out at council over asbestos concerns
Union members have accused Aberdeen City Council of withholding information on asbestos risks in the city’s schools. The union statement is the latest development in a growing asbestos exposure scandal, that saw education authorities admit 25 people were allowed into Bridge of Don Academy after asbestos was disturbed during maintenance last month.
Evening Express. Mesothelioma deaths amongst school staff 1980-2016, JUAC, August 2018. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Civil service unions raise harassment concerns
Civil service unions in Scotland have said all workers must be safe from harassment at work. Unions PCS, Prospect and the FDA provided the statement to members employed by Scottish ministers, Scottish public bodies and in the Scottish parliament in the wake of media coverage of harassment allegations by two civil servants against former first minister Alex Salmond.
PCS news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Unions take their solidarity safety message to Salisbury
TUC South West is to host its health, safety and well-being conference in Salisbury “in a show of solidarity following recent chemical attacks in the city.” Announcing the on 3 September event, TUC regional secretary Nigel Costley said: “As we promote the benefits of good health and safety practices in workplaces, we have the opportunity to acknowledge all the brave workers in Salisbury who responded and dealt with the chemical attack to keep the city safe.”
TUC South West Health, Safety and Wellbeing Conference, Salisbury, 10:30am to 3:30pm, Monday 3 September 2018. Further details: TUC South West event page. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: ‘No evidence’ mental health first aid works says HSE
While there is growing enthusiasm and government support for mental health first aid (MHFA) in the workplace, there is ‘no evidence’ it actually leads to any improvements, a new ‘summary of the evidence’ by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has concluded. It noted: “There is consistent evidence that MHFA training raises employees’ awareness of mental ill health conditions. There is no evidence that the introduction of MHFA training in workplaces has resulted in sustained actions in those trained, or that it has improved the wider management of mental ill-health.”
HSE publication alert. RR1135 - Summary of the evidence on the effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training in the workplace, HSE, 2018. Hazards Campaign statement.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Nautilus welcomes windfarm vessel fatigue campaign
Seafarers’ union Nautilus is backing a new industry initiative to combat crew fatigue in the offshore energy support vessel (OESV) sector. Following a year of research, the National Workboat Association (NWA) has launched its campaign to tackle the problem “in direct response to widespread concerns about the occurrence of fatigue among workboat crew members.”
Nautilus news release. NWA news release. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Asbestos warning for Sea King helicopter staff
Thousands of engineers may have inhaled asbestos while working on Britain’s Sea King helicopters, the government has admitted. Defence chiefs have confirmed they had issued an alert to Royal Navy and RAF personnel who have maintained the Sea King since it entered service in 1969.
Mail on Sunday. The Express. BBC News Online. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Deadly exploding firm later exposed workers to asbestos
A wood processing company whose factory exploded killing four workers in 2015 has been fined after subsequent unsafe asbestos work was carried out at the premises in Macclesfield. Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 20 October 2016, in the aftermath of the large explosion at the Bosley site, Wood Treatment Ltd employees removed, cut, shaped and replaced asbestos cladding.
HSE news release. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: TUC health and safety inspections webinar, 3 October 2018
Should inspections be a core element of a health and safety reps’ work? What should the focus of an inspection be? Are your workplace inspection procedures working or is there room for improvement? Hugh Robertson, TUC's head of health and safety, is hosting a live webinar to discuss in detail how workplace inspections should be carried out.
Register for the TUC health and safety inspections webinar, 2:30pm, 3 October 2018.
TUC Education YouTube channel – see earlier health and safety webinars on workplace mapping, campaigning, sexual harassment, well-being in the workplace, occupational cancer and workplace stress. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Global: ILO accused of bad taste in partnering with McDonald’s
The UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) has been criticised by unions after welcoming ‘exploiter’ fast food giant McDonald’s as a partner in its Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth. In a 22 August news release that has since been removed from the ILO newsroom webpages, the ILO noted: “McDonald’s ties up with the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth,” adding: “Leading quick-service restaurant brand joins 43 partners who have pledged to reduce barriers to decent employment for youth while boosting access to decent work around the globe.”
IUF news release. Hazards Campaign news release.
ILO Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth and Decent Jobs for Youth partners. BFAWU McBurned campaign. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Australia: Truck drivers demand action on deadly risks
Truck drivers are demanding urgent action after a major study exposed the massive toll claimed by Australia’s deadliest job. Truck drivers are 13 times more likely to die at work than any other profession, while the long hours, social isolation, time pressure and lack of job control also make it one of the unhealthiest jobs, according to the Monash University study.
TWU safe rates news release. Full Monash University report and report highlights. ITF safe rates campaign factsheet. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

USA: Union clips Uber’s wings after taxi driver suicides
The New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance (NYTWA) has won a groundbreaking cap on new ride-hailing vehicles in the city and says other unions can learn from its victory. The new law followed six suicides by yellow cab and black car drivers forced into poverty by the over-supply of ride-hailing vehicles, as well as increased road congestion.
ITF news release.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists , January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist , Hazards, number 141, 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Japan: UN says Fukushima clean-up workers risk exploitation
Workers used to decontaminate the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan are at grave risk of exploitation, independent UN experts have warned. Tens of thousands, reportedly including migrants and homeless people, may be being deceived about the risks of exposure to radiation, according to the experts, who in August urged the Japanese government to act to protect them.
UN OHCHR news release. BBC News Online. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Hazards news, 25 August 2018

Britain: Police chiefs agree to act on sexual harassment
Police chiefs have pledged to act over high levels of sexual harassment among police staff identified in a report by UNISON, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Surrey. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said the report highlights some ‘outdated and unacceptable behaviour’.
UNISON news release. BBC News Online. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: Unite forces government admission on mislabelled danger tyres
A campaign by transport union Unite has confirmed that mislabelled and potentially deadly inferior tyres have been sold in the UK. Unite national officer for the rubber industry Tony Devlin said: “Awareness raising activities are all very well but if a company is deliberately ignoring the regulations and mislabelling tyres then there needs to be proper enforcement and prosecutions, as drivers’ lives are being placed in danger.”
Unite news release. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: RMT safety action was ‘rock solid’
Rail union RMT said its 18 August strike action in defence of ‘safety-critical’ train guards was rock solid. Commenting on the industrial action on the South Western Railway network, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the union was “angry and frustrated” that its efforts to reach an agreement had been “met with the same old tired response from the company that refuses to move the process on and address the fundamental issues.”
RMT news release. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: Time to ban zero hours contracts outright
Hundreds of thousands of workers are still trapped in jobs that are so insecure they can't plan childcare or budget for their weekly shop, latest official figures have confirmed. Government statistics released this month reveal the number of people working on zero hours contracts now stands at 780,000 - this is a drop of over 100,000 since February, but the bad news is that two-thirds of those on zero hours contracts (66 per cent) have been stuck on them for more than a year.
TUC blog. Sign the TUC ban zero hours contracts petition.
More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: Usdaw ups campaign for justice for injured workers
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has launched the latest phase of its campaign against government proposals that will restrict injured workers access to justice. Ministers want to push more cases through the small claims court in England and Wales, which would leave hundreds of thousands of workers without access to legal advice.
Usdaw news release and Justice for Injured Workers campaign. Morning Star. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: Unite calls for investigation into gas rig blacklisting threats
Offshore union Unite has called for an investigation into claims of blacklisting threats at one of the UK’s biggest gas fields. The union has had a “considerable number of reports” of threats of workers being NRBd – not required back – from members working for contractor Bilfinger Salamis on the Culzean platform.
Unite news release. Energy Voice. Evening Express. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: Gig economy drivers at heightened risk of traffic collisions
The pressures that come with being a self-employed courier or taxi driver may increase significantly the risk of being involved in a collision, a University College London (UCL) study has found. Over two in five (42 per cent) drivers and riders reported that their vehicle had been damaged as a result of a collision while working, with a further one in ten reporting that someone had been injured.
UCL news release. GMB news release.
Nicola Christie and Heather Ward. 'The emerging issues for management of occupational road risk in a changing economy: A survey of gig economy drivers, riders and their managers, UCL Centre for Transport Studies, 20 August 2018.
Fleet News. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: Private operator G4S loses control of Birmingham Prison
Prison unions have said the decision by the government to take over running of Birmingham Prison from private company G4S ilustrates how a combination of privatisation and underfunding has put the safety of inmates and prison staff at risk. The decision to remove the prison from G4S’ control came after the chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke described it as the worst prison he had ever been to.
BBC News Online. POA news release. Community news release. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: Nurse killed herself after being bullied at work
A nurse killed herself after being ‘bullied’ at work, an inquest has heard. Rhian Collins, 30, was verbally abused by staff at Swansea's Cefn Coed Hospital who made her life “very difficult”, the court was told.
Wales Online. BBC News Online. The Sun. Daily Mail.
Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist, Hazards, number 141, 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: Union condemns ‘catastrophic failure’ on school asbestos
Staff including teachers, janitors, cleaners and other workers who were on Aberdeen’s Bridge of Don Academy premises were left at risk of asbestos exposure in the days following an incident where the cancer-causing substances was disturbed in July.
The Herald. BBC News Online. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Global: UK prof defends cancer agency against industry attack
A leading UK public health expert has defended a major UN agency that he says has been ‘vilified’ by industry lobbyists after it determined the pesticide glyphosate to be ‘probably carcinogenic’. Commenting on the well-resourced, high level industry attack on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Neil Pearce, a medical statistics professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), said we “need independent scientific bodies such as IARC which can review the scientific evidence objectively, and without conflicts of interest, even if this leads to conclusions that some may find inconvenient.”
LSHTM expert opinion. ITUC/Hazards cancer hazards blog. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: Forge company fined after worker killed
Hot metal forging company Abbey Forged Products Ltd has been sentenced for a criminal safety offence following the death of a worker. Sheffield Crown Court heard how, on 17 July 2015, Billy Fairweather, 35, was in a team of four tasked with hammering down pieces of hard alloy when the piece he was working on misaligned and was ejected, throwing him backwards leading to fatal injuries.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Britain: Firm fined after over 100 develop vibration disease
Nordam Europe Limited has been fined after workers faced over two decades of dangerous exposures to vibration at work. Cardiff Crown Court heard how around 100 employees of the company, which maintains and repairs aircraft components, were exposed and developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) over 22 years.
HSE news release. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Pakistan: Another deadly coal mine tragedy
A total of 19 workers have been killed after an explosion at the Sanjidi coalmine near Quetta in Baluchistan province, Pakistan. The dead in the 12 August incident were 13 coal miners and six rescue workers.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Qatar: Nepalese worker killed at World Cup stadium site
A Nepalese worker has died working on the construction of a stadium for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The country’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said in a statement that the 23-year-old worker died on 14 August at the Al Wakrah Stadium project site.
BWI statement. ESPN News. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

USA: Texas firefighters with cancer often denied compensation
Many Texas cities are denying workers’ compensation to firefighters with cancer, according to union leaders and state lawmakers. Over the past six years, more than 90 per cent of the 117 workers’ compensation claims filed by Texas firefighters with cancer have been denied, according to the Texas Department of Insurance, despite a 2005 state law requiring the government to presume that firefighters' cancers are caused by exposure to carcinogens on the job.
Houston Chronicle. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

USA: Lung Transplants on the rise for miners’ disease
The number and rate of lung transplants for black lung disease in the US is increasing, according to new research. A study by the US government’s occupational health research institute NIOSH reflects the rising prevalence of black lung disease among coal miners in the coal belt.
David J. Blackley, Cara N Halldin and A Scott Laney. Continued increase in lung transplantation for Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis in the United States, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, volume 61, issue 7, pages 621-624, 2018. Inside NIOSH, volume 4, number 2, August 2018. Risks 863. 25 August 2018

Hazards news, 18 August 2018

Britain: More fires and more fire deaths, but firefighter cuts continue
Firefighters dealt with more incidents, more fires and saw more fire deaths last year than for most of the last decade in England, yet the government continues to starve fire authorities of the central funding necessary to keep the public safe, the firefighters’ union FBU has warned.
FBU news release. Morning Star. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: Community launches commission on workers and technology
A new union-backed Commission on Workers and Technology chaired by Labour MP Yvette Cooper has been tasked with identifying the immediate actions that government, employers and trade unions need to take to support workers as technology impacts on jobs during the next 10 years. The two-year commission organised by the Changing Work Centre – a joint research initiative from Community and the Fabian Society – will identify the immediate actions that government, employers and trade unions need to take to support workers as technology impacts on jobs during the next 10 years.
Community news release and call for evidence. Commission on Workers and Technology. Changing Work Centre. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Global: Ford to put line workers in mechanical exoskeletons
Ford has announced it is introducing mechanical ‘exoskeletons’ to be worn by 75 workers in 15 of its factories. The devices, called EksoVests, wrap around the upper body and are intended to assist when lifting or reaching overhead. Ford said it hoped the suits will reduce fatigue and the number of injuries from repetitive motion, with the company noting: “Imagine lifting a bag of flour or a watermelon over your head up to 4,600 times a day as part of your job – that is similar to what some Ford employees do every day as they work to build vehicles around the world.”
Ford news release. BBC News Online. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: Exam changes have hurt teachers and pupils
Changes to this year’s GCSEs and A-levels have damaged students’ mental health and increased teacher workload, according to a snap-shot poll by the National Education Union (NEU). Nansi Ellis, NEU assistant general secretary for policy, said: “Not allowing schools to sufficiently prepare has put staff and students under tremendous pressure and stress,” adding: “The government needs to learn from this and make sure that teachers and students are given the support they need.”
NEU news release. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: Crawley council backs local construction workers
Crawley council has become the latest to give its backing to a Unite Construction Charter that seeks to ensure that conditions for workers on construction projects under local authority control meet the highest standards. Crawley council leader Peter Lamb said: “Everyone has the right to a safe working environment and the conditions set out in Unite's Construction Charter should ensure construction workers are treated fairly and safely on council projects,” adding: “I don't see this as setting an example, it's really the least that any employer should do.”
Unite news release. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: Union to assist those affected by deadly Chemring explosion
Unite is providing support to those affected by the explosion and fire at the Chemring Countermeasures plant near Salisbury in which a 29-year-old worker was killed and a second worker was seriously injured. Chemring shares tumbled more than 20 per cent as the firm admitted that its full-year underlying operating profit could be up to £20 million lower than expected as a result of the explosion, with a “corresponding impact on the group’s operating cash flow and net debt.”
Wiltshire Police news release. Chemring news release. Morning Star. Daily Echo. BBC News Online. Daily Mail. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: GMB warning on dangerous hospital shifts proposal
Royal Berkshire Hospital is being urged to withdraw proposals for ‘dangerous’ new shift patterns for overworked accident and emergency (A&E) staff. “If these staff are forced to do pointlessly long shifts at all hours of the day and night, they may be too tired to cope with the constant stress and demands of their front line role in A&E,” said GMB Southern Region.
GMB news release. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: Nurse who set himself on fire was 'treated unfairly'
A nurse who burnt himself to death outside Kensington Palace after losing his job had been “treated unfairly”, an independent report has found. Amin Abdullah, 41, died in February 2016, weeks after being sacked by email from Charing Cross Hospital following a misconduct case.
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and full independent report. The Independent. Personnel Today.
Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: Mental ill-health at work increasing but firms ‘turn a blind eye’
Almost 30 per cent of businesses have seen an increase in the number of staff taking time off for mental health reasons but too many firms are still turning a blind eye, a business group has warned. Research conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce and the insurer Aviva found one in three (33 per cent) business leaders have also noticed an increase in the length of time that staff are taking off due to mental health issues.
BCC news release. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: Unproven well-being schemes can’t replace good management
Well-being at work initiatives are becoming increasingly popular with employers, but what works is based more on guesswork than evidence, new research has found. The study by RAND Europe also warned that well-being initiatives should not substitute for better management of work.
RAND Europe news release and full report, Promising practices for health and wellbeing at work: A review of the evidence landscape, July 2018.
Forthcoming TUC guide: Your Health at Work: an indispensable guide to physical and mental well-being, TUC, release date 3September 2018. Order form. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: Vaping disables the lung’s defence system, study finds
E-cigarette users could be at risk of chronic lung disease, a new research suggests. A study by Birmingham University researchers found the nicotine infused liquids used in e-cigarettes become much more potent cell killers when vaporised, and can disable the lung’s defence mechanisms.
Birmingham University news release. BMJ/Thorax news release and podcast. Aaron Scott and others. Pro-inflammatory effects of e-cigarette vapour condensate on human alveolar macrophages, Thorax, Online first, 13 August 2013. doi 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2018-211663. The Independent. BBC News Online. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: Under pressure rail workers avoid speeding train by a second
A group of subcontract railway workers who narrowly avoided being hit by a high-speed train in Nottinghamshire were under pressure to work in an unsafe way, an official report into the incident has concluded. Simon French, chief inspector of rail accidents, said: “We have seen this sort of unsafe behaviour before, where the wish to get the work done quickly overrides common sense and self-preservation.” He said as a consequence RAIB was “recommending that Network Rail looks again at how it monitors and manages the safety leadership exercised by its staff, and how they interact with contractors.”
RAIB news release. Nottingham Post. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: Tesco fined after cage falls off lorry and on employee
Supermarket giant Tesco has been fined £160,000 after a cage of goods fell out of a lorry and onto a staff member. The worker from the Chadwell St Mary Tesco branch was seriously injured in the incident, sustaining a fractured pelvis.
Thurrock Council news release. Braintree and Witham Times. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

USA: Monsanto found guilty of concealing glyphosate risks
A California jury has found Monsanto guilty of concealing the dangers of glyphosate, the world's most widely-applied herbicide, and awarded a terminally ill schools groundskeeper total damages of US$289 million. The unprecedented 10 August verdict delivered by the San Francisco, California jury in favour of Dewayne Johnson, 46, will weigh heavily on the more than 4,000 similar cases already lodged in the US alleging a glyphosate link to the blood cancer non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
IUF news release. Democracy Now. Workweek Radio podcast. US Right to Know statement. The Monsanto Papers. The Guardian. Bloomberg News. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Italy: Migrant farm workers strike after 16 road deaths
African migrant labourers went on strike in Italy in protest at poor working conditions, after 16 workers died in two separate road crashes. Shouting “we are not slaves”, farm workers downed tools and marched on the city of Foggia in southern Italy.
BBC News Online. Al Jazeera. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

USA: Work injuries are fuelling opioid addiction epidemic
People injured at work are becoming victims of opioid addiction because of the failure of the US system to address work injuries, treatment and rehabilitation effectively. Workers suffering from painful injuries often have few options, the grassroots Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) has warned, noting: “inadequate workers compensation systems and the fear of losing their job leads people to return to work before they are healed and to work in pain, depending on painkillers to get through their day, leading to addiction and overdose.”
Workers Compensation Hub newsletter, Summer 2018. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Risks 861, 11 August 2018

Britain: Usdaw ‘extremely concerned’ as shopworkers told to make arrests
Retail union Usdaw has said it is ‘extremely concerned’ by news some police forces are advising shopworkers to detain shoplifters by using a citizen’s arrest. The union said the ‘worrying’ idea is neither safe nor practical.
Usdaw news release. Daily Mail.Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: Bin worker deaths up, respect down
Britain’s refuse workers should be treated with respect but are instead facing a sharp increase in fatal injuries while doing their essential job, the union GMB has said. Pointing to official figures showing a large rise in refuse worker deaths, the union said refuse workers report 1,000 instances of dangerous driving every day that place their lives in jeopardy, when they’re “just trying to do their jobs”.
GMB news release. CIWM Journal. More on the hazards of low paid work. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: Long hours on sets leads to dangerous ‘drowsy driving’
Film and theatre craft union BECTU is asking workers in film and TV to make their views known about the dangers of driving to and from work on long hours productions. The union is highlighting the issue of ‘drowsy driving’ as part of its Eyes Half Shut campaign.
BECTU news release and Eyes Half Shut campaign. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: RMT exposes ‘catalogue’ of SWR safety abuses during rail strike
Rail union RMT has accused South Western Railway of ‘potentially lethal’ safety failures during recent strike days. In a letter to the safety regulator ORR, the union sets out “a catalogue of fundamental and dangerous safety abuses throughout the recent strike days as a result of the company paying volunteers to act up as guards regardless of the risks to the travelling public.”
RMT news release. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: Government warned driver trains ‘toxic’ for disabled
The government’s own advisers warned two years ago of the ‘toxic’ and potentially illegal impact driver-only trains would have on disabled and older people, rail union RMT has revealed. In a 2016 letter obtained in a response to a freedom of information request from the Association of British Commuters, the chair of the government’s own Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) issued a clear warning to Peter Wilkinson, the Department for Transport’s managing director of passenger services.
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: Government cuts blamed for increased fire deaths
Firefighters are warning that homes are at far higher risk from fire because of budget cuts. Speaking to the Morning Star, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack said: “We simply do not have enough firefighters left to keep people safe.”
Morning Star. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: Yoga will not fix the NHS stress crisis, staff say
Stressed out hospital staff say they need system change and leadership support, not resilience training, to protect their health. In interviews with NHS staff in Bristol, journalist Hannah Vickers found ‘resilience programmes’ involving mindfulness, yoga, wellness and other noticeboard offerings, were even appearing more in personal specifications for jobs in NHS leadership roles.
Hannah Vickers, The Bristol Cable, 1 August 2018.
Hugh Robertson, Tough luck: Resilience - a case of pointing the finger and missing the point,, Hazards, Number 123, 2013. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: British Coal coke oven worker gets lung disease payout
A court judgment in a group action brought on behalf of 260 British Coal coke oven workers and their families, has seen another former miner awarded compensation, opening the way for many more settlements. Workers who contracted respiratory diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and lung cancer, as well as skin cancer, they believe were caused by exposure to harmful fumes at coking plants in England and Wales are seeking compensation.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release. Hugh James Solicitors news release. Devereux Chambers statement. Background: Relative risk - In the courts, it is relatively easy to evade work cancer justice, Hazards online report, June 2015. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: Shell UK fined after technician severely injured by cylinder
Shell UK Limited has been fined for a criminal health and safety offeces after a technician was struck by a cylinder and left severely injured on the Brent Delta offshore installation. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to take suitable and sufficient steps to ensure risks associated with handling of pressurised cylinders were eliminated.
HSE news release. Press and Journal. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: Construction firm and director fined after ignoring warnings
A company and its director that ignored an official order to stop dangerous work have both been fined. Southwark Crown Court heard how, on 31 March 2016, Awad (UK) Ltd, under the control of its director Andrzej Wilk, was issued with a prohibition notice on a site where it was found there was a serious risk of falls from the unprotected edges.
HSE news release. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: Two staff at children’s clothing firm broke their backs
A children's clothing company has been fined £29,800 plus costs of £10,032 after two staff fell and broke their backs at the firm’s Manchester warehouse within months of each other. Ardwick-based Roco Clothing Limited pleaded guilty to criminal health and safety failures following an investigation by Manchester council.
Manchester Evening News. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Europe: Union resolution calls for new stress rules
Unions in Europe are demanding new legal protection from workplace stress and ‘psychosocial risks’ (PSR). The call comes in a resolution from the Europe-wide trade union confederation ETUC.
ETUC news report and Resolution on action for combatting stress. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Japan: Monday mornings off suggestion to address overwork crisis
Japan’s government is to urge companies to give employees some Monday mornings off work in its latest attempt to improve the country’s overwork crisis. The economy, trade and industry ministry’s ‘Shining Mondays’ plan will help address the punishingly long hours many Japanese are expected to work, although similar voluntary schemes aimed at reducing people’s workload have been largely unsuccessful.
The Guardian. The Telegraph. New Zealand Herald. More on work-related suicide. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

USA: More evidence of ‘the union advantage’ on work safety
In the wake of Harvard university research that this year found US states introducing anti-union right-to-work laws had considerably higher fatality rates, more evidence of the union protective effect is emerging. Terry O'Sullivan, general president of the construction labourers’ union LIUNA, said the Harvard study “isn’t the only new research showing the union advantage when it comes to worker safety and health”, pointing to the findings of a recent survey of more than 3,000 union and non-union construction firms by the CPWR (the Center for Construction Research and Training).
Laborers Health and Safety Fund newsletter, August 2018.
Michael Zoorob. Does ‘right to work’ imperil the right to health? The effect of labour unions on workplace fatalities, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published Online First: 13 June 2018. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2017-104747
Hazards pin-up-at-work poster: Unions make work safer: Fighting for your life at work. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Hazards news, 4 August 2018

Britain: Unions welcome call by MPs for work temperature ceiling
Unions have welcomed a call by MPs for a maximum workplace temperature. The recommendation from the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) is included in its new report, ‘Heatwaves: adapting to climate change’ which warns of 7,000 heat-related deaths every year in the UK by 2050 if the government doesn't act quickly.
TUC news release, guide to working in heat and blog on the case for a maximum workplace temperature. Heatwaves: adapting to climate change, Environmental Audit Committee, 26 July 2018 – news release and full report.
GMB news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Budweiser sacks safety rep for raising safety concerns
GMB has said its members at brewery giant Budweiser could take industrial action after a senior safety rep fired for raising safety concerns. Paul Morley, the site’s senior health and safety rep, had raised concerns over the safety implications of a management initiative to speed up the brewing process.
GMB news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Beer Today. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: New jobs cull has made newspaper ‘unsafe for staff’
Management at Newsquest’s Northern Echo, which faces the loss of eight further posts, has been warned the cuts could result in a criminal breach of safety law, leaving the remaining staff unsafe at work. The latest cuts, and failure to fill a vacancy, represent a fifth (21 per cent) of the staff who produce the flagship Northern Echo and Darlington and Stockton Times, Durham Times and Advertiser Series.
NUJ news release. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Millions missing out on legal holiday entitlement, warns TUC
A new TUC analysis has revealed that 1 in 12 UK workers are not getting their legal holiday entitlement. The analysis estimates that 2.2 million employees are not getting the minimum paid leave entitlement to which they are entitled under a workplace safety law.
TUC news release and blog. Personnel Today. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Union raises mental health concerns in BT
Communications union CWU has started talks with BT aimed at improving the company’s approach to mental health at work. The union said it made the move after delegates at CWU’s annual conference highlighted difficulties workers with mental health problems have experienced getting the assistance and understanding they need from managers.
CWU news release. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Pilots call for government to strengthen ‘unsafe’ drone law
Pilots are urging the government to strengthen new drone laws, saying the restrictions introduced this week don’t go far enough to eliminate the threat of a serious collision.   The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) said it is pleased the government has listened to its calls to tighten laws on drones, but says they need to go much further to make the use of drones near airports safe.
BALPA news release. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Unions call for action on prison staff safety
Unions representing prison officers have called for government action after new figures revealed an alarming rise in prison violence. The latest Ministry of Justice ‘Safety in Custody’ report, released last week, shows assaults on staff are up 26 per cent on the previous year, while serious assaults on staff are up 11 per cent.
Community news release. POA news release. Morning Star. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Heavy toll of injury suffered by abattoir workers
The human cost of Britain’s meat consumption is revealed by shocking figures which show that at least two abattoir workers suffer serious injuries each week and amputations are inflicted at a rate of more than one per month. Data obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) and the ‘i’ newspaper show that employees in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants are subjected to some of the most dangerous working conditions in the United Kingdom, with 100 workers suffering major injuries in a single year.
Bureau of Investigative Journalism report. i News. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: We are still sick, just not off sick anymore
The average number of sick days taken fell to an all-time low last year, however workplace experts have warned “unhealthy” working practices such as presenteeism are distorting the picture. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed that employees took an average of 4.1 days off sick in 2017 – almost half the 7.2 days taken in 1993, when records began.
ONS release. Personnel Today. The Independent. The Daily Mail. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Asbestos giant fails in latest bid to keep deadly secrets
The Court of Appeal has ruled that a prominent asbestos victims’ advocate should be given copies of key documents that could reveal what an asbestos industry giant really knew about the risks posed by its deadly product. The latest ruling in favour of Graham Dring, on behalf of the Asbestos Victims Support Group Forum UK, requires Cape Intermediate Holdings Limited, a global manufacturer of asbestos products, to hand over documents used in a trial in which Cape was a defendant.
Leigh Day news release. Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Manslaughter jail terms could rise – but critics unimpressed
Employers, carers and organisations convicted of gross negligence manslaughter could face longer prison terms after changes to sentencing guidelines – although workplace safety experts have questioned whether deadly employers really have any real cause for additional concern. Steve Tombs, professor of criminology at The Open University, said “the Sentencing Council’s mention of workplace death is at best a red herring, at worst an ideological con trick, a smoke and mirrors claim that companies which kill are at risk of a corporate manslaughter conviction.”
Sentencing Council news release and new guidelines. The Guardian. Brave New Europe. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Golf club guilty after worker found dead near 14th hole
Hinckley Golf Club has been convicted on criminal safety charges relating to the death of a course manager. Douglas Johnstone, who was known as Dougie, suffered a fatal brain injury when the branch of an already collapsed poplar tree, blown over in a storm, struck him on the head while he was using a chainsaw without a safety helmet.
Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council news release. Leicester Mercury. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Transport fined after worker killed by reversing lorry
A haulage company has been fined £150,000 after worker was crushed to death by a reversing lorry following a series of health and safety blunders. Kevin Scott died while acting as an untrained banksman at Tooles Transport yard in Rushock Trading Estate, Droitwich.
HSE news release. Halesowen News. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Firm fined over spray booth explosion deaths
A company has been fined after an explosion and fire in a paint-spraying booth killed two of its workers. Barry Joy, 56 and Daniel Timbers, 28, were killed at Harford Attachments, Norwich in July 2015. Nick Timbers, father of Daniel, said after sentencing “there has been no justice” for his son or Mr Joy, adding: “We are disgusted. The fine is miniscule. How can you put a price of £145,000 on two lives?”
HSE news release. Norwich Evening News. BBC News Online. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Global: Union warning on superbugs in the workplace
Global food and farming union IUF has issued new guidance on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) at work and says the problem must be “recognised as a workplace hazard”. The union body says the development of 'superbugs' resistant to antibiotic treatment has emerged as a major global threat to public health, killing hundreds of thousands of people annually, “Yet worker health and safety has been almost completely ignored in the global fight against AMR.”
IUF news release and guide, Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) - A Workplace Hazard. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Australia: Worker bullied by boss took her own life
Veteran social worker Paula Schubert, 53, was ‘teased, bullied and humiliated’ by her manager in front of her colleagues in the lead up to her suicide, an Australian inquest has heard. Coroner Greg Cavanagh said the conduct of her boss, Patricia Butler, in the weeks before her death was “in short... shocking”.
NT coroner’s findings. ABC News. Daily Mail. The Australian. More on work-related suicides. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Global: Truck drivers are overworked, underpaid and at risk
Economic pressure is pushing commercial drivers to work extremely long hours, contributing significantly to truck crashes, a top researcher has warned. Michael Belzer, an associate professor of economics and transportation expert at Wayne State University in the US maintains long working hours and intense economic pressure are important to everyday motorists, “because the truck driver’s workplace is everyone’s roadway. Trucking casualties claim not only the lives of truck drivers, but a significant number of other roadway users – pedestrians, bicyclists, and automobile drivers and passengers.”
The Conversation. More on low pay is an occupational hazard. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Korea: Workers told to ‘go home’ as stress takes its toll
While Japan famously brought the world the concept of karoshi, or death from overwork, South Koreans work longer hours, according to labour data. The South Korean police say work pressure plays a role in more than 500 suicides in the country each year, out of a national total of about 14,000.
New York Times. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Hazards news, 28 July 2018

Britain: TUC urges bosses to keep workplaces cool
As soaring temperatures prompted the Met Office to issue a heat health warning this week, the TUC has called on employers to keep indoor workplaces cool and relax dress codes so staff can work as comfortably as possible. The union body says bosses can help their workers through simple measures.
TUC blog. TUC news release and guide to working in heat. Met Office heat health watch. BBC News Online and 10 hottest uniforms story. London Evening Standard. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: McBurned workers have got a beef with McDonald’s
A successful BFAWU organising campaign last year at McDonald’s is now targeting safety problems at the burger chain. Ian Hodson, national president of BFAWU said: “Members working in the fast food industry have increasingly been raising concerns about workplace burns and we’re taking the issue seriously with support from Thompsons Solicitors,” adding: “We will not stand by while our members get #McBurned.”
BFAWU news release and McBurned campaign. Thompsons Solicitors claims factsheet. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Union concerns over toxic foam on film sets
Film and theatre crafts union BECTU is in talks with safety specialists about potential life-threatening health risks from a foam product used by film set construction workers. The union is responding to concerns raised by members about the short and long term effects of inhaling chemicals from polyurethane foams that contain diisocyanates, a group of chemicals that are a recognised and potent cause of occupational asthma.
BECTU news release. Related information: Risk of isocyanate exposure in the construction industry, CPWR technical report, 2010. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Unite concern at Aberdeen school asbestos exposures
Warnings from union safety reps went unheeded before asbestos was disturbed at an Aberdeen school, Unite has said. Concerns have been raised that workers may have exposed to the carcinogenic fibre at Bridge of Don Academy during holiday maintenance work.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. STV News. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Rail unions tell minister to halt Scottish police merger
The UK's three largest railway unions have united to tell Scotland’s new transport minister to dump ‘downright dangerous’ plans to merge the British Transport Police (BTP) with Police Scotland. The RMT, TSSA and ASLEF joined Labour in calling on SNP minister Michael Matheson to re-think the proposal and come back to the negotiation table.
RMT news release. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Shopworkers press for protection from offensive weapons
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has given evidence to the parliamentary public bill committee scrutinising the Offensive Weapons Bill. The union is calling for amendments to the Bill that will make it an offence to attempt to purchase corrosive substances and knives underage or to intimidate or assault a worker enforcing the law on age restricted sales.
Usdaw news release. Offensive Weapons Bill. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Mental health workers 'facing rising tide of assaults'
New figures showing that Scotland’s mental health workers face a rising tide of assaults are “just the tip of the iceberg,” a union has warned. There were 8,519 incidents resulting in injury in the country’s mental health facilities in 2017/18 – equating to almost one an hour.
Morning Star. The Herald. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Student performers are being abused
Joint research by the Musicians’ Union (MU), Equity and the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has revealed one in two music, dance and drama students are at risk from bullying and discrimination, including sexual harassment. Out of the 600 students who responded to the survey, just over half said they had experienced some sort of incident in the course of their study, with over 50 per cent of those affected choosing not to report their concerns.
Musicians Union news release. Dignity in study report. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Firms must be forced to tackle sexual harassment, says MPs
Businesses, government and regulators are failing to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace, MPs have found. The parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee has published a five-point plan to deal with the problem and has called for new laws to protect workers.
Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee news release and 25 July 2018 report. TUC news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Huffpost. The Independent.
TUC Know Your Rights leaflet about sexual harassment and guide for union reps. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Unions welcome code of behaviour for parliament
Unions representing journalists, parliamentary staff and civil servants have welcomed a new code of behaviour for parliament prepared by a cross-party working group. The group, which proposes the creation of a new independent complaints and grievance procedure, was set up in November 2017 to create a grievance process.
House of Commons news release. NUJ news release. Prospect news release. Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Call for Barclays to pay victims of work sex assault doctor
Barclays is under pressure to provide quick compensation to 126 former employees who say they were sexually assaulted by a doctor hired by the bank. The bank lost a legal bid to escape liability for the claims in the Court of Appeal.
Financial Mail on Sunday. BBC News Online. Newcastle Chronicle. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Study shows need for mental health policies at work
The provision of managerial support and help for employees with depression is linked to lower rates of workplace absenteeism, an international study has found. Findings published in the online journal BMJ Open bolster the case for active workplace policies on mental health, say researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE).
LSE news release. Sara Evans-Lacko and Martin Knapp. Is manager support related to workplace productivity for people with depression? A secondary analysis of a cross-sectional survey from 15 countries, BMJ Open, 23 July 2018. doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-021795
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. Mental problems, Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, Number 141, 2018. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Contractor, client and director sentenced over site dangers
A contractor, client and director have been sentenced for criminal safety offences after conditions on a building site were found to be dangerous. The contractor, Daniel Bodnariu was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, 250 hours of community service, and ordered to pay costs of £1,000; WEL Estates Limited was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000; and WEL Estates director Yoel Lew was sentenced to 200 hours of community service.
HSE news release. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Developer jailed after building collapse chaos
A Manchester-based property developer has been jailed for eight months after the roof and part of the rear wall collapsed at one of his buildings during demolition works. Manchester Crown Court heard how Riaz Ahmad appointed a group of workers who had no experience in construction to carry out demolition work at a property in Oldham.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Oldham Evening Chronicle. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Australia: 'Learn from asbestos' warning over silicosis risks
Stonemasons who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening lung disease are coming forward to call for regulation around dangerous workplace practices. At least six masons who have worked on dry-cutting artificial stone benchtops have been diagnosed with silicosis, an irreversible condition created by breathing in tiny particles of silica dust.
Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Korea: Samsung finally agrees diseases compensation arbitration
After years of pressure, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has finally agreed to a binding arbitration framework that calls on the multinational corporation to fully compensate victims of its occupational disease cluster. On 21 July, Samsung said it would act unconditionally on an arbitration proposal expected from a mediation committee in October.
SHARPS news report. Hankyoreh. Kyunghyang. JTBC TV. Hong Kong Standard. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

USA: Cancer-stricken worker puts Monsanto on trial
A worker stricken with a life-threatening cancer he believes was caused by his regular use of the pesticide glyphosate is taking its manufacturer, Monsanto, to court. Dewayne Johnson, a former school groundskeeper whose doctors believe may have little time to live, began his job in 2012 and in 2014 was diagnosed with the rare blood cancer Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).
IUF editorial. US Right to Know news release. US Right to Know: The Monsanto Papers. The Guardian. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

USA: Black lung hits a 25-year high in coal belt
One in five working US coal miners in central Appalachia who have worked at least 25 years now suffer from the coal miners' disease, black lung. In addition to the heightened rates of disease, the study found that the most severe form of disease – progressive massive fibrosis – now occurs in 5 per cent of veteran miners in the region, the highest rate ever recorded.
NPR News and black lung special series.
DJ Blackley, CN Halldin and AS Laney. Continued increase in prevalence of Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis in the United States, 1970–2017, American Journal of Public Health, 19 July 2018: e1-e3. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304517. Published online ahead of print. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Hazards news, 21 July 2018

Britain: TUC concern over council safety enforcement crisis
The government must recognise that enforcing strong safety regulations is a positive, protective thing to do, and not a cost to be cut, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting after a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Occupational Safety and Health found the number of health and safety inspectors employed by local authorities has almost halved since 2010, with inspections and enforcement action plummeting as a result.
TUC blog. Jo Stevens MP news release and APPG on Occupational Safety and Health report. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Britain: Government slammed over moves to deny injured workers
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has expressed dismay at the government’s determination to restrict access to justice for injured workers by pushing more cases through the small claims court. The union was commenting after justice minister Rory Stewart, responding to a Labour charge that the changes would rob injured workers of essential legal support, told MPs: “The entire purpose of the small claims court is to make sure that minor injuries are dealt with without lawyers.”
Usdaw news release. Justice questions, Hansard, 10 July 2018. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Britain: Job agencies advertise ‘lethal’ 15-hour day site jobs
Unite is calling on the Scottish government to launch an immediate investigation in the wake of revelations that employment agencies have been advertising for workers to operate for a potentially ‘lethal’ 15 hours a day or 80 hours a week on the highly troubled Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR). Unite regional co-ordinating officer Steve Dillon said: “The latest revelations about the Aberdeen bypass project are disgusting, such long hours are lethal.”
Unite news release. Construction News. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Britain: Eurostar strike warning over ‘dangerous’ conditions
Eurostar staff based at London’s St Pancras station have announced they will go on strike over the “shocking and dangerous” working conditions they face due to repeated service failures and breakdowns. The union said the international terminal at St Pancras has been reduced to “chaos”, with staff bearing the brunt of public anger over delays to services.
RMT news release. London Evening Standard. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Britain: Store staff turn to union after spy cameras shock
Staff at a Glasgow health food store have gone on strike and joined a union after discovering secret cameras in rooms where staff changed, just four weeks after opening. Workers at Harvest Stores, some under 18, were horrified and alerted police after findings the lenses hidden in a network modem and air detector.
Glasgow Evening Times. Better than Zero campaign. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Britain: New FBU ‘red plaque’ honours fallen Scottish firefighter
Firefighters’ union FBU has erected a red plaque in memory of firefighter Ewan Williamson, who died while tackling a fire in Edinburgh in 2009. FBU’s red plaque scheme aims to honour firefighters killed in the line of duty and is funded from proceeds of the union’s Firefighters 100 Lottery.
FBU news release. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Global: Health warning after ‘dramatic decline’ in work cancer studies
As evidence shows occupational exposures are responsible for a substantial proportion of many cancers, studies to identify the groups at risk and the substances causing problems are drying up, top occupational cancer experts have warned. Four papers in the August 2018 issue of the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine highlight a problem that could ‘stall’ efforts to reduce the burden of occupational cancer.
Work cancer hazards blog.
Aaron Blair and Lin Fritschi. Are we doing enough to identify and prioritise occupational carcinogens? Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 75, issue 8, pages 543-544, 2018. doi:10.1136/oemed-2018-105189
Claire Marant Micallef and others. Occupational exposures and cancer: a review of agents and relative risk estimates, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 75, issue 8, pages 604-614, 2018. doi:10.1136/oemed-2017-104858
Dana Loomis and others. Identifying occupational carcinogens: an update from the IARC Monographs, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 75, issue 8, pages 593-603, 2018. doi:10.1136/oemed-2017-104944
James K H Jung and others. Examining lung cancer risks across different industries and occupations in Ontario, Canada: the establishment of the Occupational Disease Surveillance System, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 75, issue 8, pages 545-552, 2018. doi:10.1136/oemed-2017-104926 Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Global: Fashion industry shows it can cut hazardous chemicals
A group of 80 fashion companies who made a commitment to cut hazardous chemicals from their clothing production by 2020 have all achieved ‘significant progress’, according to a Greenpeace report. “While we are extremely happy to see the progress of Detox companies towards cleaning up their supply chains, 85 per cent of the textile industry is still not doing enough to eliminate hazardous chemicals and improve factory working conditions,” said Kirsten Brodde, Greenpeace Germany project lead for the Detox-my-Fashion campaign.
Greenpeace news release, Destination Zero: seven years of Detoxing the clothing industry report and Detox-my-Fashion campaign. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Britain: Trio of defunct firm’s directors pay for asbestos failures
Three directors of a now-liquidated waste management company have been sentenced after a series of “appalling” criminal safety and environmental failures, exposing the public and the environment to asbestos. George Thomas Talbot was disqualified as a director for a period of seven years and was fined £46,500 after pleaded guilty to a series of criminal safety and environmental offences; his son Anthony Thomas Talbot was disqualified as a director for a period of four years and fined £4,800 and another son, Stephen, was fined £6,000.
HSE news release. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Britain: Manchester firm fined after workers fall from height
A Manchester-based principal contractor has been sentenced for criminal safety offences after two workers fell when working at height. PJ Livesey Living Space (North) Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £56,000 and ordered to pay £7,262.16 costs.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Britain: Roofing firm fined after worker plunges six metres
A Scunthorpe-based roofing contractor has been fined for criminal safety breaches after a worker suffered serious injuries in a fall through a fragile roof. Broadley Roofing Limited pleaded guilty to two criminal breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £53,000 and ordered to pay £2,465.15 in costs.
HSE news release and roofwork webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Global: Russian asbestos exports display Trump seal of approval
The US president’s long-time love affair with asbestos has garnered a literal stamp of approval from a Russian mining company. Uralasbest, one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of asbestos, has taken to adorning pallets of its product with a seal of Trump’s face, along with the words “Approved by Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States.”
Uralasbest facebook page. EWG/ADAO news release. Leigh Day news release. The Guardian. Washington Post. Video: Donald Trump extolling the virtues of asbestos, MSNBC. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

India: Occupational suicides a developing problem
Poor working conditions and pay have been linked to a spate of suicides hitting a range of industries across India. Earlier this year it was revealed that desperate textiles and farm workers were taking their own lives; now diamond workers polishing gems supplied by major multinationals can be added to the suicide death roll.
Thomson Reuters Foundation. More on work-related suicide. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Turkey: Court gives mine ‘massacre’ bosses long sentences
A local penal court in Turkey has handed down lengthy prison sentences to the former management of the deadly Soma mine, where 301 mineworkers were killed in May 2014. Families of the victims, civil society and trade unions are angry that the suspects were charged with negligence, rather than murder, which had originally been requested by prosecutors when the trial began in April 2015.
IndustriALL news release and earlier release on the mine ‘death trap’ report. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

USA: Musk to Tesla workers - give up the union or else!
Tesla boss Elon Musk promised to address workers’ safety concerns, so long as they refrained from trying to organise a union, the National Labor Relations Board has charged. Musk’s tactic came to light as a trial got underway over a complaint filed against Tesla by the NLRB, the government agency tasked with enforcing US labour laws.
Confined Space blog. Jalopnik.com. CNBC News. Bloomberg Businessweek. Risks 858. 21 July 2018

Hazards news, 14 July 2018

Britain: Lorry driving in crisis due to health, age and skills problems
A severe shortage of skilled lorry drivers is being fuelled by a combination of health problems, an ageing workforce and a failure to recruit younger workers and will damage the economy, the union Unite has warned. Unite national officer Adrian Jones, said: “The way drivers are treated is making workers ill and forcing highly dedicated drivers to leave the industry years before their normal retirement date.”
Unite news release. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Unite warning on unsafe tyre imports
The safety of thousands of road users is being put at risk by the government’s failure to properly enforce strict laws on tyre labelling and quality standards, Unite has warned.  In 2009 the European Union introduced regulations requiring all tyres for passenger, light commercial and heavy commercial vehicles to carry labels which recorded their fuel efficiency, grip in wet conditions and noise levels.
Unite news release. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Urgent recruitment drive needed to make Tube safer
Tube union RMT has called for an ‘urgent’ recruitment drive on the system after an internal London Underground Limited (LUL) document revealed what the union described as a crisis in staffing and safety. RMT said the figures lend more weight to the union’s argument that Tube bosses are attempting to run London Underground “on the cheap in unsafe conditions.”
RMT news release. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Union takes site firms to court over blacklisting of workers
New legal action is being taken against Britain’s biggest construction firms over the illegal blacklisting of workers in Scotand. Unite has lodged a complaint with the Scottish courts on behalf of nine men who they claim were frozen out of their trades for years after being included on a list of ‘troublemakers, union reps and health and safety officers’.
The Metro. Evening Times. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: CWU tells MPs the problem is dangerous dog owners
It’s not the breed that makes a dog dangerous, it is its irresponsible owner, the communications union CWU has told MPs. Dave Joyce, the union’s national health and safety officer, said there needs to be changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act to better reflect this, combined with better enforcement of the law. The call came in CWU evidence to the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee’s inquiry into dangerous dogs legislation.
CWU news release and CWU evidence on Parliament Live TV. Dangerous Dogs: Breed Specific Legislation inquiry, EFRA committee. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Offshore cost- and corner-cutting risks another Piper Alpha
The government and regulators must do more to protect the safety of oil and gas employees, who have been under pressure since a downturn in the North Sea industry in 2014, offshore unions have said. The message came on the 30th anniversary of the Piper Alpha oil rig tragedy in which 167 rig workers died.
Unite news release. RMT news release. Eastern Daily Press. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Strike action will shut oil and gas offshore platforms
There will be a series of strike days on North Sea oil and gas platforms operated by Total E&P, over concerns including a gruelling work rota linked to much higher rates of ill-health, Unite has said. The union says that following the ‘overwhelming mandate’ for industrial action, from 23 July there will be a series of 24-hour and 12-hour stoppages on the Alwyn, Dunbar and Elgin platforms, all of which will be forced to cease production.
Unite news release. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: North Sea should remain free from Super Puma helicopters
Offshore union Unite has welcomed the findings of Norway’s Accident Investigation Board (AIBN) investigation into the Airbus Super Puma helicopter that killed 13 people in April 2016. AIBN’s final report into the crash which killed everyone on board, including Iain Stuart, 41, from Laurencekirk, Scotland, concluded the fatal crash off the Norwegian coast was a result of metal ‘fatigue fracture’ in the helicopter’s gearbox.
AIBN report. Unite news release. Energy Voice. BBC News Online. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Health warning on new Brexit secretary Raab
The new Brexit secretary poses a ‘direct and immediate threat’ to workers’ rights and safety, GMB has warned. Dominic Raab previously called for Britain to use negotiations with the European Union to scrap workers’ rights.
GMB news release. The Independent. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Work-related deaths continue to rise
Work-related deaths are continuing to rise, latest official statistics show. Provisional figures released by the Health and Executive (HSE) reveal fatalities at work increased to 144 in 2017/18, up from 135 the year before, with HSE conceding the long-term decline in work-related fatalities dating back to 1981 has ended, “and the number has remained broadly level in recent years.”
HSE news release and fatality statistics 2017/18 and TUC safety page on facebook. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Number of asbestos deaths from mesothelioma up again
HSE also published figures on deaths from one occupational cancer. These show the annual toll from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma continues to climb, counter to HSE’s repeated predictions. In 2016, the latest year for which figures are available, there were 2,595 deaths, up 46 on the preceding year when 2,549 mesothelioma deaths were recorded.
HSE news release and mesothelioma death figures for 2016. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Call on government to drop ‘deadly’ deregulation obsession
New figures showing an increase in workplace fatalities and asbestos cancer deaths should convince the government to drop its ‘deadly’ obsession with deregulation, the Hazards Campaign has said. Commenting on provisional fatality and mesothelioma statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the national safety activists’ group said: “Work deaths were dropping steadily up to 2010 when the Tory/Lib Dem coalition turbo charged deregulation with the ‘Red Tape Challenge’ and attacks on HSE, but have plateaued since.”
Hazards Campaign blog. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Director jailed after explosion kills two brothers
Company director Simon Thomerson has been sentenced to eight months in jail after pleading guilty to a criminal health and safety breach that resulted in the death of two brothers in ‘horrific circumstances’. Ardian and Jashar Lamallari had been employed as labourers and were working inside a unit at 4:45pm on 3 October 2015 when an explosive fire occurred
HSE news release and information on the safe use of highly flammable liquids. Hertfordshire Mercury. Construction Enquirer. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Textile firm fined after worker dies from conveyor crush injuries
A West Yorkshire textile company has been handed a six figure fine for a criminal safety offence after the death of a worker from crush injuries. Leeds Magistrates Court heard how, on 28 February 2014, WE Rawson Limited employee Paul Whitehead leant into a packaging machine whilst attempting to free a stuck package.
HSE news release. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Firm fined after worker overcome when sawing gas bottles
A Midlands company has been fined after an employee was overcome by vapour whilst disposing of redundant gas bottles. Stoke Combined Court heard how on 7 February 2015, four members of the Air Liquide (UK) Ltd emergency response team were disposing of redundant gas bottles at the company’s site in Tunstall.
HSE news release. Stoke Sentinel. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Long work hours linked to diabetes in women
Clocking up 45 or more working hours in a week is linked to a heightened risk of diabetes in women, a study has found. Research published online in the journal BMJ Diabetes Research & Care found there was no such heightened risk among women working 30 to 40 hours a week, prompting the researchers to suggest that sticking to this total might help curb the risk of the disease.
BMJ news release. Mahée Gilbert-Ouimet and others. Adverse effect of long work hours on incident diabetes in 7065 Ontario workers followed for 12 years, BMJ Diabetes Research & Care, 2018;6:e000496.doi 10.1136/bmjdrc-2017-000496. Published online 2 July 2018. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Global: ITUC welcomes World Bank labour protection progress
New guidance from the World Bank will help borrower countries uphold fundamental worker rights, decent employment and safe worksites, the global union confederation ITUC has said. Loans from the World Bank seek to create development and jobs, but for decades the workers executing these projects have been vulnerable to rights violations, the union body said.
ITUC news release and ITUC/Global Unions comments to the World Bank. World Bank Guidance Notes. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Global: Samsung singled out for its bad chemical practices
One of the giants of consumer electronics is a laggard in chemicals management, with workers particularly badly hit, environmental and workers’ rights groups have said.  South Korean multinational Samsung has faced prolonged criticism of its failure to protect factory workers from exposure to dangerous substances.
Chemical Watch, Global Business Briefing, July 2018 [subscription only]. Samsung Sustainability Report 2018. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

USA: Two amputations a week in US meat plants
Amputations, fractured fingers, second-degree burns and head trauma are just some of the serious injuries suffered by US meat plant workers every week, according to official data. Records compiled by the government safety regulator OSHA reveal that, on average, there are at least 17 “severe” incidents a month in US meat plants.
Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The Guardian. UFCW news release, 3 May 2018. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Hazards news, 7 July 2018

Britain: Heatwave shouldn’t leave workers baking
Many employers are shirking their responsibilities when it comes to protecting outdoor workers in hot weather, the TUC has warned. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson notes “every summer millions of outdoor workers face the risk of skin cancer, dehydration and heat stress as well as the increased risk of an accident happening because of the tiredness and lack of concentration that working in the heat can bring
TUC blog and guide to working in heat. BFAWU guidance. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Fire services under strain as the heatwave continues
An increase in fires as a result of the hot weather combined with the ongoing moorland fires has left resource-starved fire services ‘stretched to breaking point’, firefighters’ union FBU has warned. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “In some cases firefighters are working for more than 17 hours without a break because of a lack of relief crews.”
FBU news release and related FBU release on the Home Counties. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: GMB turns in Metropolitan Police over blacklisting
The GMB has referred the Metropolitan Police to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) after the force failed to answer a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. On 9 April, the union filed a request for the Met’s full internal investigation report into surveillance by undercover officers of individuals including union and safety activists, all emails relating to the report and details of overt and covert meetings between officers and members of blacklisting organisations.
GMB news release. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Bristol council signs Unite construction charter
Bristol council has given its backing to a Unite construction charter that seeks to ensure conditions for workers on construction projects under local authority control in the city meet the highest standards. The charter commits the local authority to work with Unite to achieve the highest standards in respect of direct employment status, health and safety, standards of work, apprenticeship training and the implementation of appropriate nationally agreed terms and conditions of employment.
Unite news release. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Excessive workload and cuts hitting teacher morale
Only half of teachers in Scotland say they feel satisfied with their job, with a third saying they would choose a different career if they could make the choice again, according to a new report. The research, undertaken by the University of Stirling on behalf of the teaching union NASUWT, confirms that the pressures of excessive workload, cuts to pay and funding and attacks on working conditions are impacting on teachers’ morale and ability to provide the highest levels of education to children and young people.
NASUWT news release. University of Stirling Report - Teacher Workforce Survey in Scotland 2018. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: TUC slams ‘national disgrace’ on workers’ health
Safety minister Sarah Newton has said the government is “certainly not ruling out” the idea of making it compulsory for employers to provide and invest in occupational health services for their employees as part of its review of workplace health. The statement prompted a sharp rebuke from the TUC, which said the government was guilty of a decade of inaction since an earlier review identified the need for immediate action.
Personnel Today. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Bar worker wins legal fight on cancelled shifts
A bar worker on a zero hours contract has won a legal dispute over last-minute shift-cancellations that campaigners say could lead to significant changes in employers’ practices in the hospitality industry. After contacting Better than Zero, the campaign against precarious work that is supported by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Alasdair Thomson decided to pursue his case legally against SLONLO2 Ltd, the company that held the lease at Phoenix Alehouse.
Thompsons Scotland news release. Better Than Zero website and facebook page. BBC News Online. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Tube injuries up since launch of night service
Injuries on the London Underground have risen by almost a quarter since the introduction of the Night Tube. There were just over 3,000 injuries recorded on the London Underground in 2017, a 23 per cent increase since 2015, and represents a rise from 1.83 injuries per million journeys to 2.237 - up 22 per cent.
BBC News Online. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: More prison officers resigning as violence soars
The number of prison officers resigning from their jobs has more than doubled in the last two years amid soaring levels of violence and self-harm in UK jails. Ministers have been accused of driving a crisis in prisons after an analysis of official figures revealed one in 16 officers resigned last year, compared with one in 33 officers two years before and just one in 100 in 2009/10.
The Independent. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Pupils up, but teacher numbers hit a five year low
The number of teachers working in state-funded schools in England has fallen to its lowest level since 2013, official statistics show, with a union warning the trend is fuelling teacher ‘burnout’. Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the teaching union NEU, said the government must boost pay and reduce workloads to address the retention crisis.
NEU news release. Department for Education statistics: School workforce in England. BBC News Online. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Union concerns prompt train cab redesign
New electric trains for Scotland's central belt have been approved by rail regulators. However, the go-ahead only came when an agreement was reached to fit the train cabs with replacement windscreens after the train drivers’ union ASLEF raised safety concerns.
Hitachi Rail news release. BBC News Online. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Construction boss banned for failing to pay safety fines
The boss of a construction company has been banned after failing to pay fines imposed for multiple criminal health and safety breaches. Michael Allen, 64, a director of Ashbourne-based Allen and Hunt Construction Engineers Limited, put the firm into liquidation in December 2016 however the Insolvency Service found he incorporated a new company after the accident which took on contracts that could have covered the fine.
The Insolvency Service news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

USA: Flight attendants at higher risk of cancers
Flight attendants have a higher prevalence of several forms of cancer, including breast cancer, uterine cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, thyroid cancer and cervical cancer, compared with the general public, according to new research. “Our findings of higher rates of several cancers among flight attendants is striking given the low rates of overweight and smoking in our study population, which highlights the question of what can be done to minimise the adverse exposures and cancers common among cabin crew,” said Irina Mordukhovich, research fellow at Harvard Chan School.
Work cancer hazards blog. Harvard University news release. Eileen McNeely, Irina Mordukhovich and others. Cancer prevalence among flight attendants compared to the general population, Environmental Health, volume 17, number 49, published online 25 June 2018. doi: 10.1186/s12940-018-0396-8 Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Global: Korean activists urge global asbestos pushers to stop it
The Ban Asbestos Network Korea (BANKO) held rallies in front of the Russian, Kazakh and Chinese embassies in Seoul on 3 July, calling on the three countries to stop production of asbestos. BANKO delivered a letter to each of the three embassies, asking for their cooperation in halting the mining of the known human carcinogen.
Yonhap news agency. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Global: Killer asbestos industry feeling the summertime blues
A report from the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) has said the asbestos industry is facing unprecedented attacks around the world. IBAS said the industry’s ‘summertime blues’ include high profile criticism of the asbestos industry in Australia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the United Kingdom.
IBAS news report. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

USA: Hotel ‘hands off’ anti-harassment rules take effect
Celebrating what they called a “cultural shift” for women workers’ rights, union activists and city officials gathered on 1 July to mark Chicago’s implementation of an ordinance requiring hotels to provide panic buttons for employees to report harassment. Hotels are now required to supply portable panic buttons for workers who “clean, inventory, inspect or re-stock supplies” alone in guest rooms or restrooms, allowing them to send out alerts when they feel threatened.
Chicago Sun Times. CBS Chicago News. Hands off pants on website. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

USA: Five killed in targeted attack on newspaper
Five newspaper workers were killed on 28 June when gunman Jarrod Ramos opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, Maryland. The tragedy attracted added controversy as two days ahead of the attack Milo Yiannopoulos, a British former editor of the Trump-supporting Breitbart News, said in a text to reporters from the New York Observer and the Daily Beast he “couldn't wait for vigilantes to start shooting journalists down on sight.”
IFJ news release. The Mirror. London Evening Standard. Daily Mail. New York Observer. Business Insider. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Hazards news, 30 June 2018

Britain: Hot workers need enough water and breaks, says TUC
As summer makes itself felt across the UK, the TUC has called on bosses to make sure any staff working outdoors in the baking sun are protected from the harmful effects of over-exposure to sunlight and heat. The TUC says that workers like builders, agricultural workers and gardeners who are outside for lengthy periods in high temperatures are at risk of sunstroke, sunburn and even skin cancer, adding working in hot weather can also lead to dehydration, tiredness, muscle cramps, rashes, fainting, and – in extreme cases – loss of consciousness.
TUC news release and temperature at work guide. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: GMB wins again as tribunal rules Hermes couriers are ‘workers’
Hermes couriers are ‘workers’ and not self-employed, according to an employment tribunal ruling. The GMB-backed tribunal in Leeds involving a group of 65 Hermes couriers found they were not independent contractors, which Hermes argued, but instead were workers, and therefore entitled to rights such as the national living wage and holiday pay.
GMB news release. Leigh Day news release. The Independent. Personnel Today. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Dog attacks still a major concern for posties
Dog attacks remain a major concern for postal workers after 2,275 incidents were reported last year, the union CWU has said. The union comments came ahead of the 2018 Dog Awareness Week, which ran from 22 June.
CWU news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: College staff consider quitting over workloads and stress
Over two-thirds (70 per cent) of further education (FE) college staff working in England have considered leaving the sector, as workloads rise and many suffer from stress, according to a poll by the National Education Union (NEU). Eighty per cent of respondents said their workload has increased over the last 12 months: 62 per cent said this increase was because there are fewer staff in their workplace, 35 per cent said they had to teach more hours, 34 per cent had new subject areas to teach and 31 per cent had more classes to teach.
NEU news release. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Work environment is harming disabled teachers
Almost two-thirds (61 per cent) of disabled teachers believe their working conditions have impacted negatively on their health in the last 12 months, according to teaching union NASUWT. A large majority (72 per cent) of disabled teachers told the union they have considered leaving the profession as a result of factors in the workplace impacting on their health.
NASUWT news release. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Activists expose police collusion in site blacklist
Blacklisted workers have increased the pressure on the police over their covert monitoring of union safety activists and their collusion with an illegal industry-financed blacklisting group. The 25 June edition of BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme featured blacklisted construction workers including Dave Smith and Steve Acheson, both of whom were dismissed for raising safety concerns on site, with Smith telling the programme: “We’ve had people embedded with our group for more than 10 years, and I’m a trade unionist, not a terrorist.”
BBC News Online. Victoria Derbyshire programme, 25 June 2018. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: New union resource tackles sexual harassment
Sexual harassment at work is a trade union issue – that’s the strong message in a new ‘Workplace guide to dealing with sexual harassment’ produced by the linked unions BECTU and Prospect. “The message to employers is clear: cultivating a respectful workplace is the single most valuable protection against sexual harassment and other unwanted behaviours,” Prospect and BECTU note.
BECTU news report and guide. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Southgate explosion shows the need for proper staffing
Unions have praised their members on the London Underground system for their handling on a ‘major incident’. A small explosion at Southgate Tube station on 19 June, which left five people with minor injuries, is believed to have been caused by a faulty drill battery.
RMT news release. TSSA news release. British Transport Police statement. The Guardian. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: MP calls for action now to end gig economy abuses
A Labour MP has called on the government to end the scourge of insecure work. Stephanie Peacock, the MP for Barnsley East, sparked a 20 June parliamentary debate as a consequence of her Private Members’ Bill calling for greater protection of agency workers.  
GMB news release. Insecure work and the gig economy, Hansard, 20 June 2018. Employment and Workers’ Rights Bill. The London Economic. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Low pay is a genuine occupational hazard
Are you sick and tired of too much work for too little pay? Well, you are also likely to be sick because of it, according to a new report in the trade union backed workers’ health publication Hazards. Presenting academic evidence, the report argues: “Workplace risks go up as your employment grade goes down, with a potentially devastating impact on health.”
Degraded, Hazards Magazine, Number 142, June 2018. Hazards’ low pay webpages. Unjust pay rates can be deadly, ETUC, May 2018. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Multinational fined after another employee killed
A multinational company that manufactures ready meals for retailers including Tesco, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose has been fined £176,000 after an employee suffered fatal injuries when he was struck by empty food trays in its Falkirk factory. It was the second prosecution in a year for Bavvakor Foods, which had a group turnover in the year to December 2017 of over £1.8 billion and a profit before tax of £84.8 million.
HSE news release. Bakkavor financial performance 2017. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Convicted painting firm gets off lightly after death
A Devon painting and decorating firm that failed to maintain its mobile elevated work platforms (MEWP) or properly train its staff in their safe use has received no penalty related directly to the death of an employee after a malfunctioning platform overturned. TJ Smith Contracting Ltd employee Kenny Leach, 49, died in hospital from a cardiac arrest the day after the Bronto aerial platform he was working in toppled over on 13 December 2014.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Work deaths campaigner named ‘most influential’ safety person
Louise Taggart, a campaigner and speaker travelling the country to expose the tragic human cost that can arise from poor health and safety standards, has been named 2018’s ‘Most Influential’ person in health and safety. The accolade was announced last week at the Safety and Health Expo in London, with Louise topping a poll of readers of the workplace safety publication SHP.
SHP news report. Hazards Campaign news release. Michael’s Story. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Canada: Union calls for nationwide action on safety criminals
The United Steelworkers (USW) in Canada has applauding the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s (RNC) announcement that it will undertake criminal investigations into all serious injuries and deaths that occur at workplaces throughout the province. The move by the RNC builds upon similar steps taken in the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Alberta, as well as positive work by the Toronto Police Service, and should be a uniform standard across the country, said USW Western Canada director Stephen Hunt.
USW news release and Stop the killing, enforce the law campaign. CBC News. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Global: Big Tobacco criticised over child labour
The world’s biggest tobacco companies are coming under mounting pressure over child labour and working conditions in tobacco fields globally, from Zimbabwe to North Carolina. While all the major companies have child labour policies in place and have formed organisations such as the UN-recognised Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation, their actions have brought little change and are largely cosmetic, claims Marty Otañez, associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver.
The Guardian. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

India: Tetley’s tea workers denied a drink
For generations, workers living and working on tea plantations in India have struggled with lack of access to safe, potable water and adequate sanitation facilities. For the past two years, women workers on plantations in the states of Assam and West Bengal which supply tea to UK-based Tetley have been organising to demand these basic human rights.
IUF news release and workers’ video. Send a message to Tetley insisting they address human rights violations by negotiating with the workers’ self-organised water and sanitation committees. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Hazards news, 23 June 2018

Britain: Supreme Court delivers big blow to gig working
Plumber Gary Smith’s Supreme Court victory against his employer’s claim he was self-employed has been hailed by the TUC and the equality watchdog as an important defence of workers’ rights and safety. The Equality and Human Rights Commission chief executive, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said “you are entitled to the appropriate protections and adjustments which go with the job, to enable you to work safely and productively,” adding: “Everyone has the right to a healthy working environment and to that end businesses need to recognise their duties to their workers.”
EHRC news release. Morning Star. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Union win, as government bans sexist dress codes
Following years of trade union campaigning against sexist dress codes in the workplace, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) has now published dress code guidance for employers and employees. Unions and safety campaigners have been at the heart of the campaign against sexist dress codes, highlighting the discriminatory and sometimes hazardous nature of the codes.
TUC blog and TUC guide to working feet and footwearDress codes and sex discrimination – what you need to know, Government Equality Office, 2018.
Standing problem, Hazards magazine, August 2005. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Council and HSE accused of ‘inaction’ over on-site living
Westminster council and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been accused of inaction that could place workers lives in danger. Unite said it notified both organisations of workers living illegally on a construction site in St Johns’ Wood, London, but said both organisations have so far failed to intervene.
Unite news release. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Public sector concerns over safety and new tech
Safety, new working practices and the increased use of technology were high on the agenda of UNISON’s water, environment and transport conference. Measures adopted at conference included conducting a safety review within the water industry to analyse accident statistics, their root causes and common themes, and a continued commitment to improving mental health in the workplace.
UNISON news report. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Injured embassy worker in the US can sue in the UK
A government bid to stop an employee injured at the British Embassy in Washington DC from suing for damages in the UK has failed, thanks to the legal expertise of the worker’s union. PCS member Nicholas Callow fractured his wrist when opening a security door at the British Embassy in the US capital, where he worked as an administrator.
PCS news release. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Government ministers must be held to account over Grenfell
The government must be held to account for its role in Grenfell Tower fire which killed 72 people and left hundreds homeless a year ago, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. In a statement on the 14 June anniversary of the tragedy, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack noted: “Government ministers, past and present, must be held to account for overseeing a deregulation agenda that failed to keep people safe in their homes - a basic expectation of public authorities in a civilised society.”
Fire safety: A TUC guide for union activists, September 2017. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Safety experts criticise inaction following Grenfell tragedy
Safety and health professionals are calling on the government to explain its failure to address many of their urgent safety demands following the Grenfell Tower fire last June. Among the demands made in the joint letter to the prime minister was a call for “all politicians to re-emphasise the need for effective health and safety regulation and competent fire risk management.”
IOSH news release. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

USA: Anti-union laws kill, union presence protects, finds study
Anti-union policies lead to a sharp rise in fatalities, while a union presence in the workplace has a protective effect, a new study has found. The author, Michael Zoorob from Harvard University’s department of government, notes: “The paper demonstrates that the protective effect of unions on workplace safety at the micro level translates into large scale reductions in occupational fatalities.”
Michael Zoorob. Does ‘right to work’ imperil the right to health? The effect of labour unions on workplace fatalities, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published Online First: 13 June 2018. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2017-104747
New pin-up-at-work poster: Unions make work safer: Fighting for your life at work, Hazards, June 2018. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Global: Job strain knocks years off your healthy life
Individuals with job strain have a shorter health expectancy compared with those without job strain, a new study has found. The authors said their study, which looked at life expectancy among women and men from Finland, France, Sweden and the UK between the ages of 50 and 75 yearsm” suggested “that individuals with job strain have a shorter health expectancy compared with those without job strain.”
Linda L Magnusson Hanson and others. Job strain and loss of healthy life years between ages 50 and 75 by sex and occupational position: analyses of 64 934 individuals from four prospective cohort studies, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 75, issue 7, pages 486-493, July 2018. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Farm pox ‘that went away’ hits teenager
A 15-year-old boy has contracting cowpox, a historical occupational disease now rarely encountered by doctors. The teenager, who lives on the Wrexham-Cheshire border, developed pus-filled lesions on his hands, arms and feet after feeding calves.
Wales Online. BBC News Online.  The Mirror. The Mail. European Society for Pediatric Dermatology. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Body cams for paramedics in Wales after attack spike
Paramedics in Wales could soon wear body cameras after a spike in ambulance staff being attacked. Paramedic Nathan Holman, the GMB branch secretary for the Welsh Ambulance Service, said the move would help to improve safety and increase prosecutions.
BBC News Online. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Fireworks factory owner gets 10 years jail over deaths
A businessman convicted over the deaths of two men at a factory ‘rammed’ with fireworks has been jailed for 10 years. Richard Pearson was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence, after employee Simon Hillier and customer Stewart Staples died at SP Fireworks in Stafford in 2014, where the number of fireworks stored at the unit was “up to 10 times the permitted limit”, Stafford Crown Court had heard.
CPS news release. Birmingham Mail. BBC News Online. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: TV studios fined after death fall
A TV studio has been fined after a 38-year-old maintenance worker fell five metres through a roof to his death. Maidstone Studios admitted criminal breaches of safety regulations following the death of Justin Newitt.
HSE news release. Kent Online. Construction Enquirer. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Balfour Beatty fined £500,000 for white finger
Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Ltd has been fined after exposing workers to serious occupational disease risks over a nine-year period, with several workers permanently harmed as a result. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found workers at the company were exposed to hand-arm vibration between 2002 and 2011 which put them at risk of developing Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

France: Ex-telecom execs face trial over wave of staff suicides
The former chief executive of France Telecom and six other managers are to stand trial over a spate of suicides among their staff in the late 2000s. Prosecutors have claimed they presided over a culture of harassment at the firm that led at least 19 employees to kill themselves; the executives are accused of “moral harassment”.
CBC News. Global News. BBC News Online.
Background: Sarah Waters. Suicide voices: testimonies of trauma in the French workplace, Medical Humanities, volume 43, issue 1, pages 24-29, 2017. Sarah Waters, Suicide as protest in the French workplace, Modern & Contemporary France, volume 23, number 4, pages 491-510, 2015. Suicidal work, Hazards magazine, number 137, 2017. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Russia: Death count of 21 ahead of World Cup kick off
As the 2018 World Cup gets underway, global building union BWI has sent its condolences to the families of the 21 construction workers who died during construction of Russia’s World Cup stadiums. “As fans of the game, we will be cheering in the stands of the newly built stadiums, but we need to also hold a moment of silence in memory of the construction workers who lost their lives in the construction of the stadiums,” said Ambet Yuson, general secretary of BWI.  
BWI news release. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

USA: Tesla tells dismissed workers to keep quiet or else
Language in a confidential severance agreement car manufacturer Tesla is using as part of the biggest job cut in its history is likely to deter dismissed employees from going public with worker safety concerns, according to employment law experts. A proposed severance agreement Tesla presented to one of the more than 3,000 workers dismissed last week required acknowledgment that the employee “had the opportunity to raise any safety concerns, safety complaints, or whistleblower activities against the company, and that if any safety concerns, safety complaints, or whistleblower activities were raised during your employment, they were addressed to your satisfaction.”
Bloomberg News. Critical 16 April 2018 Center for Public Integrity report on Tesla’s safety record. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Hazards news, 16 June 2018

Britain: Do the TUC safety rep survey now!
If you are a union health and safety representative and you have not yet completed the TUC’s health and safety survey, make sure you have your say ahead of the 29 June deadline. The survey is quick and easy to complete online and provides essential intel on unions and safety in the workplace.
Complete the survey online by Friday 29 June.
Got a great case history? Tell the TUC. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: A third of women have faced sexual harassment at work
A third of women have experienced workplace sexual harassment, a survey conducted by the union Prospect has found. The ‘disturbing’ findings indicate many forms of sexual harassment are still prevalent across the UK workforce, the union said.
Prospect news release and guide on sexual harassment at work. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Award for assaulted ambulance worker who inspired campaign
An ambulance technician who suffered a harrowing sexual assault before using her experience to campaign successfully to improve the law has been given a special award. Sarah Kelly, who works for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS), was handed the Eleanor Marx special award at GMB’s annual congress in Brighton.
GMB news release. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: UNISON calls time on violence and abuse at work
A UNISON violence at work charter has been launched officially in the Houses of Parliament. In a blog posting to mark the 11 June event, which was attended by dozens of MPs, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said the charter is “a list of ten basic actions which employers can take to improve safety at work – including training, support for victims of violence and monitoring of incidents.”
UNISON news release and related post. UNISON violence at work charter and campaign briefing. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Northern planning to ‘shred’ safety culture, warns union
Northern Rail is planning to shred the rail safety culture in the same way it has shredded train timetables, the union RMT has said. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “German-owned Northern Rail want to run half a million trains a year without a safety critical guard on board in a move that would wreck both safety and access ‎to services and they should listen to their frontline staff and pull back from that plan immediately.”
RMT news release. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: ‘Severe’ workload is a huge concern for Scottish teachers
High workloads are putting ‘severe pressures’ on teachers in Scotland, the union EIS has warned. EIS survey findings, published ahead of its annual meeting, revealed increasing workloads and long working hours are having an impact on the well-being of teachers.
EIS news release and survey findings. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Pilots warn laser users they could ‘inadvertently’ break law
British pilots are reminding the public that in just a few weeks new laws will mean they could face jail if they shine a laser at an aircraft. The new laser laws, that come in to force on 10 July, give police more powers to catch those who shine lasers at aircraft and introduce tougher punishments for those caught.
BALPA news release. Details on the new law. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: TUC leader hails 'bravery and professionalism' of firefighters
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady has paid tribute to the “bravery and professionalism” of firefighters and control room staff who “saved scores of lives” in the Grenfell Tower disaster. She told delegates to the annual conference of the firefighters’ union FBU d that the public inquiry into the fire must properly address what happens when public housing is deregulated and privatised, when corners are cut and health and safety trivialised.
Morning Star. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Labour will end 'scourge' of sexual harassment at work
Labour will clamp down on the ‘scourge’ of sexual harassment at work and make it easier for victims of discrimination to take their companies to an employment tribunal. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the party would ban the use of non-disclosure agreements to silence victims of sexual assault.
Labour Party news release. The Independent. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Global: Work stress is more deadly in men
Having a stressful job is far more likely to kill men with heart and metabolic problems like diabetes than women, a study found. Men with heart problems are six times more likely to suffer an early death if they have a stressful job - even if they keep fit and eat a healthy diet – the research suggests.
Mika Kivimäki and others. Work stress and risk of death in men and women with and without cardiometabolic disease: a multicohort study, Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, Online First, 5 June 2018. The Guardian. The Independent. Daily Mail. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: University tutor killed himself after struggling with workload
A “dedicated” university tutor took his own life at work after his increasing workload meant he was “often unable to spend time with his family”, an inquest has heard. Malcolm Anderson, 48, the deputy head of section and a personal tutor in accounting at Cardiff University’s Cardiff Business School, went to his office and left two notes – one for his family and one saying his workload had finally got to him.
Cardiff University statement. Wales Online. More on work-related suicides Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Director ignored dangerous work stoppage notices
D&S Building Solutions Ltd and its director Daniel Schipor have been fined after failing to comply with legally-binding stop work notices. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how the company, under the control of its director Daniel Schipor, was issued with two prohibition notices on one if its sites, after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found serious dangers.
HSE news release. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Ignoring damaged asbestos materials led to fine
Aquapac Limited, a company that manufactures and distributes furniture, has been fined £6,000 for failing to properly assess the risk from exposure to damaged asbestos containing materials in its premises. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that, during an inspection on 6 August 2014, concerns were raised by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector about significant damage to what appeared to be asbestos containing materials that were encasing the structural columns and beams of the premises.  
HSE news release. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

China: Amazon blasted over Kindle factory conditions
A labour rights group urging Amazon to improve conditions for the workers at a Foxconn factory in China who make Echo speakers and Kindle e-readers. The call by New York-based China Labor Watch adds to recent allegations that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos became the world’s wealthiest man on the backs of low-paid labour and a series of deaths in its US distribution centres.
China Labor Watch news release and report. Bloomberg News. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

India: Ban on hazardous pesticides would slash suicides
An international group of experts has said a ban on hazardous insecticides, now under consideration by the Indian government, would help reduce suicide deaths in the country. The UK-based Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention (CPSP) has urged India’s agricultural commissioner, SK Malhotra, who heads the committee on the issue, to ban not only the 12 pesticides under review but also several others.
Times of India. First Post.
D Gunnell and others. Prevention of suicide with regulations aimed at restricting access to highly hazardous pesticides: a systematic review of the international evidence, Lancet Global Health, volume 5, number 10, e1026-e1037, October 2017. Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention. More on work-related suicides. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Peru: Site union tries to bag a 25kg maximum weight
The Federation of Civil Construction Workers in Peru (FTCCP), working with the global union BWI, has launched a ‘25 Kilos…No More!’ campaign ahead of the games. “In Peru the weight of cement bags is 42.5 kilograms, which causes permanent injuries and health problems to the workers,” said Luis Villanueva, the deputy general secretary of the FTCCP.
BWI news release and 25 kilo campaign poster. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

USA: Stricter silica exposure standard from this month
A hard-won more protective silica exposure standard is to come into effect in the US on 23 June. The new OSHA standard, issued under the Obama administration, reduces the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica over an eight-hour shift to 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air (down from 0.1mg/m3 to 0.05mg/m3).
OSHA announcement. Confined Space blog. Information on the UK’s inadequate exposure standard for silica. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Hazards news, 9 June 2018

Britain: Amazon workers hospitalised and in constant agony
The ‘terrible conditions’ and poor treatment of workers in Amazon warehouses have been exposed in an investigation by the union GMB. The union says hundreds of ambulance callouts, people in constant agony and heavily pregnant women being forced to work standing, have also been uncovered.
GMB news release. Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Grayling challenged to meet abused rail staff
Rail union RMT has challenged transport secretary Chris Grayling to meet staff that have had faced the full force of passenger anger for the rail timetable chaos, cancellations and delays on Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Northern rail services. “The total chaos unleashed by Chris Grayling on our railways has left staff at the sharp end abandoned to their fate by his private train operators,” RMT general secretary Mick Cash said.
RMT news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Union acts on long hours in film and TV
TV and film production union BECTU has launched the latest phase of its campaign against the long damaging hours culture in film and TV production. The #EyesHalfShut campaign highlights the dangers to health that film and TV workers face every day in an industry BECTU says is beset with unnecessary long hours working.
BECTU news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: One in ten school staff exposed to sexual misbehaviour
Disturbing new figures from the union GMB show more than one in ten school support staff who responded to a survey have experienced sexually inappropriate behaviour from pupils. GMB said the ‘shocking’ statistics come from its nationwide survey of members, which found the abuse was leaving some staff intimidated and ‘mentally scarred’.
GMB news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Fire service in Tyneside ‘stretched to breaking point’
A move this month that means fire appliances in Tyne and Wear will be crewed by just four firefighters has been branded as ‘dangerous’ by their union. The FBU said the cutbacks comes on the heels of a major fire in Sunderland last month, where resources were ‘stretched to breaking point.
FBU news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Security guards ‘die 20 years younger', says GMB
The UK’s security professionals have a lower life expectancy than people born in Afghanistan or Iraq, GMB has said. The union’s research found security guards die 20 years younger than the national average.
GMB news release. ONS life expectancy figures for security guards 2014-2016. WHO global mortality figures. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Drone law doesn’t go far enough, pilots warn
A new law on drones does not go air enough to keep our skies safe, pilots’ union BALPA has warned. BALPA flight safety specialist, Steve Landells, said: “We’re pleased the government is taking near-misses seriously and making changes to the law, but it is crucial that these go further to avoid a potential catastrophe.”
BALPA news release. DfT and CAA news release. CAA drones webpages. BBC News Online. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Campaigners praise Lush stand on the spycops scandal
Cosmetic brand Lush has been praised by campaigners for its nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the ‘spycops’ scandal, which has seen union, safety, environmental and other activists’ groups infiltrated by undercover police officers. Displays condemning the police strategy appeared in Lush store window displays.
Blacklist blog. Letter from John McDonnell and others in support of Lush. The Guardian and related story. Morning Star. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Concern at Sainsbury's plan to axe paid breaks
Britain: Sainsbury's is to plough ahead with contract changes for all workers that will mean up to 9,000 of its staff will lose out. On 1 September, the grocer's minimum wage will increase from £8 to £9.20 an hour - but accompanying the pay hike is a plan to scrap paid breaks and axe Sunday 'premium' pay.
Union news release. Usdaw news release. The Guardian. Daily Mirror. Retail Gazette. Morning Star. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Stressful jobs linked to deadly heart rhythm disorders
Having a stressful job is associated with a higher risk of a heart rhythm disorder, according to new research. The study found the most stressful jobs, linked to a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, are psychologically demanding but give employees little control over the work situation – for example, assembly line workers, bus drivers, secretaries, and nurses.
ESC news release. Eleonor I Fransson, Maria Nordin, Linda L Magnusson Hanson, and Hugo Westerlund. Job strain and atrial fibrillation – Results from the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health and meta-analysis of three studies, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 30 May 2018. DOI: 10.1177/2047487318777387 Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Firefighters are stressed out in underfunded Scottish service
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is under-funded, leading to resource shortages and modernisation plans being put on hold, a report from the Auditor General has found. Denise Christie, regional secretary of the FBU in Scotland, the report highlights resource problems which have led “to increased pressures within the workforce and an increase in absence levels due to work-related stress.”
FBU news release. Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – Auditor General’s report and news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Styrene ranking upgraded to ‘probably carcinogenic’
Styrene, a key component for many plastics and synthetic rubber, is "probably carcinogenic to humans", according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). An assessment this year by an IARC expert working group said there was now sufficient evidence to change its cancer rating from group 2B – possibly carcinogenic to humans – to 2A, a probable cause of cancer in humans.
Manolis Kogevinas and others. Carcinogenicity of quinoline, styrene, and styrene-7,8-oxide, The Lancet Oncology, volume 19, issue 6, pages 728-729, 2018. Chemical Watch. Daily Mail. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Bust company prosecuted after worker killed
A defunct waste paper company has been convicted of a criminal health and safety offence that resulted in the death of one of their employees. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how RRS London Waste Papers Ltd worker Krysztof Pawlak was found dead inside the compaction chamber of a baling machine.
HSE news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Luxury yacht builder fined after engineer injured
A luxury yacht builder has been fined following an engineer being knocked unconscious when he was struck on the back of the head by a solid metal bracket weighing 147kg. Poole Magistrates’ Court heard how the Sunseeker International Limited employee was working under the hull of an 86-foot yacht adjusting the height of a prop when the bracket came free.
HSE news release. Bournemouth Echo. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Asia: Female garment workers for Gap and H&M routinely abused
Pressure to meet fast fashion deadlines is leading to women working in Asian factories supplying Gap and H&M being sexually and physically abused, according to unions and labour rights groups. More than 540 workers at factories that supply the two retailers have described incidents of threats and abuse, according to two separate reports from  Global Labour Justice on gender-based violence in Gap and H&M’s garment supply chains.
Global Labour Justice news release and Gap and H&M reports. Fashion United. The Guardian. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Global: Marriott workers demand action on sexual harassment
Union members from Marriott hotels in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the Americas came together in Geneva on 29 May to call for action to end the ‘endemic sexual harassment’ that plagues the industry. Global union IUF, the federation covering hospitality unions, said surveys around the world have indicated that a large majority of hospitality workers - up to 89 per cent in some countries - have experienced sexual harassment in the course of their working lives.
IUF news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Zambia: Glencore must account for missing mine deaths
IndustriALL has said there is clear evidence of under-reporting of fatalities by multinational Glencore at its Zambia mining operations. The global union for the sector has received reports of three deaths at Glencore’s Zambian operations in 2017; Glencore has reported only one fatality and Glencore’s Zambian subsidiary claims it was fatality-free.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Hazards news, 2 June 2018

Britain: GMB ‘victory’ as Uber concedes new rights for drivers
The union GMB has scored a hard-fought victory after cab hailing company Uber agreed to give drivers a range of employment benefits. The company said it will now give its drivers access to medical cover, compensation for work-related injuries, sick pay, parental leave and bereavement payments.
GMB news release. Uber news release. Sky News. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: FBU wins legal battle outlawing 96-hour shifts
The firefighters’ union FBU has won a High Court case confirming a duty system requiring firefighters to work 96-hour shifts is unlawful. Honourable Justice Kerr was handed down at Manchester High Court and stated: “I am troubled that the stance of the Authority and the Service offers an affront to the rule of law.”
FBU news release, the final judgment and more about unsafe duty systems. Morning Star. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Firefighter job cuts ‘will lead to avoidable deaths’
Firefighters’ union FBU has warned that swingeing fire service budget cuts and the threat of job losses in North Wales would lead to a loss of lives. Expressing anger at the planned £2m budget cut, the union vowed to fight the plans ‘tooth and nail’. 
FBU news release. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Museum workers need a break
Workers at Royal Museums Greenwich have walked out for the third time in protest at cuts in paid breaks. The changes affect staff working at both the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory Greenwich, where the Prospect members calculated that by reducing breaks by 40 minutes a day, they will be working three extra weeks a year.
Prospect news release. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: RMT demands action over timetable meltdown
Rail union RMT has demanded urgent action after staff reported they had faced the full force of passenger anger for rail timetable chaos on Monday 21 May. The new timetables led to wholesale cancellations and delays on Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Northern. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: CWU to increase focus on mental health
Communication workers’ union CWU is to upgrade its approach to dealing with mental health issues at work. It says the growing prevalence of serious mental health issues affecting members in “an ever more stressful and demanding world of work” means a comprehensive strategy is now required to ensure the union can provide the best possible support for members and reps experiencing problems.
CWU news release. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: New guide agreed on seafarer mental welfare
Seafarer unions Nautilus and RMT have agreed guidelines with the UK industry’s group to help shipping companies develop policies on the mental well-being of their seafarers. The advice agreed with the UK Chamber of Shipping comes as evidence suggests the suicide rate among seafarers is one of the highest of all occupations.
Nautilus news release and Nautilus, RMT and UK Chamber of Shipping guidelines. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Work cancer hazards are being neglected, experts warn
Occupational cancer is a big killer, but studies to assess the risks to workers from tens of thousands of chemicals at work are either inadequate or just have not been done, top experts have warned. Scientists from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) note the “recognition of occupational carcinogens is important for primary prevention, compensation and surveillance of exposed workers, as well as identifying causes of cancer in the general population.”
Dana Loomis, Neela Guha, Amy L Hall and Kurt Straif. Review: Identifying occupational carcinogens: an update from the IARC Monographs, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Online First, 16 May 2018. ITUC/Hazards Work Cancer Hazards blog. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Superyachts of the super rich can be deadly for crews
Life on board a luxury yacht can be pretty wonderful for the super rich and their friends. But for the crews staffing them, superyachts can be among the deadliest workplace around, seafarers’ union Nautilus has warned. According to the Guardian report, accidents, injuries and deaths are also commonplace, with union leaders believing working on superyachts to be more dangerous than life on oil rigs; over the past few years at least three young British crew members have died while serving their billionaire bosses.
Nautilus news release. The Guardian. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Contractor and architect fined over site shambles
A main contractor and a building’s architect have been fined for “a total disregard for health and safety and site management” on a care home extension in Devon. Coast & Country Construction Limited did not attend court but was convicted of safety breaches in its absence and was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,039; Paul Humphries Architects Ltd pleaded guilty to criminal breaches of safety regulations and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,039.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Firm fined after worker burned by industrial oven
A company that produces metal sheet components has been fined after a worker suffered serious burns to his, face, ears and head. Hereford Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 12 September 2016, an employee of Mettech (Hereford) Limited sustained burns when attempting to light a gas burner in a powder coating oven.
HSE news release. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Company gets £500k fine over overhead power line strike
A construction company has been fined after a tipper vehicle driven by one of its employees came into contact with overhead power lines during the construction of a waste transfer station. Mick George Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) and was fined £566,670 and ordered to pay costs of £9,000.
HSE news release. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Firms fined for serious asbestos failings after tip-off
A residential property management company and a specialist contractor have been fined after a resident raised concerns about soffit replacement work carried out on the guttering on three blocks of flats in London. Squaredeal UPVC & Renewables Limited was fined £18,500 and ordered to pay £5,607.90 in costs after pleading guilty to three criminal breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012; Wildheart Residential Management Limited was fined £8,000 with £3,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a single criminal breach of the same regulations.  
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Pakistan: Call for dangerous owners to lose their mines
Mineowners in Pakistan should be stripped of their mine leases if they ignore safety standards, the chair of a human rights commission has said. The call came after the All Pakistan Labour Foundation told a Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights meeting on 23 May that nearly 50 miners have died in Pakistan’s mines in two months.
Daily Dawn. Labour Watch Pakistan. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

USA: McDonald’s workers describe rampant harassment
Cooks and cashiers at McDonald’s fast food restaurants in eight US states have filed 10 complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging they have faced sexual harassment, assault and retaliation for raising concerns at work. Complaints from the McDonald’s workers were filed with financial support from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, a $21 million charity launched in January to support low-income workers who want to report sexual harassment.
National Women’s Law Center news release. Washington Post. Bloomberg News. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

USA: Trump to dump safety rules five years after catastrophe
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to roll back chemical plant safety reforms that the Obama administration proposed after 15 volunteer firefighters died in a fertiliser plant explosion that destroyed large swathes of the city of West, Texas, five years ago. The Industry groups applauded the retreat from the Obama-era reforms, with Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge calling the scaled-back rules “another victory for common sense over environmental radicalism” - a comment the EPA included in a press release.
EPA news release. Austin-American Statesman. Houston Chronicle. Confined Space blog. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Hazards news, 26 May 2018

Britain: New data protection rules don’t trump safety reps’ rights
Some employers are using the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) ‘worryingly’ – and wrongly –to restrict the information going to union safety reps. According to TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson: “If your employer does try it on and says that the GDPR somehow trumps the SRSC Regs then ask them where in the GDRP it says that they should not provide the information covered in Regulation 7 of the SRSC Regulations.”
TUC blog. TUC Education webinar on YouTube. explaining the implications of GDPR for unions. General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Post-Grenfell fire disaster report ‘falls short’
The final report by Dame Judith Hackitt into the adequacy of the current building regulations and fire safety makes a number of good recommendations, “it falls short of providing the kind of safety regime that is needed.” Commenting on the report’s publication, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “The recommendations will be of little help unless the government ensures that there is a strong enforcement regime of inspections and, where necessary, prosecutions, and that means giving the three joint regulators sufficient resources to ensure that all new and existing high-rise buildings are safe.”
TUC blog and TUC advice for union representatives on fire safety. Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: final report, 17 May 2018. Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government report webpage. Hazards Campaign news release. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Firefighters’ union scathing on Grenfell shortcomings
The failure of a major review to recommend a ban on flammable insulation linked to the Grenfell fire tragedy and news that this cladding had never passed fire safety tests have been condemned as ‘perverse’ and ‘beyond shocking’ by the firefighters’ union FBU. The union’s general secretary, Matt Wrack, said “we must look at how a lax regulatory system created an environment where the Grenfell Tower disaster was allowed to happen.”
FBU news release. BBC News Online and Panorama: Grenfell – who is to blame, broadcast 21 May 2018 and related FBU commentary. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Qantas using ‘anti-union’ tactics to silence safety concerns
The union Unite has warned Qantas airlines against employing ‘anti-union’ tactics to try and suppress legitimate health and safety concerns. The union was speaking out after the introduction of the airline’s new 17-hour ultra-long haul flight between London Heathrow and Perth in Australia, which means an average duty period of 19 hours for the ten cabin crew on board each 787 Dreamliner aircraft serving the route.
Unite news release. Morning Star. Travel Weekly. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: UNISON survey spots spike in health board stress
A health board in Wales has been urged to support its staff better after figures obtained by UNISON showed a spike in stress-related sick days. New statistics obtained by the union show Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) lost almost 77,000 days due to stress and anxiety last year - costing more than £5.4m.
BBC News Online. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Fears over ‘potentially lethal’ fire service management move
The appointment of staff with no experience of firefighting to key operational positions at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) is ‘a potentially lethal experiment’, firefighters’ union FBU has warned. The union said it believes the safety of firefighters and the public is being jeopardised by the practice.
FBU news release. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Teacher with cystic fibrosis has discrimination ruling upheld
An English teacher with cystic fibrosis who was discriminated against by his employer has won at the Court of Appeal the final round of a long-running legal battle. NEU member Philip Grosset, who was head of English at the Joseph Rowntree School in New Earswick, outside York, was awarded £180,000 compensation and £208,000 in pension entitlements after the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld an earlier ruling that he had been discriminated against on the basis of his disability.
Morning Star. York Press. Daily Mail. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: MPs slam government’s injury compensation plan
Government plans to change the personal injury compensation system could deny some workers access to justice, the Justice Select Committee has warned. The committee examined the impact of raising the personal injury (PI) small claims limit from £1,000 to £2,000 and to £5,000 for Road Traffic Accidents (RTA) related claims, part of a package of government reforms.
Justice Select Committee news release, report summary and conclusions and recommendations. Usdaw news release. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Small fine after contractor is electrocuted
The partners in FS Watts & Sons, a business running a Suffolk farm, have been fined after a haulage contractor was killed by an overhead power line strike. Basildon Magistrates’ Court heard how on 30 August 2016, haulage driver Christopher Wilson, 36, was killed when his tipping trailer was raised and made contact with overhead power lines that ran across part of the yard hard standing at the Airfield Grain store in Parham.
HSE news release. Farmers Weekly. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Demolition firm fined after concrete panel injury
A demolition company has been fined after a worker suffered multiple injuries when he was struck by a concrete spandrel panel. Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how Vale Park Demolition Services Limited was contracted to demolish a link bridge structure at Littleborough Primary School, Rochdale.
HSE news release and demolition webpages. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Sawmill fined after employee loses his leg
A sawmill has been fined after a worker’s leg was cut off by a saw. Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard that, in July 2016, the employee of A&J Scott Limited attempted to clear a blockage on the conveyor feed and edger machine but was caught by the moving parts, pushed forward and his trailing leg was amputated below the knee by the saw blade.
HSE news release. Northumberland Gazette. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Hazards Conference, 27-29 July, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent
The 2018 National Hazards Conference will take place at Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent, from 27-29 July. The theme is ‘Safety reps@40 – Still vital to the future of safe and healthy work!’ The conference will feature contributions from international and national trade union leaders, academics and campaigners who will address the current health and safety issues facing workers.
Book now! National Hazards Conference, 27-29 July, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent. For further information, email the Hazards Campaign. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Global: Asbestos industry told ‘the end is nigh!’
A global network of 30 trade union, labour, environmental, academic and occupational disease victims’ advocacy organisations has told the asbestos industry its days are numbered. In an open letter headed ‘the end is nigh!’, groups including the global building unions’ federation BWI, the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) and the Asia Monitor Resource Centre note: “As this toxic technology is consigned to the history books, a ‘just transition policy’ for redundant asbestos miners and affected communities should be implemented as a matter of urgency.”
Open letter (also in Russian). Risks 850. 26 May 2018

New Zealand: Union urges breaks for air traffic controllers
Many air traffic controllers in New Zealand have no guarantee they will get any toilet breaks while carrying out safety-critical roles controlling planes, their union has told a select committee. The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA), told the education and workforce select committee that the change it was seeking to the proposed Employment Relations Amendment Bill (ERA Bill) were “safety-critical”, to allow controllers to take a break during each shift.
NZALPA news release. Otago Daily Times. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Pakistan: Ali Enterprises fire families receive pensions for life
The survivors and families bereaved by the Ali Enterprises fire in 2012 are to receive life-long pensions out of a fund financed by the factory’s main buyer, German retailer KiK. The beneficiaries all lost family members or were injured themselves at the deadly fire in the Ali Enterprises factory in Karachi, Pakistan, on 11 September 2012, which killed over 250 garment workers.
CCC news release and compensation timeline. ILO news release. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

USA: Government wants to get teens in hazardous jobs
The US Labor Department (DoL) plans to unwind decades-old youth labour protections by allowing teenagers to work longer hours in some of the nation’s most hazardous workplace conditions. The DoL will propose relaxing current rules - known as Hazardous Occupations Orders (HOs) - that prohibit 16- and 17-year-old apprentices and student learners from receiving extended, supervised training in certain dangerous jobs, according to two well-placed two sources, said Bloomberg Law.
Bloomberg Law. Child Labor Coalition. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Hazards news, 19 May 2018

Britain: Union takes pee protest to Amazon summit
Members of the union GMB protested outside a government-backed Amazon sales summit in Manchester to expose the abusive way the retail giant treats its warehouse workers. The ‘Amazon Seller Summit’ was intended to encourage third-party sellers to use Amazon Marketplace to sell their wares overseas and was held at Old Trafford in Manchester ‘in partnership’ with the Department for International Trade.
Business Insider. Amazon Seller Summit. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

USA: Spaced-out Amazon boss should get back to Earth
A letter from the US National Coalition on Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH) published in the New York Times has criticised multibillionaire Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’ statement that “the only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel.” NYCOSH said it named Amazon as a ‘Dirty Dozen’ employer in the US this year, because of its abusive employment practices and record of seven warehouse deaths in five years, adding: “Mr Bezos needs to pay much more attention to what is happening here on Earth.”
New York Times letter and opinion. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Government must enforce new tyre regulations
The government must fully implement and enforce new European Union regulations which will improve safety by placing import duties on inferior quality tyres imported from China, transport and manufacturing union Unite has said. The union said there are significant safety concerns associated with poor quality tyres as they have a much shorter road life and are more likely to ‘blowout’.
Unite news release. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Pupils and staff left exposed to violence in Scottish schools
Pupils and school staff in Scottish schools are being put at risk as a result of the failure of some schools to act on information about violent and disruptive pupils, teaching union NASUWT has said. The union is concerned that schools are ‘failing in their duty to record and address all incidents of serious pupil violence and disruption’.
NASUWT news release. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Union welcomes new law to tackle the misuse of lasers
New regulations targeting an abuse of lasers that has put transport workers and the public in danger has passed its final parliamentary hurdle and will become law. Welcoming the new rules, which were given Royal Assent on 10 May, pilots’ union BALPA said the law came after its lengthy campaign to tackle laser misuse.
BALPA news release. Department for Transport news release. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Unite gives reps the tools to tackle workplace mental health
Unite is taking action on mental health, which it says is a ‘key concern’ in the workplace. The union, which is running is running a series of mental health awareness courses, is also highlighting how bad management practices can be a major contributory factor to poor mental health.
Unite news release. Mental Health Awareness Week.
TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: More workers want mental health help but few get it
More employees are approaching their managers with concerns around mental health, but most companies are poorly equipped to respond, a new survey has found. An Institute of Directors (IoD) poll of 700 managers found almost four in 10 (39 per cent) had been approached by staff with such a concern but fewer than one in five firms (17 per cent) offered mental health training for managers. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Exercise is good for you - but hard labour isn’t
Men who work as labourers or in other physically demanding roles have a greater risk of dying early than those with more sedentary jobs, a new study has found. The research, from an international team of researchers, reveals an apparent “physical activity paradox” where exercise can be harmful at work but beneficial to health when performed in leisure time.
Pieter Coenen and others. Do highly physically active workers die early? A systematic review with meta analysis of data from 193 696 participants, British Journal of Sports Medicine, published Online First, 14 May 2018. Time magazine. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Lords told construction industry must tackle its health risks
The construction industry should target health risks as well as safety and should ‘design out’ these risks, a House of Lords inquiry has been told. B&CE, a not-for-profit construction industry insurance and occupational health advice body, told a Lords select committee inquiry into ‘offsite manufacture for construction’ that more emphasis on tackling occupational health risks would reduce the likelihood of these conditions, improve productivity and reduce ‘the risk of workers developing latent health conditions.’
B&CE news release and written evidence to the Lords science and technology committee hearing. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Thousands of road workers’ lives put at risk
Reckless drivers are routinely putting the lives of roadworkers at risk, research by Highways England has found. Its figures reveal a catalogue of serious incidents and near misses ranging from motorists driving into coned off areas where road workers are working to physical and verbal abuse.
Highways England news release. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Spice epidemic putting prison nursing staff at risk
An epidemic of the use of the drug ‘spice’ in UK prisons is putting the nurses called in to treat inmates at risk, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned. It said it had members who had been left sick, unconscious or unable to drive after treating prisoners who had taken the illegal drug, which is a potent synthetic cannabis substitute.
RCN news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Nurses 'going whole shifts without a glass of water'
The majority of nurses regularly go through entire shifts without drinking water or taking breaks, a survey has found. Threequarters of nurses do not have time to take a break during one or two shifts every week, according to the poll of 2,000 nurses by journal Nursing Standard.
Nursing Standard. Morning Star. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Concrete firm fined after death of worker
A Somerset pre-cast concrete products manufacturing company has been fined after a 43-year-old man was fatally injured. Bath Magistrates’ Court heard how Jeffery Baulf, a maintenance fitter employed by CPM Group Limited, was carrying out maintenance work when a conveyor started moving and Mr Baulf suffered fatal injuries when he became trapped.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Tesco fined £1.6m after customer is hit by van
Supermarket giant Tesco has been fined £1.6 million after a customer at a London store was left seriously injured. Tesco Stores Limited pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences relating to an August 2014 incident when the driver of one of its vehicles ran into a member of the public whilst reversing into the loading bay of the Greenford Tesco Metro store, in Ealing, west London.
Ealing Council news report. Ealing Today. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Australia: Blackmail charges against union organisers dropped
Blackmail charges against two officers of the construction union CFMEU that have been headline news for three years have been dropped in a major blow to the Australian government. CFMEU state leaders John Setka and Shaun Reardon had demanded a union safety presence on a Boral site, but found themselves accused of ‘blackmailing’ managers Paul Dalton and Peter Head at a café meeting in April 2013.
CFMEU news release and video press conference. ABC News. The New Daily. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Global: Top experts back major reforms on work disease prevention
An international meeting of occupational health experts has called for a major global shake up to improve the prevention of work-related diseases. The 2,200 delegates to the International Congress on Occupational Health, held this month in Ireland, adopted the Dublin Statement on Occupational Health, backing wide-ranging action for prevention of occupational cancer and asbestos related diseases (ARDs) and calling for ‘decent work’.
Dublin statement on occupational health: New avenues for prevention of occupational cancer and other severe occupational health hazards, ICOH, May 2018. ICOH website. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Turkey: Over 50 workers died a day last month
A total of 177 fatalities were recorded across Turkey in April, according to a monthly study released by a non-governmental workplace safety organisation. According to data compiled by the Workers’ Health and Work Safety Assembly (İSİGM), the workplace death toll in the first four months of 2018 now stands at 575.
Stockholm Centre for Freedom news release. UNISON blog. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

USA: Most firms still failing to address sexual harassment
Fewer than a third of working Americans (32 per cent) believe their employer has taken new measures to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. APA found that according to employees, the most common action taken was simply reminding employees of existing sexual harassment training or resources (18 per cent).
APA news release. Workplace sexual harassment: Are employers actually responding? APA, 15 May 2018. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Hazards news, 12 May 2018

Britain: Toxic cabin air warning should trigger public inquiry
The recommendations from an inquest into the death of a cabin crew member should be the ‘catalyst’ for a public enquiry, the union Unite has said. The union call came after Berkshire’s senior coroner in the inquest into the death of Matthew Bass, a Unite member and British Airways’ cabin crew, said he would write to the chief coroner asking him to warn all coroners in England and Wales of the need for additional tests where the cause of death could be toxic cabin air on board aircraft.
Unite news release and cabin air campaign. Why Matt died website. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: One-in-nine workers are in insecure jobs, says TUC
Over 3.8 million people are in insecure work, such as agency work, zero hour contracts and low-paid self-employment, an analysis by the TUC has found. The union body found that 1-in-9 workers, or 11.9 per cent of the workforce, is in insecure forms of employment, or 3,820,000 UK workers overall.
TUC news release and new deal facebook page. More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: GMB takes on Hermes over workers’ rights
The delivery company Hermes is facing a GMB-backed challenge from its drivers. The legal action, which started on 30 April at a Leeds employment tribunal, has been brought by eight couriers at Hermes, which delivers packages for retailers such as Next, Asos, John Lewis, Topshop and River Island.
GMB news release. The Guardian and story update. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: TUC hails Scottish campaign against zero hours
The leader of the UK's trade union movement has praised “brilliant” campaigns against zero hours contracts by young Scottish workers. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the Better Than Zero campaign had revitalised unions in Scotland.
The Herald. Better than Zero facebook page. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: ‘Climate of fear’ at Lidl, claim Scottish workers
Workers at supermarket giant Lidl's Scottish distribution depot “operate in a climate of fear”, retail union Usdaw has warned. Hundreds of staff at the site in Livingston load groceries for transportation to Lidl's 94 stores across Scotland - but random employee theft checks are held without reasonable grounds for suspicion, reports Usdaw, adding that employees suffering extreme back pain from heavy lifting are afraid to take time off sick.
Usdaw news release. The Herald. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Exploitation rife in nail bars, recycling, on sites and in car washes
Exploitation and abuse of workers is widespread across the UK economy, according to a new report, which found that 17 sectors are high-risk for mistreatment ranging from wages theft to slavery. Construction, recycling, nail bars and car washes were among the top sectors where the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) said there was slavery, with agriculture, food packing, fishing, shellfish gathering, warehouse and distribution, garment manufacturing, taxi driving, retail, domestic work, and social care also highlighted in the report.
GLAA news release and full report, The nature and scale of labour exploitation across all sectors within the United Kingdom, GLAA, May 2018. The Guardian. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: GLAA report ‘hits nail on the head’ on site exploitation
The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) on workplace exploitation ‘is entirely right’ in its criticism of the exploitation and modern slavery so prevalent in the construction industry, the union Unite has said. Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Employers must reform working practices to ensure that the unscrupulous cannot exploit workers and the government should be forcing employers to take such appropriate action.”
Unite news release. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Furniture firm exposed workers to carcinogenic wood dust
A Hertfordshire furniture manufacturer has been fined after exposing its employees to significant quantities of hardwood dust, a hazardous substance known to cause occupational asthma, nasal cancer and which has been linked to lung cancer. Luton Magistrates’ Court heard how employees in Andrena Furniture Ltd’s workshop were exposed to hardwood dust on a daily basis.
HSE news release. ITUC/Hazards work cancer hazards website. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Contractor fined £200,000 after dumper death
Civil engineering contractor Tonic Construction Ltd has been fined £200,000 following the death of Shaun Carter, who was hit by a toppling dumper. Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard how the 29-year-old employee was driving a forward tipping dumper on 31 May 2016 onto the top of a spoil heap, but the dumper became stuck on the edge of the spoil heap, and when Carter jumped off the vehicle, it flipped over striking him.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Trainee scaffolder seriously hurt in fall through roof
A company has been fined nearly £35,000 after a trainee scaffolder was seriously injured when he fell through a fragile asbestos roof in a ‘foreseeable and avoidable’ accident. The victim had worked for Acorn Scaffolding (Yorkshire) Ltd for less than three weeks when he plunged about 13 feet through a roof onto a concrete floor at Lockington Grange Farm, East Riding, on 31 May 2013.
HSE news release. Hull Daily Mail. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Food firm fined after worker loses his leg
A Crewe company has been fined after an incident where a contractor lost his leg when he was hit by a forklift truck. Morning Foods Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of safety law and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £35,000.
HSE news release. Crewe Chronicle. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Jersey: Boss fined after gardener is slashed to the bone
The owner of a Jersey gardening business has been fined £10,000 after an employee suffered serious facial injuries. Jose Romao Gouveia De Castro was also ordered to pay £2,500 costs after the Royal Court found him guilty of working “substantially short” of required procedures.
Bailwick Express. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: TUC 150th anniversary safety conference, 8 June, Manchester
A health and safety conference celebrating the 150th anniversary of the TUC is to be held at the Mechanics Institute, Manchester on Friday 8 June. The event – staged in the birthplace of the TUC - has the theme 'You gotta fight for your right to safety'. Speakers include TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady - who will open the conference - and Kevin Rowan, the TUC’s head of organising and a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) board member. Delegates will have the opportunity to “learn how to produce podcasts, and innovative and creative ways of organising.”
Register for the free event: You gotta fight for your right to safety, Friday 8 June 2018, 10:00am-3:00pm, Mechanics Institute, Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6DD.
Email Janet Newsham or telephone Greater Manchester Hazards Centre on 0161 636 7558 for more information. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Global: How your workplace is killing you
The modern workplace can inflict potentially fatal levels of stress on employees, a succession of studies have shown. Stanford University Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of ‘Dying for a Paycheck’, argues that these practices don’t help companies – and warns governments are ignoring an emerging public health crisis.
BBC Capital. Dying for a Paycheck:  How modern management harms employee health and company performance—and What We Can Do About It, HarperBusiness, March 2018.
Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stefanos Zenios. The relationship between workplace stressors and mortality and health costs in the United States, Management Science, volume 62, issue 2, pages 608-628, 13 March 2016. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Global: Dramatic fall in asbestos production worldwide
There has been a dramatic drop in asbestos production worldwide, with just three countries continuing to mine the deadly fibre. Brazil’s 2017 ban on asbestos production and use means only Russia, China and Kazakhstan are now mining asbestos.
International Ban Asbestos Secretariat analysis. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

New Zealand: Work diseases a ‘significant’ workplace problem
A concern over unacceptable levels of highly visible work fatalities should not distract attention from the much greater toll of work-related diseases, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) has said. The union body’s president, Richard Wagstaff, said cancer, respiratory disease, noise related hearing loss, and ischaemic heart disease were some of the most common work-related chronic illnesses, adding “involvement of workers and their unions in assessing how to manage these risks.”
New Zealand Herald. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Pakistan: Union concern at deadly spike in mine deaths
In separate incidents on 5 May, a ‘staggering’ 23 mine workers were killed and 11 injured in horrific mine accidents in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, the global union IndustriALL has said. Condemning the deaths and protesting against what they described as the negligence and apathy of the mine owners and the government, Pakistani trade unions, including IndustriALL affiliate PCMLF, organised protest actions in Quetta the following day.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Hazards news, 5 May 2018

Britain: TUC hails the ‘huge difference’ made by safety reps
The TUC has praised the lifesaving impact of union safety reps in Britain’s workplaces. The TUC pledged “to redouble our efforts to make sure everyone is safe from illness and injury while doing their jobs.”
Safety reps: Getting more than the minimum – A TUC guide to Roving Safety Reps and Union Improvement Notices. Safetyreps@40 campaign. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Global: Record number of countries involved on 28 April
International Workers’ Memorial Day is organised by unions and campaigners and is now the biggest safety event in world. An events map produced by the global trade union confederation ITUC tracked activities in over 70 countries this year, with the global union confederation saying additional national reports are still coming in.
Check out the ITUC 28 April global events map. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: For firefighters like me, the hidden dangers can be worse
Firefighters’ union FBU is facing more than safety hazards; it is battling to highlight the risk of heart attacks, cancer and stress caused by heat and contaminants from fires and close proximity to tragedies. FBU officer Les Skarratts noted that at every turn the union faces barriers.
The Guardian. FBU blog. UCLAN news release. Anna A Stec and others. Occupational exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and elevated cancer incidence in firefighters, Nature’s Scientific Reports, 8, Article number: 2476, 2018.
North American firefighters’ union IAFF publishes a list of presumptive legislation coverage on cancers, heart disease and other conditions in firefighters across North American jurisdictions. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Lorry drivers are facing unaddressed deadly risks
Lorry drivers are being placed in danger from long hours and a chronic lack of adequate welfare facilities, according to new research by Unite. The union has warned that “the true scale of deaths is not being properly investigated due to legal loopholes.”
Unite news release. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: ‘Urgent’ government action needed on agricultural deaths
The government must take urgent action to improve safety in agriculture, Britain’s most dangerous industry, farmworkers’ union Unite has said. The union said last year there were 27 deaths in agriculture, 20 per cent of the total workplace fatality figure, despite the industry employing just one per cent of the UK’s workforce.
Unite news release. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Union welcomes move to ‘protect the protectors’
The union GMB is celebrating a double victory after the 'protect the protectors' Bill won cross-party support from MPs last week – with new measures to punish sexual attacks on emergency workers added to the draft law. The union-backed Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill introduces a new offence of common assault against an emergency worker and requires courts to treat attacks on emergency workers as an aggravating factor when sentencing.
GMB news release and related release on the increase in attacks on ambulance workers. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Female posties more likely to lose out on loos
A lack of toilet facilities for postal delivery workers disproportionately affects women, the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) conference has heard. The Morning Star reports that delegates at the annual gathering in Bournemouth unanimously passed a motion calling for a compulsory list of toilet facilities on every delivery route.
Morning Star. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Fresh Dial-a-Ride action over ‘impossible’ rosters
Workers at Dial-a-Ride have started a new series of walkouts after talks to resolve a dispute over the withdrawal of rest days and the imposition of new rosters failed to make progress. The dispute, which led to strike action in March, involves 120 workers who provide special needs transport for elderly people, the vulnerable and those with disabilities, on behalf of Transport for London (TfL).
Unite news release. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Union calls on MPs for action on workplace sexual harassment
A change to the law may be needed to prevent sexual harassment at work, Prospect’s Marion Scovell has told an influential committee of MPs. The union’s head of legal was one of the expert witnesses called to give evidence to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee as part of their inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.
Prospect news release and evidence to the Women’s and Equalities Committee inquiry. House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into sexual harassment at work and latest evidence session. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Global: Amazon profits soar as workers are ‘treated like robots’
The stratospheric profits announced by online retailer Amazona are ‘built on treating workers like robots’, the union GMB has said. And the US National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) last week put Amazon at the top of its 2018 ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of companies that put workers and communities at risk.
GMB news release. CNBC News. NYCOSH Dirty Dozen list. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: ‘Shocking’ numbers work while ill, survey shows
Employers are seeing more staff turning up to work while ill, according to a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). CIPD surveyed more than 1,000 organisations this year and found that 86 per cent had observed staff attending work while ill, known as ‘presenteeism’; this compares with a survey in 2010 when just 26 per cent of employers observed the behaviour.
CIPD news release. BBC News Online. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Occupational health action pays off, says study
Occupational health services (OHS) have a ‘clear value’ to workers, companies and the economy, a new study has found. The report from the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM), the International SOS Foundation and KU Leuven University examines the value of occupational health from a global perspective and “provides a synthesis of global evidence on the effectiveness of occupational health interventions and cost effectiveness.”  
SOM news release and full report, Occupational health: The global value and evidence, SOM, May 2018. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Offshore operators warned over disaster risks
A number of major disasters in the oil and gas sector have been averted through good luck rather than good management, the offshore union RMT has warned. The union was commenting after it emerged the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had written to all offshore oil and gas production operators regarding gas releases in the North Sea.
HSE news release and HCR prevention guidance. RMT news release. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Global: Oil and gas safety fears 'from quarter of senior managers'
Over a quarter of senior managers in the oil and gas sector believe safety management is not effective, according to a study. The report - from the Norwegian risk management firm DNV GL - It found that more than a third – 38 per cent - felt safety management was effective, however 26 per cent of the respondents disagreed.
DNV GL news release and State of safety report. BBC News Online. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: DHL fined £2m after worker’s depot death
Courier company DHL has been fined £2 million over the death of a worker at one of its depots. Kryzystof Sontowski was crushed between a lorry and the wall of a docking bay as workers manoeuvred it so that the rear of the vehicle was in in the correct position.
MK Citizen. BBC News Online. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Transport firm fined after worker killed by lorry
A Scottish haulage company has been fined £180,000 after a worker was crushed by a lorry. Graham Forsyth was working for Colin Lawson Transport on 31 May 2016 when he was sent to help repark lorries in the company’s yard in Aberdeen when a lorry shunted backwards and hit the 57-year-old, who later died in hospital.
HSE news release. Press and Journal. Evening Express. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Afghanistan: Ten journalists killed in a single day
Unknown gunmen killed Ahmad Shah, a journalist with BBC Afghan service, on 30 April, making it the deadliest for media in the country as nine other journalists were killed earlier in the day in a suicide attack in Kabul. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) in strongly condemning the targeted killing of Shah and demanded swift action from the authorities to arrest and punish the killers.
IFJ news release. BBC News Online. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Global: Unions launch ‘urgent’ safety organising campaign
Global union organisations have launched an urgent campaign to secure safety, justice and accountability at work. The initiative, announced on 28 April – International Workers’ Memorial Day – sets out to underline the vital role that unions play in protecting workers from work-related accidents and disease.
ITUC news release and 28 April webpages. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Global: Day of action against rights and safety violator Samsung
Global electronic giant Samsung has been targeted by safety and labour standards campaigners over its deadly record of abuse. An international day of action against Samsung on 1 May saw the company’s bad practices exposed in Asia, Europe and the United States.
Good Electronics news release. Samsung campaign facebook page.
Modern Technology, Medieval Conditions, an ITUC report on Samsung’s operations worldwide. ITUC multimedia documentary: www.samsungexposed.org. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Hazards news, 28 April 2018

Britain: TUC guide helps safety reps aim high
In the run up to Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April the TUC said it concentrated on supporting events around the global theme of “organised workplaces are safer workplaces”. “We are also focusing on looking forward to the future,” said TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, adding the TUC has just “published a guide to going further than the legal minimum, focusing on Roving Safety Reps and Union Improvement Notices.”
Safety reps: Getting more than the minimum – A TUC guide to Roving Safety Reps and Union Improvement Notices. Safetyreps@40 campaign. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Sex attacks on ambulance workers soaring
The union GMB is calling for tough action after shocking new figures revealed sex attacks on ambulance workers have more than tripled in the last five years. GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: “GMB is calling for sexual assaults to be included in this new legislation to help give our ambulance staff the reassurance they need to get on with the job.”
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Voluntary sector campaign against work violence wins backing
A UNISON campaign to tackle violence against workers in the voluntary sector is attracting wide support. The union’s community service group says 18 organisations have now signed up to the UNISON violence at work charter.
UNISON news release and  Violence at Work Charter. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Shopworkers policing age-restricted sales need more protection
Shopworkers told to enforce age-limits on restricted products like alcohol need better protection, their union has said.  Paddy Lillis, Usdaw’s general secretary elect, said: “Age-related sales are a cause for concern amongst our retail membership, because they bring with them the very real risk of abuse, legal sanctions, and disciplinary action.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: RMT rail safety protest marks dispute’s second anniversary
Members of the rail union RMT held a national protest outside parliament on 25 April against industry driver only operation on trains. The rally coincided with the second anniversary of RMT’s strike action on Southern Rail - Britain's longest running industrial dispute - in defence of keeping the guard on the train.
RMT news release. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Workers hurt in ‘crisis’ ridden justice system
Workers in legal aid and advice organisations are at breaking point, according to a survey undertaken by their union Unite. The union’s survey of members at over 30 advice centres, law centres and Citizen Advice centres found in 78 per cent of cases members reported that they now feel more stressed at work, with 1-in-3 being forced to take time off due to work-related sickness.
Unite news release. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

The government must ban zero hour contracts, says TUC
The TUC has called on the government to ban zero hours contracts after latest official figures showed the number of workers affected rose by 100,000 in 2017. The statistics published by the Office for National Statistics show that UK firms used 1.8 million zero hour contacts in the year to November 2017, up from 1.7m in 2016, and that 901,000 people had a zero hours contract as their main employment in the final quarter of 2017.
ONS statistics release April 2018. TUC news release. GMB news release. The Guardian. Personnel Today. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Pet store workers picked up bug from poorly lambs
An outbreak of gastrointestinal illness linked to a Stockton-on-Tees pet store is being investigated by Public Health England’s North East team. The PHE North East protection team has confirmed two cases of both cryptosporidium and campylobacter, plus another three cases with cryptosporidium.
The Gazette. Environmental Health News. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Site firms folded ahead of £2m convictions for crushing death
Two firms convicted of criminal offences linked to the crushing death of a worker at a power plant went bust before a court handed each a £1 million fine. Sheffield Crown Court heard how 36-year-old David Beresford was employed by RK Civil Engineers Ltd working at the EON Renewable Energy Plant in the city when he was crushed by a falling pipe.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Waste firm fined following runaway lorry death
A waste management company has been fined for a criminal safety offence after a 56-year-old man was fatally injured by a runaway lorry at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. Plymouth Crown Court heard how on 8 June 2015, at approximately 7am, Viridor Waste Management Ltd employee Lee Jane but was drawn under the runaway trailer, sustaining fatal injuries.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: BAM Nuttall fined £900,000 over painter’s fall
BAM Nuttall and subcontractor McNealy Brown have been fined £900,000 and £65,000 respectively after a painter fell through a rail station ceiling into a passenger waiting room. Both firms admitted failing to put proper procedures and safeguards in place to prevent painter Paul Welstead falling at East Croydon railway station on 7 January 2015.
ORR news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Glue firm fined after workers injured in fire
Manchester adhesive manufacturer Itac Ltd has appeared in court after two employees were injured in a major fire that stopped production at the site for five months. Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard enforcement action had been taken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prior to the incident at Bankfield Mills in Radcliffe because of concerns about poor handling, storage and management of risks from flammable liquids at Itac Ltd.
HSE news release. Bury Times. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Australia: World’s largest stevedore targeted over dock safety failings
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is urging Hutchison Ports – the world’s largest stevedore - to address a pattern of serious health and safety incidents across its global operations, as a dockworker was left in a critical condition following workplace collision at the company’s Port Botany terminal in Australia. The ITF’s executive board met in London and passed a resolution “strongly urging Hutchison Ports to address a pattern of serious health and safety incidents across their global operations.”
ITF news release. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Bangladesh: Improvements still needed, 5 years after Rana Plaza
To mark the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1,134 workers, global trade unions and labour rights organisations are calling on all brands sourcing from Bangladesh to take responsibility for workers making their products by signing the renewed Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. The 2018 Transition Accord takes over the work of the current Accord when it expires in May and will ensure that work continues to improve factory safety.
IndustriALL news release. Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Canada: Ontario expands automatic firefighter cancer payouts
The Canadian province of Ontario is extending a system that presumes certain cancers in firefighters qualify for compensation payouts. The new system adds cervical, ovarian and penile cancers to those covered by the scheme, which already includes brain, bladder, ureter, kidney, colorectal, oesophageal, breast, testicular, prostate, lung, skin, leukaemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
Ontario Ministry of Labour news release. Business Insider. IAFF list of presumptive legislation on cancer in firefighters across North American jurisdictions. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

USA: Tesla factory facing renewed safety scrutiny
California’s job safety watchdog is investigating another injury at Tesla’s factory in Fremont that left a worker hospitalised with a broken jaw. News of the investigation came on the heels of a new report from the Center for Investigative Reporting that catalogued a series of injuries suffered by Tesla factory workers and alleged the company had chosen not to report certain incidents as required under California labour law.
New York Times. Reveal News. Confined Space blog. Center for Investigative Reporting. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Hazards news, 21 April 2018

Britain: Steep rise in reported assaults against NHS staff
Physical assaults on NHS staff in England rose by nearly 10 per cent last year compared to 2015/16, according to new research by UNISON and Health Service Journal (HSJ). UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Across the entire NHS, staff shortages are harming patient care and helping to create a hostile environment where health workers are increasingly at risk of being assaulted.”
UNISON news release. NHS Employers news release. Evening Standard.
TUC violence at work guidance. Hit list: TUC violence and abuse reporting form, Hazards magazine. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Abuse of transport staff surges after minister’s ‘terrorists’ comment
London transport workers have faced a wave of racist abuse and threats after security minister Ben Wallace suggested the workforce had been infiltrated by terrorists. RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, commented: “The union understands that the first senior London Underground managers knew of this story was when they were contacted by reporters and we hope that Tube managers and the Mayor will support and protect staff facing threats and abuse as a result of the coverage.”
RMT news release. London Evening Standard. Daily Mail. Morning Star. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Usdaw presses for Scottish shopworker protection law
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw and businesses are supporting a new law to protect workers in Scotland. Labour MSP Daniel Johnson is promoting a Bill that would create new offences regarding assaults on shopworkers and others, like bar and pub staff, who are involved in the sale and supply of age-restricted good and services.
Usdaw news release and Not part of the job website. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Deeside site protest to halt ‘shameful race to the bottom’
A protest at the £800 million energy to waste construction site at Parc Adfer in Deeside, north Wales on 17 April was intended to stop a ‘race to the bottom’ in pay, conditions and safety at the site, unions have said. Construction unions are demanding that the French contractor CNIM adheres to national construction sector agreements covering pay, terms and conditions.
Unite news release. The Leader. Deeside.com. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Safety is top concern in Lidl distribution centres
Health and safety tops the list of concerns raise by staff in distribution centres for the discount chain Lidl, retail union Usdaw has said. As the union embarked on the latest stage of its campaign for formal recognition in the centres, Paddy Lillis, Usdaw’s general secretary elect, said these workers need union representation, adding: “Topping the list of staff concerns are significant issues around health and safety, often made worse by an unreasonable volume of work and difficult to achieve performance targets.”
Usdaw news releaseRisks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Justice for DWP worker given warning after 'nearly dying'
A man who worked at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and who was given a written warning after ‘nearly dying’ at work has been awarded £26,000 in compensation. PCS member Barrie Caulcutt, who suffers from anxiety, chronic asthma and eczema, was given the written warning for taking 2.5 days sick leave after he suffered a serious asthma attack he believes was triggered by work-related anxiety.
Daily Post. Daily Record. The Mirror. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Midwife fired after lack of loo breaks made her sick wins job back
A midwife sacked from Wakefield’s Pinderfields Hospital has won an appeal against her dismissal after more than 40,000 people signed an online petition calling for her to be reinstated. UNISON member Jane Greaves said she was last off work with a kidney infection she believed she contracted at Pinderfields Hospital’s birth centre - which doesn’t have a staff toilet.
Yorkshire Evening Post. The Independent. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: RMT says rail safety watchdog is just an industry ‘mouthpiece’
Rail union RMT has accused the railway safety watchdog, the Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB), of political bias following the publication of its business plan for the year ahead. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the RSSB and the Office for Road and Rail “are now merely a mouthpiece of the government cheerleaders the Rail Delivery Group – all jamming their noses in the corporate trough and supporting a safety programme that suits the speculators and not the passengers or railway workers.”
RMT news release. RSSB news release and Business Plan 2018-19. Morning Star. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: For too many, work is pretty miserable
More than one in every ten workers (11 per cent) report regularly feeling miserable at work and one in four workers (25 per cent) feel their job negatively affects their mental health, a study by the human resources professionals’ organisation CIPD has found. Jonny Gifford, senior adviser for organisational behaviour at the CIPD, said: “There are also many things employers can do that make a real difference – in particular, fostering better workplace relationships and giving employees voice and choice on aspects of their working lives.”
CIPD news release. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Asbestos bosses who forged documents escape jail
The bosses of an asbestos removal company who forged documents to fraudulently obtain an asbestos licence from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have escaped jail. Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how Excavation and Contracting (UK) Ltd used both forged medical certificates and forged asbestos training certificates for their asbestos removal operatives.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Specialist asbestos surveyor missed asbestos
A specialist asbestos surveying company has been fined after failing to spot asbestos at a demolition site. Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how EAS Asbestos Limited was commissioned to conduct refurbishment and demolition surveys by Mercer Brother Limited and wrongly stated in their surveys that asbestos was only present in the cement roof sheets, there were no areas that could not be accessed, and that there was no asbestos insulation board present in the garages.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Site firm fined after workers forced to wash in a bucket
A contractor carrying out refurbishment and basement extension work has been prosecuted for repeated criminal safety offences and providing site workers a non-flushing toilet without a cistern and a bucket and cold water to wash in. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that PVAD Limited was the contractor controlling work at a construction site in London when it was inspected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in March 2017.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Global: Events mapped out as biggest safety event draws close!
With just a week to go until International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, unions worldwide have been listing their activities on an online map. The ITUC/Hazards map already includes entries from Argentina to Zimbabwe. There’s also links to events closer to home, with pins on the map highlighting England, Scotland and Wales, where a plethora of national and local events are planned.
Check out the 28 April global events map.  Unions are organising for safer, healthier decent work, ITUC briefing, April 2018 [also available in French, German and Spanish translations]. ITUC 28 April 2018 poster in English, Spanish and French. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 international campaign website.
Hazards Campaign Unions make work safer poster (printed A4 and A3 versions available in single or multiple orders, for the price of postage only) and other 28 April 2018 resources. To order, telephone: 0161 636 7557 or email: info@hazardscampaign.org.uk
Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. When tweeting details of your 28 April plans and resources, use the hashtag #iwmd18. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Canada: Firm behind rail catastrophe is let off
Criminal charges have been dropped against Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), according to Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP). The firm had been accused of causing the deaths of 47 people when 73 train cars of highly combustible crude oil derailed in the small Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic in 2013, turning the downtown into a raging inferno.
Confined Space blog. Montreal Gazette. National Post. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Global: XPO workers demand end to toxic culture
Workers at the logistics giant XPO and union activists from Belgium, France, Spain, the UK and USA have revealed further evidence of worker abuse at the global company. Their concerns are wide-ranging - XPO has been charged by unions with sexual harassment, dangerous working conditions, a death at an XPO site, gender pay discrimination, exploitative employment arrangements and anti-union activity.
ITF news release and XPO global leadership group. Teamsters XPO campaign. News Channel 3. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Global: New index shows up mining industry failings
A comprehensive new index, ranking large-scale mining companies in six different performance areas, has found that companies are scoring lowest on working conditions. The Responsible Mining Index (RMI) 2018, launched in Geneva on 11 April, assesses 30 global mining companies on several economic, environmental, social and governance issues, including working conditions.
IndustriALL news release. Responsible Mining Index 2018. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

USA: Union calls for hotel auditions to be banned
Acting auditions should no longer take place in hotel rooms or homes, the leading US actors' union has said. SAG-AFTRA, which organises the Screen Actors Guild Awards, has called for an end to the practice “to help protect members from potential harassment.”
SAG-AFTRA news release and Four Pillars of Change initiative. BBC News Online. TeenVogue. ITUC action toolkit on the campaign for an ILO standard on gender-based violence. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Hazards news, 14 April 2018

Britain: Safety rep petition calls for protection of safety rights
A group of union safety reps from the north-west of England has launched an online petition calling for a high-profile union campaign to protect workplace safety rights as Brexit looms. The TUC has exposed repeatedly the potential threat to employment and safety standards from Brexit, with TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady this week saying “cliff-edge Brexiteers have key rights in their sights – including protections for agency workers, action against discrimination, and health and safety.”
TUC news release and blog. Sign the Union Safety petition. Union Safety. CBI news release and report.
Protecting health and safety after Brexit, TUC, May 2017. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Equity launches ‘safe spaces’ campaign
Actors’ union Equity has launched a ‘safe spaces’ campaign to tackle what it says is an entertainment industry sexual harassment ‘crisis’. The union says its campaign aims to give members “the confidence to challenge inappropriate behaviour and to report it knowing that the union is always there for them.”
Equity news release, Creating Safe Spaces poster and Agenda for Change. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: GMB demands release of Met Police blacklisting report
Construction union GMB has called on Scotland Yard to release its internal investigation into the secret blacklisting of thousands of construction safety activists by household name companies including Carillion, Balfour Beatty, Costain, Kier, Laing O'Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci. Lawyers Leigh Day, acting for GMB, have filed a Freedom of Information request for the Metropolitan Police’s full internal investigation report, all emails relating to the report and details of overt and covert meetings between officers and members of blacklisting organisations.
GMB news release. Leigh Day news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Intelligence failure puts pupils and staff at violence risk
Pupils and school staff are being put at risk as a result of the failure of some schools to share information about violent and disruptive pupils, teaching union NASUWT has said. The union said “in too many cases adequate risk assessments are not undertaken of pupils who persistently display high levels of aggression and violence in school.”
NASUWT news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Workload is getting teachers down
A ‘staggering’ 81 per cent of teachers have considered leaving teaching in the last year because of escalating workloads, teaching union NEU has said. NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The continual long hours spent on unnecessary work such as data collection for arbitrary government targets is not only demoralising but is unsustainable mentally and physically.”
NEU news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: School support staff struggling with increasing workloads
Teaching assistants, school administrators and other support staff are being made ill by increasing workloads as schools cut staffing to cope with budget cuts, according the union NEU. Dr Mary Bousted, NEU joint general secretary, said: “If the government fails to find any more money for schools, children will start suffering as more staff go off sick with stress.”
NEU news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Academy schools failure to manage asbestos exposed
The continuing presence of asbestos in the majority of schools and academies is a national scandal - putting the lives of pupils and staff at risk, unions have warned. Figures released by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) in conjunction with the campaigner Lucie Stephens and Rachel Reeves MP, reveal a ‘shocking disparity’ in asbestos management across Multi Academy Trusts (MATs).
NEU news release and Asbestos MAT FOI report. Public Accounts Committee news release. Morning Star. TES. Nursery World. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Hull recycling workers strike for sick pay
Recycling workers working for FCC Environment in Hull have taken industrial action for decent pay sick pay. FCC Environmental is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, a Spanish multinational that reported a 12.7 per cent increase in earnings in the first quarter of 2017, totalling $188m globally.
UNISON news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Cancer common at work, rights often aren’t
More than half (53 per cent) of employees living with cancer do not know that their employer has a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments for them to return to work, according to Macmillan Cancer Support. The charity’s latest estimates say the number of working age people living with cancer in the UK increased by almost 10 per cent between 2010 and 2015, from 810,000 to 890,000.
Macmillan Cancer Support news release. Personnel Today. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Groundworker trapped in trench by concrete lump
A Rotherham civil engineering contractor has been fined for criminal safety offences after a worker suffered life-threatening injuries. Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard that, in September 2016, a 48-year-old employee of KDS Construction Company Ltd was working in a 2-metre-deep excavation when he was struck on the head and pinned down by a large segment of concrete, suffering multiple injuries, including fractures to his skull, ribs, left arm and vertebrae.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: New warning on asbestos deaths linked to site work
Nearly one in four UK construction workers believe they may have been exposed to asbestos fibres, placing them at higher risk of contracting deadly cancers later in life, a major safety organisation has warned. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the organisation for safety professionals, says with potentially half a million buildings containing this lethal mineral, employees across many sectors risk being exposed every day.
IOSH news release and No Time to Lose campaign. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Foundry fined after workers suffer serious burns
A Nottinghamshire foundry has been fined after two employees suffered serious burns from an electrical flashover. Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court heard the workers at BAS Castings Ltd attempting to reinstate the power supply to one of the furnaces after repair work had been completed by contractors.
HSE news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Global: ‘Reinvigorated’ union safety campaign launch on 28 April
Figures establishing a sharp rise in work-related deaths worldwide show why unions worldwide are to renew and reinvigorate their campaign for safer, healthier, decent work, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has said. A briefing from the global union body, published ahead of the 28 April International Workers’ Memorial Day, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said: “It is not just about asking for improvements - it is about having the collective voice and industrial power to demand them.”
Sharan Burrow. Unions are organising for safer, healthier decent work, ITUC, April 2018 [also available in French, German and Spanish translations]. ITUC 28 April 2018 poster in English, Spanish and French. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 international events and campaign website.
Hazards Campaign Unions make work safer poster (printed A4 and A3 versions available in single or multiple orders, for the price of postage only) and other 28 April 2018 resources. To order, telephone: 0161 636 7557 or email: info@hazardscampaign.org.uk
Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. When tweeting details of your 28 April plans and resources, use the hashtag #iwmd18 Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Asia: Korean president urged to stop Samsung Vietnam abuse
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has urged South Korean president Moon Jae-in to challenge labour abuses by Samsung in its factories in Vietnam. In a letter to the Korean leader, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said: “From covering up the name of industrial chemicals that induce workers’ deaths and illness in the interests of ‘trade secrets’, to a no-union policy across its Asian electronics industry, Samsung relies on a business model that has lost its moral compass.”
ITUC news release, letter to President Moon and Modern Technology, Medieval Conditions, a report on Samsung’s operations worldwide. ITUC multimedia documentary: www.samsungexposed.org.
IPEN news release. UN Office of the Human Rights Commissioner news release. Stories of Women Workers in Vietnam’s Electronics Industry, report by CGFED and IPEN. Good Electronics news report. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Pakistan: Anger at new spate of mine accidents
A global union has condemned the ‘apathy and negligence’ behind a spate of worker deaths in Pakistan mines. Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director for the mining sector, said: “To stop the recurrence of fatal accidents, Pakistan must act swiftly to improve safety in mines, strengthen supervisory mechanisms and punish those responsible for the accidents, adding: “The government should also work together with workers’ representatives to improve the situation.”
IndustriALL news release and campaign for health and safety in Pakistan mines. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

USA: The 9/11 rescuers who died a day apart
According to records maintained by the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York (UFANYC) union, roughly one in eight firefighters who were at Ground Zero on 11 September 2001 have since come down with cancer. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) says that about 6,000 of the 9/11 first responders are now living with cancer, with thousands more suffering breathing problems or mental health issues.
BBC News Online. NYCOSH World Trade Center Health Program webpages. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Zimbabwe: Tobacco work is harming children
Children and adults who work on Zimbabwe’s tobacco farms are facing serious risks to their health, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned. A new report from the organisation says child workers are exposed to nicotine and toxic pesticides, and many suffer symptoms consistent with ‘Green Tobacco Sickness’, nicotine poisoning from handling tobacco leaves.
HRW news release and report, A bitter harvest: Child labor and human rights abuses on tobacco farms in Zimbabwe, April 2018. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Hazards news, 7 April 2018

Britain: So, you’re a safety rep? Tell us about it
Do you know how the TUC informs its health and safety policies, priorities and campaigns? It listens to the feedback from unions and their safety reps.
Have your say in the TUC survey of health and safety representatives 2018. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: TUC calls for firms to be made liable for their supply chains
The TUC is calling on the government to give UK supply chain workers the right to challenge their parent employer over minimum wage, holiday pay and other employment abuses. A new TUC report, ‘Shifting the risk’, notes: “For every 100,000 workers, the UK has 0.9 labour market inspectors (excluding health and safety inspectors). In France, there are 18.9 inspectors for every 100,000 workers.”
TUC news release and report, Shifting the risk: Countering business strategies that reduce their responsibility to workers - improving enforcement of employment rights, TUC, April 2018. BBC News Online. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Police blacklisting admission could lead to fresh legal action
Claims by unions and campaigners that undercover officers from the Metropolitan Police infiltrated union groups and spied on their safety activists have been confirmed. The Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin admitted in a letter to the Blacklist Support Group (BSG) that his officers supplied information used by the Consulting Association, a covert blacklister operating illegally.
Unite news release. GMB news release. Morning Star and related article. The Guardian and related article. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Unite calls for action after discovery of offshore ‘blacklist’
The union Unite has questioned the culture of a North Sea operator, after a worker said he had been removed from a platform after discovering a “blacklist”. Trade journal Energy Voice reported the list, which contained the names of 15 offshore workers, was found on the Claymore platform operated by Repsol Sinopec Resources UK.
Energy Voice. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Neglect of teachers’ health is ‘a national scandal’
Three in ten teachers (30 per cent) say they have turned to medication in the last 12 months to deal with the physical and mental toll their job is taking on them, a survey by teaching union NASUWT has found. The union says more than threequarters (78 per cent) of teachers report they have experienced an increase in workplace stress over the past 12 months, with more than four out of five (84 per cent) saying their job has impacted negatively on their health and well-being over the last year.
NASUWT news release. TES. Risks 843. 7 April 2018
TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Union health warning on ‘shocking’ rail diesel fume risks
Workers at Amey Rail could be facing serious health risks from exhaust fumes produced by diesel trains, a union has warned. TSSA says its members at Amey who carry out tunnel examinations could be at risk of cancer and other chronic health conditions from prolonged exposure. TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Despite the seriousness of this health risk, Amey Rail’s management have not stopped using diesel powered Road Rail Vehicle Elevated Platforms in tunnels and have not provided convincing evidence that they are safe.”
TSSA news release. Morning Star. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Harassment victims silenced by 'corrosive' work cultures
Victims of sexual harassment at work need better protection because their voices have been silenced by “corrosive” workplace cultures, a report has said. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it had discovered “truly shocking” examples of sexual harassment.
EHRC news release and report, Turning the tables: ending sexual harassment at work. TUC news release. Unite news release. NUJ news release. Morning Star. The Independent. BBC News Online. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Global: Action on work suicide risks would have ‘large impacts’
A new study has found work factors including poor job insecurity and job control are strongly linked to higher suicide risks and that prevention efforts could have ‘large population impacts’. The paper, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, says a range of work factors lead people to contemplate and attempt suicide and to kill themselves.
A Milner, K Witt, AD LaMontagne and others. Psychosocial job stressors and suicidality: a meta-analysis and systematic review, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 75, pages 245-253, 2018. Related commentary: Marianna Virtanen. Psychosocial job stressors and suicidality: can stress at work lead to suicide?, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 75, pages 243-244, 2018.  
More on work and suicides:  Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist, Hazards, number 141, 2018. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Death scandal spurs DPD to abolish sick leave fines
The courier company DPD is to offer all of its drivers sick and holiday pay and will abolish its controversial £150 daily fines for missing work. The move is part of wholesale reforms to its gig-working model sparked by the death of a driver, Don Lane, who was handed the cash penalty for attending a medical appointment to treat his diabetes and who later collapsed.
The Guardian and related article. Daily Mail. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Court victory on job loss from ‘symptomless’ chemical harm
A landmark judgment at the UK’s highest court has ruled that three former employees of the chemicals company Johnson Matthey should be compensated after they developed a sensitivity to platinum salts which led to them losing their jobs on medical grounds. The Supreme Court ruling means that if an employer has been negligent and that negligence causes a physiological change in the body, and that change results in economic loss, an employee may be entitled to claim compensation, even though the individual is symptomless.
Leigh Day news release. Supreme Court Ruling, 21 March 2018. Hertfordshire Mercury. Personnel Today. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Reduce working hours to tackle teacher retention
Teachers work longer hours - and have seen a sharper drop in pay - than police officers and nurses, researchers have found. The study, by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), shows that teachers worked 50 hours a week during term time in 2015/16, compared with 44 for police officers and 39 for nurses.
NFER news release. NEU news release. The Independent. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Ex-UKIP millionaire jailed for work manslaughter
A corner-cutting former UKIP parliamentary candidate and millionaire has been jailed for the manslaughter of a handyman after ignoring his safety pleas. Keith Crawford, 73, tried to cut costs while having a leak in his outdoor swimming pool repaired at his home in Exeter, admitted paying workers cash-in-hand to do jobs, adding he disliked “red tape.”
BBC News Online. The Mirror. Daily Mail. Plymouth Herald. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Religious group fined for scaffold death ‘cover-up’
A religious group that attempted a ‘cover-up’ when a man died after falling from scaffolding in its hall, has been fined £364,000. Amrik Blaggan, 57, died in hospital two days after he fell about 2m (6.5ft) from a platform at the Science of Soul centre in Haynes Park, Bedfordshire.
Central Bedfordshire Council news release. BBC News Online. Bedford Today. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Global: Countdown to Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April
With just three weeks to go until International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, a welter of new resources has become available to help union safety reps promote the global event.
Hazards Campaign Unions make work safer poster (printed A4 and A3 available in single or multiple orders, for the price of postage only) and other 28 April 2018 resources. To order, telephone: 0161 636 7557 or email: info@hazardscampaign.org.uk
ITUC 28 April 2018 poster in English, Spanish and French. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 international events and campaign website and theme announcement in English, Spanish and French.
TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. When tweeting details of your 28 April plans and resources, use the hashtag #iwmd18
Sharan Burrow: World of trouble: Unions are organising for safer, healthier and decent work, Hazards magazine, Number 141, 2018. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Global: Asbestos bans don’t hurt economies
Claims that asbestos bans will be damaging to the economies of countries making the move are not true, a study has found. Scientists from the World Health Organisation’s Europe office, the University of Sydney and a US economic consulting group found economies quickly recovered from any downturn and that countries persisting with asbestos use could expect ‘substantial costs’ as a result.
Lucy P Allen, Jorge Baez, Mary Elizabeth C Stern, Ken Takahashi and Frank George. Trends and the Economic Effect of Asbestos Bans and Decline in Asbestos Consumption and Production Worldwide, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, volume 15, number 3, page 531, 2018. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Italy: City strikes after deadly port explosion
Members of the CGIL, CISL and UIL unions in the Tuscan port city of Livorno went on strike on 29 March following the death of two workers when a fuel tank exploded the previous day. The victims, named as Lorenzo Mazzoni, 25, and Nunzio Viola, 53, died while doing maintenance in the industrial section of the port, which was evacuated after the incident.
CGIL news release (in Italian). Xinhua. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Thailand: At least 20 migrant workers killed in bus inferno
At least 20 workers have died after a double-decker bus erupted in flames in Thailand. The bus, which was carrying migrant workers from Myanmar, was heading to a factory in an industrial zone near Bangkok when the fire broke out in the early hours of 30 March near the Thai-Myanmar border.
Washington Post. London Evening Standard. WHIO News. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

USA: Worker death exposes Disney's poverty policies
More than 10 per cent of working people at Disneyland resorts have been homeless or have not had a place to sleep in the past two years. Yeweinisht ‘Weiny’ Mesfin, despite working six days per week from 11:30pm to 8am, was one of those Disney employees who was homeless – and was found dead in the car that doubled as her home.
USW news release. Left Voice. AFL-CIO blog. USA Today. 2017 report in the Guardian. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Hazards news, 24 March 2018

Britain: Stressed-out psychologists demand mental health funding
Applied psychologists in the NHS lobbied MPs this week with an urgent call on the government to deliver on its promise to boost mental health funding. Their union, Unite, said workers in the service are suffering from “plummeting morale” and “stress and strain.”
Unite news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: UNISON takes on stress at Scottish council
UNISON is calling for action plan to be put in place to help Dumfries and Galloway council staff facing work-related stress. The public sector union’s survey of nearly 2,500 workers on the Dumfries and Galloway local authority found half of them had faced issues in the past 12 months.
BBC News Online.
Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists.
TUC mental health awareness training. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Support staff in schools stressed out by staff cuts
Teaching assistants, school librarians and lab technicians are facing a soaring workload as staff are cut and they are increasingly expected to teach, according to a National Education Union (NEU) survey of over 1,700 support staff members.  More than half (54 per cent) of respondents reported they are carrying out more tasks that used to be performed by teachers, such as marking pupils’ work and data entry.
NEU news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Safety action to continue on South Western Railway
Rail union RMT has confirmed plans for a further phase of industrial action on South Western Railway in the dispute over safety, the role of the guard and the roll out of driver only operation. The union statement came in response to management’s continued failure “to engage with the union in talks and stepped up their threats and intimidation aimed at frontline staff.”
RMT news releases on South West Trains and bad weather response. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: GMB recovers damages after asbestos death
The family of a GMB member who died as a consequence of his work for asbestos companies has received £340,000 compensation. The member, whose name has not been released, was employed by Spousal (Midlands) Limited and Cape Darlington Limited as an apprentice lagger and then a lagger from 1967 through to 1976.
GMB news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Spycops revelations show need for blacklisting public inquiry
New revelations emerging during the public inquiry into undercover policing highlight the need for a separate and full public inquiry into the workplace blacklisting scandal, the union Unite has said. The ‘spycops’ inquiry is investigating how members of the Metropolitan Police Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) infiltrated union and campaign groups.
Unite news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Global: Heart disease risk from lead at very low exposures
Exposure to lead at levels a fraction those permitted in UK workplaces puts workers at a greatly elevated and previously grossly under-estimated risk of deadly heart disease and other health effects, a study has found. The US study that those individuals in the top 10 per cent for their initial blood lead concentration had a 37 per cent increase in all-cause mortality and a 70 per cent increase in cardiovascular disease mortality compared to those with a blood lead concentration falling in the lowest 10 per cent.
BP Lanphear, S Rauch, P Auinger, RW Allen and RW Hornung. Low-level lead exposure and mortality in US adults: a population-based cohort study, The Lancet Public Health, published Online First, 12 March 2018. CNN Health. Exposure to Lead in Great Britain 2016: Medical Surveillance of Blood-Lead Levels in British Workers 2015/16, March 2017. More on the hazards of lead. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: GMB warning after cleaning health findings
Employers and the government should examine the health risks posed by products used by cleaners, the union GMB has said. The union alert came following a study of 6,000 people by a team from Norway's University of Bergen found that regular exposure to cleaning products significantly effects lung function.
American Thoracic Society news release. Øistein Svanes, Randi J Bertelsen, Stein HL Lygre and others. Cleaning at home and at work in relation to lung function decline and airway obstruction, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published online 16 February 2018 [abstract]. GMB news releases from London, Eastern and Southern Regions. BBC News Online. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Union action call after sharp rise in corner shop crime
A sharp rise in convenience shop crime had spurred a renewed union call for action. The call from retail union Usdaw came after latest Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) figures revealed nearly a million thefts from UK convenience stores in 2017, a 65 per cent increase on the previous year.
ACS news release. Usdaw news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Call for review of emergency towing vessel cover
Seafarers’ union Nautilus has backed a call by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) for a review of emergency towing vessel (ETV) cover in the Dover Strait. The call comes in a report on a collision between the Hong Kong-flagged general cargo ship Saga Sky and a rock-carrying barge off the coast of Kent during a storm in November 2016.
MAIB news release. Nautilus news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Royal Mail and CWU agree ‘menopause at work’ plan
A detailed guide for Royal Mail managers on ‘Supporting women at work through the menopause’ has been agreed with the postal union CWU. CWU national health, safety and environment officer Dave Joyce said the guide, which is the result of lengthy discussion between the union and the business assisted by expert professional advice, has sections covering what the menopause is, how it affects women, how it might affect work, what managers need to do and key points to consider, as well as signposting further sources of information and guidance.
CWU news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Plastics firm fined £1 million after delivery driver killed
A plastic product manufacturer has been fined after delivery driver Gareth Wilson was fatally injured when he was struck by a forklift truck which had large coils suspended from the forks. Glynwed Pipe Systems Ltd pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was fined £1 million and ordered to pay costs of £27,942.57.
HSE news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: School asbestos job put workers at risk
A construction company has been fined after it carried out unsafe and unlicensed asbestos removal during refurbishment works at Dursley junior school. Cheltenham Magistrates Court heard how, in October 2016, RF Gardiner Limited removed asbestos despite not having the appropriate licence to carry out the work.
HSE news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Payout deal to asbestos victim will cover any emerging treatment
A Halifax man who suffers from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma has received a settlement that includes an agreement to cover the cost of treatments that may not currently exist or be available yet. Solicitor Ian Toft, who represented James Casey, 63, said “with new treatments constantly in development but costs also on the rise, it ensures that our client will be able to benefit from whatever is required.”
Irwin Mitchell news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

China: Concern at government plan to abolish work safety body
The Chinese government is to abolish the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS), merging its functions into a new national Emergency Management Department. China Labour Bulletin commented: “The move seems to confirm the suspicion that, on the issue of work safety, the Chinese government is more concerned with disaster management and control rather than in preventing workplace accidents in the first place.”
Xinhua. China Labour Bulletin. Caixin Global. China Digital Times. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Pakistan: Unions launch new campaign for mine safety
A new union campaign is urging the government of Pakistan to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) mine safety convention. The action by ten IndustriALL affiliates follows a decision by the global union’s executive committee in November 2017 to pursue a global campaign to end fatalities in Pakistan’s mines.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Turkey: Report highlights over 2,000 ‘work murders’ last year
A new report has revealed that over 2,000 workers were the victims of ‘work murders’ in Turkey last year. The report from Health and Safety Labour Watch says a marked rise in insecure work and repressive laws were major contributors to a sharp rise in deaths at work.
DİSK news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Hazards news, 17 March 2018

Britain: What should safety reps do about mental health?
TUC’s Hugh Robertson says support for workers is a good thing, but mental health first aiders are not the only option and for union reps usually are not the best option. The TUC safety specialist calls for a much broader approach in the workplace, “and that is best done in co-operation with the union.”
TUC blog. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists.
TUC mental health awareness training. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: ‘Pointless paperwork’ warning on new safety standard
A new health and safety standard must be much more than “pointless paperwork”, the TUC has warned. The ISO 45001 standard, a commercial product produced by the International Organisation for Standardisation and launched on 12 March, allows companies to get certification that confirms their health and safety management systems have passed a set of requirements.
TUC news release and ISO 45001 - Using the new health and safety standard in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists. ISO news report. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Brexit plans for safety are still guesswork, says TUC
Discussing what is likely to happen after Brexit “is just crystal-ball gazing”, the TUC’s Hugh Robertson has asserted. Writing a guest blog for the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM), the union body’s head of safety argues that rather than wait and see, the better approach “is trying to influence what will happen. Those in the occupational health world need to ensure that they are trying to defend what we have and use any opportunities to improve it regardless of the final agreement.”
SOM blog. Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 (draft). The Independent. Report by Caroline Lucas. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Sexual harassment at work is violence against women
Sexual harassment is a form of violence against women, and it’s happening in our workplaces all the time, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has said, adding stopping it is a trade union priority. In a TUC blog article she notes that “before the media attention, before women felt able to say #metoo in their thousands, trade unions were supporting members in their workplaces, fighting for dignity at work, and campaigning to end violence and harassment in all forms.”
TUC blog. ITUC action toolkit on the campaign for an ILO standard on gender-based violence. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Radical overhaul needed following Amey prison scandal
Unite is calling for a radical overhaul in the way prison maintenance work is undertaken following revelations that two workers at Liverpool Prison were unfairly dismissed for raising safety issues. The union said John Bromilow and Harry Wildman, who had combined service of 45 years, were employed by private contractor Amey, which took over the running of maintenance and other functions in 60 prisons in June 2015.
Unite news release. The IndependentRisks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Action threat over assaults on prison officers
The threat of violence against prison officers could lead to industrial action unless they ‘are given the tools to keep them safe’, their union POA has said. The union was speaking out after what it described as “another weekend of chaos and assaults in prisons”.
POA news release. ITV News. BBC News Online. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Traumatised prison officer gets payout for anxiety attacks
A Northampton prison officer has settled a case for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination against the Secretary of State for Justice after she was made ill when forced to work on a sex offenders unit. POA member Rachel McKail, 48, was made to work on the unit at HM Woodhill Prison in Milton Keynes, despite an agreement that she should not be asked to do so, due to pre-existing health concerns.
Northampton Chronicle. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Violence against shopworkers increases ‘significantly’
Surveys by a retail trade group and the shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw have both revealed a disturbing increase in violence against retail staff during 2017. John Hannett, the Usdaw general secretary, commented: “Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.”
Usdaw news release. BRC news release. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Unite win establishes ‘pre-cancer’ disability protection
Workplace disability discrimination protection for cancer victims has been widened as a result of a landmark legal case taken by Unite. The legal victory will ensure that people suffering with ‘pre-cancer’ will be protected under the Equality Act 2010.
Unite news release. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Equity acts on sexual harassment crisis
Equity is demanding a safe working environment for its members. The actors’ union says they must not have to endure or observe sexual harassment, adding that perpetrators must understand there is nowhere to hide.
Equity news release. Agenda for Change: Equity’s report on sexual harassment. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Northern Rail to face further action over safety
Rail union RMT has confirmed there will be a further 48 hours of strike action on Northern Rail over ‘attacks on the role of the safety-critical guard and the extension of driver only operation in the name of increased profits’. The 24-hour stoppages, scheduled for 26 and 29 March, were announced as the union demanded tripartite talks with the company and the Department for Transport (DfT) aimed at reaching a resolution.
RMT news release. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Heat melted helmet on factory worker’s head         
A Devon-based Unite member who was left burnt and traumatised by a silo explosion at work has secured a five-figure settlement. Terry Wyatt, 57, was employed by wood manufacturer Norbord Ltd at their South Molton factory as part of the company’s fire control team.
DevonLive. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Postal workers in 'pay threat' after red weather warning
Postal workers’ union CWU has said its members should not be ‘penalised’ for following official advice and heeding the recent red weather warning. The union’s comments came after Royal Mail staff in east central Scotland were told their pay would be docked or they could use annual leave if they failed to get to work during the heavy snow.
Edinburgh Evening News. BBC News Online. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Serious concerns about abuse of parliamentary staff
Civil service union Prospect has said bullying and harassment is never acceptable in any workplace. The union was commenting after BBC Newsnight exposed widespread bullying and harassment of clerks and committee staff in the House of Commons, with some senior MPs implicated.
Prospect news release. BBC News Online. Bullying, harassment and intimidation in the House of Commons, BBC Newsnight, 8 March 2018. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: BBC makes human rights appeal to UN
For the first time in its history, the BBC has made an appeal to the United Nations in Geneva to protect the human rights of BBC journalists and their families. The move comes in response to years of persecution and harassment of London-based journalists by the Iranian authorities, which it says escalated in 2017.
BBC news release. IFJ news release. NUJ news release. ITUC news release. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Minister accepts workload cut needed to tackle teacher shortage
The education secretary has promised to cut teachers’ workload in an attempt to resolve a recruitment crisis in England's schools. In a 10 March speech, Damian Hinds said he will address as a “top priority” concerns about a shortage of teachers.
DfE news release. NASUWT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Leonard vows to crack down on blacklisters
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has said he will crackdown on outsourcing and blacklisting. In his first speech to the Scottish Labour conference as the party’s leader in Scotland, he condemned firms that exploited and blacklisted workers.
Morning Star. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Europe: Agency goes online to prevent work diseases
The European Union’s thinktank on workplace health and safety is targeting prevention of work-related diseases. EU-OSHA says recent estimates indicated work-related diseases account for about 200,000 deaths each year in Europe.
EU-OSHA news release and new webpages on prevention of work-related diseases. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Global: Human rights activists face growing risks
Human rights defenders who challenge big corporations are being killed, assaulted, harassed and suppressed in growing numbers, researchers have claimed. A survey by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre recorded a 34 per cent global rise in attacks against human rights activists last year, including 120 alleged murders and hundreds of other cases involving threats, assaults and intimidation.
The Guardian. Business and Human Rights Centre website. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

USA: Trump targets safety rules ‘written in blood’
While attention has focused on President Trump’s disputed decision in January to reverse drilling restrictions in nearly all US coastal waters, the administration has also been pursuing a rollback of Obama-era regulations in the Gulf. Those rules include safety measures put in place after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010, a disaster that killed 11 people and resulted in the largest marine oil spill in drilling history.
New York Times. Confined Space blog. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Hazards news, 10 March 2018

Britain: Unions protect workers from feeling the big chill
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said it was inundated with reports of employers forcing workers to travel to work, despite severe weather warnings and clear advice from Police Scotland and the Scottish government to avoid travel.  The resulting STUC nationwide survey “found that those with a trade union rep to speak to about health and safety concerns were more than twice as likely to be satisfied with their employer’s response,” said the STUC.
Joint Scottish government and STUC statement. STUC blog. Morning Star. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Strike threat over power firm’s ‘hypocritical’ worker monitoring
EDF Energy smart meter installers in London have voted ‘overwhelmingly’ for strike action over the imposition of tracker devices in vehicles and oppressive and ‘hypocritical’ monitoring of workers. What particularly irks Unite is that managers have refused to have the tracker devices in their own company cars and are not included in the drink and drug testing regime.
Unite news release. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Union safety warning over privatised probation hostel staff  
The government is gambling with safety by privatising night-time probation hostel staff, unions have warned. The warning came as private companies Sodexo and OCS starting night-time supervision in probation hostels accommodating high risk ex-offenders, with its workers not required to have the usual vetting or training.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Everyone deserves a safe and secure workplace
Everyone has the right to expect a safe and secure workplace, UNISON’s community conference in Southport has heard. Workers in the community, voluntary and housing sectors should not have to accept violent or aggressive behaviour as “a normal part of their role”, the union said.
UNISON news release. TUC violence at work guidance. Hit list: TUC violence and abuse reporting form, Hazards magazine. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: ‘Determined’ rail workers walk out again for guards
Workers at Merseyrail and Northern rail mounted a “united and determined” 24-hour strike on 3 March in RMT’s long-running battle against plans to remove safety-critical guards from trains. Southern staff are set to strike on 12 March over the same issue.
RMT news release. BTP news release. Morning Star. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: German embassy lobbied over Northern Rail safety
Members of the rail union RMT held a lobby outside the German Embassy in London on 13 March. The union demanded “that the German state end their profiteering on UK railways through their rail operation Arriva, which runs the Northern Rail franchise, and is helping to drive the moves to axe guards on the service.”
RMT news release. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Respect call on Liverpool hospital job
Workers’ rights and access for unions must be respected on the stalled Royal Liverpool Hospital development, a construction union has demanded. Unite made its call after it emerged that Laing O’Rourke is the favourite to replace collapsed construction giant Carillion as the main contractor on the stalled project.
Unite news release. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Fair managers care about sick employees
How a firm supports people returning to work from sick leave can have a big impact on whether a worker feels they are treated fairly by their organisation and their return is a positive and healthy experience. A new study by researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Stockholm University, found there is a clear link between a person’s health and their perceptions of fairness at work over time.
UEA news release. Constanze Eib, Claudia Bernhard-Oettel, Linda L Magnusson Hanson and Constanze Leineweber. Organizational justice and health: Studying mental preoccupation with work and social support as mediators for lagged and reversed relationships, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, online first, 5 March 2018. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Harassment of staff rife in Scottish parliament
One fifth of Scottish parliament staff - including almost one in three women - have experienced sexual harassment or sexist behaviour while working at Holyrood. The parliament published the results of a confidential survey of MSPs and staff which received input from more than 1,000 workers.
Scottish parliament news release. BBC News Online. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Apprentice, 16, badly injured in fall from scaffold
A scaffolding company has been fined for criminal safety breaches after a 16-year-old apprentice joiner fell approximately four metres from a scaffold platform. Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 6 September 2016, the apprentice was passing roof tiles from the loading bay to a colleague on the scaffold when fell backwards under a single guard rail to the ground below, sustaining injuries including a fractured cheekbone, broken wrist and injuries to his ribs.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Recycling plant blast left worker in coma, eight injured
A recycling company responsible for an explosion and blaze at a Lingfield industrial site, that left a worker in a coma and eight people injured, has been fined. The explosion at Ereco EMEA Corporation Ltd on 3 October 2011 ripped the side out of the building and blew debris across the neighbouring field, injuring eight workers, five seriously.
Surrey County Council news release. HSE news release. Get Surrey. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Air baggage handling firm in double trouble
Airport baggage and cargo handler Swissport GB Limited has been fined following two worker injuries in the space of a few weeks at Luton Airport. The firm pleaded guilty to three criminal safety offences and was fined £502,000 and ordered to pay costs of £44,444.
HSE news release. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Scotland gets geared up for Workers’ Memorial Day
Scottish union body STUC and safety campaign group Scottish Hazards have produced an online listing of International Workers’ Memorial Day events. With nearly two months to go before the annual 28 April event, six events are already planned, in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Falkirk, Alexandria, Kilmarnock and Bonnyrigg.
Scottish Hazards/STUC listing of International Worker’s Memorial Day events in Scotland.  TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 international events and campaign website and theme announcement in English, Spanish and French. Hazards Campaign 28 April 2018 resources.
When tweeting details of your 28 April plans and resources, use the hashtag #iwmd18 Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Australia: Women report 'shocking' treatment at work
Less than a third of Australian working women feel they are being treated equally, and one in 10 report they have experienced sexual harassment, according to a landmark national survey. Researchers at the University of Sydney surveyed more than 2,000 women and 500 men across Australia aged between 16 and 40 for the Women and the Future of Work study into women's attitudes and experiences in the workplace.
University of Sydney news release. ABC News. Sydney Morning Herald. The Guardian. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Australia: Claim nurse’s murder not work-related is questioned
The family of Australian nurse Gayle Woodford, who was murdered while on-call in the outback, is challenging an official ruling that her death was not work-related. An ABC documentary has challenging the conclusion and says bereaved family members are “angry” and “insulted” by the decision by the South Australia safety regulator that her death was not work-related
ABC News online. Final Call, Australian Story. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Laos: Meeting does ground work for plan to end asbestos use
Unions, government officials, health agencies and campaigners have met in Laos to coordinate a plan to ban asbestos. The workshop was organised by the country’s Ministry of Health, supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Union Aid Abroad -APHEDA, to discuss the development of a National Action Plan to ban the use of chrysotile asbestos – the only remaining form of asbestos in commercial use - and to eliminate asbestos-related diseases in the country.
APHEDA news release. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Hazards news, 3 March 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 24 February 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Hazards news, 17 February 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 10 February 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 3 February 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 27 January 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 20 January 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 13 January 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 6 January 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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