Hazards news, 4 May 2013
Bangladesh: Pressure leads to garment safety commitments
International clothing brands, bowing to pressure from unions and campaign groups, have agreed to meet a 15 May deadline to finalise an agreement on fire and building safety in the garment industry in Bangladesh. Under the agreement, funds will be made available for inspections, training and upgrading dangerous facilities.
IndustriALL news release • Clean Clothes Campaign news release • Primark statement • Loblaw statement • Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement • BBC News Online • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Treat me like an animal
Animal welfare charity RSPCA takes more prosecutions and secures 200 times more jail terms than all the official workplace safety watchdogs combined, the TUC has revealed. RSPCA’s ‘Prosecutions annual report 2012’, published on 30 April, reveals the organisation secured 4,168 convictions against 1,552 people last year for animal cruelty, with 86 people jailed as result.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • RSPCA news release and RSPCA prosecutions annual report 2012, April 2013 • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
USA: OSHA initiative to protect temporary workers
Temporary employees in the US will be better protected from workplace hazards, the official safety enforcer has pledged. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent a memorandum to the agency’s regional administrators directing field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their legal safety responsibilities and newly created code in their information system to denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations.
OSHA news release and OSHA temporary workers memo • More on temporary worker health and safety • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Global: London protest challenges Russia on asbestos
Russia’s support for global asbestos trade has been exposed by Putin-masked protesters in a union-backed action outside its London embassy. Russia, the world’s largest asbestos exporter, is expected to join with Zimbabwe to block new rules on chrysotile asbestos exports when they are discussed by government representatives on 7 May.
GMB news release • IBAS news report • RightOnCanada news release and appeal from asbestos victims worldwide • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: GMB calls for school asbestos surveys
Everyone with children at school and those who work in our schools must ensure the school heating system has been checked by an authorised asbestos surveyor, the union GMB has urged.
GMB news release • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Retailers shopped by exhausted staff
Understaffing and long opening hours are leaving shopworkers stressed, miserable and unable to take breaks, their union has said. The Morning Star reports that delegates at the annual Usdaw conference have called for action to address low staffing levels. Morning Star • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Uruguay: Mass protest at poor safety standards
An incredible 40,000 scaffolding workers took to the streets of Montevideo last month to protest at a government failure to introduce stalled safety laws. The 17 April march called by the National Union of Building Workers (SUNCA) was accompanied by a 24-hour nationwide strike.
BWI news report • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Wales must press ahead with its dogs law
The Welsh government must press on with domestic dog law reform, unions and campaigners have said. CWU health and safety officer Dave Joyce joined campaigners in Wales to hand in a petition urging the Welsh government to defy pressure from Westminster to drop the Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Renewed protests at Crossrail blacklisters
The Blacklist Support Group, backed by the union Unite, has staged noisy protests against firms involved in the massive Crossrail construction job. On 25 April, they appeared outside the Basingstoke office of construction and engineering giant Kier and on 2 May at the RAILTEX exhibition at London’s Earls Court Exhibition Centre, where Andrew Wolstenholme, the chief executive officer of Crossrail, was the keynote speaker.
Unite news release • The Gazette • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Compensation move puts ideology over justice
The passage of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act means workers will only be able to claim compensation for a workplace injury or disease if they can demonstrate employer negligence, even if it is accepted that employer had broken criminal safety laws. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “It is about bare, raw political ideology from the anti-worker pro-business Tory hawks.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Government questions HSE’s existence
Construction union UCATT has described the government’s announcement of a major review that questions the need for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as “crass and cold hearted”. Announcing the triennial review, the government said it “will assess whether there is a continuing need for HSE’s functions, as well as whether it is complying with the principles of good governance.
DWP announcement and written ministerial statement • HSE news release • UCATT news release • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: HSE union condemns new government attack
The government’s triennial review of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) could mark a dangerous step towards further privatisation of the safety watchdog’s functions, the union PCS has warned. The union said the enforcer has already cut its staffing in half since 2004, adding it will have had to reduce its budget by £80m-£85m a year by 2014, which will directly lead to an increase in deaths, injuries and illnesses.
PCS news release • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: BP’s safety record in the spotlight again
BP’s profits dipped in the first quarter as the UK-based oil multinational revealed it had paid out more than half of the cash it had set aside to cover the cost of damages caused by the 2010 rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. BP's safety record took another knock on 30 April – the same day it released its quarterly results - when Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) censured the company for the second time in two years, after a potentially deadly September 2012 incident at BP’s Ula oilfield in the North Sea.
BP news release and BP quarterly results and webcast • PSA Norway news release • The Guardian and related story. • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Work stress led to school head’s suicide
A stressed headteacher found hanged at her school in Worcestershire killed herself, a coroner has ruled. Helen Mann, whose body was discovered in a stairwell at Sytchampton First School near Stourport-on-Severn on 5 November 2012, was concerned that if an Ofsted inspection was imminent, the school would lose its 'oustanding' rating.
Kidderminster Shuttle • BBC News Online • Malvern Gazette • More on work-related suicides • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Worker dies in tarmac cutter
Direct Plant Services Ltd, trading as South and West Highways Trenching, has been fined after a worker was killed while operating a tarmac cutter which had a deliberately disabled safety switch. Stuart Guard, 28, died after becoming entangled in the cutting wheel of a machine designed to remove the top layers of tarmac on roads.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Global: Call for a weight limit on cement bags
Global construction union federation BWI has launched a new campaign to reduce the weight of cement bags. The ‘25 kilos’ campaign aims to convince cement and aggregates manufacturers and distributors the measure is necessary to prevent manual handling injuries, particularly those affecting the lower back.
BWI news release and campaign poster, guidance for safety representatives on manual handling, letter to companies and checklist manual handling • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Fireball engulfs chemical worker
A worker who sustained severe burns when he was engulfed by a fireball at a chemical factory had to be kept in an induced coma for seven weeks. The 45-year-old from Kirkby, who has asked not to be named, was injured in the chemical explosion at SAFC Hitech Ltd’s plant when a bottle of trimethylindium, or TMI, used during the production of LEDs and in the semiconductor industry, exploded.
HSE news release and chemicals webpage • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Australia: Thousands stand up for site safety
An army of 10,000 construction workers jammed the streets of Melbourne on 30 April, calling for safety on sites operated by construction firm Grocon. The union CFMEU said the turnout was particularly impressive as newspapers, politicians and employer groups had all warned workers off attending the march.
CFMEU news release and 15 minute film on the safety dispute • BWI news release • The Age and related pre-rally article • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Teen hospitalised by textile firm
A textile company has been prosecuted for criminal safety offences after a 1.5 tonne pallet toppled on to a teenage worker, trapping him by the legs. Halifax Magistrates heard that the 18-year-old warehouse worker suffered a broken leg in the incident at THS Industrial Textiles Ltd in Elland on 16 March 2011.
HSE news release and safe lifting guidance • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Hazards Conference, 19-21 July, Stoke-on-Trent
The 24th National Hazards Conference is scheduled for 19-21 July at the University of Keele, Stoke-on-Trent. The Hazards Campaign is urging union safety reps and activists to attend the conference, adding it is now crucial to fight back as the government erodes the employment and safety protections “won by collective action over generations.”
24th National Hazards Conference, 19-21 July, University of Keele, Stoke-on-Trent. Hazards Campaign webpage • 2013 Booking form and sponsorship form • Further information from the Hazards Campaign, tel: 0161 636 7557 • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: New TUC guides
The TUC has supplemented its online guides to the minimum legal health and safety standards with new topics, including: New and expectant mothers at work; working with sewage; meningitis in the workplace; driving lift trucks; working in extremes of temperature (hot or cold); preventing aches and pains from using display screen equipment; working in or near water, rivers and seas; working with animals; and working with lead.
Get the TUC guides: Driving lift trucks. Working in extremes of temperature (hot or cold) • Preventing aches and pains from using display screen equipment • Working in or near water, rivers and seas • Working with animals • Working with lead • New and expectant mothers at work • Working with sewage • Meningitis in the workplace • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Hazards news, 27 April 2013
Global: What did you do on Workers’ Memorial Day…
To track Workers’ Memorial Day events across the globe, take look at the map of events worldwide, produced by the global union federation ITUC and Hazards magazine.
ITUC/Hazards Workers’ Memorial Day webpages to find out what’s happening worldwide on 28 April and sign up to the ITUC/Hazards 28 April facebook page • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
USA: No inspections for 28 years at deadly fertiliser plant
A Texas fertiliser plant where a fire and explosion last week destroyed dozens of buildings, claimed at least 14 lives -including 11 firefighters and emergency medical staff – and injured more than 200, was last inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1985. The West Fertiliser plant disaster is a “stunning indictment” of the safety watchdog’s under-funding, critics have charged.
National COSH news release • Washington Post • In These Times • AFL-CIO Now blog • Huffington Post • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Unite action call in wake of tug tragedy
The union Unite has welcomed news that two firms are to face criminal charges over the sinking of a tugboat in the River Clyde, which led to the deaths of three crew members. The Flying Phantom capsized in thick fog on 19 December 2007, killing skipper Stephen Humphreys, 33; Eric Blackley, 57; and Robert Cameron, 65.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: RMT concern over new rail runaway injury
Another incident involving a runaway rail maintenance vehicle has raised fresh concerns about safety and subcontracting on the rail network, the union RMT has said. A workers was injured at the site run by Amco Rail, with RMT saying other agencies and contractors were thought to be involved.
RMT news release • Rail Technology magazine • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Canada: Inspection blitz targets vulnerable workers
An official safety enforcer in Canada has taken a fresh look at how you define ‘high risk’ workplaces, with an inspection blitz set to prioritise young and temporary workers and recent immigrants. Inspectors from the Ministry of Labour in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, will be examining compliance with employment and as well as more routine safety standards to ensure employees are getting their wages and holiday pay, and aren't being forced to work excessive hours.
Ontario Ministry of Labour news release • Windsor Star • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Unite follows blacklister BAM to Amsterdam
Shareholders attending the annual meeting of Dutch construction multinational Royal BAM received a lesson on blacklisting. They were met by placard wielding members of the union Unite at the 24 April event, who were protesting at the blacklisting and victimisation of trade unionists working on Crossrail by the company’s British subsidiary, BAM Nuttall.
Unite news release • Union News • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Blacklist protesters target industry awards
Blacklisting protesters from Unite and the union-backed Blacklist Support Group protested outside the National Building Awards at London’s Grosvenor Hotel. At one stage the action outside the event on 18 April blocked traffic on Park Lane.
Building magazine • Morning Star • YouTube video • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Asbestos alert on school heaters
Unions this week sent an urgent warning to schools, urging them to check whether they have warm air cabinet heaters that could contain asbestos. The warning from the Joint Union Asbestos Committee follows the discovery of asbestos in warm air cabinet heaters in Cwmcarn High School in Wales in October 2012, which led to the school’s closure.
NUT news release • JUAC website • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Global: Death trap plants awarded ‘safe’ certificates
Factories in which hundreds of workers have died had been labelled ‘safe’ by a fatally flawed auditing system that amounts to ‘privatised regulation’, a report from the US union federation AFL-CIO has found. The report points to two devastating garment factory fires last year in Bangladesh and Pakistan; both companies had been certified as meeting safety standards by official-sounding groups financed by the multinational corporations profiting from the low-wage labour churning out the pants, sweaters, shirts and more destined for boutique stores and department store racks.
Responsibility Outsourced: Social Audits, Workplace Certification and 20 Years of Failure to Protect Worker Rights, AFL-CIO, April 2013. AFL-CIO Now blog • ITUC news report • TUC Stronger Unions blog • Equal Times. • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Train driver cleared of assault charges
Train driver Mick Ward, 42, who was wrongly convicted of assault last year when acting in the interests of safety, has had his conviction quashed at York Crown Court. He was joined by more than 30 of his colleagues, co-workers and fellow ASLEF members in what has been described as an ‘unprecedented’ show of support for the veteran railway worker’s fight to clear his name.
Harrogate News • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Dry liner survives 35ft ladder fall
A self-employed construction worker suffered multiple injuries in a 35ft fall from an unsecured ladder, but at least secured compensation thanks to his union membership. The 26-year-old GMB member from Torrington, Devon, was lucky to survive when his ladder slipped and he fell from the third floor of a new build house onto a concrete floor. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Government forces through law to rob injured workers
The government has successfully pushed through a new law that will remove the right to claim compensation for injuries caused by a criminal breach of workplace health and safety regulations. The change was spelled out in an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which received Royal Assent on 25 April and now becomes law. UNISON news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Alarm about new quickie alcotests
Millions of workers could face routine and possibly daily alcohol tests using a new fingerprint device which gives instant results. Media reports say staff in local government, the NHS and security, transport and leisure industries will be first to be targeted for testing by the world’s first finger-touch system to detect alcohol.
UNISON news release • Metro • Daily Mail • The Guardian • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Steel beam crushes welder
Steel manufacturer Condor Allslade has been prosecuted after a welder was crushed by a falling 1.4 tonne steel beam at its Portsmouth plant. The 64-year-old man, who does not wish to be named, suffered injuries including a fractured skull, two crushed discs in his back, a broken knee and ankle bones, as well as a blood clot on his lung.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Rail workers crushed by ballast machine
Babcock Rail and Swietelsky Construction have been fined for criminal safety offences after two workers were seriously injured when a ballast regulator machine fell on top of them when a car jack being used to prop it up collapsed.
ORR news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Poor site facilities lead to conditional discharge
A builder has been given a two year conditional discharge after neglecting the welfare of workers at a construction site in West Cornwall. David Lawrance, as a partner for Swiftfix Reinforcement Specialists, failed to provide adequate washing facilities and rest areas at a site in Carbis Bay between May and July 2012 where a new home was being built.
HSE news release and construction welfare webpages • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Bangladesh: Hundreds die in factory building collapse
The worst ever industrial accident in Bangladesh has killed several hundred garment workers, with fears of a final death toll reaching 1,000 as hundreds remain injured and trapped in the debris. The collapse of the eight storey Rana Plaza building in Savar, 30 kilometres outside Dhaka, on the morning of 24 April came the day after workers expressed concerns about cracks in the building.
Industriall news release • TUC news release. BBC News Online • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Worker killed by runaway lorry
A lorry driver died when he was run over by his own lorry, a court has heard. Father-of-three Gary Walters, 51, was working for Gloucester-based contract haulier Larkins Logistics Ltd when the fatal incident occurred on 11 October 2010.
HSE news release • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Waste industry dangers highlighted in court
A Lincoln man suffered life-changing injuries because of a series of criminal safety failings at the City Scrap Ltd waste recycling plant where he worked in Scunthorpe, a court has heard. The 25-year-old worker had his arm severed when he tried to clear a blockage on a conveyor on a metal sorting line.
HSE news release and waste industry webpages • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Hazards news, 20 April 2013
Global: Workers’ Memorial Day is just days away
With Workers’ Memorial Day just a few days away, it seems set to be the biggest commemoration ever. Early indications are that a record number of unions around the world are also planning 28 April events on what is the biggest single workplace health and safety activity on the calendar, beating anything organised by official safety bodies, governments or employers’ groups.
Visit the ITUC/Hazards Workers’ Memorial Day webpages to find out what’s happening worldwide on 28 April and sign up to the ITUC/Hazards 28 April facebook page •
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2013 webpage and events listing and facebook page •
Copies of the Hazards Workers’ Memorial Day 2013 poster are available free in A4 and A3 sizes from Hilda Palmer at the Hazards Campaign. A charge to cover costs will be made for larger orders • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Blacklisters shamed in new report
The extent to which major construction companies were involved in illegal blacklisting activity for over a decade has been revealed in a report from MPs. The interim report by the Scottish Affairs Committee reveals damning evidence of the nature of the “morally indefensible” blacklisting and the lengths to which companies would go to keep it secret.
Scottish Affairs Committee news release and interim report, 16 April 2013. TUC Stronger Unions blog • Blacklist blog • Evening Standard • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Unions welcome ongoing scrutiny of blacklisters
Unions have welcomed a commitment from MPs to continue their investigations into the blacklisting of union safety activists, and have called for justice for victims and action against those responsible. Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) said: “It is time for all involved in any criminal activity to be held to account, it is not a defence to argue that individuals were acting on instructions of others.”
STUC news release • GMB news release • UCATT news release • BBC News Online • Unite news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
USA: Construction boss jailed in safety bonus scam
A former safety manager with a construction firm working on US government nuclear sites has been jailed on eight counts of major fraud after hiding worker injuries to obtain $2.5 million in safety bonuses for his firm. A federal judge sentenced 55-year-old Walter Cardin, who worked for the Shaw Group, to 78 months in prison for deliberately falsifying records of workplace injuries.
US Justice Department news release • Charlotte Observer • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: GMB rejects Skanska’s ‘half-hearted’ offer
A statement from Skanska that it will consider claims for compensation from workers it blacklisted has been dismissed by the union GMB as a public relations stunt. The move by the Swedish construction giant came ahead of demonstration by GMB and the Blacklist Support Group last week outside Skanska’s Stockholm annual general meeting.
GMB news release • ICO blog • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Network Rail puts money before safety
Rail union TSSA has condemned Network Rail over the “entirely preventable” death of a Herefordshire housewife on a level crossing. The union was speaking out on 10 April, after Network Rail was fined £450,000 at Birmingham Crown Court for criminal safety offences related to the death of Jane Harding - and a day after it was revealed four directors of the under-performing rail giant would pocket bonuses totalling over £600,000.
TSSA news releases on Network Rail and profits and bonuses • Daily Mail • Financial Times • Sky News • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Global: Shame of US textiles fire death brands
Major European retailers C&A, KiK and El Corte Inglés have agreed to contribute to a compensation plan for the victims of the Tazreen Fashions fire in Bangladesh – but US corporations Walmart, Sears/Kmart and Disney have snubbed the hundreds of workers killed or injured in the November 2012 disaster.
Industriall news release • Clean Clothes Campaign news release • Bloomberg News • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: A weak watchdog will strengthen rogue gangmasters
Government plans to weaken the Gangmasters Licensing Authority have been condemned by the TUC. In an online commentary, TUC’s Ben Moxham said reducing controls is likely to lead to an increase in rogue gangmasters, adding: “This will undermine the effectiveness of the GLA in tackling tax evasion and in raising compliance with basic employment and health and safety standards.”
TUC Touchstone blog and submission to the GLA inquiry • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Deregulating agency work a mistake
Government plans to repeal regulations which control how employment agencies operate and replace them with a system of self-regulation will lead to more exploitation, the construction union UCATT has warned. Under the government’s proposals included in a consultation by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) which closed on 11 April, the Employment Agencies Act and the existing regulations covering employment agencies would be scrapped.
UCATT news release and full consultation response • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: FBU defends injured firefighters
Firefighters who are injured at work are entitled to and should seek compensation, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said. FBU highlighted the case of firefighters who were poisoned by Campylobacter bacteria during a water training course in Nottingham, with several becoming ill with serious stomach complaints, and some developing lifelong bowel problems as a result.
FBU news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Care worker assaulted five times
A care worker attacked five times by a teenager who should have been placed in a secure unit has been left unable to work. The youngster was not moved to a secure unit until April 2009, three months after the final assault on the UNISON member, by which time she was off work.
UNISON news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Factory noise caused deafness
A Unite member who was exposed to dangerous levels of noise at work for over 25 years developed occupational deafness and tinnitus as a result. The 58-year-old from Loughborough, whose hearing became damaged while working for Brush Electrical Machines from 1986, received £9,500 in damages in a union-backed compensation case. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Asbestos scarred shipworker’s lungs
A Unite member from Ross Shire has received compensation from six of his former employers after he was diagnosed with the debilitating lung-scarring condition asbestosis. The 79-year-old, whose name has not been released, was exposed to asbestos while working as an apprentice gas fitter and then for several shipyards. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Surgical team worker suffers back injury
A member of a surgical team who suffered a back injury while manoeuvring a patient has received £21,500 compensation. The 49-year-old GMB member from Cornwall has been left with long term back pain following the injury while working at Derriford Hospital.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Injury move ‘a charter for rogue employers’
A government plan that will make it harder for workers to claim legitimate compensation for injuries at work has been criticised by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors’ union Prospect. The union condemnation came after a 16 April vote by MPs to over-rule the House of Lords and go ahead with plans to remove the right to use criminal breaches of safety law by an employer as grounds for a personal injury compensation claim by a worker suffering an occupational injury or disease.
Prospect news release • Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill debate, House of Commons, 16 April 2013, Hansard report • TUC briefing on the Bill • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Little interest in NHS lifestyle promotion at work
An NHS ‘Champions for Health’ pilot health promotion scheme attracted little interest from staff – and this interest quickly waned for the tiny minority who did give it a try. Just 1,300 out of NHS Wales’ 72,000 staff signed up last year for the high profile initiative, and two-thirds of these had dropped out before the end.
NHS Wales news release and Champions for Health webpages • Work and well-being, TUC guide, February 2013. Hazards magazine 'Well, then?' guide • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Europe: New evidence that green job are risky
New and unfamiliar technologies, skills gaps and more familiar ‘old’ hazards like chemicals, electricity and work at heights could place workers in the burgeoning green jobs sector at risk, a new report has warned. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) notes that pressure in the European Union to reduce carbon emissions, reduce waste and increase energy efficiency and the proportion of renewable energy is set to lead to a rapid growth in the number of ‘green jobs’.
EU-OSHA news release, green jobs webpages and full report, Green jobs and occupational safety and health: Foresight on new and emerging risks associated with new technologies by 2020, and summary • ETUI news report • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Scheme allows safety criminals a say
A “primary authority scheme” is giving major companies the right to call for a proposed safety prosecution to be halted. The new power to refer a decision to prosecute for scrutiny by a government red tape watchdog came to light when Tesco was taken to court by Waverley Borough Council after an employee broke her foot in a Farnham store.
Waverley Borough Council news release • EHN Online • BRDO webpage on the primary authority scheme • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: UK Coal fined following another death
UK Coal Mining Ltd has been ordered to pay £300,000 in fines and costs after an employee was killed by falling pipes at Thoresby Colliery in Nottinghamshire. Experienced locomotive driver John Harbron, 47, was working underground with colleagues when the fatal incident occurred on 24 July 2009.
HSE news release • Nottingham Post • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Deadly pit roof collapsed twice in a week
The family of a UK Coal miner who died when a pit roof collapsed has said it hopes lessons can be learned from the “obvious shortcomings” that led to his “untimely and unnecessary” death. Gerry Gibson, 49, died of asphyxiation when he was buried by the rock fall at Kellingley Colliery near Selby, North Yorkshire, in September 2011.
Yorkshire Post • Morning Star • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Lift engineer's death exposes criminal failings
A national lift and elevator firm ThyssenKrupp Elevator UK Ltd’s (TKE) criminal safety failings were uncovered after the death of a lift engineer at Pentonville prison in North London. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated after Steven Loake, 53, was electrocuted while trying to fix a fault on the chapel lift at the prison on 5 October 2010.
HSE news release and electricity webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Firm fined for scissor lift training failures
A man died after a company failed to properly train staff on how to use equipment intended to allow them to work safely at height. Knowsley-based Firesafe Installations Limited employee Shaun Scurry was trapped between the guardrail of a scissor lift and some overhead ducting a colleague was unable to release him and bring him down because he didn’t know how to use the emergency controls.
HSE news release • Liverpool Echo • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Hazards news, 13 April 2013
Britain: Does the government want child labour on farms?
The abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) could lead to the re-emergence of child labour on British farms, an international union representing agricultural workers has warned. The warning from IUF came ahead of a 16 April Commons vote on the future of the AWB, which has protected the incomes of 150,000 agricultural workers since the second world war.
Unite news release • Western Daily Press • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Rail worker fired for resisting an assault
A rail worker employed by London Midland was fired because he resisted a physical and verbal assault by a known troublemaker. Revenue protection officer James Crabtree was working on the gateline at Watford Junction when he asked the individual to produce a valid travel ticket.
RMT news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
USA: Saving money, ignoring regulators, poisoning workers
Cost-cutting companies, timid regulators and weak laws are proving to be a toxic package that is letting firms poison workers with impunity, an investigation by the New York Times has concluded. A related editorial said the story illustrated failings in enforcement, with the company neglecting to make the changes required by inspectors and being allowed to get away with it.
New York Times feature, related editorial and letter to the paper from the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Union warning on construction skills rip-off
Construction union UCATT is warning workers not to be duped into paying over the odds for construction safety and skills papers. The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards are a mandatory requirement for construction workers on most sites. UCATT news release • CSCS news release • CITB website • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
USA: 'Ag-Gag' bills threatens safety
A bill that would prevent workers from documenting unsafe working conditions and animal cruelty on farms or any industrial workplace using cameras is being pushed through the Indiana Legislature. The "ag-gag" bill, versions of which have been introduced or are under discussion in a dozen other states, has an amendment that would make it a “Class A misdemeanour to photograph at a farm or business without written permission from the owner.”
Change.org petition to stop the legal attacks on whistleblowers • AFL-CIO Now blog • Public News Service. NPR • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Blacklist demo at Skanska’s Stockholm AGM
UK protesters against the construction blacklist this week targeted the annual general meeting of Swedish construction multinational Skanska. The 11 April demonstration, led by the union GMB and the Blacklist Support Group, aimed to enlist support from the company’s shareholders and the Swedish public.
GMB news release • Blacklist blog • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Dropping the hard hats law could kill
The decision to scrap a law requiring hard hats on site is a dangerous move and an “abdication” by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of its responsibilities, construction union UCATT has charged. The Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989 were axed on 6 April.
UCATT news release • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • HSE list of revealed, revoked and amended health and safety regulations • HSE construction PPE webpages • 13 April 2013
Britain: Danger site exposes construction law loophole
Construction union UCATT is calling for an urgent revision of safety laws after an Aberdeen construction site which has been dangerous for years exposed a deadly legal loophole. UCATT says that because HSE places prohibition notices on a company and not on a site, when the site changes hands the existing prohibition notices are wiped off, even if the problems have not been rectified.
UCATT news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Fall cuts short worker’s career
A civilian police worker had to retire early after injuring his back when he fell down a flight of stairs. The 61-year-old GMB member badly injured his back in the fall at West Yorkshire Police headquarters in Wakefield in November 2008.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Needlestick injuries cause psychiatric trauma
Needlestick or ‘sharps’ injuries are resulting in persistent and substantial psychiatric illness or depression in workers in a wide range of industries, a new study has found. Research published this month in the journal Occupational Medicine found that those affected suffered psychiatric trauma that is similar in severity to trauma caused by other events such as road traffic accidents.
SOM news release. B. Green and EC Griffiths. Psychiatric consequences of needlestick injury, Occupational Medicine volume 63, pages 183–188, 2013 • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: BBC policy change after journalist’s suicide
The BBC has apologised and amended its policy on bullying and harassment after a radio journalist took his own life. The move by the broadcaster came after an inquiry found the BBC's handling of complaints from Russell Joslin was “not good enough.”
BBC News Online and The Granger report • Personnel Today • The Scotsman • More on work-related suicide • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: More firms using zero-hours contracts
Almost a quarter of Britain's major employers now recruit staff on zero-hours contracts that keep workers on standby and deny them regular hours. According to government estimates, 23 per cent of employers with more than 100 staff have adopted the flexible contract terms for at least some staff following a surge in the number of public sector services contracted out to private providers.
The Guardian article and related comment • More on the health impact of insecure work • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Brazil: McDonald’s gets $4m fine for zero hours contracts
In Brazil, fast food giant McDonald's was this year fined US$4 million for operating a zero-hours scheme under which workers sat in the "break rooms" without being paid, until the employer determined there were a sufficient number of customers for hours to be counted. The court ruling required McDonald’s to eliminate the working time scheme throughout Brazil and ordered it to provide healthy meals to its workers.
IUF news report • Equal Times • More on the health impact of insecure work • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Japan: Firm raided over bile duct cancers
Labour ministry investigators searched the Osaka head office of printing firm Sanyo-CYP Co on 2 April amid long-running concerns about workplace cancers. So far, 17 employees have developed bile duct cancer, eight of whom died – with an nationwide investigation subsequently identifying 48 more cases.
Japan Times • Mainichi Japan editorial • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Site blitz shows the need for year round inspections
Construction union UCATT is calling for a far higher number of official site safety inspections after a month-long nationwide blitz by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there has been no improvement in standards since a similar initiative last year.
HSE news release • UCATT news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Director fined after employee’s fatal fall
A building firm and one of its directors have been sentenced after an employee fell 15 metres to his death in an empty water storage tank in Macclesfield. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Galt Civil Engineering Ltd and Peter Stuart following an investigation into the death of Peter Halligan at Sutton Hall Farm on 14 August 2008. HSE news release and falls webpage • Construction Enquirer • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
India: Nothing like a nice cup of tea
Tea workers in Assam are suffering labour abuses and threats to their health and safety, a complaint to the World Bank’s International Financial Corporation (IFC) – which has a 20 per cent stake in the firm - has claimed. Global union federation IUF is supporting the complaint by tea workers at the Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd (APPL) tea gardens in Assam, an associate company of Tata Global Beverages.
IUF news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Worker loses leg after falling wall starts excavator
A director of a Wimborne building firm has been fined after a self-employed worker was seriously injured when a falling wall activated an excavator. Dorchester Crown Court heard that David Mitchell, a director of Ferndown Developments Ltd, had hired James O’Connor to work at the cottage when the incident happened on 29 April 2009.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Foundry worker hit by 1.6 tonne bar
A Derbyshire foundry has been fined after an employee suffered multiple injuries when he was hit by a steel bar weighing 1.6 tonnes. The 61-year-old, who has asked not to be named, was working at Padley & Venables Ltd in Dronfield when the nine-metre long bar, and the steel barrow it was travelling on, fell as it was being pushed from one part of the site to another by a tow truck.
HSE news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Global: Are you ready for Workers’ Memorial Day?
Are you ready for Workers’ Memorial Day, health and safety’s big day, when unions and safety campaigners pledge to ‘Remember the dead and fight for the living’. Unions around the world are planning 28 April events on what is the biggest single workplace safety activity on the calendar.
Find out what’s happening worldwide on 28 April. Copies of the Hazards Workers’ Memorial Day 2013 poster are available free in A4 and A3 sizes from Hilda Palmer at the Hazards Campaign. A charge to cover costs will be made for larger orders • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Hong Kong: Dockworkers treated like ‘caged animals’
Dockworkers in Hong Kong are being treated no better than caged animals, the global transport workers’ union federation ITF has said. According to ITF, the union and hundreds of thousands of dockers worldwide are calling on HIT and HPH to take responsibility for the welfare of their workers whether they are directly employed or subcontracted and enter into open and transparent dialogue.
ITF News • Labourstart ActNow campaign – send a protest letter to the company • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Hazards news, 30 March 2013
Britain: Campaigners vow to take on the blacklisters
Unions and campaigners have pledged to take on the individuals responsible for blacklisting workers for their union and site safety activities. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey and GMB general secretary Paul Kenny announced at the Blacklist Support Group's 23 March AGM in London a new front in the campaign against those who unlawfully persecute union members.
Reel News video report • Morning Star • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
USA: Get well soon - or you’ll be sorry
Employers are using incentives and increasingly penalties to persuade workers to make better lifestyle choices, even though there is no compelling evidence these programmes actually work. Programmes that seek to impose consequences on workers, for example making them to pay a surcharge for failing to take steps to lose weight or quit smoking, have come in for criticism by those who have argued that the policies are invasive and can punish people for health problems that not are always easy to fix.
New York Times • The Nation • Work and well-being, TUC guide, February 2013. Hazards magazine ‘Well, then?’ guide • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Global: Spoof ads target clothing giant
The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) has launched a spoof marketing drive parodying global clothing giant H&M's new 'Conscious Collection' promotional campaign. The campaign group’s 'Unconscious Collapsed' posters aim to draw attention to the oppressive working conditions in Asian garment factories.
CCC news release • The spoof on Facebook and living wage campaign • Take action – sign the call for a Living Wage • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Crossrail targeted over blacklisting
Crossrail has become a key target of anti-blacklisting campaigners. Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Blacklist Support Group last month, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey accused Crossrail of neglecting workers’ rights and failing to investigate claims that blacklisting is taking place on the £15bn project.
Union News • Building • Evening Standard • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Europe: Deregulation threat to safety laws
Last month turned out to be a bad one for workplace health and safety in the European Union (EU). On 7 March, the European Commission announced its plans to “ease the top 10 most burdensome EU laws” for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The EU executive said it planned to do this through the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) launched in December 2012 – and safety laws are high on a list topped by the REACH controls on hazardous chemicals.
ETUI news reports on Andor’s comments and the Deregulation Commission • European Commission news release • EU Commission webpages on health and safety at work • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: RMT slams HSE’s offshore ‘dilution’
Offshore union RMT has condemned the announcement of a “restructuring exercise” within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which will see the absorption of its Offshore Safety Division” (OSD) into a new broader “Energy Division”. RMT says that since the findings of Lord Cullen's inquiry into the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster, which killed 167, there has been a distinct division of HSE devoted to the offshore oil and gas industry.
RMT news release • HSE statement • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Prison educators are highly stressed
Education staff who work in prisons have considerably higher levels of work-related stress than British workers in general, a new report commissioned by the union UCU has found. ‘A punishing regime - a survey of occupational stress and well-being among prison educators’ found that 72 per cent of the prison educators who responded 'strongly agreed' or 'agreed' with the statement, "I find my job stressful".
UCU news release and report, A punishing regime - a survey of occupational stress and well-being among prison educators, Gail Kinman and Siobhan Wray, University of Bedfordshire • POA news release • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Schools inspectors are ‘hit men’ for ministers
School inspectors are becoming education ministers’ hit men, teaching union NASUWT has claimed. Ninety-five per cent of teachers who responded to an NASUWT survey into inspection said that they believe the schools inspections system operates in the interests of politicians rather than the public or pupils.
NASUWT news release • Hazards work-related suicide guide • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: ‘Shocking’ truth about classroom asbestos
Children and teachers are still at risk of developing cancer due to asbestos-riddled classrooms, the National Union of Teachers has warned. The union is demanding urgent action after Department for Education officials told the Commons education committee that the government's policy was to “contain and actively manage asbestos and for its removal to be carried out correctly and safely (for example when buildings are demolished or refurbished, or when damage means that asbestos is no longer safely contained).”
NUT news release • Morning Star • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Emails used as a ‘punitive’ management tool
Teachers are being swamped by a deluge of work-related emails sent in holidays, evenings and weekends, adding to their workload and causing stress and distress, the union NASUWT has warned. It says a recent survey conducted by the union revealed that nearly one in five teachers had received a stream of bullying and demanding emails from senior colleagues.”
NASUWT news release • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Union anger over benefits sanctions targets
Civil service union PCS has demanded urgent action after it emerged the Department for Work and Pensions had published a national sanctions “scorecard” that contains precise information on how jobcentre districts are performing on stopping people's benefits. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It is a gross injustice that, with our economy stalling as a direct result of this government's mismanagement, ministers are turning the screw on people who are entitled to benefits.”
PCS news release and Letter to Iain Duncan Smith • The Guardian • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Steel employee injured in ammonia fog
A steelworker suffered a serious shoulder injury after his vision was clouded by ammonia vapour. Unite member Phillip Walters, 54, a shift support technician at the Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot, was walking past an incinerator when it blew out a cloud of ammonia vapour temporarily affecting his sight.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • BBC News Online • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Injury after firm provided wrong equipment
A factory worker suffered a fractured foot after he was provided with the wrong type of equipment to move heavy alloy bars. GMB member Michael Kirby, 47, suffered two fractured metatarsals in his left foot and was off work for seven weeks following the incident at Ross & Catherall Ltd in Sheffield.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: HSE backtracks on disease reporting
A highly unpopular Health and Safety Executive (HSE) proposal to remove the duty on employers to report most work-related diseases has been dropped by the watchdog. The proposal to end disease reporting was opposed by unions, occupational doctors and the safety professionals’ body IOSH.
Minutes of the January 2013 HSE board meeting • BOHS news release • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Worrying HSE findings on site safety
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) snapshot examination of safety conditions on Britain’s construction sites suggest there has been no improvement in standards since a similar inspection blitz last year. Both concluded “nearly one in five construction sites visited” were sub-standard, with the latest figures suggesting there has been a slight increase in the proportion of negligently run sites.
HSE news releases on the 2013 and 2012 site blitzes • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: HSE to keep patient safety role
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to keep the lead role on patient safety, the government has said. The official response to recommendations in the Francis report goes against the recommendation of Robert Francis QC, who led the inquiry into the patient safety scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
Patients First and Foremost: the Initial Government Response to the Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, Department of Health, 28 March 2013. SHP Online • Francis report website • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Congo: Union recruitment and retractable syringes
A union project to encourage the use of safer retractable syringes in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s health system has delivered benefits for patients, health care workers and their union. Global union federation PSI said during the project, membership of the health care union SOLISCO, a PSI affiliate, rose by 30 per cent in three years.
PSI news release • Map: IMPACT/PSI project collaboration between 2008 and 2013 • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Directors fined £1.8m for transport safety abuse
Two former haulage directors have been ordered to pay more than £1.8m after illegally endangering road users. Patrick Boyle and Mark Boyle, jailed last year, now have six months to pay £1.1m and £738,000 respectively under the Proceeds of Crime Act; investigators found that between them they had benefited from their crimes by more than £10m.
Cumbria Constabulary news release • BBC News Online • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Long term failings led to long term damage
GKN Aerospace has been fined for failing to heed safety regulations for at least six years, leaving a group of employees with permanent nerve damage. Portsmouth Magistrates were told that five workers based at GKN on the Isle of Wight had been left with long-term damage to their circulation and nervous system after contracting hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
HSE news release and vibration webpages • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Deadly risks of living on site exposed
Construction workers have found sleeping overnight in a former brewery undergoing refurbishment were exposed to potentially deadly risks, a court has heard. The owner of the Burton upon Trent brewery and the site manager were prosecuted for a series of safety failings unearthed during a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Firms fined 10 years after rail fatality
Two rail giants have each received six figure fines for criminal safety offences a decade after the death of track worker Liam Robinson, 35. Network Rail appeared at Stafford Crown Court on 22 March and was convicted of two offences following a three week trial and Railway Maintenance Ltd, trading as Carillion Rail, pleaded guilty to two criminal breaches at an earlier hearing.
ORR news release • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Hazards news, 23 March 2013
Britain: Major anti-blacklisting breakthrough
Trade unions have achieved what they describe as ‘a major breakthrough’ in the campaign against blacklisting. Employers’ representatives on the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC), responsible for the official union-employer industrial Working Rule Agreement which covers 500,000 construction workers, agreed on 20 March to insert a new anti-blacklisting clause, as a result of strong union pressure.
UCATT news release • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
USA: WSJ attack on asbestos victims criticised
The Wall Street Journal has been criticised for portraying asbestos compensation “fraud” as the “troubling underside” of a system that has forced asbestos companies into bankruptcy. In an 11 March article, which is riddled with basic errors, uses the fraud claim as a hook to give column inches to a Republican-backed ‘Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency" bill.
Huffington Post • Wall Street Journal • Corporate Action Network • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Site workers miss out on employment rights
Hundreds of thousands of construction workers are missing out on employment rights and facing job insecurity because firms wrongly label them as self-employed. Construction union UCATT said under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) it is the responsibility of the employer to register workers correctly under the scheme.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Attacks on community workers must be stopped
UNISON members working in the voluntary sector are calling for urgent action to stem a growing tide of violence and aggression at work. The union says thousands of its members in the sector are assaulted, abused and suffer debilitating injuries at work every year.
UNISON news release • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: NHS trusts are ‘wasting money’ on sick leave
Too many NHS trusts in England are failing to implement key recommendations made in 2009 to reduce staff sickness absence, physios’ union CSP has said. Documents obtained by CSP under freedom of information (FoI) laws show that many trusts have failed to act on key recommendations in the Boorman Review, a landmark 2009 report into the health of the NHS workforce.
CSP news release and report, Fit enough for patients? • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Rail worker compensated for vibration injury
An RMT member who suffered permanent damage to his hands caused by excessive levels of vibration from workplace tools has received a ‘substantial sum’ in compensation. Kevin Thornton, 48, developed hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), a condition which causes numbness and loss of grip, through working with vibrating tools for 22 years for Network Rail and its predecessors, including British Rail.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • New TUC guide on hand-arm vibration syndrome • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Chancellor accused of sneaky attack on rights
Construction union UCATT has accused George Osborne of hiding a further attack on workers’ safety and rights in the small print of this week’s Budget. The union says buried on page 50 of the chancellor’s 2013 Budget document was the announcement that the government will launch a “second phase of the Red Tape challenge”, while on page 93 it confirms that the second phase of the Red Tape Challenge will begin in “summer 2013”.
UCATT news release • HM Treasury: Budget 2013 • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Europe: Action call on hormone disrupting chemicals
Europe’s lawmakers have said chemical safety laws must be overhauled to take account of the impact of widely-used endocrine disrupted chemicals (EDCs). The large group of common industrial chemicals were linked last year to breast cancer in a range of industrial and other jobs, prompting renewed calls for action from unions and chemical safety campaigners.
HEAL news release and related Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health commentary • ChemSec news report • EDC free campaign website • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Burnout bigger heart risk than smoking
Burnout at work is worse for your heart than smoking cigarettes, research has found. The study, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, found that people suffering work-related burnout are even more likely to develop heart disease than smokers.
TUC Touchstone Blog • Medical News Today • Psychosomatic Medicine • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Work is the top cause of stress
Work is the most stressful factor in people’s lives, research commissioned by Mind has found. The mental health charity found one in three people (34 per cent) said their work life was either very or quite stressful, topping both debt or financial problems (30 per cent) and health (17 per cent).
Mind news release and stress webinars • New TUC guide on mental health conditions at work • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: HSE urged to do act on women’s cancers
Campaigners waved bras outside a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conference last week, to highlight the watchdog’s “denial, delay and dithering” on occupational cancer risks, particularly those affecting women. Hilda Palmer said “this ‘three monkeys’ approach is especially deadly for work-related cancer in women which has been completely ignored, under-researched and so much less likely to be targeted for preventive action.”
Hazards Campaign news release • HSE news release • Morning Star • SHP Online • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Health surveillance needs worker involvement
New health surveillance guidance has been launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The online guide is clear that involving the workforce is critical, noting: “Employees should be encouraged to get involved in developing and using health surveillance because it is only effective with their co-operation.”
HSE news release and health surveillance webpages and information on employee involvement • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Tax breaks for workplace health interventions
Employers will be able to access tax relief for health-related interventions recommended by the forthcoming health and work assessment and advisory service, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in this week’s Budget. George Osborne said the move, flagged up in the government’s January 2013 response to the sickness absence review commissioned from workplace health czar Dame Carol Black and former business lobbyists David Frost, will “recycle funding into creating the health and work assessment and advisory service for those in danger of long-term sickness absence.”
HM Treasury: Budget 2013 • BBC News Online and Budget summary • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Egypt: Lose your thumb and you're fired
Ahmad Abdulghani Awad Abdulghani, 26, worked at Cadbury Egypt, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mondelez, from 2008 to December 2011. He never had a permanent job, but was part of the army of precarious workers making chewing gum at the Alexandria factory. He lost half his thumb while operating a machine which should normally be run by three persons; then he lost his job.
IUF news release and related campaign • Click here to send a message to Mondelez - tell them to rectify human rights abuses and to meet with the IUF! • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Baroness blasts government on safety
A member of the House of Lords has warned that the UK government’s current safety policy will cost lives. Baroness Rita Donaghy, speaking to the Canberra Times ahead of a June address to a safety conference in the Australian capital, said: “To say things have deteriorated is an understatement,” adding: “So it may sound political, but a government which listens is enormously important.”
Canberra Times • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Night shift linked to ovarian cancer
Working night shifts may increase the risk of ovarian cancer, research suggests. A study of more than 3,000 women found that working nights increased the risk of early-stage cancer by 49 per cent compared with doing normal office hours.
Parveen Bhatti and others. Nightshift work and risk of ovarian cancer, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 50, pages 231-237, 2013 [abstract] • BBC News Online • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Workman fined for friend's fall through roof
A self-employed maintenance worker has been fined after a casually-employed friend fell through the roof of a disused factory. The injured man, in his forties, suffered a broken elbow when he fell three metres through the asbestos cement roof at a disused rubber factory at Bullo Pill, Newnham, in the Forest of Dean on 4 September 2012.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Hazards insecure work webpages • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Work experience teen scarred by toxic cocktail
Vehicle repair company Motorhouse 2000 Ltd has been fined after a 16 year-old on work experience, Bret Thomas, suffered burns when toxic paint stripper splashed into his eyes and face. The toxic cocktail was capable of causing problems ranging from asphyxiation, to brain damage and bone rot.
HSE news release • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Company fined after paper mill injury
A paper manufacturer has been fined after a worker seriously injured his left arm when it became trapped in moving machinery. Stonehaven Sheriff Court was told that the 54-year-old from Aberdeen, whose name has not been released, was employed as a coaterman at the Stoneywood Paper Mill. The mill was operated by Arjo Wiggins Fine Papers Limited when the incident happened on 15 October 2010.
HSE news release • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: TUC workplace health resources
Following up publication of the new edition of its best-selling and seriously large ‘Hazards at work’ guide for safety reps, the TUC has issued a tranche of straightforward short guides on issues free ranging from chicken pox at work to skin problems, vibration and noise. These guides are written for employees, and give straightforward advice on diseases, risks and employers’ duties.
Hazards at work: Organising for safe and healthy workplaces • New TUC guides on workplace substances and skin problems, working with asbestos, noise at work, hand-arm vibration syndrome, chicken pox in the workplace and mental health conditions • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Australia: Asbestos eradication bill introduced
A draft law aiming to ‘eradicate’ asbestos in Australia has been introduced to the national parliament. Employment minister Bill Shorten said the legislation would establish an Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency.
News release from minister for employment Bill Shorten • The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill and explanatory memorandum • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Hazards news, 16 March 2013
‘Growth duty’ will mean less health and safety
Hazards magazine has warned that the government’s proposed ‘growth duty’ on regulators will mean businesses pay less as victims, communities and the public purse pick up the tab. “Improving the ‘economic prospects’ of firms by slackening regulatory controls doesn’t reduce costs, it shifts them,” it said.
Hazards magazine • 16 March 2013
Britain: Unions must fight for safety in a ‘hostile’ climate
A ‘hostile’ political climate is jeopardising hard won safety improvements at work, the TUC has warned. Launching the new edition of its bestselling safety publication Hazards at work, TUC said the government’s disdain for workplace safety had resulted in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) being barred from making unannounced visits to most workplaces.
TUC news release and full report Hazards at work: Organising for safe and healthy workplaces • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Global: New global chemicals regime is needed
A new comprehensive global chemicals agreement is needed to safeguard people and the environment, a report has concluded. The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) said existing global agreements for chemicals management fall short, with only 22 hazardous chemicals currently managed throughout their lifecycle at the global level.
CIEL news release and report, Paths to global chemical safety: The 2020 goal and beyond • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Safety is not just ‘nice’, it is necessary
When the TUC’s new assistant general secretary took up his post, he didn’t imagine workplace health and safety would be top of his to-do list – but it was. According to Paul Nowak: “Given all that is going on in the world with unemployment, cuts, pensions, attacks on trade union rights and the general fall in living standards for everyone who is not a banker or company director, it may seem strange that one small decision has got me hot under the collar, that is the decision to remove an Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) to the Management Regulations.”
Stronger Unions blog • Sign the e-petition: Save the ‘code’ to protect workers, businesses and the economy • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Blacklister Balfour Beatty is sorry it got caught
The head of construction giant Balfour Beatty has told MPs he regrets the firm getting caught blacklisting safety and union activists, but seemed less concerned about the blacklisting itself. In 12 March evidence to a House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry, Mike Peasland, the company’s chief executive officer (CEO), claimed “I don’t know” in response to a series of questions from MPs about what information was fed to covert blacklister The Consulting Association, when and by whom.
Stronger Unions blog • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Union protest in Dundee over blacklisting
Over 200 construction workers joined a 9 March demonstration in Dundee to protest at the blacklist used by major firms to weed out workers who had raised safety concerns at work. They want the Scottish government to launch an inquiry into the practice in Scotland.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • The Courier • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Global: Failed auditing model led to 400 deaths
The ‘blind faith’ companies showed in a failed auditing model resulted in more than 400 garment worker deaths, labour right groups have said. ‘Fatal fashion’, a new report by the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), analysed the causes of two deadly factory fires in the export-oriented garment industry in Bangladesh and Pakistan.
SOMO news release and Fatal fashion report • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Academics stressed by out of control workloads
A survey of more than 14,000 higher education staff in the UK has found academics and academic-related staff are increasingly stressed by a loss of control over the way they work. The research, carried out by the union UCU, found that stress caused by a perceived lack of control at work has increased among higher education staff over the four years from 2008 to 2012.
UCU news release • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: ‘Grave concern’ about further coastguard cuts
The government's refusal to rule out further cuts to coastguard stations is a “grave concern”, the union PCS has said. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “After all the justified criticism the government has received, its refusal to commit to no further coastguard cuts in the coming years is of grave concern. Ministers are already facing a staffing crisis and now risk destabilising this emergency service even further.”
PCS news release • The Coastguard, Emergency Towing Vessels and the Maritime Incident Response Group: follow up: Government Response to the Committee’s Sixth Report of 2012–13, Transport Select Committee, 11 March 2013 • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Unions welcome government defeat on payouts
A decision by peers to throw out a government plan that would have denied some injured workers compensation has been hailed as a “victory for common sense” by unions.
UNISON news release • PCS news release • Hansard report on Lords Report stage debate - Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, amendment 80A, 6 March 2013 • TUC briefing on the Bill • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Wrists at risk wherever you work
Two cases where workers in very different industries suffered broken wrists show it is bad management and not any unavoidable risk of the job that causes workplace injuries. Unite member Ian Jones suffered such a bad break to his wrist in a fall at a Heinz factory in Wigan and a prison worker’s left wrist was fractured when it was crushed by a broken down workplace van.
Thompsons Solicitors news releases on the Unite and PCS cases • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Growth yes – but not at the cost of our safety
The government is pandering to the business lobby at the expense of workplace safety, the TUC has warned. The union body was speaking out after an 8 March invitation from business minister Michael Fallon to “businesses and regulators” to help fashion a 'growth duty' for regulators – a proposed legally-binding measure that “will require regulators to take into account the impact of their activities on the economic prospects of firms they regulate.”
Stronger Unions blog • BIS news release and consultation document, Non-economic Regulators: Duty to Have Regard to Growth • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Europe: Agreement to ‘eradicate’ asbestos for good
The European Parliament has agreed to ‘eradicate’ asbestos by 2028. The resolution, adopted by the parliament on 14 March with a 558 to 51 majority, calls for the implementation of a co-ordinated European Union (EU) strategy to remove all asbestos.
S&D news release • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Report exposes official safety inspection deceit
Official figures obtained by Hazards reveal than while unannounced Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections overall have dropped by over a third since 2011, inspections in high risk workplaces have fallen too. The HSE figures show instead of the promised inspection increases in the highest risk firms, inspections by the Hazardous Installations Directorate (HID) fell by almost 40 per cent and those by HSE’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) also fell, down from 2,092 in 2010/11 to 2,075 in 2011/12. Work rules, Hazards magazine special report, 13 March 2013 • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Insiders criticise ‘dire’ occupational health system
Former Health and Safety Executive (HSE) occupational physician Morris Greenberg has said the UK’s occupational health provision is in a dire state. “The acceptance of the gross decline in the UK's occupational health practice firmly indicates the disrespect with which it is held,” he wrote in the British Medical Journal, adding: “Nothing short of a ministerial inquiry will remedy the dire state of health and safety at work, whether in office, shop, factory or hospital.”
After Mid Staffs: the NHS must do more to care for the health of its staff, BMJ, volume 346, published 7 March 2013 and response from Morris Greenberg, 11 March 2013 • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain; Revised ‘fit note’ guidance launched
Staff on sick leave will have better support to get back into work through new fit note guidance, the government has said. It says the guidance advises doctors on how they can give the most useful advice about what patients can do at work and how they can return to the workplace as soon as possible.
DWP news release and fit note webpages • CSP news release and Allied Health Professions (AHP) Advisory Fitness for Work Report • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Sickness win for agency worker
Agency workers are set to have better anti-discrimination rights after an Employment Tribunal awarded an agency worker who went sick a £35,892.08 payout for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal. The tribunal case, funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, heard that agency worker Corinda Pegg had been dismissed after 44 weeks service with Camden Council due to absences caused by depression.
EHRC news release • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Welcome for Labour's migrant worker pledge
Construction union UCATT has welcomed Labour Party plans to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers. The pledge to extend employment protection to cover more vulnerable workers came in a party political broadcast by Labour leader Ed Miliband last week and in a 7 March speech from shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.
UCATT news release • Speech by Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, to the IPPR • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: MPs raise concerns about port safety
Most UK’s sea ports are failing to submit reports on their safety performance, accident statistics are inadequate and too few resources are devoted to the industry, a committee of MPs has said. Ports are required to confirm that they are complying with the Port Marine Safety Code every three years but the Commons transport committee said this was requirement was overlooked by most ports.
Transport committee news release and report, Marine Pilotage: Ninth report of Session 2012-13 • Morning Star • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Pie factory death fine will go unpaid
A defunct pie manufacturer fined after a worker died in an oven explosion is unlikely to pay up, despite a new operation run by the same man and employing the same staff taking over its business. Huddersfield firm Andrew Jones Pies, which is now in administration, was fined £250,000 at York Crown Court and ordered to pay £124,896 in costs.
HSE news release • Huddersfield Examiner • Yorkshire Post • BBC News Online • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Farm owner sentenced over tractor death
The co-owner of a Lakeland farm has been sentenced after an employee was found dead under the wheel of a tractor. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Stuart Webster following the death of Thomas Phizacklea, 24, at Aurora Park Farm in Scales near Ulverston.
HSE news release and agriculture webpages • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2013
The UK TUC has added a Workers’ Memorial Day facebook events page to its resources for health and safety’s big day. The 28 April event is the biggest single workplace safety activity on the calendar, and is the day unions and safety campaigners worldwide pledge to ‘Remember the dead and fight for the living’. Also now available is the Hazards 2013 Workers’ Memorial Day poster.
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2013 webpage and events listing and facebook page. •
Copies of the Hazards Workers’ Memorial Day 2013 poster are available free in A4 and A3 sizes from Hilda Palmer at the Hazards Campaign • A charge to cover costs will be made for larger orders • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Canada: Court recognises diesel cancer
A mining union has welcomed a decision by the Superior Court in Quebec, Canada, which has recognised the diesel exhaust-related lung cancer suffered by a mining worker as an occupational disease. “This is a very important decision, because it's the first time that a causal link between lung cancer and diesel smoke exposure has been recognised,” said union representative Marc Thibodeau.
USW news release • Risks 597 • 16 March 201
Hazards news, 9 March 2013
Britain: Pensions move will hurt firefighters
The majority of firefighters could face the sack as the get older, as a result of government plans to extend their working lives but only retain those who meet an unrealistic fitness standard.
FBU news release and model letter to MPs • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
USA: Health care undermined by bad jobs
The work is of “well-intentioned, well-prepared” health care workers is being undermined by poor treatment at work, a new US report has concluded. ‘Through the eyes of the workforce: Creating joy, meaning, and safer health care’, a report sponsored by the health care union SEIU, finds that instead of joy and meaning, “many health care workers suffer harm - emotional and physical - in the course of providing care.”
Through the eyes of the workforce: Creating joy, meaning, and safer health care, Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation, March 2013 • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Cutting hospital cleaners will increase infections
Health workers have warned that patients at five hospitals in north-west England face more infections if a hospital trust requires porters to carry out specialist cleaning duties. GMB says University Hospital of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust is proposing to change porters' job descriptions to include “terminal cleans” - deep cleaning operations of specific areas - including ones where there have been particular problems, such as highly infectious and potentially deadly MRSA.
GMB news release • Morning Star • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Thailand: Activist sued for criticising work abuses
A prominent British human rights activist could face a lengthy prison term and a multi-million pound fine, after co-authoring a report that said a Thai food company abused migrant labour at one of its factories. Andy Hall has been charged with broadcasting false statements under Thailand's Computer Crime Act, a charge that carries a maximum jail term of two years; the 32-year-old has also been charged with defaming and damaging the Natural Fruit Company.
Daily Telegraph • Bangkok Post • Prachtai • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: The false economy of unpaid overtime
TUC research published on 1 March has revealed that around one in five workers regularly do around seven hours of unpaid overtime a week. The union body questions whether it’s really necessary for workers to do 1.8 billion hours of unpaid overtime a year – the equivalent of 1 million extra full-time jobs.
Stronger Unions blog • TUC Work Your Better Hours Day website and infographic • TSSA news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: NHS staff in dangerously short supply
Health workers are facing an uphill battle to care for patients in the face of job cuts, mounting pressure and stress, UNISON has warned. The union was commenting after the publication of the NHS Staff Survey 2012, which found 70 per cent of staff were putting in extra hours, with the same percentage believing there were insufficient staff to enable them to do their jobs properly.
UNISON news release • NHS Staff Survey 2012 • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: No justice after most site deaths
The construction union UCATT is calling for urgent action after its research discovered fewer than half of site deaths are followed by a prosecution. A Freedom of Information request to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that of the 332 fatalities involving construction workers between 2004/5 and 2008/9, just 154 (46 per cent) led to a prosecution.
UCATT news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
France: Double your money with safety investment
A new French study has found the benefits of improved health and safety in the construction industry go beyond preventing deaths, injuries and ill-health. Researchers measured the financial impact of 101 preventive actions carried out in 27 firms of all sizes. These gave an overall return of 2.19 - for every £100 invested the prevention efforts yielded savings of £219. ETUI news alert • 9 March 2013
Britain: Crossrail must answer blacklisting charges
A worker on the Crossrail project who believes he was blacklisted because of his union and safety activities has won the right to challenge his sacking. London Central Employment Tribunal ruled last week that both Crossrail and contractor Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK) should appear in court to answer the allegations that Unite safety rep Frank Morris was unfairly dismissed in September 2012 from Europe’s biggest construction project.
Blacklist blog • Unite news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Union outrage at Skanska blacklist role
The construction multinational Skanska was the biggest contributor of information on The Consulting Association’s (TCA) illegally assembled blacklist, the latest evidence session of the Scottish Affairs select committee on blacklisting has heard. Harvey Francis, the executive vice-president of Skanska UK admitted the firm went beyond passing information onto TCA, actively soliciting information from job applicants for use in blacklisting inquiries in the form of a “pre-induction questionnaire”.
UCATT news release • Scottish Affairs select committee 5 March evidence session • Building • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Safety warning as coastguard staffing plummets
Lives will be lost if coastguard stations continue to lose experienced staff, the union PCS has warned. The union says the government is failing to retain staff after its “flawed decision” to close half the coastguard stations in the UK.
PCS news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Unions concern at profit threat to vehicle testing
The privatisation of heavy vehicle testing will have a detrimental impact on road safety, unions from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) have told a committee of MPs. Giving oral evidence to a transport select committee hearing into the work of the agency, trade union side secretary Kevin Warden said VOSA's unions remained “deeply concerned about privatisation,” as the incentive for profit undermined a commitment to road safety.
Prospect news release • Transport Committee evidence session and VOSA inquiry webpage • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Government defeated on compensation changes
A government move to limit compensation for work-related injuries and ill-health has been rejected by the House of Lords. Ministers had wanted to end “civil liability” on employers, meaning compensation would only be payable if negligence was established, even where the employer was found to be in breach of criminal safety laws.
Hansard report on Lords Report stage debate - Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, amendment 80A, 6 March 2013 • TUC briefing on the Bill • TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: One city, three crushing deaths, three broken families
Three separate incidents where Sheffield factory workers were crushed to death provide a painful illustration of the heartache caused to their families.
Sheffield Star on the deaths of Michael Dwyer, David Roberts and Alan Winters • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Scrap firm fined after swinging bus hits worker
Merthyr Tydfil scrap metal firm Abba Scrap Metals Ltd has been fined after an employee was badly injured when a bus swung into him as it was being lifted onto a truck. Clifford Evans, 49 was momentarily pinned against a wall before the bus swung back again, and suffered fractures to his pelvis and ribs.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Billionaire fined £35k for horrific worker injury
Scotland’s richest man ignored safety warnings about his farm shortly before a worker was left looking like a shark attack victim. Wanda Lustig, 34, said she was “laughed at” when she warned about conditions on billionaire Maher Mahdi Al Tajir’s farm in Perthshire.
Scottish Daily Record • The Courier • STV News • BBC News Online • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Network Rail fined £100,000 for track worker injury
Network Rail has been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,000 after its criminal safety shortcomings resulted in a serious injury to a track maintenance worker. Tom Wake, ORR’s deputy director railway safety, said: “In this case, Network Rail’s management and planning for maintenance of the track at Cheshunt Junction, Hertfordshire was not good enough. The company’s failures caused the entirely avoidable and life-changing injuries for its employee Terence Wray.”
ORR news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Police fitness test 'unfair to women'
Scotland’s new national police service has been urged to scrap a make-or-break fitness test for new recruits, after claims it “disproportionately disadvantages women”. The call, from the Scottish Women's Development Forum (SWDF), a gender equality working group of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), came as the new Police Service of Scotland (PSoS) considers how to test officers for fitness.
The Herald • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Jobs cause hypertension
Low job control is associated with an increased risk of hypertension among men, a study has found. The research by Canada’s Institute for Work & Health (IWH) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), found the proportion of cases of hypertension among men that could be attributed to low job control was 12 per cent, which is higher than the proportion of cases that could be attributed to poor health behaviours such as smoking, drinking, not getting enough exercise, and not eating enough fruits and vegetables.
IWH news release • Work and well-being, TUC guide, February 2013 • Hazards work and health webpages • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: The case for stronger laws
A new TUC health and safety bulletin, ‘The case for stronger laws’, is the second in a series supporting the TUC’s Time for Change manifesto. It says one of the principles that underpin the Health and Safety at Work Act is the belief that the involvement of the workforce is crucial to achieving good standards of health and safety.
Time for Change health and safety bulletin: The case for stronger laws • Time for change manifesto webpage • TUC health and safety webpages •
Check out the TUC’s online resources: sign up to its twitter and facebook page • 9 March 2013
Japan: Fukushima firm criticised over radiation exposures
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) failed to submit radiation dose data to an industry database, government officials have said, compromising the health of 21,000 people who worked at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant after the March 2011 meltdown. The official criticism reinforces concerns about inadequate production for radiation exposed workers.
Asahi Shimbun • Greenpeace news release • BBC News Online • WHO news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Hazards news, 2 March 2013
Britain: Blacklisted worker wins human rights argument
A blacklisted worker who was denied justice because he was an agency worker has been told his human rights may have been violated and has been granted leave to appeal. An Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) this week decided that construction giant Carillion must face human rights claims over its role in the construction industry blacklisting scandal.
Blacklist blog • GMB news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Zambia: Copper miners face safety abuses
Copper miners in Zambia are facing safety abuses, intimidation and violence, a new report has found. Human Rights Watch researchers found that the government of President Michael Sata, who promised to prioritise labour rights when he took office in September 2011, has made some improvements in the oversight of the mines, but there remains inadequate enforcement of laws designed to protect workers’ rights.
Human Rights Watch news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Electricians hit hardest by site blacklist
Skilled electricians were the group worst affected by the blacklisting scandal, a union analysis has found. GMB researchers reviewed the occupations of workers on an illegal blacklist held by The Consulting Association and found electricians were twice as likely to be blacklisted as labourers, the second largest group targeted.
GMB news release • The Mirror • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Probe into police complicity in blacklisting
Construction union UCATT has welcomed news that the Metropolitan Police is to conduct a major investigation into allegations that the police colluded in the blacklisting of construction workers. The new inquiry follows a review of a complaint made last November on behalf of the Blacklist Support Group that officers has supplied information to those compiling blacklists.
UCATT news release • Channel 4 News • Morning Star • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: FBU condemns ‘reckless’ London fire cuts
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has vowed to mobilise every firefighter at every fire station to defend London’s fire service, after fire authority politicians capitulated to London mayor Boris Johnson, and agreed to start a fire station closure public consultation.
FBU news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Scottish safety cuts are putting the public at risk
Cuts to local council environmental health departments are putting the health of the public and workers at risk, UNISON Scotland has found. Scottish council responses to Freedom of Information requests and the results of two surveys of UNISON members confirm the union’s warnings about the impact of cuts on food safety, public health and workplace health and safety, it said.
UNISON news release and Briefing 31: Bargaining - Cuts in Food Safety and Environmental Health, UNISON Scotland, February 2013 • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Welcome for schools asbestos probe
The union GMB has welcomed a call for evidence by the House of Commons Education Select Committee on the issues around asbestos in schools. The parliamentary committee will hear evidence on 13 March.
GMB news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Bathroom appliance maker in asbestos payout
A Bathroom appliance manufacturer has paid compensation to a former employee who developed an incurable asbestos disease. Unite supported the claim by Eli Richards, 79, from Great Wyrley, Walsall when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2011.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: E-ciggies area problem at work
E-cigarettes are potentially hazardous and have no place in the workplace, the TUC’s head of safety has advised. Hugh Robertson, who said he had received two inquiries from safety reps about the product in the last week, said while the electronic nicotine delivery systems are not banned, they should be subject to the same controls at work as real cigarettes.
TUC Stronger Unions blog – see all the stories in the new Stronger Unions health and safety section • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: We’d base safety policy on evidence says Labour
The government is pursuing an ideologically-driven deregulatory safety agenda, without any regard for the evidence, the opposition has warned. Shadow minister for employment Stephen Timms said welcomed the “sensible proposals” in the TUC ‘Time for change’ health and safety manifesto, pointing to its “strong line on inspection regimes” and “for a priority for occupational health.”
Speech by Stephen Timms • TUC Stronger Unions blog • IOSH news release • SHP Online • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
USA: BP and the uncivilised truth about civil fines
As the US civil trial began this week against energy giant BP for its environmental negligence in 2010’s deadly Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, a workers’ health campaign group has said it is “struck by the vast discrepancy in the size of fines that can be assessed under federal environmental laws and those that can be levied for unsafe conditions leading to the death of a worker.”
National COSH blog • BBC News Online • The Independent • Los Angeles Times • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Muddled safety message from the employer lobby
Manufacturing companies are seeing “significant benefits” from investing in safety, but are still finding time to moan about “safety burdens”. These conflicting messages came this week in ‘Making health and safety work for business: Removing unnecessary health and safety burdens’, a report from the manufacturers’ lobby group EEF.
EEF news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: HSE dismisses nuclear secondments concerns
EDF Energy, which has asked ministers to consider a 40-year subsidy scheme for its proposed UK plants, has seconded two staff to the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). An HSE statement accepted nuclear employees were seconded to the organisation, but said: “We have safeguards in place to ensure there is no conflict of interest; no secondee works on matters directly related to their parent organisation.”
HSE statement • The Guardian • Spinwatch • NuclearSpin • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Up to a third of inspections trigger fees
Between a quarter and a third of inspections carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) since its cost-recovery scheme came into force in October 2012 found a material breach of health and safety law, resulting in a fee for intervention (FFI) on the company involved.
SHP Online • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Petition to defend the management code
A petition to the government is calling on the government to retain and improve a crucial safety management code, rather than follow through with plans to ditch it. The call, on the government’s e-petitions website, is headed “Save the ‘code’ to protect workers, businesses and the economy”.
E-petition: Save the ‘code’ to protect workers, businesses and the economy • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Who is safe from Balfour Beatty?
Balfour Beatty firms landed two fines in one day last week after being convicted of serious criminal safety offences. On 22 February, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Services Ltd, was fined £225,000 plus £100,000 costs after being found guilty of breaches linked to the death of a driver during roadworks; in a second case, Balfour Beatty Rail Track Systems Ltd, was fined £8,000 plus costs of £41,438 after an employee suffered serious hand injuries in two separate incidents.
HSE news releases on the road work and rail incidents • Construction Enquirer • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Roofing firm gets £21m factory fire bill
A roofing contractor has been ordered to pay more than £21m in damages after a fire tore through a factory leaving it in ruins. Bridgend-based Central Roofing (South Wales) Ltd had been working on the roof of Mueller Europe's copper tubing plant when gas heaters ignited a scaffolding deck.
Birmingham Mail • BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Pakistan: Asbestos lobby guilty of ‘deadly’ deception
The front organisation for the global asbestos industry has been accused of using ‘deadly, deceptive’ methods to try and derail moves to ban chrysotile asbestos in Pakistan. Human rights campaign group RightOnCanada was commenting on a letter from Jean-Marc Leblond, chair of the International Chrysotile Association (ICA), to Pakistan’s influential Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
RightsOnCancer.ca report and ICA letter • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Time for change – on official inspections
Following the launch of the TUC’s ‘Time for change’ manifesto for health and safety, the union body has published a supporting online guide to official inspections by workplace safety regulators.
Time for change manifesto webpage and inspections briefing, Health and safety inspections: Why all workplaces have to be inspected regularly • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Bangladesh: Families of fire victims get compensation
The families of the victims of a 26 January 2013 fire in Bangladesh have received compensation, in a deal brokered by unions. The prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, made the industry-financed payments this week to bereaved relatives of workers killed in the Smart Fashion factory.
IndustriALL news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Hazards news, 23 February 2013
Britain: Take your time off for training
Union safety reps should take time out for training to make sure they maximise their effectiveness, the TUC has advised. A new ‘Time off for training’ factsheet notes: “Training is very important for any health and safety representative if they are going to be able to represent and support their members with confidence.”
Time off for training: Trade union health and safety representatives, TUC factsheet, February 2013 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
USA: Union calls for breast cancer action
A union representing workers across the USA and Canada has issued an action call to its union reps on occupational breast cancer risk. The union USW issued the hazards alert after a paper published in November 2012 warned a ‘toxic soup’ of chemical exposures in agriculture, plastics, food packaging, metal manufacture and the bar and gambling industry was placing women at an increased risk of breast cancer.
USW Hazard Alert • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Fake safety equipment ‘could kill’
Construction union UCATT is warning all construction workers to make sure that their protective equipment is genuine, following fresh concerns that fake safety equipment has made its way onto sites.
UCATT news release. Checking your Personal Protective Equipment: Guidance for safety representatives, TUC, July 2012 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
USA: Stronger chemical laws ‘spur innovation’
Stronger laws to regulate hazardous chemicals spur innovation, with potential benefits for national economies, as well as human health and the environment, according to a new report from the Washington DC-based Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL).
CIEL news release and full report, Driving innovation: How stronger laws help bring safer chemicals to market, CIEL, February 2013. Forbes.com • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Action call on ‘tough’ blacklisting companies
There should be to a further investigation of the ‘tough’ blacklisting activities of Balfour Beatty and Skanska, the union UCATT has said. The union call came after Mary Kerr, the bookkeeper with the covert blacklisting organisation The Consulting Association (TCA), described Balfour Beatty and Skanska as “very tough” when it came to blacklisting as they would not employ anyone on the list, while other companies could take a more lenient attitude.
UCATT news release. BBC News Online. The Report, BBC Radio 4, 14 February 2013 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Almost 9 out of 10 council workers are stressed
A staggering 87 per cent of local government workers are struggling to cope with increased stress and pressure at work, research by UNISON has found. The survey of more than 14,000 workers by UNISON discovered a ‘toxic cocktail’ of declining staff numbers and increasing expectations from the public and employers is piling on the pressure.
UNISON news release • Morning Star • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Everything Everywhere has stress everywhere
Mobile phone firm Everything Everywhere (EE) might be making a healthy profit, but it is also making its workers stressed, research by the union CWU has found. Using Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stress management criteria, the results rate EE as 'urgent action needed' in all seven areas identified as the main risk factors for workplace stress. CWU news release and EE stress survey • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Overwork led to serious airport injury
An airport worker suffered a broken back when a seriously overworked colleague lost control of a motorised vehicle at Stansted Airport. Mick Draper, 64, from Braintree, Essex was injured in March 2009 when a colleague drove a buggy, used for transporting trailers full of luggage, into a trolley Mr Draper was attending to as part of his job for Swissport.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Survey raises work heart attack concerns
More than half of British businesses do not have a defibrillator, a new poll has found, despite the impact the device has on cardiac arrest survival rates. Safety professionals’ organisation the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) commissioned the survey of 1,000 business decision makers across the UK and found that 513 did not have the lifesaving equipment at work.
IOSH news release and YouTube film on defibrillators at work. Morning Star • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: HSE inspection blitz on refurb sites
A month-long Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection blitz is to target construction sites nationwide. HSE says during the initiative, to run from 18 February to 15 March, it will visit sites where refurbishment or repair works are taking place.
HSE news release and construction webpages. Construction Enquirer • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Global: Chemical controls necessary to protect health
Industrial chemicals found in common household products may cause breast cancer, asthma, infertility and birth defects, global health chiefs have warned. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report indicates a ban could be necessary.
UNEP press release, report summary and full report, State of the science of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals. ChemSec news report. Alliance for Cancer Prevention statement. Daily Mail • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Dogs law is a dog’s dinner
A government committee has criticised England’s dangerous dogs’ legislation and said proposals to improve the law don’t go far enough. Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee chair Anne McIntosh MP said: “New rules should give enforcement officers more effective powers, including Dog Control Notices, to prevent dog-related antisocial behaviour.”
CWU news release and Dangerous Dogs - Bite Back campaign. EFRA news release and EFRA Committee report, 15 February 2013 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Joiner developed life-threatening wood allergy
A joiner developed a wood allergy which could have killed him after working without adequate protection from Iroko hardwood dust. Brian Ogden, 57, was first exposed to the toxic dust at Classic Joinery Manufacturers in Oldham over 20 years ago.
Manchester Evening News • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Paper firm fined for worker's death
A Corby paper manufacturer has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was crushed to death as her husband worked nearby. Desanka Todorovic, 44, was waiting to collect some flat pack boxes from the warehouse at Merley Paper Converters Ltd, on 16 March 2009 when racking carrying heavy boxes collapsed, burying her underneath.
HSE news release and logistics website. Print Week. BBC News Online • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: New safety initiative for deadly waste industry
A blueprint for addressing the ‘terrible toll of death, injury and ill health in the waste and recycling industry’ is to be published following what the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) describes as a ‘landmark’ summit.
HSE news release, statement of intent, waste and recycling webpages and industry strategy • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Global: Official agencies stung into asbestos action
A United Nations health agency, stung by allegations it had too close a relationship with the asbestos industry, has issued a statement confirming its support for an end to all asbestos use. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO), was responding to a 2 February article in the medical journal The Lancet.
Joint WHO-IARC Statement in response to the recent Lancet report: end all use of asbestos, 19 February 2013. RightOnCanada.ca commentary. Rotterdam Convention meeting, 28 April-10 May 2013 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Engineering firm repeatedly put workers at risk
An engineering firm has been fined for endangering workers over a long period by allowing them to use machinery on which vital safety devices had been disabled. Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard that Washington-based Penshaw Engineering Limited knowingly kept two computer-controlled lathes in use when interlock safety devices were not working.
HSE news release • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Blacklist Support Group AGM, 23 March 2013
The Blacklist Support Group’s annual general meeting, which will take place in London on Saturday, 23 March, will be the “largest meeting of blacklisted workers ever assembled in one place.” The group says attendees will “discuss the ongoing campaign against the illegal construction industry blacklist in the courts, in parliament, with the unions and on sites.” Speakers include general secretaries Len McCluskey of Unite, Paul Kenny of GMB and Steve Murphy of UCATT. Also addressing the event will be labour rights expert Professor Keith Ewing and leading employment rights lawyer John Hendy QC.
Blacklist Support Group AGM, 10:30am-4:00pm, Saturday, 23 March 2013, Faraday House, 48-51 Old Gloucester Street, London, WCIN 3AE. All welcome • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: The role of the occupational physician
A handy new guide to the role of occupational physicians has been published by the British Medical Association (BMA). Although BMA says the intended audience for ‘The Occupational Physician’ is occupational physicians, employers and organisations offering occupational health services, it is also an extremely useful resource for union safety reps, providing clear guidance on the rules covering referrals to occupational physicians, related ethical issues, good practice and a useful summary on the regulations on access to medical records and issues including sickness absence and ill-health retirement.
The Occupational Physician: Guidance for specialists and others practising occupational health, BMA, 2013 [full guide] • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Hazards news, 16 February 2013
Britain: Healthier workplaces deliver healthier workers
Employers who create healthy workplaces can reduce employee absence and boost productivity, according to a new TUC guide. ‘Work and well-being’ aims to promote healthier working and help union safety reps identify what in their workplaces is making staff ill.
TUC news release • Work and well-being, TUC guide, February 2013 • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
USA: Officials call for breast cancer prevention
A new report from US government health agencies is calling for more resources to target prevention of breast cancer. Compiled by the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee (IBCERCC), the report notes that most cases of breast cancer “occur in people with no family history,” suggesting that “environmental factors - broadly defined - must play a major role in the aetiology of the disease.”
Breast cancer and the environment: Prioritising prevention, IBCERCC, 2013 • Breast Cancer Fund news release • Center for Public Integrity report • New York Times. Forbes.com • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Damaged track exposes rail cuts dangers
Union warnings about the dangers of cutbacks in track renewals and maintenance have been given added credence after another broken rail was found on the InterCity East Coast Mainline (ECML). RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “This shocking new picture highlights the reality on Britain's railways today - staffing, inspections and track renewals have been cut in the dash to save money and there is massive pressure right from the top of government to keep services running at all costs regardless of the potential human cost.”
RMT news release • ITV News • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Global: It pays to prevent work cancers
Preventing environmental and occupational cancers is both possible and “highly cost effective”, according to a new paper by international experts. The authors, who include researchers from the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), note workplace and environmental exposures are responsible for a substantial share of the global cancer toll.
Carolina Espina, Miquel Porta, Joachim Schüz and others. Environmental and occupational interventions for primary prevention of cancer: A cross-sectorial policy framework, Environmental Health Perspectives, 5 February 2013 • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: PCS calls for an end to privatised 'fitness tests'
Controversial assessments run for the Department for Work and Pensions by private contractor Atos should be scrapped and the work brought back in-house, civil service union PCS has said. The union, which represents almost 80,000 of the DWP's 100,000 staff, was commenting after MPs on the public accounts committee criticised the government for its treatment of sick and disabled people forced to undertake a work capability assessment.
PCS news release • Public accounts committee report, 8 February 2013 • The Guardian • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Russia: Eighteen die in coal mine blast
An underground explosion at a coal mine in the Komi region of northern Russia has killed 18 people. Rescuers were brought in to search for people trapped below the surface at the Vorkutinskaya mine after the 11 February blast caused a tunnel collapse.
RT News • Huffington Post • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Global: Union warnings after lifeboat deaths
Unions have expressed serious concerns after five crew members died when a lifeboat fell from a cruise ship docked in the port of Santa Cruz de la Palma in the Canary Islands. The incident happened on the Thomson Majesty, operated by UK-based Thomson Cruises, during a routine safety drill.
Nautilus news release • ITF news release • BBC News Online • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Fire service privatisation will ‘sacrifice lives’
New government plans to privatise the whole fire and rescue service will cost lives, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack has warned. He was speaking out after fire minister Brandon Lewis wrote to the Regulatory Reform Committee at Westminster seeking views on new laws to “enable fire and rescue authorities in England to contract out their full range of services to a suitable provider”.
FBU news release • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: CWU welcomes new dog laws
New legal requirements on dog owners should help make postal workers safer from dog attacks, their union has said. CWU says the government move, which extends the law to cover private property, means workers attacked by dogs will finally have protection under the law.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign • Irwin Mitchell news release • ITV News • The Telegraph • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Eye injury ends lorry driver’s career
An HGV driver employed by Salvesen Logistics in Northampton had to give up his driving licence and lost his job after suffering a serious eye injury at work. Karl Forkin, 43, was securing a trailer in Salvesen Logistic’s yard when one of the trailer’s upright roof supports sprang out of the locked position and hit him in the face with two tonnes of force.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Safety professionals back the TUC manifesto
The organisation representing the country’s safety professionals has welcomed the TUC’s safety manifesto. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s Richard Jones, said: “We particularly welcome the TUC’s focus on the need for effective levels of regulatory inspections and prevention of work-related ill-health, especially occupational cancers.”
SHP Online • TUC’s ‘Time for change’ health and safety manifesto • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Hospital inquiry calls for major safety reforms
A public inquiry highlighting failures in safety oversight in the health service has been welcomed by unions, who are now calling for major changes to protect patients and staff. The inquiry report by Robert Francis QC concluded HSE should not be involved in policing patient safety issues.
The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Inquiry, news release and report. Prime Minister’s statement • Unite news release • UNISON news release • Union News • The Guardian • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Half the office workforce skips their lunch break
More than half of office employees regularly work through their lunch breaks, a poll for BBC Breakfast has found. Commenting on the poll, which found 54 per cent of office staff routinely take no lunch break, TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: “These figures shine a spotlight on Britain's long hours culture.”
BBC News Online • TUC news release • Work Your Proper Hours Day, 1 March 2013 • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Ireland: Tesco staff wear work rate trackers
Staff at a Tesco warehouse in Ireland have been made to wear digital arm-band devices that constantly police their work rate. The Motorola website promoting the technology tells employers the “rugged mobile computing device will allow you to achieve maximum error-proof productivity, operational efficiency and accuracy through voice compatibility for streamlined warehouse and package handling functions.”
Irish Independent • Motorola website • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Factory worker finds his brother dead
A family has been left devastated after a factory worker found his brother lying dead on a machine. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted machine manufacturer Unisign and employer WFEL Ltd after Brian Miller suffered fatal head injuries at the WFEL plant on 12 January 2008.
HSE news release • Manchester Evening News • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Lying director banned from running a firm
The director of a Nottingham building firm has been banned from running a business after lying to safety officials in a bid to cover up a worker’s fall through a dangerous roof. Russell Lloyd denied it had happened and failed to provide any information about the injured person or any workers who may have witnessed the incident.
HSE news release and guidance on safe working practices on fragile roofs • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Passing inspector stops the job
A chance sighting by a passing Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector of a potentially deadly scaffold led the safety enforcer to stop the job on the spot. Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard Stretford Scaffolding Ltd had been hired to dismantle the scaffolding in front of a row of Oldham shops after it had been used by another company for a roofing project.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Bangladesh: Union anger after ferry tragedy
Repeated union calls for better safety standards had been ignored ahead of an 8 February ferry tragedy in Bangladesh in which dozens died. Police said the final casualty toll could be as high as 200, but the true figure is never likely to be known, because the ferry was not carrying an accurate passenger list.
ITF news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Hazards news, 9 February 2013
Britain: What do we want? Here’s our starter for 10
Regular safety inspections, a maximum temperature in the workplace and far greater control of carcinogens are just some of the improvements that the TUC is calling for in a new 10 point safety manifesto. ‘Time for change’ features 10 key recommendations which the TUC believes, if implemented by a future government, could help turn around the UK’s poor health safety record, and prevent many of the 20,000 workplace-related deaths which occur in the UK every year.
TUC news release Time for change: A trade union manifesto for reclaiming health and safety at work, TUC, February 2013 • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Unions berate government on ‘safety costs’ lie
Unions have reacted angrily to a ‘ridiculous’ government claim that safety regulation is a waste of ‘time and money’ for businesses that should be ‘focusing on growth’. They were commenting after on the publication of two reports outlining how the Health and Safety Executive has responded to government demands to reduce official safety oversight and regulation, based on recommendations from government commissioned reviews by former Tory cabinet minister Lord Young and Professor Ragnar Lofstedt.
UNISON news release • DWP news release • Delivering health and safety reform, HSE, 4 February 2013. Reclaiming health and safety for all: a review of progress one year on, Prof Ragnar Lofstedt, DWP, 2013 • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
USA: Miner who raised safety concerns gets sued
A Kentucky miner who raised safety concerns and got fired from his welding job is now being sued by his former employer and blacklisted by other mines. Reuben Shemwell is now wrapped in a messy legal battle with his former employer, an affiliate of Armstrong Coal, which shut down the mine when the safety regulator stepped in.
Lex18.com • Huffington Post • The Pump Handle • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Train drivers want action on station pollution
Train drivers’ union ASLEF is demanded action to reduce dangerous fumes at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station after a study revealed that air pollution at the station is seven times higher the environmental safety standard. This means workers can be exposed throughout their working shifts to levels of fumes several times the public safety limit.
ASLEF news release • The Scotsman • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Unions continue to benefit asbestos families
An advice service supported by unions had secured approaching £1 million for asbestos victims in northern England since September 2012. The Northern TUC Asbestos Support and Campaign Group says in addition to one-off compensation payments totalling £311,643.00 for asbestos victims in the northern region, it has also sorted out welfare benefits payments of in excess of £105,000 per month for victims and their families.
TUC news release • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
UAE: Latest deaths highlight migrants’ plight
The death of at least 22 Asian workers in a road accident has again highlighted the plight of the United Arab Emirates’ largely migrant workforce. A further 24 workers were injured in the 4 February rush hour incident, when a bus transporting workers collided with a lorry carrying construction materials in the Zakhir district of the oasis city of al-Ain.
Saudi Gazette • BBC News Online • HRW news release • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
USA: Demand for action on deadly silica
Unions and safety advocates are demanding urgent action on silica, linked to hundreds of occupational disease deaths each year and thousands of cases of devastating ill-health. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the official US safety regulator, has drafted a proposal that would reduce occupational exposure to silica but it’s been stalled by the White House for more than two years now.
National COSH network blog • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Huge decline in safety inspections of ‘high risk’ firms
The number of local authority (LA) proactive safety inspections of high risk ‘category A’ premises has fallen 44 per cent, according to new figures, with 1-in-5 local authorities admitting to undertaking no proactive inspections at all. The overall number of proactive inspections across all premises fell by 77 per cent.
Environmental Health News • HELA Paper H14/01: Inspection/visit Data Collection from Local Authorities, paper considered at HSE’s January 2013 board meeting • Delivering health and safety reform, HSE, 4 February 2013 • DWP news release • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Spot inspections linked to superbug decline
Surprise visits by health inspectors are helping hospitals win the war against superbugs, according to Scotland's NHS bug-buster. Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) chief inspector Susan Brimelow said the unannounced spot checks were ‘paying dividends’ as the latest annual report showed wards and equipment are generally cleaner and superbug infections are falling.
HEI chief inspector annual report 2011/12 and HEI webpages • The Herald • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Bad firms made to pay up for HSE’s costs
Firms breaching safety laws have been hit with bills for hundreds of thousands of pounds from the Health and Safety Executive. The first bills under the Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme total £727,644.81 for visits during the first two months of the scheme. Construction Enquirer • HSE FFI guide • Hazards magazine • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Global: Cancer agency criticised over asbestos ties
Alleged links between the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the asbestos industry have been condemned on the eve of a crucial UN conference. A report in the medical journal The Lancet examines a series of recent decisions by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that have triggered a storm of protest from governments, non-governmental organisations, and health campaigners.
IARC in the dock over ties with asbestos industry, The Lancet, volume 381, issue 9864, pages 359-361, 2 February 2013. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60152-X. International Ban Asbestos Secretariat report • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Construction workers to challenge police over blacklist
Solicitors acting for thousands of construction workers are appealing a decision by the Metropolitan police not to investigate claims that officers supplied information to an illegal blacklist of construction workers.
Building • The Guardian • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Privatising search-and-rescue should be stopped
A controversial move to privatise the UK’s search-and-rescue helicopter service should be halted, experts, rescuers and the rescued have warned.
The Guardian • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Site safety warning over fake hard hats
A UK hard hat manufacturer is urging contractors to check their site workers’ helmets after a potentially lethal batch of poor quality counterfeits was discovered. Experts at JSP are warning that the fake hard hats can be split in two with your bare hands.
Construction Enquirer • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Firm fined £1 after workplace death horror
A metal manufacturer in Manchester has been fined just £1 after an employee was killed when a machine weighing half-a-tonne fell from a forklift truck. Bruce Dempsey, 25, from Eccles, was walking alongside the forklift as it moved the machine at Applied Fusion Ltd in Patricroft when it fell and struck him on the head.
HSE news release • Mancunian Matters • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Honda UK fined after employee loses fingers
Swindon-based Honda UK has been fined after an employee distracted by questions from managers lost two fingers while polishing a piece of equipment. Swindon Magistrates' Court heard that 55-year-old Cesar Santos had been using an emery cloth to polish a metal component as it rotated on a manual lathe on 11 February 2012.
HSE news release and engineering webpages • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Refurb firm fined over fall danger
A West Midlands refurbishment and shopfitting company has been fined after instructing two employees to work at height without any protective measures or relevant roofwork training. The men were working on the roof of a large furniture store in Bridgtown, Cannock, on 26 September 2011 for Fastrac Profiles Limited when they were spotted and photographed by a concerned member of the public.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Brum builder fined for illegal asbestos work
A Birmingham builder has been prosecuted after he exposed himself and potentially young children and their parents to asbestos on the street where he lives. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Nicholas Sharpe, trading as Sharpe Builders, after he illegally removed and broke up asbestos panels from a home in Castle Bromwich.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Architect in deadly asbestos oversight
An architects' practice has been prosecuted after builders were potentially exposed to asbestos fibres during construction work at Aberystwyth Rugby Club in Mid-Wales. Aberystwyth Magistrates heard that Dilwyn Roberts Penseiri/Architects Ltd failed to pass on vital information about the presence of asbestos insulation board to builders before they removed soffits from an end wall at the clubhouse in January 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Washing overalls killed mum
The son of a woman who died from an asbestos-related cancer is appealing for his dad’s former work colleagues to help investigate his working conditions. It is believed Elsie Winter his was exposed to asbestos dust washing her husband’s work clothes.
Irwin Mitchell news release. Anyone with information about the working conditions at Chilton Council between March 1966 and April 1986 should email Roger Maddocks at Irwin Mitchell or call 0191 2790095 • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Europe: Guidance on carcinogens and work-related cancer
Papers from a ‘Carcinogens and work-related cancer’ workshop, organised last year by EU-OSHA, have been made available online. The event reached wide-ranging conclusions, including: “There is an increasing need to identify vulnerable, and ‘hidden’, groups whose occupational exposure to cancer risks and carcinogenic processes is underrepresented in exposure data and intervention strategies…”
'Carcinogens and Work-related Cancer' workshop: summary, conclusions and associated materials • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Hazards news, 2 February 2013
Britain: Report slams the ‘tyranny’ of performance management
The ‘relentless pressure’ of punitive performance management systems intended to push up productivity is instead creating a stressed, sick and insecure workforce, a new study has found. ‘Performance management and the new workplace tyranny’ written by Professor Phil Taylor of the University of Strathclyde, is the culmination of a three year study examining the impact new forms of performance management.
STUC news release • ‘Performance Management and the New Workplace Tyranny’ Report, Professor Phil Taylor, January 2013 • Executive Summary • The Herald • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
USA: Government agency is dangerously close to business
A US government agency intended to assist small businesses is instead operating as an unquestioning promoter of a deadly business lobby wishlist. A report from the independent Center for Effective Government says the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy has been weighing in on issues including scientific assessments of the cancer risks of formaldehyde, styrene, and chromium, regurgitated chemical industry lobbyists talking points.
Center for Effective Government news release and report: Small businesses, public health, and scientific integrity: Whose interests does the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration serve? • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Work Your Proper Hours Day is on 1 March 2013
If staff who regularly work unpaid overtime did all their extra hours from the start of the year they wouldn't get paid until 1 March 2013. The TUC has named this day Work Your Proper Hours Day to celebrate their hard work.
TUC news release and Work Your Proper Hours Day website • BHF news release. Morning Star • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Don't let the PM repatriate workers' rights
The UK government’s ‘sinister’ plans for Europe could leave workers without essential workplace rights, the TUC has warned. TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady has called for help from unions across Europe in persuading their governments to resist David Cameron's attempt to 'repatriate' workers' rights.
TUC news release • TUC Touchstone blog • The Guardian • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Tube bosses ‘lying’ over safety action, says RMT
Rail union RMT has accused London Underground (LUL) bosses of “lying through their teeth” to play down the impact of industrial action the union says is being taken by train drivers to protect passenger safety on the capital’s Bakerloo line.
RMT news release • Morning Star • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Do you want your kid kept in a warehouse?
Changes to the planning rules to allow free schools to open in commercial and industrial buildings without planning permission have been condemned by teaching union NUT. Christine Blower, the union’s general secretary, said: “The government’s latest announcement demonstrates that it is prepared to put its own ideological interests ahead of the health, safety or well-being of children.”
NUT news release • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Ireland: Safety agency undermined by cuts
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has expressed ‘serious reservations’ about the capacity of the Health and Safety Authority to deliver on its programme of work, in the face of ongoing budget and staff cuts. Esther Lynch, ICTU legal affairs officer and a member of the HSA board, said the cuts were eroding the Authority’s capacity to “undertake basic oversight of working conditions with workplace inspections falling from 16,000 to 13,700.”
ICTU news release • HSA news release and HSA Strategy Statement 2013–2015 and Programme of Work 2013 • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: GMB calls on councils to boycott blacklisters
The union GMB is calling on local councils not to award any new public work to the companies that operated the blacklist until they compensate those they victimised. The union has published a map setting out where the 3,213 workers on the blacklist either lived or worked.
GMB news release and related article and map • East London Advertiser • Building • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Union helping hand for worker’s broken hand
A Unite member injured when he stepped in a sunken drain cover as he fixed a company vehicle in the early hours of the morning has received compensation. Vehicle mechanic Peter Day from Swansea was injured when he was working on a broken down Allied Bakeries delivery lorry parked on the bakery premises.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: JCB vehicle fluids caused dermatitis
A GMB member developed a painful skin condition after being exposed to known irritants in the workplace. The 52-year-old from Stafford, whose name has not been released, developed dermatitis after he was exposed to brake fluid and a rust inhibitor while working for JC Bamford Excavators (JCB) in Rocester.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Met chief’s ‘bonkers’ workplace drug testing wish
A suggestion by Britain’s top police officer that workers should face mandatory drug testing by their employers has been condemned by the TUC and a former government drugs policy adviser. Professor David Nutt said the idea, suggested by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, was “bonkers” and would lead to “an enormous amount of errors” and “no net benefit.”
BBC News Online • Daily Mail • TUC drugs at work webpages and guide to drug testing at work • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Global: Late lessons from early warnings – the sequel
A repeated failure to heed the danger signals presented by new technologies and substances has led to deaths, illness and environmental destruction, a new report had concluded. The second volume of ‘Late lessons from early warnings’, published by the European Environment Agency, gives specific examples of where danger signals have gone unheeded with sometimes devastating consequences and recommends the wider use of the ‘precautionary principle’ to reduce hazards in cases of new and largely untested technologies and chemicals.
Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation, EEA, January 2013 • EEA news release • The Guardian • The Pump Handle • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Corporate manslaughter cases increasing
The number of new corporate manslaughter cases opened by the Crown Prosecution Service has risen by 40 per cent in a year. There has been an increase in charges laid from 45 in 2011 to 63 in 2012, with three convictions secured since the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 took effect in 2008.
Pinsent Masons news release • Sky News • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Basildon Hospital guilty after Legionnaires’ deaths
Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust statement has admitted failing to protect the public from deadly Legionnaires’ disease. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the Trust following a series of cases of the disease, two fatal - James Compton, 74, was the first to die, just after cost-cutting reductions in a water treatment programme came into effect.
Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust statement • The Telegraph • BBC News Online • Essex Enquirer • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
USA: BP's record $4bn criminal penalties approved
A US court has approved the biggest criminal penalties deal in US history, given to British oil giant BP as part of a settlement related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. In November 2012, BP said it would pay $4bn (£2.5bn) to the US Department of Justice and agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges.
BP news release • New York Times • BBC News Online • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
India: Rajasthan campaigners in stunning silicosis gains
Workplace health campaigners in India are celebrating after the government of Rajasthan agreed to provide medical, monetary and social benefits to around 2.5 million unorganised mine workers affected by silicosis. As well as registering with the mines department, the firms will be required to report on health and safety violations, including any workers affected by silicosis.
Hindustan Times • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Companies fined following death of contractor
Steel manufacturer Tata Steel and a specialist contractor have been fined a total of £320,000 for safety failings after a worker was killed by a falling metal bar in Redcar. Kristian Lee Norris, 29, from Middlesbrough, was working for Vesuvius UK Limited to re-line a steelmaking furnace at Teesside Cast Products at the time of the fatal incident on 12 April 2008.
HSE news release and falls webpages • More on the Tata’s (previously Corus) safety record • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Council in court over teen’s fireball horror
A London council has been sentenced for a serious safety breach after a 15-year-old girl was engulfed in a fireball from a cooking stove during a school camping expedition. The teenager, then a pupil at East Ham’s Plashet School, was caught in a flashover when another girl poured methylated spirits on to the cooking stove as she believed it was going out.
HSE news release and education safety webpages • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Europe: Health and safety in supply chains
A new report from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) examines occupational safety and health within the “complex networks” of suppliers and service providers. The Bilbao-based agency says ‘Promoting occupational safety and health through the supply chain’ analyses existing literature on the subject, as well as government policies and case studies, to provide an overview of how occupational safety and health can be managed and promoted through the supply chain, and which incentives and instruments exist for companies to encourage good occupational safety and health practices among their suppliers and contractors.
EU-OSHA news release • Promoting occupational safety and health through the supply chain, EU-OSHA, January 2013 • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Bangladesh: Call for ‘real action’ after another fire
The global trade union body for garment workers has called for ‘real action’ after yet another deadly clothing factory fire in Bangladesh. IndustriALL was speaking out after seven workers were killed in a blaze at the Smart Fashion garment factory in Dhaka only two months after the fire at the Tazreen garment factory in November 2012 that claimed 112 lives.
IndustriALL news release • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Hazards news, 26 January 2013
Britain: Pressure increases for blacklisting action
Unions have urged the government to initiate a major inquiry into blacklisting, on a par with the Leveson probe into phone hacking. The calls came ahead of a 23 January debate in parliament, where shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “I believe that what happened in the past needs to be investigated”.
Unite news release • UCATT news release • . Opposition day debate on Blacklisting, House of Commons, 23 January 2013 and Parliament News • Blacklist blog • Building magazine • Financial Times • The Guardian • The Scotsman • The Herald • BBC News Online • ITV News • Building • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
USA: Business hurt by poor regulatory oversight
A lack of regulatory oversight and the outsourcing of jobs can lead to devastating harm to a company, airline giant Boeing has learned to its cost. A series of safety scares have led to several airlines grounding their Boeing 787 Dreamliners and an official no fly order from US authorities.
SPEEA/IFPTE news release • Boeing news release • The Guardian • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: GMB welcomes ICO change of heart
A decision by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to cooperate with union solicitors in a blacklisting legal case has been welcomed by GMB. The union was commenting after ICO indicated it would work with GMB solicitors Leigh Day, which is preparing a compensation case for over the 200 GMB members on the construction industry blacklist.
GMB news release • Morning Star • BBC News Online • Daily Record • The Times • The Herald • Lancashire Evening Post • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: TUC issues bad weather plea
Workers should not be asked to put their safety at risk battling ice and snow to get to work, the TUC has said. With the freezing weather set to continue, the TUC said that while workers should make every reasonable effort to get into work, they shouldn’t attempt to travel if it’s not safe to do so, particularly if they live in isolated areas.
TUC news release • Usdaw’s winter weather guidance • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Government warned on working time
The TUC has said the prime minister is ‘tilting at windmills’ by attacking working time rules. In a 23 January speech on the UK’s relationships with the European Union, David Cameron picked out working hours as an issue that should not be decided in Europe. TUC news release • David Cameron’s speech • Institute of Education news release and full report • Stronger Union blog • Touchstone blog • BBC News Online and related article • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: UNISON launches an asbestos exposure database
UNISON has become the latest union to run an asbestos exposure database. According to the public service union, “the new asbestos exposure database will help secure compensation for affected members, adding it “is of benefit because the time between being exposed to the fibres and developing an asbestos related disease can be a significant number of years.”
UNISON news report • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: ‘Final warning’ on ‘unsafe’ pilot fatigue rules
Airline unions have issued a final warning about ‘unsafe’ European Union pilot fatigue plans. Pilots from the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) delivered a ‘Tired Pilots Risk Lives’ dossier containing scientific reports, correspondence and testimonials to 10 Downing Street, the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spelling out the dangers.
BALPA news release • ITF news release • ECA website and Dead Tired campaign • Morning Star • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Site walkout wins better welfare facilities
Construction workers at Runcorn thermal power station have secured improved toilet and welfare facilities on site after a week long snap strike. The 800 plus workers had walked out in protest at what they considered inadequate toilet and canteen facilities. Unite news release • Morning Star • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
USA: ‘Expendable’ insecure workers need protection
A new report is urging the US government’s safety regulator to step up efforts to protect the soaring number of ‘contingent’ insecure workers. The report notes that contingent workers are disproportionately racial minorities and often come from vulnerable socioeconomic backgrounds.
At the company’s mercy: Protecting contingent workers from unsafe working conditions, CPR, 2013. AFL-CIO Now blog • The Pump Handle • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Safety warning as prisons set to close
A government prison closure plan to take effect in March 2013 will endanger rehabilitation and will put prison staff, prisoners and visitors at risk, prison officers’ union POA has warned. “Safe secure and decent prisons are non-negotiable and the POA will ensure the health and safety of our membership,” the union said.
POA news release • MoJ news release • BBC News Online • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Usdaw want a serious response to retail crime
A new report confirming tens of thousands of retail staff are being subject to assault, threatening behaviour and verbal abuse, has prompted the union Usdaw to call for a “serious” response. The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual Retail Crime Survey, shows that the number of incidents of crime rose across all categories except violence against staff and robbery.
BRC news release • Usdaw news release and Freedom from Fear campaign • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Healthcare worker partially blinded by spit
A healthcare worker has lost most of the sight in her left eye after a service user spat in it. The 32-year-old UNISON member is awaiting a corneal transplant after an incident at Low Moor Resource Centre in Bradford left her with only 20 per cent vision in the eye.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Workplace blighted by vibration disease
A Sheffield steel firm has been forced to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation after 19 workers developed a debilitating condition caused by work with vibrating tools. In one of the highest awards ever paid out by the courts, the Community members at Sheffield based metals company, Firth Rixon, have, in total, been awarded over £812,000 in compensation after suffering from vibration white finger (VWF).
Community news release • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Government action on sickness ‘burden’
The government has announced a series of measures to address what it describes as the ‘burden’ of sickness absence on businesses, taxpayers and people who “get trapped on benefits”. The response to a sickness absence review authored by former top business lobbyist David Frost and government workplace health czar Dame Carol Black gives top billing to the creation of a new independent assessment and advisory service.
DWP news release, review webpage and full response: Fitness for work: the Government response to 'Health at work - an independent review of sickness absence' • The Work Foundation news release • IOSH news release • FOM/SOM news release • CIPD news release • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Sickness strategy is prevention free
The government’s sickness absence review would have worked better if the focus had been less on getting the sick back to work and more on preventing ill-health in the first place, workplace safety campaigners have said. Responding to government initiatives on sickness absence announced last week, the Hazards Campaign said two major conceptual flaws undermine the strategy: That Britain has a ‘sicknote culture’ and that any work is good for you.
Hazards Campaign news release • UNISON news release • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Cleaning jobs linked to asthma
There is strong evidence cleaning jobs increase the risk of developing asthma, a new UK study has concluded. Researchers at Imperial College London tracked the occurrence of asthma in a group of 9,488 people born in Britain in 1958. The study, published in the journal Thorax, found risks in the workplace were responsible for one in six cases of adult onset asthma - more than the one in nine cases attributed to smoking.
Imperial College news release and report, RE Ghosh and others • Asthma and occupation in the 1958 birth cohort. Thorax, 22 January 2013 • Asthma UK news release • BBC News Online • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Pakistan: Compensation for textile fire victims
The German discount clothing chain KiK Textilen has signed a compensation agreement with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) to make a US$1 million payment to victims of the Ali Enterprises fire in Pakistan. KIK Textilen, one of the company’s major buyers, agreed on 5 January 2013 to make the payment to victims of the September 2012 textile factory fire in which almost 300 workers died.
IndustriALL news release • PILER • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Manslaughter charges over mine deaths
Police have charged a manager and the mine firm with the manslaughter of four miners in the Gleision colliery disaster. David Powell, 50, Charles Breslin, 62, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, died in the flooded Swansea Valley mine on 15 September 2011.
South Wales Police statement • CPS statement • Statement from Peter Hain MP • Wales Online • BBC News Online • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Horror death in a small firm
The dangers of informal work in small firms has been highlighted by a workplace tragedy. Welder Martyn Heal, who was paid £60 a day cash-in-hand for three days a week, died over four months after being badly burned when his shirt caught light while working on a gate, an inquest heard.
Western Daily Press • The Bristol Post • More on the dangers of precarious work • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Worker's hair was ripped out by machine
A company has been fined £60,000 after a young worker was severely injured when her hair was ripped out by poorly guarded machinery. Kelly Nield, 25, of Ellesmere Port, was sorting clothes hangers on a conveyor when her scarf and hair became caught in the chain and sprocket drive of the belt as she bent over to remove accumulated hangers. HSE news release and machine guarding guide • BBC News Online • Daily Mail • Daily Mirror • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Hospital employees exposed to ‘deadly’ TB strain
Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust (RBHT) has been fined after employees were exposed to a potentially deadly strain of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria when a test vial smashed in a specialist laboratory. HSE had issued an enforcement notice for the same laboratory facility in 2002 for failing to ensure it was sealable for disinfection.
HSE news release • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Global: Piracy problem needs government action
Nautilus International has welcomed a reported global fall in piracy for 2012, but has cautioned that attacks on seafarers in Indonesia and West Africa are still a cause for concern.
Nautilus International news release • IMB news release • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Hazards news, 19 January 2013
Britain: CWU gives bad footwear the boot
The union CWU has won a legal test case over slippery boots issued to postal workers. A number of workers were injured wearing the Hi-Tec Magnum Mk1 boots, which workers maintained had poor grip and durability.
Daily Mail • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
USA: Firm railroaded in to anti-victimisation deal
A major US rail firm that retaliated against workers who reported occupational injuries has been forced to sign a good behaviour deal with OSHA, the nation’s official health and safety enforcer. The accord signed with BNSF Railway Co details the voluntary revision of several BNSF personnel policies and requires to compensate 36 workers and remove injury report related probation extensions from 136 others.
OSHA news release and Whistleblower Protection Program • OSHA-BNSF Accord • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: You can bet your life on unions
With the chances of seeing an official safety inspector now vanishingly small, it has never been more important for union reps to be vigilant and active on workplace safety. Writing in the new issue of Hazards magazine, union health and safety specialist Mick Holder says the escalating attacks on health and safety protections mean union reps need to “up their game” to defend their members’ interests.
Game on, Hazards magazine • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: GMB fury at Fresh Start rights attack
The union GMB has warned a manifesto by an anti-Europe Tory grouping could jeopardise essential health and safety and employment rights. Commenting on the launch this week of the Fresh Start Group’s manifesto, GMB said “it is turning the clock back” on workplace safety and other rights and wants to “flush them away”.
GMB news release • Fresh Start news release and manifesto • Conservative Home blog • The Guardian • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Nautilus welcomes target to cut deaths at sea
Seafarers’ union Nautilus has welcomed a call from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for the seafarer death rate to be halved over the next two years. Speaking at the opening of the IMO’s first meeting of the year, secretary-general Koji Sekimizu told delegates that his vision to halve the number of lives lost at sea should be a legitimate target for the United Nations agency and for the shipping industry.
Nautilus news release • IMO news release • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Greece: Austerity protest fears for journalists
Journalists’ unions worldwide have called for strong action from the Greek authorities to protect media staff following a series of violent attacks on journalists. The homes of five journalists and members of the Journalists' Union of Athens Daily Newspapers were subjected to arson attacks by anarchist groups.
IFJ news release • NUJ news release • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Sir Robert McAlpine faces High Court on blacklist
Construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine played a central role in a “conspiracy to blacklist” 3,300 people from working on Britain's major building projects, according to a multimillion-pound high court claim against the firm.
The Guardian • Building magazine • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Teen death exposes government contempt
A teenage apprentice was killed in an horrific workplace incident just a week after David Cameron had claimed safety protection of young workers was “very, very bad news”. On 10 January, Cameron Minshull was trapped in an industrial metal lathe at Zaffar Engineering UK in Bury.
Daily Mail • The Telegraph • FACK news release • BFAWU news report • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Safety experts slam short consultations
IOSH, the professional body for UK safety professionals, has welcomed a call by a key government committee for adequate time for consultations on government policy. Ministers are looking at slashing the time allowed for organisations to comment on some proposed law changes, from 12 weeks to as little as two.
IOSH news release • Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee news release and 22nd Report: The Government's new approach to consultation - "Work in Progress" • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Enterprise Bill ‘stacks odds against workers’
Government plans to change workplace law are a license for rogue bosses to let safety standards fall, personal injury experts have warned. Not-for-profit group the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) is lobbying against a government amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which would end a right to compensation for an injury following a criminal breach of safety law by an employer without proof of negligence.
APIL news release • Clause 61: Civil liability for breach of health and safety duties, Lords committee hearing, 14 January 2013 • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Firms taking big risks on chemicals
Britain’s manufacturers face the prospect of unlimited fines or even prison if they don’t do more to ‘get to grips’ with chemical safety law. EEF, the manufacturers’ trade body, was speaking out following publication of a survey showing awareness of the implications of the REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) regulations for manufacturers, especially amongst smaller companies, remains worryingly low.
EEF news release and REACH webpages • HSE REACH webpages • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Wrecked health led to job loss and tiny fines
A Cambridge instrument company and a health and safety consultant have received small fines after a worker’s life was ‘wrecked’ by chemical exposures. Paint sprayer Adam Coventon, 36, suffered irritation to his eyes, breathing difficulties, headaches and lost the ability to concentrate after working with trichloroethylene and isocyanates at Prior Scientific Instruments Ltd in Fulbourn.
HSE news release and COSHH webpages • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Fines after asbestos plastic bags cover up
Workers were ordered to tie plastic bags around damaged asbestos insulation boards and carry on working for months during a demolition and refurbishment project in Swansea. Neath Magistrates' Court was told that Wall Colmonoy Ltd had contracted Oaktree Construction to renovate a building opposite its premises in Pontardawe, Swansea, in December 2010.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Suspended jail term after landscaping tragedy
A Staffordshire landscape gardener has been given a suspended prison sentence and 180 hours of unpaid community service, after a man doing him a favour was killed by a falling gate post. Leeson Lavender, 39, was helping Eden Maddocks to install a large oak post at a property in Keele on 20 May 2010.
HSE news release • The Sentinel • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Farmer fined following teen’s quad bike death
A farmer on Dartmoor failed to properly maintain a quad bike which was later involved in a collision that caused the death of a teenage apprentice. Plymouth Crown Court heard that 17-year-old Phillip Nyhan was riding the quad given him to use at Runnage Farm, on Dartmoor when he was in collision with a car on a minor road near Postbridge on 7 June 2007.
HSE news release and quad bikes webpage • Plymouth Herald • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Bangladesh: Call for justice for Tazreen victims
The victims of the Tazreen garment factory fire must get justice and safety lessons of the tragedy must be learned, groups in Bangladesh have said. The conclusion came from a 7 January dialogue session hosted by the Bangladesh Occupational Safety Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE), Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), and the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV).
AMRC news release • Daily Star • BGMEA 1 January 2013 statement • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Parkies suffer debilitating hand injuries
A council has been sentenced after 29 employees were diagnosed with a debilitating condition that has left them with ongoing problems with their hands. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council after workers in the Parks and Leisure Department were affected by hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
HSE news release and HAVS webpages • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Hospital asbestos killed nurse
The family of a former nurse who suffered a ‘heartbreaking’ death from an asbestos-related cancer is appealing for her former colleagues to come forward with information about her working conditions. Joyce Smith died from mesothelioma in March 2012 aged 86 after a nine month battle with the incurable condition.
Irwin Mitchell news release • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Insurance firms oppose NHS asbestos refund law
Legislation to refund the NHS in Wales for the cost of treating asbestos sufferers is unnecessary and impractical, insurance firms have said. Proposals going through the Welsh assembly would force businesses to pay the medical costs of workers who develop asbestos related diseases as a result of exposures at work.
BBC News Online • Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill. Welsh Assembly Health and Social Care Committee meeting, 10 January 2013 • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Bahrain: Site death blaze building owner arrested
The Bahraini owner of the building where an 11 January blaze killed 13 migrant labourers and injured seven more has been arrested. Officials said an investigation was under way to determine the cause of the fire, which broke out in the overcrowded illegal labour accommodation in the crowded Makharka district of central Manama, the country’s capital.
Khaleej Times • Gulf News • International Islamic News Agency • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Hazards news, 12 January 2013
Britain: UNISON survey leads to stress action
A UNISON survey of stress problems experienced by council staff in Glasgow has resulted in the employer agreeing to implement a ‘prevention and control’ action plan. The initiative was prompted by concerns raised by UNISON members about the effect spending cuts were having on workloads and workplace pressures.
UNISON news release • UNISON’s Stress at work guide for safety reps and Risk assessment – a guide for UNISON safety reps • Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guide: Managing the causes of work related stress: a step by step approach using the Management Standards • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
USA: Even after deaths, firms don’t pay
Each year, some 4,500 American workers die on the job and 50,000 perish from occupational diseases. Millions more are hurt and sickened by their jobs, and many others are cheated of wages and abused. The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) says that while the official safety watchdog OSHA trumpets announced penalties as evidence of its commitment to forcing companies to follow the law, it failed to collect any of the original fine in one of every 10 cases since 2001.
Center for Public Integrity ‘Hard Labor’ investigation • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Teaching stress up, morale down
Stress in teachers is soaring as morale in the profession plummets, analyses published in December 2012 have revealed. NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the findings reflected the pressure teachers were under and warned austerity measures were placing additional strain on staff.
The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: HSE told to block PPE vending machines
Construction union UCATT has written to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) calling on the official safety regulator to prevent personal protective equipment being sold on site through vending machines. An HSE spokesperson told Hazards magazine: “A letter has been received from UCATT - HSE is looking into the matter and will respond to the issues raised shortly.”
UCATT news release • Hazards magazine • HSE frequently asked questions on PPE • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
USA: Warning on ‘coercive’ wellness programmes
Employer-created wellness programmes are cropping up everywhere in the US, and it is frequently bad news for the workers being ‘helped’. US publication Labor Notes points to a 2012 survey that found in firms with more than 200 workers, 94 per cent had these life-style targeted programmes and more coercive programmes are on the rise.
Labor Notes, January 2013 • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: UCATT calls for best practice on construction skills
Construction union UCATT has demanded stricter controls and scrutiny of “skills cards” for workers on public sector projects in Scotland to avoid inexperienced workers being hired on dangerous jobs. The union was speaking out after the Scottish government said it would require all construction workers to have a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) skills card when working on public sector projects.
UCATT news release • Scottish government news release • CSCS news release • Morning Star • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Rail staff cuts plus network expansion won’t work
Network Rail plans to expand the rail network can’t be done safely while thousands of safety-critical staff are being lost, the union RMT has warned. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “Whilst RMT supports any plans to expand and invest in Britain’s railways to meet the demands identified by Network Rail you cannot seriously expect to safely increase capacity whilst at the same time the government is looking to axe key front-line staff on trains, track and stations.”
RMT news release • ITV News • BBC News Online • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: How did xmas work for you?
While many of us enjoyed a few days off over the holidays, the numbers required to work on Christmas Day soared, according to figures compiled by the TUC. The TUC analysis of official statistics shows that the number of people who worked on 25 December rose by 78 per cent between 2004 and 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available.
TUC news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Carillion liable for night worker’s injury
A road maintenance worker working in the dark on an unlit stretch of the A52 needed surgery on a badly damaged ankle after he suffered a fall. Dean Ness, 35, was off work for three months following the operation to mend torn ligaments in his ankle when he stumbled on the kerb while putting cones on the road at Spondon, Derby.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Global: Union call to end slaughter of journalists
Last year was one of the bloodiest years for journalists and media workers after recording 121 killings in targeted attacks and cross-fire incidents, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has said. The global union body warned that the “terrible numbers” for 2012 are the result of systematic failure by governments and the United Nations to fulfil their international obligations to protect and enforce journalists’ basic right to life.
IFJ news release and list of journalists and media personnel killed in 2012 • NUJ news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Lorry fall leads to vertigo
A lorry driver suffered a head injury and lasting health problems after he fell six foot from his truck. The Unite member from Rowley Regis, whose name has not been released, was employed as a delivery driver for RJ Haulage Ltd.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Damaged skin points to missing gloves
A mechanical engineer developed a painful skin condition when he was exposed to chemicals at work. The 59-year-old Unite member from Plymouth, whose name has not been released, developed dermatitis after he was exposed to several different chemicals in his role as an engineer for Camtec Engineering Ltd.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: The deadly consequences of sectors without inspectors
Whether your job is making people better or making plastics, don’t expect a safety inspector to call, a new report has warned. ‘Low life’, published by the workers’ health and safety journal Hazards, says on government orders the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has designated most industrial sectors, from farms to footwear, either too safe for them to bother, or just not worth the effort even if they are shockingly dangerous.
Low life, Hazards online report, January 2013 and lists of sectors without inspectors and the 137 dead who went unprotected • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Call for blacklisters to be barred from contracts
Firms involved in blacklisting workers should be banned from receiving contracts involving taxpayers’ cash, members of the Scottish parliament and trade unions have urged. They said they will press for a change the law to prevent firms that use blacklists from bidding for Scottish government contracts, or those that involve public money.
The Scotsman • Morning Star • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Firms getting cooler on fit notes
The government’s attempt to reduce the numbers signed off work sick by GPs is leaving firms increasingly unimpressed. A survey by human resources consultancy XpertHR found the proportion of employers that believe the fit note regime has been a significant step forward in sickness absence management had fallen from 48 per cent in 2011 to just 38 per cent in 2012.
Personnel Today and Fit notes still fail to impress: 2012 XpertHR survey • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Another death fine for UK Power Networks
UK Power Networks has received its second six figure fine in 16 months, following the death of another inadequately trained worker. The latest incident involved the death of electrical engineer John Higgins, who was killed at a substation in Chelmsford in May 2008 when a transformer tap changer exploded.
HSE news release and electricity webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
China: Pledge to investigate killer blast cover-up
A top official in China has promised a thorough investigation of a deadly tunnel explosion amid calls that he should be held accountable for the week-long cover-up of the incident. Shanxi's acting governor, Li Xiaopeng, said he was angered and shocked by the cover-up of the explosion at the Nannuliangshan railway tunnel in Linfen, which also left five workers injured.
South China Morning Post • Shanghai Daily • BBC News Online • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Fine after runaway lorry death
A West Midlands logistics company has been fined £300,000 after one of its drivers was killed by a runaway lorry. Russell Homer, 44, had just started his night shift at Nightfreight (GB) Ltd on 7 December 2010.
HSE news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Director fined after roof fall death
Two Hull firms and a company director have been sentenced for criminal safety failings after a worker died when he fell more than eight metres through a fragile rooflight while cleaning gutters. Kevin Jackson, a father of five, suffered multiple injuries including several fractures of his skull, 15 broken ribs and severe damage to his lungs and other internal organs.
HSE news release and falls webpage • Construction Enquirer • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Steel worker was crushed by a crane
A West Midlands steel company has been fined £120,000 after one of its employees was crushed to death by a 15-tonne crane. Wilfred Williams, 57, was carrying out maintenance on an overhead travelling crane at C Brown & Sons (Steel) Ltd in Dudley when the incident occurred on 27 May 2011
HSE news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013