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Hazards news, 11 May 2019

Britain: Take control of your time at work
Unions won the five-day week, limits on working time and paid holidays – and unions can make sure changes in the modern workplace lead to further working hour gains, the TUC has said: General secretary Frances O’Grady said:  “As new technology makes us richer, the benefits should be shared by working people, in the form of shorter hours, more time with family and friends and decent pay for everyone.”
TUC blog. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Britain: Tube staff to strike over safety critical cuts
Over a thousand key London Underground (LU) maintenance and engineering staff are to strike for three days in a dispute over the hacking back of train preparation and inspection schedules, RMT has said. The rail union warned the cuts would have a devastating impact on both service reliability and public safety.
RMT news release. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Britain: Age-restricted sales trigger abuse against shopworkers
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is to demand action to protect retail staff who enforce the law on age-restricted sales, after delegates at the union’s annual conference voted unanimously to lobby the government on the issue. Paddy Lillis, the retail union’s general secretary, said: “Enforcing age-restricted sales is still a major trigger for abuse, threats and violence.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Britain: Shocking rise in assaults at Suffolk prison
A Suffolk prison workers’ union rep has warned life on the frontline has spiralled “out of control” as new figures reveal the number of assaults at HMP Highpoint have more than doubled since 2011. The data, from the Ministry of Justice, shows the total number of assaults on both staff and prisoners has increased by more than 130 per cent since Highpoint merged with Edmunds Hill prison eight years ago.
East Anglian Daily Times. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Britain: New minister must act on Sea King asbestos scandal
Unite has written to new defence secretary Penny Mordaunt urging her to take action on the asbestos disease threat posed by past work on Sea King helicopters. The union says the Sea Kings were based at the Solent naval base, so many of those at risk will be living in the minister’s Portsmouth North constituency.
Unite news release. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Britain: Union to renew pressure for offshore helicopter inquiry
Offshore union Unite is to continue its campaign for an independent probe into helicopter safety in the oil and gas industry. Unite north-east regional officer Tommy Campbell said: “In the UK and Norwegian oil and gas industry 212 workers have lost their lives due to helicopter accidents and it’s important that we all support the campaign for a UK full public enquiry as this part of remembering those who died as well as fighting for those still working in the industry.”
Energy Voice. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Britain: Construction giants fight over blacklisting bill
Some of Britain’s biggest construction firms are embroiled in a legal dispute over a multimillion-pound compensation bill that has been paid to more than 1,100 blacklisted trade unionists. Eight firms, including Sir Robert McAlpine and Balfour Beatty, are pursuing legal action in a bid to force another firm, Amec Foster Wheeler, to make a contribution to the compensation bill, arguing that the blacklisting was organised across the construction industry.
The Guardian. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Britain: Scotland’s NHS safe staffing law is not enough
The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned that new legislation to ensure safe staffing levels in Scotland’s health service will not be enough to solve the workforce crisis. Although he welcomed the Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill being passed by the Scottish parliament on 2 May, BMA Scotland chair Lewis Morrison said: “While there are many positives from the bill, it will not create more doctors – or staff of any type – simply by becoming law.”
Scottish government news release. BMA news release. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Britain: PTSD 'crisis’ among police officers
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among police officers in the UK is far more common than previously thought, a new survey suggests. The Cambridge University study of almost 17,000 police across the UK found that 95 per cent of officers and 67 per cent of operational police staff had been exposed to traumatic events, almost all of which were work-related.
Cambridge University news release and report. Police Care UK news release. BBC News Online. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Britain: Two dead, two seriously injured after farm wall collapse
Two workers have been killed and two seriously injured after a wall collapsed at a Scottish farm. Peter Walker, 53, from Blackburn and 48-year-old James Henderson, who was known as Paul, from Grangemouth were working on the wall at Myrehead Farm when it collapsed.
Police Scotland news release. Daily Record. BBC News Online. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Britain: Authority fined after wall collapses on man in front of family
The land and property arm of the Greater London Authority (GLA) has been fined for serious criminal failings in safety management after a wall and advertising hoarding collapsed onto a man in front of his wife and two children. GLA Land and Property Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £250,000 and ordered to pay £14,653 in costs.
HSE news release and safety management webpages. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Britain: Recycling worker injured after firm ignored warnings
A recycling company has been fined after it ignored safety warnings before a worker suffered a back injury when moving gantry steps. Preston Crown Court heard how on 10 September 2016 the employee of Suez Recycling and Recovery Limited was injured as he helped to manually move steps weighting in excess of 950kg at a site in Haslingden, after repair works had taken place.
HSE news release and waste and recycling webpages. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Australia: Silicosis epidemic leads to stonemason shortage
A Queensland government audit of the Australian state’s stone industry last year found 98 workers had contracted silicosis, with 15 of those cases considered terminal. But the news that the industry is killing its workers has had another consequence – a serious labour shortage in the industry.
RACP news release. Sydney Morning Herald. The News Daily. ABC News. Brisbane Times. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

India: Stone carvers demand silicosis protection
Hundreds of stonemasons took to the streets of Pindwara on 1 May, to protest at the deadly dust risks facing the workers building India’s temples. Union leader Ganesh, 31, was diagnosed with the frequently fatal lung scarring disease silicosis at the age of 29, led the rally because he said he wants to ensure that other workers do not suffer like him.
The Wire. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

USA: Unions take on violence in health and social care
While workplace violence is a serious and growing problem for all workers in the US, incidents in health and social care are far outpacing those in other industries, a union has warned. Launching a new postcard campaign, the union USW noted that a lack of preventive measures combined with the increasingly profit-driven nature of the US health care system is resulting in problems like unsafe staffing levels that contribute to the trend.
USW news release and sample postcards. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Global: Governments agree to ban on cancer chemical
Firefighters’ unions have played a central role in a successful push to get a cancer-linked chemical banned under a United Nations treaty. Governments at a Stockholm Treaty meeting in Geneva agreed to the global ban on PFOA/PFAS, fluorinated chemicals linked to cancer and reproductive harm that does not break down and causes adverse health effects at background levels.
IPEN news release and expert report on alternative firefighting foams. ENDS Report. Bloomberg Environment. IAFF cancer campaign. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Hazards news, 4 May 2019

Britain: CWU calls on the government to take work suicides seriously
The government must take workers’ suicides and mental health more seriously, CWU members have said. Delegates at the communication union’s Bournemouth conference demanded that workplace suicide be recognised in legislation and that the government review the 1983 Mental Health Act by 2020.
Morning Star. Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist, Hazards, 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Britain: Woolwich Ferry staff to strike over safety and staffing
Workers operating the Woolwich Ferry on the Thames, used by an estimated 2.6 million passengers a year, are to strike for 10 days in a dispute over health and safety, a lack of staffing and other concerns. The 31 Unite workers, who are employed by Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd, voted unanimously for strike action.
Unite news release. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Britain: ‘Skeletons in closet’ protest at HS2 Euston station site
Members of the construction union Unite demonstrated at the troubled HS2 site in Euston, London, on 26 April, to highlight concerns over the treatment of workers on the giant project. The union said it has discovered problems including workers not covered for death and accident benefits, underpaid overtime, receiving the wrong holiday entitlement and being forced to work through umbrella companies.
Unite news release. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Britain: No room for some teachers, while many teachers tethered
Deteriorating classroom conditions are seeing some teachers left without a permanent classroom and many at the mercy of electronic communications around the clock. The union NASUWT said teachers were being left without a classroom as a result of overcrowding, poor timetabling and deployment and insufficient or unsuitable specialist provision; the union also identified that nearly half of teachers say that work-related emails are significantly driving up their workload and invading their home life.
NASUWT news releases on electronic tethers and nomadic teachers. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Britain: ‘Commercial interests’ ruse in Sea King asbestos scandal
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is hiding behind ‘commercial interests’ in refusing to provide information about the asbestos scandal involving the maintenance of its Sea King helicopter fleet, Unite has said. In what Unite described as ‘a shocking security failure’, the MoD has been forced to admit that it does not have a central record of the workers who had undertaken the maintenance work.
Unite news release. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Britain: Average shopworker faces violence over 20 times a year
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has released ‘shocking’ statistics from its annual survey that show UK shopworkers were verbally abused, threatened or assaulted an average of 21 times last year. Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear Survey shows that during 2018, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of UK shopworkers experienced verbal abuse, 40 per cent were threatened by a customer and there were 288 assaults every day.
Usdaw news releases on assaults and shoplifting. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Britain: London’s transport system 'soiled thousands of times'
Workers on London's transport system face routine exposure to vomit, urine, blood and faecal matter, according to new figures. Mick Cash, general secretary of the transport union RMT, said: “These shocking statistics show just what a dirty and disgusting job our cleaner members have to do.”
Evening Standard. BBC News Online. The Independent. ITV News. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Britain: Two hurt in massive Port Talbot steelworks explosion
Two people have been hurt in an early hours explosion at Tata's biggest steelworks plant in the UK. Residents living near the Port Talbot plant in south Wales spoke of hearing a "massive" blast shortly after 03:30 BST on 26 April.
Community news release. BBC News Online and related story. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Britain: Site firms fined after employee receives electrical burns
Two companies have been fined after a worker received serious electrical burns during demolition work. Chelmsford Magistrates Court heard how on the 12 April 2017, two demolition workers employed by sub-contractor RB Haigh & Sons were removing electrical distribution equipment from a switchgear room; Alan Banks, who had been told by the principal contractor that the electrical equipment had been isolated, suffered serious burn injuries and was immediately hospitalised.
HSE news release and electricity hazards guide. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Britain: Two injured falling through uncovered floor hatch
Aberdeen electrical company RB Wilson (Electrical) Limited, contracted to rewire and install new heating systems in Aberdeenshire Council properties, has been fined for failing to put in place adequate barriers and physical warning signs around open floor hatches. The prosecution came after the resident of a property and her brother-in-law fell into one of the uncovered floor hatches and both sustained injuries.
HSE news release. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Britain: Support Firefighters Memorial Day, 4 May 2019
The union-backed Firefighters Memorial Day falls on 4 May. Firefighters’ union FBU says the day honours the sacrifice of firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty, acknowledging the courage and dedication of generations of firefighters, including those who serve our communities today. On duty crews will parade in fire kit on station forecourts and stand in a minute's silence at midday on 4 May, as they remember colleagues lost in the line of duty.
FBU event notice. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Australia: Unions welcome Labor pledge on work fatalities
Australia’s opposition Labor Party (ALP) has said if successful in May’s general election it will include a country-wide industrial manslaughter offence in workplace health and safety legislation. The move has been welcomed by unions, which said it marks a ‘systemic shift’ in how the country will view the responsibility of employers for the safety of workers, and how courts will address the loss of life in Australian workplaces.
ACTU news release. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

France: Study confirms link between work and suicides
Almost 1-in-25 workers in France consider suicide each year, with more than a third blaming work for their desperation, research has found. The most important factor was fear of losing the job, followed by verbal threats, humiliation and intimidation at work, with managers of either sex least likely to be affected.
ETUI news report. P. Delèzire, V. Gigonzac and others, Pensées suicidaires dans la population active occupée en France en 2017, Bulletin épisdémiologique hebdomadaire, Number 3-4, 2019 [in French]. Suicides au travail, l'action syndicale from Union Syndicale SOLIDAIRES on Vimeo. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Global: New safety campaign in paper and packaging
Workers in the pulp, paper, graphical and packaging sectors, represented worldwide by the global unions IndustriALL and UNI, have kicked off a year-long campaign around the three fundamental worker rights needed to make work safe. These ‘3Rs’ are: The Right to Know – workers must know the hazards and risks in their workplace; The Right to Act, or the right to refuse unsafe work without punishment; and The Right to Participate in the safety programmes and structures that manage safety in the workplace.
IndustriALL news release. Unite live. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Myanmar: Over 50 jade miners believed dead in landslide
At least 54 jade miners in Myanmar are feared to have died after they were engulfed by a landslide “mud lake” as they slept. In one of the worst disasters to hit Myanmar’s notoriously treacherous jade mining industry, a mud filter collapsed at a mine in Hpakant in Myanmar’s Kachin State late on the night of 22 April, causing a landslide that hit the miners’ sleeping quarters.
New York Times. The Guardian. Radio Free Asia. The Straits Times.
Global Witness film: Jade and the Generals. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Hazards news, 27 April 2019

Britain: Work cancer risk warning after government safety cuts
New evidence confirming a cancer risk to tyre and rubber workers may go ignored because of government safety deregulation and cuts, the union Unite has warned. The union was commented after research published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed that workers in the tyre and rubber industry remain at significant risk of developing cancers caused by exposure to N-nitrosamines and rubber dust.
Unite news release. ITUC/Hazards cancerhazards blog.
Mira Hidajat and others. Lifetime exposure to rubber dusts, fumes and N-nitrosamines and cancer mortality in a cohort of British rubber workers with 49 years follow-up, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 76, number 4, pages 250-258, April 2019. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2018-105181 
International: ITUC/Hazards 28 April dedicated events and resources website.
All out! Global union confederation ITUC wants to show killer chemicals the door, ITUC briefing. Also in French and Spanish. 28 April ITUC ‘Chemical reaction’ poster in English, French and SpanishCancers and their work causes: An ITUC/Hazards at-a-glance guide to cancer hazards. Also in French and Spanish. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: Brits work longest hours in the EU, TUC reveals
Workers in the UK are putting the longest hours in the EU, according to a new TUC analysis of official figures. The union body found full-time employees in Britain worked an average of 42 hours a week in 2018, nearly two hours more than the EU average – equivalent to an extra two and a half weeks a year, adding Britain’s “long-hours culture” is not delivering extra productivity.
TUC news release. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: Safe staffing ‘vital’ for patients and frontline NHS staff
The lack of safe staffing levels on wards and in ambulances is putting patients and staff at risk, UNISON’s health conference has heard. Delegates were told understaffing was causing stress and anxiety, which in turn was leading to people leaving their jobs.
UNISON news release. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: One in four teachers face violence each week
Nearly a quarter of teachers (24 per cent) are experiencing physical violence from pupils at least once a week, the teaching union NASUWT has revealed. A shocking 4 per cent of teachers responding to the union’s survey stated they are attacked on a daily basis.
NASUWT news release. The Independent. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: Teachers turn to medication to cope with work pressures
“Incredible” assessment levels are creating a “climate of fear” that is driving teachers to medication, the new president of teachers’ union NASUWT has said. Dave Kitchen said in “too many schools” accountability measures were “being used as a tool to control teachers.”
Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: Four out of 10 teachers plan to quit
Four out of 10 teachers say they will longer be working in education in five years’ time, a union survey has found. The National Education Union (NEU) said a further haemorrhage of staff could result from the “culture of fear” in schools. NEU’s State of Education survey of 8,600 members found most of those leaving blamed “huge workloads and excessive accountability.”
BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: Bristol toilet closures flush working conditions down the pan
A decision by Bristol council to close the vast majority of public conveniences in the city, is denying workers access to toilets and has forced some to quit their jobs, the union Unite has warned. In place of public toilets, the Bristol council scheme asks private businesses including pubs, cafes and shops to provide non-customers access to their toilets - however, Unite has found that this scheme is not effective for key workers who keep the city operating such as bus drivers, street cleaners and refuse collectors.
Unite news release and  toilet dignity campaign. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: Unions call for independent inquiry into helicopter safety
Offshore unions have again called for a full independent public inquiry into energy industry helicopter safety. Unite and RMT both backed a motion at the STUC conference that noted “such an inquiry is essential, due to the ongoing decline in offshore workers’ confidence in the safety of offshore helicopter operations.”
RMT news release. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: ‘Time for action’ after inmate cuts prison officer's throat
The prison officers’ union POA has said it is ‘time for action’ on jail violence and under-staffing after a prison officer had his throat cut by an inmate at HMP Nottingham. POA said it was seeking urgent discussions with ministers, adding it is time to “act decisively as the violence in prisons has spiralled out of control.”
POA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: Prisoner assault victim suffered physical and mental injuries
A member of the union Community who was left alone to supervise a high-risk prisoner has received a six-figure compensation payment after he was subjected to a sustained attack. A union-backed claim was brought against the employer on the basis that staffing levels were too low, with the employer admitting liability early in the case.
Community news release. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: Charities condemn cuts to criminal injuries scheme
A fall of nearly 60 per cent in the number of victims receiving payments from the criminal injuries compensation scheme, and an almost halving of the amount paid out since the Conservative government came to power, have been condemned by an alliance of charities. Figures obtained from parliamentary questions show that in 2010-11, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Agency (CICA) awarded £280m to 39,706 people who were hurt in attacks; six years later, in 2017-18, only 16,781 victims received £154m in compensation.
The Guardian. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

USA: Wellness programmes at work don’t, well, work
A new Harvard University study suggests that the increasingly popular workplace wellness programmes yield unimpressive results and don’t leave workers in better health. The analysis, the first peer-reviewed, large-scale, multisite randomised controlled trial of a workplace wellness programme, found it had no significant effects on outcomes including 27 self-reported health and behavioural measures such as employees’ overall health, sleep quality and food choices; 10 clinical markers of health; 38 measures tracking spending and utilisation for doctor’s visits, medical tests, procedures and prescription drugs; and three employment outcomes - absenteeism, job tenure and job performance.
Harvard University news release. Zirui Song and Katherine Baicker. Effect of a Workplace Wellness Program on Employee Health and Economic Outcomes: A Randomized Clinical Trial, Journal of the American Medical Association, volume 321, number 15, pages 1491-1501, 2019. Kaiser Health News.
Your health at work: an indispensable guide to physical and mental well-being, TUC, 2018. Order form.  
Workplace well-being programmes: A guide for safety reps, TUC, 2015. Well, then? Healthier workplaces deliver healthier workers, Hazards magazine, 2013. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

USA: Longer work hours lead to more and more serious injuries
The longer your working week, the more likely you are to be injured or killed on the job, a new study has found. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago looked at reported work-related injury figures in the US mining industry between 1983 and 2015, together with production, employment levels and working hours data and concluded: “In this study, we observed a steady annual increase in the proportion of injuries occurring during long working hours that mirrors a trend reported internationally as more mining operations move towards longer shifts.”
Lee S Friedman, Kirsten S Almberg and Robert A Cohen. Injuries associated with long working hours among employees in the US mining industry: risk factors and adverse outcomes, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published Online First, 12 April 2019. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2018-105558
Kirsten S Almberg and others. Progressive Massive Fibrosis Resurgence Identified in U.S. Coal Miners Filing for Black Lung Benefits, 1970-2016, Annals of the American Thoracic Society, volume 15, number 12, 2 December 2018. Related news release. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Bangladesh: Accord still needed to ensure worker safety
The Supreme Court of Bangladesh this month gave another short-term extension to the Bangladesh Accord, scheduling the next hearing to determine the groundbreaking safety programme’s fate on 19 May 2019. Global unions UNI and IndustriALL, two signatories of the Accord introduced in the wake of the deadly Rana Plaza garment factory collapse five years ago, have issued a statement calling for a resolution that protects garment workers in the country.
IndustriALL news release. UNI news release. The Bangladesh Accord. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

China: Work diseases victims call for release of supporters
Some 100 Chinese workers suffering from an often fatal work-related disease have signed a petition demanding the release of three prominent activists in southern China amid a crackdown on labour activism. Wei Zhili and Ke Chengbing, editors of a labour rights news site that reported on the workers’ cases, were arrested in March for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” - a broad charge used by Chinese authorities to target activists and dissidents; and Yang Zhengjun, editor-in-chief of the iLabour news site, has been in police detention since January.
Devdiscourse. Hong Kong Free Press. Daily Mail. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Korea: Samsung spied on work disease activists
The Samsung corporate star chamber has flouted laws and placed advocates for occupational disease victims under surveillance, independent daily Kyunghyang reported on 18 April, citing court records. Two confidential Samsung documents surfaced during a criminal hearing on 16 April for 32 Samsung Electronics Co Ltd directors and executive indicted on charges related to illegal union-busting, confirming long-held beliefs that Samsung had placed the advocacy group SHARPS under illicit surveillance.
SHARPS news report. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

USA: Workers can challenge work’s toxic toll
A new advocacy guide from the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) aims to assist workers who are seeking to take action to eliminate or reduce their exposure to hazardous substances. Katie Tracy, CPR policy analyst and co-author of the guide, said: “People exposed to toxics at work tend to encounter dangerous substances more frequently, for longer durations, and at higher levels than the public at large, adding: “Too often their employers fail in their obligation to protect them, so we’ve put this guide together to share resources and strategies workers can use to secure a safe workplace.”
CPR news release and report, Chemical detox for the workplace: A guide to securing a nontoxic work environment, CPR, April 2019. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Hazards news, 13 April 2019

Britain: HSE ends Brunei project after union ethics and safety pressure
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has suspended planned staff secondments to Brunei after the UK union Prospect raised concerns about the ethical and safety implications following the kingdom’s decision to punish gay sex by stoning to death. The UK workplace safety regulator was seeking a team of three people to go to Brunei to help the country’s equivalent agency with regulatory work, but has now said all links with the country would be “paused” pending a review.
Prospect news release. ITUC news release. ITF news release. The Guardian. Pink News. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: Government’s union watchdog blocks harassment action
The TUC has criticised the government’s trade union watchdog for blocking a union’s ‘sensible action’ to stand up for women members by stopping sexual harassment. The union body was commenting after the watchdog, the Certification Officer, forced the Musicians’ Union to restore the membership of a someone expelled from the union after a succession of sexual harassment complaints against him were made via the union’s ‘safe space’ online reporting system.
TUC blog. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: Union victory as crisis hit prison returned to public control
Prison officers’ union POA has said the return of a crisis-hit Birmingham prison to the public sector is a ‘major success’ for the union. HMP Birmingham is being brought back into government control permanently after G4S saw its contract terminated. Prisons minister Rory Stewart confirmed G4S will pay the government a £9.9 million settlement to cover the additional cost to the Ministry of Justice of its ‘step-in action’.
POA news release. Birmingham Mail. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: UNISON condemns government’s violent crime proposals
UNISON has hit out at a government proposal that could see education and NHS staff required to prevent and tackle serious violence. The public service union it says the move could place an additional burden on already ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘overworked’ staff.
UNISON news release. Prime minister’s speech. Government serious violence consultation. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: Workload is damaging the mental health of university’s staff
Excessive workloads are taking their toll on the wellbeing of academic staff at Nottingham Trent University, with 94 per cent of academic staff reporting that their workload has a negative impact on their mental health. Nottingham Trent University UCU secretary Mark Weinstein said: “This damning survey lifts the lid on intolerable workloads at Nottingham Trent University and the damage it is doing to people's health.”
UCU news release. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: Union raises rail safety concerns over Brexit
Rail union TSSA is seeking a meeting with Eurostar to discuss rail safety measures in the wake of Brexit unrest. The union says escalating Brexit tensions have seen the rail land bridge into Europe become a target of protests.
TSSA news release. London Evening News. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: London Underground maintenance staff vote to strike
Over 1,000 key London Underground maintenance and engineering staff have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action. The backing for strike action or action short of a strike comes in a dispute over the ‘hacking back’ of train preparation and inspection schedules, a proposed move which the union warns would have a devastating impact on both service reliability and public safety.
RMT news release. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: Workers forced to add tracking software to own phones
A union representing security staff has hit out at a ‘big brother’ company for forcing workers to download spying software to their personal mobile phones. GMB says Churchill Security has written to employees saying ‘it is the employee’s responsibility to ensure they have a working mobile phone at all times…disciplinary action may be taken due to an employee failing to comply with mobile phone policies’.
GMB news release. The Guardian. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: More councils back Unite’s construction charter
Two West Midlands councils have become the latest to sign up to Unite’s construction charter. In doing so, Sandwell council and Birmingham city council have pledged to ensure conditions for workers on construction projects under the councils’ control meet the highest standards.
Unite news release. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: UK lobbied to block cancer warning on titanium dioxide
A suspected carcinogen found in spray paints, sun creams and varnishes many not now be required to carry a cautionary health label in the European Union, after lobbying led by the industry and the UK government. In what campaigners say is an unprecedented and potentially illegal step, the European Commission has dropped a recommendation from its chemicals advisers for mandatory health warnings on all inhalable liquid forms of titanium dioxide (TiO2).
The Guardian. TDMA webpage. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: Cancer risks injured nuclear worker had skin removed
Sellafield Ltd has been fined for a criminal safety offence after an injury saw a worker exposed to eight times the annual limit of plutonium. The breaches occurred at the Cumbrian nuclear processing plant in February 2017 and led to worker Jonathan Greggain having to have a section of skin removed from his hand and spending six months off work. 
ONR news release. BBC News Online. Blackpool Gazette. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: Rise in stress at work linked to poor management
Nearly two-fifths of UK businesses (37 per cent) have seen an increase in stress-related absence over the last year, with heavy workloads and poor management to blame, according to a new report. Personnel professionals’ organisation CIPD and Simplyhealth surveyed 1,078 human resources professionals and found heavy workloads were the top cause of stress-related absence, reported by 62 per cent of respondents, with the second biggest contributing factor ‘management style’, up from 32 per cent to 43 per cent in the last year.
CIPD news release. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: High Court catches up with exploitative chicken catcher
The High Court has ruled in favour of a group of Lithuanian men who were put to work in terrible conditions by a British company, catching chickens at farms all over the country. The court ruled that the workers who brought the case were subject to a gruelling and exploitative work regime by their employer, DJ Houghton Catching Services, and by its sole director, Darrell Houghton, and the company secretary, Jackie Judge.
Leigh Day news release. BBC News Online. Kent Messenger. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Global: ITUC aims to show killer chemicals the door
In a high profile new campaign, the global trade union confederation ITUC is calling for killer chemicals to be shown the door. In a campaign kicking off on Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April, ITUC is urging reps to seek to eliminate or minimise exposure to carcinogens in the workplace and says a first of its kind ITUC at-a-glance guide to work cancers and their causes will ensure unions can identify and challenge preventable and potentially deadly exposures.
All out! Global union confederation ITUC wants to show killer chemicals the door, Hazards magazine, number 145, April 2019. Also in French and Spanish.
ITUC/Hazards 28 April dedicated events and resources website.
ITUC 28 April webpages in English, French and Spanish.
28 April ITUC ‘Chemical reaction’ poster in English, French and Spanish.
Cancers and their work causes: An ITUC/Hazards at-a-glance guide to cancer hazards. Also in French and Spanish.
Hazards Campaign 28 April resources page and order form. Free copies of the Hazards Campaign’s 2019 Workers’ Memorial Day posters are available now; to get your copies email the Hazards Campaign or phone 0161 636 7558.
TUC 2019 Workers’ Memorial Day events page and asbestos, diesel exhaust and workplace cancers guides. Send details of your 28 April 2019 events to the TUC health and safety department. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Japan: Space agency suicide caused by overwork
A man working on a project for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) took his own life in 2016 because he was overworked, Japanese authorities have ruled. Yukinobu Sato, aged 31 at the time, was working as a contractor on a satellite project for Jaxa and was under extreme stress, a compensation review by the Ibaraki Labour Bureau’s Tsuchiura Labour Standards Inspection Office concluded.
Asahi Shimbun. Japan Times. The Mirror. BBC News Online. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Turkey: Refusal to respect labour standards is costing lives
A new report has revealed wide-scale abuse of labour standards in the construction of the Istanbul New Airport, resulting in the death of at least 52 people. An investigation by the global union confederation ITUC found the Turkish government has ignored multiple warning signs, allowing the lead consortium in the construction project to systematically undermine labour standards.
ITUC news release. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Vietnam: Women making clothes for export face sexual abuse
Female factory workers producing clothing and shoes in Vietnam – many probably for major US and European brands – face systemic sexual harassment and violence at work. Approaching half (43.1 per cent) of 763 women interviewed in factories in three Vietnamese provinces said they had suffered at least one form of violence and/or harassment in the previous year, according to a study by the Fair Wear Foundation and Care International.
The Observer. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Hazards news, 6 April 2019

Britain: TUC sounds warning over new fatalities statistics
The TUC has said that new quarterly fatality figures released by the HSE reinforce earlier concerns that injuries are increasing as enforcement and inspection activity falls. Data for the first 9 months of 2018/19 shows an increase in fatalities in the HSE enforced sector compared with the same period in 2017/18 and is the highest since 2011/12.
HSE statistics. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: Underground union campaigns against toxic fumes
The RMT union will be stepping up the campaign for dramatic improvements in air quality on London Underground amid fears that the situation continues to deteriorate with serious consequences for both staff and passengers alike. The union has produced a dossier that shows that members are suffering with respiratory problems while station staff and drivers are having high incidents of chest colds.
RMT news release. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: Union launches court action against airlines in toxic air dispute
The trade union Unite has announced legal action has been served in 51 court cases against five UK airlines. Unite is backing court action against UK airlines after independent expert evidence concluded that the air in most commercial airline cabins can cause irreversible neurological damage and chronic illness among susceptible individuals.
Unite news release. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: Scottish teachers need action on violence
The Scottish teaching union, EIS, have issued the results of a poll that found that hundreds of East Ayrshire teachers have seen, or experienced, physical assaults in school. Out of 505 teachers surveyed, ninety-five per cent of those surveyed had experienced or witnessed a violent incident in school; almost a third of teachers polled also said that violent incidents take place one to three times each week.
Daily Record. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: Union to ballot over work/life balance dispute
More than 30 maintenance staff at Newcastle’s hospitals will be balloted for strike action by their union Unite in a work/life balance row. Unite said that NHS bosses had failed to provide convincing evidence for the changes in shift working for its members that could endanger patient safety.
Unite release. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: RMT calls for public inquiry into helicopter safety
On the 10th anniversary of a fatal helicopter accident off Peterhead, in which all fourteen offshore workers and two crew onboard were killed, the RMT union has repeated the call for a full public inquiry into helicopter safety in the North Sea. The tragedy happened when workers were being transported from the Miller Oil Platform to Aberdeen in an AS332 L2 Super Puma model which experienced catastrophic failure of the main rotor gear box.
RMT news release. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Europe: Half all chemicals tested ‘unsafe’
The programme of in-depth checks by national EU governments into substances thought to have dangerous properties has found that almost half of them are unsafe in their current commercial use. According to a report by the EEB network, by December 2018 high quality checks were completed on 94 substances, of which nearly half (49 per cent or 46) were declared to be unsafe in their current commercial use.
EEB news release. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: £1.4 million fine after crush injuries
The 2 Sisters Food Group food processing company has been fined £1.4 million with £38,000 in costs, after a worker was injured while unblocking a machine on the poultry slaughter line. In September 2012, an employee of the company was attempting to clear a blockage on a conveying system at its Foxhills Industrial Estate site in Scunthorpe, when he was struck by a large metal stillage and crushed.
HSE news release. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: Grenfell was “ticking time bomb”
The Shadow fire minister, Karen Lee, has claimed that Grenfell Tower was a 'ticking time bomb' after government fire inspector cuts. A total of 72 people died as a result of the 2017 fire.
The Independent. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: Hotel fined after ignoring asbestos concerns
The owners of a North Devon hotel have been fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,999.60 after materials containing asbestos were disturbed during a major refurbishment. Newton Abbot Magistrates’ Court heard that between October 2016 and May 2017 construction work was undertaken to refit and refurbish the Park Hotel on Taw Vale, Barnstaple. The Health and Safety Executive found that, at an early stage of the work, an employee raised concerns about the potential presence of asbestos containing materials (ACM) within the rooms under refurbishment but no testing of materials being disturbed took place.
HSE news release. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: Suspended sentence after dodgy practices
A whole list of criminal health and safety failings have landed a Salford builder with a suspended prison sentence. Kenneth Morris was sentenced to 30 weeks' imprisonment, suspended for two years, and handed 180 hours of unpaid work and fined £2,615.
Manchester Evening News. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: Sheffield firm fined after worker seriously burned.
A Sheffield Sign-fitting contractor, AR Signs Limited, was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £2,475 in costs for safety breaches after a worker suffered multiple serious burn injuries. In September 2017, a 22-year-old employee of AR Signs Limited was using a breaker tool to dig a hole for the posts of a new sign at the Hellaby Hall Hotel in Bramley, when he struck a mains electricity cable, causing a large flash
HSE news release. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: Less than a month to Workers’ Memorial Day
It is less than a month to Workers Memorial Day. If you know of any events in your area, please let the TUC know at healthandsafety@tuc.org.uk You can find out more about the day, and what you can do to get involved, on the TUC website. This year’s theme is on “dangerous substances” so it is a good opportunity to campaign on issues that are relevant to your workplace such as diesel fumes or asbestos.
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day webpages. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: Webinar on the menopause
The TUC is holding a webinar on the menopause on Thursday 25 April at 14:00.. Sign up to hear first-hand experiences and to get ideas on how you can change the conversation in your workplace. 
Register here. TUC guide to supporting women through the menopause. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Australia: Jail plan for importers of asbestos products
The Australian government has introduced increased penalties against importers who knowingly or recklessly import goods containing asbestos, banned in the country since 2003. The new regulations mean that importers could now face up to five years jail.
Government statement.  Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Europe: Law makers refuse to approve cancer chemical
MEPs have voted, by 309 votes to 286 with 24 abstentions, to oppose a draft EU proposal to authorise certain uses of chromium trioxide, which is found in paint and plating in industries such as aerospace, automotive and cosmetics. The recommendation is not binding and only asks the EU executive to review its decision to authorise use, which has already been backed by governments.
European Parliament resolution. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

China: Firefighters die in forest blaze
At least 30 firefighters have died while tackling a huge forest fire in south-western China. According to the government, fire crews had been fighting the blaze in the mountains of Sichuan province on Sunday when a change in wind direction caused "a huge fireball", trapping them.
BBC News Online. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Philippines: Young workers at risk
A report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Manila has found that young workers in the Philippines are the most vulnerable to unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. Young workers in the country face up to a 40 per cent higher rate of nonfatal injuries than older workers due to lack of awareness of safety and health standards, with a majority of the young workers working in unstable conditions without written contracts, social-security cover, or union representation.
Business Mirror. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Hazards news, 30 March 2019

Britain: School ignored death threats to attacked teaching assistant
A special needs teaching assistant from Plymouth who was assaulted after being threatened repeatedly by a student had raised her concerns earlier but management ‘turned a blind eye’. UNISON member Andrea McGowan, who taught students with autistic spectrum conditions, suffered a back and neck injury after being put in a headlock by a student she had reprimanded for bad behaviour.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Britain: Ignored lorry drivers at risk from Brexit
The safety and welfare of lorry drivers and the road going public has been put at risk because the government has ignored the views of professional drivers when formulating its post-Brexit transport contingency plans. Unite, which represents over 50,000 lorry drivers, says the failure to consult the union and to inform drivers of what is expected of them is risking the safety and welfare of not just lorry drivers but all road users, as well as making the expected disruption caused by a disorderly Brexit far worse.
Unite news release. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Britain: Shop theft and age-restricted sales are violence triggers
New statistics from the retail union Usdaw show that the key triggers for violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers are theft from shops and enforcing the law on the sale of alcohol and other age-restricted products. The union found that during 2018 nearly two-thirds of shopworkers experienced verbal abuse and over 40 per cent were threatened by a customer.
Usdaw news release and survey of violence and abuse against shop staff. British Retail Consortium news release and 2019 Retail Crime Survey. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Britain: Prison officers rally for fairness and safety
Hundreds of prison officers marched through Westminster on 20 March, demanding action against soaring levels of violence, an end to private prisons, and a fair retirement age of 60. Explaining why union members took to the streets, POA general secretary Steve Gillan said: “This is a health and safety emergency, and the government must immediately return the money it stole from the Prison Service in the discredited name of austerity.”
POA news release. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Britain: GMB to set up food banks for desperate ISS workers
GMB is to set up food banks for outsourced staff at hospitals across London and the south east of England to ease the impact of delayed wages and an unfair sick pay scheme. GMB says as a result of an ISS ‘pay harmonisation project’, desperate hospital workers will be left without wages for up to a week and are concerned about how they will pay rent and feed their families, adding unfair sick pay systems mean workers are having to go to work when sick or face further hardship.
GMB news release. More on the hazards of low pay. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Britain: Hospital security staff to strike over protective equipment
Security staff at Southampton General Hospital have served notice of their intention to strike for eight days in their dispute over pay rates, sick pay and safety concerns. Unite said that neither the employer Mitie Security Ltd nor the bosses at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust had made any effort to resolve the dispute over the lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as stab vests and safety restraints.
Unite news release. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Britain: Coventry council must investigate bullying 'epidemic'
Coventry Council must commit to a full, independent investigation into a bullying ‘epidemic’ raging through the town hall, the union GMB has said. The union raised its concerns at a council meeting after a GMB survey revealed 85 per cent of the local authority’s workers had experienced bullying.
GMB news release. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Britain: Every year on shifts ups heart disease risk 1 per cent
Working shifts increases a person’s chances of developing heart disease, with every year spent in this working pattern causing a 1 per cent rise in the risk, according to a new study. The research published in the journal Occupational Medicine is the largest ever study focusing on the risk of ischaemic heart disease in shift workers.
M Cheng and others. Shiftwork and ischaemic heart disease, Occupational Medicine, 29 March 2019. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Britain: Working nights linked to greater risk of miscarriage
Working two or more night shifts in a week may increase a pregnant woman's risk of miscarriage the following week by around a third, a new study has found. The authors of the prospective study published online in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine conclude: “The new knowledge has relevance for working pregnant women as well as their employers, physicians and midwifes,” adding “the results could have implications for national occupational health regulations.”
Luise Moelenberg Begtrup and others. Night work and miscarriage: a Danish nationwide register-based cohort study, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Online First 25 March 2019. DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2018-105592  Science Daily. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Britain: Sedentary work can kill you
Sitting or lounging around for long periods during the day could be the cause of almost 70,000 deaths in the UK and cost the NHS at least £700m a year, new research has revealed. The study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health concludes: “Many individuals in the UK spend their leisure time in sedentary behaviour, and the workplace represents a significant proportion of unavoidable daily sitting time for many people,” adding: “Measures should be taken to reduce sedentary behaviour with the aim of improving population health and reducing the financial burden to the health service.”
Leonie Heron and others. Direct healthcare costs of sedentary behaviour in the UK, Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, published online 25 March 2019. doi:10.1136/jech-2018-211758  The Guardian. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Britain: Risks from chemical cocktails ‘under-estimated’
The health risks associated with combined exposures to a range of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are ‘systematically underestimated’, a new study has concluded. The European research project EDC-MixRisk is critical of the current assessment methods employed in the European Union on EDCs, a large group of chemicals linked to reproductive harm, cancer and other health effects.
EDC-MixRisk news release. HEAL news release. ENDS Europe. CHEM Trust blog. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Britain: Train refurb firm didn’t grasp vibrating tools risk
A train refurbishment company left its workers subject to ‘uncontrolled and unrestrained’ exposure to vibrating tools from 2005 to 2015 and at risk of a debilitating occupational disease. Employees at Tamworth-based Faiveley Transport Tamworth Limited were exposed to vibration while using tools including sanders and air-fed cutting equipment to refurbish train doors.
HSE news release. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

China: Death toll rises to 78 in chemical plant explosion
The death toll from an explosion in a chemical plant in east China's Jiangsu Province has risen to 78. The explosion on an industrial estate happened mid-afternoon on 21 March following a fire that broke out in the plant owned by Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Co Ltd.
Xinhuanet. China.org.cn news and update. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Italy: Stop the exploitation of migrant farm workers
A group of Italian doctors is calling for urgent action to stop the exploitation of thousands of migrants working in agriculture across Italy. Writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Dr Claudia Marotta and colleagues said more than 1,500 migrant agricultural workers have died did in the country as a result of their work over the past six years, while others have been killed by the so-called “Caporali” who are modern slave masters.
Claudia Marotta and others. Opinion: Stop the exploitation of migrant agricultural workers in Italy, British Medical Journal, 28 March 2019. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Global: Backing for UN convention on safety of journalists
Representatives from governments in every continent have joined journalists’ unions, editors groups, public broadcasters and media organisations in a united call for the United Nations to adopt a Convention on the safety and protection of journalists. The joint call came during the 40th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
IFJ news release. Press Gazette. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

USA: Amazon workers walk out over speed-up
After yet another speed-up in a workplace notorious for its lightning pace of work, workers at a Minnesota Amazon warehouse walked off the night shift for three hours. More than 50 workers walked off their shifts an hour early to participate in the action, in what Labor Notes reports could be the first coordinated strike at an Amazon facility in the US.
Labor Notes. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Hazards news, 23 March 2019

Britain: Parliamentary security staff celebrate victory
Security guards at the Palace of Westminster who threatened strike action on 20 March   over their unacceptable working conditions have achieved a ‘significant victory’, their union PCS has said. The dispute centred around three demands; improved rest breaks, settlements for longstanding personal cases and the reinstatement of a member.
PCS news release. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Tube workers face ‘shocking’ violence rise
One in five station-based Tube workers have been physically assaulted, according to research by the union RMT. RMT is calling for action including increased staffing to tackle this “growing tide of violence” against staff.
RMT news release. Evening Standard. BBC News Online. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Employers urged to help lone workers stay safe
Lone working can be dangerous and employers need to take precautions to protect any employee working alone, the union UNISON has said. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of isolated workers report they have experienced violence and aggression from the public, the public service union’s biennial health and safety seminar heard.
UNISON news release and lone working guide. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Pilots warn drone operators not to fall foul of new laws
Pilots are reminding drone operators that they could face jail if they fly too close to airports. New legislation that came in to force on 13 March sees the no-fly zone around airports increased from 1km to 5km and gives police greater powers to deal with those who ignore the rules.
BALPA news release. DfT news release. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Firefighters slam ‘incomprehensible’ cuts in Surrey
The firefighters’ union FBU has branded proposed further cuts to Surrey fire and rescue service as “incomprehensible”, just months after a government inspection voiced “serious concerns” about the county’s fire and rescue service. Lee Belsten, FBU Surrey brigade secretary, said: “The council’s claim that these cuts are ‘risk based’ is ludicrous”.
FBU news release. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Dudley latest to sign up to safe site work
Dudley Council has become the latest local authority to use its procurement power to support local construction workers by signing up to Unite’s Construction Charter. The Dudley deal follows recent charter sign ups with councils including Liverpool, Manchester and Milton Keynes.
Unite news release. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain PC’s work injury led to ‘dreaded’ job change and suicide
A police dog handler who could no longer do his dream job as a result of a work injury killed himself the day before he was due to return to work in another role, an inquest has heard. Wakefield Coroner's Court was told 37-year-old PC Mick Atkinson 'dreaded' the prospect of working in an office after spending more than 10 years as a dog handler with North Yorkshire Police.
Scarborough News. Yorkshire Evening Post.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist, Hazards, 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Law change will help workers win injury claims
A change in Scottish law will assist workers in securing personal injury damages from employers, a leading employment solicitor has said. Alan Rodgers, a partner at the union personal injury law firm Thompsons Scotland, said the introduction of “qualified one-way costs shifting” (QOCS) in Scotland could help unions secure faster settlements.
Morning Star. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Rail safety warning over runaway machine on tracks
A rail safety watchdog has issued new safety recommendations after a mobile elevating work platform ran out of control on tracks for 340 metres. The incident happened in June 2018 when the road-rail machine was being placed on the tracks near Bradford Interchange station.
RAIB news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Defunct firm convicted after bricklayer dies in wall collapse
A company that is in administration has been convicted of two criminal safety offences after an employee was killed when a wall collapsed on a construction site. Bournemouth Crown Court heard how, on 2 June 2015, Thomas Telfer was working as a bricklayer employed by Capstone Building Ltd, when he was struck by falling masonry after a retaining wall failed as it was being back-filled with concrete.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Dorset Echo. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Firm fined after worker injured by machinery
A manufacturing company has been fined after a worker’s hand was caught in poorly guarded machinery. Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard how, on the 5 July 2017, an employee of Contour Showers Ltd, Winsford, was trying to clear a blockage from a metal cutting saw, when the blade cut through the knuckle of his left index finger damaging the tendon and ligament, preventing him from returning to work for eight months.
HSE news release. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Waste firm fined after worker’s arm was trashed
A Preston waste recycling company has been fined for a criminal safety offence after an employee was injured whilst operating a machine from which the guards has been removed. Blackburn Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 13 April 2017, the hand of a KT Recycling Ltd employee became trapped between a conveyor belt and drive roller of a magnetic separator as he attempted to remove waste material.
HSE news release. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Firm fined after fall damages roofer’s hearing
Norwich maintenance company RFT Repairs Limited has been fined after an employee fell two metres while working on a roof, suffering a head injury which resulted in hearing damage. RFT Repairs Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,391.76.
HSE news release and roof work webpages. Norwich Evening News. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Britain: Book now for the Hazards 2019 conference
The 2019 National Hazards Conference, billed as the UK’s “biggest and best educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists”, will be held in Stoke-on-Trent from 26-28 July. The theme this year is ‘Cleaning up toxic work.’
Hazards Campaign conference, 26-28 July 2019, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent. Hazards 2019 programme and booking form. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Global: Asbestos industry renews deadly product defence
The global asbestos lobby is campaigning actively to resist listing of chrysotile asbestos under a UN Treaty that would requiring its cancer-causing exports to include a health warning. The next Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention will start on 29 April 2019, the day after International Workers’ Memorial Day.
Asbestos lobby news release. Corporate deceit: Asbestos espionage at home and abroad, IBAS, March 2019. Latest USGS global asbestos production statistics.
TUC 2019 Workers’ Memorial Day events page and asbestos and workplace cancers guides. Send details of your 28 April 2019 events to the TUC health and safety department, email: healthandsafety@tuc.org.uk
ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2019 events and resources webpage and cancerhazards blog. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Spain: Documentary reveals plight of Moroccan migrants
The Moroccan migrant workers harvesting strawberries in Spain are having to endure exploitative conditions and are forced to live in squalid accommodation, new evidence has confirmed. Each year, Spanish strawberry and berry farms recruit tens of thousands of female Moroccan workers through Morocco’s national employment agency, ANAPEC.
Morocco World News. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

USA: Employer accountable for violent death at work
In a landmark case, the US Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) has ruled a social service employer is accountable for failing to protect workers from workplace violence. Integra Health Management was cited for safety violations following the death of an employee who was stabbed nine times, then left bleeding on a front lawn after a December 2012 home visit to an agency client with a history of mental illness and violent criminal behaviour.
National COSH news release. Statements from members of Congress and witnesses. AFL-CIO blog. USW news release. Risks 890. 23 March 2019

Hazards news, 16 March 2019

Britain: Bullying can never be acceptable in the workplace
The TUC has repeated its warning that bullying is a health and safety issue that must be taking seriously at work. TUC guidance includes a simple survey form, “intended to cover both workplaces where there is no existing policy, as well as those where there is a policy – after all it is important to know that if there is a policy, it is working,” noted TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson.
TUC blog and Bullying at work: Guidance for workplace representatives. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: BECTU targets toxic live events industry culture
The entertainment technicians’ union BECTU has launched a comprehensive set of standards for the live events industry, in its “fight for better working conditions for its members in the sector.” The union said over two-thirds (69 per cent) of respondents to its survey named long hours as their biggest concern, followed by lack of crew welfare facilities (46 per cent) and concerns over health and safety (30 per cent).
BECTU news release and Live Events Network facebook page. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: Journalists demand an end to far-right intimidatory tactics
‘Abhorrent’ threats by right-wing activists targeting newspaper, freelance and broadcast journalists have prompted the journalists’ union NUJ to renew its demand that the authorities take action against the perpetrators. The union said individuals who seek to intimidate and silence the media by publishing photos, names or addresses of journalists and who urge their supporters to target journalists should not be allowed to do so, arguing this behaviour is unlawful harassment and intimidation.
NUJ news release. Morning Star. The Independent. The Guardian. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: Police collusion proof shows need for blacklisting inquiry
The construction union Unite has renewed its call for a full public inquiry into a scandal that saw thousands of union and safety activists blacklisted. The union was speaking out as new evidence emerged it said demonstrates that for decades the police and security services were involved in the illegal activity on an ‘industrial scale’.
Unite news release. Blacklist blog. New Internationalist. Morning Star and related story. The Guardian. Daily Record. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: Postal union CWU delivers letterbox win
‎The CWU is celebrating a major victory for postal workers after the government agreed to introduce a law which would outlaw back-busting low level letterboxes on new doors. The government has now indicated it will accept an amendment to the Building Regulations so doors in the future will have letterboxes positioned at a safer height.
CWU news release. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: Milton Keynes takes a big step towards safer sites
A pioneering agreement will ensure that working conditions and building standards on construction projects under the control of Milton Keynes Council will meet the highest safety and employment standards, the union Unite has said. The union was commenting after the local authority became the latest to sign up to the Unite Construction Charter. 
Unite news release. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: Southampton hospital security staff poorly protected
Security staff at Southampton General Hospital are regularly attacked in the accident and emergency (A&E) department and are not receiving even the basic protection they require, their union Unite has said. Unite said its members, employed by Mitie Security Ltd, report that the firm has refused to provide adequate personal protection equipment (PPE), such as stab vests and safety restraints, even though knife-related incidents are increasing.
Unite news release. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: Outrage as water giant uses Uber to investigate leaks
A water company that has been criticised for its poor management of its water resources has been accused of taking ‘huge’ safety risks by using a taxi firm to investigate leaks. Utilities union GMB said Severn Trent, which provides water to 4.3 million homes across the East and West Midlands, has been using Uber and taxi drivers to investigate leaks more than 30 times a week.
GMB news release. BBC News Online. Daily Mail. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: Unions welcome grounding of 737 Max passenger jets
The UK pilots’ union BALPA and the cabin and ground crew union Unite have welcomed the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) decision to ground 737 Max aircraft, saying “safety must come first”. The move came after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed on 10 March, killing all 157 people on board, in the second fatal accident involving the 737 Max 8 model in five months.
CAA statement. BALPA news release. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: Growing anger at helicopter safety inquiry refusal
Offshore union RMT has said it shares the ‘growing anger’ over the refusal of the Scottish government to reconsider its opposition to a public inquiry into helicopter safety. The union was commenting after North East Scotland Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald called on ministers to reconsider their decision not to back a public inquiry into helicopter safety in the North Sea, after he received a what he has described as a “deeply disappointing” reply from energy minister Paul Wheelhouse.
RMT news release. Aberdeen Evening Express. BBC News Online. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: Waste firm’s respect campaign gets union approval
Waste workers in a London local authority should benefit from a new ‘respect and protect’ scheme, their union has said. GMB, which represents refuse, street cleansing and recycling employees employed by Serco under a Hammersmith & Fulham council waste management contract, is backing the company's Citizens Charter and Respect and Protect Campaign.
Serco news release. GMB news release. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: Worker killed by overhead power line strike
A company that knew about a risk from overhead power lines but didn’t act to protect workers has been fined after a 38-year-old worker was electrocuted in a ‘wholly avoidable’ tragedy. Luton Crown Court heard how Darren Waterman, a driver employed by Just Grab Services to unload material at Fillets Farm, Hunsdon, Hertfordshire, was using the grab arm on his vehicle when it came into contact with an 11kV overhead power line (OHPL) and he was electrocuted.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: TUC Education mental health resources for reps
Mental health at work is big deal – which is why the TUC has produced an extensive range of resources to help union reps support members and address any work-related factors that might cause or exacerbate problems.
Courses: Search the TUC Education course directory to find a course near you.
eNotes: Sign up online – there is a mental health in the workplace eNote listed in the health and safety section.
Webinars: You will be able to sign up to the mental health at work webinar nearer to the 13 June 2019 broadcast date. In the meantime, you can listen to a big selection of earlier webinars.
Workbook: Download the free TUC Education Mental health and the workplace workbook. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Bangladesh: Government intervention needed for garment safety
Global unions have criticised the Bangladesh government for its continued instance that an effective independent garment factory safety watchdog gets out of Bangladesh by a fixed date, regardless of whether there is a competent safety authority to replace it. UNI and IndustriALL say the Bangladesh government must end the uncertainty and come to the table with a real commitment to a credible and responsible transfer of Accord functions “based on a genuine readiness of the government to take over.”
UNI news release. IndustriALL news release. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Europe: Court overrules approval of cancer chemicals
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has banned with immediate effect the use of known carcinogens used for road markings and in paints and plastics. The court’s Tribunal of the EU, which deals with disputes between EU institutions, ruled in the case brought by the Swedish government that an earlier European Commission decision to authorise uses of the chromium VI compounds, lead sulphochromate yellow and lead chromate molybdate red, was unlawful.
ClientEarth news release. EEB news release. ENDS Europe. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Global: ILO rules needed to address gender-based violence
Violence and harassment affect the lives of millions of women workers on a daily basis - yet there is still no law at the international level that sets a baseline for taking action to eradicate the problem at work, the global union IndustriALL has said. The union comments came ahead a second International Labour Organisation (ILO) discussion on violence and harassment in the world of work which will take place in June 2019 at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
IndustriALL news release.
ITUC campaign toolkit for a convention on gender-based violence at work. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Hazards news, 9 March 2019

Britain: Stress-inducing unpaid overtime topped £32bn last year
UK companies claimed £32.7 billion of free labour last year because of workers doing unpaid overtime, according to new analysis of official statistics by the TUC. More than 5 million people put in an average of 7.5 hours a week in unpaid overtime during 2018.
TUC news release, blog and Unpaid Overtime Calculator. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: UNISON launches campaign to combat work strains
UNISON has launched a campaign to get better management of all workplace musculoskeletal injuries. Announcing the move on Repetitive Strain Injuries Prevention Day, the last day in February each year, the union said a random sample of 50 strain injury compensation claims made by UNISON members found that 90 per cent of these claims resulted from basic failings in risk assessments, while one-in-five of the claims was caused by staffing difficulties, with staff often being forced to single-handedly lift loads that should have required two people or more to do it.
UNISON news release and work strains resources: Aches, pains and strains – guide for safety reps; Aches, pains and strains – leaflet for members; and Aches, pains and strains – poster. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: Unite ups pressure on helicopter asbestos risks
The union Unite is asking for a meeting with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over its ‘catastrophic failure’ to contact the estimated 1,000 former employees who could have been exposed to asbestos while maintaining Sea King helicopters. Unite said it has been campaigning strongly in the last year to get the MoD to redouble its efforts to trace those ex-maintenance staff who had serviced Sea King helicopters since 1969, so they could be alerted and tested for asbestos-related diseases.
Unite news release. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: Firefighters bid to tackle heat-related illness
A new safety initiative from the firefighters’ union FBU aims to tackle the deadly risk posed to its members by over-exposure to heat. The ‘heat illness preparation and awareness (HIPA)’ course being offered in conjunction with Unionlearn was considered necessary by the union because “overexposure to heat can have a significant effect on a firefighter’s health, with an immediate risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”
FBU news release. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: Most Coventry council staff victims of ‘systematic’ bullying
The great majority of Coventry council’s staff have experienced bullying at work, a survey by the union GMB has indicated. The union is demanding urgent action after its ‘shock’ survey findings revealed 85 per cent of workers responding had experience bullying in the last year, with the union adding that every case involved a manager.
GMB news release. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: TUC criticises ‘piecemeal’ action on work harassment
The government has said it intends to prevent employers from using gagging clauses to stop people reporting criminal behaviour, harassment or discrimination to police. However, the TUC has criticised the government’s slow progress on sexual harassment at work, saying non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are ‘just one part of the jigsaw’.
The Guardian. Personnel Today. BBC News Online. The Independent. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: Parliament’s workers unprotected when sexually harassed
Staff and interns in parliament are “woefully unprotected” if they are sexually harassed at work due to “glaring gaps” in legislation, according to Fawcett Society research. Its report concluded parliament is effectively “above the law” on harassment because of these gaps in the legislation.
Fawcett Society news release and report. Morning Star. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: Firms failing to protect workers’ mental health   
Line managers are not being given enough support and training to protect the mental health and wellbeing of staff at work, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and Management Today have said. Their survey found 62 per cent of line managers are not receiving enough help from their organisation to support the mental wellbeing of their staff.
IOSH news release and white paper. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: Blacklisting dispute averted on Crossrail
The threat of industrial action on Crossrail was averted after Unite members secured the reinstatement of an electrician suspected of having faced fresh blacklisting. Workers had raised fears over the dismissal in late February 2019 of Martin Overy, a former Unite safety representative, who was sacked almost immediately after getting a job at London’s Paddington station.
Morning Star. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: MPs demand review of work at height dangers
MPs are demanding a major review of work at height in a bid to cut the number of deaths and accidents caused by falls. A report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height is calling on the government and industry to undertake a major review of working at height culture. Staying Alive: Preventing Serious Injury and Fatalities while Working at Height, inquiry report, APPG group on work at height, February 2019. Construction Enquirer. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

]Britain: Agency worker seriously injured on first day of work
A distribution company has been fined after an agency worker sustained serious, life-changing injuries whilst working as a delivery driver in Cheltenham. Cheltenham Magistrate’s Court heard how, on 18 May 2017, a 27-year-old agency worker working out of H&M Distribution Limited’s Gloucester depot fell backwards from his lorry’s raised tail lift onto the road and several kegs of beer fell and struck him.
HSE news release. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: Firm fined after workers sensitised to chemicals
Teesside chemical manufacturing company Fine Organics Ltd has been fined after failing to manage the risks posed by hazardous substances, resulting in workers being exposed to chemicals that caused long term damage to their skin. Some lost their jobs as a result.
HSE news release. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: Are you prepared for Workers’ Memorial Day 2019?
With less than two months to go, it is time to start making your preparations for International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April. The Hazards Campaign has produced a variety of Workers’ Memorial Day resources, including stickers, posters, purple ribbons and high-viz WMD jackets. New 2019 posters are to follow.
Hazards Campaign 28 April resources page and order form. If you want to register an interest in receiving free copies of the Hazards Campaign’s 2019 Workers’ Memorial Day posters, email the Hazards Campaign. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Europe: Chemical authorisations process is very unsafe
Europe’s system of ‘socio-economic’ cost-benefit calculations for authorising hazardous chemicals is so biased in favour of industry only one has been refused, according to a new report. ChemSec, a non-profit advocating for safer alternatives to toxic chemicals, warns that an exemptions system included in the REACH chemical registration process has “become the back door for companies in order to continue their use of hazardous chemicals.”
ChemSec news release, related release and full report, Lost at SEA, March 2019. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Europe: Chemical firms mostly failing on chemical rules
Chemical companies are failing routinely to meet basis safety requirements on hazardous chemicals, an official annual review has found. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) progress report released on 28 February 2019 revealed that of the 21 substance evaluations completed in 2018, only 6 (28.5 per cent) of the substances were “sufficiently controlled,” with “further risk management measures” required for the rest; chemical companies also failed to provide important safety information on potentially serious health effects in nearly threequarters of cases (74 per cent or 211 of 286) checked by authorities in 2018.
ECHA news release and 2018 evaluation. EEB news release and Corap release. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Global: Seafarers slam cruise worker pregnancy tests
Female seafarers must reject outright the mandatory pregnancy testing required of some cruise ship workers, a leading trade unionist has said. International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) maritime co-ordinator Jacqueline Smith said the practice was blatantly discriminatory.
Morning Star. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Korea: Samsung still denying work disease victims justice
Campaigners from SHARPS, the advocacy group for victims of occupational diseases contracted working for electronics multinational Samsung, say the company is failing to compensate many affected workers. SHARPS says it has calculated that the majority of more than 200 new occupational disease cases linked to exposures at Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and its affiliates are not covered by the compensation programme the conglomerate launched last year.
SHARPS news report. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Hazards news, 2 March 2019

Britain: Drug testing is not the answer to work problems
Drug testing at work is not a substitute for a good drugs and alcohol policy nor does it tell employers what they need to know, the TUC has said. Launching new guides on drug testing at work and on workplace drug and alcohol policies, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said despite efforts to market drug testing at work the approach isn’t proving popular with UK firms “for the simple reason that it does not tell the employer what they need to know, which is whether someone is working unsafely because of drug use regardless of whether the substance is illegal or not.”
TUC blog and new guides on drug and alcohol policies and on drug testing. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: Government warm words won’t protect shopworkers
Warm words and sympathy will not protect shopworkers from violence, threats and abuse, retail union Usdaw has said. The shopworkers’ leader Paddy Lillis was commenting after a protection of shopworkers amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill was not accepted at a report stage debate on the Bill in the House of Lords.
Usdaw news release. House of Lords report stage debate, Hansard, 26 February 2019. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: Overworked Universal Credit workers back strike action
Up to 700 Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union members working in Universal Credit in the West Midlands have voted overwhelmingly for strike action over high workloads and too few staff. The union said the vote means two days of strike action will take place in March at Universal Credit centres in Walsall and Wolverhampton.
PCS news release. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: New union passports to help disabled workers
A new union ‘reasonable adjustments’ passport has been launched to help the nearly 1 million (946,010) people with disabilities who fall out of work or switch employers each year. The joint initiative from the TUC and the union GMB hopes to ensure employers meet their legal duty to make – and keep in place – the reasonable adjustments necessary for them to do their jobs.
TUC news release. GMB news release. The full report, model workplace policy and model reasonable adjustments passport. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: Pilots pleased as government sees sense on drones
The government is to extend the drones exclusion zone around airports to meet a limit recommended from the outset by the pilots’ union BALPA. The move comes after drones sightings in December and January led to flight cancellations at Gatwick and Heathrow airports.
DfT news release. BALPA news release. Air Cargo News. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: Openreach workers won’t work for nothing
The ‘patently unfair’ treatment of Openreach engineers who are being forced to work for up to two hours a day for free has prompted the launch of a major new CWU campaign. The ‘Our hours’ initiative has set out to ensure the company “is left in no doubt as to the scale of employee anger.”
CWU news release. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: Unite pledge to see top blacklisting boss in court
A construction boss who played a pivotal role in orchestrating a blacklisting scandal that targeted union safety activists will face the courts, the union Unite has pledged. The union said it “is closing in” on Cullum McAlpine who it wants to account for his actions in court. Unite is taking fresh legal action on behalf of workers who were blacklisted by the Consulting Association.
Unite news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Blacklist blog. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: Bar worker choked by co-worker wins tribunal
A bar manager who was choked by a chef at their work Christmas party has been awarded more than £6,600 compensation from the firm. Molly Phillips passed out after Nathan Webb gripped her at the Cameo Club in Cardiff on 1 January 2018, in an incident caught on CCTV.
BBC News Online. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: Amnesty leaders offer to resign over ‘toxic’ culture
Amnesty International’s seven-member senior leadership team has offered to resign after a damning report warned of a “toxic” working environment and widespread bullying. The move come on the heels of Unite, the union representing Amnesty staff, declaring it had no confidence in the organisation’s senior management and indicating it was “infeasible” they could stay.
The Guardian.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist, Hazards, 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: Workload action call after Cardiff University suicide
The widow of a university lecturer who killed himself at work has demanded action to tackle workload pressures to save other families facing the same heartache. Diane Anderson said Cardiff University knew her husband Dr Malcolm Anderson was under significant pressure.
BBC News Online. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: Survey shows work pressures are hurting NHS staff
The health and wellbeing of workers in the NHS is deteriorating and work-related ill-health is increasing, latest NHS staff survey results have revealed. The just released 2018 survey findings show there was “an overall decline in staff health and wellbeing,” with only 28.6 per cent reporting their organisation “definitely takes positive action on health and wellbeing”, 3 per cent down on 2017.
NHS staff survey 2018. UNISON news release. NHS Employers news release. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: Long working hours linked to depression risk
Working very long hours – 55 plus a week - is linked to a heightened risk of depression in women, a study has found. The observational study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health also found working weekends is associated with an increased risk in both sexes.
Gillian Weston and others. Long work hours, weekend working and depressive symptoms in men and women: findings from a UK population-based study, Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, published Online First, 25 February 2019. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: Balfour Beatty fined £600,000 after excavator death
Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Limited has been fined £600,000 for a criminal safety offence after a worker was killed by an excavator during construction work on the Third Don Crossing in Aberdeen. Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that between 4 January 2016 and 13 January 2016 Balfour Beatty, as principal contractor, failed to ensure that the safe system of work for refuelling of all plant and equipment was fully implemented at the site.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Evening Express. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Britain: Firms fined after paper mill death
The owner and the operator of a paper mill where a worker was run over by a lorry have each been fined £350,000. Austin Thomas was hit by a vehicle at UPM Shotton in Flintshire on 6 February 2017.
HSE news release. Daily Post. BBC News Online. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Australia: Public wants an industrial manslaughter law
A significant majority of the Australian population support the introduction of industrial manslaughter laws and an expanded role for unions in ensuring workplace safety, according to a new poll for the national union federation ACTU. Almost six out of ten (58.8 per cent) Australians want new laws which would see employers who are responsible for workplace deaths held accountable and ultimately sent to jail.
ACTU news release and related release. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Zimbabwe: Flood tragedy spurs safety call in artisanal mining
The deaths last month of 28 artisanal miners when the Cricket and Silver Moon gold mines flooded after heavy rains has spurred union calls for new safety standards. Glen Mpufane, director for mining at the global union federation IndustriALL, said such tragedies are avoidable if key stakeholders prioritise health and safety in artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) operations.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Hazards news, 23 February 2019

Britain: TUC blasts low pay and unhealthy zero hours work
The TUC has said everyone deserves some certainty about the hours they will work each week, so it is unacceptable that hundreds of thousands of workers remain trapped on zero hours contracts. Commenting on the publication this week of labour market figures showing that real wages are still 1.9 per cent lower than a decade ago and 844,000 workers are stuck on zero hours contracts, the union body said the fall of 50,000 on zero hours since last year “is just a drop in the ocean.”
TUC news release and blog. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Britain: Make bosses liable for sexual harassment at work
Employers who fail to tackle members of the public who grope and subject female staff to lewd jokes should be held to account, UNISON has said. The union wants to see the reinstatement of Section 40 of the Equality Act – a clause that ensured staff doing their jobs were safeguarded against third-party harassment.
UNISON news release. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Britain: Construction industry should guarantee worker benefits
A campaign to ensure that all workers in the construction industry are provided with death benefits has been launched by the union Unite, following a workplace fatality in Scotland. Unite is demanding all workers in the construction industry are covered by the B&CE scheme or an equivalent scheme regardless of their employment status.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. Dunfermline Press. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Britain: GMB cards Amazon on its 'brutal' working conditions
The union GMB delivered a giant Valentine’s card to the Amazon’s Rugeley warehouse on 14 February to highlight the ‘brutal’ working conditions facing the retail giant’s workers. GMB senior organiser Amanda Gearing said the workforce “didn’t get much love” from Amazon, adding: “The conditions are brutal; workers suffer convulsions, electric shocks, major traumas, get knocked unconscious and are taken away in ambulances.”
GMB news release. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Britain: BBC staff intimidation fear over far-right demo
Far-right demonstrators must not be allowed to ‘intimate’ BBC staff, media unions have said. The union alert came ahead of a planned 23 February protest by supporters of Tommy Robinson, co-founder of the English Defence League (EDF).
NUJ/BECTU statement. Prolific North and update. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Britain: Union renews calls for blacklisting justice
Workers who are victims of blacklisting deserve better protection and justice, the rail union TSSA has said. TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes renewed the union’s action call as the Blacklist Support Group said it was preparing to make public 'important new information' on a continuing problem.
TSSA news release.
The Blacklist Support Group 10th anniversary parliamentary event, Wednesday 6 March, 5pm - 7:30pm, Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Britain: Grenfell fire disaster exposes wider fire safety failings
The firefighters’ union FBU has said a TV documentary on the failings that contributed to the Grenfell tower block tragedy should throw the focus onto a wider malaise that has seen fire safety nationwide undermined. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The building owners, the local authority, the politicians, their advisers, the very people who have allowed public safety to be undermined over decades, need to be held accountable.”
FBU news release. Grenfell: Did the Fire Brigade Fail?, Channel 4 Dispatches, 18 February 2019. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Britain: Good jobs and support aid ill-health return to work
Good jobs and support from managers and colleagues, as well as a positive attitude, are most likely to enable a more long-term return to work for employees after a sickness absence, according to a new review of research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA). The review evaluated the impact of personal and social factors on sustainable return to work after ill-health due to musculoskeletal disorders, such as joint and back pain, and common mental health conditions, for example stress, depression or anxiety.
UEA news release. Abasiama Etuknwa, Kevin Daniels and Constanze Eib. Sustainable return to work: A systematic review focusing on personal and social factors, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, published First Online 15 February 2019. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Britain: Man wins fit-for-work appeal seven months after his death
The family of a man who spent the last 18 months of his life fighting a decision that he was fit to work has won his case – seven months after he died. Jeff Hayward, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, was 52 when he died of a heart attack in June last year, two weeks before he was due to go to a disability benefit appeal tribunal.
The Guardian. The Mirror. Daily Mail. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Britain: Director given suspended sentence after worker’s crush death
Alan Hurst , the managing director of vehicle repair firm AD Hurst and Son Commercial Limited, has been given a suspended jail term after an employee was crushed by a bus. Cambridge Crown Court heard how, on 4 July 2017, David Nelson was working in a vehicle inspection pit beneath a single decker bus when it fell from jacks onto the 46-year-old, killing him instantly.
HSE news release. Wisbech Standard. Cambridge Times. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Britain: Construction firms fined after worker suffers fatal fall
Specialist contractor Oliver Connell and Son Ltd and Rydon Construction Ltd have been fined after a worker fell to his death when a temporary platform collapsed. Southwark Crown Court heard how, on 24 July 2015, Vasile Nichitut was working on the fifth floor of building, when he walked onto a temporary platform covering a vertical shaft, which collapsed beneath him.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Britain: Glyphosate cancer risk confirmed in new study
A new scientific analysis of the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate herbicides, the most widely used weed killing products in the world, has found that people with high exposures have a 41 per cent increased risk of developing a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The evidence “supports a compelling link” between exposures to glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) and increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), the authors concluded.
Luoping Zhang and others. Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence, Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research, published online ahead of print 10 February 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mrrev.2019.02.001
The Guardian. The Monsanto Papers. TUC glyphosate guide. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Europe: Glyphosate scandal exposes need to regulate the regulators
The campaign to stop glyphosate reauthorisation in the European Union failed, “but it succeeded brilliantly in exposing the agrochemical industry's grip on the regulatory agencies tasked with protecting public health and the environment,” global food and farming union IUF has said. An IUF briefing notes: “A window has been opened; the pesticide lobby will be working intensely to slam it shut.”
IUF news release. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Europe: Detecting work-related diseases using ‘sentinel’ events
A report from the European Agency for Safety and Health at work (EU-OSHA) has found systems used in European countries for the early detection of work-related diseases still leave many cases unacknowledged and uncounted. The report examines the effectiveness of 12 national schemes implemented operating in European countries and the United States, all of which help to spotlight health problems caused by bad working conditions and insufficient prevention measures.
EU-OSHA's web page on alert and sentinel systems and final report and summary ‘Alert and sentinel approaches for the identification of work-related diseases in the EU’. ETUI review. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

USA: Farming tasks increase rheumatoid arthritis risks
It has long been known that the hard labour common to many jobs in agriculture leads to osteoarthritis –pain and mobility problems caused by wear and tear in the body’s joints. Now a new study has found it also causes rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease.
Christine G Parks and others. Farming tasks and the development of rheumatoid arthritis in the agricultural health study, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published Online First 13 February 2019. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2018-105361 Risks 886. 23 February 2019

USA: Car wash study shows workers untrained and at risk
A new study has exposed the exploitation of migrant workers in New York City’s car wash industry. The authors note: “Car washes are urban assembly lines that employ toxic chemicals handled by untrained and unprotected immigrant workers who perform highly repetitive movements to produce clean vehicles.”
The Pump Handle blog. Brittany Dickens and others. Occupational health of New York City car wash workers, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 61, number 2, e77-e79, February 2019. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001520. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Hazards news, 16 February 2019

Britain: Ban ‘health risk’ zero hours contracts, says TUC
Zero hours workers are more than twice as likely to work ‘health risk’ night shifts as other workers, according to new analysis published by the TUC. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) regularly work through the night, compared to 1 in 10 of the rest of the workforce.
TUC news release and zero hours analysis. TUC health and safety blog. BBC News Online. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Bad jobs equal bad mental health for shopworkers
An Usdaw survey of over 10,000 workers has laid bare the issues shopworkers are facing as a result of low pay, short hours and zero hours contracts and insecure work. Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) said that financial worries were having an impact on their mental health.
Usdaw news release, mental health campaign and Time for Better Pay campaign. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Radical change call to fix Amnesty’s ‘toxic’ workplace
Unite has called for a radical change in the senior leadership at Amnesty International following a damning report into the health and wellbeing of the workforce. The report by the KonTerra Group was commissioned following the suicides last year of staff members Gaetan Mootoo and Rosalind McGregor.
Unite news release and statement. Amnesty International news release. KonTerra (Wellbeing) Report and Amnesty International response. Morning Star.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist, Hazards, 2018.
More on work-related suicide. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Pollution is a workplace health issue for unions
A newly launched Trade Union Clean Air Network (TUCAN) says preventing environmental pollution is a workplace health and safety issue, with many workers facing high exposures ‘all in a day’s work’. In a bid to address the problem, TUCAN’s founding partners - the Greener Jobs Alliance, Hazards Campaign, University and College Union (UCU) and the National Education Union (NEU) - are promoting a Trade Union Clean Air Network Charter.
Trade Union Clean Air Network (TUCAN) Charter. Greener Jobs Alliance news release.
Diesel exhaust in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, October 2018. Fuming feature, Diesel out prevention factsheet and Die diesel die pin-up-at-work poster. Hazards 144, October-December 2018. 16 February 2019

Britain: Universal Credit workers irked by unmanageable workloads
Up to 700 Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union members working in Universal Credit in the West Midlands are voting on whether to take industrial action over high workloads and too few staff. The union says the ‘unprecedented’ decision to ballot staff in Universal Credit could mean strikes or action short of strikes takes place next month.
PCS news release. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Unite exposes cleaning crisis in Edinburgh schools
Cleaners in Edinburgh schools are facing threats to their health and safety as a direct result of council cutbacks, the union Unite has revealed. Unite says its ‘Fight for 5’ campaign to improve cleaning standards has uncovered practices that compromise health and safety due to a lack of school cleaners and cleaning materials.
Unite news release. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Record numbers rescued but firefighters hurt by more cuts
Firefighters have rescued record numbers of people this year, according to data obtained by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). Figures show an increased public need for rescue services, prompting the union’s call for the government to properly fund firefighters’ greatly expanded fire and rescue role.
FBU news release. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Ferry staff in ‘Groundhog Day’ safety dispute
Workers operating the Woolwich Ferry used by an estimated 2.6 million passengers a year are to ballot for strike action in a dispute over pay, health and safety and a lack of staffing. The 31 Unite members employed by Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd say the dispute stems from the company’s failure to grant a six per cent pay increase for the year starting January 2019, the imposition of new duties, failure to deal with safety concerns, and inadequate staffing to operate the service.
Unite news release. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: RMT calls for inquiry into offshore copter safety
Offshore union RMT has repeated its call for an independent public inquiry into the safety of offshore helicopter transport in the North Sea. The union says 33 offshore workers and crew died and 65 were rescued as a result of helicopter accidents across the North Sea in the decade from February 2009.
RMT news release. Westminster Hall debate on helicopter safety, Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Minister promises consultation on harassment gags
A government minister has promised to launch a consultation into limiting the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) against employees after the emergence of further allegations of sexual, racial and physical abuse by retail billionaire Sir Philip Green. Penny Mordaunt, the minister for women and equalities, responded to reports in the Sunday Telegraph that Green had slapped a senior female executive on the bottom and kissed her on the face, after which she was allegedly paid more than £1m to stay silent about the incidents.
The Telegraph. Personnel Today. The Guardian. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Working from home can be a fire risk, warn firefighters
More than a million and a half people now regularly work from home, prompting a London Fire Brigade (LFB) warning this could lead to more fires as people look for cheaper ways of heating their homes. It says last year there were around four fires every week in London involving electric heaters, candles and open fires, many of which could have been avoided.
LFB news release. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Firms fined after worker killed during lifting operation
Two companies have been fined following the death of a worker after just a week on the job. Preston Crown Court heard how, on 12 March 2012, metal fabricator Andrew Bowes died while working at the Larkin Eng Services Ltd premises in Barrow in Furness. The firm had contracted Cumbria Design Scaffold Ltd to collect two large metal walkways and deliver them to a customer using a flatbed lorry fitted with a mounted crane.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Director gets community service after worker killed
The director of a London roofing company has been given community service in a criminal health and safety prosecution following the death of an employee. HSE said Ray Strank Roofing Limited’s failings were due to the neglect of Ray Strank, the sole director, who was sentenced to 200 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £5,500.
HSE news release. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Global: 28 April ‘dangerous substances’ campaign theme confirmed
Global union confederation ITUC has confirmed the theme for International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April 2019. ‘Taking control - removing dangerous substances from the workplace’ will be this year’s focus for what has become the world’s largest annual health and safety event.
International: ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2019 events and resources webpage and cancerhazards blog.
UK: TUC 2019 Workers’ Memorial Day events page and asbestos, diesel exhaust, and workplace cancers guides.  Send details of your 28 April 2019 events to the TUC health and safety department, email: healthandsafety@tuc.org.uk Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Australia: Work sexism damages women's mental health
Sex discrimination in the workplace has a damaging impact on women’s health, a study has found. The research, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, investigated the associations between workplace sexism, sense of belonging at work, mental health, and job satisfaction for women in male-dominated industries.
Mark Rubin and others. A confirmatory study of the relations between workplace sexism, sense of belonging, mental health, and job satisfaction among women in male‐dominated industries, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, February 2019. Related project website, including full text of the article. EurekAlert. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Brazil: Unions mobilise for victims of dam disaster
Unions are stepping in to support the victims and bereaved families of last month’s Brazilian mine disaster, thought to have claimed over 300 lives. Global union federations BWI and IndustriALL are also calling wide-ranging safety improvements.
BWI news release. IndustriALL news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Canada: Receipts expose retail workers to cancer chemical
Retail workers are being exposed to “worrying” levels of BPA and BPS - hormone disrupting industrial chemicals that have been linked to diabetes, obesity, ADHD and breast and prostate cancers - by simply handling thermal paper receipts, a study by Environmental Defence Canada (EDC) has found. “These slips of paper are covertly exposing cashiers to worrying levels of hormone disrupting BPA and BPS every day,” Muhannad Malas, toxics programme manager at EDC, said in the study.
EDC news release. CTV News. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

USA: Plane mechanics feel pressured to overlook problems
Airline mechanics in the US have revealed they feel pressured by management to look the other way when they see potential safety problems on airplanes. An eight-month-long CBS News investigation found several FAA whistleblower complaints have identified inappropriate pressure and retaliation since 2015 – and there have been at least 32 other anonymous industry-wide reports between 2015 to 2018.
CBS News. Work Week Radio. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Hazards news, 9 February 2019

Britain: Worker who spoke out about harassment vindicated
A Prospect member criticised and reduced to tears by a senior manager after going public about sexual harassment in a previous job has won a victimisation tribunal with the union’s support. An email from a senior manager criticised Lizzie Walmsley for lack of judgment in trusting journalists, the potential exposure of the Big Lottery Fund and breaches of Big Lottery Fund’s ethics and social media policies and at a follow up meeting with the same manager she was reduced to tears.
Prospect news release. The Third Sector. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Entertainment unions challenge bad practices
Entertainment unions have challenged the industry to ‘change the culture’ and tackle harassment in the creative sector, with many workers saying they fear speaking out. A conference organised by the Federation of Entertainment Union’s (FEU), as part of its Creating without Conflict campaign against bullying, harassment and discrimination in the media and creative industries, featured the launch of a new FEU equalities e-course and updated guidance.
NUJ news release and full FEU conference report. BECTU news release. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Reality gap at BT on mental health support
Frustrated CWU union reps have raised disturbing examples of how workers with mental health problems are continuing to be failed by unsympathetic managers and inflexible processes in BT and Openreach. The union says that despite general agreement that BT’s group-level policies and online advice for those undergoing mental health crises are industry-leading, speaker after speaker at a special CWU branch forum cited ‘troubling examples of how fine words are all too often not being put into practice’ – with sometimes devastating consequences for those affected.
CWU news release. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Firefighters want protection from deadly work diseases
Fire service employers are falling short on their responsibility to protect firefighters from exposure to carcinogens, mutagens and reprotoxins (CMRs), the firefighters’ union FBU has warned. The union says there are stark differences in the range of cancers recognised as occupational diseases in different countries, with the UK trailing many other nations
FBU news release.
TUC occupational cancer guide. Work cancer hazards blog. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Manchester teams up with Unite on site standards
Another of the UK’s major city councils has pledged to work with Unite to stand up for the construction workers and outlaw poor practices on building projects under its control. Manchester city council is the latest local authority to sign up to Unite’s construction charter.
Unite news release. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Buy it Direct ‘denying drivers toilet dignity’
Transport union Unite has ‘named and shamed’ online retailer Buy it Direct for denying drivers ‘toilet dignity’ and for flouting welfare regulations. Unite members undertaking deliveries to Buy it Direct’s warehouse in Elland, Leeds, report being denied the use of the warehouse’s standard toilets and instead having to use a portaloo, with no washing facilities.
Unite news release and Toilet dignity campaign. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Supermarket thefts put shopworkers at risk
The government must act to protect shopworkers in the face of a sharp increase in thefts from supermarkets, retail union Usdaw has said. The union was speaking out after Press Association statistics obtained from police forces in England and Wales revealed a 7 per cent increase in thefts from supermarkets over the last four years.
Usdaw news release and news release on the Offensive Weapons Bill’s progress. Offensive Weapons Bill Grand Committee (1st Day) - 28 January 2019.
BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Hermes and GMB in ‘groundbreaking’ gig economy deal
Self-employed couriers working for Hermes can now opt to have key employment rights including paid holidays and union representation following a ‘groundbreaking’ deal between the company and the union GMB. The union says the collective bargaining agreement is the ‘first ever’ recognition deal of its type and is designed to support the rights of self-employed people providing courier services to Hermes.
GMB news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Personnel Today. i News. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Sports Direct worker ‘gave birth in toilet’ at work
A Sports Direct worker gave birth in a warehouse toilet ‘because she was afraid of missing her shift’, a witness has claimed. The story first came to light in 2016 in union reports to MPs that claimed Sports Direct employees worked in ‘gulag’ conditions in the company's warehouses, and which the company then disputed.
Daily Mail. The Mirror Online. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Global: 'Stable crewing' makes ships safer
Back-to-back rotations for seafarers where they return to the same ship will help to improve safety and efficiency and the well-being of crews, seafarers’ union Nautilus has said. Speaking at an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) conference to discuss the results of a major research project investigating the effectiveness of stable crewing policies for senior officers, Nautilus professional and technical officer David Appleton welcomed the results of the study.
Nautilus news release. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Appeal for information after attack on Tube driver
Witnesses have been urged to come forward after a Tube driver was assaulted on London’s Jubilee line. The British Transport Police BTP) has released pictures and CCTV footage of the 29 January incident, where the Tube driver was attacked with a bottle on board on a train at Kilburn station.
BTP news release. ASLEF news release. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Concern at record levels of assaults on prison staff
The prison union Community is calling on the government to end ‘the cycle of violence’ in prisons. The comments from the union, which represents workers in the privatised justice and custodial sector, came in the wake of the latest Ministry of Justice ‘Safety in Custody’ report which revealed there were 10,085 assaults on prison staff in the twelve months to September 2018, a 29 per cent increase on the previous twelve months.
MoJ Safety in Custody quarterly update, published 31 January 2019. Community news release. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Unite welcomes plan to regulate electricians in Scotland
Construction union Unite is strongly backing a proposal that would make the term ‘electrician’ a protected title in Scotland. It says if the Scottish government grants protected title status it would be an offence for anyone who was not qualified to claim to be an electrician.
Unite news release. Scottish government Call for Evidence on the Regulation of Electricians, closes on 15 February. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Firm fined after dumper truck death on site
A construction company has been fined £600,000 after admitting its role in the horrific death of a father-of-four on an Edinburgh building site. Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard Vince Ramsay, an agency labourer on the student flats project, suffered massive injuries when he was crushed by a dumper truck in December 2016.
HSE news release. Edinburgh Evening News. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Global:  28 April theme this year is ‘dangerous substances’
The global union confederation ITUC has confirmed the 2019 theme for International Workers’ Memorial Day, held on 28 April each year, will be: “Dangerous substances – get them out of the workplace”. The focus will be mainly on carcinogens but unions can adapt the theme to whatever is most relevant in a particular workplace or area, as many substances can also cause illnesses such as asthma or dermatitis. When it comes to cancer risks caused by substances at work, asbestos and diesel exhaust are high profile issues for many workers at the moment – and the TUC has prepared detailed guides to help reps negotiate improvements. The TUC has created a dedicated 2019 Workers’ Memorial Day webpage, which will list all events being held on the day.
TUC 2019 Workers’ Memorial Day events page and asbestos, diesel exhaust, and workplace cancers guides. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2019 events and resources webpage and cancerhazards blog.
Send details of your 28 April 2019 events to the TUC health and safety department, email: healthandsafety@tuc.org.uk. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Australia: Deadly mining wants to escape manslaughter rap
Australia’s mining industry, which is enmeshed in scandals about work-related suicides and the reemergence of deadly black lung disease, has expressed alarm at the prospect of a new workplace manslaughter law under discussion in the state of Victoria. The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has told the Victorian government that new workplace safety laws should not leave top managers facing the threat of jail.
Victorian government news release. MCA news release. Mining Technology. Mining Weekly. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Korea: Samsung researcher, 31, dies of leukaemia
A young researcher has died of leukaemia only three years after he began work at Samsung SDI Co Ltd, the conglomerate’s electronic materials unit. The otherwise healthy 31-year-old researcher, identified only by his surname Hwang, died on 29 January, about 13 months after his diagnosis.
SHARPS news report. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Korea: Campaign highlights ‘the outsourcing of death’
A few days before his death, Kim Yong-kyun joined a “selfie campaign,” posting on social media a photo of himself holding a sign reading: “Mr President, please meet with temporary workers to repeal unfair labour laws, to punish illegal outsourcers, and to replace temporary jobs with regular ones.” The 24-year-old temporary worker was killed on 11 December 2018 at a thermal power plant in Taean, South Korea, after being sucked into a coal conveyor belt that decapitated him.
KCTU/Korean Public Service and Transport Workers' Union news release. Labor Notes. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Hazards news, 2 February 2019

Britain: RMT calls for an end to staff cuts as rail attacks soar
Rail union RMT has called for a halt to staffing cuts on stations and platforms, including the removal of guards, as new British Transport Police (BTP) figures showed knife crime on Britain’s railways has more than tripled in the past four years. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Staff are the eyes and ears of the service, axing them in the drive towards an automated and faceless railway in the name of profit gives a green light to the thugs and criminals and it is grossly and dangerously irresponsible.”
RMT news release. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Shop crimewave spurs union call for worker protection
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has called for government action to protect retail staff after new Office for National Statistics figures revealed a 30 per cent increase in police recorded incidents of shoplifting in England and Wales over the last decade. Paddy Lillis, the union’s general secretary said: “We want to see retailers, police and the courts working in partnership to ensure better protection for shopworkers. Retail staff are an important part of our communities; their role must be valued, respected and protected.”
Usdaw news release. Police recorded crimes in England and Wales, released 24 January 2019. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Health service understaffing is unhealthy
Almost half of NHS workers on the front line of patient care say there are not enough staff on their shift to ensure patients are treated safely, with the health of staff also suffering as a result, a new survey by UNISON has found. The union says its study illustrates the effect of chronic understaffing in the health service, with unfilled posts and uncertainty about the future status of many workers having an impact on patients.
UNISON news release. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Protective action needed on asbestos in schools
A ‘proactive’ approach is needed to protect pupils and staff from asbestos in schools, teaching union NASUWT has said. The union was commenting on the £100,000 fine handed in January to principal contractor Ashe Construction Limited after subcontractors were exposed to asbestos while refurbishing Oakwood Junior School in Derby.
NASUWT news release. HSE news release. Derby Telegraph. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Community calls for rethink on mental health at work
The union Community has called for an urgent rethink on mental health at work that recognises the ‘critical role’ of trade unions. The union was speaking out as the Changing Work Centre, a joint research initiative of Community and the Fabian Society, launched a new ‘Minds at Work: making mental health a priority in the changing world of work’ report.
Community news release and Minds at Work report, January 2019.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Firefighters overturn cuts to services in Merseyside
The FBU has won its fight to maintain night time cover at two fire stations, and has increased the number of fire engines in the region. The union says its stunning locally run campaign opposed cuts proposed by the fire authority and secured widespread political and public support.
FBU news release. Morning Star. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Bullying row escalates after union rep’s dismissal
Hundreds of Hackney council workers could take industrial action after a union rep at the centre of a bullying row lost an appeal over her sacking. Unite has accused the council of bringing spurious counter-allegations against shop steward Natasha Johnson – such as “chasing up emails too quickly” and making managers feel harassed by accusing them of harassment.
Hackney Gazette. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Ex-ministers ‘culpable’ for Grenfell deaths
A ‘string’ of government ministers sat on safety reports that could have prevented the Grenfell disaster, a Labour MP has charged. Steve Reed told the Commons that had the ministers been employees of a private company they would “potentially be in the dock for corporate manslaughter”.
24 Housing. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Chronic stress 40 per cent higher in working mums
Biological markers for chronic stress are 40 per cent higher in women bringing up two children while working full-time, new research has found. Working from home and flexitime have no effect on their level of chronic stress – only putting in fewer hours at work helps, according to the study published in the British Sociological Association journal Sociology.
Essex University ISER news release. The Independent. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Sick worker killed himself after voicemail from work
An inquest has heard how a stressed bank administrator who died on the tracks at Stourbridge Junction ‘crumbled’ when he received a text and voicemail from work while signed off sick. HSBC employee Matthew Lyndon was hit by a train as it was leaving the railway station on the morning of 16 January, Black Country Coroner’s Court was told.
Stourbridge News.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist, Hazards, 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Construction company fined after fatal fall
A London-based construction company has been fined £300,0000 for criminal safety breaches after a worker was killed in a fall. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 4 November 2015, Formation Construction Limited employee Adrian Nicolae Persu was using a concrete breaker at a site in Acton, London when he fell 7.5 metres, sustaining fatal head injuries.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Serial offender Veolia convicted over worker death
A refuse collection company has been convicted of a criminal safety offence and fined £1m after a worker was run over and killed. Canterbury Crown Court heard how, on 18 October 2013, Veolia ES (UK) Limited employee John Head suffered fatal injuries when he was run over by a reversing refuse collection vehicle (RCV) as he was walking across the Ross Depot Waste Transfer Station yard in Folkestone.
HSE news release. Kent Live. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Joiner crushed to death by caravan
A joiner received fatal crush injuries while changing a tyre on a four-tonne caravan, a court has heard. Christopher Richards died from injuries sustained when the caravan collapsed on top of him at Blackhills Caravan Sales in Swansea in 2014. The firm pleaded guilty to criminal safety breaches and was fined £120,000 and £14,000 in costs at Swansea Crown Court.
Wales Online. BBC News Online. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Australia: Court backs union on airport split shifts
Airport workers in Australia are celebrating a legal victory after the federal court ruled they can't be forced to work split shifts. Justice Darryl Rangiah said airport services company Aerocare, now called Swissport Australia, can't require employees to work split shifts.
Sydney Morning Herald. The Age. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Brazil: Mining giant Vale faces dam deaths anger
Senior Brazilian politicians have called for mining giant Vale SA to be held to account for a 25 January dam collapse in which over 300 people are now believed to have died. Brazil's vice-president Hamilton Mourão said those to blame for the collapse of the mine tailings dam which devastated the town of Brumadinho should be punished, and a top prosecutor said executives could be held personally responsible.
Vale news release. ILO news release. BBC News Online. ABC News. Financial Times. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Europe: Commission slammed over EDC inaction
The European Commission has come under fire from MEPs who accuse it of continuing to drag its feet over action on regulating endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCS). Speaking at a meeting of the European Parliament's environment committee (Envi) on 22 January, DG Sante’s director for food and feed safety and innovation Sabine Juelicher presented the EU executive’s long delayed strategy for EDCs, involving minimising exposures, more research and an annual forum for ‘active dialogue’ with stakeholders.
ENDS Europe. Chemical Watch. HEAL letter to MEPs. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Global: Landmark agreement on hotel harassment
IUF, the global union for the hospitality sector, has signed a landmark agreement with Meliá Hotels International on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. The union federation says it is the first between the IUF and an international hotel chain.
IUF news release. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Hazards news, 26 January 2019

Britain: Official review of HSE echoes union criticisms
A review of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted for its host ministry, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), has called on the safety regulator to up its game, echoing concerns raised by the TUC, trades unions and safety campaigns. The ‘tailored review’ criticised HSE’s failed commercialisation project for putting money first and its failure to operate an evidence-based inspection policy, instead abandoning most preventive inspections to fit in with the government’ deregulation push.
TUC blog. Health and Safety Executive: tailored review, DWP, November 2018, first published online 19 December 2018. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Britain: Liverpool signs up to UNISON’s end violence charter
Liverpool has become the first council in the country to make UNISON’s ‘End violence at work charter’ part of its commissioning process for third-sector care and housing providers. “Taking this step will help reduce the number of violent incidents staff are subjected to and will show all service providers we deal with that violence against staff is not something to be swept under the carpet,” UNISON’s Gavin Edwards told councillors.
UNISON news release. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Britain: Tube staff cuts linked to violent crime surge
Tube union RMT has called for a reversal of job cuts and a renewed focus on safety, after ‘shocking’ official figures revealed a sharp rise in violent crime on the network.  RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT will be stepping up the fight to halt and reverse the cuts.”
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Britain: Shopworker abuse moves welcome, but not enough
Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has welcomed as a step in the right direction a Home Office minister’s offer of limited measures to address violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers, but has expressed dismay after another minister later said the government did not accept the union’s case for changes to the Offensive Weapons Bill to protect workers.
Usdaw news releases on the minister’s letter and the Lords debate. House of Lords debate on shopworker protection, 23 January 2019. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Britain: Road safety worry as lorry inspections plummet
Huge cuts in independent roadside inspections of lorries could be leaving all road users at greater danger, the transport union Unite has warned. The union alert came after a series of freedom of information requests it submitted revealed the number of road side inspections or checks involving heavy goods vehicles (HGV) by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has fallen by 37 per cent in eight years, from 234,296 in 2010/11 to 147,533 in 2017/18, despite an increase in lorry journeys.
Unite news release. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Britain: FBU says report exposes Grenfell ‘complacency’
A new report has exposed the “complacent attitude towards resident safety shown by the council, the Westminster government, and the businesses involved in Grenfell,” FBU general secretary Matt Wrack has said. The firefighters’ union leader was commenting on an Inside Housing report that found no fire safety report was commissioned for the final Grenfell cladding refurbishment plans.
FBU news release. Inside Housing. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Britain: Family compensated after fitter’s asbestos death
The family of a former fitter who died of an asbestos-related cancer has been compensated with the help of his union, Unite. Unite regional secretary Karen Reay said: “Almost half a century of negligence by our member’s employer left him suffering from this disease.”
Unite news release. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Britain: ‘Name and shame’ school asbestos failures, say MPs
Nearly a quarter of schools in England (23 per cent) have not told the government how much asbestos they have in their buildings and how they are managing the risks, a committee of MPs has revealed. Schools were asked to provide details to the government by 31 May 2018.  The House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee concludes: “In March 2019, the department should name and shame those schools which did not meet the February 2019 deadline and which have therefore repeatedly failed to respond to its asbestos-management survey.”
Public Accounts Committee. JUAC news release.  NEU news release. TES. BBC News Online. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Global: UK high street garment maker abused workers
A Bangladeshi factory that produces Stanley/Stella clothes for Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Mothercare was forced to compensate an “outspoken” female worker after she was beaten up on the orders of management and threatened with being murdered. A report from the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), whose membership is comprised of garment companies, follows revelations by the Guardian that workers at another factory used by Stanley/Stella, making Spice Girls T-shirts designed to raise money for Comic Relief’s “gender justice” campaign, were paid just 35p an hour.
The Guardian. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Britain: DWP acted 'perversely' in sacking disabled worker
A disabled woman was discriminated against when she was unfairly dismissed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), according to an employment tribunal ruling. Isabella Valentine, who suffers from severe and frequent migraines, was dismissed less than two months into a 12-month programme specifically created to help into work the long-term unemployed and others groups struggling to find employment.
Tribunal ruling. People Management. The Guardian. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Britain: Employers urged to act on welding cancer risks
Safety professionals’ organisation IOSH is urging employers to ensure workers are protected from cancer-causing welding fumes as new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) control standards takes effect. The revised standards were introduced in response to an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification of welding fumes and UV radiation from welding as top rated Group 1 causes of cancer in humans.
IOSH news release. Welding, Molybdenum Trioxide, and Indium Tin Oxide, IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 118. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Britain: Soldier sues Army over Q fever chronic fatigue
A former soldier is suing the Ministry of Defence after contracting Q fever in Afghanistan. Wayne Bass claims his life has been ruined by the Army's failure to provide antibiotics which would have protected him from the disease.
Hilary Meredith news release. BBC News Online.
UK prescribed occupational diseases list. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Britain: Union webinar on banning zero hours contracts
The TUC says zero hour contracts are a licence to treat people like disposable labour. As part of the TUC’s HeartUnions week, TUC Education is hosting a webinar with Better Than Zero to find out how they have been organising against precarious work in the hospitality and service sectors in Scotland.
Register for the TUC Education Zero hours webinar, 2:00pm, 13 February 2019. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Global: Future work report recognises ‘fundamental’ safety
A ‘universal labour guarantee’ including a recognition of workplace health and safety as a ‘fundamental’ human right is a central recommendation of a new report by the International Labour Organisation’s Global Commission on the Future of Work. Luc Cortebeeck, one of the three workers’ representatives on the Commission, commented: “The employment relationship remains the centrepiece of labour protection and the Commission recommends the establishment of a Universal Labour Guarantee, with freedom of association, collective bargaining, freedom from forced labour, child labour and discrimination, and very importantly: adequate living wage, limits on hours of work and safe and healthy workplaces.”
ILO news release. WHO news release.
Work for a brighter future, Global Commission on the Future of Work, January 2019. Executive summary and full report. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Global: BS programmes ‘undermine’ safety and solidarity
Global food and farming union federation IUF has issued a serious health warning about behavioural safety (BS) programmes at work, saying they ‘undermine’ workplace safety and solidarity. The union body adds: “Behaviour-based safety programmes, which are now the guiding method used by many companies, shift employer responsibility for maintaining a safe workplace onto workers by focusing on workers’ ‘behaviour’ rather than the workplace hazards which are the source of workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities.”
IUF news release. Policy paper and summary, developed by the IUF Food Processing Division. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Europe: Industry grossly over-estimated REACH costs
Industry estimates of the cost of the European Union-wide REACH chemical registration regulations were massively inflated, the chemical safety group ChemSec has revealed.  According to ChemSec, the total costs for registration under REACH turned out to be €3 billion, close to the European Commission figure and more than six times lower than CEFIC’s most conservative calculation.
ChemSec news report. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Thailand: Persecution of union leaders ‘shames’ country
A high-level delegation from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) to Bangkok has condemned the treatment of a group of workers from the State Rail Union of Thailand (SRUT) who have been persecuted for raising safety concerns. SRUT president Sawit Kaewvarn said: “We will not back down because we know we have not done anything wrong, and I am sure that this mission from the ITF will help us to finally win justice.”
ITF news release. Risks 882. 26 January 2018

Hazards news, 19 January 2019

Britain: TUC warning on the dangers of disciplinary action
Most union representatives can vouch that when a member is subjected to disciplinary action it can be a very traumatic event. The TUC says sometimes the disciplinary process can take months before a decision is made, leaving the worker ‘in limbo’ and under prolonged stress – and is advising what union reps should do in response.
TUC safety facebook page and work and suicide guide. More on work-related suicide.
New: Hazards Campaign workplace stress and mental health resources. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Union porters win protection from clinical waste
A union has welcomed moves by health chiefs to introduce measures to protect porters at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness who are dealing with clinical waste – including extra staff. GMB Scotland had threatened strike action after reporting four of 14 workers had recently suffered needlestick injuries working with the specialist waste.
Press and Journal. BBC News Online. Daily Record. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: More backing for Unite’s ‘period dignity’ campaign
A Unite campaign for ‘period dignity’ launched in the summer of 2018 has had another success. The Glasgow University Campus development which is being built by Multiplex has become the latest – and the first construction firm - to sign up to the union’s four-point plan.
Unite period dignity campaign page. Construction Enquirer. Project Scotland magazine. Risks 881. 19 January 2019.

Britain: Edinburgh rail contract staff set to strike
Cleaning and maintenance workers at Scotland’s biggest railway station are set to strike later this month over “scandalous” working conditions. Their union RMT said contractor ISS had reneged on promises to improve staff accommodation facilities and install air conditioning at Edinburgh’s Waverley station.
RMT news release. Morning Star. The Herald. STV News. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Lords back protection for shopworkers
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has welcomed cross-party support for the protection of shopworkers during the second reading of the Offensive Weapons Bill in the House of Lords. Usdaw is calling on the government to provide greater protection for the shopworkers who will enforce the new law at the point of sale of knives and corrosive chemicals, a call backed by peers on 7 January.
Usdaw news release. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: ASLEF condemns ‘irresponsible’ Bird Box challenge
An incident where a man was filmed walking down a railway track blindfold has been condemned by the rail union ASLEF, which has warned dangerous stunts of this kind could put both workers and the public at risk. Mick Whelan, general secretary of the train drivers’ union, was speaking out after footage was posted online of the young man walking along a railway line while wearing a blindfold in a ‘challenge’ inspired by the Netflix film Bird Box.
ASLEF news release. The Mirror. The Guardian and related article. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Prison officer seriously hurt in boiling sugar water attack
Kent prison officer James Grant, who suffered burns and psychological trauma after a prisoner threw boiling sugar water at his face has secured £7,000 compensation with the help of his union POA. The mixture of boiling water and sugar, often referred to by prisoners as ‘napalm’, sticks to the skin and intensifies the burn.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Kent Online. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Union law firms wants employers ‘under the COSHH’
A trade union law firm wants employers to take hazardous substances seriously at work - and is giving employees a toolkit to help make sure that happens. Thompsons Solicitors says most organisations today use or create substances, but thousands of workers die each year as a result of exposures to these substances at work.
Thompsons Solicitors news release and Under the COSHH toolkit.
You can share images on twitter showing how your employer is providing a safe place of work using the hashtag #UnderTheCOSHH. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: New manifesto for a ‘safety system fit for workers’
The national Hazards Campaign says three factors could make the country’s workplaces safer and healthier at a stroke - strong laws, strict enforcement and a workplace safety push by strong, active trade unions. Launching a new ‘manifesto’ for health and safety, the campaign’s Janet Newsham said: “The right framework of strong laws, strict enforcement and support for active worker and union participation will have massive payback for workers, employers and whole economy.”
Hazards Campaign news release. Manifesto webpage and full document, Manifesto for a health and safety system fit for workers: Decent jobs and decent lives, January 2019. EHN Online. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Peed off call centre staff slam toilet break limit
Workers at a Scottish call centre are refusing to sign a new contract that limits toilet breaks to as little as two minutes a day. CWU members at the Virgin Media site in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, have been told their “personal time” should take up no more than one per cent of their shift.
Daily Record. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Calls to ban low-level letterboxes
Low-level letterboxes should be banned to prevent postal workers straining their backs or being bitten by dogs, a Conservative MP has said. Proposing new legislation, Vicky Ford called for all new letterboxes to be installed at a height of between 70cm and 170cm.
BBC News Online. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Global: Protective gear not protective for pesticide workers
Studies of pesticide use in horticultural workers have found they can be exposed to the chemicals by both skin contact and ingestion despite wearing protective gear, with colleagues and the public also at risk. A study published online in January in the journal Annals of Work Exposures and Health and conducted by NUI Galway in Ireland, the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) and the Health and Safety Executive, looked at exposures to glyphosate, a herbicide used to control the growth of weeds and invasive plant species such as Japanese knotweed.
Alison Connolly and others. Evaluating glyphosate exposure routes and their contribution to total body burden: A study among amenity horticulturalists, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, wxy104, published online 4 January 2019.
Also see: Alison Connolly and others. Exploring the half-life of glyphosate in human urine samples International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, published ahead of print, October 2018. Personnel Today. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Europe: Glyphosate reprieve based on ‘plagiarised’ report
European regulators based a decision to relicense the controversial weedkiller glyphosate on an assessment large sections of which were lifted directly from industry documents, according to a report for the European parliament. A crossparty group of MEPs commissioned an investigation into claims that Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) copy-and-pasted tracts from studies by the pesticide manufacturer Monsanto.
Stefan Weber and Helmut Burtscher-Schaden. Detailed Expert Report on Plagiarism and superordinated Copy Paste in the Renewal Assessment Report (RAR) on Glyphosate, 2019.
Socialists and Democrats of the European Parliament news release and related video report. BfR statement.
Charles M Benbrook. How did the US EPA and IARC reach diametrically opposed conclusions on the genotoxicity of glyphosate-based herbicides?, Environmental Sciences Europe, volume 31, number 2, 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12302-018-0184-7 The Guardian. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Canada: Job-related deaths ‘dramatically’ under-reported
Close to 1,000 Canadians die each year because of their jobs, according to official numbers from Canada's workers' compensation agencies. But a new study says that figure ‘dramatically underestimates’ the true extent of work-related deaths across the country.
Steven Bittle, Ashley Chen and Jasmine Hébert. Work-related deaths in Canada, Labour/Le Travail, volume 82, pages 159-187, Fall 2018. CBC News. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

China: Over 20 dead after coal mine roof collapses
At least 21 miners have been killed after a roof collapsed at a coal mine in northern China. Sixty-six other workers were rescued after the incident on 12 January at the Lijiagou mine near the city of Shenmu in Shaanxi province.
The Independent. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

USA: Nappy-wearing protesters win bathroom breaks
When campaigners showed up outside a Texas poultry plant in October 2018 their attire, at least for mo Risks 881. 19 January 2019st adults, was unusual. The group protesting outside the Sanderson Farms poultry processing plant in Bryan were all wearing adult diapers [nappies] over their trousers – and the  tactic to force the plant to introduce improvements worked.
The Pump Handle blog. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Hazards news, 12 January 2018

Britain: New ISO stress guide ‘is the last thing we need’
The new draft guide on stress being prepared by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is worrying and ‘total nonsense’, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on ISO’s proposed guidelines on ‘Psychological health and safety in the workplace’.
TUC blog. HSE Stress Management Standards.
TUC stress webpages. Hugh Robertson, Tough luck: Resilience - a case of pointing the finger and missing the point, Hazards, 2013. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Poor gig worker plans won’t shift the balance of power
The government’s Good Work Plan “won’t shift the balance of power in the gig economy” and let platform companies “off the hook”, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting after the government announced the plan on 17 December 2018.
Department for Business news release and the government Good Work Plan. TUC news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Court of Appeal victory for GMB on Uber driver rights
In a major victory for the union GMB, the Court of Appeal has ruled that tens of thousands of drivers working for cab firm Uber are employees entitled to the minimum wage, holiday pay, sick pay and other employment rights. The December 2018 decision was Uber’s third court defeat in a case launched by the general union GMB more than two years ago.
GMB news release. Morning Star. The Guardian. BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Action call after sharp rise in ‘hidden’ lorry driver deaths
Transport union Unite has called for urgent changes to how the deaths of workers and members of the public killed and injured in road accidents involving lorries are recorded, after research found a 50 per cent increase in lorry driver deaths. Following a freedom of information request the union, which represents thousands of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers, discovered that the number of lorry drivers killed in road accidents increased by 50 per cent in 12 months, from 14 in 2016 to 21 in 2017.
Unite news release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Call for action over the London bus ‘killing machine’
The union GMB has called for ‘decisive action’ to address chilling new evidence of the devastating toll of serious injuries involving London buses. The union says eight people were killed and 719 very seriously injured in incidents involving the capital’s fleet of buses in the 12 months from July 2017 to June 2018.
GMB news release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Incidents up, firefighter numbers down
Firefighters are expected to do more with less, putting public safety at risk, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The need for firefighters in all their roles is increasing, and yet year on year we are seeing appalling cuts to the service. Fire and rescue services in England are expected to do more with less, putting public safety at risk.”
FBU news release. Morning Star. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Workload leaves teachers stress out
Over 75 per cent of Scotland's teachers frequently feel stressed as a result of their workload, the union EIS has said. It says the ‘shock finding’ comes from an EIS survey of 12,000 teachers.
EIS news release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: ‘Disappointing’ government response on sexual harassment
The government’s plan to tackle sexual harassment at work falls way short by not creating a legal duty on employers to tackle the problem, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on the government’s December 2018 response to a Women and Equalities Select Committee report, which includes a new code of practice and a commitment to undertake consultations on legal protections and on additional protections for volunteers and interns.
Government Equalities Office news release. TUC news release. House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee report into sexual harassment in the workplace and government response.
TUC Know Your Rights leaflet about sexual harassment and guide for union reps. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: TUC Risks gets backing from Thompsons Solicitors
Thompsons Solicitors has announced a new partnership with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) by sponsoring the TUC Risks e-newsletter. The union law firm said the newsletter plays a ‘pivotal’ role in highlighting concerns with modern labour standards, which continue to leave many workers vulnerable to injury or exploitation.
Thompsons Solicitors news release and trade union website. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Network Rail fined after employee left with brain injury
Network Rail has been fined £200,000 following a prosecution by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) after an employee was left with a critical brain injury following a road traffic accident. The ORR prosecuted Network Rail at Maidstone Crown Court for contravening the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. The firm was fined £200,000 plus costs of £86,389.21.
ORR news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Diesel industry and regulators condemn thousands to die
A warning over 30 years ago that workplace diesel fume exposures were deadly went ignored, a ‘criminal’ move that condemned thousands of workers each year to an early grave, a report in Hazards magazine has revealed. The Hazards report says “the UK’s prevention strategy – or absence of one – is based on a fatal mixture of a lack of the right intelligence and lack of give-a-damn. All topped up with a dose of industry foul play.”
Fuming feature, Diesel out prevention factsheet and Die diesel die pin-up-at-work poster. Hazards 144, October-December 2018.
Diesel exhaust in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, October 2018. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Health trust fined over nurse stabbings
A health trust has been fined £300,000 after two nurses were repeatedly stabbed by a patient at a mental health centre in Kent. Sentencing the trust, Mr Justice Edis QC criticised procedures that were meant to ensure all knives were locked up and out of reach of patients as “ad hoc and inadequate.”
HSE news release. Gravesend Reporter. BBC News Online. Health Service Journal. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Care company fines workers £50 for calling in sick
One of Britain’s biggest providers of agency care workers has been fining staff who phone in sick £50, raising concerns that frontline employees are being forced to turn up for shifts when they are not fit for work and risk spreading illnesses to vulnerable patients. An investigation by the Guardian found Newcross Healthcare Solutions has failed to pay its employees if they cancel shifts because of illness without 24 hours’ notice, and has also docked money from their pay.
The Guardian and follow-up story. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: New farming attitudes needed, says safety watchdog
Farmers are being told they must pay closer attention to how they manage workplace risks or face serious penalties. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said its forthcoming inspection blitz will review health and safety standards on farms across the country.
HSE news release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Company director jailed for illegal chemicals sales
Company director Nicholas Corbett has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for the online sale of products containing prohibited substances. The company was selling paint stripper containing dichloromethane (DCM), which is restricted under the REACH regulations as well as was selling a prohibited plant protection product containing sodium chlorate.
HSE news release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Australia: Call for killer bosses to be jailed  
“Kill a worker: go to jail.” That was the cry led by Christy Cain, the Western Australian branch secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, as the opposition Labor Party passed a resolution calling for industrial manslaughter laws on the final day of its national conference.
MUA news release and video of Christy Cain’s conference speech. The Guardian. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Global: Deaths on docks spur urgent union safety plan
A global union has launched a major campaign to address the ‘appalling’ fatality record in the dock industry. The Dockers’ Section Occupational Safety and Health Working Group of the international transport unions’ federation ITF launched its new work programme in December 2018.
ITF news release and related release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Global: IFJ records 94 media worker killings in 2018
The International Federation of Journalists’ annual list of media workers killed doing their job shows that 84 journalists, camera operators, fixers and technicians died in targeted killings, bomb attacks and cross-fire incidents. Ten other media staff members who worked as drivers, protection officers and a sales assistant also lost their lives.
IFJ news release and Killed List 2018. NUJ news release. Courthouse News.
IFJ Safety Fund. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

USA: Miners’ lung epidemic could have been stopped
A multiyear investigation by US national radio station NPR and the PBS documentary TV programme Frontline has confirmed a widespread outbreak of the advanced stage of black lung disease, known as complicated black lung or progressive massive fibrosis. Their analysis of federal regulatory data — decades of information recorded by dust-collection monitors placed where coal miners work — has revealed “a tragic failure to recognise and respond to clear signs of danger,” where regulators were urged to take specific and direct action to stop it, but they didn't.
All things considered, NPR. Confined Space. The Guardian. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

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