Hazards news, 8 April 2017
Britain: PM should welcome MEPs backing for workers’ rights
Prime minister Theresa May should welcome a European Parliament call for any post-Brexit deal to protect current and future workplace rights of UK workers, the TUC has said. In a 5 April vote, MEPs backed a motion setting out the European Parliament’s position for the Brexit negotiations by 516 to 133.
TUC news release. European Parliament news release. European Parliament motion. BBC News Online. The Mirror. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Britain: Rights must not be a casualty of the Great Repeal Bill
Safety and employment protections must not be a casualty of the government’s Great Repeal Bill, which seeks to bring EU-derived workers’ rights into UK law, unions have said. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the measures ‘fall short’ of the prime minister’s promise to fully protect and maintain all workers’ rights that came from the EU.
TUC news release. The Great Repeal Bill and Theresa May’s comments to the House of Commons, 29 March 2017. UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Britain: Protection call after surge in racist abuse of workers
Workers need protection from the upsurge in racist assaults and abuse at work since the Brexit vote last year, the TUC has said. The The ‘shocking results’ of a poll of over 1,000 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) working adults by the TUC and ICM revealed over a third had witnessed or experienced racial abuse in the seven months following the referendum vote and almost one in five (19 per cent) had suffered or witnessed a racial assault.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and TUC/IBM BAME poll. TUC guide to violence at work. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Britain: Unite calls for action on windfarm safety
There must be urgent action to improve workers’ welfare and safety on windfarms after two workers died in a fortnight, construction union Unite has said. Unite regional co-ordinating officer, Steve Dillon, said: “The Health and Safety Executive needs to bring together all concerned to learn the lessons and improve safety and welfare in this sector.”
Unite news release. STV News. Daily Record. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Britain: Safety a ‘vital’ union concern
Health and safety is a ‘vital’ issue for unions, UNISON general secretary David Prentis has said. Speaking as hundreds of UNISON reps met at the union’s health and safety conference in Edinburgh, he said: “UNISON is at its strongest when we work together for the benefit of everyone – and our health and safety work is a perfect example of that.”
UNISON blog and health and safety webpages. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Britain: Work stress is a ‘critical’ issue for business
A top stress expert has told a union conference that workplace stress is a ‘critical business issue’ that must be addressed. Professor Cary Cooper, in a presentation to more than 100 Prospect health and safety representatives, said: “Socially unskilled managers have been shown to be a key issue affecting well-being at work.”
Prospect news release and conference papers. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Britain: Network Rail cutbacks will hurt safety, unions warn
Swingeing cuts announced by Network Rail will have a ‘terrifying’ impact on services and safety, rail unions have warned. RMT said that Britain’s railways risk sinking into further chaos as Network Rail – at the behest of official regulator the Office of Road and Rail – threatened to axe 1,000 safety-critical track renewal jobs.
RMT news release. TSSA news release. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Britain: Labour exploitation tops modern slavery referrals
The number of people reported as potential victims of slavery and human trafficking in the UK has more than doubled in the past three years, with ‘labour exploitation’ now the largest single reason for reported abuse. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We need stronger laws and better enforcement to crack down on it.”
TUC news release. Joint Committee on Human Rights news release and report, 5 April 2017. National Crime Agency statistics and modern slavery webpages. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Britain: Work link to raised heart attack risk in firefighters
Exposure to heat and physical exertion greatly increase the risk of firefighters’ suffering a heart attack, researchers have said. The study may explain why heart disease is the leading cause of death among on-duty firefighters, the researchers from the University of Edinburgh said.
Amanda L Hunter and others. Fire simulation and cardiovascular health in firefighters, Circulation, volume 135, pages 1284-1295, April 2017.
University of Edinburgh news release. FBU circular. BHF news release. BBC News Online. East Lothian Courier. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Britain: Worker injured ‘every week’ on £745m bypass
More than 100 workers have been injured on the £745m Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) project since construction started on the site in early 2015. Figures obtained by The Press and Journal show a total of 115 injuries have been recorded on the massive civil engineering job.
The Press and Journal. Construction Enquirer. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Britain: Big fine after big explosion at Stanlow refinery
An oil company has been fined £1.65m following an explosion at its Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port. Liverpool Crown Court heard that while there were no injuries, the blast in the early hours of 14 November 2013 at the Essar Oil UK Ltd facility caused internal structures to collapse, leading to damage totalling more than £20m.
HSE news release and COMAH webpages. BBC News Online. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Britain: Electricity supplier convicted after fall death
Electricity North West Ltd has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after an employee died in a six metre fall during routine maintenance of power lines. On 22 November 2013, experience lineman John Flowers, 63, climbed a ladder resting against a wood pole in order to trim ivy away from power lines, when he somehow cut through his work positioning strap and fell to his death.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Britain: Firms fined for asbestos blunders
Two companies have been fined after unsafe asbestos work on a property in Leatherhead. Staines Magistrates’ Court heard how licensed asbestos removal contractor Kingsley Asbestos Services Limited (KAS) was subcontracted by Bourne Valley Construction Services Limited (BVCS) to carry out the work, but this was carried out without establishing the location, presence and extent of asbestos containing materials on site.
HSE news release. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Global: We are all sickened by inequality at work
Whether it is a gaping gulf in pay, job insecurity or job discrimination based on your class, gender or race, a divided workplace is bad for your health, a top union official has warned. In a commentary ahead of International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the global union body ITUC, said who lives and who dies at work is not an accident of chance.
Face it. We are all sickened by inequality at work, editorial by ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow, Hazards online, April 2017.
Unsafe and unfair – discrimination on the job hurts us all, ITUC briefing for International Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2017.
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2017 events listing. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Europe: Worker representation key to safety
Effective worker representation is a crucial factor in securing improved safety standards at work, according to a new report. The European workplace safety agency EU-OSHA warned however that its study on worker participation and consultation in occupational safety and health (OSH) found worker representation is declining across Europe, while management-led arrangements are on the increase.
EU-OSHA news release and report, Worker participation in the management of occupational safety and health: qualitative evidence from the second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2). Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Korea: Samsung’s new phone, old exploitation
Samsung’s new Galaxy 8 smart phone is produced by an exploited and harassed workforce, according to an investigation into the company’s aggressive anti-union employment practices. Global union confederation ITUC found a company-wide policy “uses a combination of bribes, threats, bullying, dismissal and even kidnapping to keep its employees, and people working for its suppliers, under total control.”
ITUC news release and Samsung Exposed campaign. More on Samsung’s safety record. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Japan: Moves to limit overwork culture
A top level government panel has set out a plan to reduce long working hours and ensure equal treatment for regular and nonregular employees in Japan, as part of broader labour reforms. The panel, headed by prime minister Shinzo Abe, is calling for a cap on overtime hours and penalties on violators in an action plan based on an agreement between Japan’s most powerful business lobby Keidanren and the union federation Rengo.
Japan Today. Nikkei Asian Revew. Risks 795. 8 April 2017
Hazards news, 1 April 2017
Britain: Cuts forcing social workers to ‘brink of burnout’
Social workers are struggling with heavy caseloads, longer working hours and going without lunch breaks, according to a survey by UNISON and Community Care magazine. Nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents said the volume of cases they were responsible for left them feeling ‘over the limit,’ and more than half (56 per cent) blamed staff shortages for their heavy workload.
UNISON news release and A Day in The Life of Social Work report. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Britain: Workers should not have to pay to seek justice
UNISON’s legal battle to give people at work the right to access justice – without having to pay unaffordable fees – when employers break the law has been heard in the Supreme Court. UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Bad employers are having a field day, safe in the knowledge that few will be able to afford to challenge them at a tribunal.”
UNISON news release. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Britain: ‘Dangerous’ sell-off of nuke guards slammed by Unite
Supermarket security staff on the look-out for shoplifters one day could be guarding Britain’s nuclear deterrent the next, Unite has warned. The union said it is concerned that the proposed privatisation of the Ministry of Defence Guard Service (MGS) will lead to a drop in standards and training, with adverse repercussions for the security of sensitive sites.
Unite news release. Morning Star. The National. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Britain: Union concern after offshore workers get a radiation dose
Offshore union Unite has called for a transparent investigation into an incident where rig workers were exposed to ionising radiation. The incident happened on EnQuest’s Thistle platform, off Shetland, last December.
Unite news report. BBC News Online. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Britain: Train guards are the ‘last line of defence’ for safety
Rail union RMT has vowed to continue its resistance to driver-only trains, citing guards as “the last line of defence” for passenger safety. The Morning Star reports that delegates rose to their feet at the North West TUC conference last week after RMT’s regional organiser John Tilley made the pledge.
Morning Star. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Britain: If you want to improve work safety, find a friend
A workplace may be seriously unhealthy, but it’s frequently only budgets, deadlines and margins in the must-do column for senior management, a leading trade union safety educator has warned. Dave Smith, writing in the latest issue of Hazards magazine, says when it comes to organising around workplace health and safety, the key to success is recognising that unions are collective organisations.
Find a friend, Hazards 137, March 2017 and Dave Smith’s guide to organising around safety. TUC health and safety organising guide. Register for TUC eNotes on health and safety organising and other health and safety topics. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Britain: Succession of work factors implicated in worker’s suicide
A worker who killed himself had been badly affected by a succession of safety issues at work, an inquest has heard, including an industrial fatality, demotion over a safety breach, a fear of losing his job and personal disputes in the workplace. Tissue factory worker Jeffrey Taylor, 55, was ruled to have taken his own life as a result of five contributing factors which were said to have been weighing heavily on his mind.
North West Evening Mail. TUC guidebook on mental health in the workplace (registration required). Suicidal work: Work-related suicides go uncounted and unaccounted for in the UK, Hazards magazine, number 137, 2017. Hazards quick guide to work-related factors linked to suicide. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Britain: Whirlpool guilty over contractor worker’s fall death
Whirlpool UK Appliances Limited has been fined after a self-employed contractor fell from a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) and later died from his injuries. The firm was fined £700,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,466.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Marion Star. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Britain: Site giant fined £800k after crushing tragedy
Construction firm Laing O'Rourke has been fined £800,000 after a worker was crushed to death by a dumper truck driven by his brother. HSE inspector Jack Wilby said: “Laing O’Rourke did nothing to address the trend of these workers carrying out tasks they weren’t trained or authorised for.”
HSE news release. Your Local Guardian. Construction Enquirer. Evening Standard. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Britain: Responsible site firm wasn’t responsible
A London construction company has been fined after complaints from the public alerted the safety regulator to a slew of criminal practices. Malik Contractors and Engineers Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the construction management regulations and was fined £52,000, and ordered to pay £4,415 in costs.
HSE news release. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Britain: Trailer firm fined after worker injured between vehicles
A Bedfordshire trailer firm has been sentenced after an employee suffered crushed ribs when he was trapped between a lorry’s cab and a trailer. BS Trailer Services Ltd pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was fined £25,000 plus costs of £1,599.50.
HSE news release. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Britain: Collapsing cardboard left crushed worker in coma
Arrow Recycling Ltd has been fined £160,000 after a worker was left fighting for his life after being crushed by about 400kg of cardboard. Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court heard how Parvez Ahmed, 49, had been working on the recycling site in Smethwick, West Midlands on 22 April 2016 when he was crushed under bale stacks of falling cardboard.
HSE news release. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Canada: Insecure work hits mental and physical health
Precarious work is bad for both mental and physical health, according to a new survey of nearly 5,000 workers by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). The union body, which represents workers in Canada’s most populous province, found almost one-third of survey respondents cite mental and physical health issues as impacts of precarious work.
OFL news release and Make it fair campaign. Toronto Star. More on job insecurity and health. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Global: Chemicals agency capitulates to agrochemical lobby
Global food and farming union IUF has slammed a ruling by the European Chemicals Safety Agency (ECHA) that the toxic herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, is not carcinogenic. IUF said: “Public authorities have once more demonstrated the extent of their capture by the industry they are charged with regulating, while new evidence for banning glyphosate continues to accumulate.”
IUF news release. ECHA news release. Laura N Vandenberg and others. Is it time to reassess current safety standards for glyphosate-based herbicides?, Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, published Online First: 20 March 2017. JECH news release.
Sign the European Citizens' Initiative petition seeking a ban on glyphosate. IARC question and answer on glyphosate. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Global: Industry seeking to ‘sabotage’ asbestos controls
Unions should take action to stop the asbestos industry once again ‘sabotaging’ efforts to better control its toxic exports, the global union for the construction sector has said. BWI was speaking out ahead of a crucial conference to update the UN’s Rotterdam Convention list of especially hazardous substances subject to ‘prior informed consent’ (PIC) health warnings when they are exported.
BWI news release. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Qatar: ILO maintains pressure on abuse of migrants
A decision by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to maintain pressure on Qatar over its ’kafala’ system of modern slavery has been welcomed by the global union body ITUC. The union body was commenting after the ILO’s Governing Body decided to keep open the possibility of a Commission of Inquiry into Qatar.
ITUC news release. ILO Governing Body decision. Inside World Football. Doha News.
TUC Playfair Qatar campaign. Risks 794. 1 April 2017
Hazards news, 25 March 2017
Britain: Suicide is a workplace issue
The UK is turning a blind eye to a major workplace killer, work-related suicide, the TUC has warned. The union body points to a series of reports this week highlighting how work factors can put large sections of the workforce at a greatly increased suicide risk, but there the problem is off the radar of the safety regulator.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. TUC guidebook on mental health in the workplace (registration required).
Sarah Waters. Suicidal work: Work-related suicides go uncounted and unaccounted for in the UK, Hazards magazine, number 137, 2017. Hazards quick guide to work-related factors linked to suicide.
Suicide by Occupation 2011-2015, Office for National Statistics, March 2017.
Dying from inequality, Samaritans, March 2017. Reducing the risk of suicide: A toolkit for employers, Samaritans/Business in the Community, March 2017. Crisis management in the event of a suicide: A postvention toolkit for employers, Samaritans/Business in the Community, March 2017. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: Construction must ‘radically reform’ to cut high suicide rates
The construction industry must take radical action to reduce the high number of suicides among its workforce, the union Unite has said. Its call came after a new analysis by the Office for National Statistics found that the risk of suicide among low skilled male labourers, particularly those working in construction, was three times higher than the male national average.
Unite news release. Construction News. Morning Star. The Guardian. More on work-related suicide. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: New work-related suicide figures a 'wake up call'
A new breakdown of suicide rates by occupation reveals those working in caring and teaching jobs are among those at a higher risk than the general public, unions have said. Greatly elevated rates were also observed in care workers and home carers, at nearly twice the expected rate in men and 70 per cent higher in women, and female primary teachers have a suicide risk that is 42 per cent above the average.
GMB news release. ATL news release. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: Stop blaming worker for work stress
Employers should concentrate on removing causes of stress at work rather than blaming their staff for getting stress out, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson was commenting after an HSE stress summit in London
TUC Stronger Unions blog and stress webpages. HSE stress webpages.
Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives, January 2017. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: Union fury at Tube bosses for firing attack hero
Tube union RMT has reacted with fury after London Underground (LU) upheld the ‘disgraceful’ sacking of a staff member who intervened to stop a violent fare dodger from assaulting colleagues at London Bridge last autumn. RMT is already balloting station staff across the London Bridge group for industrial after the member was fired and two others were disciplined for stepping in to stop the serious assault on colleagues, including one who was pregnant.
RMT news release. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: Disinfectant made 22 hospital cleaners sick
Cleaners who fell ill at a Torquay hospital after being exposed to a hazardous disinfectant have been awarded £70,000 in damages. The 22 cleaning staff, all members of the public service union UNISON working for the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, began using Actichlor seven years ago, and experienced runny eyes, nose sores, and wheezing coughs.
UNISON news release. Devon Live. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: Sharp increase in safety fines welcomed by HSE union
The union Prospect has welcomed a sharp rise in health and safety penalties in the last year. It says the total cost of health and safety fines has tripled in the year since the introduction of new sentencing guidelines for courts in England and Wales on 1 February 2016.
Prospect news release. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: Condemnation over prosecution of vindicated rail guard
Rail union RMT has slammed the ‘outrageous’ decision to prosecute a train guard for endangering passenger safety after an 89-year-old woman fell from the platform. Merseyrail guard Martin Zee has now been unanimously cleared of all charges relating to the incident, which occurred at Hamilton Square Station on 8 July 2015, and had earlier been vindicated in two separate inquiries.
RMT news release. Liverpool Echo. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: RMT slams Merseyrail for wrecking crucial strike talks
Rail union RMT has criticised Merseyrail for ending crucial talks aimed at resolving a dispute over the safety role of train guards. The union said the talks broke down after it became clear that the company was ‘not serious about any meaningful negotiations’.
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: Farm fined following fall death of 40-year veteran
A farming partnership has been fined following the death of a farm manager in Staffordshire. Stafford Crown Court heard on 20 May 2014, 67-year-old John Mills fell more than 14 feet from a fragile roof while dismantling farm buildings in Hyde Lea on land owned by the Toft Partnership.
HSE news release. Express and Star. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: Construction giant Kier fined after worker fell from height
Kier Construction Limited has been fined £400,000 after a worker fell from height, suffering serious injuries. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how Jair Morales was installing plywood boards covering holes on the third floor of a building when he fell a distance of 3.95m to the floor below.
HSE news release. Morning Star. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: ‘Shocking’ injuries as two fall from plane’s tail
An aircraft engineering company has been fined after two workers were knocked off a platform while they were carrying out checks at the tail of an aeroplane. Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard that an employee of Inflite Engineering Services and an agency worker suffered broken bones after the fall at Stansted Airport on 10 June 2015.
HSE news release. East Anglian Daily Times. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Britain: Hazards 2017 national conference, 28–30 July 2017, Stoke-on-Trent
The Hazards Campaign’s national conference, with a theme this year of ‘Organising health, safety and welfare in an insecure world,’ is now taking bookings. Speakers including Jessica Martinez from Hazards Campaign’s US sister organisation, National COSH, who will talk about “the joint threats we face and how we can work together to fight them.”
Hazards Campaign conference webpage, blog and booking form. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Australia: Small fines for safety crimes, big fines for protesting
A major Australian construction firm has reacted angrily after a top union leader said it was wrong that a construction union was fined 16 times more for protesting about safety breaches than the firm that committed them. Grocon said it did not deny tragic deaths had occurred on its sites, but insisting it had not caused them.
ACTU statement from Sally McManus. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
India: Leather workers risk their lives making your shoes
About 2.5 million Indian workers toil for long hours with toxic chemicals for poverty wages in the country's leather industry, making shoes and clothes for Western brands, a study has found. A report from the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), a human rights organisation, called for greater transparency in supply chains.
ICN news release and full report, Do leather workers matter? Violating labour rights and environmental norms in India’s leather production, March 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation. International Dalit Solidarity Network. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
India: The horror of the ‘modern slaves’ in brick kilns
Approximately 25 million people work in over 100,000 brick kilns across India, according to Anti-Slavery International. But these are not normal jobs. An estimated 50,000 of these are thought to be working in slavery-like conditions, saud Sudhir Katiyar, project director of the Prayas Centre for Labour Research and Action.
Equal Times. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
USA: Trump doesn’t want to upset workplace killers
The US safety regulator OSHA has stopped issuing press releases highlighting enforcement action for serious safety offences. The last enforcement press release issued by the federal watchdog was on 18 January 2017, two days before the inauguration of Donald Trump.
Confined Space blog. American Prospect. Risks 793. 25 March 2017
Hazards news, 18 March 2017
Britain: Union reps are good for workers and employers
The TUC has ripped apart the latest attempt by a right-wing lobby group to claim paid release for union reps comes at a cost. TUC national organiser Carl Roper said the annually regurgitated claim by the Taxpayers’ Alliance that union volunteers are a drain on the public purse and taxpayers gets picked up uncritically by sections of the media, despite the irrefutable evidence proving precisely the opposite.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. TUC guide to the union safety effect. The Guardian. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Britain: New push for justice for injured workers
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is urging the government not to restrict access to justice for victims of workplace accidents or diseases. Speaking ahead of the union’s lobby of parliament on 22 March 2017, Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said doubling the ‘small claims’ definition to £2,000 would mean many injured workers were denied justice, as these claims do not quality for legal costs.
Usdaw news release. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Europe: Offshore unions wait for proof of Super Puma safety
Offshore workers say the Super Puma helicopters involved in a series of crashes and other safety incidents must have full official safety clearance before they are allowed back into service. The union was speaking out about the grounded helicopters after key offshore and aviation industry players gathered behind closed doors for an update on the investigation into a deadly crash in Norway.
Unite news release. Energy Voice. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Britain: Zero hours contracts treat workers like ‘disposable labour’
New official figures showing a sharp rise in the number of workers on zero hours contracts demonstrate the need for an urgent reform of employment law, the TUC has said. Commenting on new figures from the Office for National Statistics, which show that the number of people on zero hours contracts has increased by 13 per cent over the past year, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Zero hours contracts allow bosses to treat workers like disposable labour.”
TUC news release. Are you an insecure worker? Complete the TUC survey. ONS figures, March 2017. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Britain: Campaign can’t gloss over health service stress
The glossy launch of Healthcare Science Week by NHS Employers masks a world of overwork, stress, plummeting morale and staff shortages in the NHS, Unite has warned. The union said its survey of healthcare science members paints a picture of a dedicated workforce ‘bending to breaking point’ under the weight of the NHS financial crisis.
Unite news release. Healthcare Science Week. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Britain: Thefts from shops are serious crimes, says Usdaw
Retail union leader Usdaw has welcomed a clarification from Thames Valley Police, after a report in the Telegraph suggested the force “will not send out officers to deal with shoplifters who steal goods worth less than £100”. A statement from the police force noted: “The Force would like to reassure communities that all reports of shoplifting are investigated - regardless of the value of goods stolen. In cases in which there is an immediate threat, such as a shoplifter becoming violent, the public can be assured that officers will be there for who need help.”
Usdaw news release. Thames Valley Police statement. The Telegraph. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Britain: Unions join forces to fight abuse at work
Collective bargaining from trade unions can play a key role in tackling violence against women, campaigners have said, but they add the government must also take action. Delegates at the TUC women’s conference heard how Britain has some of the highest levels of workplace violence against women in Europe.
Speech by TUC head Frances O’Grady to the TUC women’s conference. Morning Star. TUC guide to reporting workplace violence. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Britain: Thousands of stressed London transport staff receive counselling
Almost 6,000 Transport for London (TfL) staff have received counselling for issues including stress, anxiety and the trauma of witnessing of suicide attempts since 2010, it has been revealed. Finn Brennan, from the rail union ASLEF: “Tube drivers spend eight hours a day working in a small metal box deep underground while coping with the pressure of a demanding job.. it's not surprising that some suffer from stress or depression occasionally.”
City A.M. Evening Standard. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Britain: Farming firm fined after owner’s son drowns in grain
A family owned Norfolk farming company has been fined after the owner’s son died at its grain storage facility. Norwich Crown Court heard that on 9 July 2014, 21-year-old Arthur Mason took turns with 16-year-old Jamie Legg to clean inside grain bins at Hall Farm, Fincham, near Kings Lynn, run by Maurice Mason Ltd. guidance is freely available from HSE and other organisations.”
HSE news release. Norfolk Eastern Daily Press. BBC News Online. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Europe: Ikea drivers living in trucks for months
Lorry drivers moving goods in Western Europe for Ikea and other retailers are living out of their cabs for months at a time. ITF head of inland transport, Noel Coard,said: “companies are under constant threat from the top of the supply chain: break the law or lose the contract.”
ITF news release and social media campaign #therealIKEA. BBC News Online. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Britain: Disturbed asbestos risk in many schools
Asbestos has been disturbed in schools in a way that could affect the health of staff and pupils on at least 90 separate occasions in the last five years. Freedom of Information requests by Lucie Stephens, who’s mum Sue died last year aged 68 of an asbestos cancer caused by exposures while working as a teacher, revealed councils had received reports of asbestos having been “disturbed” in schools on 93 occasions over five years, meaning “possible exposure” to teachers, builders, caretakers or pupils between 2011 and 2016.
Schools Week. TES.com. Asbestos in schools petition. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Britain: Asbestos in schools conference, 4 July, Birmingham
The first Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) conference is to take place in Birmingham on 4 July and will investigate the dangers from asbestos in schools and how to protect pupils and staff. Speakers including Rachel Reeves MP, asbestos campaigners, trade unions, medical practitioners and representatives of the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Education.
Fee: £40. Further information from JUAC. Bookings: 0121 457 6150. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Britain: Working time, breaks and holidays – new TUC booklet
The law relating to working time is complicated. Some bad employers take advantage of this to deny staff their rights. The TUC says the publication is just a short guide, not a full statement of the law and advises workers, where they believe their rights are being ignored, to get advice their trade union about how to remedy the situation.
TUC publication alert. Working time, breaks and holidays - Know Your Rights booklet and know your rights webpages. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
France: International unions back corporate responsibility law
A campaign by unions in France is intent on defending a new law requiring French multinational companies to establish explicit plans to avoid and remediate violations of worker rights and environmental standards throughout their supply chains. Two days after the adoption of the law on 21 February the French Republican Party, backed by the employers’ organisation MEDEF, referred the issue to France’s Constitutional Council claiming that the law is unconstitutional.
ITUC news release. ETUC news release. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Global: Call to reject Qatar’s modern slavery lies
Qatar should be called out when it tries to hoodwink governments next week about its serious ongoing abuses of workers’ rights, the global union ITUC has said. A submission by the government of Qatar to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in the lead up to a discussion next week by ILO’s governing body on a complaint lodged by the ITUC on Qatar’s “kafala” system of modern slavery, is full of false and misleading claims, the union body says.
ITUC news release. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Global: Mining study shows trade unions save lives
A strong trade union presence makes mines safer, according to the preliminary finding of a major international study. The researchers confirmed that health and safety representatives supported by a trade union were more effective in getting important safety matters addressed and resolved than health and safety representatives acting on their own.
IndustriALL news report. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Japan: Agreement on new overtime ceiling
The biggest employers’ group in Japan, Keidanren, and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) have agreed new monthly and annual overtime limits. The new agreement says overtime should be limited to 45 hours a month or 360 hours a year, with an absolute cap of 100 hours in any one month in special circumstances.
Japan Times. More on working hours and health. Risks 792. 18 March 2017
Hazards news, 11 March 2017
Britain: Aberdeen bypass injury reinforces union concerns
Construction union Unite has said a serious accident on the Aberdeen bypass site adds to its ‘ongoing concerns’ about the working conditions on the prestige job. Unite called on the construction companies involved in the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) for more transparency and dialogue. and the Health and Safety Executive to find out the cause of this accident.”
Unite news release. Aberdeen Evening Express. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Britain: Northern Rail ‘winging it’ on safety
Rail union RMT has accused Arriva Rail North of concocting a plan that will break agreed safety procedures in its determination to run services during industrial action. The union says the company’s published timetable for services on the 13 March strike day “comes at the price of passenger safety.”
RMT news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Britain: Unions call for new deal to protect hairdressers
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw is calling for a “new deal” to protect hairdressers. The union, which represents many of Britain’s estimated 140,000 salon workers, says they face risks ranging from musculoskeletal disorders, to dermatitis, asthma and cancer.
The Guardian. Photofile on the UNI Europa campaign. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Britain: Union charter to tackle violence at work
Workers in the community should not fear violence, the union UNISON has said. The union’s community service group conference agreed to launch a ‘Violence at Work Charter’ which would see employers commit themselves to “a series of interventions”.
UNISON news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Britain: DX couriers launch legal battle for work rights
The union GMB is to start legal action on behalf of couriers working for the delivery company, DX. The union says it wants to “secure rights on pay, holidays, health and safety, discipline and grievances on behalf of members who work as couriers and drivers for DX.”
GMB news release. Leigh Day news release.
House of Commons business, energy and industrial strategy committee’s Future world of work and rights of workers inquiry hearings. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Global: Father of airline worker ‘killed by toxic air’ speaks out
The father of a cabin crew worker whose death was linked to exposure to toxic air on aeroplanes has warned cabin crew from more than 40 countries of the dangers. Unite member Matt Bass died in 2014 after returning from a flight to Ghana.
ITF news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Britain: MPs 'shocked' by women's dress code stories
An inquiry into work dress codes has exposed “widespread discrimination” against women, MPs have said. The investigation was prompted by a petition, being debated by MPs, that called for a ban on requiring women to wear high heels at work.
House of Commons debate on Workplace Dress Codes (High Heels), 6 March 2017 – watch the debate, read the transcript and see the petition. BBC News Online. ITV News. Morning Star. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Britain: Couriers told to find sick cover or face big fines
Parcel delivery firms DPD and Parcelforce Worldwide have been called before a committee of MPs to answer questions about the working conditions faced by their self-employed couriers. Frank Field, the Labour MP who chairs the work and pensions select committee, has written to the bosses of both companies asking them to provide evidence as part of an ongoing inquiry into the gig economy.
Work and Pensions Committee news release and letters to Parcelforce and DPD. HR Grapevine. The Guardian. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Britain: Teacher died of asbestos-related cancer
A former teacher from Kent who died of asbestos related cancer could have inhaled the fibres in the classrooms where she worked. Pearl Davis, 69, spent a decade working at schools in Gillingham, Chatham and Maidstone.
Kent Online. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Britain: Director and company fined for lift plunge death
Two London-based companies have been fined for criminal safety failings after one man died and another was left seriously injured after falling six storeys down a lift shaft. Romanian labourer Silviu Stefanita Radulescu, 31, who was poorly trained and not wearing a harness, was killed.
HSE news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Britain: Ministry of Defence censured over agency driver’s death
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been issued with a Crown Censure by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an agency driver working for the MoD was fatally injured by a reversing vehicle. Graham Wood, 55, was crushed between a reversing lorry and a stationary vehicle on the evening of 19 November 2013.
HSE news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Britain: Contractor fined for poor asbestos assessment
A Bedfordshire contractor has been fined after failing to carry out suitable assessment of the risks posed by asbestos removal work. Anthony West pleaded guilty to four criminal breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £2,970 and ordered to pay costs of £5,419.
HSE news release. Biggleswade Today. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Canada: Delays put armoured car workers and public at risk
A further delay in implementing a Canadian Ministry of Labour ruling is putting the safety of armoured car workers and the general public at risk, the union Unifor has said. “The directives in the original order recognised that the use of two-person, all off crews elevates the danger of armoured car personnel being attacked in public, which also increases the risk to innocent by-standers,” said Mike Armstrong, Unifor’s lead for the armoured car industry.
Unifor news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Global: UN experts slam myth that pesticides are necessary
Two United Nations experts are calling for a comprehensive new global treaty to regulate and phase out the use of dangerous pesticides in farming, and move towards sustainable agricultural practices. The report, which is highly critical of the claims made by the pesticide industry, notes: “The assertion promoted by the agrochemical industry that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security is not only inaccurate, but dangerously misleading.”
UN news release. UN OHCHR news release and report. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Ukraine: Explosion highlights deadly mine perils
The poor safety record of Ukraine mines has been condemned by the global mining union IndustriALL. The union was commenting after a 2 March explosion at state-owned mine in Stepnova killed eight miners.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
USA: Senate votes to kill worker safety rule
President Trump and congressional Republicans are poised to roll back a series of Obama-era worker safety regulations disliked by business groups. Republican lawmakers are employing the rarely used Congressional Review Act (CRA) to target safety rules – and once a rule is killed, it is killed forever.
NELP news release. Washington Post. The Hill. Risks 791. 11 March 2017
Hazards news, 4 March 2017
Britain: TUC dismay as government hits injured workers with legal costs
The TUC has criticised government plans to stop injured workers from reclaiming their legal costs in compensation cases against negligent employers worth under £2,000. The union body warns that the Ministry of Justice proposals, included in its Prisons and Courts Bill, will force many workers, including those on low incomes, to pay for legal advice when seeking compensation for workplace injuries or work-related ill-health.
TUC news release. Ministry of Justice webpages on the Prisons and Courts Bill. APIL news release. Morning Star.
The union effect: How unions make a difference to health and safety, TUC. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: Workers put in over £33 billion in unpaid overtime a year
The UK’s over-stretched workers gave their employers £33.6 billion of free labour last year by doing unpaid overtime, according to a new analysis of official statistics from the TUC. The TUC’s calculations were published on 24 February, to mark its 13th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day.
TUC news release and Work your proper hours day resources.
How many hours did you work for free? Check it out with the TUC’s unpaid overtime calculator. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: Union backing for working time action call
Unions have backed the TUC call for an end to exploitative working hours. Speaking on the 24 February publication of the TUC’s latest analysis of unpaid overtime in the UK, leaders of the lecturers’ union UCU, teachers’ union NUT and journalists’ union NUJ said workers were facing unacceptable long hours and heavy workloads.
NUJ news release. UCU news release. NUT news release. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: Teachers say stop talking, start acting on workload
Teaching staff already know they are overworked and want the government to get on and do something about it, their unions have said. The education unions were commenting after the long-overdue findings of the Department for Education’s Teachers' Working Time Survey – finally published on the TUC’s Work Your Proper Hours Day - revealed teachers in England are working on average 54.4 hours per week, with 93 per cent of teachers saying workload is a fairly or very serious problem.
NUT news release. NASUWT news release. ATL news release.
Teachers workload survey 2016 and DfE webpages on reducing teacher workload and action plan. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: European flight rules could lead to ‘pilot burnout crisis’
Airlines are not doing enough to address fatiguing rosters and this will lead to many UK pilots suffering ‘burnout’, according to flight safety experts at the pilots’ union BALPA. One year on from the introduction of EU-wide pilot duty hours regulations, the union’s head of flight safety, Dr Rob Hunter, warned that fatigue remains a huge issue for the industry, and not enough is being done to tackle it, especially ‘burnout’.
BALPA news release. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: Workers ‘stressed out’ in London Fire Brigade control room
The workers who handle the London Fire Brigade’s 999 calls are dangerously stressed by a failing control system, their union GMB has warned. The union says workers operating the clunky Vision command and control system used for call line identification and caller location identification have found it is impeding their efforts to respond quickly to emergency calls.
GMB news release. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: Union anger after Tube attack heroes are disciplined
Tube workers at one of London Underground’s busiest stations are to be balloted for industrial action after one member was sacked and two others disciplined for stepping in to stop a violent assault on colleagues. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “This was a shocking, violent incident and those that bore the brunt of it should have been supported and commended by the company… Instead they have been sacked or disciplined in what is the most appalling miscarriage of justice.”
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: Injured whistleblower wins unfair dismissal fight
A chef has won an unfair dismissal case after being fired for blowing the whistle on a dangerous grill and deep-fat fryer at the London bar where he worked. GMB member Marcelo Lagos, who was head chef at the Number 1 Bar in London Bridge, was dismissed in 2015 - just after he raised his concerns about a burn he had sustained on faulty equipment in the kitchen.
Morning Star. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: Asbestos exposure risk in one in five schools
Schoolchildren and teachers are being put at risk of asbestos exposure in around one in five schools across England, according to new government figures. A report from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) revealed 19 per cent of schools have not been safely managing asbestos risks and in more than 100 schools the situation has been so serious that the Department for Education (DfE) had to step in.
EFA schools asbestos data collection and management guidance. NASUWT news release. Schools Week. TES News. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: Five jailed for running skills card ‘forgery factory’
Five men have been jailed for running a ‘forgery factory’, churning out documents including fake construction skills cards. A raid by immigration officers in east London discovered a bedroom converted into a fully-equipped factory creating and distributing between 50,000 to 100,000 false documents including passports, driving licences and Construction Skills Certification Scheme cards.
CITB news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: Council fined after sander removes schoolboy’s finger
Islington Borough Council has received a six figure fine after a schoolboy’s finger was cut off by a sander. Southwark Crown Court heard that on 25 March 2014, the 12-year-old was in a design and technology class when his left hand was trapped between the shape he was sanding and the sanding belt, leading to his middle finger had to be amputated down to knuckle.
HSE news release. Islington Gazette. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: Stately home guilty over butler’s death
The operator of one of Britain’s most iconic stately homes has been fined after a domestic servant was crushed to death by a lift. Arthur Mellar, 48, a butler at Burghley House in Stamford, was killed on 12 July 2014 when a luggage lift descended and trapped his head as he was trying to free an item of luggage that had become stuck.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. ITV News. The Sun. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Britain: DFS fined £1m for ‘systematic’ criminal safety failings
Furniture retailer DFS Trading Limited has been fined £1 million after its ‘fundamental and systematic’ criminal safety failings led to a worker suffering serious neck and head injuries. Derby Magistrates’ Court heard that on 2 July 2015 the worker was unloading wooden furniture frames, when he was struck by an unsecured furniture arm, knocked him unconscious and suffered serious neck and head injuries.
HSE news release. CWU news release. Derby Telegraph. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Europe: Union ‘victory’ on reproductive and cancer hazards
A key European Parliament committee has backed union calls for tighter rules on reproductive and cancer hazards at work. According to the safety unit on the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), the vote by MEPs was an ‘important victory’ for unions.
European Socialists and Democrats news release. ETUI news report (in French). Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Europe: Industry hijacks official chemical limits process
Experts with industry links dominate a committee advising the European Commission on the occupational exposure limits for hazardous substances, an investigation has found. A report published on 24 February in the French daily newspaper Le Monde revealed that 15 out of the 22 members of the Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limit Values (SCOEL) have ties with companies in sectors likely to be affected by the Commission’s plans to adopt new occupational exposure limits (OELs) for certain carcinogens or mutagens at work.
ETUI news report. Le Monde (in French). Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Global: Samsung exposed ahead of industry showcase
The dangerous and abusive employment practices used by hitech giant Samsung have been challenged publicly by the global union confederation ITUC. In a high profile social media campaign ahead of the industry’s showcase Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona from 27 February to 2 March, the union body said: “It’s a modern tech company with medieval labour practices, whose calling cards are union busting, poverty wages, and insecure and unsafe work conditions.”
ITUC ‘Samsung Exposed’ website and call on Samsung to end the abuse of its workforce. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
USA: ‘Diseases of distress’ linked to work
A 2015 study revealing a sharp spike in death rates among white working class Americans, bucking a long-term downward trend, has prompted research establishing that the ‘diseases of distress’ responsible – alcohol and drug-related diseases and suicides – are linked to work factors. This associations were established by a group of work environment doctoral students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Professor Laura Punnett explained in a posting in the public health blog The Pump Handle.
The Pump Handle. Anne Case and Angus Deaton. Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), volume 112, number 49, December 2015.
TUC drugs and alcohol webpages. More on work-related suicide, drug and alcohol use and job insecurity. Risks 790. 4 March 2017
Hazards news, 23 February 2017
Britain: Southern ‘rips up safety rule book’ says RMT
Rail union RMT has accused rail operator Southern GTR of attempting to train 40 ‘scab’ replacement workers in two days of classroom talks. The union says the company intends to use these managers to work as on-board supervisors (OBS) on its strike days over safety.
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Britain: Probation union takes on workload pressures
Escalating workload pressures and the unreasonable expectations placed on workers in the probation service are being ‘confronted’ by the union Napo in a ‘3C’s’ campaign that also ‘challenges’ employers and ‘champions’ professional standards. The union notes: “Staff regularly report feeling under pressure to cut corners, meet unrealistic targets and report that they feel they are failing service users and ultimately the public, in achieving their objectives.”
NAPO news release. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Britain: GMB disappointed with Uber’s ‘cosmetic’ changes
Taxi firm Uber has missed a ‘golden opportunity’ to start complying with the law, the union GMB has said. The union, which last year won a groundbreaking employment rights legal case on behalf of Uber drivers, said it was disappointed with the ‘cosmetic’ changes introduced for Uber drivers.
Lawyer Monthly. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Britain: ‘Rock solid’ Tube strike over safe staffing
Tube union RMT staged a ‘rock solid’ 24-hour safety strike this week on two of London Underground's (LU) busiest lines. The walk out by drivers on the Central Line and Waterloo and City line began at 9pm on 21 February, and involves a plan to move eight train operators from an east London depot to one in the west of the city.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Global: Cancer is a byproduct of industrial policy
Much of the past effort against cancer has fixated on the wrong enemies, with the wrong weapons, a leading expert has said. said while effort was focus internally on genetic factors, the external influences – what we breathe, drink, eat and absorb through our skin – is being overlooked. Writing in The Hill, US professor Devra Lee Davis said “the great majority of cases of cancer occur in people born with healthy genes as a result of carcinogenic exposures at work, home, and school.”
The Hill. Work Cancer Hazards blog. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
USA: Farm work cancer risk from pesticide spills
Farmworkers who have a high pesticide exposure event - such as a spill - are more likely to experience molecular changes to their DNA that may lead to prostate and other cancers, according to a large study of pesticide applicators. Environmental Health News reports the research, part of the ongoing US Agricultural Health Study that is monitoring the health of more than 57,000 private and commercial pesticide applicators, adds to growing evidence that high exposure to certain pesticides may spur prostate and other cancers in people handling the chemicals.
Environmental Health News. Work Cancer Hazards blog.
JA Rusiecki and others. High pesticide exposure events and DNA methylation among pesticide applicators in the agricultural health study, Environmental and Molecular Mutagensis, volume 58, number 1, pages 19-29, January 2017. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Britain: Asbestos closes university building for two years
Over 1,600 zoology staff and students have been moved out of Oxford University’s Tinbergen Building building for up to two years after asbestos was discovered. The TUC and unions have for years been campaigning for all asbestos in public buildings to be surveyed and recorded and for a programme of safe removal, and last year the TUC launched a ‘time to get rid of it’ asbestos guide for safety reps.
Oxford University news release. Cherwell. Leigh Day news release. BBC News Online.
TUC asbestos eradication campaign. Asbestos – time to get rid of it! TUC guide for safety representatives. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Britain: Banker fined a week's wages for spitting on bus driver
A bus driver who was spat on by an investment banker in a fit of road rage has spoken out after the £90-000-a-year Barclays executive was fined one week’s wages. The incident happened after father-of-three Leon Delahaye, 44, pulled out in front of Alexis Fountzoulas’ black Mini in London’s Piccadilly Circus on 26 June last year, a court heard.
London Evening Standard. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Britain: Bus company convicted after worker’s fatal fall
Bus company Go Ahead London has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after a worker was killed when he fell from a ladder. Southwark Crown Court heard on 26 May 2011, 56-year-old Michael Porter was using a ladder to access the top of a fuel tank when he fell backwards two and a half metres, suffering fatal head injuries.
HSE news release. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Britain: Suspended jail term after casual roof worker’s death
A self-employed businessman has been sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and 200 hours of unpaid work after a casual worker fell from the flat roof of a building and died from his injuries. Manchester Crown Court heard how on 22 December 2013, father of two Jason Fogarty was working alongside company boss Roy Hardaker on a flat roof replacement project. to nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and 200 hours of unpaid work.
HSE news release and roofwork webpages. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Britain: Steel worker suffered life threatening injuries
A Canvey Island engineering firm has been sentenced for criminal health and safety breaches after a worker suffered life-changing injuries. Southend-on-Sea Magistrates’ Court heard that on 10 June 2015 Felix Trefas, 27, a welder for F Brazil Reinforcements Ltd, was making large steel reinforcing cages which were moved by overhead travelling cranes.
HSE news release. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Britain: Agency worker trapped hand in plastic machine
A West Yorkshire polythene film manufacturer has been sentenced for criminal safety breaches after a worker trapped his hand in machinery. Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court heard how the injured agency worker broke the little finger on his right hand while operating machinery in March 2014 at Total Polyfilm Ltd’s Brighouse plant.
HSE news release. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Global: 28 April theme - unsafe and unfair, discrimination on the job hurts us all
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has confirmed the broad theme for Workers’ Memorial Day this year will be ‘Unsafe and unfair –discrimination on the job hurts us all’. The global trade union body is urging unions to examine in their campaign activities for the 28 April event the “measures needed to protect the health and safety of the most vulnerable in our workplaces, due among others, to gender, origins, class and/or sexual orientation.”
ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2017 website and global events listing. Twitter: #iwmd17. 28 April global activities facebook page.
Sign up for ITUC 28 April updates!
TUC 28 April 2017 webpages and events listing. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Europe: Chemicals recognised as human hormone disrupters
A top European Union committee has for the first time recognised chemicals as hormone disrupting for humans. Substances with these endocrine disrupting (EDCs) properties have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and other health effects.
CHemSec news release. SIN list. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
New Zealand: Anger as court endorses ‘cheque book justice’
The acceptance by a New Zealand court that a safety regulator could let the man who owned a deadly mine to escape criminal charges in exchange for a cash settlement has denied bereaved families justice, the country’s top union body NZCTU has said. The 16 February Court of Appeal ruling came in the case taken by Pike River Mine widow Anna Osborne, wife of Milton Osborne, and Sonya Rockhouse, mother of Ben Rockhouse, against the government safety watchdog Worksafe.
NZCTU news release. Press and Journal. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
USA: Study exposes racial inequalities in work injuries
Fewer economic opportunities may be exposing black and Hispanic workers in the US to an increased risk of workplace injury, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Southern California and Boston University found that even after adjusting for variables such as education, sex and age, black and foreign-born Hispanic workers often worked in jobs with the highest injury risks and as a result experienced higher rates of work-related disabilities.
Seth A Seabury, Sophie Terp and Leslie I Boden. Racial and ethnic differences in the frequency Of workplace injuries And prevalence of work-related disability, Health Affairs, volume 36, number 2, pages 266-273, February 2017. The Pump Handle. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
USA: Union relief as ‘anti-labor secretary’ withdraws
The decision by fast food magnate and notorious labour rights abuser Andrew Puzder to withdraw his nomination for the post of Labor Secretary has been welcomed by unions and labour rights campaigners. President Trump’s first pick for the role, who had been labelled the ‘anti-labor secretary’ by workplace rights campaigners, saw the writing on the wall as it became apparent he was unlikely to secure the Senate votes necessary to be confirmed in the post.
AFL-CIO news release. Anti-labor secretary webpage. NELP news release. The Hill. New York Times. The Pump Handle. Think Progress. Democracy Now. Risks 789. 23 February 2017
Hazards news, 18 February 2017
Britain: GMB anger at ‘horrific’ bullying of ambulance call staff
The union GMB is calling for urgent government action after it was revealed desperate 999 call handlers attempted suicide amid an “endemic culture of bullying” at a scandal-hit ambulance service. Leaked reports describe a “culture of fear” in the Coxheath Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) run by South East Coast Ambulance Trust (SECAmb), which saw employees subjected to repeated abuse and harassment.
GMB Southern region news release. The Telegraph. BBC News Online. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: Union wins jobs pledge in Tube staffing dispute
Staff on London’s Tube system have voted to accept a London Underground (LU) proposal to restore 325 jobs. TSSA says the move is ‘a first step’ in returning the Tube to a safe staffing level and prompted the union to call off its overtime ban.
TSSA news release. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: RMT in safety dispute on Arriva Rail North
Rail union RMT has informed Arriva Rail North it is in dispute with the company over the future of the safety critical role of train guards. The union said it now intends to move forward with an industrial action ballot.
RMT news release. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: Public backs bid to save work diseases unit
A union campaign to save a highly skilled Barrow team who process claims for industrial illness benefits has received wide public support. Phoenix House in Barrow has been put at risk of closure under Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) plans to shut and relocate several health assessment offices and job centres across Britain.
PCS save Phoenix House petition. North West Evening Mail. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: Usdaw warning on dangerous compensation reforms
Proposed changes to compensation law aimed at cutting whiplash claims will have a devastating effect on injured workers and workplace safety, the retail union Usdaw has warned. Echoing warnings from the TUC, other unions, personal injury lawyers and occupational disease victims’ advocates, the union said lifting the small claims ceiling from £1,000 to £5,000 would price many occupational disease victims out of justice.
Usdaw news release. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: Asbestos on husband’s overalls led to wife’s deadly cancer
A retired chef died as a result of an ‘industrial disease’ caused by exposure to asbestos on her mechanic husband’s work clothes, an inquest has concluded. Jill Moore of Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma aged 71 on 11 November 2016.
East Anglian Daily Times. Newmarket Journal. The Mirror. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: More than £84m awarded by mesothelioma scheme
More than £84 million in compensation has been awarded to sufferers, or the families of those who have died, as part of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS), according to official statistics. The scheme, which is for mesothelioma victims who have been prevented from claiming compensation because they cannot trace a liable employer or an employers’ liability insurer, was introduced after a high profile campaign by unions and occupational disease victims’ advocates.
DWP news release. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: High Court rules on mesothelioma ‘lost years’
A High Court ruling could mean higher payouts for the dependants of people who die from work diseases. Lawyer Harminder Bains said: “This judgment should mean fairer compensation for anyone diagnosed with a life shortening illness, or who has suffered a severe injury, and are faced with the choice of whether to bring claims in their lifetimes, or after their death via their estates.”
Leigh Day news release and the full judgment. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: Heart attack plumber wins workers’ rights fight
A plumber has won a Court of Appeal employment rights battle in the latest significant court ruling over freelance operations in the modern workplace. Gary Smith wanted to reduce his working days at Pimlico Plumbers following a heart attack, but said he was dismissed as a result.
TUC news release. Court judgment. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: Disabled people hide impairments to stay in work
More than half of disabled workers have experienced bullying or harassment at work because of their impairments, a study has found. Nearly six out of 10 (58 per cent) disabled people feel at risk of losing their jobs and one in two (53 per cent) has experienced bullying or harassment at work because of their impairments, according to the research by disability charity Scope.
Scope news release. Morning Star. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: Poor management linked to worker suicides
Two separate inquests have revealed how poor management or witnessing horrific traumas in the workplace can leave workers suicidal.
Leigh Day news release. BBC News Online. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: Heavy work and shifts make it harder to get pregnant
Being employed as a shift worker or in a physically demanding job could make it harder for a woman to get pregnant, a new study has concluded. Scientists found working outside of normal office hours or having a strenuous job may lower a woman’s chances of conceiving via IVF.
Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, Irene Souter, Paige L Williams and others. Occupational factors and markers of ovarian reserve and response among women at a fertility centre, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published Online First, 6 February 2017. London Evening Standard. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: HSE cost recovery dispute process to be ‘independent’
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced that it is to consult on proposals to make the dispute process for its cost recovery scheme fully independent. The Fee for Intervention (FFI) disputes process was due to face a legal challenge, with a judicial review at the Royal Courts of Justice set for 10 and 11 May 2017.
HSE news release and Fee for Intervention scheme guide. Construction Enquirer. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: Contractor jailed after casual labourer’s fatal fall
Manchester building contractor Saleem Hussain has been jailed following the death of a casual labourer who fell nearly seven metres through a fragile roof. Karel Lascos, 45, had been carrying out repair work at Witney Mill, Manchester when the incident occurred on 23 November 2013.
HSE news release. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Britain: TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2017 webpages go live!
The TUC’s webpages for Workers’ Memorial Day have gone live. According to the new TUC online resource to the 28 April annual event: “In 2017 the theme for the day is ‘Good health and safety for all workers whoever they are’ and will focus on inequalities in occupational health and the role unions play in narrowing the inequalities gap.
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2017 webpages. Email details of your 28 April event to the TUC health and safety department. ITUC/Hazards global 28 April events and resources page. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Australia: Union warning on asbestos imports
A four-pillar plan to fight asbestos importation to Australia has been issued by unions. The move by UNIONS NSW came after revelations that an engineering company with a history of importing asbestos is refusing to remove the illegal building material. needs a zero tolerance approach to this deadly material.”
Unions NSW news release. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
European: Coalition calls for glyphosate ban
A European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) is calling for a Europe-wide ban on the toxic pesticide glyphosate. The chemical, which is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Round-Up, the world’s best-selling pesticide, has been linked to cancer and other health effects.
European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Stop Glyphosate’ petition. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Korea: Samsung job caused multiple sclerosis, court rules
In a ground-breaking judgment, a Seoul court has ruled that the multiple sclerosis suffered by a former worker on the LCD production line at Samsung Electronics is a work-related disease. While cancers and other disorders have been recognised officially at other Samsung plants, the 10 February ruling marks the first work-related disease to be recognised on Samsung’s LCD line.
SHARPS news report. The Hankyoreh. Risks 788. 18 February 2017
Hazards news, 11 February 2017
Britain: Insecure work up by over a quarter since 2011
The number of people in insecure work – those working without guaranteed hours or baseline employment rights – has shot up by more than 660,000 (27 per cent) over the past five years, according to new research for the TUC. The trend toward more precarious work, has been linked to higher rates of occupational injuries, work-related ill-health and worker being far less likely to feel able to take sick leave.
TUC news release. Morning Star. The Independent. More on health and safety and insecure work. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Britain: Resources questionmark hangs over HSE health strategy
The Health and Safety Executive’s fledgling health and work strategy has been welcomed by the TUC, but the union body says questions remain over the impact of swingeing funding cuts on the watchdog’s ability to deliver. Commenting on progress on HSE’s December 2016 strategy, which prioritises action on stress, musculoskeletal disorders and occupational lung diseases, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “All the evidence is that the cuts in funding to the HSE and changes to the inspection regime that we have seen over the last seven years have disproportionately impacted on the health agenda.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog. HSE health and work strategy webpages and document. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Britain: Government ‘turns a blind eye’ to tribunal fees injustice
Unions have accused the government of ignoring the devastating deterioration in workplace justice caused by punitive employment tribunal fees. Commenting after the government published its long-awaited review into the impact of employment tribunal fees, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Charging people up to £1,200 to take claim has been a gift to Britain’s worse bosses.”
TUC news release. Unite news release. UNISON news release. The Mirror.
Review of the introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunals, Ministry of Justice, 31 January 2017. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Britain: Unite demands public inquiry into blacklisting
Construction union Unite renewed its demand for a public inquiry into blacklisting this week and backed calls by the Labour MP Chuka Umunna to strengthen the law to prevent blacklisting from happening. The call came ahead of an 8 February Westminster Hall debate on blacklisting led by the senior Labour MP.
Unite news release. Morning Star. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Britain: Usdaw ‘appalled’ as attacks on shopworkers soar
The shopworkers’ union Usdaw has called for urgent preventive action after latest figures showed a sharp upturn in violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures reveal a 40 per cent increase in incidents of violence and abuse against retail staff.
BRC news release. Usdaw news release. Morning Star. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Britain: Tube evacuation shows why staff cuts must be reversed
London Underground union RMT has repeated its call for a reversal in staffing cuts on the Tube system in the wake of a major fire-related incident at London Bridge station. The fire underneath an escalator on 31 January prompted a full evacuation.
RMT news release. The Mirror. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Global: For health’s sake, don’t work over 39 hours per week
People who work more than 39 hours a week are putting their health at risk, new research has found. Australian National University Professor Lyndall Strazdins, who co-authored the study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, said there was a “need to dispel the widespread belief that people need to work long hours to do a good job.”
ANU news release. The New Daily.
Huong Dinha, Lyndall Strazdins, Jennifer Welsh. Hour-glass ceilings: Work-hour thresholds, gendered health inequities, Social Science & Medicine, volume 176, pages 42–51, March 2017. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Britain: Council accepts blame for teacher’s asbestos death
London’s Merton Council has accepted liability for the death of a teacher who was exposed to asbestos at a school in Mitcham. Kathleen Bennett, who died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma aged 66 in May 2015, taught at the St Thomas of Canterbury Middle School during the 1970s and 80s, and has received a compensation settlement of £250,000.
Wimbledon Guardian. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Britain: Boss jailed over asbestos crimes on demolition job
A demolition company director has been jailed after putting workers and nearby residents at risk of “serious harm” by exposing them to asbestos. David Briggs, who runs Bury-based Briggs Demolition, was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison by district judge Nicholas Sanders at a hearing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Oldham Chronicle. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Britain: Director jailed after fireball blasts worker from a skip
The director of a construction company has been jailed for eight months after a young worker receiving life-threatening injuries when a fireball blasted him off of a skip. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found company director David Gordon Stead did not ensure the burning of the waste material was being carried out in a safe or appropriate manner and failed to administer any first aid to the injured worker and did not send him to hospital.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Britain: Bosses get suspended jail terms after posts hit worker
Maurice James Blackford and Susan Hawthorne, the owners of Kidderminster-based fencing contractor Hoo Farm Fencingm have been given suspended jail terms after a worker was hit by timber posts and frames that fell from a forklift truck. Raymond Lainsbury, 49, suffered injuries that still require regular physiotherapy sessions following the incident on 12 February 2016.
HSE news release. Kidderminster Shuttle. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Britain: KFC fined £950k after workers scalded by hot gravy
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has been hit with a bill of almost £1 million after two young workers were burned with hot gravy. In a January 2017 prosecution, KFC admitted criminal safety breaches at two restaurants where employees were hurt and scarred and was ordered to pay £950,000 in fines and £18,700 in costs.
Stockton Council news release. Teesside Gazette. BBC News Online. The Mirror. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Britain: Company didn’t grasp vibration danger to hands
A ground engineering company has been fined after a worker contracted severe hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee working at Keller Limited’s earth retaining division, known as Phi Group, was only diagnosed as suffering from ‘life altering’ HAVS after repeatedly flagging his symptoms to the company for over five years.
HSE news release. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Britain: Overhead crane worker suffers life threatening injuries
A defunct West Yorkshire engineering firm has been fined for the criminal safety breaches that left a worker suffered life changing injuries. HE Realisations Ltd, which was formerly Hogg Engineering Ltd and is now in liquidation, pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences after employee Kevin Tait was struck on the head by a load being lifted by unsuitable and poorly maintained lifting equipment.
HSE news release. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Australia: Pressures make trucking the ‘deadliest workplace’
A report has revealed the major reasons why truck driving is Australia’s deadliest job. Long hours, pressure to drive unsafe schedules with unsafe loads and an inability to raise safety concerns without jeopardising their jobs are among the risks to safety facing drivers, the Macquarie University study found.
Macquarie University news release. Sydney Morning Herald. TWU news report. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Japan: Union chief blasts mooted 100-hour overtime limit
Management and union negotiators in Japan are locking horns over how much overtime employees should be allowed to work during busy periods, as the government mulls a ceiling of 100 hours per month. After attending a meeting of the government’s Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform, union leader Rikio Kozu dismissed the 100-hour limit floated as “totally impossible.”
Japan Times. Nikkei Asian Review. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
USA: Trump order puts safety rules in jeopardy
An executive order issued by US president Donald Trump could significantly limit or even halt the introduction of new regulations by the government safety regulator OSHA and may also put several recently passed regulations in jeopardy. The Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs calls for two prior regulations to be identified for elimination every time a new regulation is issued.
Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, 30 January 2017. Public Citizen news release and detailed analysis of the Executive Order. Business Insurance. CNBC News. The Pump Handle. Statement from Professor Jody Freeman, Harvard Environmental Law Program. Risks 787. 11 February 2017
Hazards news, 4 February 2017
Britain: Stress-inducing MPs need management training
Management training for MPs would help eradicate the widespread stress and bullying reported by their parliamentary staff, the union Unite has said. Unite said an underlying problem is that many MPs have no experience of managing their own employees before they are elected to the House of Commons.
Unite news release. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Britain: Ferry dispute escalates after worker collapses
A health and safety dispute at London’s Woolwich Ferry has escalated after an engineer collapsed from inhaling engine fumes. Unite is currently embroiled in an industrial dispute on behalf of its 36 members working for Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd, the company that runs the ferry service on behalf of Transport for London (TfL).
Unite news release. Morning Star. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Britain: Rail guards again prove their worth, union says
Serious incidents on Britain’s railways demonstrate the role that train guards play is essential for the protection of the travelling public, RMT has told industry’s regulator. A letter from the rail union to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) warns that the incidents on the Bridlington to Sheffield and Littleborough to Smithy Bridge routes both required crucial interventions by the guard, whose role rail operator GTR Southern is bent on undermining.
RMT news release. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Britain: RMT welcomes Arriva Northern offer
RMT has welcomed an offer from rail operator Arriva Northern to work out an agreement with the union on train dispatch methods and staff safety competencies. It said the union “particularly welcomes the fact that the company says it is prepared to offer a guarantee of a second person in addition to the driver on their trains.”
RMT news release. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Britain: 'Alarming' rise in attacks on school staff in Wales
Teachers and school staff in Wales have been the victims of more than 1,500 physical and verbal attacks by pupils every year, new figures have shown. Teaching union NUT Cymru had responses from 17 of Wales' 22 local authorities to freedom of information (FOI) requests.
NUT Cymru news release. BBC News Online. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Britain: Pregnancy discrimination plans don’t go far enough
Government plans to address discrimination against pregnant women at work don’t go far enough, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy response to an August 2016 report from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee on pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace… TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said it was “pretty scandalous” that the government had rejected the committee’s call for an improved role for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “in ensuring compliance and research into how to encourage greater enforcement.”
TUC news release. TUC Stronger Unions blog. Department for Business news release. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Britain: NHS workers quitting over low pay and stress
Staff shortages in the NHS have shot up by 6,000 in 18 months, reflecting staff dissatisfaction with their working conditions, the union GMB has said. The Department for Health’s information service NHS Digital reported the number of unfilled posts increased by a quarter from 23,427 in February 2015 to 29,309 in September 2016 — the latest month for which figures are available.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Britain: JD Sports staff hospitalised 140 times in four years
At least 140 people have been taken to hospital after incidents at JD Sports’ controversial warehouse in Rochdale in the last four years. A freedom of information request obtained by the Guardian shows that ambulances have been dispatched to the site 166 times in the last four years, with 140 of these incidents leading to someone being transported to hospital.
The Guardian. Channel 4 News JD Sports investigation. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Britain: Asbestos removal firm fined after botched jobs
Midlands-based firm Enviro-Safe Limited have been fined for failing to meet the standards required when removing asbestos. Birmingham Magistrates Court heard how the company failed to protect its employees from the spread of asbestos fibres during the removal work at separate projects.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Britain: Worker exposed to high level of carbon monoxide
A construction firm has been fined for criminal safety breaches after workers were exposed to carbon monoxide and other hazardous substances. Hull Magistrates Court heard how in October 2015 the Westlands Construction Ltd workers were using a petrol powered saw to cut out an existing concrete floor at a fish factory in Hull.
HSE news release and webpage on carbon monoxide hazards. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Britain: University fined after experiment nearly kills students
A university has been fined after two students fell seriously ill following a botched laboratory experiment. Students at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle drank a solution with 100 times the amount of caffeine that should have been taken as part of the experiment.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Cosmopolitan. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Britain: Three construction firms fined after roof fall
Three companies from Essex have been fined after a worker was lucky to survive a fall through a fragile roof he was replacing. Chelmsford Crown Court heard how Rafal Myslim was standing on the fragile roof at Dengie Crops Ltd in Asheldem, when the asbestos sheeting gave way and he fell 7.5 metres onto a concrete floor, hitting a number of pipes on the way down.
HSE news release. Daily Gazette. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Canada: Unions welcome backing for asbestos law
Unions in British Columbia have welcomed the backing of the Canadian province’s top court for a law protecting asbestos removal workers. The BC Insulators Union and the BC Federation of Labour said they were ‘extremely relieved’ the BC Court of Appeal had unanimously overturned a February 2016 BC Supreme Court ruling that laws protecting asbestos removal workers from the deadly substance were too “voluminous and complex” to enforce by safety regulator WorkSafeBC.
BC Federation of Labour news release. BC Court of Appeal ruling. Voice Online. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Global: Russian ‘mafia’ is pushing asbestos
The Russian mafia is the force behind a powerful international pro-asbestos lobby, a Senate inquiry in Brisbane, Australia, has heard. A federal Senate committee is investigating how potentially lethal building products, some including banned asbestos, are making their way into the country.
ABC News. Australian government enquiry into non-conforming building products. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Europe: Lobbyists fight against workplace cancer protection
Industry lobbyists from across Europe are waging a well-resourced campaign to block measures to protect workers from substances that can cause cancer and other serious health effects. Nine of the biggest industry lobby groups in Brussels sent a joint letter in January to members of the committee, urging the lawmakers to drop amendments to the carcinogens directive that would promote stricter exposure limits, better monitoring of employees’ health, or the addition of other dangerous substances to the regulation.
TUC Touchstone blog. Joint industry letter to members of the Parliament’s employment committee, January 2017. European Parliament discussions on the draft directive. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
USA: Chemical industry emboldened by Trump’s UN pick
The woman chosen by president Donald Trump and now confirmed as the US ambassador to the United Nations has launched a scathing attack on the international body which could embolden an industry lobby angry at the UN’s role in assessing chemical cancer risks. During her confirmation hearing, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley said: “When we look at the United Nations, we see a chequered history… any honest assessment finds an institution that is often at odds with the American national interest and American taxpayers.”
American Chemistry Council news release. Work Cancer Hazards blog. The Hill. CNN News.
Neil Pearce, Aaron Blair, Paolo Vineis and others. IARC Monographs: 40 Years of Evaluating Carcinogenic Hazards to Humans, Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 123, issue 6, June 2015. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
USA: Trump era dangers for Latino workers
The Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented workers living in the US could increase the already sky-high fatality rates among Latino workers, safety advocates have warned. Jessica Martinez, the co-executive director at the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, said: “When you combine the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Trump administration with the likelihood of decreased enforcement, it’s a very scary situation.”
Payday Report. Risk 786. 4 February 2017
Hazards news, 28 January 2017
Britain: New plan to help union reps banish work stress
A new TUC-backed guide us set to help trade union health and safety representatives tackle workplace stress. The resource, produced jointly with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), is designed to help union representatives work with employers to find practical solutions to work-related stress.
TUC news release. Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives, January 2017. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Britain: Pilots welcome landmark victory against Jet2
The pilots’ union BALPA has won a key legal case establishing the union right to negotiate the full range of terms and conditions for their members. The case involving Leeds-based airline Jet2 at the Court of Appeal centred around whether rostering and scheduling of pilots fell within the scope of the “pay, hours and holidays” on which BALPA could negotiate with the employer.
BALPA news release and Court of Appeal ruling. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Britain: Probe call after Qatar World Cup stadium death
There must be an immediate and transparent investigation by the Qatar government into the death of a British worker during the construction of the Khalifa International football stadium in Doha, the UK construction union Unite has said. The man, aged 40, fell when a platform used to manage sound and lighting collapsed at the stadium on 20 January, the construction contractor Midmac-Six Construct joint venture said.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Britain: Jaguar punished after Unite member loses leg
An incident where a Unite member lost his leg at a Jaguar Land Rover plant has been described as ‘shocking’ by the union. The luxury car manufacturer was convicted of a criminal safety offence and fined £900,000 after Mark Widnall was crushed at the vehicle plant in Solihull in 2015.
Unite news release. HSE news release. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Britain; Cuts blamed for rising fire deaths
Resource cuts are responsible for a sharp rise in the number of people who have died as a result of fires in the home, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. The union was speaking out after the Home Office released its latest Fire Incident Response Times statistical bulletin.
FBU news release. Fire Incident Response Times statistical bulletin, Home Office, 19 January 2017. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Britain: Firefighters sent home for safety stand
A chief fire officer has been accused of behaving recklessly after he sent home two firefighters from their shift on 16 January when they refused to operate a Tactical Response Vehicle (TRV). The furefighters were heeding a warning from their union FBU that these vehicles are unsafe.
FBU news release. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Britain: Bosses need to sharpen up on work dress
Too many employers are ‘stuck in the past’ on workplace dress codes, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting after a report on high heels and workplace dress codes was published this week by two committees of MPs, which said the government must enforce the law properly to ban sexist dress rules at work that discriminate against women.
Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committee news release and High Heels and Workplace Dress Codes – summary, conclusions and recommendations and full report, 25 January 2017. TUC news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Britain: Man died just 'after being found fit to work'
A man died on his way home from a benefits appointment six months after being declared ‘fit to work’, his family have said. Lawrence Bond, 56, suffered a fatal heart attack on 12 January after leaving Kentish Town Jobcentre.
Camden New Journal. The Independent. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Britain: Sports Direct modern slavery brothers jailed
Two brothers who trafficked 18 people from Poland to the UK and subjected them to violence and intimidation have been jailed. Erwin and Krystian Markowski, both from Nottingham, recruited the vulnerable men to work at the Sports Direct warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.
Nottinghamshire Police news release. BBC News Online. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Britain: Overworked junior doctors falling asleep at the wheel
At least four in 10 junior doctors have fallen asleep while driving home from a long night shift, according to research for BBC’s Inside Out programme. Out of 1,100 newly qualified doctors surveyed, 41 per cent of them said they had nodded off at the wheel.
Inside Out South, 23 January 2017. Morning Star. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Britain: Outdoor work is a deadly skin cancer risk
British workers exposed to the elements account for 2 per cent of cases of the most deadly form of skin cancer, a new study has concluded. Exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun while at work leads to one death and five new cases of malignant melanoma every week, the authors found.
Imperial College London news release. Work Cancer Hazards blog. Daily Mirror.
Lesley Rushton and Sally J Hutchings. The burden of occupationally-related cutaneous malignant melanoma in Britain due to solar radiation, short communication, British Journal of Cancer, advance online publication, 17 January 2017 [abstract]. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Britain: Bakery giant fined £2 million over broken back
National bread maker Warburtons has been fined £2 million after a worker was hospitalised following a fall that subsequently cost him his job. Andrew Sears was off work for more than a year after being hospitalised with a compression fracture to his spine, a court heard.
HSE news release. Express and Star. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Britain: Asbestos analyst falsified dust readings
An asbestos analyst has been fined after he falsified an asbestos air clearance certificate, following a licensed asbestos removal job in Manchester. Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how Barrie Lyons, a well-trained asbestos analyst with 29 years of experience, was contracted to carry out the final inspection and air testing, following asbestos removal at a construction site in central Manchester.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Bangladesh: Garment brands exploiting kids
Major brands are implicated in the exploitation of child labour in garment factories in Bangladesh, a report has concluded. Researchers from the Stop Child Labour coalition found low wages and long working hours at firms supplying multinationals including C&A, The Gap, H&M, Esprit and Marks and Spencer play a key role in the decision of parents to take their children out of school and allow them in to work.
Stop Child Labour news release and Branded Childhood report. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Japan: Government tells workers to take a break
The Japanese government is urging people to leave work early and go shopping in an attempt to reduce deaths from overwork and to boost the ailing economy. The voluntary policy - known as Premium Friday - calls on employers to let their workers out at 3pm on the last Friday of every month to start the weekend early.
Sydney Morning Herald video report. London Evening Standard. Fortune. Japan Times. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
USA: Workers win move towards a violence standard
A union call for a new official rule to protect workers from violence is moving forward. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the USA’s federal safety regulator, told a stakeholder meeting it was accepting the petitions submitted by unions to the Department of Labor last year and would commence rule making on a workplace violence standard to protect workers in health care and social assistance.
AFL-CIO Now blog. OSHA workplace violence webpages. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
USA: Report highlights the lifesaving role of enforcement
A commitment to effective regulation and enforcement of workplace safety was behind the Obama administration’s ‘exemplary’ record on workplace safety, a new report has concluded. The policy brief from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) notes that ‘adopting and enforcing sensible rules saves lives’.
Worker safety and health in the Obama years: An exemplary record, NELP policy brief, January 2017. Risks 785. 28 January 2017
Hazards news, 21 January 2017
Britain: Organising around health and safety just got easier
A brand new TUC ‘eNote’ is now available to anyone who wants to make their workplace safer through building a strong union. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “An eNote is a great resource to help representatives get a good grasp of an issue and this one is a self-contained module that contains a mixture of text, video and quizzes that you can work through.”
Register for TUC eNotes. TUC Stronger Unions blog. TUC health and safety organising guide. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Britain: Union victory in unsafe hospital equipment row
A union campaign has won the reinstatement of two hospital porters five weeks after they were suspended for refusing to use dangerous equipment. The two men, one of whom was a GMB union representative, were working at Watford General Hospital for Medirest when they refused to use food trolleys they described as “damaged and unsafe in a manner that could injure themselves and patients”.
St Albans Review. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Britain: Physios set out to pinpoint the pressure
A new workplace campaign by the physiotherapists’ union CSP is aiming ‘to tackle growing and unreasonable workloads’. Launching the new ‘Pinpoint the pressure’ campaign, the union says rather than struggling alone, “we want to get you thinking about what you can do to support each other – and to help find improvements that could alleviate these problems.”
CSP Frontlines article and Pinpoint the pressure resource pack, action plan, message to managers and campaign webpage Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Britain: RMT deadline for assurance on Merseyrail guards
Rail union RMT has told Merseyrail it will be in dispute with the company if it fails by 26 January to provide ‘cast-iron assurances around the future of the safety critical role of the guard.’ The union has written to Merseyrail following the recent announcement that new rolling stock to be procured for the network would be configured for driver-only operation (DOO), and that guards would be removed from all Merseyrail services.
RMT news release. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Britain: Union protest over poor port facilities at Liverpool
Union members have demonstrated over the lack of decent welfare facilities for dock workers and drivers visiting the port of Liverpool’s Seaforth container terminal. The protest by Unite members working for Peel Ports, one of the UK’s largest port operators, took place on 13 January.
Unite news release. Liverpool Echo. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Britain: School support staff are exhausted and stressed
Support staff in Scotland's schools are feeling exhausted, undervalued and stressed, according to their union. Announcing the findings of what it said was probably the ‘largest ever’ survey of school support staff, UNISON said its survey confirms the enormous stress this puts on support staff, with 40 per cent carrying out unpaid work because of high workloads, 80 per cent saying workloads have increased and 60 per cent saying morale is ‘low’.
UNISON Scotland news release and report Hard Lessons: UNISON survey of school support staff Jan 2017. BBC News Online. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Britain: Unions seek work rights clarity from Theresa May
Workers need more clarity from the prime minister on her pledge to protect workers’ rights after the UK leaves the European Union, the TUC has said. The union call came after Theresa May said the UK “cannot possibly” remain within the European single market.
Theresa May’s speech, 17 January 2017. TUC news release. BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Britain: New labour tsar must investigate ASOS
The government’s labour market tsar must investigate working conditions at the online fashion retailer ASOS, the GMB has said. In a letter Sir David Metcalf, the newly appointed Director of Labour Market Enforcement, the union calls for an investigation into working practices at the giant ASOS warehouse in Barnsley.
GMB news release. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Britain: Crisp firm fined for chopped fingers
A crisp and snacks manufacturer has been fined after an agency worker lost part of three fingers. Northampton Crown Court heard how the worker, working at Tayto Group Limited, was clearing a blockage of material from a machine on the production line when the worker’s hand came into contact with shears and three fingers on his right hand were severed, below the first knuckle.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Britain: Waste worker loses both legs
A Welsh landfill company have been fined after a worker had to have both legs amputated after being run over at work. Mold Crown Court heard how tractor driver Emrys Hughes was walking across the yard at the Bryn Posteg Landfill site in Llanidloes, when he was hit by a large shovel loader.
HSE news release and waste transport webpages. Daily Post. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Britain: Rochdale’s risky roofer gets fined
A roofing contractor has been fined after putting the lives of two employees at risk when working at height without protection against falls. The employees of Rochdale-based MW Roofing (NW) Ltd were removing a chimney on a two storey house when they were seen accessing the roof via a roof ladder, without any fall prevention measures.
HSE news release and working at height webpages. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Britain: Get ready for International Workers’ Memorial Day
This year’s International Workers Memorial Day will focus on inequalities in occupational health and the role unions play in narrowing the inequalities gap. The TUC says this theme for the world’s largest health and safety campaign, held on 28 April each year, will allow unions to raise discrimination based on gender, race, origins and class, which have all been linked to higher rates of occupational disease and injury.
International Workers’ Memorial Day – TUC and ITUC/Hazards 28 April webpages. The main twitter hashtag will be #iwmd17 Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Asia: Big jump in e-waste imports, study finds
The volume of discarded electronics in East and South-East Asia jumped by two-thirds between 2010 and 2015, and e-waste generation and is growing fast and exposing workers to hazards, new research has found. Study co-author Shunichi Honda co-author said. “Associations have been reported between exposure from improper treatment of e-waste and altered thyroid function, reduced lung function, negative birth outcomes, reduced childhood growth, negative mental health outcomes, impaired cognitive development, cytotoxicity and genotoxicity.”
United Nations University news release and Regional E-waste Monitor: East and Southeast Asia. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Canada: Plan for new work diseases response team
Ontario aims to have a dedicated occupational disease response team in place by the end of the year to improve prevention and enforcement, as well as help workers who get sick from chemical exposures file compensation claims. The move comes after press reports on the struggle of hundreds of former General Electric (GE) workers to get compensation for often terminal illnesses like brain cancer.
Toronto Star. IAFF presumptive laws webpages. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Canada: Union presses for rail fatigue action
The union that represents conductors and train drivers at Canadian Pacific Railway is asking employees to come forward if they feel they’ve been forced to go to work tired. Teamsters Canada has created a platform for CP Rail employees to self-report if they have been “intimidated into reporting to work fatigued.”
Teamsters Canada. Calgary Herald. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Pakistan: Five more burn to death at Gadani yard
At least five workers died in a fire onboard an LPG container ship at the Gadani shipbreaking yard in Pakistan on 9 January. Yet despite scores of fatalities at Gadani in the last few months, the global union IndustriALL says no measures have been taken to improve safety.
IndustriALL news release. Labour Watch Pakistan. Risks 784. 21 January 2017
Hazard news, 14 January 2017
Europe: ‘Relief and disappointment’ at new EU safety policy
The TUC has given a heavily qualified welcome to the new and long delayed European Union health and safety blueprint. The communication released by the European Commission on 10 January prioritises action on cancer-causing substances, stress and musculoskeletal disorders, but steers clear of legislative action.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and briefing. European Commission news release and Communication - Safer and Healthier Work for All - Modernisation of the EU Occupational Safety and Health Legislation Policy. CIEH news release. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Britain: Labour market watchdog needs to bear teeth
Naming and shaming rogue companies is not enough and bad bosses must be prosecuted, the GMB has said. The union was commenting after Sir David Metcalf was named by the government as the first director of labour market enforcement, and will oversee the work of three regulators - the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS), and the HMRC National Minimum Wage (HMRC-NMW) enforcement team.
Department for Business news release. GMB news release. IoD news release. Morning Star. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Britain: Pilots want action on growing drone problem
Pilots have cautioned that 2017 could see even more close calls involving drones and aircraft – perhaps even a collision – as figures show reports have more than doubled in a year. With drones one of the most sought-after Christmas gifts once again in 2016, the pilots’ union BALPA expressed concern this could lead to a serious incident if users don’t follow the rules.
BALPA news release. CAA drone code. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Britain: Unions welcome copter checks after helideck incident
Unions have welcomed the recall of type of Sikorsky helicopter for safety checks after an incident on 28 December 2016. A S-92 gouged a slit in the helideck, damaged its wheels and spun on the deck of Total’s West Franklin platform when it was forced to land.
AAIB bulletin. RMT news release. BALPA news release. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Energy Voice. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Britain: Solid action in defence of Tube safety
‘Solid’ strike action in January was in defence of safety standards on London Underground, rail unions have said. They warn cuts have left Tube safety procedures ‘decimated’, with the system now ‘an under-staffed death trap.’
TSSA news release. RMT news release. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Britain: Unions criticise regulator’s Southern Rail ‘whitewash’
A transport safety regulator is being used by Southern Rail to downplay the safety implications of driver-only operated (DOO) trains, unions have warned. An Office of Rail and Road (ORR) report issued ahead of strike action on the Southern Rail network, “is a complete whitewash that proves conclusively that the Office of Road and Rail is no longer fit for purpose and is nothing more than an arm of government, wholly committed to propping up the train companies and the Department for Transport,” RMT’s Mick Cash said.
ASLEF news release and related release. RMT news release. Morning Star. Evening Standard. Surrey News. Report on GTR-Southern’s Driver Only Operation, ORR, 5 January 2017. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Britain: Campaigners slam May’s ‘woeful’ mental health plan
Workplace campaigners have said a speech by Theresa May outlining her action plan for mental health fails to address root causes and the government-imposed funding crisis blighting mental health services. The union GMB said the prime minister was “in a dangerous state of denial” about the economic drivers of mental ill-health and the impact of government cuts on mental health services.
Prime Minister’s Office news release, Charity Commission speech and Huffington Post article. GMB news release. Hazards Campaign news release. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Global: ‘Time to act’ on healthcare worker suicides
Burnout and suicides have reached ‘crisis’ proportions in healthcare workers, an editorial in the Lancet has warned. The 7 January commentary notes: “Now is not the time to become complacent or to let the health of medical workers slip down the political agenda, but to start 2017 by following a lead taken by the National Academy of Medicine: to ensure that the health and resilience of our medical workforce are the highest priorities in every country.”
Suicide among health-care workers: time to act. Editorial. The Lancet, 7 January 2017. NAM news release. More on work-related suicide. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Britain: Incentive pay schemes make workers sick
Incentive-related pay schemes can stress rather than motivate employees, according to new research. The study by academics from the universities of East Anglia and Sheffield explored the relationship between three types of ‘contingent pay’ – performance-related, profit-related, and employee share-ownership – and positive employee attitudes such as job satisfaction, employee commitment and trust in management.
UEA news release. Chidiebere Ogbonnaya, Kevin Daniels and Karina Nielsen. Does contingent pay encourage positive employee attitudes and intensify work?, Human Resource Management Journal. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Britain: Plant hire boss jailed after deadly platform collapse
A plant hire boss has been jailed for two years after a worker was killed when a mobile platform collapsed. Safety net rigger Gary Currie and his colleague Alexander Nisbet were in the basket of the platform removing netting from the facade of an office block in Glasgow when the third main boom section buckled causing the platform’s basket to fall 28 metres, killing Currie and seriously injuring Nisbet.
COPFS news release. STV News. Construction Enquirer. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Britain: Wilko fined £2.2m over part-timer crushed by paint
National chain store Wilko has been fined £2.2m after a worker was crushed and left paralysed. Corisande Collins, who was 20 at the time of the incident, was pinned beneath a metal cage full of paint while she was working at a store in Leicester in 2013.
Leicester City Council news release. Leicester Mercury. BBC News Online. Banbury Guardian. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Britain: Network Rail fined £800,000 after train hits worker
Network Rail has been fined £800,000 in a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), for a serious criminal safety breach which left a worker with life-threatening injuries. Track worker Alan Evans sustained multiple serious injuries when he was struck on the right shoulder by a train in June 2014, while performing rail maintenance work near Redhill in Surrey.
ORR news release. Brighton Argus. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Europe: Work chemicals safety inspection blitz to start
An inspection programme by health and safety regulators across the European Union is to determine how legally required safety information on hazardous chemicals is communicated in company supply chains and followed in workplaces. The key element of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) project will be to investigate the quality of the safety data sheets that contain guidelines on the safe use of hazardous substances.
ECHA news release. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
USA: New stricter beryllium limit will save lives
A new rule issued by the US safety regulator OSHA dramatically lowers workplace exposure limit for beryllium. The final rule will reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit from the previous level of 2.0 micrograms per cubic metre to 0.2 micrograms per cubic metre; the UK limit remains at a level 10 times higher than the new US limit.
OSHA news release. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
USA: Work with BPA leads to enormous body load
Some workers who make or work with the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) have levels in their bodies 1,000 times higher than the general public, a study by a US government agency has found. The research led by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found, on average, these workers had 70 times more of the chemical in their bodies than the general public, levels well above what has been shown to affect reproduction.
Work Cancer Hazards blog. NIOSH blog. Environmental Health News.
Cynthia J Hines and others. Urinary bisphenol A (BPA) concentrations among workers in industries that manufacture and use BPA in the USA, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, 1 January 2017. Risks 783. 14 January 2017
Hazards news, 7 January 2017
Britain: Prime minister must stand firm on workers’ rights
The TUC has called on prime minister Theresa May to make clear to Britain’s bosses that any watering down of workers’ rights following Brexit is off the table. The call follows the emergence of a letter sent to MPs by well-connected Brexiteer Simon Boyd, the head of REIDsteel, which details a list of workers’ rights on areas such as working hours, holiday pay and health and safety that he wants abolished once we leave the EU.
TUC news release. Simon Boyd’s letter to MPs. The Express. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: Resources questionmark over health and work strategy
A new ‘health and work’ strategy launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) addresses some of the glaring omissions in previous strategy initiatives, the union Prospect has indicated, but raises questions about what can be achieved as the safety regulator struggles with a severe funding squeeze.
Prospect news release. HSE news release, health and work strategy webpages and document. HSE business plan 2016/17 and Helping Great Britain work well strategy. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: Crossrail emails expose the physical and mental toll
Workers on Crossrail, one of the UK’s biggest construction projects, have faced overcrowded conditions and physical and mental exhaustion, according to internal company documents obtained by the construction union UCATT. An email from ATC’s industrial relations manager Nicola Brown reported: “No toilets in tunnel this morning and no communication to workforce, two miles walking to toilet,” adding: “Current mood on site — workforce are exhausted, physically and mentally.”
UCATT news release. Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: Offshore workers fearful for their safety
Almost 60 per cent of offshore workers fear for their health and safety and say that standards have dropped in the past six months, according to a new report from Unite. The union’s survey found 58.5 per cent of offshore employees said there had been a drop in standards in the last six months, with fear of victimisation for reporting an incident reported by 38.5 per cent.
The National. STV News. BBC News Online. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: Lorry drivers need better loos
Lorry drivers are not being provided with adequate toilet facilities, their union Unite has said. The union is calling on the government to introduce a legally-binding code of practice so that hundreds of thousands of lorry drivers have adequate parking and eating facilities, decent showers and toilets when they are travelling across the UK for up to five-days-at-a-time.
Unite news release. Transport minister John Hayes’ written statement, 20 December 2017. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: NHS staff should not have to work in fear
The sharp increase in the number of violent assaults against health service employees in England – up by over a fifth in the last five years – is completely unacceptable and requires urgent government action, public service union UNISON has said. Latest figures published by NHS Protect show that in 2015/16 there were 70,555 violent incidents involving health workers, compared to the 57,830 reported five years ago - a 22 per cent increase.
UNISON news release. NHS Protect statistics 2015/16. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: Injured will lose as insurers pocket millions
Government plans to clamp down on perceived fraud in whiplash claims include measures to remove access to free or affordable legal advice for 95 per cent of all personal injury claimants, civil service union PCS has warned. The union says behind the claims that car insurance premiums will be reduced due to restricting bogus whiplash claims, is a “sinister attempt to impose a baseless 500 per cent increase to the small claims limit for all personal injury claims, whether they occur on the road, in the workplace, or anywhere else.”
PCS news release. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: Blade slashes worker’s hand
A worker who suffered a deep laceration injury and nerve damage to his right hand has secured £75,000 in damages in a Unite-backed claim. Tool prep technician Marc Jobes was talking to a colleague in the tool room at Kobusch UK Ltd’s food packaging factory near Stanley, County Durham, when he lost his balance and put his hand on a work bench to steady himself, cutting himself on blades left on the work surface.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: Teacher payouts reflect falling budgets and standards
Teaching staff are facing stress-inducing pressures as budgets and staffing levels fall, Scottish union EIS has said. The union, which in the last year secured over £600,000 in compensation settlements for members harmed by their jobs, said the way to reduce this compensation bill was to make work safer and healthier.
EIS news release. BBC News Online. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: Unite signs up to voluntary silica dust action pact
Unite has joined industry representatives, academics and safety and health professionals signing up to a voluntary 12-month plan of action to tackle the risks from inhaling silica dust at work. Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is encountered in a wide range of jobs from construction, to mining, ceramics, stone masonry, quarrying, brickmaking and fracking – however the voluntary IOSH-backed pact falls short of a key union demand for a tighter silica exposure standard, backed up by rigorous enforcement.
IOSH news release, Tackling respirable crystalline silica together: a cross industry commitment and No time to lose campaign. ITUC/Hazards Work Cancer Hazards blog. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: Gangmasters settle modern slavery claim
Kent-based gangmaster DJ Houghton Chicken Catching Services has agreed to a landmark settlement worth more than £1m in compensation and legal costs for a group of migrants who were trafficked to work on farms producing eggs for high street brands. The deal reached with six Lithuanian chicken catchers is the first settlement of a claim against a British company in relation to modern slavery, and came after the group became frustrated at the lack of a criminal prosecution.
Leigh Day news release. The Guardian. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
USA: Low levels of manganese cause neurological problems
Welders exposed to airborne manganese at levels below official occupational safety limits exhibit neurological problems similar to Parkinson’s disease, a study has warned. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis found the more they are exposed to manganese-containing welding fumes, the faster the workers’ signs and symptoms worsen.
American Association of Neurology news release. Washington University in St. Louis news release. Racette BA, Nielsen SS, Criswell SR, Sheppard L, Seixas N, Warden MN, Checkoway H. Dose-dependent progression of parkinsonism in manganese-exposed welders, Neurology, published online ahead of print 28 December 2016. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: Oil giant’s appeal against £3m fine dismissed
Energy giant ConocoPhillips (UK) Ltd has failed in its bid to reduce the level of fine handed down after multiple gas releases at an offshore facility in the North Sea. Dismissing the appeal, held in the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Lord Justice Treacy that court the company had fallen short of appropriate standards and the case was one of high culpability.
HSE news release. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: British Airways fined for shaky practices
British Airways plc has been fined £6,500 for failing to protect its workers from exposure to vibration. Paisley Sheriff Court heard how employees working within the composite workshop at the firm’s Glasgow base were exposed them to the risk of hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), a condition that can cause potentially permanent symptoms such as tingling, pins and needles, numbness and pain in the hands.
HSE news release. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Britain: Human cannonball death boss gets community service
The organiser of a daredevil stunt show in which a novice ‘human cannonball’ died has been given a 12-month community order. Scott May and the company, Stunts UK Ltd, admitted failing to ensure the safety of workers at the 2011 event in which 24-year-old Matthew Cranch died.
Sky News. BBC News Online. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Canada: Asbestos ban hailed as a union victory
In a major victory for Canada’s trade union movement, the country’s federal government has announced a ban on the import, export, manufacture and use of asbestos. Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the global union confederation ITUC, said “we congratulate the Canadian trade union movement for this success, and the government’s move will increase pressure on other countries which still have not implemented a ban.”
ITUC news release. CLC news release. Government of Canada news release. IBAS news release. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
France: French workers have the right to switch off
French companies are now required to guarantee their employees a “right to disconnect” from technology. The new law came into force at the start of the year, and obliges organisations with more than 50 workers to start negotiations to define the rights of employees to ignore their smartphones.
International Business Times. The Guardian. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
Japan: Ad agency boss resigns over overwork suicide
Tadashi Ishii, the president and chief executive of the advertising agency Dentsu, is to resign in the wake of an employee suicide. A president in the 1950s urged its employees to work single-mindedly to complete tasks and satisfy clients, “even if it kills you” - and the company continued to print the exhortation in training materials until after Matsuri Takahashi’s death, when it had it removed.
New York Times. BBC News Online. Asahi Shimbun. Risks 782. 7 January 2017
USA: Trump's labour pick is bad news for workers
Donald Trump’s pick for the new US secretary of labor is a notorious opponent of protective employment and safety rights. Burger magnate Andrew Puzder, whose mandate will cover the federal safety regulator OSHA, is on record saying workers are “overprotected” and is an advocate of replacing human workers with machines, because machines are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”
Mother Jones. AFL-CIO Now blog. Raw Story. Risks 782. 7 January 2017