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Hazards news, 23 May 2020

Britain: Government creates illusion of Covid-19 safety spot checks
The government is talking workplace safety “without actually doing anything about it,” the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors’ union Prospect has charged. Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy was responding to reports that HSE is carrying out no physical spot checks and has no date set for their restart.
Prospect news release. i news. The Guardian. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: Studies cast doubt on Covid-19 restart safety assurances
A light breeze can spread a viral plume over 6 metres in under two seconds, a new study has shown, casting doubt on claims Covid-19 risks are insignificant in construction and other outdoor work, while other studies have warned that apparently healthy ‘presymptomatic and asymptomatic’ individuals can present a significant infection risk, and normal speech can spread the virus.
Talib Dbouk and Dimitris Drikakis. On coughing and airborne droplet transmission to humans, Physics of Fluids, volume 32, issue 5, published online 19 May 2020.
Furukawa NW, Brooks JT, Sobel J. Evidence supporting transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 while presymptomatic or asymptomatic, Emerging Infectious Diseases, volume 26, number 7, July 2020.
Lucy Rivett and others. Screening of healthcare workers for SARS-CoV-2 highlights the role of asymptomatic carriage in COVID-19 transmission, CITIID-NIHR COVI Bioresource Collaboration, medRxiv, published online 15 May 2020.
Krystal J Godri Pollitt and others. COVID-19 vulnerability: the potential impact of genetic susceptibility and airborne transmission, Human Genomics volume 14, article number 17, published online 12 May 2020.
Working safely during coronavirus (Covid-19): Construction and other outdoor work, BEIS, updated 19 May 2020. All government guides by sector. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain; Almost all teachers concerned at school opening plans
The government must provide the scientific evidence to justify the decision to reopen some schools from 1 June, the teaching union NASUWT has said. It warned that teachers ‘remain far from unconvinced’ that reopening can be safely or practicably achieved by this date.
NASUWT news release and call on the government to release the scientific evidence. BBC News Online. Morning Star. The Guardian and related editorial and article on the local authority ‘rebellion’. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: NEU calls for openness on school reopening plan
The government must make public the evidence informing its plan to start reopening schools on 1 June, the teaching union NEU has said. The union was commenting after challenges to Boris Johnson’s claim 25,000 contact tracers, able to track 10,000 new cases a day, would be in place by 1 June.
NEU news release and related news release. NHS Confederation news release and letter to health secretary Matt Hancock. BBC News Online and related story. The Guardian. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: School support staff say 1 June reopening ‘unrealistic’
Reopening schools on 1 June is unrealistic as key safety tests have not been met, UNISON has warned. UNISON head of education Jon Richards said “the DfE guidance has a number of holes, and the government has neither met unions’ safety tests nor its own,” adding: “That’s why the beginning of June for reopening is unrealistic.”
UNISON news release. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: EIS lays ‘red lines’ before Scottish school can reopen
Unresolved ‘challenges’ must be overcome before any Scottish schools reopen, the teaching union EIS has said. Over 26,000 EIS members – including teachers from every local authority in Scotland – took part in a survey which identified solid support for the union’s ‘red lines’.
EIS news release. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: University reopening plans ‘only adding to confusion’
The government needs to step in and underwrite fees and teaching grants lost by universities and universities must in turn promise to work together on plans for safely reopening, lecturers’ union UCU has said. Plans from universities to either ban face-to-face lectures, try blended learning and to try and reopen fully in September are only adding to the confusion for students, the union said.
UCU news release. UNISON news release and Protect higher education campaign. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: Tube drivers sent home after raising safety concerns
At least 30 Tube drivers were sent home from work on 18 May after they expressed concerns about their safety and that of their passengers, their union said, as more people returned to work after the coronavirus lockdown was eased in England. Train drivers’ union ASLEF accused the government of regarding Transport for London (TfL) workers as “nothing more than collateral damage” after rail and Tube operators increased services this week.
ASLEF news release. The Independent. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: RMT calls for binding Covid-19 rail transport rules
Rail union RMT is calling for new compulsory protections for passengers and rail workers on trains. Commenting as the increased rail service timetable came into effect on 18 May, the union said there must be compulsory 2-metre social distancing, reflecting official guidance to the public.
RMT news release.  Morning Star. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: Answers needed on high rates of Covid-19 in BAME workers
Transport union RMT has written to industry bosses and safety regulators seeking ‘answers and protections’ to address the high rates of Covid-19 in Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) workers in the transport sector. The union said it has reminded employers that there is ‘concrete evidence’ regarding the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME workers and has raised a series of questions with transport bosses and safety regulators.
RMT news release. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: Belly Mujinga’s death has ‘touched the nation’
Rail union TSSA has said it has been ‘overwhelmed’ by the response to the death last week of union member Belly Mujinga from Covid-19. Belly was working as a ticket office clerk at London’s Victoria Station when she and a colleague were spat and coughed at on the concourse by a man claiming to have the infection.
TSSA news release. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: London transport advice and funding a mess
The government is at ‘sixes and sevens’ over its London transport policy and plans to get commuters back to work, Unite has said. The union said that the £1.6bn government bailout - a combination of grant and loans -  for Transport for London (TfL), after the dramatic slump in passenger numbers, had too onerous conditions attached to it, such as the reintroduction of congestion charges and that the funding was only for four months.
Unite news release. TfL news release. Evening Standard. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: Bereavement scheme extended after backlash
A bereavement scheme set up to support the families of workers who die of coronavirus has been extended to the families and dependants of all NHS support staff and social care workers. The Home Office made the announcement following criticism from unions and others that care workers, cleaners and porters had been left out of the scheme, which only applied to certain occupations including nurses, biochemists and radiographers.
Home Office news release. GMB news release. Evening Standard. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: G4S sick pay fails prison officers at high virus risk
Private prison operator G4S is failing to give guarantees on sick pay for prison officers -revealed as among the most likely workers to die from Covid-19 - their union GMB has said. An analysis this month by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed prison workers are a high risk occupational group for the infection.
GMB news release. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: Care home deaths expose ‘unfit’ social care system
New Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures showing UK care home deaths linked to coronavirus have now exceeded 10,000 show the social care system is ‘unfit for purpose’ and needs a ‘complete overhaul’. UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “These deaths show the government’s failure to support those in society who are most in need of care.”
UNISON news release. ONS care home statistics. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: A full return of parliament could put MPs and staff at risk
A government plan for parliament to return to normal operation from the start of June has been condemned by a civil service union. Prospect said the announcement by Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the House of Commons, risked “putting MPs and staff at risk.”
Prospect news release and related news release. Morning Star. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: Warning on deadly Legionnaires’ risk on return to work
Businesses have been warned to flush out the water supply in their building before they reopen as potentially deadly Legionella bacteria may have built up in water systems during the coronavirus lockdown. The Public Health England (PHE) guidance came on the heels of workplace hygiene experts this month warning “all of the processes that are there to keep people safe from harmful exposures to chemicals, biological agents and other hazards have not been in operation,” creating serious return to work risks including Legionnaires’ disease.
PHE guidance. The Independent. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: 5G conspiracy related abuse must be reported
Telecommunications sector field engineers are being reminded by their union of the ‘paramount importance’ of ensuring any abusive behaviour they encounter in the course of their duties is formally reported and logged – especially where it relates to ‘fake news’ that coronavirus is being spread by the rollout of 5G. The communications union CWU said so far 76 Openreach engineers had reported abuse, the ‘vast majority’ while conducting work that had nothing whatsoever to do with 5G.
CWU news release. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: East Sussex fire authority faces backlash over cuts
East Sussex fire authority has been deluged with concerns from firefighters and members of the public, as a campaign against sweeping fire and rescue service cuts in the county gathers pace. More than 14,000 concerned residents have signed a petition calling on members of the fire authority to reject the proposed cuts, which the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says will “decimate” the county’s fire service.
FBU news release. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Global: Union campaign for safe fashion retail after Covid-19
As shops around the world roll up their shutters and open their doors, unions for the retail sector are kicking off a global campaign for a safe return to work in fashion retail shops. The campaign, coordinated by the global union UNI, supports its new guidelines to help its union affiliates negotiate in-store measures to protect retail workers, customers, and external vendors in the wake of Covid-19.
UNI news release, guide and graphic summary. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Britain: Return to safe workplaces – new TUC guide
If employers want workers to return to their normal place of work, they must make sure it’s done safely, to protect the health of workers, customers and the public. A new TUC Education online publication gives a step-by-step how-to guide, and goes in turn through Covid-19-specific risk assessments, employers’ duties, consultation, and steps to address risks to all workers, including vulnerable workers, and to get approval for plans before going ahead.
Return to safe workplaces, TUC Education, May 2020. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Global: UN rights experts say ‘no worker is expendable’
As countries begin to ease restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, UN human rights experts are calling on governments and businesses to ensure all workers are protected from exposure to Covid-19. In a joint statement, 16 UN human rights special rapporteurs and UN working group leaders concludes: “We urge states and businesses to work with labour unions and other worker representatives to help ensure necessary safeguards are in place… Our message today is simple, but crucial: every worker must be protected, no matter what.”
OHCHR news release. IUF news release. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Global: Meat plant line speeds speed up Covid-19 spread
Despite US president Donald Trump's 27 April executive order requiring meat plants to remain open, 47 meat and poultry plants were temporarily closed as of 11 May due to the rapid spread of infections through their workforce. According to the global food and farming union federation, IUF, at least 30 meat workers have died and thousands have been infected.
IUF news release and news release on the Canadian outbreaks. Philadephia Inquirer. Huffpost. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

USA: Call for more return to work protection
As US states consider reopening and Americans head back to work, there is still no federal mandate in place to prevent the transmission of airborne viruses. Instead, politically powerful industries like meat processing plants aren’t operating under any federal controls, only voluntary guidance.
ABC News. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

USA: Unions sue safety watchdog for a coronavirus law
The US national union federation AFL-CIO has filed a petition in the US Court of Appeals to compel the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) protecting workers against the coronavirus. AFL-CIO warns that as the economy reopens and people return to work, person-to-person contact will increase and health experts predict the already ‘shocking’ number of infections and deaths among workers will rise.
AFL-CIO news release. Risks 948. 23 May 2020

Hazards news, 16 May 2020

Britain: Inquiry call as low paid dominate Covid-19 worker deaths
Unite is calling for a full public inquiry after figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed workers in ‘low skilled elementary occupations’ (21.4 deaths per 100,000) were almost four times as likely to die from the virus as ‘professionals’ (5.6 per 100,000). The 11 May age-adjusted figures for the working age population show the highest number of deaths were recorded in the social care sector, with 131 deaths recorded.
ONS publication note and analysis of deaths in England and Wales related to Covid-19 by occupation the occupations in the UK that have the highest potential exposure to Covid-19. Unite news release. Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Unions call for action at ‘horrifying’ death figures
Urgent action must be taken to address high Covid-19 death rates in low paid workers, unions have said. Commenting on the latest figures Office for National Statistics (ONS) Covid-19 statistics, acting GMB general secretary John Phillips said: “These figures are horrifying,” adding: “If you are low paid and working through the Covid-19 crisis you are more likely to die - that’s how stark these figures are.”
GMB news release. RMT news release. ONS publication note. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Care home workers need for PPE and testing
Public sector union UNISON has said latest official Covid-19 deaths statistics show the need to reduce the ‘shocking’ risk of infection in care workers. Responding to figures published on 12 May by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing care home deaths linked to coronavirus have increased by more than 2,400 in a week, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “It remains vital that care workers are given sustained supplies of proper safety kit to stop the spread within homes.”
UNISON news release and related news release. ONS publication note. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: TUC spells out your right to refuse deadly work
The prime minister’s haste in “actively” encouraging people to return to work “poses a serious threat to workers’ safety,” the TUC has warned. Pointing out that no work should start until a full, legally required risk assessment has taken place, TUC safety specialist Shelly Asquith said “the first thing to do is to talk to your workmates and your union if you have concerns about safety in your workplace.”
TUC blog. TUC/HSE Covid-19 concerns reporting form. Government return to work guidance. PCS news release.
Trade union reps can report coronavirus related concerns to the HSE by email, to union.covidconcerns@hse.gov.uk. Section 44 and Section 100 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: The return to work can only happen if it is safe
More must be done to ensure employers manage safe working properly, the TUC has said. Commenting on the ‘confusion and anxiety’ caused by the prime minister’s 10 May call for a return to work, the union body said: “The UK needs a safe and managed return to normal working.”
TUC blog. Prime minister’s 10 May speech. HSE risk assessment guidance. Thompsons Solicitors news release. UNISON news release and blog. Usdaw news release. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: STUC slams PM’s broadcast as ‘confusing and dangerous’
Scotland’s top trade union body, the STUC, has condemned the 10 May return to work speech by Boris Johnson as ‘confusing and dangerous.’ STUC general secretary designate Roz Foyer, commenting on the UK prime minister’s “woeful” management of the crisis, said the back to work policy shift came ahead of any official guidance on how workers will be kept safe.
STUC news release. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Do not reopen without coronavirus safety measures, says HSE
Employers who are unable to introduce adequate measures to protect staff from coronavirus should not reopen their workplaces, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has told parliament. HSE chief executive Sarah Albon said every workplace should carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment before staff return, and that the “vast majority” will be able to implement social distancing and hygiene measures.
HSE at the Work and Pensions Committee and 12 May 2020 evidence session on Parliament TV live. Express and Star. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: HSE needs ‘proper support’ to enforce new safety regime
Prospect has warned that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) needs proper support if it is to enforce the government’s new guidelines on workplace safety and manage the transition back to work safely. The union representing HSE inspectors has raised concerns about the regulator’s levels of funding and staffing to effectively police the new regime.
Prospect news release. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Johnson accused of ‘criminal negligence’ and ‘social murder’
A top safety law academic has accused prime minister Boris Johnson of criminality and ‘social murder’ after he called for an early return to work. Steve Tombs, professor in social policy and criminality at the Open University, said “the government must know that construction workers are exposed to and unwitting carriers of coronavirus,” adding: “In my view this is criminal negligence, it’s manslaughter, it’s social murder.”
Reel News. Shut the Sites blog. Deaths in England and Wales related to Covid-19 by occupation, ONS, 11 May 2020.
The Guardian. Good Morning Britain. Construction Enquirer. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Experts warn the virus isn’t the only return to work threat
The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) has warned that entire areas of risk have not been addressed by government advice on a safe return to work. The guidance released this week by the health protection body emphasises the wider problems in return work, beyond the Covid-19 risks, noting: “The unprecedented shutdown of plants, workplaces and processes designed to be in continual operation will give rise to really serious challenges.”
BOHS news release and return to work guideRisks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Prosecutors to investigate virus deaths in Scotland’s key workers
Deaths of key workers and care home residents linked to coronavirus in Scotland are to be reported to prosecutors for investigation. Lord Advocate James Wolffe said the Crown Office was setting up a dedicated unit to examine Covid-19 deaths.
STV News. The Herald. The Scotsman. BBC News Online. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Union conditions on going back to school
A joint statement sent by the TUC to the government on behalf of unions with members in the education sector has outlined the measures needed for the safe reopening of schools. In the 8 May document, sent to the secretary of state for education ahead of the government’s announcement that there could be a phased reopening of schools from 1 June, the unions GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON and Unite set out key principles and tests for the reopening of schools in England to ensure the safety of children, parents, staff and the communities they serve.
TUC news release and full statement to the Education Secretary and follow up 13 May statement. Department for Education news release and related guidance. NASUWT news release and related news release. NEU news release. UNISON news release and related news release.
Morning Star
. Evening Standard. The Independent. BBC News Online. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: School support staff worried at ‘careless’ reopening plans
Almost all school support staff are worried reopening schools too early will put children and their families at risk, a GMB survey has found. According to the poll, which received more than 14,000 responses from workers in England including teaching assistants, caretakers and admin staff, an ‘overwhelming’ 96 per cent of respondents are worried about the health of children under current proposals.”
GMB news release and related news release. UEA news release. Evening Standard.
Paul Hunter and others. ‘Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions against Covid-19 in Europe: a quasi-experimental study’, published on the preprint server MedRvix, 6 May 2020. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Parents wary about schools reopening
An NEU poll of 1,074 parents of school-age children in England has identified widespread concern about the reopening of school. The research was undertaken between 5 May and 7 May 2020, before the relaxation of lockdown measures and the government’s announcement that schools could start to reopen from 1 June.
NEU news release and related news release. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Unions set out tests for college restarts
Staff and student safety must be guaranteed before colleges can reopen, trade unions have said, setting out five tests that must be met by government and colleges. Unions representing staff working in further education colleges called for stringent hygiene measures, protection for vulnerable people and isolation for all suspected cases to avoid colleges becoming Covid-19 hotspots.
UCU news release. Unite news release. Department for Education guidance. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Nursing body must stand by nurses
The GMB has written to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) calling on it to support members during the coronavirus pandemic. The union said while nurses continue to struggle to get access to the PPE they need, nurses and other healthcare workers are being threatened with disciplinary hearings if they speak out about the lack of protection.
GMB news release. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: DIY virus visors could put workers at risks
The British Standards Institution (BSI) says that A4-sized face shields do not always protect healthcare workers' faces from exposure to Covid-19. Nathan Shipley, PPE group certification manager at the BSI said: “Some people say, 'any PPE is better than no PPE', but if you are wearing something you think will protect you and it won't, you are in more danger.”
BSI news release. BBC News Online. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Call for face masks and cap on transport numbers
The government must establish clear rules about maximum passenger capacity and make the wearing of face masks compulsory to keep buses and other forms of public transport safe during the pandemic, Unite has demanded. The union, which represents over 80,000 public transport workers, issued its warning following the 12 May publication of the government’s safer transport policy, which provides basic guidance for employers in protecting passengers and workers during the pandemic.
Unite news release. Statement to parliament by the transport secretary, 12 May, and new transport guidance for passengers and operators. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Safe work, safe travel and safety reps go together
Safe work and safe travel must go hand in hand to beat Covid-19, Unite has said, and the approach must deploy the skills of union safety reps. Commenting on the government's guidance on safer working and the coronavirus crisis, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey stressed the union role in securing a safe return to work.
Unite news release. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Union fears on transport overcrowding were justified
The crowds witnessed on packed on station platforms, commuter services, and the Tube in London, have borne out union warnings about the dangers of the government urging people back to work. Commenting on 13 March, Mick Whelan, general secretary of the train drivers’ union ASLEF, criticised the prime minister, who on l0 May said those who couldn’t work from home were “actively encouraged to go back to work”, noting “we will only increase services when it is safe to do so.”
ASLEF news release and earlier release. Sky News. The Guardian. The Telegraph. Evening Standard. BBC News Online. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Crowded transport ‘categorically less safe’
Transport union RMT has warned that crowded train, Tube and bus services are “categorically less safe” and should not run unless two metre social distancing can be enforced. The union said unless the government took urgent action to enforce two metre social distancing, public transport would become a “turbo charged Covid-19 breeding ground” driving a new wave of infections.
RMT news release. University of Sussex news release. The Independent. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Government must act to prevent dangerous bus overcrowding
The government to intervene immediately to prevent overcrowding on London’s buses, Unite has said. The union, which represents over 20,000 bus workers, made its call following pictures and reports on 13 May of overcrowded buses in London on the day that workers were “actively encouraged” by the prime minister to return to work.
Unite news release. Evening Standard. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Keep key workers safe while travelling
Amid concerns about physical distancing problems on transport arising after the prime minister urged the public to return to work, UNISON said it is paramount that key workers can travel safely to their jobs. The union is urging to public to avoid non-essential travel to head off a second spike in Covid-19 cases.
UNISON news release. New DfT transport guidance for passengers. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Rail ticket worker dies of Covid-19 after being spat at
A railway ticket office worker has died of Covid-19 after being spat at by a man who claimed he had the infection. Belly Mujinga, 47, who had underlying respiratory problems, was working at Victoria station in London on 22 March when she was assaulted, along with a female colleague.
TSSA news release and news release on its demands on GTR. British Transport Police statement. BBC News Online. The Mirror. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Eurostar provides visors for frontline rail staff
Transport union TSSA has commended cross channel rail company Eurostar for confirming that all frontline staff will be given visors. The move comes after the news of Victoria Station ticket office worker Belly Mujinga’s death following an assault by a member of the public claiming to have the virus.
TSSA news release and news release on its demands on GTR. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: GMB calls for deep cleaning at virus hit ASOS site
The GMB has called for the closure and deep cleaning of a fashion retailer's warehouse after reports workers had tested positive for Covid-19. The union wrote to the co-founder of ASOS with concerns about its depot at Little Houghton, near Barnsley, warning safety measures were “insufficient.”
GMB news release. BBC News Online. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Unions and industry strike steel reopening agreement
The steel trade unions and UK Steel have published new safe working guidance following the prime minister’s return to work message to manufacturers. Steel union Community said the extensive Code of Practice draws on the sector’s experience of operating over the past two months, going beyond the government guidelines, to specifically detail the steps that can be taken on steel sites in order to minimise the risk of transmission.
Community news release and joint Code of Practice. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Waste employers urged to act on coronavirus risks
Waste contractors in the south west of England need to speed up the introduction of stringent health and safety measures for workers at sites dealing with coronavirus contaminated waste, Unite has warned. The union, which has 900 members at various sites across the region, has serious concerns that its members could be handling Covid-19 waste from contaminated collections, such as care homes, without adequate protective protection equipment (PPE).
Unite news release. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Mental health issues top of workers' lockdown concerns
Workers’ concerns about their mental health have increased dramatically since the lockdown began, a Unite survey has found. As a result the union is calling on employers to take a proactive approach to dealing with employees’ mental health challenges immediately, as workers return to the workforce and begin to adjust to revised working conditions.
Unite news release. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Landmark fine after exhausted welders killed in van crash
Welding specialist Renown Consultants Limited has been fined £450,000 and ordered to pay £300,000 costs for failing to ensure that two of its workers were sufficiently rested to work and travel safely, and who subsequently died when their van crashed on the journey home. The sentence was passed virtually by His Honour Judge Godsmark sitting at Nottingham Crown Court after Renown were found guilty on 19 March 2020 in a prosecution by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
ORR news release. Construction Enquirer. BBC News Online. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: New ways to learn union rep essentials
The TUC has said union reps can now keep their essential skills up to date more flexibly, with all its core courses fully online for the first time. “With 24/7 access, now you can learn at your own pace, whenever and wherever's convenient for you - these courses work equally well on your smartphone, tablet or desktop computer,” the TUC announced.
Find out more about TUC’s online courses and health, safety and wellbeing courses, including Health and safety reps one. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: TUC guide to risk assessments for homeworkers
Many of us are working from home to reduce the spread of Covid-19. But the TUC says this exposes workers to other health and safety hazards, and many employers are ignoring their responsibility by not carrying out risk assessments. Union reps can help change this with the help of the TUC’s new guide to risk assessments for homeworkers, which gives guidance on workers’ rights and employers’ duties to address risks including accidents, injuries, mental health problems and violence.
TUC guide to risk assessments for homeworkersRisks 947. 16 May 2020

USA: Frozen food plant cited over Covid-19 failures
The workplace safety regulator in Oregon, USA, has issued a citation to National Frozen Foods, accusing the company in Albany of “failing to implement physical distancing measures to protect workers from the spread of the coronavirus.” The citation, which carries a penalty of $2,000, “stems from an inspection launched April 20 in response to multiple complaints about the facility, which produces frozen fruits and vegetables.”
Oregon OSHA news release. NBC 16 News. CBS News. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Europe: Commission blasted on Covid-19 risk ranking
A European Commission decision not to put Covid-19 in the highest risk category of the Biological Agents Directive has been criticised by unions. The unions had earlier argued the virus, for which there is no vaccine, should be classified in the top risk group,“but we regret that the decision today, if confirmed by the Commission, would mean that it will be classified as an agent belonging only in the second highest risk group.”
ETUC news release and note on Biological Agents Directive. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Global: The deadly cost of unregulated and illegal fishing
Video evidence and media reports detailing gross abuses aboard a Chinese fishing vessel operating with migrant seafarers have again shone a spotlight on the violence and human trafficking proliferating in the global fishing industry. On 24 April, two Chinese-owned vessels entered Korean waters and 26 Indonesia seafarers were disembarked after spending more than a year at sea without interruption.
IUF news release. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Global: Chemical industry must step up on human rights
A deadly gas leak at a chemical plant in India last week is a grim wakeup call for the industry to recognise and meet its responsibility to respect human rights, a UN expert has said. Baskut Tuncak, the UN special rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes, was commenting on a 7 May the LG Polymers leak in India in which at least 12 people died and more than 1,000 fell ill.
OHCHR news release. ANROEV statement. Hindustan Times. New York Times.
United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Hazards news, 9 May 2020

Britain: Don't rely on goodwill to keep staff safe
As the prime minister prepares to set out how the UK will start emerging from lockdown, the TUC has warned that it can’t be left to the goodwill of employers to keep workers safe. Describing draft government guidance as worrying, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “What the government is proposing amounts to little more than the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) crossing its fingers that employers will act responsibly and keep their workers and the wider community safe.”
The Guardian. TUC proposals on ensuring a safe return to work, 4 May 2020. TUC video on coronavirus and employment rights at work. Covid-19: How racism kills, TUC blog, 1 May 2020.
Prospect news release. CBI news release. Hazards Campaign news release. BBC News Online. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Major concerns about return to work plan
The TUC has warned the government’s draft guidelines for getting employees back to work during the coronavirus crisis will put people’s health at risk and cannot be supported in their current form. Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, criticised the non-binding guidelines for letting employers decide what is safe when it comes to distance between workers, cleaning practices and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Labour Party news release and letter to Alok Sharma. The Guardian. BBC News Online. New Statesman. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Labour demands binding virus
The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, has called for a ‘national safety standard’ and sanctions on employers who flout rules on keeping workers safe from coronavirus. His call came as Matt Hancock, the health secretary, refused to confirm how new guidance on social distancing at work would be enforced.
Labour Party news release. The Guardian. Good Morning Britain. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Call for a probe into HSE’s coronavirus failure
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) appears to be ‘parroting government advice’ on coronavirus, even where it contradicts existing legally-binding rules, a top academic has warned. Phil James, a professor of employment relations at Middlesex University, accuses the watchdog of a failure of regulatory leadership on social distancing and ‘downplaying’ statutory duties of employers and aligning instead with ‘questionable’ government guidance.
Coronavirus at work: Where is the regulatory leadership?, IER commentary, 6 May 2020.
HSE coronavirus webpages. DWP’s response to coronavirus, 4 May 2020. Social distancing in the workplace during coronavirus (COVID-19): sector guidance, BEIS, updated 4 May 2020. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Poor guidance may lead to work refusals
The government’s latest guidance on returning to work won’t protect people from Covid-19, and instead may lead to concerned workers refusing to return to their jobs, the GMB union has warned. John Phillips, the acting GMB general secretary, said draft government guidance issued over the weekend to unions and business groups “was thrown together in a hurry and it shows.”
GMB news release. Union News. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Unite lays down conditions on work return
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has told the union’s members in the UK and Ireland there will be no return to work unless their “safety comes first.” In an open letter to the union’s membership, the union leader notes: “Your officers and reps will be kept informed of any developments and as soon as we can provide more information to you, we will be sure to do so. We are in the very early stages of discussion, with much progress yet to be made before your union can be confident that the plans to re-open the economy put you, your safety and your communities first.” Unite news release. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Return of bus services must be gradual and safe
Any increase in bus services must be gradually implemented and maintaining safety and retaining confidence have to be paramount, Unite has said. The union, which represents 80,000 bus drivers, made its view known following reports that transport secretary Grant Shapps has indicated that more buses and trains would run as part of a return to work.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: This is not the time to run more trains
Britain's three rail unions - ASLEF, RMT and TSSA - have written to prime minister Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, saying this is not the time to lift the lockdown and run more trains. The joint letter - signed by Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF; Mick Cash, general secretary of RMT; and Manuel Cortes, general secretary of TSSA - says it is 'completely unacceptable' to put the lives of passengers and rail staff at risk.
ASLEF news release. RMT news release. TSSA news release. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Unions call for ‘significant caution’ on school reopening
The general secretaries of 10 teacher trade unions across the UK and Ireland have written to the education ministers in all five jurisdictions urging “significant caution in any consideration of reopening schools.” The letter, sent by the British Irish Group of Teacher Unions (BIGTU) - which includes UK teaching unions NASUWT, NEU and UCU - on behalf of almost one million teachers and education staff, warns of the “very real risk of creating a spike in the transmission of the virus by a premature opening of schools”.
NASUWT news release. NEU news release. Union News. Morning Star. Daily Mail.
Education International news release on US union conditions on school reopening. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Snap teacher survey confirms ‘significant concerns’
A snapshot survey of over 2,000 school staff shows significant concerns about effectiveness of present social-distancing measures in schools, the teaching union NEU has found. The NEU’s findings showed almost one-third (30 per cent) of educators have self-isolated since March; almost a quarter (23 per cent) of staff are currently shielding to protect themselves or a member of their household, owing to pre-existing medical conditions or pregnancy; and just 1.5 per cent of those surveyed have been tested for coronavirus.
NEU news release. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Self-isolating workers shouldn’t be punished
The government must do more to protect key workers threatened with dismissal or put on unpaid leave if they’re off work self-isolating because of vulnerable relatives, public sector union UNISON said.  It says anxious staff have contacted the union with ‘heartbreaking’ stories, terrified that if forced to go into work, they might take the virus home – with potentially devastating consequences.
UNISON news release, including full text of the letter to the health secretary. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Give staff safety kit and save lives in care homes
UNISON has said it is not too late to save lives in care homes, but the government and employers must ensure care home staff are provided with essential safety kit. Responding to figures published on 5 May by the Office for National Statistics showing care home deaths linked to coronavirus have increased by more than 2,500 in a week, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The rate of infection can be reduced if care workers have proper access to protective kit.”
UNISON news release and petition demanding the government step up and deliver on its promises around PPE and do much more to protect care staff and elderly people. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Keeping food supply and food workers safe
The unions Unite, Usdaw, BFAWU and GMB and the industry body the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) have joined together for the first time to commend the food and drink manufacturing workforce helping keep the nation fed. In a joint statement, the unions and the FDF highlight the critical importance of working together at this ‘exceptionally demanding’ time to ensure the sector’s workforce is safe, protected and respected.
Unite news release and full joint statement by the FDF, Unite, Usdaw, BFAWU and GMB. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: The Range refuses to respond to safety concerns
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has expressed deep disappointment that The Range continues to ignore staff complaints about a lack of social distancing in store. The union said the national home and leisure retail chain has so far failed to respond to the union’s offer to work together to protect staff.
Usdaw news release. Social Distancing - BRC-USDAW Recommended implementation practices for Non-Food Retail Stores: A guide for retailers on how to implement Government advice – Version 1, 24 April 2020. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Housing association threatens concerned workers
The union GMB has criticised Vivid Housing for threatening workers with disciplinary action after they raised concerns about social distancing. Trades people working for Vivid - a housing association covering Portsmouth, Eastleigh, Aldershot and Basingstoke – have been told to carry on with servicing and other jobs, despite the national electrical contracting body NICEIC confirming the work could be placed on hold.
GMB news release. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: G4S hospital workers can’t afford to self-isolate
G4S hospital workers in Croydon say they cannot self-isolate if they show Covid-19 symptoms because they won’t be able to survive on £94 a week statutory sick pay.  Private provider G4S holds the cleaning and portering contract in Croydon University Hospital, where the union GMB says its members feel under huge pressure to come into work even when unwell, because they cannot get by on statutory sick pay alone.
GMB news release. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: RMT calls on London Mayor to meet cleaners
Tube union RMT has called on London mayor Sadiq Khan to discuss with Tube cleaners their coronavirus and employment concerns. The call came after a new survey revealed a majority of cleaners believe their employer, cleaning contractor ABM, is putting profit before safety during the coronavirus crisis.
RMT news release. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Evidence grows of unacceptable risks in call centres
An ongoing study of the high-risk work practices commonplace in call centres had provided new evidence of the extent of the Covid-19 problem. Nearly 3,000 respondents have now written almost 200,000 words of testimony on the devastating impact of Covid-19, in responses to the union-backed Strathclyde University online survey.
STUC news release and survey. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Fall in university staff wellbeing a ‘wake-up call’
The number of university staff being referred to occupational health and counselling has shot up, a new report has found. The report, from the Higher Education Policy Institute, shows a drop in staff wellbeing at all universities that provided data, with all institutions showing increases in staff accessing counselling and occupational health services.
UCU news release. HEPI news release and report. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Law Commission backs unions on tribunal reforms
Employees need longer to lodge claims, compensation limits should be raised and workers who haven’t employee status should have access to employment tribunals, according to a Law Commission report. The TUC says the recommendations could pave the way for ‘much-needed’ labour rights reforms.
TUC blog. Law Commission news release. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: Minute’s silence for fallen firefighters
Fire stations across the UK and internationally fell silent at noon on 4 May, Firefighters’ Memorial Day. The event is organised jointly by the UK Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the Firefighters Memorial Trust (FMT). Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, placed a wreath at the National Firefighters’ Memorial at St Pauls, London, in lieu of any larger ceremony during the pandemic.
FBU news release. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Australia: Union preconditions on return to work
As Australian states and the federal government this week started to consider relaxing the isolation measures that have been controlling the spread of Covid-19, unions have said it is essential that the major reforms be made to keep people safe as they return to work. ACTU secretary Sally McManus said: “Creating an obligation for employers to implement the best possible methods of prevention, protection and cleaning, and also to report cases in their workplaces to state health and safety regulators are commonsense reforms which will keep working people safe and help prevent the spread of the virus.”
ACTU news release. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Canada: Union anger as outbreak meat plant reopens
The union for workers at a beef-packing plant in Alberta, Canada, that has been the site of the largest single Covid-19 outbreak in North America has expressed anger after regulators refused to back its call to stop the plant reopening. There have been over 900 cases of the virus and one death at the Cargill plant south of Calgary, which employs 2,000 workers.
UFCW Local 401 news release. AFL news release and related news release. CBC News and related news story. The Globe and Mail. Times Colonist. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Europe: Biological agents law must top rate Covid-19 risks
Europe’s top trade union body ETUC has won official backing for Covid-19 to be covered by the Biological Agents Directive, but has expressed concern that European Commission officials want to put it in a lower risk category. The directive is the template for the biological agents safety laws in place across the entire European Union.
ETUC coronavirus news and resources. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Global: Union road map to Covid-19 transport safety
Over 150 workers across the world have died from Covid-19 with the confirmed death toll rising daily, the global transport workers’ federation ITF has said. The union body says poor health and safety standards have exacerbated the risk public transport workers face.
ITF news release and charter of demands and campaign video. Intelligent Transport podcast. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Hazards news, 2 May 2020

Britain: No return to work without ‘tough’ safety measures
The TUC is calling on the government to introduce tough new measures to ensure that before locdown restrictions are eased, all employers assess the risks to staff returning to their workplace. The union body is demanding that every employer in the UK be required to carry out a specific Covid-19 risk assessment, developed in consultation with unions and workers.
TUC news release and report, Preparing for the return to work outside the home: A trade union approach, TUC, April 2020. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Global: Covid-19 is an occupational disease, everywhere
Unions worldwide are calling for Covid-19 to be classified as an occupational disease in all affected groups of workers, to guarantee stronger workplace protections and access to compensation. The call from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and its global union partners say there must be a “presumption” cases are work-related unless conclusive evidence is presented to the contrary, and includes a lengthy lists of jobs where presumption should occur.
ITUC news release and Council of Global Unions Statement on Recognition of COVID-19 as an Occupational Disease.
BWI news release. Education International news release. IndustriALL news release. ITF news release. PSI news release. UNI news release. TUC Workers’ Memorial Day news release. STUC news release.
Third ITUC Global Covid-19 Survey Key Findings and related ITUC news release. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Global: Worldwide impact of biggest ever 28 April event
The union-led International Workers’ Memorial Day, held every year on 28 April, was this year the most successful ever – consolidating its position as the biggest health and safety event in the world. The event was given additional poignancy, as unions commemorated those killed by work-related Covid-19 and for protection for all workers in the exposure front line.
Global trade union action on 28 April – check out the International Workers’ Memorial Day events map, events by country and video reports. 2 May 2020

Britain: All Covid-19 key worker deaths must be recognised
Firefighters’ union FBU is demanding that the government issue guidance to employers stating that the death of firefighters and key workers as a result of Covid-19 should be automatically recognised as work-related, allowing their families to receive compensation. In a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson and devolved administrations, the FBU says that the guidance must cover all of those officially recognised as key workers as well as those who have been required to continue to work by their employer.
FBU news release. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: NHS death payouts to all healthcare victims
NHS death-in-service benefits are to be extended to all health and care staff in England who die from contracting Covid-19, the government has said. It added funding would also be provided to devolved administrations to support similar schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
UNISON news release. Department of Health news release. BBC News Online. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Lives will be lost if NHS used as an ‘economic punch-bag’
New research by the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) shows the government’s 4th test for lifting lockdown isn’t yet being met, because surgeons aren’t yet getting the PPE or tests that they require. The survey of 1,263 surgeons and surgical trainees found almost a third (32.8 per cent) of respondents do not believe there is an adequate supply of PPE in their workplace.
RCS news release. NHS Confederation news release. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: UK’s failure to stockpile crucial PPE exposed
The government failed to buy crucial personal protective equipment (PPE) to cope with a pandemic, a BBC investigation has found. There were no gowns, visors, swabs or body bags in the government's pandemic stockpile when Covid-19 reached the UK, the BBC Panorama investigation found, with the government subsequently ignoring a warning from its own advisers to buy missing equipment and instead downgrading risk warnings and workplace protection guidelines.
BBC News Online. Has the Government Failed the NHS?, Panorama, BBC One, 27 April 2020. Evening Standard.
Evaluating the protection afforded by surgical masks against influenza bioaerosols: Gross protection of surgical masks compared to filtering facepiece respirators, HSE research report number 619, 2008. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: PPE still not right for women
Personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied to women in the coronavirus frontline is not designed for them and puts their health at risk and is causing injuries, research by the union Prospect has confirmed. In a blog posting, Prospect senior deputy general secretary Sue Ferns noted: “Personal protective equipment will never be the right fit if manufacturers or employers make decisions without taking the diversity of the workforce into account, and ill-considered remarks by government ministers seeking to explain current unavailability of much-needed PPE do not help.”
Prospect blog. Labour Party news release. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Women and insecure workers in coronavirus frontline
The impact on health and wealth of the coronavirus pandemic is hitting certain groups much harder, new research has found. A study by the Resolution Foundation found key workers are disproportionately likely to be female, low paid and insecure.
Resolution Foundation news release and briefing note, Risky business: Economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis on different groups of workers, 28 April 2020. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: London ambulance staff resuscitate PPE provision
GMB members have secured a big win after London Ambulance Service improved the personal protective equipment (PPE) requirement for staff resuscitating patients. After a GMB campaign, the LAS Trust Board took a decision to level up the PPE as recommended by the Resuscitation Council (RCUK) – above the level required by Public Health England (PHE).
GMB news release. RCUK statement. GMB Workers’ Memorial Day news release. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Safety should be top priority before schools reopen
Assuring the safety of school pupils and staff must be a top consideration before schools are reopened, teaching unions have said. The unions were commenting after the 29 April appearance by Gavin Williams in front of the Commons Education Select Committee, when education secretary told MPs that the reopening of schools in England is expected to take place in a “phased manner”, adding the date for opening would depend on scientific advice - but schools would get “as much notice as possible.”
NEU news release. NASUWT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Premature reopening of transport ‘unsafe’
Rail union TSSA has called on government leaders in Scotland and Wales not to rush irresponsibly into a premature ramping up of transport services. The union said it has learned that employers in Scotland – including Network Rail in Scotland – want to reopen offices and reinstate services, despite no end to lockdown and a commitment to social distancing of 2 metres remaining in force – legally so in Wales.
TSSA news release. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Temperature testing for bus workers needed
Unite is calling on all bus operators to introduce compulsory temperature checks to further protect workers against Covid-19. The union, which represents over 80,000 bus drivers in the UK, said it is looking for the measures to be introduced initially in London, where 27 bus workers have succumbed to Covid-19, with the temperature checks then rolled out across all bus operators in the UK.
Unite news release. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Bibby drivers secure social distancing and PPE
Drivers employed by logistics company Bibby, which supplies cans for drinks manufacturers including Carlsberg, have won an agreement on Covid-19 health and safety after threatening to walk out. The company’s management agreed to temperature checks for all staff upon arrival at the site and for approved cleaning products to combat the virus to be available for all warehouse staff and drivers.
Unite news release. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Care home death figures are ‘shameful’
There has been a shameful disregard of the health and safety of care home residents and workers, the public sector union UNISON has said. Responding to figures released on 29 April that show a steep rise in coronavirus deaths due to the inclusion for the first time of those occurring in care homes, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Care workers have been crying out for essential safety equipment, clear guidance and widespread virus testing for weeks,” adding: “The risks have been plain to see and these new figures paint a stark picture of how the pandemic has been sweeping through residential homes across the UK.”
UNISON news release and Workers’ Memorial Day news release. The Guardian and related article. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Brutal cuts to fire services being rushed through
Firefighters have warned of a major threat to public safety as politicians and fire chiefs try to sneak through cuts to the fire and rescue services while firefighters respond to the coronavirus crisis. The firefighters’ union FBU made the comments after a consultation on sweeping fire and rescue cuts was launched mid-pandemic.
FBU news release. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Unions provide crucial support for bereaved workers
There’s a lot trade unions can do to support people who are grieving, as well as to remember those we have tragically lost to coronavirus, the TUC has said. “We now have a role to play during this crisis to support people who are grieving, as well as to remember those we have lost,” noted TUC safety specialist Shelly Asquith.
TUC blog and Covid-19 guide for union reps. HSE Covid-19 reporting webpage. TUC Workers’ Memorial Day remembrance video.
REPORT COVID CONCERNS: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has now provided an email address for unions to report concerns: Union.Covidconcerns@hse.gov.uk
The Hazards Campaign work-related Covid-19 tracker. email info@hazardscampaign.org.uk Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Life is tough on the retail frontline – survey
The results of an online survey of members of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw has revealed the harrowing impact of coronavirus in the workplace. Usdaw says its ‘shocking’ survey findings provides an in-depth look at the working life of the key workers ensuring food supplies are maintained.
Usdaw news release and report, Impact of the coronavirus, Usdaw, 29 April 2020. Usdaw Workers’ Memorial Day news release. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Survey confirms Covid-19 ‘terror’ in contact centres
Close proximity working, worries about cleaning and sanitisation regimes – especially in hotdesking situations – and a widespread puzzlement over ‘key worker’ designations being applied to clearly non-essential workstreams have all emerged as headline findings of a major national survey of contact centre workers. Led by contact centre expert, Phil Taylor – professor of Work and Employment studies at Strathclyde University – the survey has so far been completed by nearly 2,800 respondents across the country.
CWU news release. Prof Phil Taylor, Covid19 –Survey of Call/Centre Workers –Intermediary Report, Strathclyde University, 28 April 2020. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Site workers are now eligible for Covid-19 testing
Unite has welcomed the government’s acceptance that construction workers should be eligible for targeted Covid-19 testing. Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “From construction workers to emergency plumbers, from research scientists to those in manufacturing, the expansion of access to testing will protect the most vulnerable and help keep people safe.”
Unite news release and call for site worker testing. Construction Enquirer. BBC News Online. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Houses being put before health, warns Unite
There are ‘growing fears’ that building new homes is being put ahead of the health and welfare of construction workers and their families, the union Unite has warned. The union is calling on the house building sector to work with it to uphold maximum safety protection and keep up to 250,000 workers employed by the industry and their families safe as sites begin to re-open.
Unite news release and news release on the watered-down guidance. Construction Enquirer. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Australia: Polling shows alarming protection shortfall
One in five Australian workers are reporting that they do not have appropriate social distancing protocols in the workplace, a union poll has found. National union federation ACTU said its results suggest many Australian’s are being placed at risk of contracting Covid-19 in the course of their work and that many workplaces, without direction to apply the hierarchy of control, have not adequately addressed the risk of Covid-19.
ACTU news release. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Europe: Rethink call on ‘astonishing’ safety free plan
Europe-wide trade union body ETUC is to appeal again to the European Commission to prioritise workplace health and safety in its plans for the next five years in light of the coronavirus crisis. In a separate letter sent to Nicholas Schmit, the European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, the ETUC and its affiliates have called on him to ensure Covid-19 is recognised as an occupational disease.
ETUC news release. Letter calling for EU recognition of Covid-19 as an Occupational Disease. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

USA: High infection rates in airline catering workers
A largely hidden workforce of US airline catering workers, made up primarily of immigrants and people of colour, is at great risk of contracting Covid-19, according to one of the unions that represent them. At least 74 of the nearly 14,000 Unite Here members who work for LSG Sky Chefs and Gate Gourmet, the two largest airline catering companies in the country, have tested positive for Covid-19, according to union estimates.
Unite Here news release. Boston Globe. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Tory cuts see number of HSE inspectors drop by a third
The number of workplace health and safety inspectors has dropped by a third under the Tories, official figures compiled for Labour by the House of Commons Library. There were 1,495 inspectors with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2009/10 but this fell year-on-year to just 978 in 2017/18.
The Mirror. The Independent. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Korea: Dozens dead in warehouse blaze
At least 38 people died on 29 April in a massive fire that broke out at a warehouse construction site in the city of Icheon in South Korea’s Gyeonggi Province. Several others were injured or unaccounted for and the death toll is expected to rise. Fire authorities said the blaze started at the construction site at 1:32 pm, where 78 people from nine companies were working.
BBC News Online. KBS World. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Hazards news, 25 April 2020

Britain: Minute’s silence to honour work victims
A minute’s silence will be held across the United Kingdom on 28 April to remember all the health, care and other key workers who have lost their lives to coronavirus exposures. The campaign, launched by the health unions UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) – who between them represent more than a million NHS and public service workers, including porters, refuse collectors and care staff – are urging politicians, employers, people at work and those on lockdown at home to join the tribute at 11am.
UNISON news release. NASUWT news release. Labour Party news release.
The Guardian. Daily Mail. Sky News. I-news. The Mirror. Evening Standard. BBC News Online. Morning Star. ITUC 28 April webpage.
MINUTE’S SILENCE: 11am on Tuesday 28 April 2020. Use the hashtags #neverforgotten and #iwmd20. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: TUC says let’s all make a silent stand on 28 April
The TUC has called for everyone to say nothing for a minute at 11am on 28 April. The initiative comes on International Workers’ Memorial Day, the 28 April annual worldwide union-coordinated event that commemorates all those who die at work or from work-related causes.
TUC RESOURCES: TUC 28 April 2020 news and resources webpage. Organising through the coronavirus crisis, TUC, April 2020. International Workers’ Memorial Day 2020, a TUC guide for unions #iwmd20.
TUC VIDEO CALL: Register in advance for the TUC Education coronavirus video call on Tuesday 28 April at 2pm.
OTHER RESOURCES: Hazards Campaign 28 April call to action. Hazards Campaign materials can be downloaded for free, printed off, used online and in social media campaigns, as can a series of Hazards Campaign display boards.
GLOBAL RESOURCES: ITUC/Hazards 28 April website. A 28 April message from Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. Worldwide activities and resources for 28 April. ILO 28 April resources. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Public inquiry needed over ‘grotesque’ PPE failure
The TUC is calling on the government to set up a public inquiry into the “grotesque” failure to provide frontline workers with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). The union body said ministers must commit to starting an independent, judge-led inquiry by the end of 2020.
TUC news release and TUC blog. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Trust 'draining away' over dangerous PPE downgrade
Trust in health secretary Matt Hancock is “draining away” after Public Health England downgraded the government’s advice on personal protective equipment, the union GMB has said. The government’s move, which the union said was made without consultation with unions, followed a ‘rapid evidence review’ conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at the behest of the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser. 
GMB news release. BBC News Online. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: UNISON says frontline staff need real protection
Frontline staff must be properly equipped to protect lives during the Covid-19 crisis, the health service union UNISON has said. Commenting after ‘last-resort’ proposals on safety equipment were leaked, general secretary Dave Prentis said that the proposals from Public Health England contain “desperate measures” and “are a shocking indictment of the lack of proper planning and preparation for supplies in the pandemic.”
UNISON news release, related news release on PPE and news release on record recruitment. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: CSP tells members ‘not to compromise their own safety’
Physios’ union CSP has told its members they should not compromise their safety if the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) is not available. Commenting on guidance released by Public Health England (PHE) on potential re-use of some disposable PPE, CSP assistant director of employment relations Jim Fahie said: “The CSP hopes this latest advice will never be used, however we would encourage trusts and health boards to engage with trade unions locally to discuss and agree robust contingency plans to mitigate the risk of inadequate levels of PPE and how to deal with it should PPE levels become low.”
CSP news release and Covid-19 app finder. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: PPE 'tsar' a good first step
Unite has welcomed the appointment of a ‘tsar' to coordinate the manufacture and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE). Matt Hancock, the health secretary, announced on 19 April that Lord Deighton had been appointed PPE 'tsar' following a weekend of what Unite described as ‘shocking claims’ that NHS staff were being advised to re-use their safety kit and that shipments of new materials were being delayed.
Unite news release. Department of Health news release. NHS Confederation news release. Sky News. Daily Mail. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Unite concern at protective clothing ‘scandal’
The shortage of protective equipment for frontline staff exposed to the coronavirus is a ‘national scandal’, the union Unite has said. The union’s criticism came before a consignment of 400,000 protective gowns the government said would arrive from Turkey on 19 April failed to materialise.
Unite news release and coronavirus advice. NHS Confederation news release. BBC News Online. Evening Standard. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: ‘Critical lack’ of PPE and testing across care sector
Social care providers and unions have warned that a ‘critical lack’ of protective equipment and testing has allowed coronavirus to ‘sweep through’ social care. In a joint statement – signed by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), UNISON, Unite, GMB and TUC – ministers are told that care workers and residents are still being exposed to unnecessary risk.
TUC news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Hospital worker could be sacked over face mask dispute
A London hospital worker employed by private company ISS has been told he faces the sack after he asked for a facemask. The man - who collects rubbish from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich - was told by managers he wasn’t entitled to wear a facemask.
GMB news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: PPE designed for men doesn’t protect women
The coronavirus pandemic has brought the issue of personal protection equipment (PPE) designed for men being provided to female workers into the spotlight, trade unions have said. The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said the lack of appropriate PPE for women is a concern that “many trade unionists” have spoken about in recent years.
Press and Journal. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Boohoo sells useless face masks, staff left without
Workers at a warehouse of the fashion retailer Boohoo in Burnley are being left without the necessary protection from the coronavirus as the firm instead sells ‘useless’ fashion masks to the public, Usdaw has warned. The union for the warehouse staff said it has raised ‘deep concerns’ consistently about Boohoo staff being put at risk because of inadequate personal protection equipment (PPE) and failures to reorganise working practices to ensure necessary social distancing.
Usdaw news release. The Mirror. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Union pushed HSE into more ‘robust’ coronavirus role
Prospect, the union representing the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) inspectors, scientists and specialists, ‘has led the argument’ and pushed the regulator ‘to be robust in fulfilling its duty’ to enforce health and safety at work. The union said its reps in HSE have been engaging with HSE management since mid-February on issues related to Covid-19 and the current lockdown.
Prospect news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Coronavirus collective bargaining protection in contact centres
Close proximity working, worries about cleaning and sanitisation regimes – especially in hotdesking situations – and a widespread puzzlement over ‘key worker’ designations being applied to clearly non-essential workstreams have all emerged as headline findings of a major national survey of contact centre workers. Communication workers’ union CWU said just over a week after the multiple union online survey was emailed out to thousands of people working in call centres, the preliminary findings have confirmed a massive discrepancy between the best and worst responses by employers to the risk of these call centres becoming a hotbed for the spread of coronavirus.
CWU news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Workers ‘empowered’ after Asda social distancing win
Workers at Asda’s Lymedale distribution centre are celebrating after securing safer conditions following a dispute over social distancing rules in the workplace. The union GMB said a torrent of complaints had poured out of the site after Asda insisted workers continue working at its distribution centre for George clothing, despite the stores being closed.
GMB news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Next shows how to make warehouses safer
Retail trade union Usdaw says it has worked successfully with clothes retailer Next to make their online fulfilment centres safe for staff during the coronavirus emergency. Urging other firms to follow Next’s lead, the union said Next closed their warehouses two weeks ago and used the time to work with Usdaw reps and officials to redesign operations so that social distancing could be observed. Staff are being trained in new working practices and demand is being limited to ensure that orders can be fulfilled safely.
Usdaw news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Support for call to only open schools when it is safe
A petition calling on the prime minister to only “open schools when it is safe” attracted over 80,000 signatures in just three days, teaching union NEU has said. The union’s petition was launched on 14 April and had clocked up 83,887 signatures by 17 April – and by 21 April, a week after going online, the number of signatories to the NEU petition had reached 170,000.
NEU news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: DHL blasted for ‘endangering thousands’
Logistics unions in the UK have blasted DHL for ‘endangering thousands’ with ‘inadequate’ coronavirus social distancing and safety measures and by forcing self-isolating workers to survive on statutory sick pay (SSP). Usdaw, Unite, GMB, RMT and URTU trade unions called on DHL, which employs around 41,000 people in the UK, to work with them to resolve its workforce’s concerns over Covid-19 safety and the rate of pay for staff who are self-isolating or have been furloughed.
Usdaw news release. RMT news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Hotel workers ‘risking lives’ to help the NHS
Hotels providing accommodation for NHS staff, acting as Covid-19 isolation centres or providing emergency housing during the crisis, are ‘risking lives’ by failing to implement adequate safety measures for staff, Unite has warned. The union, which represents thousands of workers in the hospitality sector, said it is becoming increasingly concerned that the workers in these accommodation centres are not being given proper training and advice and are not being provided with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).
Unite news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Unions demand staggered starts on sites
London construction sites must stagger their opening times to avoid congestion and the spread of coronavirus on London’s bus and transport system, building and transport unions have said. Construction and bus workers union Unite and train drivers’ union ASLEF, said construction sites must stagger start and finish times so thousands of workers are not travelling en masse on the same buses and tubes.
Unite news release. ASLEF news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Usdaw urges shoppers to help keep shops safe
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is calling on the public to take special care to follow safety guidance when making essential shopping trips. Paddy Lillis, the union’s general secretary, said: “The safety of our members is absolutely paramount, but they tell us that some of the shopping public are resisting social distancing measures in stores and can become abusive when asked to queue and maintain a two-metre gap.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Big six food retailers must deliver worker safety
The government has been told it must convene an urgent meeting with the big six retailers and the Food and Drink Federation after a major Tesco, Sainsbury and Marks and Spencer supplier admitted social distancing was impossible in its factory. A letter from the union GMB, sent to food an environment secretary, ASDA, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, M&S, Lidl and Aldi, came after a Bakkavor manager was secretly filmed admitting social distancing was not possible and threatening to sack staff who stayed at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
GMB news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: London bus safety measures get cautious welcome
Changes to bus operations in London designed to make public transport safer have been given a cautious welcome by Unite. Commenting on the announcement by Transport for London (TfL) that central door only loading will be now imposed on London buses, Unite’s London and Eastern regional secretary Pete Kavanagh said: “The extra safety measures now in place show why it is so important that workers are represented by strong trade unions.”
Unite news release and update. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Welcome for relaxation on HGV driver medicals
Unite has welcomed the government’s announcement that the rules on medicals for HGV drivers have been relaxed. The announcement comes after heavy lobbying from Unite, which had warned the government that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, HGV drivers have been unable to undertake a medical resulting in 30,000 drivers potentially being forced off the road.
Unite news release. URTU alert. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Unite honour’s London’s fallen bus workers
Unite has paid tribute to bus and transport workers in London who have died after contracting Covid-19 and is demanded that more be done to protect those still working. The union, which has more than 20,000 members working on buses throughout the capital, heralded the ‘heart-breaking sacrifice’ of the 21 London transport workers, including 15 bus drivers, who have died keeping the capital's public transport network running in a time of ‘critical need’.
Unite news release. The Independent. Morning Star. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: More staff secure right to coronavirus testing
Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced that fire and rescue personnel, police, prison staff, and Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) workers will now be eligible for coronavirus testing. The move comes after sustained pressure from the FBU, calling on the government to secure Covid-19 tests for firefighters and control staff.
FBU news release and Covid-19 testing resources. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: ‘Reckless’ move to open civic amenities reversed
Merthyr Tydfil council has reversed a decision to reopen its civic amenity sites in Dowlais and Aberfan after protests from UNISON and GMB. The unions, who had described the move as “reckless and unnecessary”, advised staff not to return to work until a proper risk assessment has been filled out.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Britain: Unite resolves bin worker distancing row
Unite Scotland has welcomed an agreement with Perth and Kinross council that should reduce the risk of coronavirus exposures in bin workers. The union said it had received numerous reports that refuse workers’ health and safety was being put at risk at the council’s Friarton depot.
Unite news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Europe: EU roadmap falls down on basic principles
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has said the European Commission’s  proposed Roadmap towards lifting Covid-19 containment measures fails on basic principles and does not give sufficient attention to either health and safety at work or the need to apply strict ‘precautionary’ measures. The union body has now asked the Commission to start an ‘urgent and proper’ consultation with trade unions and employers to define a proper implementation process.
ETUC news release. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

USA: Amazon fires coronavirus critics
Hours before Amazon fired Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa from its Seattle HQ this month, they were among about a thousand of the company’s technology employees to accept an invitation to hear from warehouse employees about working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to firing the women - both visible leaders of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) who, the company said, had repeatedly violated internal policies - Amazon deleted the calendar invitation to the online event and took disciplinary action against another employee who circulated it.
CBS News. Sacramento Bee. The Guardian.
UNI news report on union action at Amazon. Risks 944. 25 April 2020

Hazards news, 18 April 2020

Britain: Unionised workers more safe and secure - survey
A survey of over 1,500 workers in Scotland has revealed the advantages enjoyed by unionised workers over un-unionised workers during the coronavirus pandemic. The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) study revealed that unionised workers are half as likely to feel their job is at risk than those who are not in unions, and that almost two-thirds of un-unionised workers are worried about paying bills compared to a third of unionised workers.
Full STUC news release and survey findings. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: RMT ‘stop work’ call to unprotected workers
Transport union RMT has advised tens of thousands of workers in the rail and bus sector to stop work on safety grounds if employers do not provide protection from Covid-19. It says the union’s message to members follows escalating concerns that many employers are not taking steps to protect transport workers.
RMT news release and advice for rail and bus members. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Busworker ‘protection scandal’ exposed
Bus union RMT says it has been alerted “to the most inept steps they have ever seen” by an employer to protect workers from Covid-19. The union was commenting after making ‘strenuous representation’ to First South West Buses to fit suitable perspex screens to its fleet of buses to provide a physical barrier between drivers and passengers.
RMT news release. Covid-19 – RMT advice and information. Morning Star. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Sick pay win for London's bus workers
London's 20,000 bus workers have secured company sick pay from day one following intense pressure from Unite on bus operators, Transport for London (TfL), the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the national government. Bobby Morton, Unite's national officer for passenger transport, said bus workers were “terrified” after London mayor Sadiq Khan revised the deaths figure to 21 transport workers fatalities in the capital from Covid-19, including 15 bus workers.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Evening Standard. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Unite cooks up furlough for fired Carluccio’s workers
In the first legal test of the government's job retention scheme (JRS), Unite has secured clarification that the scheme can be used by companies in administration during the Covid-19 crisis. Unite is now calling on Carluccio’s workers who were made jobless in March when the restaurant chain went into administration to respond to get in touch with their union so that they can access the scheme and establish some wage security.
Unite news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Food supplier stopped from sacking workers
A Unite campaign has stopped a Cardiff-based food wholesaler from sacking over 100 low paid workers. Global Foods sacked all its 117 workers days after the government's job retention scheme was announced, leaving workers jobless in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.
Unite news release. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Union calls for cabinet minister for PPE
With workers across the country continuing to sound the alarm about the lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers from the coronavirus, Unite has called for the ‘rapid appointment’ of a minister with responsibility for PPE delivery. The union’s call came amid mounting concerns that vital protective kit is not getting to the NHS and social care frontline.
Unite news release. Labourlist. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Unions secure PPE for Scotland’s care workers
Scotland’s care workers should get face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus, according to new advice from the Scottish government issued after unions stepped in. The agreement means that the UK-wide guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) applies for Scotland’s care workers.
UNISON news release. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Fear and mistrust blight call centres
A union-backed survey of over 2,000 call centre workers has revealed that while some call centres are getting it right, the majority are still getting coronavirus work practices dangerously wrong. Preliminary results of the survey conducted by call centre expert Professor Philip Taylor found pre-existing health and safety concerns were being exacerbating by the current coronavirus crisis.
STUC news release. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Testing ‘fiasco’ condemns fire staff to isolation
Fire and rescue personnel urgently need coronavirus testing, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned, as services have lost up to 12 per cent of their firefighters and control staff to self-isolation. Commenting on 13 April, the FBU said nearly 3,000 fire and rescue staff are in self-isolation and unable to work, representing 5.1 per cent of the UK’s overall fire and rescue workforce.
FBU news release. BBC News Online. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Government must say no to work-related virus deaths
The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) has reiterated its call on the UK government to set a goal of ‘zero work caused fatalities’ from Covid-19 within the NHS, essential services and UK business. The organisation said its campaign is now being backed by the British Dental Association (BDA), the British Medical Association (BMA), the Doctors’ Association and many other organisations, stating “that work-related fatalities due to Covid-19 exposure is not a given.”
SOM news release. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: NHS workers’ Covid-19 deaths ‘beyond heartbreaking'
The union GMB has expressed its deep concern after health secretary Matt Hancock’s devastating disclosure that at least 19 NHS workers have died of Covid-19. Commenting on 11 April, GMB criticised the government for “broken promises” over protective equipment.
GMB news release and Get Me PPE Toolkit. The Independent. The Guardian. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Nurses without right PPE ‘entitled to refuse to work’
Nurses without appropriate personal protective equipment, who have ‘exhausted all other measures’, can refuse to treat patients, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has advised. The RCN has urged nurses without adequate PPE to consider delaying treatment, using alternative practices and refusing to work if ‘escalation steps’, such as consulting a line manager and documenting concerns, do not resolve the situation.
RCN news release and Refusal to treat guide. Labour Party news release. Department of Health news release. Nursing in Practice. The Guardian and related story. BBC News Online. Evening Standard. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: NHS staff ‘face real disaster’ from low levels of PPE
The BMA has warned that personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies in two large areas of England are running at dangerously low levels, and that some pieces of equipment are no longer available – a problem it says is forcing doctors into impossible situations and ultimately, putting their lives at risk. Commenting on 10 April, the doctors’ group said current PPE supplies in London and Yorkshire are not sufficient to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak.
BMA news release. The Guardian. The Independent. BBC News Online. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Hospital staff at risk as PPE fit-tests abandoned
Health workers are being put at risk of catching Covid-19 because hospitals are abandoning vital checks to see if their personal protective equipment (PPE) fits properly. Reports from frontline staff indicate hospitals are in breach of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) respiratory equipment guidelines, which specify that anyone using a disposable respirator such as an FFP3 facemask in the course of their work should always have a fit-test first.
RCS news release. DAUK UK news release. HSE respirator guidelines. The Guardian. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Hotline exposes government’s PPE failures
NHS, care and other frontline staff whose lives are on the line need immediate government action to fix inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies, UNISON has said. The public services union said government apologies and assurances the UK has all the PPE it needs are of no comfort to staff whose workplaces are running low.
UNISON news release and earlier release. BBC News Online. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Community calls for more prison staff protection
Following the deaths of two prison staff from HMP Pentonville from Covid-19, the justice services trade union Community has called for urgent action from government to improve prison staff safety. In addition to provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) the union, which represents private sector prison officers, is calling for government to enable prison contractors to change the daily prison regime without fear of financial penalty.
Community news release and petition calling for PPE for all. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: End VAT for care home PPE
The government must immediately suspend VAT duties payable by care homes for safety equipment during the pandemic, UNISON has said. Unlike the NHS and personal purchases, are providers, some of whom are struggling with the financial pressures of the outbreak, are being charged VAT for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves needed to keep the workforce safe.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: PCS slams lack of PPE for border force staff
All Border Force staff need to be equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) as a matter of urgency, the union PCS has said. The union’s call came after a second death at Heathrow reportedly from Covid-19.
PCS news release. MyLondon. Liverpool Echo. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Construction protest over coronavirus risks
Two socially distanced campaigners laid flowers at 11am at Tower Hill in London on Easter Sunday in protest at the ‘hundreds’ of construction workers who will lose their lives unnecessarily during the pandemic unless urgent action is taken. Concern has been growing that non-essential sites – including construction of luxury hotels and infrastructure not due to open for years – are still being allowed to operate, and that social distancing measures are impossible to adhere to in this industry.
Reel News video report. ITUC/Hazards news. CIEH news report. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Covid-19 mobile phone mast ‘madness’ must stop
The communication workers’ union CWU has thrown its weight behind a chorus of protest against Covid-19 ‘fake news’ which has resulted in mobile phone masts being vandalised and some telecoms engineers abused by members of the public. Following the reports of some of the union’s field engineering members having been verbally abused as a result of what the union said is ‘an absurd conspiracy theory’ that 5G networks are responsible for the spread of coronavirus, the union commended the swift action taken by major social media networks to quash the groundless rumour.
CWU news release. The Metro. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: PCS pressure stalls dangerous passport office plan
Pressure from the civil service union PCS has led to a temporary halt on HM Passport Office (HMPO) staff being forced back into their offices to do routine work. “Our pressure has begun to have an effect as HMPO has called a temporary halt to bringing more staff back into offices this week,” the union said.
PCS news release. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Calls for Covid-19 workers’ compensation scheme
A cross-party group of MPs in calling for the introduction of a Coronavirus Compensation Scheme for frontline workers. The proposal would mirror the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme to include a lump sum up front, a guaranteed income for their family and child payments to eligible children under 18 for any frontline staff who die from Covid-19.
Letter from MPs to the prime minister. LancsLive. HRM Asia. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Home Office urged to prevent abuse of shopworkers
Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has written to the Home Secretary requesting progress on the government’s own ‘call for evidence’ on violence and abuse toward shop staff. The union has warned the problem has become more acute during the coronavirus crisis.
Usdaw news release. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

28 April: Hazards Campaign call to action
As normal public events for 28 April won’t be possible because of measures to contain coronavirus/Covid-19, the Hazards Campaign has published its own 10-point plan for mostly virtual action. “Some workplace events may still go ahead but we are taking #iwmd20 online, developing a social media campaign that we want everyone to join in,” The campaign says.
Hazards Campaign 28 April call to action. Print versions of the posters in A3 and A4 versions are free, but postage has to be paid on larger orders. As a guide 25 x A4 posters or 12 x A3 posters will cost £1.70 first class postage. Email or call the campaign for a price: 0161 636 7558. Send orders to: Hazards Campaign, c/o GMHC, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester M16 7WD. Materials can also be downloaded for free, printed off, used online and in social media campaigns, as can a series of Hazards Campaign display boards.
TUC 28 April 2020 news and resources webpage.
Global action and resources: ITUC/Hazards 28 April website. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Australia: Qantas 'knowingly exposed' airport workers
Qantas staff at Adelaide Airport in South Australia were directed to continue working after it was discovered they had been exposed to the coronavirus, the transport union TWU has charged. SA Health ordered 750 employees to self-isolate in an attempt to contain a cluster of cases linked to the airport, including 18 baggage handlers, three other workers and 13 close contacts.
SA Health news release. ABC News. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Canada: Union’s 'invisible to essential' cleaners’ campaign
A Canadian union has launched an ‘Invisible to Essential’ campaign, calling on property owners, managers and cleaning contractors to work together to make immediate improvements to cleaners’ working conditions. Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2 said the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many ‘invisible’ service workers being thrust into the spotlight but, despite this, janitors continue to be amongst the lowest paid and most underappreciated workers.
SEIU news release and Invisible to Essential campaign. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

USA: Union slams needless transport worker deaths
The Covid-19-linked deaths of dozens of Transport Workers Union Local 100 members who worked for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) have been linked to their working conditions. John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union International, asserted that the most important factor responsible is the serious occupational issues related to workplace air quality for transit workers that make them especially vulnerable to the infection.
Chief Leader. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Hazards news, 11 April 2020

Britain: TUC to shine a light on coronavirus risks on 28 April
The TUC is to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) by highlighting the preventable and wholly unacceptable risks to workers posed by the coronavirus. The annual 28 April event is when unions “renew our efforts to organise collectively to prevent more deaths, injuries and disease as a result of work,” the TUC’s dedicated webpages note.
TUC 28 April 2020 news and resources webpage.
Global action and resources: ITUC/Hazards 28 April website. ITUC/Hazards coronavirus resource hub. ITUC Covid-19 resource pages – news, resources and publications from ITUC affiliates, Global Union Federations and LabourStart. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: TUC, CBI and HSE issue joint coronavirus statement
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), employers’ group the CBI and the TUC have issued an unprecedented joint call for employers to ensure safe working conditions during the coronavirus outbreak. The statement says those companies remaining open must take practical steps to minimise the threat of workers being exposed to the virus wherever possible – including enabling social distancing. 
TUC news release. CBI news release. HSE news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Government must protect pregnant workers, says TUC
The TUC has called on the government to protect the health, jobs and income of pregnant workers during the coronavirus outbreak. Employers already have a legal duty to keep their pregnant employees safe, says the TUC. Health and safety law says that if they can’t do that in their workplace, then they should allow pregnant staff to work from home.
TUC news release and blog. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: TUC calls for global response to coronavirus outbreak
An urgent global response is required to address massive job losses caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the TUC has said in response to a report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which predicted the equivalent of 195 million full-time job losses globally in the next three months, An indication of the unanticipated extent of the crisis is revealed by ILO’s new estimate, which is almost eight times higher than the 25 million job losses it predicted on 18 March.
TUC news release and blog on the Job Retention Scheme. ILO report. BBC News Onlinev. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Imperative bus driver safety action comes now
Unite has warned that there is “no time for trials” of new safety measures introduced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and has said that bus operators, regulators and the government must take immediate action to ensure bus worker safety. The union made its call following the 8 April announcement by Transport for London (TfL) that it is trialling closing the front door on buses on a limited number of routes.
Unite news release, and earlier releases on the new safety measures and bus worker coronavirus crisis. TfL news release. Evening Standard. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Bristol bus worker virus death strengthens resolve
The death of Bristol bus worker as a result of coronavirus exposure reinforces a call for the most stringent hygiene regime the protect the UK bus industry’s workforce, a union has said. Unite regional secretary for the south west Steve Preddy paid tribute to Unite member Martin Egan, who died from Covid-19 after working for First Group in Bristol for 40 years.
Unite news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Stop work if not protected, union tells transport workers
Transport union RMT has told it members in the rail and bus sectors they should stop work if employers do not provide protection from coronavirus exposures. The union’s message to members follows escalating concerns that many employers are not taking steps to protect transport workers despite rail and bus staff playing a key role in keeping people and goods moving in the fight against Covid-19.
RMT news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

USA: NY transit workers in deadly virus peril
In New York, subway and bus employees have been particularly badly affected by the disease, with at least 33 deaths. New York governor Andrew Cuomo commented: “They’re doing heroic work, very high rate of illness - that’s a problem.”
The City. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Call for non-essential public transport to stand down
All non-essential public transport workers should be stood down, TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes has said. The head of the transport and travel union said: “Very sadly we have seen some deaths amongst public transport staff and I’m now urging the government to make it clear that all non-essential public transport workers should be stood down.”
TSSA news release and related news release. ASLEF news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Scandal as passport staff told to get back to work
Staff working for Her Majesty's Passport Office (HMPO) believe their lives are being put at risk because of demands that they return to work. Civil service union PCS raised its concerns as it was revealed many passport office staff have been asked to go back, despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
PCS news release, survey on social distancing and PCS Coronavirus response team. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Safety at the centre of Rolls-Royce coronavirus package
Unite says it has hammered out a package, with health and safety at its heart, with engineering giant Rolls-Royce. Unite regional officer Tony Tinley, responsible for the union’s members at the 12,000-strong Derby workforce, said: “Our reps have worked really hard to achieve a stringent health and safety regime, with such features as a one-way system, which will enable the required employees to continue to work during the coronavirus emergency.”
Unite news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Work-related coronavirus cases must be reported – official
Dangerous occurrences and cases of actual ill-health related to coronavirus exposures have now to be reported, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said. The safety regulator said the new legal reporting requirement under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) applies “when an unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus,” adding: “This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence.”
HSE news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Work-related Covid-19 deaths ‘not a given’
The UK Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) has said it does not believe that work-related fatalities due to Covid-19 were inevitable. Saying cases were ‘not a given’, SOM said the UK should have aimed for a target of zero work caused fatalities in this pandemic within the NHS, essential services and UK business.
SOM news release. Government/PHE/NHS England news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Protection is more than just PPE, midwives warn
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has called on NHS employers to provide better support to maternity staff after a survey revealed that nearly a third of midwives had received no advice or the training they need to care for women with coronavirus symptoms. The survey by the midwives’ union found that just over half (56 per cent) of midwives reported receiving some advice and training, but only 15 per cent said that they had received adequate support.
RCM news release and statement on the death of midwife Lynsay Coventry. Union News. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Health workers lose faith after PPE provision failures
NHS employers and trusts must stop hiding behind bare minimum provision in their personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements, the union GMB has said. The union has called on NHS bosses to instead ‘set the bar as high as they can’ in accessing and supplying PPE.
GMB news release and release on BSUH homemade visors and Barnsley Hospital old masks. BMA news release. Morning Star. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Hospital staff 'left in tears' over lack of PPE
Workers at Great Western Hospital (GWH) are dealing directly with patients with diagnosed or suspected Covid-19 infections without being issued appropriate protective equipment, the union GMB has said. The union says ‘terrified’ NHS staff at the Swindon hospital report patients coughing uncontrollably on them, leaving droplets of spit on their hair, face, neck and arms.
GMB news release. CSP news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Care staff still not getting the safety kit they need
Thousands of care workers are still lacking protection against coronavirus, the public sector union UNISON has said. Responding to a government announcement that nearly 8 million pieces of personal protective equipment have been delivered to care homes, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Thousands of care staff have contacted UNISON to say getting protective kit is still a real issue and they don’t have what they need.”
UNISON news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: NHS hotline as staff face coronavirus PTSD risk
The NHS has launched a mental health hotline to offer support to health workers after experts warned doctors and nurses on the frontline of the UK’s coronavirus epidemic could develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hundreds of thousands of workers who may need help will be able to call or text a free number staffed by more than 1,500 trained volunteers.
NHS Employers news release and helpline details. The Independent. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Zero PPE in schools equals danger, warns union
The union GMB has hit out after new Department for Education guidelines said personal protective equipment (PPE) is not required in schools in England – and that cleaning equipment may be rationed. The 7 April guidance states that “some [cleaning equipment] items may be rationed in schools,” and adds: “Educational staff do not require personal protective equipment.”
GMB news release. Department for Education guidance. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Half of teachers asked to break virus rules
Over half of teachers who should have been self-isolating due to coronavirus exposures have been asked to attend work, a survey by teaching union NASUWT has found. The snapshot survey of teachers revealed that 51 per cent of teachers who thought either they or someone in their household had Covid-19 were still asked to attend work for at least some time during the week beginning 23 March, the first week that schools were closed to all but the children of key workers and vulnerable children.
NASUWT news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Highways work warning after social distancing bypass
Highways maintenance workers who are undertaking a crucial role keeping the UK’s road network open are being prevented from following social distancing guidelines, the union Unite has warned. It says the outsourced key workers have been told that the client, Highways England, has said that it should be ‘business as usual.’ Unite says that while in some depots, canteens and mess areas have been closed, workers are still operating in two and three person crews, travelling together in cabs and cannot social distance while on site.
Unite news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Campaigners hit out at Covid-19 work safety failings
Millions of lives have been needlessly put at risk by the government’s inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic, health and safety campaigners have warned. The Hazards Campaign’s analysis has identified a catalogue of government shortfalls, including its refusal to stop all non-essential work, an inability to supply health service staff with protective equipment and failure to introduce a comprehensive testing and tracking system to contain the virus.
Hazards Campaign news release, full analysis and infographic. Morning Star. CIEH news report. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Welsh police 'should not be used as factory inspectors'
Police officers should not be used as ‘factory inspectors’ to enforce a new social distancing law introduced in Wales, the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones has said. Regulations that came into force across Wales on 7 April allow police and councils to fine firms for not doing all they can to keep workers two metres apart.
Wales TUC and whistleblowing hotline. BBC News Online. The Guardian.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2020. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Unions welcome Welsh rule on social distancing
Unions have welcomed the decision by the Welsh Assembly to enforce new social distancing rules at work. Howard Beckett, Unite's assistant general secretary for legal affairs, said: “Our members are putting themselves on the line to keep public services and businesses functioning during these extraordinary times, so we say to employers, keep them safe, provide them with the protective and sanitation equipment they need, or find yourselves in legal conflict with Unite because we have vowed to do whatever it takes to keep our members safe.”
Usdaw news release. Unite news release. NEU news release. UNISON news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Unite Scotland welcomes ‘stronger’ construction guidance
Unite Scotland has welcomed the stronger guidance issued by the Scottish government to construction firms during the Covid-19 pandemic, which clarifies what is essential work. The guidance also confirms that where construction sites cease work, workers’ pay should be protected.
Unite Scotland news release. Scottish government construction sector guidance. Construction Enquirer. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Prison union welcomes early release of inmates
Prison officers’ union POA has welcome a government decision to release thousands of low risk prisoners to reduce the health risk posed by coronavirus to prison inmates and staff. In a private meeting with the POA, the Lord Chancellor confirmed that up to 4,000 prisoners within the last two months of their Automatic Early Release date would be released from prisons under home detention curfew conditions.
POA news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Global: Unions call for universal social protection fund
The international trade union confederation ITUC has called for a global fund to protect public health, social protection and jobs in poor nations. The call came after the global union body’s survey found that while wage protection and income support are provided in many G20 and OECD countries, working people in Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Americas have lost jobs and incomes and could face widespread famine unless there is urgent global co-ordination and fiscal stimulus measures.
ITUC news release, ITUC Global Covid-19 Survey key findings and 7 April ITUC action round-up. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Global: Workers a critical link in the food supply chain
A 31 March World Trade Organisation (WTO), World Health Organisation (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) joint call for  coordinated international action to keep international food supplies flowing ignored the welfare of workers in the sector, the global food and farming union IUF has said. The IUF has written to the three global bodies to highlight a ‘supremely irresponsible defect’ in their appeal for ‘responsibility’: the total absence of advocacy for action to protect the lives, safety and livelihoods of the agricultural workers on whose labour food security depends.
IUF news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

USA: The government safety inspectorate has gone missing
This year, a new crisis put workers in many US industries unexpectedly in harm’s way, but the official workplace safety watchdog has been conspicuously absent from the coronavirus response, a former top government safety official has charged. David Michaels, the Obama era head of the safety enforcer OSHA, said: “Instead of pressing employers on worker safety, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia and President Donald Trump’s political appointees at the Labor Department have decided to tell workers there is little OSHA can do because it has no standard covering airborne infectious diseases.”
Politico. US Covid-19 Strike Wave Interactive Map. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

USA: Essential workers become disposable protection
The USA’s top public health agency has been criticised for treating millions of essential workers as disposable in the nation’s coronavirus response. New Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance covers ‘critical infrastructure workers’ – which includes workers in every essential job from police to agricultural workers and cleaners outside the health care sector - advises that workers who have had close contact with an individual infected with Covid-19 may continue to work if they remain asymptomatic, with certain conditions.
Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19, CDC, April 2020. The Hill. Science Magazine. EU screening guide. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Pakistan: Health workers beaten by police in pandemic protests
Health workers in Pakistan have warned of “deplorable” conditions on the frontlines of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, describing the pandemic as untreatable in one region and accusing police of brutally suppressing protests over working conditions. The country has reported 4,000 cases of Covid-19, but testing rates are low and doctors believe the real figure is much higher.
The Guardian. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Hazards news, 4 April 2020

Global: Stop the pandemic at work
In response to the worldwide coronavirus crisis, the global union confederation ITUC has announced unions are to make ‘Stop the pandemic at work’ a major campaign focus. The union has produced a series of posters and resources to kick off the campaign, which will build to a day of ‘virtual’ action on 28 April 2020, International Workers’ Memorial Day. ITUC says while everyone is affected by the crisis, workers are on the frontline.
ITUC news release. ITUC/Hazards 28 April website, including news on activities and resources. ITUC/Hazards coronavirus resource hub. ITUC Covid-19 resource pages – news, resources and publications from ITUC affiliates, Global Union Federations and LabourStart. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: HSE unions demand virus action as the watchdog goes missing
Unions representing staff at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have written to the regulator for the second time in a week asking management to intervene directly with the government on behalf of the public and their members. Prospect, the FDA and PCS have written a joint letter to HSE Gold Command asking them to fulfil their duty as the independent regulator in charge of enforcing health and safety at work.
Prospect news release and earlier release. Hazards Campaign letter to HSE.
Thompsons Solicitors’ updated briefing on coronavirus and the law. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Essential role of low paid workers deserves recognition
The critical role played by low paid workers in combating the coronavirus threat to public health deserves much greater recognition, the TUC has said. Commenting on the new national minimum wage rates which come into force on 1 April, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Britain is indebted to its army of minimum wage heroes. Many – including care workers and supermarket staff – are currently on the frontline of the battle against coronavirus.”
TUC news release and Coronavirus/COVID-19 Guidance to Unions, TUC, March 2020. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Union campaign wins protection for self-employed
Commenting on the chancellor’s announcement of a new income support scheme for self-employed workers, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This is a welcome step forward for self-employed and freelance workers across the economy, from construction to the creative industries. It’s vital that support reaches workers as soon as possible. Many are already dealing with severe hardship.”
news release on income protection for the self-employed. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Unions call for urgent government action on PPE
The government must ensure essential workers get access to live-saving protective equipment, an open letter to ministers from unions has said. The letter, signed by the TUC, UNISON, RCM, GMB, Unite, BDA and CSP, notes: “Our members care for the sick and the elderly, they look after our children and keep them safe, they make sure there is food on the supermarket shelves, they keep the lights on and the water running.”
TUC news release. Labour Party news release. Labourlist. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Promises of PPE won’t keep ‘forgotten’ workers safe
Promises of personal protective equipment (PPE) alone won’t keep NHS, care, police and other essential workers safe, public sector union UNISON has said. UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis has written to Boris Johnson demanding he takes action to ensure all hospitals, care homes, police forces and council services have the sanitiser, gowns, masks and gloves needed to keep staff safe.
UNISON news release.
UNISON coronavirus Q&A and guidance on Personal Protective Equipment and coronavirus.
Public Service International (PSI) resources and Safe Workers Save Lives campaign. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Gagging NHS workers could cost lives
Prevented NHS workers from speaking out over chronic personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages could put further lives at risk, the union GMB has said. Frontline doctors have said they have been gagged from speaking out about shortages of protective equipment as they treat coronavirus patients – with some claiming managers have threatened their careers.
GMB news release. NUJ news release. The Independent. The Lancet. British Medical Journal.
Worksmart guidance on the Employment Relations Act and Pubic Interest Disclosure Act. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Care workers put at risk by lack of basic safety kit
Social care workers across the country are at breaking point with many being given just plastic aprons and gloves to protect against coronavirus as they support the vulnerable and elderly, public sector union UNISON has said. Care workers have told the union some managers are either refusing to issue face masks or not providing training in how to use them, and not supplying hand sanitiser.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Home-visiting health workers need PPE urgently
Health visitors and community nurses going into the homes of families with children and babies urgently require personal protective equipment (PPE), Unite has said. The union also wants PPE to go to the thousands of staff working in social care settings, such as care homes, who it says feel forgotten by ministers.
Unite news release. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: ‘Brave’ education staff need extra protection
Teaching union NEU has called on the government to put measures in place to protect the students and education staff in schools that remain open for the children of frontline workers. The NEU is demanding that urgent measures be taken to ensure the safety of students and staff, including testing of all education staff, and it says no staff at heightened risk should attend schools and colleges and rotas should be introduced for those who continue to go to their place of work.
Education International. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Union calls for agreement to protect civil servants
Civil service union PCS is calling the Cabinet Office to agree measures to guarantee the safety of civil servants during the coronavirus crisis. The union says the current outbreak will have a significant impact on the work of public bodies across the civil service and its related areas.
PCS news release. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Unite forces Norse Medway to act on virus risks
Council outsourcer Norse Medway has been forced to implement coronavirus safety measures for refuse workers and other staff following action by Unite. The company, which operates refuse collection, street cleaning and other services for Medway council in Kent, was forced to introduce social distancing and hygiene measures after Unite exposed the firm’s disregard for the health of key workers, who also walked out in protest over serious health and safety concerns.
Unite news release and earlier release.
Unite Coronavirus/Covid-19 advice and guide for union officers. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: ‘Inconsistent action in Scotland, public sector unions warn
The leading trade unions in local government in Scotland have written to first minister Nicola Sturgeon to highlight ‘major inconsistencies’ in action to reduce coronavirus risk they say are putting workers and the general public at risk. Unite, GMB and UNISON have been involved in ongoing discussions with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) on its response to this crisis.
Unite news release. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: M&S workers walk out over coronavirus safety fears
The union GMB has called on Marks and Spencer to protect workers from coronavirus exposures after distribution staff staged two walk outs over safety fears. The union has condemned DHL, which runs the affected Swindon warehouse on behalf of M&S, for its ‘cavalier attitude’ to health and safety. 
GMB news release.
Worksmart guidance on Employment Relations Act protection from victimisation over safety
. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: ASOS warehouse a 'cradle of disease' say workers
Almost all of the thousands of workers at an Asos warehouse in Grimethorpe, Barnsley, feel unsafe at work, a GMB survey has found. The union research confirmed 98 per cent of the warehouse staff feel unsafe at work amid the coronavirus crisis.
GMB news release. Sign the GMB letter to the ASOS CEO. GMB coronavirus hub and GMB Coronavirus Briefing on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
BBC News Online. Personnel Today. Morning Star. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Next mothballing of warehouses welcomed by union
Retail union Usdaw has welcomed the decision by fashion retailer Next to close its warehouse and distribution operations until further notice. The union said it believes the government should be agreeing that non-essential online retail should cease trading in the same way that it told high street non-food shops to close.
Usdaw news release. TUC news release. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Amey agrees to full pay for self-isolating workers
Outsourcing giant Amey has agreed that all its workers in the UK will receive their full pay if required to self-isolate due to the coronavirus. The commitment to pay staff full wages, agreed after intense lobbying by unions, will apply to those who are required to self-isolate for seven days, for 14 days and for those who for health reasons have to self-isolate for 12 weeks and will be backdated
Unite news release. GMB news release. Construction Enquirer. The Guardian. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Food processing workers forced to work in close proximity
The two-metre social distancing guideline for food industry workers on production lines now needs to be made mandatory by the government, Unite has said. The union said that the mandatory enforcement by ministers should also encompass retails outlets, such as supermarkets, during the coronavirus emergency.
Unite news release and news release on Diageo. New Food Magazine. The Drinks Business. Morning Star. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Construction workers welcome shutdown of Scottish sites
Unite has welcomed a 27 March instruction by the Scottish government demanding the closure of construction sites not linked to the health service. The union had been demanding construction sites across Scotland should stop with immediate effect or lives would be put at risk.
Unite news release, call for tougher measures and related release on Balfour Beatty. IOSH news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: ‘Shocking’ risks at crowded Tyneside factory
A shocking image of workers crowded together shows a Tyneside company is ‘putting workers and their families at risk,’ GMB has said. The union said the image, reproduced on its website, shows staff at Smulders, a steel construction company in Newcastle upon Tyne, ‘packed together like sardines’ in the company canteen.
GMB news release. Northern Echo. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Criticism as safety skills card firms cash in on coronavirus
Unite is informing members it is not necessary to obtain a temporary Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) Emergency Covid-19 Card to gain access to building sites during the coronavirus outbreak. Because of the lockdown some workers have been unable to renew a recently expired CPCS card, which is normally required to for certain work on sites.
Unite news release. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Risk of lorry driver shortage unless medical rules are relaxed
Unite has warned that 10 to 20 per cent of drivers could be forced off the road unless the government relaxes the requirement for HGV drivers to have a medical. The union says there is already a shortage of HGV drivers, who are playing a ‘crucial’ role during the coronavirus crisis in maintaining the supply of food and medicines.
Unite news release. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Delivery giant UPS told ‘clean up your act’
Logistics giant UPS has been told to ‘massively improve its cleaning regime’ at its depots and in the interiors of vehicles, after drivers expressed concern about the threat of coronavirus as they deliver vital supplies, such as medicines. Unite said it had been telling UPS management consistently throughout last week that when feeder drivers arrive at site they have to use equipment that has not been properly sanitised.  Unite news release. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: All delivery drivers need health protection
Urgent action is needed to prevent delivery drivers placing their health and that of their customers at risk during the coronavirus crisis, Unite has said. The union said it has been inundated with calls from drivers worried about their health as they are still being required to undertake non-essential deliveries to domestic premises, including barbecues, table tennis tables, trampolines, musical equipment, flat screen TVs, cross trainers and treadmills.
Unite news release. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: Employers need to step up mental health support
Only 31 per cent of managers would feel confident to have sensitive discussions around mental health with workers, new figures from human resources body CIPD have revealed. CIPD is warning that employers need to act now to help prevent their employees from being at serious risk of mental ill-health during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
CIPD news release. Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the Covid-19 outbreak, WHO, March 2020. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

USA: Worker health is public health
In the Covid-19 pandemic, worker health is public health - but worker safety and health is in crisis, a top US safety law expert has said. Debbie Berkowitz of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) said the US federal government “is failing to ensure the safety and health of workers - including those most at risk, health care workers. The government has also abandoned its role in keeping all other essential workers safe - those in supermarkets, delivery, warehouses, factories, public transportation and sanitation.”
OnLabor. Frogner BK. How many health care workers are at risk of being sacrificed to COVID-19 in the US?, Center for Health Workforce Studies, University of Washington, Mar 31 2020. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

USA: Dire warning on health worker coronavirus toll
Bianca Frogner, director of the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University of Washington medical school, warned of “the urgency to screen all health care workers, ensure distribution of PPE across a broad range of health care settings and occupations, and track this unfortunate occupational hazard. I find that nearly one in six health care workers may be at risk of testing positive for Covid-19 and up to 380,000 deaths if we emulate the experience of Italy.”
Frogner BK. How many health care workers are at risk of being sacrificed to COVID-19 in the US?, Center for Health Workforce Studies, University of Washington, Mar 31 2020. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Hazards news, 28 March 2020

Britain: Government must protect the self-employed, says TUC
The TUC has called on the government to provide urgent aid to Britain’s five million self-employed workers. A report from the union body published on 23 March warns the current measures in place for self-employed workers are “inadequate” with many facing severe hardship over the coming months.
TUC news release. Fixing the safety net: What next on supporting working people’s incomes?, TUC, 23 March 2020. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s 20 March 2020 announcement, business support news release and TUC commentary. Updated government guidance for employees.
GMB news release. Usdaw news release. Aslef news release. Prospect news release. NUJ news release. Musicians’ Union news release. Community news release. BECTU news release. Unite news release.
The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020 and related government news release. BBC News Online. Prime minister’s 23 October speech announcing the lockdown and related BBC News Online story.  Morning Star. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Confused messages jeopardise virus response
Unite has appealed to the prime minister to act swiftly to clear up the confusion about who can be at work and how insecure and self-employed workers will be supported economically. The 24 March union warning noted the lack of clarity and absence of financial support for insecure workers was “at odds with the national emergency” and came after pictures of packed construction sites and Tube trains in the capital were published, as workers continued to head to work.
Unite news release and news release on Unite coronavirus helpline. BBC News Online and related news report. The Guardian and Guardian video. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Government must act on construction ‘health emergency’
Unite has warned that construction workers and their families are facing a ‘public health emergency’ as the government has failed to ensure their safety at work. The union says that alongside urgent contingencies to enforce safety on sites, the government must introduce immediate measures to ensure that the self-employed - which comprises over 50 per cent of the construction industry - are covered by its wage assistance scheme, to the equivalent already announced for employees.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: STUC warns employers over safety breaches
The STUC has issued a stark warning to employers after it was inundated with complaints from workers about companies keeping open for non-essential work and pressuring employees to present for work even while business was suspended. The Scottish union body warned employers they could find themselves in “implied breach of contract” and face future constructive dismissal claims “if judged to be endangering workers.”
STUC news release and related news release on testing. The Herald. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Usdaw’s new hope for calm in our supermarkets
Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed ‘much needed clarity’ from the government after the announcement of a nationwide lockdown. Paddy Lillis, the retail union’s general secretary, said more needed to be done to protect workers in stores, with supermarket chains subsequently introduced additional measures to protect staff and customers.
Usdaw news release, related news release on protective measures and advice to members. The Mirror. The Guardian.
UNI Commerce global union and Politico on the global response. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Police should make sure only key workers travel
Rail union TSSA has echoed the London mayor’s call for police to be deployed at all main London stations - including Underground, Overground and railway interchanges - to ensure passengers on the city's public transport network are only those providing vital services. TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes made the call following reports of busy Tube trains for the second successive day after Boris Johnson’s coronavirus ‘lockdown’.
TSSA news release. MyLondon. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: RCM concern over PPE shortage for midwives
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has called on the government to ensure that midwives and maternity support workers receive appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure they remain safe and well so they can continue to care for people. The union call came as health care workers across the NHS said they were encountering difficulties obtaining the correct masks, aprons, goggles and gloves. 
RCM news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online.
RESOURCE: RCM guidance for pregnant health care workers. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: All education staff should get the test
Teachers’ union NEU has warned that government advice for schools is not currently strong enough. Commenting on the action needed to keep staff and young people safe in the schools and colleges that have remained open, Dr Mary Bousted, the union’s joint general secretary, said tackling the outbreak “means testing of all education staff, and that no one at heightened risk attends schools and colleges from today.”
NEU news release and guidance to members. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Fire services lose hundreds to self-isolation
Fire and rescue service personnel must receive priority testing and vaccination for coronavirus, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said. The union was commenting after some brigades reported losing hundreds of staff to self-isolation.
FBU news release. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: ‘Petrified’ Amazon workers stuck in packed warehouses
Amazon workers are ‘petrified’ of being infected by Covid-19 after being left to work in packed warehouses, without hand sanitiser or personal protection equipment, the union GMB has said. GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “It’s impossible for Amazon workers to keep a safe distance from each other and hit their productivity targets.”
GMB news release. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Business as usual not good enough for energy sector
Energy sector employers are preparing contingency measures to make sure the lights stay on - but are employers properly balancing the safety of staff with the need to keep energy flowing, the union Prospect has questioned. As the union for engineers and specialists working in the energy industry, Prospect polled its members on the ‘resilience measures’ their employers are putting in place in response to Covid-19, and found fewer than half the respondents (only 48 per cent) were confident in the resilience measures their employers were putting in place and in response to a question on PPE shortages, only 41 per cent said there were currently no shortages, 14 per cent said there were shortages, and 45 per cent said they were unsure.
Prospect news release and blog. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Railway workers call for public support
Rail industry unions have called on the public to support their efforts to keep a safe rail system in operation to help see the country through the coronavirus crisis. An open letter signed by Mick Whelan of Aslef, Mick Cash of RMT, Manuel Cortes of TSSA and Unite’s Diana Holland notes “we are pleading with the travelling public, if you can work from home, please do.”
RMT news release. Aslef news release. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Failing to stand together could cost you dearly
Workers can protect their income as well as their health if they stand together during the pandemic crisis, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has said. The union body has called on workers to come together and organise to ensure employees, agency workers and freelance staff follow the correct procedure for ‘furloughing’ them during the period ahead, and to maximise their pay during the months ahead.
STUC news release. The Guardian. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: UCU welcomes move to stop face-to-face prison education
UCU has welcomed the move to suspend prison education as part of a wider prison lockdown in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) advised the Justice Select Committee it was moving to an ‘exceptional delivery model’, and has now confirmed to prison governors and prison education providers that all non-essential activities involving groups of people, including prison education, should be stopped with immediate effect.
UCU news release. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Migrant workers supplying the food industry need respect
The rights of thousands of migrant workers working hard to pick fruit and vegetables to keep the food chain supplied during the coronavirus emergency need to be respected, Unite has said. The union said that migrant employees working in the fields and orchards were designated as ‘key workers’ as they were a vital cog in the food production and supply chains.
Unite news release. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Social care workers must have full protective equipment
Unite has said the social care sector is at breaking point dealing with coronavirus related demands and is warning that workers do not even have basic personal protective equipment (PPE). Social care workers, many of whom Unite said are employed on low wages by private sector companies and who look after some of the frailest and most vulnerable in society, are reporting that employers are unable to supply basic PPE such as gloves, aprons, masks and hand sanitiser.
Unite news release. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Norse Medway slammed for ‘dangerous’ approach
Unite has said it is ‘dismayed’ at council services outsourcer Norse Medway’s approach to social distancing for key workers as well as staff who need to self-isolate because of the coronavirus. On 24 March, the union said that Norse – which operates refuse collection, street cleaning, crematoria, gardening and other services for Medway council in Kent – is refusing to put workers who are self-isolating on medical suspensions.
Unite news release. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Stena Line ferries slammed for suspending sick pay
Nautilus has protested 'draconian' steps taken by Stena Line ferries after it suspended its sick pay scheme without consultation with unions. The move, which the firm said was in response to the coronavirus crisis, has compounded a situation in which more than a thousand shore-based staff have been made redundant by the company in the past week, the union said. “This draconian step will impact on those unfortunate employees, who through no fault of their own, are unable to work due to severe illness when they have provided many years of loyal service to Stena Line,” Nautilus national ferry organiser Micky Smyth said. “We have serious concerns that employees who may be sick will return to their vessels, which may have serious medical implications for all those onboard including passengers, drivers and crew.”
Nautilus news release and Coronavirus Resources hub. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Britain: Wilko scraps plan to slash sick pay following union campaign
Wilko has scrapped a plan to slash sick pay for tens of thousands of workers after a GMB campaign. The union said the company now acknowledges that, in the light of the Covid-19 outbreak, ‘now is not the time’ to slash sick pay for tens of thousands of workers.
GMB news release. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Brazil: Meat giant in ‘brutal’ attack on its workers
JBS, the world's largest meat company, has presented workers in Brazil with a stark choice: risk potentially fatal illness, or risk losing your job. On 23 March, workers from the JBS units in Forquilhinha and Nova Veneza in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina were brutally repressed for protesting the company's decision to keep the production lines running without adequate protection against the spread of the coronavirus.
IUF news release and video. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Global: ‘Havoc’ as half of countries placed on lockdown
Over half of all countries surveyed (53 per cent) are containing the spread of the coronavirus with national lockdown measures, the closure of schools and non-essential businesses. The Covid-19 pandemic survey by the global union confederation ITUC found six out of fifteen G20 countries which are the drivers of the global economy closed non-essential businesses between 17-23 March 2020 - but only 50 per cent of countries are providing free health care.
ITUC news release and Global Covid-19 survey key findings. ITF news release. IndustriALL news release. ILO blog.
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Covid-19 resource page. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Hazards news, 21 March 2020

Britain: Unions ensure outbreak action works at work
The TUC says union reps should ensure employers assess risks posed by the coronavirus outbreak and their workplace and take the necessary preventive action in consultation with their staff. A new TUC coronavirus guide for unions reps says they “should ensure their employer has in place either a separate policy for dealing with Covid-19, or a general policy covering public health emergencies, major disasters or incidents.”
Coronavirus/Covid-19 Guidance to Unions, TUC, March 2020.
RESOURCES: Thompsons Solicitors briefing on coronavirus and the law at work. Labourstart Unions and Covid-19 news service. HSE coronavirus webpages. Covid-19 and the world of work, ILO.  WHO worker protection and Covid-19 resources. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: New TUC advice for people now working at home
TUC has published new advice on home working. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s important to have a safe place to work and to keep in regular contact with colleagues.”
TUC news release. Prime minister’s statement, 16 March 2020 and PM’s statement, 17 March 2020. Acas guidance on working at home. Prospect top 10 tips on working from home. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: Government must protect jobs and livelihoods, says TUC
TUC is calling on the government to follow other countries and introduce wage subsidies to protect working families and save jobs. A new TUC report, published following the chancellor’s 17 March statement, sets out proposals that will build on the Rishi Sunak’s announcements to protect business and the economy by guaranteeing all families an income and protecting jobs from being lost.
TUC news release. Protecting workers’ jobs and livelihoods: The economic response to coronavirus, TUC report, 18 March 2020. ETUC trade unions and the coronavirus resources webpages, including details of national agreements. GMB news release Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: Unions will work with ministers on virus crisis
The chancellor’s statement that he “will do whatever it takes” to protect business and “people’s financial security” and will work with unions to do it, has been welcomed by unions. In his 17 March speech outlining the government’s plans, Rishi Sunak said: “In particular, I will work with trade unions and business groups to urgently develop new forms of employment support to help protect people’s jobs and incomes through this period.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s 17 March 2020 speech. HM Treasury news report. UNISON news release. Usdaw news release. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: Chancellor must support workers as well as business
The government must provide workers as well as businesses protection during the coronavirus crisis, unions have said. Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, said: “The chancellor is right that we need to work together to get through this, and GMB is willing to play our part;” and Len McCluskey, Unite's general secretary, said: “We urgently need for the government to introduce now the sort of measures that we have seen implemented in our competitor nations, including paying workers 75 per cent plus of their salary while they are forced to be at home as has been introduced in Denmark and Holland. UK workers deserve the same efforts and assistance.”
GMB news release. Unite news release. HM Treasury news release. The Guardian. Personnel Today. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: Sick pay reality for gig worker couriers
The ‘paltry’ sick pay for delivery couriers affected by coronavirus could push them to keep working to stay financially afloat rather than self-isolate, critics have warned. Mick Rix, national officer at the GMB, said: “Paltry statutory sick pay for those who have to self-isolate is a financial punishment simply for doing the right thing, flies in the face of advice to employers, and exposes people to harm and hardship.”
The Guardian. Business and Human Rights resource centre. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: Tube cleaners to get full sick pay
Rail union RMT has welcomed the news that a union campaign to get Tube cleaners ‘in the frontline of the fight to contain the coronavirus on London Underground’ full sick pay has been successful. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The union has been demanding that all privatised staff on the transport network get full sick pay in light of the coronavirus outbreak and the news that Tube cleaners working for ABM are to get just that is a welcome breakthrough others must now follow.”
RMT news release. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: Media owners should follow official advice
Journalists’ union NUJ has called on media employers to follow UK government advice to facilitate home working to the greatest extent possible, stop unessential travel and avoid unnecessary social contact in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The NUJ says while the press has a clear duty to continue to work and report news and advice on the pandemic, it needs to do so in safety.
NUJ news release and advice on Covid-19. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: Unite warning on relaxation of lorry driving regulations
Commercial drivers’ union Unite has warned that the decision by the Department for Transport (DfT) to relax the regulations on lorry drivers’ driving hours from 18 March to 16 April must not affect driver welfare and road safety. The union, which represents over 50,000 lorry drivers in the UK, said it understands that the decision to relax the regulations which govern for how long HGV drivers can drive for as well as ensuring they take sufficient breaks, was a result of a request from retailers to the department for the environment and rural affairs (DEFRA), in order to ensure deliveries of ‘essential’ supplies.
Unite news release and Coronavirus/Covid-19 advice and guide for union officers. DfT guidance. Related HSE guidance on welfare facilities for delivery drivers. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: Hospital union slams ‘dangerous’ infection PPE advice
GMB has said it is ‘very concerned’ after porters at a coronavirus-hit hospital were told they should only wear personal protection equipment (PPE) on the ‘advice of a clinical colleague’. The union was commenting on guidance given to staff working for Mitie at Epsom and St Helier hospital.
GMB news release. GMB coronavirus advice. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: UK ambulance workers left unprotected
The ambulance workers dealing with the coronavirus epidemic are turned up for shifts to find no hand sanitiser, face masks or wipes and faulty testing equipment, the union GMB has warned. Paramedics and ambulance workers across the UK are also being forced to deal with inconsistent guidance and fatigue due to increased workloads as colleagues self-isolate, it said.
GMB news release. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: More NHS firms agree full pay for self-isolated
Private company Medirest has become the latest to promise full pay for all health workers self-isolating due to coronavirus. GMB said following pressure from the union, the company joined NHS ‘outsourcers’ ISS, Sodexo, Interserve and Mitie in guaranteeing full pay.
GMB news release. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: Unions worldwide demand Amazon addresses virus safety
In the wake of coronavirus outbreaks in Amazon warehouses, a global alliance of unions is calling on the company to take urgent measures to protect workers and communities. The alliance, coordinated by the global UNI and which includes the UK union GMB, is making its demands as workers in Italy are striking and workers in Spain are filing complaints to make the company fulfil its legal obligations to provide a safe workplace.
UNI news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: Unions call for special measures for seafarers
Seafarers should be treated as key workers and provided with special measures and exemptions from the travel and other restrictions being imposed for Covid-19 containment, according to the London-based maritime professionals’ union Nautilus. The union is recommending preventive measures to protect the health and safety of seafarers including, where necessary, screening and testing for Covid-19.
Nautilus news release and FAQs for seafarers on coronavirus. RMT news release. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Britain: Government should be ‘ashamed’ of unsafe budget
The firefighters’ union FBU has condemned chancellor Rishi Sunak’s 11 March budget for “failing to recognise the role of firefighters in responding to flooding, for failing to provide building safety funding for buildings under 18m and for promising a ‘pittance’ to fund firefighters’ crucial fire safety work.” Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This budget once again fails to end a decade of pay restraint for firefighters and the chronic underfunding of the fire and rescue service.”
FBU news release and related release. HM Treasury news release and Budget 2020. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Europe: Outbreak exposes danger of sick pay cuts
Europe’s trade union federation ETUC is calling for paid sick leave for all workers across Europe, warning the coronavirus exposes the danger to public health posed by the cuts made to sick pay by member states. ETUC general secretary Luca Visentini said: “It shouldn’t have taken a global pandemic to show that’s a bad idea, but the EU and member states now need to ensure that all workers have the right to paid sick leave and free health care.”
ETUC news release, resolution on coronavirus and Trade unions and the coronavirus resources webpages. GMB news release. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Global: Crew and passengers can’t be abandoned at sea
The refusal of ports to allow the crew and passengers of ships affected by the coronavirus to disembark is “insane and unsustainable”, the global transport union ITF has warned. Dave Heindel, chair of the ITF seafarers’ section, condemned the failure of flag states to protect seafarers’ and passengers’ health during “this humanitarian crisis.”
ITF news release. CBS News. MSN News. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

India: Saint-Gobain worker dismissed for occupational illness
An employee of the global building materials giant Saint-Gobain in Bangalore, India, was fired for absenteeism after exposure to the highly toxic chemical cadmium left him with severe health problems, the global union IndustriALL has said. Valter Sanches, general secretary of the global union IndustriALL, has now written to the multinational demanding a proper investigation into the problems and measures to remedy the situation.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Myanmar: Growing union pushes for mine safety
A mining union is Myanmar is calling on the government and employers to improve health and safety in mines, demanding measures including emergency exits, clean drinking water and fire extinguishers at the worksites. The Mining Workers Federation of Myanmar (MWFM), which is affiliated to the global union IndustriALL, has said there can be no compromise when it comes to health and safety, stating that authorities and employers must put human lives before profit.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 939. 21 March 2020

Hazards news, 14 March 2020

Britain: TUC calls for emergency coronavirus taskforce
The government must set up an emergency taskforce to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, the TUC has said. The union body said ministers should urgently pull together unions, employers and government agencies to come up with a plan for minimising the economic and health impacts of the virus.
TUC news release. Prime minister’s statement on the coronavirus and DWP statement, 9 March 2020. Thompsons Solicitors SSP briefing. BBC News Online. Morning Star.
RESOURCES: EU-OSHA coronavirus and the workplace resources guide. BMJ news and resources. JAMA Coronavirus Resource Center. Risks 938. 14 March 2020

Britain: Hermes pledges £1 million to help couriers self isolate
GMB has praised courier company Hermes for pledging £1 million to support self-employed drivers if they need to self-isolate as a result of the coronavirus. The company said it will help find someone to deliver on behalf of affected workers and guarantee that their rounds will be kept open for them for when they return.
GMB news release. The Guardian. Yahoo FinanceRisks 938. 14 March 2020

Britain: Construction sick pay agreements should kick in early
Construction employers should relax sick pay rules immediately to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus, the union Unite has said. The union has written to several industry bodies signed up to industrial agreements asking that industry that enhanced sick pay is also paid from day one.
Unite news release. Personnel Today. Construction EnquirerRisks 938. 14 March 2020

Britain: Safety must be paramount on lorry driver hours
Transport union Unite has said lorry drivers are willing to be flexible to meet increased demands in the retail sector as a result of the coronavirus, but has said safety must not be compromised. The government announced it is relaxing restrictions on delivery hours for shops to make sure they remain stocked with basic items.
Unite news release. Defra news release. BBC News OnlineRisks 938. 14 March 2020

Britain: Demand for coronavirus protection for transport staff
Transport union RMT has written to employers across the industry setting out ‘core demands’ designed to protect the safety of both staff and the public and the rights and livelihoods of the transport workforce. The union has also written to the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments and the Mayor of London, who are all responsible for overseeing transport services, asking that they support the union demands.
RMT news release. TSSA news releaseRisks 938. 14 March 2020

Britain: Mayor should come clean on Tube infection prevention
Tube union RMT has written to the London mayor Sadiq Khan, calling for the privatised cleaning regime on London Underground to be ended and brought in-house. The union demand came after the Evening Standard reported that New York’s transport authorities were taking measures to meet the public health threats posed by coronavirus by imposing an enhanced cleaning regime in the subway system.
RMT news release. Evening StandardRisks 938. 14 March 2020

Britain: Norfolk bus drivers demand an end to work fatigue
Bus drivers employed by Konectbus are demanding action to end a long hours culture of 14-hour days and short breaks, causing fatigue and exhaustion. Their union Unite is calling on the company’s management to enter into meaningful negotiations on working hours, and to reach an agreement to secure union representation for the workforce.  
Eastern Daily Press. Norwich Evening News.  Risks 938. 14 March 2020

Britain: ‘Massive backlash’ against Wilko plans to slash sick pay
Wilko must listen to the public and workers and cancel their ‘ill thought out’ plans to cut sick pay for tens of thousands of staff, the union GMB has said. The company has announced plans to cut sick pay entitlement for all 21,000 members of staff in stores and distribution centres.
GMB news release and earlier release. Retail Gazette. The Mirror. The Sun. The Express. Morning StarRisks 938. 14 March 2020

Britain: Casualisation damage worries top universities
The casual contracts having a detrimental effect on the physical and mental health of university staff is also causing ‘reputational damage’ to the institutions themselves, according to a secret report from the Russell Group. Leaked minutes of a virtual meeting of the high status Russell Group universities said the group needed to 'show leadership' to 'avoid further reputational damage'.
UCU news release and leaked minutes of the Russell Group meetingRisks 938. 14 March 2020

Britain: New evidence supports call for urgent protection for shopworkers
Latest industry figures reinforce the message from shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw that workers in the retail sector need urgent government action to protect them from violence at work. The union said it is ‘deeply concerned about shocking statistics’ released by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), showing that over 50,000 convenience store workers were assaulted last year, with 25 per cent of incidents resulting in injury.
ACS 2020 Crime Report. Usdaw news release. Morning StarRisks 938. 14 March 2020

Britain: Company fined for ‘entirely avoidable’ death of dock worker
A shipping company has been fined £120,000 over the death of a ship’s cook at a Norfolk port more than two years ago. Marine accident investigators described the incident in which Alfred Ismaili was killed at Alexandra Dock in King’s Lynn as ‘entirely avoidable’.
Lynn News. Eastern Daily Press. Risks 938. 14 March 2020

Global: Workers need coronavirus health, pay and job protection
Global union confederation ITUC is calling for urgent measures to ensure workers who show possible coronavirus symptoms have access to free health care and can take sick leave without fear of losing their jobs or their incomes. With the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning of a “very high risk of global spread and impact” of the disease, the union body says workplaces are ‘frontlines’ in combatting the infection’s proliferation
ITUC news release. UNI news release.
David Koh. Editorial: Occupational risks for COVID-19, Occupational Medicine, published online 28 February 2020.  Risks 938. 14 March 2020

Turkey: Right to life ‘violated’ in Soma mine disaster
Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that workers’ right to life was violated in the 2014 mine explosion in Soma where 301 workers lost their lives and 162 were injured. Relatives of 11 killed workers made an individual application to the court on 12 August 2016.
Bianet.  Risks 938. 14 March 2020

USA: Amazon’s disposable worker model exposed
Online retailer Amazon relies on an extreme high-churn model, continually replacing workers in order to sustain a dangerous and gruelling work pace, new research has concluded. The report from the US National Employment Law Project (NELP) cites data from the company’s own records which reveal ‘stunningly high injury rates’ and staff turnover in the retailer’s warehouses.
Amazon’s disposable workers: High injury and turnover rates at fulfillment centers in California, executive summary and full report, National Employment Law Project, March 2020.  Risks 938. 14 March 2020

USA: Trump places infection control regulation in limbo
As more than 100 hospital workers remained in self-imposed quarantine in California, a proposed regulation designed to protect them from infectious diseases such as the coronavirus languished inside a US federal agency. The Obama administration was working to adopt the regulation, but the Trump administration in 2017 moved it to a less urgent, long-term agenda and work on it stopped.
Washington Post. The Atlantic.  Risks 938. 14 March 2020

Hazards news, 7 March 2020

Britain: No-one should miss out on sick pay, for safety’s sake
The TUC has urged the government to support workers who do not qualify for statutory sick pay (SSP) as the coronavirus spreads. After pressure from the TUC and unions, the government announced that workers will get statutory sick pay from the first day off work, not the fourth, to help contain coronavirus spread.
TUC news release and related news release, TUC blog and ‘Sick pay for all’ call for emergency legislation and research report. Prime minister’s statement, 3 March 2020 and government coronavirus action plan. GMB news release. UNISON news release and blog. NEU news release. RMT news release. Scope news release. BBC News Online and related story.
RESOURCES: COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses, Public Health England and Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, February 2020. RCM coronavirus briefing.
ACTION: Sign the TUC ‘Sick pay for all’ petition. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: Patchy sick pay cover undermines coronavirus prevention
Leaving large sections of the workforce without sick pay is undermining the government’s plans to head off a possible coronavirus epidemic, unions have warned. They say the government needs to introduce emergency legislation to ensure that the millions of workers not entitled to statutory sick pay receive it from day one if they can’t work because of coronavirus.
Unite news release. Prospect news release. GMB news release and related news release. UNISON news release. Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: Health crisis exposes sick pay and zero hours peril
Hundreds of student workers on precarious contracts at Sheffield Students' Union are calling on management to address urgently shortcomings in its sick pay policy and the use of zero hours contracts. Health warnings linked to coronavirus have prompted their union Unite to step up its call to management to introduce sick pay entitlements for casual staff in line with full time staff, and to end “poor employment practices”.
Unite news release. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: GMB wins full pay for ISS staff if self isolated
The union GMB has scored a big win for thousands of workers after private outsourcing company ISS promised full pay for all its health worker employees if they are forced to self-isolate due to coronavirus. The union said it has pressured NHS outsourcing companies – and the government - to ensure all workers are given full pay from day one if forced to self-isolate.
GMB news release and briefing on Coronavirus risks at work; GMB news release on the Channel 4 focus group findings. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: Government cuts created coronavirus ‘hygiene nightmare’
Government cuts have heightened public hygiene problems with the closure of more than a fifth of public toilets in Britain during the past decade, according to UNISON figures. People across the country are being urged to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly in a government information campaign aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19, or coronavirus, but new freedom of information (FoI) figures gathered by UNISON show there has been a 22 per cent drop in the number of public toilets maintained by councils since 2010, with the closure of 979.
UNISON news release. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: UK workers are overworked and underpaid
UK employers claimed £35 billion of free labour last year because of workers doing unpaid overtime, according to a new analysis of official statistics published by the TUC. More than 5 million people put in an average of 7.6 hours a week in unpaid overtime during 2019.
TUC news release. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Europe: New union network to improve North Sea helicopter safety
Unions from the UK and Norway have established a dedicated working group to improve helicopter safety across the North Sea oil and gas industry. Officials from UK unions including Unite, RMT, BALPA, GMB, Nautilus and Prospect have joined with the Industri Energi union to establish the Trade Union Helicopter Safety Committee (TUHSC).
Energy Voice. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: Underground drivers demand tests into 'toxic' particles
Staff on the London Underground are demanding more is done to assess the effects of breathing in Tube dust. Train drivers’ union ASLEF is calling for ‘urgent’ research into the long-term impact of inhaling the particles.
BBC News Online. How does dust hurt you? A Hazards at a glance guide. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: FBU blasts ‘endless delays’ to the Grenfell inquiry
Firefighters’ union FBU has criticised the “endless delays” to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and said that the inquiry “must finally learn what led to Grenfell becoming such a death trap.” The inquiry was halted within minutes of its restart on 2 March when community activists stood up in the room and angrily shouted it was “a cover-up” after contributors were told evidence given would not be used in criminal prosecutions.
Morning Star. Construction Enquirer. The Guardian and related story. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: HMRC strike ballot over taxing working patterns
Civil service union PCS is holding an industrial action ballot of HMRC members working in personal tax operations in Bootle over the working conditions of staff undertaking telephony work. The union says it has highlighted to management that ‘relentless’ telephony work is having a damaging effect on members’ mental health.
PCS news release. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: MPs echo union call for tighter controls on deadly silica
A parliamentary group has echoed union calls for a more protective workplace exposure limit for silica dust. The TUC, unions and the Hazards Campaign have led the campaign for a halving of the UK exposure standard for respirable crystalline silica (RCS) - now the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Respiratory Health has urged the government to take action to prevent the ‘next asbestos’ from claiming more lives in the UK.
B&CE news release and full report, Silica – the next asbestos?, All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Respiratory Health/B&CE, March 2020. Personnel Today.
Biting the dust: HSE defends a silica standard six times more deadly, Hazards, number 148, December 2019. How does silica dust hurt you?, Hazards guide.
ACTION: Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective UK silica standard no higher than 0.05mg/m³ and with a phased move to 0.025mg/m³. www.hazards.org/HSEstopkillingus. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: Young black and minority workers stuck in bad jobs
Millennials from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are 47 per cent more likely to be on a zero hours contract, and have 10 per cent greater odds of working a second job, compared to their white peers, according to a new report from the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Carnegie UK Trust, and Operation Black Vote. BAME millennials are also 5 per cent more likely to be doing shiftwork, and are 4 per cent less likely to have a permanent contract than white workers.
Carnegie Trust UK news release and report, Race inequality in the workplace, March 2020. BBC News Online. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: Union calls for civil service bullying inquiry
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) has called for an inquiry into bullying in the civil service following multiple accusations against cabinet minister Priti Patel. The union call came after the home secretary was accused of bullying staff at a third government department, and it was revealed that a DWP official received a £25,000 payout after alleged bullied by Priti Patel when she was employment minister drove her to attempt suicide.
PCS news release. FDA news release. BBC News Online. The Independent. Morning Star. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: Action call as retail violence increases
The shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is joining with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to press for government action to stem a “growing tide” of violence and abuse against shopworkers. The latest BRC Annual Retail Crime Survey found that violence and abuse against shopworkers continues to increase, with 424 incidents per day during 2019.
Usdaw news release. Morning Star. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Australia: Government bankrolls bid to cut sick leave
Whilst Australian workers face uncertainty and financial stress in the face of the coronavirus crisis, the federal government and business have been working to strip them of access to sick leave and other entitlements. Rather than throwing its full weight behind ensuring workers are supported through the emergency, it has emerged that prime minister Scott Morrison is spending taxpayers’ money to fight court battles that would strip ordinary Australians of their sick pay.
ACTU news release. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Global: Union action call on ‘crucial’ coronavirus action
With over 90,000 people in dozens of countries currently infected by the coronavirus (Covid-19), ITUC is calling for urgent measures to ensure that workers who show symptoms can take sick leave without fear of losing their jobs or their incomes, and receive free health care.
ITUC news release. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Italy: Shop union secures coronavirus protection
An Italian union has secured employment and health protections for shopworkers in the Northern region of Lombardy, an area heavily impacted by the country’s coronavirus outbreak. Filcams has obtained time off and flexible working hours commitments from employers such as Zara, H&M and Carrefour, so shopworkers can look after their children while many schools are shut down, and have also agreed to consider paid leave for workers, in case of absence due to forced closures.
UNI news release. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Global: Time for a world of work free of violence
Global union IndustriALL is calling on national governments to ratify the new ILO Convention 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work. It says International Women’s Day on 8 March can be a focus for unions to pick up this campaign theme.
IndustriALL news release and Convention 190 resources.
Violence and Harassment Convention (Convention 190), ILO, June 2019. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

USA: White House doctored chemical warning
A common workplace solvent linked to fetal heart deformations, cancer and other serious health disorders has been given a healthier spin after a draft report from a US government agency was doctored by the White House prior to publication. A report from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) reveals the report was altered radically at the direction of the Trump White House, with several instances where wording on the risks to workers revised.
Center for Investigative Reporting report and The Weekly Reveal podcast. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Hazards news, 29 February 2020

Britain: Two million workers losing out on holidays
A shocking 1 in 14 UK workers are not getting their legal holiday entitlement, a new TUC analysis has found. The union body estimates that nearly two million employees (1.96m) are not getting the minimum paid leave entitlement they are due and over a million (1.145m) are not getting any paid leave at all.
TUC news release.
RESOURCES: Fatigue - a guide for health and safety representatives, TUC, 2016. Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, TUC, 2019. More on health and safety and long working hours. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: Government must ban zero hours contracts, says TUC 
The TUC has renewed its call for a ban on zero hours contracts, after new official figures showed the numbers affected had reached a record high. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal 974,000 people are now employed on a “zero hour contract” in their main job, representing a record 3.0 per cent of all people in employment.
TUC news release, blog and ban zero hours contracts petition. Employment in the UK: February 2020, ONS.
More on the work-related hazards of low pay and insecure work. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

[deadly bus] Britain: Inquiry call as Amazon UK warehouse injuries spike
Amazon warehouses have been hit by more than 600 serious injuries or near misses in the past three years, a GMB investigation has found. The shocking figures came to light in response to Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by GMB to local authorities across the UK.
GMB news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: PM’s ‘zero’ leadership shambles undermines flood response
The firefighters’ union FBU has criticised the “shambles” of Boris Johnson’s flooding response, saying that he should be “ashamed” of the government’s failure to plan for floods in the long-term. The union said funding for fire and rescue services in England has been cut by £141.5m over the four-year local government finance settlement, covering 2016/17 to 2020/21, including a £3.2m cut to the services covering areas with severe “risk to life” flood warnings.
FBU news release. Environment Agency news release, update and related release. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: RMT strike plan as train safety goes south west
RMT has confirmed a further two days of strike action will take place on South Western Railway (SWR) after guards voted for industrial action for what the rail union described as an ‘historic’ sixth time. The union said the company’s ‘unremitting’ failure to give assurances that their new operational model won't move to driver controlled operation – which RMT said would leave the role of the guard ‘butchered completely’ – meant that further strike action was inevitable, in defence of the safety critical role of the guard.
RMT news release. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: RSPCA faces strike action over ill-treatment of staff
Staff at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) have voted for strike action over new ‘performance pay’ contracts. Unite said that its members had voted by 73 per cent to strike over the contracts, which the union states were being imposed arbitrarily by ‘bullying’ management.
Unite news release and open letter. Morning Star.
RESOURCES: Bullying at work: Guidance for workplace representatives, TUC, 2019. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: Usdaw urges MPs to back motion on shop violence
Retail trade union Usdaw is urging MPs to sign up to a House of Commons motion calling for a government clampdown on the soaring workplace violence facing retail staff. The House of Commons Early Day Motion (EDM) proposed by Labour MP Gareth Thomas urges the government to heed calls from the union and retail trade bodies to introduce a ‘stand-alone’ offence on violence against shopworkers.
Usdaw news release.
ACTION: Urge your MP to sign EDM 207 - Assaults on shopworkers – Gareth Thomas MP. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: Welsh health board signs TUC’s dying to work charter
Hywel Dda University Health Board has become the latest employer to sign up to the TUC’s Dying to Work Charter, a measure aimed at helping employees who become terminally ill at work. The Dying to Work campaign is seeking greater security for terminally ill workers, with the charter offering affected individuals additional employment protections when they need them the most.
TUC news release and Dying to Work Charter. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: Union summit sets out to beat prison violence
Understaffing in Britain’s prisons is a key factor in the soaring violence affecting staff and prisoners, the Joint Unions in Prisons Alliance (JUPA) has warned. A JUPA report last year highlighted a sharp rise in assaults on staff in prisons, up 12 by over a fifth (21 per cent) in 12 months, with an average of 28 assaults on staff every day.
PCS news release. UCU webpage on JUPA. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: Bad jobs link to ‘shocking’ life expectancy gap
Life expectancy has stalled for the first time in more than 100 years and even reversed for the most deprived women in society, according to a landmark review which shows the gap in health inequalities is yawning even wider than it did a decade ago. Sir Michael Marmot’s review, 10 years after he warned that growing inequalities in society would lead to worse health, calls on the government to reduce child poverty to 10 per cent, reduce “poor quality, low-paid and insecure” work, make sure the national living wage and benefits give people the minimum needed for a healthy life, and invest more in the most deprived areas.
Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On, Institute for Health Equity, February 2020; full report and executive summary. GMB news releaseThe Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: ‘Real changes’ needed to tackle NHS violence
It is ‘beyond unacceptable’ that violence and harassment of NHS workers has become the new normal, health service unions have said. The unions were commenting after newly released NHS Staff Survey figures revealed 15 per cent of NHS staff had experienced physical violence from members of the public and patients in the past year, rising to over a third (34 per cent) among ambulance trust staff.
Health secretary Matt Hancock’s letter to the workforce on violence against NHS staff. NHS Staff Survey publication notice. UNISON news release. GMB news release. NHS Confederation news release. Nursing Times. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: Samaritans drop ‘bullying’ chief exec choice
The Samaritans charity has abandoned the appointment of its new CEO after media reports that the Alzheimer’s Society paid out as much as £750,000 to staff who signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) during his tenure. Jeremy Hughes, whose appointment was opposed by Unite, will no longer take the helm at the suicide prevention charity from May following whistleblower allegations that he displayed bullying behaviour to staff and presided over a toxic culture at the dementia charity.
Unite news release. The Guardian and earlier article. Samaritans January 2020 news release on Jeremy Hughes’ appointment as CEO. ThirdSector. Civil Society News. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: Airlines must take action now on toxic cabin air
Airlines must take immediate action to stop ‘aerotoxic fume events’ occurring during flights, cabin crew union Unite has said. The union, which is taking several major airlines to court as a result of members suffering severe health effects caused by exposure to toxic cabin air, made the call after the dangers to pilots and cabin crew were highlighted in a BBC Radio File on Four programme.
Something in the air, File on Four, BBC Radio 4, 25 February 2020. Unite news release, aerotoxic campaign resources, fume events register, factsheet, poster and campaign card. US AFA fume event webpages.
EVENT: ‘Everybody flies’ aerotoxic syndrome documentary. UK cinema screening dates and locations in March 2020. Film trailer. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: Don’t penalise workplace injury victims, coalition warns
A broad coalition is urging the government to step back from plans to push more workplace injury cases through the small claims court process.  The a meeting in parliament, chaired by Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis and addressed by representatives of The Law Society, the British Safety Council and union law firm Thompsons, heard government measures intended to target spurious whiplash claims would also deny justice to genuine workplace injury victims.
Usdaw news release. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: HSE inspections follow welding cancer alert
The government’s workplace safety regulator is reminding employers that they must protect their workers’ health by controlling the risks from welding fume. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says its current programme of inspections will review health and safety standards across the country follow an HSE safety alert issued in February 2019 after new evidence showed exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause cancer.
HSE news release. Welding, Molybdenum Trioxide, and Indium Tin Oxide, IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 118.
RESOURCES: TUC guidance on occupational cancer prevention: Occupational Cancer - A Workplace Guide. ITUC/Hazards work cancer hazards blog. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: Director dodges jail after ignoring HSE stop work orders
The former director of a construction company has received a suspended prison sentence after ignoring official stop work orders on a potentially deadly site. Imtiaz Hussain, then a director of Bradford Builders (UK) Ltd, failed to comply with legally binding Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prohibition notices relating to unsafe work at height during roofing work on a new build house.
HSE news release. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: Discharge for boss who threatened HSE inspector
A waste site owner who abused and threatened a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector has received a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to a public order offence. The HSE inspector was conducting an inspection at a waste and recycling site belonging to Jacob Alexander Thompson in August 2019 Thompson, then crossed the yard towards the inspector, who was subjected to repeated verbal abuse and offensive language and was physically threatened when Thompson stepped towards him and raised his fist as he told him aggressively to leave.
HSE news release. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: National Hazards Conference, 31 July-2 August 2020
The National Hazards Conference is the UK’s biggest organising and education event for trade union safety reps and activists. This year’s event, organised by the Hazards Campaign and to be held at the University of Keele in Stoke-on-Trent, will take place from 31 July to 2 August.
Sponsor the National Hazards Conference. Conference updates. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Global: Dock unions warn about lashing dangers
International transport unions have called upon ship operators to ensure lashing work is undertaken by shore-based dock workers. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) said that lashing – securing loads safely and securely – is expert work that should only be undertaken by trained dock workers rather than already over-stretched seafarers.
ITF news release. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Korea: Trade secrets law protects Samsung, not workers
Global electronics giant Samsung, which in 2018 made a public apology for the toxic workplace exposures that led to a spate of occupational diseases known to have killed over 100 workers in Korea (Risks 899), can keep its toxic secrets, the Seoul administrative court has ruled. Occupational disease victims’ advocacy group SHARPS, which has appealed the latest court decision, commented: “The latest ruling is in tune with a revised trade secret law that took effect on 21 February,” adding: “The amendment exempts companies from the disclosure of information on hazardous materials should they prove it as core national technology.”
SHARPS blog on trade secrets vs safety and related post. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Hazards news, 22 February 2020

Britain: Dover congestion plans ignore lorry drivers’ welfare
The government’s latest plan for introducing a new system for dealing with potential Brexit-related disruption at Dover once again ignores the health and welfare of lorry drivers, the professional drivers’ union Unite has said. The union, which represents over 50,000 lorry drivers, has been seeking answers for over a year to drivers’ concerns about the lack of welfare provisions if there is major disruption on the roads towards Dover, either as a result of the introduction of customs checks or industrial action.
Unite news release. DfT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: Government urged to tackle rowdy airline passengers
Ministers need to step in and tighten up the laws over how much passengers can drink at UK airports and on aircraft, Unite has said. The union, which represents 25,000 cabin crew employed by all carriers from British Airways to Ryanair, said the present system was ‘a regulatory mess’.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: Union warns 999 IT failures are endangering lives
IT issues in North West and East Coast emergency fire control rooms are creating dangerous delays in emergency response times, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned. The union said it has issued five ‘safety critical notices’ to affected fire control centres demanding the problems are urgently addressed, in a week control rooms were struggling to handle a huge influx of storm-related calls.
FBU news release. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: RMT calls strike action on Bakerloo line
Tube union RMT has confirmed its members are set to take two days of strike action on the Bakerloo line in a dispute over the impact on train drivers of ‘unworkable’ timetable changes. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The bottom line is that you cannot place intolerable stress and pressure on Tube drivers that impacts on their safety-critical role and that is what this dispute is all about.”
RMT news release. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: UNISON guides members on sex harassment prevention
Public sector union UNISON has said a tick box approach to sexual harassment prevention doesn’t work, because employers need to ‘walk the walk’. Launching new bargaining guidance for fighting sexual harassment at work, national women’s officer Josie Irwin told delegates at the union’s women’s conference: “Sexual harassment is against the law, but the law doesn’t stop it happening.”
UNISON news release and bargaining guidance for fighting sexual harassment at work.
TUC #ThisIsNotWorking campaign. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: Prime minister needs to act on shop violence
The prime minister’s concerned words on violence against shopworkers need to translate into action, the union Usdaw has said. The union was commenting after Boris Johnson told the House of Commons, responded: “We should not tolerate crimes of violence against shopworkers or indeed anybody else.”
Prime minister’s questions, 12 February 2020. Usdaw news release. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: Rising abuse of black NHS staff of ‘deep concern’
An increase in the bullying, harassment and abuse experienced black staff employed in NHS England is “disgraceful” and of “deep concern”, the public sector union UNISON has said. The union was commenting on latest Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) figures which revealed a deterioration across four of nine indicators, with the share of BME staff reporting bullying, harassment or abuse from patients, relatives or the public rose from 29.1 per cent in 2016 to 29.8 per cent in 2019.
NHS England news release, publication notice and WRES 2019 report, February 2020. UNISON news release and Race for equality campaign. Health Service Journal. Nursing Times. The BMJ. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: ‘Disturbing’ mental health picture in film and TV jobs
Dignity at work must be at the heart of measures to address the mental health crisis in the film and TV industries, the union Bectu has said. The union was responding to a ‘disturbing’ report from The Film and TV Charity revealing the extent of the mental health problems blighting the sector, which found almost nine in ten (87 per cent) respondents had experienced mental health problems, compared to two-thirds (65 per cent) of the UK population and 55 per cent had considered suicide compared to the national average of 20 per cent and 10 per cent had attempted suicide.
The Film and TV Charity news release and Whole Picture Programme. The Work Foundation news release and full report. Bectu blog and Dignity at Work campaign.
RESOURCES: TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress. Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. TUC health, safety and wellbeing guide.
Hazards stress and mental health webpages and work-related suicide webpages. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: Car retailer’s neglect led to occupational asthma
A car retailer operating across the South East of England has been fined after a car bodywork sprayer developed occupational asthma. West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court heard that, between October 2011 and March 2018, an employee of Harwoods Limited at Audi Southampton had been spraying paints containing isocyanates without adequate control measures in place.
HSE news release and work-related asthma webpages. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: Engineering firm fined for lube dermatitis risks
An engineering company has been fined for failing to control the risk of its employees developing dermatitis as a result of exposure to metalworking fluid. West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court heard that, between October 2017 and January 2019, employees of Lymington Precision Engineers Co Limited were exposed to metalworking fluid while working on conventional machines such as lathes and milling machines on the company site in Limington, New Forest.
HSE news release and work-related dermatitis webpages. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: Fishing firm fined £50,000 over crewman’s death
Marine fishing company MB Aquarius Ltd has been fined £50,000 for criminal safety offences that led to a crewman’s death nearly five years ago. Annang Neurtey was lost at sea after he was struck by a wire on board the 20-metre trawler Aquarius.
COPFS news release. Aberdeen Evening Express. Press and Journal. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Europe: Occupational cancer webinar, 12:00-1:00pm, 28 February
The European Cancer League (ECL), the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) are to run a special webinar on occupational health and the European Code Against Cancer on 28 February, from 12:00-1:00pm UK time. The groups say cancer is the number one work-related cause of death in the European Union, responsible for more than 100,000 deaths per year.
Occupational cancer webinar, 12:00-1:00pm UK time, 28 February. Register now. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Australia: Truck drivers in Aldi crash deaths protests
Hundreds of truck drivers took part in Australia-wide protests on 12 February demanding supermarket chain Aldi pay safe rates throughout its supply chain. The union TWU wants Aldi to raise its transport contract rates and standards to reduce the pressure on drivers and operators to cut corners in safety.
TWU news release. Fully Loaded. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Canada: Union calls for crackdown on corporate safety crimes
Major corporations and their directors must be held accountable for deadly workplace crimes, a Canadian union has said. USW national director Ken Neumann said: “Killing workers should never be part of the cost of doing business.”
USW news release and related news release. Canadian Lawyer Magazine. CBC News. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

India: Fire deaths denim factory had no way out
Workers in an Indian denim factory struggled to claw their way up a ladder to a door, their only exit as a fire blazed through fabric and machinery. Seven people died in the 8 February blaze. The factory where the fire occurred, Nandan Denim, has ties to major international retailers, according to its website.
AP News. Washington Post. New York Times. InStyle. Nandan Denim. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Switzerland: Nespresso workers won’t swallow more stress
Swiss union Unia has warned multinational Nestlé it will not tolerate changes that have left employees in the country’s Nespresso factories facing unbearable stress and fatigue. Members of the union demonstrated outside the company’s Lausanne base on 11 February to “denounce intolerable working conditions at the company's three Nespresso production sites in Switzerland.”
IUF news release. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Hazards news, 15 February 2020

Britain: Time to change law on sexual harassment
Almost 7 in 10 (68 per cent) people think the #MeToo movement has allowed people to be more open about sexual harassment, according to a new TUC poll. The union body is calling on the government to introduce a legal duty on employers to actively prevent sexual harassment at work.
TUC news release. Usdaw news release. Acas news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online.
A TUC alliance backed by more than 30 organisations has launched a petition calling on the government to change the law. Sign the petition. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: ‘Sick and tired’ bus drivers vote for strike action
The prospect of a London bus drivers’ strike later this year has moved closer as Unite members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a consultative ballot. The dispute, branded the ‘sick and tired’ campaign by the union, concerns the long hours, fatigue and exhaustion that bus drivers are experiencing due to poor scheduling of shifts, a lack of rest breaks, a deficiency of decent facilities for breaks, late finishing, a lack of running time and not being treated with respect.
Unite news release and Sick and Tired campaign. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: Coronavirus fears leave seafarers captive onboard
Seafarers who have visited Chinese ports are being barred from leaving their ships by countries fearing the spread of the coronavirus, UK seafarers’ union Nautilus has been told by a union whistleblower. A seafarer needs “off-signing” when they come to the end of their contract on a vessel and before they are allow a crew transfer and transport home. Nautilus says seafarers refused off-signing by a disembarkation country could be stuck onboard for many additional weeks, or months, depending on the vessel's schedule and disembarkation port.
Nautilus news release. ITF coronavirus advice and update. World Health Organisation (WHO) coronavirus adviceWHO statement. Department of Health statement. BBC News Online. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: As storms hit, spare a thought for the workers
Rail, maritime and transport union RMT and firefighters’ union FBU have highlighted the essential and under-appreciated role of the workers keeping Britain safe and mobile through ‘atrocious’ storm conditions. The storms and related high winds and flooding caused widespread disruption to road, rail and air travel.
RMT news release. FBU news release. BBC News Online. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: Dismay at government go slow on shop violence
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has said it is ‘disappointed’ at the government’s foot-dragging response on the protection of retail workers, saying ‘words alone’ aren’t enough. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis, commenting after a 11 February Westminster Hall debate secured by Mike Amesbury, the Labour MP for Weaver Vale, said said the union would continue to press for harsher penalties and a specific offence, adding: “Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected, they deserve the protection of the law.”
Westminster Hall Debate, 11 February 2020. Usdaw news release and full response to the government call for evidence. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: ‘Toxic’ school environments bad for mental health
Excessive demands on education staff and the poor working practices they endure in schools and colleges are helping create a ‘toxic’ work environment, the teaching union NEU has said. The union, commenting on a UCL Institute of Education working paper published in late January, said the combination is leading to mental ill-health among both teachers and support staff.
NEU news release. Nuffield Foundation news release and UCL Institute of Education working paper. The Guardian. Personnel Today. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: Review confirms stress crisis in Scottish teachers
Scottish teaching union EIS has welcomed the publication of a review of the mental health and wellbeing of education staff. Commenting on the publication of findings of the NHS Health Scotland evidence review, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the “significant publication” highlights the absence of school-level interventions to support teachers' mental health, and makes clear that this failing can have a significant impact both on the wellbeing of teachers and, additionally, on the learning experience and educational outcomes of pupils.
EIS news release. Supporting teachers mental health and wellbeing, NHS Health Scotland, February 2020. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: Criminal charges possible over Grenfell - inquiry chair
Those involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower are facing possible charges of fraud and conspiracy to defraud, according to the chair of the public inquiry into the disaster that claimed 72 lives. Sir Martin Moore-Bick has told the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, that during forthcoming hearings examining the marketing of the combustible cladding and insulation that spread the fire, witnesses are “very likely” to be asked to discuss issues involving potential fraud offences.
The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: Government ‘red tape challenge’ risks another Grenfell
Sajid Javid’s “Brexit red-tape challenge” will fuel the deregulation agenda that led to the Grenfell tragedy, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned. Javid, who resigned as chancellor in the days after the announcement, said he intended to use the Budget on 11 March to launch a public and business consultation to propose ways in which the British government could “improve or remove” EU laws.
Morning Star. Financial Times. The Telegraph. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: Rare work death jail term exposes justice shortfall
A rare occasion where a negligent employer was jailed for manslaughter has highlighted a widespread failure to hold negligent directors to account for deaths at work, a trade union body has said. TWL director Han Rao was sentenced to four years for the manslaughter of employee Marian Iancu at The Old Bailey in February, prompting a  statement from Waltham Forest Trades Council that noted: “Mr Rao is going to jail because TLW is a small business and identifying him as responsible was far easier than in much larger businesses” adding: “We need a legal system which acts as a deterrent for all organisations.”
Waltham Forest UNISON news release. Environmental Health News. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: Danger firms fined after worker dies in explosion
Materials Movement Ltd and PJ Labour Services Ltd have been fined after a 54-year-old worker was killed in an explosion at a London demolition site. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 16 March 2017, Stephen Hampton was killed when an old fuel storage tank he was cutting up exploded and the end of the vessel struck him, causing fatal injuries.
HSE news release. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: Defunct firm convicted after temporary worker death
A defunct London skip hire company has been fined £240,000 for criminal failures that led to a temporary worker being crushed to death. Stelian Florin Gavriliuc died while employed by Ace Waste Haulage in August 2017; the 24-year-old, who had only been with the firm for two weeks, was killed as he walked from his work station through the only exit open to employees and was crushed by a shovel loader vehicle that didn't see him.
Metropolitan Police news release. Kilburn Times. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: Police convicted after employee gets heart breaking shock
A police force has been fined after an employee received an electric shock whilst installing computer data cables. Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard that on the 16 October 2015, at Bridgend Police Station, a 48-year-old civilian South Wales Police employee sustained damage to his heart muscles when he came into contact with an exposed end of a live 3-core electrical cable which had been left in a ceiling void.
HSE news release. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: Global giant fined after worker loses arm
A company that designs, manufactures and distributes construction materials has been fined after an employee suffered serious injuries, resulting in his left arm being amputated. The 48-year-old employee of Saint-Gobain Construction Products UK Limited, part of the global Saint-Gobain Group which has over 179,000 employees worldwide and had sales of 41.8 billion Euro in 2018 (£35.2bn), was seriously injured on 13 August 2017 when a rock handling belt failed at the company’s plant in Barrow-Upon-Soar, Leicestershire.
HSE news release. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Global: Growing hazard posed by illegal pesticide trade
Over the past two decades, the trafficking of highly toxic pesticides has quietly grown into one of the world’s most lucrative and least understood criminal enterprises, a report in Washington Post has revealed. Adulterated in labs and garages, hustled like narcotics, co-opted by gangs and mafias, counterfeit and contraband pesticides are flooding developed and developing countries alike, with environmental and social consequences that are “far from trivial,” the UN Environment Program reported last year.
Washington Post (subscription needed). Risks 934. 15 February 2020

USA: Industry wide silica clampdown begins
As the US government’s respirable crystalline silica (RCS) standard takes full effect, its safety regulator OSHA has beefed up its National Emphasis Program (NEP) to ensure compliance with the new, more stringent exposure standard. The 0.05mg/m³ exposure standard is twice as stringent the current UK standard of 0.1 mg/m³ and six times more protective for the lung-destroying dust disease silicosis.
OSHA news release and National Emphasis Program. EHS Today.
Biting the dust: HSE defends a silica standard six times more deadly, Hazards, number 148, December 2019.
ACTION: Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective UK silica standard no higher than 0.05mg/m³ and with a phased move to 0.025mg/m³. www.hazards.org/HSEstopkillingus. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Hazards news, 8 February 2020

Britain: Diesel ‘fog’ footage spurs concern at rail depot cancers
Toxic diesel fumes emitted by trains at a Leeds rail depot could be linked to a number of staff members developing cancer in recent years, Unite has warned. The union said three staff members at the Neville Hill rail depot have developed cancers of the throat, with a fourth being diagnosed with throat and lung cancer and a further four staff members also developed cancers of the lung, mouth, bowel and kidney respectively.
Unite news release and video of the diesel exhaust emissions. Unite diesel emissions register. IARC Monographs – volume 105, Diesel and gasoline engine exhausts and some nitroarenes, 2012.
Yorkshire Evening Post. BBC News Online and video report.
Diesel exhaust in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, October 2018.
ITUC/Hazards work cancer hazards map, 2019. ITUC/Hazards work cancer hazards blog. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Poorly protected airport staff face coronavirus risk
The union GMB has called for better protection for airport staff after it emerged members had not been given some basic protections in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. GMB national officer Nadine Houghton, speaking after the first UK cases were confirmed by the authorities, said: “Surely protecting airport staff is the most important requirement to keep us all safe?”
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Global: Transport unions call for corona risk action
The global transport unions’ federation ITF is ‘closely following’ all advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. ITF said: “We call on all governments and transport companies to implement all measures available to them to limit the risk of transmission of the deadly coronavirus to transport workers globally.”
ITF coronavirus advice and update. World Health Organisation (WHO) coronavirus adviceWHO statement. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Staff safety at coronavirus hospital must be protected
The welfare of health staff at Arrowe Park hospital, where those travelling from China are being quarantined because the coronavirus, needs to be a top priority, Unite has said. Unite regional officer Derek Jones said: “Unite is satisfied that this emergency is being dealt with in a professional manner, but we will be monitoring how the situation develops in the coming days as the welfare of NHS staff remains a key concern.” 
Unite news release. Resource: California interim guidance on protecting health care staff from the n-coronavirus, February 2020. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Grenfell suppliers request for immunity is ‘outrageous’
Unite has described as ‘absolutely outrageous’ the revelation that companies involved in supplying and installing the cladding blamed for the rapid and deadly spread of the Grenfell Tower fire are seeking immunity from prosecution before they give evidence. Representatives from organisations including cladding company Harley Facades, building contractor Rydon and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation made the application for the guarantee from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox that they will be protected.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Grenfell investigation must go right to the top
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry must look at the decades of deregulation that allowed fire safety at Grenfell to be undermined, the firefighters’ union FBU has demanded. It its opening submission to phase 2 of the inquiry, the union outlined three factors that rendered the UK’s regulatory regime as “unfit for purpose”, “facilitating the hazardous refurbishment” of Grenfell Tower, and impeding the London Fire Brigade’s ability to respond effectively to the fire.
FBU news release. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Hospital staff to get sick pay boost as jobs go in-house
A thousand low-paid porters, cleaners and catering staff at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London have won the right to be directly managed by the NHS, health service union UNISON has said. From 1 April the staff – who work in the trust’s five hospitals across the capital – will no longer be employed by private contractor Sodexo and will see their sickness allowances, pay and conditions brought in line with other health service workers, ending years of unfair treatment.
UNISON news release. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: ‘Lashings of despair’ over seafarer safety on docks
An international agreement that cargo handling should be carried out by trained dock workers rather than seafarers is being flouted in UK ports, the seafarers’ union Nautilus has warned. The union says reports from the port of Liverpool indicate that seafarers are being forced to undertake lashing work on some ships in unsafe conditions despite the introduction of agreement known as the 'Dockers Clause' on 1 January 2020.
Nautilus news release. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: NASUWT opens violence and abuse hotline for teachers
Teaching union NASUWT is opening a hotline for teachers across Wales to report by text or voicemail any concerns they have about pupil indiscipline. Neil Butler, NASUWT national official for Wales, said: “Teachers cannot teach and pupils cannot learn where there is violence and disruption,” adding: “All teachers are entitled to dignity at work and a safe working environment.”
NASUWT news release. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Amazon made £10bn profit, its workers paid the price
Online retailer Amazon made a ‘mammoth’ profit of over £10 billion last year off the back of its workers’ health, safety, pay and working conditions, the union GMB has charged. Figures released by the company show that the firm, which runs a string of giant ‘fulfilment centres’ across Britain, made £10.7 billion in global profits over the whole of 2019, with final the quarter profits hitting £3.1bn.
GMB news release. Amazon news release. Morning Star. CNBC News. BBC News Online. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Exhausted London bus drivers facing race to the bottom
Unite has warned London bus operators not to engage in a ‘race to the bottom’ by degrading drivers’ working conditions. The warning coincided with the union gearing up to hold a consultative ballot of all London bus driver members over long hours, fatigue and exhaustion.
Unite news release and Sick and Tired campaign. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Unite warns site skills card scheme is ‘not fit for purpose’
Construction union Unite has warned that massive backlogs mean the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) card system is ‘not fit for purpose’ and has demanded that there is cross-industry action to resolve the problems and ensure that workers are not denied employment. The cards ensure that contractors can verify the worker has the appropriate skills and qualifications to undertake work in a competent, safe and efficient manner.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer and related story. NOCN Group statement and CPCS description. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Millions take sick leave because of ‘too painful’ work
Some 8.6 million people took sick leave last year because they found their jobs “too painful”, a survey has indicated, with even more feeling unable to take sick leave when too ill to work. Insight, a Fortune 500-ranked consulting firm, said its findings revealed a poor workplace culture drove both absenteeism and unhealthy behaviour in the UK workplace in the past year.
Insight news release. BBC News Online. Personnel Today. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Caring jobs linked to burnout and ‘compassion fatigue’
Social workers providing care and support to people in distress are at risk of developing compassion fatigue, which is a risk factor for a deterioration in their own mental health, according to a new study published in Occupational Medicine journal. The study found that compassion fatigue was a risk factor for the mental health of social workers and was also associated with higher rates of sickness absence, high staff turnover, low morale and impaired professional judgment.
G Kinman, L Grant. Emotional demands, compassion and mental health in social workers, Occupational Medicine, volume 69, issue 1, January 2020.
Special issue: Mental health and work, Occupational Medicine, volume 69, issue 1, kqz144, 31 January 2020. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Docs suffering from burnout and compassion fatigue
A study has found almost a third of UK doctors may be suffering from burnout, stress and compassion fatigue. A&E doctors and GPs are the most likely to feel burnt out and have the highest levels of exhaustion and stress, found the survey, published in the BMJ Open journal.
Nicola McKinley and others. Resilience, burnout and coping mechanisms in UK doctors: a cross-sectional study, BMJ Open, volume 10, issue 1, e031765, 2020. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Boss jailed for four years after employee’s death
A company boss has been jailed after employee Marian Iancu, 39, was crushed to death by nearly half a tonne of glass panels. Han Rao was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for manslaughter following trial at the Old Bailey, and further sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for criminal breaches of health and safety laws, to run concurrently.
Metropolitan Police news release. Walthamstow Guardian. Barking and Dagenham Post. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: HeartUnions week to press for end to workplace harassment
In 2020, the theme for the TUC’s national HeartUnions campaign will be standing against sexual harassment at work. The TUC is calling for unions to raise the profile of the harm caused by sexual harassment, and to use HeartUnions week, which runs from 10-16 February, to encourage non-members to get involved.
TUC HeartUnions news release and briefing. TUC #ThisIsNotWorking campaign.
ACTION: Sign up for the 7:00pm 10 February TUC call.
RESOURCES: The TUC has produced free HeartUnions resources for download. Pens, mugs, t-shirts and badges can be purchased from TUC’s online shop. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Global: Unions insert labour rights in development bank deals
Trade union action has delivered binding labour safeguards in multilateral development bank projects, the global trade union confederation ITUC has said. Its new manual now shows how unions can use these safeguards to fight for labour rights, including stringent occupational health and safety stipulations.
ITUC news release and guide, Labour standards at the multilateral development banks. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Korea: ‘Irresponsible’ Merck management led to worker suicide
After Merck Biopharma Korea shut down its general medicine (GM) division late last year, an employee who complained of being pressured to apply for an early retirement programme (ERP) took his own life, a union has reported. The worker was found dead on a playground near his home on 21 January this year.
Korea Biomedical Review.
RESOURCES: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. More on work-related suicide.
UK ACTION! Use the Hazards e-postcard to tell the HSE to recognise, record and take action to prevent work-related suicides. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Pakistan: More deaths as mine safety crisis continues
The start of 2020 has seen increasing dangerous incidents and deaths in Pakistan’s coal mines, exposing the near non-existence of safety measures and continued negligence from the employers and the government, IndustriALL has warned. Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL mining director, commented: “According to published media reports, more than 430 coal mine workers have been killed since 2010, and this may even be an underestimation.”
IndustriALL news release. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Hazards news, 1 February 2020

Britain: RMT demands immediate action on violence at work
Tube union RMT is stepping up its ‘Stop Violence Against Tube Staff’ campaign as ‘shocking’ new figures revealed assaults on staff have risen by almost a quarter over the past three years. Assaults on Transport for London (TfL) employees shot up from 505 in 2016 to 628 in 2019; knife-related violence against workers almost doubled, from 19 incidents in 2016 to 35 in 2019.
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: Government urged to cut crime and protect shopworkers
Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has called for government action after official figures revealed a 14 per cent increase in police recorded incidents of shoplifting in England and Wales over the last decade. Theft from shops is a main trigger for violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers, the union leader warned.
Usdaw news release. Police recorded crimes in England and Wales: year ending September 2019, ONS, 23 January 2020. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: Bectu launches ‘Devil Wears Prada’ survey
Creative industries trade union Bectu is to investigate the abusive treatment commonly reported by fashion assistants. The union says it is keen to research the scale of the issue, which could reveal the industry’s failure to move on and shake off its ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ reputation for poor treatment of junior staff.
BECTU news release. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: Scottish teachers quizzed on workload burden
A campaign by Scottish teaching union EIS that secured a 10 per cent increase in teacher salaries last year also discovered severe workload was a major concern, making it a top priority issue for the union. EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Following the success of the pay element of our campaign, the EIS has now refocused its campaigning work on tackling excessive teacher workload.”
EIS news release. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: ScotRail HR boss accused of ‘bullying and union-busting’
Rail union TSSA has blasted ScotRail human resources (HR) director Gerry Skelton after he subjected a union officer to a tirade of abuse and then banned her from the company's headquarters. The abuse occurred when TSSA organiser Claire Johnston was carrying out a pre-arranged recruitment visit in ScotRail’s head office.
TSSA news release. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: Hackney parking wardens strike over pay and safety
Parking wardens in the London borough of Hackney as set to strike for a week in February in a dispute over pay and their personal safety. Unite said its civil enforcement officer (CEO) members, employed by Apcoa Parking (UK) Ltd which runs the contract on behalf of Hackney council, will strike on from 10 February until Sunday 16 February.
Unite news release. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: Conflicted Grenfell adviser resigns from inquiry
A recently-appointed Grenfell Tower fire inquiry panel member has resigned after she was linked to the charitable arm of Arconic, the firm that supplied the block's deadly cladding. Last week Grenfell United, the survivors and bereaved group that first discovered Benit Mehra’s link to Arconic, had insisted her position represented a conflict of interest and called for her to stand down had said it would make sure she went.
Grenfell Tower Inquiry 23 December 2019 update on Benita Mehra’s appointment and 25 January 2020 update on Benita Mehra’s resignation. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: Grenfell Tower inquiry told firms 'deny responsibility'
None of the companies involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower have accepted responsibility for the deadly fire, an inquiry has heard. Firms expressed “no trace” of accountability despite previous findings that the work did not comply with building regulations, counsel to the inquiry Richard Millett QC said.
The Guardian and related story. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer.
Grenfell United. Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: Ex-England footballer blames her dementia on headers
A pioneer of women's football has become the first female player to publicly blame her dementia on years of heading the ball. Sue Lopez, 74, was the first British woman to play semi-professionally abroad and represented England 22 times during a career spanning three decades.
BBC News Online. The Telegraph. Daily Mail. Pink Concussions. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Global: Facebook and YouTube moderators sign PTSD disclosure
Online content moderators are being asked to sign forms stating they understand the job could cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in a bid by social media giants to avoid personal injury liability. The moderators were sent documents that required to them to acknowledge the mental health risks of the role, with the statement noting: “It is possible that reviewing such content may impact my mental health, and it could even lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
The Verge and related article. Financial Times. BBC News Online. Technext.
RESOURCES: TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress. Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. TUC health, safety and wellbeing guide.
Hazards stress and mental health webpages and work-related suicide webpages. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: Fiat UK showroom worker got deadly asbestos exposure
A woman who worked in the accounts department at a Fiat UK showroom has received asbestos cancer compensation after a court heard she was exposed to asbestos in the garage workshop over a period of 18 months. Rosalba Bhaloo, aged 70, worked in the offices at the showroom in Brentford, Middlesex, between 1972 and 1974.
Leigh Day Solicitors news release. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: Time off for grieving needs to be extended further
Unite has called on the government to extend bereavement leave to those who have lost a close relative or suffered a miscarriage, to ensure the welfare and safety of those affected. The call came after the government announced that grieving parents will be entitled to two weeks statutory leave.
Department for Business news release. Unite news release. CBI news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Global: Maritime bosses urged to heed union coronavirus guide
Seafarers have been advised to familiarise themselves with new global guidance on the fast-spreading coronavirus, which has created a containment lockdown in central China and prevented some ships from calling at the major trade hub Wuhan. Global transport workers’ union federation ITF has issued advice on the coronavirus, a never-before-seen virus that is reported to have mutated and is now transmissible from human to human.
Nautilus news release. Department of Health statement. WHO news release. Wall St Journal. BBC News Online. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Global: Bankruptcy ruse will hurt asbestos victims
DBMP LLC, an affiliate of US building materials maker CertainTeed LLC and part of the global Saint Gobain building products empire, has filed for bankruptcy in North Carolina, citing the ‘burden’ of tens of thousands of unresolved asbestos-related claims tied to products manufactured prior to 1993. Section 11 bankruptcy has been used by a number of US asbestos companies to reduce asbestos liabilities, often denying cancer victims the payouts they would otherwise receive.
Business Wire. Bloomberg.
Asbestos: Think Again. 'Business as Usual' Bankruptcies, EWG, 4 March 2004. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

USA: Climate crisis puts workers at deadly heat risk
Though the climate crisis is creating conditions where workers in the US are facing hotter temperatures on a more frequent basis, there are no federal safety protections for workers in extreme temperatures, and only three states, California, Washington and Minnesota, have heat stress workplace protection standards. According to projections conducted by the not-for-profit organisation Climate Central, the number of dangerous heat days for 133 US cities, will increase from 20 a year on average in 2000 to 58 in 2050.
The Guardian. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

USA: Sharp rise in suicide hits blue collar workers
The US government’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported a 40 per cent increase in working age suicides over the last two decades. Its analysis shows 38,000 persons of working age died by suicide in 2017, with blue collar workers at the highest risk of death by suicide, mirroring findings in the UK.
Peterson C, Sussell A, Li J, Schumacher PK, Yeoman K, Stone DM. Suicide Rates by Industry and Occupation — National Violent Death Reporting System, 32 States, 2016, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), volume 69, number 3, pages 57-62, 24 January 2020.  Local 12 News. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Hazards news, 25 January 2020

Britain: Union and business say end zero hours
Leading figures from unions, business and community organisations have called for new rights for workers to end exploitation through zero hours contracts. A Zero in on Zero Hours event, held at the TUC’s Congress House HQ on 13 January, considered how unions, good employers and voluntary sector organisations can campaign together in 2020 to put an end to the injustice of zero hours contracts.
TUC news release and research on zero hours contracts. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Casualised university staff are ‘second-class citizens’
Staff on casualised contracts in UK universities are vulnerable and invisible ‘second-class academics’, a new study has found. The report says universities’ statements about how much they value their staff ring hollow when put against how thousands of staff without secure contracts staff are treated.
UCU news release. Second class academic citizens, report for UCU, Nick Megoran and Olivia Mason, Newcastle University, January 2020. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Unions raise concern for safety of prison staff
The Joint Unions in Prisons Alliance (JUPA) has written to prisons minister Lucy Frazer QC, raising the ‘urgent issue’ of health and safety conditions for prison staff. The letter reads: “Our members are raising growing concerns about threats to their health and safety at work, and the impact this has on their ability to perform their professional roles safely and effectively.”
UNISON news release. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Prison riot shows the cost of government inaction
A failure by the government to introduction better protection for prison officers contributed to the escalation of a prison riot, the union POA has said. The union was commenting after prisoners at HMP Stocken rioted on Mike Wing on 18 January, in an incident that saw a prison officer attacked from behind by a prisoner yielding a pool ball in a sock.
POA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Tube protests in union violence campaign
London Underground union RMT is challenging Transport for London (TfL) to address its ‘continuous failure’ to take proper steps to tackle the workplace violence faced by its members at London Underground (LUL) stations. A 21 January protest outside TfL’s London HQ was timed to coincide with a meeting of LUL’s Workplace Violence Group.
RMT news release. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Safety warning on unstaffed rail stations
Only 10 per cent of railway stations are fully staffed, 45 per cent are only staffed some of the time and a ‘massive’ 45 per cent of stations are totally unstaffed, research by the transport union RMT has found. The report reveals that every year millions of passengers pass through stations which are unstaffed for part or all of the day.
RMT news release. Staff our Stations (SOS) campaign. Early Day Motion #38ORR – Estimates of Station Usage. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Stressed out teachers strike at Bridgend school
Teachers at Archbishop McGrath Catholic High School in Bridgend have taken the first of four planned days of strike action this month over the ‘detrimental and inappropriate’ treatment of NASUWT members which the union says is affecting their health and welfare. Commenting ahead of the 15 January walk out, NASUWT leader Chris Keates said: “Members have reported extremely high levels of work-related stress and anxiety as a result of unrealistic expectations and unreasonable deadlines being imposed on them.”
NASUWT news release. BBC News Online. Wales Online. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: New building safety regulator to be run by HSE  
The Health and Safety Executive is to set up a new building safety team immediately, ahead of a new law requiring the formation of the Building Safety Regulator. The new regulator, which will operate from within HSE, will “be at the heart” of the government’s “biggest change in building safety for a generation.”
Ministry of Housing news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Buildings regulator ‘must be properly resourced’
The new Buildings Safety Regulator, to be based in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), must be given the resources to do its job properly, the TUC and HSE inspectors’ and specialists’ union Prospect have said. Prospect warned that “cuts in recent years have left the HSE struggling to fulfil its functions and to recruit and retain skilled staff.”
Prospect news release. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: PM vows to look into his ‘scandalous’ Grenfell inquiry pick
Boris Johnson has told Grenfell survivors he will investigate the role of a key member of the public inquiry after it was revealed she had links to the company that made the tower’s deadly cladding. The prime minister met representatives of the Grenfell community at a pre-arranged visit to Downing Street on 16 January after it emerged that Benita Mehra was previously president of a charity that received a £71,000 donation from the philanthropic arm of Arconic, the US firm that made the panels found to be the main cause of fire spread.
The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: One in six have been bullied recently at work
A quarter of employees think their company turns a blind eye to workplace bullying and harassment, according to a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Although 15 per cent have experienced bullying in the past three years, more than half of them did not report it to the firm.
CIPD news release and Managing conflict in the workplace report, 21 January 2020. BBC News Online. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Warning on deadly pressures on gig economy couriers
RoSPA has launched new guidance aimed at helping self-employed gig economy workers, such as couriers and taxi drivers, stay safe on the road. The safety charity’s new guide stresses the importance of maintaining bicycles and motor vehicles, how to avoid experiencing fatigue while on the road, and how to drive and ride safely in the dark.
RoSPA news release and Driving and riding for work in the gig economy factsheet. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Boss faked dead worker’s signature after fatal fall
Contracts manager Mark Bray, 49, who forged a dead worker’s signature after he was killed in a fall through a broken roof at work, has been jailed for two years. Kenneth Drake, 54, suffered mortal head injuries when the roof he was working on collapsed and he fell to the floor below.
Greater Manchester Police news release. Liverpool Echo. Cheshire Live. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Dad killed in ‘tragic and wholly avoidable’ incident
Chesterfield Special Cylinders Ltd, a subsidiary of engineering firm Pressure Technologies, has been fined £700,000 after 64-year-old John Townsend was fatally wounded by shrapnel ejected from testing equipment. The father-of-two was due to retire the week after the incident.
Unite news release. HSE news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Sheffield Star. Yorkshire Post. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Site firm fined after worker crushed by concrete slab
A construction company has been fined half a million pounds after a father-of-two was killed when a re-enforced concrete slab collapsed underneath him during a demolition job. Southwark Crown Court heard that on 14 April 2014, 33-year-old labourer Dainius Rupsys from Lithuania was working with an excavator operator at the McGee Group Limited site in London’s Grosvenor Square, as part of the operation to demolish the existing multi-storey building before 31 residential flats could be built.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Get resourced up for biggest ever 28 April campaign day!
New resources for International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April 2020, including stickers ribbons and posters, can now be ordered from the national Hazards Campaign. The 28 April 2020 campaign theme will be ‘tackling psychosocial hazards at work – taking the stress out of the job’; tag lines for the union-led event, which has become the world’s biggest health and safety campaign day, include ‘Unions - Fighting for hearts and minds’.
Hazards Campaign blog and 28 April 2020 order resources.
Email the details of your 28 April 2020 plans to the TUC at: healthandsafety@tuc.org.uk
ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2020 International Workers’ Memorial Day website. TUC Workers’ Memorial Day pages. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Australia: Deadly silica disease ‘worst crisis’ since asbestos
The rate at which stonemasons in Australia are contracting a deadly dust-related lung disease has almost doubled in a year, new figures have revealed. But while Australian unions have been campaigning for a stricter exposure standard for silica dust, the stone industry is pressing the federal government to allow it to ‘self-regulate’.
Courier Mail. Daily Mail.
We are union OHS reps petition. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

China: Officials punished for burying blast death toll
A total of 29 officials have been punished after the death toll in a factory blast in central China's Hunan Province was intentionally underreported, the state media agency Xinhua has reported. The number of fatalities in the 4 December 2019 explosion at a workshop of a fireworks company in the city of Liuyang was initially given as seven, but the provincial authorities later confirmed 13 people were killed.
Peoples’ Daily. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Ireland: Union demands access to sites as deaths spike
The Irish construction union SIPTU has called for its organisers to be granted a legal right of access to building sites across the country following a doubling in the number of construction workers who died in workplace incidents. SIPTU sector organiser John Regan said: “The government must act to ensure greater safety on building sites by amending the 2005 Health and Safety Act to give union organisers access to all building sites.”
SIPTU news release. HSA news release. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Hazards news, 18 January 2020

Britain: Exhausted bus drivers prepare for strike action
Bus drivers’ union Unite is warning that London could face gridlock if exhausted bus drivers have to resort to industrial action later this year. Unite is demanding a ‘revolution’ in how bus driving is scheduled to ensure that drivers can finish on time, are able to utilise all of their breaks, work to proper schedules, have enough running time to complete their journey, are treated with respect and receive proper training.
Unite news release. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Electric bus sound could pose dangers warns Unite
The new sound chosen for London’s electric buses creates dangers for road users and pedestrians as it sounds nothing like a traditional bus, the drivers’ union Unite has warned. The sound, which is being trialled through January 2020, has been described as “like a spaceship”.
Unite news release. Wired. Evening Standard. Traffic Technology Today. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Stab vests being trialled for cash-in-transit crews
In the face of a rise in knife crime, the union CWU has welcomed a trial of stab vests for workers delivering cash and valuables to post offices. “All workers in at-risk occupations must have the best available protections,” said CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey.
CWU news release. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: ‘Cowardly’ attack on prison officers condemned
Prison officers’ union POA has condemned a ‘vicious and cowardly’ attack on prison officers at HMP Whitemoor on 9 January 2020. Two prisoners on ‘A’ Wing at the high security prison attacked a prison officer from behind with bladed weapons. POA general secretary Steve Gillan said the union will continue to work with the government and employers “to eradicate the disgraceful attacks on our members throughout the criminal justice system, but we also expect the police, Crown Prosecution Service and the courts to deal with violence against Prison Staff in a robust and effective manner.”
POA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Action call after Winchester prison violence spike
Prison officers at Winchester prison have demanded urgent action after an inspectors’ report said that violence had “increased” at the notorious jail and safety remained a “major concern.” The inspection, carried out last June and July and whose findings were published on 7 January, found high levels of violence, self-harm and suicides over the past three years, with a “significant deterioration” in conditions during that time.
HM Inspector of Prisons news release. Morning Star. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Fire emergency call mergers ‘unsafe and unsustainable’
The firefighters’ union FBU has issued a ‘safety critical notice’ after Surrey and West Sussex control rooms were merged, without an increase in staff. The union is concerned that emergency fire control staff cannot handle the current volume of 999 calls, and is calling on Surrey Fire and Rescue Service to address the “significant risk to both public and firefighter safety.”
FBU news release. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Hoax ambulance calls are stressing out call handlers
Ambulance trusts have been flooded with at least 42,000 hoax calls in just three years leaving overloaded staff stressed out, a GMB investigation has revealed. GMB national officer Rachel Harrison commented: “Like paramedics and ambulance workers, our NHS call handlers are desperately trying to save lives while years of Conservative cuts leave them underpaid, overworked and underappreciated.”
GMB news release. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: 'Not enough' being done to protect emergency workers
More violent individuals who assault emergency service workers need to be brought to justice, the union GMB has said.  The union was commenting after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) revealed 20,000 offenders were charged between November 2018 and November 2019 under the 'Protect the Protectors' legislation, which was passed following a long campaign by unions including GMB.
GMB news release. CPS news release. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Bin collectors vote for action over safety concerns
Bin collectors in Sandwell have voted for industrial action after private outsourcing company Serco urged workers to ignore the company’s own safety rules. The ballot saw members vote to take action short of strike – effectively working to rule.
GMB news release. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Teaching union launches new work health drive
Scottish teaching union EIS has published a new resource to promote health and wellbeing for teachers. It says its online guide is intended to support the union's current ‘Time to Tackle Workload’ campaign.
EIS news release and guide, A teacher health and wellbeing resource. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Northumbria Police sign Dying to Work charter
Northumbria Police and the Northumbria office of the Police and Crime Commissioner have signed the TUC’s Dying to Work Charter, on behalf of over 5,000 police officers and police staff. Ben Priestley, UNISON national officer with the police and justice group, welcomed the Northumbria announcement as “great news”.
UNISON news release. Dying to Work campaign. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Suffering stonemason’s plea for action on deadly silica dust
A former stonemason suffering from lung disease is calling for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to introduce a tighter occupational exposure standard for crystalline silica dust. In 2014, David Wood was diagnosed with silicosis, a condition caused by inhaling crystalline silica dust that leads to hardening and scarring of the lungs.
Irwin Mitchell news release. David’s story is examined in detail in the new issue of the union safety journal Hazards. See: Biting the dust: HSE defends a silica standard six times more deadly, Hazards, number 148, December 2019.
ACTION: Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective silica standard no higher than 0.05mg/m³ and with a phased move to 0.025mg/m³. www.hazards.org/HSEstopkillingus. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Investing in worker health leads to ‘productivity boost’
Over 90 per cent of companies investing in employee health and wellbeing have seen workforce productivity increase and an improvement in workforce relations, research by the manufacturing employers’ group Make UK has found. Tim Thomas, Make UK’s director of labour market and skills policy, said “there is still a lot more to be done and manufacturers must continue to work hard to put health and wellbeing at the heart of their business plans.”
Make UK news release. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Killed within hours of starting new job
A vehicle recovery and repair company has been fined for a criminal safety breach after a new worker suffered fatal crush injuries during maintenance work, only hours after he had started his new job. Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that on 24 November 2014, Albert Road Recovery and Repair Limited employee John Glenn, 56, was fatally injured when a rigid vehicle fell suddenly from an inadequate axle support prop at its premises in Coventry.
HSE news release. Fleet News. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Delivery drivers ‘less valuable than the food they carry'
Jeremy Corbyn has joined delivery drivers in demanding an end to the gig economy after a moped rider was stabbed to death in London. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the scene of the knife attack in Finsbury Park where a 30-year-old man named locally as Taki Dine was killed on the evening of 3 January, noting delivery drivers are “often on zero hours contracts, yet the food they are carrying is insured… So the delivery driver is less valuable than the food they are carrying.”
Evening Standard. Daily Mail. Morning Star. BBC News Online.  ITV News. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Builder injured working on McAlpine director’s house
Construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd has been fined £260,000 for criminal safety breaches after a worker fell 4.8 metres through an unprotected opening while working on the house of a McAlpine’s director. Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 28 April 2016, Mark Smith, 36, was working at Stone Gappe Hall, Lothersdale, Keighley, owned by Richard McAlpine, a director of the McAlpine group of companies.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Baggage handler suffers brain injury in fall from plane
An airport ground support company has been fined for a criminal safety breach after a baggage handler suffered a brain injury when she fell from a height of more than two metres. Luton Magistrates’ Court heard that on 24 December 2016 Rebecca Smith, an employee of Menzies Aviation (UK) Limited, was injured as luggage was being loaded onto an aircraft at London Luton Airport.
HSE news release. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Global: Making women visible in health and safety
Greater efforts are needed to make sure occupational risks to women are taken into proper account, the global food and farming union federation IUF has said. Launching its new guide, IUF notes “a gendered approach” to occupational health and safety “emphasises that it is the employers' responsibility to make the workplace safe for every worker and exposes the dangers of behaviour-based safety, which makes the individual worker responsible for workplace safety.”
IUF news release and full guide, Making women visible in occupational health and safety, January 2020. The guide is available in English, French and Spanish editions. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Cambodia: Concern as building collapse kills 36 workers
The collapse of a seven-storey building in the small coastal town of Kep in Southern Cambodia on 3 January has killed 36 workers, authorities have confirmed. Ambet Yuson, general secretary of the global construction union federation BWI, commented: “We strongly call on the government of Cambodia to work closely with the Building and Wood Workers’ Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) to hold those responsible accountable and to increase and strengthen safety and health inspections to prevent further accidents across the country.”
BWI news release. Jakarta Post. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Canada: Mountie’s suicide exposes ‘deficient’ management
An internal report that reviewed the suicide death of a constable in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and its aftermath has concluded the force doesn't know nearly enough about the problem of suicide in the ranks. An internal report concluded a national study should look into the work and life factors that put Mounties’ mental health at risk, and should find out whether they “are succumbing to mental illness for endemic reasons within the control of or further influence by the employer.”
CBC News. More on work-related suicides.
UK ACTION: Use the Hazards e-postcard to tell the HSE to inspect for work-related suicide risks and to investigate and require the reporting of suicides suspected to be work-related. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

USA: Call for employers to act on work suicides
A trio of US advocacy groups is calling on employers to take a proactive role in suicide prevention in the workplace. American Association of Suicidology executive director Colleen Creighton said: “We aim to change the culture of workplaces to reduce elements that cause job strain like sleep disruption, job insecurity and low job control – things shown to be connected to suicide risk,” adding: “We know these guidelines will not only save lives, but will also alleviate intense emotional suffering by making changes to systems while helping individuals in the workplace.”
National Guidelines for Workplace Suicide Prevention, American Association of Suicidology (AAS), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and United Suicide Survivors International, October 2019. AAS news release. Safety and Health Magazine.
UK ACTION: Use the Hazards e-postcard to tell the HSE to inspect for work-related suicide risks and to investigate and require the reporting of suicides suspected to be work-related. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Hazards news, 11 January 2020

Britain: Union power can protect jobs, health and safety
After civil service union PCS successfully fought off privatisation of the Land Registry (HMLR) in 2016, it set out to negotiate new and “meaningful agreements and practices” - and the union says this delivered ‘real progress’ on health and safety. PCS Land Registry group vice president Dave Lunn said the union had negotiated a formal agreement with the employer built on that successful campaign and high membership density levels.
PCS news release.
Resources: The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety. Organising for health and safety: A TUC guide for reps. More on the union safety effect. TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress. Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Britain: Big majority wants government to improve workers’ rights
Two-thirds of voters want the Conservative government to ban zero hours contracts, a poll has found. The public also wants workers’ rights protected after Brexit and tax rises for higher earners, according to the survey for the Trade Union Congress (TUC).
TUC news release. Prime minister’s office news release and Queen’s Speech background document. The Independent. The Guardian. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Britain: Union concern for workplace safety post-Brexit
The Conservative government must not reduce safety protections as part of its post-Brexit strategy, the union EIS has said. The Scottish teachers’ union was commenting on the publication of its latest work-related injury compensation figures. It said last year the figure secured for its members was £290,700, significantly higher than the 2018 figure of just under £230,000.
EIS news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Britain: Demolition workers ‘pay with their lives’ for lax safety
Unite has said 2020 must bring safety improvements for demolition workers following a high number of fatalities and serious incidents this year. The construction union said it would be writing to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to demand that the incidents are investigated properly and lessons implemented.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Britain: POA to appeal after safety action ban upheld
Prison officers will appeal against a court judgment that fined their union £210,000 after they took part in protest action, the union POA has said. The prison officers’ union was commenting after a divisional court judgment published on 19 December 2019 backed the government, which had instructed government lawyers to apply for a Contempt of Court against the POA to block action by members over imminent safety fears in prisons.
POA news release. Morning Star. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Britain: RMT exposes ‘massive’ violence against transport workers
Almost threequarters (72 per cent) of frontline transport workers have experienced workplace violence in the last year, a survey by the union RMT has found. Of these, nearly 90 per cent had been subjected to violence on multiple occasions.
RMT news release. The Independent. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Britain: Nissan worker gets payout for job ending work pain
A Newcastle car factory worker who developed a painful repetitive strain injury that forced him to give up his job has secured compensation with backing from his trade union, Unite. Plant operative Colin Reay, 42, was asked to switch departments at the Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd plant in Sunderland to cover for staff shortages.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Britain: Government must ‘get health and safety done’    
The professional body for safety and health specialists has called for the Conservative government to “get health and safety done” by committing to the protection of workers’ rights and ‘future-proofing’ the UK’s health and safety system. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) said the government must provide assurance on health and safety for the 2020s, maintain its focus on eradicating human trafficking and modern slavery and deliver upon its sustainability commitment by ensuring safety and health is at the heart of its proposed ‘infrastructure revolution’ and the creation of two million new, high-quality jobs in clean growth.
IOSH news release and IOSH Manifesto, Towards a safe and healthy world of work, highlights key OSH themes for UK and other Governments to help ensure a safe, healthy and sustainable future. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Britain: Reports an ‘indictment’ of government fire service failures
Official reports on Britain’s fire services have confirmed the existence of a ‘postcode lottery’ on emergency cover, the firefighters’ union FBU has warned. Responding to the third tranche of inspections from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This tranche of reports is a complete indictment of the government’s dangerous complacency over the risk of fire, flooding, and other hazardous incidents.”
FBU news release. HMICFRS news release. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Britain: Fedex UK Ltd fined £500k after forklift truck injury
Parcel carrier Fedex UK has been fined for criminal safety failings after an employee was seriously injured when he was struck by a forklift truck. Cannock Magistrates’ Court heard that in the early morning of 2 November 2017, an employee was walking across a depot when he was struck by a reversing forklift.
HSE news release. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Britain: Director sentenced after ignoring HSE notices
A construction company director has been ordered to undertake community service and has been given a suspended jail term for a criminal safety offence. Tahir Ahmed pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was sentenced to 18 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months, 180 hours of unpaid work, and was ordered to pay full costs of £5,060.69; All Type Electrical and Building Limited was fined £60,000 and full costs of £5,216.46.
HSE news release. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Britain: Construction must change to end modern slavery
The construction union Unite is calling for fundamental changes in the way that the construction industry is organised and for the introduction of licensing of gangmasters. The union call came in response to an investigation conducted jointly by Construction News and BBC Three, who used undercover journalists from the UK and Romania to reveal the extent of modern day slavery in construction.
Unite news release. Construction News. BBC Three. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Global: Trump trade deal pressure shows toxic risk for Britain
UK government assurances that workplace safety and environmental standards won’t be on the table during trade negotiations with the Trump administration have been thrown into doubt by the equivalent talks between the US and Thailand. In December 2019, Southeast Asia's second-largest economy suspended an imminent move to ban three highly hazardous agrochemicals after the Trump administration announced wide-ranging tariff exemptions on Thai exports to the US would be lifted, with potentially serious financial implications for Thai industries.
Nikkei. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Global: 28 April 2020 - fighting for hearts and minds
The global union confederation ITUC has announced the theme for 28 April 2020: ‘Tackling psychosocial hazards at work – taking the stress out of the job’. This year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day activities will highlight the harm caused by occupational stress and related conditions, including depression, anxiety, burnout, work-related alcohol and drug misuse and work-related suicides.
ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2020 International Workers’ Memorial Day website. TUC Workers’ Memorial Day pages. Email the details of your events the TUC at: healthandsafety@tuc.org.uk
RESOURCES: TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress. Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. TUC health, safety and wellbeing guide.
Hazards stress and mental health webpages and work-related suicide webpages. Hazards ‘heartbroken’ poster.
HSE ‘reporting a concern’ update, advice on How to report a work related stress concern, Tackling stress workbook, stress management standards and other HSE workplace stress resources. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

France: Telcom bosses jailed over workers’ suicides
Three former bosses of a privatised French telecoms giant have been jailed for crimes related to a spate of worker suicides. Didier Lombard, the ex-CEO of French Telecom, and two former executives were jailed on 20 December 2019 over a restructuring policy linked to suicides among employees in the 2000s.
CFE-CGC news release (in French). Orange news release. Vice. Morning Star. The Guardian. New York Times. BBC News Online. ABC News.
Suicide note: Global experts tell HSE to address work-related suicide risks, Hazards, Number 149, December 2019.
ACTION! Use the Hazards e-postcard to tell the HSE to recognise, record and take action to prevent work-related suicides. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide
Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Asia: Development bank backtracks on asbestos use
In a remarkable about face, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said it will now “refrain from financing any new projects containing any presence of asbestos” from 2020. The move followed media exposure of its failure to ban use of asbestos in the projects it financed. A number of countries in the region remain prime markets for the asbestos industry, some recently increasing their use of asbestos.
ABC News. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

Peru: Teens electrocuted at McDonald's
The beverage machine which killed the two teenage workers in a McDonald’s restaurant in Peru was known to be faulty, the franchise’s general manager has admitted. Alexandra Porras, 18, and Carlos Gabriel Campo, 19, were electrocuted while cleaning the kitchen at the fast food outlet in Lima on 15 December 2019.
IUF news release. The Mirror. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

USA: Boeing boss fired as plane crash crisis deepens
The head of aerospace giant Boeing has been fired after the company faced escalating criticism of its response to fatal crashes involving its 737 Max airliners. In a statement announcing the departure of its CEO Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing said the board had “decided that a change in leadership was necessary to restore confidence in the company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders.”
Boeing statement. The Independent. Daily Mail. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

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