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Hazards news, 23 July 2016

Britain: Don’t leave sweltering workers hot under the collar
The TUC is calling on employers to temporarily relax workplace dress codes so staff can work through the heatwave as comfortably as possible. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Working in sweltering conditions can be unbearable and dangerous.”
TUC news release and temperature at work guide. Usdaw news release.
Get your MP to sign the Early Day Motion calling for a maximum workplace temperature. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: Safety reps can help inform HSE’s science strategy
The Health and Safety Executive is reviewing its workplace health science strategy and is seeking input from union safety reps. The safety regulator says the review aims to improve how it anticipates new challenges through ‘foresight research’ and identifies risks and measures to address them.
Union safety reps interested in participating, should contact Beverley Bishop at HSE before the end of July. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: MoD scraps ‘despised’ performance management system
The Ministry of Defence has agreed to end the use of a performance management system that civil service union PCS says is ‘despised’ by staff. New permanent secretary Stephen Lovegrove has made an agreement with the Cabinet Office to end performance management reviews in the department, including forced rankings where employees are individually ranked best to worst.
PCS news release. Tell your MP to back the PCS campaign for a fair management system. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: Union acts on firefighter mental health concerns
Firefighters’ union FBU is taking action to protect the mental health of its members after a report warned that shockingly high numbers had contemplated suicide. Mental health charity Mind reported this year that 30 per cent of firefighters have contemplated taking their own lives.
FBU news release and guide, Mental health in the workplace – an initial guide for reps. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: Musicians to find out the score on health risks
The Musicians’ Union is backing an initiative to provide performers with advice on work-related health problems. The union says a programme of ‘Musicians’ Insights’ will raise awareness of key health issues for musicians and workshops will give self-help tips and expert guidance.
Musicians’ Union news release. Help Musicians UK. British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM). Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: Unite is closing the net on blacklisters
This year’s multimillion pound compensation payout from the major site firms behind the construction industry blacklisting scandal, wrapped in a public apology, was not the end of the matter, the union Unite has said. Assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail was commenting as new ‘fight back’ guidance, ‘Closing the net: Combatting contemporary blacklisting’, was launched at Unite’s policy conference.
Morning Star. Unite blacklisting webpages. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: ScotRail to face more union safety action
The rail union RMT is stepping up its dispute with Scotrail over the firm’s plans for driver only operation (DOO) and driver controlled operation (DCO), moves that would mean the loss of the crucial safety back up provided by guards. RMT says it has attempted repeatedly to resolved the issue in talks at ACAS, but accuses the company of trying to ‘pick and choose issues and divide and rule the workforce.’
RMT news release. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: Official report supports union warnings on rail dangers
Union warnings about the growing threat to life and limb on railway platforms have been confirmed in an official safety report. Rail union RMT said the annual safety report from the Rail Standards and Safety Board (RSSB) exposes ‘the nonsense of government and train company plans to axe guards and station staff.’
RMT news release. RSSB news release and Annual Safety Performance Report 2015/16. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: Swarf ripped open man’s thumb
A Hinckley factory worker has received more than £21,000 in compensation after lacerating his thumb on a piece of metal. The 27-year-old Unite member was operating a machine used to cut sections of metal when a piece of swarf wrapped around his hand and ripped through the glove, causing a deep cut to his right thumb that damaged his tendons and nerves. and financial strain that the injury put our member through for them to do that.”
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: New ministerial team for workplace safety
The reshuffle following the replacement of David Cameron as prime minister by Theresa May has resulted in the appointment of an entirely new ministerial team responsible for workplace health and safety. Damian Green replaces Stephen Crabb as secretary of state at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Penny Mordaunt becomes ‘minister of state for disabled people, work and health’.
DWP news release. HSE news release. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: Search for bodies resumes after Didcot demolition
Search efforts for three men killed in the Didcot power station collapse have resumed after the remainder of the building was demolished. A remote demolition brought down the remaining part of the boilerhouse on 17 July, in an operation using remote-controlled robots. Ken Cresswell, 57, and John Shaw, 61, and Chris Huxtable, 34, were trapped under rubble on 23 February.
Thames Valley Police news release. BBC News Online. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: Worker crushed to death by a tonne of floor tiles
A Manchester company has been fined £40,000 after a tonne of stone floor tiles fell from a forklift, killing an employee. Soran Aziz, 27, died after the incident in October 2010 at Stone Superstore Ltd warehouse in Gorton.
Manchester City Council news release. Manchester Evening News. Risks 760. 23 July 2016.

Britain: Engineering worker suffers life changing injuries
A Hull engineering firm has been fined for criminal safety breaches after a marine hatch and frame weighing more than 500kg fell forward, seriously injuring an employee and narrowly missing another person. The marine door fell onto Point Engineering (Hull) Ltd welder and fabricator Richard Blake, 63, a welder and fabricator at the company, trapping his pelvis and legs.
HSE news release. Hull Daily Mail. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: Hazards 2016 conference programme
The Hazards 2016 conference programme has been announced, listing plenaries, workshops and campaign themes. Speakers includes union specialists, top experts, Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell and major global figures Sanjiv Pandita and Omana George on international safety campaigning.
National Hazards Conference, 29-31 July, Keele University. Full programme. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Global: Journal tackles safety of ‘informal workers’
A health and safety journal that looks to solve problems, not just record them, has taken on the thorny issue of health and safety for ‘informal workers’. New Solutions is a highly practical, union-supported resource with an international focus.
New Solutions. Special Issue: Health and Safety for Informal Workers, volume 26, number 2, August 2016. Related information: ITUC on union organising and informal workers. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Canada: Toronto Star suicide prompts investigation
Top Canadian newspaper the Toronto Star will conduct an “independent facilitation process review” of the newsroom’s culture, after journalists’ union Unifor called for an independent investigation in the wake of reporter Raveena Aulakh’s suicide and the events surrounding her death. The union described the newsroom as a ‘poisonous workplace’ rife with harassment and bullying.
Canoe.com. Winnipeg Free Press. More on work-related suicides. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Bangladesh: Multiple murder charges for Rana Plaza
A court in Bangladesh has formally charged 38 people with murder in connection with the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza building which killed over 1,100 people in the country’s worst industrial disaster. A total of 41 defendants face charges over the collapse of the complex, which housed five garment factories supplying global brands.
The Guardian. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Italy: Olivetti bosses get jail for asbestos manslaughter
Leading Italian businessman and media mogul Carlo De Benedetti has been convicted in connection to asbestos-related deaths at a company he led more than two decades ago. The 81-year-old was one of 16 defendants in a case concerning Olivetti, a typewriters and computers company where 13 employees died between the late 1970s and the early 1990s after being exposed to asbestos.
Europe Online. The Local. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Global: Asbestos industry’s fight to the death
The global asbestos industry is engaged in a well-resourced defence of its deadly product. As well as promoting chrysotile asbestos in ‘scientific’ and public relations presentations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, a key target for the campaign is the United Nations (UN), warned Laurie Kazan Allen, who heads up the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS).
IBAS news report. RightOnCanada. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Hazards news, 16 July 2016

Britain: Mesothelioma stats show need for asbestos action
A single type of asbestos cancer has killed over 2,500 people for three consecutive years, latest official statistics show. The TUC, calling for government action on the release of mortality figures for the cancer mesothelioma, said although most people have probably never heard of mesothelioma the new figures for 2014 show that “for the third year running, the number of deaths from mesothelioma has been over 2,500 and this level is likely to continue for at least the rest of the decade.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Mesothelioma in Great Britain: Mesothelioma mortality in Great Britain 1968 to 2014, HSE, July 2016 and HSE mesothelioma webpages. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Unions can wake up employers to fatigue risks
Union safety reps can play a crucial role in preventing work-related fatigue, the TUC has said. The union body said as well as an increased risk of injury at work, fatigue caused by too demanding work hours and patterns can increase the risk of a range of potentially serious health conditions including digestive and mental health problems.
Fatigue - a guide for health and safety representatives, TUC, July 2016 [pdf]. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Scotland’s college staff near stress breaking point
A UNISON Scotland survey has revealed more than four out of five college support workers have experienced stress at work, with one in five becoming so sick they were unable to work. Support staff from 17 colleges participated in the survey which revealed ‘shocking’ levels of stress and bullying in Scotland’s colleges, the union said.
UNISON Scotland news release and report, Learning the hard way. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Animal feed giant faces strike vote in contract row
Nearly 50 workers at Suffolk animal feed firm A B Agriculture Ltd (AB Agri) are voting on industrial action, in a dispute over the imposition of longer hours and worse terms and conditions. Unite says the ballot of its members at the Bury St Edmunds firm has been prompted by the unilateral imposition of a ‘draconian’ workplace agreement. Unite news release. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Manchester firefighters fight ‘family wrecking’ shifts
The chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority is facing calls to quit after firefighters’ union FBU passed unanimously a vote of no confidence in his leadership. The union says the position of councillor David Acton is untenable after the authority approved plans to put firefighters on ‘family unfriendly’ 12-hour shifts, a move the union said was “universally unpopular” and would “cause mayhem for those with caring responsibilities.”
FBU news release and letter to David Acton calling for his resignation. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Film exposes dangers from fire service cuts
A new film from the firefighters’ union FBU has warned of the threat posed to the service’s lifesaving work by government cuts. It says the public “are no longer safe” - and identifies some of the deaths it believes have been caused by the cuts.
FBU news release and film. Sign the Save our fire and rescue services petition. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Latest statistics confirm upturn in work fatalities
Official figures have revealed the number of people killed at work has increased again. Provisional workplace fatality figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) indicate that 144 people were killed while at work in 2015/2016 – up from 142 in 2014/2015, and 136 in 2013/14.
HSE news release and statistics webpages. Statistics on fatal injuries in the workplace in Great Britain 2016, HSE, July 2016. UCATT news release. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Five die in recycling plant tragedy
Five recycling workers have died in a 7 July wall collapse at a recycling plant in Birmingham. The men, originally from Gambia, died when a 15ft wall of concrete and scrap metal fell on them as they worked at Hawkeswood Metal in the Nechells part of the city.
West Midlands Police news release. UCATT news release. BBC News Online. HSE record of previous Hawkeswood prosecution. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Alarm bells as work tragedies strike
An upturn in workplace fatalities and a third workplace multiple fatality in 12 months suggest the government is prioritising business profits over human lives, the Hazards Campaign has charged. The broad-based workers’ safety campaign was commenting after latest official figures published the day before five workers died in a Birmingham recycling yard showed the number of workplace fatalities had increase by 6 per cent since 2013/14.
Hazards Campaign statement. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Family fury at death in ships’ graveyard
A grieving family have hit out at a businessman after his firm was fined £45,000 over the death of a worker, saying: ‘It’s just change to him’. Paul Hudghton, a 50-year-old self-employed scrap worker, died at Tipner scrapyard in Portsmouth when Diverse Ventures Ltd launched an ‘ad hoc’ plan to right a crane on a barge that had slewed out to sea.
HSE news release. Portsmouth News. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Construction safety fines hit £8m since February
New sentencing guidelines introduced in February have seen a spate of large fines take the total penalties handed to construction firms hit £8m in six months. The February guidance from the Sentencing Council instructed courts to consider the size of a company when it comes to imposing fines for criminal safety offences.
BLM news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Demolition worker crushed by excavator on school site
A construction company has been fined after a worker suffered crush injuries when he was hit and then run over by an excavator. Complete Demolition Ltd was prosecuted by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found arrangements for ensuring pedestrians and vehicles were separated were inadequate.
HSE news release. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Car giant fined over asbestos contamination
One of the world’s biggest motor manufacturers has been fined after asbestos boarding panels contaminated a work site. General Motors UK Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after work being undertaken at its Ellesmere Port site in 2014, exposed contractors to asbestos.
HSE news release. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Who knew machines could hurt you?
Two prosecutions in two days demonstrate how workers continue to be injured in entirely predictable and preventable incidents involving workplace machinery. An employee of Sheffield firm Special Machined Products Limited (SMPL) became entangled with a rotating metal bar being used to prevent materials being ejected from the lathe he was operating and an employee of Chepstow-based Reid Lifting Limited had the index finger of his gloved left hand pulled into a milling machine.
HSE news releases on the Sheffield and Chepstow prosecutions. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Bangladesh: Justice at last for Tazreen fire victims
More than three years after over 100 workers died in the Tazreen Fashion factory fire in Bangladesh, compensation payments to the victims have finally been completed. The Tazreen Claims Administration Trust says a total of US$2.17 million has now been paid to the families of 112 dead and missing workers, and to 174 people injured in the fire on 24 November 2012.
IndustriALL news release. Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Tazreen Claims Administration Trust. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Botswana: Union calls for urgent action at deadly mine
The deaths of 15 mineworkers at Bamangwato Concessions Ltd (BCL) mine in Botswana in separate incidents over a five year period has prompted renewed union calls for urgent action. But they say despite numerous appeals to government to improve safety at the state-owned mine, conditions are in fact deteriorating. IndustriALL news release. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

France: Report confirms night work harm
Working night shifts leads to sleep and metabolic disorders, and some serious diseases, according to a study by the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES).
ETUI news report. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Pakistan: Six deaths at World Bank-funded dam
Six workers have been killed and least 20 others severely injured in a major incident at the Tarbela Extension Project, a dam development in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The largely World Bank-backed project is controlled by the Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), with the Chinese multinational construction company Sino Hydro Group as the main contractor.
BWI news release. World Bank Tarbela Dam Project webpages. The Nation. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Hazards news, 9 June 2016

Britain: BBC faces action over ‘reckless’ shift plans
Staff at BBC World News are taking industrial action over ‘reckless and self-defeating’ rota changes that require them to work significantly more hours. NUJ members voted by 96.5 per cent, on a strong turnout, for the action, which kicked off on 7 July with a 24-hour walkout.
NUJ news release and petition to preserve the BBC News Channel and BBC World News. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Britain: Postal union slams 'unacceptable' dog attacks
The number of dog attacks on postal workers in the UK is at an “unacceptable” level, post workers’ union CWU said. The union was speaking out as new Royal Mail survey, launched at the start of the CWU-backed Dog Awareness Week, revealed there were more than 2,600 attacks on postal workers across the country in the last year.
CWU news release and dog awareness poster. Royal Mail news release and Dog awareness guidance. BBC News Online. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Britain: Outrage at claim axing rail guards is dangerous but OK
Passengers will face greater safety risks on trains if plans go ahead to remove guards, a rail safety watchdog has warned. But the Railway Safety Standards Board (RSSB), which is financed by train companies, has been criticised by rail union RMT after concluding driver-only operation of trains should go ahead anyway.
RMT news release. RSSB news release. Morning Star. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Britain: Forklift injury followed ignored near-misses
A Unite member who suffered multiple fractures to his foot after being hit and then run over by a forklift truck at work has received £35,000 in damages. Paul Winter, who works for a magazine printing company whose name has not been disclosed, was collecting new reels to insert into large printers when the incident occurred.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Britain: New union calls for asbestos removal from schools
Calls for the government to remove asbestos from all schools and colleges have been stepped up following the death of a teacher. Kevin Courtney, acting general secretary of the teaching union NUT, said: “Yet another teacher’s life has been tragically cut short by this dreadful, and entirely preventable, disease.”
NUT news release. Times Education Supplement (TES). JUAC website. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Britain: Events nationwide to remember asbestos cancer victims
Campaigners marked Action Mesothelioma Day on 1 July with high profile events nationwide. The event, which focuses attention on the toll claimed by asbestos, Britain’s biggest industrial killer, is now in its tenth year.
Action Mesothelioma Day and events listing. ITV News. Video of AMD 2016 presentation by NUT’s Sarah Lyons. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Mesothelioma UK. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Britain: Artists want blacklister out of the picture
Scottish artists are demanding that Glasgow School of Art end its contract with a major building firm that was involved in the construction industry blacklisting scandal. The call from the Scottish Artists Union came after Kier Construction was appointed as the main contractor for the restoration of the Mackintosh Building at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA).
The Herald. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Britain: Government is only listening to business
The government has excluded unions from its discussions on Britain’s post-EU future. Business secretary Sajid Javid invited employers’ group CBI and other business lobbyists to the economic summit but snubbed the TUC and unions.
Business secretary speech. UK government cross-department news release. Morning Star. City AM. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Britain: Thinktank warns that UK workers are poorly protected
The UK workforce is too insecure, has many second class employment rights and is not protected by adequate labour and safety enforcement systems, a new report has concluded. ‘Manifesto for Labour Law’ published by the Institute of Employment Rights (IER) in response to Labour’s Workplace 2020 consultation, is authored by 15 leading labour lawyers and academics.
Online preview of Manifesto for Labour Law, Institute of Employment Rights, 2016. Morning Star. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Britain: Aquarium worker ‘scarred for life’ by fish disease
A Sheffield man was left permanently scarred by a rare illness described by experts as ‘TB for fish’. The fish technician, who wishes to remain anonymous, was diagnosed with ‘fish tank granuloma’ around a year into his work cleaning tanks and looking after fish for Dronfield-based JMC Aquatics.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release. Derbyshire Times. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Britain: Overheated hospital lab led to fainting injuries
A medic who fainted in a stifling NHS laboratory and suffered a debilitating foot injury has won an undisclosed compensation payout in the courts. Helen Stidwill suffers chronic pain after collapsing in the lab at King’s College Hospital, London, in March 2009.
Croydon Guardian. Croydon Advertiser. TUC temperature at work guide. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Britain: Worker killed after 8m fall through roof
Two companies based in Northamptonshire have been fined after a worker died following a fall through a roof. Northampton Crown Court heard A-Lift Crane Hire Limited had been hired by Premier Roofing Systems Limited to provide them with a crane to lift roofing sheets onto a factory roof at Virani Foods Limited, but A-Lift Crane Hire Limited employee Peter Smith fell eight metres through an unprotected skylight.
HSE news release and work at height guide. Construction Enquirer. The Construction Index. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Britain: Firm’s repeat refusals to act ends in a fine
A coach company in Wrexham has been fined £90,000 after it failed repeatedly to comply with legal notices to get its lifting equipment examined. GHA Coaches Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) and failing to comply with an improvement notice and was fined £90,000 plus costs of £3,068.
HSE news release, LOLER examinations webpage and lifting equipment guide. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Global: Need to know the latest news on work cancers
Work Cancer Hazards, an occupational cancer website run by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Alliance for Cancer Prevention and Hazards magazine provides news on latest campaigning, research, scandals and compensation developments on what is the biggest workplace killer. The upgraded resource at www.cancerhazards.org now has a facility to sign-up for email updates.
Sign-up for Work Cancer Hazards updates. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Global: WHO guide to the public health impact of chemicals
Chemical exposures are causing a public health catastrophe claiming over a million lives worldwide each year, a World Health Organisation (WHO) report has concluded. ‘The public health impact of chemicals: knowns and unknowns’, produced by the UN body’s International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), estimates that 1.3 million lives and 43 million disability-adjusted life-years were lost in 2012 due to exposures to selected chemicals.
The public health impact of chemicals: knowns and unknowns, WHO, 2016. International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS). Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Global: Poor Nepalis dying for work in Afghanistan
On 20 June, a suicide bomber killed 13 Nepalese and two Indian contractors who helped secure the Canadian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, striking the guards’ commuter bus just after it had picked them up at their residence compound. Laxman Basnet, the Nepal-based general secretary of the South Asian Regional Trade Union Council, said “there are no job opportunities in Nepal,” adding people have become inured to deaths from violence or after years of toiling abroad.
New York Times. CBC News. Toronto Star. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

USA: Workers walk off unsafe $875m site
Four non-union site workers walked off of a multimillion-dollar residential project being constructed in Long Island City after claiming their employers were exploiting them with low pay and unsafe working conditions. Alex Xande, Yuriy Olefirenko, Ivica Juric-Marijanivoc and Marjan Pejkovic all walked off the site last month and joined the union Steamfitters Local 638.
QNS News. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

USA: Discounted fines leave workers at increased risk
Routine discounting of health and safety fines by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is leaving workers in sometimes deadly peril, a new expert report has concluded. The Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) said when OSHA issues penalties, companies can contest them, during which time they aren't legally required to correct the violations that put workers in danger, leading the agency to agree to substantially reduced fines in exchange for a promise to fix the hazard “promptly.”
CPR news release and full report, OSHA's discount on danger: OSHA should revise its informal settlement policies to maximize the deterrent value of citations, CPR, 30 June 2016. The Hill. Risks 758. 9 June 2016

Hazards news, 2 July 2016

Britain: Don't cut a single workers' right!
BAfter the UK voted last week by 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the European Union, the TUC is warning that the vital rights at work from EU-driven laws must be protected. Prior to the 23 June referendum vote, the TUC had warned that the official Leave campaign had workers’ rights in their crosshairs and had pointed out workplace safety, employment rights and working hours protections were all at risk.
TUC news release, Stronger Unions blog and Don't cut a single workers' right when making new UK laws petition. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Where now on health and safety rights?
The TUC has warned that health and safety rights could be under threat after the 23 June referendum vote in favour of UK leaving the European Union (EU). TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, writing in the TUC’s Stronger Unions blog, notes: “There is a real and serious danger that the final outcome could mean that we will lose much of the protection that EU membership has given us, but much will depend on the outcome of the negotiations that are will take place between Britain and the EU.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Usdaw calls for an end to post referendum abuse
The shopworkers’ trade union has expressed deep concern about reports of threats and abuse against migrant workers and people from minority ethnic groups has called for “calm and respect.” Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: “It is deeply disturbing that some people have taken the vote to leave the EU as a green light to abuse others who they believe don’t have the right to be in the country,” adding: “Usdaw reps have for many years been providing support for members who face violence, threats and abuse and they will continue do so in this challenging period after the referendum.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Women report protective equipment is a bad fit
Women are being forced to use ill-fitting personal protective equipment at work causing discomfort and putting their safety at risk, according to a Prospect survey. Just 29 per cent of the women who took part in the union study reported that the PPE they wear at work was designed for women.
Prospect news release. TUC Touchstone blog. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Cuts leave council staff at breaking point
Local government workers are experiencing unprecedented pressure and stress in the workplace – and government cuts are to blame, the union UNISON has found. Its report – ‘Under pressure, underfunded and undervalued’ - is based on a survey of more than 2,000 local authority staff, including teaching assistants, social workers, librarians and carers who look after people in their own homes.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Stressed union activists need support
Public service union UNISON is to explore ways of supporting activists and reps in stressful situations, after concerns were raised by delegates to its national conference. The conference agreed that the UNISON executive should investigate the possibility of a telephone support service for activists, and should provide training and produce a handbook for activists on how to deal with stressful situations and how they can support branch colleagues.
UNISON news release. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Teaching union to start workload strikes
Teaching union NUT says its members in England are to strike over an erosion of working conditions and spiralling workload. Teachers will walk out first on 5 July, after 91 per cent of those who voted backed the action.
NUT news release and related release. BBC News Online. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Legal win will protect prison officers
Prisoners can now be prosecuted for attacks on prison workers, after a union-backed High Court case. In a landmark victory for the prison officers’ union POA, the court ruled last week that it is important to be able to prosecute prisoners for acts of violence committed against prison officers while serving time in prison, as a way of protecting prison officers and prisoners.
Thompsons Solicitors news release.
TUC violence at work guidance. Hit list: TUC violence and abuse reporting form, Hazards magazine. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Fire chief slammed over ‘unlawful’ shifts plan
Cambridgeshire’s fire chief has been accused of peddling an ‘unlawful’ shift system that could see firefighters work 96-hour shifts. Day Crewing Plus, described by firefighters’ union FBU as a ‘Victorian era shift system’, would see firefighters spend four days and nights working on a station.
FBU news release. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Fall leaving accountancy exam adds up to a payout
A finance officer has received an undisclosed payout after fracturing her right foot in a fall, which led to her developing deep vein thrombosis. The Unite member had just finished an accountancy exam at a college in Cornwall and was leaving the exam hall.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Union secures improvements after car worker injury
Terence Deen, 61, a production worker at a car manufacturer in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, has been awarded almost £12,000 in damages after he suffered a crush injury and lacerations to his left leg. Unite safety reps stepped in after the incident and ensured safer work practices were introduced.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Plant test cheats website proved hard to kill
A website selling answers to crucial tests taken as part of construction’s plant operator skills card scheme is still operating despite determined attempts to shut it down. Trade publication Construction Enquirer says the website is undermining the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) which covers thousands of machinery operators across the industry
Construction Enquirer. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Site firm to use drones to make sites safer
Costain is to use drones to keep workers ‘out of hazardous environments’. The construction giant, which was one of eight major firms that in May agreed a massive compensation payout for their involvement in the covert blacklisting of union and safety activists (Risks 750), is working with operators of the spy-in-the-sky ‘unmanned aerial vehicles’ (UAVs) to develop “innovative and intelligent solutions to its customers’ challenges.”
Costain news release. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Worker killed by falling frozen fish boxes
A Plymouth company has been fined £500,000 after an employee suffered fatal injuries when a stack of boxes of frozen fish fell on him. Tomas Suchy, 22, an employee of Interfish Limited, was helping to clear up a fallen stack of frozen fish boxes in a -25 Celsius cold store room at a factory when another fall of stock weighing about 1 tonne struck him.
HSE news release and storage guidance. North Devon Journal. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Quad bikes helmets call after teen injured
An agriculture safety chief has urged farmers not to ignore simple life-saving advice to wear helmets when riding quad bikes. Rick Brunt, the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) head of agriculture, made the call after details of an horrific incident, when a teenager suffered a serious head wound, emerged in court proceedings.
HSE news release and ATV safety guidance. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Canada: Unions win work cancer evidence breakthrough
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled 7-1 that workers made ill by hazardous substances at work don’t need to prove their case with scientific certainty in order to collect workers’ compensation. In its judgment in the case brought by three health union members, the Supreme Court ruled: “While the record on which that decision was based did not include confirmatory expert evidence, the Tribunal nonetheless relied upon other evidence which, viewed reasonably, was capable of supporting its finding of a causal link between the workers’ breast cancers and workplace conditions.”
HSA news release. Supreme Court of Canada judgment, 24 June 2016 [pdf]. I-Politics. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Canada: Asbestos-related cancers cost billions
A first-ever estimate of the toll of asbestos-related cancers on Canadian society pegs the cost of new cases at $1.7-billion (£1bn) per year in Canada, and notes this is probably an under-estimate. The economic burden of lung cancer and mesothelioma from work-related asbestos exposure in Canada amounts to an average of Can$818,000 (£471,000) per case, according to a team led by health economist and senior scientist Dr Emile Tompa at the Toronto-based Institute for Work & Health.
The Globe and Mail. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

India: Lightning strikes leave 93 people dead
At least 93 people have been killed and more than 20 injured by lightning strikes in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Most of the people who died were working on farms during torrential rains on 21 June, reports said.
The Guardian. BBC News Online. The Atlantic. Ronald J Holle. Lightning-caused Deaths and Injuries Related to Agriculture, conference paper, April 2016. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

USA: 'Slow Down Law' passes after garbage worker killed
New York State has become the latest in the US to introduce a ‘slow down’ law to protect garbage workers. ‘Slow down’ laws already exists in 11 states: Virginia, Indiana, West Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Illinois, and have been introduced over the last decade in response to distracted driving that has led to sometimes fatal incidents for collection workers.
Press and Sun Bulletin. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Hazards news, 25 June 2016

Britain: Mapping out the union route to better safety
In a unionised workplace, one of the first things that you should consider is mapping the organisational and safety landscape, the TUC has said. The union body’s head of safety, Hugh Robertson, says mapping can identify the workplace union’s strengths and weaknesses and the hazards hurting the people doing the job, leaving the union better equipped to organise for safer, healthier work.
Get mapping, Hugh Robertson, Hazards, number 134, June 2016. Health and safety and organising - A guide for reps, TUC, 2016, available in pdf and e-book versions.
Also see Strength in numbers, Hugh Robertson, Hazards, number 133, March 2016. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: Union urges workers to speak up after mine death
Workers concerned about safety issues at a north-east England mine where a man lost his life should be confident to report them, Unite has said. John Anderson, 56, died in the early hours of 17 June following an “unprecedented” gas blow out at the Boulby potash mine owned by ICL UK.
Tom Blenkinsop MP statement. The Gazette and related story. BBC News Online. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: Unite slams public cash bonanza for blacklisters
Companies guilty of blacklisting workers because of their union and safety activities have enjoyed a share in a £1.5 billion of Scottish taxpayers’ money, a union has revealed. Unite Scotland revealed the cash bonanza enjoyed by blacklisters ahead of presenting evidence to the United Nations (UN) in Geneva on 15 June.
Unite news release. TUC Stronger Unions blog on the UK government’s isolation at the ILO. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: Teaching assistants face violence and threats routinely
Teaching assistants are routinely facing threats and violence from pupils and their parents, according to a new report from the union UNISON. School support staff blame shoddy disciplinary policies, staffing cuts and a lack of training for the abuse.
UNISON news release. UNISON guide: Managing Difficult Behaviour in Schools. Morning Star. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: Scots secondary teachers vote to take industrial action
Secondary teachers in Scotland are set to take industrial action over their ‘excessive’ workload. Members of the teaching union EIS voted overwhelmingly for a work to rule.
EIS news release. BBC News Online. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: Blunder exposes ScotRail's motives in safety dispute
Documents made public in error by ScotRail expose the union-bashing motive behind its dangerous plans for driver only operation (DOO) on the network, the rail union RMT has said. The cache of documents were included inadvertently as attachments to an email sent by Scotrail managing director Phil Verster.
RMT news release and copies of the inadvertently released Scotrail documents. Morning Star. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: Dossier exposes safety risks of axing train guards
The threat to safety on rail services from axing rail guards has been exposed in a new report from the union RMT. ‘Role of the guard – A dossier on the dangers of driver-only operation’, highlights ‘a catalogue of incidents’ where safety has been compromised on driver only operation (DOO) services as well as incidents where the presence of the guard has averted potential disaster.
 RMT news release and RMT dossier. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: Rail union calls for MPs probe over Southern services
The rail union RMT has called for a parliamentary inquiry after leaked documents revealed “that Rail Minister's officials are ordering GTR rail cancellations.” The revelation, coming as guards on the Southern rail system took industrial action over jobs and safety, “confirms suspicions that the chaos on the GTR franchise is being deliberately orchestrated as part of a policy to blame the staff and bulldoze through cuts to jobs and safety,” RMT said.
RMT news release. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Global: Long working hours hurt women most
Women who put in long hours for the bulk of their careers are at greater risk of life-threatening illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. Work weeks that averaged 60 hours or more over three decades may triple the risk of diabetes, cancer, heart trouble and arthritis for women, a 30-year study by researchers from Ohio State University has found.
Allard E Dembe and Xiaoxi Yao. Chronic disease risks from exposure to long-hour work schedules over a 32-year period, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, online ahead of print, June 2016.
OSU news release. TUC Touchstone blog. Science Daily.  New York Daily News. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: MPs expose injustice of employment tribunal fees
Workers who have suffered mistreatment at the hands of their employers are being “priced out” of access to justice, MPs have concluded. A report by the Commons justice committee has revealed a “precipitous drop” of 67 per cent in the number of employment tribunal cases after new fees were set in 2013.
Justice Select Committee news release. UNISON news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Morning Star. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: HMRC under fire over compensation cases backlog
Tax officials are breaching the human rights of bereaved spouses and the terminally ill by making them wait more than a year for essential employment records in work-related disease compensation claims. Lawyers say an average time of 383 days to retrieve historic work histories by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is denying claimants the right to pursue firms over sometimes terminal occupational diseases.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release. Daily Mail. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: Glasgow University ‘silenced’ fracking safety critic
The University of Glasgow has been accused of trying to silence one of its prominent professors after he questioned the safety of fracking. David Smythe, an emeritus professor of geophysics and a leading critic of the fracking industry, has had his university email address cancelled, and his access to scientific journals cut off.
The Ferret. David Smythe’s online discussion paper. The Extreme Energy Initiative, Human Rights Consortium, University of London. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: Firm fined £32,000 after driver was crushed to death
A haulage company with a turnover of over £2 million has been fined £32,000 after a horrific incident in which a driver was crushed to death when he was trapped between a runaway lorry cab and the back of a trailer. Immingham firm John Somerscales Ltd admitted failing to ensure the safety at work of its employees, including Graham Pearson, while they were uncoupling trailers at North Killingholme on or before 11 June 2013.
Grimsby Telegraph. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: Apprentice needed skin grafts after touching power line
A Scottish stonemasonry company been fined after an apprentice stonemason was seriously injured from contact with an overhead power line. Perth Sheriff Court heard how 20-year-old apprentice Rodd McFarlane was working for T&M Stonemasonry when he came into contact with overhead 240 volt electricity power lines.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: Firm and safety consultant fined over dermatitis case
A Hereford rubber sealant manufacturer and its safety adviser have been fined after a worker contracted allergic contact dermatitis. Hereford Magistrates’ Court heard how the TRP Polymer Solutions Limited employee contracted the skin disease after being exposed to sensitising ingredients in rubber compounds.
HSE news release and chemical safety webpages. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Britain: Action Mesothelioma Day, 1 July 2016
Now in its 10th year, Action Mesothelioma Day (AMD) is held on the first Friday in July, this year falling on Friday 1 July. Events to mark AMD 2016 have been organised nationwide by asbestos victims support groups.
Action Mesothelioma Day, 1 July 2016 events listing. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Australia: Tougher controls needed 'to prevent black lung'
Tougher coal dust monitoring standards in Australian mines are urgently needed to prevent miners from developing black lung, medical experts have warned. A clinical focus on the condition, published in the latest edition of Medical Journal of Australia and written by experts in chronic lung disease, warned Australian coal dust exposure limits are not meeting international standards and should be more stringent to eradicate black lung, or coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP).
Graeme R Zosky and others. Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis: an Australian perspective, Medical Journal of Australia, volume 204, number 11, pages 414-418, June 2016. Channel 9 News. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Europe: Proposals on endocrine disruptors criticised
Groups advocating for greater control over endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) – a range of common substances linked to cancer, reproductive and other adverse health effects – have said European Commission (EC) proposals “will do nothing to protect human health.” The proposed criteria on EDCs were announced on 16 June by EC Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, after three years of intense debate and industry lobbying which stalled progress.
Alliance for Cancer Prevention statement. EDC Free Europe Coalition statement. ChemSec news release. European Commission proposals, and full communication and related documentation. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

New Zealand: Unions welcome asbestos ban move
Unions have welcomed what they say is a long overdue move by the New Zealand government to ban imports of almost all asbestos-containing products. Sam Huggard, secretary of the national union federation CTU, said: “We are pleased that the changes we have been calling for, have now been, mostly, actioned.”
New Zealand government announcement. NZCTU news release. 7 News. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

Zimbabwe: No interest in operating asbestos mines
The Zimbabwe government’s hope that asbestos mining could be revived in the country have not been realised because there is little interest in the deadly product. Mines and Mining Development deputy minister, Fred Moyo, said: “We are not getting investors [for SMM] and it seems to be a big problem largely because the market for asbestos is not looking good.”
Financial Gazette. Risks 657. 25 June 2016

 

Hazards news, 18 June 2016

Britain: Safety rep reinstated after fire alarm firing
A high profile Unite campaign for the reinstatement of a Unite safety rep fired after raising concerns about non-functioning fire alarms has been successful. David Biddle, the chief executive of CGL, Birmingham’s leading substance abuse charity, received thousands of emails calling for Alison Morris’ reinstatement.
Unite news release. Unite for our Society website. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: Vets face ‘bleak future’ as stress hits numbers
Stress and long working hours are causing a retention problem in the veterinary profession, their union has warned. The British Veterinary Union (BVU), a part of the union Unite, says nearly 10 per cent of young vets are planning to leave the job as soon as possible.
Unite news release. BVU website. Morning Star. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: HSE site inspections show further decline
The number of ‘vital, unannounced, life-saving construction inspections’ undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) declined further last year, site union UCATT has said. Official figures obtained by the union show there were 9,219 preventive HSE site inspections in 2015/16 compared to 9,656 in 2014/15, a decrease of 4 per cent. UCATT news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: Tube overcrowding prospect is ‘truly terrifying’
A prediction parts of the London Underground will be ‘inoperable’ within 15 years because of dangerous levels of overcrowding has been described as ‘truly terrifying’ by the rail union RMT. The union leader was commenting after Miles Ashley, London Underground's programme director for construction, told an audience of engineering researchers at Imperial College London that passengers at up to 50 stations in Zone 1 of the Tube system would face conditions akin to four people crammed into a telephone box, making the system ‘inoperable’.
RMT news release. Sunday Times. London Evening Times. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: TSSA fears for staff safety if ticket offices go
Rail staff selling tickets on concourses could be a target for muggers if rail company Govia-Thameslink Railway (GTR) goes ahead with a massive programme of ticket office closures, the union TSSA has warned. Manuel Cortes, leader of the union for rail white collar staff, said: “We want assurances on staff safety when it comes to handling cash at busy times. We don't want our members to be vulnerable to potential muggers looking for cash, particularly in the evenings.”
TSSA news release. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: Retired moulder developed serious dust disease
A former moulder has been compensated after exposure to silica dust at work caused him to develop breathing problems. The Unite member was awarded an undisclosed settlement on a provisional damages basis so that his case could be reopened if he developed another chronic silica related condition, for example the debilitating lung scarring disease silicosis.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Peterborough Today. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: Blacklist campaigner highlights injustice
Only one person has been prosecuted for their criminal culpability in the blacklisting scandal, with not a single construction director behind the illegal operation having faced charges. However, Ian Kerr, the former head of the Consulting Association – the industry financed organisation that spied on union and safety activists and provided the information to major site firms – has now been joined by award-winning human rights campaigner Dave Smith, as the focus of a prosecution. Blacklist blog. Green Party news release. Morning Star.
Road block: How blocking roads has become a great way of making employers change direction, Dave Smith, Hazards, 2016. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: MPs to investigate high heels at work
A call for it to be made illegal for a company to compel women to wear high heels at work is to be investigated by MPs. Over 140,000 people signed a petition to the government calling for the move after temp worker Nicola Thorp, 27, was sent home without pay after refusing to change into high heels.
High heels forum. Petition - Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work. On twitter: #heelsatworkinquiry Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: ‘Worst gangmaster’ to pay for modern slavery
A British company has been found liable for the first time for victims of modern slavery. In a 10 June high court judgment, Justice Supperstone found in favour of six Lithuanian men who were trafficked to the UK and employed by the Kent-based gangmaster firm DJ Houghton Chicken Catching Services Ltd.
Leigh Day and Co news release. High Court judgment, 10 June 2016. The Guardian. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: Zoo fined after tiger kills worker
A British zoo has been fined for criminal health and safety offences after one of its employees was killed by a Sumatran tiger. Sarah McClay, 24, died at South Lakes Wild Animal Park – now known as South Lakes Safari Zoo – in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, after she was pounced on by the tiger on 24 May 2013. The tiger, which entered the keeper’s corridor of the zoo’s tiger house through an unlocked gate, left deep puncture wounds in Sarah McClay’s neck and body. She suffered ‘unsurvivable’ multiple injuries and was airlifted to hospital where she was formally pronounced dead (Risks 722). The zoo was fined £255,000 at Preston Crown Court. A £42,500 fine was also imposed for other health and safety law breaches relating to an incident where a zoo keeper fell from a ladder while preparing to feed big cats in July 2014. The zoo must also pay £150,000 prosecution costs over the next 10 years. The company, whose sole director David Gill founded the zoo, entered guilty pleas as a trial was about to commence. The prosecution offered no evidence against Mr Gill, 55, who had faced individual charges on the same allegations, but was formally acquitted. After the sentencing, Sarah McClay's mother Fiona, said: “We can't function yet with a member of our family missing, we have got to learn how to do that and we haven't got to that stage yet.”
Barrow Borough Council news release. The Independent. BBC News Online. North West Evening Mail. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

New Zealand: Zoo guilty after tiger kills worker
Hamilton City Council in New Zealand has pleaded guilty to safety charges relating to the death of zoo keeper Samantha Kudeweh, 43, who was mauled by a Sumatran tiger at a council-owned zoo on 20 September 2015.
Radio New Zealand. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: Death-linked firm fined after workers overcome by fumes
A food waste disposal and recycling firm has been fined £250,000 after three employees were overcome by toxic gases at an animal waste facility in Stoke-on-Trent. Driver William James, an employee of John Pointon and Sons Limited, was unloading carcasses from a truck during his night shift but was overcome by hydrogen sulphide – produced by the rotting carcasses – and a lack of oxygen, with two workers who came to his aid also affected.
HSE news release. Stoke Sentinel. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: Veolia fined £750,000 after bin lorry crushes worker
Leading environmental services firm Veolia has been fined £750,000 after a worker was crushed to death beneath the tailgate of a refuse collection vehicle. Richard Calsen, 25, suffered serious injuries and went into a cardiac arrest at welding firm John Fowler and Son at Abbey Mill near Chorley, Lancashire.
HSE news release and waste machinery webpages. Daily Mail. Sheffield Star. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: Work experience student crushed by vehicle
A motor vehicle repair company has been fined after a 27-year-old man on work experience was crushed to death by a vehicle. Muhammed Zohaib Yasin was watching another employee at Just Mercedes Limited carry out repair work on a Vauxhall Corsa.
HSE news release and vehicle safety webpages. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: BT fined £500,000 after engineer breaks his back
British Telecom plc (BT) has been convicted on criminal safety charges and fined £500,000 after an engineer fell seven metres from a loft in London, breaking his back and his ankles. The firm was criticised by the judge for trying to pass the blame to its employees.
HSE news release and fragile roofs webpages. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Canada: Union action on chemical sensitivity
A long-running campaign on multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) by Canadian public service union PSAC has seen the addition of a new video. In the workplace, PSAC has used human rights and disability laws to require employers to accommodate affected workers.
PSAC news release and video, Demystifying Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Europe: Glyphosate reauthorisation stalled
Strong mobilisation by a coalition of citizen groups including trade unions has succeeded in temporarily blocking renewed EU authorisation of glyphosate, the world's most widely-used herbicide and the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup. Food and farming global union IUF said the European Commission and national governments “are manoeuvring between pressure from the agrochemical lobby, organised in the Glyphosate Task Force, and a popular insurgency which shows no signs of going away.”
IUF news release. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Global: Welcome for ILO global supply chain action
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has set in motion a process unions hope could lead to a legal standard improving the lives of millions of workers in global supply chains. Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said: “Transparency, responsibility and accountability need to be associated with global supply chains, not unsafe, insecure low wage work.”
ITUC news release. ILO news release. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Hazards news, 11 June 2016

Britain: Widespread under-reporting of food sector injuries
More than six out of 10 workers in the food industry have been injured at work, but many of these injuries go unreported, a survey by the bakers’ union BFAWU has found. The study found 62 per cent of respondents had been injured at work however over a fifth (21 per cent) were not reported to management.
 Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Britain: Stressed-out midwives voice safety concerns
Midwife burn-out is leading to safety fears, according to a survey by the midwives’ union RCM. The union said over half (52 per cent) of midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) who responded to its survey ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ with the statement: ‘I am worried about making a mistake at work because I am exhausted.’   
RCM news release. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Britain: Figures confirm RMT platform safety warnings
A dramatic increase in the number of passengers falling into the platform gap at London Tube stations has confirmed union warnings linking falling staffing to increasing risks. The Transport for London figures, obtained in a Freedom of Information request, show that the number of passengers falling between the train and the platform has more than trebled in ten years, with rail union RMT laying the blame on dangerous overcrowding and the axing of safety-critical station staff.
RMT news release. London Evening Standard. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Europe: Unite condemns ‘dangerous’ helicopter stunt
Offshore union Unite has condemned a publicity stunt by four senior offshore helicopter safety and aviation chiefs as “offensive and dangerous”. The union was commenting after trade publication Energy Voice reported that Gilles Bruniaux, vice president of aviation safety for Airbus Helicopters; Gretchen Haskins, chief executive of HeliOffshore; Duncan Trapp, vice president of safety and quality for CHC Helicopters; and Les Linklater, Step Change in Safety executive director, all raised their hands to say they would fly on Super Puma H225 helicopters and would also allow their children to fly.
Unite news release. Energy Voice. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Britain: Drug testers ‘play judge and jury’ at work
Companies are misusing drug tests to “play judge and jury” over workers and to intimidate their staff, GMB reps have said. Delegates at the union’s annual congress called for companies to offer “proper training and support” on substance abuse and “not just sanction after sanction.”
Morning Star. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Britain: Undercover police spied on rail union activists
Research by the Blacklist Support Group (BSG) has revealed that an undercover police officer masqueraded as a union activist to spy on members of the rail union RMT. Photographic evidence unearthed by BSG secretary Dave Smith shows that in October 2004 Carlo Neri was present at a union protest following the sacking of the prominent union activist Steve Hedley at the Kings Cross terminal for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL).
RMT news release. Blacklist blog. Blacklist Support Group facebook page. Andrew Wiard photographs. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Britain: Asos staff blow the whistle on bullying bosses
Thousands of workers at a huge warehouse used by online retailer Asos are being subjected to a catalogue of abuse by their anti-union bosses, a Morning Star investigation has found. More than 4,000 employees of the hugely popular clothing retailer suffer regular body searches, are spied on by an increasing number of CCTV cameras, and some have been forced to urinate at water stations because toilets were a 15-minute walk away.
Morning Star. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

USA: Stroke severity could be worse for shiftworkers
Shiftwork may increase stroke severity by interfering with the body's internal clock, with men faring worst, new research suggests. Study co-author David Earnest, of the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, said: “A person on a shiftwork schedule, especially on rotating shifts, challenges or confuses their internal body clocks by having irregular sleep-wake patterns or meal times.”
David Earnest and others. Sex differences in the impact of shift work schedules on pathological outcomes in an animal model of ischemic stroke, Endocrinology, published online ahead of print, 2 June 2016. Medical News Today. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Britain: Firm fined £1 million for exploding tyre death
A Kent tyre company has been sentenced for criminal safety failings, over ten years after 21-year-old Matthew Hoare was killed when a tyre exploded. Canterbury Crown Court heard how Matthew, an employee of Sandwich-based Watling Tyre Service Limited, was repairing a puncture to the tyre of a ‘dresser loading shovel’ when it exploded on 27 January 2006.
HSE news release and tyre removal guide. Canterbury Times. Kent Online. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Britain: Scottish Power fined £1.75m after serious scalding
Scottish Power has been fined £1.75 million after a worker was seriously scalded at Longannet Power Station in Alloa, his injuries forcing him to give up his job. Dunfermline Sheriff Court heard how plant controller David Roscoe was engulfed by steam which escaped from a defective pipeline valve at the coal-fired power plant in October 2013.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages. Daily Record. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Britain: Man crushed to death in Christmas Eve tragedy
A Dumfries haulage company has been fined after the death of a man who was crushed by a failed hydraulic ramp on Christmas Eve two years ago. Ayr Sheriff Court heard how J & J Currie Limited employee Andrew Adams, 61, was delivering and offloading a vehicle from a trailer when one of the trailer hydraulic ramps failed to lower.
HSE news release and safe maintenance webpages. ITV News. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Britain: Worker crushed to death between two vehicles
A civil engineering and plant hire company in Derbyshire has been fined £300,000 after a worker was fatally crushed between two vehicles while refuelling. Derby Crown Court heard how 39-year-old Matthew Lambert was refuelling his road sweeper at the yard of Leedale Limited when a tipper lorry reversed into him.
HSE news release. Derby Telegraph. Ripley Today. Construction Enquirer. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Bangladesh: ‘Enforceability’ key to changing the garment industry
Three years after the creation of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, the landmark agreement is making significant headway, the global union for the sector has said. IndustriALL said the collapse of Rana Plaza garment factory on 24 April 2013, killing over 1,100 and injuring thousands more, brought an end to the tolerance of voluntary, non-transparent, non-enforceable factory inspections in Bangladesh.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Europe: Unions join forces in North Sea campaign
Global unions have linked up to develop a strategy to resist the assault by employers in the North Sea on decent, safe work. Maritime and oil and gas unions affiliated to IndustriALL and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) met in Aberdeen last month to agree a joint approach.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Global: Airport workers unite for justice and safety
Airport workers united across borders on 1 June, to deliver a highly critical message about the abuse of workers in the industry. Global unions represented workers in the sector said while airlines and airports are getting richer, their workers are being paid less, worked more, and are having their job security torn away.
UNI news release and Airports United report, Record profits for airlines; airport workers under pressure. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Korea: Malignant lymphoma recognised by government
In what has been described as an ‘unprecedented’ ruling, authorities in South Korea have recognised malignant lymphoma (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) as an occupational disease. The Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service (KCOMWEL) decision on 1 June 2016 approved workers’ compensation to Park Hyo-soon, a former Samsung Electronics Co Ltd employee who died of the blood disorder four years ago. Work cancer hazards blog. SHARPS news report. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Qatar: Eleven killed in labour camp fire
The deaths of 11 workers in a Qatar labour camp fire on 1 June 2016 is yet another example of the government’s complete disregard for the migrant workers building the huge infrastructure programme in the lead-up to the 2022 World Cup, global union ITUC has said. A further 12 workers were injured in the fire, which happened in a labour camp housing workers on the Salwa tourism development, which includes a 362-room Hilton Hotels resort.
ITUC news release. BWI news release. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Risks * Number 753 * 4 June 2016

Britain: Safety reps are our ‘secret weapon’
Health and safety reps are unions’ secret weapon against the government’s assault on workers’ rights, the TUC’s top safety official has said. Addressing the South West TUC’s May 2016 ‘health and safety and organising’ event in Bristol, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “Health and safety is a good organising issue because it is winnable, empowers workers and sends a strong message to the employer.”
TUC news report. Health and safety and organising - A guide for reps, TUC, March 2016, pdf and e-book versions. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: Fire and rescue reforms put the public at risk
The public and workers will be put at risk by planned government ‘reforms’ to fire and rescue services in England, UNISON has warned. MPs are currently considering a Police and Crime Bill, which would allow police and crime commissioners to take responsibility for fire and rescue services, among other measures.
UNISON news release. Reform news release and Theresa May’s Reform speech. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: More fatalities linked to London fire cuts
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) is failing to meet response time targets to more than half of all emergencies in the areas where ten fire stations were closed in 2014, new research has revealed. Firefighters’ union FBU said the news comes as it emerged there have been two more fatal fires at incidents in the capital where fires crews missed their target attendance time, making a total of eight deaths since the fire stations closed.
Lancaster University news release. FBU news release. Morning Star.
Benjamin Taylor. Spatial modelling of emergency service response times, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), published online ahead of print, 2016. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: More dangerous cuts to Scotland’s offshore sector
Job cuts in the oil sector are jeopardising safety and could mean there will be no viable North Sea oil industry within a decade, offshore unions have said. The warning came as Shell Oil cut another 475 jobs in a move Unite Scotland described as part of an industry-wide strategy to drive down terms and conditions under the cover of the oil price drop.
Unite news release. STUC news release. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: RMT tells Southern rail bosses to stop the pot shots
Rail union RMT has demanded sight of the personal sickness, pay and perks records of the top bosses running the “basket-case, rip-off Southern Rail franchise into the ground.” The union demand came after the company admitted it had come close to releasing the personal medical records of its frontline staff, which it had claimed were partly responsible the poor performance of Southern/GTR routes.
RMT news release. ITV News. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: Thomas Cook cabin crew vote to strike
Thomas Cook Airlines cabin crew have backed strike action by three-to-one in a dispute over health and safety concerns and ‘dangerous’ changes to rest breaks. Unite said it would be entering further talks with the company at the conciliation service Acas in a bid to resolve the dispute.
Unite news release. Travel Retail Business. BBC News Online. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: Prospect calls for tighter regulation of drones
A union has called for tighter regulation of drones to avert a potential disaster. A position paper from Prospect, which has 5,000 members working in aviation safety, has highlighted the risks of the increasing use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones.
Prospect news release. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: Hero lock keeper averts another tragedy
The quick response of a resident lock keeper at Abingdon has been critical to saving lives yet again, his union GMB has said. GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: “Having a lock keeper on site has saved countless lives and has done so for many years.”
GMB news release. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: Union victory on council sick pay
Birmingham City Council has confirmed that plans to cut back the sick pay rights of staff have been removed from proposed changes to their terms and conditions. The changes challenged by the union GMB included a proposal to withdraw from a nationally agreed sickness scheme, a move that would have meant workers at the council and in schools would lose pay for the first three days of any period of sickness and would have their sick pay entitlement reduced by half.
GMB news release. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: Poor training led to serious work injuries
A Unite member from Birmingham has received damages after suffering a crush injury to his hand and the partial amputation of his thumb because he didn’t have adequate safety training at work. At the time of the incident the 53-year-old worker, whose name has not been released, was working for Markem Haulage Limited delivering cement to locations across the West Midlands.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: Former steel rigger get pleural thickening payout
A Unite member who developed diffuse pleural thickening as a result of exposure to asbestos at work has received an undisclosed payout. The former steel rigger, who was never provided with protective equipment or told about the dangers of working with asbestos, started to suffer from shortness of breath and panic attacks in 2011, at which point he visited his doctor who arranged for him to have a scan on his lungs.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: HSE ‘accelerates’ push for private work
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is recruiting a £100,000-a-year commercial director to greatly ‘accelerate’ its shift to more money-spinning private activities. The renewed focus on commercial activities will inevitably heighten concerns about HSE’s commitment to its inspection and regulatory functions, with an additional fear resources may be diverted from these already under-pressure activities.
HSE job alert and commercial director job description. HSE business plan 2016/17. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: Lone Ladbrokes staff face horrific risks
Betting firm Ladbrokes has been accused of putting “profits before lives” after one lone worker was killed and a second was raped, the Mirror has reported. Former head of health and safety Bill Bennett, who the paper says has turned whistleblower, alleged: “Ladbrokes chose to prioritise profit over the health and safety of its employees.”
The Mirror. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: BT fined for two falls on one job on one day
British Telecommunications plc has been fined after two of its employees were seriously injured in falls on the same job on the same day. CWU national safety officer Dave Joyce commented: “This is damning example of what can happen when managers fail to manage and monitor the health and safety of the workforce through careful attention to law and the company’s own health and safety standards and rules.”
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: Road worker death prompts HSE warning to HGV drivers
Lives are being put at risk because HGV drivers are not following basic safety procedures when coupling and uncoupling vehicles, the Health and Safety Executive has warned. The workplace health and safety regulator urged drivers to apply parking brakes and use or retrofit warning alarms to avoid a repeat of an incident in January 2015 when a 20-year-old road worker died.
HSE news release and guidance of vehicle coupling. Construction Enquirer. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Europe: New covenant on work cancer prevention
A promise by the Dutch government to take action on occupational cancer during its presidency of the European Council has resulted in a cancer covenant, committing signatories to prevent or reduce exposures to carcinogens. The covenant runs until the end of 2019, and is signed by the Dutch and Austrian governments, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Business Europe, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and the European Commission.
Dutch Focal Point for Safety and Health at Work news release. Commissioner Thyssen’s conference speech. Roadmap on Carcinogens. Introductory video to the Roadmap. ETUC news release. EU-OSHA news release. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

USA: Report exposes brutality of slaughterhouse jobs
The meat and poultry industry in the US remains exceptionally dangerous, despite a decline in reported injuries and illnesses over the past 10 years, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The report notes that working conditions in the industry have not improved substantially since the GAO examined the industry in 2005, with under-reporting of injuries a major problem.
Additional data needed to address continued hazards in the meat and poultry industry, GAO, 2016. NELP news release. In These Times. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

USA: Unions win safer jobs for working people
For centuries, unions have been at the forefront of fighting for and winning safer protections for working people, US union federation AFL-CIO has said: “Unions are critical in the push for stronger safety and health protections and to keep the protections workers have - making sure that profits are not put ahead of working people’s right to provide for their families and return home alive, in one piece and not burdened with lifelong illness. Unions will keep winning for working people.”
AFL-CIO Now blog. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Hazards news, 4 June 2016

Britain: Safety reps are our ‘secret weapon’
Health and safety reps are unions’ secret weapon against the government’s assault on workers’ rights, the TUC’s top safety official has said. Addressing the South West TUC’s May 2016 ‘health and safety and organising’ event in Bristol, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “Health and safety is a good organising issue because it is winnable, empowers workers and sends a strong message to the employer.”
TUC news report. Health and safety and organising - A guide for reps, TUC, March 2016, pdf and e-book versions. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: Fire and rescue reforms put the public at risk
The public and workers will be put at risk by planned government ‘reforms’ to fire and rescue services in England, UNISON has warned. MPs are currently considering a Police and Crime Bill, which would allow police and crime commissioners to take responsibility for fire and rescue services, among other measures.
UNISON news release. Reform news release and Theresa May’s Reform speech. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: More fatalities linked to London fire cuts
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) is failing to meet response time targets to more than half of all emergencies in the areas where ten fire stations were closed in 2014, new research has revealed. Firefighters’ union FBU said the news comes as it emerged there have been two more fatal fires at incidents in the capital where fires crews missed their target attendance time, making a total of eight deaths since the fire stations closed.
Lancaster University news release. FBU news release. Morning Star.
Benjamin Taylor. Spatial modelling of emergency service response times, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), published online ahead of print, 2016. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: More dangerous cuts to Scotland’s offshore sector
Job cuts in the oil sector are jeopardising safety and could mean there will be no viable North Sea oil industry within a decade, offshore unions have said. The warning came as Shell Oil cut another 475 jobs in a move Unite Scotland described as part of an industry-wide strategy to drive down terms and conditions under the cover of the oil price drop.
Unite news release. STUC news release. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: RMT tells Southern rail bosses to stop the pot shots
Rail union RMT has demanded sight of the personal sickness, pay and perks records of the top bosses running the “basket-case, rip-off Southern Rail franchise into the ground.” The union demand came after the company admitted it had come close to releasing the personal medical records of its frontline staff, which it had claimed were partly responsible the poor performance of Southern/GTR routes.
RMT news release. ITV News. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: Thomas Cook cabin crew vote to strike
Thomas Cook Airlines cabin crew have backed strike action by three-to-one in a dispute over health and safety concerns and ‘dangerous’ changes to rest breaks. Unite said it would be entering further talks with the company at the conciliation service Acas in a bid to resolve the dispute.
Unite news release. Travel Retail Business. BBC News Online. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: Prospect calls for tighter regulation of drones
A union has called for tighter regulation of drones to avert a potential disaster. A position paper from Prospect, which has 5,000 members working in aviation safety, has highlighted the risks of the increasing use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones.
Prospect news release. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: Hero lock keeper averts another tragedy
The quick response of a resident lock keeper at Abingdon has been critical to saving lives yet again, his union GMB has said. GMB national officer Justin Bowden said: “Having a lock keeper on site has saved countless lives and has done so for many years.”
GMB news release. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: Union victory on council sick pay
Birmingham City Council has confirmed that plans to cut back the sick pay rights of staff have been removed from proposed changes to their terms and conditions. The changes challenged by the union GMB included a proposal to withdraw from a nationally agreed sickness scheme, a move that would have meant workers at the council and in schools would lose pay for the first three days of any period of sickness and would have their sick pay entitlement reduced by half.
GMB news release. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: Poor training led to serious work injuries
A Unite member from Birmingham has received damages after suffering a crush injury to his hand and the partial amputation of his thumb because he didn’t have adequate safety training at work. At the time of the incident the 53-year-old worker, whose name has not been released, was working for Markem Haulage Limited delivering cement to locations across the West Midlands.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: Former steel rigger get pleural thickening payout
A Unite member who developed diffuse pleural thickening as a result of exposure to asbestos at work has received an undisclosed payout. The former steel rigger, who was never provided with protective equipment or told about the dangers of working with asbestos, started to suffer from shortness of breath and panic attacks in 2011, at which point he visited his doctor who arranged for him to have a scan on his lungs. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: HSE ‘accelerates’ push for private work
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is recruiting a £100,000-a-year commercial director to greatly ‘accelerate’ its shift to more money-spinning private activities. The renewed focus on commercial activities will inevitably heighten concerns about HSE’s commitment to its inspection and regulatory functions, with an additional fear resources may be diverted from these already under-pressure activities.
HSE job alert and commercial director job description. HSE business plan 2016/17. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: Lone Ladbrokes staff face horrific risks
Betting firm Ladbrokes has been accused of putting “profits before lives” after one lone worker was killed and a second was raped, the Mirror has reported. Former head of health and safety Bill Bennett, who the paper says has turned whistleblower, alleged: “Ladbrokes chose to prioritise profit over the health and safety of its employees.”
The Mirror. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: BT fined for two falls on one job on one day
British Telecommunications plc has been fined after two of its employees were seriously injured in falls on the same job on the same day. CWU national safety officer Dave Joyce commented: “This is damning example of what can happen when managers fail to manage and monitor the health and safety of the workforce through careful attention to law and the company’s own health and safety standards and rules.”
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: Road worker death prompts HSE warning to HGV drivers
Lives are being put at risk because HGV drivers are not following basic safety procedures when coupling and uncoupling vehicles, the Health and Safety Executive has warned. The workplace health and safety regulator urged drivers to apply parking brakes and use or retrofit warning alarms to avoid a repeat of an incident in January 2015 when a 20-year-old road worker died.
HSE news release and guidance of vehicle coupling. Construction Enquirer. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Europe: New covenant on work cancer prevention
A promise by the Dutch government to take action on occupational cancer during its presidency of the European Council has resulted in a cancer covenant, committing signatories to prevent or reduce exposures to carcinogens. The covenant runs until the end of 2019, and is signed by the Dutch and Austrian governments, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Business Europe, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and the European Commission.
Dutch Focal Point for Safety and Health at Work news release. Commissioner Thyssen’s conference speech. Roadmap on Carcinogens. Introductory video to the Roadmap. ETUC news release. EU-OSHA news release. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

USA: Report exposes brutality of slaughterhouse jobs
The meat and poultry industry in the US remains exceptionally dangerous, despite a decline in reported injuries and illnesses over the past 10 years, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. The report notes that working conditions in the industry have not improved substantially since the GAO examined the industry in 2005, with under-reporting of injuries a major problem.
Additional data needed to address continued hazards in the meat and poultry industry, GAO, 2016. NELP news release. In These Times. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

USA: Unions win safer jobs for working people
For centuries, unions have been at the forefront of fighting for and winning safer protections for working people, US union federation AFL-CIO has said: “Unions are critical in the push for stronger safety and health protections and to keep the protections workers have - making sure that profits are not put ahead of working people’s right to provide for their families and return home alive, in one piece and not burdened with lifelong illness. Unions will keep winning for working people.”
AFL-CIO Now blog. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Hazards news, 28 May 2016

Britain: Time to get rid of asbestos, says TUC
It is time to get rid of asbestos for good, the TUC has said. It has published a new guide for workplace representatives on how to negotiate “to get rid of this killer dust once and for all,” adding “there is a need to ensure that all workplaces have a programme of identifying, managing and safely removing and disposing of all asbestos.”
Asbestos – a time to get rid of it. A guide for workplace union reps. Cancer hazards blog. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Britain: Site workers call for mandatory asbestos surveys
Social housing landlords should have a “legal duty” to undertake asbestos surveys and should give the results to tenants and maintenance workers, the construction union UCATT has affirmed. A conference motion commits the union to “name, shame and publicise councils, housing associations and private contractors involved in exposing UCATT members to asbestos.”
Morning Star. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Britain: Fire shows life-saving role of rail guards
The swift action of a train guard in evacuating passengers after an engine fire has been praised by the union RMT. It was the train guard who got passengers safely off the service, something the union says was acknowledged by Network Rail in tweets that were later deleted.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Get Reading. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Britain: Scotrail action threat over driver only trains
Rail union RMT is balloting guards across Scotrail for industrial action over the extension of Driver Only Operation (DOO) and Driver Controlled Operation (DCO) on the franchise. The union says it has made it clear its total opposition to any proposals for extending DOO, reducing or abolishing the safety role of the conductor and reducing or abolishing the role of the conductor in operation of train doors.
RMT news release. Dumbarton Reporter. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Britain: Lessons must be learnt following firefighter’s death
Firefighters’ union FBU is calling for lessons to be learnt after an inquest jury concluded that Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) firefighter and FBU member Stephen Hunt, 38, died as a result of ‘unlawful killing’. Les Skarratts, FBU regional secretary in the North West, said: “There have been too many firefighter fatalities, 14 in all, from 2004 to 2013, more than double than the previous decade.”
FBU news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Morning Star. Manchester Evening News. Bury Times. BBC News Online. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Britain: GMB condemns ‘CIPD’ inaction on blacklisting
Serious and possibly criminal misbehaviour by top human resources managers involved in the blacklisting of construction workers has been met with a “disappointing” response from their professional body CIPD, the union GMB has said. GMB says it wrote to CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese as long ago as 18 October 2013, listing 37 senior HR professionals and other executives from the construction industry involved in the blacklisting scandal.
GMB news release. CIPD news release. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Britain: Pilots welcome promise of a drone safety law
The pilots’ union BALPA has welcomed the announcement in the Queen’s Speech that the government will introduce new regulations on drones in a forthcoming Modern Transport Bill. Background notes to the speech said included in the new law would be measures to “put the UK at the forefront of safe technology in the autonomous vehicles industry, such as drones, and spaceplanes.”
BALPA news release. Queen’s speech 2016 and background briefing notes. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Britain: Dog owner fined after postal worker is maimed
An irresponsible dog owner has been fined almost £9,000 after allowing his out of control dog to bite off the tips of a Romford postwoman’s fingers. CWU member Claire Offord had only been on post deliveries for five months when on the 23 February this year her hand was seized by the dog as she pushed mail through its owner’s front door letterbox in Romford.
Union Safety website. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Britain: Royal Mail fined after truck crushes foot
The Royal Mail Group Limited has been fined £50,000 after a worker’s foot was run over by a 4-tonne forklift truck in a warehouse. CWU said mandatory protective footwear had been ordered but hadn't been received after a mix up.
HSE news release. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Britain: HSE discovers widespread NHS needlesticks risk
Most healthcare establishments visited in a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection blitz were in breach of the law on needlesticks safety, with nearly half the subject of formal enforcement action. HSE found health and safety breaches in 90 per cent of organisations visited, with 83 per cent of organisations failing to fully comply with the sharps regulations
Summary report, Prevention and management of sharps injuries: Inspection of NHS organisations, HSE Sharps Inspection Initiative 2015/16 and sharps injuries webpages. UNISON news release. Safer Needles Network. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Britain: Six figure vibration fine for pipe maker
A pipe manufacturing company based in Newport has been fined for criminal safety failings after seven reported cases of vibration-related hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) or carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurred at the firm between April 2014 and July 2015. Newport Crown Court heard that employees of Asset International Limited used vibrating tools without proper training or practical controls to reduce vibration risk.
HSE news release and vibration disease webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Britain: Firms fined after fall from ledge
A window fitting company and the principal contractor at a construction site have been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker fell three metres while installing glazed units. Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court heard how on 4 November 2014 an employee of GFT Frames Limited (GFT) was installing glazed units in a block of flats on a construction site in Bournemouth where Parsons and Joyce Contractors Limited (P&J) was the principal contractor.
HSE news release. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Britain: Crystal company sentenced over finger loss
A Cumbrian lead crystal manufacturer has been fined after an employee suffered a serious hand injury while using machinery. Laura Ponsford, who was 21 at the time of the incident in February last year, had the middle finger of her right hand torn off while operating a drill to widen the neck of a glass bottle at Greatdale Ltd - trading as Cumbria Crystal.
HSE news release and machinery safety guide. North-West Evening Mail. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Europe: Chrome standard accepts 1-in-10 cancer risk
An Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL) from chromium VI proposed by the European Commission has been set at a level it knows will see 1-in-10 exposed at that level develop occupational cancer. The proposed limit of 25 micrograms per cubic metre of air (μg/m3) would “render fatal lung cancer in every tenth worker over a working-life exposure”, said the non-governmental chemical safety group ChemSec.
Cancer hazards blog. ChemSec news release. ECHA chromium VI entry. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

India: Quartz workers breathe the dust of death
For impoverished migrant workers in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, the quartz crushing industry of Godhra provides an escape from debt. It also generates clouds of white dust, crystalline silica, the cause of the incurable occupational lung disease, silicosis.
Indian Express. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

USA: Mine deaths boss now in a California prison
The boss of a deadly coal mine in West Virginia has surrendered to federal authorities at a California prison to begin serving a one-year sentence. Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship reported to the Taft federal prison north of Los Angeles, after a court flatly turned down his bid to remain free while he appeals his conviction on charges of conspiracy to violate federal mine safety standards over a more than two-year period before the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.
West Virginia Gazette. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

Hazards news, 21 May 2016

Britain: Nudging in the right direction – just not here
The TUC has been openly critical of the UK government’s attachment to “nudge theory”, which it believes is part-and-parcel of David Cameron’s ineffective, ideologically driven ‘anything but rules’ agenda. But the TUC says if the UK authorities want to nudge employers into safer and healthier behaviour, the US safety regulator OSHA is showing it the way to go, with a new rule that will see the accident reports of high risk firms posted on OSHA’s website.
OSHA news release and final rule. US Department of Labor blog. TUC Stronger Unions blog. AFL-CIO statement. The Pump Handle. The Guardian. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

USA: Injury reporting rule gives employers a nudge
The US government’s safety regulator, OSHA, has introduced a new rule requiring employers in high-hazard industries to send OSHA the injury and illness data they are already required to collect, to be posted on the agency’s website. OSHA believes that public disclosure of work injury data will encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.
OSHA news release and final rule. US Department of Labor blog. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Brexit equals 1m more working too long
One million more employees are at high risk of being forced to work excessive hours if the UK votes to leave the EU, a TUC analysis of official figures has found. Working time protections have been targeted openly by Brexit campaigners who claim it is ‘red tape’ that should be scrapped.
TUC news release. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Ambulance ballot on dangerous work hours
UNISON has informed the East of England Ambulance Service it is to ballot frontline ambulance staff over possible strike action concerning management’s failure to tackle the problem of excessive working hours and lack of sufficient breaks. The union is seeking a 45-minute meal break, a 20-minute additional break later in the shift, and for crews to be able to return to base at the end of their shift and only be asked to attend the highest category of calls while en route.
UNISON news release and video. Morning Star. NHE Magazine. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Soaring site stress and mental illness
Mental health problems linked to the job is blighting the construction sector, a UCATT survey has found. The union found 64 per cent of members responding to the survey said they are suffering from stress and a ‘huge’ 76 per cent said they had at some point suffered stress at work.
UCATT news release. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Lorry driver loses her job after arm crushing
A delivery driver who suffered a crush injury to her hand and arm when she was struck by a lorry had to give up her job as a result. Unite member Helen Waycott was in a busy depot in Hemel Hempstead when she was injured, developing complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a debilitating condition that causes pain in areas of the body damaged by injury.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Community concerns over ‘deteriorating’ prison safety
The justice services trade union, Community, has called for more government action in response to a report by MPs that concluded prison safety is ‘deteriorating’. The union, which represents the majority of private sector prison officers, is calling for contractors and the government to implement a ‘Safe Operating Solutions Charter’. Community news release. House of Commons Justice Select Committee report on prison safety, 16 May 2016 and committee news release. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Women and protective equipment - one size doesn’t fit all
Specialists’ union Prospect and TUC are among the organisations behind a new initiative to discover issues arising from provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to women at work. “We are keen to learn whether the provision of PPE for women has improved in recent years; to identify good practice and to highlight any continuing areas of concern,” they say.
Women’s PPE survey: Does one size fit all? The closing date is 3 June. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: First year ever without a railworker death
For the first time since the advent of rail travel a year has passed without a railway worker losing his or her life. Mick Whelan, general secretary of train drivers’ union ASLEF, said the no fatalities precedent was “fantastic news,” adding “this safety record has been achieved with the active participation of trades unions following historic disasters on the railways.”
ORR news release. ASLEF news release. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Dressing down for high heels required firm
A firm’s decision to send home a London receptionist after she refused to wear high heels has attracted widespread criticism. TUC women’s equality officer, Scarlet Harris, commented: “From a health and safety perspective, heels are bad for feet, joints and back,” adding: “The TUC even has an excellent guide on footwear at work which states unequivocally that dress codes which require women to wear heels are sexist – it’s not often you find a health and safety guide for reps calling out sexism.”
TUC Touchstone blog. Working feet and footwear, TUC guide. More on the hazards of standing at work. Background: Linder M and Salzman CL. A history of medical scientists and high heels, International Journal of Health Services, volume 28, number 2, pages 201-225, 1998. BBC News Online and BBC News Magazine.
Sign the petition: Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Bosses tried to ‘pervert’ justice over blacklisting role
Victims of a construction industry blacklist who have been awarded a £75m out-of-court compensation settlement are to demand a police investigation into evidence key executives tried to pervert the course of justice. Evidence disclosed before the settlement has led many of the victims to claim that there was an illegal attempt by executives at Sir Robert McAlpine to destroy evidence and cover up the involvement of key individuals when the blacklisting was discovered in 2009.
The Guardian. Red Pepper. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Is this man really fit for work?
A partially paralysed man with part of his head missing has been told he is fit for work by the government. As a result of the Work Capability Assessment for DWP by a private contractor, Kenny Bailey has lost £156 per fortnight, and will now have to survive on £470 every four weeks, his Personal Independence Payment.
The Mirror. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Global: Too much dust disease, too little action
The contribution of exposures to dust and fumes at work to a major lung disease killer is higher than previously estimated, top occupational health researchers have warned. They add that the idea that some exposures at work are ‘nuisance dust’ suggests widespread complacency about the occupational risks of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the bronchitis and emphysema linked to thousands of work-related deaths in the UK alone each year.
Paul D Blanc and Kjell Torén, Editorial. COPD and occupation: resetting the agenda, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 73, pages 357-358, June 2016 [abstract].
Resources: TUC dust in the workplace guide [pdf]. Dust up! If you want to breathe easy at work, be a nuisance on dust, Hazards magazine. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Plastics boss dodges jail for worker’s death
A plastics factory owner from Cambridgeshire has been fined and given a 15 month suspended jail term after a young worker died when she was crushed by printing machinery. Peterborough Crown Court heard how Zydre Groblyte, a 23-year-old agency worker from Lithuania, was working in a print room for Gordon Leach, who trades as RGE Engineering Company.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages. Cambridge News. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Lying businessman jailed for manslaughter
A businessman who ‘exploited’ an epileptic former soldier to work on unsafe scaffolding has been jailed for 40 months for manslaughter. Anthony Minehan, 63, refused to call an ambulance when Steven Weedon, 33, plunged from a ‘considerable distance’ and sustained serious injuries at the defendant’s home in Southport on 26 March 2014.
Liverpool Echo. ITV News. BBC News Online. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Sickness absence and disability discrimination guide
‘Sickness absence and disability discrimination’, a TUC guide for union reps, seeks to increase understanding of the law and its limitations. The guide has been updated to take account of recent legal precedents.
TUC publication notice and guide, Sickness absence and disability discrimination, 2016. 21 May 2016

Global: Unions call on EU to halt glyphosate approval
Plantation and farming unions in six African countries - Cameroon, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria and Zambia - have lent their support to the campaign to halt glyphosate reauthorisation in the European Union. In communications to EU heads of state and the relevant EU authorities, the unions have pointed to the risks from agrochemicals their members confront on a daily basis, often in situations where there is no protective clothing, no proper chemical labelling, no training and no labour inspection.
IUF news release and ban glyphosate campaign. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

South Africa: Gold miners can sue over deadly silicosis
Former gold miners in South Africa can go ahead with a class action against mining companies over health damage they believe was caused by exposure to silica at work, a court in Johannesburg has ruled. The high court decision paves the way for what would become the largest class action in South African history.
COSATU news release. BBC News Online. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

USA: Toilet breaks blocked by chicken firms
Workers in America’s poultry plants are being routinely denied bathroom breaks, research by Oxfam America has found. Its report, ‘No relief’, is based on months of research and exposes how poultry workers are forced “to urinate and defecate while standing on the line; they wear diapers [nappies] to work; they restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees; they endure pain and discomfort while they worry about their health and job security.”
Oxfam America news release and report, No relief: Denial of bathroom breaks in the poultry industry, May 2015. Washington Post. Bloomberg. Fox News. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

USA: Unions essential to public health
Any decline in union power is a threat to public health, according to a paper in the latest edition of the American Journal of Public Health. Mike Wright, director of health and safety with the steelworkers’ union USW, notes that as well is improving workplace health and safety, unions negotiate better working conditions and access to health care, improve pay rates and benefits, protect workers from discrimination and unfair treatment and press for measures to reduce the environmental impact of production. Michael J Wright. The decline of American unions is a threat to public health, American Journal of Public Health, volume 106, number 6, pages 968-969, June 2016. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Hazards news, 14 May 2016

Britain: Blacklisting firms face a £75m bill
Eight of the country’s biggest construction firms have agreed to pay an estimated £50m in compensation to blacklisted workers, equating to an average payout of £65,000 to each of the 771 workers. Some of the agreed payments to workers victimised for their union and safety activities are thought to be in excess of 200,000, with the firms also stumping up an estimated £25m in costs.
Unite news release. GMB news release. UCATT news release. Construction Enquirer. The Guardian. Personnel Today. BBC News Online. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Britain: Fearful prison officers refuse work at Wormwood Scrubs
Prison staff at Wormwood Scrubs jail staged a 6 May work refusal over health and safety concerns. The union POA said its members had “individually chosen” not to enter the prison “as they have fears for their health and safety.”
POA news release. TUC news release. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Britain: Thomas Cook cabin crew stand up for a break
Over 1,000 Thomas Cook airlines cabin crew are being balloted for industrial action in a dispute over health and safety concerns and ‘dangerous’ changes to rest breaks. If the changes go ahead, Unite members would be allowed just a single 20 minute break during an 11 hour 59 minute duty period.
Unite news release. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Britain: Campaign hots up to save sacked safety rep
The leader of a Birmingham drug and alcohol charity, which sacked Unite health and safety rep Alison Morris for raising concerns with her manager over fire safety, has been deluged with calls for her reinstatement. Unite says David Biddle, the chief executive of CGL, the city’s leading substance abuse charity, has received nearly 3,000 emails supporting Alison Morris’ reinstatement.
Unite news release. Morning Star. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

USA: Pesticides linked to deadly nerve disease
Exposure to pesticides could affect the chances that a person will develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, new research has found. There is no cure for this rapidly progressive motor neuron disease, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Feng-Chiao Su and others. Association of environmental toxins with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, JAMA Neurology, published online first, 9 May 2016.
Jacquelyn J Cragg, Merit E Cudkowicz, Marc G Weisskopf, Editorial: The role of environmental toxins in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Risk, JAMA Neurology, published online first, 9 May 2016. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Global: Unfairness at work can be bad for your health
Employees’ experiences of fairness at work can impact on their health, according to a new study involving the University of East Anglia (UEA). The researchers investigated whether perceptions of what they call ‘procedural justice’, and found that when perceptions of fairness changed, the self-rated health of employees also changed, with those who experienced more fairness on average over the period studied reported better health.
UEA news release. Constanze Leineweber, Constanze Eib, Paraskevi Peristera, and Claudia Bernhard-Oettel. The influence of procedural justice and change in procedural justice on self-rated health trajectories: Results from the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health, Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, published online first, May 2016. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Britain: Low wages are an occupational health hazard
Low wages should be recognised as a genuine occupational health threat, US researchers have concluded. “Workers earning low wages may be at greater risk for disease and injury than workers earning high wages,” note J Paul Leigh and Roberto De Vogli of the University of California Davis School of Medicine in an editorial in the May edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, adding that low wages should be considered among the psychosocial factors - such as long work hours and high job strain - identified as occupational risks to health.
J Paul Leigh and Roberto De Vogli.  Editorial: Low wages as occupational health hazards, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 58, issue 5, pages 444–447, May 2016. Science Daily.  Low blow: Low paid work comes with high work risks, Hazards, October-December 2014. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Britain: Sluggish HMRC is hurting work disease victims
People suffering life threatening work-related diseases including occupational cancers are facing potentially disastrous delays of a year to receive their employment records from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), a top law firm has said. Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who have written to HMRC urging it to speed the system up, say the backlog is denying work disease victims compensation at the time they need it and in some cases resulting in denial of compensation completely.
Irwin Mitchell news release. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Britain: Balfour Beatty fined £2.6m for trench fatality
A construction giant has been fined £2.6 million after an employee was killed when the unshored trench he was working in collapsed on him. James Sim, 32, a sub-contractor working on behalf of Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Limited and was laying ducting for new cable for an offshore windfarm that was being built off the coast at Heysham, Lancashire.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Britain: Worker killed in ‘obviously foreseeable’ fall
A Birmingham maintenance company has been fined £100,000 after 25-year-old Edward Beggs died as a result of falling from the roof of a five-storey building. Birmingham Crown Court heard how H20 Plumbing Services Limited was contracted to carry out repairs to two motor rooms situated on the roof of a building on Hagley Road, Birmingham.
HSE news release and work at heights webpages. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Britain: Cargo firm fined for agency worker’s injuries
A Suffolk cargo handling company has been fined £100,000 after an agency worker suffered serious injuries when a sheet of marble weighing one tonne fell on him. Ipswich Crown Court heard how an employee of Extreme Handling Limited was working at GMA Warehousing and Transport Limited’s Felixstowe site.
HSE news release and forklift webpages. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Britain: Frozen food giant McCain fined after arm horror
Frozen food manufacturer McCain Foods, a company reporting a pre-tax profit of nearly £64m, has been fined £800,000 for its criminal safety failings after an employee nearly lost his arm in a poorly guarded machine. Peterborough Crown Court heard how the arm of the 34-year-old employee became entangled in the machinery and was almost severed.
HSE news release and machinery safety webpages. Wisbech Standard. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Britain: Work stress conference, 19-20 November, Birmingham
The UK Work Stress Network’s 2016 conference will place from Saturday 19 November to Sunday 20 November in Rednal, Birmingham. This year’s theme is ‘Mental health in the workplace – tackling work stress in a changing working environment.’
UK Work Stress Network: Conference details and booking form. Book and pay in full before September and you’ll qualify for a 10 per cent early bird discount. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Europe: Global union slams EC on chemical risks
Voting in the European Parliament, public opinion and credible, independent scientific research appear increasingly irrelevant to the European Commission (EC) when it comes to the protection of public health and the environment, the global farm and food union has charged. Citing the case of the pesticide glyphosate, Peter Rossman of the plough-to-plate union federation IUF said despite 100,000 workers dying each year in the EU from work-related cancers, “we are experiencing a generalised retreat from regulation.”
Social Europe. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Europe: Unions claim ‘cancer victory’ for workers
The European Commission has announced new ‘binding occupational exposure limits’ for 13 cancer-causing substances in a move the Europe-wide union body ETUC has called a ‘cancer victory’ for workers.
ETUC news release. More on the debate about a new silica standard. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

USA: Nursing now one of riskiest jobs
Nursing now ranks as one of the riskiest jobs in the US, with the highest rate of non-fatal occupational injuries, the president of the American Nurses Association (ANA) has indicated. Writing in the US government’s ‘Safe Healthcare’ blog, Pamela F Cipriano said the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ figures reveal h ow “nurses face painful musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from manually lifting and moving patients, they suffer from approximately half of all needlestick injuries, nearly 1 in 4 have been physically assaulted, and half have been bullied at work.”
CDC Safe Healthcare blog. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Hazards news, 7 May 2016

Britain: UCATT slams ‘derisory’ HSE site inspections
A ‘shocking’ decline in the number of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) construction inspectors is leaving many potentially deadly sites ‘effectively unmonitored for safety’, UCATT has warned. It says “the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) monitoring of this gargantuan, vital and highly dangerous industry is done by a mere 132 individuals… it was 141 in 2011/12.”
UCATT news release. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Unions stand up against safety attack
Attempts by Conservative ministers and unscrupulous firms to dilute or circumvent health and safety legislation must be resisted, Unite has said. Unite regional secretary for the south east Jennie Formby, speaking on 28 April – International Workers’ Memorial Day - said: “Tory ministers driven by ideology, coupled with unscrupulous bosses trying to circumvent the regulations, are putting the lives of workers at risk.”
Unite news release. ITUC news release. HSE news release.
TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. ITUC/Hazards global events listing and resources. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Warning on dangers of changing offshore shift patterns New offshore work patterns could make the already hazardous work more dangerous and must not be imposed on workers, a coalition of unions has warned. The Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG) was speaking out on the publication of its report, ‘Safety critical offshore workers in the UK oil and gas sector: Hours, shifts and schedules’, commissioned from the Scottish Centre for Employment Research (SCER) at Strathclyde University.
STUC news release. Safety Critical Offshore Workers in the UK Oil and Gas Sector: Hours, Shifts and Schedules, OCG, 2016. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Blacklisting firms pay out millions in compensation
Hundreds of workers blacklisted by Britain’s biggest construction firms in an illegal conspiracy have won compensation following a long-running lawsuit. The out of court settlement was reached by lawyers acting for the Blacklist Support Group and the unions GMB and UCATT and brings to more than 600 the number of workers who have received compensation after their names appeared on the construction industry financed and run Consulting Association blacklist.
GMB news release. UCATT news release. Blacklist blog. BWI news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. Morning Star. The Mirror. Blacklist Support Group facebook page. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: High Court ‘blacklisting’ trial adjourned
A High Court trial involving outstanding blacklisting compensation claims against major construction firms has been adjourned until 9 June. Unite director of legal services Howard Beckett said: “Unite still represents about 90 members whose jobs were ruined and lives turned upside down by the ‘blacklisting’ scandal.”
Unite news release. Morning Star. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Performance management is ‘divisive and unfair
The performance management system used across the civil service is ‘divisive, unfair and demotivating’, an extensive survey by the union PCS has revealed. The system, which has been linked to high levels of workplace stress, burnout and ill-health, ranks workers and puts a fixed percentage of lower ranked staff on a path to performance-related dismissal.
PCS news release and performance management guidance. CWU news releaseRisks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Soaring stress levels sickening DWP staff
More sick days are lost to depression and anxiety than any other illness at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), new figures show, with civil service union PCS saying it highlights the pressure on staff forced to implement “cruel policies”. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka linked the evidence of high pressure on DWP staff to government policies. The Independent. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Warning on exodus of stressed school support staff
More than half (52 per cent) of school support staff across the UK have experienced stress, anxiety or depression as they struggle to cope with their workloads, according to a new survey by UNISON. Over two-fifths (41.5 per cent) of those who took part in the survey said they had difficulty in completing their work, and more than one in eight (13.4 per cent) said they found it impossible to manage all that was being asked of them.
UNISON news release and survey findingsRisks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: NHS workers are being fed rubbish
Health service workers are begin compelled to eat unhealthy, poor quality food, with night shift workers particularly badly served, a survey from UNISON and the Campaign for Better Hospital Food (CBHF) has found. It discovered nurses and other health employees are being forced to survive on fast food – or on poor quality vending machine snacks - because hospitals are failing to provide proper facilities.
UNISON news release. Workplace well-being programmes: A guide for safety reps, TUC, December 2015. Other workers’ health resources. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Lawyers confirm Brexit rights threat
A new legal opinion has confirmed that workers’ employment rights are at risk if the UK votes to leave the EU. The report says that even if the UK was to remain in the single market, but outside the EU, some rights would be at risk, including working time protections, discrimination compensation, and protections for agency workers.
TUC news release. GQ Employment Law news release. Opinion by Michael Ford QC, March 2016. EU Membership and Health and Safety, TUC, April 2016. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Martin Temple to be new HSE chair
Martin Temple is to be the new chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), replacing Judith Hackitt, whose second term had ended. Hackitt, meanwhile, now holds Temple’s old job as chair of manufacturers’ lobby organisation EEF.
DWP news release. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Site workers return after bridge tragedy
Workers returning for duty on Scotland’s Queensferry Crossing construction job fell silent to honour a colleague killed on the site on 28 April, International Workers’ Memorial Day. John Cousins was fatally injured in an incident on the under-construction bridge over the Forth.
Unite news release. UCATT news release. Daily Record. The Courier. Morning Star. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: UK prison system in crisis as violence soars
An alarming rise in violent incidents has sparked warnings the prison system is failing prisoners and staff. Figures released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have revealed that violence has increased in the past 12 months and, in some cases, is close to double the rates from 2010, with prisoner on staff assaults up from 3,640 in 2014 to 4,963 in 2015, an increase of 36 per cent.
Safety in Custody statistics, MoJ, 28 April 2016. POA news release. Howard League for Penal Reform news release. The Independent. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Former teacher's death linked to asbestos
Former colleagues of a man who died from asbestos-related cancer are being urged to help with an investigation into how he came into contact with the harmful substance.
David Clegg, a former teacher and factory worker from Knottingley, was diagnosed with mesothelioma just a week before he died in February, aged 58.
Pontefract and Castleford Express. Anyone with information is being asked to contact Ian Toft at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors on 0113 218 6453. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Dangerous demolition firm fined after tip-off
A Nottinghamshire demolition company has been fined for criminal safety failings following a call from a whistleblower to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard how Prodem Demolition and Asbestos Limited was removing roof tiles from a domestic property on 16 July 2015 when it was reported to the HSE for undertaking unsafe work at height.
HSE news release and demolition webpage. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Tell CGL to reinstate safety rep Alison!
Victimised Unite health and safety representative Alison Morris was sacked after raising concerns about inoperable fire alarms at the Birmingham drug and alcohol abuse charity CGL. Unite says within days of Alison’s dismissal, the campaign for her reinstatement had seen around 1,500 emails sent to David Biddle, CEO of CGL, but adds: “We will continue the fight to get Alison's dismissal overturned but need your support to strengthen our voice.”
Send an email to CGL’s David Biddle and show your support for safety rep Alison. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Australia: ‘Regulatory capture’ allows return of fatal disease
A federal government inquiry into the re-emergence of work-related black lung disease in Australia has called for company doctors and government safety inspectors to be trained to avoid ‘regulatory capture’. A ‘perfect storm’ of regulatory failure, indifference from the mining industry, poor dust control and patchy health monitoring is responsible for the re-emergence of black lung disease among Queensland coalminers, the inquiry found.
Black Lung: "It has buggered my life". The Guardian. Labour Herald. CFMEU Make black lung history campaign. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Global: The price of your cup of tea
A damning report on the working and living conditions of India's tea workers has been published by the global food and farming union IUF and the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition. ‘A Life without dignity - the price of your cup of tea’ is the outcome of a fact-finding mission led by the IUF and involving members of the network.
IUF news release. A Life without dignity - the price of your cup of tea, IUF, May 2016. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Japan: Bus driver’s suicide was work-related
The Nagoya High Court in Japan has overturned a lower court decision and recognised the suicide of a Nagoya City bus driver as work-related, caused by heavy workloads and “power harassment”. The court ruled Yamada Akira, who was 37 at the time of his death, suffered from a nervous breakdown due to verbal abuse from a manager and lengthy police interviews around the same time regarding a minor accident over which the manager made him turn himself into the police.
Japan Press. More on work-related suicide. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Norway: Helicopter tragedy is a ‘wake-up call’
The 29 April helicopter crash that killed 13 people on their way back from an oil platform off Norway’s west coast has heightened concerns over whether the industry’s deepest cost cuts in 15 years are undermining safety. While the cause of the crash of the CHC Group Ltd helicopter on Norway’s North Sea coast is still unknown, the accident is a “wake-up call,” said Leif Sande, the leader of the Industry Energy, the biggest oil union in the country.
Energy Voice. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Hazards news, 30 April 2016

Britain: All you need to know about Hazards at Work
The new edition of the TUC’s best-selling guide to health and safety at work is now available. The union body says: “It explains the way unions organise to improve health, safety and welfare, how the law has changed in recent years and gives full details of the key legal provisions and how they are enforced.”
TUC Hazards at Work publication briefing, printable order form or order online from the TUC publications shop. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Britain: Brexit could put millions at risk at work
Leaving the EU could put millions of people in the UK at increased risk of work-related injury and ill-health, a TUC report has concluded. ‘EU membership and health and safety’, published on 28 April to coincide with International Workers’ Memorial Day, finds that EU legislation has helped stop illnesses and injuries at work, and saved lives.
TUC news release and report, EU Membership and Health and Safety.
International Workers’ Memorial Day worldwide activities. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Britain: Union warning on conditions on Shell oil platforms
Offshore workers employed by a contractor on Shell’s North Sea platforms are demanding the withdrawal of proposals to cut their terms and conditions. Unite is to meet with the Wood Group’s management team to press home offshore workers’ opposition to further cuts which it says could jeopardise safety.
Unite news release. Socialist Worker. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Britain: Charity fires safety rep for raising ‘fire alarm’ alert
A union health and safety rep working for CGL, a leading drug and alcohol abuse charity, has been sacked after pointing out fire hazards that could have cost colleagues’ lives, her union Unite has said. Alison Morris, a drugs referral team leader, was summarily dismissed earlier this month from her Reach Out Recovery job, following her joint inspection with a fire brigade officer that found non-operational fire alarms in the building.
Unite news release. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Britain: Warnings as fire deaths rise sharply
Fire chiefs have joined the firefighters’ union FBU to raise concerns about the deadly impact of fire service cuts. Reacting to new official figures showing a 21 per cent rise in fire deaths over the past year, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “We are now witnessing the tragic results of such wrong-headed cuts to the fire and rescue service.”
FBU news release. The Guardian. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Europe: Nautilus action call on shipping’s ‘rotten underbelly’
Seafarers’ union Nautilus has called for a further crackdown on substandard shipping in European waters following a UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report on the loss of a cement carrier and its eight crew off Scotland in January 2015. MAIB concluded that the capsize of the Cyprus-flagged Cemfjord in ‘extraordinarily violent sea conditions’ was the ‘predictable’ result of poor passage planning and commercial pressures.
Nautilus news release. MAIB news release. BBC News Online. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Britain: Campaigning successes gets UNISON rep a top award
A UNISON rep who has helped address safety problems at work, in Scotland and across the UK and Europe has won a top award from the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC). Glasgow City UNISON health and safety officer Scott Donohoe is the recipient of this year’s STUC Frank Maguire Award for Health and Safety.
STUC news release. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Britain: Two firms fined over two occupational diseases
Two Derbyshire-based construction firms have been fined for criminal safety offences as a result of separate investigations into reported cases of occupational diseases. Derby Crown Court heard how employees at Sandvik Mining and Construction Limited and Sandvik Construction Mobile Crushers and Screeners Limited were regularly exposed to hand arm vibration that led to separate reported cases of carpal tunnel syndrome and hand-arm vibration syndrome.
HSE news release. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Britain: Explosives to be used in Didcot demolition
Explosives are to be used to demolish the remaining section of the collapsed Didcot Power Station. Four workers were killed and five injured in the collapse on 23 February, with one body recovered from the site. RWE Npower said it knew controlled explosions at the site would be distressing for the missing workers' families.
Construction Enquirer. BBC News Online. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Britain: Explosion at car seat maker injures worker
A vehicle seat manufacturing company based in Ebbw Vale has been fined after a worker was injured from an explosion. Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard how an operator at Sears Manufacturing Company (Europe) Limited suffered burns to his head and hands when a highly flammable release agent used in the manufacturing process ignited, causing an explosion.
HSE news release and fire and explosion webpages. Wales Online. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Britain: Teenage apprentice loses finger on rotary press
The owner of a Leamington Spa business that manufactures specialist adhesive tape for industrial applications has been fined after a teenage apprentice lost his finger on a rotary die press. James Fussell, trading as Tecman Speciality Materials, pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £6,000 with £1,754 costs.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Britain: Site worker seriously injured in fall through void
A construction company based in Derbyshire has been fined after a worker was seriously injured when he fell 4.5 metres through a void. Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard the injured worker, who was employed by a sub-contractor working for Bowmer and Kirkland Limited, dislodged an unsecured wooden board that had been placed over the void and exposed the opening of the two-by-one metre hole.
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Asia: Justice call three years after factory collapse
On 24 April, workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan remembered the dead and demanded improved factory safety, and punishment to those responsible for a garment factory tragedy in Bangladesh three years ago. Affiliates of the global union federation IndustriALL formed a human chain and organised a press conference in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka to mark the anniversary.
IndustriALL news release. ITUC news release. TUC news release. Bangladesh Accord. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

]Europe: Anger at EC inaction on nanomaterials
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) says the decision by the European Commission to set up an EU Observatory for nanomaterials, instead of a Register, fails to protect workers from health risks and does not contribute in any way to the traceability of nanomaterials, and the transparency and accountability of industry. “Workers have a right to know what they are handling and being exposed to,” said Esther Lynch, ETUC confederal secretary.
ETUC news release. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Global: Seafood workers face ‘barbaric’ conditions
International union bodies have joined forces to increase pressure on seafood companies to stop the “barbaric” treatment of their workers. At a meeting coinciding with the Brussels Seafood Expo Global, which brings together more than 2,000 fish and aquaculture companies, the unions said ‘concrete measures’ must be introduced to protect workers producing seafood imported into the European Union.
ITF news release. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Global: One worker killed every 15 seconds
The global union federation ITUC has warned negligent employers of the consequences of putting workers’ lives at risk. Commenting on the eve of International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said: “Over 2 million workers die needlessly every year because their workplaces are dusty, dirty and dangerous.”
ITUC news release. Risks 748. 30 April 2016.

Hazards news, 23 April 2016

Britain: Have you experienced sexual harassment at work?
Recent TUC polling indicates that sexual harassment is still rife in many workplaces. As part of its project on sexual harassment in the workplace, the TUC would now like to hear about your experiences of sexual harassment. It has prepared a short online survey where you can describe your experience. The information you share will be treated in confidence and the survey can be completed anonymously.
TUC news alert. Take the survey now. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Unite launches lead exposure register
Concerns over exposure to lead at work have led the union Unite to create an exposure register to track members who may have been at risk from the potent nerve poison, which is also linked to kidney and brain damage and cancer. The union says information in this Lead Exposure Register will be used to assist in pursuing personal injury claims for affected workers, to identify members who were employed by the same company or at the same site and may have been exposed and to trace witnesses who can assist with claims.
Unite news release. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Court of Appeal backs unions on sick absence
Civil service unions have recorded a major victory on sickness absence. A Court of Appeal ruling released on 15 April has confirmed that the Department for Transport (DfT) is unable to change contractual sickness absence rules without the agreement of unions.
Prospect news release. PCS news release. The appeal court judgment in full. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Call for drone safety action after Heathrow incident
Unions have called for urgent action on drone safety following reports one may have collided with an airliner as it came in to land at Heathrow airport. The unions were speaking out after a police investigation was launched into a reported incident on 17 April where a passenger plane approaching Heathrow Airport and carrying 132 passengers and five crew flew into what is believed to have been a drone.
Prospect news release. BALPA blog. BBC News Online. London Evening Standard. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Dangerous school closures a ‘national scandal’
The closure of 17 Edinburgh schools because of serious safety concerns makes a review of public private partnerships (PPP) and private finance initiative (PFI) projects unavoidable, the union Unite has said. The action at the 10-year-old schools was prompted after workers attending to structural issues at one Edinburgh primary found “further serious defects.”
Unite news release. EIS news release. Morning Star. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Tackling prison fight cost worker her job
A former prison worker has been awarded £140,000 after a six-year legal battle with the prison service following an injury that ended her career. While working at a London young offender’s institute, the POA member had been restraining a prisoner after a fight had broken out.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Prison carpenter developed work-related lung cancer
A POA member from County Durham has received compensation of £220,832 after contracting asbestos-related lung cancer. The retired carpenter, whose name has not been released, was employed in various prisons between 1963 and 1995 where he carried out maintenance work on prison buildings.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Northern Echo. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Chemicals can hurt wherever you work
You don’t have to work in the chemical industry to be harmed by chemicals at work, two 59-year-old Unite members have found to their cost. One was sprayed with bromine and suffered serious burns, the other exposed to a concrete-curing chemical which aggravated childhood asthma, which had not affected his health since he was 10-years-old.
Thompsons Solicitors news releases on the acid burns and chemical fumes settlements. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Better pay can fix mental health problems
A new study has found that low-paid workers who received the national minimum wage in April 1999 reported a decline in symptoms of depression for at least 22 months afterwards. The researchers discovered that receiving the national minimum wage was equivalent to the effect of taking antidepressants.
University of Oxford news release. Aaron Reeves, Martin McKee, Johan Mackenbach, Margaret Whitehead and David Stuckler. Introduction of a national minimum wage reduced depressive symptoms in low-wage workers: a quasi-natural experiment in the UK, Health Economics, published online ahead of print, April 2016. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Global: Good ventilation needed for desktop 3D printers
A new study shows that desktop 3D printers release produce airborne nanoparticles that should be controlled to avoid hazardous exposures. A study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) and the University of Helsinki had confirmed nanoparticles are emitted into the air when printers are used.
FIOH news release. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Firm fined after forklift truck operator killed
North Yorkshire steel fabrication company Severfield (UK) Limited has been fined after a forklift truck operator was killed when the truck he was operating overturned. Teesside Crown Court heard 27-year-old Kelvin McGibbon was not wearing a seatbelt and suffered crush injuries that proved fatal.
HSE news release and forklift webpages. Construction Enquirer. ITV News. York Press. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Three companies fined after two incidents
Two injuries in three months at the Haverhill site of the Jan Cavelle Furniture Company have led to the firm and two safety consultancies being fined for criminal health and safety failings. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incidents which occurred on 28 February 2014 and 2 June 2014 found that both were the result of unsafe working practices.
HSE news release and lifting operations webpages. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: HSE finds dangerous pit behind front door
A London construction company has been fined after inspectors found a deep unprotected pit had been excavated immediately behind the only entrance to a site.  Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how RS Construction UK (London) Limited was working at a site when a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector found there was an excavation directly behind the front door, which was the only way in or out of the site.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Global: Union targets mine safety for 28 April
To mark International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, the global mining union IndustriALL, will be tweeting for mine safety. It says: “On this day, mourn the dead, but fight for the living: tell your government to make mining safer by ratifying ILO Convention 176.”
INdustriALL Thunderclap for mine safety: Tweet ‘Mourn the dead, fight for the living: it's time to ratify ILO #C176 on #MineSafety #IWMD16 http://thndr.me/Nw6RC0’.
TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. Add your 28 April event to the TUC. .
For UK Workers’ Memorial Day resources including ribbons, car stickers and free posters, contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre by email or phone 0161 636 7557. 
ITUC/Hazards global events listing and resources, including new posters in English, French and Spanish. For tweeters, use the #iwmd16 
Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Australia: Deaths expose folly of trucking safety move
A weekend that saw 18 deaths involving trucks on Australia’s roads has exposed the folly of government plans to abolish a tribunal created to lift the pressure on truckers to drive unsafely, the transport union TWU has said. TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon said: “We know that a deadly cycle is at play in transport with major retailers and manufacturers squeezing transport operators and drivers with low cost contracts to the point that our roads are not safe.”
TWU news release and safe rates campaign. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Global: Tribunal attack is an ‘attack on road safety’
The Australian government’s plan to abolish the country’s Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT) if re-elected is “an attack on safety”, the global transport unions’ federation ITF has said. ITF general secretary Steve Cotton stated: “To stretch belief even further this decision comes at a time when the Safe Rates model – of safe and fair pay and conditions across the transport supply chain – that was born in Australia is being studied and imitated around the world.”
ITF news release and webpage on the safe rates model. The Conversation. The Guardian. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Global: Deadly LafargeHolcim must talk about safety
International trade unions have launch an online petition calling on building products giant LafargeHolcim to respect workers’ rights and improve its poor health and safety record. The unions say around 70 workers die each year toiling for LafargeHolcim, 90 per cent of whom are employed indirectly.
IndustriALL news release. BWI news release.
Send the message to LafargeHolcim’s CEO to demand now that LafargeHolcim respect workers’ rights! Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Global: H&M told to deliver ‘safety conscious’ fashion
Labour rights groups in Europe, Bangladesh and North America are calling on high street fashion multinational H&M to deliver a ‘safety conscious’ clothing line. The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), and United Students Against Sweatshops are urging consumers to participate in a global day of action on 3 May, with activities running through the preceding week and spanning International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April.
H&M broken promises website. Clean Clothes Campaign website. 23 April 2016

Hazards news, 16 April 2016

Global: Voluntary standards don’t stand up
Plans for a certifiable international standard on health and safety are well underway. But the International Organisation for Standardisation’s (ISO) proposed ISO 45001 standard, currently being rushed to completion, is a potentially unhealthy alternative to binding and enforceable laws, the European trade union research body ETUI has concluded.
A new ISO standard for occupational health and safety management systems: is this the right approach?, ETUI briefing, 2016. TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Britain: ‘Blacklisting mastermind’ refuses to give evidence
The alleged architect of the construction blacklisting scandal, Cullum McAlpine, has declined to give evidence when the case comes before the High Court next month. Unite condemned the decision by the top director of Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd as ‘a further gross insult’ to the thousands of construction workers who have lost their jobs because of the covert activities of two industry backed organisations, the Consulting Association and its predecessor, the Services Group of the Economic League.
Unite news release. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Britain: Warning on ‘dangerous’ plans to axe marine offices
Shipping union RMT has warned that the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s plans for the phased closure of Marine Offices at Tyne and Plymouth, Beverley, Harwich and Orpington  and Norwich are a ‘dangerous’ move that could put seafarers at risk. The union said the offices provide “essential administrative and technical support” which could be jeopardised by these and other planned changes, including outsourcing database, survey and inspection work.
RMT news release. The MCA consultation document. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Britain: Concern over recovery of missing Didcot workers
Unite has expressed ‘increasing concern’ over the time it is taking to locate and recover the bodies of three missing men following the collapse of Didcot power station on 23 February. The union said members across the industry were questioning whether the recovery team has had enough resources to complete the recovery in a safe and timely manner.
Unite news release. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Britain: Six years in jail for building boss after fatal fall
Construction boss Allan Thomson has been jailed for six years after being convicted of gross negligence manslaughter. Two of his employees fell through a roof they were repairing in separate incidents on the same day, with the man who died, 42-year-old Scott Harrower, having also survived a near miss the previous day.
GMP news release. Construction Enquirer. Littleborough Local. Rochdale Online. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Britain: Contractor jailed over trench death
A self-employed contractor has been jailed after employee Hywel Glyndwr Richards, 54, was killed when the trench he was working in collapsed. William Ryan was found guilty at Swansea Crown Court of a criminal safety breach and given a six month custodial sentence.
HSE news release and excavation webpages. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Global: BP gets tax windfall after deadly blast settlement
In the six years since BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 workers and poured millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, there has been a clamour for justice. But the 4 April historic $20 billion (£14bn) settlement against the oil giant has not turned out to be the harsh punishment many hoped for - the settlement's terms are so generous to the UK-based multinational that it amounts to a tax break worth billions.
US PIRG statement. Common Dreams. Forbes. International Business Times. The Guardian. Wall Street Journal. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Britain: Private eye tracks down dangerous demolition firm
A dangerous demolition contractor the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had to track down using a private detective has been given a suspended jail term. Scot Ian Richardson trading as Aztec Demolition was found guilty of a series of criminal health and safety offences, given a four month suspended jail term and 200 hours community service and ordered to pay costs of £1,200.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Britain: Worker suffers chemical burns at electropolishing firm
An electropolishing company based in Hampshire has been fined after a worker suffered chemical burns. Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court heard how Keith Brown, a 51-year-old worker at Poligrat (UK) Limited, was told by his manager to dispose of waste cleaning chemicals at their Aldershot site.
HSE news release and COSHH toolbox. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Global: Study links many jobs to non-Hodgkin lymphoma
New research has identified a wide range of occupations associated with a risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a group of related cancers affecting the body’s immune system. The study concluded: “This pooled analysis supports a role for textile-, hairdressing-, and farming-related exposures in the development of NHL,” adding: “Additional occupations associated with NHL or NHL subtypes include cleaners, painters, printers, and wood workers.”
Andrea ‘t Mannetje and others. Occupation and risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Its subtypes: A pooled analysis from the InterLymph Consortium, Environmental Health Perspectives, April 2016. ETUI alert. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Global: Greenpeace puts its chemical detox research online
A campaign by environmental group Greenpeace “for a toxic-free future where hazardous chemicals are no longer produced, used and dumped into our environment” was behind its decision to create a large and growing ‘chemical detox’ database. The two year project has resulted in a database already including entries on over 17,000 substances.
Greenpeace blog. Greenpeace Detox Campaign Chemical Investigation database and executive summary. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Global: 28 April – campaigning here, there, everywhere
International Workers’ Memorial Day is less than two weeks away, and is once again set to be the biggest event ever on the health and safety calendar. New resources for the ‘Strong Laws - Strong Enforcement - Strong Unions’ themed event, including new posters in English, French and Spanish versions, can be downloaded from the ITUC/Hazards 28april.org website.
TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. Add your 28 April event to the TUC . For UK Workers’ Memorial Day resources including ribbons and car stickers, contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre by email or phone 0161 636 7557.
ITUC/Hazards global events listing and resources, including new posters in English, French and Spanish.  For tweeters, use the #iwmd16   Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Australia: Outrage at plan to axe road safety watchdog
The Australian Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has condemned an announcement by the country’s premier, Malcolm Turnbull, that he intends to abolish the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal brought in to ensure truckers receive “safe rates” for their work in the notoriously deadly industry. “Malcolm Turnbull is defunding and abolishing independent judicial investigations into holding banks, oil companies, retailers, manufacturers and ports and wharves to account for unsafe, economic pressure on their transport supply chains,” said TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon.
TWU news release. The Guardian. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Australia: Fears over asbestos in imported building materials
Concerns have been raised about asbestos being imported into Australia in cheap building materials, with more than 50 sites thought to be affected. While the importation of any materials containing asbestos has been banned in Australia for the past decade, investigations carried out by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) have led to the monitoring of buildings across several states, amid concerns that cheap imported materials from China have contained the carcinogenic substance.
ASEA evidence. Supply Management. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

France: Some glyphosate weedkillers to be banned
France's health and safety agency has decided to ban weedkillers that combine the chemicals glyphosate and tallowamine because of concerns over possible health risks. The ANSES agency has sent a letter to manufacturers informing them that it intends to withdraw the authorisation for such products, said Francoise Weber, the watchdog’s deputy director-general.
AgWeek. Sign the IUF/PAN letter to Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; Donald Tusk, President of the European Council; and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

USA: Judgment day for reckless executives
On 6 April, a US Federal District Court judge, Irene C Berger, sentenced Donald L Blankenship, a former chief executive of the Massey Energy Company once known as the “King of Coal,” to one year in jail, with imprisonment to begin regardless of a pending appeal, and payment of a $250,000 fine. Rena Steinzor, a professor in the school of law at the University of Maryland, said the judge’s decision “sets a remarkable precedent: The first CEO ever to be convicted of conspiring to violate industrial safety standards will soon take his place in prison.”
New York Times op-ed by Rena Steinzor and related news report. The Pump Handle. Risks 746. 16 April 2016

Hazards news, 9 April 2016

Britain: HSE to be half the watchdog it used to be
The UK’s health and safety watchdog is not the regulator, enforcer or guide it used to be – and things could be about to get a lot worse, the TUC has warned. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “In 2009/10, before the coalition government came to power, the HSE received £231 million from the government,” but added: “In 2019/20 it will receive £123 million.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog. HSE business plan 2016/17 and Helping Great Britain work well strategy. Risks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Safety laws could be at risk from Brexit
Years of uncertainty for workers and employers could be the result of a UK vote to leave the European Union, a top labour law expert has warned. The independent legal opinion, commissioned by the TUC from Michael Ford QC of Old Square Chambers, notes that rights that would be most at risk of being diluted or scrapped after Brexit are health and safety protections.
TUC news release and independent legal opinionRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Report slams schools asbestos ‘scandal’
Decades of failing to deal with deadly asbestos in schools is a national “scandal” threatening the health of former, current and future schoolchildren, a wide-ranging investigation has found. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) said case histories it identified underlined “systematic failings” in the way asbestos in school premises was dealt with by successive governments.
Yorkshire Post. IBAS news report. Morning StarRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Usdaw scoops top safety campaign award
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has won a top award from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust for its Freedom from Fear campaign, recognising the union’s achievements in improving personal safety. The Trust’s National Personal Safety Awards recognise the work being done across the UK to keep people safe from violence and aggression and highlight best practice in the field.
Usdaw news release. Suzy Lamplugh TrustRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: 'Never again' say FBU, as firefighter inquest opens
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said the needless deaths of firefighters in the line of duty has to stop. The union was speaking out on 4 April, as the inquest into the death of Manchester firefighter Stephen Hunt opened. Stephen, who was based at Philips Park fire station in Manchester, was killed fighting a fire in Manchester city centre on 13 July 2013.
FBU news releaseRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Teachers warn of action over excessive workload
Teachers are threatening strike action in their campaign against excessive workload.
The National Union of Teachers' annual conference called for “sustained strike action” to back schools challenging a long hours culture.
NUT news release. BBC News OnlineRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Workload is behind the teaching crisis
Workload is the key driver of the teacher shortage crisis, putting people off becoming teachers and compelling enthusiastic teachers to leave, according to a new survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). The union’s survey last month of 876 education staff asked what they thought might stop people from wanting to become teachers; 93 per cent cited workload and 91 per cent said poor work/life balance.
ATL news release. Morning StarRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Teachers ‘on brink of drugs and self-harm’
Many teachers are on the brink of turning to medication, alcohol and self-harm to deal with increased stress at work, teachers’ union NASUWT has revealed. More than 20 per cent of members reported increased use of alcohol and caffeine to deal with work-related pressures, the union’s survey found.
NASUWT news release. Morning Star. Risks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Maintenance worker developed disabling lung disease
The family of a West Yorkshire maintenance worker who developed a disabling lung condition after working with asbestos has received compensation from the NHS. Unite member Jack Coleman from Cleckheaton worked as a plumber at Leeds General Infirmary from 1980 until 2004, where he repaired pipework lagged with asbestos in the hospital.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Telegraph and ArgusRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Family of engineer appeal for asbestos help
The family of a BECTU member Patrick Smith is urging anyone who has worked at aerial transmission sites in the UK to come forward with information about the working conditions. Patrick worked as a technical engineer between 1977 and 2014 at locations including Wenvoe, Wood Norton, Daventry, Sutton Coldfield, Wooferton, Washford, Ascension Island, Droitwich and Bressay.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Anyone who may have any relevant information should contact Jackie Wood at Thompsons on 0207 290 0031. Risks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Keyboard use led to RSI and job loss
A Unite member has been awarded £30,000 in damages after developing a repetitive strain injury (RSI) from excessive use of a computer keyboard. The 31-year-old woman, whose name has not been released, suffered a strain injury to her right wrist while working as an administrator at an unnamed charity, where she would spend up to eight hours a day entering data onto a computer.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Action call on pregnancy discrimination ‘disgrace’
The TUC has demanded immediate government action after a report revealed over threequarters of working mothers had experienced pregnancy discrimination. The union body’s call came in response to a report published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which also revealed “4 per cent of mothers reported they left their job as a result of health and safety risks which were not resolved; if scaled up to the general population this could affect 21,000 mothers a year.”
EHRC news release. TUC news releaseRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Police Scotland told to act on asbestos
Police Scotland has been told to take ‘remedial action’ over the presence of asbestos in some of its buildings. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) served the force with an improvement notice following inspections at four sites in Glasgow earlier this year.
The Herald. BBC News OnlineRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Global: Tell FIFA to stop World Cup exploitation
Amnesty International has exposed exploitation of migrant workers building the Khalifa International Stadium, a ground slated to host a football World Cup semi-final in 2022. ‘The ugly side of the beautiful game’, a report from the human rights organisation, says that despite promising to improve protections, Qatar has failed to adequately reform its exploitative migrant labour system.
Amnesty news release, report and online action call on FIFA and its sponsors to take a tougher line in making Qatar act now. TUC Stronger Unions blog. GMB news releaseRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Hazards conference, Keele, 29-31 July 2016  
Book your place now the national Hazards conference, the country’s biggest annual gathering of grassroots safety and union reps. The theme this year for the Hazards Campaign-organised event is ‘Building resistance to support safety reps’.
Hazards conference 2016: Booking formRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Bangladesh: Worker dies, guards fire on protesters
Seven people, including a 16-year-old boy, were injured after guards at a shipbreaking company in Bangladesh opened fire on people protesting against the death of a worker. Mohammad Sumon was killed instantly when a truck transporting scrap steel from the Kabir Steel yard in Chittagong, ran him over on the morning on 28 March 2016.
IndustriALL news releaseRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Europe: Worker participation makes work safer
Firms across Europe are far less likely to undertake risk assessments where there is an absence of effective worker participation, a survey has found. The findings come in the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2), which also found the most commonly reported reason for addressing occupational health and safety issues was to fulfil legal obligations, reported by 85 per cent of establishments.
EU-OSHA news releaseRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Europe: Ban glyphosate, get off the pesticide treadmill
Campaigners have said the European Commission must be stopped from proceeding with the renewed authorisation in the European Union of the toxic herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup and the world's most widely-used herbicide. The demand from the global food and farming union IUF and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International, comes as renewed authorisation is being pushed through despite an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) warning last year that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans and other evidence of the impact of glyphosate on food and health.
IUF news alert. Sign the IUF/PAN letter to Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; Donald Tusk, President of the European Council; and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. Risks 745. 9 April 2016

New Zealand: Meat giant Talleys ‘more dangerous than ever’
Unions have obtained the full accident records of the New Zealand meat processor Talleys/AFFCO group of companies, and say the records show a further increase over the previous year's ‘horrific’ number of workers maimed and injured at the workplace.  Workers’ compensation claims for injury at work were paid to 1,773 workers throughout the Talleys Group of Companies in 2015, an increase of 220 workers from 2014.
IUF news releaseRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Hazards news, 2 April 2016

Britain: Hey, safety reps, what’s it like out there?
The TUC wants to hear from union health and safety reps about the hazards, safety organisation and related issues in their workplaces. The union body says its latest - eleventh - TUC survey of health and safety reps “is designed to provide the TUC and individual unions with information about who health and safety reps are, and what their experiences and needs are.
TUC news alert. Take the TUC Safety Reps’ Survey 2016 now! The closing date for responses is 1 July 2016. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: Nudge theory isn’t evidence-based or the best option
The ‘nudge’ theory embraced by the government in a bid to change the population’s behaviour by stealth isn’t evidence-based and isn’t a satisfactory alternative to proper rights and properly enforced legislation, the TUC has warned. The union body was responding to a leader in New Scientist magazine that noted: “Nudge is an example of what is possible when you apply science to policymaking,” but cautioned “the well-intentioned politicians who want to use them should always remember: never let nudge turn to shove.”
New Scientist leader, 12 March 2016 and Hugh Robertson’s response, New Scientist, 2 April 2016. Behavioural Insights Team. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: EU has been good for you at work
European Union regulations work and have made a “substantial” contribution to the health and safety of the UK workforce, a TUC briefing has concluded. Arguing the UK should be part of a revitalised “European process”, ‘Health and safety: What Brexit would mean’ notes it is ‘certainly likely’ the protection this has delivered could be undermined if the UK was to leave the EU.
TUC report and pdf version, Health and safety: What Brexit would mean. TUC briefing on issues around the EU referendum. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: Government imposes profits before safety rule
The government is instructing its safety regulator to put company profits before safety, the construction union UCATT has charged.  UCATT says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “is being told by the Tory government to prioritise company profits over the health and safety of construction workers” and points to an “immoral and venal” revised Enforcement Policy Statement (EPS) presenting to the March 2016 meeting of HSE’s board.
UCATT news release. HSE paper on the EPS changes and the revised EPS. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: UCATT to meet minister over ‘failure’ HSE
Construction union UCATT has secured a meeting with the government safety minister after raising concerns about a “malaise” at the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE), whose performance is “just not good enough.” The commitment from the minister came after the Labour MP for Jarrow, Stephen Hepburn, secured a 23 March parliamentary debate on “the alarmingly low number of prosecutions” following a construction fatality.
UCATT news release. Hansard, 23 March 2016. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: RMT calls for Night Tube safety assurances
London Underground union RMT called for reassurances on the Night Tube safety case, as a summer start date for the ‎project was announced. The union said it ‎has yet to see a full safety case, despite plans for services to come into operation from July or August.
RMT news release. London Evening Standard. TFL Night Tube webpages. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: Ashley called to account for Sports Direct abuses
A showdown is brewing between billionaire Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, and MPs investigating mistreatment of workers in his sportswear empire. The House of Commons business (BIS) select committee has been trying to arrange a date for Ashley to give evidence on allegations of widespread abuses at the firm but, reports Unite regional officer Luke Primarolo, Ashley hasn’t been co-operative, so the committee has taken the unusual step of formally summonsing him to appear on 7 June.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Unite Sports Direct campaign. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: Stiffer sentences for attack dog owners
Pet owners convicted of dangerous dogs offences will face harsher punishment under new sentencing guidelines in England and Wales. The guidelines, which will come into force from July and were introduced after a high profile campaign by the union CWU, reflect 2014 changes to the law that increased maximum sentences.
Sentencing Council guideline. CWU news release and Bite-Back campaign. BBC News Online. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: Head blow led to hearing damage
A factory worker who suffered a bang on the head a work developed a permanent and debilitating hearing condition as a result. Unite member Paul Kelly, 54, was working on a factory production line when the incident occurred.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Global: On silica, US does what HSE says can’t be done
The US government has gone where the UK had refused to go, introducing new rules to sharply reduce workplace exposures to silica. The 24 March 2016 move by the US Labor Department means the US will halve the occupational exposure standard from the level it currently shares with the UK, 0.1mg/m3, to 0.05mg/m3 - HSE has argued the lower level now being introduced in the US is neither achievable nor practically measurable, issues raised in extensive US government hearings on the draft standard and dismissed comprehensively over two years ago.
Department of Labor news release and US final silica rule website. Finalised rule on the Federal Register. National COSH statement. APHA statement. NELP statement. Public Citizen news release. New York Times. National Public Radio. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: Funds for new asbestos diseases research centre 
A new £5 million centre is to spearhead research on the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma. The initiative was included in Chancellor George Osborne’s March budget. Budget 2016. IBAS news report. The Chronicle. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: New scandal hits site safety tests
A new scandal has hit a safety competence scheme in the construction sector. The Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) is relied on by contractors to prove that operators are qualified to drive machines including excavators and dumper trucks, but trade magazine Construction Enquirer has discovered candidates can now simply buy the answers to the key CPCS theory test online for less than £10. Construction Enquirer. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: Syngenta fined £200,000 for toxic pesticide release
Chemical giant Syngenta has been fined £200,000 after tonnes of a potentially deadly weedkiller was released from a defective vessel at its Huddersfield plant. Kevin Slack, prosecuting, said when a worker moved a handle he was immediately sprayed with paraquat dichloride (PDC) on his face and upper body - he told the court ingesting one or two teaspoons of paraquat dichloride could be fatal.
HSE news release. The Examiner. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Britain: Firm fined 10 years after deadly crane collapse
Falcon Crane Hire has been fined £750,000 following a south London crane collapse that killed the driver and a member of the public nearly 10 years ago. Charges against 71-year-old Douglas Genge, managing director of Falcon Crane Hire Limited, were dropped in February.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. London Evening Standard. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Global: International Workers Memorial Day, 28 April
Health and safety should be a priority every day, in every workplace. But on 28 April unions and safety campaigners ensure the wider public, regulators and policy makers hear clearly that ‘Strong laws, strong enforcement and strong unions’ are the key to keeping workplaces safe and healthy year round, every year.
TUC news release. TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. Add your 28 April event to the TUC . For tweeters, use the #iwmd16  
ITUC/Hazards global events listing and resources. For Workers’ Memorial Day resources including ribbons and car stickers, contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre by email or phone 0161 636 7557. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Canada: Union says 2016 is ‘the year of safety’
Canada’s public sector union CUPE has designated 2016 the ‘Year of Health and Safety’. Launching the initiative, CUPE national president Mark Hancock said: “CUPE is renewing our commitment to achieving safer workplaces – for our members and for all workers, in Canada and around the globe.”
CUPE news release and Year of Health and Safety webpages. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Europe: From outrage to action on work cancers
Few realise it, but Europe faces over 100,000 occupational cancer deaths a year, the equivalent of a passenger jet crash every day. Calling on unions to mobilise around the issue, ETUI researcher Laurent Vogel: “We can sum up in four words why 100,000 work-related cancer deaths are not a political priority; inequality, visibility, power and freedom.”
ETUI occupational cancers webpages. The editorial will appear in the forthcoming issue of ETUI’s health and safety magazine, Hesamag. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Europe: Time to ban glyphosate, says IUF
A move to approve the continued use of the toxic herbicide glyphosate in Europe has become the topic of a high profile tussle involving member states, citizens groups, environmental campaigners and unions. Global food and farming union federation IUF said “additional pressure is needed to ensure that the European Commission does not cut a deal with the corporate agrochemical giants which would keep Europe locked into the deadly spiral of increasing pesticide applications for another fifteen years.”
IUF briefing. ENVI news release. Risks 744. 2 April 2016

Hazards news, 19 March 2016

Britain: Safety reps make unions bigger and better
New guidance to help recruit more union members and encourage more existing union members to become health and safety reps has been launched by the TUC. The new TUC guide, published in partnership with Hazards magazine, notes that health and safety is a good way of recruiting members as concerns about workplace safety are one of the main reasons that people join a trade union. BTUC news release and Health and Safety and Organising guide in e-book and pdf formats. Strength in numbers, Hazards, number 133, March 2016. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: TUC renews safety warning on government plans
As the government’s Trade Union Bill continues its progress through parliament, the TUC has reiterated its warning about the dangers of restricting access to facility time for trade union safety representatives in the public sector. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson explained: “Health and safety reps’ functions are extremely variable and they may find that, if an unusual situation arises such as a fatality or the introduction of new safety systems, they are limited to an inappropriate, and potentially unlawful, cap.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog and report on the union effect and the benefits of paid time off for union reps. TUC guide to the Trade Union Bill.
Sign the petition against the Bill. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: Blacklisted workers occupy Skanska HQ
Union safety activists who were blacklisted by major construction firms for their safety and union activities occupied the lobby of Skanska’s Hertfordshire head office on 14 March. Police were called to the peaceful demonstration which lasted several hours, and which stopped only when the protesters voted to end the action.
Morning Star. Construction Enquirer. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: Helicopter tragedy must spur more improvements
Unions have said lessons from the 2013 North Sea helicopter crash that claimed four lives must lead to further safety improvements. The unions were commenting on the publication of the final Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report into the incident where a CHC Super Puma plunged into the sea on its approach to Sumburgh in August 2013.
BALPA news release. AAIB report. BBC News Online. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: Pilots call for an end to mental health stigma
UK pilots’ union BALPA has said pilots must not be discouraged from revealing any mental health problems as this could lead to more incidents like the March 2015 Germanwings crash that killed all 150 people onboard. The union was commenting on the publication of the final report by the French crash investigation agency, the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA), which found that neither Germanwings or its parent company Lufthansa could have done anything to stop Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who crashed the passenger plane into the Alps.
BALPA news release. IFALPA statement. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: Toxic cabin air legal cases rise sharply
The number of legal cases against UK airlines on behalf of cabin crew exposed to ‘toxic cabin air’ has increased dramatically. Unite says concern has been mounting over ‘fume events’ and exposure to contaminated aircraft cabin air, with the number of legal cases being pursued the union increasing from 17 to 61 in recent months.
Unite news release. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: UCATT slams delay in site death convictions
Construction union UCATT has condemned the ‘shocking and inordinate’ amount of time it takes to secure a criminal conviction following the workplace death of a British construction worker. It says latest official figures show that it takes 1,267 days - almost three-and-a-half years - for a firm responsible for the death of a construction worker to be convicted.
UCATT news release. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: FBU wants a supportive firefighter fitness system
Firefighters’ union FBU is looking to train fire service employees as personal fitness trainers in an effort to support firefighters to remain fit enough to do their physically demanding job. The move to provide FBU ‘personal training apprenticeships’ has attracted interest from more than threequarters of fire and rescue services in England, the union said.
FBU news release. National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services guidance, March 2016. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: Under threat Tube staff saved woman’s life
Staff cuts on the London Underground system are putting lives at risk, a rail union has warned after investigators confirmed that a woman dragged along a platform was only saved by the intervention of under-threat ‘safety critical’ Tube workers. Rail union RMT said the loss of “nearly 1,000 safety-critical station staff” has damaged the ability of staff to prevent fatalities — and hit out at Tube bosses for floating the idea of driverless trains.
RAIB news release. Morning Star. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Global: Industry funded studies deliver dangerously biased results
Occupational and environmental health studies with industry funding are more than four times as likely to report negative results, an analysis of hundreds of scientific papers has found. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health also identified a ‘dose-response’ effect, meaning the greater the industry backing the greater the likelihood the study would find nothing to worry about.
Lee Friedman and Michael Friedman. Financial Conflicts of Interest and Study Results in Environmental and Occupational Health Research, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 58, issue 3, pages 238–247, March 2016 [abstract]. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: Britain’s big role in promoting asbestos
UK-based scientists are playing a prominent role in promoting the continued use of asbestos around the world, according to a new investigative report. ‘Friendly fibre?’ notes that Britain has is home to some of the industry’s more turned-to experts, who have shown a ‘remarkable willingness’ to defend chrysotile, the most common and last remaining form of asbestos in commercial use.
Friendly fibre? How the asbestos industry turns to British scientists, Hazards, number 133, March 2016. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: Gas engineer put tenants at asbestos risk
A gas engineer removed potentially dangerous asbestos material during a gas boiler replacement putting himself and others at risk from exposure to asbestos fibres. Brian Hockin, 58, was removing an old warm air heating system at a residential property in Wrafton when he disturbed asbestos insulation board that surrounded the warm air boiler, ignoring concerns raised by tenants.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Global: New ITUC Workers’ Memorial Day guide
An ITUC brochure for use around International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April is available in English, French and Spanish editions. The guide spells out the reasons behind the three pronged theme for this year’s global activities – strong laws, strong enforcement and strong unions. 
28 April 2016: Mobilising for strong laws, strong enforcement and strong unions, ITUC, English language edition. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Europe: Unions call for an end to work cancers
Unions are warning that occupational cancer kills 100,000 people every year in the European Union (EU) and are calling for an end to this preventable waste of life. Europe-wide union federation ETUC says occupational cancer is the most common work-related cause of death, with between 8 and 16 per cent of all cancers in Europe the result of exposures at work.
ETUC news release. ETUI news report and publication alert.
Carcinogens that should be subject to binding limits on workers’ exposure, ETUI report no.136, March 2016. Stop cancer at work infographic. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

India: Unilever settles with poisoned workers
A 15-year struggle to secure compensation for hundreds of mercury poisoned former employees of Hindustan Unilever in India has ended in victory. The settlement between the company, part of the UK-headquartered multinational Unilever, and 591 former mercury workers from its thermometer factory in Kodaikanal was described by activists as an ‘unprecedented victory’ in a campaign that has attracted international support.
Hindustan Unilever news release. Kodaikanal campaign news release. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Korea: Winter Olympics workers at risk
At least two chronically overworked workers have died at construction sites for the Winter Olympic Games to be held in 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. “This is not a good start to ensuring that Sochi, Russia is not repeated in Pyeongchang,” said Ambet Yuson, general secretary of global construction union federation BWI.
BWI news release Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Japan: Fukushima’s desperate 'decontamination troops'
The ashes of half a dozen unidentified labourers ended up at a Buddhist temple in a town just north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. They were simply labelled ‘decontamination troops’, employed in Japan's massive clean-up campaign to make Fukushima liveable again five years after the area was contaminated with radiation. Japan Times. ABC News. Greenpeace news release. WHO ‘five years on’ questions and answers. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Hazards news, 12 March 2016

Britain: Don’t treat women like skivers, period
The decision by a Bristol company to implement a ‘period policy’, including the option for women to take time off has been met with a note of caution from the TUC. TUC women’s equality officer Scarlet Harris said: “Instead of menstrual leave policies, how about employers and government stop perpetuating the myth that workers on sick leave are workshy skivers?”
TUC Touchstone blog. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Britain: Big drop in HSE site inspections
There has been a dramatic decline in the number of inspections the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) undertakes on construction sites, the union UCATT has revealed.
The union said its Freedom of Information request had discovered the total number of HSE construction site inspections had fallen from 10,577 in 2012/13 to 9,656 in 2014/15, a reduction of 8.7 per cent.
UCATT news release. The Herald. Construction Enquirer. HSE strategy webpages. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Britain: Health and safety leaves your branch stronger
International Workers’ Memorial Day is the ‘perfect chance’ to reinvigorate union health and safety work – and possibly your union branch with it, the public sector union UNISON has said. Encouraging its safety reps to get active around the 28 April event, the union cites the example of its Pembrokeshire County branch, which used UNISON safety campaign materials to up the profile of the issue and in the process recruited 16 more health and safety reps, a new branch health and safety officer and saw safety reps planning more inspections and local health and safety training.
UNISON news report. TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. Add your 28 April event to the TUC . For tweeters, use the #iwmd16  
ITUC/Hazards global events listing. For Workers’ Memorial Day resources including ribbons and car stickers, contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre by email or phone 0161 636 7557 Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Britain: Big settlement follows devastating injury
A foundry worker has received a £1.6 million settlement after his left leg was crushed by a falling metal component, resulting in an amputation above the knee. The 58-year-old Unite member, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I hope my case will reinforce the importance of health and safety reps in the workplace and will reduce the chances of a similar accident happening to others in the future.”
Unite news release. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Britain: NHS staff need time to get healthy
A move by NHS England to improve the health of its 1.3 million staff by offering more support has received a qualified welcome from unions. They were responding after Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said from April hospitals and other providers of NHS care will for the first time be able to earn a share of a national incentive fund worth £600m improve the support they offer to frontline health staff to stay healthy.
UNISON news release. CSP news release. NHS England news release. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Britain: Nuclear sub workers exposed to radiation
Twenty workers at the Faslane nuclear submarine base were exposed to radiation in breach of safety rules, according to an investigation by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). A series of radiation blunders on Trident submarines docked at the Clyde naval port has been revealed in heavily redacted MoD documents obtained by the Nuclear Information Service, a campaign group opposed to nuclear weapons.
The Ferret. BBC News Online. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Britain: HSE criticised for occupational hygiene stance
The Health and Safety Executive’s developing approach to occupational hygiene – the measurement of exposures to chemicals, dust and other exposures at work – has come in for scathing criticism. Hans Kromhout, based at Utrecht University’s Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, said he was ‘amazed’ to hear an HSE presentation on ‘hygiene without numbers’, noting:  “‘Hygiene Without Numbers’ comes with a price and we all know who will have to pick up the bill.”
Hans Kromhout. Commentary: Hygiene without numbers, Annals of Occupational Hygiene, published online ahead of print, 2016. doi:10.1093/annhyg/mev096 Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Britain: Firm fined £120,000 after coal depot tragedy
A Motherwell firm has been fined for criminal safety offences after long-serving depot supervisor Margaret Corcoran, 66, was knocked down and killed by a truck at its Mossend coal depot. Investigators found Fergusson Distribution had no system in place to separate pedestrians and vehicles while staff “routinely” went into the yard where the tragedy occurred.
Motherwell Times. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Britain: Ten year wait for justice after son’s death
A mother whose son was killed in a crane collapse in Battersea, south London, has spoken of her agonising wait for justice after a trial date was set for 10 years after the tragedy occurred. Michael Alexa, 23, and Jonathan Cloke, 37, both died when a crane collapsed at a Barratt Homes development on 26 September 2006.
Wandsworth Guardian. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Britain: Aldi fined for smoke shelter blunder
Retail chain Aldi has been fined £100,000 for criminal health and safety offences after an unsecured smoking shelter was blown into a group of employees on a break. One employee was injured in the incident in October 2014 at the Aldi Stores Distribution Centre in Darlington.
Environmental Health News (EHN). Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Britain: Asda lorry crushed store worker
A Dundee warehouse worker who was crushed by an Asda lorry has receive a compensation payout from the retail giant. David Scott, 69, was working at the Milton of Craigie superstore in Mid Craigie on 25 November 2014 when he was injured.
The Courier. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Britain: TUC puts safety campaigner on video
The TUC’s YouTube channel is a great resource for union activists – and a new video includes a useful example of union safety at work. The short clip features Pauline, a paramedic and a GMB union rep for the Ambulance Service, who was able to redesign the ambulances her members were using, creating a safer environment where staff can now take better care of their patients.
Video clip on the TUC YouTube channel. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

New Zealand: Meat firm fined, then dismisses workers
The District Court in New Zealand has ruled that Talleys/AFFCO – a meat giant the global union federation IUF describes as a “serial rights abuser” - failed to meet its statutory obligations to provide a safe workplace. The court ruling came after an experienced night cleaner was impaled through the head by a meat hook and dragged along the line at the company's Rangiuru plant.
IUF news report. New Zealand Herald. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

South Africa: Gold miners win landmark silicosis scheme
Former South African gold miners and relatives of deceased ex-miners have reached a landmark settlement in their long-running legal battle against Anglo American South Africa Ltd and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. The 4,365 claimants sued the mining companies for the dust-related lung diseases, silicosis and silico-tuberculosis, which they claim resulted from working in unsafe, dusty conditions in the mines.
Leigh Day Solicitors. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

USA: Uranium workers dying of neglect
The towns of Grants and Church Rock in New Mexico were ground zero for US uranium mining from the mid-1950s until the early 1980s. But years, sometimes decades, after labouring in the mines and mills, workers developed the hallmark diseases associated with uranium exposure.
In These Times. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

USA: Health workers crumbling under the weight
In the United States, where two-thirds of adults are classified as overweight or obese, larger patients are increasingly the norm, and the healthcare industry has evolved in many ways to accommodate them, from developing sturdier medical equipment to building heavier-duty hospital beds. The sector has been much slower, however, to tackle other, subtler ways obesity weighs on the healthcare system, such as the toll of physically handling larger patients, despite the vast medical and financial benefits of doing so, nurses and other medical experts say.
International Business Times. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Hazards news, 5 March 2016

Britain: Safety reps have it all to play for
The TUC has said it is crucial the government’s Trade Union Bill faces a robust challenge – not least because it could make work a far more dangerous place. Hugh Robertson, the union body’s head of safety, said the proposed measures would allow the government to restrict the time given to trade union health and safety representatives in the public sector, allow inexperienced and inadequately trained agency workers to substitute for skilled, safety savvy workers during strikes, and restrict the ability of workers to strike over safety issues.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: Brexit could put safety rights at risk
The TUC has warned that workplace employment and safety rights underpinned by EU rules would be at risk if the UK votes to leave in the June referendum. ‘UK employment rights and the EU’ says decisions on which rights to keep – and which to amend or drop altogether – would be left to the government as it reviewed all UK laws linked to the EU.
TUC news release and full report, UK Employment Rights and the EU: an assessment of the impact of membership of the European Union on employment rights in the UK. TUC Stronger Unions blog. The Herald. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: UNISON to continue fight over tribunal fees
UNISON has welcomed a decision by the UK’s top court that means its fight can continue against imposition of ‘punitive’ fees to take a case to tribunal. The Supreme Court has granted the union permission to continue its legal challenge.
UNISON news release. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: Drone near-misses prompt new union action call
Pilots are calling for research into what would happen if a drone hit an airliner, after 23 near-misses around UK airports in a six month period last year. Steve Landells, BALPA’s flight safety specialist, said there was a large amount of data on the effects of bird strikes on planes, but he said specific drone research was needed because “birds don't have a big lump of lithium battery in them.”
BBC News Online. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: Unions steps up safety fight for rail ticket offices
Rail union RMT is targeting train operator Govia in a new phase in its fight over rail ticket office closures, a plan the union says will make the rail system more unsafe. RMT general secretary Mick Cash warned the company was looking to shed safety-critical staff cross at dozens of stations.
RMT news release. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: Supreme Court ‘landmark’ case on prison work
The Supreme Court has backed a prison employee’s right to claim damages from the Ministry of Justice after she was seriously injured when an inmate dropped a 25kg bag of rice on her. The landmark case, brought by the prison officers’ union POA, will change the legal definition of ‘employee’ and the law around vicarious liability.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: Why health and safety requires ‘cooperation’
Unions should remember that health and safety has lots of ‘special’ features that make it good for members and good for organising, a union safety specialist has said. Sarah Page, the national safety officer with the union Prospect, said it was worth considering “how unions achieve health and safety ‘voice’ at work.”
Prospect safety blog. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: Four believed dead in power station tragedy
A worker has been killed in a building collapse at Didcot power station and three others are “highly unlikely” to be found alive, Thames Valley Police has said. The Birmingham-based Coleman Group was awarded the contract to dismantle the Didcot A coal and gas-fired station, which collapsed while its workers were preparing the structure for demolition.
Thames Valley Police update. UCATT news release. HSE statement. Morning Star. The Guardian. Construction Enquirer. Coleman Group news release. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: Equality watchdog criticises sickness benefits cut
Conservative proposals to cut disability benefit by £30 a week have been attacked by the government's equalities watchdog. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHCR) said the cuts to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will “exacerbate, rather than reduce, existing inequalities”, in addition to disproportionately affecting disabled people.
The Independent. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: Waste firm fined £200,000 after worker tragedy
Derbyshire waste firm Rainbow Waste Management Limited has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a worker was crushed by the bucket of a motorised loading shovel. On 7 June 2013, Ashley Morris, known as Will, sustained fatal injuries to his head and spine when the bucket of the loading shovel he was operating crushed him.
HSE news release and transport checklist. Derby Telegraph. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: MoD gets ticking off over squaddie training deaths
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to receive a formal reprimand over the deaths of three soldiers on a training exercise in the Brecon Beacons in July 2013. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found a failure to plan, assess and manage risks associated with climatic illness during the training, this resulting in the deaths of the three men and heat illness suffered by 10 other on the training march.
HSE news release. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: TUC health and safety and organising guide
The TUC says an effective union needs two things: the first is a strong membership within the workplace; the second is high membership involvement. By encouraging members to participate, much more can be achieved than if members expect the union to ‘sort things out’.
TUC publication alert. Health and safety and organising - A guide for reps, TUC, March 2016, pdf and e-book versions. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: HSE strategy document out
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published its safety strategy for the next five years. The document, which repeats the same ‘six strategy themes’ announced in December 2015 ahead of the series of seven HSE ‘conversations’ around the country, does not include details of any concrete policy initiatives, targets or outcome measures. Helping Britain Work Well 2016, HSE strategy document, February 2016. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Australia: Unions to build ‘safety army’
Unions in the Australian state of Victoria as setting out to build a ‘union safety army’ – and will be starting by meeting potential union members before they ever set foot in a workplace. Launching the new trade union safety network, Luke Hilakari, secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC), said: “We want to build this OHS safety army,” identifying this as the union body’s ‘key performance indicator’ for the year.
Safety at work blog. We are union campaign and OHS webpages. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Europe: Better regulation – no, it really isn’t
A union campaign exploding the dangerous flaws in the ‘better regulation’ strategy in operation in Europe has been launched. The campaign slogan adopted by UNI Europa, the European services workers’ union, is ‘Better regulation – It really isn’t.’
UNI Europe news release and Better regulation – It really isn’t campaign. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Global: Seafarers get Zika virus guidance
The global transport unions’ federation ITF has issued a new guide “to help seafarers around the world to protect themselves from the Zika virus.” ITF maritime coordinator Jacqueline Smith said: “The reality for seafarers is that if they’re going to be able to take any precautions against contracting the virus – things like sleeping under mosquito nets, using repellent, wearing light covering clothing, covering water containers – they need to prepare in advance, before they are at sea for a number or weeks or even months.”
ITF news release and Zika virus guidelines. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Russia: Mine tragedy kills 36 workers
Explosions in a Russian coal mine have killed 36 workers, including rescue personnel. On 25 February, two explosions at the Severnaya coalmine in Vorkuta, believed to have been caused by methane gas, rocked the mine leaving four dead and 26 missing, and a further explosion on 28 February killed six rescue workers.
IndustriALL news report. Tass news agency. ABC News. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Hazards news, 27 February 2016

Britain: Unions are a live-saving, money-saving success
For every £1 spent on paid time off for public sector union reps to represent their members, taxpayers get at least £2.31 back in savings, according to a new study published by the TUC. The safety contribution is even more stunning - half of these savings come from the union success in reducing work-related injuries and ill-health.
TUC news release and full report, The benefits of paid time off for trade union representatives, TUC, February 2016.
The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety, TUC, February 2016. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Britain: Unions defend absence management ruling
Civil service unions have defended in the appeal court a 2015 High Court ruling that said the Department for Transport (DfT) broke employees’ contracts by introducing new, more punitive, sickness absence policies without reaching agreement with unions. Prospect, the FDA and PCS were at the Court of Appeal on 16 February to defend the judgment, which held that the sickness absence policies applied to employees in the central Department for Transport and its agencies are contractual.
Prospect news release. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

]Britain: Union wins ‘livesaving’ action on asbestos in housing
Action is being taken to protect tenants and maintenance workers in Wales against the danger of asbestos, after discussions between the union UCATT and the Welsh government. As a result of the talks, communities minister Lesley Griffiths has written to every local authority and registered social landlord in Wales calling on them to ensure contractors are fully informed of asbestos in a property before starting maintenance work.
UCATT news release. Free Press. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Britain: Union veteran puts rail asbestos risks on record
People across York probably breathed in deadly asbestos dust from the former York rail carriageworks in the late 1950s and 60s, a former union leader has warned. Former Unite (TGWU) rep and branch secretary Paul Cooper, 72, who worked at the factory in the city from 1959 until it closed in 1996 and has long campaigned about employees' exposure to asbestos, said huge extractor fans were fitted in an asbestos spraying workshop in the late 1950s which pumped dust into the air.
York Press. Slater and Gordon briefing on York carriageworks and asbestos. IBAS 2007 paper on rail union asbestos campaigns in the UK. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Global: Study confirms aircraft fumes risks
Union warnings about the dangers of toxic chemicals inside aircraft have been borne out by a new scientific study. Research carried out in Germany has confirmed flight attendants and passengers are exposed to toxins in cabin air.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Unite keep cabin crew safe campaign. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Britain: Why no action on ‘worst UK gangmaster ever’?
A corporate accountability group has welcomed news that for the first time, a British businessman has been prosecuted and sentenced for human trafficking offences, but has questioned why there has been no prosecution in a similar case involving a company described by officials as the ‘worst UK gangmaster ever’. Marilyn Croser, director of CORE, the UK coalition on corporate accountability, said Lithuanian workers were trafficked to the UK and put to work in chicken farms by British company, DJ Houghton Catching Services Ltd and its director, Darrell Houghton, and company secretary, Jackie Judge.
CORE statement. Leigh Day news release. Risks 740. 27 February 2016le]

Europe: Chemical rules pay for companies
Chemical safety rules are not a burden on businesses, but deliver a substantial net benefit, a new report has concluded. ‘The bigger picture’, published by the chemical safety think tank ChemSec, concludes chemical regulation creates opportunities for many progressive companies and shows these companies are not only opting for safer chemicals, but are finding the alternatives are frequently better too.
ChemSec news release and full report, The bigger picture: Assessing economic aspects of chemicals substitution, ChemSec, February 2016. BBC News Online. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Britain: Teenage farm worker drowned in grain
A Scottish farm has been sentenced after a teenager worker was killed while trying to clear a blockage in a grain bin. Jedburgh Sheriff Court heard how Zach Dean Fox, 19, was working for Seamore Farming at their premises at Deanfoot farm in Hawick.
HSE news release and grain silos guidance. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Britain: Company ignored HSE improvement notices
A London based company that fabricates structural steel products ignoring official safety notices demanding improved practices. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how William Fry Fabrications Limited failed to thoroughly examine two cranes used by the company, despite receiving both improvement and prohibition notices on this issue for its cranes in 2011.
HSE news release. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Australia: Union wins black lung public inquiry
An Australian union campaign to ‘Make Black Lung History’ has taken a big step forward with the announcement of a public inquiry into the devastating occupational lung disease. Tony Maher, president of the union CFMEU’s mining and energy division, said he was now confident there would soon be a solution to the growing health crisis.
CFMEU news release and Dust to dust: Make black lung history campaign. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Canada: Union praises first responder trauma law
A union has welcomed a new law in Ontario, Canada, recognising post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in emergency first responders. The legislation includes a presumption that PTSD diagnosed in first responders is work-related, leading to faster access to resources and treatment.
OPSEU news release. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Egypt: Call for justice for murdered researcher
Unions, the Italian government and human rights advocates have called for justice for Giulio Regeni, a 28-year-old Cambridge university postgraduate student tortured and brutally murdered in Cairo. Global union confederation ITUC said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi must ensure there is a full investigation.
ITUC news release. Education International news release. NUJ news release. Sign up to the Labourstart campaign for justice for Giulio Regeni. Egyptian Streets. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

USA: Ford spent $40m to influence asbestos science
Ford Motor Company spent $40 million on scientific studies designed to cast doubt on the link between asbestos brake linings and cancers including mesothelioma, an investigation has found. The probe by the Washington DC-based Center for Public Accountability said:“All told, testimony shows, Ford has spent nearly $40 million funding journal articles and expert testimony concluding there is no evidence brake mechanics are at increased risk of developing mesothelioma.”
CPI investigative report. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Hazards news, 20 February 2016

Britain: Union safety reps save lives, save millions
The UK’s network of 100,000 trade union health and safety reps not only reduce the toll of injuries and ill-health at work, but save the economy many millions of pounds, according to a new TUC report. ‘The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety’ reveals that workplaces with a union presence have a 24 per cent lower rate of injuries than non-unionised workplaces.
TUC news release and full report, The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Blacklisting exposes Trade Union Bill’s folly
Britain’s blacklisting scandal, which saw thousands of construction union reps victimised or denied work for raising safety concerns, provides ‘clear proof’ of the dangers posed by the government’s Trade Union Bill. TUC head of safety, Hugh Robertson said: “The blacklisting scandal is clear proof of why we need trade unions.”
Left Foot Forward blog. Blacklist blog. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Higher fines should spur safety improvements
New sentencing guidelines recommending much higher fines on firms that break health and safety laws should increase the pressure on unsafe employers ‘to clean up their act’, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said to make the system work better, there should also be more resources for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to cover the costs of bringing more cases to court.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Supreme Court win on protective equipment
Employers face having to provide protective footwear for staff following a landmark court ruling involving a care worker who slipped on ice at work. GMB member Tracey Kennedy fell and injured her wrist as she made her way to the home of a housebound woman in the Crookston area of Glasgow in the harsh winter of December 2010.
GMB Scotland news release. Video recording of the Supreme Court ruling. Digby Brown Solicitors news release. The Herald. STV News. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Lasers are ‘offensive weapons’ says pilots’ union
Lasers should be classed as ‘offensive weapons’ and banned in the UK, the pilots’ union BALPA has said. The union was speaking out after a New York-bound plane was forced to turn back to London Heathrow Airport after a laser beam hit the cockpit after take off, causing a ‘medical issue’ for one of the pilots
BALPA news release. The Telegraph. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Train drivers also at risk from lasers
Rail union RMT has warned that the risks from illegally wielded lasers are a threat to rail as well as aircraft safety. The union said any review in the wake of the Virgin Atlantic incident must include the impact of the ready availability of high-powered lasers on the wider transport industry.
RMT news release. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Bullying widespread in the police service
Around half of all police staff surveyed by the union UNISON said they had been bullied, with female staff significantly more likely to have been targeted. More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of female police staff told the union that bullying is a problem at work, and almost threequarters (72 per cent) reported they were not confident that their force will deal fairly with any complaints of bullying.
UNISON news release. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Unite member compensated for asbestosis
A former pipe fitter who developed the debilitating asbestos-related lung scarring disease asbestosis has received an undisclosed compensation payout. Unite member Michael Adcock, 64, worked as a pipefitter for a Leicestershire engineering company from 1968 to 1986, where he refurbished boilers that were insulated with asbestos. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Big win after postal workers back sick colleague
Postal workers in Somerset who stood up for a victimised sick colleague have won his reinstatement. CWU members at Bridgwater delivery office took action in support of Andrew Mootoo, who is profoundly deaf and also has multiple sclerosis, because management refused to allow him back to work after a bout of ill-health.
Bridgewater Mercury. Central Somerset Gazette. Morning Star. Socialist Worker. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Public back union on London fire safety
London’s fire chief should listen to the public and drop unsafe plans to axe fire engines in the capital, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. The union call came after a London Fire Brigade (LFB) public consultation found the overwhelming majority of Londoners are against mayor Boris Johnson’s plan to permanently axe 13 fire engines.
FBU news release. LFB news release. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Mental health plan at risk from service ‘salami slicing’
A record of ‘short-termism’ and ‘salami slicing’ by government ministers could undermine a new blueprint to get more people suffering mental health problems back to work, Unite has said. The union was speaking out after the prime minister launched ‘The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health’, a report by the independent taskforce on mental health.
Prime Minister’s Office news release. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Port health authorities in the dark over Zika
Most port health officers have not been told what they should do if they suspect air crew and travellers coming into the country have the Zika virus, the Association of Port Health Authorities has warned. Lynnette Crossley, a senior port health officer and APHA committee member, said Public Health England (PHE) had not yet circulated any guidance to ports other than those receiving direct passenger flights from the affected areas.
Environmental Health News.
INSI advisory on Zika and related guidance from the National Travel Health Network and Centre, US Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organisation Zika factsheet. Public Health England guidance for pregnant women. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Firefighter killed himself after colleague died
A firefighter found hanged at his station had been left traumatised by the death of a colleague, an inquest has heard. The coroner indicated that the death of firefighter Stephen Hunt may have tipped father-of-two Lee Gaunt, 41, over the edge, and said he was “concerned” at the adequacy of occupational health support provided to firefighters.
Manchester Evening News. More on work-related suicide. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Bed firm boss jailed over 'slave workforce'
A factory owner who ran his bed-making business on a “slave workforce” of men paid as little £10 a day has been jailed for two years and three months. Mohammed Rafiq, 60, employed large numbers of Hungarians at his firm Kozee Sleep and its subsidiary Layzee Sleep, which supplied retailers like John Lewis, Next and Dunelm Mill – but their ethical audits failed to spot what was going on.
West Yorkshire Police news release. BBC News Online. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Director convicted of explosives crime
Bryan Peacock, the director of a Shrewsbury company, has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after a 45 gallon steel drum that previously contained flammable liquid caught fire and exploded while being cut in half. Shrewsbury Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee of SPEL Products had reported the incident, and indicated this particular method of work had been in operation for a significant period of time, and that previous incidents had occurred.
HSE news release. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Star Wars to feel the force of law
A Star Wars production company is to be prosecuted over an injury to Harrison Ford during the filming of The Force Awakens, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced. Ford, reprising his role as Han Solo in the latest episode of the space blockbuster, was hurt by a hydraulic metal door of the Millennium Falcon during an on-set accident in June 2014 at Pinewood Studios near London.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Ireland: Death threats against journalists condemned
The Irish prime minister Enda Kenny and the media union NUJ have condemned the threats made against a number of journalists in the Republic of Ireland. The threats follow two killings in a gangland feud in Dublin.
BBC News Online. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Global: Fyffes accused of plantation abuses
Irish banana giant Fyffes has been accused of having “no respect” for workers’ rights, amid allegations that staff on Central American fruit plantations are being serially mistreated. The UK union GMB has called for Fyffes to be thrown out of the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), which promotes labour rights, over reports of abuses including chemical poisonings by Fyffes subsidiaries in Costa Rica and Honduras.
GMB news release. ETI response. Banana Link news report. The Guardian. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

USA: How to bury occupational brain cancers
A chemical giant responded to unexpectedly high numbers of brain tumours at one of its US plants by launching a flawed study to obscure the extent of the problem, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) has found. The CPI investigation, the latest in its ‘Science for sale’ series, examined the cancer cluster affected workers at the sprawling Union Carbide plant in Texas City but found the company’s researchers counted only one of the 23 brain tumour deaths at the plant in an influential study.
CPI investigative report. Work Cancer Hazards blog. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Hazards news, 13 February 2016

Britain: TUC condemns government attack on safety reps
A government attack on basic trade union rights could not only make workplaces more dangerous, it is at odds with the legal rights of trade union safety reps, the TUC has warned. Criticising the ‘nasty’ Trade Union Bill, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said clauses in the proposed law to curtail ‘facility time’ for union representatives in the public sector would have a ‘cynical’ knock-on effect on the lifesaving work of union safety reps.
TUC news release, Stronger Unions blog, Touchstone blog and Trade Union Bill briefing. ASLEF news release. The Mirror. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: ‘No excuse’ for widespread violence at work
One in eight people has experienced violence at work, according to new research published by the TUC. The poll over of over 1,600 adults carried out by YouGov for the union body, which has launched a new guide, reveals that 12 per cent of people have experienced work-related violence such as being pushed or spat on, punched or stabbed.
TUC news release, violence at work guidance and reporting form. Morning Star.
Hit list: TUC violence and abuse reporting form, Hazards magazine. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Unions back TUC violence action call
Unions representing health and retail workers have backed a TUC call for action to stem the widespread violence directed at workers. UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said the figures confirmed “the level of violence against medical and health care workers is unacceptably high” and John Hannett, general secretary of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, said: “All too often criminals who assault staff are not even sent to court, and those who are can receive derisory sentences.”
UNISON news release. Usdaw news release. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Under pressure blacklisters pay out millions
Victims of a construction industry blacklist which targeted union safety activists have been awarded up to £200,000 compensation. So far 71 former site workers have received “full and final settlements” worth £5.6m from major construction companies.
UCATT news release. The Mirror. Blacklist blog. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Union demands blacklisting public inquiry
Firms guilty of blacklisting safety and union activists should face an official public grilling, the union Unite has said. Unite head of legal Howard Beckett said not only did the construction companies’ blacklist amount to an illegal conspiracy, but it also involved defamation and misuse of private and confidential personal data — in breach of the Data Protection Act.
Morning Star. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Tube maintenance workers in safety action
Maintenance workers on London Underground (LU) are planning a series of 12-hour and 24-hour strikes in a dispute over safety. Rail union RMT said seven separate strikes are planned up to June over what it calls “lethal changes to track access.”
RMT news release. Evening Standard. BBC News Online. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Trade unions act on offshore crisis
Unions have joined forces in a new move to protect workers in the offshore oil and gas industry. Speaking at the launch in Aberdeen of the Offshore Co-ordinating Group (OCG), Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, said: “The collapse in the oil price since summer 2014 has had profound consequences for the oil and gas workforce,” adding: “There have been thousands of job losses, unprecedented attacks on terms and conditions and growing fears over the safety regime.”
STUC news release. Nautilus news release. BBC News Online. The Herald. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Public sector workers sleep-deprived, says study
Gruelling working hours across the public sector are leaving workers sleep deprived, with many only managing six hours sleep per night, a study has found. Research led by the University of Leeds and commissioned and funded by bed firm Silentnight found nearly a third of Britons suffered from sleepless nights as a result of long work hours and job-related pressure and stress.
Leeds University news release. TUC news release. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Asbestos-backed scientists caught out again
Asbestos financed scientists cited non-existent evidence to support claims made in a paper that downplayed the risks posed by chrysotile (white) asbestos, the only form of asbestos currently in commercial use. Two of the four authors of this paper - Fred Pooley and John Hoskins – are UK-based scientists, while a third, Edward Ilgren, is listed as formerly of the faculty of biological sciences at Oxford University.
Work cancer hazards blog. Edward B Ilgren, Frederick D Pooley, Yumi M Kumiya, John A Hoskins, Critical reappraisal of Balangero chrysotile and mesothelioma risk, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Public Health, volume 12, number 1, 2015. Erratum. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Fuel giant fined £3m over offshore leaks
One of the world’s largest oil and gas exploration and production companies has been fined £3 million after gas leaks on a platform off the Lincolnshire coast put workers’ lives in danger. ConocoPhillips (UK) Limited admitted serious criminal safety failings in Lincoln Crown Court after two uncontrolled and one controlled but unexpected gas release, which occurred on the Lincolnshire Offshore Gas Gathering System (LOGGS) between 30 November and 1 December 2012.
HSE news release and guidance on risk assessment for offshore installations. Grimsby Telegraph. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Exploding cylinder killed recycling worker
A scrap metal recycling company based in Sheffield has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was killed when he was hit in the head by an exploding gas cylinder. Sheffield Crown Court heard how Tony Johnson, aged 55, was working at the Walter Heselwood Ltd recycling site on 16 June 2009 when a pressurised gas cylinder was put through a shearing machine, causing it to explode.
HSE news release and waste and recycling webpages. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Window firm ignored safety warnings
A company that manufactures and installs windows has been fined after carrying out work in the West End of London with no measures to prevent workers falling eight metres. The lack of safety measures by Ideal Glazing (Euro) Ltd allowed part of a window to drop onto the pavement below.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Six figure fine after track worker is injured
Engineering company Babcock Rail Limited has been fined £400,000 for a criminal safety breach which led to a rail worker suffering serious injuries while renewing rail track in Flintshire, north-east Wales. Lee Woolly was helping to replace a line at Hope Railway Station when the incident happened in March 2013.
ORR news release. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Chemical giant fined for dangerous gas release
Multinational chemical producer, Solvay Solutions UK Limited, has been fined after a dangerous gas was released to the atmosphere causing disruption to the M5 and thousands of homes nearby. Warley Magistrates’ Court heard how the uncontrolled release put both employees and members of the public at risk.
HSE news release and COSHH webpages. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Salad firm fined over lost finger tips
A company that grows and packages salad has been fined after an employee lost the tips of two fingers in a dangerously modified bagging machine. Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court heard how the operator had reached under the guard to pull film through the machine at Vitacress Salads Limited.
HSE news release and packaging machinery webpage. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Global: Does your work pose a Zika risk?
The Zika virus began ringing public health alarm bells in May 2015 in Brazil and is now spreading rapidly – and may pose a risk to those working in or visiting affected countries. An advisory from the London-based International News Safety Institute (INSI) says so far there are confirmed cases in at least 23 countries – almost all of them in tropical South America, extending into Central America and the Caribbean.
INSI advisory on Zika and related guidance from the National Travel Health Network and Centre, US Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organisation Zika factsheet. Public Health England guidance for pregnant women. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Pakistan: Union roadmap to improve brick kiln conditions
A detailed roadmap for local agencies to address bonded labour and unsafe working conditions in Pakistan’s brick kilns has been created with the assistance of the US union organisation the Solidarity Center. The proposed programme includes incentives for employers to ensure their facilities meet decent work standards.
Solidarity Center news report. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

USA: ‘Rented’ scientists defend toxic chemicals
‘Rented white coats’ – scientists in the pay of vested interests – are defending toxic chemicals with horrific consequences for the workers these substances make ill. A ‘Science for sale’ investigation by the Washington DC based Center for Public Integrity (CPI) found industry-backed research has exploded “as government-funded science dwindles. Its effects are felt not only in courtrooms but also in regulatory agencies that issue rules to try to prevent disease.”
CPI investigative report. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

USA: E-recyclers take lead home to the kids
In 2009, when Anthony Harrell accepted a $10-an-hour job at an electronics scrap recycling facility in Cincinnati, he was happy to have found work that he liked and that would let him provide for his wife and two children. But Harrell didn’t know that when he went home his kids would inadvertently come in contact with the lead contaminating his hair, skin and clothes, suffering lead related mental problems as a result. Huffington Post. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Hazards news, 6 February 2016

Britain: Incidents highlight risks of ‘aerotoxic’ syndrome
The revelation that two flights in two days were forced to turn back to the UK last week following an outbreak of sickness among the cabin crew has added further weight to calls for a public inquiry into ‘aerotoxic syndrome’, the union Unite has said. The union said the abandoned flights, one to South Africa and one to the US, provided further evidence that leaks from aircraft engines are finding their way into the cabins causing the crew to feel sick but may also be further impairing the crew’s health.
Unite news release and Keep cabin crew safe campaign. Evening Standard. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Pilots want drone safety rules
A spate of serious near misses involving drones highlight the need for urgent action to prevent a collision with other aircraft, pilots’ union BALPA has said. It was commenting after a UK Proximity Board examination of seven incidents involving drones classed four in the most serious category A, where a serious risk of collision existed
BALPA news release. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: UCATT concern at five year justice delay
Construction union UCATT has said it is ‘highly concerned’ at a five-year delay in bringing criminal charges relating to the deaths of four workers on a development project. Adam Taylor (28), Peter Johnson (42) and brothers Thomas (26) and Daniel Hazelton (30), died on 21 January 2011, in what the union said was the worst fatal accident in the industry for many years.
UCATT news release. HSE news release. Morning Star. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Action call after sharp rise in retail violence
Retail union Usdaw has called for action to prevent violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers after the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported a sharp rise in incidents during 2015. Trade body BRC found offences involving abuse or violence against shopworkers were up by 28 per cent.
Usdaw news release. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Education staff under attack at work
Forty-three per cent of education staff have had to deal with physical violence from a pupil in the last year, according to a survey by the teaching union ATL. The union says of those who have experienced physical violence from a pupil: 77 per cent reported they had been pushed or shoved; 52 per cent had been kicked; 50 per cent had an object such as furniture thrown at them; and 37 per cent had been punched.
ATL news release. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Massive increase in railway race hate crimes
Race hate crimes on Britain’s railway networks have risen by 37 per cent in the past five years, an average of more than five reported incidents of abuse or harassment a day. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “These are truly shocking figures and match up with the reports that RMT members are feeding back to the union from the sharp end..”
RMT news release. The Guardian. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Large firms face higher penalties for safety crimes
New official sentencing guidelines should lead to a dramatic increase in penalties on larger firms for serious workplace safety crimes. An analysis by Howard Fidderman, editor of Health and Safety Bulletin, showed 16 of the 21 fines imposed on large companies were lower than the new starting point, while 14 of the 17 fines imposed on small and micro companies were higher.
Health and Safety Bulletin, number 445, January/February 2016. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Tribunal awards overwork payout
A construction worker forced to work 70-hour weeks has won a constructive dismissal case. David Brown, who worked as a site manager for Ogilvie Construction, was awarded £14,000 at a tribunal against the firm.
Planning and Building Control Today. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Report slams ‘well-being vacuum’ at work 
Despite increased business awareness of the importance of actively supporting health and well-being in the workplace, there remains a stubborn ‘implementation gap’ in UK workplaces, human resources body CIPD has said. Its new report, ‘Growing the health and well-being agenda: From first steps to full potential’, states that fewer than one in ten (8 per cent) of UK organisations currently have a standalone well-being strategy that supports the wider organisational strategy.
CIPD news release and report, Growing the health and well-being agenda: From first steps to full potential. Workplace well-being programmes: A guide for safety reps, TUC, December 2015. Hard to swallow, Hazards magazine, Number 132, December 2015. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Port firm fined after crushing death
Clydeport Operations Limited has been fined for criminal safety failings after 22-year-old maintenance engineer Craig Logan suffered fatal crush injuries on a faulty crane at its Hunterston Coal Terminal site in Ayrshire. The company was aware of the problem with the crane, whose cab had repeatedly become stuck along the boom, but over an eight month period had failed to fix it.
HSE news release. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Runaway HGV crushes worker to death
A Runcorn haulage firm has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after an employee was crushed to death by a runaway lorry. Tony Schulze, 49, had been trying to connect a cab to a lorry trailer when the incident happened at Freight First Ltd’s premises on the Astmoor Industrial Estate on 22 January 2011.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Worker mown down whilst assisting reversing lorry
A Shropshire company has been fined for criminal safety failings after the death of an employee. Mold Crown Court heard how Philip Ledward, 62, an employee of Arkenfield Stable Hire Limited (ASHL), was assisting one of the company’s lorry drivers when he was struck by a passing car and received fatal injuries.
HSE news release and workplace transport guide. Shropshire Star. Daily Post. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Britain: Company guilty after worker crushed by bricks
A Cheshire construction company has been prosecuted following a fatal accident in 2011 at a site in Wilmslow. Liverpool Crown Court heard that Edgemere Projects Ltd of Tarporley, Cheshire, was the main contractor at a construction site when on 7 January 2011, 23-year-old Andrew Dytiche sustained crush injuries when a pack of bricks fell on him.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Global: Unilever and unions in harassment agreement
Global soaps-to-snacks manufacturer Unilever has joined IndustriALL and IUF, the international trade unions representing the company’s union workforce, in a joint commitment to prevent sexual harassment in its workplaces worldwide.
IUF and IndustriALL news releases and joint statement. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Qatar: World Cup dream is a nightmare for workers
A union investigation has confirmed the migrant workers toiling to get Qatar ready for the 2022 World Cup are still facing overcrowded, squalid accommodation and deadly working conditions. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey was part of delegation that made a secret, after-dark trip to a labour camp in Al Khor, north of the capital Doha, to see the conditions and speak to the workers.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. TUC Playfair Qatar campaign. The Mirror.
ITUC multi-media investigation: Qatar Exposed and full report: Qatar: Profit and loss. Counting the cost of modern day slavery in Qatar: What price freedom? Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Korea: Samsung job caused ovarian cancer
A South Korean court has ruled that exposure to carcinogens at a Samsung semiconductor factory caused a worker’s ovarian cancer. The Seoul Administrative Court said it saw a “significant causal relationship” between the disease and even a low level of toxic chemicals because the worker Lee Eun-joo was exposed to carcinogens over a long period.
ABC News. Daily Mail. CNBC News. New York Times. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

New Zealand: Deadly abuses continue at meat plant
Global foodworkers’ union federation IUF is seeking support in its campaign for a respect for safety and labour rights at meat processing company Talley’s/AFFCO. IUF says “Talley’s/AFFCO is a serial rights abuser,” adding: This employer with a horrific record of workplace accidents has fired union health and safety representatives for meeting with their members and locked out 200 workers at the company's Wairoa meat plant to force them to abandon collective bargaining and accept individual contracts.”
IUF alert. Sign the letter to Talley’s: Lockout, dismissals, intimidation - serial rights abuses by New Zealand meat company Talleys/AFFCO. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Hazards news, 30 January 2016

Britain: Insurers want to curtail work deafness payouts
The insurance industry wants to make it more difficult to claim compensation for occupational deafness, the TUC has warned. The union body says despite a dramatic fall in the number of compensation settlements – down from 183,342 in 2002 to 103,401 – insurers have complained that noise induced hearing loss claims increased threefold in the last four years, from 9,334 to 27,490 - but the TUC says this represents statistical sleight of hand, not a genuine trend.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: Union calls for charges after safety cards scandal
A union has called for those responsible for a construction safety skills card scam to face the courts, after it was announced thousands of the cards had been revoked as a result of widespread fraud at five test centres. The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) confirmed this week they have revoked 4,615 cards followed the discovery of fraudulent activity at centres where candidates were taking tests accredited by both CITB and the British Safety Council (BSC).
GMB news release. UCATT news release. CSCS news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: UCATT exposes hidden migrant site deaths toll
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is being urged to review urgently its work methods and record keeping, following new evidence on migrant worker deaths. An investigation by construction union UCATT has discovered that of the seven construction workers deaths in London in 2014/15, five of the victims were migrant workers.
UCATT news release. Construction Enquirer. Morning Star. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: Site firms ordered to release blacklisting information
A High Court judge has ordered 30 construction firms, including Sir Robert McAlpine and Balfour Beatty, to disclose all emails and correspondence linked to the blacklisting of union reps and safety activists. The ruling came at the end of a two-day hearing last week where it emerged that documents had been destroyed linking the firms with the illegal covert blacklister, the industry-controlled and financed Consulting Association.
Blacklist blog. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: POA to seek judicial review on smoking in prisons
The prison officers’ union POA has told the prison service it is seeking a Judicial Review on the continuing risks posed by smoking in prisons. A phased move to smoke-free prisons was announced by the government in September last year, but POA says contact with Treasury solicitors since then has led the union to doubt “that a smoking ban will ever be implemented to protect the health and safety of both staff and prisoners from the damaging effects of second hand smoke.”
POA statement. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: Firefighter fears over PCSOs fire sideline
Firefighters fear lives could be put in danger over a controversial scheme to train police community support officers (PCSO) to do their jobs. Firefighters’ union FBU said cost-cutting is behind the move and could lead to conflicts of duties if the PCSOs were dealing with a policing incident at the same time as a fire.
The Mirror. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: Renewed warning after teacher dies of asbestos cancer
The death of a teacher from an asbestos cancer shows that school staff and pupils are still at risk of deadly asbestos diseases, unions have warned. The alert came after Lincolnshire coroner Paul Kelly recorded that Elizabeth Belt, who taught in schools in the county from 1968 to 1995, died as a result of an industrial disease, the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. Morning Star. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: Union approach leads to shipbreaking breakthrough
The UK government has agreed to sign up to an international convention on shipbreaking safety after an approach from the union Unite. Confirmation of the government’s willingness to ratify the Hong Kong Convention on shipbreaking came in a letter from transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. IndustriALL news release and shipbreaking campaign. The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: UK joins the fight to end modern slavery
The UK government has joined the vanguard of the fight against modern slavery, the TUC has said. Commenting after the UK became the third country after Niger and Norway to ratify a landmark International Labour Organisation (ILO) agreement to outlaw forced labour and modern slavery, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We welcome the Home Office’s move to ratify the ILO Forced Labour Protocol.”
TUC news release. TUC Touchstone blog. ILO news release, Forced labour protocol and recommendation and 50 for Freedom website. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: ‘Slave workforce’ conviction at bed maker
A West Yorkshire businessman has been convicted of employing large numbers of Hungarian men as a “slave workforce” at the now defunct Kozee Sleep bed factory in Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury. Mohammed Rafiq, 60, was found guilty of conspiracy to commission a breach of UK immigration law and will be sentenced on 12 February. BBC News Online. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: Balfour Beatty fined £1m after road worker death
Civil engineering giant Balfour Beatty has been fined £1 million after the death of a father-of-four repairing a barrier on the A2. Larry Newman, 37, was killed when he was struck by the arm of a crane being used in the work in October 2012.
HSE news release. Kent Online. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: Fine of £1m after worker gets trapped in gas cloud
One of the UK’s largest gas distributors has been fined £1 million after a worker became trapped in a ruptured gas main in Scunthorpe. On 24 June 2014, National Grid Gas (plc) was supervising repairs to the gas main when sub-contract worker Ryan Spencer was trapped between two gas pipes after one of them burst, breaking his femur.
HSE news release. Scunthorpe Telegraph. Construction Enquirer. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: Port operator fined £1.8m after ignoring workers
An Essex maritime terminal worker was serious injured when his arm became wrapped around a powered capstan, while mooring an ocean-going vessel. Basildon Crown Court imposed a fine of £1.8 million on port operator C.RO Ports London Limited, after the company plead guilty to criminal safety offences that contributed to the incident.
HSE news release. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: Pet food firm fined over worker death
A pet food company has been fined £80,000 over the death of a Lithuanian worker almost six years ago. Renatas Timofejevas, 36, was operating a loading vehicle at Alba Proteins at The Racks, near Dumfries, when he was found crushed under the boom arm.
BBC News Online. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: Wilko fined following forklift death
Retail chain Wilko has been handed a £200,000 fine after an employee was killed in a crash between two forklift trucks at one of the firm’s distribution centres. George Hancock, 52, died in December 2011 after sustaining injuries in the incident.
Bassetlaw District Council news release. Hucknall Dispatch. Environmental Health News. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Britain: Polish migrant worker electrocuted on farm
Pengelly Farms Ltd has been ordered to pay £125,000 for a criminal safety breach that led to the death of a young worker. Konrad Miskiewicz, 24, from Poland was electrocuted by an overhead power cable when working on a potato harvester near Falmouth, Cornwall in July 2011.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Falmouth Packet. West Briton. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Global: New guide to tackle bullying at sea
New guidance to combat bullying and harassment at sea has been developed by the industry body the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the global union the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). As well as providing advice on company policies on reporting, complaints and grievance procedures, the guidance addresses the responsibilities of seafarers and their employers to use these procedures appropriately and for being aware of any harassment or bullying that might occur within the maritime workplace.
ICS/ITF Guidance on Eliminating Shipboard Harassment and Bullying. Nautilus publication alert. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Canada: Union calls for national asbestos registry and ban
A Canadian union leader has called for a national registry of the location of asbestos materials. The call from Philip Venoit, president of Vancouver Island Building and Construction Trades Council, came after latest figures from Statistics Canada revealed new cases of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma had doubled across the country, from 276 cases in 1992 to 560 cases in 2012.
Work cancer hazards blog. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Europe: Unions push for better laws on work cancers
Unions are to work throughout the Dutch Presidency of the European Union to develop a preventive approach to occupational cancer. During this presidency, which runs from January to June, the Dutch government has expressed a desire to update the EU Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive, a longstanding union objective.
Work cancer hazards blog. Why we need to focus on work-related cancer, ETUC, January 2016. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Japan: Cancer victims press for justice and prevention
Two of five workers who developed bladder cancer while working at a chemical factory manufacturing dyes and pigments are demanding that the Japanese government recognise their illness as job-related. Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, the pair called on their employer - Tokyo-based Mitsuboshi Chemical - to make urgent improvements in conditions at the plant in Fukui Prefecture.
Japan Times. Work cancer hazards blog. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

USA: GE workers fear PCB health effects after job loss
Workers set to lose their jobs at a General Electric plant in the US fear serious diseases linked to their exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) could hit them later in life. The union representing the workers at the GE Fort Edward plant is citing concerns over exposure to toxic PCBs – used in manufacture of capacitors at the plant - in pressing the company to pay for health testing after workers lose their jobs.
Work cancer hazards blog. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Hazards news, 23 January 2016

Britain: Workers' Memorial Day – this year, it’s the law
As preparations begin for this year’s 28 April Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) event, the TUC has announced the global campaign focus. “In 2016 the theme for the day is ‘Strong Laws - Strong enforcement - Strong Unions’ because across the world we are seeing growing attacks on health and safety protection, including in Britain where the government have removed protection from millions of self-employed workers, and across Europe where the European Commission is pursuing a dangerous deregulatory strategy,” the union body said.
TUC news alert. TUC 2016 Workers’ Memorial Day activities listing. Add your 28 April event to the TUC . For tweeters, use the #iwmd16  ITUC/Hazards global events listing.
For Workers’ Memorial Day resources including ribbons and car stickers, contact the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre by email or phone 0161 636 7557. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: ‘Purgatory’ for workers on North Sea slave ships
A Scottish government committee has called on the UK Coastguard Agency to respond to safety concerns after offshore union RMT condemned conditions aboard some vessels operating in the North Sea as “purgatory.” RMT regional organiser Jake Molloy said the conditions aboard some ships were “appalling” with “less competent, less able and less willing workers being exploited in order to exploit our natural resources.”
Scottish Parliament economy, energy and tourism committee news release. Morning Star. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: TSSA action warning on rail safety in Scotland
Rail workers in Scotland have warned a train operator it will face industrial action if it presses ahead with cuts to the numbers of “safety critical” control staff. White collar rail union TSSA said plans to reassign ScotRail Alliance train control staff - the rail equivalent of air traffic control - will place a huge strain on the safe management of Scottish trains and so increase the risk of accidents on the network.
TSSA news release. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: Waste staff balloted after phone-in sacking
Sheffield council workers are being balloted for industrial action after a private firm sacked a union member for asking a question about safety and employment conditions on a BBC local radio phone-in programme. GMB member Martin Lyons was fired by Veolia-run Green Co on 14 January after the company claimed he had brought it into disrepute by asking council leader Julie Dore on air about a long-running dispute on the contract.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: Government wrong to go easy on gangmasters
Construction union UCATT has warned that the government’s proposal to relax the licensing of gangmasters will lead to greater exploitation and the mistreatment of workers by employment agencies. The union was commenting on the government’s plans to reform the powers, function and scope of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), changes the TUC warned could increase exploitation of vulnerable workers.
UCATT news release. BIS/Home Office response to the consultation on tackling exploitation in the labour market. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: Poor prison training led to medical retirement
A former prison officer has been awarded £185,000 in compensation after he suffered a permanent shoulder injury when taking part in mandatory control and restraint training at work. Robert Warren, a member of the prison officers’ union POA, was working at HMP Wealstun in West Yorkshire at the time of the incident.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: Blacklisters up offers in bid to evade courts
Payouts of more than £150,000 have been offered by major construction firms to victims of the construction blacklist. In a statement, the Blacklist Support Group said: “The High Court litigation has reached a crucial point with the companies offering money in an attempt to buy themselves out of any justice.”
Construction Enquirer. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: Snooping at work is an unhealthy intrusion
Unions, human resource experts and employers’ bodies have said that snooping on staff is an unwelcome and sometimes unhealthy intrusion. The organisations were speaking out after Europe's top court ruled a Romanian man whose employer read his messages had not had his rights violated.
TUC news release. IoD news release. CIPD news release. BBC News Online. Hazards magazine workplace privacy webpages. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Global: Supply chain audits fail to report abuses
The ethical audits used by global companies to establish their adherence to decent labour, safety and environmental standards could in fact be a convenient and damaging alternative to effective regulation and enforcement, according to a new report. Researchers’ from the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI), a part of Sheffield University, interviewed business executives, non-profits, supplier firms and auditors, and concluded “ultimately the audit regime is ‘working’ for corporations, but failing workers and the planet.”
SPERI news release. Ethical audits and the supply chains of global corporations, SPERI Global Political Economy Brief No.1, Sheffield University, January 2016. TUC Touchstone blog. The Guardian. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Global: Supply chain abuses cause injuries and deaths
Research by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has revealed the global supply chains of 50 companies employ only six per cent of workers in a direct employment relationship. Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said the system results in “indefensible workplace injuries and deaths”, adding: “Only by exposing the practices of these companies to consumers and citizens around the world will companies begin to take responsibility for their supply chains and follow the rule of law.”
ITUC news release and report, ITUC Frontlines Report 2016: Scandal Inside the global supply chains of 50 top companies. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: Woman finished for chemotherapy time off
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been accused of sacking an employee just days before Christmas after telling her she had taken too much time off work while undergoing chemotherapy. Pauline Fisher, 65, who has been diagnosed with incurable kidney cancer, had worked at a DWP-run disability centre in Blackpool for 10 years before being signed off sick for six months last June.
ITV News. The Independent. The Mirror. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: Peril for night shift workers on drive home
Workers driving home after a night shift are at an increased risk of a road traffic accident, a US study suggests. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Liberty Mutual Research Institute found that for post-night shift drives nearly 44 per cent were ended early for safety reasons compared to none of the post-sleep drives.
Michael L Lee and others. High risk of near-crash driving events following night-shift work, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, volume 113, number 1, pages 176–181, 5 January 2016. Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety news release. Pump Handle blog. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Global: Textile dust linked to rheumatoid arthritis
Occupational exposure to textile dust is associated with almost three times the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to new research published online in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. The research, which led the authors to call for better control of dust in the textiles industry, also linked exposure to genetic changes that hasten progression of the disease.
BMJ news release. Chun Lai Too and others. Occupational exposure to textile dust increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis: results from a Malaysian population-based case-control study, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 14 January 2016. doi 10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-208278 Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: Worker suffered cement burns on first day Building products manufacturer Stressline Limited has been fined after an agency worker suffered serious cement burns on his first day of work. Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard how the inexperienced 21-year-old – on his first day of full-time employment – was exposed to alkaline cement slurry while standing in a drainage pit.
HSE news release and cement hazards factsheet. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Britain: Director fined after skylight fall
The company director of a sash restoration company has been fined for his criminal safety failings after a worker fell three metres through an unprotected skylight. Salisbury Magistrates’ Court heard how on 14 July 2014, an employee of the Sash Restoration Company (Dorset) Limited fell through an unprotected skylight while replacing sash windows on a large manor house, breaking his wrist, although the firm failed to report the injury.
HSE news release and work at height toolbox Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Canada: Manager gets jail time after work deaths
Unions in Canada have said health and safety laws across the country now have real clout, following the jailing of Metron Construction manager for this role in the death of four employees. Vadim Kazenelson, 40, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail for an incident in which four workers died and another was critically injured after falling 13 storeys from a scaffold outside a Toronto apartment building on Christmas Eve 2009.
OFL news release. CLC news release. Toronto Star. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

DRC: Kids mine the cobalt used in smartphones
Children as young as seven are working in perilous conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to mine cobalt that ends up in smartphones, cars and computers sold by household brands including Apple, Samsung and Sony, according to an investigation by Amnesty International. The human rights group claims to have traced cobalt used in lithium batteries sold to 16 multinational brands to mines where young children and adults are being paid a dollar a day, working in life-threatening conditions and subjected to violence, extortion and intimidation.
Amnesty International news release, video and report, This is what we die for: Human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo power the global trade in cobalt. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Thailand: Worker rights activist faces prosecution again
Workers’ and migrants’ rights activist Andy Hall has faced the courts in Thailand again, after exposing the abuse of migrant workers in a Thai pineapple canning factory. Andy, a British passport holder, faces a seven-year prison sentence and a hefty fine for his part in writing a research report critical of the Natural Fruit Company Ltd’s employment practices.  
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Glenis Willmott MEP news release. The Telegraph. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

USA: Wellness programmes now come with threats
Dale Arnold, who worked for plastics maker Flambeau in Wisconsin, USA, chose not to take his work-sponsored health assessment and biometric screening. The company responded by pulling his health insurance coverage. Bloomberg News. Workplace well-being programmes: A guide for safety reps, TUC, December 2015. Hard to swallow, Hazards magazine, Number 132, December 2015. Risks 735. 23 January 2016

Hazards news, 16 January 2016

Britain: Bad employers could benefit from gangmaster reforms
The TUC has raised serious concerns over government changes to the role of Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). Commenting on the government’s 12 January announcement of its intention to reform the powers, function and scope of the GLA, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We are concerned that government proposals to make licensing more flexible will lead to fewer workplace inspections, leaving workers more vulnerable to exploitation.”
BIS/Home Office response to the consultation on tackling exploitation in the labour market. TUC news release. GLA news release. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: TUC dismay at asbestos cancer levy cut
The government should not cut the levy on insurance companies introduced to meet the cost of otherwise uncompensated cases of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on a government announcement that the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Levy for 2015/16 will be reduced to £23.2m from £32m in 2014/2015.
TUC news release. Ministerial statement 12 January 2016. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: Cameron’s flaky thinking on Euro deregulation
The British demand for a Europe-wide “target to cut the total burden on business” might not just be wrong, it might be unachievable, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said even with the stated support of vice-president of the Commission, Frans Timmermans, the attempt by Britain has far from universal approval.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: Post union acts until asbestos all clear
Union members at a Merseyside postal delivery office have returned to work after securing assurances about asbestos safety in the building. CWU members at the Kirkby office walked out after suspected asbestos was discovered while contractors were renovating the building.
Liverpool Echo. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: Privatised back to work tests a failure
The government's privatised system of assessing sick and disabled social security claimants is still failing claimants and taxpayers, civil service union PCS has said. The union was commenting after a National Audit Office (NAO) report concluded the Department for Work and Pensions has not achieved value for money in its management of health and disability assessments for employment and support allowance (ESA) and personal independence payments (PIP).
PCS news release. NAO report and news release. Statement from Commons public accounts committee chair Meg Hillier. Morning Star. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: RMT slams ‘pathetic’ death penalty on contractor
Rail union RMT has criticised as “pathetic” and “wholly inadequate” a fine handed out to a major rail construction company for a series of failures that led to the avoidable death of one of its workers. Carillion Construction Ltd was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £36,570.39 following a prosecution for the criminal breach of health and safety laws that led to the death of a Scott Dobson.
RMT news release. ORR news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: UK not pulling its weight on worst chemicals
Despite being a major player in global chemicals production, the UK is showing little interest in efforts to control the most dangerous substances, a new report suggests. A report from the European Environment Bureau (EEB), reveals the UK government has only proposed two Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), chemicals including carcinogens and reproductive toxins targeted for phase-out.
CHEM Trust news report. EEB news release. A Roadmap to Revitalise REACH, EEB, December 2015. Health and Safety Executive online document on ‘Selecting substances to propose for authorisation, restriction, evaluation or harmonised classification and labelling’. ECHA SVHC webpages. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: Bad employers sometimes pay
While employment tribunal fees have drastically reduced the number of cases and typical awards for claimants are generally four-figure sums, tribunal decisions still occasionally cost employers dear. A round up six-figure employment tribunal awards in 2015 compiled by human resources magazine Personnel Today shows that far more substantial settlements can occur – and discrimination against sick workers was behind almost half of these bigger payouts.
Personnel Today. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: UK asbestos giant spied on activists
Executives at the world’s biggest asbestos factory spied on journalists and safety and environmental campaigners who exposed the killer dust’s dangers. Secret industry documents reveal that the executives at Rochdale-based asbestos giant Turner and Newall (T&N) monitored people they considered to be “subversive” and kept a dossier on their activities, then used a media and political campaign to try to discredit them.
The Independent. IBAS blog. Hazards magazine. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: Academy fined over asbestos risks
An academy trust has been fined for its criminal failure to manage asbestos and ensure the safety of builders working at a Medway school. Representatives from the Williamson Trust pleaded guilty at Medway Magistrates Court, where it was heard asbestos had been uncovered during work in 2012 at the Hundred of Hoo Academy, one of the trust’s schools.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Kent Messenger. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: Firms fined after asbestos failings
A food company and its contractor have been fined after asbestos was disturbed during building work and only identified by chance when an asbestos removal contractor came to the site. Stafford Crown Court heard no asbestos survey had been carried out by Mizkan Euro Ltd or DH Welton & Co Ltd.
HSE news release. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: Man escapes jail after apprentice dies in fire
A gas supplier whose workshop fire escape was padlocked shut, resulting in the death of an apprentice in a fire, has been given a suspended jail term. Poorly trained teen Jarrad Swan died after becoming trapped in Steve Adams' workshop when an oxygen bottle he was trying to fill exploded.
Kent Police news release. Thanet Gazette. ITV News. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: Firms fined for agency worker’s devastating injuries
Two companies have been fined after a construction worker suffered life changing injuries when he received an electric shock from an overhead power line. Ashley Coe, an agency worker working on site for Pascon Limited, was part of a group of workers laying cables in a trench for a British Solar Renewables Limited (BSR) windfarm when the incident happened on the 13 March 2013. 
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Western Morning News. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: Family loses home after cement mixer death
A cash-strapped mum and sister had to move out of their home after a family member was killed when his arm got caught on a conveyor belt and he was pulled into a cement mixer. Billy Ridge, 26, was clearing sand around the base of a conveyor belt at a cement bagging plant when his arm got drawn into a roller.
Daily Mirror. Barking and Dagenham Post. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Britain: TUC working in the UK online rights guide
The TUC’s international department has produced ‘Working in the UK - a guide to your rights’, an employment rights online guide in 17 languages, to help inform people of their working rights in the UK. TUC says this resource, which includes a detailed health and safety section, is a good organising and recruitment tool for union organisers.
Working in the UK - a guide to your rights. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Canada: Lung cancer added to firefighter scheme
Firefighters and fire investigators in Ontario, Canada, no longer have to prove their lung cancer is work-related to claim workers’ compensation. From 1 January 2016 the condition has been added to a list of cancers presumed to be work-related for Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) benefits.
CBC News. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Italy: Olivetti asbestos trial gets underway
Seventeen ex-managers at the electronics firm, Olivetti, are on trial over allegations that asbestos exposure at a factory in the Piedmont town of Ivrea caused 14 deaths. The accused, who include Franco De Benedetti, the current chief of scooter manufacturer Piaggio, worked for the company between the late 1970s and 2000.
The Local. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

[chemicals]Global: Electronics firms pressed on substitution
Electronics companies are starting to respond to pressure to reduce their use of chemicals that are known to be hazardous to human health, the environment or both. The industry’s slow steps away from damaging chemicals follows increasing recognition that electronics manufacture is causing cancer and other serious health effects in exposed production workers, all the way along the supply chain.
Ensia. IPEN. International Campaign for Responsible Technology. Green Chemistry & Commerce Council. Substitution Support Portal. GreenScreen for Safer Chemicals. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Global: Prevention of cancer ‘demonstrably’ works
A greater emphasis on prevention of cancers would reap considerable benefits, the director of the UN’s cancer agency has said. Christopher Wild, who heads the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said figures vary, “but one can safely estimate that 40 to 50 per cent of cancers could be prevented if the accumulated knowledge about causes could be translated into effective primary prevention.”
Christopher Wild. Precision in the fight against the global cancer problem, Health Management, volume 15, issue 4, 2015. IARC monographs and prevention guides.
ITUC/Hazards work cancer hazards. Risks 734. 16 January 2016

Hazards news, 9 January 2016

Britain: TUC action call on flooding hazards
The TUC has called for a properly thought out government strategy together with the funding necessary to address funding risks. The union body, which has updated its flooding guide for safety reps, was speaking out in the wake of widespread flooding across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire.
TUC news release, Touchstone blog, Stronger Unions blog and guidance on flood risks. CWU news release and guidance. Government floods guidance. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: FBU calls for coordination not cuts in flood response
Better national coordination of fire and rescue and investment, instead of cuts, is required if emergency services are going to be respond properly to flooding, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. The union said the threat posed by the large scale floods witnessed in recent weeks is beyond the capacity of local services to cope.
FBU news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Firefighters laid low by water-borne bug
Thousands of pounds of compensation has been paid out to firefighters from across the UK who fell ill after taking part in training at the National Watersports Centre. The training was carried out at the centre, at Holme Pierrepont in Nottinghamshire, between 2009 and 2012 and led to 66 firefighters falling ill with sickness and diarrhoea. Each firefighter received between £1,000 and £10,000, with Nottinghamshire County Council paying out a total of £88,312.50 in compensation after settling 54 claims without accepting liability. Water at the centre flowed from the River Trent, which was found to contain harmful bacteria. Due to the physically demanding nature of the training, it led to almost all of those attending the courses ingesting the water and falling ill. The Fire Brigade Union (FBU) South West branch instructed Thompsons Solicitors to carry out investigations into cause of the sickness. Despite evidence establishing contaminated water was responsible for the ill-health, the centre was still advertised to fire brigades as a safe place to carry out the ‘Swift Water Rescue Training’. Tam McFarlane, executive council member for South West FBU, said: “Rather than accepting their mistakes, bosses have fought every claim in full, wasting vast sums of taxpayers' money on legal defence fees that should be spent protecting the public.” Kevin Digby, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Sixth-six FBU members have been laid low by this failure and there are many others who have been affected.” He added: “Listening to your staff, listening to experts, and basic health and safety isn't rocket science.”
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Nottingham Post. Buxton Advertiser. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Safety criminal guilty, but workers were fired
A serial offender sentenced in December 2015 for its criminal safety failings had previously fired workers after blaming them for the incidents, their union GMB has said. Anglian Water Services Limited (AWSL) was fined £400,000 with costs of £41,711 after pleading guilty to criminal safety breaches.
GMB news release. HSE news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Unite says ‘say no to unsafe jobs’
Unite is urging its union reps to reject to unsafe jobs. A new guide, part of Unite’s ‘Looking for trouble’ health and safety campaign, urges reps to ‘say no’ to taking risks, dangerous work, cutting corners and to putting production before safety.
Unite Say No to unsafe jobs, say Yes to make it safe guide. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Fall caused physical and mental injuries
A Unite member who suffered a workplace fall that caused physical and psychological injuries has been awarded more than £100,000 in compensation. The 56-year-old man from Rotherham, whose name has not been released, was sent by his employer to fix a roller shutter door at a client’s premises when the ladder he was using slipped and fell from under him.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: HSE to revisit GB health and safety strategy
‘Leading industry figures and other key influencers’ are being urged by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to join a ‘conversation’ on the future strategy for Great Britain’s health and safety system. Pre-empting these responses, the safety regulator has published six themes that the five-year strategy will cover: Promoting broader ownership of workplace health and safety; highlighting and tackling the burden of work-related ill-health; supporting small firms; enabling productivity through proportionate risk management; anticipating and tackling the challenges of new technology and ways of working; and sharing the benefits or Great Britain’s approach.
HSE news release and strategy webpage and twitter discussion, hashtag: #HelpGBWorkWell. HSE’s new facebook page. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Unhealthy workplace trend confirmed by reports
Two new reports have confirmed an upward trend in work-related ill-health under the Conservatives. Since the Conservatives defeated Labour in 2010/11, self-reported work-related illness has increased by 7 per cent, up from 1.16m cases to 1.24m in 2014/15. 
Doctor? No: HSE defends its impotence in the losing battle against work’s diseases, Hazards, number 133, December 2015. IHE news release and preliminary Marmot indicators.
Hard to swallow: TUC warns that firms and government have an unhealthy preoccupation with your lifestyle, Hazards, number 133, December 2015.  Workplace well-being programmes: A guide for safety reps, TUC, December 2015. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Bad exposures not bad luck causes cancers
Workplace, environmental and other ‘extrinsic’ exposures cause of up to 90 per cent of cancers, researchers have concluded. The study by a team at Stony Brook University in the US was prompted by a heavily criticised paper in the journal Science which in January 2015 claimed ‘bad luck’ was behind most cancers.
Stony Brook University news release. Scientific American. BBC News Online.
Song Wo, Scott Powers, Wei Zhu and Yusuf A Hannun. Substantial contribution of extrinsic risk factors to cancer development, Nature, published online 16 December 2015. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Global: BP boss says deadly blast was a ‘near death’ experience
The explosion on a BP rig off the US coast in 2010 led to a ‘near death experience’ for the company, its chief executive has said. Bob Dudley was commenting on the Deepwater Horizon blast that killed 11 workers, caused one of the worst environmental disasters in the US and saw BP pay fines and compensation and sell off more than £30bn ($45bn) in assets.
 BBC News Online. BBC Radio 4 Today programme. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Blacklisters can’t bid for Scottish public contracts
Companies that are involved in ‘blacklisting’ will be excluded from bidding for public contracts in Scotland, under new regulations being laid in the Scottish Parliament in December 2015. From 18 April 2016, it will be a legal requirement for public bodies to exclude businesses found to have breached the Blacklists Regulations 2010, or which have admitted to doing so.
Scottish government news release and consultation responses. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Military veterans to quality for asbestos lump sums
Military veterans with mesothelioma can now receive lump sum payments of £140,000, after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) revised compensation rules. The move came after the Royal British Legion said British veterans who developed the terminal cancer caused by asbestos exposure during their military service were being unfairly treated, as they were only eligible for incremental war pension payments after being diagnosed with the rapidly lethal cancer.
MoD news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: College student dies from Weil's disease
A student has died of Weil's disease after helping at an animal charity, Public Health England has confirmed. Following the death, a court order was granted which restricts public access to Northamptonshire Animals in Need of Nurturing and Adoption at Irthlingborough.
Northamptonshire Telelgraph. Northampton Chronicle. BBC News Online. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Firm fined £700,000 for crane driver’s manslaughter
Baldwins Crane Hire has been fined £700,000 after the death of its operator Lindsay Easton at the Scout Moor wind farm in East Lancashire four years ago. Following a trial in November 2015, the company was found guilty of corporate manslaughter, failing to ensure the safety of its employees and failing to ensure the safety of other persons.
Lancashire Police news release. Construction Enquirer. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Slough Observer. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Suspended sentences for deadly directors
Wooburn Landscapes Limited was fined £50,000 with £9,680 costs after landscape gardener Russell Meech, 27, was killed when he fell under the wheels of a telehandler. The company’s directors Andrew Schofield and Mark Schofield were each given a four and a half months prison sentence, suspended for eighteen months and 250 hours of unpaid community service.
HSE news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Community service after road roller death
Globalreward Limited was fined £10,000 with £30,750 costs after employee Andrew Poole, 56, was killed as a result of crushing injuries to his head when the ride-on road roller he had been operating drove over him after the driver’s seat sheared off. The company’s director Paul Thomas Andrews was sentenced to two months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to do 200 hours community service.
HSE news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Six figure fines for two death firms
Cemex UK Operations Limited was fined £700,000 plus £90,783.78 costs and Cape Industrial Services Limited £600,000 plus £90,783.78 costs after John Altoft, 29, was killed when he fell to his death after being struck by falling debris inside an industrial tower.
HSE news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Hanson fined £750,000 after crushing death
Manufacturing company Hanson Packed Products Ltd was fined £750,000 plus costs of £29,511 after 26-year-old worker William Ridge was fatally crushed when his arm was caught in a powered roller.
HSE news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Britain: Power firms fined after wind turbine death
Siemens Public Limited Company was fined £107,000 and RWE Innogy UK Limited (RWE) £45,000 after 27-year-old Colin Sinclair was killed when he came into contact with the unguarded rotating shaft of a gearbox within a turbine at Causeymire windfarm. HSE news release. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Australia: Historic ruling on safe rates for drivers
Global transport unions’ federation ITF has welcomed an historic ruling in Australia requiring firms to pay minimum safe rates to truck drivers. Australia’s Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal ruled on 18 December 2015 that drivers should be paid for waiting at depots, loading and unloading and for the time it takes to clean, inspect and service their trucks and trailers.
ITF news release and Safe Rates campaign. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Europe: Commission breached law on endocrine disrupters
The European Court of Justice has ruled that the European Commission has not been quick enough in identifying and banning potentially harmful ‘endocrine disrupting’ chemicals, linked to cancer, reproductive and other adverse health effects. The December 2015 ruling came in a case brought by Sweden on behalf of the Nordic states.
EU Court news release. ClientEarth news release. Swedish government news release. ChemSec news report. BBC News Online. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Qatar: Companies profiting as workers die
A report from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) estimates that a $15 billion (£10.2bn) profit will be made by companies working in Qatar on infrastructure for the controversial 2022 FIFA World Cup, using up to 1.8 million migrant workers as modern day slaves. The report is critical of Qatar for failing to deliver changes to labour rights or compliance, and warns implicated construction companies, hotels, retail chains and UK and US universities of the cost of doing business in a slave state.
ITUC news release, multi-media investigation: Qatar Exposed and full report: Qatar: Profit and loss. Counting the cost of modern day slavery in Qatar: What price freedom? Risks 733. 9 January 2016

USA: Tighter silica exposure standard ‘in sight’
The Obama administration in the US is moving forward with long-delayed rules intended to protect workers from potentially deadly exposures to silica dust. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirmed on 21 December 2015 that it had sent the rules to the White House for final approval, a step that comes after years of delays.
In These Times. Politico. Silica, part 2: A line in the sand, Hazards, number 127, 2014. Silica, part 1: Dust to dust: Deadly silica standard is killing UK workers, Hazards, number 126, 2014. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

 

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