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Hazards news, 16 November 2019

Britain: Meditation lessons ‘not the answer to brutal police cuts’
The roll out across England and Wales of meditation lessons to reduce stress for police staff does not address the long-term budget cuts that are the root cause of the problem, the union Unite has said. The union, which represents crime scene investigators, police dispatchers and other frontline support roles, said that a 25 per cent reduction in police staff numbers since 2010 has led to an “explosion of stress-related sick leave” that is “impacting on the effectiveness of forces as a whole”. 
Unite news release. The Guardian. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Record high stress shows bosses need to fix bad jobs
The root causes of record high levels of stress-related ill-health at work must be tackled by employers, the TUC has said. Policy officer Kathryn Mackridge said employers are increasingly signing up to “awareness days” and “wellbeing initiatives” without investing in the resources, policies and training to support the workers being harmed by bad management practices.
TUC blog. Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain 2019, HSE, 2019.
TUC resources: TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress; Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives; TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace; TUC mental health awareness training; TUC health, safety and wellbeing guide. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Under-resourced fire crews left to tackle flood dangers
There must be a new statutory duty for firefighters in England to respond to flooding, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. The union said England lags behind other parts of the UK, where fire services have a legal duty to respond to funds and can obtain funds to cover the costs of this work. 
FBU news release. TUC news release. Environment Agency news release. BBC News Online. The Mirror. The Guardian.
Health and safety in flooded areas, TUC, 2014. When it pours: Flood preparation can save lives, Hazards magazine factsheet. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Train track sewage risks ‘could lead to strikes’
Unite has warned the broken promise to end the practice of train toilets dropping sewage on tracks by the end of the year is putting the health of rail maintenance staff in danger - and it says unless immediate action is taken the union will ballot for industrial action. Unite says seven years ago there was a cellulitis epidemic at the Neville Hill maintenance depot in Leeds, affecting six people, two of whom nearly died, and there have been further less serious outbreaks of cellulitis more recently.
Unite news release. Yorkshire Post. The Guardian. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: RMT steps up strike action over SWR driver only plans
Rail union RMT has confirmed that a total of 27 days of strike action will take place in December on South Western Railway (SWR) after the company “dangled a potential breakthrough deal in front of the union and then failed to honour it, offering no reasons for the delay.” The union said the company’s “unremitting failure” to give assurances that their new operational model won't move to driver controlled operation “with the role of the guard butchered completely” means the union has been left with no alternative but to call further industrial action.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Sky News. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Dismay at ‘bombardment’ of attacks on firefighters
There were 1,170 attacks on UK firefighters in the last year, according to new research from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). The FBU research shows in England there were 961 attacks on firefighters in 2018/19, up by 3 per cent on the year before; both Scotland and Wales saw attacks on firefighters rise by over a third, with 72 and 44 attacks respectively.
FBU news release. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Welsh teachers want aggression tackled
Posters should be displayed in Welsh schools warning against violence or threats to staff, the teaching union NEU Cymru has said. The union claims aggressive behaviour is a growing concern and is calling for a review of the causes.
BBC News Online. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Retail staff facing routine ‘shocking’ violence
An average shopworker is verbally abused, threatened or assaulted more than 21 times a year, research by the retail union Usdaw has round. The annual survey results, published to coincide with the union’s 11-17 November Respect for Shopworkers Week and which include a harrowing dossier of case histories, revealed round two-thirds of shopworkers have experienced verbal abuse, 41 per cent were threatened by a customer, and nearly 5 per cent were assaulted.
Usdaw news release and Respect for Shopworkers Week, 11-17 November 2019. BBC News Online. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Stark warning to employers on the cost of work stress
Employers must ensure that they are investing in their people rather than paying lip service to addressing work-related stress, a mental health charity has warned. James Rudoni, managing director of Mates in Mind, said: “With the HSE’s report highlighting the challenges which work-related ill-health poses and the specific areas in which employers and organisations can work to be better and make a change - the report comes as an important warning that more organisations need to take action.”
Mates in Mind news release. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Unions back Suzy Lamplugh work violence charter
The unions GMB and NASUWT have pledged their support for the Suzy Lamplugh Trust’s charter for employee safety. ‘Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety’ is intended to help employers and employees to make workplaces safer for everyone, the trust said.
NASUWT news release.  Suzy Lamplugh Trust news release and Suzy’s Charter for Workplace Safety. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Union calls for safety assurances after theatre ceiling collapse
Theatre technicians’ union Bectu has said it will work with its sister unions and a theatre owner to ensure safety is prioritised after several audience members were injured when a London theatre’s ceiling collapsed. The incident occurred at the Piccadilly Theatre during a 6 November performance of Death of a Salesman starring US actor Wendell Pierce.
BECTU news release. BBC News Online. Variety. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Drone registration scheme will improve safety, say UK pilots
UK pilots’ union BALPA has said a new drones registration scheme will help improve safety in the air.  Under the new arrangements, UK drone pilots have until the end of November to register their details with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and drone users must also take an online test.
CAA drone registration requirements. BALPA news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Manslaughter charges over 2015 mill blast deaths
A company and its management are facing criminal charges over the deaths of four workers in an explosion at a wood flour mill. Owners Wood Treatment Ltd has now been charged with corporate manslaughter; director George Boden is accused of manslaughter by gross negligence and two managers also face charges.
CPS news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Dairy farm fined after worker blinded by disinfectant
Beechdean Farm Limited has been fined for a criminal safety offence after an employee was permanently blinded by corrosive cleaning chemicals. High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court heard that in August 2017, an employee was cleaning the walls of the dairy at Old House Farm in North Dean, Buckinghamshire, using the corrosive disinfectant DM CiD, which contains potassium hydroxide.
HSE news release. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Australia: Another state to get a safer silica standard
AWorkers exposed to silica dust in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) will be protected by a new, more stringent exposure standard at least half the UK limit, the state’s government has announced. NSW minister for better regulation and innovation Kevin Anderson said: “To reduce the possible exposure to silica dust, the NSW government will support SafeWork Australia’s recommendation to reduce the Australian Workplace Exposure Standard from 0.1 to 0.05 mg/m³, and will also support SafeWork Australia undertaking further research on whether a reduction to 0.02 mg/m³ is achievable.”
Safework NSW news release. NSCA Foundation News. The Conversation.
UK ACTION: Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective silica standard no higher than 0.05mg/m³ and with a phased move to 0.025mg/m³. www.hazards.org/HSEstopkillingusRisks 923. 16 November 2019

Brazil: Dam owner Vale failed to report deadly danger signs
The collapse of a dam that killed at least 250 people in Brazil in January could have been prevented if its owner had reported defects to authorities, the mining regulator has concluded. The National Mineral Agency (ANM) said in a statement that mining giant Vale had failed to report warning signs before a sea of waste from the Feijão dam engulfed a canteen, offices and farms in Brumadinho, in Minas Gerais state.
BBC News Online. Wall Street Journal. Voice of America. Risks 923. 16 November 2019.

Japan: Microsoft four-day week shows less works better
Microsoft’s introduction of a four-day week without loss of pay for its employees in Japan led to a massive increase in productivity, the software giant has said. The Microsoft Japan trial began in August 2019, from when offices shut every Friday – and based on sales per employee, workers were almost 40 per cent more productive in the compressed hours of August 2019 as they were the same month a year earlier.
TUC blog. Sora News 24. Quartz at work. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

USA: Chemical firm fined $1.59m after deadly explosion
A US silicone factory has been fined $1.59 million (£1.23m) for safety violations that were uncovered following a blast on 3 May 2019 that killed four workers. The deadly incident in Waukegan, around 50 miles north of Chicago, happened at AB Specialty Silicones where the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) identified 12 ‘wilful’ federal safety violations.
OSHA news release. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Hazards news, 9 November 2019 

Britain: Government contempt leads to more working wounded 
The outgoing Conservative government has overseen an increase in work fatalities, injuries, work-related ill-health and record work stress cases in Great Britain at the same time convictions and fines for criminal workplace safety offences have plummeted, new official statistics have revealed. The new figures for 2018/19 from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) expose government policies that have created a growing army of ‘working wounded’, too insecure and low paid to go sick.  
HSE news releaseHealth and safety at work: Summary statistics for Great Britain 2018, 30 October 2019. Risks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: Record high stress shows bosses need to fix bad jobs  
The root causes of record high levels of stress-related ill-health at work must be tackled by employers, the TUC has said. The union call came as new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics revealed a shocking 602,000 workers in Great Britain are now suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, with workload cited as the most common reason.  
Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain 2019, HSE, 2019. TUC blog and resources: TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stressTackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representativesTUC workbook on mental health in the workplaceTUC mental health awareness trainingTUC health, safety and wellbeing guideRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: GMB shames Boris as figures expose safety cuts and carnage 
The GMB has warned that Boris Johnson’s long-held contempt for workplace health and safety is reflected in the Conservative government’s cost-cutting attitude to workers’ lives. Citing a 2009 article by Boris Johnson in the Telegraph newspaper, GMB’s Jude Brimble said: “Boris Johnson may think health and safety campaigners are the 'Royal Society for the Extremely Stupid' - but these are people’s lives we are talking about.”  
GMB news releaseHSE 2018/2019 statistics tablesHealth and safety fears are making Britain a safe place for extremely stupid people, Boris Johnson, The Telegraph, 6 July 2009 and related 2017 article in the IndependentRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: Unite concern as site injuries go up and prosecutions down 
New figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showing a rise in construction injuries and a fall in prosecutions show bad employers are being allowed to ignore safety law to “boost profits”, the union Unite has warned. The HSE’s figures show that the number of non-fatal injuries per 100,000 workers rose from 359 in 2017/18 to 366 in 2018/19; during the corresponding timeframe there was a 22 per cent decrease in the number of construction prosecutions undertaken by the HSE, which fell from 202 in 2017/18 to just 158 in 2018/19.  
Unite news releaseConstruction EnquirerRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Global: NUJ push to end impunity for crimes against journalists 
The journalists’ union NUJ has contacted ambassadors and other country representatives in the UK to press for an end to crimes against journalists and the impunity of those responsible. The union said it has picked a series of countries to focus on this year as part of the global campaign – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malta, Yemen, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Palestine/Israel, Peru, Philippines and Ukraine.  
NUJ news release and IFJ campaign and toolkitRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: Assaults on prison staff hit record high 
Experienced prison workers will continue to be driven from their jobs by escalating violence unless the government takes urgent action, prison unions have warned. The unions Community and POA were speaking out after latest Ministry of Justice figures revealed record numbers of assaults on prison staff.  
Community news releasePOA news releaseSafety in Custody Statistics, England and Wales, MoJ, 31 October 2019. Risks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: Usdaw slams government inaction on abuse of shopworkers  
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has said it is disappointed by another government refusal to commit to the measures necessary to reduce the abuse of shopworkers. The union comments came in response to a 5 November Westminster Hall debate on prevention of retail crime.  
Usdaw news releaseRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: RMT condemns ‘broken promises’ over excrement on tracks 
Rail union RMT has condemned train companies for reneging on a pledge to eliminate the dumping of excrement on the railway by the end of this year. The union said the failure “shows that profit is more important to them than the rail workers who will continue to have to work in disgusting unsanitary conditions amongst the raw sewage.”  
RMT news releaseThe ObserverRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: Grenfell fire inquiry is yet to target the ‘true culprits’  
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) should not take the blame for the “impossible” circumstances that hindered the Grenfell Tower rescue operation, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The true culprits of the fire are those who wrapped the building in flammable cladding, who gutted the UK’s fire safety regime, who ignored the warnings from previous fires, and who did not hear the pleas of a community worried for their safety.” 
Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase One report. FBU news releaseUnite news releaseGMB news releaseMorning StarBBC News OnlineConstruction EnquirerThe IndependentEvening StandardRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: New building safety watchdog will be able to levy big fines
The government has said it intends to create a powerful new Building Safety Regulator. The government indicated the new regulator will oversee the design and management of buildings, with a strong focus on policing the new regime for higher risk buildings and it will have the power to take quick and effective action, imposing heavy fines, when designers and contractors fail to comply.  
Government news releaseConstruction EnquirerRisks 922. 9 November 2019 

Britain: RMT warning on bad oil and gas industry report 
Offshore energy union RMT has reacted with concern to an industry report confirming the ‘unacceptable’ safety record on UK oil and gas installations. Trade association Oil and Gas UK’s just released annual health and safety report for 2018 shows increases in injuries and reportable safety incidents, including hydrocarbon releases, as well as a rising backlog of safety critical maintenance work on installations.  
RMT news releaseOGUK Health and Safety report 2019Risks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: University fined after researchers exposed to sensitisation risk 
The University of Edinburgh has been fined for failings which led to two animal research workers, who were already sensitised to laboratory animal allergens (LAA), being put at risk of adverse health effects as a result of further exposures. The University of Edinburgh pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was fined £10,000.  
HSE news releaseRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: TUC guide on responding to work-related stress 
The TUC has issued updated guidance for trade union safety reps on work-related stress. The guide takes into account HSE last month conceding to union demands that it should also investigate cases of harassment and bullying where management’s wider organisational failings are a contributory factor. 
Responding to harmful work-related stress, TUC, November 2019. 
HSE ‘reporting a concern’ update, advice on How to report a work related stress concernTackling stress workbookstress management standards and other HSE workplace stress resourcesRisks 922. 9 November 2019
 
Britain: New diesel exhaust fume risk prevention guide  
A new resource “to help workers protect themselves from dangerous diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEEs)” has been launched by IOSH, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. The card advises people working with or around diesel-powered equipment or vehicles to turn off engines if not needed, use tailpipe exhaust extraction systems, use workplace air extraction, wear a mask, and get trained.  
IOSH news release and pocket card for workers on how to prevent exposure to DEEEs. 
UNION RESOURCES: Diesel exhaust in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, October 2018. Fuming feature, Diesel out prevention factsheet and Die diesel die pin-up-at-work poster. Hazards 144, October-December 2018. Unite diesel exhaust registerguide for members and posterRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Australia: Bosses could face work suicide ‘manslaughter’ charges  
Negligent bosses in the Australian state of Victoria could face up to 20 years in jail and multi-million dollar fines over the suicide deaths of ‘brutalised’ workers under a proposed workplace manslaughter law. The Victorian state government says the proposed laws will cover deaths caused by mental injuries, including trauma from bullying or other forms of abuse sustained on the job, as well as accidents and illnesses caused by unsafe workplaces.  
Victorian government news releaseThe AgeYahoo 7 NewsThe AustralianRisks 922. 9 November 2019 

Australia: Mental illness is fastest growing workplace hazard 
Mental illness is the fastest growing workplace hazard in Australia and costs hundreds of billions per year, a Productivity Commission draft report has concluded. National union federation ACTU welcomed the commission’s recommendations on workers’ compensation, including no-liability treatment for mental health injuries and claims.  
ACTU news releaseProductivity Commission draft report, 31 October 2019. Related Productivity Commission videoRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Australia: Deliveroo workers demand safety after deaths 
Food delivery riders in Australia have sent letters to Deliveroo demanding that the company comply with workplace health and safety laws. The union members believe this would help address the dangers they face, including collisions with cars, lethal falls from their bikes and heat stress.  
TWU news releaseDelivery Riders Alliance. Risks 922. 9 November 2019 
 
Malawi: Tobacco farmers challenge multinational abuses 
Almost 2,000 tobacco tenant farmers from Malawi, including hundreds of children, are taking legal action against British American Tobacco (BAT) accusing the multinational of forced and child labour. The child farmers carry out much the same work as the adult farmers including building ridges for planting, harvesting tobacco leaves, applications of toxic pesticides and bundling tobacco leaves.  
Leigh Day news releaseUS Customs and Border Protection withhold release order on tobacco from MalawiThe Guardian and related story. Risks 922. 9 November 2019  

Hazards news, 2 November 2019

Britain: Older workers bear the brunt of night working growth
Older workers are represented disproportionately in Britain’s growing army of night workers, a new TUC analysis has found. The analysis of official data shows that 3.25 million people - more than 1 in 9
TUC news release and related release. The health and safety of older workers, TUC guide, 2014. More on older workers and health and safety. The Guardian. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: Insecure workers exhausted and lack ‘time, control and trust’
A report published from the Scottish Trades Union Council (STUC) has found that people in insecure work, such as zero- and short-hours contracts, are exhausted and concerned by a loss of control over their time. ‘Time, control, trust: Collectivising in precarious work’ is based on research conducted by the STUC and academics from the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde.
Time, Control, Trust: Collectivising in Precarious Work, STUC and the Universities of Strathclyde and Glasgow, October 2019. Better Than Zero website. Morning Star. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: Ex-footballers at greater risk of degenerative brain diseases
A landmark study funded by the charitable arm of the UK footballers’ union PFA and the Football Association has confirmed former professional footballers are much more likely to die of degenerative brain diseases compared to the general population. Commenting on the findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine, lead author and consultant neuropathologist Dr Willie Stewart said: “This analysis revealed that risk ranged from a 5-fold increase in Alzheimer’s disease, through an approximately 4-fold increase in motor neurone disease, to a 2-fold Parkinson’s disease in former professional footballers compared to population controls.” 
PFA news release. University of Glasgow news release and FIELD study webpages. BBC News Online. BMJ research news.
Daniel F Mackay and others. Neurodegenerative disease mortality among former professional soccer players, New England Journal of Medicine, 21 October 2019. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1908483  Related NEJM editorial. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: Sexual harassment common across the music industry
Almost half (48 per cent) of musicians have experienced sexual harassment at work, research by the Musicians’ Union (MU) has found. The union said ‘alarmingly’ over four in five (85 per cent) victims did not report the harassment.
Musicians’ Union news release and end sexual harassment petition. Become of supporter of the MU – for free! The Independent. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: Flybe was warned of drinking water problems months ago
Bosses at the airline Flybe had been alerted by Unite to the unhealthy quality of the water supplied its flight crews on several occasions before a contaminated batch led to disruption to flights on 23 October, the union said. Unite regional officer Peter Coulson said: “This was a serious health matter, which caused severe disruption and could have easily been avoided.”
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: Academy chain’s plan to axe staff could risk school safety
The safety of pupils and staff could be at risk if Ormiston Academies Trust – which runs primary and secondary schools across England – follows through with plans to cut caretaking and maintenance jobs, schools union UNISON has warned. UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “Time and time again we’ve seen large organisations impose cost-cutting measures that sound good in the boardroom, but in the real world lead to poorer services, low morale, unemployment and, in this case, safety risks.”
UNISON news release. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: CWU safety reps support safe driving action
A road safety campaign being held jointly by postal union CWU and Royal Mail is to kick off on 4 November. CWU said the intention of the initiative “is to raise awareness amongst our members who are drivers about the importance of road safety and the importance of ‘Taking The Time’ and not rushing when driving.” Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: Brexit negotiators removed 'adequate' from worker rights plan
An internal UK government memo on the consequences of Boris Johnson's Brexit deal renegotiation singles out as a “win” the removal of the word “adequate” from the UK-EU Political Declaration to describe mechanisms for enforcing common social, environmental, and labour standards after Brexit. The note written for the government's cross-Whitehall Economic Partnership Steering Group indicates the word “adequate” has been replaced by the word “appropriate”, making it possible to argue it is “inappropriate for the future UK-EU relationship” that disputes about these commitments on employment, environment, tax, state aid and other standards should be subject to binding arbitration.
Financial Times. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: Rig evacuation raises cost-cutting fears
Offshore union RMT has questioned whether cost-cutting played a part in the closure and evacuation 115 workers from a North Sea oil platform following a subsea structural inspection. EnQuest said it evacuated the Thistle Platform, about 125 miles north-east of Shetland, in a precautionary move on the evening of 21 October.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: Pilots welcome new counter-drone strategy
UK pilots’ union BALPA has welcomed the latest announcement from the government on its counter-drone strategy. New police powers will be set out in the Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill, while other pledges have been set out in the counter-drone strategy.
BALPA news release. Government news release and UK Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Strategy. Morning Star. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: Urgent research call on air pollution and outdoor workers
New research showing that hospital admittances related to cardiac arrests, strokes and severe asthma attacks go up when air pollution levels spike has prompted a new warning on the risks facing outdoor workers. Commenting on the data from King’s College London, Matthew Holder, the head of campaigns at the British Safety Council (BSC), said: “Although Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said that King’s research provided the evidence of a ‘health emergency’, the government, the regulator and employers are complacent about this risk and are reluctant to take urgent and appropriate action.”
BSC news release. KCL news release and initial report. The Independent. BBC News Online. Sky News. The Mirror. The Guardian. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: DHL fined £2.6m after tyre centre death
Logistics company DHL has been fined £2.6 million for criminal health and safety breaches after an employee at its Coventry tyre distribution centre was killed in an avoidable accident. Robert Baynham, 50, was crushed when a stack of tyre stillages toppled and two of them fell through the roof of the office where he and three colleagues who were also injured were working.
Coventry City Council news release. Coventry Observer. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Britain: Winter safe work guide
As the clocks change and days get colder and darker, trade union personal injury law firm Thompsons Solicitors has published a short online guide to ‘Staying safe at work in winter’. A brutal cold snap earlier this year led to ‘red weather’ warnings and widespread problems for workers, including employers docking the wages of some who were unable to make it to work as transport was inoperative or the journey was too hazardous.
Staying safe at work in Winter guide, Thompsons Solicitors, 2019.
HSE temperature webpages. TUC guides: TUC guide to working in extreme temperatures and Health and safety in the aftermath of flooding. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Australia: Government union-busting bills criminalise safety protests
The Australian government’s determination to proceed with the ‘extreme’ union-busting Ensuring Integrity and Worker Benefits bills would leave unions less able to keep workers safe or fight for better pay and conditions, the national union federation ACTU has warned. It said by ignoring evidence to a senate inquiry of the inevitable damaging consequences of the changes, the government demonstrated that these bills are not about good policy but a ‘blind attack on the union movement’ which will hurt millions of working people.
ACTU news release. Financial Review. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Europe: Spain warned by unions not to sacrifice workers’ health
Europe’s top trade union body has condemned Spanish government proposals to reduce the protection for workers against cancer-causing substances. The government plan is on the pretext of transposing the newly revised European Union (EU) directive on carcinogens or mutagens at work into national law – but the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is urging Spain’s caretaker government to abandon the plan to increase the exposure limits for the workplace carcinogens crystalline silica, acrylamide and bromoethylene.
ETUC news release. Work cancer hazards blog.
UK silica campaign: Choked! The evidence for introducing a lifesaving new silica dust exposure limit, Hazards, Number 147, September 2019. Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective UK silica exposure limit no higher than 0.05mg/m³ and with a phased move to 0.025mg/m³. www.hazards.org/HSEstopkillingus. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

USA: ‘Captive’ regulator linked to Boeing crashes
Boeing’s defective 737 Max jet design was able to get by regulators because the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was too reliant on the company to vouch for its safety, according to a multinational taskforce. John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union, which represents thousands of mechanics with American Airlines, said the international fact-finding report showed the consequences of the FAA becoming a captive of the industry it regulates.
Salon. FAA updates on the Boeing 737 Max. Seattle Times. New York Times. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Hazards news, 26 October 2019

Britain: UNISON plan to improve work for menopausal women
Guidance aimed at improving workplace conditions for employees who are experiencing the menopause has been published by the public sector union UNISON. The union says its ‘Menopause is a workplace issue’ guide is aimed at supporting employers to create a working environment where female staff feel supported.
UNISON news release and Menopause is a workplace issue guide. BECTU news release. Prospect news release. NUJ news release. ACAS news release and Menopause at work guidance. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: TUC leads the way on menopause in the workplace
In 2003, the TUC’s groundbreaking ‘Working through the change’ report first raised the issue of the menopause as an important occupational health issue;. in 2011, it produced the first edition of its now updated ‘Supporting working women through the menopause’ guide for union representatives. Now the TUC has now produced a new interactive guide reiterating why ‘the menopause is a workplace issue.’
TUC menopause at work interactive guide, Supporting working women through the menopause: guidance for union representatives and details of TUC’s Working through the change report, 2003. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: Union action call on violence as shop crime soars
Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has called for government action after official figures revealed a 15 per cent increase in police recorded incidents of shoplifting in England and Wales over the last decade. The union said theft from shops is a main trigger for violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.
Usdaw news release. Police recorded crimes in England and Wales, ONS, 17 October 2019. BBC News Online. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: Unite spearheads campaign against hate crimes on buses
A powerful film promoting a zero tolerance approach to hate and racist crime on London’s buses has been launched by Unite. The transport union campaign comes as latest figures revealed hate crime on the capital’s buses rose by 9.3 per cent in the year to March 2019.
Unite news release and Unite/TfL film. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: RMT anger at government misses bus opportunity
The government has missed an opportunity to reverse the dangerous decline in the quality of jobs and services on England’s bus system, the transport union RMT has said. RMT was commenting after the government published its response to the Transport Select Committee’s ‘Health of the Bus Market’ inquiry on services outside the capital.
Transport Select Committee Health of the Bus Market inquiry and the government’s 18 October 2019 response and national bus strategy. RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: 'Don't sack 12,000 Asda workers just before Christmas'
GMB has written to Asda bosses calling on them not to sack 12,000 workers just before Christmas. In an open letter to senior vice-president Hayley Tatum, GMB urges the company to withdraw its threat to sack all workers who don’t sign the controversial Contract 6 on 2 November.
GMB news release. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Europe: Safety week meeting marked Dutch worker’s death
UK construction union Unite has backed a memorial event held on 19 October to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Dutch construction worker Joop Vanbergh on Colchester’s Hythe Bridge bypass. The event organised by the Colchester Trades Council took place ahead of the annual European Health and Safety Week, which this year ran from 21-25 October.
Unite news release. European Week for Safety and Health at Work. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: Government ditches binding workers’ rights commitments
Unions and the Labour Party have warned that Boris Johnson's reworked Brexit deal would threaten workers' rights and protections in the future. While the prime minister has insisted the UK will “maintain the highest possible standards in social protections and the environment”, he has removed the commitment from the legally-binding Brexit deal he says he will push through by 31 October.
TUC news release and blog. Labour Party news release. Unite news release. GMB news release. Usdaw news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. The Mirror. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: Workers fear the sack for reporting sexual harassment
One in four young women are scared they will be sacked if they report sexual harassment at work, a study has found. The research by Young Women’s Trust found that just 6 per cent of young women who had been sexually harassed at work reported the misconduct.
Young Women’s Trust news release. The Independent. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: Cabin fumes gave BA passengers breathing problems
Passengers on a British Airways flight to Valencia which filled with smoke mid-air two months ago have said they are still experiencing breathing difficulties.  Immediately after the August 2019 incident, UK cabin crew union Unite – which has introduced its own airline fume events register - repeated its call for an inquiry into toxic cabin air and fume events onboard jet airliners.
BBC News Online.
Unite toxic cabin air factsheet, poster and campaign card. Unite fume event register. AFA fume event webpages. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: Construction safety test cheats caught in police raids
Corrupt construction safety test centres have been caught selling answers to candidates seeking to obtain a safety qualification necessary to work on British construction sites. The illegal activities involving three centres was exposed during counter-fraud raids by the construction industry training board CITB, police and the Home Office.
CITB news release and health, safety and environment test. Construction Enquirer. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: Director jailed after employee’s excavator death
Front Row Builders Ltd boss Robert Harvey has been jailed after an employee was crushed to death by an excavator bucket, which Harvey was operating. The employee, Nicholas Hall, 32, was pinned against the wall of an excavation pit for a vehicle wash bay that was under construction for Peter Lawless Road Planing Limited in Blantyre, Scotland.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: Tackling toxic workplaces conference, Glasgow, 7 November
A ‘tackling toxic workplaces’ conference organised by campaign group Scottish Hazards is to be held on 7 November, in partnership with the Trade Union Education Centre at City of Glasgow College. The event, supported by the STUC, is aimed primarily at trade union health and safety reps.
Tackling toxic workplaces conference, Glasgow, 7 November 2019, 10:00am-4:00pm, City of Glasgow College, Riverside Campus, Glasgow, G5 9XB. Cost: £55 (waged) and £10 (unwaged). Booking form. For further information, email Scottish Hazards. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Australia: Union exposes dangers to Deliveroo riders
Deliveroo Australia has set up a ride safety panel after a union revealed how the gig company’s under-pressure cyclists, who have no guaranteed income, were routinely 'doored' and injured on the job. The safety advisory panel was established after Deliveroo drivers complained to the Transport Workers Union (TWU) about poor road safety - a union survey of 160 Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Foodora riders found 46.5 per cent of these gig economy workers had been injured at work or knew someone who had.
Daily Mail. TWU on-demand delivery worker webpages. This is Money.
More on health and safety and insecure work and low pay. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Canada: Ontario premier’s office occupied over temp deaths
Community and labour leaders began an occupation of the office of Ontario premier Doug Ford’s constituency office on 16 October, demanding his signature on a law aimed at preventing further deaths in the province’s workplaces. Several protesters were subsequently arrested. Enacting section 83(4) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) would ensure that companies using temp agency workers are held financially responsible for workplace deaths and injuries.
OFL news release. Rank and File Canada. Rabble podcast. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Qatar: ITUC welcomes end of the kafala ‘slavery’ system
Qatar has dismantled the kafala system of modern slavery that has seen migrant workers abused and killed. In a move welcomed by the global union confederation ITUC, exit visas for workers – including domestic workers, those in government and public institutions, and workers employed at sea, in agriculture as well as casual workers – have been eliminated; these workers now have the same rights as all workers in Qatar.
ITUC news release. ILO news release. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

USA: Report exposes Amazon warehouse ‘pressure and pain’
A study has exposed unhealthy workplace practices at a major Amazon warehouse in New York. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) research report, ‘Time off task: Pressure, pain, and productivity at Amazon’, reveals that 80 per cent of workers at the year-old Staten Island facility were pressured to work harder or faster at their facility, 66 per cent expressed experiencing physical pain while performing work duties, and 42 per cent continued to experience pain even when they weren't at work.
NYCOSH news release and report, Time off task: Pressure, pain, and productivity at Amazon, NYCOSH, October 2019. The Guardian.
Amazon in the UK: GMB ‘Amazon workers are not robots’ campaign and petition. More on Amazon UK’s safety record and related That’s rich! poster. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Hazards news, 19 October 2019

Britain: Tube victory for union over track noise
Tube union RMT has suspended planned industrial action by drivers on four key London Underground lines after securing a ‘massive victory’ on the issue of excessive track noise. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “I want to pay tribute to RMT’s Tube drivers and our health and safety reps and negotiators who have secured this major victory for militant trade unionism.”
RMT news release. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Usdaw breaks breakthrough at JD Sports warehouse
Retail trade union Usdaw has won a major victory in its campaign against ‘crushing fatigue’ at a JD Sports’ Kingsway distribution centre in Rochdale. Usdaw divisional officer Mike Aylward said: “We are pleased that the management have listened to their staff, although they are still trying to deny the serious health and safety implications of getting rid of the breaks.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Stars backs Asda workers in contract fight
Top stars have joined almost 24,000 members of the public in backing the fight by Asda workers against a controversial new contract. Actor Paul McGann, who starred in cult hit Withnail and I and Aliens 3, and Rob Delaney, who appeared in Catastrophe and Deadpool 2, both gave their support ahead of a mass protest in Leeds on 16 October.
GMB news release. Sign the petition. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Crossrail site union-busting trumps safety concerns
Unite has accused the joint venture company running London’s giant Crossrail project of dangerous ‘union-busting’ in its attempts to block a union official from joining safety investigations at the Bond Street station site. The union said a top-level decision had barred union officer Guy Langston from joining two union safety reps in observing an independent air monitoring exercise at the site.
Unite news release. Morning Star. Construction Enquirer. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Violence hits Scottish shopworkers over 17 times a year
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has released ‘shocking’ statistics from its annual survey revealing an average Scottish shopworker is verbally abused, threatened or assaulted 17 times a year, or more than once every three weeks. The union has called on the Scottish government to back a Protection of Workers Bill promoted by Labour MSP Daniel Johnson MSP which would provide additional protections for retail staff, including those who sell age-restricted items, where retail staff are required to police and enforce the rules.
Usdaw news release, including Voices from the Scottish frontline. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Usdaw welcomes action call on abuse of shopworkers
The shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has welcomed an intervention in the Queen’s Speech debate by Labour David Hanson, who called on the government to include measures to protect shopworkers in the proposed violent crime bill. Speaking in the House of Commons, the MP for Delyn said: “I hope that when the violent crime Bill is brought before the House, there will be an opportunity for action to be taken on protecting shop staff by giving greater support to measures that will discourage violence against them and ensuring that they live free from fear about their daily workplace.”
Usdaw news release. Hansard debate, 14 October 2019, volume 666, column 51, David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab). Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Northern safety reps meet to discuss best practice
Over 70 health and safety reps from a wide range of unions met in Newcastle in September to discuss union best practice in a vast evolving world of work, with work-related stress and mental health problems emerging as a key concern. In a report from Northern TUC, which hosted the event, the union body said that for the first time work-related stress, anxiety or depression accounts for over half of all working days lost due to ill-health in Great Britain.
TUC news release, blog and Health, safety and wellbeing guide. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Mental health ‘is a trade union issue’
The shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has highlighted the positive role of trade union workplace reps in supporting members experiencing mental health problems. Speaking on the 10 October World Mental Health Day, the Usdaw general secretary said his union’s ‘Time for Better Pay’ survey of over 10,000 workers found that 63 per cent report that financial worries are having an impact on their mental health.
Usdaw news release and It’s good to talk and Time for better pay (T4BP) campaigns. NUJ news release. More on the hazards of low pay and insecure work. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Ambulance staff facing ‘epidemic’ of mental ill-health
A survey of ambulance staff has revealed they are suffering mental health problems at ‘epidemic’ levels. The initial findings from Unite are based on responses from the 550 members have so far taken part in its survey.
Unite news release. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Mental health sick leave rises for emergency workers
Data from 57 fire, police and ambulance services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has revealed the number of staff who took time off due to mental ill-health rose by a third between 2014 and 2018. The figures obtained by the BBC show fire and ambulance services reported an increase in the number of staff taking mental health-related absences - such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and other stress - while police saw a slight drop in the last year after four years of rises.
BBC News Online. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Global: Oxfam uncovers abuse in UK supermarket supply chains
Poor pay and harsh working conditions are common on farms and plantations that supply tea or fruit to global supermarkets including Lidl, Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons, according to new research from Oxfam. The research, including in-depth interviews with workers in India and Brazil and a survey of workers in five other countries, highlights how the supermarkets’ relentless drive to cut costs and maximise profits is fuelling poverty, abuse and gender discrimination in their supply chains.
Oxfam news release. BBC News Online. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Wales gets a new health at work partnership
A new partnership intended to improve the health of the workforce in Wales has been launched. The initiative was announced at the Wales Health at Work Summit 2019 hosted by the newly-formed Wales Health at Work Partnership (WHWP), ‘a coalition of organisations committed to improving workplace health and wellbeing in Wales’ and including the Welsh government, Public Health Wales and its ‘Healthy Working Wales’ programme, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) plus the Wales TUC and other social partners.
HSE news release. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Tell the government to ban zero hours contracts!
The TUC is calling for an outright ban on zero hours contracts – and it wants your support. It says too many workers are being denied job security and can miss out on sick pay. Urging supporters to sign an online petition, the TUC says if ministers are serious about building a country that works for everyone, they must act now to ensure every worker gets fair pay, decent rights and a voice at work.
Sign the petition calling on the government to ban zero hours contracts. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Australia: Union-bashing bill jeopardises public health
A draconian ‘union-busting’ drive by Australia’s federal government will undermine public health campaigns, the country’s national union federation has warned. ACTU said the fight for public safety and to secure justice for asbestos victims would not have been won without a campaign of work stoppages, boycotts and protests.
ACTU news release. Nine News. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Global: Lululemon leggings workers routinely abused
Upmarket athletic wear brand Lululemon, whose £88 yoga and running leggings are favoured by celebrities, is sourcing clothing from a factory where Bangladeshi female factory workers claim they are beaten and physically assaulted. The Canadian brand recently launched a partnership with the United Nations to reduce stress levels and promote the mental health of aid workers.
The Guardian. UN Foundation news release. Lululemon global impact assessment, responsible supply chain policies and news release. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Canada: Rubber workers’ plight should inspire national action
Jim Brophy, one of Canada’s leading experts in workplace health issues, is calling for a large-scale public investigation into occupational health risks and the compensation system for workers in the country. Brophy’s plea comes after a series of scandals which have seen decisions to deny occupational cancer compensation to thousands of workers, but where campaigns by unions and victims’ advocacy organisations have secured recent reversals of these decisions affecting rubber and manufacturing plant workers.
The Record. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

USA: Women meatpackers ‘treated like meat’
Workers at the world’s largest pork processing company, Smithfield Foods, say as long as lines are moving fast, supervisors who sexually harass them are given a free pass. Beyond sexual harassment and strict break and leave policies, the demands of meeting production quotas and keeping up the line speed have physical implications, including strain injuries requiring surgery.
In These Times. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Hazards news, 12 October 2019

Britain: Union win as HSE relents on work harassment probes
In a move described by the TUC as a ‘significant advance’, new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance now says the safety regulator may act where an employer fails to address workplace harassment risks. The HSE investigation policy change comes three months after it was accused by the union-backed Hazards magazine of having an ‘enforcement anomaly’ and a ‘prevention blindspot’ on workplace harassment.
HSE ‘reporting a concern’ update, advice on How to report a work related stress concern, Tackling stress workbook, stress management standards and other HSE workpace stress resources.
Hands off: Time to take sexual harassment at work seriously and change the law, Hazards, number 146, July 2019. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Hotline exposes harassment of staff in Glasgow schools
In its first week, a hotline set by the teaching union NASUWT for members in Glasgow received dozens of recorded messages and text messages from teachers sharing their experiences of bullying and harassment in Glasgow schools. The union said teachers contacting the hotline reported feeling intimidated, belittled and harassed in the workplace, with many complaining of little support being given to them, particularly when they report incidents of pupil indiscipline. NASUWT leader Chris Keates said: “We opened the hotline in response to concerns raised by members in Glasgow over the abuse of their contractual rights over cover and reports of intimidating and bullying behaviour towards staff. The response so far from teachers shows that our concerns were well-founded and the hotline has exposed a number of serious issues, in particular the lack of support for teachers in managing pupil behaviour and the lack of respect for them as skilled professionals.” Keates added: “Teachers should not face threats and intimidation when they are simply trying to stand up for their basic workplace rights and when they are trying to maintain good order and high standards of pupil behaviour.” The union’s Scottish national official, Jane Peckham, said: “The response so far from members to the hotline indicates the deep level of frustration and anger of teachers in Glasgow over how they are being treated. Glasgow City Council needs to start listening to the voices of teachers and demonstrate that it values and respects its workforce and recognises and appreciates the vital work they do for the children and young people of the city.”
NASUWT news release. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Making the best of work in the worst situations
Workers in the police and justice services who work with the public in the best and worst of situations need their wellbeing and mental health to be protected by their employers, the union UNISON has said. Call management staff can face reports of missing children, murders or abuse in a day’s work, a combination the union said can lead to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health issues for police staff members. Dave Bryant of West Mercia police told the union’s police and justice conference that instead many workers face mental health being treated as a ‘capability issue’, rather than one of people in crisis. The conference called on the union to gather information on mental health related sickness and employers’ policies, to support police staff members and to develop advice and guidance for branches.
UNISON news release. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Low pay means 1 in 10 women don’t get sick pay
A new TUC analysis has revealed 1 in 10 women workers don’t earn enough to qualify for statutory sick pay. The TUC research found women account for more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of the 2 million UK workers currently ineligible for statutory sick pay.
TUC news release, blog and Flex for All campaign. Morning Star.
More on the hazards of low pay. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Unite calls for inquiry into Crossrail health fears
Construction union Unite is calling on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to undertake a ‘full inquiry into serious health concerns’ at Crossrail’s Bond Street station. The workforce on the multi-million pound section of the Crossrail project in London has been on stand down following reports that four workers operating on the project had died in their sleep.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer and related story. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Union evidence exposes rail safety risks
Britain’s railways remain dangerous, with track workers particularly at risk, as a result of fragmentation and other factors, the rail union TSSA has warned. Its ‘evidence paper’ to the government-commissioned Williams Rail Review highlights ‘concerns over trackworker safety’ and provides ‘additional evidence about safety concerns that we have in relation to staff working on or about the railway’.
TSSA news release. Williams Rail Review. BBC News Online. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Remembering tragedies, RMT calls for safe rail for all
Two decades after 31 lives were lost in the Ladbroke Grove rail disaster, rail union RMT has warned that government policy could create ‘the same poisonous cocktail of conditions’ that lead to the 5 October 1999 tragedy. RMT is warning “a return to casualisation, a myriad of contractors and sub-contractors, long hours and fatigue – all driven by a cuts and austerity environment on the railway – is in danger of turning the clock back.”
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: First private firm signs UNISON violence charter
Management services firm Liberata has signed UNISON’s End Violence at Work Charter, becoming the first private sector organisation to support the initiative. The charter aims to protect employees working in public services from acts of abuse, assault and threatening behaviour.
UNISON news release. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Scotland debates tougher dog safety laws
Postal workers’ union CWU is backing calls for legal reform in Scotland to tighten up action on dangerous or out-of-control dogs. Speaking after members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs) debated the findings of a hard-hitting official report into the issue, which concluded that dog control failures were a national crisis, CWU health, safety and environment officer Dave Joyce urged them to “use your powers and please act now.”
CWU news release. Scottish PAC report and the Scottish administration’s response. The Courier. STV News. The Scotsman. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Unions welcome UN call for toxic substances action
Unions have welcomed UN backing for stronger protections for workers exposed to toxic substances. ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow was commenting after the adoption by the United Nations Human Rights Council of a resolution from the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Toxics, Baskut Tuncak.
ITUC news release. Chemical Watch. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Steel mill fined £1.8m after double fatality
Steel mill owner Celsa has been fined £1.8m after an explosion at its Cardiff steelworks killed two workers and seriously injured another. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the explosion would have come without warning to engineers Peter O’Brien, a dad of six, and father-of-two Mark Sim, who died at the rod and bar mill.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Wales Online. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Building materials firm fined £1m after maintenance death
Cemex UK Operations Limited has been fined £1m after a worker suffered fatal injuries when he was struck on the body by a centring machine lifting mast. Livingston Sheriff Court heard that on 13 May 2017, James Brownlie was carrying out maintenance and repair work on a dry sided conveyor when his body interrupted the path of the light beam between the sensor’s emitter and reflector, which caused the machine’s lifting mast to activate and descend, striking the 64-year-old on the body and causing internal injuries from which he died a short time later.
HSE news release. Edinburgh Evening News. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Australia: Safety reps ‘crucial’ as mental injuries soar
Australia’s national union federation ACTU is highlighting the ‘vital role’ occupational health and safety (OHS) representatives make in the workplace. The union’s campaign comes in the wake of its Work Shouldn’t Hurt survey this year, that found three in five working people had experienced mental illnesses or injuries like stress, depression, or anxiety at work as a result of their employer or workplace failing to manage poor working conditions.
ACTU news release. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Global: Protecting garment workers with global agreements
Trade union leaders from Turkey, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Mauritius and Morocco have explored the use of global framework agreements (GFA) to boost union organising, collective bargaining agreements and to improve safety and working conditions. The meeting organised by the global union IndustriALL in Cesme, Turkey, discussed how this type of agreement, negotiated at a global level between trade unions and a multinational company, put in place the very best standards of trade union rights, health, safety and environmental practices, and quality of work principles across a company's global operations, regardless of whether these exceed legal standards in place in some of the countries where the firm is based.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Global: Union warning on Tokyo Olympics safety violations
Preparations for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 remain blighted by “recurring violations and poor working conditions” the global union BWI has warned. A delegation headed by Ambet Yuson, BWI’s general secretary, warned the remaining months before the games were ‘critical’.
BWI news release and report, The Dark Side of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, May 2019. CTV News. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Qatar: Migrant sudden deaths not investigated
Concerns have been raised about the deaths of hundreds of migrant labourers each year preparing facilities for the 2022 Qatar football World Cup, with the majority of the fatalities attributed to heart attacks or “natural causes” by the Qatari authorities. Many are young men who die in their sleep – a phenomenon known locally as “sudden death syndrome”.
The Guardian and related story on Qatar’s heat related migrant worker deaths. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

USA: Call to ditch dangerous pork line speed-up
A US Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule lifting the maximum line speeds and reducing the number of government safety inspectors by 40 per cent at pork slaughter and processing plants should be set aside, a legal challenge has argued. The lawsuit filed by Public Citizen and the foodworkers’ union UFCW follows a rule-making process which saw thousands of individuals and organisations tell USDA its rule would endanger the lives and safety of both consumers and workers.
Public Citizen news release. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Hazards news, 5 October 2019

USA: Severe cases of silica disease are being missed
Even severe and sometimes fatal cases of silica dust related diseases are being missed by the authorities, a US study has concluded. Researchers said only one US case in the engineered stone industry had been reported previously in the US, however, they discovered 18 cases of silicosis, including two fatalities, among stone fabrication workers in just four states.
Rose C, Heinzerling A, Patel K and others. Severe Silicosis in Engineered Stone Fabrication Workers — California, Colorado, Texas, and Washington, 2017–2019. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), volume 68, number 38, pages 813–818, 27 September 2019.
ACTION: Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective UK silica exposure limit no higher than 0.05mg/m³ and with a phased move to 0.025mg/m³. www.hazards.org/HSEstopkillingus. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Britain: Push to get HSE to act on work-related suicide
A new campaign is calling on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to abandon its refusal to address Britain’s work-related suicide crisis. ‘Death wish’, a new report in the union-backed Hazards magazine, urges people concerned about the deteriorating working conditions fuelling work-related desperation and mental health problems to send an online postcard to the new HSE chief executive, Sarah Albon.
Death wish: Workers on the edge, Hazards, number 147, 2019.
ACTION! Use the Hazards e-postcard to tell the HSE to inspect for work-related suicide risks and to investigate and require the reporting of suicides suspected to be work-related. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Britain: Firefighters with cancer demand government action
Firefighters have called for more protection after research found they were being exposed to dangerously high levels of harmful chemicals. Their plea echoed union-backed scientific research that said firefighters were at risk of getting cancer because of contaminated clothing and equipment.
FBU news release. UCLAN research report. BBC News Online. Northern Echo. Yorkshire Post.
IAFF list of presumptive legislation on cancer in firefighters across North American jurisdictions. TUC occupational cancer guide.
Cancers and their work causes: An ITUC/Hazards at-a-glance guide to cancer hazards. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Britain: Uber 'has had more chances than game of monopoly'
Ride hailing firm Uber has had ‘more chances than a game of monopoly’, the union GMB has said, warning a failure to regulate its activities is leaving drivers and the public at risk. The union was commenting after Transport for London (TfL) announced on 24 September that the company had been awarded a temporary licence extension.
GMB news release. TfL news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Britain: Disturbance highlights prison work dangers
A major disturbance at a Worcester prison has highlighted the risks facing prison officers, including a lack of protective equipment and a denial of the right to refuse dangerous work. Prison officers’ union POA said the siege at the Category A Long Lartin prison, which ran for several into the night on 24 September and saw staff attacked with pool balls, “has once again raised significant concerns about safety, order and control in our prisons..”
POA news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Britain: Warning on growing levels of retail violence
Violence, threats and abuse are growing issues for retail staff, the shopworkers’ union Usdaw has warned. Addressing a September fringe meeting at the Labour conference co-organised by the Co-op Group and the Co-operative Party, the union’s general secretary Paddy Lillis said “Co-op and Usdaw has organised public facing campaigns highlighting the issues workers face.”
Usdaw news release. Co-op Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities campaign. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Britain: Tube staff take action over violence surge
Members of the Tube union RMT working on the District Line have taken industrial action in response to an upturn in violence. Tube workers on a key section of the line had already voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in protest at growing levels of violence and anti-social behaviour at work.
RMT news release. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Britain: RMT confirms action on Tube track noise
Tube union RMT has confirmed a programme of industrial action to back up a demand for urgent action to address excessive Tube track noise. Drivers voted by more than 95 per cent in favour of industrial action in a ballot covering the Jubilee, Central, Northern and Victoria Lines.
RMT news releases. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Britain: Surrey firefighters in danger as cuts bite
Members of the firefighters’ union FBU in Surrey are in dispute with their employer, and are pressing for an end to unsafe practices in their fire and rescue service. The union warns “there are simply not enough firefighters and emergency fire control staff to provide safe frontline crewing in Surrey.”
FBU news release. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Britain: Win for worker penalised for raising safety concerns
A Unite member who had his pay docked after refusing to do a job on safety grounds has won a victimisation payout with the help of his union. Ben Diaz, the employment lawyer with Thompsons Solicitors brought in by Unite to act on their member’s behalf, said: “This is a case which highlights that the very presence and vigilance of the union in the workplace is always a useful means of holding employers to account.”
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Britain: Lloyd’s of London admits ‘truly terrible’ sexual harassment
The chief executive of insurance giant Lloyd’s of London has described as “truly terrible” the findings of a survey that showed that nearly 500 people working in its insurance market have either suffered or observed sexual harassment in the past 12 months. The survey, conducted by the Banking Standards Board on behalf of Lloyd’s after news reports of bullying and harassment, found that “the experience of women is much less positive than it is for men.”
The Guardian. BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Britain: Worker dies at Tata Port Talbot steelworks
A worker has been killed at Tata's Port Talbot steelworks. Tata Steel Europe said the company's thoughts were with the family of contractor Justin Day, and a full investigation had been launched.
Wales Online. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Britain: Agency worker seriously injured at port
A dock company has been sentenced for criminal safety offences after an agency worker was struck by a load falling from two forklift trucks (FLTs) at the Port of Liverpool. The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,593.55.
HSE news release. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Europe: EU action after chemical firms flout the law
EU government delegates on the European Commission’s REACH committee have agreed to increase the minimum compliance check target for chemicals registration dossiers from 5 per cent to 20 per cent, the first concrete legislative step following reports of widespread flouting of EU rules by high volume users of industrial chemicals. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) came under pressure last year after German regulators found the majority of dossiers submitted by chemicals firms do not comply with the REACH regulation covering the majority of substances used in the EU, due to absent safety data or failures to update regularly.
ENDS Europe (subscription service). Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

France: Major risk concentrated in the lower grades
Major workplace hazards like shiftwork and multiple exposures to chemicals are concentrated almost entirely in lower grade workers, with managers rarely exposed to the risks. The official SUMER 2017 survey, whose findings were released in September 2019, revealed shiftwork affects almost eight times more private sector unskilled staff (22 per cent) than managerial staff (2.8 per cent).
ETUI News. DARES report No 41 (in French)  Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

New Zealand: Officers lied about seafarer’s near death
A New Zealand court has fined the captain and chief officer of the merchant ship Emilie Bulker for lying to port state control after one of their crew nearly died in the ship’s hold. The hold where he had been working was poorly ventilated and contained palm kernels, known to deplete oxygen in the air.
Maritime NZ news release. Safety at Sea. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Hazards news, 28 September 2019

Britain: Unite calls for urgent cut to killer silica dust limit
Unite had given its strong backing to a campaign to force the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to halve the workplace exposure limit for silica dust, a move it says will save 4,000 lives a year. The union call came in response to a new ‘Choked’ report from Hazards magazine that presents evidence for cutting the current legal limit of 0.1 mg/m³ for respirable crystalline silica to no more than 0.05 mg/m³, a move the report says would dramatically reduce the incidence of the lung scarring occupational disease silicosis, lung cancer, autoimmune diseases and other silica-related conditions.
Unite news release and silica exposure register. Unite silica dust film.
Choked! The evidence for introducing a livesaving new silica dust exposure limit, Hazards, Number 147, September 2019.
ACTION: Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective silica standard no higher than 0.05mg/m³ and with a phased move to 0.025mg/m³. www.hazards.org/HSEstopkillingus. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Amazon health and safety lies ‘exposed’
Amazon's ‘lies’ about it's shocking health and safety record have been exposed, according to an investigation by the union GMB. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the union ‘it does not recognise’ the evidence Amazon claims shows its warehouses are safer than the industry average.
GMB news release. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Government deregulation ‘responsible for Grenfell’
The UK government bears ultimate responsibility for the Grenfell Tower fire which left 72 people dead and hundreds homeless, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. A new ‘meticulously researched’ report from the union argues decisions made by every government since Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative administration led to the ‘gutting’ of the UK’s fire safety regime and, ultimately, to Grenfell.
FBU news release and report, The Grenfell Tower Fire: A crime caused by profit and deregulation, FBU, September 2019. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Union action call to force bad ship operators out
The leader of the UK maritime union Nautilus has called on unions worldwide to work together to force out shipowners who flout rules governing decent working conditions. Speaking at the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) inspectors seminar in Sri Lanka, Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: “With nearly 140 trained ITF inspectors worldwide, covering 119 ports in 56 countries, there really is nowhere to hide for bad shipowners,” adding: “Together, we will force bad operators out of business,” he said.
Nautilus news release. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: RMT DOO dispute on West Midlands Trains
Rail union RMT has confirmed it is now in dispute on West Midlands Trains over plans by the company to ‘bulldoze through’ driver only operation (DOO), a move the union says will ‘rip apart the safety critical role of the guard at the platform/train interface.’ Preparations for a ballot of guards for both strike action and action short of a strike are now underway.
RMT news release. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Tube violence ‘out of control’ warns union
The number of sexual assaults reported on London’s Tube system has soared by 42 per cent in the past four years, latest official figures show. Calling for urgent action, the rail union RMT said violence on the network was ‘out of control’.
RMT news release. London Evening Standard. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: TSSA warning on safety cuts after Tube death
A transport union has urged Transport for London (TfL) to ‘rethink’ further cuts to its workplace safety cover, warning the move would inevitably come with grave risks. The union TSSA was speaking out after engineer Christian Tuvi, 44, was killed while working on a travelator at London Waterloo underground Station in the early hours of 18 September.
TSSA news release. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: UK workers deserve a break, says TUC
The TUC is calling on the UK government to cut Britain’s overworked workforce a break, by creating four new public holidays. The union body says workers in England and Wales get just eight bank holidays a year, fewer than any other EU country and lagging far behind the EU average of 12 days.
TUC news release. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Two-in-five have poor mental health from their job
Poor management practices, including most managers being required to put business interests ahead of employee welfare, are fuelling an increase in the ‘psychological harm’ experienced by staff, a major survey has found. The Business in the Community (BITC) survey found more than six in ten (62 per cent) of the managers surveyed said they had to put their company’s interests above staff wellbeing.
BITC news release and report, Time to take ownership, 26 September 2019. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Labour promises 32-hour working week
The average working week in the UK would be cut to 32 hours within 10 years under a Labour government, John McDonnell has announced. This would effectively reduce the average working week to four days - something the shadow chancellor said could be done “with no loss of pay.”
John McDonnell’s speech to the Labour Party conference. BBC News Online. The Independent. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Labour plans more rights for menopausal workers
Large employers would be forced to provide flexible hours to women experiencing the menopause under plans announced by Labour. Shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler said companies with more than 250 employees would also be required to train managers on the effects of the menopause so they can accommodate the needs of employees.
Speech by Dawn Butler to the Labour Party conference. Usdaw news release. BBC News Online. Personnel Today.
TUC guide to supporting women through the menopause. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Probe launched into safety at two Scottish hospitals
Scotland’s health secretary Jeane Freeman has responded to pressure from UNISON and patient and community groups and announced a public inquiry to investigate safety issues at two Scottish hospitals. The inquiry will examine deaths linked to pigeon droppings at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow and costly delays to the Royal Hospital for Children & Young People (RHCYP) in Edinburgh.
Scottish government news release. UNISON Scotland news release. The Scotsman. Holyrood. Morning Star. Scottish Sun. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Two workers killed on cut price demolition job
The company that won a tender for a steelworks demolition job where two workers died last week had agreed do the job for significantly less than the official valuation for the work. The deceased men are understood to have been working in a cherry picker when they were engulfed in flames following an explosion on 19 September.
The Gazette. Construction Enquirer. BBC News Online. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Director escapes jail after worker impaled on spike
The former director of a now-dissolved landscaping company has been sentenced for criminal safety breaches after a worker was impaled on a spike. RK United Ltd director Hafeez Ghafoor pleaded guilty and was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Waste firm director sentenced to unpaid work
The director of a waste management company has been ordered to carry out unpaid work after an employee was critically injured while using equipment the boss knew was unsafe. Poole Magistrates’ Court heard that on 18 April 2017 Justin Tinsley, then aged 33, had only been employed by Mike Toon Ltd for a few weeks when he was trapped between a telehandler and a gate post at the company yard in Poole.
HSE news release. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

France: Toxic exposure anxiety ruling to be broadly applied
A French Supreme Court decision that gave workers exposed to asbestos the right to claim compensation for emotional distress caused by the fear of contracting a serious disease can be applied more broadly, a new ruling has indicated. In its September decision, the same court expanded the scope of the April 2019 compensation ruling to include all ‘harmful or toxic substances’.
Lexology. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Malaysia: Haze is an ‘occupational hazard’ say campaigners
The blanket of choking smog over Malaysia should be regulated as an ‘occupational hazard, a coalition of unions, environment, women’s and migrant workers’ groups has said. The Labour Law Reform Coalition (LLRC) says while flights have been re-routed or grounded and schools have been closed, “the nation’s workforce perseveres in daily routines with inadequate protection from the unknown long-term health effects of inhaling the carbon-rich smoke.”
Malaysiakini. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

USA: Safety interventions less effective for low-waged
A safe patient-handling intervention decreased injuries among nurses, but not among lower-wage care workers, a US study has found. Researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health confirmed the “inequality paradox” when they compared self-reports of safe patient-handling practices and hospital injury rates at two large Boston area hospitals from 2012 to 2014.
Sabbath EL, Yang J, Dennerlein JT and others. Paradoxical impact of a patient-handling intervention on injury rate disparity among hospital workers, American Journal of Public Health, volume 109, number 4, pages 618-625, 2019.  NIOSH Science Blog.
Degraded, Hazards, Number 142, 2018. Unjust pay rates can be deadly, ETUC, 2018. More on the health and safety and low pay. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Hazards news, 21 September 2019

Global: Airline industry ‘cloak of silence’ on toxic cabin air
The airline industry is deploying a ‘cloak of silence’ over toxic cabin air and fume events onboard jet airliners, the cabin crew union Unite has charged. Speaking at the International Aircraft Cabin Air Conference, Unite assistant general secretary for legal affairs, Howard Beckett, called on the airline industry to clean up its act by using safer oil to lubricate jet engines and to fit cabin air filters on planes.
Unite news release and toxic cabin air factsheet, poster and campaign card. Unite fume event register. International Aircraft Cabin Air Conference. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

UNISON moves to protect gig economy workers
Porters, care workers, security staff and parking wardens are at greater risk of physical and verbal attack, injury or illness, because they work alone for long periods, the public service union UNISON has warned. Launching a new gig economy safety guide, it said that staff cuts, the growth of zero-hours contracts and an increase in the number of home care workers has led to the creation of a vulnerable and isolated workforce.
UNISON news release. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Lorry drivers protest over threat to safe hours law
Lorry drivers have staged a protest at the Department of Transport over growing fears that the government will weaken or suspend the rules governing driving hours in the event of a no deal Brexit. The 17 September protest heard their union Unite warn the government against suspending the strict working hours limits in work time driving regulations.
Unite news release. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Music teacher is TUC safety rep of the year
NEU’s Jenny Cooper is this year’s recipient of the TUC Safety Rep Award. Jenny, a music teacher, says she is passionate about keeping her pupils and staff safe at her school.
TUC news release and video on the TUC health and safety award 2019. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Sleeper staff strike warning over ‘intolerable stress’
Rail union RMT has confirmed a combination of strike action and action short of a strike on the Caledonian Sleeper services after the operator, SERCO, reneged on pledges to address a raft of serious concerns raised by staff. Workers on the service say their working lives have been ‘ruined’, the union said, with staff placed under ‎’intolerable pressure’.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Tube workers to take action over constant fear
Tube workers on a key section of London Underground’s District Line have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in protest at the growing levels of violence and anti-social behaviour on the resource-starved network. In an overwhelming vote, RMT members on the eastern end of the District Line backed action short of strike action.
RMT news release. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Scotland’s at-risk firefighters need more resources
The Scottish Fire and Rescue (SFRS) service must commit to year-on-year improvements to response, training, prevention, equipment and the creation of national standards, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said. The union said after decades of gradual improvements, Scotland has seen fires, fire deaths, non-fire incidents, and false alarms all plateau in recent years, while the total number of incidents firefighters responded to increased again this year.
FBU news release. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: London backs Unite’s blacklisting charter
In what it described as ‘a major boost’ to employment standards for construction workers in London, Unite has welcomed the London Mayor’s office signing the capital up to Unite’s Construction Charter. The union said the charter requires that construction firms planning to work on Great London Authority (GLA) building projects will need to meet a set of high employment and safety standards.
Unite news release. Mayor of London news release. Morning Star. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: TUC push to protect terminally ill workers goes mobile 
The TUC’s campaign to protect terminally ill workers has taken to the road. The Dying to Work campaign began its national roadshow on 11 September at the TUC Congress in Brighton.
TUC news release and Dying to Work campaign. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Alarm after MoD scraps asbestos guidance
Unite has expressed ‘alarm’ after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) scrapped its guidance on how to deal with asbestos, without consultation with the union. The decision to scrap the existing guidance will alarm many MoD workers who have lost faith with management about dealing with asbestos issues, the union said.
Unite news release. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Safety body calls for action on modern slavery
The government and businesses must do more to fight the ‘growing global scourge’ of modern slavery, safety professionals’ organisation IOSH has said. The top safety officers’ group was speaking out after its new poll indicated there is now strong public support for action.
IOSH news release and report, Tackling modern slavery together: the roles of governments, employers, professionals and the public, September 2019. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Maritime minister snubs safety funding request
Maritime minister Nusrat Ghani has rejected a call backed by all sides of the industry for the government to reinstate funding for the UK's Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP). The snub forces the vital offshore safety system to continue to operate on charitable grants only.
Nautilus news release. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Asda cashes in, staff threatened with the sack
Asda profits have rocketed more than £92 million with a healthy chunk paid to directors – but at the same time the supermarket giant is threatening staff with no sick pay and the sack if they don’t sign a controversial new contract. Asda’s latest accounts show pre-tax profits have shot up almost 13 per cent to almost £805 million. Asda directors trousered a whopping £12 million, the union GMB said, up 25 per cent from £9.4 million the year before.
Asda news release. GMB news release. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Report spurs union push for secure university jobs
Action is needed to reduce the use of stress-inducing fixed-term contracts for university researchers, the education union UCU has said. The union, responding to a new Researcher Development Concordat, said the ‘huge levels of casualisation’ in universities was bad for staff and bad for students.
Vitae news release and Researcher Development Concordat. UCU news release. More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: BP fined after massive ‘extremely flammable’ crude release
Energy giant BP has been fined £400,000 for criminal safety failings after the release of more than three tonnes of ‘extremely flammable’ and ‘unstablised’ crude oil at the Sullom Voe terminal in Shetland. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigated the incident and prosecuted the company, said the leak “was not noticed for about 30-40 minutes.”
HSE news release. BP news release. BBC News Online. The Shetland Times. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Roofing contractor fined after fatal ladder fall
An Aberdeen-based roofing contractor has been fined after an employee fell to his death from an unsafe scaffold that had been erected by an unqualified worker on the orders of a company director. Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that on 21 September 2016, Joseph Kane, an employee of Henderson and Aitken Limited, fell from the top rungs of a ladder when it slipped sideways on the scaffold.
HSE news release. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Engineering firm fined after worker killed in fab shop
A Scottish engineering company has been fined following the death of an employee at IODS Pipe Clad Limited in who was struck on the head in the yard of a fabrication workshop. Hamilton Sheriff Court heard how, on 7 September 2017, James Longair, 62, was struck on the head by a wooden bearer, causing fatal injuries.
HSE news release. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Global: Report exposes multi-billion social auditing con
A new report has revealed how the multi-billion social auditing industry is using ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) to protect brand reputation and profits while aggravating the risks to garment workers. The report, ‘Fig Leaf for fashion: How social auditing protects brands and fails workers’, published by the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), examines the practices of major ‘corporate controlled’ social compliance initiatives, including Social Accountability International, WRAP, the FLA, and amfori BSCI, and the auditing firms, including Bureau Veritas, TÜV Rheinland, UL, RINA, and ELEVATE.
CCC news release, full report, Fig Leaf for fashion. How social auditing protects brands and fails workers, and report summary. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Pakistan: Unions pledge to continue fight for factory safety
Unions and workers, remembering the victims of a deadly fire seven years ago at the Ali Enterprises factory in Pakistan, have pledged to continue their fight for safety and justice. NTUF union leader Nasir Mansoor said: “Workers continue to suffer hazardous working conditions, adding: “The government has diluted the labour inspection regime when it should to be strengthened to improve safety.”
IndustriALL news release. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

USA: California sets safer standard for ‘gig’ workers
The global transport unions’ federation ITF is calling for a landmark law in California to be the inspiration for global rules that protect ‘gig’ workers from exploitation and abuse. California’s ‘AB 5’ law makes it hard for employers to misclassify workers as independent contractors.
ITF news release. Vox. NPR report. New York Times. BBC News Online. The Guardian Risks 915. 21 September 2019.

Hazards news, 14 September 2019

Britain: Danger of 19th century working conditions, TUC warns
Britain risks slipping back to 19th century working conditions, the TUC has warned. A new report from the union body says there are 3.7 million people in insecure work, nearly two million (1.85m) self-employed people earning less than the minimum wage and workers still facing the longest pay squeeze for 200 years.  It says that unless the balance of power is reset in the workplace, economic inequality and insecure work will continue to get worse.
TUC news release and report, A stronger voice for workers: how collective bargaining can deliver a better deal at work, TUC, September 2019. The Guardian.
Wage war: Delivering workplace justice through union collective bargaining, Hazards magazine, number 142, 2018. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Britain: TUC calls for ban on class discrimination  
The TUC has called for new legal measures to tackle class discrimination in the workplace. “If you’re from a working class family, the odds are still stacked against you,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said, adding: “Let’s have a new duty on employers to stamp out class prejudice once and for all.”
TUC news release and report, Building working class power: how to address class inequality today, September 2019. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Britain: Workers being pushed to exhaustion and beyond - Unite
A survey of over 13,500 workers in the bus driving, construction and lorry driving sectors has revealed a ‘shocking’ level of tiredness and exhaustion which is dramatically affecting their physical and mental health, causing relationship breakdowns and compromising safety at work and in communities. Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “Employers who are risking the safety of their employees and the general public should be prosecuted, named and shamed.”
Unite news release. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Britain: Asda ‘punishing’ workers by taking away sick pay
Asda is ‘punishing’ workers who haven’t signed a controversial new contract by taking away their sick pay, the GMB has said. The union was commenting ahead of protests across the country by Asda workers angry at the imposition of the contract. The company has told workers they must sign the 'flexible' Contract 6 - which will see them lose all their paid breaks and forced to work bank holidays – or be sacked on 2 November.
GMB news release. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Britain: RMT calls for safe staffing on trains and stations
Rail union RMT has called for urgent action from Britain's ‘profit-driven’ train operators to reverse staffing rail cuts, as new figures from the British Transport Police (BTP) revealed a sharp increase in crime in the network. Crime recorded on British railways increased by 12 per cent last year, including a rise in the number of violent and sexual offences, new figures show.
RMT news release. BTP news release and annual report. BBC News Online. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Britain: Firefighter numbers crisis from ‘chronic underfunding’
There UK has nearly 11,500 fewer firefighters than in 2010, the firefighters’ union FBU has warned. The union is calling for the government to fund firefighter recruitment as a matter of urgency and to reverse a decade of ‘severe’ cuts to fire and rescue services. FBU has warned repeatedly that the dramatic decline in firefighter numbers is placing both its members and the public at increased risk.
FBU news release. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Britain: Medical screening must be available in toxics linked schools
The EIS has repeated its call for medical screening to be implemented at Buchanan and St Ambrose High school in North Lanarkshire for staff and pupils who wish it. The union call came on the publication of an expert criticism of the Independent Review of the school campus that concluded “not all the key questions about the site have been fully answered and not all the key evidence required has been collected and made available.”
EIS news release. STV News. The Times. Radio Clyde.
Andrew Watterson. Brownfields, contaminated land, blue water and broken bridges. Pollution, public health, trust and transparency: the communication and information gap and how to bridge it better. An analysis of the Buchanan High School/Ambrose High School Campus Independent Review and related issues at Coatbridge, Scotland. 2019. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Britain: Shopworkers welcome insurer support on work compensation
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has welcomed an Association of British Insurers (ABI) statement which backs its view on fairness for ‘employer liability’ compensation claims for personal injury victims. In a blog posting James Dalton, ABI’s director of general insurance policy, said “not continuing to pursue the proposed increase” in the small claims threshold from claims worth £1,000 to £2,000 was the best way forward.
Usdaw news release. ABI commentary. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Britain: Calls for action on repeat retail crimes
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has called for government action as new evidence emerged that some retailers are being repeat victims of often violent criminals. It was speaking out after research from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) using Home Office figures showed that retailers who experience crime are being targeted more.
ACS news release, campaign and Commercial Victimisation Survey results. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Britain: Retail crime ‘epidemic’ leading to PTSD in shop staff
A hard-hitting report had called for action to stem the rising number of crimes against shopworkers and identifies widespread post-traumatic stress disorder affecting staff. Funded by The Co-op, the research undertaken by criminologist Dr Emmeline Taylor from City, University of London, uses data from the retail union Usdaw, industry bodies and government figures and calls on the government to urgently protect employees and to send a clear message that violence and verbal aggression will not be tolerated in shops.
City, University of London news release and full report. BBC News Online. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Britain: Rudd leaves Tories and cabinet work and pensions job
Amber Rudd has resigned the Tory whip and her position as the work and pensions secretary in Boris Johnson’s cabinet. Rudd’s resignation came after 21 Tory rebels were thrown out of the Conservative Party.
DWP webpage on Thérèse Coffey. Morning Star. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Britain: Employee seriously injured in fall from lorry
A manufacturer of steel water storage tanks and supporting towers has been fined after a worker suffered multiple fractures following a fall from height. Cwmbran Magistrates Court heard how, on 25 October 2017, a Braithwaite Engineers Limited employee was injured when he fell from a lorry bed whilst unloading the vehicle at their site in Risca, resulting in multiple fractures of his head, ribs, shoulder blade and fingers, causing him to miss over five months of work.
HSE news release. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Britain: Council fined after seven get vibration disease
Dacorum Borough Council has been fined after seven grounds maintenance workers developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) caused by excessive, poorly controlled use of power tools. Luton Magistrates’ Court heard how the council reported seven cases of HAVS between May 2015 and June 2016.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Australia: Inspection-by-phone will lead to site deaths - union
South Australian (SA) construction workers are being put at risk by a toxic safety culture and a regulator that fails to seriously investigate safety breaches and “literally phones it in” rather than inspect unsafe sites, the construction union CFMEU has warned. “It is only a matter of time before there is another avoidable fatality at a construction site in SA,” said CFMEU national construction assistant secretary, Andrew Sutherland.
Mirage News. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Global: Supply chain safety and rights abuses exposed
The business model and sourcing practices of the international brands that sell us our clothing, electronics, sports shoes and other products are the root cause of the unhealthy and illegal conditions in global supply chains, a top independent labour inspector has warned. Garrett Brown, who has worked worldwide on labour standards initiatives, reviewed a plethora of recent papers, concluding “it is the deliberate policies and practices of the major apparel, electronics, toys and other consumer goods that cause and enforce abusive working conditions for millions of workers in supply chain factories around the world.”
The Pump Handle. Worker-Driven Social Responsibility Network. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

USA: Deadly meat industry could soon get deadlier
Trump administration policies threaten to worsen the already dangerous conditions for meatpacking workers in the United States, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned. The 100-page HRW report, “‘When we’re dead and buried, our bones will keep hurting’: Workers’ rights under threat in US meat and poultry plants”, describes alarmingly high rates of serious injury and chronic illness among workers at chicken, pig, and cattle slaughtering and processing plants.
HRW news release and video. ‘When we’re dead and buried, our bones will keep hurting’: Workers’ rights under threat in US meat and poultry plants, HRW, September 2019. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Hazards news, 7 September 2019

Britain: Stress-inducing failure bars flexible work to most
Flexible working is an important contributor to keeping staff happy and to turning down work stress, but many employers are still not getting this worker wellbeing message, the TUC has found. Nearly one in three (30 per cent) requests for flexible working are being turned down, according to the union body’s new poll.
TUC news release. Flex for All petition. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: Action call after ‘shock’ report on bus driver exhaustion
Transport for London (TfL) is being urged to take definitive action to tackle fatigue among London bus drivers. The demand from bus drivers’ union Unite follows the publication of new research from Loughborough University found 21 per cent of bus drivers had to ‘fight sleepiness’ at least two or three times a week
Unite news release. UniteLive. Loughborough University: Bus Driver Fatigue – Final Report, August 2019. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: Bus driver fatigue shock shows need for ‘bill of rights’
GMB has stepped up its call for a bus drivers’ ‘Bill of Rights’ to help combat fatigue in the industry right across the UK. GMB regional organiser Steve Garelick said: “Safe operation of buses require drivers rested and with a safe system of work and well-maintained vehicles, all items clearly spelled out in the London Bus Drivers’ ‘Bill of Rights’.”
GMB news release. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: RMT members ‘united and determined’ to protect safety
Members of the union RMT ‘stand united and determined to protect passenger safety’ the union has said.  The union comment came on 31 August during four days of strike action on South Western Railway.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Personnel Today. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: Greenwich council putting carers and vulnerable at risk
Greenwich council is putting the health and wellbeing of its workers and some of the local authority’s most vulnerable residents at risk by cutting back emergency care cover, the union Unite has warned. A plan for emergency care workers to start work at 01.30 in the morning to look after particularly vulnerable residents has been branded as ‘bizarre’ by the union, which is also angry that more than 2,000 vulnerable people will now be visited by only one Telecare Service worker in an emergency, instead of the current two.
Unite news release. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: Explosion in mental health first aid at work
Britain is training record numbers of workplace “mental health first aiders” to confront a sharp rise in people expressing mental distress, though it confirms a TUC concern that evidence of success is mixed, according to a Guardian study. Requests sent by the paper to every FTSE 100 company show that these firms alone have trained more than 10,000 staffers, while mid-tier and even tiny businesses are appointing first responders who can be approached confidentially by those with depression, anxiety, stress and other conditions.
The Guardian.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question, Hazards magazine, 2018.
Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. More on work-related stress. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: School uniform supplier challenged over sweatshop concerns
One of the UK’s largest school uniform manufacturers has been challenged by unions to show its clothing isn’t being made using sweatshop labour. Trutex has so far refused to release information about the factories it uses, according to labour rights campaigning organisation Labour Behind the Label.
UNISON news release. Labour Behind the Label. Campaign video.
Sign the online petition calling for Trutex to release its supplier list. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: Dangerous Devonport dockyard under enhanced scrutiny
A company that ignored warnings about dangerously low staffing has been prosecuted for criminal safety offences that saw a worker narrowly escape death. Jane Bowie of the Office for Nuclear Regulation, which brought the prosecution, said: “Devonport Royal Dockyard Ltd continues to be under enhanced regulatory attention and we will continue to monitor its progress through regular inspections.”
ONR news release. Plymouth Herald. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: Company fined after worker suffers crush injuries
A manufacturing company has been fined for criminal safety breaches after a worker suffered severe crush injuries while fault-finding on a mesh welding machine. Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard how on 26 January 2016 the employee at Siddall and Hilton Products Ltd was injured when the machine restarted, suffering compound fractures of his tibia and fibula that has led to long term problems.
HSE news release. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: HSE’s new chief takes the reins
Sarah Albon has taken up her post as the new chief executive of Britain’s workplace health and safety regulator. Ms Albon has vacated her post as inspector general and CEO of the Insolvency Service, where she has been since 2015, to take charge of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE news release. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

USA: New ‘working women at risk’ tool
A new online tool – Working Women at Risk – intends to help researchers and advocates to visualise the exposures to chemicals that might be putting working women in California at risk for breast cancer. Using the tool, which is equally useful wherever you live and work, individuals can search data on over 1,000 chemicals, sorted into 24 chemical groups, by occupation, ethnicity/race, and age.
Working women and risk tool and background. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: RIDDOR reporting forms ‘refreshed’
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated and ‘refreshed’ the RIDDOR workplace injury, disease and dangerous occurrence reporting forms, with the watchdog saying this involves “moving to a more modern platform to improve user experience.” Union reps may also be interested in the HSE safety representatives report form.
HSE RIDDOR webpages. Safety reps’ reporting form. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Asia: Warning on unsafe garment safety plan
A building safety initiative launched in Vietnam and India in August that says it aims to improve safety for workers in the garment industry, it is set to fail because it “is set on a path to ignore workers’ voices,” a labour rights group has warned. The Clean Clothes Campaign says that although the ‘Life and Building Safety Initiative’ (LABS) professes to learn from the programme that made factories safer in Bangladesh after the Rana Plaza building collapse, “it ignores its most vital elements.”
CCC news release. ILRF news release. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Korea: Global backing for truck driver safe rates drive
Transport union activists from around the world have stood side by side with Korean truck drivers demanding the government keeps its promise to make the roads safer. The Road Safety Freight Rates Committee in South Korea is currently considering the minimum wage truck drivers should receive, known as the ‘safe rate’.
ITF news release. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Lesotho: Agreement to end harassment at big brand factories
A union-backed campaign has won action to end widespread sexual harassment at factories in Lesotho producing garments for major high street brands. The action by the Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL) to stop long-running gender-based violence at Nien Hsing Textile company factories has resulted in the binding agreements signed by unions, apparel brands and women’s rights organisations.
IndustriALL news release. WRC news release and investigation. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Spain: Union warning on the ‘invisible’ workplace victims
Nurses providing hospital care, people delivering food to homes, domestic workers cleaning hotel rooms, office workers accumulating overtime hours, waiters and waitresses taking on two or three jobs to make minimum wage: no one would consider these to be dangerous occupations but, more than ever, they have become high-risk jobs in Spain. “Psychosocial risks are the great pandemic of this century and they are related to the precarious conditions of the labour market,” warns Ana García de la Torre, the occupational health secretary for Spain’s General Union of Workers (UGT).
Equal Times. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

 

Hazards news, 31 August 2019

Britain: TUC e-cigs warning vindicated after vaping-related death
A TUC warning on the dangers of allowing vaping in enclosed workspaces has been given added weight after US authorities confirmed a person had died after developing a severe respiratory disease due to the use of electronic cigarettes. US government experts are also investigating a spate of cases of a mystery lung disease linked to vaping.
BBC News Online. TUC’s updated Ensuring smoke-free workplaces guide, including an e-cigarettes section. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: New Unite call for culpable homicide legislation in Scotland
Unite has repeated its call on the Scottish parliament to pass a proposed culpable homicide law. The construction union’s statement came after the death of a worker on a Sir Robert McAlpine site in Glasgow. The 43-year-old worker died in a 22 August incident at the £40 million revamp of the St Enoch Centre in Glasgow city centre.
Unite news release. GlasgowLive. Evening Times. Falkirk Herald. STV News. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Australia: Another state introduces industrial manslaughter law
The state government in Western Australia has become the latest in the country to place industrial manslaughter legislation proposals before parliament.  A survey this month found widespread public support across Australia for this type of law; industrial manslaughter laws already in place in Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
UnionsWA news release. Queensland Unions news release. Mining Weekly. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Zoonoses warning on Scotland’s animal lab cuts
Scientists’ union Prospect is calling on the Scottish government to urgently review proposals to close regional post-mortem facilities in the country, which is says will result in the loss of key scientific, research and analytical expertise vital for disease control. Prospect negotiator Jane Rose, speaking on behalf of managers and specialists at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), said: “The disease surveillance work undertaken by our members at SRUC is critical to ensure that Scotland is able to react quickly to disease outbreaks, particularly in zoonotic infections such as swine and avian flu that carry a risk to human health.”
Prospect news release. Prospect guide to zoonotic infections. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Relaxing driving time limits could end in deaths warns Unite
A no deal Brexit could result in lorry driving time limits being relaxed, leading to exhausted drivers posing a danger to other road users, Unite has warned. The transport union is calling on the government to rule out explicitly any relaxation or suspension of EU regulations which govern driving time for lorry driver.
Unite news release. Unite Live. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Unite holds ballot over Glasgow bus safety
Unite has informed bus firm First Glasgow that it intends to ballot drivers for industrial action to protect public safety. The union said service changes cooked up without consultation and set to take effect in October will result in ‘significant cuts’ in running times and recovery times for drivers.
Unite news release. The Scotsman. STV News. BBC News Online. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: You can’t afford to go sick at Sainsbury's distribution centre
A new attendance procedure at a Sainsbury’s distribution depot could leave staff out of pocket if they are injured of get sick, their union has said. Usdaw members at Sainsbury’s Waltham Point depot are involved in a dispute that has already seen a series of one-day stoppages, with the union concerned at changes to the attendance policy which it says are being implemented unilaterally by the company.
Usdaw news release. Logistics Manager. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Union reps ‘assaulted’ by NHS managers at privatisation meetings
Union reps attempting to attend a Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust privatisation meeting were ‘physically assaulted’ by senior managers, their union GMB has said. The Morning Star reported that staff attended the meeting at Wexham Park hospital, which was called by the trust to update workers on plans to privatise more than 1,000 jobs.
Morning Star. Slough Express. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Mental health problems now top cause of NHS sick leave
Mental health problems including stress, depression and anxiety are the most common reason NHS staff in England take sick days, according to latest NHS Digital statistics. Workers took a total of 17.7 million days of sick leave between December 2017 and November 2018, with almost a quarter, or 4.2 million, taken due to stress, anxiety, depression or other psychiatric illnesses.
NHS Sickness Absence Rates April 2019, Provisional Statistics, NHS Digital, published 22 August 2019. The Independent. The Metro. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Quango discriminated against chronically ill lawyer
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) discriminated against an associate lawyer who suffered severe fatigue caused by chronic kidney disease, an employment tribunal has found. According to the reserved judgment: “The discriminatory effect is considerable; because of his illness he performs poorly and because he performs poorly, he does not get a pay rise, does not get a bonus and loses the prestige of being regarded as a good performer.”
The Law Gazette. Personnel Today. Mr R Cunningham v Financial Conduct Authority, Employment Tribunal decision, 3201141/2018, August 2019. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Vehicle servicing firmed fined over crushed employee
Volvo Group UK Limited has been fined after an employee was crushed by a truck, leading to serious injury. Volvo Group UK Limited pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was fined £13,333.33.
HSE news release. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Don’t let excessive work temperatures hurt you
Last weekend’s record high Bank Holiday temperatures may be behind us – but did your workplace have a proper, protective agreement in place before the thermometer topped out? The TUC’s ‘Cool it’ guide gives union reps pointers on how to negotiate suitable protective agreements in consultation with the workforce.
TUC workplace temperature webpages and guide, Cool it! A TUC guide for trade union activists on dealing with high temperatures in the workplace. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: TUC ‘respiratory health’ briefing, London, 27 September
‘Respiratory health – a workplace issue', a TUC briefing for trade union health and safety reps, will take place at the union body’s national HQ in London on 27 September 2019. As well as top speakers, the event will include presentations from the Health and Safety Executive, a union personal injury law firm and the Trade Union Clean Air Network.  
‘Respiratory health – a workplace issue', TUC briefing, Congress House, 23-28 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS, Friday 27 September 2019. Registration from 9.45am, event starts at 10.15. Lunch provided. Free event. Registration is required: phone 020 7467 1218 or email the TUC. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Work-Stress Network conference, Birmingham, 23-24 November
The UK National Work-Stress Network 2019 annual conference “will focus on the tools and strategies needed by trade unionists to support their members, protect themselves and get employers engaged in tackling work stress to our make workplaces a safer place for all.” Speakers include top campaigner Hilda Palmer, barrister and academic Professor Diana Kloss MBE and Gail Kinman, professor in occupational health psychology at the University of Bedford.
Work-Stress Network conference, Hillscourt Conference Centre, Rose Hill, Rednal, Birmingham, B45 8RS, 23-24 November 2019. Booking form. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

China: Rhinestone workers dying of silica dust disease
Workers making the rhinestones often found on high street jewellery, fashion and decorative items are developing the deadly lung disease silicosis, according to a new study. Researchers diagnosed 98 cases of silicosis between the years 2006-2012 in a single crystal rhinestone factory in Guangdong province, China.
C Wen and others. Silicosis in rhinestone-manufacturing workers in South China, Occupational Medicine, kqz107, published first online 22 August 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqz107. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

USA: Boss told to pay $1m in safety retaliation case
Factory boss William ‘Billy’ Lloyd fired two of his employees after they cooperated with government safety inspectors, a federal jury has ruled. Following the April court decision, in August US District Judge Mitchell S Goldberg ordered Lloyd to pay the former workers $1,047,399 in back wages and punitive damages.
OSHA news release and Whistleblower Protection Program. Philadelphia Inquirer. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

USA: What will AI mean for workplace safety?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) could have a major impact on workplace safety and health, the head of US government’s occupational health research body has said. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH, said: “Maximising the potential occupational safety and health benefits of AI applications, while minimising any potential challenges, is critical.”
NIOSH Science Blog. John Howard. Artificial Intelligence: Implications for the Future of Work, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, published online ahead of print, 22 August 2019. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Hazards news, 24 August 2019

Britain: Unite action call on suicide linked site
The new Hinkley Point nuclear power station, Britain’s biggest construction project, is grappling with a mental illness crisis with several attempted suicides since work began in 2016, a union has revealed. More than 4,000 workers are on the Hinkley Point C site, where Unite officials say there has been a surge in suicide attempts this year.
Unite news release. The Guardian. Morning Star.
Recent research on suicide ‘ideation’: A Milner, K Witt, AD LaMontagne and others. Psychosocial job stressors and suicidality: a meta-analysis and systematic review, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 75, pages 245-253, 2018.
Marianna Virtanen. Psychosocial job stressors and suicidality: can stress at work lead to suicide?, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 75, pages 243-244, 2018.  
More on work-related suicidesWork and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. We won’t die waiting: Union action call on work-related suicides, Hazards, number 146, July 2019. ‘Don’t despair’ pin-up-at-work suicide prevent poster. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: Win for stressed out Serco sleeper train workers
Strikes threatening to halt Scotland’s sleeper trains could be avoided thanks to a significant breakthrough in negotiations. A circular to members from RMT general secretary Mick Cash reports that negotiations have now been productive, and management has agreed to fill all vacancies and recruit temporary staff to ease workload concerns.
Morning Star. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: Two years on, Grenfell inquiry has still to deliver justice
Firefighters’ union FBU has said there has been a denial of justice for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, as two years after the start of the inquiry into the tragedy no findings have so far been published and its second phase has been delayed until 2020. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “From the start, we have warned that the shape of this inquiry puts the firefighters who risked their lives on the stand, and allows politicians and business interests, who did nothing to stop Grenfell becoming a death trap, to avoid scrutiny.”
FBU news release. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: Call to reinstate funding for maritime safety programme
Seafarers’ unions Nautilus and RMT have called on the government to reinstate funding for a key maritime safety programme. In a letter to under-secretary of state for transport Nusrat Ghani, Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson urges the minister to “consider the important, and unique” role the UK Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme (CHIRP) plays in “ensuring the continued improvement of safety standards in the maritime sector and the need to increase support and awareness of CHIRP's presence.”
Nautilus news release. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: MoD asbestos base ‘scandal deepens’, says Unite
Unite has demanded ‘decisive action’ as further evidence emerged revealing the extent of the asbestos contamination at a Ministry of Defence (MoD) base in Gloucestershire. The call comes after Unite revealed that although the majority of the staff at Ashchurch in Tewkesbury had been placed on indefinite gardening leave due to the asbestos problems, the MoD guards at the base had continued to patrol the site and had just been instructed just to change their boots when leaving the contaminated area.
Unite news release. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: RMT strike warning on major Tube lines
Tube union RMT has warned it will take strike action over safety concerns and a breakdown in industrial relations on the Central and Victoria lines. RMT general secretary Mick Cash commented: “Our members deserve better and the union congratulates them on their magnificent show of strength in these disputes,” he said, adding: “The union remains available for talks.”
RMT news release. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: Teachers to return to controversial schools site
Teaching union NASUWT has said its members can return to work at a schools site linked to a possible bladder cancer cluster, as long as promised remedial action and ongoing testing goes ahead.  The decision came after a meeting with experts who have been advising the union on health and safety issues at Buchanan High and St Ambrose schools in North Lanarkshire.
NASUWT news release. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: Tory centre would work you to death
A think tank headed by former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has been condemned for suggesting that the state pension age (SPA) should be raised to 75. Latest official figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show in the UK in 2015 to 2017, “healthy life expectancy (HLE) at birth was 63.1 years for males and for females was 63.6 years,” but this masks a wide disparity between the richest and poorest areas, with ONS noting: “HLE at birth across local authority areas of the UK varies by 21.5 years for females and 15.8 years for males in 2015 to 2017.”
Morning Star. The Independent.
Ageing confidently – Supporting an ageing workforce, CSJ, August 2019. ONS figures on healthy life expectancy. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: Almost 900k UK workers now on zero hour contracts
Latest figures show almost 900,000 workers are on zero hour contracts in the UK, amid growing concern about the rise of insecure jobs among the youngest and oldest workers. Trade unions said the figures confirmed the government has “failed to crack down on unfair employment practices” as the official figures showed a 15 per cent spike in workers on zero hour contracts in the past year.
EMP17: People in employment on zero hours contracts, ONS, 13 August 2019. Yahoo Finance. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: Health and safety at risk as watchdog budgets are slashed
British safety, food, water and air quality standards are all under threat as vital inspections of businesses plummet, and laws are no longer enforced, according to a new campaign. The startling message comes from 20 organisations representing a diverse range of interests, coming together in support of Unchecked.uk.
Unchecked news release, letter to The Times and briefing, The UK’s enforcement gap, 20 August 2019. The Times. Hazards Campaign manifesto. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: Man awarded payout for work harassment stress
A man who suffered harassment at his workplace so severe he considered taking his own life has been awarded more than £50,000 in compensation. After an employment tribunal ruled in favour of Wayne Hoch, 35, he expressed his relief that the matter was now closed and added that he hoped his case against Thor Atkinson Steel Fabrication Ltd would encourage others to take action.
In Cumbria. Mr W Hoch v Thor Atkinson Steel Fabrication Ltd: 2411076/2018 Employment Tribunal decision. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Global: New to the job workers face higher risks
It is not your age, but how long you have been in the job that determines your risks, a major review has confirmed. The paper concludes there should be renewed efforts to raise awareness of the issue, introduce protective policies and to ensure “worker empowerment.”
At Work, issue 97, Institute for Work & Health, Summer 2019.
FC Breslin and others. Are new workers at elevated risk for work injury? A systematic review, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 76, issue 9, pages 694-701, 2019. doi:10.1136/oemed-2018-105639
HSE new to the job webpages. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: Advice for reps on narcolepsy at work
An advocacy charity is offering free advice on workplace reasonable adjustments to people affected by the sleep disorder narcolepsy. Narcolepsy UK recognises that trade union reps are an important source of advice and support for sufferers in the workplace.
Narcolepsy UK charter and advice. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Argentina: Judge bans delivery apps on safety grounds
When a courier delivering a takeaway in Buenos Aires was hit by a car, the company’s response was not to check how he was, but to ask: “How is the order?” Ámbito Financiero journalist Yanina Otero tweeted a photo of the exchange in which Floridia’s phone appears to be smeared with blood; the tweet went viral, and was retweeted more than 60,000 times, with social media users outraged at delivery company Glovo’s response.
Yanina Otero’s tweet. Clarin (in Spanish). The Guardian. More on the dangers of insecure work. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Ireland: Spate of dock deaths sparks calls for urgent action
Irish dock workers’ union SIPTU has made an urgent call for better protection for all workers in the country’s ports, through better regulations and enforcement, after a 50-year-old truck driver was killed on a Dublin dock on 14 August. The death of Nicholas 'Nick' Collier at North Docks at Dublin Port marks the seventh death of a worker in an Irish port in the past two years.
SIPTU news release. ITF news release. Irish Times. Irish Independent. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Japan: Third fatality on Tokyo 2020 construction jobs
The death on 8 August of a 50-year-old construction worker from suspected heatstroke has again highlighted the deadly risks facing workers preparing facilities for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, the global building union federation BWI has said. Toiling in soaring temperatures, the worker was laying cable to a building which will serve as a media centre for the event when he was found unconscious, dying later in hospital.
BWI news release and report, The dark side of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, May 2019.
NRDC video on the impact of extreme heat on workers and others. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

USA: Undercover union probe exposes deadly asbestos dangers
A US asbestos removal firm has been fined after a union worker went undercover and exposed dangerous work practices on the non-union demolition site. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) fined EcoServices LLC, which had been contracted to remove asbestos from a former General Motors plant near Newport, saying it was unsafely disposing of the cancer-causing material.  
Delaware News Journal. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Hazards news, 17 August 2019

Britain: Work-related suicide should have legal recognition
Work-related suicide should be “recognised in legislation”, with the employer required to prove a suicide was not related to their job rather than putting the burden of proof on the victim’s representatives, the union CWU has said. The union call came a written response to a UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) consultation on Suicide Prevention Quality Standards. The proposed standard, which is due to be published in September this year.
CWU briefing and CWU response to the NICE Suicide Prevention Quality Standard Consultation.
More on work-related suicidesWork and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. We won’t die waiting: Union action call on work-related suicides, Hazards, number 146, July 2019. ‘Don’t despair’ pin-up-at-work suicide prevent poster. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: Gaming industry workers face the ‘crunch’ and bullying
Entertainment trade union BECTU has vowed to help tackle a toxic culture of exploitation and bullying within the gaming industry as a cross-party group of MPs prepares to hold an inquiry into working conditions. Results of a new workforce survey by BECTU, which received 305 responses from games workers from across the UK, identified a major problem with ‘crunch working’ – undertaking up to 80 hours per week for 6-week periods, with regular demands to work 12-16 hour days and through weekends.
BECTU news release. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: Union call for action after sleeper train brake failure
Rail union TSSA has called for speedy action after a safety watchdog reported that a dodgy brake was to blame for a Caledonian Sleeper train overrunning an Edinburgh station on 1 August. It has emerged Caledonian Sleeper executives issued a safety alert to the rail industry after one of its trains was forced to make an emergency stop when it overshot the platform at Waverley station. and then act to put in place whatever is needed for this not to happen again.”
RAIB news release. TSSA news release. The Herald. The Scotsman. BBC News Online. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: Action calls on phoning while driving risks
The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) has said there should be zero tolerance of any mobile phone use while driving. The union call came a week ahead of a recommendation from MPs that a ban hands-free phone use while driving should be considered.
CWU news release and ‘no hands free, no phone calls, no exceptions’ poster. Transport Select Committee inquiry on road safety and mobile phones, news release and report, Road safety: driving while using a mobile phone. BBC News Online. The Independent. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: MoD exposing guards to asbestos, warns union
Unite has raised serious concerns that members employed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are being potentially exposed to asbestos at a military base. Unite says that while the majority of staff at the Ashchurch military base have been placed on indefinite leave, this does not apply to the MoD Guard Service (MGS) who are still required to patrol the base either on foot or in vehicles.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: Unite calls for toxic cabin air inquiry
Airline cabin crew union Unite has called for an inquiry into toxic cabin air and fume events on board jet airliners. The move comes in the wake of an incident on a British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Valencia where the plane landed safely after the cabin filled with smoke.
Unite news release and toxic cabin air factsheet, poster and campaign card. Unite fume event register. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: John Lennon Airport staff vote to strike over safety
Flights from Liverpool’s John Lennon airport could face wide-scale disruption after GMB members voted to strike over safety and other concerns. Around 200 workers on the Swissport EasyJet and Swissport Mainline contracts voted overwhelmingly for industrial action over health and safety issues, working practices, pay and the company’s breach of the union recognition agreement.
GMB news release. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: Unions says government complacency behind rise in fires
Fires in England have increased by almost 10 per cent this year, while the government continues to impose damaging cuts to fire and rescue services, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. The union added the overall number of incidents, including flooding and wildfires, attended by firefighters also continued to rise, amidst heavy cuts to fire and rescue budgets and firefighter numbers.
FBU news release. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: Union safety reps ‘save lives’ – so be one!
By becoming a trade union safety rep you could save lives, the union Community has said. Speaking after one of the union’s popular courses for safety reps, the union’s national safety officer Rob Sneddon said: “To any Community member looking to make a difference for themselves and their colleagues, consider becoming a health and safety rep, you could save lives.”
Community news release.
TUC ‘union effect’ health and safety briefing and safety representatives and worker involvement webpages. More on the union safety effect. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: Questions after probe dismisses school site health risks
An independent review into fears of dangerous contamination on a school campus in North Lanarkshire has concluded the schools are safe but criticised authorities for their “slow” and “defensive” response to health concerns raised by unions and parents. And Professor Andrew Watterson of Stirling University said “there’s more work needs to be done,” adding: “We haven’t seen details about necessarily all the chemicals that have been tested and the decision making.”
NASUWT news release. EIS news release. STV News. BBC News Online. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: Record high asbestos deaths defy official assurances
Despite being long banned, asbestos continues to be the greatest single cause of work-related deaths in the UK, with the toll increasing remorselessly and defying official estimates that it would peak years ago. According to asbestos law specialist Louise Larkin, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) originally “predicted that the number of deaths caused by the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma would peak in 2012,” adding: “This was later changed to 2016 and then 2018 and now it’s 2020.”
Thompsons Solicitors news report. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: Unions back call from fire chiefs for sprinklers in all schools
Firefighters in London have not attended a single school or college fire this year where sprinklers were fitted, shocking official figures have revealed. London Fire Brigade (LFB) data, for this year up to 25 July, show that none of the 57 educational establishments in the capital that had fires were fitted with automatic fire suppression systems.
London Fire Brigade news release. GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: Injured workers at greater risk from suicide or overdose deaths
Workers injured in the workplace are ‘significantly’ more likely to die from suicide or opioid overdose, a study has found. The research findings published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine note: “Improved workplace conditions, improved pain treatment, better treatment of substance use disorders, and treatment of post-injury depression may substantially reduce mortality consequent to workplace injuries.”
NIOSH Science Blog, 8 August 2019. Katie M. Applebaum and others. Suicide and drug‐related mortality following occupational injury, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, published ahead of print, 12 July 2019. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: Wheelie bins better for bin workers’ backs
The use of wheelie bins by refuse workers leads to less time off due to bad backs and strains, new research has found. The research, published in the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling, shows that the use of wheeled bins is linked to lower sickness absence rates among council waste collection workers and that changing waste collection systems used by councils in the UK could reduce staff absences due to MSDs.
IOSH news release and MSD toolkit. David Thomas, Mark Mulville and Billy Hare. The identification of the domestic waste collection system associated with the least operative musculoskeletal disorders using human resource absence data, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, volume 150, November 2019. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: Binman died after collapsing on hottest day of the year
A binman died in hospital last month after collapsing on the hottest day of the year, it has been confirmed. The Veolia worker in his 40s was working in Thornton Heath, south London, when he was taken ill around 1.30pm on 25 July.
London Evening Standard. Sutton and Croydon Guardian. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

USA: Climate change drives increase in site heat deaths
Construction workers account for over a third of all heat-related workplace deaths in the US at a rate six times that for the workforce as a whole, a new study has found. Between 1992 and 2016, 783 American workers died because of exposure to excessive heat, and nearly 70,000 were “seriously injured,” according to federal figures.
Xiuwen Sue Dong and others. Heat‐related deaths among construction workers in the United States, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, First published online 22 July 2019. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.23024. CPWR research summary. Observer. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Global: Monsanto's 'intelligence fusion center' targeted activists
Monsanto operated a “fusion center” to monitor and discredit its critics, internal company documents have revealed. The agrochemical giant, now owned by the German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, also monitored a not-for-profit food research organisation through its “intelligence fusion center”, a term that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies use for operations focused on surveillance and terrorism.
USRTK news release, The Monsanto Papers and Monsanto Roundup trial tracker. TUC glyphosate guide. The Guardian. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Australia: Four in five workers injured or ill due to work
Nearly four in five (78 per cent) working people in Australia have been injured, or become ill, or both, as a result of their work, according to a nationwide union survey. A similar proportion (80 per cent) believe existing penalties for employers are not enough to make them take safety seriously, national union federation ACTU found.
ACTU news release and report. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Hong Kong: Authorities use force in bid to silence criticism
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) have reiterated calls on authorities to protect the journalists, and have condemned the police violence towards the media as they cover the protests in Hong Kong. In a statement, HKJA said police were “repeatedly singling out working on-site journalists who have made their identities clear – violently obstructing their work, intentionally chase-beating them and aiming tear gas cannisters directly at them.”
IFJ news release. ITUC briefing note and news release. Hong Kong Free Press. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Hazards news, 10 August 2019

Britain: Unite launches silica exposure register to protect workers
Construction union Unite has launched an online register to allow workers who have been exposed to dangerous silica dust to record their exposure. The union says this will assist with potential future legal cases if they experience long term health problems.
Unite news release and silica exposure register. Unite silica dust film.
Resources on dust risks and controls: Guide to occupational hygiene for union health and safety representatives, TUC/British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), November 2016. More on work-related dust diseases and risk assessment checklist. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: Amnesty urged to rethink redundancies after tragedies
Amnesty International is being urged to abandon ‘swingeing’ redundancy plans introduced despite a report identifying a need to address widespread stress-related ill-health and a ‘toxic’ workplace environment. The union Unite called on the movement’s global assembly held in Johannesburg, South Africa to step in and ‘mitigate’ the redundancy programme planned by the organisation.
Unite news release.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist, Hazards, 2018.
More on work-related suicide. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: Appeal court case confirms annual leave rights for all workers
UNISON has welcomed a Court of Appeal judgment that confirms the annual leave rights of hundreds of thousands of employees working part-time and irregular hours or patterns. The public sector union said Harpur Trust v Brazel & UNISON clarifies the legal position, ensuring all workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days paid annual leave, even if they do not get given work or paid for parts of the year.
UNISON news release. Court of Appeal judgment. More on working hours and health. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: Union slams Heathrow strike-breaking scheme
Firefighting services at Heathrow could be compromised by the use of a ‘Mickey Mouse’ strike-breaking outfit without the necessary specialist knowledge, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned. The FBU slammed the “backhanded” method of strike-breaking during industrial action over pay.
FBU news release. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: Unite demands action after three injured in scaffold collapse
There must be an urgent inquiry into a scaffolding collapse that left three people in hospital, the construction union Unite has said. The union said an official probe was “essential” to ensure lessons are learned from the 1 August incident in Reading town centre.
Unite news release. London Evening Standard. Construction Enquirer. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: Seafarers get right to refuse Strait of Hormuz work
UK seafarers have now got the right to refuse work in the Strait of Hormuz, under a deal agreed by unions and the shipping industry. The Warlike Operations Area Committee (WOAC) agreed to temporarily designate the Strait of Hormuz as a ‘High-Risk Area’ from 2 August, following government advice that vessels should avoid the area unless accompanied by UK naval support.
Nautilus news release and related release. Cabinet Office news release. Bloomberg News. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: New Brexit chief wants to scrap commitment on workers’ rights
Boris Johnson’s new Brexit chief wants to scrap Theresa May’s commitment to protect British workers’ rights, and has suggested Brexit is an opportunity to escape the EU’s “heavy labour market regulation.” Just two months ago David Frost said he was opposed to the approach advocated “by the leaders of both major political parties” and argued that EU rights should not automatically be written into law after Brexit.
The Independent. LCCI website article, 16 May 2019.
Insecure work: Why the new PM must put decent work at the top of his to-do list, TUC, 29 July 2019. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: Campaigners expose government ‘collusion’ in unsafe trains push
Rail union RMT has called on new transport secretary Grant Shapps to put an end to the drive toward Driver Only Operated (DOO) trains and to make the railway more accessible and safer by ensuring trains and stations are fully staffed. RMT said documents secured under Freedom of Information legislation by the Association of British Commuters (ABC) show that government ministers “have been colluding with the railway industry to push forward policies that could lead to more trains without a second safety critical member of staff passing through unstaffed stations on the basis of a policy report that they’ve refused to admit exists, and in the face of fierce criticism from its own disabled persons’ advisory committee, DPTAC.”
ABC news release. RMT news release. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: Physios welcome government consultation on preventing ill-health
The physiotherapists’ union CSP has welcomed a government consultation on its plans for “advancing” health in England. Matt Hancock, secretary of state for public health and primary care, launched the open consultation document on 22 July.
Government consultation, Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s. The consultation closes on 14 October 2019. CSP news release.
UNISON resources: Aches, pains and strains – guide for safety reps; Aches, pains and strains – leaflet for members; and Aches, pains and strains – poster.  
Musculoskeletal disorders - HSE material for health and safety reps, TUC/HSE, September 2018.
Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss, DWP/DHSC, 15 July 2019. The consultation closes on 7 October 2019. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: MoD must pay PTSD sufferer £80,000 for unfair dismissal
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) must pay £80,000 in damages for the unfair dismissal of a woman who developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being bullied and harassed at work. The claimant, known only as “A,” was a civil servant with 10 years’ service at the MoD human resources facility in Cheadle Hulme, which she said had a “toxic” workplace environment.
Morning Star. MoD annual report 2018/19, 25 July 2019. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: Union praises BA crew after plane smoke evacuation
The pilots’ union BALPA has praised the crew of a British Airways (BA) flight that was evacuated after smoke filled the cabin shortly before landing. BALPA paid tribute to the professional job done by the pilots and crew of the flight from London to Valencia on 5 August. The aircraft cabin filled with smoke, but the plane landed safely and all the passengers were successfully evacuated.
BALPA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: Director gets curfew over vibration disease cases
The director of a company providing specialist services in rock drilling, cliff stabilisation and rock anchors has been handed a curfew and a suspended jail sentence after three workers were diagnosed with hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Plymouth Magistrates’ Court heard how the employees of Celtic Rock Services Limited had developed and reported symptoms of HAVS but no action was taken.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: Roofing director blown off school site in storm
Construction firm Bowmer and Kirkland and two contractors have been fined after the director of one of the firms received serious injuries when a gust of wind blew him off a roof. Principal contractor Bowmer and Kirkland, Advance Roofing Ltd and JKW Roofing were working on the roof of the new three storey teaching block of Abbotsfield School for Boys in Hillingdon, London.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: Trauma for agency shift worker injured by unguarded machinery
A company that manufactures absorbent products has been fined after an agency worker suffered a life-changing injury to her hand when it was caught in a rotating fan blade as she worked the night shift. Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 18 October 2017, the 34-year-old agency worker had been working her second shift at the NPS Worldwide UK Limited site in Oldham.
HSE news release. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Australia: Casualisation and ‘production first’ hurts mine safety
Declining job security in coal mining is a major mine safety risk factor, a new union survey of miners in the Australian state of Queensland has found. Nearly nine in ten of the 1,000 plus coal miners surveyed said that casualisation of jobs at their work site has affected safety, mining union CFMEU has found.
CFMEU news release and survey results. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Australia: Unions ramp up push for safer silica standard
An official review of Australia’s respirable silica exposure standard is an opportunity to save lives - but the federal proposals are not protective enough and are being unacceptably delayed, the Victorian Trades Hall Council has said. The union body warned that Safe Work Australia's decision to take three years to halve the current respirable crystalline silica exposure standard to 0.05mg/m3 “does nothing to stem the tsunami of silicosis currently sweeping Australian workplaces.”
We Are Union news release. UnionsWA news release. ABC News. Canberra Times. The Guardian. Victorian government 1 May 2019 call for a national 0.02 mg/m3 occupational exposure standard. Cancer Council’s silica dust factsheet.
Arguments for a more protective UK silica exposure standard: Part 1: Dust to dust: Deadly silica standard is killing UK workers, Hazards, number 126, 2014. Part 2: A line in the sand, Hazards, number 127, 2014. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

India: Cement unions prioritise health and safety
Cement sector unions in India are to ‘intensify’ their health and safety activities, with an emphasis on prevention of work-related ill-health. Trade union representatives attending the meeting organised by the global union IndustriALL in Chennai from 29 to 30 July 2019 reported that despite improvements in occupational health and safety (OHS) in the cement industry and periodic health check-ups in many places, most of the workforce in the industry is not provided with comprehensive safety training.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Global: Top cancer journal warning on continued asbestos use
A leading cancer journal has warned the continued use of asbestos in many countries will perpetuate the human suffering caused by “this highly preventable cause of premature death.” The editorial in The Lancet Oncology highlights the record high asbestos-related death rates in the UK. It also criticises the repeat failure of the US to ban chrysotile asbestos, noting this was now being challenged in the courts.
Asbestos exposure: the dust cloud lingers: Editorial, The Lancet Oncology, volume 20, issue 8, page 1035, 1 August 2019. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Hazards news, 3 August 2019

Britain: Workers need stronger rights now, not a no-deal Brexit
The new prime minister must get on with enhancing workers’ rights now and should abandon his threat of a no-deal Brexit, the TUC has said. The call to Boris Johnson comes as new TUC analysis shows that 1 in 9 workers – 3.7 million of the workforce – are in precarious jobs.
TUC news release and report, Insecure work: Why the new PM must put decent work at the top of his to-do list, TUC, 29 July 2019.
STUC news release. TSSA news release. Unite news release. Cabinet Office news release. Boris Johnson’s first speech as prime minister. The Guardian. The Independent.
More on the work-related health effects of insecure work and low pay. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: GMB slams ‘shameful and dangerous’ airline ‘trolley dolly’ culture
A union representing tens of thousands of cabin crew workers has condemned the airline industry’s ‘frankly dangerous’ dress codes. Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, commented: “While these policies don't constitute sexual harassment they contribute to a frankly dangerous perception of the way women 'should' look and behave in order to fit in with a superficial, patriarchal standard. It's these perceptions and dress code requirements placed on women that lead to them being sexually objectified.”
GMB news release. The Independent.
TUC #ThisIsNotWorking Alliance petition and campaign webpage.
Hands off: Time to take sexual harassment at work seriously and change the law, Hazards, number 146, July 2019. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: Union safety activist exposes Crossrail’s surveillance programme
A Unite safety activist who lost his job on the Crossrail project after raising safety concerns has exposed the giant construction consortium’s use of a private security firm to monitor blacklisting activists. Electrician Frank Morris obtained internal documents show how Control Risks, which styles itself as “a specialist global risk consultancy”, compiled weekly reports on the trade unionists.
The Guardian. Crossrail news release.
TUC ‘Stronger Unions’ blog on Frank Morris’ reinstatement, 4 September 2013. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: TUC renews warning on unsafe work temperatures
Record-breaking temperatures can make work unpleasant and downright dangerous unless employers act to protect their staff, the TUC has warned. To cope with the stifling heat, the union body has renewed its call on employers to allow flexible working and to keep workplaces cool so staff can work as comfortably – and safely – as possible.
TUC news release, workplace temperature webpages and guide, Cool it! A TUC guide for trade union activists on dealing with high temperatures in the workplace.
BBC News Online. Manchester Evening News. Newcastle Chronicle.
HSE heat stress advice. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: Unions welcome Labour's backing for a max work temperature
Unions have welcomed Labour’s call for a maximum temperature, echoing measures sought in a long-running TUC campaign. Under the Labour policy, if the indoor workplace temperature goes over 300C – or 27 Celsius for those doing strenuous work - employers will have to put in place effective temperature controls to help workers keep cool.
GMB news release. UNISON news release. BFAWU news release. The Times. The Mirror. The London Economic. The Telegraph. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: Train sleeper staff vote for action over ‘intolerable’ stress
RMT members on the SERCO-run Caledonian Scottish Sleeper have voted overwhelmingly for both strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over the ‘intolerable pressure’ on staff following the introduction of new fleet. Since the introduction of the new trains staff morale has sunk to an all-time low and RMT members have suffered workplace stress and mental health issues, the union said.
RMT news release. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: ASLEF welcomes u-turn on Scottish train police merger
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has welcomed the Scottish government’s decision not to press on with its proposed merger of the British Transport Police (BTP) and Police Scotland. Rail unions ASLEF, TSSA and RMT and Scottish Labour had all opposed the ‘downright dangerous’ merger.
ASLEF news release. Scottish government news release. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: Supreme Court victory in landmark disclosure battle
The Supreme Court has ruled an asbestos disease victims’ advocacy group can access court documents used in a legal case against the asbestos manufacturer Cape Intermediate Holdings Limited. The landmark judgment in favour of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK will have ‘wide-ranging implications for the future disclosure of documents used in court proceedings’ and will impact on the access to documents given to people and organisations who are not part of court proceedings, the group’s lawyers have said.
Supreme Court judgment and summary, 29 July 2019. Leigh Day Solicitors news release. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: London mayor launches Good Work Standard
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched a Good Work Standard, which is says is a new benchmark for high employment standards. The initiative, which includes a Healthy workplaces Award, has already attracted sign-ons from public, private and third-sector employers and union bodies including the TUC and UNISON.
London Mayor’s news release and Good Work Standard, Employment Rights Portal and the Healthy Workplace Award.  Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: Outdoor workers at increased air pollution risk in hot weather
The British Safety Council (BSC) has warned that soaring temperatures don’t just present a danger from excessive heat, they leave outdoor workers at a heightened risk for air pollution. BSC chair Lawrence Waterman urged the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to provide guidance “in relation to outdoor workers who, as well as by heat, are affected by air pollution, particularly in Britain’s largest cities.”
BSC news release and the Canairy mobile app. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: Firm fined £1m after two burnt in explosion
A car and commercial vehicle component manufacturer has been fined £1 million after two employees suffered burns when chemicals used to clean a distillation tank ignited. Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard how on 11 July 2017 two employees of Delphi Diesel Systems Limited were burnt when the vapour of a flammable chemical, which was being used to clean the distillation tank of a component washer, ignited and caused an explosion.
HSE news release. GloucestershireLive. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: KJ Pickering fined over 6,350-volt shock death
“Shortcuts were taken” by a building firm fined £102,400 after a 6,350-volt shock killed one of its workers. Mark White, 47, was electrocuted when a metal rake he was holding came into contact with overhead power lines in Ashton, Northamptonshire, in 2016 while working for KJ Pickering.
BBC News Online. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: Concrete giant fined £400,000 after worker loses four fingers
Concrete multinational Hanson has been fined £400,000 after a welder lost four fingers during an unsafe lifting operation on a London site. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Hanson Quarry Products Europe Limited did not properly plan and supervise this lifting operation to ensure it was carried out in a safe manner.”
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: Amber Rudd keeps work and pension role

Amber Rudd has kept her job as work and pensions secretary, one of the few top level survivors of new prime minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle. In April, Justin Tomlinson replaced Sarah Newton as the DWP minister of state for disabled people, health and work, with responsibilities including occupational health, the HSE and industrial injuries and disease benefits.
DWP webpages on Amber Rudd and Justin Tomlinson. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Australia: Union warns of outsourcing dangers after port incident
A maritime union has said outsourced maintenance work on the docks was behind a potentially ‘catastrophic’ incident where wire ropes slipped on a crane used to load and unload shipping containers at DP World’s Port Botany terminal. The MUA said it was pure luck that no one was injured in the “major safety incident.”
MUA news release. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Russia: Breakthrough safety deal at food giant Danone
Russian food unions AIWU and Novoprof have taken a significant step towards raising health and safety standards at Danone facilities throughout the country in a newly-signed agreement. The arrangement builds on an international agreement on health, safety and stress between the global food and farming union federation IUF and food and beverage giant Danone.
IUF news release and Danone/IUF international agreement on health, safety and stress. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

South Africa: Court approves massive mines silicosis settlement
A Johannesburg High Court has approved a 5 billion rand (£285 million) class action settlement between gold mining companies and law firms representing thousands of miners who contracted the potentially fatal lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis. The six mining companies who formed part of the class action agreement are African Rainbow Minerals‚ Anglo American SA‚ AngloGold Ashanti‚ Gold Fields‚ Harmony and Sibanye Stillwater and they will pay from R70,000 to R500,000 (approximately £4,000-£28,000), depending on the type of claim, to affected workers employed in the mines post-1965.
Silicosis settlement website. SABC News and related article. Fin24 News. Daily Maverick. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Hazards news, 27 July 2019

Britain: Two million workers robbed of legal holiday entitlement
A new TUC analysis has revealed that 1 in 14 UK workers are not getting their legal holiday entitlement. The TUC warned that people who work excessive hours are at risk of developing heart disease and stroke, stress, mental illness and diabetes, with this also impacting on co-workers, friends, and relatives.
TUC news release. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Cancelled shifts compo won't end zero-hours injustice
Government plans to compensate zero-hours workers who lose out on work will do nothing to reform a jobs market that allows bosses to treat workers like disposable labour, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting after the government announced plans to force bosses to compensate workers for cancelled shifts and penalise employers who don't give enough notice of shifts.
TUC news release. BEIS/Low Pay Commission news release.
Join the TUC call for an end to scandal of zero hours contracts. Sign the petition now – it only takes 30 seconds. More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Union anger at Openreach hours ‘robbery
The CWU’s high profile campaign against an Openreach management practice that is forcing the company’s field service engineers to give hours of their time for free every week has stepped up a gear. The union says there is “mounting anger” at discrepancies in contracts that see some employees compensated for their travelling time, but others required to work for up to 10 hours a week for nothing.
CWU news release and related ‘Devil’s in the detail of Our Hours robbery’ story. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Tougher action needed for attacks on emergency workers
There must be more prosecutions, tougher sentencing and a culture change to address the widespread attacks on emergency workers, the union GMB has said. The union call came as new figures obtained by the BBC showed between November 2018, when a new law came into effect, and May this year police across England and Wales made more than 6,600 arrests for attacks on emergency service workers.
GMB news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star.
TUC reporting work-related violence briefing and draft reporting form. More on violence at work. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Over 1,000 reports of sexual harassment at UK McDonald’s
McDonald’s workers in the UK are being subjected to a “toxic culture” of sexual harassment which has seen at least 1,000 women abused and ‘predatory’ managers moved to different stores rather than sacked, a union has warned. The food union BFAWU says allegations range from managers making repeated sexual comments, brushing up against staff and discussing sexual desires, abusing workers’ contact details in order to send texts and explicit photos, and even offering better hours and promotion in return for sex.
The Independent. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Union call for release of seized oil tanker and crew
UK seafarers’ union Nautilus and the global transport union ITF have raised serious concerns over the seizure of the British oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz, and have called for a diplomatic resolution to the situation and de-escalation of tensions in the region. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz on 19 July, with 23 seafarers onboard of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationality.
Joint Nautilus/ITF statement. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Shopworker protection call after shoplifting hike
Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has called for government action in response to a 17 per cent increase in police recorded incidents of shoplifting in England and Wales over the last decade. The Usdaw general secretary said the ‘shocking’ Office for National Statistics figures back up the findings of an Usdaw survey of 3,272 retail workers across England and Wales.
Usdaw news release and full response to the government’s ‘call for evidence’. Police recorded crimes in England and Wales year ending March 2019, 18 July 2019. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: GMB rounds off action week against 'horrific' Amazon
The final in a series of GMB-coordinated protests outside Amazon warehouses over “unsafe” and “appalling” working conditions have concluded. The protests followed international campaigns last week to coincide with the retail giant’s Prime Day promotion, with demonstrations being held outside seven British Amazon warehouses – what the company calls “fulfilment centres” – and in seven US cities.
GMB ‘Amazon workers are not robots’ campaign and petition. TUC news release. The Guardian. In These Times. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Bad behaviour by pupils and parents stressing out teachers
Teachers are under huge pressure to respond immediately to “incessant” emails from parents asking about their child's schooling, a report has found. The head of Ofsted has called for an end to what she described as an “instant response culture,” and urged both management and parents to support teachers in their efforts to do a good job in the classroom.
Ofsted news release and report, Teacher well-being at work in schools and further education providers, July 2019. TES News. The Guardian. The Independent. The Telegraph. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Danger warning as armed forces’ fire service goes to Capita
Unite has accused the government of ‘playing with fire’ over the privatisation of the Defence Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) after it announced that Capita would take over the running of the armed forces’ firefighting service at bases across the UK and Cyprus. Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Ultimately the losers will be our armed forces who will receive a poorer, more fragmented service and the dedicated fire and rescue professionals who now face the prospect of cuts as Capita looks to turn a quick profit from an essential service.”
Written statement from minister of state Tobias Ellwood, 18 July 2019. Unite news release. Capita news release. The Mirror. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: UK used as base for secret global asbestos trades
A newspaper investigation has uncovered evidence that Britain is one of the world’s biggest traders in asbestos, a deadly material that kills more than 100,000 people worldwide every year. The Sunday Times investigation found that despite asbestos being banned in the UK for the past 20 years, British-registered companies are still responsible for shipping hundreds of thousands of tons of asbestos to some of the world’s poorest countries including India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia where it is still used in construction.
Sunday Times. Leigh Day news release. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Union wants assurance on schools asbestos removal
Teaching union NEU has called for greater government transparency on asbestos in schools combined with the phased removal of the deadly fibre from school premises. In a statement, NEU joint general secretaries Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted said: “We call upon the new government to prioritise phased removal of asbestos from all schools for the sake of the health of children and staff.”
NEU news release. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Chemical company fined after worker killed by forklift
Minteq UK Ltd, a Birmingham manufacturer of calcium carbonate products, has been fined £200,000 after a worker suffered fatal injuries when struck by a forklift truck. Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 24 July 2017, Christine Workman struck by a forklift truck whilst walking in the designated pedestrian area of the site’s roadway, suffering severe crush injuries which led to her death on 8 August 2017.
HSE news release. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Director fined following worker’s fatal fall from tree
A property investment company and its director have been fined after a worker fell from a tree, suffering fatal injuries. Nottingham Crown Court heard how on 27 September 2017 untrained workers were tasked with taking down a large, dead sycamore tree on a Nottingham road using a chain saw, when Dennis Parker was knocked out of the tree, dying two weeks later.
HSE news release. Nottingham Post. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Director escapes jail for window cleaner fall injuries
A Cardiff-based health board has been fined and the director of a maintenance company given a suspended jail sentence after a worker fell from height, suffering life-changing injuries. Cardiff Crown Court heard how, on 22 September 2016, Christopher Rees, employed by WD Rees Maintenance Ltd, was window cleaning at the Women’s Services Unit of the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff when he fell from the end of the beam supporting him as there was no end stop fitted, suffering significant and life-changing injuries including a broken back.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: TUC advice on keeping cool at work
As soaring temperatures have prompted the TUC to remind employers to protect their staff. The TUC warns that high temperatures can lead to potentially serious sickness, a lot of concentration, and slippery, sweaty palms – all of which can increase risks at work.
Cool it! A TUC guide for trade union activists on dealing with high temperatures in the workplace. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Canada: Union backs call for stronger migrant protections
The union UCFW Canada is backing calls from migrant workers’ groups for greater health and safety protection for migrant workers. As part of an official review of the workplace safety strategy in Ontario, the groups are exploring ways to make agricultural work safer and healthier for workers participating in Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
UFCW Canada news release. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

France: Telecom execs await verdicts on work suicides scandal
A landmark trial that has seen company executives in France facing charges related to a spate of suicides at their firm has concluded at the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance. The court action was triggered by a complaint filed with the Paris public prosecutor by the union SUD PTT in December 2009, accusing France Télécom and its senior executives of “moral harassment” and “endangering others” through psychological bullying.
ETUI news report. Sarah Waters, Suicide as Corporate Murder: France Télécom on trial, Truthout, July 2019.
More on work and suicides:  Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Turkey: Faded denim comes at a steep price
Chemicals used to fade denim are making garment workers sick, a study has found. Clean Clothes Campaign Turkey investigated the denim industry's use of potassium permanganate. The campaign’s research found that workers in Turkey spraying the chemical are suffering skin and respiratory problems.
Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Potassium permanganate spray report, CCC Turkey, July 2019.
Abdulhalim Demir’s story. Fashion victims: Global pressure to drop worn jeans for health’s sake, Hazards magazine, number 113, 2011. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Hazards news, 20 July 2019

Britain: ‘Major victory’ for site workers St Fergus gas plant
Unite has secured a ‘major victory’ for construction workers at the Shell-owned St Fergus gas plant. Meetings between Unite and Wood Group representatives led to a proposal that was put to the workforce that has now ended the dispute while also allaying the union’s concerns over health and safety, the union said. Unite had threatened to hold an industrial action ballot in response to the Wood Group withdrawing a long standing payment for 'permit holder' workers carrying out safety duties at the site near Peterhead.
Unite news release. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Britain: Amazon becomes prime union target
Amazon Prime Day, which features a 15 July global marketing assault by the world’s biggest retailer, also saw unions push back at global giant’s exploitative and dangerous working practices. UK union GMB said that behind the company hype, Amazon workers are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and taken away in ambulances, and pregnant women workers are treated “appallingly.”
GMB news release. ITF news release. BBC News Online. In These Times. Quartz. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Britain: GMB alarm over 'dangerous' ambulance retirement age
Ambulance workers and paramedics protested outside the Department of Health on 16 July over plans to force them to continue working until they are 68. Their union GMB said if the policy is enforced, ambulance workers will be in poorer health than the patients they are treating - and lives will be under threat.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Britain: RMT steps up pressure for ‎inquiry into helicopter safety
Offshore union RMT is intending to turn up the pressure on the government and safety regulators for a public inquiry into helicopter safety. The union’s decision came as fresh concerns were raised over helicopter safety standards in the North Sea following an Air Accident Investigation Board report which found that fatigue amongst ground engineers contributed to a near miss at Aberdeen airport involving an Airbus 175 helicopter operated by CHC Scotia.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Britain: RMT calls for an absolute ban on rail contracting out
The union RMT is demanding an “absolute ban” on contracting out‎ and an independent system of safety scrutiny in the rail industry after a “shocking” report into the death of a fatigued casual worker on the tracks. The 37-year-old, whose name has not been released, was hit from behind by a train at Stoats Nest Junction near Purley sometime after midnight on 6 November 2018.
RAIB report. RMT news release. BBC News Online. Romford Recorder. Morning Star. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Britain: MoD failing to warn workers of asbestos dangers
Unite, which represents thousands of workers employed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and its subcontractors, has written to members cautioning them that their employer is failing to warn them about the dangers of being exposed to asbestos on military bases. The union action came after it discovered that just 1.56 per cent of staff had recently undertaken asbestos awareness training.
Unite news release. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Britain: Council faces strikes by disgruntled housing repair workers
About 50 housing repair workers at Newham council are set to strike for five days over unresolved safety, pay and bullying concerns. Unite said its members had voted unanimously for strike action over “a myriad of issues,” including asbestos exposures at work.
Unite news release. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Global: Serious safety concerns at UK university’s Dubai campus
A safety evacuation at the University of Birmingham’s Dubai campus has heightened union concerns about conditions at the controversial site. A spokesperson for Birmingham UCU said: “Last week’s campus evacuation and the failure to notify designated health and safety representatives once again raises serious concerns over the university’s dealings in Dubai.”
Birmingham UCU news release. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Global: Seafarers urged to contact union over Middle East safety fears
UK seafarers with concerns over safety in the Strait of Hormuz have been urged to contact their union, Nautilus. The UK government said on 11 July the security situation there was “critical”.
Nautilus news release. BBC News Online. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Britain: Government consultation on work-related job loss
Proposals to offer a sick pay rebate for organisations that effectively help staff get back to work have been announced by the government, as part of a package of measures to improve support for employees with long-term conditions or disabilities to remain in employment. More workers would also be eligible to claim statutory sick pay (SSP), and will be able to claim sickness benefit for mental as well as physical health conditions, under plans detailed in a consultation by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
DWP/DHSC news release and Consultation announcement. Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss, DWP/DHSC, 15 July 2019. The consultation closes on 7 October 2019.
FOM news release. Personnel Today. BBC News Online. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Britain: Report shows the need to end ‘toxic culture’ in parliament
Unions have said a House of Commons-commissioned report into bullying and harassment in parliament shows a clear need to end the ‘toxic culture’ in parliament. Gemma White QC’s report details the “significant problem” posed by the abuse and harassment of parliamentary staff and makes recommendations to strengthen the complaints process and human resources (HR) functions in Westminster.
Gemma White QC's report, 11 July 2019. House of Commons Commission statement. Unite news release. Prospect news release. The Mirror. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Britain: Port Talbot rail deaths prompt £70m safety taskforce
The deaths of two track workers this month has prompted the introduction of a £70m taskforce to improve the safety of railway workers. Network Rail said the taskforce would be a partnership of industry organisations including rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), trade unions and contractors.
Network Rail news release. RMT news release. TSSA news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Night shift work ‘probably’ causes cancer in humans
The available evidence suggests working night shifts “probably” causes cancer in humans, a group of top experts has reported. An International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) working group concluded: “In sum, the Working Group classified night shift work in Group 2A, ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’, based on limited evidence of cancer in humans, sufficient evidence of cancer in experimental animals, and strong mechanistic evidence in experimental animals.”
IARC news report. Carcinogenicity of night shift work, IARC Monographs volume 124 group, The Lancet Oncology, published Online First, 4 July 2019. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(19)30455-3. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Britain: Serious concerns over schools asbestos survey findings
A teaching union has said it is “deeply” concerned at the extent of the asbestos problem affecting the nation’s schools. The union NASUWT was commenting after the Department for Education published its long-overdue asbestos management assurance process report, based on an extensive survey of schools launched well over a year ago; it found almost a fifth of schools are not managing asbestos in line with government guidance.
NASUWT news release. JUAC news release. Schools Week. Education Business.
Asbestos management assurance process (AMAP) report and related webpages. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Britain: MPs to investigate impact of silicosis on site workers
A parliamentary inquiry is to investigate the impact of the deadly dust disease silicosis on construction workers and their families. The All-party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Respiratory Health has joined forces with not-for-profit organisation construction benefits organisation B&CE to better understand why construction workers continue to suffer and die from silicosis caused by inhaling respirable crystalline silica.
BC&E news release. Personnel Today.
Resources on dust risks and controls: Guide to occupational hygiene for union health and safety representatives, TUC/British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), November 2016. More on work-related dust diseases and risk assessment checklist.
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 906. 20 July 2019

Britain: Contractor fined over deadly silica exposure risks
A playground installation and landscaping contractor has been fined after failing to provide employees with adequate control measures to prevent exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS). Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how on 23 March 2018, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) served a prohibition notice to stop two employees of Playscape Design Ltd, who were working without any respiratory protective equipment, from using a power tool to cut flags.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Australia: Reprisals fear for raising safety in mines
Contract and casual mineworkers in the Australian state of Queensland are fearful of “retribution” if they complain about questionable safety practices, their union has warned. Safety experts and the mineworkers’ union CFMEU have raised concerns about the “reporting culture” at mine sites, where most workers are now employed on a casual basis by labour-hire companies, rather than working directly for the multinational mine operators
The Guardian Australia. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Ireland: Bookie pays out after losing breaks case
Bookmaker Paddy Power has been told to pay compensation to staff employed in its Irish betting shops after denying them rest breaks, their union has said. Mandate said workers at the company – now owned by Flutter Entertainment – were expected to deal with customers while eating their sandwiches during breaks.
Mandate news release. Irish Independent. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

USA: As black lung disease increases, care is cut
The number of black lung cases in the USA is growing at the same time funding has falling sharply for a federal programme to care for those with the disease. The debt-laden Black Lung Disability Trust Fund provides medical and financial assistance to certain miners who are totally disabled by the disease, but is facing penury exacerbated by this year’s 55 per cent decrease in the coal tax rate, declining coal production and coal company bankruptcies.
Washington Post. Black lung benefits program: Financing and Oversight Challenges Are Adversely Affecting the Trust Fund, GAO, 20 June 2019. Risks 906. 20 July 2019

Hazards news, 13 July 2019

Britain: Law change needed to stop sexual harassment at work
The government must introduce a new law to make employers responsible for protecting their staff from sexual harassment at work, the TUC has said. The TUC says the new prevention duty to on employers would be supported by a code of practice, explaining exactly what steps bosses need to take to prevent sexual harassment – such as carrying out mandatory training for staff and managers, and having clear policies.
TUC news release. Morning Star.
TUC #ThisIsNotWorking Alliance petition and campaign webpage. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Insecure university jobs bad for mental health
More than seven out of every 10 university staff (71 per cent) said their mental health has been damaged by working on insecure contracts and more than two-fifths (43 per cent) said it had impacted on their physical health, a survey by the union UCU has found. The union’s report, based on a survey of over 3,800 casualised staff, also warns that the widespread use of casual contracts is damaging the quality of research and the education students receive.
UCU news release.
Resources: Download the free TUC Education Mental health and the workplace workbook. More on the work-related health effects of insecure work. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Dog attacks remain a major concern, say post workers
Postal union CWU has reminded public that dog bites are still a priority concern to postal workers, despite recent improvements in the law on dog attacks. “The number of attacks has risen,” said the union’s national health, safety and environment officer Dave Joyce, “with yearly hospital admissions for dog bites increasing by 80 per cent over the last decade and seven postal workers, on average, being attacked by dogs every working day of the year.”
CWU news release. Royal Mail/CWU Dog Awareness Week, Monday 8 July to Saturday 13 July. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Contamination tests to go ahead at cancer linked school site
Teaching union NASUWT has welcomed an announcement from the Scottish government that it is to order testing of the water, soil and methane membrane at the Buchanan and St Ambrose schools campus in North Lanarkshire. Last month, the union took strike action to withdraw its members from the campus over the failure of the employer, North Lanarkshire Council, “to act appropriately to address the serious concerns over the health and safety of the site”.
NASUWT news release. Scottish government news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online.
Resources: TUC occupational cancer guide. Work cancer hazards blog. Cancers and their work causes: An ITUC/Hazards at-a-glance guide to cancer hazards. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Barking and Dagenham leads the way for London site standards
Barking and Dagenham has become the first London council to throw its weight behind Unite’s pioneering Construction Charter. The charter commits the council to working with Unite to achieve the highest standards of direct employment, health and safety, apprenticeship training and the implementation of nationally agreed terms and conditions of employment.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Unilever signs up to TUC's Dying to Work charter
Usdaw, Unite and the GMB have welcomed soaps-to-soups giant Unilever adding its name to a charter protecting the rights of workers who become terminally ill at work. The formal signing of the charter took place at the company’s Port Sunlight site on the Wirral.
Usdaw news release. TUC Dying to Work campaign. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Workplace deaths up again
Workplace fatalities have increased again, latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures have shown. Provisional figures for work-related fatal injuries for 2018/19 released on 3 July show 147 workers were killed, six higher than 2017/18 and 12 deaths up on the 135 figure for 2016/17.
HSE news release and 2018/19 fatalities statistics. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Asbestos mesothelioma cancer deaths remain high
The latest available figures on deaths from one occupational cancer, the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma, show it killed 2,523 people in Great Britain in 2017, a level similar to both 2016 when there were 2,595 deaths, and the 2,549 deaths in 2015. According to HSE: “Annual deaths are expected to remain broadly at current levels for the rest of the decade before beginning to reduce in number.”
Mesothelioma deaths statistics 2017. The Guardian. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Rail safety body warned of track risks before deaths
A rail safety body had warned this year of the deadly risks facing track workers, just weeks before two were killed on a south Wales line. Gareth Delbridge, 64, from Kenfig Hill and Michael "Spike" Lewis, 58, from North Cornelly, were hit by the Swansea to Paddington train near Margam mid-morning on 3 July, just three months after the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) there were “too many near misses in which railway workers have had to jump for their lives”.
RMT news release. TSSA news release. BBC News Online, related story and story on the independent investigation. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Hundreds of schools referred to HSE over asbestos concerns
Nearly 700 schools in England have been referred to the national health and safety regulator over concerns they are failing to safely manage asbestos in their buildings, potentially putting thousands of staff and pupils at risk. The Department for Education (DfE) has referred 676 state-funded schools and academies in England to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as they did not provide evidence “that they were managing asbestos in line with regulatory requirements”.
The Guardian. Daily Star. IOSH news report. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: We won’t die waiting for action on work suicides
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) should ditch its ‘deliberate blindspot’ on work-related suicide, a new report has said. The report in the occupational health and safety journal Hazards, which cites UK and international union calls for the issue to be treated seriously, says the  official workplace safety regulator is wrong to steer clear of one of the major emerging occupational health problems.
We won’t die waiting: Union action call on work-related suicides, Hazards, number 146, July 2019. ‘Don’t despair’ pin-up-at-work poster.
More on work and suicides:  Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist, Hazards, number 141, 2018. 7 April 2018. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Slavery network 'had 400 victims'
Members of a gang behind the biggest modern-day slavery network ever exposed in the UK have been jailed. Police believe more than 400 victims were put to work in the West Midlands by the organised crime gang, with one person injured while working forced back to the factory without hospital treatment, suffering long-term health problems as a result.
Hope for Justice news release. BBC News Online. Express and Star. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Workers at risk due to ‘hands off’ harassment anomaly
An ‘enforcement anomaly’ means sexual harassment is the responsibility of an equality regulator not allowed to undertake preventive inspections but is deliberately ignored by the safety regulator which can. A new report in the journal Hazards notes both the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “said an unequivocal ‘#NotMe’ when we asked who investigates and prosecutes cases of sexual harassment at work”, creating a “regulatory vacuum that guarantees those employers that let bad things happen know it is safe to carry on regardless.”
Hands off: Time to take sexual harassment at work seriously and change the law, Hazards, number 146, July 2019. The Guardian. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Director fined after agency worker is scalped
The director of St Helens wood product manufacturer has been fined after a worker was dragged into a rotating drive shaft, suffering horrendous physical and psychological injuries. Liverpool Magistrates Court heard how, on the 30 June 2016, the agency worker had been working on a production line at Cheshire Mouldings and Woodturning Limited, making parts for staircases. Her hair caught on a rotating drive shaft, resulting in the loss of her full scalp, ears and one of her thumbs.
HSE news release. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Worker gets brain damage, director gets community service
A company director has received a community service order after a worker suffered life changing injuries in a fall from a scaffold tower during the refurbishment of a Reading pub. Reading Magistrates’ Court heard how on 2 December 2016, Cedar Ridge Construction Limited employee Samuel Goemans, 36, suffered a serious head injury after falling from a tower scaffold onto the street below.
HSE news release and scaffolding webpages. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Firm fined after teen apprentice overcome by solvent fumes
An alloy wheel refurbishment company has been fined after a 16-year-old apprentice was overcome by vapours from a chemical used in the stripping and cleaning of alloy wheels. South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 12 December 2017, the employee of Wheelnut Ltd, entered an area known as the “acid room” to retrieve alloy wheels from one of three barrels of a chemical cocktail containing dichloromethane (DCM), methanol and hydrofluoric acid used in the stripping process.
HSE news release and guide on DCM risks during furniture stripping. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Site firm fined after worker poisoned by carbon monoxide
Construction 360 Ltd has been sentenced for criminal safety breaches after a worker exposed to carbon monoxide collapsed and lost consciousness while working at the site of King Asia Foods Ltd in Sheffield. Sheffield Magistrates Court heard how, on 11 January 2018, the worker was using a petrol driven floor saw within an enclosed space when he was overcome.
HSE news release. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Book now for the National Hazards conference, 26-28 July 2019
The 2019 National Hazards Conference, billed as the UK’s “biggest and best educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists”, will be held in Stoke-on-Trent from 26-28 July. The theme this year is ‘Cleaning up toxic work’ in increasingly insecure workplaces.
Hazards Campaign conference, 26-28 July 2019, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent. Hazards 2019 programme and booking form. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Australia: Union wins inquiries into spate of mine deaths
The government in the Australian state of Queensland has announced two reviews of mining health and safety after a union called for a full inquiry into recent workplace deaths in the sector. The mining union CFMEU called for an inquiry into deaths over the past two decades, as the industry reels from its sixth fatality in 12 months.
CFMEU news release. ABC News. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Global: Samsung facing charges over ethics failures
Samsung Electronics could find itself in court in France for not abiding by its own ethics pledges, such as a ban on under-age labour and dangerous working conditions at its factories. The prospect of legal action against the tech giant comes as a result of a complaint filed against the company’s French subsidiary by activist groups Sherpa and ActionAid France.
Sherpa news release. Phys.org. France 24. Arab News. The Independent. Hankyoreh and related story. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Germany: Unions want 'siesta' break during heat waves
The German trade union federation DGB has called for an extended lunch break for workers struggling to cope with record temperatures. The union body said it will press for workplaces in Germany to offer employees a siesta-style midday break while temperatures remained high.
DW News.
TUC guide to working in heat and 2018 blog on the case for a maximum workplace temperature. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Hazards news, 6 July 2019

Britain: Call to require employers to prevent sexual harassment
The TUC, women’s rights organisations and charities have launched a joint campaign calling on the government to introduce a new law to make employers responsible for protecting their staff from sexual harassment at work. With the government set to launch its consultation on tackling sexual harassment soon, the TUC’s ‘This is not working’ alliance – backed by organisations including the Fawcett Society, Action Aid, Amnesty and Time’s Up – wants to see the law changed so employers have a legal duty to take preventive measures to ensure their workplaces are harassment-free
TUC news release.
#ThisIsNotWorking Alliance petition and campaign webpage. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Shopworkers back TUC move to beat sexual harassment
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has welcomed a new TUC-led campaign to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace. Paddy Lillis, Usdaw’s general secretary said: “It complements Usdaw’s own ‘Call It Out’ campaign, which promotes our belief that everyone has the right to work in a safe and supportive environment.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Gig economy workforce has doubled in three years
The number of people doing gig economy work has doubled in the last three years, according to new TUC supported research. The survey – carried out by the University of Hertfordshire with fieldwork and data collection by Ipsos MORI – shows that nearly 1 in 10 (9.6 per cent) working-age adults surveyed now work via gig economy platforms at least once a week, compared to around 1 in 20 (4.7 per cent) in 2016.
TUC news release and report. The Guardian and related link. BBC News Online.
More on the work-related health effects of insecure work and low pay. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Scottish unions target work-caused mental illness
The struggle against work-caused mental illness was at the top of the action agenda for the annual youth conference of the Scottish Trades Union Congress. Delegates to the event, which concluded on 1 July, heard speakers draw parallels between physical injury at work and the impact of work on mental illness, and supporting moves to build the power of workers to challenge unhealthy working conditions.
STUC news release. Scottish government Fair Work agenda. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Most Welsh teachers says work damaged their mental health
Threequarters of teachers in Wales claim their job has damaged their mental health in the last year, a survey by the teaching union NASUWT has found. Eighty per cent of teachers said they have experienced more workplace stress in the last year and 82 per cent have suffered from anxiety due to their work.
NASUWT news release. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Gas plant site workers vote on safety action
Unite has confirmed it is to hold a ballot for industrial action at a Scottish gas plant in a dispute over plans to force some construction workers to take on ‘permit holder’ safety work and penalise those workers already doing the job. The site workers at the St Fergus plant near Peterhead, which processes oil and gas from offshore installations in the North Sea, are employed by the Wood Group Industrial Service on the Shell owned site.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Union push to stop bus driver fatigue
Transport for London (TfL) must take action to tackle the potentially deadly fatigue afflicting the capital’s bus drivers, the union Unite has said. Unite regional officer John Murphy said: “Levels of bus drivers’ fatigue are at chronic level, which is affecting the safety of drivers and the general public.”
Unite news release. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Retailers back union call for action on shop violence
A call by the retail union Usdaw for government action to stem ‘the rising tide’ of shop violence has been backed by retailers and their representative organisations. A letter to the Home Secretary and other minsters, signed by Usdaw, the British Retail Consortium and over 50 major retailers and industry organisations, calls for bold, ambitious and collective action to deliver meaningful change that will reduce levels of violence and abuse, both from central government, the wider justice system and from retailers themselves.
Usdaw news release, related news release and letter. BBC News Online. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Starbank teachers strike over violence fears
Teachers at a Birmingham school have gone on strike over concerns about violence and knife threats from pupils. NASUWT members at Starbank Secondary School said they received little support from bosses in confronting badly-behaved pupils.
NASUWT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Tube bosses slammed for ignoring union crime warnings
Tube union RMT has slammed London Underground (LU) bosses for repeatedly ignoring warnings about the surge in crime on the Tube. The union was speaking out after new figures revealed that‎ thefts on the network have risen by 80 per cent in the past three years.
RMT news release. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: New probe into Tube dust health risks
Health and transport experts are to launch an inquiry into potentially harmful “Tube dust” amid concerns about the impact of pollution on commuters using the London Underground. Tube union RMT has run a lengthy campaign for action to protect Tube workers and passengers from the “scandal” of toxic dust exposures on the network.
London Assembly news release. The Independent. East London Guardian. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Global: Work exposures linked to major degenerative diseases
Workplace exposures can lead to an increased risk of a number of life-threatening degenerative diseases, a major study has found. Swedish researchers reviewed 66 published studies on occupational exposures and the neurodegenerative diseases Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Gunnarsson LG and Bodin L. Occupational Exposures and Neurodegenerative Diseases-A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analyses, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, volume 16, number 3 page 337, 2019. ETUI news report. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Insolvency chief to head HSE
Britain’s workplace health and safety regulator has announced the appointment of its new chief executive. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the current chief executive of the Insolvency Service, Sarah Albon, will join the organisation on 1 September. By the time Albon takes up the post in September, HSE will also have two new union-side board members, Claire Sullivan, the director of employment relations at the physios’ union CSP and Ged Nicholls, general secretary of Accord, who join Kevin Rowan, TUC’s head of organisation and services, on the 10-person board responsible for overseeing the work of HSE, the government’s workplace safety regulator.
HSE news release and news release on new HSE board members. CSP news release. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: HSE calls on council enforcers to step up on safety
Britain’s workplace health and safety regulator is urging local authorities (LAs) across the country to make a ‘statement of commitment’ to work with others to improve health and safety standards in the sectors they regulate. HSE, which is the lead government regulator on workplace safety, says it is promoting the new commitment because “many local authorities in Great Britain face a challenging environment that impact on the way they deliver a wide range of regulatory services and statutory duties.”
HSE news release. Statement of commitment between: Local Authority and HSE Regulatory Services, HSE, 2019. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Time to act on sexual harassment
The TUC is calling on the public to support its call for a new legal duty on employers to protect staff from sexual harassment. The union body notes: “We're demanding a new, easily enforceable legal duty,” adding: “It would require employers to take all reasonable steps to protect workers from sexual harassment and victimisation.”
TUC publication alert. Sign the Petition. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

DR Congo: Mine collapse kills more than 40
At least 43 artisanal miners have been killed by a landslide at a copper and cobalt mine owned by Swiss-based mining giant Glencore in southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The death toll from the 27 June tragedy could climb further, local officials said.
Glencore statement. Al Jazeera. CNN News. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Europe: Unions call for maximum work temperatures ‘now’
All workers deserve to work in safe temperatures, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has said. In a week many areas of Europe endured record temperatures, the union body called on the next European Commission “to take this issue seriously and introduce a legislative instrument that recognises this increased risk to workers and provides a framework for protecting workers.”
ETUC news releaseResolution on the Need for EU Action to Protect Workers from High Temperatures on Key demands to build a just transition and boost climate action after EU elections. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Global: Climate change creating work heat stress risks
Global warming is expected to result in an increase in work-related heat stress, in turn damaging productivity and causing job and economic losses, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said, with the poorest countries worst affected. The new ILO report, ‘Working on a warmer planet: The impact of heat stress on labour productivity and decent work’, notes workers in agriculture and construction are particularly at risk, with environmental goods and services, refuse collection, emergency, repair work, transport, tourism, sports and some forms of industrial work also at risk.  
ILO news release and report, Working on a warmer planet: The impact of heat stress on labour productivity and decent work, July 2019. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Hazards news, 29 June 2019

Britain: Safety strike at cancer linked school site
Teachers at Buchanan High School in North Lanarkshire took the first of seven planned days of strike action on 20 June over what their union NASUWT has described as a failure by their employer to “act appropriately” to address serious safety concerns. The union’s stance followed the identification of four cases of bladder cancer in teachers who had worked in one corridor at the site.
NASUWT news release. Sunday Post. The Herald. The Independent. BBC News Online.
Resources: TUC occupational cancer guide. Work cancer hazards blog. Cancers and their work causes: An ITUC/Hazards at-a-glance guide to cancer hazards. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: Prison officers back lawful action over safety
An indicative workplace ballot of members of the union POA in public and private sector prisons, immigration removal centres and secure hospitals, has backed ‘lawful action’ to protect their health and safety at work. POA national chair Mark Fairhurst said: “The results prove that POA members who work in the most hostile and violent workplace in Western Europe are prepared to support any lawful action we decide to take in order to ensure their safety at work.”
POA news release. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: Strike ballot in fight over Tube cuts
Members of the London Underground union RMT is are being balloted for industrial action against cuts the union says are being “smuggled” in as part of a “Transformation Programme”.  RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT on London Underground is now on a war footing and it’s about time the management, and the London Mayor, woke up and took notice.”
RMT news release. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: Work injury forces engineer into retirement
A Somerset engineer whose foot was seriously injured after a two-tonne machine he was moving collapsed has been compensated in a union-backed claim. Unite member Chris Tongs, 65, was moving the heavy plastic moulding machine with a colleague at Avalon Plastics in Glastonbury when part of the platform they were loading it onto, known as ‘loading skates,’ collapsed under the weight.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: Health staff are suffering serious sexual harassment
Nurses, care assistants, cleaners and other NHS staff have suffered lewd sexual insults, groping and even rape while at work, according to new research from the health service union UNISON. Being leered at or subjected to offensive ‘banter’ and suggestive gestures are regular occurrences for some of the nearly one in ten (8 per cent) healthcare staff who reported being sexually harassed in the past year.
UNISON news release and It’s Never Ok report, June 2019. NHS Employers news release. Personnel Today. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: Groundbreaking deal gives lap dancers union protection
Dancers and staff at a Glasgow lap dancing venue are to benefit from union employment and safety protection as a result of a recognition agreement struck by the union GMB. Workers at the Seventh Heaven club will now be able to bargain collectively over their terms and conditions at work.
GMB news release. BBC News Online. 29 June 2019

Britain: Firefighter wins payout for breathing and back problems
A Dorset firefighter whose pre-existing asthmatic condition was made worse by his job and who also suffered a back injury at work, has been compensated in a Unite-backed case. Peter Eaton’s breathing became worse after he was exposed to diesel fumes at Boscombe Down military airfield’s fire station.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: Union links cost cuts to high speed train fire
Rail union TSSA has accused the Scottish government of “reckless penny-pinching” after one of the 40-year-old High Speed Trains brought in last year caught fire at Glasgow's Queen Street station. Commenting on the 18 June incident, TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We said from the start that Scotland deserved better than these museum pieces.”
TSSA news release. BBC News Online. The Scotsman. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: College backs TUC charter on terminally ill workers
Colchester Institute has added its name to a charter aimed at helping employees who become terminally ill at work. The TUC's Dying to Work Charter calls for greater job security for terminally ill workers, including protection from being dismissed because of their condition.
UCU news release. TUC Dying to Work Charter. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: More sign on to UNISON’s work violence charter
Victim Support UK and ACCESS for Living have become the latest organisations to sign up to UNISON’s ‘End violence at work charter.’ The union said the charter is a key part of its campaign to get employers in the community sector to take violence against staff seriously.  
UNISON news release and End Violence at Work Charter. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: Southampton council backs Unite’s construction charter
Southampton City Council has become the latest to sign up to Unite’s construction charter, underpinning safety and employment rights on the council’s building contracts. Construction firms planning to work on Southampton City Council building projects will now need to adhere to the charter.
Unite news release. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: Tax office security privatisation puts staff at risk
There could be an increased risk to the safety of tax office staff as a result of a decision to privatise HRMC’s in-house security team, civil service union PCS has warned. The union was commenting after it was announced private contractor Mitie is to be given the contract to run the entire security guard provision across the future HMRC estate.
PCS news release. Civil Service World. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

France: Long hours linked to higher stroke risk
Working long hours is linked to an increased risk of stroke, a study has found. Researchers investigated the impact of excessive working on cardiovascular health and found those who worked 10 hours or more for 50 days a year were 29 per cent more likely to have a stroke, compared to people who work shorter hours and people who worked long hours for 10 years or more increased their risk of suffering a stroke by 45 per cent, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) study concluded.
Marc Fadel and others. Association between reported long working hours and history of stroke in the CONSTANCES cohort, Stroke, volume 50, number 7, pages 1,879-1,882, July 2019. BBC News Online. Unite Live. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: Teachers in England have world-beating workloads
A government commitment to tackle the crippling workloads afflicting teachers in England is not being met, new international research has indicated. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD’s) Teaching and Learning International Survey – Talis - found secondary school teachers in England have one of the highest workloads in the world.
NEU news release. OECD news release. TALIS 2018 Results (volume I), Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners, OECD, June 2019. Personnel Today. Ekklesia. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: Figures confirm dangerous fire service fragmentation
New official assessments have confirmed the ‘dangerous’ fragmentation of the fire service, firefighters’ union FBU has said. Commenting on the latest reports from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “These reports confirm what we have been saying for years. HMICFRS is absolutely right, a decade and a half of localism and austerity has led to fragmented services and a postcode lottery of response times and crewing levels, leaving the public dangerously unsafe in some areas.”
FBU news release. HMICFRS news release. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: RMT calls for ‘transparency’ over new helicopter concerns
Offshore union RMT is calling on the helicopter operator Babcock and aircraft manufacturer Airbus to be ‘completely transparent’ over ‘shocking images’ which claim to show damage to H175 copters. RMT said a ‘significant number’ of members had raised concerns about the pictures, which are circulating among rig workers and which it is claimed are images of the crack in the horizontal stabiliser of an H175 operated by Babcock.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Oil Industry News. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Britain: Grain firm fined after worker killed by lorry
A grain store company has been fined following the death of a worker at its site in Linton, Cambridgeshire. Peterborough Crown Court heard how on 27 July 2016 Edward Orlopp, a 45-year-old employee of Camgrain Stores Ltd, suffered fatal injuries after being struck by a lorry at the site.
HSE news release. Haverhill Echo. BBC News Online. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Global: Victory on violence and harassment standard
A union-led campaign has won a new international standard on the prevention of violence and harassment in the workplace. After over a year of negotiations, the International Labour Organisation’s conference in Geneva agreed the new Convention and a related Recommendation.
ILO news release. TUC news release. ETUC news release. ITUC news release. ACTU news release. CLC news release.
ITUC campaign toolkit for a convention on gender-based violence at work. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Global: Worker safety should be ‘fundamental’, ILO agrees
A global union push backed by UN human rights experts to get recognition of workplace health and safety as a ‘fundamental’ principle in international labour standards has secured formal backing. A ‘centenary declaration’ agreed at the International Labour Organisation’s conference in Geneva put the issue at the top of its list of resolutions, and calls on ILO’s governing body “to consider, as soon as possible, proposals for including safe and healthy working conditions in the ILO’s framework of fundamental principles and rights at work.”
ILO news release and Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work.
ILO fundamental principles and rights at work. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Global: Arrests after deaths in Cambodian building collapse
Seven people including five Chinese nationals have been charged with criminal offences over the collapse of a building in Cambodia that left 28 construction workers dead. The Chinese owner of the site, Chen Kun, and construction supervisor Deng Xing Gui, were charged at Preah Sihanouk provincial court with involuntary manslaughter, causing unintentional injuries and damage.
The Guardian. DW News. Washington Post. Risks 903. 29 June 2019

Hazards news, 22 June 2019

Britain: Law must change on sexual harassment at work
The government must change the law so victims of sexual harassment at work are no longer silenced by ‘gagging clauses’ and negligent employers face effective sanctions, the TUC has said. The TUC is calling for a series of changes including: amending the law to make employers legally responsible for taking meaningful steps to rid their workplaces of harassment and victimisation; enforcement “with real teeth” so that employers who refuse to comply suffer a financial hit large enough to compel them to take action; stronger legal protection from harassment from customers and other third parties at work; and an extension to time limits for lodging tribunal claims to help people access justice.
TUC news release and blog posting. The use of non-disclosure agreements in discrimination cases, Women and Equalities Committee, House of Commons, June 2019. NUJ news release. The Guardian. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: Quarter of prison staff are recent victims of violence
Over a quarter (26 per cent) of staff working in prisons have been the victim of physical violence within the last year, according to new figures from a coalition of nine trade unions and professional organisations. The survey, published by the Joint Unions in Prisons Alliance (JUPA), found that one in seven (14 per cent) of staff who were a victim of recent physical violence said they have been assaulted more than ten times in the past year.
UCU news release. Morning Star. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: Name and shame corporate killers, says GMB
There should be a new naming and shaming regime and stronger penalties where people are killed or seriously injured at work, the union GMB has said. GMB’s annual conference heard that the official Health and Safety Executive (HSE) fatalities figure, which last year was 144 deaths, is “the tip of the iceberg” because it ignores whole categories of work-related deaths, including occupational disease deaths, workplace suicides, deaths in work-time road traffic accidents and deaths at sea, in the air and on railways.
GMB news release. GMB London news release. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: School bosses must commit to teachers' safety
School employers must make a clear commitment to protecting teachers from verbal and physical abuse from pupils, parents and other visitors to school sites, the union NASUWT has said. As part of the teaching union’s ongoing campaign to support teachers and headteachers in tackling pupil indiscipline, NASUWT has produced posters for schools it says are designed to make a public statement on the expectation of how staff should be treated.
NASUWT news release and ‘Not part of the job’ campaign posters. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Global: ‘Grave concerns’ for seafarers in the Gulf of Oman
UK seafarers’ union Nautilus has voiced concern about the safety of Merchant Navy crew who transit the Gulf of Oman, after two further tanker attacks. “Any risk to seafarers’ safety is of grave concern,” Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said.
Nautilus news release. ITF news release. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: Firefighters launch Grenfell ‘never again’ campaign
The firefighters’ union FBU has called for urgent action on a range of fire and building safety issues to prevent ‘another Grenfell’. Commenting on the 14 June second anniversary of the tragedy, the union said action to prevent a similar fire has been wholly insufficient, “with little to nothing being done to tackle the structural issues that led to the tragedy.”
FBU news release and petition. TUC blog. The Mirror. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: RMT campaigns to cut dangerously long bus hours
A campaign by the transport union RMT to cut dangerously long driver hours on Britain’s buses has received support from MPs. The Transport Committee’s report backed the RMT's call for bus driver hours to be limited, adding “we are concerned that recruitment and retention in the bus industry is hampered by long hours and poor pay”.
RMT news release. Support Matt Western’s Bill. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: Probe over school bladder cancer cluster
The Scottish government is to investigate a potentially work-related bladder cancer cluster after four teachers were diagnosed with the condition while working at a school built on a former landfill site. Public health experts will examine the fears of parents and teachers at Buchanan and St Ambrose High School in Coatbridge that harmful waste chemicals were to blame.
Scottish government news release. NASUWT news release. EIS news release. The Independent.
Resources: TUC occupational cancer guide. Work cancer hazards blog. Cancers and their work causes: An ITUC/Hazards at-a-glance guide to cancer hazards. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: Stress and overwork undermine UK job quality
Overwork and stress are undermining attempts to improve job quality in the UK, new research from personnel professionals’ organisation CIPD has found. The CIPD said its research identified serious concerns about the demands of work and the impact it can have on people’s health; two in three workers (66 per cent) say they have experienced a work-related health condition in the last 12 months, with anxiety and sleep problems two of the most common issues reported.  
CIPD news release and UK Working Lives Survey. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: Millions now suffer in low-paid, insecure work
More than 5 million workers across Britain are struggling in low-paid and insecure work, campaigners have warned. The Living Wage Foundation figures came as it launched a new Living Hours programme to tackle widespread insecurity over hours, with the foundation saying its scheme will require organisations to pay the real Living Wage and commit to providing workers with at least four weeks’ notice of shifts, a contract that accurately reflects hours worked, and a contract with a guaranteed minimum of 16 hours a week.
Living Wage Foundation news release, Living Hours programme and Living hours report. TUC news release. Usdaw news release. The Guardian.  
More on the work-related hazards of low pay and insecure work. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: Dusty work gave worker a deadly lung disease
A stone masonry company has been fined after a criminal failure to control silica dust resulted in an employee developing the disabling lung-scarring disease silicosis. Burnley Magistrates’ Court heard how prior to 2017, employees of GO Stonemasonry Limited in Accrington carried out work that resulted in exposure to respirable silica dust.
HSE news release.
Resources on dust risks and controls: Guide to occupational hygiene for union health and safety representatives, TUC/British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), November 2016. More on work-related dust diseases and risk assessment checklist. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: Suspended sentence after son’s fatal factory fall
Scaffolding firm owner Stephen John Brennan, 57, has received a suspended sentence and community service after his son suffered fatal injuries in a fall through a fragile roof. Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how on 19 September 2015, at the Norton Aluminium foundry site in Norton Canes, Staffordshire, scaffolder Stephen Brennan, 26, was fatally injured after falling approximately 11.5 metres through the roof.
HSE news release. Express and Star. Construction Enquirer. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: National Grid fined after worker killed
A power utility company has been fined for criminal safety offences after a worker was killed. Aylesbury Crown Court heard how, on 18 November 2016, Paul Marsden, a substation crafts person for National Grid Electricity Transmission plc was tasked with moving a delivery crate containing a compressor using a remote-controlled lorry loader crane when the crane struck Mr Marsden causing fatal injuries.
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Africa: Union call for action after Ebola outbreak spreads
There must be urgent action to address the potential spread of a deadly Ebola outbreak in central Africa and to protect the “safety and security” of health workers in the region, the global public service union PSI has said. The PSI call came after it was revealed the Ebola outbreak which was declared on 1 August 2018 by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has spread this month to neighbouring Uganda.
PSI news release. WHO Ebola updates. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

France: Court orders asbestos ‘psychological harm’ payouts
A court has ordered building products multinational Saint-Gobain to pay asbestos-related compensation to 130 employees at its specialised glass manufacturing and processing factory in Thourotte, France. According to the 3 June verdict of the labour court in Compiegne, the company must pay compensation of 20,000 euros (£17,800) to each worker for “psychological harm” resulting from their exposure to asbestos.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Global: UN experts urge ILO to back 'fundamental' safety
United Nations human rights experts have urged the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to immediately recognise and adopt safe and healthy working conditions as one of its fundamental principles and rights at work. The UN special rapporteurs on human rights said: “It is long overdue that the ILO recognises the right to safe and healthy working conditions as one of its fundamental principles and rights at work,” adding: “The ILO’s recognition is essential to help end the exploitation of workers who are forced to choose between a pay cheque and their health.”
OHCHR news release. IUF news release. ILO fundamental principles and rights at work. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Hazards news, 15 June 2019

Britain: GMB to campaign on work-related bladder cancer
The union GMB is to launch an awareness campaign on the link between work in certain industries and bladder cancer. The decision at the union’s annual Congress commits it to target a problem it says particularly affects workers in the chemical dye and rubber industries, but notes chemicals linked to bladder cancer also occur “in hair dyes, paints, fungicides, cigarette smoke, plastics, pollutant emissions from industrial installations, and metal and motor vehicle exhausts, which can affect both male and females.”
GMB news release. Fight Bladder Cancer.
Resources: TUC occupational cancer guide. Work cancer hazards blog. Cancers and their work causes: An ITUC/Hazards at-a-glance guide to cancer hazards. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain Minister accused of putting ambition first in asbestos scandal
Unite has accused defence secretary Penny Mordaunt of ‘putting her political ambitions’ ahead of thousands of Sea King helicopter maintenance workers exposed to asbestos. Unite national officer for defence workers Jim Kennedy said: “If Penny Mordaunt is interested in the health of her constituents and MoD workers, not only does she need to respond to Unite’s concerns but she needs to take action to ensure those affected understand the risks they now face.”
Unite news release. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain: ‘Toxic’ organisation pays off leaders, then slashes staff
Members of Unite employed by Amnesty International have pledged to consider ‘all options’ after the human rights charity announced that 93 workers face losing their jobs. Unite regional co-ordinating officer Alan Scott said: “The organisation’s senior management has a made a dangerous habit of irresponsible overspending and over-scoping, leaving staff to suffer the costs, first with their wellbeing and now with their jobs.”
Unite news release.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, updated February 2019. Work and suicide prevention checklist. More on work-related suicide. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain: Sellafield Mitie workers contending with stress ‘epidemic’
A confidential survey of Unite members employed by Mitie at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site has revealed ‘shocking high levels’ of stress, mental ill-health, financial problems and bullying among workers. The survey found that 91 per cent of members said in the past year they had experienced stress at work.
Unite news release. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain: Workforce ‘stress crisis’ in Scotland’s colleges
A stress crisis is blighting the workforce in Scotland’s colleges, the education union UNISON has said. ‘SOS Stressed Out Staff, Scotland’s Colleges Stress Report 2019’, based the union’s survey, found over 50,000 working days have been lost due to stress in Scotland’s colleges over the last three years.
UNISON news release. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain: Call to bar blacklisting firms from Commons refurb work
Unions representing all staff working in parliament have called on the House of Commons Commission to not employ construction firms who were involved in illegal blacklisting of union members on the forthcoming refurbishment contract of the estate. A letter sent this week from the joint House of Commons trade union side to speaker of the House John Bercow, said it is “crucial that parliament should not be seen to employ companies and individuals who have engaged in the blacklisting of workers for, among other reasons, simply being trade union members.”
PCS news release. Northampton Chronicle. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain: College staff link weapons threat to lack of resources
Young people are bringing weapons – such as machetes, hammers, metal bars and in one case a gun – into colleges across the country and making staff feel unsafe at work, according to a new report from the education union UNISON. UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “Budget cuts, rising knife crime and the closure of youth centres means college support staff are having to put themselves in harm’s way to ensure the safety of other students.”
FE News. TES News. The Independent. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain: Emergency services battling knife crime epidemic
The union GMB is to campaign for greater resources to be available to emergency services to help tackle the knife crime epidemic across the country. A motion passed at the union’s annual Congress calls for the police service and justice system to be given a significant increase in support, tools and education to tackle this violence. GMB news release. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain: Carers suffer thousands of serious work violence injuries
Care workers suffered more than 6,000 reported violent attacks resulting in serious injuries during the last five years, a GMB analysis of official figures has revealed. GMB national officer Rachel Harrison commented: “These statistics are the tip of the iceberg – they only include the most serious injuries, and our members have to deal with violence on a daily basis.”
GMB news release. The Guardian. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain: POA presses for action on prison violence
The prison officers’ union POA is to ballot its membership on “any lawful means necessary” to address what it sees as inaction by ministers on the prison violence crisis. The union is concerned that the failure of the service to press ahead with a roll out of PAVA incapacitant spray.
POA news release. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain: Unite ‘fury’ at Dundee charter breaches
Unite has reacted furiously to allegations it says point towards a contractor breaching the Unite Construction Charter signed in December last year by Dundee City Council. Only months after the deal was signed, Unite says it has received multiple reports of an agency called O’Neil and Brennon using an ‘umbrella practice’ to employ construction workers on a council housing project.
Unite news release. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain: Valero fined £5 million after explosion kills four
Valero Energy UK Ltd and B&A Contracts Ltd have been fined on charges stemming from a 2011 explosion that killed four workers and seriously injured another at an oil refinery in Pembrokeshire. Dennis Riley, 52, Robert Broome, 48, Andrew Jenkins, 33, and Julie Jones, 54, died after a storage tank exploded at the site.
HSE news release. WalesOnline. BBC News Online. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain: Firm fined after worker killed by gantry crane
Superconducting electromagnet company Tesla Engineering Ltd has been sentenced after a worker was fatally hit and crushed by an overhead gantry crane. Brighton Magistrates’ Court heard how on 23 March 2018 Dr Craig McEwan, 34, a unit manager of Tesla Engineering Ltd, died while making of a superconducting magnet coil at the firm’s Storrington premises.
HSE news release. Midhurst and Petworth Observer. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Korea: Samsung victim wins 10-year fight for recognition
A victim of occupational cancer caused by toxic exposures while working at Samsung has won a decade long fight for compensation. On 5 June, Han Hye-kyung was notified her workers’ compensation claim for a brain tumour had been approved by the compensation authority KCOMWEL.
SHARPS news report. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Japan: Call for safety probe at Tokyo Olympics sites
A former Olympian and head of a human rights group is asking the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo Olympics organisers to investigate worker safety at venues being built for next year’s games. Mary Harvey, the CEO of the Geneva-based Centre for Sport and Human Rights, raised her concerns in the wake of the publication last month of ‘The dark side of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics’ by the global construction union federation BWI,which describes “dangerous” patterns of overwork, some workers without employment contracts, and a “culture of fear” that discourages workers from reporting poor employment conditions.
Japan Today. The Olympians.
BWI news release and report, The dark side of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, May 2019. Centre for Sports and Human Rights. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

USA: Workers will die unless deadly solvent is banned
More labourers working with a toxic solvent will die while the US authorities reconsider the strategy to protect them, occupational physicians, advocates, and researchers have predicted. At least three US workers exposed to the paint stripping solvent, methylene chloride, have died since 2017 when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule to ban consumer and most commercial uses, said Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, a staff attorney working on labour issues at Earthjustice.
Bloomberg News. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Hazards news, 8 June 2019 

Britain: Amnesty dissolves ‘toxic’ leadership team slammed by union
Amnesty International has ‘dissolved’ its senior leadership team after an internal review said it had a “toxic” workplace and a union said it was not feasible for the top tier of managers to remain. The human rights organisation's secretary-general, Kumi Naidoo, ordered the independent review after two employees killed themselves last year.
BBC News Online. The Times.
Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, updated February 2019. Work and suicide prevention checklist. More on work-related suicide. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Britain: Overworked Universal Credit workers in new walk out
Civil service union PCS has warned it will continue its ‘sustained’ campaign for decent work at Universal Credit centres in the West Midlands. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This strike will be part of sustained campaign of action which could spread to other parts of Universal Credit, if the government doesn’t meet union negotiators to discuss workers’ concerns.”
PCS news release. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Britain: Scottish ambulance service is in ‘critical condition’
Ambulance staff in Scotland are overworked and stressed, a union survey had confirmed. UNISON Scotland’s report, ‘An emergency but no accident’, has established that, despite an increase in funding and staff numbers over the past five years,  demand has increased far beyond those resources with almost nine in ten ambulance staff (85 per cent) reporting their workloads is now heavier, rising to 98 per cent among paramedics.
UNISON news release. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Britain: ‘Shocking safety failures’ on Sea King asbestos
Unite has uncovered “shocking safety failures” on maintenance undertaken on Sea King helicopters that potentially exposed Ministry of Defence (MoD) workers and contractors to asbestos. The union said the revelations, obtained in response to a Freedom of Information request, deepen the scandal surrounding the exposure of Sea King maintenance workers to the cancer-causing substance.
Unite news release. Unite Live. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Britain: Unite accuses firm of ‘blatant double standards’ on safety
Unite has accused bosses at Colloids Limited in Kirkby of ‘blatant double standards’ when it comes to health and safety at work. The union was hitting back at the firm for having ‘one rule for management, and a different one for its workforce’ after the union discovered that the company has not been consistent in the application of its ‘zero tolerance’ health and safety disciplinary policy.
Unite news release. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Britain: Site proves it is possible to slash diesel use
A major construction job in Wales has shown it is possible to quickly slash the use of cancer and lung disease linked diesel. Solar lighting and power generation has achieved 97 per cent diesel-free operation on a major rail renewal project at Llanwern, South Wales.
Network Rail news release. Global Railway Review.
Diesel exhaust in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, October 2018. Fuming feature, Diesel out prevention factsheet and Die diesel die pin-up-at-work poster. Hazards 144, October-December 2018. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Global: Science institute exposed as industry mouthpiece
The non-profit International Life Science Institute, which claims to conduct “science for the public good” that “improves human health and well-being and safeguards the environment,” is in reality an industry lobby group, according to a new study. Findings published in the journal Globalization and Health detail examples of how ILSI advances the interests of the food industry, especially by promoting industry-friendly science and arguments to policymakers.
USRTK news release. Sarah Steele and others. Are industry-funded charities promoting “advocacy-led studies” or “evidence-based science”?: a case study of the International Life Sciences Institute, Globalization and Health, volume 15, number 36, 3 June 2019. Documents from the ILSI study will be posted in University of California, San Francisco’s Food Industry Documents Archive, in the U.S. Right to Know Food Industry Collection. The Guardian. ABC News. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Britain: Floor layer killed by toxic adhesive fumes
A materials supplier and a maintenance contractor have been fined a total of £750,000 following the death of a floor layer in London. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that on 4 September 2015, 30-year-old Paul Tilcock was found dead after using an adhesive to fix the flooring to the bathroom floor contained a large amount of dichloromethane, also known as methylene chloride.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. The Comet. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Britain: Site firm and director fined for unsafe removal of asbestos
A construction company and its director have been fined after failing to ensure the safe removal of asbestos during demolition work. Sherwood Homes Limited was convicted of a criminal safety offence and fined £170,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,406; company director Peter Kiely pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £6,500 plus costs of £7,000.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Northwich Guardian. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Britain: Suspended sentences after electrician suffers life changing injuries
Two company directors have received suspended jail terms after an electrician fell two storeys through an unprotected stairwell. Green Generation Renewable Services Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,548.28; company director Karl Grice pleaded guilty to a criminal breach and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, and fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,000, and fellow director Steven Paul Dixon also pleaded guilty and was given the same sentence.
HSE news release. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Britain: Engineering firm fined after worker crushed by metal frame
A Warrington fabrication company has been fined after a worker suffered severe crush injuries when a metal frame he was moving toppled from a forklift truck. Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 11 October 2017, the employee of JL Engineering (Rixton) Ltd, together with another worker, was moving a trestle frame using the forklift.
HSE news release. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Australia: Dust disease is robbing young workers of life
A deadly disease caused by working with stone dust is affecting workers younger, harder and faster, with a 22-year-old Australian worker now believed to be the country’s youngest diagnosed victim. Silicosis victim Connor Downes can no longer work as a stonemason and says his days are instead filled with medical appointments.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers news release. ABC News. The Guardian. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Bangladesh: Safety crisis in shipbreaking yards continues
At least eight workers have been killed and 35 injured this year in incidents in Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards, IndustriALL has said. The global unions said the number of fatalities since 2017 is ‘around 47’, adding: “The series of recent accidents point to a massive safety crisis in the Bangladeshi shipbreaking industry.”
IndustriALL news release. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Global: Burn-out classified as a work-related condition
Burn-out has been formally recognised as a work-related health condition by a UN body. A meeting of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) World Health Assembly in May declared burn-out to be an “occupational phenomenon”, a step that allows its inclusion in WHO's next edition of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
ETUI news report. WHO news release and QD85: Burn out, WHO International Classification of Diseases. Manila Bulletin. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

USA: Union retirees helps work radiation cancer victims
Garry Steffy typically starts his day with a cup of coffee and a quick look through the newspaper for obituaries of people who once worked for ATI Specialty Alloys and Components in the small town of Millersburg near Albany, Oregon. Steffy has made a mission of searching for members of the steelworkers’ union USW and former co-workers who qualify for a special government compensation programme after developing radiation-related cancer while working on the US nuclear weapons programme.
USW news report and SOAR webpage. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Hazards news, 1 June 2019

Britain: Businesses must be banned from sacking new mums
The law must be changed so women cannot be sacked from the moment they become pregnant until 12 months after they return to work, the union GMB has said. The union’s call came as Conservative MP Maria Miller, the chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, pressed for new protections for pregnant women and mothers by introducing a 10-minute Rule Bill in the House of Commons. 
GMB news release. Women and Equalities Committee news release. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Beer delivery drivers facing unmanageable loads
Thousands of pub and club goers could go thirsty this summer if a dispute over drivers being ask to deliver ‘unmanageable loads’ escalates to strike action, their union Unite has warned. About 100 drivers and their mates employed by drink logistics company Tradeteam Ltd at depots in Immingham, Lincolnshire and Tinsley, Sheffield are being balloted for strike action.
Unite news release. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Posties to ballot in defence of sacked colleague
Strike action by postal workers could be on the cards in the Birmingham area over the sacking of a delivery worker with medically diagnosed anxiety and depression. The man, who works at the city’s Shirley Delivery Office, was dismissed in February after his cumulative absences from these conditions reached an official company limit and triggered procedures that resulted in his dismissal.
CWU news release. Morning Star. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Six-figure payout for Unite member crushed at work
A Manchester man has secured six-figure compensation payout after a workplace crush injury left him in chronic pain and unable to work. The 62-year-old Unite member, whose name has not been released, was employed as a mechanical fitter by a recycling firm and was injured when a one-tonne steel plate he was fitting fell on him.
Unite news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Education cuts spark fears for safety of school staff
A local union has warned that a cut the number of behaviour support assistants (BSAs) in some Scottish schools will leave staff more vulnerable. Parents joined trade union officials in expressing concern over East Renfrewshire Council’s decision to reduce the number of specialist assistants working with troubled pupils from 28 to 21.  
Barrhead News. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: POA welcomes stiff sentence after unprovoked prison attack
The prison officers’ union POA has welcomed an ‘appropriate’ sentence handed down to a prisoner following unprovoked attacks on prison officers at Gartree prison. The more stringent sentence follow a successful union campaign for the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, which allows for more harsh sentences for violence against emergency services workers, including prison officers, police, firefighters, health service staff and other emergency workers.
POA news release. Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Victims of sexual harassment ‘should get time off’
Victims of sexual harassment should get more support and a right to paid time off, the union PCS has said. The decision, carried unanimously at the civil service union’s national conference, calls for a PCS campaign for a range of measures to combat sexual harassment.
PCS news release. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Soaring workloads and job insecurity hit university staff
Deteriorating working conditions were behind a 77 per cent increase in the number of university staff accessing counselling services between 2009 and 2015, according to new research. The report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) says excessive workloads, a lack of job security and management demands are driving the surge in stress levels afflicting staff.
Pressure Vessels: The epidemic of poor mental health among higher education staff, HEPI occasional paper number 20, May 2019. UCU news release and ‘It’s your time’ campaign. Personnel Today. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Report highlights toilet dignity deficit at work
Unite has welcomed the findings of a report from public health experts that warns a lack of public toilets is affecting the health of workers and the public at large. The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) report found that 74 per cent of adults believe that there are not enough public toilets in their area and it highlights outdoor workers among those ‘disproportionately’ affected.
RSPH news release, publication alert and full report, Taking the p***: The decline of the great British public toilet, May 2019. Unite news release and toilet dignity campaign. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Labour calls for blacklisters to be banned from Parliament refurb
Labour has called for construction firms that have been involved in blacklisting to be banned from bidding for work on the £4 billion restoration and renewal of Parliament buildings. Speaking in a 21 May debate on the bill dealing with the parliamentary refurbishment plans, Labour MP Christian Matheson, a shadow Cabinet Office minister, said the project presented an opportunity to show parliament was opposed to the practice.
PM Chris Matheson’s blacklisting comments, reported in They Work for You. Building magazine. New Civil Engineer. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Drivers warned that work lanyards can cause injury
Motorists have been warned they risk serious injury if they drive with a lanyard around their neck. The common requirement for workers to wear their work ID or passes has led to lanyards becoming a common sight, however the police have warned that in an accident, car users can be struck by the lanyard at high speed or have it compressed into their body when the airbag is deployed.
The Sun. BBC News Online. Nursing Notes. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: £15k fine after worker killed on dock concrete pumping job
Main contractor RW Hill (Felixstowe) Limited has been fined £15,000 on criminal safety charges following the death of a concrete worker at the Port of Felixstowe. Garry Louis, a 58-year-old employee of a concrete laying sub-contractor, was killed and another worker suffered cuts and bruising when a concrete delivery hose whipped violently out of control and struck them.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Non-league club fined £1k after volunteer killed in roof fall
A football club has been fined after a volunteer died when he fell through a fragile roof. Clive Churchhouse, 71, sustained fatal injuries after he fell through roof sheeting onto the terrace steps below at St Albans City FC's Clarence Park ground.
HSE news release. St Albans Review. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Book now for the National Hazards 2019 conference, 26-28 July
The 2019 National Hazards Conference, billed as the UK’s “biggest and best educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists”, will be held in Stoke-on-Trent from 26-28 July. The theme this year is ‘Cleaning up toxic work’ in increasingly insecure workplaces.
Hazards Campaign conference, 26-28 July 2019, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent. Hazards 2019 programme and booking form. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Korea: Government study confirms semiconductor cancer risk
Female workers at South Korean semiconductor plants face a 1.59 times higher risk of contracting leukaemia and a 2.8 times higher risk of dying from the disease than other workers, according to the findings of the country’s first ever government backed study. Hwang Sang-gi, the president of the campaign group SHARPS and father of Samsung occupational cancer victim Hwang Yu-mi, said campaigners had been vindicated.
SHARPS news report. Workcancerhazards blog. Hankyoreh. SBS News. KBS News. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

New Zealand: Strong support for firefighter cancer law
The New Zealand firefighters’ union (NZPFU) has said it has received ‘strong support’ in its campaign for official no-fault compensation for firefighters struck by a range of cancers. The union was speaking out after it enlisted the help of a Canadian union legal expert to promote the case for ‘presumptive’ legislation, where named cancers are presumed to be caused by work as a firefighter and compensated by the country’s no-fault Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).
NZPFU news report. TVNZ breakfast show. Workcancerhazards blog. IAFF list of presumptive legislation on cancer in firefighters across North American jurisdictions.
TUC occupational cancer guide. Work cancer hazards blog. Cancers and their work causes: An ITUC/Hazards at-a-glance guide to cancer hazards. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

USA: McDonald's facing new sexual harassment charges
For the third time in three years, McDonald's Corp is facing allegations of rampant sexual harassment of female employees in its burger joints. Twenty-three new complaints against McDonald's –  20 of which were filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – have been brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the labour group Fight for $15, and the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund.
Metoomcdonalds.org. NPR. Bloomberg News. New York Times. CNN Business. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

USA: Drug rehab patients pushed into ‘slavery’
A nationally renowned US drug rehabilitation programme has sent patients struggling with addiction to work for free and in frequently dangerous conditions for some of the country’s biggest companies. The Cenikor Foundation has dispatched tens of thousands of patients to work without pay at more than 300 for-profit companies over the years.
Reveal News. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Hazards news, 25 May 2019

Britain: RMT chalks up major Tube victory to stop cuts
Tube union RMT has scored a major victory after London Underground (LU) confirmed it has dropped planned cuts to train inspection and preparation. The union’s executive suspended all industrial action last week after receiving a letter from LU that the cuts plan has been withdrawn in the face of the opposition of RMT members from fleet depots across the Greater London area
RMT news release. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Unions lobby investors over Amazon working conditions
Trade unions are lobbying City investors to increase the pressure on Amazon to improve conditions for its workers in the UK. At Trade Union Share Owners (TUSO) meeting at the TUC’s head office GMB presentations, including one from an Amazon employee, were made to a dozen leading fund managers and pension funds that own stakes in Amazon, including Legal & General, Baillie Gifford and Aberdeen Standard.
The Guardian. GMB Amazon campaign. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Coroners should recognise work-related suicides - union
Coroners should treat suicides precipitated by incidents while working as work-related fatalities, the train drivers’ union ASLEF has said. ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan was speaking after an inquest heard a train driver killed himself just months after a suicidal pedestrian was killed when they walked in front of the train he was driving.
ASLEF news release. HSE RIDDOR webpages. The Guardian.
Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, updated February 2019. Work and suicide prevention checklist. More on work-related suicide. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Use safety laws to tackle mental health issues
The journalists’ union NUJ is calling on its workplace reps to use health and safety law to improve mental health at work, urging them to send their managers emails with links to a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prevention guide. The regulator’s ‘Talking toolkit: preventing work-related stress,’ published late last year, takes managers through the steps they should take to assess the risk of stress to their staff.
NUJ news release and Creating without Conflict campaign page. HSE guide: Talking Toolkit: preventing work-related stress. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Charity workers suffering stress ‘epidemic’
A confidential survey of members of the union Unite has uncovered an epidemic of stress-related illness and ‘massive’ mental health issues among people employed by charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The survey found that 80 per cent of respondents said that they had experienced workplace stress in the last 12 months, while 42 per cent believed their job was not good for their mental health.
Unite news release. Personnel Today. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Most LGBT people report being sexually harassed at work
Nearly 7 in 10 (68 per cent) lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people report being sexually harassed at work, according to new research published by the TUC. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Government must change the law to put the responsibility for preventing harassment on employers, not victims.”
TUC news release and report. Morning Star. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Government complacency risks another Grenfell
Nearly two years since the Grenfell tragedy in which 72 people lost their lives, the government has done nothing to adequately prepare fire and rescue services for a similar incident, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. The union says there is a “postcode lottery of preparedness across the country, with some fire services planning to send as few as two fire engines to a high rise fire.”
FBU news release. Morning Star. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Leicester council signs up to Unite construction charter
Leicester City Council has become the latest local authority to sign an agreement with Unite to ensure working conditions for construction workers meet the highest standards. Construction firms planning to work on the council’s building projects will now have to adhere to the new Construction Charter.
Unite news release. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Insurer warns overtime burden is creating driving ‘zombies’
A survey of British workers has exposed how the UK’s overtime culture is putting drivers at risk at the wheel, owing to poor sleep, pressure to respond quickly and stress and distraction. The research by business insurer NFU Mutual found that more than a third of people who work full- or part-time in the UK are expected to work outside of their contracted hours (35 per cent).
NFU Mutual Business Bulletin Motor Safety Edition, background information and case study - NFU Mutual Zombie Nation. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Skip hire boss jailed after employee suffocates
The owner of a skip hire firm has been jailed for a year after one of his employees suffocated when his clothes became caught in defective machine that had been bought on E-bay. Father-of-one James Criddle, 29, was operating a screening machine at Baldwin Skip Hire in Besthorpe, Norfolk, in May 2017 when he became entangled.
Norfolk Constabulary news release. BBC News Online. ITV News. Eastern Daily Press. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Waste firm fined after employee was killed by reversing JCB
Sanders Plant and Waste Management Limited has been fined after an employee was fatally injured when he was struck by a reversing JCB loading shovel. George Richardson, a site operative, was fatally injured and died at the scene.
HSE news release. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Farmer fined after casual worker suffers fatal fall
A farmer has been fined following a worker’s fatal fall through a milking shed skylight. Mold Magistrates’ Court heard how on 19 July 2018 self-employed contractor David Alan Rees, 56, was fatally injured whilst he was clearing out the valley gutter from a ladder at Knolton Farm, Overton.
HSE news release. Daily Post. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Director convicted after ignoring safety watchdog
Glamping Cocoon Ltd and its director Nicholas Oaten have been convicted on criminal safety charges after ignoring legal notices from the safety regulator to remedy workplace health hazards. Company director Nicholas Oaten was convicted on two criminal safety charges and fined £2,640 and ordered to pay £5,506 costs.
HSE news release. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Oil giant guilty over fire and explosion death risks
Offshore giant Marathon Oil has been fined more than £1 million for criminal health and safety failings which put workers at “unacceptable risk” from an explosion. On Boxing Day 2015, an eight-inch diameter pipe in one of the Brae Alpha platform’s modules ruptured as a result of ‘Corrosion Under Insulation’ (CUI), expelling more than two tonnes of high-pressure methane gas at a force powerful enough to severely damage a nearby metal walkway and other infrastructure.
HSE news release. Press and Journal. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Global: Unions warn FIFA on Qatar ‘rogue’ neighbours move
UK construction union Unite has given its strong backing to an open letter opposing any FIFA move to expand the 2022 World Cup beyond Qatar to neighbouring ‘rogue’ states. The letter was sent by BWI, the global federation of construction unions, to Gianni Infantino, the president of football’s global governing body.
BWI news report. Unite news release. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Canada: Nurses have had enough of violence on the job
Facing a rising tide of workplace violence across the country, nurses have been demanding action from Canada’s federal government for almost 18 months. In May, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health finally got the message and commenced the first-ever parliamentary study on workplace violence in health care.
CFNU news release. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Global: Seafarers condemn working conditions onboard
Current and former seafarers have detailed exploitative working conditions aboard vessels operated by Blumenthal, raising grave concerns about the welfare and rights of seafarers working on their global fleet. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said it has been told ‘distressing stories of intimidation, threats and abusive conditions’ onboard the German shipping company’s global fleet.
ITF news release. The Brussels Times. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Hazards news, 18 May 2019

Britain: Pregnant women are not always safe at work
The TUC and Maternity Action have warned that employers are not doing enough to protect pregnant women at work. The organisations have published new guidance which details steps bosses should be taking to keep female staff safe during and after pregnancy.
TUC news release and Pregnancy, breastfeeding and health and safety: A guide for workplace representatives, TUC, May 2019 [pdf version]. Maternity Alliance. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Britain: Unite secures new £1.9m blacklisting settlement
Unite has settled a second major blacklisting case against the construction companies it says systematically ruined the lives of site workers. In what the union describes as a legal breakthrough, the construction companies have also agreed to provide £230,000 for a Unite-administered training fund, providing support to victims of blacklisting who have brought proceedings. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Britain: Safety watchdog too cash strapped to deliver justice
The government’s safety regulator is so starved of resources it can’t cope with the workload required to make sure workplace safety crimes don’t pay. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) union Prospect said stiffer penalties for health and safety and corporate manslaughter offences have led to extra pressures on the watchdog, which is now pursuing far fewer safety prosecutions.
Prospect blog. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Britain: Teachers facing 'unjustified' drug and alcohol testing
Teachers in Scotland could be subjected to alcohol and drug testing at work without any justification and without appropriate safeguards, a union has warned. NASUWT was commenting on the ‘punitive’ plans by some local authorities in the country to introduce ‘random’ and ‘with cause’ alcohol and drugs tests.
NAWUWT news release. TUC drug and alcohol testing guidance. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Britain: Unite to campaign for Heathrow safety inquiry
A campaign to persuade Heathrow to commission an independent inquiry to improve airport safety has been launched by Unite. The union’s concerns were amplified by the death at the airport of Unite member John Coles in February 2018.
Unite news release. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Britain: Arriva tops London’s bus crash deaths and injuries table
Transport company Arriva has topped a table of deaths and injuries linked to London bus operators, the union GMB has said. Figures obtained by the union show that since January 2014, an average of about 3 people per day have been injured — of which over 4 people per week have been killed or seriously injured — as the result of a collision involving a Transport for London (TfL)-contracted bus.
GMB news release. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Britain: Shopworkers need protection from knife crime
Shopworkers need better protection from the growing menace of knife crime, their union has said. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “We would always advocate for the tightening of the law around the sale of knives and with the terrifying growth in knife crime, this is more pressing than ever.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Britain: Union action call after bullying is exposed at NHS Highland
Health service union UNISON has called for ‘fair and prompt’ action after an independent review found hundreds of health workers may have experienced inappropriate behaviour at a Scottish health board. The review led by John Sturrock QC reported that staff at NHS Highland described suffering “fear, intimidation and inappropriate behaviour at work.”
Sturrock Review. Scottish government news release and response to the Sturrock Review. UNISON news release. BBC News Online. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Global: A good work environment is good for you
A good work environment with job control and job security doesn’t just help prevent mental illness, it also promotes positive wellbeing, according to a new study. Researchers from the Toronto-based Institute for Work & Health found providing workers with greater job control, establishing supportive work environments and creating secure employment will prevent mental illness and improve mental wellbeing.
Jonathan K Fan, Cameron Mustard and Peter M Smith. Psychosocial work conditions and mental health: examining differences across mental illness and well-being outcomes, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, published online 13 May 2019.
Five ways to improve mental health and wellbeing in your workplace, and the TUC resources that will help you, TUC blog, 13 May 2019. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Global: ‘Urgent’ action call on growing work cancer menace
Occupational cancer is the largest single cause of work-related deaths and the numbers affected are increasing, leading experts have warned. A position paper authored by an international group of work cancer specialists, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, concludes that the need to define a global policy on occupational cancer prevention is an “urgent matter” requiring the “development of a priority action strategy to control and reduce occupational cancer as effectively as possible.”
S Iavicoli, TR Driscoll, M Hogan and others. Position statement: New avenues for prevention of occupational cancer: a global policy perspective, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, volume 76, pages 360-362, 2019.
TUC workplace cancer guide. Cancers and their work causes: An ITUC/Hazards at-a-glance guide to cancer hazards, April 2019. ITUC workcancerhazards blog. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Britain: Dad-of-two crushed to death by plastic bales
A Liverpool recycling company has been fined after an employee was crushed to death by falling plastic bales. Paul Andrews was sweeping up and picking litter at his workplace at Centriforce Products Ltd when the bales fell on him from an unstable stack, leaving him fatally injured.
HSE news release. Liverpool Echo. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

France: Telecom bosses on trial over staff suicides
A long-awaited trial in Paris has heard telecom giant Orange and seven former or current managers accused of moral harassment and related charges related to a spate of suicides at the company between 2007 and 2010. The defendants include the former president of France Telecom, Didier Lombard, former human resources director Olivier Barberot and former deputy executive director Louis-Pierre Wenes, who are accused of having “degraded work conditions of personnel that risked hurting their rights and dignity, altering the physical or mental health (of personnel), or compromising their professional future.”
CFE-CGC Orange, CFTC, CGT and SUD union statement and trial protest note (in French). Fortune Magazine. The Independent. BBC News Online.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, updated February 2019. Work and suicide prevention checklist. More on work-related suicide. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Global: Union gets Unilever to commit to ‘sustainable’ jobs
The soaps to soups giant Unilever has signed up to a sustainable employment commitment with global union federations IndustriALL and IUF. The unions say the agreement is intended to ensure that the rights of all workers in Unilever manufacturing operations are adequately protected from the potential adverse human rights impacts stemming from the use of non-permanent employment contracts.
IndustriALL news release. IUF news release and the Joint Commitment on Sustainable Employment. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Global: Monsanto hit by new cancer and surveillance exposure
Global agrochemicals giant Monsanto has faced a double hit, ordered to make another massive cancer compensation payout and accused of compiling a potentially illegal dossier on its opponents. A jury in California awarded more than $2bn (£1.5bn) to a couple who said the best-selling weedkiller Roundup was responsible for their cancer.
BBC News Online and story on Monsanto’s dossier of opponents. Le Monde (in French). The Guardian. New York Times. Fleishman Hillard. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Global: Vested interests again protect deadly substances
Exports of deadly substances including chrysotile asbestos and a slew of pesticides will not require a health warning after a handful of governments defended them at a United Nations conference. The substances were being considered for inclusion on the UN Rotterdam Convention’s ‘prior informed consent’ (PIC) list, which would require exporters to inform importers of the potential risks.
CIEL news release. IBAS news report. PANAP news release. Report of the outcome of the Conference of the Parties. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Hazards news, 11 May 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 4 May 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 27 April 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 13 April 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 6 April 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 30 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 23 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 16 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 9 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 2 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 23 February 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 16 February 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 9 February 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 2 February 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 26 January 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 19 January 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 12 January 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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