Hazards news, 12 July 2014
Britain: Self-employed move is good news for undertakers
Dangerously muddled Health and Safety Executive (HSE) proposals to exempt most self-employed workers from safety law have been condemned by the TUC. In a consultation document published this week, the HSE for the first time revealed the short inclusive list of self-employed jobs that will remain subject to safety law, causing TUC to comment: “The whole thing is a mess from beginning to end… unless we stop this Bill becoming law it will also mean more business for doctors - and undertakers.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • HSE news release •
CD273 – Consultation on proposals to exempt self-employed persons from section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, except those undertaking activities on a prescribed list • The consultation will run for eight weeks, closing on 31 August • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Scheming site firms try to bypass blacklist justice
Unions have condemned a “cynical” industry-controlled compensation scheme for blacklisted construction workers launched last week ahead of this week’s continuation of a High Court compensation case. Construction union UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy said: “This is a deeply cynical attempt by the blacklisting companies to try to prevent workers, who have had their lives ruined, getting justice.”
GMB news release • UCATT news release and blacklisting guidance • Morning Star. Construction Enquirer • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Campaigners press for asbestos justice
Asbestos disease campaigners, politicians and unions spoke out on 4 July to mark Action Mesothelioma Day, calling for urgent action to combat the deadly asbestos cancer. Deaths from mesothelioma, which is incurable and now kills in excess of 2,500 people a year, are still to peak in the UK, meaning tens of thousands more will die unless new treatments are found.
Action Mesothelioma Day events • Lord Alton’s speech • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Leigh Day news release • CWU news release • New Statesman • Morning Star • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Asbestos disease victims deserve better treatment
Unions are asking their members to sign an e-petition calling on the government to provide funding for research into treatments and cures for asbestos-related diseases. The online petition to the Department of Health notes: “The United Kingdom has the dubious honour of being number 1 in the world for the level of deaths occurring annually from asbestos-related diseases.”
Sign the e-petition • UCATT news release • CWU news release • British Lung Foundation • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Firefighters to strike over ‘vicious’ pension attacks
Firefighters in England and Wales are set to strike on eight consecutive days this month, saying that the government’s “vicious” proposals on firefighters’ pensions are unacceptable, unworkable and unrealistic. The strikes, due to start on 14 July, are the union FBU’s response to government moves that they say would see firefighters paying more, working longer and receiving less.
FBU news release • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: MPs back union call for responsible dog ownership
MPs from all political parties have backed Dog Awareness Week, attending last week’s special drop-in session in Westminster to mark the CWU and Royal Mail joint initiative. Royal Mail figures show there has been an eight per cent increase in the number of dog attacks on postal workers since last year.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: UNISON sets a date for work stress action
UNISON is calling on its members to campaign against government spending cuts it says are putting both stressed-out workers and communities at risk. The public sector union say October's stress-themed European Health and Safety Week will provide a vital opportunity to promote good health and safety practice.
UNISON news release • European Health and Safety Week 2014 • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Union ‘disgusted’ with delay to fire deaths justice
Firefighters’ union FBU has said it is “disgusted” that the families of two dead firefighters will be forced to wait another three months for the resolution of a long-running compensation battle. The union was speaking out after the ongoing Court of Appeal hearing relating to the deaths of union members Brian Wembridge and Geoff Wicker at a fireworks factory in 2006 was delayed by a further appeal by the employer’s insurer, Zurich.
The Argus • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: London Underground power strike continues
A London Underground (LUL) power workers’ strike over worsening conditions is now set to continue until 22 July. Unite, which represents most of the 40 power technicians, this week called for LUL management to return to talks at the conciliation service, Acas, amid mounting union safety concerns for passengers.
Unite news release • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Fatalities at work down, work-related deaths up
The number of workplace fatalities in Britain last year fell to the lowest annual rate on record, but deaths overall increased markedly as asbestos cancer deaths soared. While fatalities fell by 17, latest HSE figures for the asbestos cancer mesothelioma showed an increase of 244 deaths.
HSE news release and statistics, including full fatalities breakdown for 2013/14. Mesothelioma death statistics 2012 • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Rise in sites deaths ‘sends chill’ through the industry
Construction union UCATT is warning that the latest fatality figures, showing an increase in construction deaths, could mark the beginning of a steady rise in fatalities. Despite the overall number of workplace fatalities in 2013/14 reaching an all-time low, the number of construction deaths increased to 42, an 8 per cent increase on the previous year when 39 construction workers suffered fatal injuries.
UCATT news release • HSE construction statistics • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: North Sea safety damaged by bullying and complacency
MPs have called for a public inquiry into whether commercial pressure from oil and gas companies and “a creeping complacency” is damaging offshore helicopter safety. The Transport select committee also heard there was a worrying culture of “macho bullying” in the industry, targeting workers who expressed safety concerns.
Transport select committee news release and full report • The Herald. BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Most coastguard shifts ‘dangerously under-staffed’
Maritime safety campaigners have voiced outrage after a Conservative minister admitted as many as two out of three coastguard shifts are dangerously under-staffed. Labour MP Katy Clark demanded action from ministers after extracting the figures from transport under-secretary Stephen Hammond under parliamentary questions.
Morning Star • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Six figure fines after zipwire crash
A worker was left with life-changing injuries after crashing at the bottom of a zipwire ride at around 35 miles per hour. The ride's breaking system had not been reset with catastrophic consequences for Brett Anthony, 20, when it failed to kick in.
Bedfordshire on Sunday • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Horse bed maker crushed teenager’s arm
A Suffolk horse bedding manufacturer and its managing director have been fined after a young employee’s arm was crushed as he removed compacted dust from a baling machine. Thetford-based Equestrobed was fined £18,000 plus £6,929 costs after pleading guilty to a criminal safety offence and managing director Timothy David Howard was fined £1,800 for a criminal breach.
HSE news release and machinery webpages • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Britain: Tree fellers caused rail problems
A council and a tree surgeon have been sentenced for criminal safety failings after a worker was injured when a tree he had been felling landed on a railway line and was hit by a train. Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council was fined £40,000 plus £5,854 in costs and tree surgeon Mark Anthony Connelly, 42, sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £5,854 in costs.
HSE news release and treework webpages • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Australia: Work drug and alcohol testing challenged
A new system of mandatory drug and alcohol tests in the construction industry in the Australian state of Victoria will not make worker safer but could foment industrial discord, a safety expert has warned. Safety expert Kevin Jones, writing in his Safety at Work blog, notes: “Imposing a drug and alcohol testing requirement on Victorian construction companies is a recipe for increased industrial tension rather than a valid attempt to improve occupational health and safety.”
Safety at work blog • Victoria government news release • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Chile: Busworkers strike over safety concerns
Busworkers in Santiago took strike action last week in protest at oppressive working conditions including 12 hour shifts, hijacks and an absence of breaks. The Transantiago employees were joined by students in 3 July protests in the Chilean capital, the action coming a month after union leader Antonio Cuadra burned himself alive in protest at his treatment by the firm.
I love Chile news report • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Global: Unions vow to tackle Amazon’s ‘anti-worker culture’
Representatives of trade unions from key Amazon markets worldwide met in Berlin last week to consider the online retailer’s reported mistreatment of its workforce and its anti-union stance. The unions – all members of the global unions ITF and UNI – say Amazon treats its staff like robots, forcing them to work under enormous stress for long hours in poor conditions.
ITF news release • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Turkey: Death payout after unregistered worker dies
A court in Istanbul has ruled that a Turkish company that employed an unregistered worker from Türkmenistan, but disowned him after he died in a work-related incident, must pay record compensation to his family. It follows an earlier court ruling that the incident was work-related, paving the way for Turkey’s Social Security Institution (SGK) to pay 750 liras (£200) to Avganov’s wife every month until she remarries or dies.
Hurriyet Daily News • Risks 662 • 12 July 2014
Hazards news, 5 July 2014
Global: TUC welcomes official push for Rana Plaza fund
The TUC has welcomed a statement signed by international development minister Alan Duncan and ministers from six other European countries, urging retailers to donate to the Rana Plaza fund – set up for victims of the factory collapse in Bangladesh in April 2013 in which over 1,100 workers were killed. The statement – issued at the Forum on Responsible Business at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – expresses concern that some companies either haven’t contributed at all or haven’t given enough to the fund.
TUC news release • Rana Plaza Trust Fund donors • OECD statement on Rana Plaza, 26 June 2014 and ministers’ statement • The Guardian • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Heathrow Express in dangerous PR blunder
Rail union RMT is demanding an immediate official investigation into an incident at Heathrow Express it says is one of the “most flagrant breaches of safety rules and regulations that the union has come across in recent years.” The union said the “disgraceful incident” involved Heathrow Express (HEX) managing director Keith Greenfield acting as a customer service representative (CSR) without the required training.
RMT news release • Morning Star • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Rail safety goes south up north
Rail union RMT says it will hold summit talks with Northern MPs on 15 July in response to what it calls “a co-ordinated attack” on Northern Rail and Trans Pennine Express safety and services “unleashed by the government from its offices in London.” The union was acting in the wake of a government franchising consultation it says would “rip the two franchises to shreds in the name of maximising private profit.”
RMT news release • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Education changes put staff and pupils at risk
Government-imposed changes to the education system have undermined the safety of staff and pupils, the union NASUWT has charged. The union was speaking out after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) probe uncovered a criminal failure to deal properly with asbestos in more than 1 in 8 schools inspected.
NASUWT news release • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: TV carpenter suffered work-limiting injury
A 60-year-old carpenter from Romford has received £10,000 in compensation after TV company ITV failed to make safe the This Morning broadcast studio. The carpenter, who has been a member of the union BECTU for nearly 40 years, fell into an uncovered ditch in the studio and sustained a cartilage tear in his right knee – after his request that the ditch be made safe was ignored.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Government says HSE Is OK but must sell itself
A government decision to maintain the independence of the UK’s health and safety regulator has been welcomed by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), but it says it is concerned by the pressure for HSE to “commercialise” further. The safety professionals’ body was commenting after the Department for Work and Pensions published its full response to the Triennial Review of the role of the Health and Safety Executive.
The Government Response to the Triennial Review of the Health and Safety Executive, DWP, June 2014 • IOSH news release • EEF news release • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Performance pay is bad for your health
Performance-related pay is bad for your health, a new study has found. After analysing survey results of more than 2,500 people from across Britain. Aberdeen University researchers concluded “being in jobs with a performance pay element increases the likelihood of health deterioration.”
Keith A. Bender and Ioannis Theodossiou. The unintended consequences of the rat race: the detrimental effects of performance pay on health, Oxford Economic Papers, volume 66, Number 3, pages 824-847, 2014. Herald Scotland. More on the issue from Hazards and Karoshi.jp • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Here’s a plan that works – take a break
A simple plan of action backed up by a commitment from senior management could be the best way for employers to ensure their workers get regular screen breaks, according to a new study funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). IOSH teamed up with academics at the University of Derby to investigate what can be done to encourage office and call centre workers to take more postural breaks.
IOSH news release and move more research • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: M&S shopworker wins asbestos cancer case
A 53-year-old shopworker who was exposed to asbestos on the shop floor whilst working for Marks & Spencer, has won her case for cancer compensation in the High Court. Janice Allen worked in two M&S stores between 1978 and 1987, first in its flagship store on London's Oxford Street and then at its Uxbridge branch as a supervisor.
Leigh Day solicitors • The Guardian • Daily Mail • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Asbestos neighbour caused husband’s death
The widow of a man who lost his life to asbestos-related cancer has received a six-figure compensation settlement. In another case highlighting the potent killing power of asbestos, Lindsey Aherne, 63, received the payout after her husband, Denis, died of mesothelioma in 2012, the result of growing up near the Cape Asbestos factory in Barking, London.
Barking and Dagenham Post • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Dud safety equipment led to windfarm death
The grieving mother of a teenage construction worker who fell nearly 60ft to his death from a wind turbine after his equipment failed, has condemned the safety errors which cost her son his life. Antonio Basilio Brazao was 19 when he fell down the shaft of a wind turbine at the Earlsburn Wind Farm near Fintry, Stirlingshire in 2007.
Slater & Gordon news release • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Young mechanic was crushed by two buses
Regional bus operator West Midlands Travel has been fined £150,000 after a young employee died when he was crushed between two buses. Lee Baker, a 24-year-old assistant mechanic, was working a night shift at the company’s Walsall depot when the incident happened in the early hours of Saturday 22 October 2011.
HSE news release • Express and Star • Walsall Advertiser • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Firm fined after worker is crushed by falling MDF
A joinery firm has been fined for safety failings after an employee was crushed by half a tonne of MDF boards at its premises in Basildon. The 50-year-old worker suffered two collapsed lungs, a broken collar bone, five broken ribs and a gash to his head following the incident at Specialist Joinery Projects Ltd on 26 September 2013.”
HSE news release and woodworking webpages • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Defective remote control cost waste worker his legs
A scrap metal company and a businessman have been sentenced for serious criminal safety breaches that led to a worker losing both legs as the doors of a 16-tonne baling machine closed on him. Piotr Sarna, 42, was dealing with a problem inside the five-metre long baler at H Ripley & Co’s site in Westfield, East Sussex, when the doors of the machine began to close.
HSE news release and waste webpages • Hastings Observer • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Britain: Poorly set guards led to severe hand injuries
A company that makes metal components for the automotive industry has been fined after a worker suffered horrific hand injuries in an incorrectly-guarded machine. The 56-year-old agency worker, who has asked not to be named, was operating a 160-tonne power press at the RSM Industries Ltd factory in Exhall, when the incident happened on 8 May 2013.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages • Coventry Telegraph • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Europe: RISCTOX chemical online database goes live
The RISCTOX chemicals database, developed by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) and the Spanish union safety institute ISTAS, has gone live online, giving workers access to health and safety information on over 100,000 chemicals. According to ETUI, each chemical data ‘card’ specifies the chemical’s classification and labelling, its main work uses (solvent, cleaner, paint stripper, etc), how it affects health, and the occupational diseases it causes.
ETUI publication alert and RISCTOX database • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Global: Journal will make asbestos scientist own up
The asbestos industry’s attempt to put a healthy gloss on is unhealthy products is continuing, but its favourite consultant is facing renewed flak after his undeclared links to the industry were exposed. Toxicologist David Bernstein has been paid vast sums by asbestos firms and industry groups to write papers supporting continued asbestos use, with these appearing in scientific journals – but has declared he has “no conflicts of interest.”
RightOnCanada.ca • David Bernstein. Health risks of chrysotile asbestos, Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine, volume 20, issue 4, pages 366-370, July 2014. Complaint to the journal • Background from Hazards and RightOnCanada on David Bernstein’s industry links • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
New Zealand: Action demanded on ‘terrible’ safety record
New Zealand’s national union federation CTU has called for urgent action to address the country’s “terrible” workplace safety record. CTU president Helen Kelly made the call last week in an uncompromising oral submission to a parliamentary select committee hearing on a Health and Safety Reform Bill.
NZCTU news release • Health and Safety Reform Bill • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Turkey: Unions share the pain of ‘industrial homicide’
An international union solidarity mission on the one month anniversary of the “killing of 301 mineworkers in an avoidable industrial disaster” has visited the site of the disaster in the mining town of Soma in Turkey. Global union federation IndustriALL said the mission “delivered a message of international anger to Turkey’s political authorities and public opinion, calling for immediate action including ratification and implementation of ILO Convention 176 on safety and health in mines,” adding: “Illegal and irresponsible outsourcing and subcontracting in the country must also be seriously tackled and reversed by the Turkish authorities.”
IndustriALL news release • Hurriyet Daily • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
USA: How to win safer workplaces
Focusing campaigns to improve workplace safety regulation and practices at the local rather than national level can reap enormous benefits, according to a new how-to manual. The guide from the Center for Progressive Reform concentrates on the progress on worker safety issues likely to come at the state and local levels, far from “the general dysfunction in Washington.”
CPR news release and guide, Winning safer workplaces: A manual for state and local policy reform • The Pump Handle • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
Hazards news, 28 June 2014
Britain: Government nudging is hurting workers
The government’s disdain for regulating and enforcing to address real health and safety problems has led them to instead conjure up laws to tackle “a problem which does not actually exist except in people’s heads,” the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, writing in TUC’s Stronger Unions blog, notes the official dislike for regulation, which the government says is a ‘burden on business’, has led it to introduce an anything-but-regulation array of alternatives from ‘responsibility deals’ to non-binding guidance, with the intention of ‘nudging’ people into changing their behaviour.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Cabinet Office ‘Nudge Unit’ and Behavioural Insights blog • The Independent • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Zero hours workers need greater protection, says TUC
Preventing employers from insisting their zero hours staff are allowed to work for them alone will be good news for some employees, but the government needs to go much further if the widespread abuse of these contracts is to be stamped out, the TUC has warned. The union body was commenting on government plans to stop the use of ‘exclusivity’ contracts – which prevent workers on zero hours contracts from working for more than one employer.
BIS news release • TUC news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Union needed at fire hit distribution centre
The union Unite wants to talk about health and safety with workers employed by the firm operating the giant Asos distribution centre in Barnsley, hit this week by a massive fire. European transport and logistics company Norbert Dentressangle, which in September last year was awarded the contract to run the centre, employs about 1,200 workers at the Grimethorpe site.
Unite news release • Asos statement • The Guardian • BBC News Online •
‘Union effect’ guidance from TUC and Hazards • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Minister accused of prison ‘smoke and mirrors’
Claims by justice secretary Chris Grayling that Britain’s overcrowded prisons are getting safer for inmates and staff is just ‘smoke and mirrors’, the prison officers’ union POA has said. In media interviews the Cabinet minister said self-harm and assaults in the prison system have fallen over the last two years, claims refuted by the union.
POA news release. BBC News Online. The Telegraph • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Faulty chair injures bus driver
A bus driver from Leicester has secured an undisclosed payout from First Group after he was injured by a dodgy chair the firm had neglected to fix. The Unite member, whose name has not been released, was injured when his seat collapsed as the bus passing over a speed bump.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Draconian sickness policies ‘terrorise’ staff
Staff are being “victimised and terrorised” by management using draconian sickness policies, public sector workers have said. Far too many workplaces are applying the same attendance management policies to all staff regardless of whether or not they have a disability, UNISON’s conference heard.
Morning Star • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Government welfare reforms are unravelling
Delays to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and the rising cost of implementing the welfare cap provide further evidence the government’s welfare reforms are ‘unravelling’, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting after the implementation of the new benefit for people with disabilities was described as a “fiasco” by MPs and leaked government memos revealed concerns in Whitehall that costs were out of control.
TUC news release • HoC Public Accounts Committee news release • Community Care • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Workplace safety law is top life safer
Britain’s workplace safety law has probably saved more lives than any other piece of legislation, an article in the Telegraph has said. Telegraph leader writer Philip Johnston noted “the Health and Safety at Work Act (HASAWA), which is 40 years old this summer, has arguably saved more lives than any other piece of legislation, including the ban on drink driving or the compulsory wearing of seat belts in cars,” adding: “It may well have reduced deaths by 5,000 or more.”
HSE news release • The Telegraph • IOSH news release • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: ‘Not guilty’ verdicts in mine manslaughter case
The manager and owners of a south Wales mine where four miners died have been cleared of manslaughter. Charles Breslin, 62, David Powell, 50, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, drowned in 2011 when 650,000 gallons of water flooded the Gleision drift mine following a controlled explosion.
BBC News Online • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Doctors working hours cut after commute death
Hospitals in Scotland are being told to reduce the working hours of junior doctors following the death of a young medic on her drive home from work. Scottish government health secretary Alex Neil said NHS managers must end all rotas that make doctors work seven night shifts in a row and more than seven days back-to-back.
Herald Scotland and follow-up story • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Regulating chemicals makes economic sense
Better regulation of hormone-disrupting chemicals linked to breast cancer, reproductive problems and other ill-effects could deliver massive cost savings, a new report has concluded. The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) says exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) may be costing up to €31 billion (£24.8bn) per year across the European Union (EU) and said the EU should set out a specific timetable by which EDCs must be identified and replaced with safer alternatives.
HEAL news release • CIEL news release • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: More than 1 in 8 non-LA schools illegal on asbestos
A criminal failure to deal properly with asbestos was found in more than 1 in 8 schools inspected in a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) probe. HSE’s latest asbestos in schools inspection initiative investigated practices in a carefully selected random sample of 153 non-local authority schools between April 2013 and January 2014, which included independent, voluntary aided and foundation schools, free schools and academies.
HSE news release and inspection results and full report • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Two week HSE focus on site health issues
The poor working conditions likely to lead to ill health on building sites is being targeted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in a two week inspection drive. During the unannounced visits, HSE inspectors will be targeting respiratory risks from dusts including respirable silica, exposure to other hazardous substances such as cement and lead paint and manual handling, noise and vibration.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Van maker guilty after crushing injuries
A vehicle manufacturer has been told to pay nearly £180,000 in fines and costs for its criminal safety failings after a crane operator suffered severe crush injuries in a lifting operation at the company’s press shop in Luton. The IBC Vehicles Ltd worker, who does not wish to be named, suffered multiple injuries including fractures to the upper left arm, breastbone, right collarbone and ribs, as well as collapsed lungs.
HSE news release and lifting webpage • Hazards magazine suicide webpages • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Injury exposes factory’s ‘appalling’ safety standards
A Blackburn packaging firm has appeared in court after an investigation into a workplace injury discovered ‘appalling’ safety standards. Europlast (Blackburn) Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) because an employee had to have part of a finger amputated after his left hand became trapped in unguarded machinery in June 2012.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Britain: Toppling fan unit crushes worker
A Hertfordshire engineering firm has been fined for criminal safety failings after a toppling fan unit crushed a worker as it was being manoeuvred into a ground floor plant room. The 54-year-old Wilden Services Limited worker, who does not want to be named, injured his spine and was unable to work for several weeks as a result of the incident in Woking on 17 December 2012, at the new head office for the World Wildlife Fund.
HSE news release • Hemel Gazette • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Global: Investors must get the truth from Rio Tinto
IndustriALL has urged investors in mining and metals giant Rio Tinto to demand the truth about aggressive management practices that are dangerously undermining safety, employment and environmental standards. The global manufacturing union federation made the call ahead of a meeting between 25 analysts and investors and Rio Tinto in North America.
IndustriALL news release and report • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
South Africa: Alarming level of TB among miners
For every worker who dies each year as a result of an accident in a South African mine, nine more die of tuberculosis, the country’s health minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said. “There are 41,810 cases of active TB in South African mines every year. It is 8 per cent of the national total, and 1 per cent of the population, very unfortunately,” he told parliament.
Cape Times • Fin24 • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Turkey: 820 workers killed in six months, says union
An estimated 820 people were killed in Turkish workplaces in the first six months of 2014, a senior trade union representative has said. Publishing the figures, Kani Beko, head of the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK), said: “In our talks with prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, we have proposed to shut down all mines for three months so that all security precautions, including rescue chambers, could be taken.
Hurriyet Daily • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
USA: Plea bargain keeps death prof out of jail
A US chemistry professor has avoided jail after settling criminal charges relating to a horrific fire in his lab that led to the death of a research assistant, 23-year-old Sheri Sangji. UCLA professor Patrick G Harran agreed a package including a fine and a five year programme of unpaid teaching working and community service with the Los Angeles County district attorney (DA).
The Pump Handle • UCLA statement • Risks 660 • 28 June 2014
Hazards news, 21 June 2014
Britain: Tribunal fees ‘price workers out of justice’
Employers who victimise, bully, harass or cheat their workers are increasingly likely to escape punishment as people wronged at work are prevented from seeking justice by the high cost of taking an employment tribunal case, unions have said. Citing figures published by the Ministry of Justice on 12 June, the TUC said that the 59 per cent drop in the number of single claims being taken to employment tribunals – from 13,739 between January and March 2013 to 5,619 in the first three months of 2014 – showed that fees were deterring many workers from taking their employers to court.
TUC news release • UNISON news release • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
USA: Huhtamaki workers stand up for safety
Finnish packaging and paper products corporation Huhtamaki is facing criticism in the US for using lower safety and employment standards at its non-unionised plants in the country. A new report from the USW and the national union federation AFL-CIO reveals how the company’s expansion strategy in the US is creating low-wage, precarious employment while threatening the job security and living standards of unionised employees.
USW news release and full report • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: High Court throws out blacklisters’ cheap name grab
Construction bosses were sent packing at the High Court on 11 June, when a judge threw out their bid to bypass negotiations with unions and pay blacklisted workers a pittance in compensation for years without employment. The firms proposing The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme wanted the Information Commissioner to hand over the current home addresses of trade unionists and political activists those same firms had systematically kept off building sites.
GMB news release • UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: New demo at blacklisting agency’s HQ
A second demonstration has been held at the Northampton HQ of a Danish-owned agency labour provider linked to blacklisting. Construction union UCATT held the Friday 13 June protest outside the offices of employment agency Atlanco Rimec, accused on Danish TV last month of operating a secret blacklist denying work to trade union members.
UCATT news release • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Reigniting fire exposes ‘shambolic’ strike cover
London firefighters attended the scene of a serious fire in Hackney on 13 June, after strikebreaking private crews failed to properly extinguish the blaze the previous night. Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “The strikebreaking crews are woefully undertrained and ill-prepared.”
FBU news release • TUC news release • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Regulators urged to act on air safety recommendations
The union representing helicopter pilots operating around Britain's shores is urging both the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to push ahead with vital flight safety improvements recommended in the Air Accident Investigations Branch (AAIB) report into two recent Super Puma helicopter crashes.
BALPA news release • AAIB report • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Don’t deny rights to injury victims, says STUC
Scotland’s top union body has called on a Scottish parliament committee to uphold access to justice for the victims of workplace injuries. STUC is urging the justice committee to support amendments submitted by John Finnie MSP to the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill, to protect rights including legal representation.
Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill webpages • Out-Law.com • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Attack ends career of nursing assistant
A former nursing assistant was forced to retire on health grounds after an assault by a patient. Andrew Eurich, who has been awarded a £13,000 Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme payout, tore the cartilage in his lower back while restraining the patient and will be on painkillers for the rest of his life.
Boston Target • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Injured bus cleaner wins justice
A Unite member has secured a £3,500 payout after being injured in a heavy fall over an exposed drain cover at the bus depot where he worked. The man, whose name has not been released, was walking towards a double decker bus at the Gloucestershire depot in order to clean it when he tripped on a drain cover protruding an inch above the floor, falling heavily onto his left hand side and fracturing ribs.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Record low sickness absence destroys ‘sickies’ myth
The TUC has said latest figures from a business group showing workplace sickness absence is at a record low disproves the myth that Britain has a ‘sickie culture’. A survey of 330 firms by the manufacturers’ group EEF showed overall levels of absence reached a record low of 2.1 per cent, equal to 4.9 days per worker per year.
EEF news release • BBC News Online • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Government and insurers colluded on asbestos deal
The government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) ‘colluded’ on a deal that introduced legal reforms favouring insurers and harming asbestos disease claimants, it has been claimed. Under the deal, the government acquiesced to an insurance industry demand and imposed legal costs on mesothelioma sufferers successfully claiming compensation.
Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Deal struck between the Government and the Association of British Insurers • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Global: Cancer chemicals still in hairdressing products
Chemicals in products used to colour or wave hair could be the cause of higher levels of bladder cancer observed in hairdressers, researchers have concluded. A study published online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine on 9 June linked frequency of dye and perm use to raised levels of carcinogens found in hairdressers' blood.
Gabriella M Johansson and others. Exposure of hairdressers to ortho- and meta-toluidine in hair dyes, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published online first 9 June 2014. doi:10.1136/oemed-2013-101960 • Medical News Today • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Chemical firm was a potential bomb
The costs dangerous firms can pass on to the public purse have been illustrated by a case in Flintshire. Chemicals removed from the former Euticals factory had the power equivalent to more than 100 tonnes of explosives with the site clean-up costing the council more than £100,000.
BBC News Online • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Booker gets six figure fine over warehouse death
Booker Limited has been fined £175,000 after an employee was crushed to death by a forklift truck at its Avonmouth warehouse. Annie Brennan, who was in her 40s, died at Frenchay Hospital after the incident at Booker Wholesale cash and carry.
Bristol City Council news release • Bristol Post • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Small fine after worker is paralysed in fall
A Glasgow-based company has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was left paralysed from the neck down when he fell around three metres from the top of a gritter. Colin Shields, 34, was standing on top of a gritter at Inex Works Ltd’s premises in a bid to help his colleagues dislodge compacted grit salt from inside the machine.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Britain: Worker’s floor slip led to loss of fingertips
A Leeds-based company has been sentenced for a criminal safety offence after a worker suffered serious injuries to his hand when it came into contact with the drive chain of a conveyor at a Newcastle factory. The 26-year-old from Longbenton, Newcastle, was clearing up after completing a job on a freezer at Country Style Foods Ltd when he slipped on the icy floor.
HSE news release and food industry webpages • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Global: Unions welcome Thai fisher slavery exposé
Two international union federations working together to fight appalling exploitation of fishery workers have welcomed a Guardian newspaper exposé of the use of slave labour in the Thai prawn industry. The paper’s six-month investigation established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of the prawns, commonly called shrimp in the US.
IUF news release • ITF news release • The Guardian • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Saudi Arabia: New law to protect outdoor workers from sun
New health and safety regulations to protect outdoor workers from the sun have come into effect in Saudi Arabia. From now until mid-September, labourers are banned from working outside between noon and 3.00pm.
BBC News Online • US guidance on protecting outdoor workers from heat • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
USA: Official scrutiny stepped up at Amazon centres
Internet sales giant Amazon is facing new scrutiny of its safety performance after two deaths in the US. The US government’s safety watchdog OSHA said it is investigating the fatalities at warehouses run by the world’s largest online retailer.
OHSA news release and temporary workers initiative • Indianapolis Business Journal • The Patriot News • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Hazards news, 14 June 2014
Europe: Unions slam Europe’s do little safety strategy
Europe’s long overdue health and safety strategy has been condemned as “weak and insubstantial” by unions. Commenting on the European Commission’s ‘Framework on Health and Safety at Work,’ published on 6 June, the TUC said the strategy “contains absolutely nothing new.”
European Commission news release and Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020 • ETUC news release • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Court clash over blacklisting compensation scheme
Construction unions have successfully blocked moves by major contractors to contact blacklisted workers directly with compensation offers. Lawyers representing the firms involved in setting up The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme in October last year applied to the High Court to use the blacklisting database of 3,213 names to contact listed workers, but were told it could break the solicitors’ code of conduct.
GMB news release • Construction Enquirer • Western Daily Press • 14 June 2014
Britain: Fire service action continues over pensions
Firefighters in England and Wales are to continue a series of walk outs over attacks on their pensions after the government confirmed it intends to implement a new scheme without further negotiations. The plans include shifting the pension age from 55 to 60, a move the union FBU says is not tenable in a safety critical and physically demanding job.
FBU news release • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: UNISON backs healthy workplaces campaign
The public sector union UNISON has welcomed a new two-year Europe-wide campaign aimed at helping companies alleviate the impact of work-related stress. The 'Healthy workplaces manage stress' campaign is coordinated by the Bilbao-based European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA).
UNISON news release • European Agency healthy workplaces campaign • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Firms should push proper lunch breaks
Employers are being advised to encourage staff to take proper lunch breaks after a survey found many were skipping a proper break. Physios’ union CSP said poor work habits like not taking a break, staying late or eating lunch ‘al-desko’ are damaging the nation’s health.
CSP news release • BBC News Online • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Stressed teachers 'at breaking point'
Scotland's teachers “are at breaking point” over increased workloads and changes to their jobs, the union EIS has warned. General secretary Larry Flanagan told the union’s annual conference there was evidence many teachers were struggling to cope.
EIS news release and Make Time for Teaching campaign • BBC News Online • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: ‘Heroism’ bill sets out to slay a non-existent dragon
A proposed law the government says is necessary “to tackle the growth of compensation culture” is addressing a non-existent problem but could instead hurt victims of occupational injuries and diseases, critics have warned. Commenting on the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill (SARAH) contained in the Queen’s Speech, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Safety laws are not needless ‘red tape’, nor are they part of the ‘jobsworth culture’.”
TUC news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Prospects are poor for injured lorry driver
An HGV driver many never return to work after a preventable incident at work left him with serious injuries to his neck and shoulder. Unite member Steven Bardrick was delivering goods to Spicer Limited, his employer when he was injured.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Death linked director jailed for illegal asbestos sales
A 64-year-old Shropshire man has been sentenced to 12 months in prison after his company illegally supplied roofing panels containing asbestos. Company director Robert Marsh’s offences only came to light after a 56-year-old construction worker, who was roofing a barn using the panels, fell through the fragile material and later died.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Scots asbestos sufferers face compensation blow
Planned legal changes in Scotland could mean those suffering from asbestos-related illnesses could lose out on legal representation and compensation, a member of the Scottish parliament (MSP) has said. The Scottish government’s Court Reform Bill - which is currently being considered by MSPs - would mean some cases would be downgraded from the Court of Session to sheriff courts, or a new specialist personal injury court.
Greenock Telegraph • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Has CBI finally got the message?
A CBI report recognising the ‘real business benefits’ of keeping staff healthy could be a sign the consistently regulation averse business lobby group is on the verge of a change of heart, the union UNISON has said. Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills at the CBI, launching ‘Getting better: Workplace health as a business issue’ earlier this year, said: “Investing in the wellbeing of employees is not only the right thing to do, it has real business benefits.”
UNISON news release • CBI news release and report, Getting better: Workplace health as a business issue • International Business Times • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Work concerns led to top scientist’s suicide
An eminent scientist took his own life after struggling with problems at work and a spiralling workload, an inquest has heard. Entomologist Dr Mark Jervis, 62, killed himself in his 6th floor office of the university’s School of Biosciences on 11 March.
Wales Online • The Telegraph • Cardiff University obituary • More on work-related suicide • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Dad’s near-death fall lands firm in court
A young father of two suffered life-changing injuries after he plunged seven metres through an unsafe fragile roof at a farm in Harrogate. Spruce and Hawe Ltd, a Tockwith-based agricultural engineering company hired to work on the building, had failed to provide any precautions to protect its employees from falls.
HSE news release and work at height webpages • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Roof fall changes worker’s life in seconds
A 54-year-old Leeds worker suffered life-changing injuries when he plunged nearly seven metres through an unsafe rooflight while installing solar power racking. Peter Bettison sustained multiple injuries and was kept under sedation for most of the 22 days he had to spend in hospital.
HSE news release • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Britain: Company back in court for criminal failings
A Tyneside company has appeared in court for criminal safety breaches for the second time in less than a year after a forklift truck overturned at its factory in Burnopfield, injuring an agency worker. HSE inspector Cain Mitchell said: “The case is all the more serious as it is the second time in less than a year that Radford HMY Group Ltd has been prosecuted for safety failings.”
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Australia: Death case is the first to charge manager
For the first time, a senior company manager in Australia is facing charges over the death of a worker. The case involves Michael Booth, a 48-year-old truck driver who was electrocuted while working for Kenoss Contractors in 2012.
Canberra Times • ABC News • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Global: Unions and GDF Suez sign global safety deal
GDF Suez and global unions have agreed a global safety deal which will underpin improved safety for its workers and subcontractors and see use of hazardous substances reduced. The French multinational signed the Global Framework Agreement last month with global union federations BWI, IndustriALL and Public Services International (PSI).
BWI news release • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Korea: Samsung in new cancer talks
After walking away from the table five months ago, Samsung has resumed talks with activists over compensation payouts for workers who believe their cancers were caused by their jobs for the microelectronics multinational. The move follows the company’s “deep apology” to affected workers and their families and promise of compensation last month. review our demands in good faith, and prepare comprehensive responses.”
SHARPS news release • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
USA: Government action on black lung scandal
The US Department of Labor has ordered officials who determine if coal miners are eligible for black lung benefits to no longer rely on the medical opinion of the Johns Hopkins Medicine doctor an investigation found systematically denied affected miners were significantly affected by the debilitating condition. From 2000, Dr Paul S Wheeler, who was head of the Johns Hopkins black lung programme, examined 1,573 miners' black lung x-rays and not once diagnosed the severe form of black lung that automatically qualifies for compensation.
AFL-CIO Now blog • ABC Eyewitness News • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Hazards news, 7 June 2014
Britain: Heroism Bill is really blame-the-worker ‘gobbledygook’
A new law the government says will protect ‘good Samaritans and community heroes’ could be just another ‘sinister’ attack on workers suffering occupational injuries and diseases, the TUC has warned. Announcing the planned law, which is due to take effect next year and which the government says is necessary “to tackle the growth of compensation culture”, justice secretary Chris Grayling said: “I don’t want us to be a society where a responsible employer gets the blame for someone doing something stupid.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • MoJ news release • Conservative Home • BBC News Online • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Britain: Not that good work health scheme due
The Work and Health Scheme expected to make a delayed appearance towards the end of this year could end up as an inadequate and confusing mess, the TUC and doctors have warned. Under the new system, which it is anticipated will be rolled out to cover every general practice in England, Scotland and Wales by mid-2015, everyone who is absent from work more than four weeks because of illness will be given an assessment which will indicate if there is anything that might help their early return to work, with non-binding recommendations passed on to the employer.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Britain: Union blasts 'grossly inadequate' blacklisting offer
A ‘grossly inadequate’ compensation deal proposed by eight major blacklisting construction firms could see talks with unions collapse, GMB has said. The union says the Construction Workers Compensation Scheme’s proposed £15m-£20m compensation pot would mean payouts of just £16,000 to £20,000.
GMB news release • Morning Star • Construction Enquirer • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Europe: Union spreads its bullying at sea message
A training film produced to combat bullying and harassment in the shipping industry, which was made in response to research by seafarers’ union Nautilus, has picked up an award in an international competition festival. The 20-minute film - ‘Say no to bullying, say no to harassment’ - was produced by Videotel for a European Union project to update guidelines and an associated training package originally produced in 2004, this also a response to a union report.
Nautilus news release • ETF training video and supporting documents • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Global: Nano sickness prompts precaution calls
A report of rapid onset serious nickel allergy in a nano-nickel exposed chemist has prompted calls from both a union body and an official workplace safety agency for a precautionary approach to nanomaterials. Global food and farming union federation IUF said: “The need for a moratorium on the commercialisation of nano products and processes is more urgent than ever” and US government’s occupational health research agency NIOSH called for “precautionary and protective measures”.
IUF news report • NIOSH science blog • Journeay and Goldman, Occupational handling of nickel nanoparticles: A Case Report, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, published online ahead of print, 8 May 2014.
Britain: Bid to control work amputation pain led to death
An accidental overdose killed a former cable fitter struggling to cope with the pain of a work-related amputation, an inquest has ruled. Father-of-one Daniel Batchelor, who was injured in a workplace fall, was found unconscious in his bed aged just 36 by his fiancée Shari Newman on 22 January this year.
Irwin Mitchell news release • Dorset Echo • Western Daily Press • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Britain: Top private school caused deadly silica disease
A top independent boarding college has been handed a six figure fine for criminal breaches of safety law that left a worker with a life-threatening lung disease. Preston Crown Court heard how the ‘inexcusable’ failings at the £30,000 a year Stonyhurst College, Clitheroe, caused 54-year-old stonemason Terry McGough to develop silicosis, a disabling lung disease also linked to a higher rate of lung cancer and other conditions.
HSE news release and lung disease webpages • Burnley Citizen • Clitheroe Advertiser • BBC News Online • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Global: Brains may never recover from work solvent damage
People who are exposed to paint, glue or degreaser fumes at work may experience memory and thinking problems in retirement, decades after their exposure, according to a new study. Erika L Sabbath of Harvard School of Public Health, an author of the study published last month in the journal Neurology, said: “Solvents pose a real risk to the present and future cognitive health of workers, and as retirement ages go up, the length of time that people are exposed is going up, too.”
Erika L Sabbath and others. Time may not fully attenuate solvent-associated cognitive deficits in highly exposed workers, Neurology, volume 82, number 19, pages 1716-1723, May 2014. American Academy of Neurology news release • The Pump Handle • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
USA: Work solvents can raise breast cancer risks
Women who already have an above-average risk of breast cancer and who work with organic solvents may increase their risks still further, researchers have found. Lead author Christine Ekenga said: “We identified several occupations where solvent exposure was associated with an elevated risk for breast cancer… These include clinical laboratory technicians, maids and house cleaners, and production [factory] workers.”
Christine C Ekenga and others. Breast cancer risk after occupational solvent exposure: The influence of timing and setting, Cancer Research, volume 74, number 11, pages 3076–83, June 2014 • AACR news release • NBC News • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Britain: Staff say ‘filthy’ BBC HQ is making them sick
BBC newsreaders have complained the corporation’s flagship £1 billion building is unclean and dangerous with a “trend of filth and human waste products”. The London Evening Standard reports that staff have called on management to intervene over the basement studio which they say is so unhygienic staff regularly become sick.
London Evening Standard • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Britain: Recyling firm caused ‘devastating’ injuries
A plastics recycling company has been fined for serious criminal safety failings after a worker was struck by a reversing forklift truck and left unable to work. Robin Eddom, a 63-year-old engineer from Scunthorpe, suffered severe back and tissue injuries in the incident at ECO Plastics Ltd’s processing plant on 10 March 2012.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpage • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Britain: Oil firm fined after fall from tanker
A Cumbrian oil distributor has been prosecuted for criminal safety breaches after employee David Strong, 39, fell from the top of a tanker. Carrs Billington Agriculture (Sales) Ltd, which trades as Wallace Oils, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at its depot in Langwathby on 12 November 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Britain: Teen apprentice severely injured at fabric firm
A fabric company in Macclesfield has been fined after a teenage apprentice suffered severe injuries when his left arm was dragged around a machine roller. The 18-year-old from Buxton had been trying to remove a crease from a roll of silk at Medaax Ltd in Langley when his finger became caught, pulling him in up to his armpit.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Britain: Bedding firm in court over worker’s injuries
A bedding firm has been fined after a worker suffered severe injuries when his right hand was trapped in a moving machine. The 60-year-old from Rochdale, who does not want to be named, was carrying out maintenance work on a pillow filling machine at Comfy Quilts Ltd in Stakehill when the incident happened on 2 July 2013.
HSE news release • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Britain: Packaging printer left workers unprotected
A Bristol-based printer of healthcare packaging has been fined for criminal safety failings after an employee had two fingers crushed when they became trapped in unguarded machinery at its Cambridgeshire plant. The 39-year-old print worker was working on a label printing machine at Clondalkin Pharma & Healthcare’s factory in Huntingdon on 14 September 2012.
HSE news release and printing webpages • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Europe: New union cancer prevention guide
A new guide from the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) says prevention of occupational cancers must be given a far higher priority. Using case histories, the brochure concludes the fight against work cancers can be won if trade unions and public authorities adopt coherent strategies.
ETUI publication notice and full report, Preventing work cancers: A workplace health priority, ETUI, 2014. Print version: ISBN 978-2-87452-311-3.
More: Occupational cancer - a workplace guide, TUC, February 2012. ITUC/Hazards on work and cancer • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Australia: Unions are better in life and in deaths
In 2010, two fatalities occurred in the pulp and paper industry in New South Wales, Australia: one at a unionised workplace, the other at a non-unionised site. The difference in the responses was striking, according to the union CFMEU, with no transparency or improvements at the non-union firm, and union involvement, a quickly implemented plan of action and a marked improvement in safety performance at the union firm.
Stand up. Speak out. Come home • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Philippines: Action call after fire lock-in deaths
Safety campaigners have called for action after eight female workers locked inside a DVD warehouse in Pasay City in the Philippines died of suffocation. A Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) official said the eight women were inside a padlocked room on the second floor of a warehouse when the fire started at 12.45 am.
The Inquirer and related article • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Qatar: World Cup labour abuses as bad as corruption
Last week’s World Cup bribery allegations mean that FIFA’s Congress this month has a massive case to answer going way beyond corruption, according to Owen Tudor, head of the TUC’s international department. “The case for FIFA to rerun the vote on whether the 2022 World Cup should be held in Qatar is as strong on workers’ rights as corruption,” he said.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Rerun The Vote • BBC News Online • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Thailand: Nappy-wearing bus conductors fight for rights
Stuck for hours each day in snarling traffic, bus conductors in Thailand’s sprawling capital have found a radical solution to a lack of toilet breaks - adult nappies. A recent survey found that 28 per cent of female bus conductors in Bangkok had worn nappies on a job that requires them to work up to 16 hours a day.
Gulf News • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Hazards news, 31 May 2014
Britain: Union wins legal victory for asbestos victims
Unite has won a judicial review against HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) which means that, when requested to do so by a coroner, HMRC has to produce the work history of a person suspected to have died from industrial disease. HMRC had recently overturned years of practice of issuing work histories if the deceased person’s relatives consented and were now refusing to do so without a High Court order.
Unite press release • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: TUC calls for safety reps to be “eyes and ears”
The HSE is depending more on complaints and “whistle-blowers” to compensate for the collapse in proactive inspections forced on it by the coalition government. The TUC’s head of Health and Safety, Hugh Robertson said “The fall in inspection numbers and the increased reliance on complaints shows that the only people who can expose what is going on it the workplace is union health and safety representatives.”
Pinsent Masons • TUC report on Government record • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: Wales TUC backs mental health changes
The Wales TUC unanimously backed a call for workers with mental health issues to have better protection and for union representatives to be given more support in advising and representing workers struggling with mental health problems. A motion from the union USDAW said there needs to be better support and resources for employers to help them deal with these complex issues and called on the Welsh Government to sharpen its focus on workplaces as part of the wider mental health strategy, leading to a culture where people are supported at work and employers understand that mental wellbeing is as important as physical wellbeing.
USDAW news release • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: TUC slams resilience pre-employment scrutiny
The TUC has strongly criticised companies that have started offering employers “resilience testing” of job candidates, claiming that any companies that use such tests are potentially breaking the law. According to the TUC’s head of health and safety, Hugh Robertson, the tests will lead to employers trying to ensure that people are more able to cope with stress rather than trying to remove or reduce it.
TUC blog • Hazards resilience pages • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: Union demands greater maritime safety
The maritime union, RMT, have called for changes to the way that safety is regulated and enforced as an inquest opens into the deaths of six Russian sailors who died when their cargo ship the Swanland sank off the coast of Gwynedd in November 2011. Just two of the eight-man Russian crew survived when the MV Swanland sank as it carried quarry stone from a jetty near Llanddulas, near Colwyn Bay.
RMT release • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: Blacklisted workers occupy blacklister’s office
Unions Unite and UCATT joined the Blacklist Support Group to occupy the UK head office of the Danish owned employment agency Atlanco Rimec. The employment agency was exposed on Danish TV for keeping a secret blacklist of workers who joined a trade union and denied them work.
Morning Star • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: Minister clueless on government policy
Construction union UCATT have condemned a government minister for her complete lack of knowledge of the construction industry. Employment minister Jenny Willott MP said on television: “The Government supports the use of flexible employment structures in the labour market and as such cannot agree with the recommendations for requiring direct employment only”, and wrongly claimed: “This would effectively be a ban on the use of agency staff in the construction sector, which is likely to be unfair to agency workers.”
UCATT press release • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: Botched asbestos job risked workers lives
One of the largest asbestos removal contractors has been convicted of putting the lives of workers at risk through a catalogue of safety breaches during demolition of a former school building in Lincoln. Scottish-based Angus Group Ltd claim to have over thirty years experience in asbestos removal and are operating, not only in the UK, but and the middle and far east, yet did not properly manage the removal of asbestos-containing materials at the site of the former Ermine Infants’ School where they were sub-contracted to carry out the asbestos removal work on behalf of the contractors demolishing the school.
HSE release • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: Apprentice death deemed unacceptable
An inquest jury was instructed to return an accidental death in the case of a teenager crushed at work when machinery weighing almost a tonne fell on him. Jason Burden, from South Shields, died in 2011 when a 970kg tunnel thruster fell from a bench as he was working as an apprentice at Tyne Slipway and Engineering Co Ltd at South Dock in Sunderland.
Press report • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: Clutha victims still wait for compensation
No-one injured or bereaved in the Glasgow helicopter crash has yet received compensation, despite a system of “strict liability” on the operator. Ten people were killed and many more injured after a police helicopter crashed on the Clutha Vaults pub in Glasgow in November 2013.
Herald • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: Corporate manslaughter conviction for site company
A construction company has been found guilty of corporate manslaughter after David Evans, a stone mason's mate, was killed by a two tonne limestone block which fell off a concrete lintel as he was building a large wall. Cavendish Masonry Limited was found guilty by a jury at Oxford Crown Court of corporate manslaughter following his death in February 2010 and will be sentenced in July.
Press report • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Britain: Second conviction for food company
A food manufacturer has been prosecuted for a second time for safety failings after a worker was injured using a machine with a guard that had been intentionally disabled. The company, Veetee Rice, was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £5,492 in costs at Maidstone Crown Court after admitting a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, thereby exposing workers to danger.
HSE news release • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
USA: Boss cries wolf – workers pay price
A US businessman who claimed that workplace safety inspectors were burdening him and killing jobs with too much red tape has just had a horrific incident on his site. Lance Johnson, president of Johnson Brass & Machine Foundry Inc., in Saukville, Wisconsin, claimed in 2012: "I've never been audited by more government agencies in my life than I have under Obama," adding that the US safety regulator, OSHA, was subjecting him to duplicative audits and that the cost of dealing with those unnecessary OSHA audits went "well into the six figures."
Huffington Post • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
USA: Nanomaterial causes workplace illness
A US worker is reported to have developed an acute allergy as a result of exposure to nanomaterial containing nickel, a known sentitiser. The 26-year-old chemist was unaware that she was working with nickel nanoparticle powder at work and no arrangements were made to protect her from exposure.
American Journal of Industrial Medicine abstract • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Australia: Safety must be the law says ACTU
Australian trade unions have reacted angrily to further deaths as the federal government continues to consider further deregulation and the Queensland state government enacts legislation tightening union right of entry for safety reasons and restricting the rights of health and safety representatives.
ACTU release • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Tanzania: Child miners face mercury poisoning despite convention
A Human Rights Watch investigation in Tanzania has claimed that health workers are “failing to diagnose” children suffering from mercury poisoning because they lacked training. Much of the world’s mercury is used in small-scale gold mining, where an estimated 15 million adults and children use it on a regular basis to retrieve the gold, most of them unaware of its health risks.
News report • Risks 656 • 31 May 2014
Hazards news, 24 May 2014
Britain: Fire ‘fiasco’ exposes strikebreaking dangers
A fire ‘fiasco’ has highlighted why the government should rethink its plans to undermine the fire service pension scheme instead of prolonging an industrial dispute, firefighters’ union FBU has said. The union was speaking out after strikebreakers lost control of a fire during a training exercise in Easingwold, North Yorkshire, causing the roof on their training centre to catch fire.
FBU news release • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Site workers can’t work until they drop
Construction workers need more support from the pension system, instead of being forced to work longer in physically demanding work, site union UCATT has said. The union’s conference heard delegates condemn government plans to raise the retirement age as high as 70, saying it would see them dropping dead on building sites.
Morning Star • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Scottish teachers are working under the cosh
Escalating workloads have left teacher wellbeing and job satisfaction at an all-time low, Scottish teaching union EIS has warned. The union’s survey found this overload has led to “very high” levels of stress.
EIS news release and full report • BBC News Online • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Teachers ‘adversely affected’ by social media
The abuse of social media and email is an increasing problem for teachers, leading to more abuse and out-of-hours work, a survey by teaching union NASUWT has found. Over a third (35 per cent) of teachers in Scotland report receiving work-related emails outside school hours, with 42 per cent saying they receive them weekly and 19 per cent daily.
NASUWT news release • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Global: UCATT turns up the heat on FIFA over Qatar
Construction union UCATT is demanding a meeting with FIFA after Sepp Blatter, president of football’s global governing body, admitted it was a “mistake” to choose Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup. But while UCATT believes an horrific work safety record and labour abuses under the bonded labour ‘kafala’ system in Qatar made it a bad pick, Blatter has suddenly realised the stifling weather in the summer months could affect the quality of football that is played.
UCATT news release • Doha News • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Crossrail must improve on safety
Construction union UCATT is to step up the pressure on Crossrail to improve safety on the project. Delegates at UCATT’s conference in Llandudno agreed that UCATT safety reps must be elected on all sections of Europe’s biggest construction project and that safety committees should be created.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Global: International jobs agency blacklist exposed
An international recruitment agency operating in the UK kept a secret database of workers it used to operate a blacklist, a Danish TV investigation has found. DR1 reporters found that workers in trade unions or seeking better pay and conditions were typically not given jobs by Atlanco Rimec even when described as “good” or “excellent” workers, while a former manager speaking anonymously described union members as “a complete no-no.”
GMB news release • UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Direct employment ‘key’ to stamping out site blacklists
The continued use of agency workers is a ‘weak spot’ in the efforts to end the blacklisting of construction workers for their safety and union roles, a parliamentary committee has warned. Launching the latest report of the Scottish Affairs Committee probe into the problem, committee chair Ian Davidson said: “We are very disappointed that the government has rejected our recommendation for direct employment on all publicly funded construction projects and for transparent recruitment and employment practices – even though they have asked us to take more evidence.”
Scottish Affairs Committee news release and Blacklisting in Employment update • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Cruelty of asbestos payout scheme exposed
The widow of a man who died from asbestos-related cancer is set to miss out on a six figure payout from a government compensation scheme, because he was diagnosed a few days before the scheme kicked in. Sid Pointon, 73, was diagnosed with cancer just 10 days before the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme cut-off for payments to help families who have lost loved ones because of the killer dust.
Manchester Evening News • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Labour promises more support for asbestos victims
The next Labour government will provide fresh assistance to victims of asbestos, a shadow minister has pledged. Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said a future Labour administration will “be enshrining in a law a levy on the insurance industry, to secure a sustainable funding stream for improved compensation for victims and ongoing research into the disease and its treatment.”
UCATT news release • Heating and Ventilation News • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Airfield safety blunders led to firefighter’s death
An airfield operator has been convicted of criminal safety offences and fined after a firefighter died when he was hit by a gas cylinder. Steven Mills, 45, was employed by Kemble Air Services as station officer at Cotswold airfield in Kemble, near Cirencester.
HSE news release • Wiltshire Times • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Innocent smoothie maker fined after work death
An international smoothie and fruit juice company has been sentenced for criminal safety failings after an engineer was killed by falling pipework during work to decommission a former factory in South Wales. Gavin Bedford, 24, was helping to dismantle and demolish a section of industrial pipework at the Gerber Juice Company Ltd premises in Llantrisant on 16 June 2010 when the structure, weighing around 300kg, collapsed and struck him.
HSE news release • BBC News Online • WalesOnline • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Farming firm sentenced over worker’s death
A farming company in Cheshire has been fined £50,000 after a father-of-one suffered fatal injuries when a 1.5 tonne concrete panel fell on him. Sean Bennett, 30, was helping to build a new cowshed at Yew Tree Farm in Stanthorne when the incident happened on 8 December 2010.
HSE news release • Winsford Guardian • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Sauces firm guilty over forklift death
Sauces manufacturer AAK UK Ltd has been fined £140,000 after a forklift truck driver was killed at a factory in Runcorn. Michael Moran was using his forklift truck to load a lorry trailer outside the factory on 18 April 2011 when another lorry reversed into the side of his vehicle and the forklift overturned, killing him instantly.
HSE news release • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Heinz sentenced after engineer’s life-changing injury
Global food producer Heinz has been fined for serious criminal safety failings after an engineer had his hand severed when it became trapped in live, unguarded machinery at its Norfolk plant. Self-employed engineer Alec ‘Alf’ Brackenbury, 49, was servicing a potato peeling machine at Heinz’s manufacturing plant in Worstead, Norfolk, on the first day of a maintenance shutdown on 20 June 2013.
HSE news release and food industry webpages • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Britain: Newspaper group fined for guarding failure
Regional newspaper group Newsquest Media has been prosecuted after a Southampton worker was injured when his hand was caught in a rotating printer roller. The 49-year-old employee suffered crush injuries to his thumb and middle finger as he attempted to remove a small piece of torn paper from the unguarded roller.
HSE news release and work machinery webpages • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Global: More concerns over transatlantic trade talks
A proposed trade deal the TUC warned earlier this month could jeopardise employment and safety standards has now been condemned by 178 trade union, environmental, health and labour rights groups from both sides of the Atlantic. The groups are all signatories to a letter to EU Commissioner Karel de Gucht and US Ambassador Michael Froman, key negotiators of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Corporate Europe Observatory news release • ChemSec news release and the letter. BBC News Online • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Korea: Sorry Samsung agrees to cancer payouts
Korean campaigners who highlighted cancer cases in workers on Samsung’s microelectronics production lines have given a cautious welcome to a “deep apology” from the company’s chief executive. Samsung chief executive Kwon Oh-hyun said the company will now compensate chip factory workers who developed cancer while working for the firm.
SHARPS news release and statements from the campaign and Samsung • Korea Times • BBC News Online • The Guardian • PC World • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Turkey: Mine tragedy leads to national protests
The deaths of 301 miners in a western Turkey lignite mine has prompted widespread protests and industrial action. Trade unions launched a one-day strike on 15 May in protest of the country’s poor mining safety record.
Equal Times • BWI news release • ETUC statement • In These Times • CS Monitor • CNN • The Independent • BBC News Online • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Qatar: Global unions set conditions on 2022 World Cup
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is demanding that next month’s FIFA Congress impose labour rights conditions on Qatar if it is to be allowed to host the 2022 World Cup. The ITUC Congress, held in Berlin this week, heard that more than 1,000 workers have been killed already building the infrastructure that will deliver the World Cup.
ITUC news release • TUC news release • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
USA: Child tobacco workers in danger
Children working on tobacco farms in the United States are exposed to nicotine, toxic pesticides and other dangers, a major report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) has revealed. HRW says the world’s largest tobacco companies buy tobacco grown on US farms, but none have child labour policies that sufficiently protect children from hazardous work.
HRW news release and full report, Tobacco’s Hidden Children: Hazardous Child Labor in US Tobacco Farming • NPR • Risks 655 • 24 May 2014
Hazards news, 17 May 2014
Global: Trade talks are a threat to safety standards
A free trade agreement being negotiated between the European Union and the US must not be allowed to undermine employment and safety standards, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal was on an “unprecedented scale” and “could have major implications for health and safety regulation and unions throughout Europe need to be on their guard to ensure that we protect what we have.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Corporate Europe Observatory news release • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Union campaign delivers dog attack protection
A campaign by the union CWU has won new legal protection from dog attacks. The postal and telecoms union, which represents large numbers of dog attack victims in the UK, says that during its seven years push for changes to the Dangerous Dog Act, 30,000 postal workers were attacked.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign • Defra news release • BBC News Online • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: NHS safe staffing proposals fall short
Non-binding guidelines on safe nursing levels are not rigorous enough to deliver necessary improvements, the health service union UNISON has said. The union was speaking out after the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) published draft NHS guidance on safe staffing levels in hospitals in England, but refused to stipulate mandatory minimum safe staffing levels.
NICE news release • UNISON news release • BBC News Online • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Occupational therapists to strike over bullying
Occupational therapists (OTs) at Greenwich council, fed up with an alleged ‘bullying culture’, have voted unanimously for strike action on Wednesday 21 May. The move came in response to concerns over bullying and harassment and the suspension of a work colleague accused of being too friendly with staff.
Unite news release • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Lessons ‘not learned’ from the blacklisting scandals
The government has not learnt the lessons of a parliamentary probe into the blacklisting scandal, the union Unite has said. Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “We’re disappointed that the employment minister Jenny Willott has not supported the Scottish Affairs Committee’s recommendations on direct employment and self-cleaning.”
Unite news release • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Safety cuts are a burden on workers
Cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that government ministers value the interests of the business lobby over workers’ health, the conference of retail union Usdaw has heard. Usdaw deputy general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “There have already been three reviews of health and safety law by this government and more damage has been done.”
Morning Star • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Affected by pregnancy discrimination?
As part of a wider project on discrimination against pregnant women and women on maternity leave, the TUC is keen to hear from women who have been treated unfavourably while pregnant, on maternity leave, or on return to work. A TUC survey, which is entirely anonymous, covers employment and health and safety issues including if you were “made to do work that was difficult or hazardous because of your pregnancy”.
TUC briefing and online survey • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Hundreds attend Stockline tragedy commemoration
Hundreds gathered at a memorial service this week to remember those killed in an explosion at a Glasgow factory a decade ago. Nine people died in the 11 May 2004 blast at the Stockline plastics factory and 33 others were badly injured.
Morning Star • BBC News Online • Daily Record • The Herald • ICL/Stockline disaster website • Occupational health in Scotland, Stirling University, March 2014 • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Offshore helicopter safety timetable changed
The timescale for implementing safety changes for offshore helicopter flights have been changed. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said only allowing passengers to fly if they are seated next to a push-out window exit was being delayed from June until September, but an improved emergency breathing system will be compulsory from January next year rather than April 2016.
BBC News Online • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Firm ignored deadly silica dust warnings
A natural stone supply firm has been fined for failing to protect workers from exposure to deadly silica dust – despite a previous official warning. Teesdale Architectural Stone Ltd (TASL) was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failings identified in an inspection of its Barnard Castle premises on 16 October 2012.
HSE news release and hazardous substances webpages • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Workers not told about known asbestos risk
A south London building firm has been fined after a foreman and others were kept in the dark about asbestos exposures. Redwood Contractors Ltd was in possession of a detailed asbestos survey that clearly identified the location of the asbestos wall panels inside a warehouse, but the survey conducted two months prior to the work starting wasn’t shared with the team on the ground.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Dangerous practices at naval base caused nerve damage
A company responsible for maintaining the grounds of a naval base in Cornwall has been fined after three workers were diagnosed with a debilitating condition that left them with permanent nerve damage. The three men, who do not wish to be named, were employed by Babcock Flagship Ltd to maintain the extensive grounds at HMS Raleigh in Torpoint, where they were exposed to high levels of hand arm vibration (HAV) caused by using tools such as hedge cutters and strimmers for long periods.
HSE news release and vibration webpages • Western Morning News • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Farming firm prosecuted for roof fall death
A farming business in south west Wales has been sentenced for criminal safety failings after a roof worker plunged 15 feet to his death in front of his two sons. Ronald Clarke, 59, fell through the fragile roof of a cowshed while working at Rhyd Sais Farm, Talgarreg, near Llandysul, on 23 July 2010, hitting the concrete floor below.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Tivy-Side Advertiser • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Worker survives plunge through church roof
A Southampton worker suffered life-changing injuries after he plunged five metres through a hole in the roof of a London church, a court has been told. Father of three Allen Smith, 58, was working for Nationwide Roofing and Cladding Ltd when he sustained a collapsed lung, smashed pelvis and head injuries in the fall at Anerley Methodist Church in Penge, south-east London, on 25 October 2011.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Britain: Dock firm fined for life-changing injuries
An Essex dock company has been fined for its criminal safety failings after a dock worker suffered severe leg injuries when an operation to unload a cargo container went wrong. Agency worker Andrew Gotts, 26, of Felixstowe, Suffolk, may never be able to work again after he suffered multiple fractures and destruction of soft tissue on his lower right leg when it was trapped and crushed as a jammed container suddenly freed itself.
HSE news release and docks webpage • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Australia: Government puts safety at risk
Proposed reforms of the safety system in Australia will put workers at increased risk, unions and the opposition Labour Party have warned. They say recommendations of the Commission of Audit created by Tony Abbott’s government – and headed by the former president of the country’s top business lobby group - will mean cuts to workplace health and safety.
Brendan O’Connor’s new release • CFMEU news release • Sydney Morning Herald • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Global: Renewed warning on asbestos dangers
Global unions have warned the continued – and in many instances growing - use of asbestos in developing nations must be challenged. A conference organised by global construction unions’ federation BWI and its manufacturing and mining equivalent IndustriALL agreed a ‘Vienna Declaration’ including a “call on governments and social partners of all countries to take immediate steps to ban all mining, manufacture, recycling and use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials as soon as possible.”
IBAS conference report • BWI news release • Vienna Declaration • IndustriALL news release. • Asbestos is a killer, BWI/IndustriALL, May 2014 • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
New Zealand: Private prosecution by union over work death
New Zealand’s national union federation has been granted permission to take a private prosecution against forestry firm M&A Cross Ltd, the employer of forestry worker Charles Findlay who was killed at work. Council of Trade Unions (CTU) president Helen Kelly said: “This private prosecution is being taken because Charles shouldn't have died at work and the industry must be held to account.”
NZCTU news release • NZTV • Radio New Zealand • NZCity • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Turkey: Death toll tops 200 in coal mine blast
Over 200 workers have been confirmed dead and hundreds more left trapped underground after a deadly coal mine blast in western Turkey this week. Energy minister Taner Yıldız said 787 people were inside the coal mine in Soma, some 250 kilometres (155 miles) south of İstanbul, at the time.
IndustriALL news release • ILO statement • Today’s Zaman • USA Today • BBC News Online • Risks 654 • 17 May 2014
Hazards news, 10 May 2014
Britain: Shopworkers raise violence concerns
Shopworkers have told a top Labour politician of the routine violence, threats and abuse they face in the course of their duties. Jack Dromey, a shadow Home Office minister, responded: “We will strengthen the law and see it effectively enforced by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service and we will ensure that employers take action, working with Usdaw to ensure the safety of their staff.”
Usdaw news release and news update • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Firefighters campaign for pensions justice
Increasing the retirement age for firefighters from 55 to 60 is an unjust, untenable and unhealthy move, unions have said. Firefighters’ union FBU and the TUC say further industrial action in the fire service is the inevitable outcome of government intransigence on the issue.
FBU news release • TUC news release • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Network Rail caves in on bonuses
Rail union TSSA has welcomed Network Rail's announcement that bonuses for its five top executives are to be cut from up to 160 per cent of salary to 20 per cent. Network Rail bosses drew up plans to significantly curb their six figures bonuses in the wake of strong union-led criticism of their safety record.
TSSA news release • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Traumatised train driver may be the last to get payout
A train driver traumatised after a suicidal person walked in front of his 125mph train in March 2012 could be the last to receive a payout from an official criminal injuries compensation scheme. Under cost-cutting rule changes introduced on 26 November 2012, many workers – including some victims of violence at work and train drivers traumatised by a suicide on the track – are excluded from payments from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.
The Independent • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Concrete concerns before Crossrail death
A whistleblower has revealed how giant boulders of concrete had fallen and a number of people were injured in the months before a construction worker was crushed to death in a Crossrail tunnel. A document marked “confidential”, obtained by the Camden New Journal, warns of the “hazardous and unsafe working conditions” for staff spraying concrete onto walls deep below ground.
Camden New Journal • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Call for health checks for construction apprentices
Tackling work-related ill health among construction apprentices could save the Scottish economy more than £30m over the next decade, new figures suggest. Constructing Better Health Scotland (CBH Scotland) is calling for baseline health checks for all apprentices entering the industry.
STV News • The Courier • The Scotsman • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Global: Concerns over ‘miracle material’ graphene
Graphene has been hailed as the latest miracle material set to revolutionise many industries, but it might have more dangerous side effects, experts have warned. “The situation today is similar to where we were with chemicals and pharmaceuticals 30 years ago,” said study co-author Jacob D Lanphere.
US Riverside news release • The Independent • Brown University news release.
Jacob D Lanphere and others. Stability and Transport of Graphene Oxide Nanoparticles in Groundwater and Surface Water, Environmental Engineering Science, published online ahead of print 17 March 2014. doi:10.1089/ees.2013.0392 • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Global: Nanotechnology use is booming below the radar
As concerns have been raised about nanomaterials, companies investing in the industry have toned down announcements of their research and the introduction to the market of new products. But they are still coming, and the rate of their introduction is accelerating.
IUF news report • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Jobless could be forced into zero hours jobs
A new government ‘Help to Work’ scheme has been strongly criticised by unions after it was revealed jobseekers could be forced into zero hours contract jobs. Under the scheme, jobseekers may lose their benefits for three months if they refuse a zero hours contract - insecure or ‘contingent’ work has been linked to higher rates of sickness absence and occupational injuries and diseases.
TUC news release. Prime minister’s office news release • PCS news release • More on the health impact of insecure work • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Fine for foot-and-mouth lab failings
A world-renowned animal disease research facility has been fined after it was found experiments with cattle infected with the foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) did not observe the necessary safety measures. The incidents at Pirbright Institute in November 2012 and January 2013 occurred in a contained facility housing infected animals.
Pirbright Institute statement • HSE news release • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Café didn’t serve up employee insurance
A café business in Ashford has been fined for failing to hold statutory insurance that enables employees to claim compensation if they are injured at work. Ash Catering Limited, trading as Ashford Café, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the safety regulator established there was no valid Employers Liability Compulsory Insurance for the business.
HSE news release • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Protective equipment firm failed to protect worker
One of Europe’s leading manufacturers of personal protective equipment has been prosecuted and fined after a worker’s hand was crushed when it became trapped in an unsafe machine at their factory in Oxfordshire. The 47-year-old employee had just started her shift on 11 January 2013 at the JSP Ltd factory in Minster Lovell.
HSE news release and work machinery webpages • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Hand injury leads to second fine for leather firm
A leather company has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker suffered a broken finger when her hand was dragged into unguarded machinery. The 25-year-old woman from Poland, who does not wish to be named, was working for E-Leather Ltd at its manufacturing site in Peterborough when the incident happened on 30 October 2012.
HSE news release and leather manufacturing webpages • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Council sentenced after major gas pipe rupture
Fife Council has been fined for serious criminal safety failings after workers struck and ruptured an underground gas pipe releasing almost four tonnes of gas. One hundred homes and businesses, as well as a primary school, were evacuated following the incident at the council’s Milesmark Depot in Dunfermline on 11 June 2010.
HSE news release and work near underground services guide • The Courier • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Worker breaks hip in fall from a flat-bed trailer
Denholm Global Logistics has been fined for safety failings after a lorry driver fell from a flat-bed trailer at a company warehouse in Felixstowe. The 60-year-old worker from mid Glamorgan, who does not wish to be named, broke his hip in three places and needed two steel pins inserted to help repair the damage following the incident on 6 February 2013.
HSE news release and falls from vehicles webpage • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Britain: Cherry picker pulled over during power line work
A West Yorkshire power distribution specialist has been fined after a worker suffered multiple fractures in a cherry picker fall in Hertfordshire. Nicholas Chenery, 33, of Stowmarket, suffered a compound fracture to the left leg and three fractured vertebrae to his lower spine in the incident in the Buntingford area on 9 August 2012.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Australia: Your boss could make you sick
Employers who overwork and micromanage their staff can make them sick, researchers have confirmed. A study of more than 7,000 Norwegian people who were middle-aged and otherwise healthy found those in high-stress offices were more likely to need two weeks or more off work a year and experience symptoms like chest pain, nausea and shortness of breath.
Daily Mail • Sydney Morning Herald. Min-Jung Wang, Arnstein Mykletun, Ellen Ihlen Møyner, Simon Øverland, Max Henderson, Stephen Stansfeld, Matthew Hotopf, Samuel B. Harvey. Job strain, health and sickness absence: Results from the Hordaland Health Study, Plos One, published 22 April 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.009602 • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Global: Activists follow Chevron across the globe
Australian trade unionists challenging the labour rights and safety record of oil giant Chevron in its US home state have been welcomed by local activists, groups and politicians who share their concerns. Shannon O’Keeffe, campaigns director at the Sydney office of global transport unions’ federation ITF, said: “In Australia Chevron is suing the MUA and 15 of its members for taking action to ensure that their workplace was safe.”
ITF news release • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Global: Hi-tech giants told to ditch toxics
Smartphone manufacturers are being told that abandoning the use of highly dangerous chemicals will be good for their workforce, the environment and their bottom line. As consumer health and fitness features are expected to be the next big thing for Samsung and Apple products, campaigners are saying the hi-tech giants should make their production processes more healthy too.
eWeek • Korea Times • Apple and the Environment webpages, and toxins page • Green America’s Bad Apple campaign • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
South Africa: Mines ‘stalling’ on deadly silicosis payouts
Mining multinationals in South Africa have been accused of saving themselves millions by dragging out silicosis litigation and delaying payment of compensation to victims. As sufferers of the occupational dust disease die – and many have - the “pain and suffering” component of any payout is docked from the settlement made to their dependants.
Business Day • The Guardian • Mining Weekly • Risks 653 • 10 May 2014
Hazards news, 3 May 2014
Britain: Government cuts ‘vital’ safety protections
The government’s persistent ideological attacks on key health and safety legislation threaten even more accidents, injuries and deaths at work, the TUC has warned.
TUC news release and report, Toxic, Corrosive and Hazardous: The government’s record on health and safety • TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2014 webpages • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
USA: Chicken carcass spray makes workers sick
Chemicals used to disinfect chicken carcasses are making the workers exposed to them sick – and could even be killing them. US Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors and workers in poultry plants say the process of preparing chicken for sale is putting them at risk.
Food Integrity Campaign news report • WSBTV • Mother Jones • Washington Post • UFCW Action • EFSA news release and decontamination webpage • Bilaterals.org • IUF trade and investment brochure • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: ‘Disgust’ at commercial focus for HSE’s top job
Construction union UCATT has expressed ‘disgust and disquiet’ following the publication of the job advert for a new chief executive to run the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The advert’s opening line reads: “We are now seeking a new Chief Executive to help lead change in the organisation and take advantage of a range of national and international commercial opportunities.”
UCATT news release • Report of HSE acting chief executive Kevin Myers to the April HSE board meeting • Enright Associates • HSE chief executive recruitment pack, closing date 5 May. We love red tape blog • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Global: BAT must end the abuse of tobacco workers
Shareholders attending the British American Tobacco (BAT) AGM in London have been urged to put pressure on senior directors at the company to do more to raise the plight of tobacco workers in North Carolina.
TUC news release • IUF news release • FLOC news release • AFL-CIO Now blog •
Send a message to BAT chairman Richard Burrows telling RAI to sign an agreement with FLOC • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Drug driving limits nothing to do with safety
A government proposed ‘drug driving’ limit has nothing to do with safety at work, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the new limits will lead to a “big increase” in drug testing at work and in workers being disciplined or fired for “being over the limit,” despite no evidence of impairment.
TUC Stronger Unions blog, drugs testing guidance and guidance on alcohol and drugs • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Bangladesh: Shocking toll from work chemicals
At least 63 people were killed in Bangladesh in the last three months by toxic chemicals used at work, a study has found. According to the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE), which conducted the research, the most dangerous industries are agriculture, shipbreaking and tanneries.
BSS News • Dhaka Tribune • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Zero hour contracts leave workers hard pressed
The majority of workers on zero hours contracts earn less than the living wage and are at risk of abuse, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting ahead of the publication of new official figures which indicated there are now well over 1 million zero hours contracts in the UK.
TUC news release • PCS news release • Usdaw news release • BBC News Online • The Independent • More on health and safety and insecure work • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: NHS staff are being pushed to breaking point
NHS staff are being pushed to breaking point - with stress showing up as the number one health and safety issue facing UNISON members working in the NHS. That was the clear message of a 'body mapping' exercise that was carried out at the union's health conference.
UNISON news release • More on workplace mapping techniques • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Union concern as shoplifting rise continues
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has expressed concern that shoplifting is bucking the downward trend in victim-based crime. General secretary John Hannett welcomed crime statistics for England and Wales showing an overall decrease in crime, but said the union is “deeply concerned” that shoplifting continues to rise.
Usdaw news release • The Crime Survey for England and Wales, Office for National Statistics • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Union call for better asbestos disease treatment
Communication workers have called for better compensation and more funding for research relating to the deadly asbestos-related disease mesothelioma. CWU national executive committee member Ian Ward told the union’s conference that there was going to be 100 per cent compensation for those contracting the disease, but that the coalition government stepped in to block the move.
Morning Star • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Prison officer forced to retire after violent assault
A prison officer was forced to leave the profession after being violently assaulted by an inmate. The Prison Officers Association (POA) member, who was left with debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the attack by an inmate, has secured a ‘significant’ sum of compensation with the help of the union.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Icy slip ended care worker’s career
A management decision to ignore a basic safety requirement meant a dedicated care support worker could not work again. The sheltered housing scheme employee, whose name has not been released, was forced to retire early after being knocked unconscious when she slipped on an icy and ungritted pavement.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Forty year career ended by employer negligence
A Unite member has secured compensation after he fell twice on the icy tailgate of a lorry while working for Stonegate Farmers. Roy Gardiner, of Melksham in Wiltshire, was working for Stonegate Farmers’ delivery firm when he slipped on the tailgate on two separate occasions while loading pallets into his van.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Bank carpet tile trip forced retirement
A bank worker injured in when she tripped and fell over a lose carpet tile ended up losing her job as result. Susan Green, who worked at a branch of Barclays Bank in south-east London, was walking back to her workstation after retrieving a fax when she tripped.
Simpson Millar Solicitors news release • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Call for action over Crossrail climate of fear
Construction union UCATT says it will step up pressure on Crossrail and its contractor Balfour Beatty Morgan Vinci (BBMV) to improve safety, following a damning leaked report. UCATT regional secretary Jerry Swain said: “Employers need to understand that the perception of being victimised for reporting safety concerns is very serious, whether this is actually the reality or not.”
UCATT news release • The Observer • Irish Post • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Australia: Petrol tankers are ‘mobile bombs’
An Australian union has told a federal government tribunal that petrol tankers are little more than ‘mobile bombs’. The 29 April Road Safety Tribunal in Sydney was convened to consider minimum safety standards for Australian petrol tankers after research revealed 1 in 4 tanker drivers were pressured to speed and 1 in 2 drivers reported inadequate brake inspections.
TWU news release • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Work-related cancer can and should be prevented
Exposure to cancer causing agents at work can and should be prevented, the organisation representing occupational hygienists has said. BOHS, the Chartered Society for worker health protection, is calling on employers to comply with the legal exposure limits for known carcinogens, urging the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to be “robust” in its enforcement of the law, and says it is “critical” the government demonstrates the political will to prevent unnecessary loss of life from work-related cancers.
BOHS news release • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Tributes paid to teacher killed at school
The family of teacher Ann Maguire, who was stabbed to death at a school in Leeds, has described her as “a shining light” who “brightened the world.” Mrs Maguire, 61, had worked at Corpus Christi Catholic College for more than 40 years before she was attacked in front of pupils on Monday 28 April.
West Yorkshire Police update • BBC News Online • NASUWT news release • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Docs attack complacency on fracking risks
An official report on the risks posed by fracking in England is complacent on the real risks the practice could pose, an editorial in the British Medical Journal suggests. Dr Seth Shonkoff, executive director for Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, and his colleagues warn that scientific data should drive decisions on health and safety, instead of gestures to understudied assertions of best practice deployment.
BMJ news release • Editorial: Public Health England’s draft report on shale gas extraction, British Medical Journal, 2014;348:g2728 • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Britain: Trapped worker suffers horrific head injuries
A manufacturing company has been sentenced after a worker suffered horrific head injuries when he became trapped in a machine at a Newcastle factory. Desmond Salkeld, 65, was with a colleague investigating a fault on a hot wire cutting machine at Springvale EPS Ltd in Hazlerigg, when his head became trapped in dangerous moving parts.
HSE news release and safe maintenance webpages • Risks 652 • 3 May 2014
Hazards news, 26 April 2014
Britain: The corrosive truth about the government’s safety record
The government’s “toxic, corrosive and hazardous” record on health and safety has placed workers at risk and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in jeopardy, the TUC has warned. TUC says there “must be a sea-change in our attitude to health and safety if we are going to stop this massive health problem that costs the state billions of pounds but which claims the lives of far too many workers.”
TUC news release • Toxic, corrosive and hazardous - the government's record on health and safety, TUC, April 2014 [pdf] • TUC health and safety – Time for change manifesto • The Independent • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: TUC explodes the ‘compensation myth’
Workplace compensation cases have fallen by more than 50 per cent in the last decade, reveals a new joint report from the TUC and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). ‘The compensation myth’ – which tackles seven myths about compensation – smashes the misconception of a rise in risk aversion driven by a compensation culture.
TUC news release • The Compensation Myth, TUC/APIL, April 2014 • APIL news release • Insurance Times • More background on the statistics • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: No tears after top Tory’s legal costs shocker
A top Tory acquitted of criminal charges but left with a £130,000 legal bill is getting a bitter taste of how his party’s policies have hit injured workers who now have to hand over part of any settlement. Before his arrest, Conservative MP and former deputy speaker Nigel Evans made statements about the need to cut legal aid and admitted he would probably have voted for the last round of cuts in 2011 had he not been deputy speaker at the time.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • BBC News Online • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Don’t fall for blacklisting payouts scam
Blacklisted workers are being told to steer clear of a compensation scheme set up by construction firms but not agreed with unions. Unions Unite and UCATT say the scheme is too restricted, too mean and won’t deliver justice.
UNITE news release • UCATT news release• Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Excessive checks ‘drove teacher toward suicide’
A harrowing regime of extreme monitoring by school bosses helped drive a teacher to suicide, the NASUWT union conference heard last week. Medway delegate Andrew Green described how an “inventive, inspiring and creative teacher” he knew had taken her own life after being ground down by an invasive system of appraisals and check-ups.
Morning Star • Personnel Today • More on work-related suicides • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Pressure on teachers is hurting mental health
A rise in mental health problems among education workers over the past two years is linked to the pressure of performance targets and inspections, according to a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). More than a third (38 per cent) of school and college staff had noticed a rise in mental health problems among colleagues in the past two years; more than half (55 per cent) felt their job had a negative impact on their mental health.
ATL news release • Morning Star • Union News • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Teachers face a ‘home invasion’ of work
Teachers are being swamped with work-related emails on weekends, in holidays and even when they are on sick leave, adding to their already excessive workload and causing rising levels of stress, a survey by the union NASUWT has found. Over two thirds (69 per cent) of teachers reported receiving work-related emails from senior staff outside school hours, with nearly 85 per cent receiving emails during weekends, over threequarters (76 per cent) during holidays and nearly half (43 per cent) during periods of sickness absence.
NASUWT news release • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
France: Unions win ban emails and calls at home
Under a legally binding agreement reached by employers’ federations and unions in France, workers in the technology and consultancy sectors no longer have to answer work emails or phone calls outside work hours. The deal obliges staff to “disconnect” from work calls and emails after working hours; companies must ensure employees come under no pressure to respond to messages, so the spirit as well as the letter of the law is observed.
TUC Touchstone blog. Prospect commentary. The Guardian • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Stressed ambulance service is at breaking point
The ambulance service is on the verge of breaking down as thousands of stressed out staff fear they will not be able to continue doing their jobs. Tight targets, long hours and the physical demands of the job are placing an enormous burden on overworked ambulance workers, according to a UNISON survey.
UNISON news release. Morning Star • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Occupational therapists threaten bullying action
Occupational therapists (OTs) at Greenwich council, fed up with a ‘bullying culture’, are gearing up to vote on a possible walk out. The 11 Unite members will vote on whether to take strike action or industrial action short of a strike.
Unite news release • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: More pressure for helicopter safety inquiry
Offshore safety campaigners, crash survivors and unions came together at this month’s Scottish TUC annual conference to step up the campaign for a public inquiry into UK offshore helicopter safety. The groups said they want Norwegian-style offshore safety reforms to help more workers get back home safe, noting that since 2002 the UK offshore oil and gas industry has suffered 38 fatalities involving offshore helicopter transfers while there have been zero fatalities as a result of helicopter transfers in the Norwegian offshore industry over the same period.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Pilots call for no ‘backsliding’ on helicopter safety
The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has hit back at suggestions by industry body Oil & Gas UK that safety improvements to North Sea helicopter operations might damage North Sea productivity. Oil & Gas UK, the industry’s trade association, had said safety improvements demanded by authorities after a series of sometimes deadly incidents could negatively impact maintenance and production.
BALPA news release • Shetland Times • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Safety stars win top union awards
Unions in Scotland have recognised the stellar achievements of two workplace safety reps. The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) announced this year’s STUC Frank Maguire award for health and safety would be shared by Dundee University UCU reps Marion Sporing and Ian Ellis, who were not only highly competent trade union health and safety representatives but had also developed branch health and safety structures, driving health and safety further up the trade union agenda in UCU.
STUC news release • UCU news release • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Schools asbestos campaigner gets union plaudits
An internationally renowned asbestos campaigner has received a union’s top award. Teaching union NUT presented this year’s Fred and Anne Jarvis Award to Michael Lees, who since his teacher wife Gina died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma has worked “tirelessly” to highlight the risks posed by asbestos in schools.
NUT news release • Morning Star • Asbestos in Schools • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Rubbing out safety rules puts pupils and staff at risk
Government attacks on health and safety provisions are jeopardising the quality of educational provision for children and young people and putting staff and pupils at risk, the teaching union NASUWT has warned. Delegates at the union’s annual conference condemned the repeal of the School Premises Regulations, reclassifying schools as low-risk environments and “leaving children at risk of being educated in disused offices, shops and factories.”
NASUWT news release • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Minister's ‘insensitive’ schools safety attack backfires
A news release issued by the UK safety minister attacking “ridiculous” safety measures in schools has been condemned as “insensitive”. The embargoed release was sent to journalists on the morning of the funeral of Keane Wallis-Bennett, the 12-year-old Edinburgh schoolgirl who was killed on 1 April by a collapsing school gym wall.
DWP news release • FACK news release • Sunday Herald • Morning Star • The Scotsman and related story • BBC News Online and related story • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Factory workers exposed to high lead levels
Workers at a ceramic tile factory in North Wales had levels of lead in their blood that could leave them at risk of kidney and heart disease, brain damage, cancer and other serious disorders. The employees of specialist firm Craig Bragdy Design, of Denbigh, were tested after the issue came to light in February 2012 during a routine visit by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE news release and lead webpages • More on the risks posed by lead • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Britain: Sites 'timebomb' from health and safety cuts
The construction industry is sitting on a “ticking timebomb,” with inexperienced workers being recruited to work on London's major building sites at a time when safety standards are being run down, according to a former government adviser on the sector. Baroness Donaghy, who wrote a landmark report ‘One Death Too Many’ for the last Labour government, said there is a severe risk of a rise in deaths and serious injuries as building activity picks up during the recovery.
The Observer • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Bangladesh: Brands must pay up for Rana Plana victims
A year after the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1,100 people and injured around 2,000 more, major fashion brands have stumped up less than half the sum needed to compensate victims and their families. So far, companies keen to improve their public reputation have donated about £10 million, but that leaves a substantial £14.9m gap.
TUC news release • TUC Touchstone blog • IndustriALL news release • ILO news release and related release • Growth without tears campaign video • Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund • Morning Star • Sign up to the TUC ‘Join hands with Bangladesh’ campaign • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Namibia: Uranium miners dying, Rio Tinto denying
Miners who dug uranium ore at a Rio Tinto-owned mine in Namibia are dying of cancers and unexplained illnesses after working in one of continent’s largest mines. A study of current and former workers at the giant Rio Tinto-owned Rössing uranium mine in Namibia found that everyone questioned was aware of people who are now suffering lung infections and unknown illnesses thought to be linked to their work.
Study on low-level radiation of Rio Tinto’s Rössing Uranium mine workers, EJOLT & Earthlife Namibia Report, April 2014. The Guardian • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
USA: Union calls for safety first in poultry industry
A new official study confirms what workers in the US poultry industry have been saying for decades – has among the highest rates of strain injuries in America related to high paced, repetitive work. The report was commissioned to allay safety concerns about the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) proposed poultry modernisation rule, which would increase the speed that birds are processed to a maximum of 175 a minute – but has done precisely the opposite.
UFCW news release • IUF news report • NIOSH report summary and full report • Risks 651 • 26 April 2014
Hazards news, 12 April 2014
Britain: Safety reps – what’s it like and what do you want?
The TUC is urging union safety reps to provide “crucial” information about their concerns at work. The tenth TUC survey of health and safety reps “is designed to provide the TUC and individual unions with information about who health and safety reps are, and what their experiences and needs are.”
TUC briefing. Safety reps – complete the TUC survey now! • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: Schoolgirl’s death shows why we need safety rules
The tragic death of a schoolgirl in Scotland is a salutary reminder that the need for safe and healthy workplaces is important for the wider public too, unions and campaigners have said. Keane Wallis-Bennett, 12, died on 1 April when a free standing wall in the gym changing room at Liberton High School fell on her.
UNISON news release • FACK news release • The Guardian • Edinburgh Evening News • Construction Enquirer • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Bangladesh: Brands must be told to make Rana Plaza payouts
Companies that sourced products from the Rana Plaza garment factories in Bangladesh where over 1,100 workers died a year ago should be pressed by the government to pay “adequate compensation” to bereaved relatives and injured workers, the TUC has said. In a letter to Justine Greening, the secretary of state for international development, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady wrote: “It is important for ministers to call on companies to pay into the fund by the first anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza building on 24 April 2014 to demonstrate timely steps are being taken to rebuild the lives of workers and their families.”
TUC news release • Rana Plaza Trust Fund • Join the LabourStart campaign to get all the global brands to pay up • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Global: ILO says safety and profits go hand in hand
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is pressing for measures to address the labour abuses that led to Rana Plaza and other disasters. ILO director-general Guy Ryder told a high level meeting organised by the Danish government this month: “Rana Plaza is a call for global action on decent working conditions,” adding: “Better working conditions are in everyone’s interests, a safer industry does not mean a less profitable one.”
ILO news release • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: Union urges action on fatigue at sea
The union Nautilus has welcomed a call from the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) for Europe-wide action to address seafarer fatigue. Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: “We are painfully aware of the health and safety problems posed by fatigue and it is essential that the MAIB’s findings are acted on.”
Nautilus news release • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: Chiefs told firefighters face the sack for aging
Fire chiefs have been warned firefighters forced to work extra years could face the sack just because they were getting older. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says the majority of firefighters over the age of 55 would fail the fitness tests to continue frontline work to a new pension age of 60, but had little chance of finding more appropriate alternative work in the service.
FBU news release • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: UNISON to appeal over employment tribunal fees
UNISON is to apply to appeal last year’s High Court ruling rejecting its claim for Judicial Review of the government's decision to introduce tribunal fees. The union will ask the Court of Appeal to consider the “shocking” figures released last month that revealed employment tribunal claims dropped by 79 per cent in the first six months after the government imposed fees on workers bringing a claim.
UNISON news release • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: Concerns about outside work and pollution
When pollution levels spike, outside workers can be put at particular risk, the public sector union UNISON has warned. The union, commenting as high pollution levels last week led to a marked upturn in hospital admissions in some areas, urged employers not to forget about those working outside.
UNISON news release • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: Two-year delay in diagnosing lifting hernia
Heavy lifting at work can cause hernias, a union compensation case has confirmed – although it took two years before the affected worker’s health problem was acknowledged officially. The GMB member sustained a hernia when he had to move a heavy metal bench 100 feet from one side of a warehouse to the other.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Qatar: Labour urges football to put pressure on Qatar
Football’s governing body FIFA and the UK’s national football associations should put pressure on Qatar to improve the “sub-human” working conditions of thousands of migrant labourers building facilities for the 2022 World Cup, Labour's shadow international development secretary Jim Murphy has said.
UCATT news release • ITUC news release • BWI news release • ILO report on Freedom of Association in Qatar and report on Forced Labour in Qatar • Huffington Post • BBC News Online • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: Nuclear bomb firms given get-out on accidents
Private companies hired to work at the Clyde nuclear bomb bases in Scotland are being given a multi-million pound get-out by Westminster so they won’t have to pay compensation or clean-up costs after “potentially catastrophic” accidents. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to sign agreements with contractors at Faslane and Coulport that limit their financial liability in case of injuries, deaths, explosions, fires and radiation leaks to no more than £100,000.
Rob Edwards blog • Sunday Herald • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: Sentencing guidelines won’t go far enough
Draft sentencing guidelines for crimes of theft could improve the lot of shopworkers but will not be sufficient to prevent the 300 assaults they face every day, their union has said. The new draft guidelines, put out to consultation by the Sentencing Council on 3 April, cover crimes including pick-pocketing, shop theft, handling stolen goods, car theft, leaving a restaurant or petrol station without paying and stealing by employees or care workers.
Sentencing Council news release • Usdaw news release • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: Agency worker was dragged into machine
A Hull-based company, which operates worldwide, has been prosecuted for neglecting the safety of its staff after an agency worker had an arm crushed when it was dragged into a machine. Jamie Rignall, 30, suffered crush injuries to his right hand and arm in the incident at JH Fenner & Co Ltd, which trades as Fenner Dunlop Europe, a leading manufacturer of industrial conveyor belts.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: Dodgy handrail led to agency worker’s fall
A Tyneside house builder has been fined after a young plasterer was seriously injured when a temporary handrail gave way as she leant on it and she fell to the floor below. The 23-year-old agency worker from Gateshead, who does not want to be named, was working for Bellway Homes Ltd when the incident happened on 4 December 2012.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: Apprentice loses finger and gets traumatised
A Northumberland company has been fined after a worker’s left hand was crushed in machinery leading to the amputation of one of his fingers. Ricky Martin, who was 18 at the time, was a third year apprentice with Miller UK Ltd when the incident occurred at its Cramlington premises on 12 March 2013.
HSE news release and machinery webpages • The Chronicle • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: Property firm director done for safety neglect
A Gwent-based property development company and its director have been fined after being observed putting the lives of workers at serious risk. Formaction Ltd was installing a new roof on an industrial unit in Cardiff in June 2013, when a member of the public spotted the dangerous work methods and informed the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE news release • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Britain: Worker loses limb and job in cylinder explosion
A worker filling gas cylinders had his leg severed below the knee when a faulty cylinder he was filling exploded at Guardian Gas Ltd in Bridgend. Andrew Wright, 43, was filling the defective cylinder which had been inadequately tested by certified inspection body Gaspack Services Ltd.
HSE news release • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Global: It’s all coming together for 28 April!
Workers’ Memorial Day – the 28 April campaign which has become the world’s largest annual health and safety event – looks like being bigger still this year. The global union federation ITUC says it has been deluged with events listings - from protests, to seminars to local and national campaigns - which it will publicise in the coming days via social media and on its dedicated 28 April webpage.
TUC workers’ Memorial Day 2014 webpages • ITUC/Hazards 28 April global webpages and facebook page • ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2014 International Workers’ Memorial Day publicise-your-events poster • Don’t forget to tweet #iwmd14 • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Australia: Probe deadly risks? Come back tomorrow
Unions in Queensland wanting to investigate potentially deadly safety breaches at work have been told they now have to give a day’s notice before they enter the workplace. A law passed in the state parliament changes union right-of-entry rules, and requires the 24 hour notice period before union investigators can enter a work site where they believe there are safety problems.
CFMEU news release • Courier Mail • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Canada: Panel dismisses substance abuse claims
A company-fuelled perception that the workers extracting Alberta’s oil sands are alcohol and drug abusing rednecks operating deadly equipment with little regard for safety has turned out to be untrue after all. In 2012, Canada’s largest oil producer, Suncor Energy, tried to introduce random drug and alcohol testing of the thousands of oil sands workers, but an independent arbitration panel has sided with the union, ruling random testing is “an unreasonable exercise of management rights.”
Unifor news release • Globe and Mail • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
USA: Walmart cagey on pregnant workers concessions
Walmart has improved its workplace pregnancy policies – but is saying the move has nothing to do a series of legal challenges. OUR Walmart, the union-backed group pressing for better working conditions at the US multinational, and a number of legal groups take a different view.
Washington Post • Businessweek • Organisation United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) facebook page • UFCW blog • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
USA: Shell oil rig ran aground dodging tax
The grounding of a Shell oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Alaska was in part driven by tax-dodging, the US Coast Guard has said, putting workers and the environment at risk. The organisation said Alaska’s tax laws had influenced the decision to tow the drilling rig Kulluk to Seattle for maintenance.
Senator Markey news release • Morning Star • The Telegraph • Risks 650 • 12 April 2014
Hazards news, 5 April 2014
Britain: Keeping work safe for workers of all ages
There is a higher proportion of older people in Britain’s workforce now than at any time in recent history. The TUC says this means we need workplace approaches that take account of the real needs of older workers, while discounting unfounded assumptions about what an older worker may and may not be able to do.
TUC briefing and full report, The health and safety of older workers, April 2014 • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: A massive step backwards for health and safety
The government has chosen the 40th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act to make one of the most dangerous changes since the legislation came into effect in 1974, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has warned. Writing in the Morning Star she says ministers have “decided that Britain’s 4.3 million self-employed people should no longer be subject to the provisions of the Act unless they also employ people or are on a prescribed list of occupations,” adding: “This is a huge step backwards, and one that could lead to a big increase in deaths, injuries and ill-health.”
TUC news release • Unite news release • Daily Mail • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: Trio of union reps ‘saved hundreds of lives’
Three local union reps have ‘undoubtedly’ helped save hundreds of lives, a newspaper profile of the men has concluded. The Western Morning News notes that in the five years from 2008 to 2012, a total of 396 asbestos-related deaths were recorded in Devon and Cornwall, but adds: “That figure would most likely be far higher but for the work of former dockyard union leaders Bill Goffin, John Williams and Dick Powell.”
Western Morning News • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: TUC calls for tougher action on zero hours contracts
The case for tougher controls on zero hours contracts has been confirmed by new research, the TUC has said. Commenting on ‘Zeroing in’, a report by the independent Resolution Foundation, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The report highlights how the government is failing to address many of the abuses experienced by workers on zero hours contracts.”
Resolution Foundation news release and report, Zeroing In, March 2014 • TUC news release • The Independent • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: Grounding fine ‘hardly a deterrent’ says union
A £60,000 fine on the German operator of a cargoship that ran aground on rocks off the north-east coast of England, stranding its crew for two weeks, is not a sufficient deterrent to stop ships employing too few crew and working them too long and too hard, the seafarers’ union Nautilus has said. The 80 metre MV Danio ran aground in the early hours of 16 March 2013 off the Northumberland coast while sailing from Perth to Antwerp.
Nautilus news release • BBC News Online • Newcastle Evening Chronicle • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: New drug-driving limits could protect workers
New recommended drug-driving limits for 16 different drugs could help workers subjected to drugs tests at work who are found to be positive but below the new impairment thresholds, the TUC has said. The new limits, which cover eight illicit and eight prescription drugs, will come in to force in autumn 2014.
Department for Transport news release • Drug driving written ministerial statement, 27 March 2014. TUC drugs at work webpages and guide to drug testing at work • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: Shopworkers selling alcohol need protection
The government has blocked a proposal aimed at protecting from assault workers selling alcohol. John Hannett, general secretary of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, said he was disappointed by the government action.
Usdaw news release • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: Atos failure shows work tests should be in-house
As private firm Atos nears the end of its highly controversial stint assessing benefits claimants on their fitness for work, civil service union PCS says the work should be brought in-house. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Doctors, MPs and disabled people all believe the tests should be scrapped so, instead of replacing the failed Atos with another profit-hungry provider, the government should bring the work in-house and invest in it properly.”
PCS news release • Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland news release • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Qatar: Union mission finds ‘shocking exploitation’
Construction union UCATT says it witnessed ‘shocking exploitation’ and workers subsisting in appalling living conditions, during a fact finding mission to Qatar. The union says it now plans to put further pressure on the Qatar government and British-based companies working in the country.
UCATT news release • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: Migrant domestic workers face serious abuse
Migrant domestic workers accompanying their employers to the United Kingdom are being subjected to serious abuses including forced labour, according to a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report. The report concludes the UK government is doing far too little to protect vulnerable workers, with recent changes to UK immigration rules making it harder for workers to flee abuse.
HRW news release, video and report, Hidden Away: Abuses against Migrant Domestic Workers in the UK • The Independent • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: New call for gangmaster protection in construction
Construction union UCATT has welcomed a call for the scope of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) to be extended to the industry. A new report, ‘Preventing trafficking for labour exploitation’, published by Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX), echoes union calls for the GLA’s regulatory protection to be extended to high risk labour sectors such as construction, care, cleaning and hospitality.
Preventing Trafficking for Labour Exploitation, Caroline Robinson, Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX), March 2014. UCATT news release • Huffington Post • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: Radiation testing worker gets massive x-ray dose
A Hartlepool firm that tests machine components using x-ray and gamma radiation has been fined after one of its workers suffered ionising radiation burns while carrying out tests on safety equipment. The Redcar man, who has asked not to be named, suffered severe tissue damage to the middle, ring and little fingers of his right hand in the incident at Mistras ETS Ltd on 19 September 2012, and received more than the maximum legal yearly radiation dose in a few seconds.
HSE news release and radiation webpages • The Northern Echo • ITV News • The Gazette • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: Recycling firm fined over young worker’s injuries
A young worker almost lost his arm when it became trapped in inadequately guarded machinery at a recycling plant in Lancashire. The 20-year-old employee, from Bolton-by-Bowland in Lancashire, broke his right arm in several places in the incident at Environmental Waste Recycling Ltd in Kelbrook on 7 August 2013.
HSE news release and waste and recycling industry webpages • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: Companies fined for cable strike failings
Two north-east companies have been fined after workers were exposed to danger of electrocution when a digger struck an underground cable outdated plans had failed to identify. Egger (UK) Ltd and Northern Construction Solutions Ltd were both prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE news release and electricity webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: Building firm fails the welfare test
A Lancashire building firm has been fined for failing to provide basic facilities for its workers for nearly three weeks. Two Brooks Valley Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an inspection of a construction site for a new mini-supermarket in Warton found workers had no shelter, no way of drying their clothes and no way of heating food and drinks.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Britain: Firm fined for workers’ injuries tackling fire
Two workers suffered burns, one seriously, when hot material from an industrial dryer hit them as they tried to tackle a fire at a factory in South Wales. The employees of Maxibrite, in Llantrisant, were trying to fight the fire at the coal briquette plant on 16 December 2012 when they were hurt, one suffering severe burns to his back, legs and hands.
HSE news release and fire safety webpages • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Australia: Court hammers site union over safety dispute
An Australian construction union has been given a massive fine after blockading Melbourne building sites for several days in a dispute over safety. Concerns about safety raised by CFMEU at Grocon sites, where the company had denied workers union safety representation, had been supported by reports from the official safety regulator Worksafe, but the union was fined $1.25m (£700,000) and ordered to pay costs for ignoring court orders and blocking the sites.
CFMEU Victoria news release • The Guardian • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
China: At least 11 dead in garment workshop fire
At least 11 people were killed and another 17 injured when a fire broke out at a small family-run underwear workshop in Puning county, Guangdong, on the afternoon of 26 March. Official media reports said the five-storey concrete structure appeared to have only one exit.
China Labour Bulletin • South China Morning Post • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
India: When will the ‘world’s worst job’ finally end?
Clearing human excrement by hand – dubbed the world’s worst job - is continuing in India, despite laws outlawing it. There are still hundreds of thousands of ‘night soil workers’ in India – those who physically remove human excrement from ‘dry’ toilets, and there are millions more who perform the task of clearing human waste and general refuse by hand.
Equal Times • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Ireland: Fishing fatalities 40 times workplace average
People working in Ireland’s fishing industry are almost 40 times more likely to be killed at work compared to the average worker. The statistic forms part of a new public awareness campaign by Health and Safety Authority (HSA), the official workplace safety regulator, to help improve safety standards, after an inspection programme found just one in three fishing boats had a safety statement, while only one in five completed adequate risk assessments.
HSA news release • Irish Examiner • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Hazards news, 29 March 2014
Global: What are you doing on 28 April?
It’s time you told the world just what you were planning for 28 April, Workers’ Memorial Day. And that task just got a little easier, thanks to a new poster from global union federation ITUC and the UK-based Hazards magazine.
ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2014 International Workers’ Memorial Day poster • TUC workers’ Memorial Day 2014 webpages • ITUC/Hazards 28 April global webpages and facebook page • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Rail unions get movement on director gravy train
Network Rail bosses have drawn up plans to significantly curb their six figures bonuses in the wake of strong union-led criticism over failures in their safety record. But documents leaked to the rail union TSSA show that while the firm will scale back bonuses to top directors, they are planning to increase base salaries to compensate.
TSSA news release • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
USA: Unions press for a safer silica standard
Workers are continuing to die of preventable lung diseases because of years of footdragging on a safer silica exposure standard, the US national union federation AFL-CIO has warned. AFL-CIO safety and health director Peg Seminario, testifying before a hearing of the national safety regulator OSHA, noted that changes to the current exposure standard - now more than 40 years old - were first proposed in 1997.
AFL-CIO Now blog • OSHA hearings • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Global: Unions challenge World Cup migrant labour abuse
A union-coordinated joint mission to expose the abuse suffered by migrant construction workers in Qatar has kicked off this week. The delegation, which includes representatives of UK unions and Labour MPs, is investigating the working conditions that see hundreds of migrant construction workers die in Qatar every year.
UCATT news release • BWI news release.
Foul play, a Hazards photofile on the global union campaign around the 2022 World Cup in Qatar • The case against Qatar, ITUC report • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Honduras: Union body wins death threats investigation
The Honduran ambassador to the UK has promised to investigate death threats and victimisation of trade unionists in the country after an approach by unions. The London-based International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) won the commitment after a high-level told the ambassador union members have been subject to a catalogue of human and trade union rights abuses in Puerto Cortés since September 2012, when global terminal operator ICTSI won the concession to run the port.
ITF news release and related news release • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Lugging school spuds caused shoulder injury
A kitchen worker at Pengar School in Llanelli was left in agony after continually lifting sacks of potatoes onto a trolley. The potato peeling machine in Tina Bowen’s school kitchen had been broken for a long time, so the UNISON member had to use a machine at a different school which required her to lift the heavy sacks of potatoes onto a trolley and push them across a car park.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Auto assessor forced to retire after work fall
An automotive assessor employed by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council was forced to retire after a five foot fall at work. John Williams, a UNISON member for nine years, was leaning into a car on a mechanical ramp to inspect the handbrake when, without his knowledge, a trainee raised the ramp from ground level.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
France: More ‘work-related’ suicides at telecoms giant
Ten employees of the telecoms giant Orange France have killed themselves since the beginning of 2014, nearly as many as the whole of last year, an organisation that monitors work conditions at the firm has said. Labelling it a “serious alert”, the Observatory for Stress and Forced Mobility said the majority of these suicides – eight out of ten - were “explicitly related to work.”
Observatory for Stress and Forced Mobility news release (in French) • The Guardian • The Independent • More on work-related suicides • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Standing up for site workers - and their safety
One of the biggest names in the UK construction industry has pledged to support efforts to achieve a “fair resolution for the injustice” suffered by blacklisted workers. Caroline Murphy, who this week resigned from the board of Murphy Group, the construction giant founded by her father, said: “It has been my experience as deputy chair of the Murphy Group of construction companies, that safety and quality are inextricably linked.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Caroline Murphy blog and news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Demolition worker was crushed by steelwork
A demolition contractor has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker suffered life-changing injuries when steelwork he was dismantling collapsed on top of him. The 39-year-old from Barnsley sustained serious crush injuries including a fractured sternum and vertebrae in the incident at a former block works in Shawell, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, on 11 March 2013.
HSE news release and demolition webpages. Construction Enquirer • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Contractors exposed workers to asbestos dust
A Bath building contractor exposed two of its employees to asbestos dust while working at a residential property in the city, a court has heard. Geoff Thomas and Son Ltd allowed the workmen to demolish a basement ceiling in January 2013 without checking for the presence of asbestos –and when it realised the deadly fibre was present, it sent the pair to work on other jobs without decontaminating their clothes.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Study raises concerns over fracking dangers
The lack of publicly available data on the UK's onshore oil and gas drilling means there are significant “unknowns” about the safety of future fracking wells, according to a new study. “The research confirms that well failure in hydrocarbon wells is an issue and that publicly available data in Europe on this seems to be sparse,” said Professor Richard Davies of Durham University, who led the study.
Richard J Davies and others. Oil and gas wells and their integrity: Implications for shale and unconventional resource exploitation, Marine and Petroleum Geology, published online 25 March 2014 • The Guardian • FoE fracking webpages • Dangers of Fracking website • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Atos quits government fit for work tests
Private company Atos is to quit its contract to assess whether benefits claimants are fit to work, the government and the company have announced. In a statement, Atos indicated problems related to the tests were the result of government welfare policy, not the company’s behaviour, citing a National Audit Office (NAO) report in support of the claim.
Atos news release • BBC News Online • Daily Mirror • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Europe: Welcome for new progress on safer lorry designs
Lorry design should be improved to make vehicles inherently safer, European lawmakers have said. The European Parliament’s Transport Committee voted in favour of changes to the Vehicle Weights and Dimensions Directive, which will allow lorry cabs to be redesigned to reduce blind spots, improving the direct vision of the driver.
IOSH news release • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Road tragedies expose statistical hole
Hundreds of workers die each year on Britain’s roads while working, but you’d not know it from the statistics. Almost all work-related road deaths are classified as ‘road traffic accidents’ and are not included in the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) annual work fatalities total.
Thames Valley Police news release • BBC News Online coverage of the cyclist and lorry driver deaths • Daily Record • Newbury Weekly News • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Skull fractured by catapulted metal peg
Staffordshire company Thomas Bolton Ltd has been fined after a worker suffered life-changing injuries when he was hit on the head by a metal peg. The two-kilogramme peg, which was attached to a ten-tonne overhead crane and fabric sling, was catapulted out of the sling, through the factory roof and back down into the factory some 26 metres away, hitting an employee on the head.
HSE news release • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Textile firm crushed worker’s fingers
A Huddersfield woman was left with lasting hand damage when her fingers were crushed in a yarn processing machine. The 59-year-old was injured at Lawton Yarns Ltd’s Ravensthorpe factory in Dewsbury as she reached under the rollers of a carding machine to retrieve some fibres.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Britain: Injury at food firm leaves a costly aftertaste
A Kent-based international food manufacturer has been prosecuted for criminal safety failings after a worker’s hand was trapped by a sealing machine. Craig Brandie, a 24-year-old employee of Veetee Foods Ltd, suffered a crushed finger when he and colleagues began to clean the machine after an oil leak.
HSE news release and equipment safety webpages • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Australia: Warning over 'third wave' of asbestos diseases
Women are likely to form a significant proportion of the ‘third-wave’ of people with asbestos-related diseases in Australia, according to a new research report. ‘The Asbestos Narratives’ presents the findings of a study conducted by Southern Cross University, which investigated the social and psychological impacts of asbestos disease.
SCU news release • ABC News • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Bangladesh: Rana Plaza fund payouts to start
The 3,600 workers and families owed compensation from the Rana Plaza factory collapse last year will be able to claim payment from 24 March, the global unions that pressed for the creation of the fund have said. An advance payment equivalent to US$650 will be made to every beneficiary before the one-year anniversary on 24 April.
UNI news release • IndustriALL news release • ILO news release • Rana Plaza Trust Fund • Equal Times • Join the LabourStart campaign to get all the global brands to pay up • Risks 648 • 29 March 2014
Hazards news, 22 March 2014
USA: Deadly industry attack on NY scaffolding law
Construction industry lobbyists are attempting to gut a New York scaffolding safety law, a measure that for more than a century has added an extra layer of accountability for firms. Online publication In These Times reports that the lobbyists claim the law cuts into the industry’s bottom line.
In These Times • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Tribunals fall so workers and justice pay the price
A dramatic drop in number of people taking employment tribunal cases since the introduction of a fees system shows the government is on the side of bad bosses, the TUC has said. Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures reveal there has been a 79 per cent fall in employment tribunal cases – from 45,710 between September and December 2012 to 9,801 cases for the same period last year – since the government introduced a fee for most workers to take cases, including victimisation for workplace safety activities.
TUC news release • UNISON news release • Usdaw news release • GMB news release • Morning Star • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Helicopter deaths firm still escaping justice
Scotland’s top lawmaker should bring a criminal prosecution against a helicopter firm whose negligence has been linked to an offshore tragedy, the union Unite has said. The finding of a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into the April 2009 deaths of 16 men in a Bond Super Puma helicopter crash in the North Sea concluded that the tragedy could have been prevented.
Unite news release • BALPA news release • FAI – Super Puma helicopter crash, full determination • BBC News Online • Energy Voice • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Qatar: ITUC exposes ‘squalid’ World Cup conditions
A new report from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) exposes how far Qatar will go to deny workers their rights. ‘The case against Qatar’ was published ahead of a critical executive committee meeting of FIFA, football’s global governing body, on 20 March.
ITUC news release and report, The case against Qatar • TUC news release • Equal Times • TUC Touchstone blog • ITUC Re-run the vote campaign • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: STUC calls for urgent review of fatality inquiries
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has repeated its call on the Scottish government to review the country’s Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) system. The union body was speaking out after the publication of the findings from the FAI into the deaths of 16 workers in a Bond helicopter crash in the North Sea on 1 April 2009.
STUC news release • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Dad’s work death spurs safety action call
Kenneth Hume was just 29 when he was killed at work, leaving behind a young family. His son Stewart, who grew up to be a union rep for Unite and a vocal safety advocate, says: “Please take part in International Workers’ Memorial Day, I know I will.”
Blacklist blog. Hazards Campaign website and 28 April resources: Posters: free (A3 and A4 available). Stickers: £1 for a single sticker, £0.50 each for 2-10, and £0.25 each for 11-100, with bigger discounts for bigger orders. Lapel stickers: £1 for a single sticker, £0.50 each for 2-10, and £0.25 each for 11-100. Car stickers: £1 each, £30 per 100. Purple ribbons: £0.30 each, £30 per 100. T-shirts: in s, m, l, xl, xxl, xxxl. £6. Order from the Hazards Campaign, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester M16 7WD. Tel: 0161 636 7557. Email: email@example.com.
TUC workers’ Memorial Day 2014 webpages. ITUC/Hazards 28 April global webpages and facebook page • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
China: Clamour grows for dust disease action
Pressure for official action to stem China’s epidemic of work-related dust diseases has reached the highest levels of government. China Labour Bulletin (CLB) reports that several delegates at the annual meetings of the National People’s Congress and its advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), called on the government to do more for the estimated six million workers in China with pneumoconioses, lung diseases caused by dust.
China Labour Bulletin • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Union women call for bullying action
Delegates at the TUC's women's conference have supported unanimously a call for a union-wide campaign to combat bullying and harassment. Debbie Cavalaldoro moved the motion on behalf of the journalists’ union NUJ and emphasised the need for bullying to be specifically defined in legislation – either in health and safety law or the Equality Act.
NUJ news release • TUC women’s conference and final agenda • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: CWU celebrates new dangerous dogs law
Postal workers’ union CWU has welcomed a new dangerous dogs law. The measures, which will extend the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and see far harsher punishments for owners of dangerous dogs, will be introduced in England and Wales in early May.
CWU news release and Dangerous dogs – Bite back campaign • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: UCATT welcomes false self-employment move
Treasury plans to clampdown on bogus self-employment have been welcomed by UCATT. The construction union has argued consistently that the widespread practice by employers of wrongly designating workers as self-employed has denied the Treasury millions and robbed workers of essential employment and safety protections.
UCATT news release. Government webpage on the false self-employment consultation • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Support worker suffers career ending injury
A community care assistant from Swansea had to give up her job after she injured her back lifting at work. The UNISON member, 56, who has received an undisclosed payout, had asked her Swansea council employer for a sling with handles to make moving a heavy older man easier but the council failed to provide this additional support.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Commons committee says ‘blacklist the blacklisters’
Firms that blacklist workers jeopardise workplace safety and should be banned from publicly funded contracts and their victims compensated, MPs have said. The House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee’s damning 14 March 2014 report of its investigation into the blacklisting scandal – which followed a campaign for justice by unions and the Blacklist Support Group - says that just ending blacklisting is not enough. House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee report • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Crunch time for the blacklisters
Unions and blacklisting campaigners have said a report from MPs calling for justice for workers victimised by construction firms should be the catalyst for meaningful action at last.
Unite news release • GMB news release • Blacklist blog • Construction Enquirer • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Boss abandoned teenage waitress half-blinded by chemicals
A restaurant owner has been fined after a member of his staff was splashed in the face with a caustic chemical. Initially, the incident – which happened at Huffers Cafe, Sudbury, in September 2012 – was not reported to authorities. The employee, 16-year-old Chelsea Stafford, was left half blinded on the street outside, given £20 to get a taxi and had to call her mother for assistance.
Babergh District Council news release • Suffolk Free Press • Environmental Health News • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Life-changing injuries hamper trainee vet’s ambitions
A Shropshire horse breeder has been prosecuted for safety failings after a student suffered severe leg and pelvic injuries when she was felled by four straw bales on her last day of work experience. Emily Dawson, a 20-year-old veterinary student, was on placement at leading independent stud farm, RL Matson & Son of Whitchurch, run by partner Edward Matson.
HSE news release and guide on safe working with hay and straw bales • Shropshire Star • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Scaffolding firm done for department store danger
A Hertfordshire scaffolding firm has been fined for a catalogue of criminal safety failings – including throwing and catching metal fittings over the heads of shoppers – as they erected two scaffolds outside an Oxford department store. Darren Baker Scaffolding Limited also failed to ensure the structures outside Debenhams were properly configured, braced and tied, which compromised their stability.
HSE news release • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Painter injured in fall from dodgy scaffold
A painter and decorator was injured when he fell through an unprotected ladder opening on scaffolding erected by London-based Beacon Scaffolding at a block of flats in Hemel Hempstead. Self-employed decorator David Currie, 48, suffered a fractured arm and dislocated shoulder in the 6 November 2012 incident.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Worker removing glue gets stuck in machine
A ceiling company has been fined for serious criminal safety breaches after a worker required skin grafts on an arm that had been caught in machinery. Supervisor Paul Turney, 61, was removing hardened-on glue from the lower roller spindle on a laminator machine when his left arm was caught in the drive mechanism at CEP Ceiling Ltd’s premises in Stafford on 21 January 2013; his forearm was caught in the intermeshing metal gears, which chewed up a large chunk of tissue.
HSE news release and machinery safety webpages • Express and Star • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Britain: Agency worker injured in poorly guarded machine
A Welwyn Garden City manufacturing firm has been prosecuted after an agency worker suffered a hand injury when clearing a blockage on a poorly-guarded palletiser machine. The 33-year-old worker, who does not wish to be named, was attempting to restart a machine at Sika Ltd’s factory after dealing with the blockage when his right hand was struck by a moving part.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Bangladesh: Fearful Rana Plaza survivors return to factories
Less than year on from Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which claimed over 1,100 lives, most of the survivors of the tragedy have had no choice but to return to industry despite ill-health and dread of another collapse. Many complain of panic attacks, headaches and nightmares, but most of the workers in Rana Plaza were young women from rural backgrounds with no possibility of finding work, or sometimes even enough food, near their home villages.
The Guardian • Risks 647 • 22 March 2014
Hazards news, 15 March 2014
Britain: Government sure to fail on zero hours
Proposals from ministers on zero hours contracts will fail to stem the widespread exploitation of workers, the TUC has said in its response to a government consultation. The TUC submission highlights how zero hours work is dogged by low pay, under-employment, and job and income insecurity.
TUC news release and consultation submission • The Guardian •
More on the health and safety risks of insecure employment •
The TUC is organising Fair Pay Fortnight from Monday 24 March to Sunday 6 April. It will be a series of events across England and Wales to raise awareness about falling living standards • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain: Unite demands answers following Crossrail fatality
Unite has called for an urgent meeting with Crossrail contractor BFK so the company can explain the circumstances surrounding the first fatality on the £15 billion construction project. The Metropolitan Police Service confirmed the worker who died on Friday 7 March was 43-year-old Slovakian national Rene Tkacik, who was employed by a Crossrail subcontractor.
Unite news release • London Evening Standard • Construction Enquirer • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Global: Call for full disclosure in science research
The selective promotion of scientific research to steer policy-making is a murky business, particularly as “the battle for the ear of the piper between big business and the ‘little guy’, who is often affected by pollution or hazardous substances, is so asymmetric,” a Nature editorial has warned. It cites the ongoing controversy in the US over a much delayed occupational silica dust exposure standard, noting: “Rather than challenging [safety regulator] OSHA for requesting conflict-of-interest disclosures, US politicians should be asking why all federal agencies do not require them.”
Full disclosure: Regulatory agencies must demand conflict-of-interest statements for the research they use. Editorial, Nature, 507, issue 7490, page 8, 6 March 2014 • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Global: Chemical industry manipulating EU-US trade talks
A leaked document from the December 2013 round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations exposes the extent of chemical industry influence over secretive ongoing US-EU trade negotiations, independent researchers have found. Their report says chemical industry proposals to TTIP would have a ‘chilling effect’ on the regulatory environment, slowing down the implementation of precautionary decisions on toxic chemicals, undermining democratic decision-making and stifling the innovation of safer alternatives.
Toxic partnership: A critique of the ACC-CEFIC proposal for trans-Atlantic cooperation on chemicals, ClientEarth/CIEL’s joint report, March 2014. Leaked document from the December 2013 round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations • TUC Touchstone blog • The Guardian • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain: RMT forces government admission on sewage
The rail union RMT has stepped up its demands for urgent government action to end the dumping human sewage on the railway tracks, saying it has the extent of the practice by train companies was unknown by ministers. Questions tabled by members of the union’s parliamentary group revealed a quarter of trains with toilets on board do have retention tanks and are discharging raw sewage.
RMT news release • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain: Ineos ‘likely’ to have unfairly sacked union rep
Petrochemicals giant Ineos needs to start treating its workforce with respect and ensuring no trade union officials are victimised, the union Unite has said. The union call came after an interim employment tribunal last week ruled in favour of sacked Grangemouth convenor Mark Lyon.
Unite news release • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain: Tata Steel in six figure payout to injured worker
An employee at a Tata Steel plant in Wales has secured £235,000 in compensation after a serious incident at work which almost cost him his leg. The 54-year-old Unite member was unable to work for a year and has since been seconded into a different, less physically demanding position within the company.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain: Deadly Network Rail slammed for victim blaming
A call from MPs for an end to Network Rail’s bonus culture has been welcomed by rail union TSSA. The House of Commons transport select committee last week also condemned the rail giant’s deadly blame the victim approach on level crossing safety, an observation that prompted an apology from Network Rail for its “past failings in managing public safety at level crossings and for its past behaviour towards bereaved families.”
TSSA news release • Transport Select Committee news releases on the report and Network Rail’s apology • Network Rail news release • BBC News Online • ITV News. Telegraph • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain: Firefighting at risk from funding cuts
Fire authorities across England and Wales are at “crisis point” as government funding cuts have left them unable to respond to national emergencies, local authorities have warned. The Local Government Association (LGA) services management committee chair Kay Hammond said its modelling “shows that further funding cuts in 2015/16 and beyond could start to impact on their ability to deliver this effective firefighting, rescue operations and community safety.”
FBU news release • LGA news release and report • Morning Star • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain: Government nudges up asbestos cancer payouts
Victims of the fatal asbestos-induced cancer mesothelioma who can’t trace a liable employer or an employers’ liability insurer will from April be able to apply for compensation packages worth an average of £123,000. The payouts, which have been increased by the government after criticism from victims’ groups, are still 20 per cent short of the average from a normal civil claim.
DWP news release • Irwin Mitchell news release • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain; School caretaker died from asbestos cancer
A man from who spent years working as a caretaker in schools across Hampshire died as a result of asbestos exposure, an inquest has fund. Graham Gale died aged 62 on 24 November last year.
Daily Echo • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain: Bar worker lies in pub lift incident
An investigation has been launched following the death of a young bar worker after an incident at a pub in Swansea. Bars are not subject to preventive unannounced health and safety inspections under the government’s deregulatory plans.
South Wales Evening Post • BBC News Online • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain: Worker was crushed to death in a warehouse
A Midlands heating, ventilation and air conditioning manufacturer has been fined £150,000 after a worker was crushed to death while working in its warehouse. Ronald Meese, 58, a production supervisor for Roberts-Gordon Europe Ltd, died when one a stack of metal tubes, weighing a tonne, collapsed onto him.
HSE news release and warehousing webpages • Express and Star • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain: Reversing van killed painter
A Preston building firm has been convicted of criminal safety offences and fined £130,000 over the death of a worker outside a cinema in Ashton-on-Ribble. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted EMC Contracts Ltd after father-of-one Carl Green was struck by a reversing van in a paved area outside the entrance to the Odeon Cinema on 27 July 2010.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Britain: Contractor convicted after causing concrete burns
A builder has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after two labourers sustained second degree chemical burns after working knee-deep in wet concrete for more than four hours at a development in south-west London. Principal contractor Geoffrey Cinko, 55, was convicted of a criminal safety offence and fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs.
HSE news release • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Global: The human cost of your new phone
Before you buy a new laptop, phone or tablet you should think about the effect on those who make them. Overwhelmingly your electronic gizmos are not produced in well-regulated economies with strong unions; the risks in their manufacture have been exported.
Who pays the price? Human costs in electronics – see the film and the facebook page • TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Australia: Power union presses defibrillator case
An Australian power company is being urged to roll out lifesaving defibrillators immediately, bringing safety standards for their predominantly rural and regional workforce in line with urban power companies. The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) in New South Wales commissioned independent research that found portable defibrillators provide an effective, affordable, reliable method to prevent accidental deaths among the thousands of workers who carry out dangerous maintenance and repair work on the state’s electricity poles and wires.
ETU news release • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Bangladesh: Firms complete first independent inspections
Garment factories in Bangladesh have faced their first independent safety audits since the union-brokered safety accord took effect. The newly published reports of the first inspections identified widespread safety shortcomings in garment factories, including the need to reduce the total load in certain areas through moving material, stock, or supplies and improvements to electrical safety and maintenance procedures.
IndustriALL news release • UNI news release • New York Times • Financial Post • Risks 646 • 15 March 2014
Hazards news, 8 March 2014
Britain: Unpaid hours now at record levels
Employees across the UK worked a record amount of unpaid overtime last year, with over 5.4 million workers putting in around £640m worth for free every week, according to the TUC. The TUC analysis shows that the number of people regularly doing unpaid hours at work increased by 331,000 last year to 5.42m – the biggest annual rise since comparable records began in 1998.
TUC news release • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Record teaching hours are ‘unsustainable’
The hours worked by teachers have soared under the current government, a Department for Education (DfE) study has found. The embarrassing for ministers findings of the Teachers' Workload Diary Survey 2013, smuggled out on a Friday evening without the usual news release, have led to calls from teaching unions for an urgent reduction in the demands on staff.
Teachers' Workload Diary Survey, DfE, 28 February 2014. NUT news release and summary of the DfE survey findings • NASUWT news release • ATL news release • Daily Mirror • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: London fire cuts claim their first victim
Firefighters have accused the Mayor of London of having “blood on his hands” after a Woolwich pensioner lost his life following a house fire less than two months after his local fire station closed. Maurice Cunliffe, 83, died in the early hours of Thursday 27 February, four days after being pulled semi-conscious from a fire in his flat.
FBU news release • Daily Express • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Unions vow 'war' on driverless trains
Rail unions have vowed to resist plans to introduce driverless trains on the London Underground. Transport for London (TfL) has begun a tendering process for what it calls the New Tube for London. Bob Crow, general secretary of rail union RMT, said: “The RMT will not allow Tube safety to be sacrificed on the altar of driverless operation and we are geared up and ready to go to war on this one.”
ASLEF news release • BBC News Online • Wandworth Guardian • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: UNISON attacks government’s sick ‘obsession’
Public sector union UNISON has attacked the government's ‘obsession’ with sickness rates, after figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that days lost due to sickness absence fell from 178 million in 1993 to 131 million in 2013. The union's head of health and safety Tracey Harding said: “These figures show the folly of this government's obsession with absence rates, rather than focusing on the underlying work-related health and safety issues.”
UNISON news release and guide, Making us better: Organising for health & safety: Sickness absence agreement: a guide for branches and safety representatives • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Unite calls for action on helicopter safety
A Unite petition signed by thousands of workers was submitted to the Scottish parliament, urging MSPs to help restore ‘shattered confidence’ in offshore helicopter safety. The move coincided with a 27 February Scottish parliamentary debate led by MSP Richard Baker, in support of Unite’s ‘Back Home Safe’ campaign.
Unite news release • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: UNISON backs school asbestos management review
An ‘overdue’ review of asbestos management in schools has been welcomed by UNISON. The Department for Education (DfE) launched the policy review after it was confirmed that children are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of asbestos. The consultation, which closes at the end of March, followed extensive lobbying by the Joint Union Asbestos Campaign and the Asbestos in Schools Group - two groups in which UNISON plays a central role.
UNISON news release • Asbestos management in schools: DfE policy review • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Shopworkers need protection from violence
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has welcomed new guidelines to help protect the retail sector's three million employees from violence, launched this week by the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Usdaw general secretary John Hannett also welcomed “the BRC's continued backing for our Freedom from Fear campaign, which seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.”
Usdaw news release • Tackling violence against staff: Best practice guidelines for retailers, BRC • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: ‘Predatory’ Amazon receives an unwelcome delivery
On 28 February, Amazon’s UK headquarter received an unwelcome delivery of its own. Campaigners handed over a 56,000-strong petition calling on the firm to pay its workers a living wage. Petition organiser Emily Kenway of the Amazon Anonymous campaign said: “Amazon’s 3-points-and-you’re-out disciplinary system comes under fire in many of these testimonies, with points doled out for work-related injuries and traffic accidents.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • AFL-CIO now blog • Amazon Anonymous campaign • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Self-employed plan is unjustified and its ‘dangerous’
The government’s plan to exempt most self-employed from coverage by safety laws is unjustified and ‘dangerous’, safety professionals’ organisation IOSH has said. The safety body was commenting on clause 1 of the government’s Deregulation Bill, which seeks to remove ‘burdens’ on most self-employed workers by exempting them from health and safety law.
IOSH blog • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Rig shuts down after North Sea worker dies
An oil worker has died after falling into the water from a North Sea platform. George Bartlett, from Shotts in Lanarkshire, fell from the Taqa’s Harding platform, which is about 200 miles north east of Aberdeen, during “maintenance activity” on 27 February.
Taqa statement • BBC News Online and update • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Worker was crushed to death on hospital site
A major London firm has been ordered to pay more than £250,000 in fines and costs for criminal safety failings after a worker was killed by a large concrete beam during a dangerous lifting operation in strong winds at a hospital construction site. Guilherme de Oliveira, 44, from Portugal, was working for Bouygues UK Ltd when he sustained fatal crush injuries in the incident at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford on 10 November 2008.
HSE news release and lifting operations webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014.
Britain: Manufacturer fined after acetone burns welder
A welder was seriously burned when an open bowl of highly flammable acetone used to quench hot work at a Didcot manufacturing firm ignited. The 38 year-old employee was in hospital for a week and needed skin grafts after seriously burning his left leg in the incident at Thames Cryogenics Ltd on 23 January 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Window cleaning boss fined for insurance failings
The boss of a County Durham window cleaning firm has been fined for failing to prove he held the legally-required insurance that enables employees to claim compensation should they be injured at work. Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard that Jason Mawson was invited by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to voluntarily produce his insurance certificate on a number of occasions but he failed to do so.
HSE news release • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Britain: Are you geared up for 28 April?
Workers’ Memorial Day, the biggest event on the union safety calendar, is fast approaching. So, have you sorted your action kit for 28 April? The Hazards Campaign is providing everything from the poster you stick on the wall to the t-shirt you stick on your back.
Posters: free (A3 and A4 available). Stickers: £1 for a single sticker, £0.50 each for 2-10, and £0.25 each for 11-100, with bigger discounts for bigger orders. Lapel stickers: £1 for a single sticker, £0.50 each for 2-10, and £0.25 each for 11-100. Car stickers: £1 each, £30 per 100. Purple ribbons: £0.30 each, £30 per 100. T-shirts: in s, m, l, xl, xxl, xxxl. £6. Order from the Hazards Campaign, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester M16 7WD. Tel: 0161 636 7557. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Europe: Get out, don’t be taken in on 28 April
Europe’s senior trade union health and safety official has said workers should not be taken in by ‘false sentiments’ on Workers’ Memorial Day, as official bodies have no intention of ‘walking the talk’ the rest of the year. Laurent Vogel, of the European TUC’s research unit, said: “Death by work is an ongoing reality determined by the pursuit of profit, flexibility, a lack of democracy in the workplace… Deregulation policies are deepening these inequalities.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog and Workers’ Memorial Day 2014 webpages • ITUC/Hazards 28 April global webpages and facebook page • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Global: Pressure grows on global brands
Over 70 labour rights groups and trade unions have signed up to a joint statement calling on global clothing brands that source from Bangladesh to pay into the Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund. They say the money will ensure the survivors and families of victims of the devastating collapse receive the much needed support they need.
Clean Clothes Campaign news release, joint statement and list of signatories. Rana Plaza Donor Trust Fund • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
New Zealand: Workers won't drive asbestos trains
Union members won't be working on 40 new asbestos containing KiwiRail trains until all the deadly material has been removed, rail workers’ union RMTU has said. Some KiwiRail freight services were cancelled after asbestos was found in a paint sample on the China-made trains.
RMTU NZ news release • New Zealand Herald • MSN NZ • TVNZ • Radio NZ • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Qatar: Call for ‘kafala amnesty’ after gas tragedies
Workers injured in a gas leak and a separate deadly gas explosion at a local restaurant in Doha should be given a ‘kafala amnesty’ and the option to change employers or leave the country with their end of service benefits, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has said. The kafala system used in Qatar strips migrant workers of their right to change jobs or leave the country without their employer’s permission.
ITUC news release • Risks 645 • 8 March 2014
Hazards news, 1 March 2014
Britain: Self-employed exemption gets even scarier
The government’s plans to exempt most self-employed workers from safety law is a really bad idea that has just got even worse, the TUC’s head of safety has warned.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
USA: Free pizza after Chevron fracking explosion kills
One hundred residents of a tiny Pennsylvania town where a fracking well exploded into a deadly tower of flame, killing one person and burning for five days, have received an apology in the form of a pizza coupon. Chevron Appalachia Community Outreach sent local residents a certificate that entitles them to a large meal (‘Special Combo Only’) from Bobtown Pizza following the 11 February tragedy.
TUC Touchstone blog • Pittburgh Post Gazette • ABC News • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: ‘Frightening’ list is peppered with deadly omissions
Self-employed workers, some in industries well known for their deadly record, are to be excluded from health and safety law under a draft government plan. A TUC analysis of the three most recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) month fatality reports found most could be in occupations not included in the government’s draft ‘prescribed’ list of self-employed jobs to remain subject to health and safety law.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: Sickness decline disproves ‘sickie culture’ claims
A dramatic decline in the number of days lost to sickness absence explodes the lie that Britain has a ‘sickie culture’, the TUC said. The union body was speaking out after figures released this week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed that the average number of days lost to sickness absence has fallen by almost 40 per cent since 1993.
TUC news release • ONS statistics on sickness absence • The Guardian • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Russia: Pilots locked in dogfight with Aeroflot bosses
Aeroflot pilots are being left out in the cold following a long-standing safety dispute between their union and the management, with three union leaders now threatened with jail. The Equal Times online journal reports that Russia’s biggest airline carrier is under intense pressure from labour rights groups who say the company is putting lives at risk by refusing to listen to the safety concerns of pilots.
Equal Times • Sign up to the LabourStart online campaign to call for the release of Shlyapnikov, Pimoshenko and Knysho • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: Public sector women bear unpaid overtime burden
The number of staff doing unpaid overtime has gone up in the public sector over the last decade, but has held steady in the private sector, according to a new analysis of official figures by the TUC.
TUC news release and Work Your Proper Hours webpage • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Europe: ‘Better lawmaking’ in Europe is much worse
A European Parliament resolution agreed in early February has undermined worker protection and “let us down badly,” the TUC has said. According to TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson: “Of course this has all played right into the hands of Cameron and the anti-regulatory wing of the Commission who are doing his bidding and will make it even more likely that the new Commission, due to be appointed shortly, will also take up the deregulation agenda.”
TUC Strong Unions blog • European Parliament resolution • Find out how your MEP voted • ‘We love red tape’ facebook page • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: Shock drop in construction inspections in Wales
A drop in the number of official safety spot checks on building sites in Wales could lead to workers being put at risk, construction union UCATT has warned. The union was commenting after figures obtained by BBC Wales revealed that inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the last financial year were down 35 per cent.
UCATT news release • BBC News Online • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: ‘Cosmetic’ schools survey to ignore asbestos
A survey of schools in England that will ignore asbestos will leave staff and pupils at risk, unions have warned.
UNISON news release • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: Bullying Bedford Council even worse than anticipated
A stress and harassment survey of GMB members employed at Bedford Council has found the problem to be even worse than originally feared. The survey conducted in December 2013 and January 2014 was undertaken by the union after it received an increase in calls from members claiming they had been bullied and unfairly treated.
GMB news release • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: Injured prison worker wins landmark liability case
A prison catering manager seriously injured when an inmate dropped a 25kg (55lb) sack of food on her has had her compensation bid backed by top judges. Susan Cox's legal union team argued on appeal the prison service was liable for the inmate's actions in the same way that it would be responsible for the negligence of any employee.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • BBC News Online • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: Worker suffered horrific injuries in explosion
A Worcestershire engineering firm has been fined for safety crimes after a worker lost both his legs in a factory blast. Clive Dainty, from Kidderminster, was working at Filtration Service Engineering Ltd (FSE) on 8 December 2011 when a 335-litre vessel exploded as it was being pressure tested.
HSE news release and pressure testing guide • Express and Star • BBC News Online • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: Unite warning on claims management rip off
Unite is taking a professional negligence claim against two high street law firms who failed a former food worker with industrial deafness. The law firms, acting for a claims management company, were engaged after the former Northern Foods employee and Unite retired member responded to a radio ad by a company offering to investigate deafness cases.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: Civil enforcement officer hit by dangerous driver
A civil enforcement officer from Leeds has received compensation after she was hit by a car while on duty. UNISON member Jane Cannan was walking down a road in Otley in West Yorkshire when a Land Rover driver lost control as he parked the vehicle.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: Pilots back helicopter safety plan
Helicopter pilots operating around Britain's shores and represented by the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) have welcomed wide-ranging recommendations made in the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) review of helicopter operations.
BALPA news release • CAA news release • The Scotsman • BBC News Online and related story • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: Bid to reclaim NHS asbestos costs in Scotland
The medical costs of treating people in Scotland who suffer from diseases linked to asbestos could be reclaimed under a new bill. Campaigners have said NHS Scotland spends more than £20m a year diagnosing and treating people from the effects of exposure to asbestos.
Evening Times • Daily Record • Herald Scotland • BBC News Online • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: Attempted citizen’s arrest of blacklist boss
The Blacklist Support Group has attempted to serve a Citizen’s Arrest Warrant on Callum McAlpine, the first ever chair of the covert and illegal blacklister the Consulting Association. The arrest bid on Friday 21 February - the fifth anniversary of the raid on the Consulting Association by the Information Commissioner’s Office - took place at the Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd London offices.
Reel News coverage • Blacklist blog • Morning Star • Construction Enquirer.
Families Against Blacklisting Group, facebook page • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Britain: Suspended jail term after bricklayer is paralysed
A Lincoln builder has been handed a four-month suspended prison sentence after a self-employed bricklayer broke his back in two places in a three metre fall from faulty scaffolding. Robert Wilkin, 70, was left paralysed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair following the incident at a warehouse in North Hykeham on 14 February 2013.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 644 • 1 March 2014
Hazards news, 22 February 2014
Britain: Firms should be sympathetic to flood victims
The TUC is urging employers to be sympathetic to the problems being faced by the thousands of employees affected by flooding.
TUC news release and guide, Health and Safety in the Aftermath of Flooding • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Tanzania: Deaths mine 'had a fantastic year'
At the launch of the African Barrick Gold plc (ABG) 2013 financial results, chief executive officer Brad Gordon said that its North Mara gold mine in Tanzania “had a fantastic year last year.” The company, though, made no mention of the multiple deaths and injuries to local villagers that have occurred over the past year, including four deaths at the mine in the past month alone.
Leigh Day news release • ABG news release • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: TUC warning on fracking dangers
Known dangers of shale gas exploitation and the poorly understood risks of fracking processes mean the industry must be tightly regulated, the TUC has warned. In a submission to an inquiry by the House of Lords select committee on economic affairs it notes “there are very limited data regarding occupational health hazards from exposure to the chemicals, proppants and processes used in high volume hydro-fracking.”
TUC news release and TUC response to House of Lords shale gas/fracking inquiry • The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee inquiry into the Economic Impact of Shale Gas and Oil on UK Energy Policy • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Global: Industrial chemicals are damaging our brains
Industrial chemicals including some common pesticides and solvents may be behind the increasing number of cases of neurodevelopmental disabilities among children, researchers warn. Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Philip Landrigan, Dean for Global Health at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York, concluded voluntary controls are not working, and a precautionary approach should be adopted internationally to stem the “silent epidemic” of neurological and other disorders caused by chemical exposures.
Philippe Grandjean, and Philip J Landrigan. Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity, The Lancet Neurology, volume 13, issue 3, pages 330-338, March 2014, published online ahead of print 14 February 2014 [Summary] • Common Dreams • CNN News • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: PCS calls for end to ‘demeaning work tests’
The government’s ‘demeaning’ fitness for worker tests should be scrapped and Atos, the private contractor conducting them, should be sacked, Jobcentre union PCS has said. Commenting ahead of a 19 February national day of action against Atos called by disability groups, PCS said support to help sick and disabled people find work if they can should be brought back in-house.
PCS news release • Unite news release • DPAC news release • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: Safety probe at Alder Hey construction site
Construction union UCATT has welcomed a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announcement that it is to conduct inspections on the £237m Alder Hey Hospital site in Liverpool. The HSE’s decision to inspect comes a week after UCATT raised safety concerns about the site.
UCATT news release • Liverpool Echo • BBC News Online • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Qatar: We can prevent the World Cup carnage
If the 2022 Qatar World Cup organisers thought they would escape scrutiny by publishing revised Workers’ Safety Standards last week - and misleadingly claiming they had the backing of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) - they were wrong. The Observer reported last Sunday that 400 Nepalis had died in Qatar in the last year, a finding followed up by statistics obtained from the Indian Embassy in Qatar that revealed more than 450 Indian migrants had died in Qatar in the last two years.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • ITUC news release • BWI news release • ILO news release • The Guardian • The Observer • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: Safety cuts ‘calculated on the back of an envelope’
Government cuts to proactive Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections were imposed without an impact assessment and without any investigation of increased risks to workers or the general public, the construction union UCATT has found. Both DWP and HSE said they did not hold the information requested.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Low life, Hazards online report, January 2013 • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: Jack failure led to career-ending facial injury
A welder from Manchester suffered a facial fracture so severe it ended his career and left him on benefits and needing to wear a prosthetic mask when outdoors. The 49-year-old Unite member, whose name has not been released but who has receive a £500,000 payout, was working for the Hulme Group repairing commercial vehicles when a hydraulic jack he was using to hold the metal in place gave way and struck him in the face.
Thompsons news release • Manchester Evening News • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: RMT repeats its opposition to driverless trains
Rail union RMT has said driverless trains will not come to the London Underground. London mayor Boris Johnson has raised repeatedly the prospect of driverless trains, but the RMT general secretary Bob Crow said “it’s not going to happen.” He said driverless trains were unsafe and unsuited to the Victorian rail system.
BBC News Online • London Evening Standard • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: ‘Outrageous’ vessel held over safety concerns
A union ship inspector has criticised conditions onboard a Panamanian-flagged vessel detained in the UK over safety and welfare concerns. Tommy Molloy, who inspects ships for the union Nautilus and global union ITF, said the conditions onboard the livestock carrier Express 1, owned by Sun Light Shipping Co SA, were ‘outrageous’.
Nautilus news release • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: Violence at work isn’t going away
The long term drop in violent incidents at work has stalled over the last four years, latest statistics for England and Wales have confirmed, with violent incidents rising by 1 per cent last year. Findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) confirmed that in 2012/13 the risk of being a victim of actual or threatened violence at work had plateaued, with an estimated 1.4 per cent of working adults the victims of one or more violent incidents at work.
HSE alert • Violence at work: Findings from the 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales • CSEW news release • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain; Tipper driver crushed to death at concrete block plant
Concrete block manufacturer Plasmor (Halton) has been fined £100,000 after a worker was crushed to death when a tipper truck overturned. David Astley, 56, was crushed when a trailer full of limestone dust fell on him at the Widnes plant as it was being emptied on 13 July 2013.
HSE news release and transport webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: Farming firm in court after wetland deaths
A Cambridgeshire farming partnership has been sentenced for a criminal safety offence following the death of a student undertaking pest control work. Trainee gamekeeper Luke Yardy, 17, drowned in a lake at Kingfishers Bridge Wetland in Wicken on 11 September 2011 when he fell from a small boat while trying to retrieve the carcass of a culled goose; his step-brother, Ashley, also drowned while attempting a rescue.
HSE news release • Cambridge News • BBC News Online • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
France: Cancer plan includes workplace prevention push
The French government’s new national cancer prevention plan includes an explicit aim to reduce the toll of occupational cancer through regulation, enforcement and substitution. Objective 12 of the action plan for 2014-2019 is ‘Preventing cancers related to work or the environment.’
President François Hollande’s news release (in French) • Plan Cancer 2014-2019, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, February 2014 (in French) • EU-OSHA news report • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: Engineer and firm fined over crush deaths
A building firm and an engineer have been fined after two workers died when a wall collapsed on them at a building site in Suffolk. Matthew Skeet, 19, and Kevin Ruffles, 57, died at Worlingworth on 21 October 2010. Elliston Steady & Hawes (Building) was fined £45,000 and Barry Potts, 65, fined £15,000 at Ipswich Crown Court.
Suffolk Police news release • East Anglian Daily Times • BBC News Online • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain; Security firm fined for generator death failings
Security company Anchor Services (GB) Limited has been fined for criminal safety failings after a lone working security guard was killed by carbon monoxide fumes from a petrol generator. Arthur Ebirim, 45, was overcome by the killer gas on 28 October 2011 as he kept a night-time watch over a disused nursing home in Taunton Vale, Gravesend, that was awaiting demolition.
HSE news release • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: Cold storage firm done for multiple failings
A Nottinghamshire cold storage firm, Dawson Rental Portable Cold Storage Ltd, has been fined for criminal safety failings after one worker was injured by falling equipment and several others developed a disabling condition of the nerves and joints.
HSE news release and vibration webpages • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Britain: What will you be doing on 28 April?
The TUC webpages for Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April 2014 are now up, ready and waiting to list your planned activities. The TUC 28 April webpage notes: “The TUC believes that we should use the day to highlight the need for strong regulation at national, European and global level.”
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2014 webpages. If you know of any union 28 April events, email details to the TUC health and safety department • Risks 643 • 22 February 2014
Hazards news, 15 February 2014
Britain: ILO investigates UK’s pared back inspection system
The UK government has been asked by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to explain its decision to abandon preventive health and safety inspections in most workplaces. The move follows a complaint from the TUC, which told the global labour standards body the new inspection regime does not comply with ILO standards.
Report of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of International Labour Standards 2014 • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: Government cuts have hobbled the flood response
Communities secretary Eric Pickles has found himself at the centre of a storm entirely of his own making after attempting to blame the Environmental Agency’s (EA) chronically over-stretched, exhausted and rapidly dwindling number of staff for some of the country’s flooding woes. Prospect deputy general secretary Leslie Manasseh said “the people who are working day and night to prevent flooding – our members in the Environment Agency – will see their revenue budgets cut from £275m in 2010 to £226m in 2014/15,” adding: “Who will maintain these defences if the agency's revenue budgets are cut?”
Prospect news release • UNISON news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online and related story • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: UNISON vows to continue the fight for justice
The union UNISON has vowed to appeal after its court challenge to “punitive” employment tribunal fees was rejected by High Court judges. The fees introduced on 29 July last year mean workers can be required to pay up to £1,200 for taking a tribunal complaint about issues including victimisation for workplace safety activities.
UNISON news release • Morning Star • Personnel Today • Irwin Mitchell news release • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: Justice could be denied in Scotland
The Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) has said it is “deeply disappointed” that victims of work-related injury and illness in Scotland are going to be denied a new, more efficient route to redress with proper representation. Commenting on newly announced provisions of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill, STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said:: “Having been initially led to believe that the reforms would allow victims the choice of having their case heard in the new specialist Personal Injury Court, we now understand that for many, possibly the majority, this facility will be denied.”
STUC news release • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: Civil servants irate at unfair appraisal scheme
Britain's most senior tax officials say they have been forced to resort to industrial action over the imposition of new employee appraisals that require one in 10 revenue workers to be designated as underperformers regardless of how good they are at their jobs. Leaders of the senior civil servants union FDA have told the chief executive of HMRC, Lin Homer, they fear their members will be penalised if they do not identify 10 per cent of staff who need improvement.
FDA news release • The Guardian • More on performance appraisal • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: Yorkshire ambulance staff need a break
The union Unite is demanding an independent inquiry by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) into a long-running Yorkshire ambulance dispute over a plan to impose new shift patterns for paramedics and ambulance staff as part of a package of cuts. Unite’s 375 members, who have been involved in a programme of industrial action related to the changes, say the imminent introduction of elongated shift patterns could mean staff are required to work 10 hours without a meal break.
Unite news release • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: College sick pay plan ‘adds insult to injury’
Six unions representing staff in further education (FE) colleges have rejected a new sick pay scheme drawn up by the Association of College (AoC) employers. A joint statement from the unions notes that “after lengthy deliberation and consultation, there is a consensus that the final offer on sick pay is unjustified and unacceptable.”
UNISON news release • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: Betting shop union wants action on lone working
Betting shop workers must not be compelled to work on their own, their union Community has said. Following a parliamentary debate last week on single staffing in bookmakers’ shops, the union called on the industry to engage with the union, government and MPs on the issue.
Community news release • BBC News Online • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: Sick slant is first mistake for the work health service
A new body which aims to get the long-term sick back to work more quickly in England, Wales and Scotland must have its focus on improving health not reducing sickness costs, the TUC has said. The union body was speaking out after the government announced its Health and Work Service, which from April will accept GP referrals of workers absent for over four weeks.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • DWP news release • BBC News Online • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: Is the return-to-work service a healthy move?
More detail is needed on the planned role of the government’s new return-to-work service with worrying questions remaining about how it will treat sick workers, the union UNISON has indicated. The union is urging its members to take advice from their safety reps and stewards if they are likely to be off sick for lengthy periods of time and don't know when they will be fit to return to work.
UNISON news release and guide to managing sickness absence • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: UK ‘worst’ on workforce mental health support
The UK is the worst performing OECD country when it comes to supporting workforce mental health, a new report has found. ‘Mental health and work: The United Kingdom’, published this week by the OECD, says better policies and practices by employers and the health system are needed to help people deal with mental health issues and get back to work.
The Work Foundation news release • OECD new release and report, Mental Health and Work: The United Kingdom • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: ‘Almost all’ cancer from work could be prevented
Experts on workplace dust and chemical control are pressing a message to government, employers, workers and the public that ‘almost all’ occupational cancers can be prevented. Commenting on the 4 February World Cancer Day, BOHS, the Chartered Society for worker health protection, highlighting “the unacceptably high number of deaths due to occupational cancers”.
BOHS news release • TUC occupational cancer briefing • Global unions ‘Zero Cancer’ campaign • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: Lead poisoner escapes jail
The owner of Nottinghamshire firm LDB Light Alloys Ltd has received a suspended jail term after employees Brook Northey, Paul Collins and Martin Bytheway became seriously ill with lead poisoning. Laurence Dennis Brown, 65, was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months for a criminal safety offenceand also fined £45,000 plus £35,000 costs.
HSE news release and lead webpages • Nottingham Post • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: Stained glass firm caused lead poisoning
The owner of a Lincolnshire stained glass firm has been fined after one of his employees, David Doherty, suffered severe lead poisoning. David Sear, sole owner of Lincolnshire Stained Glass, pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 and was fined £18,000 with £18,000 costs.
HSE news release • Lancashire Evening Post • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: Recycling firm fined £100,000 for worker’s death
A Redditch recycling company has been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £57,927 for criminal safety failings after a worker was killed by a bale of waste weighing more than a tonne. Kenneth Swaby, 43, was struck by the falling bale at R&S Recycling Ltd in Beoley on 11 February 2011.
HSE news release and waste industry and falls webpages • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Britain: TUC’s Work Your Proper Hours Day, 28 February 2014
If staff who regularly work unpaid overtime did all their extra hours from the start of the year they wouldn’t get paid until 28 February 2014. This will be this year’s Work Your Proper Hours Day, celebrating the unsung – and unrewarded – hours that staff put in to help their employers and boost the UK economy.
TUC news release and Work Your Proper Hours Day website • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Bangladesh: Fire factory owners surrender
Two owners of the Tazreen garment factory in Bangladesh where 112 workers died in a fire two years ago have turned themselves in to the authorities. Delwar Hossain and his wife Mahmuda Akter face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
BBC News Online • Times Union • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Brazil: Another death at a World Cup stadium site
Workers at a World Cup stadium in Manaus, Brazil, threatened strike action last week, to add weight to their demand for better conditions following a third construction-related death at the Arena da Amazonia - seven workers have died at World Cup venues in Brazil so far.
Globe and Mail • ITV News • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Russia: Sochi snow is tainted with workers’ blood
Russia’s Sochi Winter Olympics have been organised at a deadly cost, global building unions’ federation BWI has said. “There is blood in the snows of Sochi and the impunity of workers’ exploitation has to stop,” BWI said in a statement, adding: “The most expensive Games in history is also the deadliest for building workers.”
BWI news release • TUC Stronger Unions news release • Risks 642 • 15 February 2014
Hazards news, 8 February 2014
Britain: Ineos sacks stressed union rep while he’s at the docs
The union Unite is taking legal action over the “grotesque” treatment of a prominent Ineos union rep fired “on trumped up charges” while he visited his doctor. Mark Lyon, who Unite say is suffering from a serious stress-related illness as a result of his treatment by the company, was dismissed this week after Ineos said he had not stopped the union from commenting over fears of job losses at the Scottish plant.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • The Herald • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: GMB wins care home rest breaks case
A care worker has won a GMB-backed legal case after being denied rest breaks at work. Alan Hood, who has worked for Consett-based Accept Care Limited since 2007, complained that the company failed regularly to provide him with legally required rest breaks. His complaints were upheld at a Newcastle employment tribunal, which found the firm was in breach of the Working Time Regulations.
GMB news release • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Workers still at risk 10 years on from Morecambe Bay
A decade on from the tragedy at Morecambe Bay which saw 23 Chinese workers lose their lives, vulnerable workers are still at risk of abuse, injury and even death at work, the TUC has warned. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Instead of reducing the GLA’s ability to protect workers, the biggest testament the government could pay to what happened at Morecambe Bay would be to extend the reach of the GLA so that rogue employers know that there is no hiding place for those who break the law.”
TUC news release • BBC News Online • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: GLA powers are ‘inadequate’, says Unite
The scope and powers of The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) need to be expanded, Unite has said. The union said undetected abuses by gangmasters were the equivalent of ‘modern day slavery’. It said the fact that only seven gangmasters were convicted for operating without a licence in 2013 prompted the Unite call for more GLA investigations and for prosecutors to get tough with rogue gangmasters.
Unite news release • Early Day Motion by Jim Sheridan MP calling for remit of the authority to be extended to other sectors • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Firefighter deaths caused by organisational failings
The deaths of four firefighters in a 2007 tragedy were the result of a “catalogue of organisational systemic failings” by Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, a report from the union FBU has found. FBU’s investigation found “severe problems” with risk assessment and planning, the quality of information available to the incident commander, the use of breathing apparatus, and with training, particularly for ‘retained’ or part-time firefighters.
FBU news release and report • BBC News Online • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: No cash, no bash call for London buses
Bus drivers’ union Unite has welcomed a Transport for London (TfL) plan to no longer accept cash payment on board buses, but has warned it must also protect drivers from confrontations with irate passengers. London bus drivers will no longer accept cash payment on board their vehicles when the new measures are introduced this summer.
Unite news release • TfL news release • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Safety concern about ‘work experience’ apprenticeship
An officially endorsed construction apprenticeship scheme which has advertised a position that would require the successful candidate to undertake arduous unpaid work experience at height presents serious safety concerns, the union UCATT has warned. The union says its officials were told Evolve Apprenticeships had advertised for an apprentice who would initially have to complete two weeks of unpaid work experience and be required to work at heights and carry and lift heavy loads.
UCATT news release • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: UNISON warns against corner cutting
Contracting out of services must not be allowed to lead to a reduction in safety standards, the union UNISON has said. UNISON head of health and safety Tracey Harding told a conference of health and safety managers in Pontefract, Yorkshire, that “you may be able to contract out the work, but you can't contract out the responsibility,” adding that “keeping services in-house is often best for the safety of service users and workers.”
UNISON news release and Don’t cut corners with health and safety poster • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Knee injury exposed metalworking asthma
A former tool maker has been awarded £33,000 in compensation after he developed occupational asthma from almost two decades of exposure to metalwork fluid mist at a Ford plant in Dagenham. Unite member Ronald Hymans, 60, suffered a knee injury requiring three months off work, during which time his doctor recorded that his breathing improved by a third leading to a diagnosis of occupational asthma.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Another deadly BP cost cutter gets a top government post
A former oil executive criticised for his role in a deadly BP refinery explosion, and whose last company was fined over 50 health and safety violations connected with fracking, has been appointed to lead the government's Major Projects Authority (MPA). John Manzoni will be responsible for overseeing big-budget projects including the HS2 high-speed rail line and the new nuclear programme, and follows his former BP boss Lord Browne into the Cabinet Office, while former BP Alaska chief John Morgan was appointed by David Cameron to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) board – all three have been criticised in reports and court for corner cutting on safety.
Cabinet Office news release • The Guardian • Financial Times •
Safe hands? BP old boys linked to disasters find favour with the PM, Hazards magazine, number 122, April-June 2013 • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Network Rail to pay bonuses despite crossings carnage
Network Rail has said it intends to proceed with retention bonuses totalling £900,000 to three executives despite a High Court judge calling for bonuses to be “severely reduced” because of the company’s devastating failings on level crossing safety. TSSA leader Manuel Cortes, who has been strongly critical of the company ‘gravy train’, accused the firm of “hard hearted cynicism” after outgoing chief exec Sir David Higgins said the bonuses would still be paid this April.
TSSA news release • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: HSE backs NHS staff council’s safety role
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has endorsed workplace health and safety standards put forward by the NHS staff council’s health, safety and wellbeing partnership group (HSWPG). “I am pleased that the HSE has been able to assist in the development of the revised workplace health and safety standards,” HSE chair Judith Hackett said.
UNISON news release • HSE Workplace Health and Safety Standards Group. • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Coastguard stations remain badly understaffed
Coastguard stations across the UK were dangerously understaffed last year, new figures have confirmed. The worst hit areas were staffed below safe levels more than half the time in 2013, data obtained by the broad-based Coastguard SOS campaign group shows.
PCS news release and Coastguard SOS website • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Safety concerns remain after track worker death
Rail staff are scared they will lose their jobs if they speak out about safety, a BBC investigation has found. BBC’s Inside Out programme examined the death of a contract worker who was hit by a train on the track; Scott Dobson, 26, died near Saxilby, Lincolnshire, in December 2012.
BBC News Online • Inside Out, 3 February 2014 • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Firm fined £250,000 over worker fall death
A logistics firm has been fined £250,000 after a worker was killed when he fell through a warehouse roof in Wythenshawe. Michael Sweet, 48, from Stockport, was cleaning out the guttering at Aramex (UK) Ltd on the Ringway Trading Estate near Manchester Airport on 12 December 2011 when he stepped on a fragile panel and fell to the concrete floor below.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Worker died after fall through roof light
Scaffolder Michael Stone, 44, died of his injuries a week after he fell eight metres through a fragile roof light while working on top of a chemical store at a creamery in Cornwall. Dairy Crest Ltd was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 costs and Dartmeet Services, the main contractor, was fined £30,000 with £10,000 costs.
HSE news release and roof lights guide • Construction Enquirer • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Global packaging giant fined for guarding failings
The UK division of a global packaging company has been fined for criminal safety failings after a long-serving worker lost a finger in an unguarded chain on a machine. The 54-year-old from Gosport, who does not want to be named, cut the first finger on his right hand to the bone in the incident at Huhtamaki UK Ltd in Gosport on 4 February 2013.
HSE news release • Portsmouth News • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Britain: Fitting firm fined over brain injury
Bedfordshire fitting company DM Specialist Limited has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker sustained a serious head injury in a preventable fall from a temporary scaffolding platform in Kensington. Stewart Alazia, 51, fractured his skull and left cheekbone, and was left with bleeding to his brain as a result of the incident on 21 December 2011
HSE news release • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Canada: Work-related breast cancer must be compensated
Compensation authorities in Canada should recognise cases of work-related breast cancer and approve payouts to those affected, a top cancer research has said. Michael Gilbertson, who co-authored a 2012 research paper demonstrating greatly elevated cancer risks in a range of occupations from farm work to metal and plastics manufacture (Risks 583), said: “When the precedent is set, it will be dramatic and will likely revolutionise breast cancer activism and the social movements involved in reform of environmental protection and occupational standards.”
Prevent Cancer Now • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Global: UN agencies call for ‘urgent’ cancer prevention
A global cancer research agency has called for “urgent” action to prevent cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organisation (WHO), made the call this week at the launch of its World Cancer Report 2014.
WHO/IARC news release • Stewart BW, Wild CP, editors (2014). World Cancer Report 2014. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer [order details] • BBC News Online • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Thailand: Ministry backs immediate asbestos ban
A ban on asbestos in Thailand could be imminent after the Thai Public Health Ministry (MoPH) last week passed a resolution calling for an immediate prohibition on the use of chrysotile asbestos, the only form of asbestos still legal in the country. Welcoming the government support for an asbestos ban, Thailand Ban Asbestos Network (T-BAN) coordinator Somboon Sreekumdokkae urged politicians and officials to work alongside civil society campaigners.
IBAS news report • Risks 641 • 8 February 2014
Hazards news, 1 February 2014
Britain: Treatment of Jobcentre staff and claimants is ‘intolerable’
Jobcentre workers are facing “intolerable” political pressure including the prospect of disciplinary action if they don’t reduce the number of benefit claimants, their union PCS has said. The union was speaking out after the House of Commons work and pensions select committee urged the government to provide incentives for Jobcentre Plus (JCP) to get people into work, not just off benefits.
Work and Pensions Select Committee news release and report • PCS news release. BBC News Online • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Qatar: The shocking death toll of World Cup migrants
The extent of the risks faced by migrant construction workers building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been laid bare by official documents revealing that 185 Nepalese men died last year alone. The Guardian reports that the 2013 death toll, which is expected to rise as new cases come to light, is likely to spark fresh concern over the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar and increase the pressure on football’s governing body Fifa to force meaningful change.
The Guardian • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Train drivers need not relive rail death horrors
Train drivers traumatised after someone dies under their train must not be compelled to relive the experience in person at an inquest, their union ASLEF has said. In a meeting with the Chief Coroner of England and Wales, Peter Thornton, ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said affected train drivers should be allowed to submit written evidence.
ASLEF news report • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Norway: Oil unions pull out of offshore safety group
Unions representing Norwegian offshore oil rig workers have pulled out of an industry-sponsored safety group amid harsh criticism of cutbacks in safety training. The four unions - Fellesforbundet, Industri Energi, Lederne and SAFE - announced last week they have suspended their membership in the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association's Network for Safety and Emergency Response Training (NSOB), which was established in the wake of the 1980 Alexander Kielland platform disaster in which 123 people died.
UPI News • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: GMB campaign gets smoky classrooms fixed
The union GMB has won an agreement that will see the risks from an academy school’s faulty biomass boiler remedied. According to the union, faulty flues from the boilers at Bexhill High School have caused smoke to enter classrooms, sparking concerns for the health of those teaching and studying at the school.
GMB news release • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Protest at dangerous air traffic control cuts
Staff working in NATS, the UK’s air traffic control provider, protested outside the European Commission’s UK office in London on 30 January over fears that cost-cutting will lead to a drop in air traffic management (ATM) standards, service quality, safety and jobs. The protest was against the Single European Sky (SES 2+) proposals to hive-off support services.
Prospect news release • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: MPs urged to act on offshore helicopter safety
The union Unite has told a committee of MPs that offshore workers want reforms to helicopter safety after a series of serious incidents involving 20 fatalities. The House of Commons’ transport select committee inquiry into helicopter safety took evidence from offshore trade unions and industry bodies in Aberdeen on 27-28 January.
Unite news release • STV News • BBC News Online • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Pilots want better helicopter safety regulation
Britain’s pilots’ union has called for a judicial review to probe helicopter safety problems in the UK sector of the North Sea. Captain Colin Milne, of the helicopter affairs committee of pilots’ union BALPA, told Westminster’s transport select committee the review was needed to examine the amount of control exercised by oil companies on helicopter flights and the role of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in policing offshore safety in the aviation sector.
BALPA news release • Transport Committee news release and inquiry webpage • The Scotsman • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Stronger laws needed to end blacklisting
Blacklisting of workplace safety reps and activists will only be stamped out if stronger laws are introduced, construction union UCATT has said. Steve Murphy, the union’s general secretary, made the call in evidence last week to the Scottish Affairs select committee as part of its ongoing investigation into blacklisting.
UCATT news release • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Concern over increase in shop theft
Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has said he is very concerned by latest official crime survey figures showing a 4 per cent increase in shoplifting, a week after trade group the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed a nine year high in shop thefts.
Usdaw news release • Crime Survey for England and Wales • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Small college trip leads to big pain
A college lecturer who suffered a serious hip injury is a fall at work has received compensation. UCU member Neil Brindley, a college lecturer from Romford, was teaching a class when he stepped on a faulty power supply cover in the floor.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Europe: MEPs criticise inaction on endocrine disruptors
The failure of the European Commission to deliver legislation on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) is alarming, leading members of the Socialists and Democrats grouping (S&D) in the European Parliament have said. An industry lobbying and product defence campaign set out to dissuade the European Commission from acting, and January this year the Commission said it would delay action for a least one year.
S&D group news release • HEAL news release • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Attack on safety to continue says Cameron
David Cameron has confirmed health and safety will remain a major target of his deregulation drive. He told a business event this week that 800 regulations had already been scrapped, as well as “needless” workplace health and safety enforcement.
Prime Minister’s Office news release and David Cameron’s speech • BIS news release • TUC news release • FSB news release and response to David Cameron’s speech • BCC news release • Morning Star • BBC News Online • The Independent • The Guardian • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Campaigners and safety professionals slam plan
Safety campaigners and safety professionals have said the prime minister’s continuing attack on workplace safety protections will make work more dangerous and will not benefit business. Louise Taggart of bereaved relatives group Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) said: “Deregulation and slashing enforcement won’t make workers safer, or protect ordinary people, it’s designed to let corporations and business off the hook.”
IOSH news release • Hazards Campaign news release • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: New guidance on work at heights
New guidance on working at height launched this week by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) forms “part of the government’s long-term economic plan to abolish or improve outdated, burdensome or over-complicated regulations which waste businesses’ time and money,” the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has said.
DWP news release • HSE news release and WAIT toolkit • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: One day, one roof, two falls, one death
Less than seven hours after a worker was seriously injured in a fall from a Stockport industrial unit, a second worker suffered fatal injuries falling from the same roof. The tragedy last week prompted construction union UCATT to warn that workers often lack the confidence to refuse dangerous work.
UCATT news release • Falkirk Herald • Daily Record • Manchester Evening News • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Roofer paralysed in fall from ladder
Liverpool building firm W Carroll & Sons Ltd has been fined £105,000 after a roofer was paralysed when he fell from a ladder in Southport while carrying a bag of building materials. Michael Riley, 50, from Skelmersdale, now has virtually no movement below his neck and will need to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Workers poisoned on Channel Tunnel
A total of 32 workers changing rail tracks inside the Channel Tunnel have suffered suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in two incidents on two consecutive nights. A total of 19 workers out of around 60 working overnight in the tunnel were affected on 26 January and taken to hospital, with one welder who was diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning reported to be in a serious condition, and a further 13 out of 65 workers were affected the following night and taken to hospital.
The Telegraph • BBC News Online • Construction Enquirer • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Fires fall in London but deaths are now rising
A sharp decline in fires in London should not lead to complacency, the firefighters’ union FBU has said, pointing to a recent upturn in the number of fire-related deaths. Paul Embery, FBU London secretary, said the fall in the number of fires was “great news”, but warned “there are still over 100,000 incidents taking place every year, and recent cuts mean that our capacity to respond quickly and effectively has taken a big dent.”
LFB news release • FBU news release • London24 • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Britain: Justice after couple hit by asbestos cancer
Lawyers representing a mum-of-four diagnosed with the same fatal asbestos-related disease that killed her husband say a landmark Court of Appeal ruling granting her full compensation is “a restoration of justice” for asbestos victims. Monica Haxton was awarded £700,000.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • London Evening Standard • Risks 640 • 1 February 2014
Hazards news, 25 January 2014
Britain: Directors must be made accountable
Company directors will pay greater regard to workplace health and safety if there is a prospect they could end up branded safety criminals, the TUC has said. In the latest TUC briefing supporting its 2013 ‘Time for change’ health and safety manifesto, the union body calls for explicit safety duties on directors and notes: “You cannot put a company or local authority in jail if it kills someone.”
TUC Time to Change Health and Safety bulletin – Directors’ Duties [pdf] •
Time for change: A trade union manifesto for reclaiming health and safety at work, TUC, February 2013. Time for change manifesto webpage • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: Derail the Network Rail directors’ gravy train
Massive bonuses for Network Rail’s top bosses should be axed in the wake of level crossing deaths, the union TSSA has said. The rail giant’s director for operations Robin Gisby, finance boss Patrick Butcher and infrastructure head Simon Kirby all receive six-figure salaries and are set to receive a £300,000 bonus top up in April.
TSSA news release • Network Rail news release • Daily Mirror • Morning Star • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: Blacklisting case exposes dangerous loophole
A High Court judge had accepted a UCATT safety rep blacklisted for his safety activities was treated unjustly, but has ruled he has no legal redress because he was an agency employee. Dave Smith, a founder member of the union-backed Blacklist Support Group, was repeatedly dismissed and refused work after his name appeared on The Consulting Association blacklist.
Blacklist blog. CIPD news report •
Smith v Carillion (JM) Ltd & Anor (Contract of Employment : Whether established)  UKEAT 0081_13_1701, 17 January 2014 • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: New concerns about performance management
Civil servants could be unfairly targeted under a new performance management system, the union Prospect has warned. It says the new process could see “line managers under pressure to deliver a forced distribution of performance markings;” adding: “The union fears that if the process is not closely monitored and challenged, it may be used to force managed exits and drive down pay.”
Prospect news release • Hazards performance management guide • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: Unbreakable workers are not the answer
Britain’s civil servants are wilting under the pressure of escalating workloads and the government has an answer – but TUC is far from impressed. The civil service has introduced “resilience training” to help staff cope with the harrowing combination of cutbacks and mounting demands.
TUC critique of resilience in Hazards magazine and facebook safety page • The Guardian • Financial Times • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: BBC slammed for ongoing bullying failures
Workers at the BBC have said they are “disappointed and angry” at the media giant’s failure to abide by recommendations to tackle its bullying culture. A motion from NUJ union reps at the BBC, addressed to director general Tony Hall, was prompted by the corporation’s failure to act on the recommendations of the Dinah Rose review of bullying. NUJ news release • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: Government urged to act on flood dangers
Government reports admit flooding is an increasing problem that is set to get worse, so why are ministers undermining the ability of the emergency services in England and Wales to respond, the leader of the firefighters’ union FBU wants to know. Matt Wrack, writing in the TUC’s Touchstone blog, says the current situation, where there is no duty on the fire and rescue service in England and Wales to respond to major flooding, is “ridiculous.”
Touchstone blog • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Global: Workers bear the brunt of terror attacks
Every terrorist attack is a tragedy for the victims, their families and communities. But Owen Tudor, head of the TUC’s international department, notes “we often lose sight of the fact that many people killed in such attacks are workers going about their daily business.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • IFJ statement • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: Usdaw worried by rising shop thefts and assaults
Soaring rates of theft from shops are leaving workers facing intolerable levels of violence at work, the shopworkers’ union Usdaw has said. The union was commenting after the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) retail crime survey revealed the number of shop thefts had reached a nine-year high, with a trebling of incidents of violence, threats and abuse against retail staff, which included a four-fold increase in assaults on shopworkers.
Usdaw news release • British Retail Consortium Annual Retail Crime Survey • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: Unequal workplaces are bad for your health
Workplaces with big pay gaps between the highest and lowest wage earners not only suffer more industrial disputes and higher staff turnover, they also make their workers sick. A report by the High Pay Centre found on average workplaces where top earners get eight times the pay of junior staff report at least one case a year of work-related illness, whereas workplaces with pay differentials of 5 or less do not report any.
The High Pay Centre news release and full report: The High Cost of High Pay: An analysis of pay inequality, January 2014 • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Global: Many dusts and fumes cause wheezy diseases
A wide range of dust and fume exposures lead to lung disorders including bronchitis and emphysema, a study has found. The literature review funded by the Danish Working Environment Research Fund found that there is strong and consistent evidence that many dusts and fumes are risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Ø Omland and others. Occupational chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic literature review. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, volume 40, number 1, pages 19-35, 2014. OH-world blog • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: Time for HSE to shift on shiftwork dangers
New research showing that night shifts can cause long term damage to health demonstrates the pressing need for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to update its guidance, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the report reinforced concerns about shiftwork’s links to breast cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and obesity, establishing it as a “major occupational health issue.”
SN Archer and others. Mistimed sleep disrupts circadian regulation of the human transcriptome, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi/10.1073/pnas.1316335111, 2014.The Scientist • The Guardian • BBC News Online • TUC facebook safety page • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: New rules have led to harsher penalties
Tougher penalties including more custodial sentences are being handed out to employers who breach criminal health and safety laws following a change in the official approach to prosecutions, according to a government report. It says changes introduced under the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008, which include more cases being heard in the lower courts, have resulted in higher fines and more jail terms. DWP news release and report: Health and Safety Act 2008: Post-legislative scrutiny memorandum 16 January 2014 • IOSH news release • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: Firm ‘will never be forgiven’ for apprentice’s death
A Sunderland-based marine engineering firm has been sentenced for criminal safety failings after a teenage apprentice was crushed and killed by a piece of machinery weighing almost a tonne. Jason Burden, 19, from South Shields, was in his fourth year as an apprentice engineer at Tyne Slipway & Engineering Co Ltd (TSECL) at South Dock when a 970kg tunnel thruster from a ship overturned and landed on top of him.
HSE news release and safe maintenance webpage • Sunderland Echo • Shields Gazette • BBC News Online • Hazards dockwork feature • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: Lorry driver crushed unloading heavy parts
A lorry driver was crushed and killed by heavy graphite parts after being allowed to unload his vehicle in a dangerous manner, a court has heard. Turkish national Ahmet Yakar, 52, was struck by parts weighing up to a quarter-of-a-tonne each in the fatal incident at Morganite Electrical Carbon Ltd in Swansea on 19 July 2011.
HSE news release and vehicle loading factsheet • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: Firm fined after repeat recycling plant blunder
A Devon company has been fined after a worker was seriously injured by a reversing vehicle at a recycling centre in Exeter in a near carbon copy of an earlier incident. Exeter Magistrates’ court heard that Leases Limited hired the telehandler in September 2012, but did not have it fitted with a reversing camera.
HSE news release • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Britain: BBC Watchdog does watchdog’s job
An Oldham roofing firm and a company director have appeared in court after being filmed breaking the law by the BBC’s Watchdog programme. Renov8 (North West) Ltd and Darren Potts were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after footage showed workers on top of house roofs using a pressure washer without any measures to stop them slipping and falling to the ground below.
HSE news release and falls webpage • Construction Enquirer • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Theme announced for Workers’ Memorial Day
The theme for Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April this year will be: 'Protecting workers around the world through strong regulation, enforcement and union rights'. ITUC, the global union body coordinating the event worldwide, says it is also encouraging unions to use the slogan, 'Unions make work safer' on their materials.
For global Workers’ Memorial Day 2014 activities coverage, see the ITUC/Hazards 28 April webpages and facebook page. For UK news, resources and updates, see the TUC 28 April webpages. • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Cambodia: Global brands and unions call for deaths action
International trade union bodies and 30 global brands have joined forces to urge the Cambodian government to investigate the recent use of deadly force against garment workers striking for improved pay. Union bodies IndustriALL, UNI and the ITUC say they are encouraged that brands are taking responsibility for their production and are demanding a change from the Cambodian government.
IndustriALL news release • UNI news release • Joint letter from global unions and global brands to the Cambodian prime minister • Cambodia Daily • The Guardian.
Act Now! Sign up to the Labourstart and union campaign in support of the Cambodian workers • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
China: Shoe factory fire kills at least 16 workers
In the latest devastating workplace fire to hit China, at least 16 workers were killed when a blaze broke out on the afternoon of 14 January at a shoe factory in the eastern coastal city of Wenling, China’s official media has reported. Two of the owners and one manager at Taizhou Dadong Shoes were subsequently taken into custody by the local police pending an investigation into the cause of the fire.
China Labour Bulletin • People’s Daily • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
France: Conflicts of interest scandal hits top agency
The French government should block the appointment of a scientist with undeclared asbestos industry links as the head of the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health (CESP), the country’s leading public health agency, campaigners have said. In a letter to authorities, the National Association of Asbestos Victims (ANDEVA) said the nomination of Paolo Boffetta as head of France’s top institute of epidemiology and public health must be rescinded.
IBAS news report • RightOnCanada news release • Risks 639 • 25 January 2014
Hazards news, 18 January 2014
Britain: Government-ordered review supports HSE’s role…
The TUC and unions have welcomed the recommendations of the Triennial Review into the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which confirms the important role the regulator plays in reducing injury and ill health caused by work. This review, authored by a government-selected business lob by group leader, is the fourth to examine the health and safety system since 2010, following the Young and Loftsedt reports and the “Red tape” challenge.
TUC news release • UNISON news release • Prospect news release.
Health and Safety Executive: 3-yearly review of its future as a non-departmental public body, webpage and full report. Mike Penning, Ministerial statement, 9 January 2014 • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Norway: Landmark win on mercury at work
Health workers exposed to mercury were harmed and should be compensated, Norway’s top court has ruled. Former dental nurse Bertha Regine Serigstad took the union-backed case against her government employer all the way to Norway’s Supreme Court.
PSI news report • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Fact-blind ministers set on ‘commercialising’ HSE
Safety minister Mike Penning is intent on ignoring the fi ndings of the government-commissioned Triennial review, saying the government wants “to go further to introduce reforms of HSE to ensure that it delivers value for money to the taxpayer, whilst ensuring safety for the nation.” Criticising the government announcement, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said its last minute government decision to strap the recruitment process for a new HSE chief executive, after interviews had taken place, suggested the government now intended to “appoint someone who will share their zeal for greater commercialisation.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • UCATT news release • NASUWT news release • Hazards Campaign news release • IER news release • BOHS news release • IOSH news release • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Business for Britain’s plan is ‘unworkable and unjust’
A report from a right wing group claiming to speak for business and calling for the wholesale removal of workplace protections for millions of British workers has been dismissed by the TUC and the business group representing Britain’s manufacturing firms. The report from Business for Britain, led by the founder of the Conservative-linked TaxPayers’ Alliance, says that workers employed by UK companies that don’t export to Europe should have fewer workplace rights.
TUC news release • Business for Britain news release, and report ‘Setting out the British Option’ • EEF news release • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Workers must be consulted on HSE changes
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) union Prospect has welcomed the findings of the Triennial Review of the watchdog commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions and says the government must involve workers on any changes to HSE and heed the review’s warnings about the dangers of the 'fee for intervention' model.
Prospect news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Cleaners treated like ‘third-class’ workers
Cleaners are facing a corrosive mix of workplace hazards, poor employment conditions and disrespect from their colleagues, their union UNISON has said. A UNISON focus group involving NHS cleaners also found the EU working time directive is used to deny cleaners their breaks and identified poor health and safety practices, especially where dangerous chemicals are concerned.
UNISON news release • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Union concern over unsafe breakdown vehicles
Unsafe AA breakdown vehicles are being kept in service, a union has charged, and is demanding road and workplace safety regulators intervene. GMB, the union for AA roadside and recovery staff, has written to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) asking them to intervene.
GMB news release • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Jail term for online abuser of a reporter
Journalists’ union NUJ has pledged to continue its campaign against bullying of journalists after an online troll was jailed. The union was speaking out following the sentencing of a football supporter for sending a threatening communication to a journalist Angela Haggerty.
NUJ news release • The NUJ guidance for journalists who are victims of online sexism, cyber bullying and online , briefing on online sexism, cyber bullying and online abuse and information on NUJ bullying policies • Press Gazette • Herald Scotland • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Disappointment for shopworkers on the frontline
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has said it is disappointed that the government “turned its back” on hundreds of thousands of workers assaulted in the course of their duties every year. Usdaw general secretary John Hannett was commenting on 14 January after the government blocked a Lords amendment to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill which would have introduced a specific offence of assaulting a worker serving the public.
Usdaw news release • Debate on the protection of workers amendment: Lords Hansard, 14 January 2014, 6.51pm, column 165 • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Floor slip polished off career for prison officer
A former prison officer from Sunderland had to give up work after he fell on a polished floor while attending an alarm call. Prison Officers’ Association (POA) member David Hunter suffered multiple injuries including a scaphoid injury to his left hand, a tear to the rotator cuff in his left shoulder and bruising to his ribs.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Injury cost gardener his job
A gardener couldn’t return to work for three years and eventually had to leave his job after suffering devastating injuries caused by a faulty lorry tailgate. The 52-year-old Unite member from Bristol, whose name has not been released, suffered neck and shoulder injuries and required three operations and physiotherapy over a period of two years to repair nerve damage to his spine.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Union News • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: ‘Immoral’ mesothelioma bill faces more flak
The union GMB has added its voice to widespread criticism of a government bill to compensate victims of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma when no responsible insurer can be found. The union criticised an “attempt by the Department for Work and Pensions to put a positive spin” on the “positively immoral” shortcomings of the Mesothelioma Bill. GMB news release • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Widow calls for end to betting shop lone working
The widow of a man murdered behind a betting shop counter has called for an end to lone working in the industry, echoing calls from the Labour Party and the union Community. Betting shop manager Andrew Iacovou, 55, lay bleeding to death for 90 minutes behind the counter at Ladbrokes, in Morden, south London, as oblivious gamers continued to use slot machines.
The Standard • Community news release • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Government urged to support bereaved workers
Bereaved people are being ‘failed’ by the lack of support they get at work, a charity has said. The National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) report, produced in partnership with the Dying Matters Coalition, calls on the government to look into the “feasibility” of statutory leave from work after a loved one dies.
NCPC news release and full report, Life after death • Dying Matters news release • UCATT news release • Personnel Today • BBC News Online • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Cuts fears prompt BMA occupational health action
The British Medical Association (BMA) is seeking assurances over the future of occupational health services for GPs and their staff amid reports they are about to be cut. Doctors leaders have written to the Department of Health requesting confirmation of the continuing provision of support for GPs and NHS staff suffering from stress and burnout.
BMA news release • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: English Heritage gets a ticking off
English Heritage has accepted a Crown Censure for criminal safety failings that led to a 12-year-old boy being badly cut when a glass floor panel broke during a family visit to Yarmouth castle on the Isle of Wight. The panel, which had been in place for many years and walked on by thousands of people over that time, splintered into shards and the boy suffered severe lacerations to his left leg from the jagged glass.
HSE news release • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Developer fined following platform collapse
Prominent London developer St George South London Ltd has been sentenced for criminal safety management failings after a worker was seriously injured when a temporary platform collapsed at a landmark site in south London. Noel Doyle, 32, suffered a shattered right elbow, broken vertebrae, fractured pelvis and ribs, and damage to internal organs in the incident at St George Wharf in Vauxhall on 10 February 2009.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Steel giant prosecuted after worker’s injury
Steel multinational Tata Steel has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker sustained serious injuries to his hand at the company’s works in Llanelli, South Wales. Llanelli Magistrates heard the man, an employee for 34 years, was working on a production line at the Tata site in Trostre on 6 December 2012 when his left hand became trapped in a pair of steel pinch rolls.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages • BBC News Online • ITV News • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Britain: Plastics worker severed fingers in saw
Birmingham plastics firm Kalsi Plastics (UK) Ltd has been fined after an employee had four fingers severed in a circular saw. An official investigation found although some workers knew about a problem with the machine, workers were not represented in safety meetings so this information was not known to management.
HSE news release • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Cambodia: Stop government violence against workers
Unions worldwide have called for an end to the violent suppression of union protests in Cambodia in which at least five workers have been killed, with many others injured or detained. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady wrote a letter of protest to the Cambodian ambassador as part of a global campaign co-ordinated by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), protesting at the violent repression of a strike by textile workers seeking a living wage.
Act Now! Sign up to the Labourstart and union campaign in support of the Cambodian workers • ITUC news release • Industriall news release • TUC news release • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Global: Sweden’s Winter Olympics set rights record
The Swedish Trade Union Confederation, LO-Sweden, has signed an historic cooperation agreement with the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK) which stipulates respect for labour rights as a basis for the Swedish bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. The agreement covering the 2022 Stockholm Olympic Games includes groundbreaking sustainability, economic, social and ethical benchmarks.
ITUC news release and letter to IOC President Bach • TUC Stronger Unions blog • Equal Times • Risks 638 • 18 January 2014
Hazards news, 11 January 2014
Britain: Government blocks justice for mesothelioma victims
Eight years ago the TUC proposed a no-fault fund of last resort for people who were injured or who developed any disease through work but where their employer had not got insurance, or the insurer could not be traced. Now a coalition government bill, which had been criticised by asbestos disease advocacy groups and unions for is every limited scope – it only compensates one asbestos cancer, mesothelioma - and reduced payouts, had its final stage in the Commons.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Northern Echo • Western Morning News • Huddersfield Examiner • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Government cuts heighten flood dangers
Cuts to essential Environment Agency (EA) jobs will dramatically reduce the country’s ability to respond to floods and other extreme weather emergencies, unions have said. The warning, coming as large stretches of the country remained flood affected, has received support from MPs.
UNISON news release • Prospect news release • PCS news release • GMB news release • The Guardian • The BBC • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Floods highlight peril facing lifesaving services
The impact of cuts to essential Environment Agency flood prevention services will be amplified as crucial emergency and coastguard services are also dramatically pared back, unions have warned.
PCS news release • FBU news release • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: George Osborne wants your pension
The Chancellor’s December 2013 budget delivered a crumb of safety comfort but accompanied it with some devastating news for your prospects of ever living to see your pension. It is the government’s plans for a staged increase in the state pension age to 70, which would mean the average Glaswegian man might expect to be able to claim it for just over a year.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Autumn Statement 2013 • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: New call for a public inquiry on copter safety
Transport and offshore union RMT is stepping up its campaign for a public inquiry into helicopter safety after a series of incidents this year. The union said there is increasing public and political support for an inquiry, covering onshore as well as the North Sea offshore industry.
RMT news release • The Herald • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Thousands back offshore helicopter safety reform
Over 3,000 offshore workers have called on Oil & Gas UK (O&GUK) bosses to urgently act to improve the safety of helicopter transfers to and from North Sea installations. Unite representatives submitted a petition to O&GUK on 20 December 2013, backing the demands of the union’s ‘Back Home Safe’ campaign which calls for improvements to offshore helicopter design, survival contingencies and training and for the implementation all previous recommendations made by authorities to maximise the safety of workers.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Rail union criticises official line on sewage dumping
The government is continuing to play down the risks posed by raw sewage dumped by trains onto rail tracks. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “There is no point in the government politely requesting that the private train companies desist, they are the one’s profiting out of this scandal by allowing it to continue in the full knowledge that it is both dangerous and disgusting.”
Written answer from the transport secretary, 7 January 2014 • RMT news release. Express and Echo • BBC News Online • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Unite telephone hotline for blacklisted workers
Unite has set-up a special ‘hotline’ for blacklisted workers. The union “is urging those that receive the shock revelations not to fall for employer attempts to lock them into a compensation scheme called The Workers Compensation Scheme, which is not yet ready, has not been agreed by the unions, and any compensation could fall far short of what the victims could otherwise get through union representation.”
Unite hotline and EDF Energy news releases • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: More disappointment on deregulation
Bodies representing unions and safety professionals have expressed their “disappointment” at the failure of a government committee to rein in dangerous measures in the draft Deregulation Bill, including exemption of the self-employed and a ‘growth duty’ on regulators including the Health and Safety Executive.
Joint Committee on the Draft Deregulation Bill news release • TUC health and safety facebook page • IOSH news release • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Government has too much time for zero hours
The government is “desperately short” of answers to the growth of zero hours contracts in Britain, the TUC has said. The union body was speaking out after the government’s announcement last month of a consultation on changes to zero hours contracts.
TUC news release • BIS news release and Zero hours employment contracts: consultation • UNISON news release • GMB news release • UCU news release • IoD news release • BCC news release • BBC News Online • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: New warning on doctors’ hours
Doctors in Scotland are suffering “stress and burnout” as growing NHS workloads take their toll, medical leaders have warned. Brian Keighley, chair of the British Medical Association in Scotland, said the NHS was struggling to deal with the pressures of an ageing population, Westminster-led funding cuts and rising expectations from patients which include a shift towards a seven-day-working week in hospitals.
The Scotsman • The Herald • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: HSE removes ‘good practice’ from dust rules
The Health and Safety Executive has “weakened” its approach to hazardous substances at work with potentially deadly consequences, a top occupational health expert has warned. Dr John Cherrie of the Institute of Occupational Medicine said he had urged HSE to make improvements to dust controls as part of a consultation on the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations, but “unfortunately HSE ignored this advice and in fact weakened the criteria.”
OH-world.org blog • HSE COSHH publication alert and full document: The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. Approved Code of Practice and guidance (sixth edition) • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: HSE adds a print version of its managing safety guide
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a hard copy version of its popular and recently revised safety management guide for larger organisations. The move follows a request from unions, who told HSE there was a role for both online and print versions of the guide.
Managing for health and safety, revised HSG65, free online or in print format from HSE publications • Plan, Do, Check, Act: An introduction to managing for health and safety, HSE leaflet, INDG275(rev1) • HSE Managing for health and safety microsite • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Farming company fined for forklift death
Lincolnshire Field Products Ltd has been ordered to pay more than £200,000 in fines and costs after a farm manager was killed when he was hit by a forklift truck. Peter Barney, 58, was walking from his car across the yard at Middle Farm in Moulton Seas End when he was struck on 31 October 2010.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages • Lincolnshire Echo • ITV News • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Forestry worker killed in the danger zone
The Buccleuch Estates Limited has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker died during tree felling operations at Bogrie Wood near Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries. Ross Findlay, aged 49, who had learning difficulties, was struck in the head and body by a 36 metre tall tree.
HSE news release and chainsaw safety guide • BBC News Online • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Foundry fined over cellar fumes death
Sheffield Forgemasters has been ordered to pay £245,000 in fines and costs for criminal safety failings that led to an employee dying of carbon dioxide poisoning. Labourer Brian Wilkins, 48, was found unconscious at the South Yorkshire foundry after a confined underground area swiftly flooded with carbon dioxide fire-extinguishing mist.
HSE news release and confined spaces webpages • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Tesco shelf stacker loses toes in faulty lift
A Tesco worker suffered the “nightmare” of having a third of his right foot amputated after a lift accident that saw the supermarket giant fined more than £100,000 for criminal safety failures. Mohammad Ferdous, 32, was unloading cages of goods from the faulty lift in the basement of the Tesco Metro in Victoria, London, when it suddenly descended and trapped his foot.
BBC News Online • London Evening Standard • The Telegraph • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Britain: Some Hazards are worth having
The latest issue of the union backed workers’ health magazine Hazards is out now. Features include a forensic examination of the government’s business-driven multi-pronged attack on health and safety rights at work and the knock-on problems for the Health and Safety Executive. There’s also an overview of the highly effective union and grassroots campaign against blacklisting, which has seen guilty employers and ministers frantically backtracking.
Destroy safety!, Hazards special online report, December 2013 • Hazards, which is heavily discounted for union reps, relies on subscription income to keep up its award-winning campaign work – make sure you get your copy • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Australia: Unions warn asbestos inaction is ‘a killer’
Unions in Australia have expressed alarm at continuing asbestos imports 10 years after an official ban was introduced. National union federation ACTU was speaking out after it was revealed locomotives and car parts containing asbestos but certified as asbestos-free had entered the country from China.
ACTU news release • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Bangladesh: Factory bosses charged over fire deaths
Thirteen people, including the two factory owners, have been charged over the Tazreen garment factory fire in Bangladesh in November 2012 that killed more than 100 people. Police announced in December 2013 they had charged Delwar Hossain and his wife, Mahmuda Akther, as well as security guards and managers, over the Dhaka blaze.
New York Times • TUC Stronger Unions blog • BBC News Online. The Guardian.
Bangladesh Accord • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Global: UN cancer agency ‘captured’ by industry
A high profile United Nations cancer agency has been ‘captured’ by industry and compromised, new reports suggest. They reveal that two Russian scientists who have acted for Russia’s asbestos lobby around the world are helping fashion the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) policy and publications on asbestos and a paper on asbestos cancer risks with three prominent IARC authors was co-authored by Paolo Boffetta, an ex-IARC staffer who had also acted for the asbestos industry. RightOnCanada • Hazards magazine • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
USA: Injury risk increases with multiple jobs
People who hold down more than one job not only experience an increased risk of injury at work, but when they’re not at work as well, according to a new study. The research, published in the January 2014 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, found that multiple job holders had a “significantly” higher injury rate per 100 workers for work- and non work-related injuries when compared to single job holders.
The Pump Handle. Helen R Marucci-Wellman, Joanna L Willetts, Tin-Chi Lin, Melanye J Brennan, and Santosh K Verma. Work in Multiple Jobs and the Risk of Injury in the US Working Population, American Journal of Public Health, volume 104, number 1, pages 134-142, January 2014 [abstract] • Risks 637 • 11 January 2014
Hazards news, 14 December 2013
Britain: Government safety policy dismissed as ‘drivel’
Ministers are misusing an official government website to push the Conservative’s party political anti-workplace safety line, the TUC has charged. The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) safety policy webpages “set out their policy on health and safety”, notes TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, but he adds the content “is clear, concise and simple and is also absolute drivel.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • DWP safety policy • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Government says you must work until you drop
The later retirement date announced by the Chancellor in last week’s Autumn statement might be of little significance to the wealthy, but it could see many others receive little or nothing of their state pension entitlement, the TUC has warned. The union body was commenting on the plans announced in the Commons by George Osborne to push back the state pension age to 68 by the mid-2030s, with further increases after that.
Autumn Statement 2013 • TUC news release and state pension divide research • BBC News Online • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Unions slam state pension push back
Unions have said expecting people to carry on longer in arduous work before they qualify for a state pension will be bad news for workers and services. The Autumn statement also includes a further £84m cut to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the government ministry responsible for the Health and Safety Executive’s budget.
UNISON news release • UCATT news release • PCS news release • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Union issues guidelines for drivers on extreme weather
Transport union Unite has issued “crucial” guidance to drivers as record tides and strong winds battered the country and severely disrupted road and rail travel. The union, which represents 75,000 road transport workers, said the three simple recommendations are aimed at drivers who feel they are at genuine risk as a result of extreme weather across the UK.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Storms show need to protect emergency services
As firefighters and other emergency service workers helped rescue those trapped by last week’s storms, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said the emergency demonstrated the need for an immediate end to cuts in the fire and rescue service. Speaking in the wake of the 5 December storms, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said it was “a travesty that many of the crews, fire stations and special appliances involved in last night’s rescues are under threat from government expenditure cuts.”
FBU news release • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Lessons of rail tragedy could be ignored
Rail union RMT has called for “constant vigilance” on safety 25 years after the Clapham Junction disaster left 35 people dead and hundreds injured. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “The tragedy is an eternal warning of what happens when staff are suffering fatigue and are operating within a culture of excessive hours and impossible demands,” adding: “25 years on from Clapham , RMT is issuing a renewed call for an end to the casualisation and zero hours contracts culture which is being rolled out across the railways by stealth and where fatigue, and a lack of clear management control, is once again being flagged up as a major issue by our members.”
RMT news release • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Injury exposes back-breaking library work risks
A library assistant who suffered a manual handling injury while working for Flintshire County Council developed permanent back problems that mean she can no longer work. The 54-year-old UNISON member from Wales was instructed by council managers to help move 80,000 books from one area of the library to another over four months in 2008 and 2009.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Leg injured after firm left a hole in the floor
UNISON member Karen Dowling, a senior support worker with Leicester Housing Association, has received compensation after suffered a serious leg injury when she fell through a hole in the floor. The association had taken up up a board but not replaced it.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: School workers to complete asbestos survey
The public sector union UNISON is asking its safety reps and stewards in the schools sector to complete a short joint union survey on the management of asbestos. The union says this will form a vital part of the evidence to be presented by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee to the Department for Education's (DfE) review of its policy on asbestos.
UNISON news release • Joint Union Asbestos Committee survey on asbestos in schools • UNISON information sheet on asbestos • UNISON steps up campaign against asbestos in schools • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: HSE falls 1,000 short on diesel cancer deaths
Almost 5 per cent of lung cancer deaths in the United States and the United Kingdom may be due to workplace exposure to diesel exhaust, according to a new study. The study’s findings suggest official Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates of occupational lung cancer deaths in the UK caused by diesel exhaust exposures could fall more than 1,000 short of the true toll.
Roel Vermeulen, Debra T Silverman, Eric Garshick, Jelle Vlaanderen, Lützen Portengen, and Kyle Steenland. Exposure-Response Estimates for Diesel Engine Exhaust and Lung Cancer Mortality Based on Data from Three Occupational Cohorts, Environmental Health Perspectives, published online 22 November 2013. ETUI news update. HSE occupational lung cancer estimates • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Asbestos scheme is not good enough
Lawyers for people suffering from an always fatal asbestos cancer have said a new compensation scheme is not good enough. The criticism came as the government published details of a scheme it says will award over £350 million over 10 years to around 3,000 mesothelioma victims across the UK who have been prevented from claiming compensation because they cannot trace a liable employer or an employers’ liability insurer.
DWP news release • Irwin Mitchell news release • Pannone Solicitors news release • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Pressure to review hours of junior doctors
Scottish health secretary Alex Neil has come under pressure to review junior doctors' working hours following the tragic case of Dr Lauren Connelly, who died driving home after a hospital night shift. Her father, Brian Connelly, believes she was fatigued after six weeks of extremely long hours and wants an overhaul of the system and has received support from opposition politicians.
Herald Scotland and earlier article • Daily Record • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Illegal violent gangmaster jailed for seven years
Lithuanian national Audrius Morkunas, who operated as an unlicensed gangmaster and terrorised and exploited migrant workers, has been jailed for seven years. Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) chief executive Paul Broadbent said: “I take great satisfaction from the fact that these workers are now free from his aggression and exploitation and that our investigation has resulted in a substantial custodial sentence.”
GLA news release • BBC News Online • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Glue firm fined after worker is impaled on forklift
A global adhesives giant has been fined after a worker died when he was pinned against a forklift truck by a reversing lorry. Andrew Davies, 43, died following the incident in the transport yard at Mapei UK Limited in Halesowen on 1 July 2010.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages • BBC News Online • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Director’s fish tank crushed worker
A 200kg fish tank being built at a lorry trailer manufacturing firm for one of its directors toppled over, leading to a worker suffering severe injuries. Alloy Bodies Ltd was convicted of criminal safety failings after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found “the highly unusual activity” had not been planned, supervised or carried out safely.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: Tractor sales firm fined for worker’s injuries
An agricultural vehicle sales company has been fined after an employee received multiple skull fractures in a fall at work. Jacob Wingett, 28, was fitting a number plate to the top of a tractor cab on 1 May 2012 when he lost his balance and fell about a metre to the ground, causing serious injuries.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Britain: New HSE publications on dangerous substances
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated key publications on the control of dangerous substances at work. Both the COSHH and DSEAR documents are available free online, or can be purchased in print versions.
COSHH publication alert and full document: The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. Approved Code of Practice and guidance (sixth edition).
DSEAR publication alert and full document: Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002. Approved Code of Practice and guidance (second edition) • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Europe: Do nothing Commission lets workers suffer
The European Commission (EC) appears willing to talk about the harm caused by work, but it’s wholly committed to doing nothing about it, the UK union body TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson warned “it does not matter what the evidence says, or how much research is done, this Commission, like this [UK] government, intends to continue to allow millions of people to have their health, and lives, ruined because of preventable illnesses caused by their work.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
New Zealand: Hold ‘corporates’ to account for deaths
New Zealand workers who are killed on the job deserve justice, not excuses, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) has said. “Nine forestry workers have died this year,” said Bill Newson, EPMU national secretary, adding: “If the companies they worked for caused their deaths through shoddy practices, they will never be held to account, just as Pike River Coal wasn’t.”
EPMU news release • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
USA: Property before safety led to firefighter deaths
An investigation has found forestry officials knowingly put protection of property ahead of safety as a fire swept across parts of Arizona in June, causing the deaths of 19 firefighters. The ruling by the state Industrial Commission came after its investigative agency, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH), released its findings and recommended citations and financial penalties.
Arizona Republic • San Francisco Chronicle • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
USA: Safety watchdog acts to protect whistleblowers
US workers who have been victimised - or fear they will be - for reporting unsafe conditions to their employers can now go to a new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) whistleblower site to file complaints. OSHA director Dr David Michaels explained: “The ability of workers to speak out and exercise their rights without fear of retaliation provides the backbone for some of American workers’ most essential protections.”
OSHA news release, OSHA online whistleblower complaint form and whistleblowers webpage • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 635 • 14 December 2013
Hazards news, 7 December 2013
Europe: Europe gets the ‘Cameron disease’
The UK government is exporting its assault on health and safety laws to Europe, the TUC has warned. Commenting in the TUC’s Stronger Unions blog, Hugh Robertson wrote: “ “Everything that was in the pipeline to do with safety at work has been blocked, including proposed directives on musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and carcinogens, which are two of the biggest health issues in Europe… This is despite strong evidence of the need for new regulation from their own officials and advisers.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Murder verdict highlights betting industry risks
The conviction of a man for murdering a betting shop worker shows the need for better protection of workers in the sector, the union Community has said. Father-of-three Andrew Iacovou, who was working alone, lay dead behind the counter of the branch of Ladbrokes he managed for over an hour before being found by a customer.
Community news release • Sutton Guardian • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Call for ban on ‘proxy’ purchases of cigs
The leader of the shopworkers’ union has welcomed calls by Labour MP Luciana Berger for a ban on adults buying cigarettes for kids, but has said there must be greater protection for shopworkers who have to police laws on age-restricted sales. While buying alcohol for children is illegal, purchasing tobacco products is not.
Usdaw news release • Yorkshire Post • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Unite breakthrough on clergy employment rights
A church rector who had to give up his job as the result of occupational stress after a campaign of harassment by parishioners has won a union-backed legal case on employment rights. Worcestershire rector Rev Mark Sharpe, who suffered routine intimidation from 2005 to 2009, won an employment appeal tribunal, which his union Unite says will have big implications for the way that the Church of England (CoE) treats its clergy.
Unite news release • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: New helicopter concerns after Glasgow tragedy
Ongoing inquiries into helicopter safety should also consider the circumstances of the tragedy in Glasgow, pilots’ union BALPA has said. Nine people died – all three helicopter occupants and six pub customers - when a police Eurocopter EC135 helicopter crashed into the roof of the Clutha pub it the city on 2 December.
BALPA news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Arts and media unions want a bullying code
An industry-wide anti-bullying code for media, arts and entertainments organisations is needed, the unions for the sector have said. The call came as a report revealed the creative industries are a hotspot for bullying. The Federation of Entertainments Unions’ (FEU) survey of more than 4,000 people found “shocking” levels of ill-treatment and inappropriate behaviour and a culture of silence, with only a third of those suffering bullying and harassment reporting the incidents.
NUJ news release • FEU report • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Ship union calls for action on abandoned crew
A UK union has urged Panama to meet its responsibilities for the crew of a vessel abandoned in Tyne Port. Tommy Molloy, a ship inspector with Nautilus and the global transport union federation ITF, said the 18 seafarers on board the Panamanian-registered bulk carrier Donald Duckling have been stranded, unpaid and relying on handouts of food since the ‘Mickey Mouse’ ship was detained by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency on 12 November.
Nautilus news release • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Four UK firms hold out on garment safety deal
Public sector union UNISON is calling for one more push to get the remaining UK high street brands to sign up to the union-brokered Bangladeshi factory accord. Last month, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which also trades as Peacocks, became the 115th company to respond to union and public pressure and sign up to the Bangladesh fire and building safety accord.
UNISON news release • Send a letter to Bank, Bench, Mexx and Republic now!
Bangladesh Accord • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Global: Safety committees work on union power
Management-worker joint health and safety committees (JHSC) are only effective where “empowerment mechanisms” ensure workers have a real voice, a study has concluded. The review, which considered 31 studies from Canada, the US, Australia and the UK and included input “from various sectors and perspectives including government, employers, and unions”, found unions not only improved the effectiveness of committees, they appeared to promote the introduction of legislation that also led to improvements in safety performance.
Yassi A, Lockhart K, Sykes M, Buck B, Stime B, and Spiegel JM. Effectiveness of joint health and safety committees: A realist review. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, volume 56, number 4, pages 424-438, 2013 • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Union alarm as NHS assaults increase
Official statistics show there has been another rise in the number of physical assaults against NHS staff. The new figures from NHS Protect show the total number of reported assaults rose by 5.8 per cent, from 59,744 in 2011/12 to 63,199 in 2012/13; the number of criminal sanctions following reported assaults was also up, from 1,257 to 1,458 – a rise of 15.9 per cent.
NHS Protect news release • UNISON news release • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Actor was badly injured in on-stage duel
An award-winning actor who was blinded in one eye in a stage duel has won “substantial” damages in a union-backed claim. Equity member David Birrell, 47, took legal action after a blank-firing revolver he was using at London’s Donmar Warehouse misfired and he lost the sight in his right eye.
Equity news release • London Evening Standard • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Blacklisting claims held up in the courts
An application to roll all four High Court blacklisting cases into one ‘super case’ has been postponed by a judge until April 2014. The court’s senior master Steven Whitaker suggested that the two newest cases - which were launched by UCATT and Unite in November – are not sufficiently advanced and ruled that he would make the GLO next April.
Building • GMB news release • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Reptile friendly Crossrail squirrels away injury shame
Europe’s biggest construction project is proving a bigger hit with rodents and reptiles than humans, with accident rates on the site increasing throughout the year. The Squirrelled away on page 41 of the Crossrail Sustainability Report and not mentioned in the news release was a less flattering statistic: “As the quantity and complexity of construction activities has increased, our accident frequency rate (AFR) has risen higher than expected. This increasing trend is not acceptable to us.”
Crossrail news release and Sustainability Report • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Port worker falls to his death at coal terminal
A 38-year-old port worker has fallen to his death at a coal terminal at Port of Hunterston in Scotland. HSE, which is liaising with Police Scotland, controversially dropped docks from most preventive inspections over two years ago.
STV News • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Joinery director fined for criminal failings
A London joinery firm and a company director have been fined for multiple criminal safety breaches, including ignoring an official Health and Safety Executive (HSE) call for deadly risks to be remedied. Sunbeam Wood Works Ltd was fined £24,000 plus £1,460 in costs and company director Stephen Morrison was fined £8,000.
HSE news release • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: Acid fountain sees chemical firm in court
An international chemical company has been prosecuted after three workers suffered acid burns when pipework at its plant near Southampton ruptured, sending a jet of sulphuric acid 20 metres into the air. Polimeri Europa UK Ltd, part of one of Europe’s largest chemical companies, Versalis, was fined £120,000 plus £18,023 costs after admitting two criminal safety offences.
HSE news release and chemicals webpages • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Brazil: World Cup firm was warned before deaths
The latest deaths during Brazil’s World Cup 2014 preparations came after the firm running a stadium construction site had been warned about the dangers. Two construction workers died on 27 November in the Corinthians Stadium in Sao Paulo after a crane collapsed.
BWI news release • The Spec • Fox Sports • Yahoo News • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Qatar: No progress on World Cup labour conditions
On the eve of the third anniversary of Qatar winning its controversial bid to host the 2022 World Cup, an international trade union delegation to the gulf state has found no improvement in the living and working conditions of migrant workers. Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), said governments, human rights organisations and FIFA have all called for fundamental workers’ rights and an end to the country’s Kafala system, which can mean poor migrant workers are effectively captives in the country.
ITUC news release • TUC Stronger Unions blog • GMB news release.
Re-run the Vote • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
India: Asbestos pushers told to push off
The government of India must introduce an immediate ban on asbestos, health professionals and campaigners have said. The Occupational and Environmental Health Network of India (OEHNI) coordinated the international response to an asbestos industry promotional drive in the country that has seen imports of chrysotile asbestos nearly double in six years, with a company event pushing the deadly product in New Delhi this week.
OEHNI news release and 2 December letter to Indian government ministers • IBAS report • RightOnCanada report • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Italy: Migrants die in Chinese-run factory fire
At least seven people died and three were injured when a clothing factory in an industrial zone in the Italian town of Prato burned down on 1 December, trapping workers in an improvised dormitory built on the site. Local media said 11 workers had been accommodated in small cardboard sleeping compartments above a warehouse.
The Guardian • Huffington Post • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Hazards news, 16 November 2013
Britain: Unite demands access to site after death
A major construction firm had refused the union Unite access to a London construction site where a worker died, denying workers essential safety support. On 6 November labourer Richard Laco, 31, died when a concrete stairwell fell on him at the Laing O'Rourke construction site for the new Francis Crick Institute near Kings Cross.
Unite news release • London Evening Standard • Construction Enquirer • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Workers target blacklister Laing O’Rourke
Protesters targeted a Liverpool building project run by Laing O'Rourke on 9 November following a tragic death on one of the construction giant’s London projects. Members of the union-backed Blacklist Support Group (BSG) said they were outraged at the company’s refusal to allow the union access to its projects, including the site of the Francis Crick Institute in London where the death occurred.
Unite Politics – take action on blacklisting • UCATT news release • BWI news release • Sky News • Morning Star • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: TUC Blacklisting Day of Action, 20 November
The TUC is organising a national day of action on 20 November calling on blacklisting firms to “own up, pay up and clean up”. The 'Cheesegrater' building under construction in central London, another Laing O'Rourke site, is among those in the capital to be targeted. Unions want a Leveson-style inquiry into the scandal.
TUC Blacklisting Day of Action, 20 November, webpages • Events listing for the TUC Day of Action on Blacklisting • 16 November 2013
Britain: New tactics see directors face doorstep protests
Unite is championing new ‘leverage’ techniques to get companies to take safety and other union concerns more seriously. The methods, which include demonstrations outside the homes and offices of company directors, were used to startling effect in the recent Crossrail blacklisting dispute says the union.
Unite organising webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: London mayor ignores site safety call
London mayor Boris Johnson has ignored union calls for action to address a sharp rise in site deaths in the capital. “The Mayor’s refusal to even acknowledge our legitimate safety concerns demonstrates a complete lack of leadership or a concern for the safety of London construction workers,” UCATT’s Jerry Swain said, adding there is clear evidence that sites are safer where workers are directly employed rather than self-employed. UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Retail staff attack violence on the High Street
Retail union Usdaw has taken its campaign against violence to shopworkers to the streets. The union’s ‘Respect for Shopworkers Week’ ran from 11-15 November under the slogan 'abuse is not a part of a shopworker’s job'.
Usdaw news release • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Attacks may force health workers to quit the NHS
Cutbacks and violence at work have led many healthcare workers to consider leaving the NHS, a UNISON survey of 2,000 healthcare assistants has revealed. The union found cuts in staffing levels and insufficient training, coupled with continuing reports of violence against staff, were behind the collapse of morale.
UNISON news release • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Sellafield leg amputee worker awarded settlement
A Unite member has been awarded a seven figure cash settlement after an incident at a nuclear plant in Cumbria led to part of his leg being amputated. Mechanical fitter Kenneth Brown, from Workington, was employed by a contractor at the Sellafield site when he was hit by a cherry picker in May 2011.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Tug owner fined £1.7m over Clyde deaths
Svitzer Marine, the owner of a tug boat that sank in the River Clyde killing three crew members, has been fined £1.7m. Stephen Humphreys, 33, Eric Blackley, 57, and Robert Cameron, 65, died when the Flying Phantom capsized in thick fog opposite Clydebank College in West Dunbartonshire on 19 December 2007.
BBC News Online • The Herald • Scottish Daily Record • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Government has inflated the fit for work figures
The government inflated estimates of people on a disability benefit subsequently found to be ‘fit for work’, a Labour MP has said. Work and pensions select committee member Sheila Gilmore MP said the admission she obtained from employment minister Esther McVey suggests “that rather than trying to fix the test to reduce the number of incorrect decisions, ministers’ priority is to fix the figures to downplay the extent of the problem.” Sheila Gilmore MP news release and letter to the minister • Response from employment minister Esther McVey • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Childhood asbestos exposure blamed for cancer
A 61-year-old Wigan woman diagnosed with a deadly asbestos cancer decades after being exposed to the dust has successfully recovered over £70,000 compensation from the Turner & Newall Asbestos Trust. The woman, who lived only 500 yards from the Turner Brothers asbestos factory in Hindley Green as a child in the 1950s and 60s, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-related cancer, in the autumn of 2012.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Wigan Evening Post • June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Suspected benzene cancer victim seeks justice
A former fitter who has been diagnosed with cancer is appealing for former colleagues to come forward to help with an investigation into the dangerous chemicals he was exposed to at work. Michael Fernay, 65, who believes he was exposed to benzene at British Glue & Chemicals, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a cancer of the blood cells linked to the chemical, during March this year.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release. Anyone with useful information to support the compensation case should email Katrina London or call her at Irwin Mitchell on 0161 838 7262 • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Garment tragedies prompt ethical 'Kitemark' proposal
MPs are calling for a study into the possibility of an ethical "kitemark" for garments to help raise standards at overseas factories in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. The all-party parliamentary group for Bangladesh said there was a high chance of another tragic event like Rana Plaza, where more than 1,100 people died, or the Tazreen fire, which killed more than 100.
IndustriALL news release • The Guardian • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Road firm in court after motorcyclist is paralysed
Road maintenance firm Carillion AM Government Ltd has been fined for serious criminal failings after a motorcyclist suffered devastating injuries and was left paralysed in a collision with traffic signs. Glynn Turner, 47, was riding his motorcycle south on the A12 on the evening of 7 June 2010 when he collided with the traffic signs at a road closure at the junction with the B1121, near Benhall, Saxmundham.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Sweep injured in fall from chimney
A Clackmannanshire firm has been fined for criminal safety failings after a chimney sweep fell from the chimney stack of a two storey house in Falkirk. Dylan Skelhorn, 32, was employed by D Henderson Chimney Specialists and Roofers Limited when the incident occurred on 20 June 2011.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Building worker suffers fractured skull and ribs
HACS Construction Ltd has admitted its criminal safety failings led to one of its employees suffering a fractured skull and eight broken ribs in a four-metre fall. The 50 year-old construction worker, from Masham, was using a saw to cut through steel sheets of a mezzanine floor when he started to unbalance.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
USA: New safety guidance on nano work
The US government’s workplace safety research arm has issued new recommendations on controlling worker exposures to engineered nanomaterials during their manufacture and industrial use. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommendations are based on technologies now applied in the industries using nanomaterials, and on control methods it says have been shown to be effective in reducing occupational exposures in other industries.
NIOSH news release and nanotech webpages • Current Strategies for Engineering Controls in Nanomaterial Production and Downstream Handling Processes, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2014-102, November 2013 • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Australia: Workers are becoming more stressed
Workplace stress is on the rise in Australia, according to a new survey, with three in four workers saying it is affecting their health. More than 1,500 people took part in the survey commissioned by the Australian Psychological Society (APS).
APS news release • Sydney Morning Herald • ABC News • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Australia: Unions want action on workplace violence
Up to one in four people will suffer violence in Australian workplaces during the course of their career, with the direct cost running to millions of dollars a year. Figures compiled by the national union federation ACTU show more than 2,000 serious injury workers' compensation claims were lodged as a result of being assaulted at work in 2010/11, costing an average of Aus$6,400 (£3,744) each and requiring three weeks off work. Sydney Morning Herald • The Age • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Global: Meet Walmart’s worst nightmare
Kalpona Akter, fired and then jailed after trying to unionise her sweatshop as a teenager, is now a key leader in the Bangladesh labour movement. Over the past year, Akter - now executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity - has salvaged and exposed garments manufactured for US brands from the site of a deadly factory fire and challenged Walmart from the floor of its shareholder meeting.
Salon.com • Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
USA: OSHA to go public on injury performance
The US government’s safety watchdog has announced plans to make publicly available the safety records of large firms. A proposed rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) follows the Bureau of Labor Statistics' release of its annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report, which estimates that three million workers were injured on the job in 2012.
OSHA news release • Worcester Telegram • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Hazards news, 9 November 2013
Britain: Unite launches safety campaign for offshore workers
Unite has launched a ‘Back Home Safe’ campaign calling for immediate improvements to the safety of offshore flights. Since August’s Super Puma helicopter crash off Shetland, which claimed four lives, the union has conducted an extensive consultation with offshore workers on the safety of offshore flights and found widespread concern.
Unite news release and Back Home Safe campaign on Facebook and Twitter @BackHomeSafe • BBC News Online • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
USA: Scandal leads to shutdown of lung disease ‘denial’ clinic
Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, a top US occupational medicine unit, has suspended its black lung programme after a media investigation found it was systematically denying sick coal miners were suffering the debilitating occupational lung disease. The Center for Public Integrity and ABC News investigation revealed how medical opinions from doctors at the prestigious hospital have helped coal companies thwart efforts by ailing mine workers to receive disability benefits.
CPI news release • Johns Hopkins Medicine statement • AFL-CIO Now • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Blacklisting compensation scheme a ‘travesty’
The industry-proposed compensation scheme for victims of blacklisting is a blatant attempt to gag affected workers, the union UCATT has said. It added the scheme in its current form “would represent a complete travesty of justice,” while a Blacklist Support Group spokesperson said: “We will settle for offers of employment, full compensation and a public inquiry into this squalid conspiracy.”
UCATT news release • Blacklist blog • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • Express and Star • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Pizza giant ‘broke safety rules 647 times’
A food factory prosecuted last month after a workplace amputation broke the Working Time Regulations several hundred times in a three month period, an investigation by the union GMB has found. The union probe followed multinational Bakkavor’s prosecution for criminal safety breaches discovered after a worker lost the tip of a finger in an unguarded machine at its Harrow pizza factory.
GMB news release • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: RMT warns of impact of £1.7bn rail cuts
Rail union RMT has warned that £1.7 billion of cuts to Network Rail budgets from 2014, announced by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) on 31 October, will mean further savage cuts to jobs and maintenance. The union said the cuts, which it said were “dressed up as ‘efficiency savings’,” would compromise safety and reliability.
RMT news release • ORR news release • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: GMB to probe Bedford Council ‘bullying’
A confidential survey by the union GMB is to investigate bullying and unfair treatment of Bedford Borough Council employees. The union thinks a marked upturn in calls from concerned members may be linked to a restructuring exercise.
GMB news release • Bedfordshire on Sunday • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: ASLEF supports member after tram derails
A tram driver suffered injuries to her left shoulder and ribs after a bus crashed into the side of her tram. Alison Dungate, a member of the train drivers’ union ASLEF, was driving over a busy intersection in Croydon in September 2008 when a bus drove into the front left-hand side of the tram with such force the tram was derailed.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Low returns from HSE fees scheme
A system of charges introduced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to make companies guilty of ‘material breaches’ of safety law pay for the watchdog’s investigation costs, may be causing significant problems without generating the expected income. The cash strapped agency had hoped the Fees for Intervention (FFI) system which came into effect on 1 October 2012 would help fill a large hole in its budgets caused by government funding cuts.
Construction Enquirer • Personnel Today • SHP Online • Thick and fast, Hazards magazine, Number 122, 2013 • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: HSE ‘glibly under-states’ work death toll
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “glibly under-states and under-estimates the scale of the killing” at work, a top academic has charged. Steve Tombs, professor of criminology at the Open University, said HSE statistics released under ‘an all time low’ headline on 31 October are “underestimation and, frankly, misrepresentation.”
Crime and Justice blog • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Companies pay for crane plunge horror
A father of four left paralysed for life after he was ejected from a 200ft-high crane cab is to receive a multimillion pound compensation payout. Iain Gillham was flung into the air when the crane he was operating collapsed onto a luxury apartment block in Liverpool in 2009.
Daily Mirror • Construction Enquirer • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Widow gains justice over teacher’s asbestos death
The widow of a teacher who died from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos during 26 years working at an Eastbourne school has spoken of her relief after securing justice from the local council. Clive Beck, who was head of history at Ratton School between 1972 and 1998, died aged 71 in April 2009, around 18 months after he was diagnosed with the incurable cancer.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • ITV News • SecEd • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Whistleblowers expose asbestos removal dangers
A botched council asbestos removal job only came to light after workers spotted the dangerous work method and reported it. North Warwickshire Borough Council and a Birmingham decorating firm were fined after workers were exposed to potentially-deadly asbestos fibres.
HSE news release • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Car salvage firm fined over mechanic’s severe burns
A car mechanic suffered severe burns when the inspection pit he was standing in burst into flames. CCTV footage of the incident shows Lee Roberts, 33, running out as fire from a van engulfs the pit at Douglas Valley Breakers Ltd’s workshop on 22 July 2010.
HSE news release and fire and explosion webpages • Video footage of the fireball incident • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Fall firm knew the job was unsafe
A London building firm has been fined after a labourer suffered multiple leg fractures in a fall when a newly-built first floor collapsed under the weight of concrete blocks weighing 1.6 tonnes. The 48 year-old casual labourer fell three metres to the ground at the Cosmos Builders 88 site in Tottenham on 14 September 2012, with the concrete blocks falling around him. HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Wrong equipment snag severed hand
A Norfolk worker was seriously injured when his hand and arm were pulled into a polishing lathe. Gavin Nobes, 41, from Dereham, almost lost his left hand in the incident at Marshall Brass in Heckingham on 27 February 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Timber firm fined after hand is guillotined
A Lancaster timber firm has been fined for criminal safety breaches after a guillotine severed the hand of one of its employees. Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at the Old Railway Yard in Middleton, near Carnforth, on 3 June 2010.
HSE news release and woodworking webpages • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Tree work cost school janitor his toe
Fife Council has been fined for criminal safety failings after a school janitor was injured while undertaking chainsaw work. Craig Davies, a council employee for more than 20 years, lost his toe while cutting back the branches of a tree that had blown down in high winds.
HSE news release and chainsaw webpages • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Australia: Roads are the most dangerous workplace
The risk of death to people working in Australia’s road freight sector has almost doubled in one year, while truck driving remains the most dangerous job. Safe Work Australia’s report on work-related fatalities in 2012 shows the fatality rate in road freight transport jumped from 14.68 per 100,000 workers in 2011 to 29.09 per 100,000 last year.
Fully Loaded • Safe Work Australia news release • TWU Safe Rates campaign • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Canada: Unions fight for safety protections
As unions in Canada press for proper enforcement of the workplace manslaughter law, the federal government is trying to remove long-established union safety rights. The United Steelworkers (USW) has launching a national campaign to lobby provincial and federal governments for greater enforcement of the Westray Act, nine years after the union successfully lobbied for passage of the historic workplace manslaughter legislation. USW news release and Stop the Killing website • Unifor news release • OHS Canada • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Global: Crunch time on World Cup labour abuses
FIFA president Sepp Blatter should give a detailed report to his executive committee meeting in Brazil next month about what FIFA has done to address World Cup-related labour abuses in Qatar, the global union confederation ITUC has said. ITUC estimates 4,000 workers could die building facilities for FIFA’s flagship event unless football’s governing body demands improvements.
ITUC news release and ‘Re-run the vote’ campaign • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Hazards news, 2 November 2013
Britain: TUC questions HSE’s low injuries claim
The TUC has warned that apparently conflicting evidence in the Health and Safety Executive’s new workplace injury statistics raise worrying questions about the safety watchdog’s claim that injuries are now at “an all time low.” TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said lost time figures cast doubt on HSE’s best ever claims, noting “the statistics show that the number of days lost through workplace injury is up from 4.3 million to 5.2 million, which implies that the number of people injured is actually going up.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • HSE news release and statistics webpages • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
USA: OSHA advises firms on safer chemicals move
The US government’s safety watchdog OSHA is encouraging a shift to safer chemicals at work. Launching a new online guide, ‘Transitioning to safer chemicals: a toolkit for employers and workers’, OSHA said: “Establishing a chemical management system that goes beyond simply complying with OSHA standards and strives to reduce or eliminate chemical hazards at the source through informed substitution best protects workers.”
OSHA news release and online resource, Transitioning to safer chemicals: a toolkit for employers and workers • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Mixed picture on site deaths
Regional variations in the fatality trends in construction demonstrate how the fight for safer sites is far from won, according to the union UCATT. Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: “The reduction in deaths is primarily due to falling workloads and the industry working in a more sensible manner, rather than any significant improvement in safety.”
UCATT news release • HSE construction statistics webpage • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Global: Better work works for business
Making work better across the board – improving health and safety, increasing wages and reducing hours – is a productive ‘bundle’ that works for smaller firms, International Labour Organisation (ILO) research has concluded. The review also found evidence of a cause and effect, suggesting that better management practices lead to improved business outcomes rather than vice versa.
Can better working conditions improve the performance of SMEs?: An international literature review. Richard Croucher, Bianca Stumbitz, Michael Quinlan and Ian Vickers, ILO, October 2013 • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Public services hurt by spending cuts and violence
A 'toxic cocktail' of spending cuts and violence against public service workers has resulted in another increase in violent incidents across Scottish councils and NHS Scotland. Public sector union UNISON said its survey showed 33,689 incidents were reported to public service employers last year - almost 14,000 more than when the first survey was first conducted in 2006.
UNISON news release • UNISON Scotland Survey of Violence at Work 2012 •
Morning Star • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Germany: Workplace health ‘gender gap’ exposed
A ‘gender gap’ in health and safety at work has been identified in Germany. The initial analysis of a 2012 survey found women more often than men suffer a wide range of work-related complaints. The survey was conducted by the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB) in cooperation with the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA).
ETUI news report • TUC women and health and safety webpages • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Schools asbestos protections could be cut
Unions have called on the government to give ‘cast iron assurances’ that budget cuts will not undermine the strategy to address asbestos risks in schools. Fears that an influential steering group set up to manage and monitor the impact of asbestos in schools is to be disbanded, has led to widespread anger and concern by unions who form the joint union asbestos campaign (JUAC).
NUT news release • UNISON news release • The Guardian • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Food giant Bakkavor fingered in serial amputations
The union GMB has called for immediate action to address safety problems and speed up at the food giant Bakkavor, after another worker suffered an amputation. The union was speaking out after the international food manufacturer, which had UK sales of over £1.4 billion in 2012, was fined £20,000 last week for criminal safety offences that saw GMB member Sushila Patel, 58, lose the tip of a finger in an unguarded pizza dough-proving machine.
GMB news release • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: CWU welcomes tougher dangerous dog sentences
Postal workers’ union CWU has welcomed a government announcement that it will introduce new laws in England and Wales raising the maximum jail sentence for the owner of a dog that kills someone from two to 14 years. Five years will be the maximum sentence for a dog attack that injures someone.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign • BBC News Online • The Independent • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Northern Rail maintenance failures led to injury
A rail conductor left with a permanent back injury caused by improperly maintained equipment has received a £20,000 compensation settlement from his employer, Northern Rail. RMT member Andrew Madden from Pontefract ended up undergoing emergency surgery to his back and having a metal pin inserted in his wrist and being off work for 10 months.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Care home worker was badly burned
A care home worker with the now defunct Southern Cross company suffered severe burns while working at one of its Bristol care homes. The 67-year-old, whose name has not been released, has been left with scarring and sensitivity after burning her hand at a care home in the Nailsea area while preparing meals for the 60 elderly residents in 2011.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Safety ‘to do’ list didn’t get done
A Unite member was left with permanent damage to his wrist after a known safety problem went unresolved by global manufacturing company NSK Bearings. The 42-year-old production operative, whose name has not been released, fell heavily and fractured his wrist after his tripped over a fence post - investigation by Unite, which pursued a compensation claim on behalf of their injured member, found that removing the fence post had been on NSK Bearing’s ‘health and safety to do list’.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Submarine base workers exposed to radiation
Two nuclear submarine bases in Scotland and England have suffered 11 significant safety incidents in the last five years, including human exposure to radiation, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed. In the incidents, radioactive waste was spilled, workers were exposed to radiation, power supplies were lost, safety valves wrongly operated and a bag of waste was mistakenly dropped overboard.
Herald Scotland • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Jewson fined for selling duff hard hats
Jewson Limited has been fined £14,000 for supplying imported hard hats that failed to meet safety standards despite being marked as approved. The helmets stated “complies with: EN397” and had been imported from China by the company.
Northamptonshire County Council news release • Northampton Chronicle • Construction Enquirer • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Dad paralysed in fuel tank fireball
A Lancashire firm that manufactures airport fuel tanks has been fined for criminal safety failings after a father-of-three suffered horrific injuries in an explosion. Fuel Proof Ltd employee Karol Robaczewski was cleaning the inside of a 20,000 litre fuel tank, known as a bowser, when he was engulfed by a fireball that caused severe burns and left him almost completely paralysed.
HSE news release and fire and explosions webpages • BBC News Online • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Cardboard firm mangled worker’s arm
A corrugated cardboard manufacturer has been fined after an employee’s arm was dragged into unguarded machinery at a factory in Ellesmere Port. Prowell Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at the company’s plant on 18 April 2012.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Severed fingers after safeguards were disabled
An Oldham-based tissue manufacturer has been fined for safety failings after an employee lost the tops of two fingers in machinery. Rose Tissues Ltd, which processes and prints kitchen roll and toilet paper, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident on 17 May 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Firm fined after conveyor pulls off arm
A recycling company has been fined for criminal safety failings because an agency worker lost his arm after it was trapped between a roller and the belt of a moving conveyor. Domingos da Conceicao Freitas, 28, had to have his dominant right arm amputated following the incident at MSK Waste Management and Recycling Ltd in Barking, London, on 17 August 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Another recycling firm, another lost arm
An experienced worker had his right forearm pulled off by a conveyor belt as he was trying to clean it, a court has heard. Stephen John, 57, was working for Neath Port Talbot Recycling Ltd in Swansea when the incident happened on 11 May 2011.
HSE news release and machinery webpages • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
France: Public service deal on psychosocial risks
The French government, eight trade unions and representatives of public employers signed a framework agreement on 22 October on the prevention of psychosocial risks in the public service. The agreement requires each public employer to draw up a “psychosocial risk assessment and prevention plan” by 2015.
ETUI news report • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Hazards news, 26 October 2013
Britain: Call for ‘zero tolerance’ of sexual harassment
Employers must adopt a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment, the TUC has said. The union body was speaking out after research published by employment law firm Slater & Gordon found that six in ten working women have had a male colleague behave ‘inappropriately’ towards them.
TUC news release • Slater & Gordon news release • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Tube incident should kill driverless trains plan
An incident where a Tube train driver averted a possible tragedy when the doors opened on a packed commuter train highlights why a shift to driverless trains should be rejected outright, the rail union RMT has said. The Tube union has demanded a full investigation after the doors opened between stations on a packed Piccadilly Line train heading towards Heathrow on Sunday afternoon.
RMT news release • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: More shoplifting means shopworkers need protection
As latest figures show shoplifting is on the rise, the government must not be complacent about the problems of violence, threats and abuse against retail workers, their union Usdaw has said. Usdaw general secretary John Hannett was speaking out after the government blocked a Labour amendment to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, which would have introduced a specific offence of assaulting a worker serving the public.
Usdaw news release •Risks 628• 26 October 2013
Britain: ‘Dangerous’ prison service is at ‘breaking point’
A growing prison population combined with prison closures and staff and budget reductions is leaving the service dangerous and “at breaking point”, prison officers’ union POA has warned.
POA news release • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Union urges action on police links to blacklist
The union GMB has said it intends to go to the courts next week to lift the lid on alleged police involvement in the construction blacklist scandal. GMB want the Home Office to be forced to supply information about officers who gave workers’ details to a firm compiling the secret list.
GMB news release • The Mirror • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: ICO admits it has proof of another blacklist
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed it holds documents relating to another blacklist in the construction industry. The confirmation came in a letter from ICO deputy commissioner David Smith to Ian Davidson MP, chair of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting.
Blacklist blog • UCATT news release • People Management • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: UK Coal fined over miner’s death
UK Coal has been sentenced after admitting a number of serious criminal safety failings that led to the death of miner Gerry Gibson when 15 tonnes of rock forming a section of roof collapsed as a powered roof support was being used. The company, now in administration, was fined £200,000.
HSE news release and explosion news release • ITV News report • Yorkshire Evening Post • The Press • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Nearly half sites had criminal safety failings
A month long spot check campaign of construction sites by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed major safety failings are commonplace. The inspectors found that on 1,105 sites (42 per cent) basic safety standards were not being met and on 644 sites (25 per cent) safety was so poor enforcement action was required to protect the safety of workers.
UCATT news release • HSE news release • Safer sites webpages and ‘Turning Concern into Action’ film featuring the testimony of construction site victims • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: ‘Dickensian’ conditions on Preston site
A construction firm has been prosecuted after it allowed subcontractors to carry out refurbishment work on a Grade 2 listed building in Preston for nearly seven weeks without toilets or running water. Altrincham-based RNT Developments and Construction Ltd brought in roofers, damp treatment experts, electricians, joiners and plasters to work on the nineteenth century Harris Institute – a former dance academy – on the outskirts of the city but it failed to provide basic facilities for workers.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Company boss fined after mechanic’s death
The owner of a Leicestershire transport company has been fined for criminal safety failings after a mechanic was killed during a jacking operation. Mark Wintersgill, 25, was attempting to jack up the axle of a double decker HGV trailer at PPR Transport Services in Lutterworth on 25 June 2012 when the jack separated from the axle and struck him. HSE news release • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Poorly controlled tools cost young dad his job
A young father of four who developed a painful and debilitating nerve condition through prolonged, unrestricted use of vibrating power tools is now unable to work as a result. Andrew Wood, 35, from Heathfield, East Sussex is likely to suffer chronic pain in both hands for the rest of his life as a result of his work for CJ Gowing and Son Ltd between July 2010 and March 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Two injured in demolition blunder
A South Wales demolition firm has been landed with a six figure bill after two of its workers were injured when a mezzanine floor collapsed on them. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Wrexham Demolition and Dismantling Ltd following the incident which took place on 9 September 2008.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Suspended sentence for recycling firm boss
A Corby recycling firm has been fined and its director given a suspended jail sentence for endangering workers. BB Recycling allowed staff to operate forklift trucks without proper training and then ignoring an official Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforcement notice requiring urgent action to address the safety failing.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Painful lessons not learnt at fruit company
An Essex-based firm has been fined for repeated safety failings following three separate incidents in which workers were injured after becoming trapped in machinery. Two agency workers and an employee, who was a maintenance engineer, were all working for fruit importer and distributor Winfresh (UK) Ltd at its processing plant in Essex.
HSE news release and machinery safety webpages • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Packaging firm in court for guard failings
A packaging firm has been fined after a worker severed the tip of a finger on a machine where a safety guard had been deliberately disabled. The nesting machine, which makes food packaging cartons, had been running with a tampered interlock for at least five months prior to the incident at Alexir Packaging Limited, in Edenbridge, Kent, on 9 September 2011.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Food giant’s neglect led to woman’s injury
An international food manufacturer with UK sales of over £1.4 billion in 2012 has been fined £20,000 after a production worker lost the tip of a finger in an unguarded dough-proving machine. Sushila Patel, 58, had the top of a middle finger sliced off when she was tasked with picking up dough balls being discarded from a faulty machine at the Bakkavor Foods Ltd pizza factory in Harrow.
HSE news release • Bakkavor factsheet • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Bangladesh: Some hope six months after factory collapse
Six months after the deadly factory collapse, a group of survivors of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh say they have been encouraged by the success of the union-brokered Accord on Fire and Building Safety, but have called on global brands to provide overdue compensation. In a visit to the site of the tragedy, in which 1,129 workers lost their lives, representatives from IndustriALL and UNI, the two global unions that drove the accord, spoke to survivors and explained the series of new commitments, to which over 100 global brands have now signed.
IndustriALL news release • Clean Clothes Campaign news release and report • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Korea: Samsung cancer caused by work
A former Samsung worker was a victim of occupational cancer caused by exposures at the electronics giant, a court has ruled. The Seoul administrative court ordered the official compensation agency KCOMWEL to pay industrial disease compensation to the family of Kim Kyung-mi, a former Samsung Electronics Co Ltd employee who died in 2009.
Stop Samsung campaign • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
USA: Firefighters face raised cancer risks
Firefighters are at increased risk of several cancers, including respiratory, digestive and urinary tumours, a US study has found. Researchers from the US government’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) looked at a combined population of nearly 30,000 firefighters employed in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco between 1950 and 2009 and found they had higher rates of several types of cancers, and of all cancers combined, than the US population as a whole.
NIOSH news release. Robert D Daniels and others. Mortality and cancer incidence in a pooled cohort of US firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia (1950–2009), Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Published Online First 14 October 2013 [abstract] • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
USA: A double victim of a weak dust standard
Lax official dust exposure standards not only left a US worker sick, they cost him his compensation too. The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that furnace operator Randy Torris was properly denied the payouts because the company was compliant with dust standards enforced by the official workplace safety watchdog OSHA.
West Virginia Record • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Hazards news, 19 October 2013
Britain: Top Tory calls for gangmaster clampdown
David Cameron should listen to Conservatives in the capital and extend protection from abusive gangmasters to workers in hospitality and construction, site union UCATT has said. The union was speaking out after Andrew Boff, the leader of the Conservative group on the London Assembly, published a report supporting an extended role for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA).
UCATT news release • Greater London Authority news release and full report, Shadow City – Exposing human trafficking in everyday London • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: ‘Grave concerns’ over stand-in fire staff
East Sussex firefighters have expressed “grave concerns” over breathing apparatus training for stand-in staff scheduled to work during planned strike action. Worries about poorly trained staff being required to don breathing apparatus emerged during earlier strike action.
FBU news release •Risks 627• 19 October 2013
Britain: Ambulance strike warning over sick pay cuts
The ambulance service in England could face strike action unless dramatic sick pay cuts for staff are reversed, the union GMB has warned. The union’s Central Executive Council (CEC) authorised an official strike ballot, noting the decision moves the ambulance service a step closer to a national dispute.
GMB news release • Risks 627• 19 October 2013
Britain: UCATT welcomes reform of site skills scheme
Construction union UCATT has welcomed plans to amend an abused site skills scheme. From July 2014, the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) is to reform its green card so people applying for or renewing the entry level green (labourers) card will be required to complete a level 1 vocational qualification in health and safety.
UCATT news release and background information • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: AMEC ‘should apologise’ over blacklisting
The union GMB has condemned construction giant AMEC's failure to apologise for its involvement in an illegal blacklisting scandal. It says AMEC should join Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci, who apologised for their involvement with the blacklist and announced the creation of The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme.
GMB news release • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Cross-party support for union blacklisting campaign
A Conservative MP has backed the union campaign against blacklisting and supported calls for compensation for affected workers and a bar on public sector contracts for blacklisting firms. Stephen McPartland, the MP for Stevenage, told the House of Commons on 16 October that he and the Labour MP for Luton North, Kelvin Hopkins, will shortly contact the 44 firms that paid to access the blacklist held by The Consulting Association.
Blacklisting debate, Hansard coverage for 16 October 2013 • The Observer • Morning Star • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Business leaders deliver deregulation ‘whine-fest’
A Business Taskforce created by the prime minister to examine the impact on business of Europe regulations has delivered the expected ‘whine-fest’, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on the publication of ‘Cut EU red tape: report from the Business Taskforce’, produced by a group of six business leaders hand-picked by David Cameron.
Stronger Unions blog • BIS/Prime Minister’s Office news release • Cut EU red tape: report from the Business Taskforce • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: 'Red tape' deregulation call is ‘wrong’
The government-commissioned report by business leaders on ‘EU red tape’ is wrong to label health and safety as a threat to small firms, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the Hazards Campaign have said. The ‘Cut EU red tape’ document highlighted what it described as the ‘30 worst threats to small firms’, with written risk assessments topping the list.
IOSH news release • Hazards Campaign news release • ‘We love red tape’ facebook page • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: McVey loses safety brief after concerns are raised
The new employment minister Esther McVey has been stripped of health and safety responsibilities after it emerged she had been the director of a demolition firm linked to criminal safety breaches. McVey, who was switched on 9 October from disabilities minister to employment minister, was a director of her father’s firm JG McVey & Co Ltd from February 2003 to March 2006.
DWP news release and webpages on the responsibilities of ministers Mike Penning and Esther McVey • DWP safety webpage • EHN Online • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Call for a preventive cancer action plan
A coalition of environmental and safety groups and unions says the government and the cancer establishment must introduce a new and comprehensive ‘Cancer Action Plan’ if they are to address needless deaths from occupational and environmental cancers. The Alliance for Cancer Prevention’s report says existing strategies are “grossly outdated.”
Alliance for Cancer Prevention news release and background document • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Employers not doing enough to address stress
Stressed workers are suffering in silence and employers aren’t doing enough to tackle stress, according to new figures from Mind. The mental health charity’s survey of over 2,000 workers found 45 per cent of those polled said that staff are expected to cope without mentioning stress at work and almost a third (31 per cent) said that they would not be able to talk openly to their line manager if they felt stressed.
Mind news release • UNISON ‘Cut stress, not jobs’ campaign resources • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Worker crushed to death on dry dock
A ship repair worker was crushed to death when an anchor weighing almost three tonnes toppled onto him in a dry dock at Teesport. Kevin Watson, 51, was one of three men working for ship repair and conversion company A&P Tees Ltd on a sand dredger in the dry dock when the incident happened on 11 February 2009.
HSE news release • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Bulldozer driver was crushed to death
A Surrey company has been fined for criminal safety failings after a contractor was crushed to death at the London Gateway Port construction site in Essex. Robert Noel Mayne, known as Noel, from Tichfield in Hampshire, died as he and colleagues tried to retrieve a bulldozer that was bogged down in mud at the Stanford-le-Hope development on 23 April 2011.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Three guilty in trench collapse death
The director of a Hertfordshire building company and the co-owners of a south London property undergoing conversion have been sentenced for their criminal safety failings after a worker was killed in a trench collapse. Xian Hou Ye, 56, was crushed and suffocated by nearly nine tonnes of soil at the property in Lewisham, on 30 September 2010.
HSE news release and excavations webpages • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Firm fined after worker suffers severe caustic burns
A Warwickshire company that manufactures car components has been fined after a worker was burned by caustic soda while leaning over a conveyor. The operative required skin grafts to his stomach as a result of the incident at Grupo Antolin Leamington Limited on 25 January 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Agricultural firm fined for chemical asthma risks
A Lincolnshire agricultural machinery manufacturer has been fined after employees were put at risk of developing asthma through the spraying of a hazardous chemical. Grantham Magistrates' Court heard that Marston Agricultural Services Ltd allowed trailers to be sprayed with isocyanate-containing paint without fully assessing the potential dangers and implementing adequate controls to protect workers from the chemical.
HSE news release and isocyanates guide • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Australia: Workers need more protection, not less
A toll of over half-a-million workers injured and thousands killed each year in Australia shows the need to strengthen not weaken workplace safety regulation, the country’s top union body has said. National union federation ACTU points to statistics showing each year 600,000 workers are injured – 127,000 of these seriously – costing Australia more than $60 billion (£36bn) annually.
ACTU news release • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
France: Thousands stage ‘die-in’ over asbestos risks
Thousands of people staged a “die-in” in Paris on Saturday 12 October over the failure by authorities to clear workplaces of asbestos. The protesters from all over France lay down in the street outside Sorbonne University in Paris’ Latin Quarter to illustrate dramatically how asbestos exposure claims 3,000 lives per year in the country.
Google News • Raw Story • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Japan: Fukushima cleanup takes its toll
Almost three years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a triple meltdown, the human cost of the industrial cleanup is becoming evident. With each successive accident and radiation leak, the men working inside the plant are suffering from plummeting morale, health problems and anxiety about the future, according to insiders.
The Guardian • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Global: Unions put companies on notice over Qatar
Trade union leaders from 58 countries meeting in Brussels last week for the annual general council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) put companies on notice that failure to address abuses of workers’ rights in Qatar will lead to more deaths and injuries. ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said the abuses of workers in Qatar, where one worker dies on average each day, and FIFA-inspired changes to labour laws in Brazil and Russia are high priorities for the governing body of the world’s trade unions. ITUC news release • Re-run the Vote campaign • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Hazards news, 12 October 2013
Britain: Blacklisters bow to union pressure
A high profile campaign by unions and campaigners has forced Britain’s eight largest construction industry blacklisters to apologise and agree to a compensation scheme. But while the companies have apologised for their involvement with an organisation that kept a list uncovered in a raid by the Information Commissioner's Office in 2009, they have not admitted liability.
GMB blacklisting campaign • Blacklist Support Group news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Herald Scotland • Construction Enquirer • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Safety watchdog must be seen and heard
The government should increase funding for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) so it can intensify its inspection efforts, the union Unite has said. The union was speaking out after an HSE inspection blitz on construction sites throughout September revealed that almost half of those visited failed the checks.
Unite news release • HSE construction webpages and Safer sites initiative • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Europe: Fury at ‘dodgy backroom deal’ on flying hours
Pilots’ union BALPA has expressed dismay at a ‘dodgy backroom deal’ that saw the European Parliament approve contentious new flying hours rules. BALPA says intensive lobbying from the airline industry and ‘dodgy last minute backroom deals’ mean the rules can now be implemented, unless the EU Council of Ministers decides to discuss the rules and vote on them.
BALPA news release • BBC News Online • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Two down and six to go on Bangladesh campaign
Following a high profile TUC-led campaign, the cut-price clothing chain Matalan has followed River Island to become the latest High Street name to sign up to a union-initiated safety accord to protect garment workers in Bangladesh – of the eight major chains originally refusing to sign up, six - Bench, Bank Fashion, Peacocks, Jane Norman, Republic and Mexx - are still holding out and will remain a target of union and other labour rights campaigners.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and Going to Work campaign
Now get Bench, Bank Fashion, Peacocks, Jane Norman, Republic and Mexx to sign up - write to all six companies now! • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Global: GMB offers to investigate Qatar 2022 conditions
UK union GMB has volunteered to be part of a team of inspectors that the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is putting together to inspect workplaces and labour camps in Qatar, scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup. After exposing high death rates and abusive labour standards on construction projects linked to the event, the global union body has said it intends to assess and report on conditions.
GMB news release • ITUC news release • BWI news release • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Global: We need decent work, not hire and fire
Public sector union UNISON has called for decent work for all and an end to the routine abuse of workers worldwide. In a letter to the Guardian ahead of World Day for Decent Work on 7 October, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis wrote: “Mass suicides in electronic companies in China; deaths of young men building World Cup stadiums in Qatar; crushed bodies in a garment factory in Bangladesh; blacklisting for exposing dangers on UK building sites – these are some of the perils of working in the 21st century where rights and protections are either non-existent or steadily being eroded.” ITUC news release • UNISON news release • The Guardian • World Day for Decent Work 2013 • We love red tape facebook page • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Shopworker assaults not reported by 1-in-6
Almost half of all shopworkers have suffered verbal abuse in the last year, over a third have been threatened and 1-in-25 has been the victim of a violent attack, latest figures from the shopworkers’ union Usdaw have revealed. The interim results of Usdaw’s 2013 survey also reveal than 1-in-6 of the victims of a violent assault do not report the incident.
Usdaw news release • The union’s Respect for Shopworkers Week 2013 takes place from 11 to 15 November • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Injustice prolonged after firefighters’ deaths
Firefighters’ union FBU has said the families of two firefighters killed at work must be given peace and justice and not subjected to another painful court hearing. The union was commenting after an unsuccessful appeal this week by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service against a July High Court ruling saying it must pay compensation to the bereaved families of firefighter Geoff Wicker, 49, and fire service cameraman Brian Wembridge, 63.
FBU news release • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Calling all COMAH safety reps
Unions want to know the concerns encountered routinely by union safety reps on Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH) sites. The want union reps to add their voices to a quickie online questionnaire that “focuses on a range of incidents that take place rather frequently in COMAH sites.”
Survey for COMAH safety reps • HSE COMAH competence management guidance • SHP Online • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Watch out for blood in your pee
An NHS campaign on bladder and kidney cancers will run from 15 October to 20 November, highlighting the need for early diagnosis. In both cancers, which can have strong links to work, early diagnosis can increase considerably the chances of survival.
NHS bladder and kidney cancer campaign • TUC guide to occupational cancers • Global Unions ‘Occupational Cancer Zero Cancer’ campaign • Hazards magazine on bladder cancer risks • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: A&E doctors face ‘intolerable pressures’
Urgent action must be taken to ensure emergency departments remain sustainable and safe, doctors have warned. The call comes after a report found A&E consultants were facing “intolerable pressures” in the workplace.
College of Emergency Medicine news release and Stretched to the limit report • The Independent • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Radiologist gets an unwelcome dose of radiation
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has been fined after an interventional radiologist was exposed to significant amounts of ionizing radiation. Boston Magistrates' Court heard the affected person was working with a CT scanner at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, and received more than double the annual dose limit for skin exposure in just over three months.
HSE news release • BBC News Online • Boston Standard • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: ‘Unbelievable’ failures at nuclear sub dock
The primary and secondary power sources providing the coolant for nuclear reactors in Britain’s submarine fleet failed on 29 July, leading to a nuclear incident being narrowly averted. The Independent on Sunday reported the crisis at the Devonport naval dockyard in Plymouth, operated by the Ministry of Defence and government engineering contractors Babcock Marine, was comparable with the Fukushima Daiichi power station meltdown in Japan in 2011.
Independent on Sunday • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Joiner’s fall lands firm in court
A Bradford construction firm has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after a joiner fell six metres through a fragile rooflight at a factory in Leeds. The 46-year-old self-employed joiner from Bradford, who does not wish to be named, was hired by MD Construction (Bradford) Ltd to remove ventilation turrets from a warehouse roof at Johnsons Apparelmaster in Leeds.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Kebab worker maimed by meat stripper
An Essex kebab manufacturer has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker suffered horrific injuries to his hand when it became trapped in unguarded machinery. Ethem Torunoglu, 36, from London, was working for Kismet Kebabs Ltd where he was cleaning a derinding machine when his hand was drawn into the machine between the stripper comb and the serrated roller above it.
HSE news release and food industry webpages • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Chemical fireball engulfed workers
A chemical firm has been ordered to pay £105,000 in fines after a major explosion at a waste management site in Lancashire that caused three workers to sustain serious burns. Personnel Hygiene Services (PHS) Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the blast at Burscough Industrial Estate in Burscough on 12 October 2010. The explosion occurred when aerosol cans were put into an industrial shredder.
HSE news release and fire and explosion webpages • BBC News Online • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Schoolgirl dragged by scarf into a lathe
A Scottish council has been fined £48,000 for criminal health and safety breaches after schoolgirl was dragged into a lathe by her scarf. Nadine Craig, who was 14 at the time, was pulled into the machine in November 2007 and freed by fellow pupils – she received 40 stitches to a wound in her neck and it was six months before she returned to Galashiels Academy.
The Scotsman • Herald Scotland • BBC News Online • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Bangladesh: Deadly fire underlines the union safety case
A Bangladeshi textile factory where at least seven workers died and more than 50 were injured in a fire on 8 October, was not covered by the union-brokered international safety accord. Global unions IndustriALL and UNI say almost 1,600 sites are due to be inspected under the accord on fire and building safety, but wants its scope extended to cover many more workplaces.
IndustriALL news release • The Guardian • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Europe: Health and safety strategy put on ice
The European Commission has suspended all progress on its already overdue workplace health and safety strategy. A 2 October Commission communication on its REFIT deregulatory policy said all health and safety at work measures currently under discussion will be shelved until a new Commission takes office in 2014.
ETUI news release • EU Commission:Communication "Regulatory fitness and performance (REFIT): results and next steps”, 2 Oct 2013 • UniEuropa news release • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Global: Scandals engulf asbestos-backed scientists
Emerging scandals concerns academics in the UK and Canada have exposed the lengths to which the asbestos industry will go to manipulate science and boost its deadly product. A conference last week at McGill University in Canada revealed that one of its most high profile academics, Professor J Corbett McDonald, had received over Can$1 million from the asbestos industry, but had routinely hidden this association when publishing industry-friendly papers; and Edinburgh University’s Professor Ken Donaldson either failed to mention or flatly denied links to firms defending asbestos compensation cases, while receiving payments and writing papers the New York Supreme court found were “intended to cast doubt on the capability of chrysotile [white] asbestos to cause cancer.”
RightOnCanada blog • David Egilman’s full presentation: The Past is Prologue, Universities in Service to Corporations: The McGill-QAMA Asbestos Example • Montreal Gazette • A very particular crime, Hazards magazine special report, September 2013. Nature • The Scotsman • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Risks * Number 625 * 5 October 2013
Britain: Tell blacklisters to own up, pay up and clean up!
Despite over four years passing since 44 construction firms were exposed as blacklisters, thousands of victimised site workers are still waiting for justice. As part of the day of action organised by the TUC and unions, there will be a lobby of parliament on 20 November, to put pressure on MPs to hold an inquiry.
TUC news release • Blacklist blog • GMB • UCATT and Unite blacklist campaign webpages • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
USA: Lawmaker attacks wellness programmes
A federal lawmaker is asking the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate employer wellness programmes that demand intimate health information from employees, and to issue guidelines preventing employers from using these programmes to discriminate against workers. The request, by Louise M Slaughter, a Democratic congresswoman from New York, came after Pennsylvania State University suspended cash penalties linked to its new employee wellness programme that had drawn objections from staff. New York Times • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Unions challenge new ‘resilience’ push
Journalists have added their backing to TUC concerns about the emergence of a resilience industry, intent on making workers ‘man up’ and shrug off the stresses and strains of work. The union alert came ahead of the 10 October launch by the government of a new workplace mental health “pledge”, which will urge employers to sign up to the resilience approach.
TUC’s Hugh Robertson on resilience, in Hazards magazine, number 123, 2013. Public Health Responsibility Deal • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Europe: Pilots welcome flight hours change rejection
British pilots have welcomed the vote by the EU Transport and Tourism Select Committee rejecting new Europe-wide rules on pilot flying hours they say will undermine UK flight safety. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) is now calling on the UK government and MEPs to act to protect the safety of our skies.
BALPA news release • BBC News Online • The Independent • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Shopworkers are suffering violent abuse in silence
Many shopworkers are suffering violence, threats and abuse in silence, a survey by their union Usdaw has found. Speaking at the British Retail Consortium's (BRC) retail crime and loss prevention conference, Usdaw safety officer Doug Russell said whereas the BRC estimates only 2 in 1,000 shopworkers have been victims of violence, Usdaw’s survey puts the figure 20 times higher at 40 per 1,000.
Usdaw news release and Freedom From Fear survey results. Respect for Shopworkers Week 2013 takes place on 11–15 November • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Rail concerns as ministers axe safety jobs
Network Rail sparked a safety row this week over a move to axe 750 managerial jobs. The job losses - to meet government-imposed cuts - will hit senior staff in safety critical roles, warned Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union.
TSSA news release • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Rail union ‘disgust’ at tunnel maintenance neglect
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has reacted with “dismay and disgust” after it emerged passengers and rail staff on the London to Brighton line could have been killed because of years of maintenance work failures in a Victorian tunnel. The union was commenting this week after a whistleblowing rail engineer told the BBC’s Inside Out programme about a potentially deadly series of problems with Balcombe Tunnel, near Crawley, West Sussex.
ASLEF news release • BBC News Online • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Slip cost bus driver his job
A bus driver ended up losing his job after a bus company failed to grit its car park and he was injured when he slipped on ice. A Unite-backed compensation claim was due to be heard at Newcastle County Court in October 2013, but Go North East instead settled his claim for £130,000.
Beecham Peacock news release • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Government marks freedom from safety day
Business minister Michael Fallon has been criticised by a top safety campaigner after he claimed a new round of cuts to safety regulations are “good news for the growth prospects of UK companies.” Workplace health and safety measures dominated the cuts to “red tape” highlighted by the minister on ‘Freedom Day’, 1 October.
BIS news release • We love red tape facebook page • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Cutback injury reporting system takes effect
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has formally implemented controversial changes to “simplify the mandatory reporting of workplace injuries for businesses.” The changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995, which have been criticised by workplace health groups and unions, introduce a shorter list of reportable major injuries, reduce the number of reportable occupational diseases from 47 to just eight and cut down the types of reportable “dangerous occurrences.”
HSE news release and RIDDOR webpages • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Global: Landmark silicosis settlement for gold miners
South African miners employed by a gold firm forming part of a UK-based multinational have received landmark payouts for the deadly dust disease silicosis. The long-running President Steyn gold miners’ silicosis litigation against Anglo American South Africa Ltd (AASA) includes payments to 23 claimants, including 18 President Steyn Mine claimants, whose claims began in 2004.
Leigh Day and Co news release • IOL Business • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Qatar: Authorities fail to address World Cup horrors
Qatar authorities have admitted there are serious abuses of the labour rights of the 1.2 million migrant workers in the country, after the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) warned up to 4,000 workers could die before a ball is kicked at the 2022 World Cup. ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said the promise by authorities in Qatar – which will host football’s global showcase in 2022 - simply to increase the number of labour inspectors is weak and disappointing.
ITUC news release and background materials • Video testimony of marble cutters describing their working conditions in Doha • BWI news release • The Guardian and related article • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Site workers make healthy choices
Assumptions by scientists and health professionals that ill-health in construction workers is the result of their poor lifestyle have been blown out of the water by a new study. This suggests researchers may have consistency under-estimated the impact of work factors on diseases suffered by construction workers, instead wrongly attributing them to personal habits.
Construction Enquirer • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Recycling firm fined over young worker's death
A Bridgend recycling firm has been ordered to pay more than £300,000 in fines and costs after a 21-year-old worker was crushed to death when he was struck by a skip lorry on a weighbridge he was cleaning. Geraint Eagle, of Nant–Y-Moel, near Bridgend, was cleaning sensors on the weighbridge at the waste site run by Nolan Recycling Ltd when the incident happened on 2 December 2010.
HSE news release and skip hire/waste transfer webpage • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Bridge workers suffer horrific water jet injuries
A worker on the Tay Road Bridge lost a leg while another suffered “terrible” abdominal and bowel injuries and almost lost a finger after being hit by a faulty high-powered water jet used to blast concrete. Mark Sharples, who was 27 at the time, and Ian Davies, who was 40, were struck when the “extremely powerful” jet shot out of their hands in separate incidents, hitting Mr Sharples in the left buttock and Mr Davies in the knee.
HSE news release • The Courier • Construction Enquirer • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Company fined for tall ship blaze
A Dorset yacht company has been sentenced for safety failings relating to a fire that ravaged a famous tall ship and almost killed a worker. Welder Rolf Kitching, 45, from Portsmouth, sustained 40 per cent burns to his upper torso and head and was hospitalised for four months as a result and was initially not expected to survive the incident at Hythe Marina in Hampshire on 10 June 2008.
HSE news release and welding webpage • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Pig farmers done after hopper breaks leg
A Teesside pig farming business has been fined for safety failings after a worker was struck and seriously injured by a feed hopper that fell from the forks of a loader. Imogen Simpson, 45, sustained two skull fractures, a crushed left ankle and had her leg broken in four places in the incident at F Brunton & Sons Ltd in Guisborough, on 21 June 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Food for thought after worker loses finger tips
An East London firm that makes convenience food has been fined for criminal safety failings after an agency worker lost the tips from four fingers as he tried to unblock a dicing machine. The worker, who does not wish to be named, sustained the serious injury while working a night shift as a production assistant at Oldfields Ltd, part of the international Greencore Group plc, at their plant in Bow, Tower Hamlets.
HSE news release • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Canada: Study confirms the union “safety dividend”
The shocking extent and causes of workplace injury under-reporting have been exposed by a Canadian study that also reveals how unions protect workers both from unsafe workplaces and a government keen to downplay the risks. The province of Alberta is under-counting workplace injuries by a factor of 10, according to Athabasca University’s Professor Bob Barnetson, who also identified a significant union “safety dividend”.
Parkland Institute news release, statement and executive summary • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Global: Victims want honour stripped from asbestos boss
Seventeen years after Yale University gave Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny an honorary doctorate of humane letters for environmental stewardship, a group of asbestos disease survivors and family members of asbestos cancer victims in Italy is asking the university to revoke the degree. On 3 June of this year an appeals court in Turin upheld extended Schmidheiny’s jail term from 16 to 18 years for the involuntary manslaughter of thousands by his family firm, former asbestos giant Eternit.
Corporate Crime Reporter • The Hartford Courant. Asbestos in the Dock • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013