Hazards news, 31 January 2015
Britain: TUC talks the right language on migrant rights
New online guides from the TUC will help combat the exploitation of migrant workers, the union body has said. ‘Working in the UK’ is available in 13 languages, including Polish, Bulgarian and Romanian. The TUC says it provides workers with information and guidance on crucial issues such as pay, employment contracts, working hours, sick pay, and health and safety.
TUC news release. TUC Stronger Unions blog. The TUC Working in the UK guide is available in Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Slovakian, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French and English. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Unite rolls out its drivers’ charter
Transport workers’ union Unite is demanding for a fair deal for HGV drivers amid warnings they are being forced to put themselves and the public at risk by working more than a “whopping” 60 hours a week. Low pay and rising demands from employers to do more increase the chances of serious accidents on the roads, the union warned as it launched its professional drivers’ charter.
Unite news release and Unite drivers’ charter. TWU Safe Rates campaign. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Firefighters oppose ‘unsafe’ terror drills
Firefighters should refuse to take part in terror drills as part of their ongoing dispute with ministers over pensions and the retirement age, their union has said. Firefighters’ union FBU “strongly advised” its members not to take part because of a work to rule over government plans to enforce an older retirement age of 60, which the union says will see many firefighters lose their jobs on fitness grounds.
Morning Star. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Union raises concerns over rail policing
Rail union ASLEF has expressed concern over plans to split off the transport police service in Scotland. Smith Commission proposals require the devolution of ‘legislative competence in relation to railway policing in Scotland.’
ASLEF news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Nautilus welcomes piracy ransom assurances
Nautilus has welcomed a UK government pledge not to outlaw ransom payments to secure the release of seafarers held hostage by pirates. In a response to Nautilus, Home Office minister James Brokenshire said the government intends to maintain the distinction between ransom payments made to criminals and those made to terrorists.
Nautilus news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Global: TUC supports worker participation in Vietnam
The UK TUC’s global solidarity charity has been helping to give workers a voice at the Vietnamese furniture factories supplying British companies. TUC Aid has been supporting an Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) programme in Vietnam that aims to tackle health and safety problems and low wages.
TUC news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Royal Mail fined after chemical burns failure
A caustic chemical leak that led to a CWU member requiring skin grafts has resulted in a £40,000 fine for Royal Mail. Dacorum Borough Council prosecuted the company for criminal health and safety breaches at the Home Counties North mail depot in Hemel Hempstead last year.
Dacorum Borough Council news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Slip cost aircraft fitter his job
An aircraft fitter was forced to retire from work after falling at work and suffering severe back and leg injuries. Timothy Powell, 58, from Bristol, was working for GKN Aerospace Services Ltd when he slipped on a pool of water on the shopfloor after a machine used for polishing aluminium components leaked.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Lawyers condemn ‘outrageous’ court fee hike
Government plans for dramatic increases in the cost of going to court could have a ‘profound impact on access to justice’, according to personal injury lawyers. “The government’s claim that fees are not a major factor in a person’s decision about whether or not to go to court is completely disingenuous,” said APIL president John Spencer, adding: “This move is bound to discourage people from making valid claims – people who have every right to make them.”
APIL news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Physio killed by lorry while cycling to treat a patient
A community physiotherapist was the first cyclist killed on London’s roads this year. Stephanie Turner, 29, died in the 8am collision with a lorry on 20 January, as she cycled to a patient appointment.
The Standard. Stop Killing Cyclists news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Oil firm messed up on 159 safety-critical jobs
A major North Sea oil firm failed to get approval for the deferral of 159 safety-critical work orders. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found 182 outstanding jobs when it carried out an inspection on Talisman Sinopec’s North Sea Clyde platform, 159 of which had not been approved for deferral.
Energy Voice. Evening Express. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Metalworks boss sentenced for manslaughter
Mohammad Babamiri, the managing director of RK Metalworks, has been received a suspended jail term for manslaughter after one of his workers was crushed by heavy machinery. The victim, Shenol Shevka-Ahmed, was a Bulgarian national with a wife and two young sons at home in Bulgaria.
Metropolitan Police news release. Enfield Today. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Ninth time unlucky for serial offender
A construction company with a lengthy record of endangering the lives of its workers has been fined after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found once again it was putting workers at serious risk of falling from height. Inspectors who paid a routine visit to an AM Construction Ltd site in West Bromwich on 15 May 2014 found men working on the first floor without scaffolding, edge protection, airbags or other fall prevention or mitigation measures.
HSE news release and work at height webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Vet in court over x-ray of employee’s foot
A director of a veterinary practice in Maidstone has been given a conditional discharge for allowing an employee to x-ray her own foot after a horse stamped on it. Maidstone Magistrates heard that the employee, a 25-year-old vet and equine intern at Pet Emergency Treatment Services Ltd, was afraid the foot was broken and she might be unable to do that evening’s on-call duty.
HSE news release. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Worker loses arm clearing sawdust
A Powys firm has been fined for serious criminal safety failings after a woodworker had his right arm severed while clearing sawdust from underneath a circular saw. Brian Morris, 59, was working at Stagecraft Display Ltd’s factory just outside Llandrindod Wells when the incident happened on 23 February 2012.
HSE news release and woodworking machinery webpages. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Britain: Worker paralysed in fall from farm shed
An East Lothian firm has been fined for serious criminal safety failings after a worker was left paralysed when he fell almost four metres through a fragile rooflight. Neil Knox, then 69, is confined to a wheelchair after suffering irreparable damage to his spinal cord in the incident on 14 March 2013 as he replaced plastic rooflights on a farm shed in Lauder, in the Scottish Borders.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Australia: Study confirms firefighter cancer risk
Firefighters who worked at a training facility in the Australian state of Victoria have a higher incidence of skin, testicular and brain cancers, a comprehensive study has found. Victorian premier Daniel Andrews told reporters the research confirmed “beyond any reasonable doubt” that there was a statistically significant increase in cancers in firefighters who worked at the Country Fire Authority’s (CFA) Fiskville site.
Monash University news release and full report. UFU Victoria notice and news release. Victorian Premier Andrew Daniels’ news release. ABC News. The Age. The Guardian. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Global: IndustriALL and Total sign global agreement
Global union federation IndustriALL has signed a landmark agreement with Total, the French oil and gas giant, guaranteeing employee rights across the company’s international operations. As part of the agreement, Total, which employs 100,000 workers in more than 130 countries, has undertaken to uphold the rights of workers to form trade unions and to “recognise that health and safety of contractor and supplier employees is as important as the health and safety of its own staff.”
Industriall news release and CSR Total Global Agreement. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Italy: Garment sweatshops set the standard
New research into Italian shoe and garment factories shows that competition with Eastern Europe and Asia is driving down wages and working conditions in Italy. The survey conducted by Campagna Abiti Puliti, the Italian section of the Clean Clothes Campaign, found that big brands including Louis Vuitton, Armani, Prada and Dior are buying back old factories that were previously uneconomic.
Can you earn a living wage in fashion in Italy?, Clean Clothes Campaign report. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
USA: American Airlines sued by mechanics
American Airlines pressured workers to skimp on federal safety procedures and threatened discipline if they reported too many maintenance flaws, union reps have charged. The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) said the actions by maintenance managers violated labour laws.
TWU Local 591 letter to the membership. American Journal of Transportation. Skift.com. Risks 688. 31 January 2015
Hazards news, 24 January 2015
Britain: Unite launches asbestos awareness campaign
Unite members who think they’ve been exposed to asbestos are being urged to join the union’s asbestos register. The call forms a part of the union’s new campaign to raise awareness about “the silent killer”.
Unite news release and online campaign pack on asbestos for Unite members. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Violence against shopworkers is ‘still a big problem’
Violence, threats and harassment at work are still major problems facing shopworkers, surveys from their union and the retail industry have shown. John Hannett, leader of the shopworkers’ union Usdaw, launched the results of Usdaw’s latest Freedom From Fear survey, which tracks the levels of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.
Usdaw news release. BRC news release. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Nautilus sinks plans to scrap ferry safety rules
Seafarers’ union Nautilus has welcomed the UK government’s decision to abandon controversial proposals to scrap rules requiring roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) passenger ships to be fitted with lockers containing emergency equipment. Following an eight-week consultation and talks between the union and shipping minister John Hayes, the government said ‘persuasive’ arguments had been made in favour of retaining the regulations, which were introduced following the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster in 1987.
Nautilus news release. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Pilots issue safety warning on offshore safety
North Sea aviation safety must not be put under threat by the industry downturn in the industry, helicopter pilots have warned. Their concerns were raised after BP said it would shed 300 jobs.
BALPA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: HSE needs resources to tackle work diseases
The fall in fatalities at work in the Health and Safety Executive’s first 40 years is a testament to the value of a dedicated regulator, GMB has said. But the union warns funding cuts have left the watchdog ‘unprepared’ to tackle the much bigger toll of work-related diseases.
GMB news release. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Overworked nurses to 'make a stand'
Overworked and underpaid nurses are to take industrial action alongside other health service staff later this month in pursuit of better working conditions. The action comes on the heels of new official figures obtained by the Observer showing ‘soaring’ levels of stress in NHS nurses.
UNISON news release and NHS pay campaign. GMB news release. The Observer. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Cotton gloves treatment gives machinist dermatitis
A machine operator who was provided the wrong gloves by his employer contracted occupational dermatitis as a result. Unite member Graham Taylor, from Telford, worked at Mahle Filter Systems where he welded components and dipped seals in ‘P80 solution’.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Business boosting government boasts we are more lawless
The government’s frantic rush to ‘boost business’ by removing safety regulations has come at a cost, the TUC has warned. The union body was commenting after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced that “84 per cent of health and safety rules will have been scrapped or improved in this parliament, freeing employers from unnecessary red tape.”
DWP news release. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Forgers jailed for faking site and security certificates
Two men who made and sold thousands of counterfeit identity documents, construction skills certificates (CSCS) and licences to work in the security industry have been jailed, following an investigation by the National Crime Agency. Medi Krasniqi, 47, and Arsen Meci, 26, were arrested by NCA officers on 9 October 2014.
NCA news release. Construction Enquirer. CSCS safety test. Security industry licensing system. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Long working hours can drive you to drink
Individuals who exceed 48 hours per week at work are more likely to consume “risky” quantities of alcohol, researchers have concluded. Their overview of studies covering more than 400,000 people showed that long working hours boosted the likelihood of higher alcohol intake by 11 per cent overall.
Marianna Virtanen and others. Long working hours and alcohol use: systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies and unpublished individual participant data, British Medical Journal, volume 350, g7772, published online 13 January 2015. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g7772
BMJ 2015; 350 (Published 13 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:
Cassandra Okechukwu. Editorial: Long working hours are linked to risky alcohol consumption, British Medical Journal, volume 350, g7800, published online 13 January 2015. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g7800
The Guardian. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Europe: Debate about work cancer links hots up
A union thinktank has welcomed a call for more research and action on the prevention of work-related breast cancer, and has criticised a study that suggested bad luck was the major factor in cancer causation. The European trade union research institute (ETUI), which has its own health and safety unit, was commenting after the publication of two contrasting reports.
ETUI news report. Stirling University news release. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Companies exposed plumbers to asbestos
Two plumbers were exposed to potentially-deadly asbestos because of criminal failures by two Barnstable companies, a court has heard. Employees of Pilkington Plumbing and Heating Ltd were allowed to carry out removal of a back boiler and to drill a wall panel at a North Devon Homes property in Ilfracombe, despite not receiving an asbestos survey from North Devon Homes.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. North Devon Gazette. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Builder jailed for manslaughter of young labourer
West Yorkshire builder Nigel Parker, 56, has been jailed after an inexperienced labourer was killed when a chimney collapsed on top of him while he was left to carry out work unsupervised. Danny Hough, 23, was crushed to death when two tonnes of masonry landed on top of him as he carried out work at a house in Batley.
Huddersfield Examiner. Yorkshire Post. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Farming auction firm fined over worker's death
A major Scottish farming auction firm has been fined £30,000 following the death of a worker in who was crushed by his quad bike. Lawrie and Symington (L&S) employee Allan Frame was found dead on Bonnington Farm in Lanark on 17 September 2012. COPFS news release. The Herald. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: Digger bucket broke worker’s back
A building company has been fined for its criminal safety failings after employee Peter McGrellis broke his back when he was struck by the bucket on a digger. RMC Building and Civil Engineering Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation into the incident at the Longleat Estate in Warminster.
HSE news release and construction webpages. Construction Enquirer. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Britain: New consolidated listings of TUC resources
A consolidated alphabetical listing of all the TUC’s health and safety resources is now available online. The new resource pulls together the TUC’s health and safety publications and those on the same theme produced by TUC Education for union safety training courses.
TUC website: Guides and reports for reps. TUC Education health and safety resources webpage. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Australia: Work drug tests ‘a waste of time and money’
Australia’s Immigration Department is wasting its time and taxpayers' money on forced drug tests for thousands of public servants, according to a leading workplace drug and alcohol expert. The tests will be no deterrent, enormously expensive and might even make matters worse by forcing drug users in the department on to harder substances, according to Dr Donna Bull.
Canberra Times. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Canada: Work death jail terms still ‘too rare’
The short weekends-only jail terms handed to two corporate directors in Ontario, Canada following a workplace death are a step in the right direction “but do not address the crying need to enforce the Criminal Code when workers are killed on the job,” the United Steelworkers union (USW) has said. USW Canada national director Ken Neumann, whose union is running a high profile ‘Stop the Killing’ campaign, said: “We are determined to work with governments, Crown prosecutors, health and safety regulators and police across the country to ensure the law is enforced to the full extent whenever a worker is killed or injured.”
USW news release and Stop the Killing campaign. NUPGE news release. Rabble. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Global: Chinese firms choke Ugandan workers
Residents of Kasenge ‘A’ village, a rapidly expanding industrial zone outside of the Ugandan capital Kampala, are learning the price of industrialisation – dangerous jobs and once clean air now choked with fumes. The hamlet of about 1,000 homes is home to over 20 Chinese owned factories.
The Independent. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
USA: Republican regulatory moves threaten safety
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would have been prevented from issuing timely guidelines on protecting health care workers and first responders from the Ebola virus under a Republican proposed law. The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015 (HR 185), which was passed by the House of Representatives– but which President Obama had at an earlier airing of the same legislation threatened to veto - would add dozens of new procedural and analytical roadblocks to any new enforceable rule such as workplace safety or consumer protection regulations and even to non-binding federal guidelines to protect workers and the public, such as the CDC’s Ebola guidelines.
Climate Progress. AFL-CIO Now blog. House of Representatives Committee on Rules statement. Risks 687. 24 January 2015
Hazards news, 17 January 2015
Britain: Fit for work scheme starts to dribble into action
The government’s delayed nationwide ‘Fit for work’ system is easing into action, with an advisory service now up and running and a referral system in 20 GP practices in Sheffield starting work this week. The referral system is expected to be rolled out nationwide throughout the year.
Fit For Work referrals- a TUC guide for union representatives, TUC, January 2015. DWP Fit for Work guidance. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Seafarers’ union warning over car carrier safety
A stranded cargo ship which listed dramatically as it left a UK port has highlighted problems in the design and operation or car carriers, seafarers’ union Nautilus has warned. The 51,000 tonne transporter Hoegh Osaka was deliberately beached on 3 January at Bramble Bank, after it began listing as it left the Port of Southampton in Hampshire.
Nautilus news release. BBC News Online. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Government does nothing on rail sewage dumping
Rail union RMT has stepped up demands for urgent government action to end the “shocking practice” of train companies dumping human sewage on the railway tracks. The union was speaking out as a BBC ‘Inside Out’ programme broadcast on 12 January revealed one in ten trains are still dumping human waste on the tracks and that exposure to this excrement has serious health implications for rail workers.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Journalists show solidarity in Paris
Top officers from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) this week attended events in Paris commemorating the deaths of eight journalists and four others in the attack on the Paris office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet and assistant general secretary Seamus Dooley were among over 1m people to join the Paris event, adding an NUJ flag and a special ‘Je Suis Charlie’ NUJ placard to the flowers, pens and other tributes.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. BBC News Online. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: UNISON member gets car crash payout
A social worker who suffered nerve and soft tissue damage as a result of a road traffic accident unrelated to her job has secured £3,105 in compensation. The 64-year-old from Somerset was driving on the B3128 outside of Bristol, when another driver suddenly drove into the rear of her car, propelling her forward into a vehicle in front.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Work oven death firm convicted of manslaughter
A kayak manufacturer has been found guilty of corporate manslaughter after a worker became trapped and died in an industrial oven in Cheshire. Alan Catterall, 54, tried to escape using a crowbar but suffered severe burns at the Pyranha Mouldings factory in Runcorn in 2010.
Daily Post. Western Morning News. ITV News. BBC News Online. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Mental health the top work-related health problem
New research shows that throughout the British Isles, mental health disorders are the most common work-related ill health problem. A team from Manchester University found mental health problems linked to work account for over half of all cases reported by occupational physicians.
SOM news release. A Money and others. Work-related ill-health: Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain 2005-2012, Occupational Medicine, volume 65, pages 15-21, 13 January 2015.
Promoting good practice in workplace mental health: A seminar for union officers, workplace representatives and activists, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS. 5 February 2015, 9.00-13.00. Register for the TUC mental health good practice seminar. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Global: Cancer agency slams cancer ‘bad luck’ paper
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has said it “strongly disagrees” with the conclusion of a scientific report that concluded cancer was largely down to ‘bad luck’. IARC, the World Health Organisation’s specialised cancer agency, said the study, published in the journal Science on 2 January, had “limitations and biases in the analysis” and there was a “serious contradiction” between the widely reported paper’s conclusion and the extensive body of scientific evidence on cancer causation.
IARC statement, 15 January 2015. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Canada: More evidence on wood dust and lung cancer
People with substantial exposure to wood dust at work have a greatly increased risk of lung cancer, a study has found. The paper published in January 2015 in the journal Environmental Health concludes there was “evidence of increased risk of lung cancer among workers with substantial cumulative exposure to wood dust.”
Eric Vallières, Javier Pintos, Marie-Elise Parent and Jack Siemiatycki. Occupational exposure to wood dust and risk of lung cancer in two population-based case-control studies in Montreal, Canada, Environmental Health, volume 14, number 1, 7 January 2015. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-14-1. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Finland: Crude oil exposure linked to kidney cancer
A study of refinery workers has found exposure to crude oil may lead to a marked increase in kidney cancer risk. Researchers looked at cancer patterns in 9,454 workers employed in the oil refinery industry in Finland in the period 1967 to 1982 and found there was a threefold increase in the kidney cancer risk for exposure to hydrocarbons in crude oil.
Ahti Anttila and others. Kidney cancer risk in oil refining in Finland: a nested case-referent study, Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, volume 57, issue 1, pages 68–72, January 2015. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Plans for NHS in Scotland to recoup asbestos costs
Plans for the health service in Scotland to recoup the cost of medical treatment from companies that exposed workers to asbestos have gone out to consultation. A bill lodged at the Scottish parliament by Stuart McMillan would introduce legislation to ensure that the NHS can claw back the money spent caring for people who have contracted conditions such as mesothelioma.
Stuart McMillan MSP blog. The Herald. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
USA: More evidence on night shift link to diabetes
African-American women who work night shifts are significantly more likely to develop diabetes than those who have never worked night shifts, a study has found, with more years working the night shift resulting in a higher risk. The authors said their study “has important public health implications”, adding there should be “consideration of avoiding shift work in favour of other work arrangements when possible.”
Varsha Vimalananda and others. Night-shift work and incident diabetes among African-American women, Diabetologia, 14 January 2015. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Changes afoot on site safety management rules
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has given the construction industry six months grace to switch over to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM), due to come into force from April. Under the CDM shake-up, changes to the original 2007 regulations mean there will no longer be an official role of CDM coordinator; instead, clients will need to appoint a Principal Designer and Principal Contractor to fulfil their duties.
HSE news release and draft industry guidance to the CDM Regulations 2015. Construction Enquirer. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Farmer fined over driver’s electrocution
A Wiltshire farm owner has been fined after an HGV driver was electrocuted while making a delivery to his farm. Salisbury Magistrates’ Court heard that self-employed HGV driver Nigel Fox was delivering cattle feed to Tony Slade’s Chestnut Tree Farm in Sutton Mandeville on 2 November 2012. Mr Fox, who was 59 at the time, was raising the tipper body of his articulated lorry when it hit the 11kV overhead power line which crossed the farmyard close to the feed silo he was trying to fill.
HSE news release and guidance on working near overhead power cables. BBC News Online. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Highways Agency gets a ticking off over death
The Highways Agency has been issued with a Crown Censure – an official ticking off delivered by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - for its criminal safety failings after an experienced traffic officer was struck and killed by an out of control car on the M25. Grandfather John Walmsley, 59, was deployed with a colleague to an incident on the motorway, between junctions 4 and 5 clockwise, on 25 September 2012.
HSE news release. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Britain: Ink firm’s failings led to worker’s death
A West Yorkshire company has been fined after a worker died when he was crushed beneath a one tonne silo of varnish that slid from a forklift truck and toppled onto him. Wayne Potts, 39, died from his injuries hours after the incident on 25 March 2011 at Gardiner Colours Ltd in Normanton.
HSE news release. Wakefield Express. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Global: Trade ties tie Thailand to Russian asbestos
The Russian government is keen on expanding trade and joint ventures with Thai companies – and Thailand's industry minister admits asbestos trade is one of its targets. Chakramon Phasukavanich said the countries had discussed asbestos after environmental groups had asked the Thai government to ban imports, which mostly come from Russia.
Bangkok Post. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Ireland: Union action call after sharp rise in work deaths
In the wake of figures showing a 17 per cent rise in work related deaths, the union SIPTU has called on the Irish government to stop cuts to the safety regulator and to oppose European Commission deregulation plans for safety. SIPTU health and safety adviser, Sylvester Cronin, said the Irish government must oppose the European Commission’s “attempts to deregulate occupational safety and health legislation or we will see more alarming increases in work related accidents, illnesses and deaths”.
SIPTU news release. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
USA: Public health body wants breast cancer prevention
An American Public Health Association (APHA) policy statement on ‘Breast Cancer and Occupation: The Need for Action’ is thought to be the first such call by a major public health body on breast cancer and the risks faced by women due to the hazards in the work environment. The policy statement says “gender and social class bias” could explain the lack of research and preventive efforts on occupational breast cancer.
Breast Cancer and Occupation: The Need for Action, APHA, posted online January 2015. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
USA: Wal-Mart locks staff in at night
Sick and injured workers at Wal-Mart stores in the US have found themselves trapped in locked stores, unable to get medical attention, a New York Times report has revealed. For more than 15 years, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, has locked in overnight employees at some of its Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores.
New York Times. Risks 686. 17 January 2015
Hazards news, 10 January 2015
Britain: HSE missing the point on safety myths
There are a lot of health and safety myths out there – like workplace safety regulations are a burden or there is a costly compensation culture gripping the country – but the safety regulator’s myth-busting mission is seriously off target, warns the TUC. The union body was speaking out after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published a report it commissioned from the University of Exeter that examined cases referred to HSE’s ‘mythbusters’ panel.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and TUC health and safety myths report. HSE news release. University of Exeter report. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Watchdog and firms doing ‘sod all’ of use on stress
Workplace stress causes heart and other chronic diseases, higher rates of sickness absence and suicides. So why, asks TUC’s Hugh Robertson, are the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and employers doing ‘sod all’ of any use to tackle the bad management practices at the root of the problem?
Distressing failure: Who says work has to be like this?, Hazards magazine special report, December 2014. TUC Safety Reps Guide to the HSE Stress Management Standards. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Unions condemn the killings at French magazine
Journalists’ unions have condemned the killing of 12 people in an attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Eight journalists and cartoonists - including the magazine's editor - died along with two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor when masked men armed with assault rifles stormed the office on 7 January 2015.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. NUJ news release. IFJ news release and 2014 deaths report. EFJ news release. BBC News Online. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: UCATT safety survey exposes industry failings
An online survey of members of construction union UCATT has highlighted the massive safety failings that workers in the industry continue to face. Over a fifth (21 per cent) of the 750 respondents to the survey did not believe that their employer took their health and safety seriously.
UCATT news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: New tanker driver passport sees off cowboys
Cowboy fuel tanker operators face being driven off the road after a new Petroleum Driver Passport (PDP) covering over 6,000 tanker drivers across England, Scotland and Wales came into force on 1 January. The passport, introduced by the Downstream Oil Industry Distribution Forum – a partnership of employers, industry bodies and the transport union Unite - is aimed at driving up health and safety standards.
Unite news release and guide. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: NUT ups its campaign on deadly asbestos in schools
Teaching union NUT is scaling up its campaign on the deadly risk posed by asbestos in schools, and is pressing the Department for Education (DfE) to come clean about the findings of a policy review. The union said it was unacceptable “that the DfE is delaying publication of the findings of its review of asbestos policy in schools, which could set an agenda for change.”
NUT news release – send a supportive email to your MP. Lancashire Evening Post. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Equity secures £3.7m for injured stage manager
Equity member Rachael Presdee has been awarded £3.7 million compensation after suffering a life-changing injury at the Soho Theatre in London which means she now needs to use a wheelchair. Rachael was a stage manager on the Headlong Theatre production of Boys in 2012. On 9 June 2012 she fell through an unguarded backstage door and dropped three metres on to the open stage, suffering serious and permanent injury to her spine.
Equity news release. The Stage. BBC News Online. The Telegraph. The Express. The Guardian. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Shamed fire chiefs agree to deaths payout
East Sussex fire bosses who forced the families of two fallen firefighters into a gruelling court battle have finally agreed to pay compensation. The announcement marks the final chapter in a painful struggle for the relatives of Geoff Wicker, 49, and Brian Wembridge, 63, who were killed by an explosion during a fireworks factory blaze at Marlie Farm in 2006.
ESFRS statement. Morning Star. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Scissor-welding director wanted to ‘kill’ worker
A worker has received a £2,500 payout after a scissor-wielding company director threatened to kill him. BECTU member Peter Fermor was injured in the assault.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Global: Cancer blame industry absolves industry’s real culprits
Bad genes, bad luck and bad habits are frequently blamed for cancers, but stronger evidence of the occupational and environmental origins of our cancers is much more likely to be disputed or dismissed. A December 2014 paper in journal Science, concluded two-thirds of the cancer types analysed were linked to chance mutations.
Cristian Tomasetti and Bert Vogelstein. Variation in cancer risk among tissues can be explained by the number of stem cell divisions, Science, volume 347, number 6217, pages 78-81, 2 January 2015.
Lifestyle behind more than half a million cancers in five years, CRUK news release, 26 December 2014.
Ted Schettler. Cancer, stem cells and bad luck, critical online commentary from the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, 6 January 2015.
Silent Spring commentary. BBC News Online on the ‘bad luck’ and ‘lifestyle’ cancer stories.
Risks 685. 10 January 2015
USA: Rotating night shift work is bad for your health
A new analysis of data from the world’s largest and longest-running study of women’s health finds that rotating night shift work is associated with higher death rates. The new findings add to a growing awareness that long-term night shift work comes with serious occupational health risks.
Fangyi Gu, Jiali Han, Francine Laden and others. Total and Cause-Specific Mortality of US Nurses Working Rotating Night Shifts, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published online ahead of print, 5 January 2015. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2014.10.018
Eurekalert. The Pump Handle. BBC News Online. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Call for regulation of mountain guides after fall death
The Scottish government should consider regulating mountain guides, a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) has recommended. Sheriff Derek Pyle made the recommendation following the inquiry into the death of Graham Paterson almost two years ago on the Isle of Skye.
Grough report. Sheriff Pyle’s determination. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Young worker dies on first day at work
A 20-year-old man died on his first day at work for a new company when the four-tonne dumper he was driving toppled over a bank and crushed him. Daniel Whiston, from Dulverton, was allowed to drive the dumper, which had a number of serious defects, before it overturned down the embankment at Sweetings Farm, near Tiverton, on 27 October 2009.
HSE news release and construction webpages. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Glass recycling firm kills temp on day 1
Glass recycling firm Recresco Ltd was fined £180,000 plus £38,693 costs after Ian Aliski, 29, was killed on his first day at work when the unsuitable forklift truck he was driving overturned. He had been hired on a temporary four-day contract.
HSE news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Global recycling firm fined for work death
Global metal recycling company European Metal Recycling Ltd was £150,000 plus £80,000 costs after subcontract worker William (Billy) Ward, 56, was killed when part of a 33-tonne metal barge he was dismantling collapsed on top of him.
HSE news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Home firm fined after lone worker dies
Barnet Homes Ltd was fined £37,000 plus £75,000 costs after heating engineer Alan Young, 68, was found dead in a communal boiler house on one of their housing estates. It is believed the lone worker, whose body was only discovered the next day, fell from an unsafe mobile scaffold.
HSE news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Pheasant shoot business fined after worker dies
Malcolm John Reeve, a senior partner and co-owner of the Urra estate, was fined £20,000 plus £1,681 costs after occasional worker James Gaffney, 79, died in an overturned all-terrain vehicle on remote moorland, used by the business for pheasant shoots.
HSE news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Three firms done after mining museum death
Yorkshire’s National Coal Mining Museum Trust and two companies were told to pay £590,000 in fines and costs after Michael Buckingham, 58, was crushed and killed at the museum in 2011. He died after he became trapped between a tunnel construction machine 138 metres below ground and a dumper loader that he was operating. His employer, Amalgamated Construction Ltd, was fined £110,000 plus £245,000 costs. Machinery supplier Metal Innovations Ltd was fined £80,000 with £110,000 in costs. The museum trust was fined £10,000 with £35,000 in costs.
HSE news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Man crushed to death in quarry machine
Contractor Ward Bros (Plant Hire) Ltd was fined £85,000 plus £55,000 costs and quarry operator CEMEX UK Materials Ltd £60,000 plus £37,500 in costs after Gary Ian Ward, 43, went to investigate a problem with a large mobile crushing machine, which moved and crushed him causing death by asphyxiation.
HSE news release. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Britain: Workers had massive blood lead levels
A Surrey-based civil engineering firm and a Hampshire fabrication company have been fined for exposing workers to lead during refurbishment work on the iconic Nab Tower in the Solent. Russell Leggett and Robert Peach required hospital treatment after inhaling dust and fumes when steel coated in lead paint was cut into and removed from the structure in July 2013.
HSE news release. More on the hazards of occupational exposure to lead. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Global: Gear up for Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2015
The theme for Workers’ Memorial Day 2015 will be “removing exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace”, global union confederation ITUC has announced. The union body says the theme includes an opportunity for unions to highlight chemical-related hazards, asbestos “as well as the Ebola virus and other potentially hazardous biological exposures.” It adds slogans, twitter hashtag suggestions and other communication tools will be posted on the ITUC/Hazards 28 April webpages. Europe-wide, the ETUC has already announced it will use the 28 April event to further its campaign on hazardous substances.
ITUC/Hazards and TUC 28 April 2015 Workers’ Memorial Day webpages. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Canada: Lead at work causes ALS
Individuals with chronic exposure to lead at work are 80 per cent more likely to develop Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Canadian researchers have concluded. Publishing the findings of the analysis of 13 studies of individuals with ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease’ in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the authors found people with a history of work-related lead exposure were 1.81 times more likely to develop ALS.
Ming-Dong Wang and others. A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies of the Association Between Chronic Occupational Exposure to Lead and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 56, number 12, pages 1235-1242, December 2014. The Pump Handle. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
China: Bosses and officials jailed over fire deaths
Seven company bosses and eleven local officials have been given jail terms of up to nine years for their part in China’s worst factory fire in recent history. The fire at Baoyuanfeng Poultry Co killed 121 workers and injured another 76 in June 2013 when an electrical short circuit ignited combustible material inside the factory.
China Labour Bulletin. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Europe: Political backing for cancer rules review
One of the final acts of the Italian presidency of the European Union, which ended on 31 December 2014, was to host a conference on future health and safety at work policy. The event on 4-5 December 2014 heard Laurent Vogel, a researcher with the European trade union research organisation ETUI, call for the Europe-wide directive on carcinogens and mutagens in the workplace to be overhauled.
ETUI news report and Laurent Vogel’s presentation: The point of view of the European trade unions: It is urgent to revitalise the EU occupational health and safety policy. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Europe: Dismay as Stoiber gets new deregulation role
Unions have reacted with dismay to the appointment of a deregulation-obsessed German right wing politician as a European Commission special adviser on ‘better regulation.’ The appointment came two months after the European Commission’s Stoiber-chaired High Level Group on Administrative Burdens published a deregulatory template described by TUC’s Hugh Robertson as “pretty dangerous.”
ETUC news release and better regulation webpages.
The crusade against ‘red tape’: How the European Commission and big business push for deregulation, Corporate Europe Observatory/Friends of the Earth Europe, October 2014. Risks 685. 10 January 2015
Hazards news, 13 December 2014
Britain: Tragedy shows the need for more HSE inspections
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) could do more to save lives if it was allowed to undertake more workplace safety inspections, a union body has said. Waltham Forest Trades Council made the claim after utility giant Thames Water was fined £300,000 for criminal failings that led to local man Raymond Holmes being killed by a reversing excavator at its Walthamstow treatment works.
HSE news release • BBC News video report • Construction Enquirer • New Civil Engineer • The Echo • The Express • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Pilots issue warning on drones dangers
Strict regulations will need to be introduced before large drones are allowed to appear in the UK's skies, the pilots union BALPA has said. Commenting after a near collision between a drone and a plane landing at Heathrow, the union said the remotely piloted craft were putting passenger jets at “real risk”.
BALPA Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems campaign webpage • The Standard • The Guardian • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Global: FIFA challenged on Qatar exploitation
Building union UCATT has challenged the head of football’s global governing body to witness for himself the horrific and frequently deadly conditions faced by migrant construction workers in Qatar. The call to Sepp Blatter came as a BBC Newsnight investigation revealed top UK construction firms are among those benefiting from the use of this labour.
UCATT news release • BBC News Online • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Health worker attacked on understaffed ward
A former nursing assistant sustained such serious injuries in a violent assault at work he was forced to give up his job. Michael Martin was assisting a dying patient on the neurology ward when another patient attacked him. The UNISON member, who worked as a nursing assistant for Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, was hit with a chair. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Paramedic punched trying to stop brutal assault
A public spirited UNISON member who was a victim of serious violence after he intervened in a bid to stop a brutal assault has received £9,000 in compensation. The off duty paramedic from Spalding was attempting to treat a member of the public, but ended up being assaulted by two men.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Government ‘support’ short changes asbestos victims
Asbestos groups have accused ministers of putting a positive gloss on measures that “short change” victims of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma. They were commenting after an 8 December Ministry of Justice news release proclaimed ‘new support for industrial disease victims’, including working with the National Cancer Registration Service and Public Health England to speed up the process of obtaining hospital medical records.
Ministry of Justice news release, details of the scheme and statement from Lord Faulks • Irwin Mitchell news release • Law Gazette • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Catalogue of failings at deadly disease labs
High security labs that handle the most dangerous viruses and bacteria have reported more than 100 accidents or near-misses to safety regulators in the past five years, official reports reveal. Reports obtained by the Guardian from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal that more than 70 incidents at UK government, university and hospital labs were serious enough to investigate; many led to enforcement letters, or crown prohibition notices (CPN), ordering labs to shut until improvements were made.
The Guardian • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Network Rail grills Carillion over deadly crash
Newly published Network Rail board minutes reveal the company’s executive committee called in Carillion to hear what action the firm was taking after three of its workers were killed in a crash on the M4 last June. Carillion is now the biggest beneficiary of Network Rail contracts and was paid a total of £281m by the rail infrastructure company over the 2013/14 financial year.
Network Rail board minutes • Construction Enquirer • Rail Technology Magazine • Network Rail Livesaving Rules • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Two jailed after site death convictions
The commercial director of Siday Construction has been jailed for three years and three months after being convicted of manslaughter. A safety consultant was also jailed for nine months on criminal safety charges following the death of Anghel Milosavlevici during a basement excavation.
CPS news release • London Evening Standard • Hertfordshire Mercury • Construction Enquirer • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Four guilty after fatal scaffold fall
A developer, scaffolding company, its director and a roofer have been fined after a worker fell seven metres to his death during construction of a new warehouse in Staffordshire. Experienced roofer Phillip Lonergan was installing the roof on a new warehouse being built by E2 Developments Ltd in Tutbury.
HSE news release and falls prevention webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Trainee was trapped by cherrypicker
A construction firm has been fined after a young worker was injured when he became trapped between the basket of a cherrypicker and a steel rail during a construction project in Newcastle. The 20-year-old from Consett, who does not want to be named, was working as a trainee steel erector for Crossgill Construction Ltd when the incident happened on 21 February 2013.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Viridor fined after young worker loses an eye
An Edinburgh recycling firm has been prosecuted for criminal safety failings after a young worker was severely injured and left blind in one eye when he was struck by a piece of high tensile wire. Declan Shipcott, 20, was working for Viridor Enviroscot Ltd at its materials recycling facility in Bargeddie, Glasgow, when the incident happened on 24 September 2012.
HSE news release • The Herald • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Laundry worker loses fingers and her job
A Woking laundry company has appeared in court after an employee lost four fingers when her hand was drawn into a poorly-guarded ironing machine. The 57-year-old worker, from Old Woking, who had worked at White Knight Laundry for 15 years, suffered extensive crush and burn injuries to her right hand in the 30 September 2013 incident.
HSE news release • Surrey Advertiser • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Steel firm fined after worker loses toes
A worker had to have three toes amputated after his foot was crushed beneath a 300kg press die. The 25-year-old was organising a lift of the press die – used to shape sheet metal – at SM Thompson Limited in Middlesbrough, when the incident happened on 17 March 2014.
HSE news release and lifting operations webpages • BBC News Online • The Gazette • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Britain: Firm ignored dangerous saws warning
A gate manufacturer has been fined £10,000 for criminal safety offences after it ignored a formal warning about installing guards on two circular saws. Openshaw Bespoke Timber Gates Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after it continued to expose its workforce to danger by operating the saws for one month after being ordered to take them out of use at its workshop in Droylsden. have avoided having to pay a court fine.”
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
USA: Cancer deceit of the petrochemical giants exposed
The petroleum industry has known for decades that benzene, one of its most important products, is a potent cause of cancer in humans but has spent millions on a cover-up, a new evidence database reveals. Internal memorandums, emails, letters and meeting minutes obtained by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in a year-long investigation suggest that America’s oil and chemical titans, coordinated by their trade association, the American Petroleum Institute, spent at least $36 million on research “designed to protect member company interests,” as one 2000 API summary put it.
Benzene and worker cancers: 'An American tragedy' • Exposed: Decades of denial on poisons, evidence database compiled by the Center for Public Integrity, Columbia University and City University of New York. The ‘dirty dozen’ documents from the database • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Europe: Union action call on work safety
The European Union must take action to stop the 100,000 deaths a year caused by occupational cancers, unions have said. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) also condemned the European Commission for blocking health and safety improvements and for putting forward an extremely weak health and safety strategy to run until 2020.
ETUC news release and health and safety resolution • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Japan: Unions aim to head off overwork deaths
Workers in Japan have been offered union-run counselling in a bid to reduce the deadly impact of excessive workloads. The trade union confederation Rengo said the two days of telephone counselling was intended to reduce the chances of a worker falling victim to “karoshi,” or death from overwork.
Japan Times • More on deaths from overwork • ILO karoshi case study • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Global: Orange employees just got safer
The global union UNI has signed a ‘groundbreaking’ global health and safety agreement with the telecoms giant Orange. The deal, signed by UNI general secretary Philip Jennings, the president of the UNI Orange Alliance William Coker, and the French unions, will become part of the Global Agreement signed between UNI and Orange (formally France Telecom) in 2006.
UNI news report • Risks 684 • 13 December 2014
Hazards news, 6 December 2014
Britain: Are you looking for trouble?
The union Unite has embarked on a campaign to nip workplace health and safety problems in the bud. A new national ‘Looking for trouble’ health and safety campaign is urging Unite safety reps to: “Look for it. Find it. Fix it.”
Unite ‘Looking for trouble’ campaign leaflet and health and safety webpages • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Nautilus warns government over piracy plans
Any government move that would restrict or outlaw ransom payments when seafarers are kidnapped by pirates could have deadly consequences, seafarers’ union Nautilus has warned. The union has written to UK shipping minister John Hayes to express its concern, which it says is shared by marine insurers, over the possible impact of proposed new counter terrorism laws.
Nautilus news release • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Employers stuck in a pregnancy ‘time warp’
The attitude of many employers to the protection of pregnant women at work is decades behind the times, a new report from the TUC has concluded. The union body says despite 40 years of protective legislation, the sacking, bullying and sidelining of expectant mothers remains commonplace.
TUC news release and full report, The Pregnancy Test: Ending discrimination at work for new mothers • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: School support staff are really struggling
A survey of more than 15,000 school support staff from the across the UK has found a demoralised workforce that harbours serious concerns for their ability to adequately support students, unless crucial issues such as workload, job security, overtime and pay are addressed. The survey by UNISON, which represents more than 250,000 school support staff, revealed 80 per cent are concerned about workload, with 81 per cent admitting the only way they can keep on top of their work is by doing unpaid overtime and working out of hours.
UNISON news release • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Global: Another reason TUC says ‘Playfair Qatar’
Abused migrant construction workers in Qatar have been arrested after striking against the exploitative conditions that have seen the massively wealthy nation condemned worldwide. It was the abuse of workers from South Asia that prompted the TUC to launch its ‘Playfair Qatar’ campaign.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and TUC Playfair Qatar campaign • ITUC news release • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Global: Safety inspections are not optional – ILO
The UK government is breaking international rules requiring safety inspections of all workplaces, an International Labour Organisation (ILO) ruling indicates. In November, ILO issued is findings on a complaint by Dutch unions about their government’s failure to comply with a number of ILO conventions.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • ILO Governing Body report, 6 November 2014 • ILO Labour Inspections Convention, No.81 • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Scottish HSE plan nixed by government
Plans to give the Scottish parliament new powers over health and safety at work were pulled from the Smith Commission report at the 11th hour, leaked drafts obtained by the Herald newspaper have revealed. Absent from the 27 November final report was an agreement to create a separate Scottish Health and Safety Executive, a move that had been called for by the STUC.
Herald Scotland • Smith Commission report • STUC news release and submission to the Smith Commission • Prime Minister’s Office news release and briefing • BBC News Online • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Slavery levels 'higher than thought'
There could be between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of slavery in the UK, higher than previous figures, an analysis for the Home Office suggests. Modern slavery victims are said to include women forced into prostitution, “imprisoned” domestic staff and workers in fields, factories and fishing boats.
Home Office news release and Modern Slavery Bill • Anti-Slavery International news release • TUC Stronger Unions blog • BBC News Online • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Family calls for inquiry over mine deaths
The parents of one of the four miners killed in the Gleision mine disaster have called for a public inquiry into the incident. Charles Breslin, 62, David Powell, 50, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, drowned in 2011 when 650,000 gallons of water flooded the drift mine following a controlled explosion.
BBC News Online • Hansard, 26 November 2014 • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Minister urges asbestos cancer victims to claim
The new compensation scheme for mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, has paid out over £15 million in its first 7 months, according to the government. But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says there are hundreds more victims who may be eligible for compensation and is calling for them to come forward, estimating that £32 million could be paid out by the end of March 2015.
DWP news release • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Does your asthma get worse at work?
Twenty years ago the TUC warned that one in five cases of adult asthma were related to work, a figure disputed at the time by both safety and medical authorities. Now the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) wants to evaluate the numbers adversely affected by exposures at work and the extent of those effects.
To take part in the study, email Jade Sumner at HSL. Telephone: 01298 218 803 • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Horrific burns from fall into bleach vat
A Rochdale fabric firm has been fined after an employee fell into a vat of bleach and suffered severe chemical burns over most of his body. PW Greenhalgh and Co Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation into the incident at Newhey Bleach Works found there was not a safe system in place for using the bleaching equipment.
HSE news release and hazardous substances webpage • Manchester Evening News • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Top furniture firm caused hand injury
Furniture manufacturer Ercol has been fined for criminal safety failings after an employee suffered severe injuries when his hand was caught in poorly guarded machinery. The 42-year old from High Wycombe, who does not wish to be named, was using a lathe to produce chair legs at Ercol Furniture Ltd’s factory in Buckinghamshire on 4 October 2013.
HSE news release and machinery webpages • Bucks Herald • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Driver shocked as crane hits power line
A crane operator has long-term memory loss after suffering an electric shock while moving steel sections at a new rugby clubhouse site. Subcontractor Lee Burge 38, who lives near Bristol, was using the crane to move sections of steel at Trowbridge Rugby Club on 20 March 2013, where a new clubhouse and play area were being built by Ashford Homes (South Western) Ltd.
HSE news release and overhead cables webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Architects caught out on burning question
A firm of architects has been fined for criminal safety failings in the construction of a new timber frame care home. Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard that Mario Minchella Ltd had not given contractors relevant information about the flammability of the timber frame used in the construction of the new building in October 2012.
HSE news release and CDM webpages • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Plasterer breaks back in fall at mansion
A Cheshire building firm has been fined after a plasterer broke his back when he fell three metres during the construction of a six-bedroom house. CB Homes Ltd, which was the main contractor for the development in Little Budworth, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the company had failed to make sure adequate guard rails were in place on the first floor landing to prevent falls.
HSE news release and work at height webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Australia: Asbestos victims ‘do not die by instalments’
Unions in Australia have warned they will take legal action to block any application to the Supreme Court to have asbestos victims paid compensation in instalments. In a unanimous vote, the ACTU Executive committed to the action in response to a shortfall in the Asbestos Injuries Compensation Fund (AICF) set up to compensate asbestos sufferers. ACTU news release • Working Life • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Georgia: Unions press for safety improvements
Trade unions in Georgia are urging the authorities to push through legislation to improve working conditions. The Georgian Trade Union Confederation says there is a need for action to combat the high fatality rate, but at the moment the government does not record workplace fatality statistics and the country no longer has even a labour inspectorate.
IWPR news report • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Global: Ebola’s 325 health worker victims remembered
A video message honouring the 325 health workers killed so far in the current Ebola outbreak has been issued by the global public service union federation PSI. Rosa Pavanelli, PSI’s general secretary, names the doctors, nurses, midwives, cleaners, ambulance drivers, pharmacists, community health workers and others who have lost their lives after toiling on the frontline against Ebola.
PSI news release and video • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Global: Asbestos killer gets ‘shameful’ legal reprieve
The public prosecutor of the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation has overturned the conviction of Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, who had received an 18 year jail term for causing the deaths of thousands of asbestos victims. The 19 November ruling means the former head of the Eternit Group is no longer a fugitive, because the public prosecutor ruled the original charges were filed too late.
IndustriALL news release • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Hazards news, 29 November 2014
Britain: TUC fingers minister for ‘bonkers’ glove attack
A government minister has been caught out by the TUC dangerously misrepresenting common sense safety proposals as “Brussels over-regulation.” TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said business minister Matthew Hancock was getting needlessly aerated over plans approved by the European Parliament earlier this year to require that “gloves which are labelled as being detergent-resistant, should be, well… detergent-resistant” and “oven gloves should be able to withstand the heat of an oven.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • EC proposals on PPE • Daily Mail • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
USA: Walmart told to ‘Respect the Bump’
Courageous current and former Walmart workers are calling on the mega retailer to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. The ‘Respect the Bump’ campaigners want improvements including lighter duties where medically necessary and being able to drink water or sit down while at work.
AFL-CIO Now blog • Black Friday protests • Respect the Bump • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Are you looking for trouble?
Unite intends to nip workplace health and safety problems in the bud rather than letting them fester and get worse. The union’s new national ‘Looking for trouble’ health and safety campaign is urging Unite safety reps to: “Look for it. Find it. Fix it.”
Unite ‘Looking for Trouble’ campaign and health and safety webpages • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Blundering CIPD official in the firing line
A top official of the professional body for human resources managers has found himself in the firing line after telling a conference that blacklisting of trade unionists is a “big fuss about very little.” Mike Emmott, a senior employee relations adviser with the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD), was a keynote speaker at the 50th anniversary conference of the Manchester Industrial Relations Society on 21 November.
GMB news release • Blacklist blog • Morning Star • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: NHS staff are overworked and underpaid
Threequarters of NHS workers say there are not enough staff in their ward or team and almost two-thirds (63 per cent) are worried about patient safety as a result, a new survey from UNISON has found. The online survey of 3,380 UNISON members reveals how workers are working harder and putting in longer hours for free to make up for the staff shortages.
UNISON news release • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Stressed prison staff are ‘totally demoralised’
Prison employers are failing to meet any of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stress management benchmarks, an independent study for the prisons officers’ union POA has found. Researchers from the University of Bedfordshire examined the work-related stress and wellbeing of prison officers and of nurses in psychiatric secure hospitals.
POA news release • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Stop dumping sewage on rail tracks
Rail union RMT is stepping up the pressure on Transport Scotland and Network Rail to end quickly the ‘filthy and disgusting’ practice of dumping raw sewage on rail tracks. In a meeting with the transport agencies, RMT officials urged both organisations to put pressure on Scotrail’s new operators, Abellio, to bring forward the proposed date for the fitting of retention tanks across the fleet from December 2017 to April 2016 “to eradicate this scandal.”
RMT news release • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Gulf: Call for better migrant worker protection
Labour ministers from Gulf and Asian countries have been urged to improve labour law protection, reform abusive immigration policies, and increase dialogue with trade unions and non-governmental groups. The call from 90 human rights organisations and unions came ahead of the third round of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, an inter-regional forum on labour migration between Asian countries of origin and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of destination.
ITUC news release • Human Rights Watch news release • Equal Times • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Engineer severely brain damaged at bakery giant
A maintenance worker who suffered a traumatic brain injury at work has received a “significant” compensation payout from a Premier Foods company. Unite member Tom Williams, 65, suffered fractures to his neck and swelling to his brain and fell into a coma.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Wirral Globe • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Stonemasonry firm convicted of manslaughter
A stonemasonry company has been convicted of corporate manslaughter after a young stonemason’s mate was crushed to death by a giant block of limestone. Cavendish Masonry Limited, which was found guilty by a jury at Oxford Crown Court, had previously pleaded guilty to criminal safety breaches.
Thames Valley Police news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Firms fined over site death
Property development firm Lois Gastoneaux Ltd and contractor Michael Brett have been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was killed whilst driving a dumper truck. Geoffrey Crow, 48, sustained fatal crush injuries in the incident at the former RAF Chenies site on 13 February 2012.
HSE news release and mobile plant webpage • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Fat chance of avoiding night shift weight gain
Working night shifts can increase the risk of developing obesity as sleeping during the day burns fewer calories than at night, according to new research. The study found that night shift patterns disrupt the metabolism of employees, causing them to use less energy than they normally would over the course of a day.
Andrew W McHilla, Edward L Melanson, Janine Higgins, Elizabeth Connicke, Thomas M Moehlmana, Ellen R Stotharda, and Kenneth P Wright, Jr. Impact of circadian misalignment on energy metabolism during simulated nightshift work, PNAS, Published online before print 17 November 2014, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1412021111
The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Italy: Fury as court quashes asbestos conviction
Asbestos campaigners have responded furiously to a decision by Italy’s top court to quash on a technicality the conviction of an asbestos company executive previously found responsible for thousands of deaths. The Court of Cassation overturned an 18-year prison sentence for Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, the former owner of construction giant Eternit.
France 24 News • Yahoo News • The Local • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: NHS staff face rising violence
There has been another rise in the number of physical assaults against NHS staff, new statistics from NHS Protect reveal. The figures show a rise of 8.7 per cent in reported assaults, from 63,199 in 2012/13 to 68,683 in 2013/14.
NHS Protect news release • UNISON news release • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Labour would regulate 'rogue' job agencies
Labour says it would introduce a system of licensing to clamp down on “rogue” recruitment agencies. Ed Miliband said that some agencies break minimum wage laws and exploit workers by undercutting wages of permanent staff, adding Labour will not tolerate “a world of work that is becoming more brutal because of the way some cowboy employment agencies have been allowed to operate.”
Labour Party news release • BBC News Online • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Police investigate slavery in UK fishing fleet
Police are investigating allegations of human trafficking and slavery in parts of Britain's fishing fleet. Among the claims are allegations that foreign fishermen suffering from exhaustion and malnutrition on UK-owned boats have leapt into the sea off the coast of Britain to escape abusive treatment on board.
The Independent • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Minister backs paid toilet breaks
Workers have a right to toilet breaks, a UK government minister has said, after a Welsh MP raised the case of a man who had his pay docked.Employment relations minister Jo Swinson said firms could be breaking the law if they made deductions from salaries for visits to the toilet.
BBC News Online • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Worker crushed under tons of plasterboard
William Fulton Building Services Ltd has been fined for serious criminal safety failings after a worker was severely injured when he was crushed under nearly two tonnes of plasterboard. Stuart McNaught, a joiner for the firm, was putting up plasterboard inside an extension at a house in Duntocher when the incident happened in icy conditions on 6 January 2011.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Britain: Teen severely injured in laundry machine
A Shropshire laundry company has been prosecuted for serious criminal safety breaches after a teenage worker suffered severe injuries when he became trapped in machinery. Matthew Brown, 19, from Telford, suffered leg and spinal injuries when trying to retrieve an item of clothing from an industrial laundry machine at Cleantex Ltd in Telford on 22 October 2013.
HSE news release and machinery safety webpages • Shropshire Star • BBC News Online • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Bangladesh: Tazreen victims to get some compensation
Two years after the Tazreen disaster that killed more than 120 people trapped in a factory fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh, an agreement has been made between the global union IndustriALL and their local affiliates, the Clean Clothes Campaign and retailer C&A on delivering compensation to the victims.
IndustriALL news release • Clean Clothes Campaign news release • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Italy: Fury as court quashes asbestos conviction
Asbestos campaigners have responded furiously to a decision by Italy’s top court to quash on a technicality the conviction of an asbestos company executive previously found responsible for thousands of deaths. The Court of Cassation overturned an 18-year prison sentence for Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny, the former owner of construction giant Eternit.
France 24 News • Yahoo News • The Local • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Hazards news, 22 November 2014
Britain: Veterans falling to mesothelioma
As the country remembered those who have died in conflicts, the TUC has said those who suffered and died as a result of hazardous exposures while serving in the forces should not be forgotten. Many contracted diseases they contracted while serving in the military, including the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Britain: Performance management is a bad business
Performance management, a worker assessment system that pits workers against each other and is linked to a massive intensification of work, is also a very bad idea for business, the union Prospect has said. Studies have shown the approach, which has been abandoned by some blue chip companies, to cause high levels of workplace stress, burnout and ill-health.
Prospect safety blog, Good Work campaign, stress resources and advice on performance management • The Guardian • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Britain: Survey of journalists finds dangerous stress
Journalists working for the newspaper giant Johnston Press (JP) are suffering dangerously high levels of stress, journalists’ union NUJ has found. A health and safety survey across JP’s titles revealed 82 per cent were subject to unrealistic time pressure, with 44 per cent saying this was cases often or always.
NUJ news release • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Britain: Prison staff stop work over injured officer
More than 30 members of staff at a Kent prison stopped work for health and safety reasons, the Prison Officers Association (POA) has said. The POA said 35 of its members at Maidstone Prison took the action in support of a female colleague, who needed surgery after being “badly assaulted” by an inmate.
Ministry of Justice news release • BBC News Online on the Maidstone attack and the tougher penalties • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Britain: Attacks on shopworkers are under-reported
Many retail staff assaulted at work are suffering in silence, union research has found. Interim results of Usdaw’s latest survey show that 16 per cent of assaulted shopworkers did not report the attack to their employer.
Usdaw news release • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Britain: Corporate manslaughter fines up to £20m proposed
Large firms convicted of corporate manslaughter would face fines of up to £20m under tougher sentencing proposals. Punishments for companies found guilty of health and safety, as well as food safety and hygiene offences should also be significantly increased, according to the Sentencing Council.
Sentencing Council news release and consultation, closing 18 February 2015 • The Guardian • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Britain: UCATT horror at ‘appalling’ safety failings
The latest Health and Safety Executive construction inspection programme has exposed the “appalling” conditions on many sites, the union UCATT has said. HSE’s month long blitz found that 40 per cent of sites visited were failing to properly protect workers; danger levels were so bad on 20 per cent of sites – 360 out of 1,748 visited between 22 September and 17 October - that enforcement notices were issued.
UCATT news release • HSE news release and safer sites campaign • Construction Enquirer • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Global: FIFA overlooks migrant deaths and abuse
Unions have condemned a report of a FIFA investigation into the selection of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup that concluded there were only minor concerns that “were not serious enough to warrant re-opening the process”. Human rights groups and unions campaigning to hold Qatar to account for the mistreatment of the migrant workforce in the country said these concerns had been ignored by FIFA.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and TUC Playfair campaign • Amnesty International news release and report, No Extra Time: How Qatar is still failing on workers’ rights ahead of the World Cup • UCATT news release • BWI news release • The Guardian • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Britain: Worker snaps his thigh in site fall
A Cardiff building firm has been fined for criminal safety failings after a labourer broke his right thighbone in a fall from a roof during development work. RHP Merchants and Construction Ltd pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was fined a total of £20,000 and ordered to pay £9,414 in costs.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Britain: Site firm fined over piling injuries
A Grimsby construction company has been fined for criminal safety breaches after a worker suffered serious leg injuries while installing piles for a new school science block. Topcon Construction Ltd was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,980 in costs after pleading guilty to two criminal safety offences.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Britain: House builder ignoring safety warnings
A construction firm has been fined after it ignored repeated warnings about safety at a building site in Manchester. Waterloo Construction (Manchester) Ltd was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,445 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a criminal failure to comply with a prohibition notice.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Britain: Builder refused to learn roof work lesson
A builder who ignored formal warnings about unsafe work at height has been fined. Gerard Hurst, who trades as Ashton Roofing and Building Construction was fined £1,280 and ordered to pay £1,865 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to two criminal breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
HSE news release and work at height webpages • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Britain: Unguarded machine was an unsafe buy
Two companies have been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker suffered serious injuries to his left hand when it was caught in a stone cutting machine sold without an effective guard. Windsmere Stone & Granite Ltd was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £3,337 costs and machine supplier Waters Group Ltd fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,020 costs.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Britain: Tree surgeon falls with chainsaw onto worker
A septuagenarian tree surgeon has been fined after he fell nearly four metres, still clutching a running chainsaw, and landed on a colleague as they were pruning a garden tree in Little Oakely, near Harwich. Gilbert Bradfield was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £889 after pleading guilty to criminal breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
HSE news release and treework webpages • East Anglia Daily Times • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Africa: Unions call for urgent Ebola support
African nations hit by the largest ever Ebola outbreak need international help urgently to combat the epidemic, a top union leader has said. A solidarity appeal from ITUC-Africa general secretary Kwasi Adu-Amankwah notes: “We are therefore appealing to you, your organisation and community to join us in our effort to mobilise material and financial donations to assist our brothers and sisters in these affected communities.”
ITUC-Africa appeal • Donations can be sent to CSI-Afrique, Centre Fopadesc , Agoe, Lome, BP: 4401- Togo. Bank Account: 7080161408998902 with Ecobank. Swift code: ECOCTGTG. When sending please indicate “Ebola Crisis Fund” • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
USA: Nurses strike for Ebola protection
Tens of thousands of registered nurses staged strikes, rallies and marches across the US on 12 November to demand tougher Ebola safety precautions in the nation’s hospitals. National Nurses United (NNU) executive director Rose Ann DeMoro said: “Nurses, who have been willing to stand by the patients whether it's the flu, whether it's Ebola, whether it's cancer, are now being asked to put themselves in harm's way unprotected, unguarded.”
NNU news release and Ebola optimal standards petition • AFL-CIO Now blog • Time magazine • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Cambodia: Sickening news on garment pay
Unions have responded with anger and dismay to a decision by the Cambodian government to set a minimum wage of US$128 a month for the garment sector. The 12 November announcement comes less than two months after eight major fashion retailers said they were prepared to pay more for clothes made in the country.
IndustriALL news release • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
USA: Beauty salon workers need protection
Workers in beauty salons are at risk of breathing, skin and brain problems, cancer, miscarriage and other disorders caused by chemical exposures, a new US report has warned. Advocacy group Women’s Voices for the Earth, which works to eliminate toxic chemicals from workplaces, said low paid jobs in beauty salons come with high risks.
Beauty and its beast: Unmasking the impact of toxic chemicals on salon workers, Women’s Voices for the Earth, November 2014 • The Pump Handle • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
USA: Relief as mine deaths boss is indicted
Unions and campaigners have welcomed the indictment on criminal safety charges of the former head of a US mining firm with an “unmatched” record of fatalities and safety violations. Donald L Blankenship, former chief executive officer of Massey Energy Company, is charged by the Justice Department with conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and securities fraud.
Justice Department news release • UMWA statement • Center for Progress Reform blog • The Pump Handle • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 681 • 22 November 2014
Hazards news, 15 November 2014
Britain: Government misled Lords on self-employment
A government minister misled the Lords over plans to exempt most self-employed workers from the Health and Safety at Work Act, new information indicates. During a 21 October Lords debate on the Deregulation Bill, government minister Lord Curry claimed the plan was supported by Professor Löfstedt, who subsequently wrote to Lord Curry refuting his claims.
TUC health and safety facebook page • Lords debate, 21 October 2014 • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Police ‘covered up’ links with union blacklisting
Scotland Yard has been accused of covering up its involvement in the blacklisting of more than 3,200 construction workers. The charge came after the emergence of minutes of a meeting between a senior officer in the Metropolitan Police anti-extremism unit and the organisation operating the blacklist.
The Observer • The Guardian • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: CIPD ‘shamed’ by blacklisting inaction
Five years of failing to act against blacklisting has left the professional organisation for human resources managers “shamed” for failing to address “the rot in its own ranks”, GMB has said. Protesting outside the 6 November conference of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in Manchester, the union said the body “now appears little more than a self-serving organisation happy to take its members affiliations without question about who they are and what they have done.”
GMB news release • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Deadly danger warning at army ranges
The lives of the public could be put at risk due to staff ‘being cut to the bone’ at Britain’s military training ranges, Unite has warned. The union said it members at Landmarc Support Services, which runs the ranges for the Ministry of Defence (MOD), were concerned at proposed redundancies, safety issues and a lack of consultation.
Unite news release • Westmorland Gazette • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Refinery workers walk out over safety concerns
Hundreds of contract workers walked out of an oil refinery in North Lincolnshire on 10 November over safety concerns. At least 450 contract workers at the Philips 66 plant in South Killingholme left the site, following a gas leak the week before which led to two people being taken to hospital.
Grimsby Telegraph • Scunthorpe Telegraph • BBC News Online • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Over 300 shopworkers assaulted a day
Over 300 shopworkers are assaulted every day according to the retail union Usdaw. General secretary John Hannett, speaking on 10 November at the start of Respect for Shopworkers Week, said: “Too often retail employees are confronted with violence, threats and abuse and it is really important we stand together and ask people to keep their cool and respect shopworkers.”
Usdaw news release • Usdaw Freedom from Fear campaign • Morning Star • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Call for action 10 years after rail crossing tragedy
Rail union RMT has called for the phasing out of level crossings to be speeded up. The union was commenting on the tenth anniversary of the deadly collision between a train and a car on the crossing at Ufton Nervet on the Paddington to Plymouth line.
RMT news release • BBC News Online • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Tesco warehouse worker hurt by forklift
The union Unite has secured more than £86,000 in compensation for a warehouseman who was seriously injured in an incident involving a forklift truck at a Tesco distribution centre. The member, an employee at Tesco’s Purfleet distribution centre, was standing on a pallet truck in an empty loading bay in the Essex warehouse when a colleague suddenly drove a forklift truck into it.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Head injury at work caused epilepsy
A tall worker whose head smashed into a low doorway frame in poor lighting developed post-traumatic epilepsy as a result. Unite member Simon Davies, who lost his job as an LGV driver for Kuehne & Nagel Logistics as a result, has now received £266,500 in compensation.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Bust waste firm guilty of corporate manslaughter
A defunct Rotherham recycling firm has been fined £500,000 after being found guilty of corporate manslaughter following the death of a worker three years ago. Waste processing machine operator Michael Whinfrey, 42, was killed working at the Sterecycle plant when a door failed and blew out under pressure in January 2011 and another man suffered “serious life-changing injuries”.
Rotherham Advertiser • Sheffield Star • Daily Mail • Mirror • BBC News Online • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Rail contractor told to explain serious incidents
Network Rail has hauled in the chief executive of a major contractor to explain a series of serious injuries, believed to include a worker who was airlifted from Cardiff Central station with “pelvic crush injuries” and severe blood loss. BAM Nuttall received nearly £210m in Network Rail contracts last year.
The Independent • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: 'Toilet tax' hits call centre staff, says MP
Call centre staff are being hit with a "toilet tax" for leaving their desks, an MP has claimed. Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon said a constituent found he had lost £50 from his month's pay for “toilet visits”.
Hansard, 6 November 2014. BBC News • ITV News • Evening Telegraph • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Vector Aerospace workers get vibration disease
An international aerospace company based in Hampshire has been prosecuted after 13 employees were found to be suffering a debilitating nerve condition. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Vector Aerospace International Limited, of Gosport, after investigating reports that workers were being diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).
HSE news release and vibration webpages • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Firms fined after worker is crushed
Two Derbyshire companies have been fined for criminal failings after a worker was crushed whilst dismantling steelwork. Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court heard the 47-year-old from Chesterfield was dismantling surplus steelwork and associated fittings for MMD Mining Machinery Developments Ltd at premises in Somercotes when the incident happened on 3 May 2011.
HSE news release • Derbyshire Times • Construction Enquirer • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Britain: Waste firm had a ‘dismal’ safety record
A waste firm in south-east London has been prosecuted after repeatedly putting its employees at potentially deadly risk from heavy machinery. Westminster Magistrates was told the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had to serve Greenwich-based Murphys (Waste) Ltd with a total of ten enforcement notices between 2009 and early 2014.
HSE news release • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Asia: Low standards in the hitech industry
Every day thousands of workers in Asia are exposed to dangerous chemicals without the required protection while making computers and other hitech equipment, a new report has found. ‘Winds of change’, produce for ElectronicWatch and which involved fieldwork in South Korea, noted that the chemicals used included benzene, a heavily restricted and potent human carcinogen.
Electronics Watch news release and full report, Winds of change: public procurement's potential for improving conditions in the ICT industry • Green America blog • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Global: Union campaign wins cargo safety code
Sustained campaigning by the global transport union federation ITF has helped secure an international code of practice on safety in the packing of cargo containers. ITF’s road, rail, dockers’ and seafarers’ sections all participated in the campaign, which has now seen the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) governing body endorse a code of practice on the safe packing of cargo transport units.
ITF news release and the ITF container safety campaign • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
New Zealand: Unions press for safer workplaces
The New Zealand government should act after a series of highly critical reports and upgrade the country’s failing workplace safety system, the national union federation CTU has said. CTU says the Health and Safety Reform Bill contains several important measures that must be retained, such as stronger duties on directors of companies, shared responsibilities for companies that share a workplace, greater powers for health and safety representatives and stronger enforcement measures.
NZCTU news release • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
South Korea: End abuse of migrant agricultural workers
South Korea’s agriculture industry depends on migrant workers – but these suffer appalling living and working conditions. ‘Bitter harvest’, a new report from Amnesty International, says that government's Employment Permit Scheme (EPS) directly contributes to this exploitation.
IUF news report • Amnesty International news release • Support the Amnesty International campaign • Bitter Harvest [pdf], Amnesty International, October 2014 • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
USA: Study finds cancer chemicals at fracking sites
Tests of air around homes near natural gas drilling wells and other production equipment in five US states have found sometimes grossly elevated levels of chemicals linked to cancer. The results of the study, published in the journal Environmental Health, noted: “Benzene, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulphide were the most common compounds to exceed acute and other health-based risk levels.”
Gregg Macey, David Carpenter and others. Air concentrations of volatile compounds near oil and gas production: a community-based exploratory study, Environmental Health, volume 13:82, 2014. Times Union • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Hazards news, 8 November 2014
Britain: Government tries to bury good news on safety
The government has attempted to quietly bury its own appraisal of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) “approach to negotiating and implementing European legislation” after it concluded it did not lead to problems for British business. Instead the review by a senior Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) official found the approach did fit well with the government’s “growth agenda”.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Appraisal of HSE’s approach to negotiating and implementing European legislation, Kim Archer, DWP, published online 31 October 2014 • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Britain: Action call after rise in work’s casualties
New official statistics on workplace illness and injury levels paint a worrying picture, the TUC has warned. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show that the number of people being injured or made ill through work is now rising, reversing a long-term downward trend.
TUC news release • HSE news release, latest statistics for 2013/14, statistics at a glance and Costs to Britain in 2012/13 • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Britain: Physios calls for a new focus on health
A sharp rise in work-related ill-health should spur a 'renewed focus' on employee health, physios’ union CSP has said. CSP director of practice Natalie Beswetherick said employers need to recognise measures that cut sickness absence are good for individuals, employers and the economy.
CSP news release • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Britain: Scotland’s unions want better enforcement
The UK government must reverse it attacks on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and provide sufficient resources for the enforcement agency to do its work without political interference, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has said. STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said: “It is clear from these statistics that the 40 per cent funding cuts imposed by the coalition government on HSE along with their unwarranted ideological attacks on workplace health and safety by the government and certain sections of the media are having an impact in Scotland.”
STUC news release • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Britain: STUC wants health and safety devolved
A submission from the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) to the Smith Commission has called for the devolution of all legislation relating to workplace protection, health and safety, employment and trade union regulations. The STUC submission to the Smith Commission notes that “the devolution of employment law, health and safety, trade union law and the minimum wage” would lead to “a better labour market and workplace protection.”
STUC news release and Submission to the Smith Commission • Smith Commission website. Scottish Hazards • 8 November 2014
Britain: Going to work is more stressful than ever
Britons find their jobs more stressful, precarious and demanding than ever before, according to an extensive poll of experiences of the workplace conducted for the TUC. Two-thirds of employed people say that the amount of work they are expected to do has grown over the past few years, and more than a third are expected to do unpaid overtime, YouGov found.
Independent on Sunday • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Britain: More tomatoes growing in train toilet discharge
Tomatoes growing on the track at a railway station near Norfolk highlight the failure of train companies to fit waste tanks to on-board toilets, a union has reiterated. Rail union RMT said the Southend to London line had become known for discharged human excrement, creating a hazard for employees working on the track.
BBC News Online • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Britain: Union alarmed at employee screening service
A construction group has come under fire from a union after offering pre-employment “employee screening” to site firms. Construction union UCATT called for the postponement of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) scheme to ensure that it cannot be used to blacklist construction workers.
UCATT news release • NFB news release • Morning Star • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
France: Shift work is bad for your brain
Working an irregular shift pattern may be causing long-term damage to people’s memory and mental abilities, new research has shown. The study suggested a decade of shifts aged the brain by more than six years.
Jean-Claude Marquié and others. Chronic effects of shift work on cognition: findings from the VISAT longitudinal study, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published First Online 3 November 2014. doi:10.1136/oemed-2013-101993 [abstract] • BBC News Online • The Independent • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Britain: Bad changes are bad for your health
A new guide on stress for NHS workers, produced by the NHS Staff Council, has linked the “unprecedented levels of change” the NHS has undergone in recent years to cases of stress and bullying. Health service union UNISON said the report also drew attention to the risks of redundancy, down-banding and privatisation of NHS services as stress factors.
UNISON news release, and guide: Stress at Work, a guide for UNISON safety reps. NHS staff council: Guidance on prevention and management of stress at work • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Britain: IOSH takes up the work cancers cause
Safety officers’ organisation IOSH has taken up the occupational cancer cause. IOSH said its ‘No time to lose’ campaign launch “kick-started an unprecedented drive, led by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), to cut the number of deaths from work-related cancer and raise awareness about the risks.”
IOSH news release and No time to lose campaign • The TUC and global unions occupational cancer prevention campaigns • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Britain: Asbestos caused market trader’s lung cancer
Former market trader Alan Tattersall died from asbestos related lung cancer, an inquest heard. Burnley Coroners Court heard the former Burnley FC, Preston North End and Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper later worked as a plumber and came into contact with asbestos during his work.
Rossendale Free Press • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Britain: Skip firm crushed casual worker to death
A Kilmarnock skip firm has been fined for criminal safety failings after a casual worker was crushed to death when a heavy gate came off its hinges and fell onto him. Malcolm Macdonald Kennedy, 69, a retired fitter, had been working for Alistair Thomas Corrie, who trades as A Corrie Skip Hire, for around eight years when the incident happened on 12 December 2011.
HSE news release • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Britain: Dangerous roof work caught on camera
A builder has been fined after two of his workers were photographed on a house roof in Burnley with no safety measures in place. Mohammed Yasin, who trades as Southfield Property Maintenance, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at a semi-detached house on 10 April 2014.
HSE news release and work at height webpages • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Britain: Worker burned by jet of molten plastic
A County Durham firm has been sentenced after a worker suffered serious burns to his face, hand and arm when he was struck by a jet of hot molten plastic. John Calcutt was helping clear solidified plastic from a large plastic injection moulding machine at Ebac Ltd, in Newton Aycliffe, when the incident happened on 9 September 2013.
HSE news release and manufacturing safety webpages • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Global: Unions fend off ‘privatised’ safety standard
A draft international standard on health and safety at work strongly criticised by unions has failed to secure the necessary two-thirds majority vote at a key committee of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) committee. The European Trade Union Institute’s safety unit, HESA, described the vote as “a battle won by the unions against provisions that would leave workers worse off.”
ETUI/HESA news story • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Global: New guides on Ebola protection
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has conducted a formal review of personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines for healthcare workers and has updating its guidelines as a result. Edward Kelley, WHO director for service delivery and safety, said: “Paramount to the guidelines’ effectiveness is the inclusion of mandatory training on the putting on, taking off and decontaminating of PPE, followed by mentoring for all users before engaging in any clinical care.”
WHO update on PPE • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Indonesia: Rio Tinto must act after Grasberg fatalities
A global union is calling on metals multinational Rio Tinto to speak publicly about what it will do to end the series of deaths at the Grasberg mine in Indonesia. The mine is now facing industrial action over safety concerns.
IndustriALL news release • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Turkey: Union exposes dark side of the Black Sea
Seafarers’ lives are being put at risk by the substandard ships in use on the Black Sea – that’s the key message of a new film produced by Turkish seafarers’ union the Marine Employees Solidarity Association (DAD-DER). Captain Ural Cagirici from DAD-DER said: “The fact that seafarers are risking their lives to make a living isn’t just a trade union issue, it’s a human rights issue too.”
ITF news release and Black Sea Project strategy • Risks 679 • 8 November 2014
Hazards news, 1 November 2014
Britain: Union reps say stress is the UK’s top concern
Stress tops the workplace concerns of union health and safety reps, the TUC’s 11th biennial TUC survey has found. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s shocking that so many employers are breaking the law and putting their staff at risk of illness and accidents by their sheer negligence.”
TUC news release and full report, Focus on health and safety: Trade union trends survey, October 2014 • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Cuts are making civil servants sick
Cuts to jobs and increasing workloads are leading to more stress and ill-health in the civil service, according to new surveys for PCS. Two surveys carried out for the union by employment analysts and academics have revealed high levels of stress, longer working hours, and fewer opportunities to achieve a work-life balance.
PCS news release • Morning Star • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Public service violence has nearly doubled
Violence against public service workers in Scotland increased again last year and has nearly doubled over the past eight years, latest figures show. UNISON Scotland says there had been 37,052 incidents reported to public service employers last year – up 3,363 and almost double the 20,000 reported when the first survey was first conducted in 2006.
UNISON news release and UNISON Scotland Survey of Violence at Work 2014 • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Healthcare assistant violently attacked at work
A healthcare assistant, who was attacked by a patient with a known history of aggression, has been awarded an undisclosed sum in compensation. The patient should not have been on the ward as the staff at the hospital had not been given sufficient training on how to deal with a patient who posed such a danger.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Government denies protection to shopworkers
Retail union Usdaw has expressed disappointment at the government refusal to stiffen sentences for those who assault workers selling alcohol, following a 20 October debate in the House of Lords. General secretary John Hannett said: “I am very concerned but not surprised that yet again the government has blocked necessary protection for workers on the frontline of enforcing licensing laws.”
Usdaw news release and the failed amendment • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Dismay as ministers say no to copter inquiry
Unions have expressed their dismay after ministers rejected calls for an independent public inquiry into helicopter safety prompted by a series of offshore ditching incidents and deaths. Mick Cash, general secretary of the offshore union RMT, said he was “appalled” at the government refusal to hold a “full independent and public inquiry into helicopter safety.”
Transport Select Committee helicopter safety webpages • BALPA news release • RMT news release • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • The Herald • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Worker injured in fall from bread oven
A Premier Foods employee injured in a fall while cleaning a bread oven has received a £4,600 compensation payout. BFAWU member Paul Strange suffered ligament damage to his shoulder and a soft tissue injury to his left wrist, the injuries leading to two months off work.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Global: Cameron must condemn slavery in Qatar
The prime minister must ensure that the government of Qatar is committed to ending slavery and abuse of migrant workers, the TUC has said. In a letter to David Cameron ahead of his scheduled meeting with the Emir of Qatar, the union body notes: “Conditions for foreign workers in Qatar, including those building the infrastructure needed for the 2022 World Cup, continue to be of grave concern.”
TUC news release, letter to David Cameron and Playfair Qatar website • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Lords back self-employed exemption from safety
Peers have voted in favour of government plans to exempt most self-employed workers from safety law. Unions and safety professionals had opposed the move, which will mean the self-employed are no longer subject to the Health and Safety at Work Act unless they are undertaking one of a short list of ‘prescribed activities’.
House of Lords debate, 21 October 2014. IOSH news release • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Supreme Court victory for asbestos victims
A landmark Supreme Court judgment will ensure a fair settlement for the bereaved families of asbestos disease victims. The ruling establishes that under the Factories Act the occupier of the premises is responsible for the welfare of the people on site, not just those it employs directly, and that the Asbestos Industry Regulations apply to all factories using asbestos - not just those involved in the asbestos industry.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • The Mirror • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Rail bosses have failed to act on safety
Rail accident investigators have warned that potentially disastrous safety problems have not been addressed by the industry years after being discovered. The Rail Accident Investigation Board (RAIB) inspector Carolyn Griffiths warned that dozens of recommendations had gone unheeded - with 25 still not addressed after three years.
RMT news release • RAIB news release • Morning Star • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Horticulture firm fined after explosion tragedy
A horticultural company has been fined after a worker died and three others were seriously injured in an explosion while emptying a pressurised tank used to heat greenhouses. Cantelo Nurseries Ltd employee Peter James, 67, died of head injuries six days after the incident.
HSE news release • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Factory fined over crane collision death
An Oldham manufacturer has been ordered to pay £125,000 in fines and costs after an employee was killed when he was struck by a three-tonne piece of steel being lifted by an overhead crane. Michael Wickstead, 63, was working for Refinery Supplies Ltd in Chadderton when two overhead cranes collided.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Young worker crushed to death by forklift
A North Lanarkshire employer has been fined for criminal safety failings that led to a worker being killed after he was thrown from a forklift truck and crushed. David Westwater, 22, had only been working for Basil Pinkney, in his small scaffold refurbishment business in Coatbridge, for two weeks before the incident happened on 28 August 2012.
HSE news release and transport webpages • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Vet workers were exposed to harmful drugs
A Bedfordshire veterinary firm has been fined after workers were potentially exposed over a four year period to animal chemotherapy drugs that can cause cancer and birth defects. Employees of Davies Veterinary Specialists Limited, including vets, nurses and support staff, could have been exposed to the drugs as they prepared medicines to treat animals with cancer at the firm’s premises in Higham Gobion, Bedfordshire.
HSE news release • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Britain: Scrap metal firm fined over lead poisoning
A scrap metal firm has been fined for criminal health and safety failings after workers suffered from lead poisoning and the firm failed to act on repeated warnings. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said one 48-year-old man from Darwen, who has asked not to be named, was admitted to hospital after blood tests revealed he had seven times the ‘normal’ amount of lead in his body, putting him at risk of health problems including nerve, brain and kidney damage, and infertility.
HSE news release and lead webpages • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Canada: Union says it’s time to ‘Stop the Killing’
Leaders of the United Steelworkers (USW) in Canada say its campaign to stop workplace killing through better enforcement of existing laws has gained momentum now that it has been raised with federal, provincial and territorial justice ministers. The union has been pressing for jurisdictions across Canada to make use of 2003 amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada dealing with workplace deaths.
USW news release and Stop the Killing campaign • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
India: Exploitation widespread in the textile industry
Workers are facing appalling labour conditions that amount to forced labour in the export-oriented Southern Indian textile industry, a study has found. The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) discovered women and girls who work in the spinning mills of Tamil Nadu, some as young as 15, are virtual prisoners, forced to work long hours for low wages.
ICN news release • Flawed fabrics - The abuse of girls and women workers in the South Indian textile industry, SOMO & ICN, October 2014 • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
USA: Unions call for presidential action on Ebola
To protect the USA’s health care workers and the public from exposure to the Ebola virus, President Barack Obama should use his executive authority to put in place mandatory protections and other workplace standards for hospitals and other health care facilities, national union federation AFL-CIO has said. In letters to the president and congressional leaders, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said: “Existing protocols, standards and guidelines, and adherence to them, are deficient.”
AFL-CIO Now blog and letters to president Obama to Obama and the Senate and the House • Mother Jones • Fortune. Wall Street Journal blog • Risks 678 • 1 November 2014
Hazards news, 25 October 2014
Britain: Selling or ditching airline medicals is too risky
Airline safety could be put at risk by proposals put forward by the industry regulator to either scrap or sell off its medical services, the union PCS has warned. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched a consultation on it plans; all UK pilots are required to obtain a medical licence from the CAA.
PCS news release • CAA news relase • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: Tomatoes on the line fertilised by human waste
Human excrement dumped from trains straight onto the rail tracks has caused tomatoes to sprout on a key route into London. RMT general secretary Mick Cash, whose members have to work on the track, said: “It shames Britain's railways that tons of human excrement is being dumped straight on the tracks while the private train companies make huge profits and the government does nothing.”
RMT news release • The Mirror • The Standard • London 24 • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: GMB launches blacklist ‘crocodile tears’ tour
The first leg of a blacklisting ‘crocodile tears’ tour organised by the union GMB will feature 10 demonstrations nationwide. The union says its intention is to name-and-shame 63 construction industry managers who have been implicated directly in the UK blacklisting scandal but who have not yet come clean and apologised for their actions.
GMB news release and Leeds, Darlington and Wolverhampton updates • Construction Enquirer • Blacklist Support Group Facebook page • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: RMT predicted correctly a serious train incident
The derailment of a freight train in north-west London last October has been blamed on a series of failures and operational issues that had all been raised repeatedly by rail union RMT. The confirmation came in a damning report by the Rail Accident Investigation Board (RAIB).
RMT news release • RAIB report • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: Union relief as dog attack law takes effect
New laws to protect the public from dog attacks have come into force. The new rules and accompanying Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Practitioners Manual for dealing with irresponsible dog ownership have been welcomed by postal workers’ union CWU, whose national Bite-Back campaign led the successful push for more effective controls.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: Brilliant firefighters tackle power station inferno
The leader of the firefighters’ union has hailed the brilliant work by firefighters tackling a major power station blaze in Oxfordshire, but has warned funding cuts could jeopardise this “world class service.” At its height, 25 fire engines and about 100 firefighters tackled the blaze at Didcot B power station, which began in a cooling tower at about 8pm on Sunday 19 October.
FBU news release • BBC News Online • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: Study highlights spiralling lecturer stress
Scotland’s university lecturers are facing heavy workload pressures and high levels of work-related stress caused by university management practices. The findings, based partly on a survey carried out by the union EIS, indicate that teaching staff in the university sector have lower levels of wellbeing and satisfaction compared to overall scores of those working across all sectors of education.
EIS news release • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: Stressed out, overworked and underpaid
UNISON members are being expected to do more work with fewer staff for less pay, the union's national health and safety committee has warned. Meeting as this year's European Health and Safety Week kicked off on 20 October, the public sector union’s safety committee indicated this oppressive combination was the motivation behind its ‘Cut stress, not jobs’ campaign.
UNISON news release and guide, Stress at work, a guide for UNISON safety reps • EU-OSHA news release • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: Prison officer attacked by violent inmate
A prison officer suffered career-ending physical and psychological injuries when he was attacked by a prisoner at Her Majesty’s Young Offender’s Institute Wetherby. The Prison Officers Association (POA) member, Keith Nyberg was carrying out a routine check in the inmate’s cell when the prisoner became aggressive and threatening.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Prisons Inspector’s annual report 2013-2014 • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: Premier Foods pays out after head injury
A Premier Foods employee was injured at work when part of the machinery he was cleaning fell and struck him on the head. Johnathan Wain, a member of the bakers’ union BFAWU, was employed as a mixing bay operator the firm’s Stoke-on-Trent bakery.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: ISO bid to ‘privatise’ safety standards
A draft standard on safety management being prepared by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) could be seriously bad news for workers, unions have warned. Unions say ISO does not have an expert mandate in occupational health and safety, and unlike ILO doesn’t have to listen to those who have.
ITUC news story • ISO draft standard • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: Extended family being ‘killed off’ by asbestos
A family fears it is being ‘killed off one by one’ by asbestos after two cousins died of a related cancer. Two other members of the family - Charlie Glass, 68, and cousin Tommy Glass, 80 – have also developed an asbestos related condition.
Daily Record • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: Asbestos killed former steelworker
The family of ex-steel worker Gordon Warner, who died last year from asbestos disease, is appealing for his former workmates to get in touch and help shed light on Mr Warner’s work at Bromford Iron and Steel in West Bromwich. Mr Warner died on 16 June 2013 aged 73 after contracting mesothelioma, an asbestos-related lung cancer.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Former employees of Bromford Iron and Steel with relevant information can contact Alison Fahy on 0121 262 1231 • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: Chainsaw sliced into worker’s leg
Enviroclean (Scotland) Ltd has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was injured when a chainsaw hit him on the leg as he slipped while felling trees. Hugh Dorricot, then 26, was not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and was not adequately trained to use a chainsaw when the incident took place at Gartsherrie Burn, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, on 9 March 2010.
HSE news release and chainsaws guide • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: Security firm in court after worker’s fall
An Essex firm has been fined after a maintenance engineer broke his elbow and ankle when he fell more than three metres through fragile ceiling tiles at a site in Dunton, Essex. The engineer, who does not wish to be named, was attempting to access an electrical control panel in a ceiling void to fix a faulty roller shutter door when the incident happened on 21 December 2012.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Britain: Scaffolding firm was insurance no-show
A scaffolding firm has been fined after it ignored repeated requests to prove it held insurance for employees. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was alerted to the possible lack of Employers’ Liability Insurance – a requirement under UK law – when it received a complaint about scaffolding erected by Abacus Scaffolding North West Ltd at a site in Thornton Cleveleys in October 2013.
HSE news release • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Australia: Trucking is the deadliest job
Australia’s transport union is calling for official action to improve safety standards in the “deadly” trucking industry. Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) assistant national secretary Michael Kaine said a new study by Life Insurance Finder confirmed trucking is Australia’s deadliest job with one in three workplace deaths occurring in the transport industry.
TWU news release and Safe Rates campaign • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Bangladesh: Over 1,000 garment factories now inspected
A union-brokered safety accord has seen garment factory inspections across Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Accord this week announced that initial inspections of factories covered by the accord had been completed by the September 2014 deadline. From the initial inspections of 1,106 garment factories in the country, the Accord’s inspectors identified more than 80,000 safety issues needing to be resolved.
Accord statement • The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. IndustriALL news release • The Guardian • New York Times • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Global: Unions put your safety on the agenda
Unions don’t just protect your livelihood, they protect your life, the leader of the global union federation ITUC has said. Launching a new ITUC occupational and health and safety newsletter and webpages, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said the new resources demonstrate how unions have influenced directly safety and justice from the workplace level to high level negotiations like September’s G20 meeting of labour and employment ministers.
ITUC news story • ITUC occupational health and safety webpages • Issue 1 of the ITUC occupational health and safety e-news • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
New Zealand: Claims expose the most dangerous jobs
Almost a quarter of agriculture, forestry and fishery workers in New Zealand had a work-related injury claim accepted by the country’s official Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) in 2013. Provisional figures for the year released by Statistics New Zealand show that agriculture, forestry, and fishery workers made 226 injury claims per 1,000 full-time equivalent employees, and 2.6 per cent of these workers experienced an injury that resulted in a week or more off work.
NZCTU news release • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Hazards news, 18 October 2014
Europe: The dead hand of the European deregulators
A new deregulation spree could be in prospect across Europe, following a report from the European Commission’s High Level Group on Administrative Burdens. The proposals – which seek to exempt small and medium sized enterprises from safety and other regulations - have been criticised by unions and the key industry group, with the TUC warning they pose a danger to both workers and consumers.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • TUC news release • ETUC news release • ETUI news release. Cutting Red Tape in Europe:Legacy and outlook - Final Report: High Level Group on Administrative Burdens and Dissenting Opinion • The Guardian • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Stress is the UK’s top concern, say reps
Stress is the top concern in UK workplaces, findings of a TUC survey of union safety reps has found. The trailed results from the 11th biennial survey, to be published in full in November, reveal two-thirds of safety reps (67 per cent) say stress, and the effect it is having on their colleagues, is one of the main concerns they have to deal with at work.
TUC news release • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Why NHS staff need to take a break
Health service union UNISON is urging NHS staff in England to take their breaks and ambulance staff to not work unpaid overtime. Commenting as NHS and other staff embarked on industrial action in defence of decent services and work conditions, UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said “NHS staff go above and beyond what's expected of them every day and every week.”
UNISON news release • TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Teachers fear taking sickness absence
Punishing teachers for taking sick leave is not the answer to dealing with absence caused by work-related stress, teachers in Wales have said. The annual conference of NASUWT Cymru demanded that employers should look urgently at tackling the stress and anxiety which are among the main causes of teacher sickness absence, rather than creating a “culture of fear around the issue.”
NASUWT news release • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Global: UK and Canadian TV unions in safety link-up
Unions representing non-fiction TV workers in Canada and the UK have joined forces to challenge poor safety and working conditions in the sector. The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) and BECTU prepared a joint statement of principles aimed at improving the situation, submitting it to production and broadcast executives.
BECTU news release, No to TV abuse webpages and code of practice • CMG campaign webpage • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Asbestos campaign welcome ‘but four years late’
Construction union UCATT have welcomed a new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) asbestos awareness campaign but has warned that workers have been denied effective advice for over four years due to government “penny-pinching”. UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy said the government’s bar on campaigns – the Hidden Killer campaign was on the blocks and ready to go when David Cameron came to power in 2010 – “means that for the last four and a half years, thousands of workers have been needlessly exposed to asbestos and their health put at risk.”
UCATT news release • HSE news release and beware asbestos webpage and app • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Date set for new hearing on tribunal fees
A new judicial review launched by UNISON over the introduction of employment tribunal fees is set to be heard at the High Court on 21-22 October 2014. It follows the decision of the Court of Appeal last month to stay the appeal of the earlier High Court decision over tribunal fees, in light of new evidence showing a huge drop in tribunal claims.
UNISON news release • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Lethal consequences of axing guards exposed
Rail union RMT has warned of the dangers of a growing rolling stock crisis on Britain’s railways. RMT says the capacity crisis on Trans-Pennine Express and the rest of the network is wholly down to the “fragmentation and profiteering of privatisation”, with rail firms competing to lease limited rolling stock.
RMT news release • Financial Times • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Health staff still at risk of ‘sharps’ injuries
NHS staff are being placed at risk of deadly diseases by foot-dragging employers who are failing to introduce readily available safer ‘sharps’, including needles, syringes and lancets, UNISON has warned. UNISON’s freedom of information request to the NHS Business Service Authority found that while some community trusts reported that 83 per cent of devices they purchased were safety devices, in other areas the figure was as low as 16 per cent.
UNISON news release • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Police 'neither confirm nor deny' blacklisting role
Campaigners against the construction industry blacklist have reacted with anger after the Metropolitan Police (MPS) refused to ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (NCND) whether the Blacklist Support Group has been the subject of surveillance by undercover police units including Special Branch. Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith said: “The refusal to provide any information whatsoever smacks of an establishment cover-up.”
Blacklist Blog • Morning Star • The Guardian • The Independent • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Ebola screening begins at Heathrow airport
Passengers arriving at Heathrow airport from Ebola-affected countries are now being screened by health officials. The government said “a few passengers” had their temperatures checked and filled in a health questionnaire at Terminal 1 when the policy took effect on 14 October.
BBC News Online and related story • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: New name for the work and health service
The government’s Work and Health Service has been rebranded as ‘Fit for Work’ ahead of its launch later this year. Disability and welfare reform minister Lord Freud – criticised after suggesting some disabled workers were “not worth the full [minimum] wage” - said: “Fit for Work will help employers and their staff to manage sickness absence and aid the return-to-work process and GPs will play a vital role in referring patients they think will benefit from it.”
DWP news release • TUC news release • Hazards magazine • BBC News Online • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: GPs ‘missing opportunities’ to spot lung cancer
Doctors in Britain are “missing opportunities” to spot lung cancer at an early stage, meaning one in three people with the disease dies within 90 days of diagnosis, a study has found. The findings have major implications for occupational health, with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimating around 15 per cent of all lung cancer deaths are related to occupation, or around 5,000 deaths a year – where cases are diagnosed late or after death, the link to work will be more likely to be overlooked.
Thorax news release • BBC News Online • HSE figures on occupational lung cancer •
Emma L O’Dowd and others. What characteristics of primary care and patients are associated with early death in patients with lung cancer in the UK?, Thorax, Published Online First, 13 October 2014 • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Frackers could be allowed to use 'any substance'
The UK government plans to allow fracking companies to put “any substance” under people’s homes and property and leave it there, under an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill debated by the House of Lords. The government said the change was part of a package of controversial measures “vital to kickstarting” shale gas exploration.
The Guardian • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Whistleblower exposures Mayfair site shambles
A whistleblower alerted inspectors to safety blunders at a renovation site in swanky Mayfair, leading to the criminal prosecution of a civil engineering contractor. Covent Garden-based Peter Lind and Co (Central Region) Limited, a company with a history of operating unsafe sites, was prosecuted after a subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection of the site identified serious work at height risks.
HSE news release and falls webpage • Construction Enquirer • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Britain: Worker burned when road marking lorry exploded
A road worker suffered burns when a Redland Road Marking Ltd road marking vehicle caught fire and exploded in Bristol, a court has heard. HSE’s investigation found pipework to the gas-heated cauldrons on top of the vehicle, which had not been fitted by a competent person, was not properly connected and the equipment had no flame failure devices.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Europe: Stress remains a major problem at work
A quarter of workers in Europe report feeling stressed at work all or most of the time, and a similar proportion say that work affects their health negatively, a new report has revealed. ‘Psychosocial risks in Europe: Prevalence and strategies for prevention’ found fewer people report working long hours but say at the same time job insecurity has increased across Europe, and in some countries work intensity has risen in companies struggling in the economic crisis.
EU-OSHA news release and Psychosocial risks in Europe: Prevalence and strategies for prevention, full report and executive summary • Eurofound news release • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Global: Workers press for Ebola protection
According to the World Health Organisation, in its Ebola Response Roadmap Situation Report for 8 October, some 401 health workers had contracted Ebola, with 232 confirmed or suspected deaths. Ebola cases in healthcare workers exposed treating patients in US and Spanish hospitals show the risk isn’t confined to West Africa.
IRIN news report • Ebola Response Roadmap Situation Report, WHO, 8 October 2014 • . SEIU news report • Washington Post • Working In These Times • The Independent •
NYCOSH New York airports health and safety report, October 2014 • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Canada: Rail firms fight new fatigue rules
Canada’s major freight rail companies are fighting moves by the federal transportation regulator to curb “extreme fatigue” among railway engineers, a CBC News investigation has found. CN Rail, CP and the Railway Association of Canada went on the attack two weeks ago at a “tense and heated” meeting of industry, union and government representatives, according to a number of people present.
CBC News and related story • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Japan: Top court backs asbestos victims
Japan’s government failed to prevent workers from being exposed to harmful asbestos, is responsible for the diseases that resulted and should compensate those affected, the country’s Supreme Court has ruled. The court handed down the decision in two suits filed by former asbestos mill workers in southern Osaka Prefecture and their bereaved families.
Mainichi Japan • Japan Times • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
Hazards news, 11 October 2014
UK: Union health and safety campaign delivers
The power of union organisation to swiftly sort our health and safety problems at work has been demonstrated by a UNISON health service branch. The local UNISON branch was intent on getting the problems sorted, and told management it wanted a joint health and safety committee – which promptly delivered a reduction in injuries, work-related ill-health retirements and compensation claims.
UNISON news release • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Union concern as fatality probe is ruled out
A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) will not be held in to the deaths of three crewmen when the Flying Phantom tug boat sank on the River Clyde almost seven years ago. The decision came as the seafarers’ union Nautilus warned that the ‘light touch’ regulation of ports was leaving crews at deadly risk.
Crown Office decision • The Herald • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Government must heed the lessons of rail tragedy
Fifteen years after 31 lives were lost in the Ladbroke Grove rail disaster, rail union RMT has warned that government policy is dragging the railways closer to “the same poisonous cocktail of conditions” that lead to that tragedy on the morning of 5 October 1999.
RMT news release • ASLEF news release • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Painful twist leads to injury compensation
A poorly planned pipe replacement job led to a Gloucester factory worker suffering a painful wrist injury. Unite member Terry Behan, who has received a £12,000 compensation award, said: “We were expected to work in treacherous weather conditions and didn't have the right equipment to fix the pipe in the first place!”
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Gloucester Citizen • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Court rules asbestos payout cut is illegal
Government plans to deduct legal fees from the damages paid to people dying from an asbestos cancer are unlawful, the High Court has ruled. The Asbestos Victims’ Support Groups Forum UK (AVSGF) brought the successful action against justice secretary Chris Grayling.
AVSGF news release • Leigh Day and Co news release • IBAS news report • Law Gazette • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Push for killer bosses to face life in jail
Top company bosses responsible for workplace deaths could face being jailed for life under proposals to reform Scotland’s law on culpable homicide. Richard Baker, the Labour MSP for north-east Scotland, will this month put forward a bill to make deadly employers more accountable.
The Herald • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Deadly BP cost cutter to head UK Civil Service
A former oil executive criticised for his role in a deadly BP refinery explosion, and whose last oil company was fined over 50 health and safety violations connected with fracking, has been appointed the first chief executive of the Civil Service. While at BP, an internal company report published in 2007 found John Manzoni should be held accountable for the Texas City refinery blast that killed 15 people and injured 170.
Prime Minister’s Office news release • The Independent • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: New chopper rules for 'larger' offshore workers
New rules are to be introduced on the size of oil workers travelling to and from offshore installations by helicopter. Critics have argued that it wasn’t the size of workers that caused helicopters to crash, it was mechanical problems and adverse weather conditions.
Step Change in Safety news release • BBC News Online • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Network Rail chief slams ‘unacceptable’ safety levels
The workforce safety standard on the railways not up to scratch, according to Network Rail head Mark Carne. The chief executive, who took up his post in April, said that compared with other ‘safety critical’ industries like oil and gas, Network Rail’s current level of workforce safety “is simply unacceptable”.
Railnews • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Workers are taking fewer sick days
Employers say the number of days taken as sick leave has fallen from an average of 7.6 days last year to 6.6 days this year. The survey report, from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), indicated that the fall in days off taken as sick did not mean workers were fitter now but points to an increase in presenteeism, with more people attending work while sick.
CIPD news release, related blog posting and CIPD/Simplyhealth Absence Management survey • BBC News Online • The Guardian • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Stressed social workers on the brink of quitting
The stress of “sharing people's misery”, increasing workloads and a lack of resources mean many social workers want to quit the profession, a survey has found. Nearly one in 10 UK social workers had considering leaving the job, with over a fifth of these blaming stress or unmanageable caseloads.
Community Care • BBC News Online • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Unguarded drill cost worker his fingertip
A West Midlands fabrications company has been fined after an employee lost the tip of his finger in an unguarded drill. Black Country Magistrates’ Court heard the 32-year-old man was drilling holes into metal components at H&H Alloy Sales Ltd when the incident happened on 18 December 2013.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages • Birmingham Mail • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Another drill, another glove, another injury
A Macclesfield manufacturer has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker’s hand became entangled around a factory drill. Stormguard Ltd, which produces drainage products, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found it had ignored warnings by its own health and safety officer about how the machine was being used.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Agency worker loses arm at recycling firm
A waste recycling firm in Scotland has been fined for serious safety failings after an agency worker severed his left arm at the shoulder while clearing a conveyor belt blockage. Steven Dawson, then aged 28, was working as a line supervisor for Lowmac Alloys Ltd at its premises in Irvine, when the incident happened on 8 February 2011.
HSE news release • STV News • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Britain: Tree surgeon seriously injured in 18 metre fall
Self-employed tree surgeon Daniel Hunt, 40, dislocated his hip after falling more than 18 metres to the ground when the limb of a diseased tree gave way. Richard Cole, trading as Richard Cole Contracting, pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Work at Height Regulations and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £780 in costs.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Australia: Welder gets landmark cancer payout
A landmark court decision to award compensation to a man whose lung cancer was linked to inhaling toxic welding fumes establishes a series of crucial precedents, Australian manufacturing union AMWU has said. AMWU health and safety experts said the Victorian County Court decision was an Australian first and recognised that light smoker Anh Tran’s risk of contracting lung cancer had been raised by working in a small welding shop in south-east Melbourne.
AMWU news release • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Global: Leaked text reveals ‘toxic’ trade partnership
A leaked draft of a trans-Atlantic trade deal reveals how the negotiations continue to favour business interests over the protection of health and of the environment, campaign groups have warned. The European Commission’s restricted access text for the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) shows that the European Union’s proposals for a ‘chemicals annex’ shadow those of the chemical industry.
CIEL news release, the leaked text and full report: Toxic partnership: A critique of the ACC-Cefic proposal for trans-Atlantic Regulatory Cooperation on Chemicals • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Global: Precarious workers face higher risks
Three out of four workers killed last month at a mine in Indonesia part-owned by Rio Tinto were precarious workers, the global union IndustriALL has said. It says cases like this highlight the importance of its ‘Stop precarious work’ campaign, with studies linking precarious work to higher injury and sickness rates and poorer health overall.
IndustriALL news release • Wall Street Journal • More on the hazards of insecure work • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Global: WHO warns of Ebola healthcare risks
A prominent World Health Organisation (WHO) adviser has warned that more Ebola cases can be expected among medical staff - even in developed countries with modern health care systems. Professor Peter Piot was commenting after Spanish nurse Teresa Romero contracted the disease treating two missionaries in a Madrid hospital.
BBC News Online • What we know about transmission of the Ebola virus among humans, WHO update, 6 October 2014 • British Medical Association recommendations. Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease): Information for healthcare workers, US CDC, updated 6 October 2014 • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Hazards news, 4 October 2014
Britain: Don’t sell out our safety
The government’s attacks on health and safety, including swingeing cuts to the Health and Safety Executive’s budget and the erosion of its inspection and enforcement functions, could jeopardise long-term improvements in standards at work, retail union Usdaw has warned. The union is directing its safety reps to a Hazards Campaign ‘Don’t pimp our watchdog’ initiative, which is calling for an end to the “commercialisation” of HSE.
Usdaw news releases on health and safety deregulation and the commercialisation of HSE • Don’t pimp our watchdog – send a message to HSE • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Unite calls on HSE to retain ‘vital’ committees
The Health and Safety Executive’s board must halt plans to close vital health and safety advisory committees and to replace them with “experts”, Unite has said. One committee dealing with chemicals - WATCH - has already been told it has been disbanded; and Unite says its parent body, the Advisory Committee on Toxic Substances (ACTS), also appears to be under threat.
Unite news release • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Global: TUC launches new Playfair Qatar campaign
The TUC is urging football’s governing body to make a stand against the deadly form of ‘modern slavery’ in Qatar, FIFA’s pick to host the 2022 World Cup. A new ‘Playfair Qatar’ campaign warns that the low wages and high risks endured by the migrant labour force, combined with the tied labour ‘kafala’ system, make the oil-rich nation an unfit venue.
TUC Stronger Unions blog, Playfair Qatar website and deaths and injuries webpages • Playfair Qatar facebook page • Daily Mail • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Unite seeks assurances after Ineos butane leak
Ineos must demonstrate to workers and the community its commitment to safety after a butane leak at its Grangemouth plant, the union Unite has said. Fire, police and ambulance crews were called as part of a multi-agency response to the butane gas leak at the central Scotland terminal shortly after 10am on 30 September.
Unite news release • The Herald • BBC News Online • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Teachers welcome minister’s workload pledge
Teaching union NUT has welcomed a commitment from the government to reduce teacher workloads. Education secretary Nicky Morgan, addressing the Conservative Party conference on 30 September, described teachers as the “heroes” of the education system, and promised she would make a priority of reducing their workload.
NUT news release and survey findings • Education Secretary’s Conservative conference speech • BBC News Online • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Support for suicide witnesses axed by government
A train driver who suffered psychological trauma after he hit a member of the public who stood in front of his moving train in an apparent suicide has been one of the last to secure compensation from an official criminal injuries scheme. The ASLEF member’s payout of £8,200 is one of the highest ever secured from the CICA in suicide cases but will be one of the last, following changes by the current government in 2012 that excluded train drivers and many other workers from claiming compensation for physical or mental injuries sustained during the course of their employment.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Long hours at low pay linked to diabetes
Working long hours in ‘low status’ jobs can increase your risk for diabetes, a new study suggests. Researchers found that people who worked more than 55 hours a week at manual labour or other types of ‘low socioeconomic status jobs’ were 30 per cent more likely to develop diabetes than those who worked 35 to 40 hours a week.
Mika Kivimäki and others. Long working hours, socioeconomic status, and the risk of incident type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of published and unpublished data from 222,120 individuals, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, Early Online Publication, 25 September 2014 • Orfeu M Buxton and Cassandra A Okechukwu. Long working hours can be toxic, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, Early Online Publication, 25 September 2014 • CBS News • The Pump Handle • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Europe: Most chemical standards advisers are industry linked
Two-thirds of scientists advising the European Union on the safety assessments of controversial substances have industry links, new research has found. Corporate Europe Observatory’s Pascoe Sabido said “these assessments don't just affect public health, they also help dictate the financial fortunes of companies involved in producing and using the substances,” adding: “This means that the independence of the scientists providing the expert advice needs to be above and beyond any suspicion of industry influence – which is not the case.”
CEO news release and full report, Chemical conflicts: inadequate independence policies for EU’s expert risk assessors • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Massive radiation dose for Rolls Royce workers
Workers at a UK nuclear submarine manufacturer received a gamma radiation dose up to 32 times the annual limit after discovering a misplaced radioactive source. Rolls Royce Marine Power Operations Ltd, which has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £176,500, lost track of the radioactive source at its plant in Derby which was then handled unwittingly by welders and radiographers.
HSE news release • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Clydeport fined following river tug tragedy
A port operator has been fined £650,000 for criminal safety failings, seven years after the deaths of three crewmen on board a tug that capsized on the River Clyde. The Flying Phantom rolled over in thick fog as it towed a bulk carrier on the river near Clydebank.
MCA news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • The Herald • Evening Times • BBC News Online • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Construction boss sidesteps blacklisting protest
Construction workers kept the Labour Party conference a blacklister-free zone after a senior manager of a firm linked to the illegal practice was a no-show at a conference fringe meeting. Lend Lease residential chief Richard Cook had been due to speak at a 22 September meeting on house building organised by Labour List, but a planned protest by UCATT delegates angered over the construction firm’s alleged links to blacklisting led Cook to opt out.
Morning Star • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Haulage firm in court over worker’s fractured skull
A Scottish haulage firm has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was seriously injured when an unsecured barrel fell from a lorry onto his head. McPherson Limited employee William ‘Dougald’ Sim, then 60, was unloading the vehicle at Speyside Cooperage when the incident happened on 14 January 2013.
HSE news release and load safety webpages • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Recycling firm nearly cost worker his leg
A recycling firm has been prosecuted after an employee almost lost his right leg when it became trapped in a machine at a Swinton factory. Roydon Polythene (Exports) Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found workers at the plant were routinely put at risk when they tried to remove blockages.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Engineering firm’s guilt after worker was crushed
A Basingstoke engineering firm has been sentenced for criminal safety breaches that led to a 42-year-old man being crushed between a telehandler and a steel post at a workshop in West Drayton. RVC Engineering Ltd was fined £6,600 and ordered to pay £1,087 in costs after admitting a criminal safety offence.
HSE news release • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Council failed to protect litter picker from cars
Manchester City Council has been fined £15,000 after a worker suffered serious injuries whilst litter picking on a city road. The 60-year-old, who has asked not to be named, had been trying to cross a busy road with a 40mph speed limit, when he was struck by a car on 9 July 2013.
HSE news release and road safety webpages • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Britain: Roof fall cost worker his health and his job
A Scottish sawmill has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was seriously injured when he fell eight feet through a fragile roof light. Tony Heron, then 56, was employed by Penkiln Sawmill Company Ltd and was putting tin sheets on the roof of a lean-to shed at the company’s Wigtown premises when the incident occurred on 1 February 2013.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Africa: Ebola has killed over 200 health workers
The number of health workers killed by West Africa’s Ebola outbreak has reached 211, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported. Its 26 September situation update says 375 workers are known to have been infected, and the overall death toll has passed 3,000.
WHO Ebola situation report update, 26 September 2014 • IndustriALL news release • BBC News Online • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Bangladesh: Garment unions improve safety skills
Trade union organisers in the ready made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh have received a week of training designed to increase their effectiveness on occupational health and safety issues. The training programme, which received funding from Canada, the Netherlands and the UK, was provided by the International Labour Organisation’s workers’ bureau, ACTRAV.
ILO news release • Daily Star • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
China: Apple iPhone worker dies of cancer
A young Chinese worker struck down with leukaemia while working in a factory that makes Apple’s iPhones has died – days after his mother pleaded in a UK newspaper for Apple chief executive Tim Cook to help save her son’s life. The Mail on Sunday says Yi Long is at least the sixth worker to die of leukaemia after falling ill at the factory complex in Shenzhen, southern China, in a cluster of cases families believe were caused by the chemicals handled by workers.
The Mail on Sunday and earlier related story • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Swaziland: Dangerous solvent sickens textile workers
Workers are being made seriously ill by a toxic chemical introduced at a Swazi textile factory, their union has warned. Dozens of workers required hospitalisation last month after the plant began using the dangerous solvent butyl acetate to remove stains from clothes.
AFL-CIO Solidarity Center report • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Hazards news, 27 September 2014
Britain: HSE plans to silence workers on chemical risks
Long-established Health and Safety Executive (HSE) committees that assess the risks from some of the most dangerous substances used at work could soon exclude workers and employers, if the regulator gets its way. One, the WATCH committee on hazardous chemicals, has already been quietly disbanded and another, the Advisory Committee on Toxic Substances, is under threat, internal HSE papers show.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: Green light for new tribunal fees challenge
The Lord Chancellor has given the public sector union UNISON the go-ahead for a new challenge to the government’s tribunal fees system. In a hearing at the Court of Appeal, the Lord Chancellor agreed with the union that a new hearing should take place as soon as possible, in light of new evidence.
UNISON news release • Personnel Today • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: More backing for the union World Cup campaign
Prominent members of the shadow cabinet have added their support to the union campaign for rights and justice for migrant workers in Qatar. Jim Murphy, the shadow international development minister, shadow minister for sport Clive Efford and fellow Labour MP Stephen Hepburn joined with UCATT activists in a photo call behind the union’s “Show Qatar the Red Card” banner.
UCATT news release and infographic • Morning Star • ITUC Re-run the Vote website • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Global: Attack on BBC team in Russia is condemned
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and its international sister organisations have called for a thorough and immediate investigation to be carried out into an attack on a BBC news team in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan. According to the BBC, the team from its Moscow bureau was in the city to investigate reports of Russian servicemen being killed near the border with Ukraine.
NUJ news release. IFJ news release. BBC statement and news report. The Independent. The Guardian • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Global: Stop targeting media workers as ‘a weapon of war’
Journalists’ union NUJ has condemned a video in which kidnapped British photojournalist John Cantlie delivers a message under duress in what he admits is an attempt to save his life. The union statement came before the release on 23 September of a second video featuring the journalist, who it is believed has been held hostage by Islamic State (ISIS) militants since his kidnapping in Syria in 2012.
NUJ news release • IFJ news release • BBC News Online • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: HSE must deliver better controls over silica
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been accused of leaving workers at double jeopardy from cancer-causing, lung scarring silica. A report in the workers’ safety magazine Hazards criticises HSE for resisting a union-backed call for it to halve the current exposure limit for the common workplace dust; and it says the government-imposed, hands-off, HSE enforcement policy combined with swingeing resource cuts mean even the current “deadly” standard is not being enforced effectively.
Silica, part 2: A line in the sand, Hazards, number 127, 2014. Silica, part 1: Dust to dust: Deadly silica standard is killing UK workers, Hazards, number 126, 2014 • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: HSE action on construction’s poor health record
‘Health as well as safety’ will be the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) message as poor standards and unsafe work on Britain’s building sites are targeted in its latest inspection blitz. During a month long initiative that kicked off on 22 September, the watchdog says it will carry out unannounced visits to sites where refurbishment projects or repair works are underway.
HSE news release and safer sites campaign • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: Life after personal protective equipment is possible
Construction firms should think about removing the risks on site before they cocoon their workers in protective clothing and other safety gear, a top construction health expert has said. Scott Schneider, the director of occupational health at the US union-backed Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA), said: “There’s no doubt that PPE helps keep workers safe, but it may not be the best solution and certainly shouldn’t be the only solution.”
Safety unmasked, Hazards magazine, number 127, 2014 • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: Worker run-over by nine tonne truck
Major construction firm JB Leadbitter and Co Ltd has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after a worker was critically injured when he was run over by a nine tonne dumper truck. Delivery driver David Windsor, 62, suffered life changing injuries, including a severe brain injury, in the incident at a building site in Devonport on 7 October 2010.
HSE news release and site traffic management webpages • Construction News • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: Solar panel installers fell through farm roof
Andrew Green, trading as Green Park Power. has been fined for criminal safety failings after two brothers fell 15ft through a fragile roof while installing solar panels. Brynley Perrett, 37, suffered a compression fracture of his back and sternum in the incident at Llan-y-nant Farm, near Trellech, Monmouthshire, in June, 2013 and his brother Anthony escaped injury.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: BAE company sentenced over firing range injury
BAE Systems Global Combat Systems Munitions Limited has been fined £80,000 for a serious criminal safety breach after a worker’s leg bone was shattered while test firing a gun on a range in Northumberland. The 46-year-old employee from Hexham was injured when a metal bolt weighing 7kg ejected from the back of the gun and into his left leg.
HSE news release • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: Environment watchdog fined over worker’s saw injury
The Environment Agency has been fined after an employee was badly injured when his finger was caught by an unguarded circular saw. The 48-year-old from Coniston, who does not want to be named, had to have the middle finger on his left hand amputated to the top joint as a result of the incident on 19 April 2013.
HSE news release and woodworking webpages • NW Evening Mail • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: Firm fined £200,000 after cherry picker death
A company has been fined £200,000 over the death of a worker who was thrown from a cherry-picker in East Ayrshire. Glasgow-based SW Global Resourcing admitted two criminal breaches of health and safety laws over the death of 47-year-old delivery driver Leslie Watson.
COPFS news release • HSE news alert • BBC News Online • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: Renewed anger at Network Rail director bonuses
Calls have been made for Network Rail chiefs to donate their bonuses to charity because of their poor safety record. Labour MP John Mann is asking that company executives hand over their “retention bonuses” after it emerged that they were leaving the company.
Sheffield Star • Nottingham Post • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: TUC stress guide for European safety week
The TUC has produced a revised guide to tackling stress using the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) management standards. The publication is intended as a resource of use by safety reps, and comes ahead of the stress-themed European Health and Safety Week, which this year runs from 20 October.
TUC Safety Reps Guide to the HSE Stress Management Standards [pdf] • TUC European Health and Safety Week webpages and National Inspection Day webpage • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Cambodia: Brands say they will pay more for clothes
In an unprecedented move, eight major fashion retailers have said they are prepared to pay more for clothes made in Cambodia. It follows a global day of action by unions in support of garment workers’ demands for a higher wage, in a campaign that gathered momentum after repeated reports of workers collapsing at work as a result of poor working conditions and malnutrition.
IndustriALL news release • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Europe: Work is changing and that’s not good
An “individualisation” of work and a marked increase in work intensity and speed is putting the health, welfare and negotiating power of workers at risk, a new report has warned. The new policy briefing from the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) recommends measures to “regain control over work,” noting that management is detached from the human consequences of their production driven decisions, and it “is the employees who seek to humanise the work organisation and that particular fragment of the world which, through their work, they help to shape.”
Individualisation of the work relationship:a challenge for trade unions, ETUI policy brief no.3, 2014 • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Turkey: ‘Gross negligence’ led to Soma mine disaster
A new expert report on a mining disaster that killed 301 miners in the western town of Soma in May has concluded production pressure pushed safety off the agenda at the privately-run, state-owned mine. The report identified 20 instances of gross negligence that led to the disaster.
Today’s Zaman • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
USA: New lab blunders fuel deadly infection fears
A runaway mouse, escapee ferrets and the accidental mailing of dangerous bacteria by a bioterrorism lab are among incidents in labs researching deadly infections that have heightened concern in the US Congress and wider population about controls on research work with deadly pathogens. House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee member Diana DeGette said: “It appears none of these breaches have led to any kind of infection,” adding: “But it's only a matter of time.”
USA Today • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Hazards news, 20 September 2014
Britain: Tribunal fees are denying workers access to justice
New employment tribunal statistics show that the system of charging upfront fees is resulting in a major drop in claims. Describing the fees system as “a victory for Britain’s bad bosses”, the TUC said workers, who can be required to pay up to £1,200 for taking a tribunal complaint about issues including victimisation for workplace safety activities, were being priced out of justice.
TUC news release • CBI news release • Usdaw news release • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: HSE inspectors not so keen on charging fees
A review of the effectiveness of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) ‘Fee for Intervention’ (FFI) scheme designed to recoup the cost of regulating workplace health and safety from law-breaking businesses might have found it effective and concluded it should stay, but HSE inspectors on the ground are not so convinced. Sarah Page, health and safety officer with their union, Prospect, says the subsequent inquiry into FFI by an independent panel was not sufficiently thorough and says it was rushed.
Prospect health and safety blog • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: Stress tops the workplace concerns of UNISON reps
UNISON health and safety reps have identified stress as a top hazard in the workplace. Responding ahead of next month's European Health and Safety Week, 9 out of 10 reps placed stress and related issues including bullying and harassment, violence and threats, overwork and long hours, as their most serious workplace concern. UNISON says its survey findings reinforce the union’s call for branches to support the stress-themed European Health and Safety Week, which this year runs from Monday 20 October to Sunday 26 October.
UNISON news release and European Health and Safety Week webpages • TUC European Health and Safety Week webpages and National Inspection Day webpage • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: Glasgow protest over ‘preferred’ blacklister
The Scottish government should intervene and reverse the decision of Dundee City Council to name blacklist linked construction firm BAM as the ‘preferred bidder’ for a major construction contract in the city, the union GMB has said. The union’s general secretary Paul Kenny delivered a letter by hand to the Glasgow constituency office of Nichola Sturgeon, the Scottish government’s deputy first minister, during a 16 September protest over Dundee City Council’s announcement that BAM Construction is its preferred bidder for the £45m tender to build Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum of Design.
GMB news release • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: Unions show Qatar the red card
Delegates to the TUC Congress in Liverpool joined together and showed Qatar the red card for its exploitation of migrant construction workers. Hundreds of delegates, during a debate on labour rights abuses in the oil rich state, waved football-style red cards in protest at Qatar’s selection to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Re-run the Vote campaign • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: Union links justice changes to suicides
Justice secretary Chris Grayling has “blood on his hands” after the suicides of two probation officers and a convict’s murder of an ex-partner, the general secretary of the probation union Napo has said. In a speech to the TUC conference, Ian Lawrence criticised the government for splitting the probation service in two.
Morning Star • More on work-related suicides • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: Unions say keep the self-employed covered
Self-employed workers should remain subject to health and safety law, unions have said. The TUC’s Congress agreed a motion condemning the government's erosion of health and safety rules in UK workplaces.
BECTU news release • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: Rail unions protest as dangerous franchise move
A protest at London’s Blackfriars Station by rail workers concerned at cuts to jobs, services and safety took place on 15 September. Rail unions RMT and ASLEF say the government has awarded the company Govia Thameslink the new TSGN franchise, after it agreed to extend driver only operation (DOO), cut station staffing and close ticket offices.
RMT news release • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: Train conductor injured in platform collapse
An RMT member has urged others to sign up for union protection after he was seriously injured due to the negligence of his employer. The train conductor, whose name has not been released, was making sure passengers were getting off a Northern Rail train safely when the edge of the platform crumbled suddenly, causing him to fall between the train and the platform.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: London Fashion Week gets a dressing down
Protesters marked the opening of London Fashion Week on 12 September with the message ‘Don’t mention the garment workers’. The protest action – which included a banner bearing the slogan suspended from Waterloo Bridge - was intended to expose an event which promotes the creativity of the UK’s fashion industry, but is silent over the millions of workers who produce clothes for high street chains.
War on Want news release • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: HSE accused of failure and denial on asbestos
A leading asbestos campaigner has accused the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of “overseeing” the worst asbestos cancer epidemic in the world and of making “unjustified” claims to ministers that its policies are working. The charges come from Michael Lees, a founder member of the Asbestos in Schools campaign and whose teacher wife Gina died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma.
Asbestos in Schools, update 134, 15 September 2014 • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: Pulmonary fibrosis asbestos link found
Many cases of a common lung disease that were assumed to be of no known cause are in fact the result of exposure to asbestos, UK scientists believe. Researchers from Imperial College London found a correlation between death rates in England and Wales from the known asbestos-related conditions asbestosis and mesothelioma and from “idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis” (IPF).
ERS news release • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: 'Ignorant' crane boss fined over death
A company and its director have been fined a total of £150,000 after worker Kenneth Cooke, 62, was killed when a crane wheel he was dismantling "exploded like a bomb". Denbigh-based Sanders Machinery Ltd and director David Geoffrey Sanders, 70, were convicted of criminal health and safety breaches.
Denbighshire County Council news release • Wales Online • BBC News Online • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: Exploding vessel lands two firms in court
A Kidderminster carpet company and a Surrey-based inspection firm have been fined after a large pressure vessel, in which carpet fibres are dyed and processed, exploded, propelling the vessel’s quarter-tonne lid six metres into the air. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Brintons Carpets Ltd and Allianz Engineering Inspection Services Ltd, who were contracted by the carpet firm to carry out periodic thorough examinations of the dye vessels.
HSE news release and safe work with pressure systems webpages • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: Contractors fined after leisure centre roof fall
Two building contractors have been fined after a worker broke his back when he fell four metres from a roof. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted SJ Roberts Construction Ltd and Seaton Heating and Engineering Services Ltd in connection with the incident.
HSE news release and work at height webpages • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Britain: Timber firm fined after agency worker loses fingertip
A Lincolnshire timber company has been fined after an agency worker lost the top of his finger in an unguarded machine. Grantham Magistrates’ Court heard that the 23-year-old, from Holbeach was helping to clear a blockage on a woodworking machine at Select Timber Products Ltd’s premises in Donington, when the incident happened on 15 July 2013.
HSE news release • Lincolnshire Echo • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
USA: Hazardous drugs in healthcare
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the US government’s occupational health research agency, has published an updated dangerous drugs listing to accompany its guide to the hazards posed to healthcare workers by the medicines they administer. In the introduction to the updated drugs list, NIOSH notes: “Hazardous drugs include those used for cancer chemotherapy, antiviral drugs, hormones, some bioengineered drugs, and other miscellaneous drugs.”
NIOSH news alert, 2004 guide and updated drug list, NIOSH List of Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings, 2014 • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Cambodia: Global unions back garment workers
Three global unions, representing millions of workers around the world, are mobilising to back Cambodia’s overworked, underpaid and exhausted garment workers. IndustriALL, UNI and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) joined Cambodian garment workers in a day of action on 17 September to mark the start of a campaign calling for a rise in the minimum wage from US$100 to US$177.
ITUC news release • IndustriALL news release • More on deaths from overwork • Cambodian campaign facebook page • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Liberia: Ebola burial teams face terrible pressures
As the Ebola death toll mounts in Liberia, burial teams are having to contend with physical risk and trauma as they take charge of safely burying the dead, often in the face of local anger. Government and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) burial teams initially took charge of burying the dead but had to recruit and train local teams to cope with the volume of corpses.
IRIN News • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Pakistan: Unsafe garment industry needs unions
Two years after 259 workers died in an 11 September fire at a factory owned by Ali Enterprises in Karachi, Pakistan, the report of an official commission into the cause and the responsibly for the tragedy remains unpublished by the government. As in Bangladesh, IndustriALL and national unions say increased union membership and collective bargaining rights are crucial steps towards making the Pakistan’s garment industry safe.
IndustriALL news release • Clean Clothes Campaign webpage • Accord on Bulding and Fire Safety • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
USA: Government can help businesses raise standards
The US government could use its massive purchasing power to demand improved working conditions around the world, a new report has concluded – but it doesn’t use this power effectively. The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) lays out some clear ideas to improve government purchasing and the capacity to protect and respect human rights of workers in its own supply chain.
AFL-CIO Now blog • Report by the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) • Risks 672 • 20 September 2014
Hazards news, 13 September 2014
USA: Tobacco fields campaign makes inroads
The decision by a leading US tobacco growers’ organisation to oppose hiring children under 16 to work on tobacco farms is an important step toward ending this hazardous employment practice, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said. The campaign group was commenting after the Council for Burley Tobacco, representing approximately 5,000 tobacco growers in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, and Ohio, approved a resolution stating “workers under 16-years-old should not be employed in tobacco production not only in the US but worldwide.”
HRW news release and May 2014 report, Tobacco’s hidden children: Hazardous child labor in US tobacco farming • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Reverse attacks on health and safety
Unions are calling on the government to reverse damaging cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and to reinstate preventive unannounced safety inspections for all workplaces. A resolution passed at the TUC’s conference in Liverpool also called for the next government to review changes made to workplace safety law under the current administration.
Prospect news release • PCS news release • Usdaw news release • BECTU news release • NASUWT news release • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Unions make work a fair bit safer
Unions make work safer, fairer and better, a new TUC guide shows. ‘The union advantage’ demonstrates the benefits of unions not only to individual workers but to employers and society as well, and points to government research that established union health and safety reps save taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds each year by reducing lost time from occupational injuries and work-related illness.
TUC news release and guide, The union advantage • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Mental health is a big issue at work
The cost of living crisis means workers are increasingly at risk of mental health problems, the union Usdaw has said. Paddy Lillis, the union’s deputy general secretary, told the TUC’s annual conference in Liverpool that trade union and workplace reps have a big role to play in supporting members coping with mental health issues.
Usdaw news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Global: Thai trial of UK researcher is ‘indefensible’
Global union organisations have condemned the trial of a British human rights defender Andy Hall, which opened in Thailand on 3 September, as a clear example of victimisation and cover up. Andy Hall is facing criminal and civil cases of criminal defamation, which have been brought against him by Thailand’s Natural Fruit Company following his research into the company.
UNI news release • ITF news release • Join the LabourStart campaign for Andy Hall • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Anger as ‘blacklister’ BAM chosen for V&A job
The selection of BAM Construction as the preferred bidder to build the V&A museum in Dundee has provoked a row over its role in a blacklisting scandal. The meeting of Dundee city council's policy and resources committee that awarded the job to BAM saw objections raised by unions and opposition councillors, who say the decision flies in the face of the Scottish government’s policy on blacklisting and public procurement.
GMB news release • UCATT news release • BBC News Online • STV News • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: ICO ‘in contempt of court’ on blacklisting, says GMB
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is “in contempt of court” for not enabling unions to contact blacklisted workers directly, the union GMB has charged. GMB started enforcement proceedings in the High Court on 5 September over ICO’s failure to comply with a High Court ruling that it hand over to trades unions the addresses of workers blacklisted by construction companies.
GMB news release • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: HSE fees system ‘effective’ and should stay
A scheme designed to recoup the cost of regulating workplace health and safety from businesses that break the law has proven effective and should stay, an independent report has concluded. The report found that inspectors at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have implemented ‘Fee for Intervention’ (FFI) consistently and fairly since the system was introduced in October 2012, and found no evidence to suggest that enforcement policy decisions had been influenced in any way by its introduction.
HSE news release and full report • UCATT news release • TUC health and safety facebook page • Construction Enquirer • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Labour action pledge on tribunals and blacklisting
A future Labour government will review the system of employment tribunal fees introduced by the current administration and is “open” to making blacklisting a criminal offence, the TUC’s Liverpool conference has heard.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Legal experts slam ‘pointless’ Heroism Bill
A government Bill the justice secretary says will allow would-be heroes and volunteers to act without fear of being sued is ill thought through, populist, and a waste of parliamentary time, legal experts have told MPs. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) was commenting in evidence to the House of Commons’ public bill committee on the effects of the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill (SARAH), which is currently working its way through parliament.
APIL news release • Public Bill Committee SARAH webpages • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Asbestos cancer caused by school exposures
A woman who was told she had less than a year to live after being diagnosed with a terminal asbestos-related cancer but who is now in remission has called for action to protect people from asbestos in schools. Sarah Bowman, 46, was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in August 2009, caused by exposure to asbestos dust while she was a pupil at a London school undergoing refurbishment in the early 1980s.
Irwin Mitchell news release • Evening Standard • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: More effort needed to keep workers fit for work
The government and employers must do more to help workers with long-term musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) stay in work, a new report has concluded. The authors of 'Self-management of chronic musculoskeletal disorders and employment', a report from the Fit for Work UK Coalition and The Work Foundation, note: “Our findings show that individuals’ health conditions and quality of life will continue to be damaged by work, with some leaving the labour market prematurely.”
CSP news release • Fit for Work UK news release and full report • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Choice is the key for older workers
A 50 per cent increase in people aged 65 and over in the workforce by 2030 means employers should recognise the real value of their experience – but it is crucial older workers are not compelled to stay in work, a health and safety study has found. Researchers from Brunel University, whose work was funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), cited earlier studies showing people in their 60s had fewer accidents and injuries than younger colleagues, suggesting that education and experience might help them judge situations better.
Brunel University news release and full report • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: BP was 'grossly negligent' in 2010 Gulf disaster
A US judge has ruled UK oil multinational BP was “grossly negligent” in the lead-up to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, in which 11 workers died. New Orleans judge Carl Barbier also found BP subcontractors Transocean and Halliburton “negligent.”
BP statement • Wall Street Journal • BBC News Online • Scientific American • BBC Scotland News • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Scaffolding boss jailed after death fall
The owner of a Kent scaffolding business has been jailed for 15 months for criminal safety failings after a worker plunged 14 metres to his death at a site in London. The sentence, at Southwark Crown Court, will run concurrently with the unrelated life imprisonment imposed on Mark Anthony Hayes at the Old Bailey in July this year for the murder of his brother in a family feud.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Enfield firm fined after faking safety record
A North London meat wholesaler has been fined for operating a fault-ridden forklift truck and trying to deceive safety inspectors by forging a positive examination report on the vehicle. MIB United Meat Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Westminster Magistrates’ Court after admitting three criminal breaches of safety legislation.
HSE news release • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Balfour Beatty fined £350,000 for rail worker shock
Balfour Beatty Rail Projects Ltd has been fined £350,000 plus costs of £50,000 following a prosecution by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). Harrow Crown Court heard the company’s criminal safety failings led to a rail worker suffering serious burns when he came into contact with 25,000 volt overhead lines near Cricklewood in 27 March 2011.
ORR news release • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Lucky escape for teenager after four metre fall
A 17-year-old labourer from south-west London had a narrow escape after surviving a four-metre fall through a hole in a loft with only cuts and bruises. His employer, More Than Lofts Ltd of Worcester Park, Sutton, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for the criminal safety failings that led to the incident.
HSE news release • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Global: Hi-tech supplier in China 'neglects safety'
A Chinese factory that provides parts to Apple, Dell and other hi-tech firms has been accused of violating safety rules and workers' rights. A report by non-profit China Labor Watch and Green America says that labourers were exposed to toxic chemicals, given inadequate training, and made to pay for drinking water in their living quarters.
China Labor Watch (CLW) news release and full CLW/Green America report, Two Years of Broken Promises • New York Times • Ars Technica • BBC News Online • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Turkey: Lift deaths were ‘occupational murder’
The 6 September deaths of 10 construction workers when a lift failed at a development in Istanbul has been condemned as ‘occupational murder’ by a union confederation. The elevator carrying the workers plunged to the ground from the 32nd floor.
DISK news release • Today’s Zaman and related story • Business Insider • RT News. CTV News • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Hazards news, 7 September 2014
Britain: New route for reps to report to HSE
A new system for safety reps to report problems at work after formal processes have failed has been launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The TUC says the new HSE ‘Concerns and advice form for safety representatives’, which can be submitted by post or online, comes into use when other formal processes have been exhausted.
TUC briefing • HSE health and safety representatives webpage and Concerns and Advice form for safety representatives • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Global: Ebola outbreak kills over 120 health workers
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has taken an “unprecedented” toll on health care workers, infecting more than 240 and killing more than 120, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said. “In many cases, medical staff are at risk because no protective equipment is available – not even gloves and face masks,” the agency reported in a 26 August update on the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
WHO news release • USA Today • Digital Journal • The Mirror • ABC News •
Ebola Virus Disease: Occupational Safety and Health - joint WHO/ILO briefing note for workers and employers, 26 August 2014 • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Global: WHO and TUC call for action on e-ciggies
Unions should negotiate the same controls on electronic cigarettes as on smoking at work, the TUC has said. The union body repeated its call after the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for a ban on the use of ‘e-cigarettes’ indoors – a move rejected immediately by the UK government - as well as a range of other restrictions on their sale and marketing.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • WHO report • BBC News Online and diacetyl story • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Britain: Worker involvement is needed in asbestos firms
A lack of worker involvement in the asbestos removal industry is compromising both the safety of workers and the survival prospects of firms, the union GMB has warned. GMB, which represents workers in the thermal insulation industry, is calling on all licensed asbestos removal companies to join with the union to tackle concerns being raised about health, safety and welfare of workers in the industry.
GMB news release • Asbestos Liaison Group • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Britain: Construction workers at risk of skin cancer
Construction union UCATT is warning that construction workers are at particular risk of developing skin cancer. The union alert came after new figures published by Public Health England (PHE) revealed the number of hospital admissions for skin cancer have increased by 41 per cent in just five years.
UCATT news release and work in the sun guide • BBC News Online • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Britain: Prospect’s new manifesto for ‘good work’
Civil service union Prospect is calling on politicians to take notice of its new stress-busting ‘Manifesto for Good Work’ in the run-up to the general election. The union has been consulting members on what they think makes work ‘good’.
Prospect news release and Good Work campaign resources and manifesto • TUC Touchstone blog • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Britain: Aerospace worker gets serious skin disease
An aerospace worker developed a painful skin condition because he wasn’t given adequate protection from contact with coolant oil contaminants. The Unite member, who has secured a £10,000 compensation payout in a union-backed claim, was working on the production of aerospace fixing when he developed dermatitis, a skin disease that can cause intense and painful itching.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Global: Labour backs unions over Qatar’s Education City
Union calls for a UK university to act on labour abuses at its Qatar campus have received support from Labour’s shadow international development minister. MP Alison McGovern is, like the TUC, UK lecturers’ union UCU and global union body ITUC, urging University College London (UCL) is to do more to help workers on its campus in Qatar’s ‘Education City.’
UCU news release • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Britain: Tube drivers continue their push for respect
A refusal by London Underground management to discuss safety cuts and heavy handed treatment of train drivers on two Tube lines mean more industrial action is inevitable, the union ASLEF has said. It follows 22 August “rock solid strike action” on the Central and Waterloo & City lines.
ASLEF news release • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Britain: Disqualified director jailed after crushing death
A disqualified company director has been jailed for criminal breaches of safety regulations that led to a worker being crushed to death. Paul O'Boyle, 56, was jailed for 26 months at Winchester Crown Court, after admitting a string of offences including breach of health and safety regulations, acting as a company director while disqualified, and fraud during his time as a director of Aztech AB Ltd.
HSE news release • Daily Echo • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Britain: Fractured skull leads to suspended jail term
West Midlands scaffolder Christopher Alan Harvey has received a four month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, after a construction worker suffered a fractured skull when a poorly secured pulley wheel fell seven metres and struck his head. Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard Mark Jones, 27, was installing lead flashing on a school roof using lifting equipment installed by Christopher Harvey, trading as Cannock Wood Scaffolding, when the incident happened on 8 August 2013.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Global: British labour activist Andy Hall in Thailand trial
A British activist who campaigns for better working conditions for migrant workers is on trial in Thailand charged with criminal defamation. The alleged offence is one of a series of charges relating to a report into labour abuses which Andy Hall helped write two years ago.
UNI news release • BBC News Online • The Independent. • Time Magazine • Andy Hall’s webpage • Sign the petition calling for all charges against Andy Hall to be dropped • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Britain: Two technicians dead in fireworks blast
Two people who died in a fireworks explosion in Cumbria were technicians preparing for a wedding party display, the fire brigade said. The bodies of the man and woman were found in a shed where the stored fireworks went up in flames on Saturday 30 August.
Cumbria Constabulary news release • Daily Mail • The Guardian • BBC News Online • The Independent. • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Britain: Building firm fined after joiner falls through ceiling
Manchester construction firm Quaintbrook Properties Ltd has appeared in court over its criminal safety failings after a joiner was badly injured when he fell through a ceiling. Patrick Moran, 48, had been working on a loft conversion in Chorlton when the incident happened on 21 May 2013.
HSE new release and construction webpages • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Britain: Hove firm prosecuted after flouting asbestos laws
A Hove-based firm has been fined after it flouted asbestos regulations and removed some of the dangerous material just three weeks after being refused a licence to carry out such work. Asbestos Damage Limitations Ltd, trading as ADL, was prosecuted at Brighton Magistrates’ Court for criminal safety breaches following the work undertaken between 22 and 25 October 2013.
HSE news release • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Britain: Workers at risk from vibration, dust and noise
A Hampshire manufacturer has appeared in court after allowing the health of its employees to be put at risk. Brooks Crownhill Patternmakers Ltd, a precision engineering company based in Andover, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court on five criminal health and safety charges.
HSE news release and HAVS webpage • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Germany: Ban on out-of-office contact investigated
German employment minister Andrea Nahles is considering new “anti-stress” legislation that would ban companies from contacting employees out of hours. Concerns over rising levels of workplace stress prompted the minister to commission a report investigating the viability of legislation that would restrict the use of emails to contact staff outside of work.
Daily Mail • The Guardian • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Global: New ILO push for health and safety compliance
Calling for “a culture of intolerance towards risks at work,” International Labour Organisation (ILO) director-general Guy Ryder has said safety and health will be an integral part of all the ILO’s work. He said: “This puts safety and health alongside forced labour, child labour, freedom of association and discrimination, which were recognised in the ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.”
ILO news release and video of Guy Ryder’s speech • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Global: Union body steps up precarious work campaign
The global union IndustriALL is calling on its affiliates worldwide to mobilise their members to ‘STOP Precarious Work.’ It says regular, permanent and direct employment remains under constant attack from multinationals and other forces that are promoting precarious work, linked to higher rates of occupational injury and ill-health.”
IndustriALL news release and report, Negotiating security: Trade union bargaining strategies against precarious work • IndustriALL STOP Precarious Work campaign • More on health and safety and insecure work • World Day for Decent Work • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014