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Hazards news, 18 January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 11 January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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