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Hazards news, 25 November 2017

Britain: Firefighters to challenge dangerously long working patterns
The High Court has said a judicial review can take place into a shift pattern that sees firefighters spend 96 hours straight on duty. Firefighters’ union FBU, which had sought the review now scheduled for early in 2018, wholeheartedly welcome the court’s decision.
FBU news release. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: No xmas beer if safety problems aren’t addressed
Christmas revellers in northern England could face a festive season ‘drinks drought’ as Sheffield drivers ballot for strike action in a long-running health and safety dispute. Unite, the union representing around 100 drivers and drivers’ mates working for DHL-owned Tradeteam Ltd, are being balloted for strike action over ‘unmanageable’ workloads and the lack of machinery necessary to make loading lorries easier.
Unite news release. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: Driving for Hermes is ‘downright dangerous’
The government must stop ‘downright dangerous’ practices used by firms including delivery giant Hermes, the union GMB has said. The union, which represents drivers working for Hermes Lifestyle Couriers, has warned of a public safety risk after a leaked letter shows the company is forcing couriers to work excessive hours and up to 21 consecutive days in the run up the Christmas.
GMB news release. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: Workload leaves most teachers considering quitting
Over eighty per cent of teachers said that excessive workload has made them consider leaving teaching in the past year, according to a National Education Union (NEU) survey. NEU joint general secretary Mary Bousted said the survey showed “teacher members feel that excessive workload is blighting their lives and driving them from the profession.”
NEU news release and workload campaign. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: RMT issues safety challenge to rail safety body
Rail union RMT has challenged an official rail safety agency to review fundamentally its ‘conflicted’ position on driver only operation (DOO) of trains, a policy that would see ‘safety-critical’ train guards dispensed with on many trains. The union says the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) must address the increasing danger to passengers at the ‘Platform Train Interface’.
RMT news release. RSSB news release. Morning Star. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: Lessons from the King’s Cross tragedy not learned
Cuts to fire services and the London Underground safety budget show lessons from the deadly King’s Cross Tube station fire 30 years ago have not been learned, unions have said.
RMT news release. TSSA news release. FBU news release. ORR news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: Shopworkers want legal protection from violence
Shopworkers are calling on the government to introduce an additional penalty for those who assault workers in the course of their duties. The union is also urging members to ‘report it to sort it’ after its survey found that 56 per cent of shopworkers who experienced violence, threats or abuse at work did not report the incident to their employer, and over a fifth (22 per cent) of those physically attacked did not report the assault.
Usdaw news release and related release. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: Union rights call to put Schuh on the right footing
Global footwear retailers should create transparent leather and shoe supply chains and take action to improve shoe workers’ rights, campaigners have said. UNISON activists were joined by Labour MSP Neil Findlay at the head office in Livingston, Scotland, of shoe retailer Schuh to hand over a petition calling for the ethical approach, and providing Schuh with case studies of exploited workers in shoe factories in India and Bangladesh.
UNISON news release, UNISON and Labour Behind the Label’s letter to Schuh and petition. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: Airbus fails to convince union over Super Puma safety
Union representatives for offshore workers have returned from a visit to Airbus HQ in France with a stark ‘no confidence’ in the future of the Super Puma helicopter. The meeting came after Unite’s warning in October that thousands of offshore workers were willing to strike over the issue.
Energy Voice. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: ‘Gig economy’ law would be a major step forward
A proposed law to tackle the gig economy would be “a positive first step” in ridding the UK of bogus self-employment, the union Unite said. The union was commenting on a draft bill jointly proposed on 20 November by the select committees for Work and Pensions and Business Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Unite news release. DWP/BEIS news release and full report. Personnel Today. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: Survey reveals gig worker safety gulf
Gig economy workers, temps and workers on zero-hours contracts have fewer protections for their health and well-being at work than their permanent, full-time colleagues, according to new research. Many are working when sick, working unpaid overtime and going throughout the year without a paid holiday, the Opinium survey commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) found.
IOSH news release. The gig is up: Trade unions tackling insecure work, TUC, June 2017. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: Why the wellness industry is, well, unhealthy
Channelling workers to workplace wellness practitioners but not addressing the problems rooted in the job is not going to make things better, a wellness practitioner has warned. Zoë Krupka, who is also a postgraduate researcher at the Faculty of Health Sciences at La Trobe University, Australia, commented: “We’re working longer hours than ever before, and as our employment conditions continue to worsen, they’re simply repackaged into a new version of normal in an effort to make the truly pathological state of many of our workplaces appear acceptable.”
The Conversation.
TUC Work and well-being’ guide and related article. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: Corner-cutting rail firms fined after cleaner electrocuted
A train operator and a cleaning company have been fined after train cleaner Roger Lower, 46, was electrocuted on the railway. scene. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) investigated London and Southeastern and Wetton Cleaning Services Limited and exposed a “culture of cutting corners.”
ORR news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: School governors fined after primary pupil injured
The board of governors at a primary school has been fined after a reception pupil lost part of a finger after it was trapped in a toilet door. Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 29 September 2016, the four-year-old pupil, who had been at St Joseph’s RC Primary School for three weeks, was allowed to use the girls’ toilet unsupervised, and was found by staff with her fingers trapped in the hinges of the toilet door.
HSE news release. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

France: Government forced to act on police suicides
The French government has been forced to act after eight police officers including a high-profile former police chief killed themselves in the same week.  “Confronted on a daily basis by human misery, violence and the worst that you can find in humans, police can no longer put up with a lack of consideration towards them, which is a factor in these tragic acts,” said the Unité-SGP police union.
The Local. More on work-related suicides. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Korea: Samsung worker's family wins brain tumour case
South Korea's Supreme Court has ruled that the family of a Samsung worker who died of a brain tumour is eligible for state compensation for an occupational disease. It overturned an appeal court's decision in the case of Lee Yoon-jung, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour at age 30 and died two years later.
CBS News. ABC News. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Japan: Union survey finds doctors routinely overworked
About 8 per cent of full-time medical practitioners in Japan took no days off in the preceding month, while 7 per cent of night-shift doctors put in more than 80 hours of overtime, a union survey has found. One of the labour ministry’s ‘thresholds’ used to define overwork-related deaths, or karoshi, is working more than 80 hours of overtime a month.
Asahi Shimbun. Japan Press. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

USA: Unions challenge ‘rampant’ worker abuse
The headline-grabbing sexual harassment cases in politics, the media and entertainment are just a small indication of the ‘rampant’ abuse of workers, with low paid workers frequently the hidden victims. Chicago hotel workers this month celebrated a new ‘Hands Off Pants On’ ordinance it says will protect them from harassment.
Unite Here Local 1 news release. Slate. CBS Chicago News. ‘Hands Off Pants On’ ordinance.
Economic Hardship Reporting Project. In These Times 27 May 2011 article on the Dominique Strauss Kahn case. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Hazards news, 18 November 2017

Britain: What would a super safety rep look like?
As part of the TUC’s work celebrating 40 years of union health and safety representatives, the union body is planning a resource on how to expand the existing legal role of these life-saving union reps. The TUC says it is pulling together examples of health and safety representatives reaching agreements that go beyond the requirements on employers under the 1977 Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations, such as the right to stop the job, roving reps or Union Improvement Notices.
Email your examples to the TUC health and safety department. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: ‘No confidence’ in parliament’s harassment working group
Unite’s parliamentary branch has expressed ‘deep concern’ over the lack of staff ‘voice’ in a working group proposed by the leader of the House of Commons to tackle harassment, bullying and abuses of power in parliament and the constituencies. Replying to a letter dated 9 November from MP Andrea Leadsom that outlined the process and composition of the working group, the branch warned that the make-up of group, comprising 10 parliamentarians and two staff representatives, would lead to staff having ‘no confidence’ in the group’s results.
Unite news release. Morning Star.
Unite petition calling for union recognition for parliamentary staff. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Equity seeks solutions to sexual harassment crisis
Performers’ union Equity is launching an investigation into practical ways to combat sexual harassment and the fear of disclosure in the theatre, film, TV, audio and new media industries. The union, which has existing agreements with all the major employers in the industry, says it is uniquely placed to create meaningful change.
Equity news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Stamp out abuse in the media industry
Journalists’ union NUJ has said it is crucial that the workplace cultures that allow predatory behaviour and sexual harassment to flourish are dismantled. Michelle Stanistreet, the union’s general secretary, said: “Such abuse of power needs to be stamped out.” In a statement, she added: “Newspaper and broadcasting organisations have a duty of care for their employees and people who work for them and it’s time they took that seriously.”
NUJ statement. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: ‘Shocking’ levels of mental illness expose bad bosses
A confidential survey of workers employed by Mears in Manchester and the Mears-run joint venture Manchester Working has revealed ‘truly shocking’ levels of mental health problems and stress among its workforce. The findings of the survey undertaken by the members’ union Unite, were released on 13 November to coincide with the resumption of industrial action in a long-running dispute.
Unite news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: RMT exposes serious strike-breaking safety breaches
Rail union RMT has written to the rail safety regulator itemising a series of serious safety lapses during last week’s strike action on South Western Railway (SWR). The union said the incidents, which occurred on 8 November, all involved the use of poorly trained ‘contingency guards’ deployed in a bid to break the RMT strike action.
RMT news release. Evening Standard. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Uber fails in appeal against ruling on workers’ rights
In a landmark victory for the union GMB, taxi firm Uber has lost an appeal against a ruling that its drivers should be treated as workers rather than self-employed. Maria Ludkin, GMB legal director, said: “This landmark decision is yet more vindication of GMB’s campaign to ensure drivers are given the rights they are entitled to - and that the public, drivers and passengers are kept safe.”
GMB news release. Leigh Day news release. ITF news release. The Guardian. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Unite alarmed at extra Highways safety ‘passport’
Construction union Unite has expressed deep concern at a new health and safety ‘passport’ introduced unilaterally by Highways England. The union says the lack of consultation and secrecy concerning the new card scheme has created confusion and could doom the scheme to failure.
Unite news release. Highways England news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Bus safety concerns ‘swept under the carpet’
Transport for London (TfL) has swept concerns about the health and welfare of bus drivers under the carpet, Unite has said. The union was commenting on the publication of TfL’s official response to a London Assembly report, ‘Driven to Distraction’.
Unite news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Violence against shopworkers is rising - Usdaw
New statistics have revealed a ‘shocking’ jump in incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. Retail union Usdaw launched its interim survey findings to mark its annual Respect for Shopworkers Week.
Usdaw news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Sarah Newton is the new health and safety minister
Conservative MP Sarah Newton has been appointed Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work. She replaces Penny Mordaunt, who was promoted to the cabinet post of Secretary of State for International Development after Priti Patel’s fall from grace.
Prime Minister’s Office statement. Sarah Newton MP’s biography. BBC News Online. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Stress epidemic due to 'always on' work culture
Britain is in the grip of a stress epidemic, with 82 per cent of Britons feeling stressed at least some of the time during a typical week, new research from AXA has revealed. According to the insurance giant’s Stress Index, stress in the workplace is strongly linked to the ‘always on’ culture, with almost three in every five workers (59 per cent) admitting to taking calls outside of working hours, while more than half (55 per cent) check their emails.
Axa news release. Evening Standard. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Global: Workplace bullying and violence linked to diabetes
Workplace bullying and violence may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, for both men and women, according to new research published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD). The authors say: “As both bullying and violence or threats of violence are common in the workplace we suggest that prevention policies should be investigated as a possible means to reduce this risk.”
Tianwei Xu and others. Workplace bullying and violence as risk factors for type 2 diabetes: a multicohort study and meta-analysis, Diabetologia, pages 1–9, published online 13 November 2017. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Suspended jail terms after ‘horrific’ agency worker fatality
Two company directors have been given suspended prison sentences after the death of an agency worker who was drawn into machinery while cleaning in the area. Nottingham Crown Court heard how Karlis Pavasars, 55, lost his life whilst cleaning near a conveyor at Mid-UK Recycling Limited.
HSE news release. Sleaford Standard. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Wood waste firm fined following fall fatality
A wood waste company has been fined for criminal safety breaches after a worker was killed when he fell four metres from a walking floor trailer – a lorry trailer with a moving floor - while manually un-sheeting the unit. Paul Littlewood, 48, died from his injuries following the incident at R Plevin & Sons’ site in Hazlehead.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Two companies fined after worker crushed to death
A vehicle recovery company and a recovery vehicles manufacturer have been fined after a worker died of crush injuries. Southwark Crown Court heard how, on 31 May 2013, John Wallace, an employee of Ontime Automotive Ltd, was jet washing a twin deck recovery vehicle at the company’s base in Hayes, Middlesex when the upper deck collapsed spontaneously, trapping him between the upper and lower deck.
HSE news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Company fined after worker falls to death
A Glasgow-based demolition contractor has been fined after a worker fell to his death from a mezzanine deck during a demolition project in Edinburgh. Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how Peter Millar, a 57-year-old employee of Walker Demo Limited, died 10 days after he fell on 15 January 2015, while dismantling a mezzanine deck at the Fort Kinnaird Retail Park south of Edinburgh.
HSE news release. Edinburgh Evening News. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Canada: Unions welcome work harassment and violence law
Canada’s unions have welcomed a proposed law to address harassment and violence at work. The Canadian federal government said the ‘three pillars’ of the proposed legislation, which would cover federally-regulated staff, are prevention, responding to incidents and providing support to those affected.
CLC news release. Unifor news release. Canadian government news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Europe: ‘Immense’ cost of work cancers calculated
The annual financial cost arising from occupational cancers across the European Union is ‘immense’, a new study has indicated. The European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), which released the findings at a Work and Cancer conference in Brussels, said the total cost ran to between €270 billion (£241bn) and €610 billion (£545bn) each year, which represents between 1.8 per cent and 4.1 per cent of the gross domestic product of the European Union.
ETUI news release and study report. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Global: How unions are keeping workers safe
In a changing world, how do workers get their employers to raise wages and assure safe conditions? Some of the world’s most innovative worker groups are hopeful they have found a solution, the Worker-Driven Social Responsibility Network, an ambitious effort to improve the lives of millions of workers in the corporate supply chains.
The Guardian US. Worker-Driven Social Responsibility Network. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Hazards news, 11 November 2017

Britain: Most UK jobs are neither great nor safe, poll shows
A poll for the TUC has provided damning evidence of how far most people’s work is from being a ‘great’ job. The TUC commissioned the nationally representative poll of over 3,000 found just one one in ten respondents said their management doesn’t take health and safety seriously in the workplace and over one in ten said that bullying, harassment and discrimination happen at their workplace without management dealing with it.
TUC Great Jobs Agenda webpages and Great Jobs in Great Places report. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Commercial drivers win the right to spend a penny
Transport union Unite has won a long–running campaign giving delivery drivers the right to use the toilets at a business where they are making deliveries. Thanks to the union-secured deal, employers in control of non-domestic premises are now obliged to allow people who are not their employees but use their premises to access toilets and washing facilities.
Unite news release and Better loos 4U campaign. More on toilet breaks. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Asbestos workers in danger from ‘watered down’ rules
Unite has warned that government proposals to water down ‘vital life-saving’ asbestos regulations could risk the health of asbestos workers. The union was commenting on Health and Safety Executive (HSE) proposals to reduce the frequency of medical checks on workers doing the highest risk asbestos work.
Unite news release. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Tram drivers to strike over dangerous sleep detectors
Tram drivers are to stage two 24-hour strikes in a dispute over the introduction of a device to detect if a driver has fallen asleep. ASLEF says the detector shines a constant infra-red beam on drivers’ faces, causing headaches and blurred vision.
ASLEF news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Train derailment reinforces need for guards
The derailment of a South Western Railway (SWR) train reinforces the need for guards on all rail services, rail union RMT has said. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Yet again this incident shows the importance of having guards on our trains to manage these emergency situations and exposes South Western Railway's dangerous gamble ‎of axing the guard from their services.”
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Train firm forced to backtrack over strike safety claims
Rail union RMT has warned that contingency plans put in place by train operator Greater Anglia for RMT strike days over rail safety have collapsed into “dangerous chaos.” The union was commenting after what it described as “an extraordinary row” developed last week between the rail regulator ORR and Greater Anglia’s owner, Abellio.
RMT news release. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Bus drivers face ‘shocking’ abuse, spitting and physical assaults
London’s bus drivers face shocking levels of abuse, spitting and physical assaults as they go about their job, a Unite survey has revealed. The union announced the survey findings as it launched a new London-wide campaign against assaults on the capital’s 25,000 bus drivers.
Unite news release. Morning Star. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Nearly two million harmed by work last year
The latest annual injury and ill-health statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show 1.3 million workers were suffering from work-related ill-health in 2016/17 and 609,000 more suffered workplace injuries. Top line statistics show that in 2016/17 there were 137 fatal injuries in Britain’s workplaces, 70,116 other injuries reported by employers, 12,000 lung disease deaths linked to past work exposures and 554 cases prosecuted, with fines from convictions totalling £69.9 million.
HSE news release and annual injury and ill-health statistics 2016/17 report. CWU news release. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Scientists warn of nanotube ‘asbestos’ cancer parallel
There is strong evidence that certain carbon nanotubes used in manufacturing could pose the same cancer risk as asbestos, a study by the Medical Research Council (MRC) has concluded. “Unlike previously reported short-term studies, this is the first time the mesothelioma-causing effects of long and thin carbon nanotubes have been monitored in mice over many months,” said the study’s senior author, Professor Marion MacFarlane.
MRC news release. Tatyana Chernova and others. Long-Fiber Carbon Nanotubes Replicate Asbestos-Induced Mesothelioma with Disruption of the Tumor Suppressor Gene Cdkn2a (Ink4a/Arf), Current Biology, Volume 27, Issue 21, p3302–3314.e6, 6 November 2017. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Lone workers 'targeted’ as they leave Tube depot
A night Tube driver was attacked after returning his train to the depot sidings in the early hours after duty. Finn Brennan, district organiser for the rail union ASLEF, called for greater security at depots where trains are left overnight, saying the latest incident follows others on the Victoria line.
Evening Standard. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Ambulance chiefs contest ‘lenient’ sentence on attacker
An ambulance service is challenging an ‘extremely lenient’ sentence given to a man who attacked two paramedics. Amy Holtom, a paramedic with West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), suffered a broken wrist while treating a man in Birmingham city centre.
WMAS news release. Birmingham Mail. Coventry Telegraph. Manchester Evening News. BBC News Online. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Suspended sentence for director after workplace manslaughter
Company director Jagbir Singh has escaped jail after the corporate manslaughter of an employee at his firm, who fell into machinery at a recycling yard. Safi Qais Khan, 29, died at Master Construction Products (Skips) Ltd (MCPS) after he became entangled in a machine called a trommel, used to sort waste material.
CPS news release. BBC News Online. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Suspended sentence for director after lorry power line scare
The director of London-based waste contractor Hanly Waste Services Limited has been fined, handed a suspended sentence and been barred from running a company for seven years after a lorry contacted 132kV overhead power lines (OHLs) in north London. Donal Hanly pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,068.34, given a six-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and a director disqualification order for a period of seven years.
HSE news release. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Hostel operator fined after man died in fall from roof
Park House Hostel Ltd has been fined after a retired builder fell 25ft from a ladder and died. John Switalski suffered unsurvivable head injuries after the incident at Park Hostel in October 2015.
Bristol City Council news release. Bristol Post. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: National Work Stress Network’s annual conference, 25-26 November
The National Work Stress Network’s annual conference will be on the theme ‘Challenging poor employment practices - issues around work-stress in an increasingly demanding work environment.’ The organisers say the conference is aimed at union health safety representatives, trades union officials and shop stewards, human resources and health and safety specialists, and stress management consultants.
National Work Stress Network conference, Saturday all day and Sunday am only, 25-26 November, Hillscourt Conference Centre, Rose Hill, Rednal, Birmingham, B45 8RS. Booking form. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Global: WHO mental health in the workplace guide
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued an information sheet on mental health in the workplace. In a list of ‘good interventions’, it highlights the importance of workforce participation, noting the necessity for “involving employees in decision-making, conveying a feeling of control and participation; organisational practices that support a healthy work-life balance.”
Mental health in the workplace: Information sheet, WHO, 2017. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Global: WHO says ban asbestos to end asbestos disease
The ‘most efficient’ way to eliminate asbestos diseases is to ban all use of asbestos, a new study has concluded. The research paper, which looked at ‘Barriers and facilitators to the elimination of asbestos related diseases’, was co-authored by experts from the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO).
Work cancer hazards blog.
Joanne Vincenten, Frank George, Marco Martuzzi, Peter Schröder-Bäck and Elizabet Paunovic. Barriers and Facilitators to the Elimination of Asbestos Related Diseases—Stakeholders’ Perspectives, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, volume 14, number 10, 2017.
Lucy P Allen, Jorge Baez, Mary Elizabeth C Stern and Frank George. Asbestos-Economic Assessment of Bans and Declining Production and Consumption, World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, 2017. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

India: Inquiry into major power plant tragedy
India’s Power Ministry has established a committee to investigate a deadly 1 November explosion at NTPC’s thermal power plant in Unchahar in Uttar Pradesh state. Estimates of the death toll from the blast have risen steadily, reaching 36 on 7 November.
The Daily Brief. Power Magazine. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

India: Abysmal conditions persist on tea plantation
The World Bank should fulfil its commitment to protect workers in tea plantations in Assam, India, human rights campaigns have said. The groups say in November 2016, the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) - the accountability office of the World Bank Group’s private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) - released an investigation report that found low wages, abysmal sanitation, lack of pesticide safety equipment, and inadequate housing on India’s tea plantations – but the bank has since done little to address the problems.
HRW news release. Project AccountabiliTEA. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Hazards news, 4 November 2017

Britain: College pays out for stressing out lecturer
A college lecturer has been awarded £159,000 in damages in a stress compensation case against Bradford College. The judge at Bradford County Court found that art and design lecturer Kate Rawnsley suffered depression and anxiety resulting from the negligence of her employer.
UCU news release. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: Unite pans ‘disgusting’ ethical award for blacklister
An ethical labour standard award to leading blacklisting company Sir Robert McAlpine has been described as ‘shocking and disgusting’ by the construction union Unite. In October, the company became the first construction contractor to be awarded the ‘Ethical Labour Sourcing’ standard by the Building Research Establishment (BRE).
Unite news release. EDM 401: The House of Commons and Lords Commissions and the award of the Elizabeth Tower contract to Sir Robert McAlpine. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: Birmingham’s outsourced workers have no loos
Unite has called on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to investigate the lack of welfare facilities being provided to contracted-out housing maintenance workers in Birmingham. The union has obtained the advice given to the council’s outsourced maintenance and repair workers on the Keepmoat contract, who have been directed to use toilets at McDonalds, Tesco and KFC.  
Unite news release. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: ‘Huge’ safety threat as firefighter numbers plummet
Firefighters’ union FBU has warned of a ‘huge’ safety threat as official figures showed the number of firefighters employed by fire and rescue services has been reduced by over a fifth in the past decade. The Home Office report also reveals that 11 per cent of staff have left the service within the last year, prompting fears that low morale is leading to firefighters seeking employment elsewhere.
FBU news release. Home Office report. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: ‘Near miss’ exposes Tube staffing crisis
Tube union RMT has said all London Underground stations should be staffed, or closed when unstaffed, after another dangerous incident at an unstaffed station. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Another day, another unstaffed station, another serious incident... If stations can’t be staffed, they must be closed. It’s only a matter of time before a fatality occurs.”
RMT news release. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: RMT slams Chris Grayling over rail safety ‘fiction’
A letter sent to MPs by transport secretary Chris Grayling over the on-going guard’s safety disputes has been slammed by the rail union RMT as “a wholly misleading work of fiction that damages the prospects of reaching a negotiated [agreement] with the train companies for clearly politically motivated reasons.”
RMT news release. Yorkshire Post. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: Mental ill-health sees 300,000 leave their jobs each year
Up to 300,000 people with long-term mental health problems have to leave their jobs each year, a report has concluded. The review makes 40 recommendations about how employers and the government can better support employees to remain at work, including the “government sets clearer expectations of employers through legislation, and makes Statutory Sick Pay more flexible to better support people with mental health problems to make voluntary phased returns to work where appropriate.”
DWP/DoH news release. Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers, an independent report for DWP/DoH, 26 October 2017 [pdf]. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: Protecting mental health need rights and resources
Government plans to improve mental health at work will founder unless cuts to mental health services are reversed and workers are given better legal protection, unions have warned. Garry Graham, deputy general secretary of the union Prospect, said the government could not ignore the impact of funding cuts and other “aggravating factors in the increase of mental health, such as increased workloads, long hours working and work-related stress.”
Unite news release. GMB news release. Prospect news release. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: 'Half of women' sexually harassed at work
Half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed at work or a place of study, a BBC survey has found. The ComRes poll for Radio 5 live surveyed 2,031 British adults and found that 37 per cent of all those asked – 53 per cent of women and 20 per cent of men - said they had experienced sexual harassment, ranging from inappropriate comments to actual sexual assaults, at work or a place of study.
BBC News Online. Yorkshire Evening Post. Evening Standard. Huffington Post. Pump Handle. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: OHS nurse blows whistle on private health provider
A health care provider has been fined £550,000 after it failed to act on workplace health concerns raised by an occupational health nurse. Southwark Crown Court heard how on 28 June 2014 the nurse, Lynne Betts, raised concerns with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) relating to the running of the internal occupational health service of Ramsay Health Care (UK) Operations Ltd.
HSE news release. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: Textile recycling firm fined following worker’s death
A clothing and textile recycling company has been prosecuted after a 76-year-old worker was fatally injured by a reversing delivery vehicle. The Magistrates’ Court in Mansfield heard today how on 26 April 2016 Bella Richards, an employee of Savanna Rags International Limited, was walking from the weighbridge towards the smoking shelter in the rear yard during her afternoon break when she was struck by a reversing vehicle.
HSE news release and waste and recycling industry webpages. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: Contractor escapes jail after worker seriously injured
A contractor from London has been given a six-month prison sentence suspended for eighteen months after an employee was seriously injured in a site fall. Southwark Crown Court heard how, on 11 November 2016, local builder James Gibson was undertaking a refurbishment project when a worker fell through an unprotected hole in the ground floor.
HSE news release. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: Grenfell seminar looks at ‘social murder’, London, 15 November
A free seminar on the topic ‘Grenfell: from social harm to social murder?’ is to be held in London on the afternoon of 15 November. Speakers at the event, taking place at Queen Mary University London (QMUL), are Aditya Chakrabortty of The Guardian, Open University criminology experts Vickie Cooper and Steve Tombs and Pilgrim Tucker, a housing campaigner and supporter of the Grenfell Tower Action Group.
Grenfell: from social harm to social murder?. Seminar, ArtsOne lecture theatre, QMUL, London, 2-4pm, Wednesday 15 November 2017 Register for the free event. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

USA: Database on ‘crimes against workers’
The US Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) has launched the country’s first-ever database of state prosecutions of health and safety ‘Crimes Against Workers’, including case files, court decisions, media clips, and advocacy resources. CPR says: “We're hopeful this database will serve as a resource for prosecutors, advocates, reporters, and others who are seeking to ensure that those who commit crimes against workers are punished accordingly and that other potential bad actors hear the message that they will be held accountable for criminal misconduct.”
CPR blog and Crimes Against Workers Database. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Global: Human rights victims need a voice
Victims seeking redress for corporate human rights abuses are suffering intimidation, harassment, detention and in some cases even murder, a group of UN experts has said. The UN group sets out new proposals to give victims a key role in the processes designed to protect their rights and provide effective remedies.
UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights news release, report and Standup4humanrights campaign. Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Indonesia: Major loss of life in fireworks factory blasts
Two explosions and a subsequent blaze at a fireworks factory on the western outskirts of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta have killed at least 48 people and injured dozens more, officials have said. Police arrested Indra Liyono and Andri Hartanto, the owner and the operational director of the factory, for allegedly employing underage workers, violating regional minimum wage standards and negligence causing death.
ABC News. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Qatar: Major breakthrough on migrant workers’ rights
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has welcomed a commitment from the government of Qatar to end the kafala system of modern slavery. The global trade union body said it now plans further meetings with Qatar’s labour minister on implementing labour rights for two million migrant workers in the Gulf State.
ITUC news release. ITF news release. The Guardian. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Hazards news, 28 October 2017

Britain: TUC celebrates 40 years of union safety reps
The TUC marked the 40th anniversary of a landmark safety law on 25 October, celebrating four decades of lifesaving work by trade union safety reps. The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 gave union reps legal rights to act on health and safety concerns in workplaces.
TUC news release and Safetyreps@40 report, case histories and resources, leaflet and Union effect report.
It’s down to you: Safety reps@40 – four decades of making work safe and healthy, Hazards magazine, number 139, 2017. Morning Star. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Union links rise in shoplifting to police cuts
Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has questioned whether police cuts are having an effect on crime. He posed the question after latest figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed an 11 per cent increase in shoplifting, continuing an upward trend from 2012.
Usdaw news release. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Rise in attacks on public service staff is ‘tip of iceberg’
The Scottish government and all public service employers should take action immediately in order to tackle the “massive scale of the problem of violence against public sector workers”, UNISON Scotland has said. The call came as the public service union’s annual violence at work survey revealed a further increase in reported assaults on public service workers.
UNISON Scotland news release and Violence at work survey 2017. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: ‘Zero tolerance’ needed on verbal abuse in schools
Schools must take incidents of verbal abuse from pupils seriously and adopt a zero-tolerance attitude, a teaching union leader has said. Addressing the annual conference of NASUWT Cymru in Cardiff, Chris Keates said: “The NASUWT’s research into pupil behaviour shows that 61 per cent of teachers in Wales had experienced verbal abuse from a pupil in the previous 12 months.”
NAWUWT news release. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Refunds for tribunal fees welcomed by UNISON
The government is to start reimbursing the fees paid it required from people taking employment tribunal claims. In a major humiliation for the government, the fees introduced in 2013 were ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court, following a long running legal challenge by the public service UNISON.
UNISON news release. MoJ news release. The Mirror. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Musicians get support against abuse at work
In the wake of a slew of reports from women working in arts, culture, media and entertainment about sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse in the workplace, the Musicians’ Union has stressed it is there to provide support. The union said thousands of workers in the industry have shared their stories across social media using hashtags including #metoo and #himthough.  
MU news release. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Smoke scares prompt call for better aircraft air filters
Pilots’ union BALPA is calling for regulators to ensure the development of effective cabin air filters onboard aircraft, after several flights to UK airports were diverted when smoke smells were detected on board. Precautionary landings were reported from flights travelling to and from Dublin, Manchester, Liverpool and Jersey. Head of flight safety at BALPA, Dr Rob Hunter said there had been “high levels of contaminants in the air, which experts are attributing to the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia dragging tropical air and dust from the Sahara, as well as debris from forest fires in Portugal and Spain.”
BALPA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Figures reveal toll of asbestos in schools
Asbestos in schools is killing teachers, support staff and pupils and cuts to school funding can only make the situation worse, UNISON has said. The union said a recent Freedom of Information request by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee revealed that at least 335 primary and secondary school teachers died of mesothelioma in Britain between 1980 and 2015, along with eight school secretaries, eight nursery nurses, 18 school midday assistants and 24 teaching assistants between 2003 and 2015.
UNISON news release. Joint Union Asbestos Committee report and website. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Call for protection for bus drivers after firework attack
Unite has renewed its call for better protection of bus drivers after Youtube footage emerged of a driver being attacked with a firework. In the attack on a London bus, a group of youths fired a firework into the bus which hit the driver’s cab before ricocheting around the bus.
Unite news release and YouTube footage. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Strike breaking leaves passengers’ lives on the line
Rail workers are calling for Abellio to be stripped of its Greater Anglia franchise after safety inspectors found “deficiencies and failings” arising from the use of poorly trained managers as substitutes for striking guards. The RMT complained to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) after Greater Anglia drafted in the hastily trained managers to break a strike by guards fighting the company’s attempt to abolish their safety-critical jobs.
Morning Star. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: RMT demands assurances on sewage dumping
Rail union RMT has written to the chief executive of Network Rail demanding clear assurances that the ‘filthy and disgusting practice’ of dumping raw sewage on Britain’s railway tracks will end by a clearly defined cut-off point, with no exemptions or derogations. The union letter came after Network Rail chief Mark Carne told the press that the practice would be phased out by next year – a pledge RMT wants turned into a ‘cast iron guarantee’ with an assurance that punitive action will be taken against those train companies that attempt to flout it.
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Union calls for tougher action on helicopter safety
Offshore union RMT is pressing the Scottish and UK governments to take stronger action on the safety of offshore helicopters. The call came ahead of a Scottish parliament debate on workers’ concerns over the safety of Super Puma helicopters.
RMT news release. STV News. The Times. BBC News Online and related story. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Three-fold difference in death rates between job groups
People who work in factories, construction and in housekeeping jobs are the occupational groups that have the highest mortality rates, according to a new study. The study, published in the Lancet Public Health, noted that pay and exposure to risks at work are the two major factors underpinning the differences in life expectancy.
University of Glasgow news release. Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, Alastair H Leyland, Martin McKee, Kevin Ralston, David Stuckle. Patterns of mortality by occupation in the UK, 1991-2011: a comparative analysis of linked census-mortality records over time and place, The Lancet Public Health, published online 23 October 2017. BBC News Online. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Vaping may be as dangerous as cigarettes
E-cigarettes could be as dangerous as normal cigarettes and users could also be prone to unique health problems, a new study has revealed. Dr Mehmet Kesimer, who led the study, said: “Our results suggest that e-cigarettes might be just as bad as cigarettes.”
UNC news release. Boris Reidel and others. E-Cigarette Use Causes a Unique Innate Immune Response in the Lung Involving Increased Neutrophilic Activation and Altered Mucin Secretion, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published online 20 October 2017. Commons Science and Technology inquiry announcement. The Independent. BBC News Online. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Emergency worker attacks Bill moves forward
A bill to double the maximum sentence for common assaults on on-duty emergency workers to one year has successfully started its progress through parliament. Labour MP Chris Bryant’s Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill received cross-party support during a 20 October debate, passing its second reading unopposed.
Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill, House of Commons second reading, 20 October 2017. RCN news release. UNISON briefing on the Bill. Morning Star. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Probe after asbestos exposures at council depot
Unite has welcomed a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation launched after the union revealed workers had been exposed to asbestos at an Aberdeen council depot. Unite’s Tommy Campbell said: “Unite welcome that there will be an investigation by the HSE, it is however disappointing that we have had to take the action of reporting it.”
Evening Express. Press and Journal. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Canada: Firefighters absorb cancer chemicals through skin
Toxic chemicals are putting firefighters at risk of cancer and other diseases, a study of their real-life exposures has shown. “Firefighters had from three to more than five times the amount of metabolites, or by-products of PAHs, in their urine after a fire compared to before the fire,” says Jennifer Keir, senior author of the study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
University of Ottawa news release and video. Jennifer Keir and others. Elevated Exposures to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Other Organic Mutagens in Ottawa Firefighters Participating in Emergency, On-shift Fire Suppression, Environmental Science & Technology, published online 18 October 2017. The Guardian. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Korea: Samsung remodels dormitories after suicides
Samsung Display Co Ltd has remodelled the dormitories it uses to house staff in a move intended to prevent further suicides among its 23,300 workers. The world’s largest OLED maker has replaced closets, hangers, doorknobs, windows, garment bars, and other amenities in the dormitories at its Tangjeong plant in Asan, South Korea.
SHARPS Stop Samsung campaign. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

USA: Inspections waiver leaves firms free to kill
A voluntary safety scheme that gives qualifying US companies a get-out-of-official-inspections card has been criticised as a deregulatory and deadly ruse. Jordan Barab, a former deputy head of the US government safety regulator OSHA, said in the last months two workers have been killed at companies participating in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs.
Confined Space blog. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Hazards news, 21 October 2017

Britain: Charity and voluntary workers facing violence
Almost half the staff (47 per cent) working for charities and housing associations have experienced violence or aggression, either from people who use their services or from colleagues, according to a UNISON survey In response to the abuse facing its members, UNISON has launched a charter that commits voluntary sector organisations to comply with their duty of care to staff when it comes to violence in the workplace.
UNISON news release. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Usdaw welcomes cross-party bid to protect shopworkers
Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett has welcomed an early day motion, with cross-party support, calling on the government to introduce legislation providing an additional penalty for those who assault workers in the course of their duties. The Usdaw general secretary said: “Usdaw members welcome the support of MPs for a change in the law to ensure that proper punishments are given out. We must give a clear message that assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable.”
Usdaw news release, including case histories. Sign up for Usdaw’s Thunderclap during Respect for Shopworkers Week, 13-19 November 2017. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Equity challenges casting couch culture
Allegations of sexual harassment and serious sexual assaults against film mogul Harvey Weinstein have exposed the unacceptable pressures women frequently face in the entertainment industry, UK actors’ union Equity has said. The union is promoting its recently launched Manifesto for Casting, “to inform the entertainment industry of the standards it demands of all those engaged in the casting and employment process.”
Equity news release. BBC News Online. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: RMT demands safety action from ‘biased’ rail regulator
Rail union RMT says it has written ‘yet again’ to the industry’s safety regulator demanding action over ‘serious safety failures by strike-breaking managers’ on Greater Anglia. The union has also accused the regulator of colluding with the company to cover up safety breaches.
RMT news release. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Over a quarter of fire safety inspectors have gone
Fire services have lost over a quarter of their fire safety inspectors since the Conservatives came to power, research by the firefighters’ union FBU has found. The union, which compiled the figures from a series of Freedom of Information requests, says the ‘staggering’ 28 per cent drop in inspector numbers across the UK is a risk to public safety
FBU news release. FBU October parliamentary briefing paper, Fire and Rescue Service Matters. Morning Star. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: High workloads ‘disastrous’ for teacher well-being
Scottish teaching union EIS has said low pay and high workloads are having a dire effect on the health and well-being of teachers. EIS president Nicola Fisher said teachers’ pay had fallen by 16 per in real terms, adding: “Workload is the iceberg of the education system. People think they understand the scale of the problem because they can see the tip of it, but unless you are experiencing it day in and day out, you cannot hope to grasp the full horror which lurks beneath the surface.”
EIS news release. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Long hours in film are causing ill-health
The long hours culture in film production is damaging family life and causing ill-health, according to a report from BECTU. The media and entertainment union questions the sustainability of a creative process that fails to nurture creativity, instead running the industry as a production line.
BECTU news release. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: MPs call for blacklister to be stripped of Big Ben contract
Unite has welcomed a call by over 60 MPs for construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd to be stripped of the multimillion pound contract for the restoration work on Big Ben. The Early Day Motion tabled by Labour MP Chuka Umunna calls for the contract to be awarded instead to a firm without a history of blacklisting.
Unite news release. EDM 401: The House of Commons and Lords Commissions and the award of the Elizabeth Tower contract to Sir Robert McAlpine. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Tougher sentences for attacks on emergency staff
Attacks on emergency workers will result in tougher sentences under a new law that has been given government backing. Chris Bryant's private member's bill would double the maximum sentence for common assault against an emergency worker to a year.
Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill 2017-19. BBC News Online. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Sweden: Reducing solvents protects painters and the public purse
Reducing exposure to toxic chemicals pays off by reducing both work-related disability and welfare costs, a new study suggests. The Swedish study concluded “it is reasonable to assume that the decrease in disability pension in neurological disorders is due to a change in the occurrence of neurological diseases and that the decreased use of organic solvents in paints has contributed to this decrease.”
Bengt Järvholm and Alex Burdorf. Effect of reduced use of organic solvents on disability pension in painters, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 74, issue 11, pages 827-829, 2017. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Government cash to train 1m in mental health first aid
A new £15 million government programme will see up to 1 million people trained in basic mental health “first aid” skills. The campaign, designed and delivered by Public Health England (PHE), will help people assess their own mental well-being and learn techniques to reduce stress.
Department of Health/PHE news release and earlier PHE news release. MHFA news release and workplace webpages. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Promise of no more human sewage on tracks
Train toilets emptying their contents directly on to Britain’s rail tracks will end in 2019, rail bosses and ministers have promised. A combination of new trains and retrofitting old stock with modern, holding-tank toilets will end the dumping of raw sewage on the railways.
The Guardian. Swindon Advertiser. RMT no sewage on the tracks campaign. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Director escapes jail after worker killed by telehandler
The director of a Brighton-based waste collection and recycling company has been given a suspended jail sentence after a worker died from injuries sustained when he was struck by a reversing telehandler. Brighton Magistrates’ Court heard how on 7 July 2016, United Grab Hire Ltd employee Joe Stevenson was struck by a reversing telehandler when crossing the work yard in Horley, East Sussex.
HSE news release. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Director avoids jail after scaffolder loses limbs
Jonathon Lee Griffiths-Clack , the director of Swindon-based scaffolding company Boundary Scaffolding Limited has received a suspended jail term after worker Jamie Mines lost his hands and feet when a scaffold pole hit electric cables.
HSE news release and overhead work guidance. Construction Enquirer. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Europe: Health and Safety Week is next week!
The Europe-wide workplace health and safety week runs from 23-27 October this year.  The TUC has designed the Wednesday of the week, 25 October, as national safety reps’ workplace inspection day.
European Health and Safety Week. TUC workplace inspection day guide and fire safety checklist. UNISON inspection day webpages and UNISON High five for health and safety webpage and poster. Unite safety reps’ inspection and organising resources. Hazards workplace inspections and mapping guide. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Australia: Queensland unions welcome industrial manslaughter law
Unions say an industrial manslaughter law passed in the Australian state of Queensland will deter companies from cutting corners and putting profits ahead of people. Michael Ravbar, divisional branch secretary of the construction, forestry and mining union CFMEU, said: “This is a huge win for Queensland workers and everyone who has campaigned to achieve industrial manslaughter legislation for the last 20 years.”
QCU news release. CFMEU news release. Brisbane Times. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Global: Safety failure part-and-parcel of Amazon’s plan
Ignoring the health and safety of workers is just part-and-parcel of Amazon’s anti-union plan, unions have said. A meeting of the UNI Amazon Alliance, involving 30 trade unionists from 10 countries, agreed an action plan to organise at Amazon, where UNI said jobs “can be physically and mentally brutal - muscle problems, joint problems and the mental exhaustion that comes with constant surveillance are all part and parcel of working for them.”
UNI news release. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Japan: Stadium worker suicide caused by overwork
The Japan labour standard office has determined the suicide of a 23-year-old man who worked at Tokyo's new Olympic stadium construction site stemmed from overwork, and his family is eligible for government compensation. Hiroshi Kawahito, a lawyer representing the victim's family, said the victim, in charge of quality control of materials at the stadium site, recorded 190 hours of overtime in one month before killing himself in March.
Japan Times. CBC News. Bloomberg. The Guardian. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Hazards news, 14 October 2017

Britain: We shouldn’t need to prove the case for safety
Keeping the workplace safe is good for business, fact - but just because that’s a no brainer doesn’t mean it should be the sole motivation for firms, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said workers do not want the decision on whether to protect their health to be based on whether it is in an employer’s economic interest.
TUC blog. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: Cuts put mental health staff in violence frontline
Reduced funding for mental health services across the UK is leaving staff vulnerable to violence and aggression from patients, and means they cannot provide the level of care needed, the union UNISON has said. The union’s report, ‘Struggling to cope’, found more than two in five (42 per cent) said they had been on the receiving end of violent attacks in the last year.
UNISON news release and Struggling to cope report. BBC News Online and 5 Live Investigates. The Observer. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: Rail firm risking ‘catastrophe’ to break strike
Rail union RMT has written to MPs and the rail safety regulator, alerting them to two incidents on 3 October where Greater Anglia’s decision ‘to put strike breaking before safety’ could have had potentially catastrophic consequences. After a third incident affecting a train bound for Ipswich on 3 October, the union called for “full disclosure of all Greater Anglia’s safety breaches after it emerged that strikebreaking members of staff had opened the train doors on the wrong side resulting in passengers going onto the tracks.”
RMT news release and follow-up news release. BBC News Online and update. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: Over 300 rail stations could be ‘no go areas’
Rail union RMT has named 330 unstaffed stations which it fears will become crime hot spots and no-go areas for vulnerable and disabled passengers if Northern Rail bosses proceed with their plans for driver only trains. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “No staff on many routes and lines, no staff on the stations and no staff on the trains travelling through these stations means there will be a cocktail of dangers at the locations we have identified which will increasingly become no-go areas for vulnerable passengers and new crime hot spots.”
RMT news release. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: GMB calls for fire safety probe at call centre
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to being asked to investigate alleged fire safety breaches at the Parseq call centre in Sunderland. Chris Preston, GMB regional organiser, said: “As a first step, GMB is calling on the Tyne and Wear Fire & Rescue Service to investigate and establish exactly what has happened and why.”
GMB news release and Parseq campaign. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: Keep ban on Super Puma helicopters, urges Unite
Plans to lift a ban on the use of two helicopter types, imposed following a crash that killed 13 people, should be dumped offshore union Unite has said. Unite regional officer Tommy Campbell said: “Without all the details being fully known in the Norwegian tragedy, Unite believes the decision by Airbus to reintroduce Super Pumas is not only premature but it potentially jeopardises confidence in the offshore helicopter health and safety system.”
Unite news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: Act now to prevent drone disaster, warn pilots
Laws must be put in place urgently to prevent a devastating collision between manned aircraft and drones, the UK pilots’ union BALPA has warned. The union alert came after the US Army confirmed one of its Black Hawk helicopters collided with what appears to be a civilian quadcopter drone near New York City and sustained damage to a main rotor blade and window.
BALPA news release. USA Today. Fortune. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: Union alarm at high suicide rate in site workers
Construction firms must support workers’ mental health to tackle the “very, very serious issue” of suicides in the sector, Unite has said. At a conference addressing skills shortages in construction, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail warned that long hours and tough working conditions were factors behind the high suicide rate among site workers.
Morning Star. More on work-related suicides. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: Anxiety and depression rate in workers at record high
‘Moderate to extreme’ anxiety and depression among workers in the UK has hit a record high with 1 in 10 workers now affected, new figures have revealed. Research by the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) shows that rates of moderate to extreme anxiety and depression among employees has soared by 30.5 per cent since records began in 2013.
UKCP news release. The Independent. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: Waste firm MD evades jail after worker is crushed to death
Lee Heaps, the managing director of a Widnes waste processing company, has been given a suspended jail sentence after a worker was crushed to death. Fresco Environmental Limited employee Kevin Wright, 27, was processing waste carpet to be re-baled when one of the bales fell from a stack onto him, causing injuries from which he later died.
HSE news release and baling guide. Runcorn and Widnes World. Liverpool Echo. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: Recycling bosses exposed workers to toxic soup
A Bristol waste recycling company dumped thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste illegally at a development site in Avonmouth, exposing unwitting workers to mix of chemical irritants and carcinogens. Churngold Recycling Ltd has been fined more than £20,000 while two of its directors have been given suspended prison sentences for using the unprocessed toxic waste as building aggregate in the construction of a new Co-op distribution centre.
Environment Agency news release. Bristol Post. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: Road haulage company fined after worker killed
An Essex-based road haulage firm has been fined after a 23-year-old worker was crushed between two articulated vehicles and later died from his injuries. Southend Magistrates Court heard how Martin Greenwood, an HGV driver employed by YCT Limited, suffered fatal injuries when his vehicle rolled forward out of control as he was coupling the HGV tractor unit to a trailer.
HSE news release. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: Council fined after worker gets vibration disease
Wrexham County Borough Council has been fined after a 57-year-old worker was diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the council had not addressed a HAVS risk following an audit in February 2011, which found it was not assessing the risk to employees from equipment such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers and strimmers.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Daily Post. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Britain: National workplace inspection day is 25 October!
The national safety reps’ workplace inspection day this year is on the 25 October, the Wednesday of European Health and Safety Week. The TUC will be launching its 40 years of safety representatives campaign on that day.
TUC workplace inspection day guide and fire safety checklist. UNISON inspection day webpages and UNISON High five for health and safety webpage and poster. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Australia: New asbestos walk out at Opera House renovation
Electrical workers have stopped work on the massive renovation of the Sydney Opera House, refusing to continue with the installation of cabling after receiving confirmation that potentially deadly asbestos had again been located in work areas. “This issue was first identified two months ago, with SafeWork NSW giving builder Laing O'Rourke a weak slap on the wrist,” ETU secretary Dave McKinley said, adding: “The company had seven days to remove the asbestos or eliminate the threat to workers through appropriate safety measures and have clearly failed to do so.”
ETU news release. The Music. ABC News. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Canada: Study highlights high work cancer toll
Canadian research has identified the high toll each year from work-related cancers. The study, ‘Burden of Occupational Cancer in Ontario’, which concluded there are ‘many opportunities’ to reduce the number of occupational cancers, found solar radiation, asbestos, diesel engine exhaust and crystalline silica had the largest estimated impact on cancer burden and also the highest number of exposed workers in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province.
Burden of occupational cancer in Ontario: Major workplace carcinogens and prevention of exposure, Occupational Cancer Research Centre and Cancer Care Ontario, October 2017. Globe and Mail. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Japan: TV journalist’s death was caused by overwork
Overwork caused the death of a 31-year-old female reporter with Japanese state broadcaster NHK in 2013, according to the labour standards inspectors, the public broadcaster has now admitted. Miw a Sado, who was based at the broadcaster’s centre in Tokyo, died of congestive heart failure in July 2013 after working 159 hours of overtime with only two days off in the one-month period prior to her death.
Japan Times. Tokyo Reporter. The Guardian and follow-up article. BBC News Online. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

Hazards news, 7 October 2017

Britain: Employers failing to beat violence at work
Employers are failing workers in the community and voluntary sector by viewing violence at work as inevitable, UNISON Scotland has said. Launching ‘It’s not part of the job’, a new guide aimed at workers in the community and voluntary sector, the union said its survey last year had revealed the number of violent attacks on public service staff has doubled in the past ten years.
UNISON news release and guide, It’s Not Part of the Job. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Britain: Postal workers angry after ‘horrific’ dog attack sentence
Postal workers’ union CWU has criticised a court sentence for an irresponsible dog owner whose two Doberman dogs mauled a Boston postwoman, leaving her with life-changing injuries. The dogs’ owner, Julian Palfreyman, was sentenced to one year of probation, 200 hours of community service and ordered him to pay the victim compensation of £1,000 and received a court order requiring the dogs are muzzled in public.
CWU news release. The Mirror. Lincolnshire Live. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Britain: Fresh GMB push for Our Protectors Bill
The GMB has made a renewed call for a law to make assaults on emergency workers in the line of duty an aggravated offence. The union, which says there were assaults on 1,000 firefighters, 2,400 paramedics and over 2.4 million police officers last year, is urging MPs to support Chris Bryant’s Assault on Emergency Staff Bill.
GMB news release. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Britain: Cuts and deregulation implicated in Grenfell fire
Members of the first fire crews to attend Grenfell Tower have expressed frustration at the time it took to send backup engines, a delay that hampered their ability to evacuate more people, the head of the firefighters’ union FBU has said. General secretary Matt Wrack, who has spoken to firefighters who attended the blaze, added that government cuts and safety deregulation were implicated in the tragedy.
The Guardian. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Britain; Government ‘washes its hands’ on blacklisting
Unite has said it is disappointed but not surprised that the government is once again ‘washing its hands’ of blacklisting. Unite said the government’s latest refusal to act comes as the union was forced to intervene to secure the reinstatement of a member who experienced ‘contemporary blacklisting’.
Unite news release. Morning Star. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Britain: Blacklister to benefit as Big Ben bill balloons
Big Ben will now cost £61m to renovate with the extra taxpayers’ cash ‘trousered by the kings of blacklisting’ Sir Robert McAlpine Limited, the Blacklist Support Group (BSG) has said. The rising cost was announced as parliament confirmed it had appointed the construction giant to carry out the renovation, which could take up to four years, following a tendering process.
Blacklist blog. BBC News Online. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Britain: Safety critical train guards safe in Wales
Rail unions have welcomed the announcement by the Welsh government that it will require the next franchise to keep a safety critical conductor or guard on all of the Wales & Borders trains and services, including the South Wales Metro. The administration said the commitment follows a ‘clear public response’ in consultations, where more than 90 per cent of respondents said a second member of staff was either quite important or essential in the Wales and Borders region.
RMT news release. ASLEF news release. ITV News. South Wales Argus. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Britain: HSE launches phase two of site inspection blitz
Construction projects across Britain are being told to ensure the health and safety of their workers is protected, as the second phase of a targeted inspection initiative gets underway. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said 43 workers were fatally injured in 2015/16, and an estimated ten times that number died from construction related ill-health, with a further 65,000 self-reported non-fatal injuries.
HSE news release and Go Home Healthy campaign. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Britain: Waste and recycling sector told to clean up
The waste and recycling industry has been told it must pay closer attention to how it manages workplace risk or face serious penalties. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says a programme of proactive inspections will review health and safety standards in waste and recycling businesses across the country, with the unannounced inspections to take place in October.
HSE news release and waste and recycling webpages. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Britain: Recycling directors refused to take notice of HSE
A recycling company and its two directors have been prosecuted after ignoring a succession of official warnings from the safety regulator and concerns raised by the company’s own staff. Northampton Crown Court heard how Monoworld Recycling had failed to manage risks when its staff worked at height, failed to suitably maintain work equipment and failed to control risks from electrical systems.
HSE news release. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Britain: Unlicensed waste contractor fined for asbestos jobs
A waste removal contractor from Bridgend has been fined after undertaking asbestos removal work at two locations without the required licence. Swansea Magistrates’ Court heard how on 1 September and 7 November 2016 Mark John Gibson, who advertised as asbestos removal service All-Gone Waste, was contracted to remove asbestos containing materials from properties in Pont Y Clun and Dyffryn Chapel, Caerau.
HSE news release. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Britain: Explosion firm fined after grinder ignites gases
An oil storage company has been fined after contractors cut into a sealed pipe causing a tank to explode. Liverpool Crown Court heard that on 19 January 2015 contractors working at ESL Fuels Ltd cut into a sealed pipe using a grinder causing flammable gases within the pipe to ignite.
HSE news release. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

[chemicals/work and health] Global: WHO advice on prevention of ‘environmental’ diseases
A newly released publication from the World Health Organisation (WHO) highlights the ‘special relevance of environmental risks’ for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). WHO presents the burden of NCDs caused by environmental risks – a category that includes occupational risk factors - as well as the many areas where action is needed to reduce the burden.
WHO publication alert and report, Preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) by reducing environmental risk factors. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Canada: Wrong people on trial for train disaster
Three workers are currently on trial on charges relating to the Lac-Mégantic train derailment that killed 47 people and destroyed much of the small Quebec town on 6 July 2013. But many believe the three are scapegoats, and those responsible for corner-cutting and poor regulation should instead be in the dock.
Global News. Confined Space. Lac-Mégantic defence campaign. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

[hours] Hong Kong: Deadly bus crash linked to driver fatigue
Transport workers in two of Hong Kong’s biggest unions have called on the government to carry out a complete overhaul of franchise bus drivers’ pay structure and working hours to minimise overwork and lower traffic accident risks. The call came as transport officials said they would consider reviewing guidelines for drivers’ shifts after a deadly bus crash.
South China Morning Post. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

[hours] Japan: Most nurses suffer from chronic fatigue
Seven in ten nurses in Japan always feel exhausted, a union survey has found. The Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions (Iroren) found 71.7 per cent of the respondents had symptoms of chronic fatigue, such as an inability to recover from tiredness.
Japan Press. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Qatar: World Cup workers ‘subjected to life-threatening heat’
The authorities in Qatar should adopt and enforce restrictions on outdoor work to protect the lives of the migrant construction workers at risk from the country’s intense heat and humidity, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said. “Enforcing appropriate restrictions on outdoor work and regularly investigating and publicising information about worker deaths is essential to protect the health and lives of construction workers in Qatar,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW.
Human Rights Watch news release. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 820. 7 October 2017

Hazards news, 30 September 2017

Britain: Fire service to increase crew sizes after union outcry
Fire crew sizes for a fleet of controversial crew each Tactical Response Vehicle (TRV) in North Yorkshire will increase as a result of pressure from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). The move came after North Yorkshire FBU brigade secretary Steve Howley presented a damning statement to the fire authority about how public safety was being put at risk by two-strong fire crews.
FBU news release. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Global: Ryanair boss wrong to dismiss pilot fatigue risk
Pilots’ union BALPA has accused the outspoken head of Ryanair of giving a ‘worrying’ message dismissive of pilot fatigue risks. The union was responding after Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of the discount airline, said that pilot fatigue as a result of flying in short-haul operations does not exist, and that pilots fly a maximum of 18 hours a week, both claims rebutted by BALPA.
BALPA news release. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Rail union warns of ‘scab army’ threat to safety
Rail you RMT has warned of a severe threat to passenger safety on Greater Anglia rail services “from a hastily cobbled together scab army of managers.” It said the replacements were drafted in by Abellio in a desperate bid to break strike action planned for the first week in October, part of the union fight to maintain safety critical jobs. 
RMT news release. Eastern Daily Press. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Union warning over toxic diesel exhaust exposures
Legal claims over exposure to diesel exhaust fumes at work are rising as unions raise concerns about toxic air in the workplace. Royal Mail and at least one local authority are among major employers who are being sued over their alleged failure to protect staff from the damaging health effects of diesel pollution from vehicles.
The Guardian. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Unite calls on for review mobile crane regulations
Unite has written to transport secretary Chris Grayling urging him to take action to ensure the safety of mobile cranes when they are driven on roads. The union says mobile cranes are exempt from requiring an annual MoT.
Unite news release. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: GMB ‘victory’ as Uber told to get out of London
A legal employment rights victory by the GMB paved the way for the app based taxi firm losing its licence to operate in London, the union has said. GMB said its court action forced the company to defend its record on drivers’ employment rights and public safety and brought its exploitative practices into the public gaze.
GMB news release and follow up. TfL statement. ITF news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Black cab drivers praise capital ban on Uber
Black cab drivers’ union Unite has praised mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) for ‘putting the safety of Londoners ahead of big corporate interests’ by deciding not to renew Uber’s licence to operate in the capital. The chair of London’s Unite black cab section, Jim Kelly, said: “The mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London have done the right thing in putting the safety of passengers and Londoners ahead of the big corporate interests of Uber.”
Unite news release. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Tribunal rules Addison Lee drivers are workers
A tribunal has ruled Addison Lee drivers are entitled to basic workers’ rights, in a union backed case. The Central London Employment Tribunal ruling, which will affect thousands of Addison Lee drivers, determined a group of the company’s drivers represented by the GMB union were not self-employed, as Addison Lee argued, but are workers who are entitled to essential workers’ rights, including to be paid the National Minimum Wage, receive holiday pay, take breaks and not have their contracts terminated because they are members of a trade union.
GMB news release. Leigh Day news release. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Police to quiz 336 firms over Grenfell – but not ministers
Over 300 firms are to be interviewed by the Metropolitan Police as part of the Grenfell Tower investigation. Hoewver, the Met has confirmed to the Hazards Campaign their investigation will not involve questioning ministers about the government’s deregulatory and cost-cutting policies, factors linked to the tragedy by the TUC and unions, safety bodies, the international media and campaigners.
Metropolitan Police news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Grenfell ‘a direct consequence’ of deregulation - Abbott
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has called for justice for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower blaze and said the disaster was a ‘direct consequence’ of deregulation of fire standards. Speaking at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, the Labour MP said the blaze symbolised the Tories’ failure and said the issues “go further than the borough council.”
Diane Abbott speech. Evening Standard.
Fire safety: A TUC guide for union activists, September 2017. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Mental health staff on long-term stress leave soars
Soaring rates of mental health workers going sick through stress is a ‘real concern’, the union Unite has said. It added that many more working wounded will be ‘soldiering on’ despite being unwell.
BBC News Online. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Head believed school exposure caused asbestos cancer
A retired headteacher died of an asbestos cancer she believed was caused by exposure to the deadly fibre during her teaching career. A 21 September inquest at Exeter’s County Hall heard how Cathy Kowan, who was living in Exmouth at the time of her death, had varied jobs, but the majority was spent working in education.
Devon Live. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Study warns of crumb rubber health risks
Sports stars, amateur players and ground staff could be at risk as a result of a “remarkable” lack of occupational health checks on the effects of rubber crumb pitches, a study has found. The health of some people who work with surfaces made from recycled tyres – such as production workers, suppliers, installers and maintainers – may also be jeopardised due to inadequate monitoring, the Stirling University research suggests.
Andrew Watterson. Artificial turf: Contested terrains for precautionary public health with particular reference to Europe?, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, volume 14, number 9, 2017. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Sexual harassment at work causes depression
Sexual harassment at work is bad for mental health, according to a new study. Researchers in Denmark found 1 per cent of more than 7,600 employees working for over 1,000 different organisations were sexually harassed by a supervisor, colleague or a subordinate, while 2.4 per cent suffered the same treatment from someone else they dealt with at work.
Maria K Friborg and others. Workplace sexual harassment and depressive symptoms: a cross-sectional multilevel analysis comparing harassment from clients or customers to harassment from other employees amongst 7603 Danish employees from 1041 organizations, BMC Public Health, published online 25 September 2017. The Independent.
TUC guide to your rights on sexual harassment, union reps’ guide to addressing sexual harassment and report, Still just a bit of banter?  Everyday Sexism Project and ‘shouting back’ platform. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Worker injured in fall from unsafe scaffold declared ‘safe’
Two scaffold inspectors who provided a fraudulent safety sign off on a scaffold have been prosecuted after a worker fell through a gap between the scaffolding and the building, resulting in serious injuries. Stephen Harper and Garry Arnold pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and were each sentenced to 170 hours community service and ordered to pay £1,500 costs.
HSE news release. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Bangladesh: Brands ‘to step up’ on factory fires
The deaths of at least six people in a textile mill fire in Bangladesh highlights the pressing need for new compensation scheme for bereaved families, a labour rights group has said. The Clean Clothes Campaign said “in order not to leave them destitute without just compensation for employment injury, it is imperative that brands, employers and the government of Bangladesh step up to improve access to and provision of remedy in the short-term and by moving forward towards a permanent solution with adopting the National Employment Injury Scheme.”
Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Human Rights Watch news report. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

USA: Call to put people ahead of profits in poultry
Chicken has dethroned beef as the USA’s favourite meat. As demand increases, the industry’s friends in Congress are dusting off previously rejected proposals to dramatically and dangerously increase speeds on the poultry production lines.
The Hill. Confined Space. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Hazards news, 23 September 2017

Britain: TUC promotes union role in fire safety
The TUC has published new fire safety advice for trade union representatives in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. The TUC guidance sets out the law around fire safety, explains what is required from a thorough fire safety assessment, and looks at how to implement fire safety policies that will prevent and protect workers – and there’s also a checklist for reps on what to look out for in terms of fire safety when they carry out their workplace inspections.
TUC news release and guidance, Fire safety: A TUC guide for union activists, September 2017. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Let’s celebrate women safety reps
The TUC wants to hear from women safety reps, past and present, about their safety successes at work. He said make sure you include the name of the union, the employer, what was done and what was achieved, together with the who, why, where and when of how it happened.
You can send your case histories to Hugh by email or via an online form. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Firms ‘addicted’ to zero hours contracts, says Unite
Too many companies like Sports Direct are ‘addicted’ to the use of zero hours contracts and insecure working practices, Unite has warned. The union comments came as official figures showed there were 1.4 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum number of hours.
Unite news release. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Agency staff have shifts withdrawn as ‘punishments’
Agency staff working on temporary or zero hours contracts face having shifts taken away as ‘punishment’ according to a new academic study produced in collaboration with a union. Researchers from the University of Salford and Sheffield Hallam spoke to dozens of agency workers, along with staff from the agencies themselves as well as unions and job centres.
Salford University news release, publication note and related presentation. Morning Star. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: One-in-eight ambulance staff fall sick with stress
Twelve per cent of all paramedics and ambulance health care assistants in England were sick due to stress or anxiety last year. The union GMB revealed a total of 2,468 paramedics and health care assistants – or one in eight workers – had to take time off due to stress.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Unite blasts ‘rogue’ scaffolding scheme
A proposed new scaffolding card scheme, set up as an alternative to an existing more rigorous system, will undermine standards and lead to scaffolders having different skills cards for different projects, construction union Unite has warned.
Unite news release. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Call for public inquiry into toxic cabin air
Airline cabin crew union Unite has repeated its call for a public inquiry into toxic cabin air, as an international two-day conference on the issue got underway at Imperial College London. The Unite sponsored conference, which is supported by the industry, comes as it emerged that easyJet is to fit cabin air filters to its aircraft.
Unite news release and related release on the easyJet move. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Union welcomes teacher workload initiative
Teaching union NASUWT has welcomed a joint initiative in Wales to tackle teacher workload. The new guidance, which involves the distribution to schools of thousands of posters and ‘concertina’ advice cards, is supported by the Welsh government, trade unions and education standards agencies in Wales.
NASUWT news release. Workload guidance in English and Welsh. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Bosses admit they are making you sick
The entrenched acceptance of work-related ill-health in British workplaces has become so taken for granted, even company bosses now admit they are making you sick. And they say too little is being done to address the problem, according to new research from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that found more than two-fifths of businesses are reporting a rise in cases of long-term ill-health, with the majority (80 per cent) stating tackling this growing problem is a priority within their organisation.
HSE news release and Go Home Healthy campaign. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Spike in fire service long-term mental health leave
The number of UK fire and rescue staff taking long-term sick leave due to mental illness has risen by nearly a third over the last six years, figures obtained by the BBC have shown. In London, fire staff taking mental health leave has doubled since 2011/12.
BBC News Online. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Newspaper vindicated over work ‘killer’ story
A newspaper criticised in court by a defence barrister for referring to a property developer as a ‘killer’ after a carpenter died on the job has been vindicated. Millionaire Mike Holland and his site foreman Grant Oakes were jailed for an “inexplicable failure” which caused Dave Clark’s fatal fall.
Sussex Police news release. Brighton Argus. Brighton and Hove News. Construction Enquirer. BBC News Online. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Frozen food giant Iceland convicted over work death
Iceland Foods has been fined £2.5m over the death of a contractor who fell through a ceiling. Tony Hopkins was working at one of the firm's stores in Rotherham when he fell about 10ft (3m) from a platform that was missing a handrail.
Rotherham Council news release. Rotherham Star. Grimsby Telegraph. BBC News Online. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Tyre firm fined after forklift truck death
Vacu-Lug Traction Tyres Limited has been fined after a worker died when the forklift truck he was driving overturned at the company base in Grantham. Lincoln Crown Court heard Stephan Woollas, 49, was crushed between the forklift truck and the ground and later died from his injuries.
HSE news release. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Listen now to TUC’s occupational cancer webinar
TUC health and safety expert Hugh Robertson has hosted a live ‘webinar’ – an online seminar - to discuss the causes of occupational cancer, the problems with the law and what unions are doing about it. If you missed it, you can now watch the whole event online.
Watch the TUC occupational cancer webinar on YouTube. Download the presentation by TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

USA: Deadly rise in US asbestos imports
Asbestos imports to the US nearly doubled in 2016, reversing a long-term decline, latest figures have shown. “Opponents of an asbestos ban have long argued that asbestos use is shrinking in the United States, but now we know just the opposite is true,” said Linda Reinstein, president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO).
ADAO news release. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

USA: Watchdog’s excuses for hiding the bodies fall flat
Two weeks ago, the agency responsible for enforcing workplace safety and health - the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) - removed the names of fallen workers from its home page and has stopped posting information about their deaths on its data page.” Rebecca L Reindel of US union federation AFL-CIO said the regulator’s stated reasons for the move – citations hadn’t yet been issued and protecting the privacy of bereaved families – were excuses made by an agency “clearly in denial that it has a job to do.”
AFL-CIO blog. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Hazards news, 16 September 2017

Britain: Re-think needed on workplace cancers, says TUC
A plan to reduce occupational cancer rates in Europe misses both the point and many of the causes, the TUC has said. The trade union body estimates over 70 per cent of cancer cases are caused by exposures at work not covered by the European carcinogens directive, and adds even where there are control limits proposed these are often ‘completely inadequate’.
TUC blog and occupational cancer guide. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Britain: TUC poll finds racism is rampant at work
More than a third (37 per cent) of black or minority ethnic (BME) workers have been bullied, abused or singled out at work, according to research published by the TUC. The polling is part of a major new TUC report on racism at work.
TUC news release and ‘Is Racism Real?’ report. Face it: We are all sickened by inequality at work, ITUC/Hazards, March 2017. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Britain: Light-touch regulation means no regulation
The dangers of ‘light-touch’ regulation at work have been highlighted at the TUC’s Congress. Unions voted to call on the government to scrap light-touch regulation and to provide additional funding to urgently address the decline in the capacity of the regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
PCS news release. BALPA news release. TUC Congress 2017. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Britain: TUC to tackle mental health problems head on
The TUC will spearhead a major national campaign to increase public awareness of mental health problems in the workplace. The commitment came as delegates at the union’s annual conference urged the government to make understanding of mental health a priority.
Usdaw news release. Morning Star. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Britain: More success for TUC’s Dying to Work Charter
Over half a million workers are now covered by the TUC’s Dying to Work Charter, which guarantees rights for workers facing a terminal diagnosis. The milestone was reached this month when Royal Mail Group, which has 140,000 employees, became the biggest signatory so far.
TUC news release and Dying to work campaign. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Britain: Government told schools must not be fire traps
The government must ensure schools are safe from fires with all new and refurbished school buildings fitted with fire sprinklers, education unions have said. In the meantime, the National Education Union (NEU), National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL) have taken their own action, publishing joint guidance for school leaders on fire risk assessments in schools in the light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
NEU news release. Morning Star. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Britain: Usdaw safety rep wins TUC national award
Usdaw member Anthony Lampey has won the TUC health and safety rep of the year award. Tony collected the 2017 award from TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady at the TUC’s Congress in Brighton.
Usdaw news release. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Britain: MPs call for blacklister to lose £29m Big Ben contract
MPs lined up to call for a public inquiry into blacklisting and for construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine to be stripped of the contract to refurbish Big Ben. Sir Robert McAlpine, which was one of the major firms to pay compensation to blacklisted workers, has already been paid £3.5m of public money to carry out the enabling works on Big Ben and are in line for another £29m pay-out to complete the 4 year refurbishment project.
Blacklisting debate, Westminster Hall, 5 September 2017. Blacklist blog. The Guardian Risks 817. 16 September 2017.

Britain: Unite demands action on ‘contemporary’ blacklisting
The construction union Unite has called on the government to act decisively “to end the nefarious practice of blacklisting once and for all”, by barring blacklisters from public sector contracts and holding a full public inquiry into the practice. The call came after Labour MP Chuka Umunna revealed in a 5 September parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall that Crossrail and major contractors working on the project are continuing to engage in the blacklisting of workers.
Unite news release. Blacklisting debate, Westminster Hall, 5 September 2017. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Britain: Employers lack understanding on migraines
Many employers do not understand the terrible effects of migraines and could do more to support staff with the condition, three UK charities have said. They believe with one in seven people affected, more help and awareness from managers is needed.
Migraine Trust news release. BBC News Online. Huffington Post UK.
Timothy T Houle and others. Forecasting Individual Headache Attacks Using Perceived Stress: Development of a Multivariable Prediction Model for Persons With Episodic Migraine. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, volume 57, number 7, pages 1,041-1,050, July/August 2017. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Britain: Cake firm fined £1m over death of contractor
A cake manufacturer has been fined £1m over the death of a contractor at its factory in Hull. David Shanks, 55, died from a head injury the day after falling from a stepladder while working at Greencore Grocery Ltd.
HSE news release. Hull Daily Mail. BBC News Online. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Britain: Worker's foot plunged into hot deep fat fryer
The owners of a Leeds restaurant have been fined after a worker’s foot plunged into a hot deep fat fryer. Piotr Sawicki was standing on top of a range in the kitchens of Restaurant Bar and Grill as he cleaned up at the end of service on 14 January 2016.
Yorkshire Post. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Britain: Director pays for taking no notice of HSE
A car repair company and its director have been fined after failing to comply with legally binding improvement notices issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard that on 10 June 2016, Rochdale MOT Centre Limited and director, Nazar Hussain, failed to undertake the thorough examination of three two-post vehicle lifts by the dates specified in the three improvement notices.
HSE news release. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Australia: Cleaning can be more dangerous than construction
The work of a cleaner can be more hazardous that construction work, according to figures from Safe Work Australia. A new analysis by the official safety regulator shows the average rate of workplace injury in New South Wales since 2010 is 11.4 workers compensation claims per million hours worked in cleaning and related industries, compared to 9.5 for construction and 7.5 for mining.
Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Bangladesh: Call for brands to sign up to new safety Accord
Global unions representing garment and retail workers are urging global garment brands to be part of the 2018 Bangladesh Accord on fire and building safety. To date, 30 brands have signed the 2018 Accord, bringing more than 1,160 Bangladesh garment factories into the scope of the new agreement which comes into effect after the 2013 Accord expires in May 2018.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

India: Cashew nut workers at risk of monkey fever
Scientists have traced the source of a re-emerging disease, Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) or ‘monkey fever’, to cashew plantations in Goa. Cashew nut workers, some of whom have tested positive for the condition, face occupational exposure to KFD, the scientists report in a study in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.
DY Patil and others. Occupational exposure of cashew nut workers to Kyasanur Forest disease in Goa, India, International Journal of Infectious Diseases, volume 61, pages 61-67, August 2017. Indian Express. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Pakistan: Factory workers still toiling away in deathtraps
On the fifth anniversary of the deadly Baldia garment factory fire, a research group in Pakistan has expressed serious concerns about the persistent unsafe working conditions prevalent in Pakistan’s factories. The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) said that majority of the country’s workplaces still do not have any health or safety precautions in place for workers.
The News. Labour Watch Pakistan. ANROEV. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Hazards news, 9 September 2017

Britain: Sports Direct accused of 'emoji con' on disaffected staff
Sports Direct is asking warehouse staff to press a happy or sad face emoji on a touchpad to tell them how they're feeling when they clock in – allowing management to question them if they are disgruntled, the union Unite has said. Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “It’s nothing short of an emoji con and a bogus exercise to gloss over past failures and some of the problems which still persist in the warehouse.”
Unite news release. The Independent. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: GMB warning to council over asbestos exposures
A London council has been warned it needs to act now or face an official safety probe after the union GMB discovered workers had been unwittingly exposed to asbestos. The union, which represents the workers employed as heating engineers by FM360, a subsidiary of Hounslow Council’s in-house trading company Lampton, said it understands the employees unknowingly sawed through asbestos when carrying out the work in a residential property, under the false impression that FM360 had carried out the relevant checks and surveys to identify the risk of exposure to asbestos.
GMB news release. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: RMT astonished at Northern Rail ‘hypocrisy’
Train operator Northern Rail has told its staff – including guards whose roles it wants to axe – that they are a first line of defence against terrorism. The message was sent to the firm's 5,700 strong workforce just 36 hours before a strike by RMT members, part of the ongoing dispute over plans to halve the number of safety critical guards on the firm's trains.
RMT news release. News and Star. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: Robots should make work better
The economic gains from digitisation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) should be used to benefit working people, the TUC had said. A new report from the union body, ‘Shaping Our Digital Future’, notes that previous waves of technological change have not led to an overall loss of jobs, but the rewards from higher productivity have gone predominantly to business owners, rather than being shared across the workforce through better wages and working conditions.
TUC news release and report, Shaping Our Digital Future. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: Bin strike continues to defend safety role
Unite has expressed dismay after Birmingham city council reneged on a deal that had restored ‘grade 3’ jobs on refuse wagons and had led to the suspension of a seven-week bin strike. The grade 3 workers include those responsible for safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: Tory peer says Brexit will free him to overwork youngsters
A Tory peer has argued Brexit is a good thing because it will mean the end of safety laws that protect young people from long working hours. Lord Harris, a retail tycoon estimated to be worth more than £100m, claimed he could only employ staff for 35 hours a week under current EU laws - however, the European Working Time Directive states employees should not be forced to work longer than 48 hours, and they can opt-out.
TUC Touchstone blog. The Independent. Protecting health and safety after Brexit, TUC, May 2017. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: One in three 'sick notes' for mental health
Nearly a third of fit notes issued by GPs are now for psychiatric problems. An NHS report says this makes them the most common reason for people to take time off work, ahead of musculoskeletal diseases.
NHS Digital news release and full report. BBC News Online. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: HSE makes fees dispute process independent
Disputed invoices raised under the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) fee for intervention (FFI) cost recovery scheme will now be considered by a fully independent panel. HSE said all disputes will now be considered by a lawyer – acting as chair – and two others who have practical experience of management of health and safety.
HSE news release and Fee for Intervention webpages. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: Cleaners at high risk of deadly lung and heart disease
Cleaners are at much higher risk of death from lung and heart disease than workers in other occupations, a study has found. A survey by a Belgian university, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), found that the mortality rate from pulmonary disease was 45 per cent higher for men who had formerly worked in the cleaning sector, and 16 per cent higher for women in the same position, concluding the risks of death from lung and heart disease were much higher in those who had worked as cleaners.
Laura Van den Borre and Patrick Deboosere. Health risks in the cleaning industry: a Belgian census-linked mortality study (1991–2011), International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, first online 14 August 2017. ETUI news report Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: Firm fined £450,000 after teen killed at work
A company has been fined £450,000 after admitting criminal safety failings following the death of a teenage worker. Manchester Crown Court heard how Ben Pallier-Singleton, 19, had been driving a forklift truck at Chinley-based Vinyl Compounds Ltd on 10 February 2015, without adequate training, across uneven ground and in an area which was not properly lit, in an area known to employees as the ‘graveyard’.
HSE news release. Buxton Advertiser. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: Steel firm fined after worker crushed to death
A manufacturer of steel building components has been fined after a worker suffered fatal crush injuries from a steel beam. Worcester Crown Court heard how a Thomas Panels & Profiles Limited employee Jeffery Warner, 65, was fatally crushed when a steel beam emerging from a machine pushed another beam and crushed him against a closed door.
HSE news release. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: Firm fined after young worker gets vibration disease
An engineering company has been fined after a 29-year-old worker was diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) – a potentially disabling condition causing tingling, pins and needles, numbness and pain in the affected person’s hands. Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how the employee, who was working in the trimming department at Taylor Engineering and Plastics Limited, was exposed to vibration from tools used to sand components.
HSE news release. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: Rogue developer let untrained workers do demolition job
The owner of block of flats has been fined after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection identified serious criminal safety breaches while the block was being demolished. HSE found the owner of the property, Selliah Sivaneswaran, had ignored advice from HSE and had not appointed a site manager and used untrained workers for the development project.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Getwestlondon. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Canada: First responders suffer mental disorders
Results from Canada's first national survey looking at operational stress injuries among first responders such as police, paramedics, firefighters and emergency call operators suggests they are much more likely to develop a mental disorder than the general population. The research, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, found of the 5,813 participants, 44.5 per cent “screened positive for clinically significant symptom clusters consistent with one or more mental disorders.”
R Nicholas Carleton and others. Mental disorder symptoms among public safety personnel in Canada, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, published online, 28 August 2017. CBC News. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Europe: Occupational cancer protection ‘in sight’
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are being urged by trade unions to back an agreement between the European Council and European Parliament to give workers more and better protection against occupational cancer. The call from unions came after the new measures won the support of the parliament’s employment committee.
ETUC news release. Work cancer hazards blog. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Global: ILO head calls for global safety coalition
Global action is needed to address the massive human and economic cost of occupational injuries and diseases, the head of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said. “The global economic impact of the failure to adequately invest in occupational safety and health is roughly equal to the total GDP of the poorest 130 countries in the world,” ILO director-general Guy Ryder told nearly 3,500 participants during the opening ceremony at the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in Singapore on 3 September.
ILO news release. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Korea: Top court backs MS link to Samsung job
South Korea’s Supreme Court has ruled that a former worker in a Samsung LCD factory who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) should be recognised as having an occupationally caused disease, overturning lower court verdicts. In a milestone decision that could aid other sickened tech workers struggling to prove the origin of their diseases, the Supreme Court ruled there was a significant link between Lee Hee-jin’s disease and workplace hazards and her working conditions, and was critical of the Labour Department and the company for refusing to release exposure data.
Japan Times. SHARPS campaign. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Hazards news, 2 September 2017

Britain: Brexiteers wrong to call for deregulation, says TUC
The removal of legal protections sought by prominent Brexiteers will just make the economy more lawless not more productive, the TUC has warned. The union body was speaking out on the publication of a report by Economists For Brexit.
TUC Touchstone blog. The Economy After Brexit, Economists For Brexit, August 2017.
Protecting health and safety after Brexit, TUC, May 2017. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

Britain: Unions raise concerns about driverless lorries
Plans for convoys of ‘driverless’ lorries controlled by a single driver in the lead vehicle have been criticised by transport unions, who say proper investment and not ‘dubious stunts’ is required to improve Britain’s transport system. The unions were speaking out after the government said lorry 'platooning' had the potential to slash fuel costs and congestion.
Unite news release. RMT news release. DfT news release. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

Britain: Union concerns at sharp drop in fire safety officers
A dramatic drop in the number of fire safety officers in England since 2011 is leaving the public at risk and the remaining workers under ‘intolerable’ pressure, unions have warned. Unions Unite and UNISON were commenting after an investigation by the Guardian found the number of the specialist officers carrying out inspections of high-risk buildings to ensure they comply with safety legislation fell from 924 to 680 between 2011 and 2017, a loss of 244 officers.
The Guardian. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

Britain: TUC webinar challenges occupational cancer
The TUC is taking its campaign against occupational cancer into cyberspace. A live TUC Education webinar on 14 September will hear TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson explore which industries are most affected by occupational cancer, what the law says and what unions can do to reduce or eliminate the risks.
TUC occupational cancer webinar, starts live 2.30pm, 14 September 2017. More information on TUC webinars from TUC Education. TUC occupational cancer guide. Work cancer hazards blog. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

Global: Light at night linked to breast cancer
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a Harvard University study. The large long-term study also found a stronger association among women who worked night shifts.
Harvard University news release. Peter James and others. Outdoor light at night and breast cancer incidence in the Nurses’ Health Study II, Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 125, issue 8, 17 August 2017. doi: 10.1289/EHP935
ITUC/Hazards work cancer hazards blog. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

Britain: Government squanders millions hounding the sick
Ministers have spent almost £40m in an “appalling” attempt to use ‘fit for work’ tests to stop sick and disabled people receiving the financial help to which they are entitled. Freedom of Information requests by The Independent have revealed how taxpayers’ money has been spent on futile legal battles to prevent vulnerable people receiving help.
The Independent. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

Britain: Director jailed after safety warnings ignored
A south Wales company owner who a judge said ‘couldn’t care less’ about his employees’ safety has been jailed. Crofty Point Metals Ltd company director Robert Michael Collis pleaded guilty to three criminal safety offences and was sentenced to eight months imprisonment and a further four month term in relation to environmental offences brought by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) with a previous three months suspended sentence also added, to be served concurrently.
HSE news release. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

Britain: Site firm ignored succession of safety warnings
A Bristol-based construction company that ignored a succession of official safety warnings has been fined after more criminal safety offences were spotted by a member of the public. North Somerset Magistrates’ Court heard how Ikon Construction Ltd failed to ensure that the construction phase of nine timber frame town houses was planned, managed and monitored correctly.
HSE news release and whistleblower webpage. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

Britain: Site firm fined after worker left in a coma
A construction company has been fined after a worker was left in a coma after falling from scaffolding. Bristol Magistrates’ Court heard how the untrained employee of RJ Scaffolding (Bristol) Limited was in an induced coma for two weeks after falling more than six metres from the scaffolding and suffered several serious injuries including losing the sight in his right eye and five fractures to the skull.
HSE news release and scaffolding guide. Construction Enquirer. Bristol Post. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

Britain: Textile firm fined after machine mangles hand
A Devonshire textile company has been fined after a 21-year-old employee suffered ‘life-changing’ hand injuries. Exeter Magistrates’ Court heard Anthony Seward was preparing an unguarded machine for the next shift at Heathcoat Fabrics Limited on 23 August 2014, when his hand was drawn into rotating rollers.
HSE news release. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

Britain: Nuke regulator warnings to Devonport dockyard
The nuclear safety regulator has ordered Devonport dockyard to improvement its management of lifting operations and crane maintenance. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) improvement notices were issued after an ongoing investigation into several crane-related incidents between May and July 2017.
ONR news release. Plymouth Herald. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

Bangladesh: Assaulted garment workers fight for justice
More than 50 garment workers at Haesong Corporation Ltd in Bangladesh have been injured after being attacked by hired thugs as they took part in a peaceful protest against the sweater manufacturer on 16 August. The sit-in and strike, which took place outside the Korean-owned company’s headquarters in Hizalhati, Gazipur, was organised by the National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), an affiliate of the global union IndustriALL.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

India: Unsafe, exploitative work rife in granite quarries
Modern slavery and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions are rampant in granite quarries in South India, a study has found. The new research, commissioned by the India Committee of the Netherlands and Stop Child Labour, also found that in some quarries, especially in waste stone processing, child labour is used.
ICN news release, full report The Dark Sites of Granite: Modern slavery, child labour and unsafe work in Indian granite quarries - What should companies do? and summary. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

USA: Deaths upturn spurs call for mine safety action
The August 2017 death of another West Virginia coal miner has spurred renewed calls for action to address an increase in US mining fatalities. Owen Mark Jones, 51, was the 12th coal miner to die on the job so far in 2017, compared to eight last year.
UMWA news release. West Virginia Gazette. Confined Space blog. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

USA: Trump watchdog buries work fatalities A large body of accessible information on workplace deaths in the US is being dismantled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in response to approaches from the business lobby. The US Chamber of Commerce, which had long complained about the practice, asked OSHA to roll back some of the information in the fatality reporting and other initiatives when the Trump administration took over.
Wall St Journal. Confined Space listing of recent US workplace deaths and commentary on the work deaths cover-up. OSHA webpage. Risks 815. 2 September 2017

Hazards news, 26 August 2017

Britain: Official study recognises the value of safety reps
The ‘valuable’ role and ‘expert insight’ of workers and their health and safety reps has been recognised in a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) study of updated safety practices in the ports industry. The research, which looked at the impact of a code of practice on safety in docks introduced in 2014, examined the impact of more extensive ‘worker engagement’.
HSE publication notice and full report, Leadership and worker engagement in the ports industry, Research report RR1089, 2017. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Bins strike victory protects ‘vital’ safety role
Unite has said its victory in the long running Birmingham bins dispute has protected a vital safety role. The union said that the city council had accepted the refuse workers’ case and restored the grade 3 jobs, which are responsible for safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles, leading to the suspension of the industrial action.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Rail terror threat shows need for transport police
Rail union TSSA has said the UK and Scottish governments must stop the break-up of the British Transport Police (BTP) as it emerged the rail network has been identified as a terror target for Al-Qaeda. The union was commenting in the wake of revelations that an Al-Qaeda guide is encouraging its supporters to target train stations in Britain.
TSSA news release and petition. The Mirror. The Sun. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Grenfell inquiry scope ‘too limited’
The scope of the inquiry into the Grenfell Tower blaze in which at least 80 people died is too limited to learn all the necessary lessons, unions and the Labour Party have warned. Andy Dark, assistant general secretary of the FBU, said: Clearly, the government has missed a chance to do right by the victims and investigate every aspect of the disaster.”
Grenfell Tower inquiry terms of reference. FBU news release. Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to Theresa May. The Guardian. Equal Times. Morning Star. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Canada: Prolonged standing at work linked to heart attacks
Workers who stand on the job most of the time are at greater risk of heart disease than workers who predominantly sit, a new study has found. It suggests even after taking into account a wide range of personal, health and work factors, people who primarily stand on the job are twice as likely as people who primarily sit on the job to have a heart attack or congestive heart failure.
IWH news release. Peter Smith and others. The Relationship Between Occupational Standing and Sitting and Incident Heart Disease Over a 12-Year Period in Ontario, Canada, American Journal of Epidemiology, kwx298, August 2017.
More on the hazards of standing at work. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Big Ben bong bonkers brigade told to ‘get a grip’
A bout of noisy hysteria over the silencing of Big Ben’s chimes for four years for essential maintenance has prompted a backlash from politicians and safety advocates, with moaning MPs told to ‘get a grip’.
IOSH news release. HSE statement. BBC News Online. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Two firms fined after preventable fall death
Two Hampshire-based companies have been fined after the death of a 42-year-old worker in a preventable fall. Bournemouth Crown Court heard that on 20 July 2012 Antony ‘Tony’ Ockwell, a sub-contractor working for Quality 1st Building Services Ltd, was undertaking remedial work to a roof at a domestic property in Ringwood, Hampshire when he fell seven metres from the roof to the ground.
HSE news release. Southern Daily Echo. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: ‘Cavalier’ asbestos boss evades jail
The director of a company that removed asbestos with hammers and used wet wipes to clean it up had “a cavalier attitude to safety”, a court has heard. Jeremy Uphill, the director of Sarum Asbestos Ltd, pleaded guilty to six charges of criminal negligence relating to work between 2012 and 2015 and was sentenced at Salisbury Crown Court to a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years.
HSE news release. Salisbury Journal. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Worker loses leg in gas bottle explosion
A worker was required to play ‘Russian roulette’ every time he filled a gas bottle at his place of work, a court has heard. J and R Gases employee Luke Hawthorn’s luck ran out when one of the bottles used in the pub trade exploded and flying metal ripped through his leg, which later had to be amputated. tency in the filling process. He was trained at a very shallow level.”
HSE news release. This is Lancashire. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Firm fined after deadly spray booth vapour fire
The employer of a man who died after suffering extensive burns while cleaning a spray booth at the vehicle repair company’s base in Derbyshire has been fined. Nottingham Crown Court heard how on 26 May 2012, Daniel Brown, an employee of LW Smart Repairs Limited, suffered serious burns after a pressure washer ignited highly flammable vapour in the spray booth and died later in hospital.
HSE news release. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Paper coating firm fined after worker suffers burns
A paper coating company has been fined after a worker suffered burns following a fire on a coating machine. Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard how an Olympic Varnish Company Limited employee suffered burn injuries in the blaze caused by the unsafe use of a highly flammable liquid to clean rollers on the coating machine.
HSE news release. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Field worker injured after being reeled into netting
Vegetable grower M Baker Produce Limited has been fined after a worker became entangled in netting in a field near Boston, Lincolnshire. Lincoln Magistrates’ Court heard how on 27 June 2015 at a field near Frampton, netting was being removed from a crop on a field using a tractor mounted hydraulic net winding machine.
HSE news release. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Canada: Asbestos exposure comes at a very high price
Asbestos isn’t just the biggest industrial killer of all time, it is also a massive drain on the economy, new research has confirmed. Canadian researchers estimated the lifetime cost of newly diagnosed lung cancer and mesothelioma cases associated with occupational and para-occupational [typically exposed family members] asbestos exposure for the calendar year 2011, including healthcare, productivity and output, and quality of life costs.
Emile Tompa and others. The economic burden of lung cancer and mesothelioma due to occupational and para-occupational asbestos exposure, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published Online First 29 July 2017. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2016-104173 Risks 814. 26 August 2017

New Zealand: Orchard workers win the right to a drink
A union in New Zealand has won a supply of safe drinking water for parched orchard workers employed by a German multinational. Turners and Growers (T&G), a subsidiary of the German based international trading and services group BayWa, initially responded to the demand from the union FIRST for drinkable water by defending its offer of irrigation water to its employees.
IUF news report. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

USA: Power firm ignored the dangers and five died
After a 1997 incident were a worker was serious injured, Tampa Electric wrote special guidelines so another accident like it would never happen again. Then two decades later, almost to the day, five workers were killed, burned to death performing a near-identical job at the utility’s Big Bend Power Station.
Tampa Bay Times. Confined Space blog. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

USA: They were hurt at work - then they were deported
A loophole in Florida law has led to hundreds of injured workers being deported. While nearly all 50 states have given undocumented workers the right to receive workers’ compensation, in Florida this comes with a catch - a 2003 law made it a crime to file a workers’ comp claim using false identification, and insurers or their private detectives are turning workers in to avoid making payouts.
ProPublica. NPR News. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Hazards news, 19 August 2017

Britain: Tory tabloids go Big Ben bong bonkers
Silly season has well and truly started, front pages leads this week from two Tory supporting papers suggest. A 15 August Daily Mail splash reads ‘Death knell of Common sense’, as Big Ben faces a four year silence for maintenance, with health
and safety taking the blame.
TUC news release. TUC Stronger Unions blog. BBC News Online and further coverage. Daily Mail. The Telegraph. The Sun. Construction Enquirer. London Evening Standard. The Guardian. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: Prosecutions for health and safety crimes plummet
Far fewer firms are facing the courts for their workplace health and safety crimes, latest figures show. The TUC says while the fines total had risen sharply since new sentence guidelines were introduced, the number of prosecutions taken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has plummeted.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) annual report and accounts 2016/17, July 2017. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: Cabin crew facing rise in abuse on UK flights
An airline industry code of conduct on disruptive passengers is failing to stem the tide of drunken and anti-social behaviour at UK airports and on flights from the UK, according to the union Unite. Its survey of over 4,000 cabin crew working for British-based airlines found that 87 per cent of respondents had witnessed drunken passenger behaviour at UK airports or on flights from UK airports. 
Unite news release. BBC News Online and ‘Plane drunk’ Panorama documentary. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: Act now to end Scottish rail violence
The Scottish government must act now to improve security and staffing levels on some rail routes to help combat rising anti-social behaviour and criminality, the train drivers’ union aSLEF has said. The union has told Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf its members are ready to refuse to work on high risk services unless something is done.
ASLEF news release. The Scotsman. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: Urgent action needed on safe Tube station staffing
Tube union RMT has said a ‘reckless’ disregard for safe staffing on the Tube is putting lives at risk. The union warning came in the wake of a series of serious incidents on the London Underground, including one where a member of the public was left unconscious and bleeding profusely on an unstaffed Tube platform.
RMT news release. London Evening Standard. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: Driving examiners to vote in strike ballot
PCS members at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), including driving examiners and vehicle testing staff, are to be balloted for industrial action in a protracted dispute over health and safety, travel time arrangements and other changes to terms and conditions. PCS says the proposals effectively mean workers could be required to work the equivalent of an extra day per week for free and will be undertaken at the worker’s own risk.
CS news release. DVSA news release. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: Fashion boss concerned by unsafe UK factories
The “vast majority” of UK clothing factories have worse ethical standards than China, Bangladesh and Burma, the chief executive of high street fashion chain New Look has said. Anders Kristiansen accused British factories of underpaying staff and failing to meet health and safety standards and accused New Look’s rivals of deliberately ignoring the issue.
The Times. Retail Gazette. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: Pilots welcome crackdown plan on laser pointers
Buying powerful laser pens could require a licence in future, the government has said, amid concerns over the number of attacks on aircraft. Ministers say the move, which has been welcomed by pilots’ union BALPA, could also see new measures to license retailers and restrict advertising after warnings about the risks to pilots and planes.
Department for Business news release. BALPA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: Slavery ‘widespread’ in the UK
Modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK is “far more prevalent than previously thought,” the National Crime Agency has said. The NCA said previous estimates there were 10,000-13,000 victims in the UK were the “tip of the iceberg,” with visible injuries one of the tell-tale signs to look out for when identifying slave labour.
NCA news release. The Independent. BBC News Online. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: Alarm firm fined after worker suffers flash burns
A South Yorkshire firm has been hit with a six figure fine after a worker was scorched by a ‘burning cloud’. The female employee sustained flash burns to her face, neck, chest and arms in the incident at Rotherham-based manufacturer Pyronix.
HSE news release. Sheffield Star. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: Tata Steel pays £1m for exposing staff to toxic gas
Tata Steel has been fined after it exposed five people to toxic substances at its Scunthorpe Steel Works. The firm admitted releasing a large quantity of benzole, exposing five workers to risk of death from flammable vapours on 17 June 2011 – a major and volatile component of benzole is the potent carcinogen benzene.
HSE news release and COMAH webpage. BBC News Online. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Britain: Precarious work conference, Glasgow, 8 September
The campaign group Scottish Hazards is to run a free half-day conference on 8 September on how to combat the health and safety risks of ‘precarious work’. The group says insecure work is on the increase, and can lead to an “increased incidence of workplace injury, work intensification and stress levels, or decreased collective organisation and trade union membership.”
Precarious work: Health and safety concerns and ideas for action, Friday 8 September 2017, 12:30–4:00pm UNISON offices, 84 Bell Street, Glasgow. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Canada: Prison staff on high alert after opiate exposures
A highly potent opiate which has become a major public health concern in North America, is now placing Canadian prison staff in danger. A union says in recent weeks, at least nine federal correctional officers have been exposed to the prescription pain killer fentanyl, which is 100 times more powerful than morphine.
Globe and Mail. Calgary Herald. CTV News. 1310 News. The Sun. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

India: Official probe into sanitation worker deaths
The Indian government is to constitute a vigilance committee to investigate a spate deaths of sanitation workers after inhaling toxic gases while cleaning sewage lines manually. Nine contract workers have lost their lives in less than two months in Delhi.
DNA India. Briefing on manual scavenging from the International Dalit Solidarity Network. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

USA: Workplaces are ‘physically and emotionally taxing’
The American workplace is physically and emotionally taxing, with workers frequently facing unstable work schedules and unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions, according to a new study. The findings, from research conducted by investigators at the RAND Corporation, Harvard Medical School and UCLA, are based on the American Working Conditions Survey - one of the most in-depth surveys ever done to examine conditions in US workplaces.
RAND news release and full report, Working conditions in the United States: A report on the 2015 American Working Conditions Survey. Fortune magazine. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

USA: Protecting what really makes America great
A flurry of recent activity by the Trump administration aimed at rolling back workplace safety protections is compromising worker safety, top experts Kathleen Rest and David Michaels have warned. They say if you work, or know someone who does, you need to pay attention — people’s lives are literally at stake.
InsideSources. Risks 813. 19 August 2017

Hazards news, 12 August 2017

Britain: To vape or not to vape at work?
Allowing vaping in the workplace is a bad idea, the TUC has reiterated. The union body clarification came in wake of series of misleading articles in the press suggesting that the government’s Five Year Tobacco Control plan for England released last month supported vaping at work.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and advice on smoke free workplaces. Five Year Tobacco Control plan for England. Public Health England (PHE) advice. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Britain: Cleaners stand up against hospital grind
Outsourced cleaning staff working at four London hospitals who say they are being worked into the ground are taking industrial action for better pay and conditions. Serco was recently awarded the £600m domestic services contract for Barts Health NHS trust, which runs the Royal London alongside St Bartholomew’s, Mile End, Whipps Cross and Newham University hospitals.
Unite news release and related release. The Guardian. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Britain: Ambulance service report confirms harassment plague
A damning report into an ambulance trust has confirmed union concerns about a culture of bullying and harassment and the ‘toxic’ atmosphere at South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (Secamb). After complaints were raised by GMB in February the trust commissioned an independent review, which the trust admitted revealed “unacceptable” behaviour., GMB must demand that this report elicits detailed internal investigations.”
Secamb news release and independent report. Morning Star. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Britain: Prospect defends over-stretched air traffic controllers
Air traffic union Prospect has slammed airline Ryanair after it called for the ‘resilience’ of air traffic control to be improved, but also made clear that it does not want to pay for the extra staff this would require. The union said overworked air traffic control officers (ATCO) cannot continue to take the strain in the under-funded, under-staffed ‘safety critical’ service.
Prospect news release. CAA news release. The Telegraph. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Britain: Summer schedules pushing pilots to the limits
Pilots are warning that demanding schedules, lax controls of pilots’ hours of duty and a failure to recruit adequate numbers of pilots are pushing the system to the limits. Pilots’ union BALPA said the start of the summer holiday season on 21 July saw a new record when more than 8,800 flights left or entered UK airspace, and said it is seeing increasing numbers of pilots who are looking to go part-time or have become long-term sick as a result of fatigue and “burnout” caused by inadequate rest and unworkable patterns of duty.
BALPA news release. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Britain: Grenfell inquiry must listen to us, say firefighters
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is urging the inquiry team and the government to listen to firefighters, emergency fire control operators and to the FBU itself, when the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster gets underway. The union call came amid concerns that the inquiry will focus narrowly on simply what happened on the night of the fire, rather than questions about the wider safety regime and how such a devastating incident could take place.
FBU news release. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Britain: Campaigners tell the prime minister ‘enough is enough’
The prime minister has been inundated with messages telling her ‘enough is enough’, and urging her to reverse the government’s deadly deregulation drive. The call coordinated by the Hazards Campaign quickly saw hundreds of ‘e-postcards’ despatched by union safety reps direct to Theresa May’s email inbox, w thousands more print versions of the ‘We love red tape’ postcards snapped up by union reps alarmed about the damaging impact of the government’s rollback of safety rules and enforcement.
Hazards Campaign news release. Send the Prime Minister the ‘Enough is enough’ epostcard. Print versions of the postcard are available from the Hazards Campaign.
We love red tape facebook group. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Britain: Piper Alpha judge worries workers still fear raising concerns
The judge who headed the Piper Alpha disaster public inquiry has expressed fears that offshore workers still worry about raising safety concerns. Lord Cullen said he still had fears about whether workers feel able to raise safety concerns without repercussions.
BBC News Online. The National. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Britain: Crewe crane collapse claims third life
A third man has died after a crane collapsed at a building site. David Webb, 43, was injured when the crane tilted and fell at a site in Crewe on 21 June.
BBC News Online. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Britain: Boat owner jailed over Whitby crew deaths
Timothy Bowman-Davies, the owner of a scallop fishing boat on which two crewmen died from carbon monoxide poisoning, has been jailed for 15 months. Mark Arries, 26, and Edward Ide, 21, who died on the boat which was moored in Whitby harbour in January 2014, were using a gas cooker to warm the boat overnight as they slept.
Whitby Gazette. BBC News Online. Yorkshire Post. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Britain: Private jet handler fined after head crush horror
A company that handles private jets has been fined £250,000 after a worker’s head was crushed in a doorway and she was left in a persistent vegetative state. Suzi Dorbon, an aircraft mover at Signature Flight Support, became trapped in a mechanically operated doorway at Luton Airport in 2015.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Britain: Toy worker loses hand in stuffing machine
A soft toy filling company whose negligence led to a worker losing his hand has been fined. Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard the worker lost his left hand after being drawn into an unguarded carding machine at Stuffing Plant Ltd (TSP) on 8 March 2016.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Canada: Shorter routes call as postie injuries rise
The rate of disabling injuries to Canadian postal workers is rising alarmingly, with their union blaming the disturbing trend on expanded routes and heavier mail loads. Suzie Moore, health and safety officer with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) said: “Our routes have doubled if not tripled in size”.
CBC News. CUPW Canada Post campaign. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

China: Stihl leaves workers jobless and hurt
Workers in China who toiled in hazardous conditions for a German multinational without protection have been left suffering work-related ill-health and without a job after the firm relocated a factory. The Zama Precision Industry factory in Shenzen province in southern China, a subsidiary of Stihl, had faced strike action by workers campaigning for improved safety.
China Labour Bulletin. AAWL news release. Stihl Code of Conduct. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

South Africa: Mining giant’s $101m lung disease contingency
British mining multinational Anglo American has set aside $101 million (£77.5m) to cover potential damages claims from former South African employees who contracted the fatal occupational lung disease silicosis. “We have made an accounting provision within our half year results this morning, acknowledging the progress that is being made towards an agreement as part of the working group of companies in the silicosis litigation in South Africa,” said an Anglo American spokesperson.
Anglo American half year financial report for the six months ended 30 June 2017, including statement on the silicosis set-aside, 27 July 2017. The Citizen. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

USA: Tesla's safety ‘worse than sawmills’
A group of Tesla workers has asked the electric car maker’s board to provide a plan to address employee safety concerns. The Tesla Workers’ Organising Committee, which hopes to become part of the autoworkers’ union UAW, said Tesla had a safety record worse than that of “sawmills and slaughterhouses.”
UAW news release, letter to Tesla independent board members and Tesla campaign. Business Insider. COS Magazine. Risks 813. 12 August 2017

Hazards news, 5 August 2017

Britain: Unison secures second legal victory
On the heels of UNISON’s massive win in the Supreme Court that made tribunal fees unlawful, the union has chalked up a second win. The Court of Appeal has now agreed that businesses should consult unions before making changes to contracts that will affect their members - although there is a requirement on an employer to consult on health and safety issues, many did not consult on wider issues that affect the health of workers such as shift patterns or working hours, but this decision is likely to mean that employers will now be leglly required to do so.
Unison press release. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Union exposes big rise in construction self employed
Trade union Unite has said employment rights need a major overhaul after new figures demonstrated bogus self-employment in construction is out of control. A Freedom of Information request by Unite has revealed that, in the past year, at least 1,076,000 construction workers were paid via the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), an 8 per cent increase over twelve months.
Unite press release. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Fire union publishes its first submission on Grenfell
The Fire Brigades Union have published their submission to the Inquiry into the Grenfell fire which has just finished consulting on its terms of reference. The union states that the public inquiry into the disaster must look at the failures in the fire safety regime that led to the worst blaze in the UK since World War Two.
FBU submission  FBU press release. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: TUC welcomes review of building regulations
The TUC has welcomed the decision to set up an independent review of building regulations and fire safety following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower. The review is to be led by Dame Judith Hackitt, who is currently the chair of the employers’ body the EEF, but who was previously the chair of the HSE.
Government statement  TUC blog  TUC facebook page. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Unions give cautious welcome to Grenfell ‘corporate manslaughter’ probe
An announcement by the police that they were investigating possible corporate manslaughter changes in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, which led to the death of an estimated 80 people has been generally welcomed by unions. The Metropolitan Police have indicated that they are looking at corporate manslaughter charges in relation to the actions of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, who owned the block and the Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO), who managed it.
BBC news report  Unite release. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Rail union demands talks
Rail union RMT has written to train operators where there are issues over the threat to the role of the guard, and to passenger safety and access to services, following a meeting with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. The union has been in dispute with a number of companies where they are trying to remove guards leading to risks for the travelling public, in particular the long-running Southern dispute, but also Northern and Merseyrail, with a dispute also declared on Greater Anglia.
RMT press release. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Union demands lessons learned after death
Unite, the UK’s largest construction union, is calling on major contractors to urgently learn the lessons from the death of Rene Tkacik on the Crossrail project. This followed fines of more than £1m which were imposed on a consortium of three contractors working on the Crossrail site following three separate incidents on the project, including the death of a worker.
Unite press release  HSE release  Construction enquirer. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Safety professionals call for action on diesel
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) which is the professional health and safety officers’ body, has called on the government to reduce worker exposure to cancer-causing diesel particulates. Responding to the UK’s newly published Air Quality Plan, IOSH is encouraging the government to support its No Time to Lose campaign, which aims to tackle the burden of occupational cancer and help to offer solutions to businesses looking to reduce the impact of diesel particulates.
IOSH press release  No time to lose campaign  Unite resources page. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Report says seafarers’ mental health deteriorating
A report by Cardiff University into the health of seafarers between 2011 and 2016 has found that sleep quality has reduced in the period 2011‐2016. The research showed that fatigue scores for seafarers have risen over this period and there was also a deterioration in some aspects of seafarers’ mental health.
SIRC report  Nautilus press release. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Contractors wind up companies after ‘avoidable’ death
The contractors who built a biogas plant in Cornwall have been ordered to pay almost £300,000 in fines and cost over the "avoidable" death of a worker who was expecting his second child, yet because two of the three companies found guilty have gone into receivership only a small proportion of the fines and costs will be paid. Father-of-two Ionel Soci died after he was crushed by a heavy piece of steel being used to direct the flow of concrete while working for a sub-contractor on the project at Penare Farm, Higher Fraddon, in June 2014.
Cornwall live. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Million pound fine after school asbestos crime
Three companies have been fined a total of more than £1m after workers were exposed to asbestos is a school that was still occupied by schoolchildren. A former trading division of contractor Balfour Beatty, its client and its demolition contractor have together been fined £1.27m after exposing workers to asbestos during a project to create new premises for an expanding primary school.
HSE release  TUC eradication guide  Unison press release. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Doctors need a break
A report by the Royal College of Surgeons of Scotland has said that fatigue is putting patients’ lives at risk.  The college surveyed more than 500 consultants and trainees across the UK and found fatigue and high stress levels are impacting on morale and patient safety.
Report. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Fine after six metre fall
A food manufacturing company has been fined after a worker fell six metres from the back of a fork lift truck. Fishgate Limited was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £19,032.63 in costs. The employee was raised up by a forklift driver in an unsecured tote box to paint when he fell to the ground from a height of around six metres resulting in a dislocated arm, cracked pelvis, broken foot and shattered leg.
BBC website. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Dispute over contractors past record
A row has broken out over a claim that construction giant Amey were employed by Sheffield council despite not disclosing a conviction for corporate manslaughter. It came during legal action which is being taken over continued protests about thousands of trees being chopped down as part of the council’s Streets Ahead contract with Amey.
Sheffield Star  Amey rebuttal  HSE prosecutions databases Blacklisting report. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

2017 Hazards conference
The first reports of the 2017 Hazards Conference, held in Keele between the 28th and 30th July are now available online. 350 union safety representatives and activists attended. Copies of presentations will also be available on the Hazard Campaign website shortly.
Hazards conference blog. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Global: The chemicals cover-up
A new report on the history of the collusion between chemical companies and the regulators in the USA over the past hundred years has been published online. Called “The poison papers”, the report shows that both industry and regulators understood the extraordinary toxicity of many chemical products and worked together to conceal this information from the public. There are over 20,000 documents, many of them available for the first time and they show a level of collusion and cover-up that mirrors many of the scandals that have been revealed about the tobacco and drugs industries in recent years.
The poison papers. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

USA: Trump administration continues roll back of safety cover
Following an earlier decision to delay proposed new workplace standards on beryllium and silica the US regulator OSHA has thrown out four proposed regulations and kicked three other initiatives into the long grass. Peg Seminario of the AFL-CIO union federation slammed the cuts and said that the White House "is abandoning protecting workers from health and safety hazards,” adding: “What you see is, basically, that the Trump administration is abandoning protecting workers from health and safety hazards. They’re turning their backs on the future.”
News report. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Pakistan: Ship breaking workers demand proper safely and health
The Pakistan Shipbreaking Workers Union Gadani (SWUG) has called on the ship-breakers and the Government to ensure proper occupational safety and health at the yards. The shipbreakers and the government had previously pledged to ensure labour rights, and health and safety protection for the workers at the Gadani shipbreaking yards after 26 people were killed and dozens others were wounded when a decommissioned oil tanker caught fire during dismantling on November 1 last year.
NTUF  Press report. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

USA: Brain damage in American football players
A study of deceased American football players' brains has found that 99 per cent of professional National Football League (NFL) athletes tested had a disease associated with head injuries. All but one former National Football League player were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which is a degenerative disease found in people who have suffered repeated blows to the head.
Research abstract. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Korea: Court rules Samsung responsible for MS case
A Korean court has upheld a lower-court declaration that a former Samsung employee’s multiple sclerosis was occupationally caused. It ordered that workers compensation benefits be paid to to Kim Mi-seon, a 37 year-old, former LCD assembler of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. who fell victim to multiple sclerosis.
Stop Samsung. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Hazards news, 29 July 2017

Britain: ‘Massive win’ for UNISON on ‘unlawful’ tribunal fees
Fees for those bringing employment tribunal claims have been ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court, following a long running legal challenge by the public service UNISON.  In a ruling delivered on 26 July, the Supreme Court ruled the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees.
UNISON news release. TUC news release. BBC News Online.
R (on the application of UNISON) (Appellant) v Lord Chancellor (Respondent), Supreme Court judgment and press summary, 26 July 2017. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Pension age hike slammed by unions
The Conservative government’s announcement that the state pension age will rise to 68 seven years early has been condemned by unions, who warn some won’t survive their jobs that long. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “In large parts of the country, the state pension age will be higher than healthy life expectancy.”
TUC news release. Unite news release. NASUWT news release. BBC News Online.
Office for National Statistics data on healthy life expectancies. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Merseyrail strike action as workers fight for safety
Merseyrail train drivers and guards have taken further strike action in their fight to keep the service safe for passengers. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the strike on 23 July was to defend the safety critical role of train guards.
RMT news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Union saves work benefits office from closure
A Barrow benefits office threatened with closure has been saved following a hard-fought local campaign spearheaded by the union PCS. The union had argued the area would have lost the highly skilled team who process claims for industrial illness benefits under Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) plans to shut and relocate several health assessment offices and job centres across Britain.
NW Evening Mail. Change.org. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Award for union skin cancer prevention push
A union campaign to prevent work-related skin cancer has received a national award. CWU was one of only four organisations recognised for their ‘outstanding’ contribution to the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) ‘No Time To Lose’ occupational cancer prevention initiative, launched 18 months ago.
CWU news release and cancer prevention film. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Prisons putting guards in deadly danger
Britain’s jails are breaching criminal health and safety law, prison officers’ union POA has said, as the government secured a permanent injunction against strike action by guards. With chronic overcrowding, a drop in staff numbers and rising violence and drug use, Steve Gillan said it was “only a matter of time” before a prison guard was killed at work. POA news release. The Independent. Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Unite backs call for safety drive on London buses
Authorities in London must ‘as a matter of urgency’ implement the recommendations of a London Assembly transport committee to drive up safety and reduce the stress and fatigue hitting London’s 26,000 bus drivers, Unite has said. The call on London mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) came after the committee’s report, ‘Driven to distraction’, identified long shifts, inadequate breaks and irregular shift patterns as causing high levels of stress among the capital’s bus drivers.
London Assembly news release and report, Driven to distraction. Unite news release. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Safety notice prompts call for Tube job cuts inquiry
Tube union RMT is calling for an independent inquiry into London Underground’s (LU) ‘disastrous’ Fit for the Future job cuts programme after the company was hit with enforcement action for a criminal safety breach. The legally binding improvement notice issued by government regulator ORR came after the company had ignored repeated warnings from RMT safety reps.
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: More ‘modern-day slavery’ uncovered by ship unions
Three ships abandoned in UK waters have revealed a culture close to modern day slavery in some parts of the shipping industry, seafarers’ union Nautilus has said. Working with the global transport union ITF, Nautilus has been assisting the crews of the vessels.
Nautilus news release. ITF news release. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Government can no longer count compensation claims
The government has admitting it no longer has “the expertise” to monitor the number of work-related injury and occupational disease claims. Insurance law firm Weightmans, who produce an annual report on the level of personal injury claims in the UK, disclosed that its annual Freedom of Information request to the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) for the number of personal injury claims this year “was declined on the basis that ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’ they ‘no longer have the expertise in the Compensation Recovery Unit to produce robust data’.”
Weightmans news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: New rules to regulate drone use
Drones will have to be registered and users will have to sit safety awareness tests under new rules to better regulate their growing use, the government has announced. The move comes after a campaign for tighter controls by pilots’ union BALPA, which was concerned about a series of incidents that could have put passenger flights in danger.
Department for Transport news release and DfT, BALPA and MAA summary report. BALPA news release. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Farming remains ‘riskiest sector’ says HSE
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has urged everyone involved in agriculture to talk about how they can prevent ill-health, injury and death on farms. The safety regulator says agriculture, forestry and fishing “remains the riskiest industry sector in the UK with 27 workers being killed on farms last year and three members of the public, making a total of 30 people according to HSE’s recently released fatality figures for the sector.”
HSE news release and agriculture webpages. See the help Great Britain work well conversation at #HelpGBWorkWell Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Reported sex assaults on trains double in five years
Reported sexual offences on trains have more than doubled in the past five years, according to statistics obtained by BBC Radio 5 live. The British Transport Police figures, which prompted train drivers’ union ASLEF to highlight the safety case for keeping guards on trains, show 1,448 offences were reported in 2016-17, up from 650 in 2012-2013.
ASLEF news release. BBC News Online. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Charities forced to pick up the slack on mental health
Firefighters and police are turning to a charity for support for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) amid reports of managers mishandling the cases of mental health issues among their frontline workers. In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire and recent terror attacks, around 30 police officers and firefighters have contacted PTSD999 — which offers advice and treatment from people who have worked in the emergency services.
Evening Standard. Morning Star. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Australia: Q fever rife at livestock sales yards
Over half the council workers at the historic Geelong Saleyards tested for the disease Q fever have given positive results, prompting the Australian Services Union (ASU) to demand action. ASU Victoria branch secretary Richard Duffy said the situation was worse than admitted by the council, noting: “The more we look into it the worse it gets.”
Geelong Advertiser. Q fever website. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

India: ‘Political murder’ as 39 sewer workers die in 100 days
A human rights activist has exposed horrific death rates in workers cleaning India’s sewers. Bezwada Wilson Wilson, one of the founders and the national convenor of Safai Karmachari Andolan, a campaign to end ‘manual scavenging’ in sewers, pointed out that in the past 100 days, 39 people had died across India while cleaning sewers.
Times of India. Sabrangindia. Safai Karmachari Andolan. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

South Africa: Union fury at mineworkers’ deaths
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has said it is “furious” following reports that the Tau Lekoa gold mine in Orkney ignored instructions from rock engineers who inspected the mine a few days before a lethal seismic incident. Erick Gcilitshana, health and safety secretary with the union, said mining companies must be held fully accountable for such accidents.
COSATU news release. IOL. The Times. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Hazards news, 22 July 2017

Britain: TUC concern at ‘Downing Street power grab’
The government’s draft plan to repeal European Union laws is a ‘power grab’ that could put workers’ rights in jeopardy, the TUC has warned. Commenting on the publication of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which brings EU laws — including workers’ rights and the major safety regulations — into UK law, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This is a Downing Street power grab… there is nothing in this Bill to stop politicians shredding or watering down our rights in the future.”
TUC news release and Touchstone blog. DEXEU news release, European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and guidance on the Bill. Morning Star. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Britain: Tory pledge to ‘destroy regulations’ undermines trust
Unions have echoed TUC concerns about workers’ rights being vulnerable as the government dismantles European laws and have said this concern is amplified by the Conservative’s determination to ‘destroy regulations’, including safety laws.
Unite news release. UNISON news release. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Britain: TUC call to bin pre-employment health screening
Pre-employment screening is unlawful and unnecessary and should be ‘binned’, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said pre-employment screen is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 in almost all circumstances, but hundreds of companies in the UK still offer the service.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Britain: Hospital workers protest over ‘callous’ sick policy
Hospital workers in Liverpool are calling for public support in their campaign against a ‘callous’ sick pay policy, which is forcing them to work while seriously ill or face financial hardship. Unite says health workers, porters and caterers employed by ISS at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen hospitals have seen their sick pay massively reduced to just 12 days a year since being transferred over to the private company from the NHS.
Unite news release. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Britain: Response to tower block fires is ‘a postcode lottery’
The ability of fire crews to respond promptly and professionally to life-threatening tower block fires is a postcode lottery, according to new research from the firefighters’ union FBU. Differing levels of resources around the country mean that the ‘pre-determined attendance’ (PDA) to a fire – the numbers of fire engines that should automatically be sent to a fire or other incident - varies greatly according to its location, the union found.
FBU news release, PDA statistics, ALP statistics and letter to the PM. The Guardian. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Britain: Grenfell Tower disaster was 'social murder'
John McDonnell has said the people responsible for “social murder” at Grenfell Tower should be held to account. The shadow chancellor said the disaster in west London was a consequence of political decisions taken over recent decades.
The Guardian. Morning Star. Sky News. Evening Standard. BBC News Online. House of Lords debate on regulation, 13 June 2017.
Centre for Crime and Justice Studies briefing explaining the concept of ‘social murder’, April 2016. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Britain: Grenfell ministers should ‘be interviewed under caution’
The national Hazards Campaign has called for ministers whose actions or inaction prior to the Grenfell Tower fire have been called into question to “be interviewed under caution” as part of the Metropolitan Police investigation.
Hazards Campaign. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Britain: MP calls for ‘urgent action’ on school asbestos
A Labour MP has condemned government complacency on the ‘undeniable’ asbestos risk in the country’s schools, and has called for urgent action. Rachel Reeves said the lives of children and staff are being put at risk by the failure to remove the potentially deadly substance from schools.
GMB Politics blog. GMB news release. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Britain: Austerity implicated as life expectancy rise stalls
Rising rates of life expectancy are grinding to a halt in England after more than 100 years of continuous progress, a leading health expert has said, adding that poor living and working conditions could be among the factors responsible. University College London (UCL) expert Sir Michael Marmot said he was “deeply concerned” by the situation, calling it “historically highly unusual”.
Marmot Indicators 2017, Institute of Health Equity, 18 July 2017. BBC News Online. The Independent. The Guardian. The Telegraph.
Usdaw news release. UNISON news release. Prospect news release. STUC news release. Prime minister Theresa May’s speech at the launch of the Taylor Review. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Britain: Agency worker injured in first week on site
An engineering firm has been fined for safety criminal breaches after an agency worker suffered injuries when his gloved hand was pulled into a lathe. Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard the worker employed by The Works agency had only working at the Dinnington site of Hallamshire Engineering Service Ltd for four days when he was injured in September 2014.
HSE news release. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Britain: Engineering firm gave workers vibration disease
An engineering firm has been fined for failing to control the risk of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), with workers using vibrating tools developing the debilitating occupational disease as a result. Manchester and Salford Magistrates heard how Newfield Fabrications Co Ltd (NFCL) failed to ensure the risks to its employees from exposure was adequately controlled.
HSE news release. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Britain: HSE safety clampdown on Orkney scallop boats
Safety standards on some scallop dive boats in Orkney are unacceptably low, according to the Health and Safety Executive. The watchdog is planning an inspection blitz over the coming month, with both announced and unannounced visits, with inspectors looking at crewing levels, risk assessment and emergency plans, and the maintenance of equipment.
BBC News Online. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Britain: The violence of austerity
A major new analysis, ‘The Violence of Austerity’, argues that the government’s austerity policy is an ‘intensely violent attack’ on working conditions and on the poor. The book, edited by Dave Whyte of Liverpool University and Vickie Cooper of the Open University, provides a comprehensive guide to the ‘social violence’ that has been unleashed by austerity and includes a dedicated chapter spells out the specific impact on health and safety at work.
The Violence of Austerity, edited by Vickie Cooper and David Whyte, Pluto Press, 2017. £15. ISBN: 9780745399485. 22 July 2017

Australia: 'Dodgy' safety certificates rife on building sites
Fraudsters are making fake safety certificates for building products, an Australian Senate inquiry has been told.  The inquiry into non-conforming building products has gathered pace since the Grenfell Tower fire in London last month, in which 80 people are thought to have died.
Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Bangladesh: Accord redux is good news for garment sector
Global union federation ITUC has welcomed the signing of the new Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, as a further step towards protection of workers and a means to improve Bangladesh’s garment industry. Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, warned: “Local factory owners are putting pressure on the government of Bangladesh to turn back the clock to the days of Rana Plaza, and we urge the government to give its full support to the tens of thousands of workers who produce that wealth, by backing the new Accord.”
ITUC news release. The Pump Handle blog. Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Dawn. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Global: Ivanka Trump criticised on factory conditions
On Inauguration Day in January, President Trump said: “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs,”, adding: “We will follow two simple rules — buy American and hire American.” But critics say the decision by his daughter Ivanka – now occupying high office in the Trump administration - to outsource her fashion range to low wage countries in factories with substandard working conditions, sits uneasily with the president’s declaration.
Washington Post. China Labor Watch news release. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

USA: Court OK with firing workers exposing sick abuse
A US federal appeals court in St Louis has ruled that it is acceptable for the boss of a fast-food chain to fire workers for being “disloyal.” The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed a ruling issued by the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and held that Miklin Enterprises, the owner of Jimmy John’s franchises in Minneapolis, had the right to fire six pro-union advocates because they demonstrated “disloyalty” by distributing flyers that implied the company was selling unsafe food contaminated by employees forced to work while sick.
In These Times. Risks 809. 22 July 2017

Hazards news, 15 July 2017

Britain: Insecure work review ‘not the game-changer needed’
A government-commissioned review of insecurity at work has failed to grasp the ‘game-changing’ improvements required to solve abusive employment practices, the TUC has said. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the Taylor eview was right to also call for equal pay for agency staff and sick leave for low paid workers, but added: “It's no secret that we wanted this review to be bolder.”
Good work: The Taylor review of modern working practices, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, 11 July 2017. TUC news release. The gig is up: Trade unions tackling insecure work, TUC, June 2017. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

How bad jobs are driving us over the edge
A new report from Hazards magazine bad jobs are driving workers over the edge, and urges then to “turn and fight for basic decency, security and rights at work”. ‘Make or break’ concludes: “‘Insecure employment’ covers a lot of sins – fear of losing your ostensibly ‘permanent’ job, inability to find permanent work, scratching a living from multiple jobs or working on short-hours or zero hour contracts, at the whim of someone who claims not to be your employer,” adding: “They all have one thing in common – they are far more likely to damage your health than secure, permanent work.”
Make or break: How bad jobs are driving us over the edge, Hazards magazine, number 138, 2017. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Britain: Taylor Review falls way short on protections needed
Unions have reacted with disappointment to the recommendations of the Taylor Review of modern workplace practices. As well as doing little to address insecurity, the unions were critical of report’s claim that “the best way to achieve better work is not national regulation but responsible corporate governance.”
Unite news release. GMB news release. CWU news release. Hazards Campaign news release. More on health and safety and insecure work. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Britain: Fury as Tube workers are denied drinking water
Parched workers on the sweltering London Underground system are being denied access to drinking water, unlike their ‘cheapskate’ managers based in air-conditioned offices, Tube unions have said. A change by Transport for London (TfL) of the contractor providing water coolers secured a ready supply of chilled water for the top brass in the company’s upmarket London offices, but stopping supplying front line staff down the Tube.
ASLEF news release. RMT news release. Risks 808. 15 July 20

International: Union protests over ‘slavery’ on detained ship
Seafarers onboard a ship detained in the UK port of Runcorn have been forced to live in cockroach-infested conditions without fresh food, a union investigation has found. Checks by Tommy Molloy, an inspector with the UK seafarers’ union Nautilus and the global transport union ITF, also found unpaid wages as low as 85 US cents an hour.
Nautilus news release. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Britain: Savage dog attack shows need for real action
Postal workers’ union CWU has repeated its call for legal action against irresponsible owners of dangerous dogs after a postwoman was savaged by two Dobermans.  Sharron Singer received 19 separate injuries, some requiring reconstructive surgery and skin grafts, when she was pounced on by the large, powerful dogs at an address in Wrangle, near Boston on 3 July.
CWU news release. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Britain: Never forget the lessons of Piper Alpha, says Unite
The lessons of the Piper Alpha tragedy, which killed 167 workers in the North Sea on 6 July 1988, must not be forgotten, offshore union Unite has said. Marking the 29th anniversary of the tragedy, the union warned that the slump in the oil price that led to the cost-cutting on maintenance and safety found to be the cause of the blast mirrors the situation offshore today.
Unite news release. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Britain: Workers at risk from Tube nano dusts
Tube union RMT’s concerns about what it believes are dangerous levels of airborne dust in the London Underground system have been confirmed by the company’s own measurements. RMT general secretary Mick Cash commented: “RMT has been raising issues of major concern over the contents of air for a long time.”
RMT news release. Evening Standard. Sunday Times. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Britain: Women are invisible to the safety watchdog
An official failure to acknowledge the serious risks faced by women at work means there is little pressure for preventive action, a new report has warned. ‘Women’s work?’ says while many jobs dominated by women can be more physically and emotionally arduous than traditionally male jobs, a serious emphasis on addressing these risks is missing because of the relatively low occupational fatality rate in women, whereas women are more at risk of stress and strain injuries.
Women’s work? Ignore occupational risks to women and you hurt us all, Hazards, number 138, 2017. Gender in occupational health and safety, TUC guide including safety reps’ action checklist, 2017. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Britain: Payout for cancer sufferer bullied by boss
A personal assistant at a London property investment firm who was harassed and discriminated against by her boss after being diagnosed with breast cancer has been awarded £47,000 in compensation. Eimear Coghlan, 34, was initially treated with “sympathy and concern” by Poonam Dhawan-Leach, chief executive of exclusive The Hideaways Club in Kensington, however, relations began to “fray” as Ms Coghlan needed to go for medical appointments.
Daily Mail. Evening Standard. CIPD blog. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Britain: Junior doctors at risk of accidents after night shifts
More than half of trainee hospital doctors have had an accident or near miss on their way home after a night shift, according to a new study of fatigue among NHS staff. The research, published in the medical journal Anaesthesia, found 1,229 (57 per cent) of 2,155 trainee anaesthetists questioned had been involved in an accident, or come close to having one, while driving, motorcycling, cycling or walking home after working all night.
Association of Anaesthetists news release. The Telegraph. The Guardian.
Laura McClelland and others. A national survey of the effects of fatigue on trainees in anaesthesia in the UK, Anaesthesia, online ahead of print, 5 July 2017. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Britain: Boss jailed after ball collector drowns in lake
A company director has been jailed after a golf ball collector drowned in a freezing course lake. Dale Pike, 25, “stood by and watched” as Gareth Pugh dived into the lake with a weighted belt to fish out balls.
CPS news release. ITV News. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Britain: Property firm boss jailed after two workers die in balcony fall
Martin Gutaj, the director of Martinisation (London) Limited, has been jailed for 14 months and his company fined after the deaths of two employees when they plunged from the balcony of a multi-million pound central London flat. Polish workers Tomasz Procko, 22, and Karol Symanski, 29, died in an “entirely foreseeable and preventable” incident on 21 November 2014, while hoisting a sofa up from the pavement through a first floor balcony of the luxury Belgravia apartment.
Metropolitan Police news release. Evening Standard. Construction Enquirer. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Global: Sodexo signs up to sexual harassment prevention
Global food union federation IUF has signed an international agreement with catering and services multinational Sodexo on measures to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace. The IUF-Sodexo Joint Commitment, which IUF says is based on a ‘shared recognition’ that sexual harassment is a human rights violation and that women working in the services are exposed to high levels of risk, sets out a policy and procedures for ensuring zero tolerance.
IUF news release and IUF/Sodexo sexual harassment agreement. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Korea: Leukaemia recognised at Samsung LCD factory
Korean authorities have for the first time recognised officially a case of work-related leukaemia resulting from exposures in a Samsung LCD factory. The Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service (COMWEL) ruled that Kim, a 33-year-old worker who was diagnosed with leukaemia after working for five years and seven months in a Samsung Display - formerly Samsung Electronics - LCD factory had contracted the illness in the course of his employment.
The Hankyoreh. Stop Samsung campaign. Cancer Hazards blog. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Peru: Factory fire exposes labour exploitation
A deadly fire in a Peruvian warehouse has raised questions about exploitive working conditions and the use of child labour in the country’s vast informal economy. Four workers, one just 15-years-old, who were locked into storage containers that doubled as work spaces, are missing and presumed dead.
Solidarity Center news report. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Spain: Airline Iberia to drop pregnancy test requirement
The Spanish airline Iberia has said it will stop requiring female job candidates to take a pregnancy test after being fined for the practice. The International Airlines Group-owned firm had been discovered by labour inspectors to be requiring the test in the Balearic Islands, and was fined €25,000 (£22,000).
New York Times. BBC News Online. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Hazards news, 8 July 2017

Britain: New work deaths figures are ‘the tip of the iceberg’
New official Health and Safety Executive fatality figures showing 137 people died at work in 2016/17 ‘are just the tip of the iceberg’, the union GMB has said, calling for better enforcement and regulation. GMB health and safety director, Dan Shears, said: “No-one ever died from too much regulation, but the human cost of ‘cutting red tape’ remains intolerable.”
GMB news release. HSE news release, statistics webpage and headline fatality figures for 2016/17. Morning Star. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: New statistics reveal work’s deadly toll
Latest figures on deaths at work confirm the workplace remains a major killer. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) annual statistics on deaths in Great Britain resulting from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma and from fatalities at work show an overall increase on the previous year, with fatalities down from 147 to 137, but mesothelioma deaths up from 2,519 to 2,542.
HSE news release, statistics webpage and headline provisional fatality figures for 2016/17 and mesothelioma statistics. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Unite calls for ‘radical’ improvements after Grenfell fire
A radical new approach to safety and building laws is necessary following the Grenfell Tower fire, the union Unite has said. The union has three key demands; an overhaul of building regulations, the end of attacks on existing regulations, and the implementation of an official licensing regime across the construction industry.
Unite news release. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Building control staff are overworked and stressed
Building control staff in Scotland are overworked, stressed and stuck in the office, a UNISON Scotland survey has found. Dave Watson, UNISON’s head of policy and public affairs, said: “Salami-slicing of services avoids headlines but the long years of austerity are having a severe impact on our services and the staff trying to deliver them with limited resources.”
UNISON Scotland news release. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Unite victory in Woolwich Ferry dispute
The long-running Woolwich Ferry ‘bullying culture’ dispute has been settled, following what Unite has described as ‘a remarkable display of worker solidarity’. The deal hammered out between Unite and Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd has seen one manager dismissed and another senior manager leave the site, and what Unite said was a ‘fair’ settlement for a female employee who suffered sexual harassment.
Unite news release. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Pilots press for action after latest drone near miss
A drone flying close to passenger aircraft at Gatwick Airport and causing runways to be closed twice has prompted the UK pilots’ union BALPA to renew its call for better regulation and education. The union is calling for better education of users, compulsory registration during which the rules are made clear and more high profile prosecutions for offenders.
BALPA news release. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Strike action over school’s ‘unreasonable management’
Teachers at a troubled school have walked out over ‘unreasonable management’ and the safety of staff. Anne Brimacombe, national executive member of NASUWT for Birmingham, said: “There is a culture of blaming the staff, not supporting them,” she said.
BBC News Online. Express and Star. The Guardian. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Union action on asbestos in schools ‘scandal’
The continuing presence of asbestos in our schools is a ‘scandal’, as is the ‘shocking’ lack of consistency in the way in which it is managed across the country, education unions have said.  The statement came from the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) ahead of its first national conference on 4 July.
ATL news release. NUT news release. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Asbestos cancer kills single mum, 34
A young mum has become one of youngest to die of an asbestos-related disease at just 34 – but never found out how she contracted her cancer. Kirsty List died last month, leaving five-year-old daughter Aimee, and believed she may have been exposed to asbestos either while a pupil at school or when she worked as a barmaid.
The Express. The London Economic. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Seven dog attacks on postal workers every day
Over the last five years there have been around 14,500 dog attacks on postmen and woman across the UK, with around 2,500 in the last year alone, new figures from Royal Mail have revealed. Announcing the figures at the start of the fifth annual Dog Awareness Week on 3 July 2017, the company said on average there are seven attacks each day on delivery workers, some leading to a permanent and disabling injury.
Royal Mail news release. CWU news release. Daily Mail. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Two jailed for site death of dad of five
Construction boss Andrew Winterton and demolition contractor Dean Wortley have been jailed after a father-of-five was killed in a trench collapse on a Northamptonshire building site. Single parent Shane Wilkinson, 33, was trying to earn enough money to buy his kids shoes for school.
CPS news release. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. ITV News. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Company owner jailed after death of building worker
A building firm owner whose neglect of workplace safety resulted in the death of one of his workers has been jailed. Polish national Slawomir Swiatek, 49, was sentenced to a year and 10 months' imprisonment after pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 41-year-old Grzegorz Wrezel, who died when a wall collapsed as he worked in an unsafe trench.
Metropolitan Police news release. Get Surrey. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Steel firm fined £1m after explosion horror
A steel firm has been fined £1m after an oxygen pipe connected with contaminated second-hand parts exploded in front of a worker, causing horrific burns. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigated the incident at Sheffield Forgemasters Engineering Limited (SFEL), said the 57-year-old worker suffered ‘life-changing injuries’ in the explosion on 9 August 2013.
HSE news release. Sheffield Star. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Warburtons fined £1.9m after agency worker injury
Bread maker Warburtons has been fined after an agency worker was injured when his arm got trapped against a running conveyor belt. Nottingham Crown Court heard how on 4 August 2015 Wayne Thorpe was cleaning parts of the bread line when his arm became trapped, leaving him with friction burns that required skin grafts.
HSE news release. Nottingham Post. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: Power firm fined £800k after pole fall death
A power company has been fined £800,000 for criminal failings that contributed to the death of a young father when the electricity pole he was working on fell. Ryan Thomas, 28, a linesman for Western Power Distribution (WPD), died in woods in Cawsand, near Torpoint, on 16 January 2013.
HSE news release. Cornwall Live. Plymouth Herald. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Global: Unions urge world leaders to follow the Accord
Ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg on 7-8 July, global unions have called on the leaders of the major industrial nations represented to look to the recently re-signed Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety as a model for promoting sustainable business practices. IndustriALL general secretary, Valter Sanches, said: “The legally binding Accord is, at present, the only credible option for health and safety in Bangladesh garment factories and has saved lives since its creation.”
IndustriALL news release. Clean Clothes Campaign news release. AFL-CIO blog. Dhaka Tribune. Full text of the new Accord. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Bangladesh: Deadly factory blast shows need to expand Accord
The death of at least 13 garment workers in a boiler explosion at the Multifabs Limited factory in Bangladesh on 3 July demonstrates that the current safety accord must be extended to include boiler safety, unions and labour rights campaigners have said. UNI deputy general secretary Christy Hoffman said: “The Bangladesh Accord has made significant progress in making work safer in this sector, but this explosion shows the need to expand the agreement’s scope to include boiler safety.”
UNI news release. IndustriALL news release. Clean Clothes Campaign. Dhaka Tribune Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Indonesia: Precarious jobs and poisons in palm oil industry
Women workers in Indonesia’s palm oil industry face insecure work, toxic pesticides and lower pay then male workers. A major problem for the workers is their constant exposure to chemicals, including the highly toxic pesticide paraquat, without the necessary safety measures – and workers suffering ill-health from their exposures are often required to see the doctor who works for the plantation, rather than going to the local hospital, according to the trade union alliance SERBUNDO.
Equal Times. Amnesty International palm oil and human rights webpages. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Hazards news, 1 July 2017

Britain: Hi-rise workplaces must be tested too
The TUC has welcomed a government announcement that cladding on hospitals and schools will be tested for safety following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, but has expressed concern that those workplaces are tower blocks are being ignored. The union body says no guidance has been given to other employers who may have staff working in high-rise buildings.
TUC news release. The Independent. The Telegraph. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Global: New York Times slams Tories’ ‘mindless deregulation’
The New York Times has said the Grenfell Tower disaster was the consequence of ‘mindless deregulation’ causing ‘senseless harm’. The editorial urges US president Donald Trump to rethink his decision to adopt a deregulation programme modelled on that introduced by the Conservatives, and notes: “After the Grenfell Tower fire, the dangers of reflexive rejections of regulation, like Mr Trump’s executive order, are clearer.
New York Times. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: FBU spells out Grenfell inquiry demands
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has written to all MPs demanding that the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster is a judge-led full judicial inquiry. The FBU also says it must be a ‘core participant’ at the hearings, along with families of victims and survivors, and wants clarification from the prime minister on the inquiry’s scope and terms of reference.
FBU news release. BBC News Online. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: Unite action call after construction inspections drop
Construction union Unite is seeking urgent meetings with ministers and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a freedom of information (FOI) request revealed a sharp drop in construction site safety inspections. The FOI response from the HSE revealed that the number of unannounced inspections in the construction industry fell by 14 per cent in just 12 months, following a drop the preceding year.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: Brexit minister ‘supports removing asbestos laws’
New Brexit minister Steve Baker has lobbied the government to weaken asbestos laws, Unite has revealed. The union says it is concerned by the minister’s ‘alarming’ position and is demanding that the government now provide ‘cast-iron guarantees’ that asbestos regulations won’t be watered down.
Unite news release. The Mirror. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: GMB wins employment tribunal on union safety role
A GMB branch officer who was denied safety training has won a legal challenge against his local authority employer and has been awarded compensation. An employment tribunal in London Central ruled in favour of Grant Bennett, is the health and safety branch officer for GMB, and against London Borough of Camden on the right to time off for training under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act (TULRA) 1992.
GMB news release. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: Ambulance service crisis ‘is putting lives at risk’
The Scottish Ambulance Service is so over-stretched it is ‘begging’ its stressed-out workforce to give up their holidays to put in extra shifts. Unite says the ‘dangerously overstretched’ ambulance service needed workers to provide overtime cover, with management pleading with some workers to step in instead of going on holiday.
Unite news release. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: Pilots furious at laser pen inaction
Despite ‘dangerously high’ figures on laser attacks on aircraft, the new government has dropped plans to introduce tougher laws, a move the UK pilots’ union BALPA says is “infuriating and dangerous”. Before the general election, the union had welcomed a specific laser offence included in the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill, but says this is no longer included in the government’s plans.
BALPA news release. The Independent. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: Freightliner workers to strike over bullying
Dozens of RMT members at Freightliner Coatbridge are set to strike in a dispute over bullying and harassment, after voting overwhelmingly for action. Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “The union has a zero tolerance policy of bullying and harassment and Freightliner should take note of the anger amongst the workforce and get this matter resolved.”
RMT news release. Evening Times. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: Unite seeks answers after Crewe crane fatalities
Unite is seeking urgent answers after a crane collapse in Crewe killed two workers and injured several other people. David Newall, 36, from Bradford and Rhys Barker, 18, from Castleford were working for Falcon Tower Crane Services at the Seddon site.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: Government u-turn on ‘shameful’ school fire safety plan
Controversial government proposals to relax fire safety standards for new school buildings as a cost-cutting measure are to be dropped by ministers in a major policy u-turn following the Grenfell Tower fire, the Observer has reported. The move came shortly after firefighters’ union FBU and teaching unions NUT and ATL condemned the ‘shameful’ government plans and called on education minister Justine Greening to drop the proposal.
The Guardian. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: Call to end Tory safety deregulation gains wide support
More than 800 organisations and individuals have now signed an open letter to UK prime minister Theresa May challenging the ‘arbitrary’ deregulation of health and safety. Sent to 10 Downing Street on 21 June, the letter calls for a shift in politicians’ attitudes towards health and safety regulation and fire risk management in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Sign the letter to the prime minister calling for an end to deregulation. IOSH news release. New York Times. The Guardian. ‘Like’ the We love red tape facebook page. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: Labour pledge to halt driver-only trains
Labour will halt the growing use of driver-only trains by private rail firms, Jeremy Corbyn had told transport workers. Speaking at rail union RMT’s annual meeting, the Labour leader said: “We want our railways run in the public interest, with fare rises capped, service levels improved, stations and trains safely staffed,” adding: “That’s why we are opposed to the expansion of driver-only operated trains.”
Morning Star. RMT news release. Jeremy Corbyn at the RMT AGM. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: Crane rains scaffold fittings on worker
Two construction companies have been fined after a 44-year old woman worker was struck by falling scaffolding. Weymouth Magistrates’ Court heard how employees of Carter Training Ltd were using a mobile crane on a Zero C Holdings site in Poundbury, Dorchester when the attachment holding 500 scaffold fittings weighing 2kg each was turned on its side, emptying its contents onto workers and the concrete floor 10.5 metres below.
HSE news release. PBC Today. Construction Enquirer. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: Trade unions tackling insecure work
Over three million people – one in ten of the UK workforce – now face insecurity at work. A new TUC report, ‘The gig is up: Trade unions tackling insecure work’, shows the impact of insecurity at work on workers, and on the UK’s economy and public finances.
TUC publication notice and report, The gig is up: Trade unions tackling insecure work. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Europe: Campaign says work shouldn't hurt
The European Union and national governments must do more to support workplace health and safety reps tackle work-related strain injuries, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has said. The union body says action to prevent strain injuries has been stalled for a decade.
ETUC news release and male and female MSDs infographics. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Global: Violence and repression of workers on the rise
The number of countries experiencing physical violence and threats against workers has risen by 10 per cent in just one year, according to the annual ITUC Global Rights Index. It ranks the ten worst countries for workers’ rights in 2017 as Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.
ITUC news release, report, map and workers’ rights violations and 10 worst countries infographics. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Ukraine: Asbestos ban puts pressure on producers
Ukraine’s government has announced its national ban on all asbestos use has come into force. The International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), which has supported campaigns for a ban in countries across the globe, said the new regulations, which ban the use of all types of asbestos including chrysotile (white) asbestos, were achieved in the face of ‘fierce opposition’ from domestic and foreign asbestos lobbyists.
IBAS news release. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Hazards news, 24 June 2017

Britain: Why the TUC has always said deregulation must end
Many of those killed or made homeless by the devastating Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June were union members, and unions are now actively supporting the affected families. The TUC has said while this is the first priority, “it is clear that we cannot see Grenfell Tower as a ‘one-off’ disaster but as something that is much more symptomatic of the society we live in and the value that it places on human life, especially the lives of the poor, the dispossessed and the vulnerable.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog. BBC News Online. The Guardian. The Mirror. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Unions demand answers after tower block tragedy
Firefighters’ union FBU has called for the victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster to be central to the public inquiry announced by Theresa May last week. The union says the  inquiry must also be broad enough to address the immediate causes of and response to the London tower block disaster, which left an estimated 79 dead and several hundred homeless, ‘as well as the wider context to these dreadful events’.
FBU news release and letter to prime minister Theresa May. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Fire heroes struggle with ‘drastically cut’ counselling
Counselling services available to the firefighters who responded to the Grenfell Tower fire have virtually disappeared after cuts imposed by Boris Johnson during his tenure as Mayor of London. Firefighters’ union FBU says the number of counsellors trained to help firefighters process the traumatic scenes they witness on the job in the London Fire Brigade was cut from 14 to just two under Johnson, now foreign secretary in Theresa May’s minority government.
FBU news release. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: ‘Shameful’ Tory plan to downgrade fire safety in schools
Firefighters’ union FBU and teaching unions NUT and ATL are seeing urgent reassurances from education secretary Justine Greening about fire safety in schools. Both the NUT and FBU have been pressing the government since last year to reverse its proposed downgrading of fire safety requirements for school buildings which, they argue, “show a total disregard for the health and safety of children and staff.”
NUT news release and joint letter to education secretary Justine Greening. Morning Star. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Working people need more than vague promises
The plan of work for the next term of Theresa May’s minority government shows the Conservative leader is still failing to learn the lessons of her failure to win an outright majority, the TUC has said. Commenting on the 21 June Queen’s Speech, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The election showed that working people are fed up with an economy that doesn’t work for them – but the government still isn’t listening.”
TUC news release. The Queen’s speech 2017. BBC News Online and summary of key bills. Law Society news release. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Bosses should cool it during the heatwave, says TUC
With temperatures soaring over 30 degrees Celsius, the TUC has repeated its call on employers to temporarily relax their workplace dress codes during excessive hot weather.  It says where people are working outdoors, employers should consider reviewing working times so that, where possible, work is done in the morning and afternoon, rather than around midday when temperatures are highest.
TUC news release. BBC News Online. Unite live article.
TUC Cool it guide. Usdaw Keep Your Cool leaflet. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Safety agency ‘colluded’ in drive to axe train guards
Rail union RMT has released an email it says provides ‘proof of collusion and complicity’ by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and the Department for Transport (DfT) in pushing through driver only operation (DOO) of trains. The move has been opposed by RMT because it removes the ‘safety critical’ role of train guards.
RMT news release. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Call for action on bullying at work
A strategic response is required to address the growing problem of bullying and harassment at work, UNISON’s national conference has concluded. National executive committee (NEC) member Andrew Anderson described “the health of our members” as the price of the government’s austerity agenda.
UNISON news release. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Theresa May urged to scrap safety deregulation
The UK government has been urged to end its ideologically driven deregulation of health and safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze. In an open letter to prime minister Theresa May, over 70 organisations and figures from the UK’s safety and health profession have jointly called for ‘a political sea change in attitude’ towards health and safety regulation and fire risk management following the tragedy.
IOSH news release. RoSPA news release. ‘We love red tape’ facebook page. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Tory war on ‘red tape’ has cost lives
The loss of 79 lives in the Grenfell Tower inferno has focused attention on the Conservative government’s ongoing assault on protective legislation. Journalist Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, notes that while the government’s war on red tape is a seen as a central policy platform by top Tories, it undermines the rules for a safe and decent society.
Polly Toynbee’s article in The Guardian, and George Monbiot’s commentary on ‘ripping up red tape’. Government ‘Cutting Red Tape’ webpages.
Protecting health and safety after Brexit, TUC, May 2017. Daily Telegraph ‘Cut EU Red Tape’ campaign. Hazards magazine ‘We didn’t vote to die at work’ campaign. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Law Society says inspectors should enforce workers’ rights
Government-backed inspectors should be able to investigate companies and entire industries to prevent unscrupulous companies falsely labelling workers as self-employed, according to the Law Society. In its submission to the independent review of employment practices led by Matthew Taylor, the professional body for solicitors also recommends the immediate scrapping of employment tribunal fees, which have led to a 70 per cent fall in claims in the last three years.
Law Society consultation response summary and in full. The Guardian. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Study links contaminated air on planes to pilot deaths
Contaminated air on planes is a health risk to pilots and crew and could ‘degrade’ flight safety, a new study has found. The research led by the University of Stirling showed a clear link between being exposed to air contaminated by engine oil and other aircraft fluids, and a variety of health problems.
Stirling University news release. Susan Michaelis, Jonathan Burdon and C Vyvyan Howard Aerotoxic syndrome: A new occupational disease?, Public Health Panorama, volume 3, issue 2, pages 198-211, June 2017.
The Guardian. BBC News Online. Evening Standard. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Contractor fined after trapped worker dies
Contractor Pyeroy Ltd has been fined after its poor work at height rescue planning delayed the recovery of a trapped worker, who died of a pre-existing heart condition. Plymouth Magistrates Court heard that on 21 October 2013 Keith Stevens, 57, was helping to dismantle temporary roofing at Devonport Naval Base using a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) when his colleagues found him trapped between a roof beam and the controls of the MEWP.
HSE news release. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: New crowded places guidance
The National Counter-Terrorism Security Office (NACTSO) has published new ‘Crowded places guidance’. The TUC says the guide will be of interest to any union organising sectors where there may be an element of security for crowded places, including most public sector, hospitality, transport, entertainment and retail unions.
NACTSO crowded places guidance. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Australia: Yoga and free fruit won't solve workplace stress
Perks like free fruit or yoga lessons at work might be nice, but they’ll do little to sort out stress at work. Australian National Mental Health Commissioner Lucinda Brogden said too many employers offer ‘positive extras’ and shirk the hard stuff.
Investment Magazine. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Bangladesh: Textile mill fire shows need to extend safety accord
A devastating fire in a Bangladesh textile mill at the beginning of June highlights the need to extend and expand a groundbreaking safety accord that is set to end in May 2018, labour rights campaigners have said. The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which was established four years ago to improve structural, electrical and fire safety in Bangladesh's garment factories, is in the process of being renegotiated.
Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Global: US chipmakers outsourced their toxic problems
Twenty-five years ago, faced with studies highlighting miscarriage and other risks in US computer chip plants and highly critical media coverage, US tech companies pledged to stop using chemicals that caused miscarriages and birth defects. But they didn’t solve the problem, they outsourced it, leaving women overseas to face the risks.
Bloomberg Businessweek. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Hazards news, 17 June 2017

Britain: Celebrating 40 years of the safety reps effect
The TUC plans to publish a report on 40 years of trade union health and safety representatives in October this year, to mark the anniversary of their lifesaving role. The union body is now calling for case studies showing the difference that safety representatives have made since they were introduced with the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977.
TUC health and safety facebook page. Email examples to the TUC health and safety department by 31 July. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Britain: Unions call for Tory rethink after election embarrassment
Unions are calling on the new Conservative minority government to abandon its cuts agenda and to shore up employment rights. The union comments came as key government figures acknowledged a string of manifesto commitments will have to be shelved or revised after Theresa May’s bid to increase the government’s majority backfired dramatically.
RMT news release. FBU news release. TUC news release and report, Protecting health and safety after Brexit, May 2017. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Britain: Wales to tackle care worker zero-hours contracts
A planned curb on zero-hours contracts for thousands of care workers unveiled by the Welsh government has been given welcomed by the union UNISON. But the union says the chronic UK wide underfunding of the service also needs to be addressed.
Welsh government consultation. UNISON Cymru news release. BBC News Online. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Britain: Survey exposes growing workload pressure on teachers
A new survey has confirmed that workload pressures on teachers in Scotland are growing, with implications for morale in schools and on the learning environment. Scottish teaching union EIS found cuts to staffing, coupled with ‘significant’ changes to the curriculum and reforms to assessment and qualifications, are now pushing teachers ‘to breaking point.’
EIS news release. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Britain: RMT calls for reversal of plan to abolish transport police
Transport union RMT has written to the home secretary Amber Rudd urging her to abandon a proposal in the widely-derided Tory manifesto to abolish the British Transport Police (BTP). The union, whose letter was delivered two days before Rudd narrowly defended her Hastings and Rye seat in the general election last week, said the government must protect security on the transport network by halting cuts to the frontline staff who are trained to help prevent a terrorist attack.
RMT news release. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Britain: David Gauke appointed work and pensions secretary
Conservative MP David Gauke has replaced Damian Green as work and pensions secretary, and will head the department responsible for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Gauke, a relatively unknown MP who was previously chief secretary to the treasury, was appointed in Theresa May’s low key post-election Cabinet reshuffle.
Ministerial appointments and the new Cabinet. The Independent. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Britain: Tower block tragedy exposes government’s fire inaction
The government was warned earlier this year of the deadly danger posed by fire safety failings in tower blocks, as it emerged it had earlier shelved indefinitely a promised fire safety review. The government’s inaction was brought under new scrutiny after at estimated 79 people died when a fire ripped through a West London residential block in the early hours of 14 June.
FBU news release. The Independent. Evening Standard. BBC News Online. Grenfell Action Group 20 November 2016 blog and 14 June 2017 update. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Britain: China clay worker killed by dust exposure
The family of a former clay dryer who died of an occupational dust disease four years ago has received a five-figure compensation settlement. Walter Patton, from St Austell, died aged 83 in February 2013, with an inquest into this death finding his death was a result of kaolin pneumoconiosis linked to his employment at English Clays’ Lovering Pochin & Company (ECLP), latterly known as Imerys Minerals Ltd.
Irwin Mitchell news release. Cornwall Live. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Britain: Chemical company fined after uncontrolled fire
Vertellus Specialties UK Limited has been fined after an uncontrolled fire at the company’s Seal Sands premises in Middlesbrough. The fire involved large quantities of dangerous substances including Vitride, which led to this fire being declared a major incident when sealed drums that burst open while being heated in ‘hot box’ ovens, causing an explosion and large fireball.
HSE news release. The Gazette. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Britain: Roofing firm convicted after public complaints
A roofing company has been convicted of criminal safety offences after members of the public called regulators about dangerous work practices.  Brighton Magistrates’ Court heard G&S Roofing Limited had twice ignored written advice to address the issue of working at height in an unsafe manner.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Britain: Cargo firm fined £500k after ignoring HSE radiation warning
Cargo handling company Dnata Limited has been fined over £500,000 after criminal safety failings in its handling of radioactive materials were discovered by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection. HSE principal inspector John Crookes said: “Dnata failed to comply with enforcement action, and put employees at risk of exposure to ionising radiation, by failing to install the appropriate level of shielding in the radioactive substances store.”
HSE news release. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Britain: Waste recycling company fined after worker scalded
A multinational waste company has been handed a six figure fine after one of its workers received severe burns. The SUEZ Recycling and Recovery Tees Valley Ltd site at Haverton Hill, Stockton-On-Tees processes waste and burns it to create energy.
HSE news release. The Gazette. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Global: UN agency makes new call for an asbestos ban
A United Nations agency has again added its voice to calls for a global asbestos ban. A new World Health Organisation (WHO) factsheet, released on 13 June at the 6th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in Ostrava, Czech Republic, notes “the most efficient way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases it to stop using all forms of asbestos.”
Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases, World Health Organisation, 13 June 2017. International Ban Asbestos Secretariat blog. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Korea: ‘Disposable’ worker blinded by Samsung speaks out
A South Korean man who lost his vision in his twenties making Samsung smartphones has testified before a United Nations (UN) committee. Kim Yeong-shin said he lost his sight as a result of exposure to the solvent methanol while working for a Samsung Electronics subcontractor.
Good Electronics news release. The Hankyoreh.
The Blind - A report on methanol poisoning cases in supply chains for Samsung and LG Electronics in Korea, 2017. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Global: Suicides blighting workplaces worldwide
Reports from the US, Japan and Lebanon have highlighted the wide range of work factors leading to increasing work-related suicides worldwide, including bad jobs, overwork and violence and abuse.
University of Iowa news report. IRIN News. Japan Press.
Suicidal work: Work-related suicides go uncounted and unaccounted for in the UK, Hazards magazine, number 137, 2017. Hazards quick guide to work-related factors linked to suicide. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

USA: Industry defends deadly solvent
Seventeen workers dying in the US between 2000 and 2015 isn’t enough to convince the methylene chloride industry that more is needed than just labels on a can to prevent the needless deaths of worker stripping bathtubs. Instead legal representatives of a solvents industry lobby group say the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed ban on methylene chloride – also known as dichloromethane - as a paint stripper is a “blatant and raw power grab” of the authority that Congress gave the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Confined Space blog. Environmental Defense Fund blog. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Hazards news, 10 June 2017

Britain: Too much work plus staffing cuts equals stress
Staff at a privatised probation company are suffering high levels of stress as a result of intensive, high paced work and unrealistic deadlines, a joint union survey has found. Napo and UNISON are now calling on Purple Futures to follow Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines and establish a joint working group to oversee the stress identification and management process, and for this group to include adequate trade union representation.
Napo/UNISON stress survey report. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Britain: Concern at working time abuses at Parseq
Young people employed at a Sunderland call centre are being required to work longer shifts with fewer breaks than are required by law, a union has charged. GMB, the union for workers at the Parseq call centre on Doxford Park, is calling on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the conciliation service Acas to conduct an audit into the company’s application of the Working Time Regulations.
GMB news release. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Britain: Pupils’ safety at risk from more schools cuts
Understaffing is forcing school support staff to take on jobs outside their job descriptions and is leaving pupils inadequately protected, UNISON has warned. The education union says school administrators, business managers and finance workers are regularly administering first aid, handing out medicines to pupils and conducting criminal record checks because of cuts in staff numbers.
UNISON news release. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Britain: School staff routinely victims of attacks at work
Almost a third of school support staff have been injured in a violent attack at work and many report they are attacked on weekly basis, a survey by the union GMB has found. The union says the ‘disturbing statistics’ from its nationwide survey of members found almost one in five support staff (18 per cent) experience violence on a weekly basis, and nearly a third (30 per cent) have been injured in violent incidents at school.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Britain: Call for urgent security summit on driver only trains
Rail union RMT is warning that plans for driver only trains could heighten the terror risks faced by passengers. Calling for an urgent safety summit, the union revealed that under-threat train guards have been given a crucial role in combatting the terrorist activity.
RMT news release. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Britain: Hermes delivers poor protection for its couriers
Courier firm Hermes is putting its drivers and the public at serious avoidable risk by cutting corners in the interest of profit, the union GMB has said. The union says the firm misleads potential drivers by failing to stress their insurance companies must be told they are using their own vehicle for business purposes; any drivers who have failed to notify their insurer are likely to find their entire insurance is void.
GMB news release. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

This is one risks story split into two news entries…
Britain: Nearly 10 million people are in insecure work
Up to 10 million workers - or nearly a third of the UK workforce - do not have secure employment, according to the union GMB union. The union’s research warns that this precarious employment – defined as those in the gig economy, on zero or short hours contracts, temporary workers, the underemployed and those at risk of bogus self-employment - is damaging people’s health. 
GMB news release and general secretary’s speech. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Britain: Black and minority workers do more insecure work
A TUC study has found that 1 in 13 BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) employees are in insecure jobs, compared to 1 in 20 white employees. It said there are over three million BAME employees in the UK, of whom nearly a quarter of a million are in zero-hours or temporary work.
TUC news release and BAME report. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Global: ‘Gig’ work is bad for your health
While much has been said about the employment rights abuses of the ‘gig’ workforce, the attention of the medical community is only belatedly turning to the damaging health impact of insecure work. Molly Tran, assistant professor of public health at the State University of New York writing in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, noted: “As occupational medicine specialists, we have a fundamental ethical responsibility to promote social justice.”
Molly Tran and Rosemary Sokas. The Gig Economy and Contingent Work: An Occupational Health Assessment, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 59, issue 4, pages e63-e66, April 2017. Financial Times. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Global: Few rights and job insecurity make you sick
Work factors including a lack of paid sick leave, job insecurity and workplace bullying are linked to worse health status, a study has found. The research from the US government’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), found workers with no paid sick leave were 35 per cent more like likely to report fair or poor health and those worried about becoming unemployed were 43 per cent more like likely to report fair or poor health.
NIOSH science update. More on health and safety and insecure work. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Britain: Mental health problems widespread at work
Public sector workers are more likely to feel anxious at work and take sick days for their mental health than those in the private sector, according to a new study. The charity Mind asked 12,000 UK employees about their mental health and also found 15 per cent of public sector workers - of which there are 5.4 million in the UK - said their mental health was poor, compared with 9 per cent in the private sector.
Mind news release. BBC News Online. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Britain: Farm fined £50,000 for ‘foreseeable’ trench death
A Scottish farming company AT Wilson & Co has been fined £50,000 after farm worker Gary Coutts was crushed to death when a trench collapsed in on him. Sheriff Alison Sterling said “this was foreseeable and avoidable.”
Press and Journal. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Britain: Engineering firm fined after saw cuts off hand
A Birmingham engineering company has been fined after a worker suffered life changing injuries as a result of a horrific incident. Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that on 21 March 2016 the worker at Pipework Engineering Services Limited (PESL) was operating a foot pedal saw when he came into contact with the rotating blade, severing his hand and wrist, which required surgery to reattach.
HSE news release. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Australia: Workers' lives are at risk after court blow
Unions and a safety enforcer have condemned an Australian federal court ruling that limits the ability of union health and safety representatives to take action to remedy health and safety breaches. WorkSafe, the official safety regulator for the state of Victoria, said the decision in favour of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) “has a serious impact on this critical element of the Victorian OHS system.”
We Are Union news report. WorkSafe news release. The Age.
Australian Building and Construction Commissioner v Powell [2017] FCAFC 89. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Cambodia: Low-wage site workers risk lives
In Cambodia’s booming construction industry, where up to 250,000 workers toil on building projects during peak season, labourers wear sandals or flip-flops and cloth gloves, if they have gloves at all. The country’s lack of a labour inspection system allows employers to avoid fines or other punitive measures when workers are injured.
Solidarity Center news release. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Korea: Global union leader supports cancer campaigners
Sharan Burrow, the leader of the global union confederation ITUC has joined a union teach-in in South Korea to mark the 600th day of protest against labour and safety abuses by the electronics multinational Samsung. Since 7 October 2015, the campaign group SHARPS and its supporters have been staging a sit-in at Samsung D’light, the company’s global exhibition space in south Seoul, calling for the world’s largest technology company to compensate its occupational disease victims and provide a “sincere and full” apology.
SHARPS news report. ITUC Samsung’s Secret video and supplier company videos and report. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

USA: Trump administration says unions don’t need a say
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has told unions they should leave it to DOJ attorneys to defend a crucial Obama-era workplace safety regulation under attack from the business lobby. The rule that DOJ says it will defend on the unions’ behalf was adopted by the federal safety regulator OSHA in May 2016 and concerns the reporting of injuries by employers.
The Pump Handle blog. Department of Justice brief, 30 May 2017. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Hazards news, 3 June 2017

Britain: Unite condemns hair-raising stupidity of beard ban
A beard ban imposed by outsourced housing maintenance company Mears on spurious safety groundshas been described as ‘penny pinching stupidity’ by the union Unite. Unite has obtained a letter that states: “This is now a Mears nationwide policy for the entire company.”
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

‘Right to request’ could mean close to zero action on zero-hours
A proposed crackdown on zero-hours contracts in a review carried out for prime minister Theresa May is virtually worthless, the TUC has warned. Commenting on reports that the Taylor Review is set to recommend a right for zero-hours workers to “request” guaranteed hours, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “A ‘right to request’ guaranteed hours from an exploitative boss is no right at all for many workers.”
TUC news release. The Independent. BBC News Online. Independent Review of Employment Practices in the Modern Economy. More on health and safety and insecure work. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Britain: Union to fight cuts to ‘safety-critical’ rail renewals work
Rail union RMT has pledged to fight planned cuts to renewals work for Network Rail by contractor Carillion that the union says present a direct threat to both jobs and safety. RMT was speaking out after it was presented with a consultation document from Carillion that ‘indicates possible job cuts and redundancies.’
RMT news release. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Britain: Union outrage after council workers exposed to asbestos
Fife Council must undertake an urgent ‘root and branch review’ of its workplace health and safety policies after seven staff members were exposed to deadly asbestos, a union has said. GMB Scotland said workers in the parks, streets and open spaces service were exposed when dealing with a fly tipping incident at Heathery Wood, but a ‘scandalous’ breakdown in communication at management and supervisory levels left staff unaware they were handling contaminated waste.
GMB Scotland news release. The Courier. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Britain: Teen’s suicide exposes failings when workers kill themselves
A campaign group that represents families bereaved by a work-related death has said the suicide of a bullied teenage apprentice highlights how the system is failing workers driven to kill themselves. FACK was commenting after Berkshire coroner Peter Bedford concluded management at the Audi Reading car dealership were not responsible for the death of George Cheese, 18, who killed himself after sustained bullying at work, including an incident where colleagues locked him in a cage, doused him in flammable liquid and burned his clothes.
FACK statement.  Work-Related Deaths: a protocol for liaison. The Guardian.
More on work-related suicides. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Global: ‘Risk paradox’ means cancer prevention misses out
The cancer research community is giving too much attention to ‘tumour biology’ at the expense of efforts to prevent the tumours in the first place, an editorial in a top UK medical journal has warned. Commenting on the heavily promoted emphasis on ‘precision oncology’, the Lancet Oncology paper concludes: “To eradicate cancer, governments need to both identify and act not only on increased risk susceptibility, but also ensure that people are not exposed to carcinogenic materials through gross environmental mismanagement.”
Editorial:
Cancer risk paradox: grand plans fall short?, The Lancet Oncology, volume 18, number 5, page 555, May 2017. ITUC/Hazards work cancer blog. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Global: Harassed British human rights activist fights back
A British human rights activist is taking legal action against Thai state prosecutors, police and fruit multinational Natural Fruit Ltd after facing a succession of criminal charges in retaliation for exposing safety and labour rights abuses of migrant workers. Andy Hall, whose fight against ‘judicial harassment’ has been backed by the TUC and international union organisations, said he was resorting to court action to “claim space back for victims of rights abuses, exploited workers and human rights defenders to speak out with confidence about unlawful conduct by business and state actors without repercussions.”
Finnwatch news release. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Britain: Child labour exploitation referrals surge
The number of children feared to be victims of labour exploitation in the UK has risen by more than 60 per cent in the past year, an analysis of government statistics has revealed. There were 1,575 referrals for labour exploitation in 2016, among whom 1,107 were adults and a record 468 were children – marking a significant 63 per cent increase.
Kroll news release. The independent and related earlier story.
National Crime Agency National Referral Mechanism statistics. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Britain: Looking after workers makes business sense
Providing workers with access to decent occupational health services is good for workers and good for the bottom line, according to a new report. The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) publication sets out ‘the value proposition for occupational health services’.
SOM report, Occupational health: the value proposition, and Why Occupational Health? website. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Britain: Fracking workers would be safety ‘guinea pigs’
Fracking could pose “serious risks” to the health of workers, according to a new analysis by campaigners. They warn that over 150 studies have linked fracking chemicals to health problems. Commenting on the research, from the digital campaign group 38 Degrees, Kathy Jenkins, from the campaign group Scottish Hazards, said: “We firmly believe that Scottish workers and the Scottish population should not be guinea pigs in a national experiment with fracking as so many UK workers were with asbestos.”
The Herald. The Independent. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Britain: ‘Exhausted’ teachers ready to quit
“Staggeringly high” numbers of teachers are ready to quit the profession, a leading education researcher has warned, as growing pressures placed on staff and schools make the job “just too big an ask”. Rebecca Allen, director of the Education Datalab think tank has become the latest expert to highlight what has been referred to as a “crisis” in teacher recruitment and retention.
The Independent. TES. Education Datalab. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Britain: Another zoo keeper dies in a tiger attack
A zoo keeper who died after a tiger entered an enclosure at a wildlife park in Cambridgeshire has been named as 34-year-old Rosa King. The death happened at Hamerton Zoo Park, near Huntingdon, on the morning of 29 May and came almost four years to the day after another zoo worker died in a tiger attack at a different UK zoo.
Hamerton Park Zoo statement. BBC News Online. The Telegraph. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Britain: Director escapes jail after four excavation deaths
A company director responsible for the criminal health and safety failings that led to four Suffolk men being crushed to death has been spared prison. David Groucott was sentenced to seven and a half months imprisonment, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to a criminal safety offence.
HSE news release. Eastern Daily Press. Construction Enquirer. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Australia: Fatality figures don’t tell the whole story
Employees working in agriculture, forestry and fishing industries are making a living in the most dangerous workplaces in Australia, but other ‘safer’ sectors have far more serious injuries, official statistics have revealed. While health care and social assistance had the fewest recorded deaths out of the 10 most dangerous industries, it did record the highest number of serious workplace injuries, with more than 17,000 recorded during 2015.
Canberra Times. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Canada: Report exposes mine silica dust danger

Authorities in a province in eastern Canada has said they will implement 11 recommendations of a study that uncovered widespread dust problems affecting mine workers. The report studied the medical information for 636 people, most of them retired, who worked at Labrador’s Wabush Mines or the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) mine.
CBC News and related story. The Aurora. 660 News. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Ireland: Report queries Air Corps staff safety effort
A leaked internal Air Corps report into staff exposure to the cancer-causing degreaser trichloroethylene over a 27-year period has cast doubt on whether the force did all in its power to protect workers’ health. Six workers are pursuing compensation claims and have seen a toxico-pathologist who concluded their illnesses — including cancer, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and memory loss — were caused by their exposure to harmful chemicals.
Irish Examiner and related story. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Hazards news, 27 May 2017

Britain: Few with long-term mental illness are in work
Only 1 in 4 people with a mental illness or phobia lasting for 12 months or more is in work, according to a new TUC report. ‘Mental health and employment’ contains a new analysis of official employment statistics, and reveals while 4 in 5 (80.4 per cent) non-disabled people are in work, people with mental illness, anxiety or depression have substantially lower employment rates.
TUC news release and report, Mental health and employment. Morning Star.
HSE summary statistics for Grea-t Britain 2016. Risks 801. 27 May 2017.

Britain: TUC concern over Tory mental health sticking plaster
The TUC has expressed scepticism about Conservative plans to ‘transform how mental health is regarded in the workplace’ while cutting mental health services and doing nothing on prevention. The union body was commenting on the Conservative Party election manifesto, which notes: “We will amend health and safety regulations so that employers provide appropriate first aid training and needs assessment for mental health, as they currently do for risks to physical health.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog and Mental Health in the Workplace workbook. TUC Touchstone blog. The Conservative Party manifesto 2017. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Outrage at secret target to reject most benefit appeals
A government policy requiring Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) staff to reject 80 per cent of benefit appeals has been condemned by the civil service union PCS. Disability organisations have also slammed the ‘outrageous target’.
PCS news release. Daily Mirror. The Independent. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Performers face pain and bullying
Performing for a living can come with unacceptable risks, Equity’s conference has heard. Delegates to the performers’ union conference this week heard bullying is so widespread in the acting profession that most actors admit having been victims and up to 60 to 70 per cent of dancers are injured a year.
Morning Star articles on the Equity conference’s bullying and dance injury debates. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Review will order zero-hours contracts overhaul
The government-commissioned inquiry into controversial working practices is set to call for employees on zero-hours contracts to be given the right to request a move onto fixed hours. The idea was proposed in a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) submission to the review.
BBC News Online. Independent Review of Employment Practices in the Modern Economy. More on health and safety and insecure work. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Right to request fixed hours ‘useless’, says Unite
Just giving workers the right to request fixed hours will be ‘useless’, Unite has warned. The union said it would do nothing to combat the use of exploitative zero hours and short hours’ contracts. Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “With a shocking 3.8 million people experiencing in-work poverty it’s high time that work in this country paid and the misery of insecure work was eradicated.”
Unite news release. The Guardian. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Safety bashing UKIP hopeful’s less than stellar safety record
A UKIP candidate who has blamed “health and safety madness” for slowing the human conquest of space had earlier been brought down to earth by Health and Safety Executive enforcement action. South Suffolk candidate Aidan Powlesland wants the government to offer £1.23 billion in prizes to encourage plans including asteroid mining and an “interstellar colony ship”.
Morning Star. HSE enforcement notice database. Daily Post. The Irish News. East Anglian Daily Times. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Director convicted of manslaughter after site deaths
A company director has been convicted after he failed to undertake an adequate risk assessment and provide training to construction workers  Tomasz Procko, 22, and Kyrol Szymanski, 29, both Polish nationals, who fell to their deaths. Martin Gutaj, 44, and his company Martinisation London Limited, were tried at the Old Bailey.
CPS news release. Construction Enquirer. Evening Standard. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Three directors jailed following fatal roof fall
Three company directors have been jailed following the death of Nikolai Valkov, 63, man fell during a cut price roof job in Essex. Firat Ozdil was jailed for one year, Ozgur Ozdil for 10 months and Kadir Kose for eight months.
CPS news release. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Director fined after worker breaks back in fall
Eco NRG Solutions Ltd and its director Jon Luke Antoniou have been fined after a worker suffered serious injuries in fall through a roof at a farm in Cornwall. Taunton Magistrates Court heard how Lewis Harding, 28, had been fitting solar panels at Venn Farm on 19 May 2015 when he fell more than three metres through a fragile skylight and broke his back in three places.
HSE news release. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Farm fined after worker crushed to death
A Welsh farm has been fined after a contractor was fatally crushed by a reversing farm machine. Swansea Crown Court heard that Jonathan Evans, 43, was contracted to spread fertilizer on the Penhill Farm Limited in Ferryside when he was struck by the poorly maintained reversing telehandler in the farm yard.
HSE news release and webpages on farm vehicles and vehicle safety. Press and Journal. Wales Online. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Truck company fined after worker’s death
ATE Truck and Trailer Sales Ltd, a company that buys, refurbishes and sells heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and trailers has been sentenced after the death of a worker. Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that on 21 February 2013 William Price suffered fatal head injuries when he was struck by the roof of a trailer he was dismantling at the Marston Industrial Estate site.
HSE news release. Express and Star. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Canada: Ontario vows to help ailing factory workers
Ontario will do the “right thing” for factory workers left fighting work-related cancer and other diseases but who have been routinely denied compensation, the province’s labour minister has said. The commitment from Kevin Flynn came in the wake of a 173-page report by General Electric (GE) retirees and the union Unifor documenting working conditions in a GE plant in Peterborough from 1945 to 2000.
Unifor news release and full report. Peterborough Examiner. Toronto Star. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

South Africa: ‘Reckless direliction’ caused mine deaths
High death rates in South African mines are a consequence of a ‘reckless dereliction’ of duty by the government and mining sector, national union federation COSATU has said. The union body was commenting in the aftermath of a deadly 11 May explosion 3km underground in a decommissioned Harmony Gold mine in Welkom, Free State, in which more than 40 zama zamas - illegal artisanal miners – were killed.
COSATU news release. The Times. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

USA: Immigration officials entrap injured worker
US immigration officers have identified a new way to entrap undocumented workers – arrest them when they seek compensation after being injured at work. When Honduran national Jose Flores attended a meeting this month with his employer regarding compensation for a serious injury he had suffered when he fell off a ladder, officers from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) service were waiting and arrested the injured worker, who could now be deported.
Confined Space blog. Talking Union. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

USA: Tesla production drive hurts car workers
Tesla’s much-vaunted and highly automated “factory of the future” in Fremont, California, presents some old fashioned hazards for the workers making Elon Musk’s cutting edge electric cars. Reports have revealed the relentless work pressure from Musk’s aggressive production goals are causing high rates of sometimes life-changing injuries.
Capital and Main. The Guardian. American Prospect. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Hazards news, 20 May 2017

Britain: Brexit puts worker safety at risk, warns TUC
Workplace health a nd safety protections are at risk from the government’s Brexit plans, the TUC has said. The warning comes in a new TUC briefing, ‘Protecting health and safety after Brexit’.
TUC news release and full briefing, Protecting health and safety after Brexit, May 2017. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Global: Workers need legal protection, not voluntary standards
An international standard for health and safety may sound like a good idea, but the TUC warns the one under development now could be very bad news for workers. The International Standards Organisation (ISO) is developing the standard, ISO45001, which the TUC warns is being developed without formal input from either employers’ organisations or unions, is a commercial venture and is riddled with flaws and dangerous omissions.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Britain: Union slams ‘paltry’ fine after worker buried alive
Construction union Unite has hit out at the ‘paltry’ £14,000 fine handed out to Wallace Roofing and Building Ltd after a worker was buried alive. Julian Kilbane still suffers health issues and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder over five years on from the horrific incident on 29 September 2011.
HSE news release. The Courier. Daily Record. Construction Enquirer. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

[insecure] Britain: Study proves Britain’s insecure workers need more rights
Weak employment rights in the UK are behind a significant growth in bogus self-employment, agency work and zero-hour contracts compared to other EU countries, a TUC study has revealed. ‘International trends in insecure work’ was commissioned by the TUC from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) and found the UK had the largest increase in the number of self-employed workers for EU countries from 2008 to 2015.
TUC news release and full report International trends in insecure work. NIESR news release and related blog post. More on health and safety and insecure work. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Britain: Crackdown needed on zero-hours contracts
The TUC has called for a crackdown on zero-hours contracts after official statistics showed a sharp rise in the number of workers affected. The new Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures revealed almost a million workers have no guaranteed hours in their main job.
TUC news release. ONS statistics, May 2017. The Independent. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Britain: Labour pledges removal of asbestos from schools
A future Labour administration would ensure the phased removal of asbestos from schools, the party’s manifesto had said. The document, launched by Jeremy Corbyn on 16 May, notes: “Labour will also invest in new school buildings, including the phased removal of asbestos from existing schools.”
Labour Party Manifesto 2017. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Britain: Seven in 10 employees work when sick
Seven in ten (69 per cent) UK private sector employees – equivalent to 18 million workers nationally – have gone to work unwell when they should have taken the day off, an insurance industry study had found. Aviva’s Working Lives report found that by contrast, less than a quarter (23 per cent) say they have taken a day off work sick when they were not actually unwell.
Aviva news release and Aviva Working Lives Report 2017. The Independent. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Sky News. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Global: Scramble to meet profit targets hurts workers
Companies scrambling to meet or beat profit projections have work-related injury and illness rates that are 12 per cent higher than other employers, a study has found. US researchers found that the higher rates can be explained by “benchmark-beating” employers cranking up workloads and work pressure, while cutting back spending on necessary safety maintenance and training.
The Pump Handle blog. Judson Caskey and Naim Bugra Ozel. Earnings expectations and employee safety, Journal of Accounting and Economics, volume 63, issue 1, pages 121–141, 2017. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Global: Heart risk warning as inhaled nanoparticles found in blood
Researchers have issued a workplace health warning after a study showed gold nanoparticles can cross from the lungs into the blood, where they accumulate in fatty plaques inside arteries. The study of the effects of these tiny particles on human subjects by UK and Dutch researchers provides further evidence of a link between nanoparticles and cardiovascular disease, the authors warn, and has ‘major implications’ for risk management of engineered nanoparticles in the workplace and wider environment.
Full ACS Nano paper. Chemical Watch. Evening Standard. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Britain: Companies fined £20k after worker killed by vehicle
Construction company Cavanna Homes and its groundwork contractor Steve Hoskin Construction Limited (SHCL) have each been fined £20,000 after a worker was killed by a reversing vehicle. Exeter Crown Court heard how SHCL employee John Small, 47,  was working for the groundwork contractor at a construction site in Dawlish, Devon when he was crushed by a reversing telescopic material handler.
HSE news release. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Britain: Steel firm fined £200k after worker’s hand crushed
Cardiff-based steel manufacturing company Rom Ltd has been fined £200,000 after a worker suffered crush injuries to his hand. Magistrates hearing the case at North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard how on 23 October 2015 a 51-year-old worker was removing leftover steel from a Koch Straightener, used for straightening steel wire, when he trapped his hand between the rotating rollers inside the machine.
HSE news release. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Britain: Salad firm fined £120k after chainsaw injury
A salad growing company has been fined after a worker was seriously injured by a chainsaw while felling trees. Basildon Magistrates’ Court heard the Growing Green Limited employee suffered deep cuts to his arm while working with another colleague at the Brentwood Nursery on 6 April 2016.
HSE news release. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Britain: Firm and boss fined for persistent safety failings
A company and its general manager have been fined after failing to abide by a succession of legal safety notices. Cambridge Magistrates’ Court heard how Cambridge Timbertec Ltd failed to maintain satisfactory standards of work after several inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE news release. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Hazards 2017 national conference, 28–30 July 2017, Stoke-on-Trent
The Hazards Campaign’s national conference, with a theme this year of ‘Organising health, safety and welfare in an insecure world,’ is taking bookings. The event, to be held at Keele University in Stoke-on-Trent from 28-30 July, features contributions from international and national trade union leaders, academics and campaigners. Speakers including Jessica Martinez from the Hazards Campaign’s US sister organisation, National COSH, who will talk about “the joint threats we face and how we can work together to fight them.”
Hazards Campaign conference webpage, blog and booking form. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Australia: ‘Dirty deal’ let mine death bosses off the hook
A ‘dirty deal’ that allowed three Anglo American coal mine bosses to walk free after the ‘industrial homicide’ of an Australian worker has been condemned by the union CFMEU. Electrician Ian Downes suffered fatal injuries when a mine wall failed and fell on him at the Grasstree Mine in central Queensland.
CFMEU news release. Ballina Shire Advocate. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Indonesia: Campaigners win recognition of asbestos diseases
The Indonesian authorities have for the first time recognised officially the existence of asbestos disease cases in the country. Indonesia had never before formally recognised a case of asbestosis, with sufferers routinely misdiagnosed with tuberculosis.
Inside Story. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Japan: Firms named and shamed on unsafe work
Japan has taken the unprecedented step of naming more than 300 firms that the authorities say are violating workplace safety and other labour laws. A labour ministry list posted online includes 334 companies that have received warnings for safety offences, excessive overtime and other violations between last October and March this year.
Japan Times. Japan Today. Sky News. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

USA: Workers take cover at 'most toxic place in America'
Hundreds of workers were forced to ‘take cover’ after a tunnel in a nuclear finishing plant collapsed in Washington state, USA. Following the 9 May incident at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation some workers were reportedly told to evacuate while others were told to shelter-in-place as officials investigated the severity of the situation.
Statement by Governor Jay Inslee. The Independent. Counterpunch. Risks 800. 20 May 2017

Hazards news, 13 May 2017

Britain: Asbestos review shows ‘shocking’ official complacency
An official review of how the UK’s workplace asbestos laws are operating has exposed the ‘shocking complacency’ of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the TUC has said. Hugh Robertson, the union body’s head of safety, said: “The fact that government and regulators see the status quo as the best option is a damning indictment of our health and safety system.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Post implementation review of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, HSE, 2017. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: HSE expert advice lacks crucial intelligence
The Health and Safety Executive’s decision to use only experts from outside the workplace to advise on health hazards on the inside is leaving gaping holes in its intelligence, the TUC has warned. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson was commented after HSE’s Workplace Health Expert Committee (WHEC), created in 2014, published its first four reports, covering stress, silica, musculoskeletal disorders, and health issues affecting bakers.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. WHEC webpage and reports on stress, silica, musculoskeletal disorders and health issues of bakers. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Union calls for security guards to protect store staff
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw is calling for higher levels of security in shops, particularly small convenience stores. The union call came after latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales revealed that shoplifting is continuing to rise, increasing by 8 per cent during 2016, contributing to a 21 per cent increase over the last decade.
Usdaw news release. Morning Star. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: No blacklist justice for Britain’s agency staff
A former union safety rep, who a succession of courts accepted was victimised for his construction site safety activities, has been told he has no legal redress against the blacklisters because he was an agency worker. Dave Smith received confirmation from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), that his human rights had been violated but that because of a select committee investigation and last year’s High Court settlement, the case had been “duly considered” by the British legal system and Smith’s claim was therefore “inadmissible.”
Morning Star. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Agencies still blacklisting workers, says Unite
A year after unions secured a historic court victory for blacklisted workers, Unite says it is still fighting for justice for victims of the scandal. Unite assistant general secretary for construction Gail Cartmail, said: “Despite blacklisting being a nasty secretive practice, Unite has been able to compile a dossier of these abuses.”
Unite news release. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Tube staff strike for victimised work violence victims
Tube workers at London Bridge station have taken industrial action in a further protest against the sacking of a member of staff and the disciplining of two others. The RMT members working for London Underground (LU) staged the 24-hour strike from 10pm on 7 May in response to LU’s blame-the-worker behaviour after an incident in which a fare-dodger was violent towards staff.
RMT news release. The Telegraph. Morning Star. Evening Standard. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Europe: Pilot mental health stigma could push problems underground
UK pilots have warned that proposed new rules could increase stigma around mental health in the sector and could push the problem underground. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) said rules proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as a result of the Germanwings pilot suicide tragedy in 2015 could be counter-productive.
BALPA news release. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Tory mental health pledge worthless without cash
A Conservative election pledge on mental health mean nothing without a commitment to proper funding, critics have said. Theresa May said she would introduce a new Mental Health Treatment Bill and measures requiring large companies to train mental health first responders alongside traditional first aiders.
Conservatives news release. The Observer. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Tinnitus drove top drummer to suicide
The drummer with Manchester band Inspiral Carpets killed himself last year after struggling to cope with the effects of tinnitus, his widow has said. Speaking after an inquest recorded an open verdict on the death of Craig Hill, Rose Marie Gill said there needed to be a greater awareness around the damaging effects of the condition.
The Guardian. NME. The Sun. The Mirror. The Telegraph. More on work-related suicide. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Prosecution delay allows boss to escape jail
A company boss has avoided a jail sentence because of a six year delay in a serious workplace injury case coming to court. Alexander Mackay, who was a partner in the company, was told by a sheriff that a "wholly inadequate delay" in bringing the case to court meant that he would not impose a prison sentence.
Evening Telegraph. The Courier. BBC News Online. STV News. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Phoenix firm evades £750k fine for asbestos crimes
A North London construction firm that put 200 workers at risk of asbestos exposure is unlikely to stump up any of the £750,000 fine imposed after the £10m a year business went into liquidation. Barroerock Construction Limited was prosecuted after repeated asbestos failings.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Kent Online. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Site boss jailed over falling window death
Construction boss Kelvin Adsett has been jailed for a year for manslaughter over the ‘wholly needless’ death of a lawyer crushed by half-tonne windows in Mayfair, central London. Amanda Telfer, 43, was killed when the stack of large unglazed frames collapsed on her as she walked past a building site in Hanover Square on 30 August 2012.
CPS news release. Evening Standard. BBC News Online. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Solar panel firm fined £250k after fall through roof
Bristol-based solar panel installation company Solarjen Limited, known as Paul O’Brien Solar Installations (SW) Limited at the time, has been fined after a 49-year-old worker fell more than 3.5 metres through a void in a roof. The worker suffered serious injuries, including bleeding on the brain, a fractured spleen and fractured ribs.
HSE news release. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: DHL and JCB fined after double hit on worker
Two companies have been fined after a worker was seriously injured by a trolley carrying hydraulic rams. Stafford Crown Court heard how Martin Addison of DHL Services Limited (DHL) was auditing in-coming deliveries of equipment in an outside yard at JCB’s headquarters when he was struck from behind by falling machinery.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages. Stoke Sentinel. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: TUC conference on insecure work, 26 June 2017
The TUC is to host ‘Living on the edge: The rise of job insecurity in Britain’, a major one-day conference to discuss how unions and other civil organisations can tackle insecure work. Speakers include TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady, Matthew Taylor, head of the government's independent review into modern employment practices, and union leaders and organisers. Attendance is free.
Living on the edge: The rise of job insecurity in Britain, 9.00am to 5.00pm, 26 June 2017, TUC, Congress House, 23-28 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LW. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Australia: Nine out of 10 hospitality workers sexually harassed
A union poll of hospitality workers in Australia has revealed that almost 9 out of 10 (89 per cent) report being sexually harassed at work, with almost one in five (19 per cent) reporting sexual assaults. United Voice found only one-third of the over 300 workers who took part in the online survey believed their employer took sexual harassment at the workplace seriously, with nearly half believing they did not.
IUF news release. United Voice news release. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Global: UN treaty ‘discredited’ as asbestos lobby prevails
A United Nations (UN) treaty on the control of toxic exports has been ‘utterly discredited’, unions have said. The charge came after a bid to add chrysotile asbestos – the only form of the cancer-causing fibre still traded – to the Rotterdam Convention’s list of the most hazardous substances was blocked for a sixth time.
IndustriALL news release. Global Asbestos Action Alliance news release. Rotterdam Convention webpages. IBAS news report. RightOnCanada. Chemistry World. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Global: ‘Grave concerns’ as journal imposes new editor
A top occupational health journal is facing a wave of criticism after a respected editor was replaced by the publisher with an industry consultant. The ‘grave concerns’ expressed by the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health’s editorial board – who were not consulted on the change – and others were amplified when the journal withdrew a paper by previous editor, David Egilman, that was critical of corporate-sponsored research, again without consulting the editorial board.
IJOEH editorial board letter to the publisher, Taylor & Francis. CSPI statement. Retraction WatchGroundUp. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Iran: Mine disaster prompts call for safety improvements
Global union IndustriALL has called on Iran to improve mine safety after at least 42 miners were killed and over 70 injured in a coal mine explosion on 3 May. The deadly blast took place as workers were changing shifts at the Zemestanyurt mine in Golestan, a province in northeastern Iran.
IndustriALL news release. Prensa Latina. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Hazards news, 6 May 2017

Britain: New protections needed from insecure work
MPs aren’t the only ones feeling insecure in their jobs right now, according to the TUC. Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the union body, said: “We’ve done the calculations and the number of people trapped in insecure work is likely to rise by 290,000 over the course of the next parliament,” adding: “This will take the total of those on contracts such as zero hours, temp or agency work, and low-paid self-employment to 3.5 million people.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog. TUC Touchstone blog. NUJ news release. Work and Pensions committee report. BBC News Online. The Guardian. More on health and safety and insecure work.
Hazards Campaign health and safety in the gig economy poster. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Tens of thousands of work deaths unreported a year
Up to 50,000 work-related deaths may go unreported each year, according to GMB estimates. The union falling fatalities figures, recorded under the RIDDOR regulations, reflect a change in work patterns towards a more service sector workforce, and are only “the tip of the iceberg”.
GMB news release. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Union warning after Ineos gas leak
A major gas leak at the giant Grangemouth petrochemical plant reaffirms the need for site owner Ineos to work constructively on its industrial and community relations, Unite has said. Speaking after the 2 May leak at the Kinneil Gas manufacturing plant, the union said union-busting Ineos has previously attracted the attention of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which has criticised the company’s health and safety record.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: GMB to target work death food firm
The union GMB is looking to extend union protection to a north-west food firm fined after a worker was crushed to death. On 4 February 2015, 29-year-old father of one Jacek Adamowicz was working at Hitchen Foods in Wigan, owned by the multinational Bakkavor Group, which pleaded guilty to criminal safety offences and was fined £2 million with £32,595.10 costs.
HSE news release. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Northern Rail workers stand up for safety
A 28 April strike by RMT members at Arriva Rail North has driven home the message that private profit must not come before public safety, the union has said. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “If the German state-owned Arriva get away with their plans we will end up with a toxic combination of de-staffed trains and stations where safety and access ‎are compromised while fat profits are shipped across the Channel to subsidise rail operations in Germany.”
RMT news release and earlier release. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Teachers abused online by parents and pupils
Nearly one-third of teachers report being abused online over the past 12 months, with half of those targeted saying parents, not just pupils, were behind the abuse. A UK-wide survey of over 1,500 teachers conducted by teaching union NASUWT found 31 per cent of teachers reported being abused online over the last year, of which 50 per cent said they had been abused by a parent, with one in five (20 per cent) of the messages posted by parents included explicit threats.
NASUWT news release. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Unite takes action against diesel fumes ‘time bomb’
A major new initiative to protect workers from the ‘ticking time bomb’ caused by exposure to diesel exhaust fumes has been launched by Unite. The union’s new diesel emissions register allows Unite members to record when they have been exposed to excessive diesel exhaust fumes.
Unite news release and emissions register. Client Earth news release. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Two-thirds of chefs ‘harmed’ by long hours
The punishing long hours culture in many professional kitchens is putting the mental and physical health of chefs in London at risk, a snapshot survey by Unite has revealed. Almost half (44 per cent) of chefs responding to the union’s survey said they worked between 48 and 60 hours each week, with it now standard practice for employers to include an automatic ‘opt-out’ from the 48-hour a week ceiling under the Working Time Regulations in workers’ contracts.
Unite news release. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Union survey shows police staff are stressed out
Civilian police staff are struggling to cope with low wages and soaring workloads, a union survey has found. The poll, conducted by the GMB, revealed 70 per cent are stressed. More than half of the GMB members responding to the survey blamed their stress on poor management and an absence of leadership.
GMB news release. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Labour gets to work, but where are the Tories?
Labour’s 20-point plan to end the ‘rigged economy’ in work has been welcomed by the TUC, which has challenged the Conservatives to say what they would do to improve the lot of workers. The Labour plan includes equal rights for all workers, regardless of their employment status, abolition of employment tribunal fees, a public inquiry into blacklisting, guaranteed of trade union rights and the reinstatement of protection at work from ‘third party harassment’.
TUC news release. Labour news release. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Environmental health supports union on inspections
The organisation representing the local authority environmental health inspectors responsible for safety inspections in many workplace has backed a union call for more resources for enforcement. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) was commenting on statistics released by Unite that revealed a dramatic fall the number of frontline Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors.
CIEH news release. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Consultation on revised appeals system against HSE fees
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has started a consultation on changes to the appeals process against charges made under its Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme. After a legal challenge was started against HSE’s appeals system, which involved disputed cases been heard by a committee of HSE staff, the watchdog opted to consult on the introduction of a new, independent appeals system.
HSE consultation notice and HSE consultative document. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Dusty overalls caused widow’s asbestos cancer
A woman who washed her electrician husband's work overalls has developed an incurable cancer brought on by inhaling asbestos dust from the clothes. Linda Coates, 64, from Newcastle has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Irwin Mitchell news release. Daily Mail.
Anyone who can help provide information about working conditions at Didcot Power Station in the 1980s, or at Woolman Ltd, NG Bailey and Co Ltd and NEI Parsons Ltd should email Amber Connolly at Irwin Mitchell or telephone 0191 279 0111. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Sub-contractor fined after worker fatally crushed
Specialist fabricator and installer CMF Ltd has been fined £185,000 after worker Richard Laco died on the £650m Francis Crick Institute job in London, where construction giant Laing O’Rourke was the main contractor. The 31-year-old’s death prompted protests by construction unions at Laing-run sites, where there had been a number of fatalities.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Academy fined after teacher seriously injured in fall
A London academy school has been fined after a teacher suffered serious injuries in a fall. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that on 9 May 2016 the teacher Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School in Barnet, was installing spotlights and cabling in the school drama studio when he fell from a stepladder.
HSE news release. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Global: Inequality and insecurity at work can kill
Divisive employment practices and increasing insecurity at work are fuelling a worldwide epidemic of work-related ’diseases of distress’, the global union body ITUC has warned. Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said insecure, ‘unfair’ work was leading to a sharp increase in stress and related harm to health, including work-related suicides.
ITUC news release and briefing. Equal Times. See the global round-up of events on 28 April. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Germany: Airlines drop safety rule prompted by suicide crash
German airlines are dropping safety rules brought in after the 2015 Germanwings plane crash which require two people in the cockpit at all times. It is thought co-pilot Andreas Lubitz crashed the plane on purpose, killing 150 people, after the captain left the cockpit to use the toilet.
BBC News Online. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

USA: Lost leg exposes giant chicken supplier’s bad practices
After reports of a young worker becoming the latest victims of a major chicken processor, David Michaels, the head of the federal workplace safety regulator OHSA during the Obama administration, has called Case Farms “an outrageously dangerous place to work.” According to a report in The New Yorker: “Case Farms has built its business by recruiting some of the world’s most vulnerable immigrants, who endure harsh and at times illegal conditions that few Americans would put up with.”
ProPublica/The New Yorker. Working Immigrants. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Hazards news, 29 April 2017

Britain: Few women get protective clothing designed for women
Only 3 in 10 women are given protective clothing specifically designed for women at work, according to a new TUC report. Despite a legal duty on bosses to provide the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) to their staff free of charge, less than a third (29 per cent) told the TUC that the PPE they wear for their jobs is specially designed for women.
TUC news release and full report. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: Let workers challenge discriminatory dress codes
Workers must be given the power to challenge sexist dress codes at work, the TUC has said. The union was responding to an announcement by the government that it intended to issue new guidance to improve compliance with laws that ban discriminatory workplace dress codes.
TUC news release. Government response to the parliamentary petitions committee report. BBC News Online. Globe and Mail. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: Action call on ‘shameful’ delay in justice for work deaths
Friends and families who have lost loved ones to workplace fatalities are having to wait over three years to secure justice, according to official figures obtained by Unite. The union said the figures, which it obtained in a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, reveal the average time between a workplace death and conviction for a related criminal safety offence is 1,234 days.
Unite news release. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: Unite exposes shocking cut in safety inspectors
Unite is warning that workers’ lives are being placed at risk due to a sharp fall in the number of frontline health and safety inspectors. Figures obtained by the union in a freedom of information request reveal that since 2010 there has been a 25 per cent reduction in the number of Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors.
Unite news release. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: Safety reps must be given time
A new says the unique legal rights to time off for union health and safety representatives cannot be reduced as a result of a union-bashing clampdown in the Trade Union Act. The guide advises unions to ensure that the time taken by union health and safety reps is not included in any facility time agreement.
Facility time: A TUC guide to defending the right to represent members, April 2017. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: NUJ reps win top safety award and new members
Scotland’s top trade union safety award has been won by members the journalists’ union NUJ. The union reps at Newsquest Herald & Times are this year’s recipients of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) Frank Maguire Award for Health and Safety, after a campaign that saw union membership hit record levels. The award recognised the NUJ chapel committee’s use of health and safety “to campaign for healthier and safer workplaces at The Herald and Times, while at the same time improving industrial democracy within the organisation.”
STUC news release. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: Labour pledges to protect standards at work
The TUC has welcomed a commitment from Labour to match European Union improvements in employment and environmental standards after Brexit. The union body was commenting after Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow secretary for Brexit, said “instead of going ahead with the Tories’ Great Repeal Bill we will introduce new legislation – an EU Rights and Protections Bill.”
Speech by Sir Keir Starmer. TUC news release. BBC News Online. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Global: More evidence links welding fumes to cancer
More priority needs to be given to protecting the world’s estimated 111 million welders and other workers from exposure to toxic welding fumes, according to Harvard University’s David Christiani. The professor of environmental genetics at the university’s TH Chan School of Public Health was among 17 scientists from 10 countries who met last month at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, to review scientific literature and evaluate the carcinogenicity of several welding chemicals to humans.
Harvard University news release. Carcinogenicity of welding, molybdenum trioxide, and indium tin oxide, Lancet Oncology, published online first 10 April 2017.
Health and Safety Executive’s top 10 occupational cancer ‘priorities for prevention’. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: South West Water fined £1.8m after worker drowns
South West Water has been fined £1.8 million following the death of 54-year-old Robert Geach. Truro Crown Court heard Mr Geach was working on the sand filtration unit of the Falmouth Waste Water Treatment Works on 30 December 2013 when a colleague discovered him face down in water.
HSE news release. Falmouth Packet. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: Site company fined after death of worker
Hague Construction Limited has been fined following the death of employee Daniel Clifford Yeowell. Lewes Crown Court heard the 26-year-old was employed by Hague as a ground worker and on 4 October 2013 he and his colleagues were constructing and installing drainage boxes at a site at Langley Green Primary School, Crawley.
HSE news release. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: Food firm fined after meat separator crushes hand
Becketts Foods Limited has been fined after a worker’s hand was crushed in a meat separating machine at the company’s Moat House base in Coventry. Coventry Magistrates’ Court heard that on 11 May 2016 the 22-year-old worker was loading meat into the meat separator, when he fell and his hand entered the machine.
HSE news release. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: Food firm fined for fingers in noodle machine
Noodle maker SCLA Limited has been fined after a worker suffered life changing hand injuries while operating machinery. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how on 17 December 2015 the worker was clearing a blockage on one of the noodle production lines when the index and middle fingers on his right hand were severed by the machine.
HSE news release. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Australia: Unions prepare to take on Amazon
Around the world, Amazon is famous for its low prices, fast delivery, ruthless efficiency and antipathy towards unions, who say it treats workers like robots. Unions in Australia – where Amazon is about to expand its operations – are taking heed.
The Age. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Bangladesh: Rana Plaza anniversary shows need for Accord
The 24 April fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse, killing 1,138 workers, shows why a groundbreaking, union-brokered Accord must be continued, IndustriALL has said. The global union says that although progress has been made, efforts to make Bangladesh’s garment industry a safe place for workers are still needed and the Bangladesh Accord must continue beyond its planned 2018 expiry date.
IndustriALL news release. Confined Space blog. The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Global: Apparel brands urged to join transparency pledge
Global union confederation ITUC has called on more garment companies to sign a new supply chain ‘Transparency Pledge’ launched by a coalition of trade unions, human and labour rights organisations. Of 72 companies contacted by the coalition, only 17 are expected to have fully implemented the pledge by the end of 2017, meaning that they will have published information that will enable consumers, workers and advocacy groups and others to find out where the company’s products are made.
ITUC news release. Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Human Rights Watch news release and Transparency Pledge. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Hazards news , 22 April 2017

Global: Count down to Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2017!
Are you ready for the biggest health and safety event on the calendar, anywhere? International Workers’ Memorial Day is set for Friday 28 April, highlighting how inequalities at work can be seriously bad for your health. Protests, marches, training days, workplace inspections and flash mobs are being planned. There’s a good chance there will be an event near to you – if not, there’s still time to organise one.
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2017 events listing.
Find out what’s happening worldwide on International Workers’ Memorial Day.
Order posters, forget-me-knot ribbons and other 28 April resources from the Hazards Campaign, tel: 0161 636 7557; email: info@hazardscampaign.org.uk
Face it. We are all sickened by inequality at work, editorial by ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow, April 2017.
Unsafe and unfair – discrimination on the job hurts us all, ITUC briefing for 28 April 2017. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: TUC initiative to keep men and women safe at work
Trade union safety reps are being advised to take differences between men and women into account when identifying health and safety concerns at work. A new TUC guide for trade union representatives, ‘Gender in occupational health and safety’, says that historically the health and safety needs of men in the workplace have been prioritised over women.
TUC news release and guidance, Gender in occupational health and safety, April 2017.
TUC webpages for Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2017. ITUC International Workers’ Memorial Day website. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Union slams 'deplorable' attack on firefighters
The firefighters’ union FBU has condemned a violent attack on two on-duty firefighters who were threatened with an imitation firearm. The union said the ‘deplorable’ incident took place on 10 April in Spalding, as the firefighters tackled a house fire.
FBU news release. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Tube vote for action over ‘London Bridge Three’
London Underground (LU) union RMT has confirmed that station staff across the London Bridge and Waterloo groups have voted for both strike action and action short of a strike after one member was fired and two others disciplined for intervening to stop a serious assault by a fare-dodger on fellow staff members, including one who was pregnant.
RMT news release. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: 'Horrifying' number of carers on zero hours
A third of care workers in England are stuck in precarious, zero hours contracts, their union GMB has said. The union’s analysis of industry data shows that an estimated 117,679 out of England’s 369,340 care workers are trapped in insecure work – almost 32 per cent. It said the figures compare to a national average of workers on zero hours contracts across all occupations of just 2.8 per cent.
GMB news release and related release. More on work-related suicides and the safety risks of insecure work. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Health concerns hitting stressed-out teachers
Almost half of young teachers say mental health concerns could force them to quit the profession, research by the union NUT has found, with thousands citing heavy workloads and lack of support as a problem. The union’s survey of more than 3,000 teachers under the age of 36 suggests more than four in 10 (45 per cent) may choose to leave within five years.
NUT news release. The Independent. Morning Star. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Teachers driven to drink and drugs by stress
Work worries are driving teachers to drink, drugs and the brink of suicide, a survey by the NASUWT has found. Over two thirds (68 per cent) told the union their job prevents them from giving adequate time to their partner, family and friends and over half (58 per cent) say their family and friends get fed up with the pressures that teaching puts on their relationship.
NASUWT news release. Morning Star. The Independent. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Too few school toilets add up to sickness
A lack of staff toilets is leading to bowel problems and urinary infections in school staff, teaching union ATL has said. The union’s conference heard that at some schools, teachers were having to share facilities with pupils. Others were being forced to trek to distant buildings and stand in loo queues during breaks.
Morning Star. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Teachers call for action on asbestos mis-management
The ‘deeply worrying’ findings of research on asbestos risks in schools by the teaching union NUT confirm concerns that ‘a ticking time bomb’ is not being safely managed.  The union said a survey conducted last month found nearly 50 per cent of all respondents had not been told whether their school contains asbestos.
NUT news release, asbestos Edufats and asbestos conference motion comment. Schoolsweek. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Asbestos fine ‘is a lesson for all ship owners’
Seafarers’ union Nautilus has welcomed the prosecution of a shipping company that failed to act on a report warning of the presence of asbestos on one of its vessels. The enforcement action came after the union alerted authorities to the problem.
Nautilus news release. HM Coastguard blog. Bognor Regis Observer. Southern Daily Echo. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Parliamentary committee calls for unions in UK supply chains
The UK parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights has called for government action to oblige UK-based companies to ensure recognition of trade unions before they sign contracts with suppliers, alongside a stronger legal duty on employers to prevent human rights abuse in their operations. The recommendations, that come with a suite of others in a wide-ranging report on ‘Human Rights and Business’ released on 5 April, would – if implemented – transform rights for workers around the world denied access to the support necessary to protect themselves from long hours, low pay, deadly health and safety conditions and other abuses in the workplace.
Joint select committee news release and report, Humans Rights and Business in 2017: Promoting responsibility and ensuring accountability. TUC Touchstone blog. Leigh Day news release. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Firm fined £400k after teenager loses four fingers
A company has received a six figure fine after a teenage employee lost four fingers in a machine. Factory worker al Ghazi Sulaiman was using an emery cloth on a rotating lathe to reduce the size of metal rods when he was seriously injured at Sankey Laminations in Bilston. The 18-year-old had not been properly trained for the job, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
Express and Star. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain; Electrician gets community service after young worker’s fall
A Birmingham electrician has been ordered to carry out unpaid work in the community after his trainee fell three and a half metres through a plasterboard ceiling. Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that the apprentice electrician, Soheil Afrapour, spent 23 days in hospital after suffering head injuries.
HSE news release. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Firms fined over bar conversion asbestos failings
Two family run companies have been fined after admitting criminal health and safety failings at a site in Manchester, where they were carrying out a basement conversion. Manchester Crown Court heard how Hatters Taverns Limited had appointed sister company Hatters Hostel Limited as the main contractor for the basement conversion beneath a hostel in Manchester city centre.
HSE news release. Manchester Evening News. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Bangladesh: Union action prevents major factory tragedy
Four years after the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed, killing over 1,100 most women workers, a similar tragedy has been averted thanks to the union brokered Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord. “Four years on, the case of the Ananta textile factory in Dhaka suggests that it’s working, on this occasion saving 3,000 workers from suffering the same fate as Rana Plaza’s workforce,” notes Owen Tudor, head of the TUC’s international department.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. IndustriALL news release. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Global: ITUC calls for asbestos trade crackdown
Global union confederation ITUC has called for international action to stop the trade in deadly chrysotile asbestos. The union body says a key step would be for potent cause of cancer and other diseases to be included on the UN’s Rotterdam Convention list of particularly hazardous substances that must be accompanied by a health warning when exported.
ITUC news release. Rotterdam Convention Conference of the Parties, 24 April-2 May 2017. IndustriALL news release. Inside Story. RightOnCanada.ca
Sign the LabourStart ‘Stand with Rajendra’ petition  that will be presented to the Rotterdam Convention conference on 2 May 2017. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Global: Drivers asked to come forward with stories of IKEA abuses The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is calling for truck drivers to continue coming forward with accounts of exploitation while moving goods for IKEA. Head of ITF inland transport, Noel Coard, said: “Every worker deserves respect and IKEA needs to take responsibility,” he said, adding: What are they waiting for?”
ITF news release and social media campaign #therealIKEA. ITF film: IKEA’s new product – the exploited truck driver. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Hong Kong: Union campaign wins chairs for checkouts
Hong Kong supermarket giant Wellcome is now providing chairs for all on-duty cashiers, after a creative union campaign. The supermarket chain came under fire in January after the Retail, Commerce and Clothing Industries General Union reported that none of the 154 Wellcome outlets surveyed provided seats to cashiers during working hours.
Hong Kong Free Press. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Hazards news, 8 April 2017

Britain: PM should welcome MEPs backing for workers’ rights
Prime minister Theresa May should welcome a European Parliament call for any post-Brexit deal to protect current and future workplace rights of UK workers, the TUC has said. In a 5 April vote, MEPs backed a motion setting out the European Parliament’s position for the Brexit negotiations by 516 to 133.
TUC news release. European Parliament news release. European Parliament motion. BBC News Online. The Mirror. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Rights must not be a casualty of the Great Repeal Bill
Safety and employment protections must not be a casualty of the government’s Great Repeal Bill, which seeks to bring EU-derived workers’ rights into UK law, unions have said. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the measures ‘fall short’ of the prime minister’s promise to fully protect and maintain all workers’ rights that came from the EU.
TUC news release. The Great Repeal Bill and Theresa May’s comments to the House of Commons, 29 March 2017. UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Protection call after surge in racist abuse of workers
Workers need protection from the upsurge in racist assaults and abuse at work since the Brexit vote last year, the TUC has said. The The ‘shocking results’ of a poll of over 1,000 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) working adults by the TUC and ICM revealed over a third had witnessed or experienced racial abuse in the seven months following the referendum vote and almost one in five (19 per cent) had suffered or witnessed a racial assault.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and TUC/IBM BAME poll. TUC guide to violence at work. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Unite calls for action on windfarm safety
There must be urgent action to improve workers’ welfare and safety on windfarms after two workers died in a fortnight, construction union Unite has said. Unite regional co-ordinating officer, Steve Dillon, said: “The Health and Safety Executive needs to bring together all concerned to learn the lessons and improve safety and welfare in this sector.”
Unite news release. STV News. Daily Record. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Safety a ‘vital’ union concern
Health and safety is a ‘vital’ issue for unions, UNISON general secretary David Prentis has said. Speaking as hundreds of UNISON reps met at the union’s health and safety conference in Edinburgh, he said: “UNISON is at its strongest when we work together for the benefit of everyone – and our health and safety work is a perfect example of that.”
UNISON blog and health and safety webpages. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Work stress is a ‘critical’ issue for business
A top stress expert has told a union conference that workplace stress is a ‘critical business issue’ that must be addressed. Professor Cary Cooper, in a presentation to more than 100 Prospect health and safety representatives, said: “Socially unskilled managers have been shown to be a key issue affecting well-being at work.”
Prospect news release and conference papers. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Network Rail cutbacks will hurt safety, unions warn
Swingeing cuts announced by Network Rail will have a ‘terrifying’ impact on services and safety, rail unions have warned. RMT said that Britain’s railways risk sinking into further chaos as Network Rail – at the behest of official regulator the Office of Road and Rail – threatened to axe 1,000 safety-critical track renewal jobs.
RMT news release. TSSA news release. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Labour exploitation tops modern slavery referrals
The number of people reported as potential victims of slavery and human trafficking in the UK has more than doubled in the past three years, with ‘labour exploitation’ now the largest single reason for reported abuse. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We need stronger laws and better enforcement to crack down on it.”
TUC news release. Joint Committee on Human Rights news release and report, 5 April 2017. National Crime Agency statistics and modern slavery webpages. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Work link to raised heart attack risk in firefighters
Exposure to heat and physical exertion greatly increase the risk of firefighters’ suffering a heart attack, researchers have said. The study may explain why heart disease is the leading cause of death among on-duty firefighters, the researchers from the University of Edinburgh said.
Amanda L Hunter and others. Fire simulation and cardiovascular health in firefighters, Circulation, volume 135, pages 1284-1295, April 2017.
University of Edinburgh news release. FBU circular. BHF news release. BBC News Online. East Lothian Courier. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Worker injured ‘every week’ on £745m bypass
More than 100 workers have been injured on the £745m Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) project since construction started on the site in early 2015. Figures obtained by The Press and Journal show a total of 115 injuries have been recorded on the massive civil engineering job.
The Press and Journal. Construction Enquirer. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Big fine after big explosion at Stanlow refinery
An oil company has been fined £1.65m following an explosion at its Stanlow refinery in Ellesmere Port. Liverpool Crown Court heard that while there were no injuries, the blast in the early hours of 14 November 2013 at the Essar Oil UK Ltd facility caused internal structures to collapse, leading to damage totalling more than £20m.
HSE news release and COMAH webpages. BBC News Online. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Electricity supplier convicted after fall death
Electricity North West Ltd has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after an employee died in a six metre fall during routine maintenance of power lines. On 22 November 2013, experience lineman John Flowers, 63, climbed a ladder resting against a wood pole in order to trim ivy away from power lines, when he somehow cut through his work positioning strap and fell to his death.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Firms fined for asbestos blunders
Two companies have been fined after unsafe asbestos work on a property in Leatherhead. Staines Magistrates’ Court heard how licensed asbestos removal contractor Kingsley Asbestos Services Limited (KAS) was subcontracted by Bourne Valley Construction Services Limited (BVCS) to carry out the work, but this was carried out without establishing the location, presence and extent of asbestos containing materials on site.
HSE news release. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Global: We are all sickened by inequality at work
Whether it is a gaping gulf in pay, job insecurity or job discrimination based on your class, gender or race, a divided workplace is bad for your health, a top union official has warned. In a commentary ahead of International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the global union body ITUC, said who lives and who dies at work is not an accident of chance.
Face it. We are all sickened by inequality at work, editorial by ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow, Hazards online, April 2017.
Unsafe and unfair – discrimination on the job hurts us all, ITUC briefing for International Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2017.
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2017 events listing. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Europe: Worker representation key to safety
Effective worker representation is a crucial factor in securing improved safety standards at work, according to a new report. The European workplace safety agency EU-OSHA warned however that its study on worker participation and consultation in occupational safety and health (OSH) found worker representation is declining across Europe, while management-led arrangements are on the increase.
EU-OSHA news release and report, Worker participation in the management of occupational safety and health: qualitative evidence from the second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2). Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Korea: Samsung’s new phone, old exploitation
Samsung’s new Galaxy 8 smart phone is produced by an exploited and harassed workforce, according to an investigation into the company’s aggressive anti-union employment practices. Global union confederation ITUC found a company-wide policy “uses a combination of bribes, threats, bullying, dismissal and even kidnapping to keep its employees, and people working for its suppliers, under total control.”
ITUC news release and Samsung Exposed campaign. More on Samsung’s safety record. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Japan: Moves to limit overwork culture
A top level government panel has set out a plan to reduce long working hours and ensure equal treatment for regular and nonregular employees in Japan, as part of broader labour reforms. The panel, headed by prime minister Shinzo Abe, is calling for a cap on overtime hours and penalties on violators in an action plan based on an agreement between Japan’s most powerful business lobby Keidanren and the union federation Rengo.
Japan Today. Nikkei Asian Revew. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Hazards news, 1 April 2017

Britain: Cuts forcing social workers to ‘brink of burnout’
Social workers are struggling with heavy caseloads, longer working hours and going without lunch breaks, according to a survey by UNISON and Community Care magazine. Nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents said the volume of cases they were responsible for left them feeling ‘over the limit,’ and more than half (56 per cent) blamed staff shortages for their heavy workload.
UNISON news release and A Day in The Life of Social Work report. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: Workers should not have to pay to seek justice
UNISON’s legal battle to give people at work the right to access justice – without having to pay unaffordable fees – when employers break the law has been heard in the Supreme Court. UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Bad employers are having a field day, safe in the knowledge that few will be able to afford to challenge them at a tribunal.”
UNISON news release. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: ‘Dangerous’ sell-off of nuke guards slammed by Unite
Supermarket security staff on the look-out for shoplifters one day could be guarding Britain’s nuclear deterrent the next, Unite has warned. The union said it is concerned that the proposed privatisation of the Ministry of Defence Guard Service (MGS) will lead to a drop in standards and training, with adverse repercussions for the security of sensitive sites.
Unite news release. Morning Star. The National. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: Union concern after offshore workers get a radiation dose
Offshore union Unite has called for a transparent investigation into an incident where rig workers were exposed to ionising radiation. The incident happened on EnQuest’s Thistle platform, off Shetland, last December.
Unite news report. BBC News Online. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: Train guards are the ‘last line of defence’ for safety
Rail union RMT has vowed to continue its resistance to driver-only trains, citing guards as “the last line of defence” for passenger safety. The Morning Star reports that delegates rose to their feet at the North West TUC conference last week after RMT’s regional organiser John Tilley made the pledge.
Morning Star. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: If you want to improve work safety, find a friend
A workplace may be seriously unhealthy, but it’s frequently only budgets, deadlines and margins in the must-do column for senior management, a leading trade union safety educator has warned. Dave Smith, writing in the latest issue of Hazards magazine, says when it comes to organising around workplace health and safety, the key to success is recognising that unions are collective organisations.
Find a friend, Hazards 137, March 2017 and Dave Smith’s guide to organising around safety. TUC health and safety organising guide. Register for TUC eNotes on health and safety organising and other health and safety topics. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: Succession of work factors implicated in worker’s suicide
A worker who killed himself had been badly affected by a succession of safety issues at work, an inquest has heard, including an industrial fatality, demotion over a safety breach, a fear of losing his job and personal disputes in the workplace. Tissue factory worker Jeffrey Taylor, 55, was ruled to have taken his own life as a result of five contributing factors which were said to have been weighing heavily on his mind.
North West Evening Mail. TUC guidebook on mental health in the workplace (registration required). Suicidal work: Work-related suicides go uncounted and unaccounted for in the UK, Hazards magazine, number 137, 2017. Hazards quick guide to work-related factors linked to suicide. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: Whirlpool guilty over contractor worker’s fall death
Whirlpool UK Appliances Limited has been fined after a self-employed contractor fell from a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) and later died from his injuries. The firm was fined £700,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,466.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Marion Star. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: Site giant fined £800k after crushing tragedy
Construction firm Laing O'Rourke has been fined £800,000 after a worker was crushed to death by a dumper truck driven by his brother. HSE inspector Jack Wilby said: “Laing O’Rourke did nothing to address the trend of these workers carrying out tasks they weren’t trained or authorised for.”
HSE news release. Your Local Guardian. Construction Enquirer. Evening Standard. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: Responsible site firm wasn’t responsible
A London construction company has been fined after complaints from the public alerted the safety regulator to a slew of criminal practices. Malik Contractors and Engineers Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the construction management regulations and was fined £52,000, and ordered to pay £4,415 in costs.
HSE news release. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: Trailer firm fined after worker injured between vehicles
A Bedfordshire trailer firm has been sentenced after an employee suffered crushed ribs when he was trapped between a lorry’s cab and a trailer. BS Trailer Services Ltd pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was fined £25,000 plus costs of £1,599.50.
HSE news release. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: Collapsing cardboard left crushed worker in coma
Arrow Recycling Ltd has been fined £160,000 after a worker was left fighting for his life after being crushed by about 400kg of cardboard. Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court heard how Parvez Ahmed, 49, had been working on the recycling site in Smethwick, West Midlands on 22 April 2016 when he was crushed under bale stacks of falling cardboard.
HSE news release. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Canada: Insecure work hits mental and physical health
Precarious work is bad for both mental and physical health, according to a new survey of nearly 5,000 workers by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). The union body, which represents workers in Canada’s most populous province, found almost one-third of survey respondents cite mental and physical health issues as impacts of precarious work.
OFL news release and Make it fair campaign. Toronto Star. More on job insecurity and health. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Global: Chemicals agency capitulates to agrochemical lobby
Global food and farming union IUF has slammed a ruling by the European Chemicals Safety Agency (ECHA) that the toxic herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, is not carcinogenic. IUF said: “Public authorities have once more demonstrated the extent of their capture by the industry they are charged with regulating, while new evidence for banning glyphosate continues to accumulate.”
IUF news release. ECHA news release. Laura N Vandenberg and others. Is it time to reassess current safety standards for glyphosate-based herbicides?, Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, published Online First: 20 March 2017. JECH news release.
Sign the European Citizens' Initiative petition seeking a ban on glyphosate. IARC question and answer on glyphosate. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Global: Industry seeking to ‘sabotage’ asbestos controls
Unions should take action to stop the asbestos industry once again ‘sabotaging’ efforts to better control its toxic exports, the global union for the construction sector has said. BWI was speaking out ahead of a crucial conference to update the UN’s Rotterdam Convention list of especially hazardous substances subject to ‘prior informed consent’ (PIC) health warnings when they are exported.
BWI news release. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Qatar: ILO maintains pressure on abuse of migrants
A decision by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to maintain pressure on Qatar over its ’kafala’ system of modern slavery has been welcomed by the global union body ITUC. The union body was commenting after the ILO’s Governing Body decided to keep open the possibility of a Commission of Inquiry into Qatar.
ITUC news release. ILO Governing Body decision. Inside World Football. Doha News.
TUC Playfair Qatar campaign. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Hazards news, 25 March 2017

Britain: Suicide is a workplace issue
The UK is turning a blind eye to a major workplace killer, work-related suicide, the TUC has warned. The union body points to a series of reports this week highlighting how work factors can put large sections of the workforce at a greatly increased suicide risk, but there the problem is off the radar of the safety regulator.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. TUC guidebook on mental health in the workplace (registration required).
Sarah Waters. Suicidal work: Work-related suicides go uncounted and unaccounted for in the UK, Hazards magazine, number 137, 2017. Hazards quick guide to work-related factors linked to suicide.
Suicide by Occupation 2011-2015, Office for National Statistics, March 2017.
Dying from inequality, Samaritans, March 2017. Reducing the risk of suicide: A toolkit for employers, Samaritans/Business in the Community, March 2017. Crisis management in the event of a suicide: A postvention toolkit for employers, Samaritans/Business in the Community, March 2017. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: Construction must ‘radically reform’ to cut high suicide rates
The construction industry must take radical action to reduce the high number of suicides among its workforce, the union Unite has said. Its call came after a new analysis by the Office for National Statistics found that the risk of suicide among low skilled male labourers, particularly those working in construction, was three times higher than the male national average.
Unite news release. Construction News. Morning Star. The Guardian. More on work-related suicide. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: New work-related suicide figures a 'wake up call'
A new breakdown of suicide rates by occupation reveals those working in caring and teaching jobs are among those at a higher risk than the general public, unions have said. Greatly elevated rates were also observed in care workers and home carers, at nearly twice the expected rate in men and 70 per cent higher in women, and female primary teachers have a suicide risk that is 42 per cent above the average.
GMB news release. ATL news release. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: Stop blaming worker for work stress
Employers should concentrate on removing causes of stress at work rather than blaming their staff for getting stress out, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson was commenting after an HSE stress summit in London
TUC Stronger Unions blog and stress webpages. HSE stress webpages.
Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives, January 2017. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: Union fury at Tube bosses for firing attack hero
Tube union RMT has reacted with fury after London Underground (LU) upheld the ‘disgraceful’ sacking of a staff member who intervened to stop a violent fare dodger from assaulting colleagues at London Bridge last autumn. RMT is already balloting station staff across the London Bridge group for industrial after the member was fired and two others were disciplined for stepping in to stop the serious assault on colleagues, including one who was pregnant.
RMT news release. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: Disinfectant made 22 hospital cleaners sick
Cleaners who fell ill at a Torquay hospital after being exposed to a hazardous disinfectant have been awarded £70,000 in damages. The 22 cleaning staff, all members of the public service union UNISON working for the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, began using Actichlor seven years ago, and experienced runny eyes, nose sores, and wheezing coughs.
UNISON news release. Devon Live. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: Sharp increase in safety fines welcomed by HSE union
The union Prospect has welcomed a sharp rise in health and safety penalties in the last year. It says the total cost of health and safety fines has tripled in the year since the introduction of new sentencing guidelines for courts in England and Wales on 1 February 2016.
Prospect news release. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: Condemnation over prosecution of vindicated rail guard
Rail union RMT has slammed the ‘outrageous’ decision to prosecute a train guard for endangering passenger safety after an 89-year-old woman fell from the platform. Merseyrail guard Martin Zee has now been unanimously cleared of all charges relating to the incident, which occurred at Hamilton Square Station on 8 July 2015, and had earlier been vindicated in two separate inquiries.
RMT news release. Liverpool Echo. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: RMT slams Merseyrail for wrecking crucial strike talks
Rail union RMT has criticised Merseyrail for ending crucial talks aimed at resolving a dispute over the safety role of train guards. The union said the talks broke down after it became clear that the company was ‘not serious about any meaningful negotiations’.
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: Farm fined following fall death of 40-year veteran
A farming partnership has been fined following the death of a farm manager in Staffordshire. Stafford Crown Court heard on 20 May 2014, 67-year-old John Mills fell more than 14 feet from a fragile roof while dismantling farm buildings in Hyde Lea on land owned by the Toft Partnership.
HSE news release. Express and Star. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: Construction giant Kier fined after worker fell from height
Kier Construction Limited has been fined £400,000 after a worker fell from height, suffering serious injuries. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how Jair Morales was installing plywood boards covering holes on the third floor of a building when he fell a distance of 3.95m to the floor below.
HSE news release. Morning Star. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: ‘Shocking’ injuries as two fall from plane’s tail
An aircraft engineering company has been fined after two workers were knocked off a platform while they were carrying out checks at the tail of an aeroplane. Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard that an employee of Inflite Engineering Services and an agency worker suffered broken bones after the fall at Stansted Airport on 10 June 2015.
HSE news release. East Anglian Daily Times. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: Hazards 2017 national conference, 28–30 July 2017, Stoke-on-Trent
The Hazards Campaign’s national conference, with a theme this year of ‘Organising health, safety and welfare in an insecure world,’ is now taking bookings. Speakers including Jessica Martinez from Hazards Campaign’s US sister organisation, National COSH, who will talk about “the joint threats  we face and how we can work together to fight them.”
Hazards Campaign conference webpage, blog and booking form. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Australia: Small fines for safety crimes, big fines for protesting
A major Australian construction firm has reacted angrily after a top union leader said it was wrong that a construction union was fined 16 times more for protesting about safety breaches than the firm that committed them. Grocon said it did not deny tragic deaths had occurred on its sites, but insisting it had not caused them.
ACTU statement from Sally McManus. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

India: Leather workers risk their lives making your shoes
About 2.5 million Indian workers toil for long hours with toxic chemicals for poverty wages in the country's leather industry, making shoes and clothes for Western brands, a study has found. A report from the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN), a human rights organisation, called for greater transparency in supply chains.
ICN news release and full report, Do leather workers matter? Violating labour rights and environmental norms in India’s leather production, March 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation. International Dalit Solidarity Network. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

India: The horror of the ‘modern slaves’ in brick kilns
Approximately 25 million people work in over 100,000 brick kilns across India, according to Anti-Slavery International. But these are not normal jobs. An estimated 50,000 of these are thought to be working in slavery-like conditions, saud Sudhir Katiyar, project director of the Prayas Centre for Labour Research and Action.
Equal Times. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

USA: Trump doesn’t want to upset workplace killers
The US safety regulator OSHA has stopped issuing press releases highlighting enforcement action for serious safety offences. The last enforcement press release issued by the federal watchdog was on 18 January 2017, two days before the inauguration of Donald Trump.
Confined Space blog. American Prospect. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Hazards news, 18 March 2017

Britain: Union reps are good for workers and employers
The TUC has ripped apart the latest attempt by a right-wing lobby group to claim paid release for union reps comes at a cost. TUC national organiser Carl Roper said the annually regurgitated claim by the Taxpayers’ Alliance that union volunteers are a drain on the public purse and taxpayers gets picked up uncritically by sections of the media, despite the irrefutable evidence proving precisely the opposite.
TUC Stronger Unions blogTUC guide to the union safety effect. The Guardian. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: New push for justice for injured workers
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is urging the government not to restrict access to justice for victims of workplace accidents or diseases. Speaking ahead of the union’s lobby of parliament on 22 March 2017, Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said doubling the ‘small claims’ definition to £2,000 would mean many injured workers were denied justice, as these claims do not quality for legal costs.
Usdaw news release. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Europe: Offshore unions wait for proof of Super Puma safety
Offshore workers say the Super Puma helicopters involved in a series of crashes and other safety incidents must have full official safety clearance before they are allowed back into service. The union was speaking out about the grounded helicopters after key offshore and aviation industry players gathered behind closed doors for an update on the investigation into a deadly crash in Norway.
Unite news release. Energy Voice. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Zero hours contracts treat workers like ‘disposable labour’
New official figures showing a sharp rise in the number of workers on zero hours contracts demonstrate the need for an urgent reform of employment law, the TUC has said. Commenting on new figures from the Office for National Statistics, which show that the number of people on zero hours contracts has increased by 13 per cent over the past year, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Zero hours contracts allow bosses to treat workers like disposable labour.”
TUC news release. Are you an insecure worker? Complete the TUC survey. ONS figures, March 2017. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Campaign can’t gloss over health service stress
The glossy launch of Healthcare Science Week by NHS Employers masks a world of overwork, stress, plummeting morale and staff shortages in the NHS, Unite has warned. The union said its survey of healthcare science members paints a picture of a dedicated workforce ‘bending to breaking point’ under the weight of the NHS financial crisis.
Unite news release. Healthcare Science Week. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Thefts from shops are serious crimes, says Usdaw
Retail union leader Usdaw has welcomed a clarification from Thames Valley Police, after a report in the Telegraph suggested the force “will not send out officers to deal with shoplifters who steal goods worth less than £100”.  A statement from the police force noted: “The Force would like to reassure communities that all reports of shoplifting are investigated - regardless of the value of goods stolen. In cases in which there is an immediate threat, such as a shoplifter becoming violent, the public can be assured that officers will be there for who need help.”
Usdaw news release. Thames Valley Police statement. The Telegraph. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Unions join forces to fight abuse at work
Collective bargaining from trade unions can play a key role in tackling violence against women, campaigners have said, but they add the government must also take action. Delegates at the TUC women’s conference heard how Britain has some of the highest levels of workplace violence against women in Europe.
Speech by TUC head Frances O’Grady to the TUC women’s conference. Morning Star. TUC guide to reporting workplace violence. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Thousands of stressed London transport staff receive counselling
Almost 6,000 Transport for London (TfL) staff have received counselling for issues including stress, anxiety and the trauma of witnessing of suicide attempts since 2010, it has been revealed. Finn Brennan, from the rail union ASLEF: “Tube drivers spend eight hours a day working in a small metal box deep underground while coping with the pressure of a demanding job.. it's not surprising that some suffer from stress or depression occasionally.”
City A.M. Evening Standard. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Farming firm fined after owner’s son drowns in grain
A family owned Norfolk farming company has been fined after the owner’s son died at its grain storage facility. Norwich Crown Court heard that on 9 July 2014, 21-year-old Arthur Mason took turns with 16-year-old Jamie Legg to clean inside grain bins at Hall Farm, Fincham, near Kings Lynn, run by Maurice Mason Ltd. guidance is freely available from HSE and other organisations.”
HSE news release. Norfolk Eastern Daily Press. BBC News Online. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Europe: Ikea drivers living in trucks for months
Lorry drivers moving goods in Western Europe for Ikea and other retailers are living out of their cabs for months at a time. ITF head of inland transport, Noel Coard,said: “companies are under constant threat from the top of the supply chain: break the law or lose the contract.”
ITF news release and social media campaign #therealIKEA. BBC News Online. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Disturbed asbestos risk in many schools
Asbestos has been disturbed in schools in a way that could affect the health of staff and pupils on at least 90 separate occasions in the last five years. Freedom of Information requests by Lucie Stephens, who’s mum Sue died last year aged 68 of an asbestos cancer caused by exposures while working as a teacher, revealed councils had received reports of asbestos having been “disturbed” in schools on 93 occasions over five years, meaning “possible exposure” to teachers, builders, caretakers or pupils between 2011 and 2016.
Schools Week. TES.com. Asbestos in schools petition. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Asbestos in schools conference, 4 July, Birmingham
The first Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) conference is to take place in Birmingham on 4 July and will investigate the dangers from asbestos in schools and how to protect pupils and staff. Speakers including Rachel Reeves MP, asbestos campaigners, trade unions, medical practitioners and representatives of the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Education.
Fee: £40. Further information from JUAC. Bookings: 0121 457 6150. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Working time, breaks and holidays – new TUC booklet
The law relating to working time is complicated. Some bad employers take advantage of this to deny staff their rights. The TUC says the publication is just a short guide, not a full statement of the law and advises workers, where they believe their rights are being ignored, to get advice their trade union about how to remedy the situation.
TUC publication alert. Working time, breaks and holidays - Know Your Rights booklet and know your rights webpages. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

France: International unions back corporate responsibility law
A campaign by unions in France is intent on defending a new law requiring French multinational companies to establish explicit plans to avoid and remediate violations of worker rights and environmental standards throughout their supply chains. Two days after the adoption of the law on 21 February the French Republican Party, backed by the employers’ organisation MEDEF, referred the issue to France’s Constitutional Council claiming that the law is unconstitutional.
ITUC news release. ETUC news release. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Global: Call to reject Qatar’s modern slavery lies
Qatar should be called out when it tries to hoodwink governments next week about its serious ongoing abuses of workers’ rights, the global union ITUC has said. A submission by the government of Qatar to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in the lead up to a discussion next week by ILO’s governing body on a complaint lodged by the ITUC on Qatar’s “kafala” system of modern slavery, is full of false and misleading claims, the union body says. 
ITUC news release. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Global: Mining study shows trade unions save lives
A strong trade union presence makes mines safer, according to the preliminary finding of a major international study. The researchers confirmed that health and safety representatives supported by a trade union were more effective in getting important safety matters addressed and resolved than health and safety representatives acting on their own.
IndustriALL news report. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Japan: Agreement on new overtime ceiling
The biggest employers’ group in Japan, Keidanren, and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) have agreed new monthly and annual overtime limits. The new agreement says overtime should be limited to 45 hours a month or 360 hours a year, with an absolute cap of 100 hours in any one month in special circumstances.
Japan Times. More on working hours and health. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Hazards news, 11 March 2017

Britain: Aberdeen bypass injury reinforces union concerns
Construction union Unite has said a serious accident on the Aberdeen bypass site adds to its ‘ongoing concerns’ about the working conditions on the prestige job. Unite called on the construction companies involved in the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) for more transparency and dialogue. and the Health and Safety Executive to find out the cause of this accident.”
Unite news release. Aberdeen Evening Express. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: Northern Rail ‘winging it’ on safety
Rail union RMT has accused Arriva Rail North of concocting a plan that will break agreed safety procedures in its determination to run services during industrial action. The union says the company’s published timetable for services on the 13 March strike day “comes at the price of passenger safety.”
RMT news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: Unions call for new deal to protect hairdressers
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw is calling for a “new deal” to protect hairdressers. The union, which represents many of Britain’s estimated 140,000 salon workers, says they face risks ranging from musculoskeletal disorders, to dermatitis, asthma and cancer.
The Guardian. Photofile on the UNI Europa campaign. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: Union charter to tackle violence at work
Workers in the community should not fear violence, the union UNISON has said. The union’s community service group conference agreed to launch a ‘Violence at Work Charter’ which would see employers commit themselves to “a series of interventions”.
UNISON news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: DX couriers launch legal battle for work rights
The union GMB is to start legal action on behalf of couriers working for the delivery company, DX. The union says it wants to “secure rights on pay, holidays, health and safety, discipline and grievances on behalf of members who work as couriers and drivers for DX.”
GMB news release. Leigh Day news release.
House of Commons business, energy and industrial strategy committee’s Future world of work and rights of workers inquiry hearings. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Global: Father of airline worker ‘killed by toxic air’ speaks out
The father of a cabin crew worker whose death was linked to exposure to toxic air on aeroplanes has warned cabin crew from more than 40 countries of the dangers. Unite member Matt Bass died in 2014 after returning from a flight to Ghana.
ITF news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: MPs 'shocked' by women's dress code stories
An inquiry into work dress codes has exposed “widespread discrimination” against women, MPs have said. The investigation was prompted by a petition, being debated by MPs, that called for a ban on requiring women to wear high heels at work.
House of Commons debate on Workplace Dress Codes (High Heels), 6 March 2017 – watch the debate, read the transcript and see the petition. BBC News Online. ITV News. Morning Star. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: Couriers told to find sick cover or face big fines
Parcel delivery firms DPD and Parcelforce Worldwide have been called before a committee of MPs to answer questions about the working conditions faced by their self-employed couriers. Frank Field, the Labour MP who chairs the work and pensions select committee, has written to the bosses of both companies asking them to provide evidence as part of an ongoing inquiry into the gig economy.
Work and Pensions Committee news release and letters to Parcelforce and DPD. HR Grapevine. The Guardian. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: Teacher died of asbestos-related cancer
A former teacher from Kent who died of asbestos related cancer could have inhaled the fibres in the classrooms where she worked. Pearl Davis, 69, spent a decade working at schools in Gillingham, Chatham and Maidstone.
Kent Online. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: Director and company fined for lift plunge death
Two London-based companies have been fined for criminal safety failings after one man died and another was left seriously injured after falling six storeys down a lift shaft. Romanian labourer Silviu Stefanita Radulescu, 31, who was poorly trained and not wearing a harness, was killed.
HSE news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: Ministry of Defence censured over agency driver’s death
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been issued with a Crown Censure by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an agency driver working for the MoD was fatally injured by a reversing vehicle. Graham Wood, 55, was crushed between a reversing lorry and a stationary vehicle on the evening of 19 November 2013. 
HSE news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: Contractor fined for poor asbestos assessment
A Bedfordshire contractor has been fined after failing to carry out suitable assessment of the risks posed by asbestos removal work. Anthony West pleaded guilty to four criminal breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £2,970 and ordered to pay costs of £5,419.
HSE news release. Biggleswade Today. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Canada: Delays put armoured car workers and public at risk
A further delay in implementing a Canadian Ministry of Labour ruling is putting the safety of armoured car workers and the general public at risk, the union Unifor has said.  “The directives in the original order recognised that the use of two-person, all off crews elevates the danger of armoured car personnel being attacked in public, which also increases the risk to innocent by-standers,” said Mike Armstrong, Unifor’s lead for the armoured car industry.
Unifor news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Global: UN experts slam myth that pesticides are necessary
Two United Nations experts are calling for a comprehensive new global treaty to regulate and phase out the use of dangerous pesticides in farming, and move towards sustainable agricultural practices. The report, which is highly critical of the claims made by the pesticide industry, notes: “The assertion promoted by the agrochemical industry that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security is not only inaccurate, but dangerously misleading.”
UN news release. UN OHCHR news release and report. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Ukraine: Explosion highlights deadly mine perils
The poor safety record of Ukraine mines has been condemned by the global mining union IndustriALL. The union was commenting after a 2 March explosion at state-owned mine in Stepnova killed eight miners.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

USA: Senate votes to kill worker safety rule
President Trump and congressional Republicans are poised to roll back a series of Obama-era worker safety regulations disliked by business groups. Republican lawmakers are employing the rarely used Congressional Review Act (CRA) to target safety rules – and once a rule is killed, it is killed forever.
NELP news release. Washington Post. The Hill. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Hazards news, 4 March 2017

Britain: TUC dismay as government hits injured workers with legal costs
The TUC has criticised government plans to stop injured workers from reclaiming their legal costs in compensation cases against negligent employers worth under £2,000. The union body warns that the Ministry of Justice proposals, included in its Prisons and Courts Bill, will force many workers, including those on low incomes, to pay for legal advice when seeking compensation for workplace injuries or work-related ill-health.
TUC news release. Ministry of Justice webpages on the Prisons and Courts Bill. APIL news release. Morning Star.
The union effect: How unions make a difference to health and safety, TUC. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: Workers put in over £33 billion in unpaid overtime a year
The UK’s over-stretched workers gave their employers £33.6 billion of free labour last year by doing unpaid overtime, according to a new analysis of official statistics from the TUC. The TUC’s calculations were published on 24 February, to mark its 13th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day.
TUC news release and Work your proper hours day resources.
How many hours did you work for free? Check it out with the TUC’s unpaid overtime calculator. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: Union backing for working time action call
Unions have backed the TUC call for an end to exploitative working hours. Speaking on the 24 February publication of the TUC’s latest analysis of unpaid overtime in the UK, leaders of the lecturers’ union UCU, teachers’ union NUT and journalists’ union NUJ said workers were facing unacceptable long hours and heavy workloads.
NUJ news release. UCU news release. NUT news release. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: Teachers say stop talking, start acting on workload
Teaching staff already know they are overworked and want the government to get on and do something about it, their unions have said. The education unions were commenting after the long-overdue findings of the Department for Education’s Teachers' Working Time Survey – finally published on the TUC’s Work Your Proper Hours Day - revealed teachers in England are working on average 54.4 hours per week, with 93 per cent of teachers saying workload is a fairly or very serious problem.
NUT news release. NASUWT news release. ATL news release.
Teachers workload survey 2016 and DfE webpages on reducing teacher workload and action plan. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: European flight rules could lead to ‘pilot burnout crisis’
Airlines are not doing enough to address fatiguing rosters and this will lead to many UK pilots suffering ‘burnout’, according to flight safety experts at the pilots’ union BALPA. One year on from the introduction of EU-wide pilot duty hours regulations, the union’s head of flight safety, Dr Rob Hunter, warned that fatigue remains a huge issue for the industry, and not enough is being done to tackle it, especially ‘burnout’. 
BALPA news release. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: Workers ‘stressed out’ in London Fire Brigade control room  
The workers who handle the London Fire Brigade’s 999 calls are dangerously stressed by a failing control system, their union GMB has warned. The union says workers operating the clunky Vision command and control system used for call line identification and caller location identification have found it is impeding their efforts to respond quickly to emergency calls.
GMB news release. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: Union anger after Tube attack heroes are disciplined
Tube workers at one of London Underground’s busiest stations are to be balloted for industrial action after one member was sacked and two others disciplined for stepping in to stop a violent assault on colleagues. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “This was a shocking, violent incident and those that bore the brunt of it should have been supported and commended by the company… Instead they have been sacked or disciplined in what is the most appalling miscarriage of justice.”
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: Injured whistleblower wins unfair dismissal fight
A chef has won an unfair dismissal case after being fired for blowing the whistle on a dangerous grill and deep-fat fryer at the London bar where he worked. GMB member Marcelo Lagos, who was head chef at the Number 1 Bar in London Bridge, was dismissed in 2015 - just after he raised his concerns about a burn he had sustained on faulty equipment in the kitchen.
Morning Star. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: Asbestos exposure risk in one in five schools
Schoolchildren and teachers are being put at risk of asbestos exposure in around one in five schools across England, according to new government figures. A report from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) revealed 19 per cent of schools have not been safely managing asbestos risks and in more than 100 schools the situation has been so serious that the Department for Education (DfE) had to step in.
EFA schools asbestos data collection and management guidance. NASUWT news release. Schools Week. TES News. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: Five jailed for running skills card ‘forgery factory’
Five men have been jailed for running a ‘forgery factory’, churning out documents including fake construction skills cards. A raid by immigration officers in east London discovered a bedroom converted into a fully-equipped factory creating and distributing between 50,000 to 100,000 false documents including passports, driving licences and Construction Skills Certification Scheme cards.
CITB news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: Council fined after sander removes schoolboy’s finger
Islington Borough Council has received a six figure fine after a schoolboy’s finger was cut off by a sander. Southwark Crown Court heard that on 25 March 2014, the 12-year-old was in a design and technology class when his left hand was trapped between the shape he was sanding and the sanding belt, leading to his middle finger had to be amputated down to knuckle.
HSE news release. Islington Gazette. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: Stately home guilty over butler’s death
The operator of one of Britain’s most iconic stately homes has been fined after a domestic servant was crushed to death by a lift. Arthur Mellar, 48, a butler at Burghley House in Stamford, was killed on 12 July 2014 when a luggage lift descended and trapped his head as he was trying to free an item of luggage that had become stuck.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. ITV News. The Sun. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: DFS fined £1m for ‘systematic’ criminal safety failings
Furniture retailer DFS Trading Limited has been fined £1 million after its ‘fundamental and systematic’ criminal safety failings led to a worker suffering serious neck and head injuries. Derby Magistrates’ Court heard that on 2 July 2015 the worker was unloading wooden furniture frames, when he was struck by an unsecured furniture arm, knocked him unconscious and suffered serious neck and head injuries.
HSE news release. CWU news release. Derby Telegraph. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Europe: Union ‘victory’ on reproductive and cancer hazards
A key European Parliament committee has backed union calls for tighter rules on reproductive and cancer hazards at work. According to the safety unit on the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), the vote by MEPs was an ‘important victory’ for unions.
European Socialists and Democrats news release. ETUI news report (in French). Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Europe: Industry hijacks official chemical limits process
Experts with industry links dominate a committee advising the European Commission on the occupational exposure limits for hazardous substances, an investigation has found. A report published on 24 February in the French daily newspaper Le Monde revealed that 15 out of the 22 members of the Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limit Values (SCOEL) have ties with companies in sectors likely to be affected by the Commission’s plans to adopt new occupational exposure limits (OELs) for certain carcinogens or mutagens at work.
ETUI news report. Le Monde (in French). Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Global: Samsung exposed ahead of industry showcase
The dangerous and abusive employment practices used by hitech giant Samsung have been challenged publicly by the global union confederation ITUC. In a high profile social media campaign ahead of the industry’s showcase Mobile World Congress, held in Barcelona from 27 February to 2 March, the union body said: “It’s a modern tech company with medieval labour practices, whose calling cards are union busting, poverty wages, and insecure and unsafe work conditions.”
ITUC ‘Samsung Exposed’ website and call on Samsung to end the abuse of its workforce. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

USA: ‘Diseases of distress’ linked to work 
A 2015 study revealing a sharp spike in death rates among white working class Americans, bucking a long-term downward trend, has prompted research establishing that the ‘diseases of distress’ responsible – alcohol and drug-related diseases and suicides – are linked to work factors. This associations were established by a group of work environment doctoral students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Professor Laura Punnett explained in a posting in the public health blog The Pump Handle.
The Pump Handle. Anne Case and Angus Deaton. Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), volume 112, number 49, December 2015.
TUC drugs and alcohol webpages. More on work-related suicide, drug and alcohol use and job insecurity. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Hazards news, 23 February 2017

Britain: Southern ‘rips up safety rule book’ says RMT
Rail union RMT has accused rail operator Southern GTR of attempting to train 40 ‘scab’ replacement workers in two days of classroom talks. The union says the company intends to use these managers to work as on-board supervisors (OBS) on its strike days over safety.
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Britain: Probation union takes on workload pressures
Escalating workload pressures and the unreasonable expectations placed on workers in the probation service are being ‘confronted’ by the union Napo in a ‘3C’s’ campaign that also ‘challenges’ employers and ‘champions’ professional standards. The union notes: “Staff regularly report feeling under pressure to cut corners, meet unrealistic targets and report that they feel they are failing service users and ultimately the public, in achieving their objectives.”
NAPO news release. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Britain: GMB disappointed with Uber’s ‘cosmetic’ changes
Taxi firm Uber has missed a ‘golden opportunity’ to start complying with the law, the union GMB has said. The union, which last year won a groundbreaking employment rights legal case on behalf of Uber drivers, said it was disappointed with the ‘cosmetic’ changes introduced for Uber drivers.
Lawyer Monthly. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Britain: ‘Rock solid’ Tube strike over safe staffing
Tube union RMT staged a ‘rock solid’ 24-hour safety strike this week on two of London Underground's (LU) busiest lines. The walk out by drivers on the Central Line and Waterloo and City line began at 9pm on 21 February, and involves a plan to move eight train operators from an east London depot to one in the west of the city.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Global: Cancer is a byproduct of industrial policy
Much of the past effort against cancer has fixated on the wrong enemies, with the wrong weapons, a leading expert has said. said while effort was focus internally on genetic factors, the external influences – what we breathe, drink, eat and absorb through our skin – is being overlooked. Writing in The Hill, US professor Devra Lee Davis said “the great majority of cases of cancer occur in people born with healthy genes as a result of carcinogenic exposures at work, home, and school.”
The Hill. Work Cancer Hazards blog. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

USA: Farm work cancer risk from pesticide spills 
Farmworkers who have a high pesticide exposure event - such as a spill - are more likely to experience molecular changes to their DNA that may lead to prostate and other cancers, according to a large study of pesticide applicators. Environmental Health News reports the research, part of the ongoing US Agricultural Health Study that is monitoring the health of more than 57,000 private and commercial pesticide applicators, adds to growing evidence that high exposure to certain pesticides may spur prostate and other cancers in people handling the chemicals.
Environmental Health News. Work Cancer Hazards blog.
JA Rusiecki and others.  High pesticide exposure events and DNA methylation among pesticide applicators in the agricultural health study, Environmental and Molecular Mutagensis, volume 58, number 1, pages 19-29, January 2017. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Britain: Asbestos closes university building for two years
Over 1,600 zoology staff and students have been moved out of Oxford University’s Tinbergen Building building for up to two years after asbestos was discovered. The TUC and unions have for years been campaigning for all asbestos in public buildings to be surveyed and recorded and for a programme of safe removal, and last year the TUC launched a ‘time to get rid of it’ asbestos guide for safety reps.
Oxford University news release. Cherwell. Leigh Day news release. BBC News Online.
TUC asbestos eradication campaign. Asbestos – time to get rid of it! TUC guide for safety representatives. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Britain: Banker fined a week's wages for spitting on bus driver
A bus driver who was spat on by an investment banker in a fit of road rage has spoken out after the £90-000-a-year Barclays executive was fined one week’s wages. The incident happened after father-of-three Leon Delahaye, 44, pulled out in front of Alexis Fountzoulas’ black Mini in London’s Piccadilly Circus on 26 June last year, a court heard.
London Evening Standard. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Britain: Bus company convicted after worker’s fatal fall
Bus company Go Ahead London has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after a worker was killed when he fell from a ladder. Southwark Crown Court heard on 26 May 2011, 56-year-old Michael Porter was using a ladder to access the top of a fuel tank when he fell backwards two and a half metres, suffering fatal head injuries.
HSE news release. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Britain: Suspended jail term after casual roof worker’s death
A self-employed businessman has been sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and 200 hours of unpaid work after a casual worker fell from the flat roof of a building and died from his injuries. Manchester Crown Court heard how on 22 December 2013, father of two Jason Fogarty was working alongside company boss Roy Hardaker on a flat roof replacement project. to nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and 200 hours of unpaid work.
HSE news release and roofwork webpages. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Britain: Steel worker suffered life threatening injuries
A Canvey Island engineering firm has been sentenced for criminal health and safety breaches after a worker suffered life-changing injuries. Southend-on-Sea Magistrates’ Court heard that on 10 June 2015 Felix Trefas, 27, a welder for F Brazil Reinforcements Ltd, was making large steel reinforcing cages which were moved by overhead travelling cranes.
HSE news release. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Britain: Agency worker trapped hand in plastic machine
A West Yorkshire polythene film manufacturer has been sentenced for criminal safety breaches after a worker trapped his hand in machinery. Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court heard how the injured agency worker broke the little finger on his right hand while operating machinery in March 2014 at Total Polyfilm Ltd’s Brighouse plant.
HSE news release. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Global: 28 April theme - unsafe and unfair, discrimination on the job hurts us all
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has confirmed the broad theme for Workers’ Memorial Day this year will be ‘Unsafe and unfair –discrimination on the job hurts us all’. The global trade union body is urging unions to examine in their campaign activities for the 28 April event the “measures needed to protect the health and safety of the most vulnerable in our workplaces, due among others, to gender, origins, class and/or sexual orientation.”
ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2017 website and global events listing. Twitter: #iwmd17. 28 April global activities facebook page.
Sign up for ITUC 28 April updates!
TUC 28 April 2017 webpages and events listing. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Europe: Chemicals recognised as human hormone disrupters
A top European Union committee has for the first time recognised chemicals as hormone disrupting for humans. Substances with these endocrine disrupting (EDCs) properties have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and other health effects.
CHemSec news release. SIN list. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

New Zealand: Anger as court endorses ‘cheque book justice’
The acceptance by a New Zealand court that a safety regulator could let the man who owned a deadly mine to escape criminal charges in exchange for a cash settlement has denied bereaved families justice, the country’s top union body NZCTU has said. The 16 February Court of Appeal ruling came in the case taken by Pike River Mine widow Anna Osborne, wife of Milton Osborne, and Sonya Rockhouse, mother of Ben Rockhouse, against the government safety watchdog Worksafe.
NZCTU news release. Press and Journal. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

USA: Study exposes racial inequalities in work injuries
Fewer economic opportunities may be exposing black and Hispanic workers in the US to an increased risk of workplace injury, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Southern California and Boston University found that even after adjusting for variables such as education, sex and age, black and foreign-born Hispanic workers often worked in jobs with the highest injury risks and as a result experienced higher rates of work-related disabilities.
Seth A Seabury, Sophie Terp and Leslie I Boden. Racial and ethnic differences in the frequency Of workplace injuries And prevalence of work-related disability, Health Affairs, volume 36, number 2, pages 266-273, February 2017. The Pump Handle. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

USA: Union relief as ‘anti-labor secretary’ withdraws
The decision by fast food magnate and notorious labour rights abuser Andrew Puzder to withdraw his nomination for the post of Labor Secretary has been welcomed by unions and labour rights campaigners. President Trump’s first pick for the role, who had been labelled the ‘anti-labor secretary’ by workplace rights campaigners, saw the writing on the wall as it became apparent he was unlikely to secure the Senate votes necessary to be confirmed in the post.
AFL-CIO news release. Anti-labor secretary webpage. NELP news release. The Hill. New York Times. The Pump Handle. Think Progress. Democracy Now. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Hazards news, 18 February 2017

Britain: GMB anger at ‘horrific’ bullying of ambulance call staff  
The union GMB is calling for urgent government action after it was revealed desperate 999 call handlers attempted suicide amid an “endemic culture of bullying” at a scandal-hit ambulance service. Leaked reports describe a “culture of fear” in the Coxheath Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) run by South East Coast Ambulance Trust (SECAmb), which saw employees subjected to repeated abuse and harassment.
GMB Southern region news release. The Telegraph. BBC News Online. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: Union wins jobs pledge in Tube staffing dispute
Staff on London’s Tube system have voted to accept a London Underground (LU) proposal to restore 325 jobs. TSSA says the move is ‘a first step’ in returning the Tube to a safe staffing level and prompted the union to call off its overtime ban.
TSSA news release. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: RMT in safety dispute on Arriva Rail North
Rail union RMT has informed Arriva Rail North it is in dispute with the company over the future of the safety critical role of train guards. The union said it now intends to move forward with an industrial action ballot.
RMT news release. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: Public backs bid to save work diseases unit
A union campaign to save a highly skilled Barrow team who process claims for industrial illness benefits has received wide public support. Phoenix House in Barrow has been put at risk of closure under Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) plans to shut and relocate several health assessment offices and job centres across Britain.
PCS save Phoenix House petition. North West Evening Mail. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: Usdaw warning on dangerous compensation reforms
Proposed changes to compensation law aimed at cutting whiplash claims will have a devastating effect on injured workers and workplace safety, the retail union Usdaw has warned. Echoing warnings from the TUC, other unions, personal injury lawyers and occupational disease victims’ advocates, the union said lifting the small claims ceiling from £1,000 to £5,000 would price many occupational disease victims out of justice.
Usdaw news release. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: Asbestos on husband’s overalls led to wife’s deadly cancer
A retired chef died as a result of an ‘industrial disease’ caused by exposure to asbestos on her mechanic husband’s work clothes, an inquest has concluded. Jill Moore of Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma aged 71 on 11 November 2016.
East Anglian Daily Times. Newmarket Journal. The Mirror. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: More than £84m awarded by mesothelioma scheme
More than £84 million in compensation has been awarded to sufferers, or the families of those who have died, as part of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS), according to official statistics. The scheme, which is for mesothelioma victims who have been prevented from claiming compensation because they cannot trace a liable employer or an employers’ liability insurer, was introduced after a high profile campaign by unions and occupational disease victims’ advocates.
DWP news release. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: High Court rules on mesothelioma ‘lost years’ 
A High Court ruling could mean higher payouts for the dependants of people who die from work diseases. Lawyer Harminder Bains said: “This judgment should mean fairer compensation for anyone diagnosed with a life shortening illness, or who has suffered a severe injury, and are faced with the choice of whether to bring claims in their lifetimes, or after their death via their estates.”
Leigh Day news release and the full judgment. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: Heart attack plumber wins workers’ rights fight
A plumber has won a Court of Appeal employment rights battle in the latest significant court ruling over freelance operations in the modern workplace. Gary Smith wanted to reduce his working days at Pimlico Plumbers following a heart attack, but said he was dismissed as a result.
TUC news release. Court judgment. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: Disabled people hide impairments to stay in work
More than half of disabled workers have experienced bullying or harassment at work because of their impairments, a study has found. Nearly six out of 10 (58 per cent) disabled people feel at risk of losing their jobs and one in two (53 per cent) has experienced bullying or harassment at work because of their impairments, according to the research by disability charity Scope.
Scope news release. Morning Star. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: Poor management linked to worker suicides
Two separate inquests have revealed how poor management or witnessing horrific traumas in the workplace can leave workers suicidal.
Leigh Day news release. BBC News Online. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: Heavy work and shifts make it harder to get pregnant
Being employed as a shift worker or in a physically demanding job could make it harder for a woman to get pregnant, a new study has concluded. Scientists found working outside of normal office hours or having a strenuous job may lower a woman’s chances of conceiving via IVF.
Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, Irene Souter, Paige L Williams and others. Occupational factors and markers of ovarian reserve and response among women at a fertility centre, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published Online First, 6 February 2017. London Evening Standard. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: HSE cost recovery dispute process to be ‘independent’
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced that it is to consult on proposals to make the dispute process for its cost recovery scheme fully independent. The Fee for Intervention (FFI) disputes process was due to face a legal challenge, with a judicial review at the Royal Courts of Justice set for 10 and 11 May 2017.
HSE news release and Fee for Intervention scheme guide. Construction Enquirer. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: Contractor jailed after casual labourer’s fatal fall
Manchester building contractor Saleem Hussain has been jailed following the death of a casual labourer who fell nearly seven metres through a fragile roof. Karel Lascos, 45, had been carrying out repair work at Witney Mill, Manchester when the incident occurred on 23 November 2013.
HSE news release. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2017 webpages go live!
The TUC’s webpages for Workers’ Memorial Day have gone live. According to the new TUC online resource to the 28 April annual event: “In 2017 the theme for the day is ‘Good health and safety for all workers whoever they are’ and will focus on inequalities in occupational health and the role unions play in narrowing the inequalities gap.
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2017 webpages. Email details of your 28 April event to the TUC health and safety department. ITUC/Hazards global 28 April events and resources page. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Australia: Union warning on asbestos imports
A four-pillar plan to fight asbestos importation to Australia has been issued by unions. The move by UNIONS NSW came after revelations that an engineering company with a history of importing asbestos is refusing to remove the illegal building material. needs a zero tolerance approach to this deadly material.”
Unions NSW news release. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

European: Coalition calls for glyphosate ban
A European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) is calling for a Europe-wide ban on the toxic pesticide glyphosate. The chemical, which is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Round-Up, the world’s best-selling pesticide, has been linked to cancer and other health effects.
European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Stop Glyphosate’ petition. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Korea: Samsung job caused multiple sclerosis, court rules
In a ground-breaking judgment, a Seoul court has ruled that the multiple sclerosis suffered by a former worker on the LCD production line at Samsung Electronics is a work-related disease. While cancers and other disorders have been recognised officially at other Samsung plants, the 10 February ruling marks the first work-related disease to be recognised on Samsung’s LCD line.
SHARPS news report. The Hankyoreh. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Hazards news, 11 February 2017

Britain: Insecure work up by over a quarter since 2011
The number of people in insecure work – those working without guaranteed hours or baseline employment rights – has shot up by more than 660,000 (27 per cent) over the past five years, according to new research for the TUC. The trend toward more precarious work, has been linked to higher rates of occupational injuries, work-related ill-health and worker being far less likely to feel able to take sick leave.
TUC news release. Morning Star. The Independent. More on health and safety and insecure work. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: Resources questionmark hangs over HSE health strategy
The Health and Safety Executive’s fledgling health and work strategy has been welcomed by the TUC, but the union body says questions remain over the impact of swingeing funding cuts on the watchdog’s ability to deliver. Commenting on progress on HSE’s December 2016 strategy, which prioritises action on stress, musculoskeletal disorders and occupational lung diseases, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “All the evidence is that the cuts in funding to the HSE and changes to the inspection regime that we have seen over the last seven years have disproportionately impacted on the health agenda.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog. HSE health and work strategy webpages and document. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: Government ‘turns a blind eye’ to tribunal fees injustice
Unions have accused the government of ignoring the devastating deterioration in workplace justice caused by punitive employment tribunal fees. Commenting after the government published its long-awaited review into the impact of employment tribunal fees, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Charging people up to £1,200 to take claim has been a gift to Britain’s worse bosses.”
TUC news release. Unite news release. UNISON news release. The Mirror.
Review of the introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunals, Ministry of Justice, 31 January 2017. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: Unite demands public inquiry into blacklisting
Construction union Unite renewed its demand for a public inquiry into blacklisting this week and backed calls by the Labour MP Chuka Umunna to strengthen the law to prevent blacklisting from happening. The call came ahead of an 8 February Westminster Hall debate on blacklisting led by the senior Labour MP.
Unite news release. Morning Star. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: Usdaw ‘appalled’ as attacks on shopworkers soar
The shopworkers’ union Usdaw has called for urgent preventive action after latest figures showed a sharp upturn in violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures reveal a 40 per cent increase in incidents of violence and abuse against retail staff.
BRC news release. Usdaw news release. Morning Star. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: Tube evacuation shows why staff cuts must be reversed
London Underground union RMT has repeated its call for a reversal in staffing cuts on the Tube system in the wake of a major fire-related incident at London Bridge station. The fire underneath an escalator on 31 January prompted a full evacuation.
RMT news release. The Mirror. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Global: For health’s sake, don’t work over 39 hours per week
People who work more than 39 hours a week are putting their health at risk, new research has found. Australian National University Professor Lyndall Strazdins, who co-authored the study published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, said there was a “need to dispel the widespread belief that people need to work long hours to do a good job.”
ANU news release. The New Daily.
Huong Dinha, Lyndall Strazdins, Jennifer Welsh. Hour-glass ceilings: Work-hour thresholds, gendered health inequities, Social Science & Medicine, volume 176, pages 42–51, March 2017. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: Council accepts blame for teacher’s asbestos death
London’s Merton Council has accepted liability for the death of a teacher who was exposed to asbestos at a school in Mitcham. Kathleen Bennett, who died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma aged 66 in May 2015, taught at the St Thomas of Canterbury Middle School during the 1970s and 80s, and has received a compensation settlement of £250,000.
Wimbledon Guardian. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: Boss jailed over asbestos crimes on demolition job
A demolition company director has been jailed after putting workers and nearby residents at risk of “serious harm” by exposing them to asbestos. David Briggs, who runs Bury-based Briggs Demolition, was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison by district judge Nicholas Sanders at a hearing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Oldham Chronicle. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: Director jailed after fireball blasts worker from a skip
The director of a construction company has been jailed for eight months after a young worker receiving life-threatening injuries when a fireball blasted him off of a skip. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found company director David Gordon Stead did not ensure the burning of the waste material was being carried out in a safe or appropriate manner and failed to administer any first aid to the injured worker and did not send him to hospital.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: Bosses get suspended jail terms after posts hit worker
Maurice James Blackford and Susan Hawthorne, the owners of Kidderminster-based fencing contractor Hoo Farm Fencingm have been given suspended jail terms after a worker was hit by timber posts and frames that fell from a forklift truck. Raymond Lainsbury, 49, suffered injuries that still require regular physiotherapy sessions following the incident on 12 February 2016.
HSE news release. Kidderminster Shuttle. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: KFC fined £950k after workers scalded by hot gravy
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has been hit with a bill of almost £1 million after two young workers were burned with hot gravy. In a January 2017 prosecution, KFC admitted criminal safety breaches at two restaurants where employees were hurt and scarred and was ordered to pay £950,000 in fines and £18,700 in costs.
Stockton Council news release. Teesside Gazette. BBC News Online. The Mirror. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: Company didn’t grasp vibration danger to hands
A ground engineering company has been fined after a worker contracted severe hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee working at Keller Limited’s earth retaining division, known as Phi Group, was only diagnosed as suffering from ‘life altering’ HAVS after repeatedly flagging his symptoms to the company for over five years.
HSE news release. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: Overhead crane worker suffers life threatening injuries
A defunct West Yorkshire engineering firm has been fined for the criminal safety breaches that left a worker suffered life changing injuries. HE Realisations Ltd, which was formerly Hogg Engineering Ltd and is now in liquidation, pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences after employee Kevin Tait was struck on the head by a load being lifted by unsuitable and poorly maintained lifting equipment.
HSE news release. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Australia: Pressures make trucking the ‘deadliest workplace’
A report has revealed the major reasons why truck driving is Australia’s deadliest job. Long hours, pressure to drive unsafe schedules with unsafe loads and an inability to raise safety concerns without jeopardising their jobs are among the risks to safety facing drivers, the Macquarie University study found.
Macquarie University news release. Sydney Morning Herald. TWU news report. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Japan: Union chief blasts mooted 100-hour overtime limit
Management and union negotiators in Japan are locking horns over how much overtime employees should be allowed to work during busy periods, as the government mulls a ceiling of 100 hours per month. After attending a meeting of the government’s Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform, union leader Rikio Kozu dismissed the 100-hour limit floated as “totally impossible.”
Japan Times. Nikkei Asian Review. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

USA: Trump order puts safety rules in jeopardy
An executive order issued by US president Donald Trump could significantly limit or even halt the introduction of new regulations by the government safety regulator OSHA and may also put several recently passed regulations in jeopardy. The Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs calls for two prior regulations to be identified for elimination every time a new regulation is issued.
Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, 30 January 2017. Public Citizen news release and detailed analysis of the Executive Order. Business Insurance. CNBC News. The Pump Handle. Statement from Professor Jody Freeman, Harvard Environmental Law Program. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Hazards news, 4 February 2017

Britain: Stress-inducing MPs need management training
Management training for MPs would help eradicate the widespread stress and bullying reported by their parliamentary staff, the union Unite has said. Unite said an underlying problem is that many MPs have no experience of managing their own employees before they are elected to the House of Commons.
Unite news release. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: Ferry dispute escalates after worker collapses
A health and safety dispute at London’s Woolwich Ferry has escalated after an engineer collapsed from inhaling engine fumes. Unite is currently embroiled in an industrial dispute on behalf of its 36 members working for Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd, the company that runs the ferry service on behalf of Transport for London (TfL).
Unite news release. Morning Star. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: Rail guards again prove their worth, union says
Serious incidents on Britain’s railways demonstrate the role that train guards play is essential for the protection of the travelling public, RMT has told industry’s regulator. A letter from the rail union to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) warns that the incidents on the Bridlington to Sheffield and Littleborough to Smithy Bridge routes both required crucial interventions by the guard, whose role rail operator GTR Southern is bent on undermining.
RMT news release. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: RMT welcomes Arriva Northern offer
RMT has welcomed an offer from rail operator Arriva Northern to work out an agreement with the union on train dispatch methods and staff safety competencies. It said the union “particularly welcomes the fact that the company says it is prepared to offer a guarantee of a second person in addition to the driver on their trains.”
RMT news release. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: 'Alarming' rise in attacks on school staff in Wales
Teachers and school staff in Wales have been the victims of more than 1,500 physical and verbal attacks by pupils every year, new figures have shown. Teaching union NUT Cymru had responses from 17 of Wales' 22 local authorities to freedom of information (FOI) requests.
NUT Cymru news release. BBC News Online. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: Pregnancy discrimination plans don’t go far enough
Government plans to address discrimination against pregnant women at work don’t go far enough, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy response to an August 2016 report from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee on pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace… TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said it was “pretty scandalous” that the government had rejected the committee’s call for an improved role for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “in ensuring compliance and research into how to encourage greater enforcement.”
TUC news release. TUC Stronger Unions blog. Department for Business news release. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: NHS workers quitting over low pay and stress
Staff shortages in the NHS have shot up by 6,000 in 18 months, reflecting staff dissatisfaction with their working conditions, the union GMB has said. The Department for Health’s information service NHS Digital reported the number of unfilled posts increased by a quarter from 23,427 in February 2015 to 29,309 in September 2016 — the latest month for which figures are available.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: JD Sports staff hospitalised 140 times in four years
At least 140 people have been taken to hospital after incidents at JD Sports’ controversial warehouse in Rochdale in the last four years. A freedom of information request obtained by the Guardian shows that ambulances have been dispatched to the site 166 times in the last four years, with 140 of these incidents leading to someone being transported to hospital.
The Guardian. Channel 4 News JD Sports investigation. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: Asbestos removal firm fined after botched jobs
Midlands-based firm Enviro-Safe Limited have been fined for failing to meet the standards required when removing asbestos. Birmingham Magistrates Court heard how the company failed to protect its employees from the spread of asbestos fibres during the removal work at separate projects.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: Worker exposed to high level of carbon monoxide
A construction firm has been fined for criminal safety breaches after workers were exposed to carbon monoxide and other hazardous substances. Hull Magistrates Court heard how in October 2015 the Westlands Construction Ltd workers were using a petrol powered saw to cut out an existing concrete floor at a fish factory in Hull.
HSE news release and webpage on carbon monoxide hazards. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: University fined after experiment nearly kills students
A university has been fined after two students fell seriously ill following a botched laboratory experiment. Students at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle drank a solution with 100 times the amount of caffeine that should have been taken as part of the experiment.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Cosmopolitan. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: Three construction firms fined after roof fall
Three companies from Essex have been fined after a worker was lucky to survive a fall through a fragile roof he was replacing. Chelmsford Crown Court heard how Rafal Myslim was standing on the fragile roof at Dengie Crops Ltd in Asheldem, when the asbestos sheeting gave way and he fell 7.5 metres onto a concrete floor, hitting a number of pipes on the way down.
HSE news release. Daily Gazette. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Canada: Unions welcome backing for asbestos law
Unions in British Columbia have welcomed the backing of the Canadian province’s top court for a law protecting asbestos removal workers. The BC Insulators Union and the BC Federation of Labour said they were ‘extremely relieved’ the BC Court of Appeal had unanimously overturned a February 2016 BC Supreme Court ruling that laws protecting asbestos removal workers from the deadly substance were too “voluminous and complex” to enforce by safety regulator WorkSafeBC.
BC Federation of Labour news release. BC Court of Appeal ruling. Voice Online. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Global: Russian ‘mafia’ is pushing asbestos
The Russian mafia is the force behind a powerful international pro-asbestos lobby, a Senate inquiry in Brisbane, Australia, has heard. A federal Senate committee is investigating how potentially lethal building products, some including banned asbestos, are making their way into the country.
ABC News. Australian government enquiry into non-conforming building products. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Europe: Lobbyists fight against workplace cancer protection
Industry lobbyists from across Europe are waging a well-resourced campaign to block measures to protect workers from substances that can cause cancer and other serious health effects. Nine of the biggest industry lobby groups in Brussels sent a joint letter in January to members of the committee, urging the lawmakers to drop amendments to the carcinogens directive that would promote stricter exposure limits, better monitoring of employees’ health, or the addition of other dangerous substances to the regulation.
TUC Touchstone blog. Joint industry letter to members of the Parliament’s employment committee, January 2017. European Parliament discussions on the draft directive. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

USA: Chemical industry emboldened by Trump’s UN pick
The woman chosen by president Donald Trump and now confirmed as the US ambassador to the United Nations has launched a scathing attack on the international body which could embolden an industry lobby angry at the UN’s role in assessing chemical cancer risks. During her confirmation hearing, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley said: “When we look at the United Nations, we see a chequered history… any honest assessment finds an institution that is often at odds with the American national interest and American taxpayers.”
American Chemistry Council news release. Work Cancer Hazards blog. The Hill. CNN News.
Neil Pearce, Aaron Blair, Paolo Vineis and others. IARC Monographs: 40 Years of Evaluating Carcinogenic Hazards to Humans, Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 123, issue 6, June 2015. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

USA: Trump era dangers for Latino workers
The Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented workers living in the US could increase the already sky-high fatality rates among Latino workers, safety advocates have warned. Jessica Martinez, the co-executive director at the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, said: “When you combine the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the Trump administration with the likelihood of decreased enforcement, it’s a very scary situation.”
Payday Report. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Hazards news, 28 January 2017

Britain: New plan to help union reps banish work stress
A new TUC-backed guide us set to help trade union health and safety representatives tackle workplace stress. The resource, produced jointly with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), is designed to help union representatives work with employers to find practical solutions to work-related stress.
TUC news release. Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives, January 2017. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: Pilots welcome landmark victory against Jet2
The pilots’ union BALPA has won a key legal case establishing the union right to negotiate the full range of terms and conditions for their members. The case involving Leeds-based airline Jet2 at the Court of Appeal centred around whether rostering and scheduling of pilots fell within the scope of  the “pay, hours and holidays” on which BALPA  could negotiate with the employer.
BALPA news release and Court of Appeal ruling. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: Probe call after Qatar World Cup stadium death
There must be an immediate and transparent investigation by the Qatar government into the death of a British worker during the construction of the Khalifa International football stadium in Doha, the UK construction union Unite has said. The man, aged 40, fell when a platform used to manage sound and lighting collapsed at the stadium on 20 January, the construction contractor Midmac-Six Construct joint venture said.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: Jaguar punished after Unite member loses leg
An incident where a Unite member lost his leg at a Jaguar Land Rover plant has been described as ‘shocking’ by the union. The luxury car manufacturer was convicted of a criminal safety offence and fined £900,000 after Mark Widnall was crushed at the vehicle plant in Solihull in 2015.
Unite news release. HSE news release. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain; Cuts blamed for rising fire deaths
Resource cuts are responsible for a sharp rise in the number of people who have died as a result of fires in the home, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. The union was speaking out after the Home Office released its latest Fire Incident Response Times statistical bulletin.
FBU news release. Fire Incident Response Times statistical bulletin, Home Office, 19 January 2017. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: Firefighters sent home for safety stand
A chief fire officer has been accused of behaving recklessly after he sent home two firefighters from their shift on 16 January when they refused to operate a Tactical Response Vehicle (TRV). The furefighters were heeding a warning from their union FBU that these vehicles are unsafe.
FBU news release. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: Bosses need to sharpen up on work dress
Too many employers are ‘stuck in the past’ on workplace dress codes, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting after a report on high heels and workplace dress codes was published this week by two committees of MPs, which said the government must enforce the law properly to ban sexist dress rules at work that discriminate against women.
Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committee news release and High Heels and Workplace Dress Codes – summary, conclusions and recommendations and full report, 25 January 2017. TUC news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: Man died just 'after being found fit to work'
A man died on his way home from a benefits appointment six months after being declared ‘fit to work’, his family have said. Lawrence Bond, 56, suffered a fatal heart attack on 12 January after leaving Kentish Town Jobcentre.
Camden New Journal. The Independent. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: Sports Direct modern slavery brothers jailed
Two brothers who trafficked 18 people from Poland to the UK and subjected them to violence and intimidation have been jailed. Erwin and Krystian Markowski, both from Nottingham, recruited the vulnerable men to work at the Sports Direct warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.
Nottinghamshire Police news release. BBC News Online. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: Overworked junior doctors falling asleep at the wheel
At least four in 10 junior doctors have fallen asleep while driving home from a long night shift, according to research for BBC’s Inside Out programme. Out of 1,100 newly qualified doctors surveyed, 41 per cent of them said they had nodded off at the wheel.
Inside Out South, 23 January 2017. Morning Star. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: Outdoor work is a deadly skin cancer risk
British workers exposed to the elements account for 2 per cent of cases of the most deadly form of skin cancer, a new study has concluded. Exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun while at work leads to one death and five new cases of malignant melanoma every week, the authors found.
Imperial College London news release. Work Cancer Hazards blog. Daily Mirror.
Lesley Rushton and Sally J Hutchings. The burden of occupationally-related cutaneous malignant melanoma in Britain due to solar radiation, short communication, British Journal of Cancer, advance online publication, 17 January 2017 [abstract]. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: Bakery giant fined £2 million over broken back
National bread maker Warburtons has been fined £2 million after a worker was hospitalised following a fall that subsequently cost him his job. Andrew Sears was off work for more than a year after being hospitalised with a compression fracture to his spine, a court heard.
HSE news release. Express and Star. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: Asbestos analyst falsified dust readings
An asbestos analyst has been fined after he falsified an asbestos air clearance certificate, following a licensed asbestos removal job in Manchester. Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how Barrie Lyons, a well-trained asbestos analyst with 29 years of experience, was contracted to carry out the final inspection and air testing, following asbestos removal at a construction site in central Manchester.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Bangladesh: Garment brands exploiting kids
Major brands are implicated in the exploitation of child labour in garment factories in Bangladesh, a report has concluded. Researchers from the Stop Child Labour coalition found low wages and long working hours at firms supplying multinationals including C&A, The Gap, H&M, Esprit and Marks and Spencer play a key role in the decision of parents to take their children out of school and allow them in to work.
Stop Child Labour news release and Branded Childhood report. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Japan: Government tells workers to take a break
The Japanese government is urging people to leave work early and go shopping in an attempt to reduce deaths from overwork and to boost the ailing economy. The voluntary policy - known as Premium Friday - calls on employers to let their workers out at 3pm on the last Friday of every month to start the weekend early.
Sydney Morning Herald video report. London Evening Standard. Fortune. Japan Times. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

USA: Workers win move towards a violence standard
A union call for a new official rule to protect workers from violence is moving forward. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the USA’s federal safety regulator, told a stakeholder meeting it was accepting the petitions submitted by unions to the Department of Labor last year and would commence rule making on a workplace violence standard to protect workers in health care and social assistance.
AFL-CIO Now blog. OSHA workplace violence webpages. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

USA: Report highlights the lifesaving role of enforcement
A commitment to effective regulation and enforcement of workplace safety was behind the Obama administration’s ‘exemplary’ record on workplace safety, a new report has concluded. The policy brief from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) notes that ‘adopting and enforcing sensible rules saves lives’.
Worker safety and health in the Obama years: An exemplary record, NELP policy brief, January 2017. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Hazards news, 21 January 2017

Britain: Organising around health and safety just got easier
A brand new TUC ‘eNote’ is now available to anyone who wants to make their workplace safer through building a strong union. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “An eNote is a great resource to help representatives get a good grasp of an issue and this one is a self-contained module that contains a mixture of text, video and quizzes that you can work through.”
Register for TUC eNotes. TUC Stronger Unions blog. TUC health and safety organising guide. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Union victory in unsafe hospital equipment row
A union campaign has won the reinstatement of two hospital porters five weeks after they were suspended for refusing to use dangerous equipment. The two men, one of whom was a GMB union representative, were working at Watford General Hospital for Medirest when they refused to use food trolleys they described as “damaged and unsafe in a manner that could injure themselves and patients”.
St Albans Review. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Physios set out to pinpoint the pressure
A new workplace campaign by the physiotherapists’ union CSP is aiming ‘to tackle growing and unreasonable workloads’. Launching the new ‘Pinpoint the pressure’ campaign, the union says rather than struggling alone, “we want to get you thinking about what you can do to support each other – and to help find improvements that could alleviate these problems.”
CSP Frontlines article and Pinpoint the pressure resource pack, action plan, message to managers and campaign webpage Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: RMT deadline for assurance on Merseyrail guards
Rail union RMT has told Merseyrail it will be in dispute with the company if it fails by 26 January to provide ‘cast-iron assurances around the future of the safety critical role of the guard.’ The union has written to Merseyrail following the recent announcement that new rolling stock to be procured for the network would be configured for driver-only operation (DOO), and that guards would be removed from all Merseyrail services.
RMT news release. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Union protest over poor port facilities at Liverpool
Union members have demonstrated over the lack of decent welfare facilities for dock workers and drivers visiting the port of Liverpool’s Seaforth container terminal. The protest by Unite members working for Peel Ports, one of the UK’s largest port operators, took place on 13 January.
Unite news release. Liverpool Echo. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: School support staff are exhausted and stressed
Support staff in Scotland's schools are feeling exhausted, undervalued and stressed, according to their union. Announcing the findings of what it said was probably the ‘largest ever’ survey of school support staff, UNISON said its survey confirms the enormous stress this puts on support staff, with 40 per cent carrying out unpaid work because of high workloads, 80 per cent saying workloads have increased and 60 per cent saying morale is ‘low’.
UNISON Scotland news release and report Hard Lessons: UNISON survey of school support staff Jan 2017. BBC News Online. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Unions seek work rights clarity from Theresa May
Workers need more clarity from the prime minister on her pledge to protect workers’ rights after the UK leaves the European Union, the TUC has said. The union call came after Theresa May said the UK “cannot possibly” remain within the European single market.
Theresa May’s speech, 17 January 2017. TUC news release. BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: New labour tsar must investigate ASOS
The government’s labour market tsar must investigate working conditions at the online fashion retailer ASOS, the GMB has said. In a letter Sir David Metcalf, the newly appointed Director of Labour Market Enforcement, the union calls for an investigation into working practices at the giant ASOS warehouse in Barnsley.
GMB news release. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Crisp firm fined for chopped fingers
A crisp and snacks manufacturer has been fined after an agency worker lost part of three fingers. Northampton Crown Court heard how the worker, working at Tayto Group Limited, was clearing a blockage of material from a machine on the production line when the worker’s hand came into contact with shears and three fingers on his right hand were severed, below the first knuckle.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Waste worker loses both legs
A Welsh landfill company have been fined after a worker had to have both legs amputated after being run over at work. Mold Crown Court heard how tractor driver Emrys Hughes was walking across the yard at the Bryn Posteg Landfill site in Llanidloes, when he was hit by a large shovel loader.
HSE news release and waste transport webpages. Daily Post. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Rochdale’s risky roofer gets fined
A roofing contractor has been fined after putting the lives of two employees at risk when working at height without protection against falls. The employees of Rochdale-based MW Roofing (NW) Ltd were removing a chimney on a two storey house when they were seen accessing the roof via a roof ladder, without any fall prevention measures.
HSE news release and working at height webpages. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Get ready for International Workers’ Memorial Day
This year’s International Workers Memorial Day will focus on inequalities in occupational health and the role unions play in narrowing the inequalities gap. The TUC says this theme for the world’s largest health and safety campaign, held on 28 April each year, will allow unions to raise discrimination based on gender, race, origins and class, which have all been linked to higher rates of occupational disease and injury.
International Workers’ Memorial Day – TUC and ITUC/Hazards 28 April webpages. The main twitter hashtag will be #iwmd17 Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Asia: Big jump in e-waste imports, study finds
The volume of discarded electronics in East and South-East Asia jumped by two-thirds between 2010 and 2015, and e-waste generation and is growing fast and exposing workers to hazards, new research has found. Study co-author Shunichi Honda co-author said. “Associations have been reported between exposure from improper treatment of e-waste and altered thyroid function, reduced lung function, negative birth outcomes, reduced childhood growth, negative mental health outcomes, impaired cognitive development, cytotoxicity and genotoxicity.”
United Nations University news release and Regional E-waste Monitor: East and Southeast Asia. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Canada: Plan for new work diseases response team
Ontario aims to have a dedicated occupational disease response team in place by the end of the year to improve prevention and enforcement, as well as help workers who get sick from chemical exposures file compensation claims. The move comes after press reports on the struggle of hundreds of former General Electric (GE) workers to get compensation for often terminal illnesses like brain cancer.
Toronto Star. IAFF presumptive laws webpages. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Canada: Union presses for rail fatigue action
The union that represents conductors and train drivers at Canadian Pacific Railway is asking employees to come forward if they feel they’ve been forced to go to work tired. Teamsters Canada has created a platform for CP Rail employees to self-report if they have been “intimidated into reporting to work fatigued.”
Teamsters Canada. Calgary Herald. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Pakistan: Five more burn to death at Gadani yard
At least five workers died in a fire onboard an LPG container ship at the Gadani shipbreaking yard in Pakistan on 9 January. Yet despite scores of fatalities at Gadani in the last few months, the global union IndustriALL says no measures have been taken to improve safety.
IndustriALL news release. Labour Watch Pakistan. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Hazard news, 14 January 2017

Europe: ‘Relief and disappointment’ at new EU safety policy
The TUC has given a heavily qualified welcome to the new and long delayed European Union health and safety blueprint. The communication released by the European Commission on 10 January prioritises action on cancer-causing substances, stress and musculoskeletal disorders, but steers clear of legislative action.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and briefing. European Commission news release and Communication - Safer and Healthier Work for All - Modernisation of the EU Occupational Safety and Health Legislation Policy. CIEH news release. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Labour market watchdog needs to bear teeth
Naming and shaming rogue companies is not enough and bad bosses must be prosecuted, the GMB has said. The union was commenting after Sir David Metcalf was named by the government as the first director of labour market enforcement, and will oversee the work of three regulators - the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS), and the HMRC National Minimum Wage (HMRC-NMW) enforcement team.
Department for Business news release. GMB news releaseIoD news release. Morning Star. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Pilots want action on growing drone problem
Pilots have cautioned that 2017 could see even more close calls involving drones and aircraft – perhaps even a collision – as figures show reports have more than doubled in a year. With drones one of the most sought-after Christmas gifts once again in 2016, the pilots’ union BALPA expressed concern this could lead to a serious incident if users don’t follow the rules.
BALPA news release. CAA drone code. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Unions welcome copter checks after helideck incident
Unions have welcomed the recall of type of Sikorsky helicopter for safety checks after an incident on 28 December 2016. A S-92 gouged a slit in the helideck, damaged its wheels and spun on the deck of Total’s West Franklin platform when it was forced to land.
AAIB bulletin. RMT news release. BALPA news release. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Energy Voice. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Solid action in defence of Tube safety
‘Solid’ strike action in January was in defence of safety standards on London Underground, rail unions have said. They warn cuts have left Tube safety procedures ‘decimated’, with the system now ‘an under-staffed death trap.’
TSSA news release. RMT news release. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Unions criticise regulator’s Southern Rail ‘whitewash’
A transport safety regulator is being used by Southern Rail to downplay the safety implications of driver-only operated (DOO) trains, unions have warned. An Office of Rail and Road (ORR) report issued ahead of strike action on the Southern Rail network, “is a complete whitewash that proves conclusively that the Office of Road and Rail is no longer fit for purpose and is nothing more than an arm of government, wholly committed to propping up the train companies and the Department for Transport,”  RMT’s Mick Cash said.
ASLEF news release and related release. RMT news release. Morning Star. Evening Standard. Surrey News. Report on GTR-Southern’s Driver Only Operation, ORR, 5 January 2017. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Campaigners slam May’s ‘woeful’ mental health plan
Workplace campaigners have said a speech by Theresa May outlining her action plan for mental health fails to address root causes and the government-imposed funding crisis blighting mental health services. The union GMB said the prime minister was “in a dangerous state of denial” about the economic drivers of mental ill-health and the impact of government cuts on mental health services.
Prime Minister’s Office news release, Charity Commission speech and Huffington Post article. GMB news release. Hazards Campaign news release. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Global: ‘Time to act’ on healthcare worker suicides
Burnout and suicides have reached ‘crisis’ proportions in healthcare workers, an editorial in the Lancet has warned. The 7 January commentary notes: “Now is not the time to become complacent or to let the health of medical workers slip down the political agenda, but to start 2017 by following a lead taken by the National Academy of Medicine: to ensure that the health and resilience of our medical workforce are the highest priorities in every country.”
Suicide among health-care workers: time to act. Editorial. The Lancet, 7 January 2017. NAM news release. More on work-related suicide. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Incentive pay schemes make workers sick
Incentive-related pay schemes can stress rather than motivate employees, according to new research. The study by academics from the universities of East Anglia and Sheffield explored the relationship between three types of ‘contingent pay’ – performance-related, profit-related, and employee share-ownership – and positive employee attitudes such as job satisfaction, employee commitment and trust in management.
UEA news release. Chidiebere Ogbonnaya, Kevin Daniels and Karina Nielsen. Does contingent pay encourage positive employee attitudes and intensify work?, Human Resource Management Journal. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Plant hire boss jailed after deadly platform collapse
A plant hire boss has been jailed for two years after a worker was killed when a mobile platform collapsed. Safety net rigger Gary Currie and his colleague Alexander Nisbet were in the basket of the platform removing netting from the facade of an office block in Glasgow when the third main boom section buckled causing the platform’s basket to fall 28 metres, killing Currie and seriously injuring Nisbet.
COPFS news release. STV News. Construction Enquirer. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Wilko fined £2.2m over part-timer crushed by paint
National chain store Wilko has been fined £2.2m after a worker was crushed and left paralysed. Corisande Collins, who was 20 at the time of the incident, was pinned beneath a metal cage full of paint while she was working at a store in Leicester in 2013.
Leicester City Council news release. Leicester Mercury. BBC News Online. Banbury Guardian. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Network Rail fined £800,000 after train hits worker
Network Rail has been fined £800,000 in a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), for a serious criminal safety breach which left a worker with life-threatening injuries. Track worker Alan Evans sustained multiple serious injuries when he was struck on the right shoulder by a train in June 2014, while performing rail maintenance work near Redhill in Surrey.
ORR news release. Brighton Argus. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Europe: Work chemicals safety inspection blitz to start
An inspection programme by health and safety regulators across the European Union is to determine how legally required safety information on hazardous chemicals is communicated in company supply chains and followed in workplaces. The key element of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) project will be to investigate the quality of the safety data sheets that contain guidelines on the safe use of hazardous substances.
ECHA news release. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

USA: New stricter beryllium limit will save lives
A new rule issued by the US safety regulator OSHA dramatically lowers workplace exposure limit for beryllium. The final rule will reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit from the previous level of 2.0 micrograms per cubic metre to 0.2 micrograms per cubic metre; the UK limit remains at a level 10 times higher than the new US limit.
OSHA news release. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

USA: Work with BPA leads to enormous body load
Some workers who make or work with the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) have levels in their bodies 1,000 times higher than the general public, a study by a US government agency has found. The research led by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found, on average, these workers had 70 times more of the chemical in their bodies than the general public, levels well above what has been shown to affect reproduction.
Work Cancer Hazards blog. NIOSH blog. Environmental Health News.
Cynthia J Hines and others. Urinary bisphenol A (BPA) concentrations among workers in industries that manufacture and use BPA in the USA, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, 1 January 2017. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Hazards news, 7 January 2017

Britain: Prime minister must stand firm on workers’ rights
The TUC has called on prime minister Theresa May to make clear to Britain’s bosses that any watering down of workers’ rights following Brexit is off the table. The call follows the emergence of a letter sent to MPs by well-connected Brexiteer Simon Boyd, the head of REIDsteel, which details a list of workers’ rights on areas such as working hours, holiday pay and health and safety that he wants abolished once we leave the EU.
TUC news release. Simon Boyd’s letter to MPsThe Express. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: Resources questionmark over health and work strategy
A new ‘health and work’ strategy launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) addresses some of the glaring omissions in previous strategy initiatives, the union Prospect has indicated, but raises questions about what can be achieved as the safety regulator struggles with a severe funding squeeze.
Prospect news release. HSE news release, health and work strategy webpages and document. HSE business plan 2016/17 and Helping Great Britain work well strategy.  Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: Crossrail emails expose the physical and mental toll
Workers on Crossrail, one of the UK’s biggest construction projects, have faced overcrowded conditions and physical and mental exhaustion, according to internal company documents obtained by the construction union UCATT. An email from ATC’s industrial relations manager Nicola Brown reported: “No toilets in tunnel this morning and no communication to workforce, two miles walking to toilet,” adding: “Current mood on site — workforce are exhausted, physically and mentally.”
UCATT news release. Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: Offshore workers fearful for their safety
Almost 60 per cent of offshore workers fear for their health and safety and say that standards have dropped in the past six months, according to a new report from Unite.  The union’s survey found 58.5 per cent of offshore employees said there had been a drop in standards in the last six months, with fear of victimisation for reporting an incident reported by 38.5 per cent.
The National. STV News. BBC News Online. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: Lorry drivers need better loos
Lorry drivers are not being provided with adequate toilet facilities, their union Unite has said. The union is calling on the government to introduce a legally-binding code of practice so that hundreds of thousands of lorry drivers have adequate parking and eating facilities, decent showers and toilets when they are travelling across the UK for up to five-days-at-a-time.
Unite news release. Transport minister John Hayes’ written statement, 20 December 2017. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: NHS staff should not have to work in fear
The sharp increase in the number of violent assaults against health service employees in England – up by over a fifth in the last five years – is completely unacceptable and requires urgent government action, public service union UNISON has said. Latest figures published by NHS Protect show that in 2015/16 there were 70,555 violent incidents involving health workers, compared to the 57,830 reported five years ago - a 22 per cent increase.
UNISON news release. NHS Protect statistics 2015/16. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: Injured will lose as insurers pocket millions
Government plans to clamp down on perceived fraud in whiplash claims include measures to remove access to free or affordable legal advice for 95 per cent of all personal injury claimants, civil service union PCS has warned. The union says behind the claims that car insurance premiums will be reduced due to restricting bogus whiplash claims, is a “sinister attempt to impose a baseless 500 per cent increase to the small claims limit for all personal injury claims, whether they occur on the road, in the workplace, or anywhere else.”
PCS news release. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: Blade slashes worker’s hand
A worker who suffered a deep laceration injury and nerve damage to his right hand has secured £75,000 in damages in a Unite-backed claim. Tool prep technician Marc Jobes was talking to a colleague in the tool room at Kobusch UK Ltd’s food packaging factory near Stanley, County Durham, when he lost his balance and put his hand on a work bench to steady himself, cutting himself on blades left on the work surface.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: Teacher payouts reflect falling budgets and standards
Teaching staff are facing stress-inducing pressures as budgets and staffing levels fall, Scottish union EIS has said. The union, which in the last year secured over £600,000 in compensation settlements for members harmed by their jobs, said the way to reduce this compensation bill was to make work safer and healthier.
EIS news release. BBC News Online. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: Unite signs up to voluntary silica dust action pact
Unite has joined industry representatives, academics and safety and health professionals signing up to a voluntary 12-month plan of action to tackle the risks from inhaling silica dust at work. Respirable crystalline silica (RCS) is encountered in a wide range of jobs from construction, to mining, ceramics, stone masonry, quarrying, brickmaking and fracking – however the voluntary IOSH-backed pact falls short of a key union demand for a tighter silica exposure standard, backed up by rigorous enforcement.
IOSH news release, Tackling respirable crystalline silica together: a cross industry commitment and No time to lose campaign. ITUC/Hazards Work Cancer Hazards blog. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: Gangmasters settle modern slavery claim
Kent-based gangmaster DJ Houghton Chicken Catching Services has agreed to a landmark settlement worth more than £1m in compensation and legal costs for a group of migrants who were trafficked to work on farms producing eggs for high street brands. The deal reached with six Lithuanian chicken catchers is the first settlement of a claim against a British company in relation to modern slavery, and came after the group became frustrated at the lack of a criminal prosecution.
Leigh Day news release. The Guardian. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

USA: Low levels of manganese cause neurological problems
Welders exposed to airborne manganese at levels below official occupational safety limits exhibit neurological problems similar to Parkinson’s disease, a study has warned. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis found the more they are exposed to manganese-containing welding fumes, the faster the workers’ signs and symptoms worsen.
American Association of Neurology news release. Washington University in St. Louis news release. Racette BA, Nielsen SS, Criswell SR, Sheppard L, Seixas N, Warden MN, Checkoway H. Dose-dependent progression of parkinsonism in manganese-exposed welders, Neurology, published online ahead of print 28 December 2016. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: Oil giant’s appeal against £3m fine dismissed
Energy giant ConocoPhillips (UK) Ltd has failed in its bid to reduce the level of fine handed down after multiple gas releases at an offshore facility in the North Sea. Dismissing the appeal, held in the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Lord Justice Treacy that court the company had fallen short of appropriate standards and the case was one of high culpability.
HSE news release. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: British Airways fined for shaky practices
British Airways plc has been fined £6,500 for failing to protect its workers from exposure to vibration. Paisley Sheriff Court heard how employees working within the composite workshop at the firm’s Glasgow base were exposed them to the risk of hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), a condition that can cause potentially permanent symptoms such as tingling, pins and needles, numbness and pain in the hands.
HSE news release. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Britain: Human cannonball death boss gets community service
The organiser of a daredevil stunt show in which a novice ‘human cannonball’ died has been given a 12-month community order. Scott May and the company, Stunts UK Ltd, admitted failing to ensure the safety of workers at the 2011 event in which 24-year-old Matthew Cranch died.
Sky News. BBC News Online. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Canada: Asbestos ban hailed as a union victory
In a major victory for Canada’s trade union movement, the country’s federal government has announced a ban on the import, export, manufacture and use of asbestos. Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the global union confederation ITUC, said “we congratulate the Canadian trade union movement for this success, and the government’s move will increase pressure on other countries which still have not implemented a ban.”
ITUC news release. CLC news release. Government of Canada news release. IBAS news release. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

France: French workers have the right to switch off
French companies are now required to guarantee their employees a “right to disconnect” from technology. The new law came into force at the start of the year, and obliges organisations with more than 50 workers to start negotiations to define the rights of employees to ignore their smartphones.
International Business Times. The Guardian. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

Japan: Ad agency boss resigns over overwork suicide
Tadashi Ishii, the president and chief executive of the advertising agency Dentsu, is to resign in the wake of an employee suicide. A president in the 1950s urged its employees to work single-mindedly to complete tasks and satisfy clients, “even if it kills you” - and the company continued to print the exhortation in training materials until after Matsuri Takahashi’s death, when it had it removed.
New York Times. BBC News Online. Asahi Shimbun. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

USA: Trump's labour pick is bad news for workers
Donald Trump’s pick for the new US secretary of labor is a notorious opponent of protective employment and safety rights. Burger magnate Andrew Puzder, whose mandate will cover the federal safety regulator OSHA, is on record saying workers are “overprotected” and is an advocate of replacing human workers with machines, because machines are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”
Mother Jones. AFL-CIO Now blog. Raw Story. Risks 782. 7 January 2017

 

 

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