Hazards news, 16 November 2013
Britain: Unite demands access to site after death
A major construction firm had refused the union Unite access to a London construction site where a worker died, denying workers essential safety support. On 6 November labourer Richard Laco, 31, died when a concrete stairwell fell on him at the Laing O'Rourke construction site for the new Francis Crick Institute near Kings Cross.
Unite news release • London Evening Standard • Construction Enquirer • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Workers target blacklister Laing O’Rourke
Protesters targeted a Liverpool building project run by Laing O'Rourke on 9 November following a tragic death on one of the construction giant’s London projects. Members of the union-backed Blacklist Support Group (BSG) said they were outraged at the company’s refusal to allow the union access to its projects, including the site of the Francis Crick Institute in London where the death occurred.
Unite Politics – take action on blacklisting • UCATT news release • BWI news release • Sky News • Morning Star • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: TUC Blacklisting Day of Action, 20 November
The TUC is organising a national day of action on 20 November calling on blacklisting firms to “own up, pay up and clean up”. The 'Cheesegrater' building under construction in central London, another Laing O'Rourke site, is among those in the capital to be targeted. Unions want a Leveson-style inquiry into the scandal.
TUC Blacklisting Day of Action, 20 November, webpages • Events listing for the TUC Day of Action on Blacklisting • 16 November 2013
Britain: New tactics see directors face doorstep protests
Unite is championing new ‘leverage’ techniques to get companies to take safety and other union concerns more seriously. The methods, which include demonstrations outside the homes and offices of company directors, were used to startling effect in the recent Crossrail blacklisting dispute says the union.
Unite organising webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: London mayor ignores site safety call
London mayor Boris Johnson has ignored union calls for action to address a sharp rise in site deaths in the capital. “The Mayor’s refusal to even acknowledge our legitimate safety concerns demonstrates a complete lack of leadership or a concern for the safety of London construction workers,” UCATT’s Jerry Swain said, adding there is clear evidence that sites are safer where workers are directly employed rather than self-employed. UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Retail staff attack violence on the High Street
Retail union Usdaw has taken its campaign against violence to shopworkers to the streets. The union’s ‘Respect for Shopworkers Week’ ran from 11-15 November under the slogan 'abuse is not a part of a shopworker’s job'.
Usdaw news release • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Attacks may force health workers to quit the NHS
Cutbacks and violence at work have led many healthcare workers to consider leaving the NHS, a UNISON survey of 2,000 healthcare assistants has revealed. The union found cuts in staffing levels and insufficient training, coupled with continuing reports of violence against staff, were behind the collapse of morale.
UNISON news release • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Sellafield leg amputee worker awarded settlement
A Unite member has been awarded a seven figure cash settlement after an incident at a nuclear plant in Cumbria led to part of his leg being amputated. Mechanical fitter Kenneth Brown, from Workington, was employed by a contractor at the Sellafield site when he was hit by a cherry picker in May 2011.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Tug owner fined £1.7m over Clyde deaths
Svitzer Marine, the owner of a tug boat that sank in the River Clyde killing three crew members, has been fined £1.7m. Stephen Humphreys, 33, Eric Blackley, 57, and Robert Cameron, 65, died when the Flying Phantom capsized in thick fog opposite Clydebank College in West Dunbartonshire on 19 December 2007.
BBC News Online • The Herald • Scottish Daily Record • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Government has inflated the fit for work figures
The government inflated estimates of people on a disability benefit subsequently found to be ‘fit for work’, a Labour MP has said. Work and pensions select committee member Sheila Gilmore MP said the admission she obtained from employment minister Esther McVey suggests “that rather than trying to fix the test to reduce the number of incorrect decisions, ministers’ priority is to fix the figures to downplay the extent of the problem.” Sheila Gilmore MP news release and letter to the minister • Response from employment minister Esther McVey • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Childhood asbestos exposure blamed for cancer
A 61-year-old Wigan woman diagnosed with a deadly asbestos cancer decades after being exposed to the dust has successfully recovered over £70,000 compensation from the Turner & Newall Asbestos Trust. The woman, who lived only 500 yards from the Turner Brothers asbestos factory in Hindley Green as a child in the 1950s and 60s, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-related cancer, in the autumn of 2012.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Wigan Evening Post • June Hancock Mesothelioma Research Fund • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Suspected benzene cancer victim seeks justice
A former fitter who has been diagnosed with cancer is appealing for former colleagues to come forward to help with an investigation into the dangerous chemicals he was exposed to at work. Michael Fernay, 65, who believes he was exposed to benzene at British Glue & Chemicals, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a cancer of the blood cells linked to the chemical, during March this year.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release. Anyone with useful information to support the compensation case should email Katrina London or call her at Irwin Mitchell on 0161 838 7262 • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Garment tragedies prompt ethical 'Kitemark' proposal
MPs are calling for a study into the possibility of an ethical "kitemark" for garments to help raise standards at overseas factories in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. The all-party parliamentary group for Bangladesh said there was a high chance of another tragic event like Rana Plaza, where more than 1,100 people died, or the Tazreen fire, which killed more than 100.
IndustriALL news release • The Guardian • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Road firm in court after motorcyclist is paralysed
Road maintenance firm Carillion AM Government Ltd has been fined for serious criminal failings after a motorcyclist suffered devastating injuries and was left paralysed in a collision with traffic signs. Glynn Turner, 47, was riding his motorcycle south on the A12 on the evening of 7 June 2010 when he collided with the traffic signs at a road closure at the junction with the B1121, near Benhall, Saxmundham.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Sweep injured in fall from chimney
A Clackmannanshire firm has been fined for criminal safety failings after a chimney sweep fell from the chimney stack of a two storey house in Falkirk. Dylan Skelhorn, 32, was employed by D Henderson Chimney Specialists and Roofers Limited when the incident occurred on 20 June 2011.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Britain: Building worker suffers fractured skull and ribs
HACS Construction Ltd has admitted its criminal safety failings led to one of its employees suffering a fractured skull and eight broken ribs in a four-metre fall. The 50 year-old construction worker, from Masham, was using a saw to cut through steel sheets of a mezzanine floor when he started to unbalance.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
USA: New safety guidance on nano work
The US government’s workplace safety research arm has issued new recommendations on controlling worker exposures to engineered nanomaterials during their manufacture and industrial use. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommendations are based on technologies now applied in the industries using nanomaterials, and on control methods it says have been shown to be effective in reducing occupational exposures in other industries.
NIOSH news release and nanotech webpages • Current Strategies for Engineering Controls in Nanomaterial Production and Downstream Handling Processes, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2014-102, November 2013 • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Australia: Workers are becoming more stressed
Workplace stress is on the rise in Australia, according to a new survey, with three in four workers saying it is affecting their health. More than 1,500 people took part in the survey commissioned by the Australian Psychological Society (APS).
APS news release • Sydney Morning Herald • ABC News • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Australia: Unions want action on workplace violence
Up to one in four people will suffer violence in Australian workplaces during the course of their career, with the direct cost running to millions of dollars a year. Figures compiled by the national union federation ACTU show more than 2,000 serious injury workers' compensation claims were lodged as a result of being assaulted at work in 2010/11, costing an average of Aus$6,400 (£3,744) each and requiring three weeks off work. Sydney Morning Herald • The Age • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Global: Meet Walmart’s worst nightmare
Kalpona Akter, fired and then jailed after trying to unionise her sweatshop as a teenager, is now a key leader in the Bangladesh labour movement. Over the past year, Akter - now executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity - has salvaged and exposed garments manufactured for US brands from the site of a deadly factory fire and challenged Walmart from the floor of its shareholder meeting.
Salon.com • Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
USA: OSHA to go public on injury performance
The US government’s safety watchdog has announced plans to make publicly available the safety records of large firms. A proposed rule issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) follows the Bureau of Labor Statistics' release of its annual Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report, which estimates that three million workers were injured on the job in 2012.
OSHA news release • Worcester Telegram • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Hazards news, 9 November 2013
Britain: Unite launches safety campaign for offshore workers
Unite has launched a ‘Back Home Safe’ campaign calling for immediate improvements to the safety of offshore flights. Since August’s Super Puma helicopter crash off Shetland, which claimed four lives, the union has conducted an extensive consultation with offshore workers on the safety of offshore flights and found widespread concern.
Unite news release and Back Home Safe campaign on Facebook and Twitter @BackHomeSafe • BBC News Online • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
USA: Scandal leads to shutdown of lung disease ‘denial’ clinic
Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, a top US occupational medicine unit, has suspended its black lung programme after a media investigation found it was systematically denying sick coal miners were suffering the debilitating occupational lung disease. The Center for Public Integrity and ABC News investigation revealed how medical opinions from doctors at the prestigious hospital have helped coal companies thwart efforts by ailing mine workers to receive disability benefits.
CPI news release • Johns Hopkins Medicine statement • AFL-CIO Now • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Blacklisting compensation scheme a ‘travesty’
The industry-proposed compensation scheme for victims of blacklisting is a blatant attempt to gag affected workers, the union UCATT has said. It added the scheme in its current form “would represent a complete travesty of justice,” while a Blacklist Support Group spokesperson said: “We will settle for offers of employment, full compensation and a public inquiry into this squalid conspiracy.”
UCATT news release • Blacklist blog • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • Express and Star • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Pizza giant ‘broke safety rules 647 times’
A food factory prosecuted last month after a workplace amputation broke the Working Time Regulations several hundred times in a three month period, an investigation by the union GMB has found. The union probe followed multinational Bakkavor’s prosecution for criminal safety breaches discovered after a worker lost the tip of a finger in an unguarded machine at its Harrow pizza factory.
GMB news release • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: RMT warns of impact of £1.7bn rail cuts
Rail union RMT has warned that £1.7 billion of cuts to Network Rail budgets from 2014, announced by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) on 31 October, will mean further savage cuts to jobs and maintenance. The union said the cuts, which it said were “dressed up as ‘efficiency savings’,” would compromise safety and reliability.
RMT news release • ORR news release • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: GMB to probe Bedford Council ‘bullying’
A confidential survey by the union GMB is to investigate bullying and unfair treatment of Bedford Borough Council employees. The union thinks a marked upturn in calls from concerned members may be linked to a restructuring exercise.
GMB news release • Bedfordshire on Sunday • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: ASLEF supports member after tram derails
A tram driver suffered injuries to her left shoulder and ribs after a bus crashed into the side of her tram. Alison Dungate, a member of the train drivers’ union ASLEF, was driving over a busy intersection in Croydon in September 2008 when a bus drove into the front left-hand side of the tram with such force the tram was derailed.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Low returns from HSE fees scheme
A system of charges introduced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to make companies guilty of ‘material breaches’ of safety law pay for the watchdog’s investigation costs, may be causing significant problems without generating the expected income. The cash strapped agency had hoped the Fees for Intervention (FFI) system which came into effect on 1 October 2012 would help fill a large hole in its budgets caused by government funding cuts.
Construction Enquirer • Personnel Today • SHP Online • Thick and fast, Hazards magazine, Number 122, 2013 • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: HSE ‘glibly under-states’ work death toll
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “glibly under-states and under-estimates the scale of the killing” at work, a top academic has charged. Steve Tombs, professor of criminology at the Open University, said HSE statistics released under ‘an all time low’ headline on 31 October are “underestimation and, frankly, misrepresentation.”
Crime and Justice blog • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Companies pay for crane plunge horror
A father of four left paralysed for life after he was ejected from a 200ft-high crane cab is to receive a multimillion pound compensation payout. Iain Gillham was flung into the air when the crane he was operating collapsed onto a luxury apartment block in Liverpool in 2009.
Daily Mirror • Construction Enquirer • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Widow gains justice over teacher’s asbestos death
The widow of a teacher who died from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos during 26 years working at an Eastbourne school has spoken of her relief after securing justice from the local council. Clive Beck, who was head of history at Ratton School between 1972 and 1998, died aged 71 in April 2009, around 18 months after he was diagnosed with the incurable cancer.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • ITV News • SecEd • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Whistleblowers expose asbestos removal dangers
A botched council asbestos removal job only came to light after workers spotted the dangerous work method and reported it. North Warwickshire Borough Council and a Birmingham decorating firm were fined after workers were exposed to potentially-deadly asbestos fibres.
HSE news release • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Car salvage firm fined over mechanic’s severe burns
A car mechanic suffered severe burns when the inspection pit he was standing in burst into flames. CCTV footage of the incident shows Lee Roberts, 33, running out as fire from a van engulfs the pit at Douglas Valley Breakers Ltd’s workshop on 22 July 2010.
HSE news release and fire and explosion webpages • Video footage of the fireball incident • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Fall firm knew the job was unsafe
A London building firm has been fined after a labourer suffered multiple leg fractures in a fall when a newly-built first floor collapsed under the weight of concrete blocks weighing 1.6 tonnes. The 48 year-old casual labourer fell three metres to the ground at the Cosmos Builders 88 site in Tottenham on 14 September 2012, with the concrete blocks falling around him. HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Wrong equipment snag severed hand
A Norfolk worker was seriously injured when his hand and arm were pulled into a polishing lathe. Gavin Nobes, 41, from Dereham, almost lost his left hand in the incident at Marshall Brass in Heckingham on 27 February 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Timber firm fined after hand is guillotined
A Lancaster timber firm has been fined for criminal safety breaches after a guillotine severed the hand of one of its employees. Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at the Old Railway Yard in Middleton, near Carnforth, on 3 June 2010.
HSE news release and woodworking webpages • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Britain: Tree work cost school janitor his toe
Fife Council has been fined for criminal safety failings after a school janitor was injured while undertaking chainsaw work. Craig Davies, a council employee for more than 20 years, lost his toe while cutting back the branches of a tree that had blown down in high winds.
HSE news release and chainsaw webpages • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Australia: Roads are the most dangerous workplace
The risk of death to people working in Australia’s road freight sector has almost doubled in one year, while truck driving remains the most dangerous job. Safe Work Australia’s report on work-related fatalities in 2012 shows the fatality rate in road freight transport jumped from 14.68 per 100,000 workers in 2011 to 29.09 per 100,000 last year.
Fully Loaded • Safe Work Australia news release • TWU Safe Rates campaign • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Canada: Unions fight for safety protections
As unions in Canada press for proper enforcement of the workplace manslaughter law, the federal government is trying to remove long-established union safety rights. The United Steelworkers (USW) has launching a national campaign to lobby provincial and federal governments for greater enforcement of the Westray Act, nine years after the union successfully lobbied for passage of the historic workplace manslaughter legislation. USW news release and Stop the Killing website • Unifor news release • OHS Canada • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Global: Crunch time on World Cup labour abuses
FIFA president Sepp Blatter should give a detailed report to his executive committee meeting in Brazil next month about what FIFA has done to address World Cup-related labour abuses in Qatar, the global union confederation ITUC has said. ITUC estimates 4,000 workers could die building facilities for FIFA’s flagship event unless football’s governing body demands improvements.
ITUC news release and ‘Re-run the vote’ campaign • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Hazards news, 2 November 2013
Britain: TUC questions HSE’s low injuries claim
The TUC has warned that apparently conflicting evidence in the Health and Safety Executive’s new workplace injury statistics raise worrying questions about the safety watchdog’s claim that injuries are now at “an all time low.” TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said lost time figures cast doubt on HSE’s best ever claims, noting “the statistics show that the number of days lost through workplace injury is up from 4.3 million to 5.2 million, which implies that the number of people injured is actually going up.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • HSE news release and statistics webpages • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
USA: OSHA advises firms on safer chemicals move
The US government’s safety watchdog OSHA is encouraging a shift to safer chemicals at work. Launching a new online guide, ‘Transitioning to safer chemicals: a toolkit for employers and workers’, OSHA said: “Establishing a chemical management system that goes beyond simply complying with OSHA standards and strives to reduce or eliminate chemical hazards at the source through informed substitution best protects workers.”
OSHA news release and online resource, Transitioning to safer chemicals: a toolkit for employers and workers • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Mixed picture on site deaths
Regional variations in the fatality trends in construction demonstrate how the fight for safer sites is far from won, according to the union UCATT. Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: “The reduction in deaths is primarily due to falling workloads and the industry working in a more sensible manner, rather than any significant improvement in safety.”
UCATT news release • HSE construction statistics webpage • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Global: Better work works for business
Making work better across the board – improving health and safety, increasing wages and reducing hours – is a productive ‘bundle’ that works for smaller firms, International Labour Organisation (ILO) research has concluded. The review also found evidence of a cause and effect, suggesting that better management practices lead to improved business outcomes rather than vice versa.
Can better working conditions improve the performance of SMEs?: An international literature review. Richard Croucher, Bianca Stumbitz, Michael Quinlan and Ian Vickers, ILO, October 2013 • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Public services hurt by spending cuts and violence
A 'toxic cocktail' of spending cuts and violence against public service workers has resulted in another increase in violent incidents across Scottish councils and NHS Scotland. Public sector union UNISON said its survey showed 33,689 incidents were reported to public service employers last year - almost 14,000 more than when the first survey was first conducted in 2006.
UNISON news release • UNISON Scotland Survey of Violence at Work 2012 •
Morning Star • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Germany: Workplace health ‘gender gap’ exposed
A ‘gender gap’ in health and safety at work has been identified in Germany. The initial analysis of a 2012 survey found women more often than men suffer a wide range of work-related complaints. The survey was conducted by the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB) in cooperation with the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA).
ETUI news report • TUC women and health and safety webpages • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Schools asbestos protections could be cut
Unions have called on the government to give ‘cast iron assurances’ that budget cuts will not undermine the strategy to address asbestos risks in schools. Fears that an influential steering group set up to manage and monitor the impact of asbestos in schools is to be disbanded, has led to widespread anger and concern by unions who form the joint union asbestos campaign (JUAC).
NUT news release • UNISON news release • The Guardian • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Food giant Bakkavor fingered in serial amputations
The union GMB has called for immediate action to address safety problems and speed up at the food giant Bakkavor, after another worker suffered an amputation. The union was speaking out after the international food manufacturer, which had UK sales of over £1.4 billion in 2012, was fined £20,000 last week for criminal safety offences that saw GMB member Sushila Patel, 58, lose the tip of a finger in an unguarded pizza dough-proving machine.
GMB news release • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: CWU welcomes tougher dangerous dog sentences
Postal workers’ union CWU has welcomed a government announcement that it will introduce new laws in England and Wales raising the maximum jail sentence for the owner of a dog that kills someone from two to 14 years. Five years will be the maximum sentence for a dog attack that injures someone.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign • BBC News Online • The Independent • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Northern Rail maintenance failures led to injury
A rail conductor left with a permanent back injury caused by improperly maintained equipment has received a £20,000 compensation settlement from his employer, Northern Rail. RMT member Andrew Madden from Pontefract ended up undergoing emergency surgery to his back and having a metal pin inserted in his wrist and being off work for 10 months.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Care home worker was badly burned
A care home worker with the now defunct Southern Cross company suffered severe burns while working at one of its Bristol care homes. The 67-year-old, whose name has not been released, has been left with scarring and sensitivity after burning her hand at a care home in the Nailsea area while preparing meals for the 60 elderly residents in 2011.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Safety ‘to do’ list didn’t get done
A Unite member was left with permanent damage to his wrist after a known safety problem went unresolved by global manufacturing company NSK Bearings. The 42-year-old production operative, whose name has not been released, fell heavily and fractured his wrist after his tripped over a fence post - investigation by Unite, which pursued a compensation claim on behalf of their injured member, found that removing the fence post had been on NSK Bearing’s ‘health and safety to do list’.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Submarine base workers exposed to radiation
Two nuclear submarine bases in Scotland and England have suffered 11 significant safety incidents in the last five years, including human exposure to radiation, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed. In the incidents, radioactive waste was spilled, workers were exposed to radiation, power supplies were lost, safety valves wrongly operated and a bag of waste was mistakenly dropped overboard.
Herald Scotland • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Jewson fined for selling duff hard hats
Jewson Limited has been fined £14,000 for supplying imported hard hats that failed to meet safety standards despite being marked as approved. The helmets stated “complies with: EN397” and had been imported from China by the company.
Northamptonshire County Council news release • Northampton Chronicle • Construction Enquirer • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Dad paralysed in fuel tank fireball
A Lancashire firm that manufactures airport fuel tanks has been fined for criminal safety failings after a father-of-three suffered horrific injuries in an explosion. Fuel Proof Ltd employee Karol Robaczewski was cleaning the inside of a 20,000 litre fuel tank, known as a bowser, when he was engulfed by a fireball that caused severe burns and left him almost completely paralysed.
HSE news release and fire and explosions webpages • BBC News Online • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Cardboard firm mangled worker’s arm
A corrugated cardboard manufacturer has been fined after an employee’s arm was dragged into unguarded machinery at a factory in Ellesmere Port. Prowell Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at the company’s plant on 18 April 2012.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Severed fingers after safeguards were disabled
An Oldham-based tissue manufacturer has been fined for safety failings after an employee lost the tops of two fingers in machinery. Rose Tissues Ltd, which processes and prints kitchen roll and toilet paper, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident on 17 May 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Firm fined after conveyor pulls off arm
A recycling company has been fined for criminal safety failings because an agency worker lost his arm after it was trapped between a roller and the belt of a moving conveyor. Domingos da Conceicao Freitas, 28, had to have his dominant right arm amputated following the incident at MSK Waste Management and Recycling Ltd in Barking, London, on 17 August 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Britain: Another recycling firm, another lost arm
An experienced worker had his right forearm pulled off by a conveyor belt as he was trying to clean it, a court has heard. Stephen John, 57, was working for Neath Port Talbot Recycling Ltd in Swansea when the incident happened on 11 May 2011.
HSE news release and machinery webpages • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
France: Public service deal on psychosocial risks
The French government, eight trade unions and representatives of public employers signed a framework agreement on 22 October on the prevention of psychosocial risks in the public service. The agreement requires each public employer to draw up a “psychosocial risk assessment and prevention plan” by 2015.
ETUI news report • Risks 629 • 2 November 2013
Hazards news, 26 October 2013
Britain: Call for ‘zero tolerance’ of sexual harassment
Employers must adopt a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment, the TUC has said. The union body was speaking out after research published by employment law firm Slater & Gordon found that six in ten working women have had a male colleague behave ‘inappropriately’ towards them.
TUC news release • Slater & Gordon news release • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Tube incident should kill driverless trains plan
An incident where a Tube train driver averted a possible tragedy when the doors opened on a packed commuter train highlights why a shift to driverless trains should be rejected outright, the rail union RMT has said. The Tube union has demanded a full investigation after the doors opened between stations on a packed Piccadilly Line train heading towards Heathrow on Sunday afternoon.
RMT news release • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: More shoplifting means shopworkers need protection
As latest figures show shoplifting is on the rise, the government must not be complacent about the problems of violence, threats and abuse against retail workers, their union Usdaw has said. Usdaw general secretary John Hannett was speaking out after the government blocked a Labour amendment to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, which would have introduced a specific offence of assaulting a worker serving the public.
Usdaw news release •Risks 628• 26 October 2013
Britain: ‘Dangerous’ prison service is at ‘breaking point’
A growing prison population combined with prison closures and staff and budget reductions is leaving the service dangerous and “at breaking point”, prison officers’ union POA has warned.
POA news release • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Union urges action on police links to blacklist
The union GMB has said it intends to go to the courts next week to lift the lid on alleged police involvement in the construction blacklist scandal. GMB want the Home Office to be forced to supply information about officers who gave workers’ details to a firm compiling the secret list.
GMB news release • The Mirror • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: ICO admits it has proof of another blacklist
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed it holds documents relating to another blacklist in the construction industry. The confirmation came in a letter from ICO deputy commissioner David Smith to Ian Davidson MP, chair of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investigation into blacklisting.
Blacklist blog • UCATT news release • People Management • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: UK Coal fined over miner’s death
UK Coal has been sentenced after admitting a number of serious criminal safety failings that led to the death of miner Gerry Gibson when 15 tonnes of rock forming a section of roof collapsed as a powered roof support was being used. The company, now in administration, was fined £200,000.
HSE news release and explosion news release • ITV News report • Yorkshire Evening Post • The Press • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Nearly half sites had criminal safety failings
A month long spot check campaign of construction sites by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed major safety failings are commonplace. The inspectors found that on 1,105 sites (42 per cent) basic safety standards were not being met and on 644 sites (25 per cent) safety was so poor enforcement action was required to protect the safety of workers.
UCATT news release • HSE news release • Safer sites webpages and ‘Turning Concern into Action’ film featuring the testimony of construction site victims • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: ‘Dickensian’ conditions on Preston site
A construction firm has been prosecuted after it allowed subcontractors to carry out refurbishment work on a Grade 2 listed building in Preston for nearly seven weeks without toilets or running water. Altrincham-based RNT Developments and Construction Ltd brought in roofers, damp treatment experts, electricians, joiners and plasters to work on the nineteenth century Harris Institute – a former dance academy – on the outskirts of the city but it failed to provide basic facilities for workers.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Company boss fined after mechanic’s death
The owner of a Leicestershire transport company has been fined for criminal safety failings after a mechanic was killed during a jacking operation. Mark Wintersgill, 25, was attempting to jack up the axle of a double decker HGV trailer at PPR Transport Services in Lutterworth on 25 June 2012 when the jack separated from the axle and struck him. HSE news release • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Poorly controlled tools cost young dad his job
A young father of four who developed a painful and debilitating nerve condition through prolonged, unrestricted use of vibrating power tools is now unable to work as a result. Andrew Wood, 35, from Heathfield, East Sussex is likely to suffer chronic pain in both hands for the rest of his life as a result of his work for CJ Gowing and Son Ltd between July 2010 and March 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Two injured in demolition blunder
A South Wales demolition firm has been landed with a six figure bill after two of its workers were injured when a mezzanine floor collapsed on them. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Wrexham Demolition and Dismantling Ltd following the incident which took place on 9 September 2008.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Suspended sentence for recycling firm boss
A Corby recycling firm has been fined and its director given a suspended jail sentence for endangering workers. BB Recycling allowed staff to operate forklift trucks without proper training and then ignoring an official Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforcement notice requiring urgent action to address the safety failing.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Painful lessons not learnt at fruit company
An Essex-based firm has been fined for repeated safety failings following three separate incidents in which workers were injured after becoming trapped in machinery. Two agency workers and an employee, who was a maintenance engineer, were all working for fruit importer and distributor Winfresh (UK) Ltd at its processing plant in Essex.
HSE news release and machinery safety webpages • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Packaging firm in court for guard failings
A packaging firm has been fined after a worker severed the tip of a finger on a machine where a safety guard had been deliberately disabled. The nesting machine, which makes food packaging cartons, had been running with a tampered interlock for at least five months prior to the incident at Alexir Packaging Limited, in Edenbridge, Kent, on 9 September 2011.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Britain: Food giant’s neglect led to woman’s injury
An international food manufacturer with UK sales of over £1.4 billion in 2012 has been fined £20,000 after a production worker lost the tip of a finger in an unguarded dough-proving machine. Sushila Patel, 58, had the top of a middle finger sliced off when she was tasked with picking up dough balls being discarded from a faulty machine at the Bakkavor Foods Ltd pizza factory in Harrow.
HSE news release • Bakkavor factsheet • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Bangladesh: Some hope six months after factory collapse
Six months after the deadly factory collapse, a group of survivors of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh say they have been encouraged by the success of the union-brokered Accord on Fire and Building Safety, but have called on global brands to provide overdue compensation. In a visit to the site of the tragedy, in which 1,129 workers lost their lives, representatives from IndustriALL and UNI, the two global unions that drove the accord, spoke to survivors and explained the series of new commitments, to which over 100 global brands have now signed.
IndustriALL news release • Clean Clothes Campaign news release and report • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Korea: Samsung cancer caused by work
A former Samsung worker was a victim of occupational cancer caused by exposures at the electronics giant, a court has ruled. The Seoul administrative court ordered the official compensation agency KCOMWEL to pay industrial disease compensation to the family of Kim Kyung-mi, a former Samsung Electronics Co Ltd employee who died in 2009.
Stop Samsung campaign • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
USA: Firefighters face raised cancer risks
Firefighters are at increased risk of several cancers, including respiratory, digestive and urinary tumours, a US study has found. Researchers from the US government’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) looked at a combined population of nearly 30,000 firefighters employed in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco between 1950 and 2009 and found they had higher rates of several types of cancers, and of all cancers combined, than the US population as a whole.
NIOSH news release. Robert D Daniels and others. Mortality and cancer incidence in a pooled cohort of US firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia (1950–2009), Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Published Online First 14 October 2013 [abstract] • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
USA: A double victim of a weak dust standard
Lax official dust exposure standards not only left a US worker sick, they cost him his compensation too. The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that furnace operator Randy Torris was properly denied the payouts because the company was compliant with dust standards enforced by the official workplace safety watchdog OSHA.
West Virginia Record • Risks 628 • 26 October 2013
Hazards news, 19 October 2013
Britain: Top Tory calls for gangmaster clampdown
David Cameron should listen to Conservatives in the capital and extend protection from abusive gangmasters to workers in hospitality and construction, site union UCATT has said. The union was speaking out after Andrew Boff, the leader of the Conservative group on the London Assembly, published a report supporting an extended role for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA).
UCATT news release • Greater London Authority news release and full report, Shadow City – Exposing human trafficking in everyday London • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: ‘Grave concerns’ over stand-in fire staff
East Sussex firefighters have expressed “grave concerns” over breathing apparatus training for stand-in staff scheduled to work during planned strike action. Worries about poorly trained staff being required to don breathing apparatus emerged during earlier strike action.
FBU news release •Risks 627• 19 October 2013
Britain: Ambulance strike warning over sick pay cuts
The ambulance service in England could face strike action unless dramatic sick pay cuts for staff are reversed, the union GMB has warned. The union’s Central Executive Council (CEC) authorised an official strike ballot, noting the decision moves the ambulance service a step closer to a national dispute.
GMB news release • Risks 627• 19 October 2013
Britain: UCATT welcomes reform of site skills scheme
Construction union UCATT has welcomed plans to amend an abused site skills scheme. From July 2014, the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) is to reform its green card so people applying for or renewing the entry level green (labourers) card will be required to complete a level 1 vocational qualification in health and safety.
UCATT news release and background information • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: AMEC ‘should apologise’ over blacklisting
The union GMB has condemned construction giant AMEC's failure to apologise for its involvement in an illegal blacklisting scandal. It says AMEC should join Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci, who apologised for their involvement with the blacklist and announced the creation of The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme.
GMB news release • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Cross-party support for union blacklisting campaign
A Conservative MP has backed the union campaign against blacklisting and supported calls for compensation for affected workers and a bar on public sector contracts for blacklisting firms. Stephen McPartland, the MP for Stevenage, told the House of Commons on 16 October that he and the Labour MP for Luton North, Kelvin Hopkins, will shortly contact the 44 firms that paid to access the blacklist held by The Consulting Association.
Blacklisting debate, Hansard coverage for 16 October 2013 • The Observer • Morning Star • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Business leaders deliver deregulation ‘whine-fest’
A Business Taskforce created by the prime minister to examine the impact on business of Europe regulations has delivered the expected ‘whine-fest’, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on the publication of ‘Cut EU red tape: report from the Business Taskforce’, produced by a group of six business leaders hand-picked by David Cameron.
Stronger Unions blog • BIS/Prime Minister’s Office news release • Cut EU red tape: report from the Business Taskforce • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: 'Red tape' deregulation call is ‘wrong’
The government-commissioned report by business leaders on ‘EU red tape’ is wrong to label health and safety as a threat to small firms, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the Hazards Campaign have said. The ‘Cut EU red tape’ document highlighted what it described as the ‘30 worst threats to small firms’, with written risk assessments topping the list.
IOSH news release • Hazards Campaign news release • ‘We love red tape’ facebook page • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: McVey loses safety brief after concerns are raised
The new employment minister Esther McVey has been stripped of health and safety responsibilities after it emerged she had been the director of a demolition firm linked to criminal safety breaches. McVey, who was switched on 9 October from disabilities minister to employment minister, was a director of her father’s firm JG McVey & Co Ltd from February 2003 to March 2006.
DWP news release and webpages on the responsibilities of ministers Mike Penning and Esther McVey • DWP safety webpage • EHN Online • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Call for a preventive cancer action plan
A coalition of environmental and safety groups and unions says the government and the cancer establishment must introduce a new and comprehensive ‘Cancer Action Plan’ if they are to address needless deaths from occupational and environmental cancers. The Alliance for Cancer Prevention’s report says existing strategies are “grossly outdated.”
Alliance for Cancer Prevention news release and background document • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Employers not doing enough to address stress
Stressed workers are suffering in silence and employers aren’t doing enough to tackle stress, according to new figures from Mind. The mental health charity’s survey of over 2,000 workers found 45 per cent of those polled said that staff are expected to cope without mentioning stress at work and almost a third (31 per cent) said that they would not be able to talk openly to their line manager if they felt stressed.
Mind news release • UNISON ‘Cut stress, not jobs’ campaign resources • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Worker crushed to death on dry dock
A ship repair worker was crushed to death when an anchor weighing almost three tonnes toppled onto him in a dry dock at Teesport. Kevin Watson, 51, was one of three men working for ship repair and conversion company A&P Tees Ltd on a sand dredger in the dry dock when the incident happened on 11 February 2009.
HSE news release • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Bulldozer driver was crushed to death
A Surrey company has been fined for criminal safety failings after a contractor was crushed to death at the London Gateway Port construction site in Essex. Robert Noel Mayne, known as Noel, from Tichfield in Hampshire, died as he and colleagues tried to retrieve a bulldozer that was bogged down in mud at the Stanford-le-Hope development on 23 April 2011.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Three guilty in trench collapse death
The director of a Hertfordshire building company and the co-owners of a south London property undergoing conversion have been sentenced for their criminal safety failings after a worker was killed in a trench collapse. Xian Hou Ye, 56, was crushed and suffocated by nearly nine tonnes of soil at the property in Lewisham, on 30 September 2010.
HSE news release and excavations webpages • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Firm fined after worker suffers severe caustic burns
A Warwickshire company that manufactures car components has been fined after a worker was burned by caustic soda while leaning over a conveyor. The operative required skin grafts to his stomach as a result of the incident at Grupo Antolin Leamington Limited on 25 January 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Britain: Agricultural firm fined for chemical asthma risks
A Lincolnshire agricultural machinery manufacturer has been fined after employees were put at risk of developing asthma through the spraying of a hazardous chemical. Grantham Magistrates' Court heard that Marston Agricultural Services Ltd allowed trailers to be sprayed with isocyanate-containing paint without fully assessing the potential dangers and implementing adequate controls to protect workers from the chemical.
HSE news release and isocyanates guide • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Australia: Workers need more protection, not less
A toll of over half-a-million workers injured and thousands killed each year in Australia shows the need to strengthen not weaken workplace safety regulation, the country’s top union body has said. National union federation ACTU points to statistics showing each year 600,000 workers are injured – 127,000 of these seriously – costing Australia more than $60 billion (£36bn) annually.
ACTU news release • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
France: Thousands stage ‘die-in’ over asbestos risks
Thousands of people staged a “die-in” in Paris on Saturday 12 October over the failure by authorities to clear workplaces of asbestos. The protesters from all over France lay down in the street outside Sorbonne University in Paris’ Latin Quarter to illustrate dramatically how asbestos exposure claims 3,000 lives per year in the country.
Google News • Raw Story • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Japan: Fukushima cleanup takes its toll
Almost three years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a triple meltdown, the human cost of the industrial cleanup is becoming evident. With each successive accident and radiation leak, the men working inside the plant are suffering from plummeting morale, health problems and anxiety about the future, according to insiders.
The Guardian • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Global: Unions put companies on notice over Qatar
Trade union leaders from 58 countries meeting in Brussels last week for the annual general council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) put companies on notice that failure to address abuses of workers’ rights in Qatar will lead to more deaths and injuries. ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said the abuses of workers in Qatar, where one worker dies on average each day, and FIFA-inspired changes to labour laws in Brazil and Russia are high priorities for the governing body of the world’s trade unions. ITUC news release • Re-run the Vote campaign • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013
Hazards news, 12 October 2013
Britain: Blacklisters bow to union pressure
A high profile campaign by unions and campaigners has forced Britain’s eight largest construction industry blacklisters to apologise and agree to a compensation scheme. But while the companies have apologised for their involvement with an organisation that kept a list uncovered in a raid by the Information Commissioner's Office in 2009, they have not admitted liability.
GMB blacklisting campaign • Blacklist Support Group news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Herald Scotland • Construction Enquirer • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Safety watchdog must be seen and heard
The government should increase funding for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) so it can intensify its inspection efforts, the union Unite has said. The union was speaking out after an HSE inspection blitz on construction sites throughout September revealed that almost half of those visited failed the checks.
Unite news release • HSE construction webpages and Safer sites initiative • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Europe: Fury at ‘dodgy backroom deal’ on flying hours
Pilots’ union BALPA has expressed dismay at a ‘dodgy backroom deal’ that saw the European Parliament approve contentious new flying hours rules. BALPA says intensive lobbying from the airline industry and ‘dodgy last minute backroom deals’ mean the rules can now be implemented, unless the EU Council of Ministers decides to discuss the rules and vote on them.
BALPA news release • BBC News Online • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Two down and six to go on Bangladesh campaign
Following a high profile TUC-led campaign, the cut-price clothing chain Matalan has followed River Island to become the latest High Street name to sign up to a union-initiated safety accord to protect garment workers in Bangladesh – of the eight major chains originally refusing to sign up, six - Bench, Bank Fashion, Peacocks, Jane Norman, Republic and Mexx - are still holding out and will remain a target of union and other labour rights campaigners.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and Going to Work campaign
Now get Bench, Bank Fashion, Peacocks, Jane Norman, Republic and Mexx to sign up - write to all six companies now! • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Global: GMB offers to investigate Qatar 2022 conditions
UK union GMB has volunteered to be part of a team of inspectors that the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is putting together to inspect workplaces and labour camps in Qatar, scheduled to host the 2022 World Cup. After exposing high death rates and abusive labour standards on construction projects linked to the event, the global union body has said it intends to assess and report on conditions.
GMB news release • ITUC news release • BWI news release • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Global: We need decent work, not hire and fire
Public sector union UNISON has called for decent work for all and an end to the routine abuse of workers worldwide. In a letter to the Guardian ahead of World Day for Decent Work on 7 October, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis wrote: “Mass suicides in electronic companies in China; deaths of young men building World Cup stadiums in Qatar; crushed bodies in a garment factory in Bangladesh; blacklisting for exposing dangers on UK building sites – these are some of the perils of working in the 21st century where rights and protections are either non-existent or steadily being eroded.” ITUC news release • UNISON news release • The Guardian • World Day for Decent Work 2013 • We love red tape facebook page • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Shopworker assaults not reported by 1-in-6
Almost half of all shopworkers have suffered verbal abuse in the last year, over a third have been threatened and 1-in-25 has been the victim of a violent attack, latest figures from the shopworkers’ union Usdaw have revealed. The interim results of Usdaw’s 2013 survey also reveal than 1-in-6 of the victims of a violent assault do not report the incident.
Usdaw news release • The union’s Respect for Shopworkers Week 2013 takes place from 11 to 15 November • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Injustice prolonged after firefighters’ deaths
Firefighters’ union FBU has said the families of two firefighters killed at work must be given peace and justice and not subjected to another painful court hearing. The union was commenting after an unsuccessful appeal this week by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service against a July High Court ruling saying it must pay compensation to the bereaved families of firefighter Geoff Wicker, 49, and fire service cameraman Brian Wembridge, 63.
FBU news release • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Calling all COMAH safety reps
Unions want to know the concerns encountered routinely by union safety reps on Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH) sites. The want union reps to add their voices to a quickie online questionnaire that “focuses on a range of incidents that take place rather frequently in COMAH sites.”
Survey for COMAH safety reps • HSE COMAH competence management guidance • SHP Online • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Watch out for blood in your pee
An NHS campaign on bladder and kidney cancers will run from 15 October to 20 November, highlighting the need for early diagnosis. In both cancers, which can have strong links to work, early diagnosis can increase considerably the chances of survival.
NHS bladder and kidney cancer campaign • TUC guide to occupational cancers • Global Unions ‘Occupational Cancer Zero Cancer’ campaign • Hazards magazine on bladder cancer risks • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: A&E doctors face ‘intolerable pressures’
Urgent action must be taken to ensure emergency departments remain sustainable and safe, doctors have warned. The call comes after a report found A&E consultants were facing “intolerable pressures” in the workplace.
College of Emergency Medicine news release and Stretched to the limit report • The Independent • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Radiologist gets an unwelcome dose of radiation
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has been fined after an interventional radiologist was exposed to significant amounts of ionizing radiation. Boston Magistrates' Court heard the affected person was working with a CT scanner at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, and received more than double the annual dose limit for skin exposure in just over three months.
HSE news release • BBC News Online • Boston Standard • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: ‘Unbelievable’ failures at nuclear sub dock
The primary and secondary power sources providing the coolant for nuclear reactors in Britain’s submarine fleet failed on 29 July, leading to a nuclear incident being narrowly averted. The Independent on Sunday reported the crisis at the Devonport naval dockyard in Plymouth, operated by the Ministry of Defence and government engineering contractors Babcock Marine, was comparable with the Fukushima Daiichi power station meltdown in Japan in 2011.
Independent on Sunday • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Joiner’s fall lands firm in court
A Bradford construction firm has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after a joiner fell six metres through a fragile rooflight at a factory in Leeds. The 46-year-old self-employed joiner from Bradford, who does not wish to be named, was hired by MD Construction (Bradford) Ltd to remove ventilation turrets from a warehouse roof at Johnsons Apparelmaster in Leeds.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Kebab worker maimed by meat stripper
An Essex kebab manufacturer has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker suffered horrific injuries to his hand when it became trapped in unguarded machinery. Ethem Torunoglu, 36, from London, was working for Kismet Kebabs Ltd where he was cleaning a derinding machine when his hand was drawn into the machine between the stripper comb and the serrated roller above it.
HSE news release and food industry webpages • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Chemical fireball engulfed workers
A chemical firm has been ordered to pay £105,000 in fines after a major explosion at a waste management site in Lancashire that caused three workers to sustain serious burns. Personnel Hygiene Services (PHS) Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the blast at Burscough Industrial Estate in Burscough on 12 October 2010. The explosion occurred when aerosol cans were put into an industrial shredder.
HSE news release and fire and explosion webpages • BBC News Online • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Britain: Schoolgirl dragged by scarf into a lathe
A Scottish council has been fined £48,000 for criminal health and safety breaches after schoolgirl was dragged into a lathe by her scarf. Nadine Craig, who was 14 at the time, was pulled into the machine in November 2007 and freed by fellow pupils – she received 40 stitches to a wound in her neck and it was six months before she returned to Galashiels Academy.
The Scotsman • Herald Scotland • BBC News Online • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Bangladesh: Deadly fire underlines the union safety case
A Bangladeshi textile factory where at least seven workers died and more than 50 were injured in a fire on 8 October, was not covered by the union-brokered international safety accord. Global unions IndustriALL and UNI say almost 1,600 sites are due to be inspected under the accord on fire and building safety, but wants its scope extended to cover many more workplaces.
IndustriALL news release • The Guardian • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Europe: Health and safety strategy put on ice
The European Commission has suspended all progress on its already overdue workplace health and safety strategy. A 2 October Commission communication on its REFIT deregulatory policy said all health and safety at work measures currently under discussion will be shelved until a new Commission takes office in 2014.
ETUI news release • EU Commission:Communication "Regulatory fitness and performance (REFIT): results and next steps”, 2 Oct 2013 • UniEuropa news release • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Global: Scandals engulf asbestos-backed scientists
Emerging scandals concerns academics in the UK and Canada have exposed the lengths to which the asbestos industry will go to manipulate science and boost its deadly product. A conference last week at McGill University in Canada revealed that one of its most high profile academics, Professor J Corbett McDonald, had received over Can$1 million from the asbestos industry, but had routinely hidden this association when publishing industry-friendly papers; and Edinburgh University’s Professor Ken Donaldson either failed to mention or flatly denied links to firms defending asbestos compensation cases, while receiving payments and writing papers the New York Supreme court found were “intended to cast doubt on the capability of chrysotile [white] asbestos to cause cancer.”
RightOnCanada blog • David Egilman’s full presentation: The Past is Prologue, Universities in Service to Corporations: The McGill-QAMA Asbestos Example • Montreal Gazette • A very particular crime, Hazards magazine special report, September 2013. Nature • The Scotsman • Risks 626 • 12 October 2013
Risks * Number 625 * 5 October 2013
Britain: Tell blacklisters to own up, pay up and clean up!
Despite over four years passing since 44 construction firms were exposed as blacklisters, thousands of victimised site workers are still waiting for justice. As part of the day of action organised by the TUC and unions, there will be a lobby of parliament on 20 November, to put pressure on MPs to hold an inquiry.
TUC news release • Blacklist blog • GMB • UCATT and Unite blacklist campaign webpages • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
USA: Lawmaker attacks wellness programmes
A federal lawmaker is asking the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate employer wellness programmes that demand intimate health information from employees, and to issue guidelines preventing employers from using these programmes to discriminate against workers. The request, by Louise M Slaughter, a Democratic congresswoman from New York, came after Pennsylvania State University suspended cash penalties linked to its new employee wellness programme that had drawn objections from staff. New York Times • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Unions challenge new ‘resilience’ push
Journalists have added their backing to TUC concerns about the emergence of a resilience industry, intent on making workers ‘man up’ and shrug off the stresses and strains of work. The union alert came ahead of the 10 October launch by the government of a new workplace mental health “pledge”, which will urge employers to sign up to the resilience approach.
TUC’s Hugh Robertson on resilience, in Hazards magazine, number 123, 2013. Public Health Responsibility Deal • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Europe: Pilots welcome flight hours change rejection
British pilots have welcomed the vote by the EU Transport and Tourism Select Committee rejecting new Europe-wide rules on pilot flying hours they say will undermine UK flight safety. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) is now calling on the UK government and MEPs to act to protect the safety of our skies.
BALPA news release • BBC News Online • The Independent • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Shopworkers are suffering violent abuse in silence
Many shopworkers are suffering violence, threats and abuse in silence, a survey by their union Usdaw has found. Speaking at the British Retail Consortium's (BRC) retail crime and loss prevention conference, Usdaw safety officer Doug Russell said whereas the BRC estimates only 2 in 1,000 shopworkers have been victims of violence, Usdaw’s survey puts the figure 20 times higher at 40 per 1,000.
Usdaw news release and Freedom From Fear survey results. Respect for Shopworkers Week 2013 takes place on 11–15 November • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Rail concerns as ministers axe safety jobs
Network Rail sparked a safety row this week over a move to axe 750 managerial jobs. The job losses - to meet government-imposed cuts - will hit senior staff in safety critical roles, warned Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union.
TSSA news release • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Rail union ‘disgust’ at tunnel maintenance neglect
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has reacted with “dismay and disgust” after it emerged passengers and rail staff on the London to Brighton line could have been killed because of years of maintenance work failures in a Victorian tunnel. The union was commenting this week after a whistleblowing rail engineer told the BBC’s Inside Out programme about a potentially deadly series of problems with Balcombe Tunnel, near Crawley, West Sussex.
ASLEF news release • BBC News Online • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Slip cost bus driver his job
A bus driver ended up losing his job after a bus company failed to grit its car park and he was injured when he slipped on ice. A Unite-backed compensation claim was due to be heard at Newcastle County Court in October 2013, but Go North East instead settled his claim for £130,000.
Beecham Peacock news release • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Government marks freedom from safety day
Business minister Michael Fallon has been criticised by a top safety campaigner after he claimed a new round of cuts to safety regulations are “good news for the growth prospects of UK companies.” Workplace health and safety measures dominated the cuts to “red tape” highlighted by the minister on ‘Freedom Day’, 1 October.
BIS news release • We love red tape facebook page • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Cutback injury reporting system takes effect
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has formally implemented controversial changes to “simplify the mandatory reporting of workplace injuries for businesses.” The changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995, which have been criticised by workplace health groups and unions, introduce a shorter list of reportable major injuries, reduce the number of reportable occupational diseases from 47 to just eight and cut down the types of reportable “dangerous occurrences.”
HSE news release and RIDDOR webpages • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Global: Landmark silicosis settlement for gold miners
South African miners employed by a gold firm forming part of a UK-based multinational have received landmark payouts for the deadly dust disease silicosis. The long-running President Steyn gold miners’ silicosis litigation against Anglo American South Africa Ltd (AASA) includes payments to 23 claimants, including 18 President Steyn Mine claimants, whose claims began in 2004.
Leigh Day and Co news release • IOL Business • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Qatar: Authorities fail to address World Cup horrors
Qatar authorities have admitted there are serious abuses of the labour rights of the 1.2 million migrant workers in the country, after the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) warned up to 4,000 workers could die before a ball is kicked at the 2022 World Cup. ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said the promise by authorities in Qatar – which will host football’s global showcase in 2022 - simply to increase the number of labour inspectors is weak and disappointing.
ITUC news release and background materials • Video testimony of marble cutters describing their working conditions in Doha • BWI news release • The Guardian and related article • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Site workers make healthy choices
Assumptions by scientists and health professionals that ill-health in construction workers is the result of their poor lifestyle have been blown out of the water by a new study. This suggests researchers may have consistency under-estimated the impact of work factors on diseases suffered by construction workers, instead wrongly attributing them to personal habits.
Construction Enquirer • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Recycling firm fined over young worker's death
A Bridgend recycling firm has been ordered to pay more than £300,000 in fines and costs after a 21-year-old worker was crushed to death when he was struck by a skip lorry on a weighbridge he was cleaning. Geraint Eagle, of Nant–Y-Moel, near Bridgend, was cleaning sensors on the weighbridge at the waste site run by Nolan Recycling Ltd when the incident happened on 2 December 2010.
HSE news release and skip hire/waste transfer webpage • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Bridge workers suffer horrific water jet injuries
A worker on the Tay Road Bridge lost a leg while another suffered “terrible” abdominal and bowel injuries and almost lost a finger after being hit by a faulty high-powered water jet used to blast concrete. Mark Sharples, who was 27 at the time, and Ian Davies, who was 40, were struck when the “extremely powerful” jet shot out of their hands in separate incidents, hitting Mr Sharples in the left buttock and Mr Davies in the knee.
HSE news release • The Courier • Construction Enquirer • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Company fined for tall ship blaze
A Dorset yacht company has been sentenced for safety failings relating to a fire that ravaged a famous tall ship and almost killed a worker. Welder Rolf Kitching, 45, from Portsmouth, sustained 40 per cent burns to his upper torso and head and was hospitalised for four months as a result and was initially not expected to survive the incident at Hythe Marina in Hampshire on 10 June 2008.
HSE news release and welding webpage • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Pig farmers done after hopper breaks leg
A Teesside pig farming business has been fined for safety failings after a worker was struck and seriously injured by a feed hopper that fell from the forks of a loader. Imogen Simpson, 45, sustained two skull fractures, a crushed left ankle and had her leg broken in four places in the incident at F Brunton & Sons Ltd in Guisborough, on 21 June 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Britain: Food for thought after worker loses finger tips
An East London firm that makes convenience food has been fined for criminal safety failings after an agency worker lost the tips from four fingers as he tried to unblock a dicing machine. The worker, who does not wish to be named, sustained the serious injury while working a night shift as a production assistant at Oldfields Ltd, part of the international Greencore Group plc, at their plant in Bow, Tower Hamlets.
HSE news release • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Canada: Study confirms the union “safety dividend”
The shocking extent and causes of workplace injury under-reporting have been exposed by a Canadian study that also reveals how unions protect workers both from unsafe workplaces and a government keen to downplay the risks. The province of Alberta is under-counting workplace injuries by a factor of 10, according to Athabasca University’s Professor Bob Barnetson, who also identified a significant union “safety dividend”.
Parkland Institute news release, statement and executive summary • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Global: Victims want honour stripped from asbestos boss
Seventeen years after Yale University gave Swiss billionaire Stephan Schmidheiny an honorary doctorate of humane letters for environmental stewardship, a group of asbestos disease survivors and family members of asbestos cancer victims in Italy is asking the university to revoke the degree. On 3 June of this year an appeals court in Turin upheld extended Schmidheiny’s jail term from 16 to 18 years for the involuntary manslaughter of thousands by his family firm, former asbestos giant Eternit.
Corporate Crime Reporter • The Hartford Courant. Asbestos in the Dock • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Hazards news, 28 September 2013
Britain: River Island to sign Bangladesh safety accord
The TUC has welcomed a decision by clothing retailer River Island to sign up to the Bangladesh accord, the union-backed agreement designed to improve workplace safety in the country. The accord was implemented following the Rana Plaza factory collapse which killed over 1,100 textile workers in April this year – of the four deadliest factory disasters in history, three happened in the last 12 months.
TUC news release and Going to Work campaign • AFL-CIO Now blog •
Now get Matalan, Bench, Bank Fashion, Peacocks, Jane Norman, Republic and Mexx to sign up - write to all seven companies now! • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Global: Child labour falls by a third since 2000
A new report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), says that the number of child labourers worldwide has declined by one third since 2000, from 246 million to 168 million. The current number of children in hazardous work stands at 85 million, down from 171 million in 2000.
ILO news release and Marking progress against child labour • ILO Campaign: Red card to child labour • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: Union concerns over helicopter safety probe
Unions have raised serious concerns about the organisation undertaking a review of offshore helicopter safety and the limited scope of the planned probe. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) investigation follows the crash last month of a CHC-operated Super Puma AS332 L2 off Shetland in which four contract workers died.
Unite news release • BALPA news release • RMT news release • CAA news release • BBC News Online • The Scotsman • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: Unions welcome Labour blacklisting inquiry
The Labour Party aims to launch a “full inquiry” into the “disgraceful” practice of blacklisting in the building industry, if the present government does not, a senior party figure has said. Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna outlined the plan a Labour’s conference this week.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • UCATT news release • The Guardian • The Mirror •
Blacklist Support Group facebook page • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: Blacklister ousted from Labour conference
Construction unions have welcomed a decision by the Labour Party to bar blacklisting construction firm Carillion from its conference. A stand originally allocated to the construction giant was taken over by UCATT, after the Labour executive withdrew the Carillion invitation and was used by UCATT to promote the anti-blacklisting campaign and the campaign for Justice for the Shrewsbury Pickets.
UCATT news release • GMB news release and blacklisters’ list • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Global: Sea union’s concern at suppressed tragedy report
Seafarers’ union Nautilus has condemned a decision by Panama to prevent public access to a long-awaited report on the 2009 loss of the livestock carrier Danny FII. The Panamanian-registered ship sank in stormy conditions off the coast of Lebanon in December 2009, with the loss of more than 40 seafarers - including the master and electrotechnical officer, who were both UK Nautilus members.
Nautilus news release • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: High price of a failure to fix a leaking tap
A firm has had to stump up £6,000 after its failure to fix a leaking tap led to a security guard suffering a serious knee injury. PCS member Colin Hillyard, 60, required knee surgery and had to take four months off work after slipping on a wet floor.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: National Grid ‘ignored vibration risk’
A GMB member will suffer health problems for life after excessive exposure to vibrating work tools while employed by the National Grid. The man from Lincoln, whose name has not been release, had been employed as a craftsman by National Grid for 32 years, where his work regularly involved using tools such as jack hammers, whackers, rock drills and vibration rollers.
Thompsons Solicitors new release • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: Prison workers welcome jail smoking ban plans
Prison officers’ union POA has welcomed plans by the Prison Service to make prisons in England and Wales smoke-free workplaces by 2015. Inmates are currently allowed to smoke in their cells but a ban would prohibit this and extend to all parts of a prison, including exercise yards.
POA news release • The Independent • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: Charities furious at one-sided asbestos consultation
Asbestos charities have expressed their fury to justice minister Helen Grant over what they believe is the excessive influence of the insurance industry on the government’s cancer compensation policy. In a 23 September meeting, the groups told justice minister Helen Grant the “partisan” consultation ‘Reforming Mesothelioma Claims’ would disadvantage people suffering from the always fatal asbestos cancer, mesothelioma.
Asbestos Forum news release • Post Online • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: However good you are, you are not good enough
A managerial offensive is taking place at work, with a new report claiming the government’s blitz on employment rights and welfare is being mirrored in a “new workplace tyranny” and a massive intensification of work. Professor Phil Taylor of the University of Strathclyde Business School, writing in Hazards magazine, warns that performance management is the main tool used to up the pressure at work, with a proportion of workers set up to fail by design.
The New Normal, Hazards magazine, number 123, 2013 • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: Labour crackdown on bogus self-employment
Construction union UCATT has welcomed Labour’s announcement that the next Labour government will crackdown on false self-employment in the construction industry. Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: “I want to congratulate the shadow Treasury team for this pro-active policy, which will have a real impact on the lives of construction workers.”
UCATT news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Europe: Critics of EU chemical policy had industry ties
Seventeen scientists who launched a high profile attack on plans in Europe to regulate endocrine-disrupting chemicals have past or current ties to regulated industries. An investigation by Environmental Health News (EHN) revealed that of 18 toxicology journal editors who signed a controversial editorial, 17 have collaborated with the chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, tobacco, pesticide or biotechnology industries.
Environmental Health News • Nature • ChemSec news • Policy decisions on Endocrine Disruptors should be based on science across disciplines: A Response to Dietrich et al and Editorial: An international Riposte to naysayers of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals. Both in Endocrinology, published online ahead of print, 18 September 2013.
DR Dietrich and others. Scientifically unfounded precaution drives European Commission’s recommendations on EDC regulation, while defying common sense, well-established science and risk assessment principles, Food and Chemical Toxicology, published online 5 July 2013.
P Grandjean and D Ozonoff. Transparency and translation of science in a modern world, Environmental Health, volume 12, number 70, 27 August 2013 • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
USA: Chemical exposure at work poses worst pregnancy risk
The evidence that exposure to chemicals in pregnancy leads to adverse reproductive and developmental health outcomes is “sufficiently robust,” medical experts have warned, with the risks highest for those exposed at work. A report from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) urges doctors to push for stricter policies to better identify and reduce exposure to chemicals that prove truly risky.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists committee opinion, number 575, October 2013 • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: Man doused in deadly chemical at drug firm
A Northumberland pharmaceutical company has been fined for a serious criminal safety breach that left a worker fighting for his life in hospital. On 7 February 2012, the employee was sprayed with seven litres of bromine as he removed cables from a valve connected to pipework at Aesica Pharmaceuticals in Cramlington.
HSE news release • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Britain: Window firm fined over severed fingers
A Cumbrian manufacturer of wooden doors and window frames has been fined for criminal safety failings after an employee's fingers were severed by a rotating saw. The New West Port Corporation Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at its factory on the Solway Industrial Estate in Maryport on 2 March 2011.
HSE news release • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Canada: Mine deaths plea bargain ‘betrays workers’
A plea bargain dropping the majority of safety charges against international mining giant Vale related to the deaths of two nickel miners in exchange for a Can$1m (£600,000) fine is another betrayal of Ontario workers and their families, unions have said. The “decision highlights our government's failure to take comprehensive, meaningful action to better protect workers and to ensure justice for families whose loved ones are needlessly injured or killed on the job,” said Rick Bertrand, president of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 6500.
USW news release, related news and Vale fatalities webpages • USW Local 6500 Double Fatalities Investigation Report • OFL news release • CBC News • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Global: Unions continue container safety campaign
The global transport workers’ union ITF has pledged to continue the struggle for container weight safety after what it described as a missed opportunity to reduce the risk of harm to transport workers and members of the public. ITF was speaking out after the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) sub-committee on dangerous goods, solid cargoes and containers decided to reject mandatory weighing of packed shipping containers.
ITF news release • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Honduras: Banana workers call for help
A certification system supposed to provide a guarantee that goods are produced according to strict standards that guarantee workers' rights is giving cover to an abusive banana producer in Honduras, the global food workers’ union IUF has said. Last year workers at the Tres Hermanas banana plantation in Honduras formed a union, SITRAINBA - but rather than recognise the union, IUF says Tres Hermanas management set up their own bogus "union" and started a campaign of harassment, including sacking some SITRAINBA members and suspending others.
IUF news release • Send a message to Rainforest Alliance calling for the decertification of Tres Hermanas • Risks 624 • 28 September 2013
Hazards news, 21 September 2013
Britain: Construction sites fail inspections
Almost half of all construction sites visited by the HSE had significant safety problems. Between the 2nd and 27th September the HSE are undertaking a major inspection and enforcement initiative targeting the construction refurbishment sector; halfway through the initiative the HSE revealed that nearly half of the 1,000 sites they had visited contained material breaches leading to the issuing of a Notice of Contravention.
UCATT release • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: TUC slams new 'resilience' culture
The TUC's head of Health and Safety has expressed concern over attempts to make workers more resilient rather than workplaces more healthy. Hugh Robertson has used the new issue of Hazards magazine to express concerns over attempts by consultants and personnel managers to improve the ability of works to withstand stress better. Tough Luck, Hazards, number 123, July-September 2013 • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: Union points blame for compensation claims
A north-east England teaching union has said that cuts in health and safety regulation and poor school buildings are to blame for compensation payments made to teachers and pupils in the region. The local press have reported that more than £360,000 has been paid out to children and teachers involved in accidents at schools in the region over the past three years.
Chronicle. TUC on compensation culture • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: School boiler risks health
The GMB union has claimed that an academy's school's faulty biomass boiler has put students and staff at risk of asthma. According to the union, a problem with the flues from the boilers at Bexhill High School has caused smoke to enter classrooms, sparking concerns for the health of those teaching and studying at the school.
Press report • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: More control over foreign vessels demanded
A seafarers’ trade union has backed calls for British regulators to take a stronger line with vessels flying flags of convenience after a cargo ship sank just outside the 12 mile limit of UK territorial waters. The Cook Island registered Swanland sank off Gwynedd killing six Russian crew two years ago.
BBC report • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: London Fire Brigade to close 10 stations
The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) has agreed plans to close 10 London fire stations in a move that firefighters’ union FBU have said could seriously undermine safety in the capital. The cuts, which were only pushed through using the casting vote of the chair, were part of the Fifth London Safety Plan, which also included plans to cut 14 fire engines and reduce fire rescue units to 14 from 16.
FBU release • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: Research paper backs union stance
Unites campaign for lower limits on dust were given a boost by research from a group of academics. A paper 'Low-Toxicity Dusts: Current exposure guidelines are not sufficiently protective' by John W. Cherrie, Lisa M. Brosseau, Alastair Hay and Kenneth Donaldson outlines that exposure to low-toxicity dusts, which have previously been viewed as 'nuisance dusts', can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or other non-malignant respiratory disease.
Unite news • TUC guidance • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: Inspection stats challenged
The magazine of the professional body for local government inspectors has claimed that official statistics showing councils are proactively inspecting thousands of lower risk businesses may be skewed by miscoding and misreporting. Some councils listed in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) annual survey of local enforcement say the figures are inaccurate.
EHN article • TUC briefing on inspections • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: Two companies fined after admitting asbestos crimes
A leading British dairy products company and a Manchester welding company have been fined for exposing employees to material containing the killer dust asbestos at an industrial site in Devon. Dairy Crest, one of the top 250 companies listed on the London Stock exchange, was prosecuted on Friday 13 September alongside Rochdale Electric Welding Company Limited (REWCO), of Middleton, Greater Manchester, after the HSE identified failings with the planning of the job and a lack of training for workers involved. HSE press release • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: Another Super Puma develops fault
Following a number of incidents involving Super Puma helicopters operating in the North Sea, including 4 fatalities last month, a number of offshore workers were stranded on a North Sea platform overnight after a fault was detected on a Super Puma helicopter. Press report • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: Worker kills himself after stress claim
An inquest has heard that a top lawyer told a colleague he was going to kill himself the day before he threw himself under a Tube train. David Latham, 58, a world-renowned trademark lawyer at a large law company, was said to be 'inconsolable' with worry, and told a fellow partner that he was planning to kill himself after weeks of sleepless nights over the fate of a big case.
Fulham Chronicle • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: Company boss gets suspended sentence
The director of a Norwich company has been given a suspended six-month prison sentence and 180 hours of community service for safety failings in relation to electrical systems at the company's premises. Norwich Crown Court was told that an investigation by the HSE had found that Michael Lustig was found to have dangerous electrical installations and equipment in his workplace.
HSE press release • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Britain: Fall means worker left unable to work
A roofing firm has been fined for safety failings after a worker sustained severe injuries when he fell through a primary school roof in Chorley. A 51-year-old man suffered fractures to his spine, breastbone and ribs in the incident at St Marys Primary School, and narrowly avoided being paralysed.
HSE press release • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Bangladesh: Workers still awaiting compensation
Five months after the devastating Rana Plaza factory building collapse in Bangladesh that claimed 1,129 lives and injured thousands of others, only one manufacturer has come forward to compensate the victims. Unions and victims groups are seeking $34.6 million compensation from the retailers who benefited from the workers conditions but a meeting in Geneva with retailers got nowhere after only nine of the twenty-eight brands that were supplied by Rana Plaza showed up.
IndustriALL • Sign SumOfUs.org's petition to River Island to sign up to a key safety plan for Bangladesh • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Cambodia: Workers starve in name of fashion
The plight of Cambodian garment workers has been highlighted during London Fashion Week by worker rights group Labour Behind the Label who have released a study that shows a third of Cambodian garment workers producing clothes sold in the UK by global brands are not getting enough food.
Labour Behind the Label report • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
USA: Prison for coal boss
The former boss of a US company has been sent to prison for his part in trying to cover up safety violations, after 29 workers were killed in a West Virginia mine. The former president of Massey Energy's White Buck Coal and the Green Valley Resource Group, David Hughart, 53, was given a 42-month prison sentence after he admitted that he and others at Massey conspired to violate health and safety laws and to conceal those violations by warning mine operations when MSHA inspectors were arriving to conduct mine inspections.
Press report • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Japan: Fukushima out of control
A senior official for Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has contradicted claims from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the situation in the stricken reactor is under control.
Common Dreams • Risks 623 • 21 September 2013
Hazards news, 14 September 2013
Britain: Workers told to pay for justice
The TUC has slammed new plans to make workers with household savings of £3,000 pay the full cost of going to an employment tribunal. The fees introduced on 29 July mean workers can be required to pay up to £1,200 for taking a tribunal complaint about issues including victimisation for safety activities, sexual harassment or race discrimination.
TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
USA: Shocking cancer rates among 9/11 responders
Over 1,000 emergency workers who responded to the 11 September 2001 World Trade Center (WTC) tragedy in New York have developed cancers believed to be the result of exposure to the contaminated air that enveloped them. As of August, 1,140 responders and people who worked, lived or studied in lower Manhattan have been certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to have a WTC-related cancer.
New York Daily News • World Trade Center Health Program • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Blacklisters must ‘own up, clean up and pay up’
The TUC is to hold a national day of action against blacklisting on Wednesday 20 November. Protests will be held up and down the country and there will be lobby of parliament in London.
TUC news release • TUC Stronger Unions blog • Unite news release • GMB news release • UCATT news release • The Guardian • The Independent • The Mirror • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Pakistan: No compensation one year after deadly fire
A year after over 250 workers were killed in a devastating garment factory fire in Pakistan, injured workers and bereaved relatives have not received full compensation. Campaigners say German price-cutting chain KiK, the only known buyer of the jeans manufactured at Ali Enterprises, should pay up in full.
Clean Clothes Campaign news release • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Welsh government acts to ‘eradicate’ blacklisting
Public sector bodies in Wales can exclude blacklisters from bidding for public sector contracts under new Welsh government guidance, finance minister Jane Hutt has announced. A Procurement Advice Note has been issued to all Welsh public bodies to outline the necessary steps that can be taken through procurement “to help eradicate blacklisting – which can be very damaging to the careers and livelihoods of trade unionists,” the Welsh government said.
Welsh government news release • Unite news release • UCATT news release • GMB news release • Wales Online • The Guardian and related commentary from Ricky Tomlinson • The Mirror • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Bangladeshi union leader’s plea to UK retailers
A top garment union official from Bangladesh has warned eight leading UK retailers that there could be a repeat of April’s Rana Plaza tragedy if they refuse to sign up to the international accord designed to protect Bangladeshi factory workers. Amirul Haque Amin, president of the Bangledeshi National Garment Workers Federation (NGWF), said several big names are still refusing to commit to the agreement that will make building inspections compulsory at Bangladeshi factories that supply fashion goods to UK stores. TUC news release • TUC Stronger Unions blog • Usdaw news release • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
China: Apple supply chain abuses continue
The new cheaper iPhone that Apple unveiled to a global audience this week is being produced under illegal and abusive conditions in Chinese factories owned by a major US company, investigators have claimed. Workers are asked to stand for 12-hour shifts with just two 30-minute breaks, six days a week, the non-profit organisation China Labor Watch said, with staff working without adequate protective equipment, at risk from chemicals, noise and lasers, for an average of 69 hours a week, breaking Apple’s required 60 hour ceiling.
China Labor Watch news release • The Guardian • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Tell High Street brands to fix their dangerous factories
In April over 1,100 people died in Bangladesh when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. According to the TUC: “There has never been a clearer sign that all manufacturers and retailers need to lift dramatically their efforts to ensure that those making their clothes are doing so in safety and with dignity.”
TUC Going to Work website • Write to the eight brands now • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: New emphasis on preventing workplace diseases
Greatly improved measures to reduce the deaths and suffering caused by workplace diseases are needed, unions have said. The motion passed at the TUC Congress also criticised the government for watering down legislation intended to help victims of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma.
UCATT news release • NASUWT news release • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Ambulance workers must keep their sick pay
Ambulance crews won’t put up with a “draconian” cut to their sick pay which could see them being forced to work while ill, their unions have said. GMB, Unite and UNISON announced they are in dispute with the ambulance service in England and said their members were prepared to take industrial action.
GMB news release and follow up release • Personnel Today • HSCIC news release • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Unilever forced to pay up for safety hazards
A production line operative with Unilever suffered a bad injury to his left knee when an electrical fault caused a guard door to swing open. The Unite member was stacking empty ice cream tubs on a production line at the multinational’s Gloucestershire factory when he heard a loud bang and felt the guard door he was stood in front of swing sharply into his knee.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Canada: Justice sought with new asbestos registry
The union representing people who worked at a notorious asbestos mine on Newfoundland's Baie Verte Peninsula is demanding changes to eligibility criteria that prevented most of them from receiving compensation. The United Steelworkers union (USW) says health information gathered by the Baie Verte miners' registry shows people were unfairly denied compensation for diseases caused by exposure to chrysotile, or white, asbestos.
Baie Verte Miners Registry and Out of the fog film explaining the background to the registry. CBC News. March 2009 USW news release giving the background to the registry’s creation • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Faulty equipment caused worker’s life-long injury
Northampton-based KAB Seating Ltd has been brought to book by Unite after poor safety standards saw one of its members left with permanent damage to his hand. Machine operative Stephen Wallinger, 56, had to take six months off work and faced a surgical procedure to relieve intense pain in his left hand after sub-standard manufacturing equipment at the car seat factory led to the workplace injury.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Health board failed to protect worker from violence
A health board has been prosecuted for failing to protect a nurse from a violent attack by a patient. Lothian Health Board was fined £32,000 after the community psychiatric nurse, 55, was attacked while making a home visit to a patient with mental health issues.
HSE news release • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Aggregate firm fined over tipper death
A Kent aggregate company has been ordered to pay more than £180,000 in fines and costs after a worker was killed by dangerous lifting equipment on a tipper lorry. Brian Peek, 57, from Ashford, sustained fatal injuries whilst unloading bags of hardcore and aggregate for Moores Turf & Top Soil Limited at a domestic address in Wittersham on 20 November 2006.
HSE news release and lifting equipment guide • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Network Rail slammed over worker’s death
Network Rail was the subject of a scathing Crown Court attack after it pleaded guilty to criminal safety offence that led to one worker dying and another two suffering serious injuries. The firm was fined £125,000 and £85,000 costs for the offences related to the death of track maintenance worker Malcolm Slater.
ORR news release • Brentwood Gazette • Romford Recorder • Construction Enquirer • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: MPs to probe offshore helicopter safety
An inquiry is to be launched by a Commons committee into helicopter safety in the wake of a crash of a Super Puma off the Shetland Islands which claimed four lives last month. The Commons transport select committee will hold the inquiry into the fatal this and other incidents amid concerns over the safety of the Super Puma helicopter by the oil and gas industry.
Transport select committee news release • TUC helicopter safety motion • Unite news release • GMB news release • BALPA news release • The Scotsman • BBC News Online • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: MPs back union concerns on pilot fatigue
Union concerns that planned European Union changes to flying hours rules would see pilots landing planes while dangerously tired have been supported by a committee of MPs. A report from the House of Commons transport select committee published this week expresses concern about the lack of evidence behind proposed changes which could mean pilots were awake for a 22 hour stretch.
BALPA news release • House of Commons Transport Select Committee report and webpages on flight time limitations • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Councils defy ban on proactive inspections
More than half of local authorities appear to be ignoring government guidance banning proactive inspections of lower risk businesses. The most recent data released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that 53 per cent of the authorities continue to proactively inspect ‘some or many’ lower risk ‘Category B2’ and ‘Category C’ businesses. EHN Online • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Safety concerns over North Sea gas leak risks
New safety concerns have been raised about an oil and gas field that was shut down last year due to a leak. According to a report from Reuters news agency, the operator of the Elgin field has identified concerns about the corrosive effect of chemicals on pipes. Reuters reports that Total has plans for a costly shutdown of several Elgin wells due to the safety concerns.
BBC News Online • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Britain: Lung disease toll exposed
A comprehensive study of mortality rates across the Europe, carried out by the European Respiratory Society (ERS), has concluded that respiratory diseases across the continent cost nearly a million lives and 400 billion euros every year. The society’s European Lung White Book notes: “Overall, occupational agents are responsible for about 15 per cent (in men) and 5 per cent (in women) of all respiratory cancers, 17 per cent of all adult asthma cases, 15–20 per cent of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) cases and 10 per cent of interstitial lung disease cases.”
European Lung White Book and Occupational lung diseases and occupational risk factors sections • The Independent • TUC news release • Risks 622 • 14 September 2013
Hazards news, 7 September 2013
Britain: Frank success for blacklisting campaign!
An electrician sacked in what his union believes was a clear case of blacklisting after raising health and safety concerns has been reinstated. Unite member Frank Morris was dismissed last September from the Crossrail project.
Unite and BFK joint statement • Stronger Unions blog • Blacklist blog • Construction Enquirer • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Uzbekistan: Slave labour picks the cotton harvest
Uzbekistan’s cotton harvest, worth an estimated one billion US dollars annually, has a dirty secret. Approximately half of all Uzbekistan’s crop is picked by state-sponsored forced labour, says Aidan McQuade of Anti-Slavery International.
Equal Times • Write to your MEP • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: Union warning on offshore blacklists
An offshore culture that has left North Sea oil workers fearful of speaking up about safety concerns in case they are blacklisted by employers must change, union leaders have warned. Bob Crow, general secretary of the union RMT, said: “There is a lack of trust and it's not surprising given a history of blacklisting by employers. The use of NRB [not-required-back] labelling has left some petrified that their careers could come to an end.”
The Guardian • Blacklist blog • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
USA: Austerity budget threatens work safety
The health and safety of America's workforce is on the line as politicians debate savage cuts to federal budgets, a new report has concluded. The Center for Effective Government report notes that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is already significantly under-funded and does not have the resources to do the job properly.
What's at stake: Austerity budgets threaten worker health and safety, Center for Effective Government, 2013 • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: Best-selling ‘Hazards at work’ goes digital
The TUC’s one-stop source for union health and safety information has just gone digital. The best-selling ‘Hazards at work’, which is the size of a telephone directory in is original print format, is now available as a more manageable digital book.
For details of how to get hold of your e-pub version of ‘Hazards at work’, see the TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: Plan in place for respect for shopworkers
Retail union Usdaw’s annual Respect for Shopworkers Week will be held from 11-15 November this year. The event forms part of the union’s long-running and highly successful Freedom from Fear campaign, which seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers.
Usdaw news release and resources • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: Fire service ‘prolongs the pain’ for the bereaved
An appeal by a fire service against a court ruling that it should pay compensation after the deaths of two firefighters in a 2006 fireworks blaze will prolong the pain for the bereaved, firefighters’ union FBU has said.
FBU news release and statement on Stephen Hunt • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: Worker suffers hand damage at brake factory
A Unite member from Hartlepool who lost part of his finger and suffered nerve damage after his hand was trapped in a faulty machine at work has been awarded more than £25,000 in compensation. Gordon Cranney, a production operative at TMD Friction, was trying to release a jammed brake pad when his hand became trapped.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: Six years of trauma after nail gun injury
A joiner had to endure a six year medical and legal battle following a workplace injury involving a nail gun. Patrick Meek, a joiner from Gloucestershire. was injured while making wooden pallets in the summer of 2007 because he hadn’t been trained to safely and securely stabilise the wood.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: Probe over UK’s offshore helicopter safety record
A review of helicopter operations in the North Sea is to be launched by the oil industry in the wake of the Super Puma crash that killed four workers. The review comes amid concerns that the UK may have a poorer safety record than Norway.
Oil & Gas UK news release • Sunday Herald • Norwegian Work Environment Act • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Thailand: Migrants face dire conditions on trawlers
Migrant workers on Thai trawlers are being subjected to violence, held captive and denied food to make them work for years on poverty wages, a new study has found. Researchers from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Asian Research Center on Migration at Chulalongkorn University say Thailand - the world's No.3 seafood exporter after China and Norway - either lacks comprehensive laws to protect poor migrants from exploitation or fails to enforce existing laws, such as those prohibiting the employment of children younger than 15 in fishing.
ILO news release • ABC News • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: Chancellor slammed for deaths double-standard
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s tribute to four dead offshore workers has been condemned as “insulting”, by campaigners. They say while his government continues an unprecedented attack on workplace health and safety enforcement and resources, it is “inappropriate” for its second-in-command to feign concern for safety. George Osborne’s speech, 3 September 2013. FACK statement • Daily Record • The Express • BBC News Online • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: Academic concern over safety of UK workplaces
Top safety academics from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have warned that the UK government’s safety strategy is not evidence-based and is leaving workers at greater risk of injury and disease. The eight experts, including Professors Matthias Beck from Queen’s University, Belfast, Steve Tombs from the Open University and David Walters from Cardiff University, write that government “lies and distortion” about business burdens and compensation culture should stop because “properly enforced regulation is good for the workforce, good for the economy and favours the responsible businesses over the corner-cutting rogues.”
The Herald • DWP health and safety webpages • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: UK sickness rate much lower than Germany and France
The proportion of UK companies reporting high rates of staff sickness has fallen to less than half the rate in Germany and France in five years, according to new research. Dr Wen Wang, of the University of Wolverhampton Business School, found that in 2004 around 17 per cent of UK firms studied said they had high rates of staff sickness, which fell to 9 per cent by 2009.
Wolverhampton Business School news release • The Guardian • Metro • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Global: Taking care of workers is good business
When organisations search for ways to improve their financial performance, they should not overlook the importance of investing in the health and well-being of their employees. Emile Tompa, a Canadian health and labour economist, reports that several international studies have demonstrated the positive effects of preventive programmes, including workplace ergonomics interventions, on a company’s bottom line.
FIOH news release • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Britain: ‘Dickensian’ site lands developer in court
A Plymouth property developer put the lives of builders at risk by letting them work near unprotected holes up to nine metres deep at a "Dickensian" site in Cardiff, a court has heard. John Pinn was refurbishing two Victorian terraced properties in November 2012 when the failings were uncovered by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector following a complaint.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Japan: Fukushima radiation levels shock
Radiation levels around Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant are 18 times higher than previously thought, Japanese authorities have warned. Readings taken near a leaking tank on 31 August showed radiation was high enough to prove lethal within four hours of exposure.
Common Dreams • BBC News Online • Risks 621 • 7 September 2013
Hazards news, 31 August 2013
Britain: Government move will embolden rogue agencies
The TUC has slammed the announcement by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that it is to reduce the role of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA). Under plans published on 27 August, the GLA will no longer have powers to regulate the forestry sector, land agents and cleaning contractors operating in the food processing industry, with agencies in these sectors will no longer have to get a GLA licence before they start operating or be subject to inspections by the GLA.
TUC news release • Defra response to GLA consultation • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Unions want offshore flight dangers sorted
Union leaders have called for all Super Puma helicopters to be grounded following the death of four people in a 23 August crash off Shetland. Operator CHC Helicopter suspended operations of other Super Puma AS332L2 helicopters until the cause of the crash is known.
Unite news release • CHC statement • Herald Scotland • BBC News Online • The Scotsman • Morning Star • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
USA: Will the US get a lifesaving silica standard at last?
Sixteen years ago, US federal workplace safety officials began developing a rule to control and limit workers’ exposure to silica dust, in a country where more than 7,000 workers develop silicosis and 200 die each year and others develop silica-related lung cancer and other conditions.
AFL-CIO Now blog • USW news release and statement from silicosis sufferer Alan White • OSHA statement and information on the proposed standard • American Thoracic Society statement • National COSH network statement • The Pump Handle. Working in These Times • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: RMT pushes for offshore safety improvements
The union RMT has held a rally in Aberdeen to press for improved safety in the offshore oil and gas industry. The 28 August rally was announced after a protest by the union outside helicopter operator CHC's base was called off.
RMT news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • The Scotsman • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Unite calls for urgent fatal accident reform
The Scottish government should fast-track Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) reforms in the wake of the helicopter tragedy off Shetland, Unite has said. The union has also called and for an emergency Scottish parliamentary debate into offshore health and safety following the fatal crash.
Unite news release • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Tanzania: The hazardous lives of child gold miners
Children as young as eight years old are working in Tanzanian small-scale gold mines, with grave risks to their health and even their lives, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW). The group is calling on the Tanzanian government to curb child labour in small-scale mining, including at informal, unlicensed mines, and says the World Bank and donor countries should support these efforts.
HRW news release and video. Full report: Toxic Toil: Child Labor and Mercury Exposure in Tanzania’s Small-Scale Gold Mines • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Action at Hovis over zero hours contracts
Hovis staff started the first of a planned series of strikes on 28 August over the introduction of agency workers on zero hours contracts. The action is at the Wigan bakery, one of 10 Hovis sites in the UK.
BFAWU news release and earlier release • The Work Foundation news release • The Guardian and related commentary • Food Manufacture • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Pilot fatigue is a major public concern
A new poll has revealed the overwhelming majority of the travelling public have concerns about European Union plans to make British pilots fly when they are dangerously tired. The ComRes poll found 89 per cent of the British public said they would be concerned about being in an aircraft flown by a pilot who has been awake for 22 hours, something new EU rules cutting British safety standards will allow.
BALPA news release and video • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Ambulance staff reject sick pay cuts
NHS Employers need to seriously consider the consequences of implementing cuts that could put the public at risk, unions have said. GMB, UNISON and Unite members working in England’s ambulance services have voted to reject proposals to apply up to 25 per cent deductions to sick pay.
GMB news release • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Pallet truck crushes foot
A lorry loader from Oxfordshire was left with tendon and ligament damage when his foot was crushed at work. The Bidvest Logistics employee, whose name has not been released, was loading the back of a lorry when a colleague driving a powered pallet truck (PPT) crashed into him and trapped his left foot.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Students rooms contain asbestos
At least 17,000 students slept in university bedrooms that contained asbestos last year, official figures have revealed. Although universities have asbestos management procedures, campaigners have raised concerns that students may not report damaged asbestos because they do not know it is there.
The Guardian • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Bank to review working conditions after death
Bank of America Merrill Lynch has launched a review of working conditions for junior staff after the death of an intern employed at its London office. Moritz Erhardt, 21, was found dead at his home after reportedly working at the Merrill Lynch investment bank for 72 hours without sleep.
BBC News Online • The Guardian • ABC News • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Malawi: Your cuppa is someone else’s heartache
At the start of his eight-hour shift, tea picker Stephano James is already tired, but he is motivated by the prospect of meeting the day’s 44 kg tea leaf target. With no protective clothing or equipment other than a wicker basket tied with rope to his back, 23-year-old Stephano works through the early morning drizzle, picking the tender green tea leaves with his bare hands and stuffing them into the basket.
Equal Times • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Finland: Making jobs better keeps you well
Cutting the mental and social strain caused by work can make workers healthier in the short and long term, new research has found. A Finnish study discovered the risk of an employee claiming a work disability pension due to musculoskeletal diseases can be decreased by up to 35 per cent by reducing the workplace strains.
FIOH news release and key papers and conference programme • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Ecobuild convicted over building site ‘shambles’
A Kent building company has been convicted of criminal offences after failing repeatedly to manage risks on a construction site and exposing workers to a risk of injury. Canterbury Magistrates were told that the development site in Ramsgate, run by Ecobuild Homes Ltd, had been visited by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors seven times between July and November 2012.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Construction tweeters can #askHSE
Got any tough questions you want to ask the Health and Safety Executive’s construction chief about site safety? Well, as long as you can keep them down to 140 characters, then you’ll get your chance.
HSE news release and twitter page • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Australia: Firefighters in bid for cancer compo
Legislation to pay compensation to cancer-suffering firefighters is to be proposed in the parliament of Australia’s Northern Territories (NT). This follows a lead taken by the government of South Australia, which last year approved a firefighter cancer compensation law.
NT News • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Pirelli in the dock over tyre factory injuries
Tyre manufacturer Pirelli has appeared in court after an employee sustained major injuries to his left arm when it became trapped in a tyre-testing machine. The 57-year-old from Carlisle, who has asked not to be named, broke his arm in three places, was off work for four months and still has difficulty moving his shoulder following the incident on 3 January 2012.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Britain: Unguarded printing press mangles finger
A Norwich printing firm has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker injured his finger in an unguarded machine. The 44-year-old employee was working for Swallowtail Print Ltd when the incident happened on 1 November 2012.
HSE news release and print machinery guide • Risks 620 • 31 August 2013
Hazards news, 24 August 2013
Britain: Workers left with no place to go
Council cuts to public conveniences are leaving workers with no place to go, the public sector union UNISON has warned. It says workers suffering from too few loos include paramedics, transport workers, police community support officers, postal workers and bin men who spend their working day out and about.
UNISON news release • IOSH news report • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Police ‘cover-up’ their blacklisting role
Unions and campaigners have called for a ‘Leveson-style’ inquiry after new evidence emerged that police are involved in a ‘cover-up’ of their participation in a blacklisting scandal. The demand came after the Guardian reported it had seen evidence that the police gathered intelligence on trade union activists and passed the information to The Consulting Association, a clandestine blacklisting agency that unlawfully stored secret files on thousands of workers.
Blacklist blog • The Guardian and related commentary • GMB news release • The Mirror • Morning Star • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
New Zealand: Mines need safety oversight by workers
MPs in New Zealand have been told that check inspectors – a form of on-the-ground union safety inspector - should be present in all types of quarrying and tunnelling workplaces. The call came in submissions to a Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee hearing on a bill to implement health and safety changes following the Royal Commission into the Pike River mine tragedy in which 29 miners were killed in 2010.
Radio New Zealand • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Global: No escape for blacklisters as union goes stateside
A company linked to the Crossrail blacklisting controversy has found itself receiving unwanted attention in the US, where it has been pursued by the union Unite. A delegation from the UK union travelled to Chicago last week to inform decision makers involved in the Chicago Midway Airport privatisation about Ferrovial’s involvement in ‘blacklisting’ on the London Crossrail project.
Unite news release • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Global: RMT welcomes overdue maritime rules
Seafarers’ union RMT has welcomed the long-awaited Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) coming into effect on 20 August 1013. According to the union, this new International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention has the potential to make a genuine difference to the lives of seafarers.
RMT news release • ITF news release and Maritime Labour Convention guidance • ILO news release and Maritime Labour Convention webpage • Equal Times • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Labour can cure the zero hours plague, says Unite
The union Unite is pressing for decisive policies to halt the ‘alarming rise’ in insecure working. Making the call at Labour's summit on zero hours working this week, the union said a zero hours ‘plague’ is gripping workers across the UK.
Unite news release • Chuka Umunna news release • BBC News Online • New Statesman • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Worker injured by dodgy press
A machine operator had his finger crushed in a faulty press – and became one of the last people to receive “strict liability” compensation before it was ended as part of insurer-friendly government cuts. Tony Render, 51, was injured while using the press in 2011 at a Federal Mogul Ltd factory in Bradford that manufactured hinge pins for the car industry.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Night worker injured by railway sleeper
A rail freight worker was injured while conducting a night-time safety check on a Carlisle railway line. Unite member Stephen Adams, 51, who worked for the rail freight operating company DB Schenker Rail UK Limited, was walking a rail route in the early hours of the morning in October 2010 when he tripped on a railway sleeper that had been left on the walkway.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
USA: BP sues US government over contracts ban
BP is suing the US government for barring the company from obtaining new federal contracts. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned BP last November, blaming the firm's “lack of business integrity” after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. CPR Blog • The Telegraph • Common Dreams • BBC News Online • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Family seeks clues on woman’s asbestos death
The family of Bristol woman who died from an asbestos-related lung cancer is appealing for information from people who may have worked alongside her. Marlene Vile, whose maiden name was Tilzey, died in February after being diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in September 2012.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Bank of America intern dies after long hours stint
A 21-year-old who was interning at a London investment bank has died after reportedly working 72 hours in a row. Moritz Erhardt was an exchange student from Germany studying at the University of Michigan and was interning at the Bank of America in London when he died, seven days before he was due to complete his summer internship. The Independent • BBC News Online • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Fatal 10-year failure by General Motors
The owner of motor manufacturer Vauxhall has been fined £150,000 over the death of a long-serving worker, Ian Heard, 59, who was crushed in machinery at its car factory in Ellesmere Port. The company, part of General Motors UK Ltd, had failed to remedy the fault responsible, despite identifying the problem in a risk assessment a decade before. HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • BBC News Online • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Textile worker dismissed after getting lung disease
A Suffolk textile firm that stopped health surveillance of workers using highly dangerous reactive dyes then dismissed a worker who developed lung disease as a result. The worker, who does not wish to be named, was employed at Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company Ltd in Sudbury as the dye house manager from 1993 to his dismissal by the company in 2012.
HSE news release and reactive dyes guide • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Global: Zero tolerance of harassment at Chiquita
A global agreement on “zero tolerance” of sexual harassment of workers employed by the banana multinational Chiquita has been signed. As part of the Regional Framework Agreement between Chiquita, global union federation IUF and COLSIBA - the coordinating body for Latin American banana unions - a new appendix commits the firm and the unions to “developing a joint understanding on sexual harassment, so that this kind of harassment will not be tolerated in the workplace”.
IUF news release and agreement • ILO Code of Practice on safety and health in agriculture • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Limo firm fined after seven get hand disease
A Bolton limousine and hearse manufacturer has been fined after seven employees developed a debilitating hand condition over a six and a half year period. Woodall Nicholson Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the workers were diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration syndrome (HAVS) as a result of almost daily use of hand-held equipment, such as grinders, saws and pneumatic tools, all of which constantly vibrate.
HSE news release and HAVS webpage • Manchester Evening News • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Rolls Royce fined for vibration-related wrist injury
British engineering giant Rolls Royce has been fined after an employee was diagnosed with a debilitating condition in both arms that has left him with permanent nerve damage. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company after Allan Thornewill, 55, from Derby, developed bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome after being exposed to high levels of vibration at the company's premises in Wilmore Road, Derby. HSE news release • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Faulty rope cost outdoors instructor his leg
An outdoors activity instructor was left permanently disabled when he used a defective rope for a simulated parachute landing. Joshua Senior, 25, plunged some nine metres to the ground at the Rock (UK) adventure centre in Carroty Wood, near Tonbridge, Kent, on 25 August 2010; instead of allowing Mr Senior to descend in a measured way, the rope supplied by Pfeifer Rope & Tackle Ltd unravelled as he stepped off a platform for a practice descent.
HSE news release • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Firm fined for failing to hold insurance
A Sunderland firm has been fined for failing to hold the statutory insurance that enables employees to claim compensation if they are injured at work. An investigation was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following ‘information received’ suggesting Sun Spirit Ltd was uninsured. Sunderland Magistrates' Court heard that HSE inspectors found the company did not hold any Employer's Liability Compulsory Insurance between 9 February and 13 December 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Britain: Preventing violence in retail
Retail union Usdaw has published a new guide for union reps on the prevention of violence in the sector. It says the guide provides pointers on how to look after affected members, raise awareness of the issue and raise the profile of Usdaw.
Usdaw news release and Preventing violence to retail staff – an Usdaw guide and Freedom From Fear campaign • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Australia: Unions slam complacency on toxic dispersants
Australia's offshore petroleum industry safety regulator must fully investigate the use of potentially deadly dispersants to clean up oil spills in Australia, the country’s national union federation ACTU has said. ACTU assistant Secretary Michael Borowick said reports on the Channel 9 TV programme 60 Minutes regarding dispersants used to clean up spills in Australia were deeply concerning, and that the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) needed to conduct a genuine and timely investigation, putting health and safety first.
ACTU news release • 60 Minutes • Australian Marine Conservation Society statement. NOPSEMA response to 60 minutes • Herald Sun • Risks 619 • 24 August 2013
Hazards news, 17 August 2013
Britain: HSE slated for leaving workers in the dust
Construction union UCATT has said it is “dismayed” the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) failed to inform union members about a planned seminar on dust dangers in the industry. Cheryl Pidgeon, regional secretary of UCATT Midlands, said “workers are at greatest risk from dust inhalation and the HSE should be working with UCATT to make sure that union safety reps are involved in the seminar.”
UCATT news release • HSE news release and information sheet • Global Unions zero cancer campaign • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
USA: Police spied on sweatshop activists
Suspicions that police routinely infiltrate anti-sweatshop and other labour rights campaign organisations in the US, have been given added credence after an undercover Washington DC police officer was caught masquerading as a campaigner and undermining campaign activities.
In These Times • Democracy Now • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: TUC welcomes new maritime labour agreement
The TUC has welcomed the UK’s decision to ratify the International Labour Organisation's Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). However, the TUC said it remains concerned that funding cuts to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) will make it harder to enforce working standards.
TUC news release • ILO news release and maritime labour convention • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
New Zealand: Unions expose minister’s sly strategy
New Zealand’s labour minister has been caught by unions misrepresenting the recommendations of a Taskforce into a deadly mine explosion, in a bid to undermine the accountability of a new workplace health and safety regulator. The Taskforce into the November 2010 Pike River mine disaster in which 29 workers died said a new workplace health and safety regulator should be supported by a tripartite board, involving representatives of government, employers and employees - but a 40-page paper to the Cabinet from labour minister Simon Bridges this week instead claimed the Taskforce recommended that the board be supported by a more arms-length tripartite advisory group.
NZCTU news release • Proposal from the Office of the Minister of Labour • Taskforce report • Radio New Zealand • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: Boris plans to sack key Tube safety staff
A new safety row has erupted over secret plans hatched by Boris Johnson to close all 268 Tube offices across the capital in the next two years and axe thousands of jobs. The plans, which have been condemned as ‘foolish’ by the rail union TSSA, were revealed by the London Evening Standard.
TSSA news release • London Evening Standard • BBC News Online • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
USA: Walmart admits ‘repeat and serious’ violations
Walmart has agreed to improve safety at more than 2,800 stores in 28 US states after inspectors discovered “repeat and serious” health and safety violations at a store in Rochester, New York. The agreement, which included a $190,000 fine, was negotiated by the federal safety regulator OSHA after it uncovered “unacceptable” safety hazards to employees at the Rochester store that were similar to those in Walmart locations in nine other states.
OUR Walmart statement • OSHA news release and full text of the agreement between Wal-Mart and OSHA • The Pump Handle • New York Times • USA Today • The Guardian • Democracy Now • Wall St Cheat Sheet • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: Rail staffing cuts blamed for surge in thefts and violence
Rail union RMT has said a surge in personal thefts and acts of violence on Britain’s railways, just revealed by the British Transport Police and rail chiefs, is directly linked to the government’s attack on station and train staffing. The union warns the situation is set to worsen as planned job cuts are implemented.
RMT news release • British Transport Police news release • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: Judge backs workers on protective footwear
Employers should provide protective footwear to staff who work outdoors, a court has ruled. The Court of Session in Edinburgh made the landmark ruling in a UNISON-backed legal case involving care worker Tracey Kennedy who fell on an icy path outside a patient's home.
Digby Brown Solicitors news release • Opinion of Lord McEwan • Glasgow Herald • BBC News Online • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: Chemical spill led to painful slip
An Alcan Aluminium employee needed knee surgery after slipping on a chemical that had leaked onto a workshop floor. The GMB member from Newbiggin by the Sea was repairing a large crucible pot used at the now mothballed factory, which made aluminium products at the site in Lynemouth, Northumberland.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: New standards will protect health staff
Health service union UNISON has welcomed new health and safety standards intended to support NHS organisations in meeting their legal duties to protect staff from injury and illness. The standards have been jointly agreed by NHS Employers and trade unions, including UNISON.
UNISON news release • NHS workplace health and safety standards • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Italy: Enforced regulations make work safer
Efforts to ensure effective implementation of new health and safety regulations in Italy’s construction sector resulted in a drop in injury rates, a study has found. Researchers examined the impact of two new construction laws, implementing a European Union-wide directive on the management of temporary and mobile construction sites.
Elena Farina, Antonella Bena, Osvaldo Pasqualini and Giuseppe Costa. Are regulations effective in reducing construction injuries? An analysis of the Italian context, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 70, pages 611-616, 2013 [abstract] • European Directive 92/57/EEC • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Global: Job worries raise heart disease risks
There is a “modest association” between self-reported job insecurity and coronary heart disease (CHD), a major study has found. In a response welcoming the British Medical Journal paper, Paul Nicholson, chair of the British Medical Association’s Occupational Medicine Committee, noted job insecurity is also linked to increased sickness and raised cholesterol levels and blood pressure, adding the new study was important “because we are living in ‘VUCA times’, that is to say the world is: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.”
Marianna Virtanen and others. Perceived job insecurity as a risk factor for incident coronary heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis, British Medical Journal, volume 347, f4746, 2013, published online 8 August. Response to the article from BMA OMC chair Paul Nicholson • TUC news release • The Mirror • More on job insecurity • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: Legal challenge against zero hours contracts
Zero hours contracts are facing a legal challenge, after a part-time worker with SportsDirect.com decided to take her case to an employment tribunal. Elizabeth George, the barrister in the employment team of law firm Leigh Day who is acting for Zahera Gabriel-Abraham, said: “There was no practical difference between the obligations put on my client by the company and those placed on full-time staff,” adding: “The ‘casual’ part-time employees in this case are employees in the conventional sense and denying them their paid holidays, sick pay and bonuses is unlawful.”
Leigh Day news release • 38 Degrees blog • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: Illegal gangmaster ‘got off lightly’, says GLA chief
The chief executive of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) has said the suspended jail sentence imposed on a Wiltshire-based recruitment consultant - who systematically exploited around 60 Filipino workers and illegally supplied them to
dairy farms across the UK - does not “fit the crime‟. Christopher James Blakeney – who admits he made £700,000 from the crimes - was handed 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years for each of four counts of acting as an unlicensed gangmaster, the sentences to run concurrently.
GLA news release • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: Trainee seriously injured in skylight fall
A Hertfordshire firm has been prosecuted for safety breaches after a trainee employee suffered serious injuries in an eight-metre fall from a roof. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the injured worker’s employer, Nature’s Power Ltd.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: Firm fined for back-breaking skylight fall
An Essex construction firm has been fined for safety failings after an employee broke his spine when he fell through a skylight opening at a construction site in Hampshire. His employer, Prestige Construction Services Ltd, was fined a total of £30,000 and ordered to pay £9,000 in costs after pleading guilty to criminal breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: Steep rise in falls from height
The number of construction workers falling from height has increased by 60 per cent, according to news figures the Building Safety Group consultancy. It says the findings are based on accident reports in the three months from May until July by Building Safety Group’s membership of more than 20,000 construction workers across the UK.
Building Safety Group news • Construction Enquirer • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Britain: Injury is a 'wake-up call' for nurseries
A back injury court win for a nursery worker has highlighted a lack of awareness in the sector of the importance of workplace risk assessments, an expert has said. Aileen Cooper, who worked at Bright Horizons Rothamsted Little Stars Nursery in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, secured a legal victory at the High Court, which found the nursery group to be liable for her severe disability, caused by placing a baby in a defective cot, after she developed a rare condition known as Cauda Equina Syndrome.
Nursery World • Risks 618 • 17 August 2013
Hazards news, 10 August 2013
Global: Unions are great for health and the economy
A union presence has a strong positive effect on the health of the workforce and the economy, a Europe-wide study has found. Researchers Maureen Dollard and Daniel Neser from the University of South Australia combined five different data sets canvassing 31 wealthy European countries, including the UK; they found 13 per cent of the variance in national life expectancy could be explained by differences in worker self-reported health and national gross domestic product (GDP) – and unions were a key factor explaining these differences.
Maureen F Dollard and Daniel Y Neser. Worker health is good for the economy: Union density and psychosocial safety climate as determinants of country differences in worker health and productivity in 31 European countries, Social Science & Medicine, volume 92, pages 114–123, September 2013 • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
USA: Respirators don’t protect you from fracking dust
Workers involved in ‘fracking’ are being exposed to levels of carcinogenic silica up to 10 times the US recommended limit, a study has found. Researchers from the US government occupational health research institute NIOSH looked at worker exposures during hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations and also found the most commonly used type of respirator, the half-mask air-purifying respirator, might not provide enough protection for workers.
Esswein EJ, Breitenstein M, Snawder J, Kiefer M, Sieber WK. Occupational exposures to respirable crystalline silica during hydraulic fracturing, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH), volume 10, number 7, pages 347-56, 2013 [abstract]. EHS Today • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: TUC hits back after new compo attacks
The TUC has criticised a new push by insurers and the government to limit access to compensation. The union rebuttal came after Axa chief Paul Evans told the Daily Telegraph that “compensation culture is becoming a real issue for society”, and justice minister Helen Grant said: “We are turning the tide on the compensation culture which has pushed up the cost of insurance for drivers, schools and business – and taking another important step to reducing the cost of living for ordinary people.”
Ministry of Justice news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release. • Daily Telegraph • Robbed!, Hazards magazine • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Global: Call for phase out of killer pesticides
Highly hazardous pesticides should be phased out because it has proven “very difficult” to ensure proper handling, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said. It notes: “FAO therefore recommends that governments in developing countries should speed up the withdrawal of highly hazardous pesticides from their markets,” adding: “Non-chemical and less toxic alternatives are available, and in many cases Integrated Pest Management can provide adequate pest management that is more sustainable and reduces the use of pesticides.”
FAO news release and Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management • SAICM paper on highly toxic pesticides • Sustainlabour report • Wall Street Journal • International Herald Tribune blog • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
USA: Treating workers fairly is good business
Fair working standards for construction workers and financial profit for developers aren’t incompatible, according to a new report from the Workers Defense Project. Instead the report from the Texas-based advocacy group concludes consumers are willing to pay more to live in places built on principles of safety, economic justice and dignity.
The Pump Handle • Green Jobs for Downtown Austin: Exploring the Consumer Market for Sustainable Buildings, University of Texas Center for Sustainable Development/Texas Workers’ Defense Project, 2013 • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: STUC backs move to reform fatalities inquiries
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) is backing a probe into Scotland’s “failing” Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) system. The union body was commenting after Patricia Ferguson MSP announced she intends to introduce a members’ bill to radically amend the Fatal Accident and Sudden Deaths Inquiries (Scotland) Act 1976, which has been criticised for placing a lack of emphasis on lessons being learned and for excluding the families of the deceased from the process.
STUC news release and FAI consultation. • Patricia Ferguson MSP news release •
Stockline disaster website • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: Action as stress and bugs blight hospitals
Over-stretched staff labouring in bug infested Leeds hospitals are wilting under the stress, GMB has said. GMB’s Bill Chard said: “Continual re-organisation, higher than UK average levels of stress, mixed with ongoing financial pressures all add up to a lethal mix.”
GMB news release • Yorkshire Evening Post • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: Boris putting lives at risk from fire
A decision by London mayor Boris Johnson to overrule the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and impose £35 million of cuts will put the lives of Londoners at risk, firefighters’ union FBU has warned. Ian Leahair, FBU executive member for London, said: “The cuts are dangerous and wrong, and this is devastating news for Londoners, with lives across the capital being put at risk by the mayor’s reckless cuts.”
FBU news release • Boris Johnson’s decision • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: Private eye spied on sick worker
A tracking device was fitted secretly to a mum’s car by private investigators brought in by West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service to discover whether she was moonlighting while on sick leave from her job as a 999 call handler. FBU member Anthea Orchard, 35, said she and her family were horrified when she discovered the device.
Yorkshire Post • Telegraph and Argus • BBC News Online • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: CWU backs tougher dangerous dog sentences
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has welcomed a government consultation on sentencing for dangerous dog offences and says it hopes it will lead to tougher and more consistent sentencing. Dave Joyce, CWU health and safety officer, said: “We would draw comparisons with driving offences where death by dangerous driving has a maximum prison sentence of five years and automatic disqualification.”
CWU news release • BBC News Online • Defra news release and dog attacks consultation • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: Office mould caused occupational asthma
An office worker has developed occupational asthma after being exposed to fungal spores at his place of work. UNISON member David Livingstone, 62, was working as a substance misuse specialist for Addiction Dependency Solutions Ltd when a fungus developed on the building’s damp exterior wall less than 2ft away from his desk. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: New warning on the UK’s deadly dust standard
The UK’s workplace dust standard should be tightened considerably to protect workers from serious diseases, a new academic paper has concluded, echoing a 2011 call from the TUC. The paper published in the July edition of the Annals of Occupational Hygiene concludes: “We urge regulators in Britain and elsewhere to move to develop new, safe OELs for poorly soluble low-toxicity dusts.”
John W Cherrie, Lisa M Brosseau, Alastair Hay and Kenneth Donaldson. Low-toxicity dusts: Current exposure guidelines are not sufficiently protective, Annals of Occupational Hygiene, volume 57, issue 6, pages 685-691, 2013.
Dust in the workplace. Guidance for Health and safety representatives, TUC, 2011 • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: Web-only HSE guidance isn’t good enough
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched revised guidance it says will help make it easier for larger organisations and businesses to understand how to manage health and safety. But the “completely refreshed and enhanced” Managing for Health and Safety guidance has not just been rewritten, it has been converted from a publication into a webpage – a move Unite health and safety officer Bud Hudspith said was “an absolute disaster.”
HSE news release • Managing for health and safety guidance, HSG65, revised 2013 • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: McAlpine names rivals in blacklist defence
Sir Robert McAlpine has added at least nine other contractors as co-defendants against a multi-million pound legal action by blacklisted building workers. The nine major contractors added to the list of defendants are Balfour Beatty, BAM, Carillion, Costain, Laing O’Rourke, Kier, Skanska, Vinci and AMEC; when subsidiaries are included, the list runs to 34 firms.
Blacklist blog • Construction Enquirer • Guney, Clark and Ryan blacklisting webpages • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: Government must act to halt zero hours culture
Urgent action is needed to stop the growth of the zero hours culture, unions have said. The call came after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) admitted it had dramatically underestimated the extent of zero hours work, and then research published by the human resources organisation CIPD suggested the problem could still be much more serious than the government accepts, with a possible one million zero hours workers in the UK – four times the revised government estimate.
TUC news release • CIPD news release • Unite news release • UNISON news release • UCU news release • Prospect news release • BECTU news release • TUC Touchstone blog • The Work Foundation news release • The Guardian • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: Engineering firm disabled safety interlocks
An employee injured his hand on a machine at an engineering firm where a safety lock had been deliberately disabled. The worker, who does not wish to be named, almost lost a finger whilst trying to clear swarf (metal debris) from a large Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) milling machine at Quickmach Engineering Pressings Ltd in Cinderford on 12 November 2012.
HSE news release and risk webpages • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: Director escapes with a fine for street crimes
A Buckinghamshire construction company and its managing director have been fined for multiple safety failings following the total collapse of two large properties in Westminster. Ethos Construction Solutions Limited and sole director Pritish Lad were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE news release and construction webpages • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: Factory noise led to tinnitus
A machine operator was left with serious hearing difficulties after his employers failed to provide him with appropriate hearing protection. Joseph Shaw now requires a hearing aid due to the damage caused by the noisy machinery at engineering firms Warrington Wheel and Titan Distribution and Thames Board Mills.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Britain: New union safety website for journalists
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has launched a website dedicated to the safety and protection of media. The global union says the website will provide a one stop portal for all IFJ activities to promote the safety of journalists and to combat the apparent impunity for violence targeting media.
IFJ news release and safety website • NUJ news release • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Global: Low labour standards blight hi-tech industries
When China’s largest exporter teamed up with arguably the world’s most prestigious hi-tech brand, there was one clear loser – the workers whose suicide-inducing, intensified labour fed the success of the two multinationals. This is the conclusion of a special issue of the academic journal New Technology, Work and Employment.
Debra Howcroft and Phil Taylor. Editorial: ‘Harvesting a bitter fruit'—work and labour in China's consumer electronics supply chain, New Technology, Work and Employment
volume 28, issue 2, page 83, July 2013.
Jenny Chan. A suicide survivor: the life of a Chinese worker, New Technology, Work and Employment, volume 28, issue 2, pages 84-99, July 2013.
Jenny Chan, Ngai Pun and Mark Selden. The politics of global production: Apple, Foxconn and China's new working class, New Technology, Work and Employment, volume 28, issue 2, pages 100-115, July 2013.
The Guardian • More on work-related suicides • Risks 617 • 10 August 201
Hazards news, 3 August 2013
Britain: Government dishonesty over 'compensation culture’
The government is being dishonest about the UK's 'compensation culture' in order to justify cutting basic health and safety protections at work, according to a TUC-backed report. The report, by the workers' health journal Hazards, shows that far from being a compensation free-for-all, as ministers claim, the number of people actually receiving awards for work-related injuries or diseases has fallen by 60 per cent over the last decade - down from 219,183 in 2000/01 to 87,655 in 2011/12.
TUC news release • Robbed!, Hazards magazine, Number 122, 2013 • The Independent • The Mirror • The Herald • Huffington Post and related story • Financial Times • The Information Daily • International Business Times • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Global: Caged chickens and caged workers
Abusive conditions in the poultry industry are proving harmful to both workers and consumers, unions in Australia and the US have warned.
Working Life news release and Better Jobs 4 Better Chicken campaign • IUF news release • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Unions protest over new tribunal fees
Union protests marked the introduction on 29 July of new fees of up to £1,200 for workers taking employment tribunal cases against their employers. The charges apply to tribunal complaints about issues including victimisation for safety activities, sexual harassment or race discrimination. has given a green light to bad employers to continue exploiting their staff.”
TUC news release • TUC Touchstone blog • Unite news release • GMB news release • BECTU news release • The Guardian • The Mirror • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: UNISON to challenge tribunal fees
A ruling by the Royal Courts of Justice has given UNISON permission for a Judicial Review hearing in October to challenge the government’s new tribunal fees.
UNISON news release • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
China: Apple faces new worker abuse claims
Technology giant Apple is facing fresh allegations of worker rights violations at the Chinese factories of one of its suppliers, the Pegatron Group. China Labor Watch (CLW) has alleged that three Pegatron factories violate a “great number of international and Chinese laws and standards.”
CLW report • Apple response • BBC News Online • Fox Business • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: The government is making blacklisting easier
The TUC has warned that while the government has condemned an apparent blacklist of Crossrail construction workers, it is making it easier to sack people. TUC leader Frances O’Grady said it was “not enough” for business secretary Vince Cable to refer the issue to the Information Commissioner, particularly as through undermining the tribunal system “he is part of a government that is making it harder for employees to speak out against injustice.”
The Guardian article and Frances O’Grady comment • Morning Star • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Justice prevails after firefighter deaths
Firefighters’ union FBU has welcomed a High Court judgment supporting the families of two firefighters killed in a fireworks blaze at Marlie Farm in 2006. The court concluded East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service must pay compensation to the bereaved families of firefighter Geoff Wicker, 49, and fire service cameraman Brian Wembridge, 63.
FBU news release • BBC News Online • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Sports Direct faces flak over zero hours contracts
Pressure is mounting on Mike Ashley and his Sports Direct empire over its use of zero-hours contracts for part-time employees as Unite this week demanded a meeting with the billionaire businessman. Politicians, campaigners and charities called on the UK’s biggest sports retailer to change its policy after Unite revealed it was using the no-rights contracts for 90 per cent of its workforce.
Unite news release • The Guardian • The Independent • More on insecure work and safety • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Nurses need safety in numbers at work
More hospital nurses are necessary to overcome time constraints on the ward and to deliver effective and safe care, health service union UNISON has said. Commenting on a new study published in in journal BMJ Quality & Safety that found over-stretched nurses in England were being forced to ration care to cope with their workload, UNISON head of nursing Gail Adams said: “This report adds to the growing evidence that there is safety in numbers when it comes to caring for patients.”
UNISON news release • BMJ Quality & Safety • BBC News Online • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Coastguard shifts staffed below safe levels
More than one quarter of coastguard watches in the UK were staffed below safe levels last summer, according to official figures obtained by the union PCS. According to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) data, more than 3,300 of a total of 15,000 watches – across 15 stations where figures were available – were staffed below the risk assessed levels between January 2012 and May 2013.
PCS news release • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Poor protection hurt worker
A factory worker fractured his wrist at work after a global manufacturing company failed to provide him with correct personal protection equipment (PPE). David Morrell, from Neath, South Wales, had worked for the Morganite Electrical Carbon Ltd as a maintenance fitter for 34 years.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Supermarket shunt led to back injury
An Asda employee who injured his back after a vehicle collision at work has been awarded compensation. The 52-year-old GMB member from Burbage, Leicestershire, was getting out of the picker truck he had been driving when a colleague in a reach truck turned a corner without looking and collided into the side of his vehicle.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Canada: Why making a killing involves killing
It turns out that Canadians are far more likely to be killed by their bosses’ negligence or corporate cost-cutting than by street criminals. The Vancouver Sun reports that in most years in Canada more than 500 people will be murdered, but each year close to twice that many die “in what we have been taught to call workplace ‘accidents,’ needlessly crushed, scalded, slashed, electrocuted and poisoned.”
Vancouver Sun • Still Dying for a Living • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Hundreds of former coke oven workers seek justice
More than 300 former coke oven workers are taking legal action against British Steel and British Coal in a battle for justice for cancers and respiratory diseases they are now suffering because of exposure to harmful dust and fumes decades ago. Last week law firms Hugh James and Irwin Mitchell confirmed they had jointly issued a letter of claim against British Coal and British Steel on behalf of 300 former coke oven workers who became ill after working at coking plants and steel works across the country.
Hugh James Solicitors news release • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Payout for a life wrecked by solvents
A paint shop supervisor whose life was wrecked by exposure to solvents at work has received a ‘substantial’ payout. Adam Coventon, who was employed by Prior Scientific Instruments Ltd, developed myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) after being exposed to the industrial solvent and known neurotoxin trichloroethylene, because his employer failed to properly install a new piece of machinery.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Claimants lose out as insurers go missing
A voluntary system set up by insurers to assist people with work-related injuries or diseases to track down employers’ liability insurers is failing compensation claimants far too often and should be replaced with a statutory system, the TUC has said. The union body was speaking out after the publication of the Employers’ Liability Tracing Office (ELTO) Annual Report and Accounts 2012.
ELTO Annual Report and Accounts 2012 • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Employers are not dealing with hazards
The workplace is a top hot spot for injuries in Britain, with many workers believing their employers cut corners and leave known risks unaddressed. The findings, in a report by law firm Slater & Gordon that examined injury patterns across the population, found that while accidents were most commonly suffered at home, over a third of people have been injured at work.
Slater & Gordon news release • Daily Mail • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Oil firms still paying for Deepwater Horizon
The criminal neglect that led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster is continuing to hurt the reputation and bottom line of the companies involved. London-based oil multinational BP has admitted the $20bn compensation fund it set up to pay claims related to the 2010 rig failure, which killed 11 workers and smeared the Gulf of Mexico in oil, is running out of cash.
BP Second Quarter 2013 results • BBC News Online • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Australia: Unions welcome new asbestos cash
Unions in Australia have welcomed a cash injection from the federal government for the new Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency. The additional Aus$6.4m (£3.8m) has been provided to the agency to allow it to implement a National Strategic Plan for Asbestos Awareness and Management.
ACTU news release • Minister for Workplace Relations news release • National Strategic Plan and National Agency • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
USA: Halliburton admits it destroyed death rig evidence
Halliburton, the US contractor responsible for cementing the Deepwater Horizon well, has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence relating to the tragedy. The plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, means Halliburton will have to pay the maximum possible fine.
Halliburton news release. and BBC News Online • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Ministers urged to support the safety regulator
The government should support the UK’s “world class” health and safety regulator with more resources, and rethink plans to exempt many workers from laws designed to protect them and others, the safety professionals’ body IOSH has said. IOSH head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones said: “Our submission strongly supports the continued need for HSE and its current delivery model, as ‘arm’s length’ from government ministers, and emphasises the need for better resourcing.”
IOSH news release and full IOSH submission • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Britain: Firms fined for quarry blast damage
Two companies have been fined after a quarry explosion sent rocks flying 200 metres into the air and onto a public road, causing damage to waiting cars. Frome-based WCD Sleeman and Sons Ltd, who organised the blast, and quarry operator Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd were both prosecuted after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified serious control failings.
HSE news release and quarries webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 616 • 3 August 2013
Hazards news, 27 July 2013
Bangladesh: Top brands must now compensate victims
The injured survivors and the bereaved relatives of those killed in the Tazreen factory fire and the Rana Plaza building collapse must be paid fair compensation by international brands as a priority, unions and campaigners have said. IndustriALL, the global union for the garment sector, is organising meetings in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka on 11 and 12 August to press the case for justice.
IndustriALL news release. Clean Clothes Campaign news release • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Proper probe needed into Crossrail blacklisting
The TUC has backed calls from the Scottish Affairs Select Committee for a formal investigation into claims of 'blacklisting' on the Crossrail project. Business secretary Vince Cable referred the blacklisting issue to the Information Commissioner after a letter from the committee’s chair, Ian Davidson, advised him formal evidence heard by the committee provided “what we believe to be clear proof that blacklisting for trade union and health and safety activities has been going on within the contract for the Crossrail project run by BFK (BAM, Ferrovial and Kier).”
TUC news release • Unite news release • GMB news release • UCATT news release. BBC News Online • Morning Star • Scottish Affairs Select Committee enquiry • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
USA: Health care has highest injury risk
Hospital staff in the US top the league table for work-related injuries, a new study has found. A report from researchers at the Public Citizen thinktank found that in 2010, healthcare workers reported 653,900 workplace injuries and illnesses, over four times higher (432 per cent) than manufacturing, the industry second on the list, despite health care only being 134 per cent bigger.
Health Care Workers Unprotected: Insufficient Inspections and Standards Leave Safety Risks Unaddressed, Public Citizen, July 2013. In These Times • Huffington Post • National COSH blog • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
New gangmaster rules mean more rogue agencies
A Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) announcement that it is to stop carrying out automatic inspections of all companies applying for a new GLA licence could lead to an increase in rogue employment agencies, the TUC has warned. From October the GLA will no longer automatically send an inspector to check that agency workers are being paid properly and working under safe conditions before it grants a business or employment agency a licence to operate - instead, these checks will become “discretionary”.
TUC news release • GLA news release • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Global: Justice call for South African silicosis victims
Former workers suffering silicosis after working for a UK-based gold mining multinational must be given justice and compensation, campaigners have demanded. A letter to the Guardian co-authored by TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady notes that tens of thousands of gold miners working under the apartheid system were not protected from dust, exposures the industry “knew was causing them to contract silicosis in droves.”
The Guardian • ACTSA • Leigh Day and Co • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Unions press for temperature controls
The union campaign for a maximum workplace temperature has been given added impetus after reports of workers failing sick in sweltering offices. The ticket office at Birmingham New Street railway station was forced to close temporarily this week after inside temperatures hit a dizzying 90 Fahrenheit (32 celsius) and public sector union UNISON says poorly designed offices have seen overheated workers fainting.
UNISON news release • TSSA news release • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Weather warning from firefighters
As Britain braced for tropical storms this week, firefighters warned that fire and rescue services may struggle to cope with the concurrent threats of hot weather, flash floods and grass fires.
FBU news release • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Rail casualisation is a dangerous rip off
Contractors are using bogus self-employment on zero hours contracts to rip off rail workers and create a cut-price and dangerous railway system, according to a new report from the rail union RMT. The report was released on 23 July, to coincide with a meeting between the rail unions and the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) where the union demanded that both the industry watchdog and Network Rail “take urgent and decisive action to stamp out casualisation in the rail industry which is hitting the workforce and compromising safety.”
RMT news release and report: The Great Rail Payroll Rip Off • Safety on the line, BBC Radio 4 Face the Facts • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Japan: More Fukushima workers face cancer risk
Around 2,000 people who have worked at Japan's wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant face a heightened risk of thyroid cancer, its operator admitted last week. Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said 1,973 people - around 10 per cent of those employed in emergency crews involved in the clean-up since the meltdowns - were believed to have been exposed to enough radiation to cause problems, a 10-fold increase on TEPCO's previous estimate of the number of potential thyroid cancer victims.
Huffington Post • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Government makes it easier to sack workers
The specialists’ union Prospect has condemned a government move which will make it “easier and cheaper” to sack workers from next week. The union was commenting on “appalling new cuts to workers' rights” to take effect from 29 July.
Prospect news release • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Call for action on ‘excessive’ working hours at sea
Seafarers’ union Nautilus is urging maritime lawyers to address the ‘excessive working hours of seafarers’. The call came ahead of a 24 July EU-sponsored seminar to discuss the results of the ‘Project Horizon’ research into fatigue at sea.
Nautilus news release and Project Horizon webpages • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Businesses get privileged say on regulatory plans
The government says a new scheme introduced this week “gives businesses a stronger voice in influencing how regulators change the way they work,” gifting the business lobby the box seat on regulatory issues. Under the new Accountability for Regulator Impact scheme non-economic regulators including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that are planning a significant change in policy or practice – for example, by updating guidance or inspection regimes - must “assess and quantify the impact of that change on business,” says the business department (BIS).
BIS news release and Accountability for Regulator Impact (ARI) process • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Decline in work safety checks is ‘not acceptable’
The dramatic decline in the number of workplace safety inspections carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in Scotland “is shocking” and “unacceptable” a Labour MP has said. The new inspection figures come after official statistics released this month revealed there had been a sharp rise in workplace fatalities in Scotland.
The Herald • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Why didn’t mine act on fire warnings?
Mine safety inspectors urged management to close part of a coal mine months before a devastating underground fire broke out. The blaze closed Daw Mill Colliery earlier this year, leaving hundreds of miners out of work and forcing part of the company into administration.
BBC News online and File on 4 • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Fit for work assessments fail
More than four out of every 10 fit for work tests were of the lowest standard, the government has admitted. The government’s Work Capability Assessments, conducted by the private firm Atos Healthcare, have been criticised consistently since their introduction, with unions and disability organisations saying they are frequently wrong, unfair and distressing for those being tested.
DWP news release • Scope news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Thousands lose out because of cruel asbestos law
Campaigners fighting for compensation for asbestos victims have warned the government that thousands of people will be denied justice if it doesn’t strengthen its new Mesothelioma Bill. Asbestos Victims Support Group Forum chair Tony Whitston said that the mesothelioma sufferers and their families were “bitterly disappointed” at the insurers' refusal to pay 100 per cent compensation and to backdate those payments to at least February 2010.
Morning Star • Get Surrey • IBAS Mesothelioma Day round-up • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: BOHS wants work disease reporting widened
The list of work diseases covered by official reporting requirements must be widened, the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection (BOHS) has announced. The professional body indicated it was pleased the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had backtracked on plans to exclude almost all occupational diseases from the RIDDOR reporting regulations “but is still concerned about the lack of data being collected on long latency diseases such as silicosis.”
BOHS news release • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Factory deaths were due to safety failures
Two men killed while working at a Merseyside factory died because the plant had failed to adopt the right procedures, an inquest has found. James Bibby, 25, and Thomas Elmer, 27, were carrying out maintenance work on the conveyor of a silo at the Sonae chipboard plant in Kirkby when the machine started moving and they were dragged into it.
Liverpool Echo • BBC News Online • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Britain: Worker was dragged in to a rotating spindle
A Shropshire steel engineering company has been fined after a worker got the sleeve of his overalls caught in an unguarded drill bit, leading to serious neck and arm injuries. Shrewsbury Magistrates' Court was told that CRF (UK) Ltd failed to take effective measures to prevent access to dangerous moving parts of the equipment at its premises in Wem.
HSE news release • Risks 615 • 27 July 2013
Hazards news, 20 July 2013
Britain: Workers need protection from the heat
Sweltering workers struggling to cope in this summer’s heat wave need legal protection, the TUC has said. The union body warns that because there is no maximum temperature for workplaces many workers are forced to work in conditions that are not only uncomfortable, but that could damage their health.
TUC news release • Stronger Unions blog and TUC temperature at work guide. HSE consultation document, closing date for comments 30 July. Early Day Motion 414 Maximum Working Temperature. BBC News Online • Unite temperature at work webpages • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
USA: Walmart - where the poor work until they die
Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, is facing public humiliation after its workers took to the web to expose its employment practices. One commented: “We don't want to be where we are, and we all start out happy and cheerful and helpful; and then Walmart kills our souls, and breaks our spirit, and grinds us down,” adding: “Walmart is where the poor go to work until they die.”
Gawker • AFL-CIO Now blog • OUR Walmart – Organization United for Respect at Walmart • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: Cable to hold directors to account – sometimes
Government proposals to make company directors more accountable are “complete double standards” that treat financial misconduct with far greater seriousness than the deadly safety abuses by those running firms, the TUC has charged.
BIS news release and Transparency and trust: enhancing the transparency of UK company ownership and increasing trust in UK business - discussion paper, July 2013. BBC News Online • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Global: So much for ‘safe’ asbestos use
More than 800 tons of asbestos from Russia were “dumped” eight months ago at the Mexican Gulf coast port of Veracruz, after an importer failed to pay storage fees. Russia, which now fronts the global asbestos lobby, claims asbestos exports should continue because the carcinogenic fibre is used safely in its destination countries.
Latin American Herald Tribune • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: NUJ action call as EDL ‘thugs’ threaten journalist
Members of the English Defence League have been strongly condemned for harassment and threats of violence targeted at a young reporter. Sarah Marshall, a trainee reporter on the Doncaster Free Press, was threatened on the Casuals United website over an incident at an EDL rally in Sheffield six weeks ago.
NUJ news release • Hold the Front Page • Prolific North • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: Blood testing staff strike for safety
Hospital pathologists, who test blood samples and monitor blood transfusions, took strike action on 16 July at major hospitals in Leeds and Bradford. Unite said the dispute at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, Leeds General Infirmary and Bradford Royal Infirmary is because there are no longer the staffing levels necessary to provide healthy work and a safe service for the public.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
China: Dust activist pays for double-lung transplant
Four years ago, a young Chinese migrant worker, Zhang Haichao, came to global prominence after voluntarily undergoing surgery to prove he was suffering from the deadly occupational lung disease pneumoconiosis. Zhang, who has paid for a lifesaving double lung transplant, used his experiences to highlight the plight of dust exposed workers in China and is pressing for decent compensation for other affected workers.
China Labour Bulletin • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: Strike vote over firefighter pensions plan
Firefighters are to vote on strike action over an ‘unworkable’ pension scheme proposal they say could lead to thousands facing the sack as they get older. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) decision to hold a strike vote after almost two years of negotiations was prompted when Westminster set a 12 July deadline for firefighters to accept the government proposals — or face imposition of the changes.
FBU news release • Firefighters' pension scheme: proposed final agreement, DCLG, July 2013. • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: Spat over railway safety claims
Rail union RMT has accused the Office of Rail Regulation of “complacency” after it boasted about the rail system’s safety record when the same report shows injuries to track workers have increased. General secretary Bob Crow said: “The fact is that it is the ORR that is demanding the cuts that are leading to the casualisation of safety-critical track work and the ushering in of a zero-hours culture.”
ORR news release and annual health and safety report • SHP Online • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: Mechanic escapes death in explosion horror
A heavy goods vehicle mechanic suffered life-threatening injuries after a makeshift heating system exploded at work. Unite member David Loade, 52, who worked at a Wincanton Group transport depot in Gloucestershire, suffered severe burns to his face and hands after he was instructed to help his supervisor replace a 45-gallon drum being used to burn wood pellets.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: TUC slams CBI’s sick spin
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) had found workplace sickness absence is at a new record low, but has let itself down by regurgitating ‘sickie’ and other myths, the TUC has said. The employer lobby group CBI/Pfizer Absence and Workplace Health Survey found the average absence rate was 5.3 days in 2012, down from 6.5 days in 2010.
TUC news release • CBI news release and CBI-Pfizer Absence and Workplace Health survey 2013 • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Global: Dangers of toxic cocktails are under-estimated
A team from the Institute for the Environment at Brunel University has found that commonly applied “uncertainty factors” led to “ill-founded” assurances about the effects are these mixtures. The review, published in the journal Environmental Health, found no support for the “urban myth” that the default uncertainty factor is over-conservative.
OV Martin and others. Dispelling urban myths about default uncertainty factors in chemical risk assessment – sufficient protection against mixture effects?, Environmental Health, volume 12, number 53, 2013. Chemical Watch (subscription only) • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
USA: Chemical combinations increase cancer risk
Researchers at Texas Tech University who looked at exposures to low levels of both arsenic and oestrogen have found that low doses of both chemicals together – even at levels low enough to be considered “safe” for humans if they were on their own – can cause cancer in prostate cells.
J Treas and others. Chronic exposure to arsenic, estrogen, and their combination causes increased growth and transformation in human prostate epithelial cells potentially by hypermethylation-mediated silencing of MLH1, The Prostate, published online ahead of print, 26 June 2013. Texas Tech University news release • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: Hearing test saved man from nose cancer
A Kent pensioner has been awarded £70,000 damages after wood dust exposure caused his nasal cancer. Peter Spillett, 66, worked as a timberman for 25 years, but the cancer was only spotted when he had a minor op to correct hearing loss.
Pannone Solicitors news release • Kent Messenger • Global Unions zero cancer campaign • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: MPs fear over HSE site safety shift
An anticipated move by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which would remove the legal requirement on contractors to establish their sub-contractors are “competent” has alarmed MPs. An early day motion tabled by Labour MP Jim Sheridan urges “the government and HSE to consider retaining the reference, to ensure the principal contractor always has responsibility for checking all those working on a site are competent.”
Skills safety in the construction sector, EDM 387, July 2013 • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Bangladesh: New labour law ‘falls short’
Amendments to Bangladesh’s labour law make some improvements but still fall far short of protecting worker’s rights and meeting international standards, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). It says donors and international investors should press the government of Bangladesh to make further amendments to the law “to fully ensure workers’ rights to form unions, bargain collectively, and participate in workplace decisions on safety.”
Human Rights Watch news release • First Post • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: Developer escapes jail over asbestos crimes
A property developer who exposed workers to asbestos has been given an eight-month suspended prison sentence and been ordered to pay fines and costs of £100,000. Nottingham Crown Court heard that James Roger Carlton, 64, ignored the presence of asbestos insulation board at the site of the former King Edward VI School in Retford, despite being advised by the Health and Safety Executive on several occasions about how to address the risk.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: Scaffolding firm sentenced over worker's death
Atherton-based S&S Scaffolding Ltd has been ordered to pay more than £100,000 in fines and costs following the death of an employee who plunged 13 metres through the roof of a Skelmersdale warehouse. Tony Causby, 42, was helping to dismantle scaffolding when he stepped onto a fragile skylight and fell to the floor below.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: Fines over PC’s work gunshot death
A police force and one of its officers have been fined for criminal health and safety failings that led to a constable being shot dead. PC Ian Terry, 32, was shot by a colleague during a firearms training session at a disused warehouse in Newton Heath, Manchester on 9 June 2008.
HSE news release • BBC News Online • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: Nurse traumatised by the job killed himself
A nurse was found hanged at his home after being traumatised by the job and a poorly handled and false accusation from a patient, an inquest heard. Coroner Ian Smith said Christopher Milnes, 50, “was told there was no foundation in what was alleged but he was st ill stressed,” adding: “He was also stressed from the very traumatic events he had been party to as a nurse.”
The Westmorland Gazette • More on work-related suicides • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Britain: Recycling plant chops off finger
Two businesses have been prosecuted for safety failings after an employee's hand was caught in a saw, resulting in debilitating injuries. In a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Caerphilly Magistrates' Court heard that the 33-year-old man from Nantyglo was operating a saw to cut lengths of lead into smaller, more manageable pieces at the Jamestown Industries lead recycling plant in Ebbw Vale on 21 February 2012.
HSE news release and machinery webpages • Risks 614 • 20 July 2013
Hazards news, 13 July 2013
China: Denim workers pay a deadly price
Governments and companies must take urgent action to stamp out the continued use of sandblasting and other unsafe finishing processes in the manufacture of denim jeans, campaigners have said. The call comes in a new report into conditions in six denim factories in the Chinese province of Guangdong, a region responsible for half of the world’s entire production of denim jeans.
Clean Clothes Campaign news release and report, Breathless for Blue Jeans: Health hazards in China’s denim factories • Huffington Post • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: Concern at cuts in vulnerable worker protection
Planned government cuts to the watchdog set up to protect vulnerable workers after the drowning deaths of 23 migrant cockle pickers have been criticised by the TUC. The TUC says it is “seriously concerned” by proposals aimed at limiting inspections by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) and weakening its licensing system.
TUC briefing and TUC response to the GLA Application and Inspections Consultation • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
New Zealand: Mine union calls for manslaughter law
A New Zealand mining union has called for the introduction of a corporate manslaughter law after a judge ordered bankrupt New Zealand mining company Pike River Coal to pay compensation to the families of 29 miners killed in a 2010 methane explosion. Ged O’Connell, assistant national secretary of the mining union EPMU, said a law change is needed to ensure those responsible for workplace deaths can be held to account.
EPMU news release • New Zealand Herald. • Morning Star • The Courier • Greymouth Star. • Radio Australia • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: The female face of Britain's asbestos catastrophe
A new piece of digital artwork by Colombian artist Guillermo Villamizar, ‘The female face of Britain's asbestos catastrophe’, has been inspired by the London-based International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS).
The female face of Britain's asbestos catastrophe • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: Gassed? HSE doesn’t want to know
A much worse than anticipated scaling back of injury reporting rules has been described as a “dangerous” move driven by a government that doesn’t care about the harm its policies inflict on workers. Under the new scheme being rendered unconscious by an electric shock or as a result of exposure to chemicals or biological agents will no longer be reportable; dislocations of the spine, shoulder, knee or hip are also dropped from the list, as is temporary blindness.
HSE news release and RIDDOR changes and related guide • UCATT news release • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: Children's lives will be at greater risk on farms
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is putting children’s lives at risk by scrapping guidance covering their safety on farms, the union Unite has warned. The union was speaking out after HSE announced it was to withdraw the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) on children in agriculture.
Unite news release • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: Unions to fight driverless trains
Rail union RMT has pledged an all-out political, public and industrial fight following the announcement from Transport for London (TfL) to introduce Driver Only Operation (DOO) on the whole of the London Overground network.
RMT news release • Morning Star • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: Concerns remain despite site deaths fall
Construction union UCATT has said it is “extremely concerned” that the 20 per cent reduction in construction deaths last year could be reversed as the industry emerges from its current lull. Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: “Workers are still being killed when the construction output is at its lowest level for a generation.”
UCATT news release • HSE statistics • Construction Enquirer • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: NUJ wants to see improvements after BBC suicide
The suicide death of an overworked and stressed journalist whose complaints of harassment were mishandled by the BBC show the broadcaster has got to seriously improve its work practices and procedures, the union NUJ has said. Russell Joslin, 50, killed himself after complaining of being sexually harassed by a female colleague; he was also extremely unhappy at work, feeling unable to cope with increased workloads and extra stress caused by low levels of staffing at his radio station.
NUJ statement • BBC News Online • The Independent • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: Pilots accuse aviation agency of ‘maladministration’
The European agency responsible for aviation safety across the European Union (EU) has been accused of “gross maladministration” by British pilots. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has submitted a formal complaint to the European Ombudsman saying the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has breached its own terms of reference in the way it has put together proposals to change pilots’ working hour limits, set to prevent dangerous fatigue.
BALPA news release and BALPA complaint to the European Ombudsman • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: School slip cost worker her job
An infant school worker was forced to give up the job she loved after badly damaging her knees when she slipped on spilled liquid and fell. The 60-year-old senior early learning years practitioner, had to undergo five operations, including two complex knee replacements.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: Firms get deregulation and clamour for more
Government crowing about its ongoing erosion of safety and other laws protecting workers has fuelled industry calls for the process to be accelerated. A ‘Statement of New Regulation’ lists “progress” including changes to employment tribunals that will make it extremely costly to challenge employer health and safety abuses, the revision of the workplace injury and disease reporting regulations that will dramatically reduce official intelligence on the harm caused by work and the end of strict liability compensation, which will mean so employers in criminal breach of safety law can’t be sued for damages.
BIS news release and Statement of New Regulation • IoD news release • BCC news release • ‘We love red tape’ facebook page • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: Cameron’s Piper Alpha elegy branded as ‘despicable’
David Cameron’s elegy to the 167 who died in the Piper Alpha oil rig inferno has been condemned as “absolutely despicable” by safety campaigners, who say no prime minister has done more to undermine UK workplace safety protections. In an open letter to Malcolm Webb, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK, Cameron wrote: “The 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster is a fitting moment to mark the skill, bravery and dedicated professionalism of all those who work offshore.”
Prime minister’s office news release and PM’s letter • Morning Star • BBC News Online • The Guardian • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: Local authorities under ‘crippling pressure’
The environmental health departments responsible for enforcing workplace, food and consumer safety are under “crippling pressure” from budget cuts, peers have heard. Labour’s Lord Watson of Invergorie said the government was guilty of slashing workplace health and safety inspections, adding this “allows some employers to make a risk assessment - not about their workers’ safety but about the likelihood of being found out for failing to comply with health and safety legislation.”
House of Lords debate on Local authorities: Regulatory Services, 27 June 2013, Hansard report • EHN Online • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: Plumber killed by rocketing gas cylinders
A plumber died and six other workers were seriously injured by a volley of flying gas cylinders, a court has heard. Adam Johnston, 38, was hit by one of 66 cylinders as they rocketed at speeds of up to 170 mph at an HSBC data centre construction site.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Britain: Worker is left paralysed by roof fall
A construction company and a roofing contractor have been fined after a worker was left paralysed from the waist down when he plunged four metres through a hole in a roof at a Swindon building site. Giovanni Mastrodomenico, 56, fell through a waterproof membrane into the unguarded hole while working at the Marlborough Park development on 31 August 2011.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Canada: ‘Deplorable’ rail boss blames others for blast
The owner of a rail firm with a poor safety record whose train exploded decimating a Canadian community in a disaster believed to be responsible for up to 60 deaths has attempted to shift the blame to the train driver and the emergency responders. The behaviour of Edward Burkhardt, the president and chief executive officer of US-based rail freight firm Rail World Inc, was described by Quebec premier Pauline Marois as “deplorable.”
Rail World news release • CounterPunch • BBC News Online and related story • Oilprice.com • The Independent • NBC News • Reuters video • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Global: Walmart and Gap deal ‘a pale imitation’
An attempt by retailers Walmart and Gap to create an alternative to an astoundingly successful union brokered Bangladesh fire and safety accord has been dismissed as a sham and ‘a pale imitation’. The accord spearheaded by global unions IndustriALL and UNI is set to be implemented ahead of schedule and has already been backed by over 80 global brands from 15 countries.
IndustriALL news release • UNI news release • The Guardian • The Walmart/Gap sham alliance. • Risks 613 • 13 July 2013
Hazards news, 6 July 2013
Britain: No room for complacency as work fatalities fall
New statistics showing a sharp fall in worker fatalities are welcome, but only reflect a tiny proportion of the deadly harm caused by work, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting after provisional Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures revealed the number of worker deaths in Great Britain had dropped from 172 in 2011/12 to a provisional figure of 148 in 2012/13.
TUC news release and TUC health and safety facebook page.
HSE news release, statistics webpage and provisional HSE fatality statistics 2012/13 • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: Concern at high fatality rate in Scotland
The Scottish parliament should look at why the country has a higher workplace fatality rate than the rest of the UK, the Scottish Trades Union Congress has said. STUC’s call came after new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures showed workplace deaths in Scotland rose from 19 in 2011/12 to 22 in 2012/13; the Scottish fatality rate of 0.9 deaths per 100,000 compares to 0.5 for both England and Great Britain as a whole. STUC news release • HSE news release • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: Deregulation Bill will cost workers dear
A draft Deregulation Bill published on 1 July will leave workers at greater risk of injury, ill-health and abuse at work. The Cabinet Office says the planned law will exempt 800,000 self-employed workers from safety law, restrict the powers of employment tribunals, limit the enforcement powers of the gangmasters’ watchdog GLA and put “a deregulatory ‘growth duty’ on non-economic regulators, bringing the huge resource of 50 regulators with a budget of £4 billion to bear on the crucial task of promoting growth and stopping pointless red tape.”
TUC news release and TUC briefing on the Deregulation Bill and the self-employed exemption • Cabinet Office news release and Draft Deregulation Bill • HSE news release • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: Unite tells MPs about the Crossrail ‘blacklist’
The blacklisting of workers on Europe's largest construction project is on-going, “organised and systematic,” MPs have been told. Appearing before the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into blacklisting, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said the evidence it was happening on London's Crossrail scheme was circumstantial but people could “join up the dots.”
Scottish Affairs Committee statement • The Herald • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: Home Office ignored job switch advice
A Home Office worker put in a job for which he was poorly suited and who occupational health advisers said should be transferred to another post has won an unfair dismissal claim. Prospect member Vaithilingam Mohanarajan, who worked as a senior scientific officer in the government department, was dismissed for poor performance, despite an occupational health report stating he had been moved to the wrong job a couple of years earlier and was “a fish out of water.”
Prospect news release • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Global: Deadly fires unite firefighters
The death of 19 firefighters battling a US wildfire and a giant blaze in the West Midlands that saw a number of UK firefighters injured illustrate the terrible dangers they can face every day, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said. The US firefighters were killed on Sunday 30 June battling a fast-moving wildfire menacing the small central Arizona town of Yarnell.
FBU news release • AFL-CIO Now blog • New York Times • BBC News Online • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: ASLEF welcomes rail crossings inquiry
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has welcomed a decision by MPs to investigate safety on level crossings. The union was commenting after the House of Commons Transport Select Committee said it would hold an inquiry into the safety of 8,000 level crossings in Britain and the day before Network Rail was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £23,421 for the criminal breaches of workplace safety law that led to a 10 year old boy suffering serious injuries at a level crossing in Suffolk in 2010.
ASLEF news release • ORR news release • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: Concern at ‘shocking’ rise in zero hours contracts
The government should look at regulating zero hours contracts, the TUC has said. The union was commenting after figures published by shadow health secretary Andy Burnham MP revealed over 300,000 workers in the care sector alone are employed on zero hours contracts.
TUC news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Resolution Foundation news release and report, A Matter of Time: the rise of zero-hours contracts, Matthew Pennycook, Giselle Cory and Vidhya Alakeson, Resolution Foundation, June 2013. More on the hazards of insecure work • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Canada: Night work linked to double breast cancer risk
Working night shifts for more than 30 years could dramatically increase women's risk of developing breast cancer, a new study has concluded. Nurses, cleaners, care workers, some shop workers, call centre workers and others who work night shifts for long periods can have double the risk of developing the disease than those who don't, the new study indicates.
Anne Grundy and others. Increased risk of breast cancer associated with long-term shift work in Canada, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Online first, 1 July 2013. doi:10.1136/oemed-2013-101482 [abstract] • Medical Daily • Huffington Post • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: Father and son jailed for work manslaughter
A father and son have been jailed after being found guilty of the manslaughter of a fatigued driver employed at their haulage firm. Adrian John McMurray, 54, and his son Adrian Paul McMurray, 36, were convicted on 10 May 2013 for the manslaughter of Stephen Kenyon and jailed for seven and four years respectively.
CPS news release • BBC News Online • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: Crane lift errors caused platform collapse
Hertfordshire construction company J Reddington Ltd (JRL) has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was seriously injured when a temporary platform collapsed. Noel Doyle, 32, suffered a shattered right elbow, broken vertebrae, fractured pelvis and ribs, and damage to internal organs in the incident on 10 February 2009.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: Vending machine firm fined after roof fall
An employee at a vending machine supplier in Skelmersdale was lucky to escape with minor injuries after he fell through a fragile roof, a court has heard. The 40-year-old from Runcorn, who has asked not to be named, had been clearing out the gutters at Paragon International Ltd on 4 September last year when he fell approximately six metres through a roof light.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: Stress Network conference, 23-24 November, Birmingham
The national Stress Network’s annual conference is to take place from 23-24 November. This year’s event has the theme: ‘Are health and safety cuts the right medicine?’
Stress Network conference, Saturday, 23-24 November, Hillscourt Conference Centre, Rednal, Birmingham B45 8RS. Stress Network website and conference booking form • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Global: The road to asbestos free workplaces
‘The long and winding road to an asbestos free workplace’ maps out the tortuous route towards a worldwide asbestos ban. The book, authored by some of the most prominent union and grassroots campaigners on asbestos, says in Europe the ban on asbestos needs to be complemented by pro-active inspection, identification and mapping of contamination; it adds that outside of Europe, the safety in use ‘fairy tale’ used to justify exports has to be exposed and the trade in the deadly fibre finally stopped.
The long and winding road to an asbestos free workplace, Jan Cremers and Rolf Gehring (editors), CLR Studies 7, 2013. Order enquiries: email Global Book Marketing⁄Central Books or phone 020 8533 5800 • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Britain: UNISON resources on asbestos in schools
Public sector union UNISON says it is ready to ratchet up its campaign against asbestos in schools and has prepared a series of documents to help activists, reps and parents who are concerned about the issue.
UNISON alert and guides: Asbestos in schools - checklist for parents; Asbestos in CLASP or system-built schools; and Joint union advice on warm-air heating systems • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Australia: Safety agency guilty of ‘institutional bullying’
An official workplace safety agency in Australia hounded a worker out of his job in a display of “scurrilous” and “malicious” behaviour, a court has found. The New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission found that “shabby and disgraceful” WorkCover had produced a six-volume report as part of its proceedings to dismiss Wayne Butler, but this was “fundamentally flawed” and “arrived at conclusions that were not supported by facts.”
Newcastle Herald • Sydney Morning Herald • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Global: Asbestos trade up by 20 per cent
Global asbestos exports increased from 1,081,885 tons in 2011 to 1,327,592 tons in 2012, latest figures show. Canadian human rights campaigner Kathleen Ruff, writing on the Prevent Cancer Now website, puts the continuing trade in asbestos down to an industry public relations strategy that saw large sums of cash handed to researchers who were industry stooges.
Prevent Cancer Now report • Hazards asbestos webpages • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Global: US suspends Bangladesh trade concessions
Pressure is mounting on Bangladesh to reform its labour laws with the decision of the US government to impose trade sanctions for repeated failure to respect workers’ rights. “This long-awaited decision is an important step for workers’ rights,” said ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow, adding: “It sends a strong statement to all governments and employers that violation of the fundamental rights of workers will not be tolerated if a country expects to participate in the global economy.”
ITUC news release • AFL-CIO statement • BBC News Online • In These Times • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
USA: Waistline policing is bad for you
Company health initiatives targeting staff are increasingly being accompanied by threats and punishments for those who don’t measure up, recent US evidence suggests. And it is about to get worse - the Departments of Labor, Treasury and Health and Human Services have just ruled that from next year companies can charge workers up to 30 per cent of their insurance premiums for failing to meet certain health goals.
Truthout • Risks 612 • 6 July 2013
Hazards news, 29 June 2013
Britain: The government’s ‘sinister spin’ is out of control
There is a growing tendency for government ministers to put their own skewed and deregulatory infused ‘spin’ on official health and safety announcements, the TUC has revealed. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said recent Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) news releases, posted on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website, “have been completely misleading or even inaccurate by putting a deregulatory slant to the release.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog. • CIEH news release • DWP/HSE news releases on the enforcement code and the work experience • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Global: World Bank told to end deregulation push
An independent review panel has told the World Bank it should stop using its ‘flagship’ Doing Business report to encourage governments to adopt deregulatory policies. The review cited Georgia as a country that saw a ‘substantial’ improvement in its Doing Business ranking in 2007 partly as a result of scrapping worker protections: “They went to the point of abolishing their health and safety agency,” said Peter Bakvis, Washington DC director of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
ITUC news release • TUC Touchstone blog • CAFOD response • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: ‘Feeble’ HSE fails children on farms
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is putting children’s lives at risk by scrapping guidance covering their safety on farms, rural workers’ union Unite has warned. The union was speaking out after the HSE board this week approved a proposal to withdraw the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) on children in agriculture.
Unite news release • HSE 26 June 2013 board paper on the ACoP on children in agriculture. • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Germany: Fears about lasting until retirement age
Only 42 per cent of workers in Germany believe they will be up to working in their current job until retirement age. The findings of union federation DGB’s ‘Decent work’ index are based on survey responses from 4,895 employees from across the country. ETUI news report • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Protecting vulnerable workers is not ‘red tape’
Government plans to strip the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) of powers to regulate the forestry sector, land agents and cleaning contractors operating in the food processing industry will put thousands of vulnerable workers at risk, the TUC has warned. The union body says instead of reducing the scope of the GLA, its remit should be extended to other high risk sectors including construction, hospitality and social care.
TUC news release • Government consultation on changes to the remit of the GLA • Morning Star • The Independent • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Unions love the ‘We love red tape’ campaign
A ‘We love red tape’ campaign extolling the virtues of stringent workplace safety regulation and enforcement has won the backing of unions and campaigners in the UK and beyond. The facebook initiative by the workers’ health and safety journal Hazards notes workplace red tape is not a burden on business but does offer essential, life-saving protection for workers.
‘Like’ the We love red tape facebook page • Workplace safety criminals should be tied up with Red Tape poster • 29 June 2013
Britain: Cost-cutting rail contractors could cost lives
Profit-hungry contractors are putting passengers’ lives at risk by flooding the railways with untrained casual staff, rail workers have warned. Rail contractors are sending casual workers to carry out “critical” tasks like track maintenance for Network Rail in order to cut costs, delegates at RMT’s 24 June conference heard.
Morning Star • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Unite goes to Spain to expose ‘blacklister’
Unite members travelled to Barcelona and Madrid this week to protest at construction firm Ferrovial's involvement in blacklisting and victimisation of trade unionists working on Crossrail. The company is part of the BFK (BAM, Ferrovial and Kier) consortium running the biggest construction project in Europe.
Unite news release • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Union seeks compensation for fall victim
A union is to seek compensation for a worker paralysed in a workplace fall. GMB announced it was planning legal action on behalf of Phillip Gates after his supervisor was fined for criminal safety breaches.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: UNISON wants more safety reps and campaigning
The importance of health and safety reps is greater than ever given the government’s continued assault on the health and safety regulatory system, UNISON delegates have agreed. Delegates at the national conference called on the UNISON national executive to: Work with UNISON’s Learning and Organising Services to improve training for safety reps; encourage branches to participate in the union’s Safety in Numbers campaign; provide bargaining advice to assist safety reps to get the time off to which they are legally entitled; and “work with the TUC, the Hazards campaign and other trade unions in the UK and Europe to combat the government’s reckless attacks on health and safety.”
UNISON news release • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Mad dash for seats is bad for workers
Forcing workers into a Ryanair style dash for a seat in the office lowers morale and hits workers' health, according to the union UNISON. This “dehumanises workers”, the union says, adding rules forcing workers to clear their space each evening and hot desk every morning make them the human equivalent of “battery hens”.
UNISON news release • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Vibration risk red light came too late
A union member from Gateshead has been awarded “substantial” compensation for vibration white finger (VWF) in a GMB-backed court case against his employer. The joiner, whose name has not been released, began experiencing the typical symptoms of VWF – including numbness and tingling in his fingers and hands – whilst at work. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Australia: Asbestos eradication law takes effect
Groundbreaking measures to protect Australians from asbestos have become law. Minister for employment and workplace relations Bill Shorten welcomed the passing of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill 2013 by the Australian parliament. Employment minister’s news release • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Safety slip up led to punctured lung
A 64-year-old factory worker was left with broken ribs and a punctured lung after his employer failed to comply with workplace health and safety regulations and he slipped on a wet shower room floor. Terrence Featherstone, from Ilkeston in Derbyshire, was working as a production operative for Stanton Bonna Concrete Ltd at the time of the incident.
Thompsons Solicitors • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Bereaved families are furious at ministers
The families of people killed at work have said they are “furious” at the government’s ‘dangerous’ and ‘inaccurate’ slant on the laws protecting young people on work experience. In a scathing rebuke to ministers, Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) said their open letter to employers had set out to “mislead” them into believing there were no special duties to protect young people at work.
FACK news release • DWP/HSE news release • TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Young worker killed by unsafe tractor
A leading cheese company has been fined after a farm worker was killed when the tractor she was driving overturned. Kim Webb, 26, was thrown from the vehicle, which had no seatbelt or roll bar protection, as she drove to check on cattle at the dairy farm in June 2009.
HSE news release and tractor safety webpage • BBC News Online • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Network Rail safety failures want a £10m bonus
Network Rail bosses who have missed punctuality and safety targets for two years have drawn up a new long term bonus plan which could earn them multi-million pound payouts over the next three years, rail union TSSA has revealed. The scheme, to be approved at the taxpayer funded firm's July AGM, will pay out up to 100 per cent of annual salaries on top of an annual bonus of up to 60 per cent up to 2015.
TSSA news release • Morning Star • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Granddad dies in skylight plunge
A man working alongside his brother died after plunging six metres through a fragile skylight. A court heard the tragedy occurred because safety measures were neglected both by his employer and a major drinks wholesaler. Robert Rogers, 61, was working for Richard Parker, trading as Ovenden Engineering, which had been contracted by Allied Domecq Spirits and Wine Ltd to fix a leak in the roof and clean the gutters of their bonded warehouse in Dover, Kent.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Health board done for asbestos failings
A Scottish health board has been fined for safety failings that left workers and contractors at risk from deadly asbestos fibres. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that Greater Glasgow Health Board, known as Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS, had failed to properly manage the risks of asbestos in a basement plant room of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Britain: Hazards Conference, 19-21 July, Stoke-on-Trent
The 24th National Hazards Conference will take place from 19-21 July at the University of Keele, Stoke-on-Trent – and the registration deadline is almost upon us. The Hazards Campaign says it annual gathering comes as “the effect of the government's deadly attack on health and safety are now being felt in the workplaces.”
24th National Hazards Conference, 19-21 July, University of Keele, Stoke-on-Trent. Hazards Campaign webpage and 2013 Booking form • Further information from the Hazards Campaign, tel: 0161 636 7557 • Risks 611 • 29 June 2013
Hazards news, 28 June 2013
Britain: Cancer prevention - The Toxic Tour, London, 29 June
Campaigners for occupational and environmental cancer prevention are staging ‘A toxic tour’ in London on Saturday 29 June. The invitation says: “Take an historic tour through the dark and murky back streets of breast cancer politics,” and “Gain a new perspective on why certain occupations carry with them an increased risk of breast cancer, up to five times the average rate.”
Cancer Prevention: The Toxic Tour, London, 12.00-2.00pm, Saturday, 29 June. Starting point is at Christchurch Gardens, Victoria station, London (closest Tube station: Victoria), by the Suffragette Statue at 12 noon • 28 June 2013
Hazards news, 22 June 2013
Britain: Directors should face jail for safety ‘recklessness’ too
A government-ordered commission has concluded ‘reckless’ bankers should be jailed for their misconduct, prompting the TUC to call for equally stern treatment for safety criminals. Writing in the TUC’s safety facebook page, head of safety Hugh Robertson noted: “It looks like the government is going to urgently accept the recommendations of the Banking Commission, but of course this is about money,” adding: “Our call for a duty health and safety is only about lives.”
TUC health and safety facebook page • Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards report, 19 June 2013 • BBC News Online • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: TUC wants tougher rules on zero hours contracts
The TUC is calling on Vince Cable to impose tough new regulations on zero hours contracts, after he announced that his officials are conducting a review. Frances O'Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, said: “With the tough times set to continue, now is the perfect time for the government to be reviewing – and hopefully regulating – the increasing use of these exploitative contracts.”
TUC news release • The Guardian • Personnel Today • More on insecure work and health and safety • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: Unite presses for ethical action on blacklisting
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is being urged to step up and investigate the abuse of its 'Base Code' by construction firms linked to blacklisting. Unite has warned ETI that failure to properly investigate Unite's six specific complaints about breaches of the 'Base Code' by the construction consortium Crossrail “will make the ETI yet again appear to be protecting and providing cover for Crossrail's interests rather than helping to protect workers.”
Unite news release • ETI base code and website • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: UNISON reps raise safety concerns
Health and safety is facing a deadly attack, delegates to UNISON’s local government conference have warned. Manchester Delegate, Joan McNulty, quoting Hazards magazine, said: “The problem is not too much red tape, but too many bloody bandages.” UNISON and UNISON Scotland news releases • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: Sinking exposes falling safety standards at sea
The death of six seafarers when a cargo ship sank in the Irish Sea has exposed declining safety standards at sea, seafarers’ unions have warned. The loss of the Swanland off north Wales came after “money-saving” measures by the owner, an investigation has found.
Nautilus news release • RMT news release • MAIB report • BBC News Online • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: Employees fret about doing the job when old
UK workers facing a later retirement age fear not being up to the job physically or mentally, new polling for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) has found. Just over six in 10 (61 per cent) workers polled were concerned about being too tired to continue normal hours when asked to imagine that they had to work into old age, the physios’ union says.
CSP news release • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: Unions win BBC workload review
Action by union members has persuaded the BBC to review workloads. BECTU, the NUJ and management will conduct the reviews of 17 departments jointly, in an agreement which they say reflects a renewed pledge on the part of the BBC to address persistent complaints of stress and bullying.
BECTU news release • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: Rail regulator could leave safety at risk
Rail union TSSA has criticised the Office of Rail Regulation’s call for a £2 billion cut in the Network Rail’s five year spending plans, warning it puts safety and standards at risk. TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes warned: “It will mean a slower, less efficient and less safe railway.”
TSSA news release • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: Unions welcome Miliband’s safety pledge
Unions have welcomed a commitment from Ed Miliband to reverse the current government’s attacks on health and safety at work. Ed Miliband said: “David Cameron’s Conservative Party might dismiss health and safety issues in the workplace, but it is not their safety at risk,” adding: “The Labour Party is committed to turning this round.”
UCATT news release • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: You choose – red tape or bloody bandages?
Workplace red tape is not a burden on business but does offer essential, life-saving protection for workers, a new report has concluded. ‘Citizen Sane’, an online report from the trade union safety journal Hazards, calls for a radical reappraisal of the Health and Safety Executive’s role, with enforcement and worker involvement to become the safety watchdog’s central priorities.
Citizen Sane online report, Hazards, June 2013. Workplace safety criminals should be tied up with Red Tape poster • ‘Like’ the We love red tape facebook page • 22 June 2013
Britain: Safety cuts increase the risk of a new Piper Alpha
Unions have warned the government is risking a repeat of the Piper Alpha disaster by slashing safety budgets and regulation. The alert, which also warned about the need for the industry to invest in safety, came in Aberdeen at a conference organised by the industry lobby group Oil and Gas UK to mark 25 years since the oil platform explosion killed 167 people.
Morning Star • Scotsman. BBC News Online • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: 'Major' offshore gas and oil leaks up
The number of major gas and oil leaks from the UK's offshore installations rose last year from three to nine, the highest figure in 14 years. HSE chair Judith Hackitt commented: “The rise in the number of major releases show that there is a need for constant vigilance and attention as assets continue to age.”
BBC News Online • HSE news release • Oil and Gas UK • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: Sellafield fined after radioactive waste blunder
Sellafield Ltd has been fined £700,000 and ordered to pay £72,635.34 costs after “a failure of leadership” resulted in the firm sending bags of radioactive waste to a landfill site. The Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) carried out an investigation after the bags, which should have been sent to a specialist facility that treats and stores low-level radioactive waste, were instead sent to Lillyhall landfill site in Workington, Cumbria.
Environmental Agency • The Guardian • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: Narrow escape in another Sellafield blunder
Last week Sellafield Ltd confirmed it was undertaking an investigation into a narrowly averted catastrophe at the nuclear reprocessing plant. The error, where formaldehyde instead of hydroxylamine was mistakenly placed in a holding tank, was spotted before the reprocessing of radioactive material began, averting a disaster which anti-nuclear campaigners said could have wrecked the reprocessing system.
Morning Star • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: E-cigarettes face new restrictions - eventually
Planned regulations covering e-cigarettes should not be delayed until 2016, the TUC has said. The union body said the announcement by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency that it will regulate e-cigarettes as medicines was welcome, but criticised the decision to wait until new European tobacco laws come into force before introducing the controls.
TUC health and safety facebook page and earlier Stronger Unions posting • BMA news release • BBC News Online • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: Firms say ‘fit notes’ don’t work
The ‘fit note’ system introduced by the government in a bid to reduce sickness absence isn’t working, the manufacturing sector lobby group EEF has said. It says its survey found employers have lost faith that the programme is getting people back to work.
EEF news release • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Britain: Supervisor fined after temp is paralysed in fall
A site supervisor has been fined after a temporary employee was left paralysed after falling ten metres from the roof of a Tyneside warehouse. Phillip Giles, 24, fell from an unprotected and fragile roof after supervisor Paul Burke allowed workers, who were removing cement sheets, to go onto the roof, ignoring his company’s safety policy.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Canada: Random drug and alcohol tests thrown out
The Supreme Court of Canada has overturned a company's right to impose random alcohol testing on unionised workers in a dangerous workplace. The case ended up in court after a union grievance challenged paper and pulp firm Irving’s unilateral, mandatory and random alcohol testing policy.
CEP news release • CLC news release • CBC News • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Europe: Experts call for controls on endocrine disrupters
A global expert body on occupational health has called on the European Union to introduce stringent controls on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The Collegium Ramazzini, an international academy of 180 experts in environmental and occupational health from 35 countries, released a statement calling for new ways to test chemicals and to revise current approaches to risk management.
Collegium Ramazzini news release, Statement on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals In The European Union and Letter to President Barroso and Commissioners • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Global: Study targets safety risks for dockers
Safety standards for dock workers at container ports around the world would be improved by better worker participation, more attention to subcontractors and greater vigilance on problems including fatigue and musculoskeletal disorders, a union-backed study has concluded.
ITF news release and report: Managing the health and safety of workers in globalised container terminals • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Turkey: Firms must provide work health experts
Turkey has extended a law requiring firms to provide occupational health experts to include most workplaces. The original law, targeting firms employing more than 50 workers, took effect at the start of the year. But from 30 June the requirement to provide workers with access to occupational health expertise is to be extended to smaller workplaces including shops and hair salons.
Today’s Zaman • Risks 610 • 22 June 2013
Hazards news, 15 June 2013
Britain: Tribunal fees will leave workers unprotected
The TUC has warned that a system of tribunal fees due to come into effect in July will “embolden” rogue employers while leaving workers more vulnerable to safety and other abuses. Anyone who believes they ‘suffer a detriment, dismissal or redundancy for health and safety reasons’ may be required to pay an initial fee of £250 and a further £950 if the case goes to a tribunal, the maximum ‘level 2’ charges under the new system.
TUC news release and Campaign Plan • Hazards magazine’s ‘Pay-per-go’ guide to the tribunal fees • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Global: Key scientists in asbestos ‘crime-fraud’ probe
A series of academic papers used by the asbestos industry in a bid to frustrate compensation claims from workers suffering deadly diseases were potentially part of a “crime-fraud”, the New York Appeal Court has found. The articles, financed by Georgia-Pacific, were intended to cast doubt on the capability of chrysotile asbestos to cause cancer.
Union of Concerned Scientists blog • RightOnCanada • Inhalation Toxicology apology • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Campaigners slam the ‘war’ on safety
A major lobby of parliament has heard angry calls from union leaders and campaigners for the government to reverse an unprecedented attack on workplace safety protections. A large group of Labour MPs, including several shadow ministers, joined hundreds of protesters at an 11 June lobby of parliament called by the unions Unite and UCATT.
FACK News release • Morning Star and related article • Northern Echo • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Global: Gap joins Walmart in race to the bottom
The decision by US clothing retailer Gap to join Walmart in a non-binding and unenforceable “Bangladesh safety programme” has been condemned by unions worldwide. The two retail giants have ignored calls to join the global Bangladesh Fire and Safety Building Accord that has already been welcomed by the ILO and OECD and signed by more than 40 US, Canadian and European brands.
ITUC news release • Joint statement by AFL-CIO and ChangetoWin • OECD news release • ILO news release • IndustriALL news release • UNI news release • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Bakers turn up the heat on safety
Workers are paying a high price for the government’s unending assault on safety protections, the conference of the bakers’ union BFAWU has heard. Hazards Campaign coordinator Hilda Palmer told delegates the coalition government's “massive attack” on health and safety legislation amounted to murder,” adding: “It's not a case of too much red tape - there's too many bloody bandages.”
Morning Star • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Savage rail cuts will damage safety
Network Rail cannot find savings of £2 billion over five years without dire consequences for rail safety, the union RMT has warned. The union was speaking out after the rail regulator told Network Rail, which already has a net debt of over £30bn, it must make the cut while at the same time improving punctuality and safety.
RMT news release • ORR news release • BBC News Online • The Mirror • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Bromley must not penalise sick employees
The London Borough of Bromley must drop its “extreme, dangerous and vindictive” proposal to withhold cost of living pay rises from genuinely sick employees, GMB has said. The union has been in consultation with the council for a number of weeks regarding a proposal to move to local pay bargaining; one change would mean any employee could have their pay rise withheld for unsatisfactory “performance” – and that includes sickness, according to the council.
GMB news release • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Job cuts threaten safe air traffic control
The lives of airline workers and the flying public would be put at risk if cuts to air traffic control go ahead, the union PCS has warned. Staff working for UK air traffic control provider, NATS, demonstrated outside the Department for Transport on 12 June against plans to cut jobs and costs in the service.
Prospect news release • PCS news release • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Europe: Make prevention part of chemicals policy
A paper looking at the impact of chemical control laws in Europe, including the REACH regulations, has concluded “that the prevention of environmental exposure that is or may be related to cancer should become an integral part of cancer policies and cancer control programmes.” The paper published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health notes: “With the precautionary principle and that of physical–chemical hygiene in mind, the European regulations discussed in this article prove to be important steps towards a healthier living environment.”
Cathy Rigolle and others. How effective is the European legislation regarding cancer-related chemical agents? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, volume 67, number 7, pages 539-541, 2013 [abstract] • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Call for better rights for safety reps at sea
Members of the seafarers’ union Nautilus International in the UK are being urged to contact their MP and encourage them to sign an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling for improved rights for union safety reps onboard ships. Nautilus says under current laws, shore-based health and safety representatives have a legal right to attend a trade union-approved health and safety training course as soon as possible, whilst seafarers are only required to undertake onboard health and safety training at some stage.
Nautilus news release • Early Day Motion 201: status of seafarer health and safety representatives • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: ASLEF anger as guard’s sentence is upheld
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has described an appeal court’s decision to reject a train guard’s appeal against a five year manslaughter sentence as “scandalous.” Christopher McGee, who was convicted in November 2012 of causing the death of train passenger Georgia Varley in what the union described as a “tragic accident”, has had his appeal against the length of his sentence rejected.
ASLEF news release • Liverpool Echo • BBC News Online • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Strike action plan over teacher workloads
Scotland's largest teaching union has backed a campaign of action, including strikes, over increased workloads created by the new curriculum. Delegates at the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) conference in Perth carried a motion calling for a campaign of action to be in place by December in protest against increased workloads.
EIS workload campaign • Daily Record • BBC News Online • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Blacklisting is 20 years old and counting
The union Unite has evidence that vetting of building industry workers is ongoing, four years after the discovery of a secret list that denied people work for years. The union revelation came in a BBC Panorama programme that included the first TV interview with the woman who helped run the now-defunct blacklisting operation.
BBC News Online and BBC One - Panorama: Blacklist Britain • Morning Star • The Independent • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Unions to keep up the pressure on blacklisters
Unions have vowed to keep up their battle for justice from the major construction firms linked to a blacklisting scandal. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has launched a national mobilisation against Crossrail consortium Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK), which has included more than 350 UK protests in the past three weeks, with a thousand more planned over the next six months, and GMB has said the 70 blacklisting damages claims lodged in the High Court will be the first of several “monthly waves”.
The Guardian and related commentary from Ricky Tomlinson • Construction Manager • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Tragedies expose ‘low risk’ dangers
A series of tragedies have cast further doubt on the government’s decision to exempt supposedly ‘low risk’ workplaces including shops from routine safety inspections. Critics of the government strategy to exempt retail and other “low risk” workplaces from preventive inspections also point out the risk rating ignores the sometimes sky high occupational disease risks in these jobs.
Thames Valley Police news release • The Guardian • The Sun • BBC News Online on the Mark Rutter conviction, Javaid Ali prosecution and Hugo Boss tragedy • Workers' Compensation Claims for Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Wholesale and Retail Trade Industry Workers — Ohio, 2005–2009, CDC, June 2013 • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
USA: Chemical safety laws really work
A US study looking at the impact of a Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) in Massachusetts found that reported use of known or suspected carcinogens with businesses to reduce chemical risks, said: “These significant reductions show that when companies are required to examine their use of a toxic chemical, many find ways to use it more efficiently, while many others find options for replacing it with by industries in the state declined 32 per cent from 1990 to 2010 while releases to the environment declined 93 per cent from 1991 to 2010. Michael Ellenbecker, director of the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) created alongside the act to work a safer substitute chemical or process.”
TURI news release and executive summary and full report, Opportunities for Cancer Prevention: Trends in the Use and Release of Carcinogens in Massachusetts, TURI, June 2013 • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: New blueprint for a waste industry safety drive
A new plan to drive down the number of people killed and seriously injured in the notoriously deadly waste and recycling industry has been published. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum plan outlines 24 immediate action points under five strategic themes – providing strong leadership, involving the workforce, building competence, creating healthier and safer workplaces, and providing support for small and medium sized employers.
HSE news release • WISH webpages and new blueprint • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Firm fined for skip lorry death
Adis Scaffolding Limited, which is now in liquidation, a company that crushes rubble from construction and demolition waste has been fined £300,000 after an employee was killed by an overturning skip lorry in Derbyshire. David Vickers, 37, of Walton, near Chesterfield, died on 22 July 2008 when the skip lorry he was driving flipped and landed on top of him.
HSE news release and alert • BBC News Online • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Recycling worker crushed between two trucks
A Bolton company has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after a driver suffered serious injuries when he was crushed between two trucks at a recycling plant. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted DS Smith Paper Ltd after the incident at the Severnside site.
HSE news release and transport webpages • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Children face a greater risk from asbestos exposure
A heavyweight government scientific advisory committee has concluded that children are far more vulnerable to asbestos exposure than adults. The Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (CoC) was asked for advice on the relative vulnerability of children to asbestos to inform discussions of the Department for Education's Asbestos in Schools Steering Group.
Committee on Carcinogenicity (COC) Statement on the relative vulnerability of children to asbestos compared to adults, June 2013 • JUAC news release • ATL news release • NUT news release • ITV News • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Britain: Mum dies from asbestos cancer that killed her dad
A mother-of-three who contracted cancer from childhood cuddles with her father in his asbestos-covered overalls has died. A globally respected asbestos campaigner, Debbie Brewer, 53, spent seven years battling mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-related cancer.
BBC News Online • ITV News • The Sun • The Daily Mail • ADAO report •
Debbie’s Mesothelioma and Me blog • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
China: Deadly fire shows why workers need unions
A June fire that killed 120 workers behind locked doors at a poultry plant in northeast China highlights the need for independent unions to protect workers, the global union for the food sector has said. IUF points out that the factory had earlier been praised by the Chinese government for its ‘innovative approach’ to poultry processing and was recognised as a ‘top 100’ agricultural firm in Jilin Province.
IUF news report • The Guardian • Risks 609 • 15 June 2013
Hazards news, 8 June 2013
Europe: Slow motion on new safety strategy
Belated moves to introduce a Europe Union workplace health and safety strategy for 2013 and beyond have been initiated by the European Commission, after concerted pressure by unions. But unions remain concerned that the bureaucratic consultative process will bring further delays and that the Commission is adopting an increasingly regulation averse stance that could send Europe in a more dangerous direction.
Health and safety at work: Commission opens public consultation on future EU policy framework, European Commission, 31 May 2013 • ETUI news report • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Canada: Golden axe exposes compensation cuts
The Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups has unveiled a golden axe in protest at cuts to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board system. The network says there has been a dramatic increase in the number of claims refused by the board, coinciding with an “austerity programme” that saw a Can$631 million reduction in payouts from 2010-2011.
Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups news release • 8 June 2013
Britain: Unite questions HSE silence on Chevron deaths
The union Unite has expressed concern at a failure by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to provide information on the causes of a fatal refinery blast two years ago. The explosion and fire at the Chevron Pembroke Refinery on 2 June 2011 killed four workers and seriously injured another.
Unite news release • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: Union calls for action after betting shop murder
The union representing betting shop workers is calling for urgent action after the brutal murder of a Ladbrokes employee. Community wrote to employment minister Mark Hoban after 55-year-old betting shop manager Andrew Iacovou was bludgeoned to death with a hammer on 25 May in his workplace in Morden, south London.
Community news release • Ladbrokes statement • Racing Post • Daily Mail • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
USA: Injured workers don’t claim compensation
Over a third of work-related injuries seen in US emergency rooms are not the subject of a workers’ compensation claim, with the figure rising to almost half for occupational diseases, a new study has found. The study, published in the journal Health Services Research by researchers with the US government’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), analysed four years of data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS), a representative sample of US emergency room visits.
Groenewold MR and Baron SL. The proportion of work-related emergency department visits not expected to be paid by Workers' Compensation: Implications for occupational health surveillance, research, policy, and health equity, Health Services Research, 13 May 2013, published online ahead of print. The Pump Handle blog • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: GMB takes 70 blacklisting claims to court
A High Court case on behalf of 70 union members blacklisted by Carillion and other construction employers has commenced. Michael Newman, from Leigh Day, the law firm brought in by GMB to act in the case, said: “We are absolutely confident that the High Court will find that substantial compensation are due from the construction industry for what was effectively a black market in destroying workers’ reputations and job prospects.”
GMB news release • Leigh Day news release • Morning Star • BBC News Online and related Dirk McPherson case history • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Global: Walmart and Gap ‘run away’ from Accord
As the number of retail companies signing up to the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord continues to grow, the garment workers of Bangladesh “have been given a slap in the face by Walmart and Gap,” the global unions that brokered the deal have said. The retail giants have now produced a code of their own where they will act as judge and jury, warned IndustriALL and UNI.
IndustriALL news release • Al Jazeera • The Sum of Us call for Gap and Walmart to sign up • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: Poor office ergonomics is a real pain
Widespread law breaking by white collar employers is going unpoliced and is resulting in office workers being injured by shockingly designed workstations, the TUC has warned. Speaking after an ergonomics study found half of office workers reported they'd had no workstation risk assessment in the last 12 months, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the government’s hands-off directive to official safety enforcers was leaving workers unprotected and at risk of serious disease.
Daily Mail • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Italy: Billionaire Swiss asbestos killer gets longer sentence
A billionaire Swiss industrialist convicted for his part in Italy's biggest asbestos scandal has had his jail sentence lengthened to 18 years, in a ruling campaigners said would set a precedent for workplace safety lawsuits. Stephan Schmidheiny, found guilty of negligence that led to more than 2,000 asbestos-related deaths, was also ordered to pay millions of euros in damages to local authorities, victims and their families by an appeals court in Turin.
International Ban Asbestos Secretariat news report • Asbestos in the Dock report. Yahoo News • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: Bus cleaner nearly killed by flesh eating disease
A worker was “four hours from death” after being infected by a flesh eating disease caused by a piece of metal left on the floor at work, with the injury leading to the amputation of her left leg. Izzy Lloyd, 49, was working at an Arriva Southern Counties Limited bus depot in Maidstone on 6 April 2010 when she was injured as she alighted from the bus she had been cleaning in the engineering bay.
Unite news release • Kent Online • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: Top pregnancy docs say safety first with chemicals
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has concluded pregnant women may want to “play it safe” and avoid chemicals found in many common industrial and household products. RCOG says its paper on the issue is informing women and filling a void - until now, there has been no official advice for pregnant and breastfeeding women to turn to.
RCOG news release and full report, Chemical exposures during pregnancy: Dealing with potential, but unproven, risks to child health, RCOG, June 2013. BBC News Online • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Global: Probe over Samsung smartphone certification
A highly prized sustainability certificate granted to Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 smartphone is to be reviewed after protests by a global network of workers’ rights and environmental groups. The groups, coordinated by the International Campaign for Responsible Technology, charged that Samsung’s production processes have been linked to oppressive labour conditions and over 100 cases of occupational cancer, with at least 70 deaths caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Statement from global health and justice groups • TCO Development statement and news release on the Samsung S4 certification. SHARPS ‘Stop Samsung’ campaign news release • International Campaign for Responsible Technology • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: Serial criminal escapes with community service
The owner of a roofing firm who placed his employees at deadly risk, didn’t have the legally required insurance that would provide compensation if they were injured and who had previously been fined after an employee was paralysed in a fall has escaped with community service. Tony Massey, who trades as Massey Roofing and Building Contractors, was ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service in the next 12 months, and to pay £2,000 in prosecution costs.
HSE news release and falls webpage • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
China: Over 100 poultry workers die in factory inferno
Relatives of more than 100 workers killed in a fire at a Chinese poultry slaughterhouse are demanding answers, after survivors said some exits were locked or blocked. At least 119 people died after the fire broke out just after dawn on 3 June at Baoyuan, near Dehui in Jilin province.
AMRC statement • ABC News • BBC News Online • Al Jazeera • The Independent • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: Haulage bosses convicted over driver's death
A father and son who ran a haulage business have been found guilty of causing the death of one of their drivers who fell asleep at the wheel. Stephen Kenyon, 35, died when his lorry crashed into a line of stationary traffic on the M1 on 12 February 2010. Adrian John McMurray, 54, and Adrian Paul McMurray, 36, who together ran Daventry-based AJ Haulage, had denied manslaughter.
Northampton Chronicle • BBC News Online • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: New calls for MOT law change
Five years after a mother and her two daughters died on Aberdeenshire's roads, motoring groups and unions have called for all modern vehicles to have MOTs. Thousands of vehicles, ranging from breakdown and construction vehicles to cranes, are not required under current rules to obtain an MOT.
BBC News Online • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
USA: Chemical Hazard and Alternatives Toolbox (ChemHAT)
ChemHAT, the Chemical Hazard and Alternatives Toolbox, is a new internet database developed by the US union IUE-CWA and the Blue Green Alliance. The organisations say: “Instead of what engineering controls and personal protective equipment do I need to lower the levels of exposure to a ‘safe’ level, ChemHAT is being designed to answer the question, ‘Is there a way to get this job done without using dangerous chemicals?’” ChemHAT • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: Injured site workers too scared to claim
Construction workers who suffer preventable accidents at work are putting job security before personal safety because they are too afraid to take legal action, a survey of 200 injured workers has found. Personal injury law firm Fletchers Solicitors, which carried out the study, said it has witnessed a 20 per cent decrease in accident at work claims over the past year.
SHP Online • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: Asda fined over worker’s freezer injury
The UK offshoot of the world’s largest retailer has been ordered to pay out more than £50,000 after a worker slipped on an icy floor in a storage freezer, seriously hurting his knee. Leeds-based Asda, part of the global Walmart chain, appeared at Barnsley Magistrates Court for sentencing on 30 May, after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to a criminal safety offence.
Barnsley Council news release • Yorkshire Post • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Britain: Safety at work conferences, London and Liverpool
The Institute of Employment Rights is organising one-day conferences in London and Liverpool to explore how to challenge the government’s deregulatory assault on health and safety. Speakers include top safety academics, union leaders, personal injury specialists and campaigners. The event in London is on 12 June and the Liverpool event is on 3 July.
IER events webpage and details of the London event on 12 June and the Liverpool event on 3 July • Risks 608 • 8 June 2013
Hazards news, 1 June 2013
Britain: Disabled workers demand action on bullying
The TUC disabled workers heard a catalogue of testimonies about the extent of bullying that disabled workers face. POA delegate Robert Steadman told the conference that it was "horrifying" to see how people with disabilities are discriminated against at work. Morning Star • TUC news release • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Britain: Northern TUC says Mesothelioma Bill needs change
The TUC Northern Asbestos Support & Campaign Group, has warned that the government's Mesothelioma Bill will exclude hundreds of people with the fatal asbestos-related cancer and leave others short-changed. Instead of providing protection for all industrial disease victims as unions had called for, it limits support to mesothelioma only, imposes an arbitrary eligibility cut-off date of 25 July 2012 and is expected only to pay only 70 per cent of average compensation.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Britain: Unions force U-turn on asbestos report
A joint campaign by education unions has led to the HSE agreeing to release a report on asbestos contamination in a Welsh school. Cwmcarn High School, Caerphilly, was closed in October 2012 after it was found that asbestos fibres were being released from the school's heaters into the classrooms.
JUAC statement. • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Britain: New enforcement code to hit inspections
A new code introduced by the Government this week will further reduce the level of health inspection by Local Authorities. The number of pro-active inspections by local councils has already fallen by 86 per cent in the past three years – and now Local authorities are being banned from health and safety inspections on anything but the highest risk premises under a new binding code.
National code. • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Britain: Counterfeit safety cards threaten safety
Two men have been cautioned for safety test fraud relating to the Construction Skills Certification Scheme. This scheme certifies that workers in the industry have got basic skills and knowledge on health and safety and is supported by construction unions.
Construction Enquirer • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Britain: Scaffolder put lives at risk
A scaffolder has been fined for putting himself, his workers and passing members of the public at risk. An inspector from the HSE saw workers on scaffolding with no edge protection at a property in Cranberry Road, Camborne, in March 2012. Anthony Dale of Roskear Parc, Tuckingmill, Camborne, pleaded guilty at Truro Magistrates' Court to breaching Section 2(2) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined a total of £8,000 and ordered to pay £4,114 in costs.
HSE news release • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Britain: Tissue manufacturer in court over worker's fall
A worker was injured when metal grating gave way under his feet at a tissue factory in Lancaster, a court has heard. NTG (Papermill) Ltd prosecuted by the HSE following the incident at its factory on the Lansil Industrial Estate in 2009.
Print Week • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Britain: Weapons plant fined over safety
The Atomic Weapons Establishment PLC (AWE PLC) has been fined £200,000 with a further £80,000 in costs after a worker was injured when a fire broke out in an explosives processing building. A worker was breaking dry nitrocellulose (NC) into a plastic bucket which contained methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) - both volatile agents - as part of the process of producing a lacquer.
HSE news release • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Global: Improve treatment of workers or lose world cup
The British TUC is calling on UEFA to address the appalling treatment of workers and players in Qatar and back calls for FIFA to re-run the vote for the 2022 tournament should the Qatari government fail to take any action. Low rates of pay, excessive working hours, a ban on joining unions, poor safety standards and numerous abuses under the country's strict visa sponsorship system have led to accusations that Qatar is acting like a 21st century slave state.
TUC news release. ITUC news release • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Europe: Safety at risk by new proposals
New EU proposals on ports could put safety at sea at risk according to European trade unions. The European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) is extremely concerned about the consequences that proposals for deregulation could have on the workers in pilotage, towage and mooring.
ETF news release • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Qatar: International unions call for fire action
Bernadette Ségol, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, has written to the European Union's High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy to raise concerns about the case of a lack of action after a fire in Qatar that cost 19 lives a year ago.
ITUC news release • Risks 607 • 1 June 2013
Hazards news, 25 May 2013
Britain: Tell retailers to sign the safety plan
The TUC is urging major UK high street brands to stop dragging their feet and sign up to a safety deal fashioned after a devastating garment factory collapse in Bangladesh killed over 1,100 workers. According to the TUC: “Signing the Accord commits companies to fund an independent safety inspector body that will involve workers in the process, through their unions, and to make long term deals with suppliers, offering more secure employment and training for workers.”
TUC action call • TUC ‘What price cheap clothing?’ briefing • Full text of the Accord.
Write to Debenhams and GAP now • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Crossrail contractor faces blacklisting action
Union members have protested outside the London Central Employment Tribunal in support of a Unite rep who lost his job after raising safety concerns. In September 2012, Frank Morris was sacked from the Crossrail project along with 28 electrical workers from the subcontractor EIS.
Unite news release • Morning Star • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Union appeal for injured blacklisted activist
A union appeal fund has been set up for anti-blacklisting campaigner George Tapp, who was mown down and seriously injured at a demonstration by a hit and run driver. The Unite member was involved in a protest at a site operated by construction firm Bam in Manchester.
Morning Star • Socialist Worker • Greater Manchester Police statement
Donations should be sent to Salford TUC George Tapp Appeal, 84 Liverpool Road, Eccles, Salford M30 0WZ • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Train drivers concerned over makeshift shrines
The appearance of makeshift shrines at the site of rail tragedies is distressing for train drivers and not an appropriate way to pay tribute to the dead, the rail union ASLEF has said. ASLEF’s officer in Scotland Kevin Lindsay said: “No-one wishes to come to work and be reminded that someone has died there.”
ASLEF news release • The Scotsman • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Danger warning on fire safety report
A government-commissioned review of the future of the fire service is really a Trojan horse for further damaging cuts, unions have warned. The TUC said Sir Ken Knight's review was produced “simply to provide cover” for the next wave of government’s attacks.
TUC news release • FBU news release • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Retired shipyard worker gets lung disease
A former Tyneside shipyard worker has developed a disabling lung condition caused by asbestos. GMB member Thomas Hepple, 72, from North Shields, was diagnosed with pleural thickening – a debilitating lung disease – after suffering severe chest pain and breathlessness in May 2010.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Pressure and job insecurity hits a 20-year high
British workers are feeling less secure and more pressured at work than at any time in the past 20 years, with pay cuts and diminished control over their jobs among the biggest concerns, according to a national survey of employees' wellbeing. More than 3,000 workers aged between 20 and 60 were interviewed in 2012 for the latest in a six-yearly Skills and Employment survey.
Cardiff School of Social Sciences news release and the 2012 Skills and Employment Survey (SES) and three reports: Fear at work in Britain, Work intensification in Britain and Job-related well-being in Britain, May 2013 • Financial Times • The Guardian • More on insecure work and health • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Haulier jailed for crush death at Ipswich docks
A haulier whose lorry loader tipped over and crushed a man to death at Ipswich Docks has been sentenced to 12 months in prison and fined £50,000. Paul Napier, 48, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Neville Wightman following a trial at Ipswich Crown Court.
East Anglian Daily Times • BBC News Online • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Man jailed after worker dies in a fall
A County Durham man has been jailed and North Eastern Maritime Offshore Cluster Ltd (NEMOC) and one of its directors fined after a demolition worker fell to his death from a cherry picker that was knocked over by a falling roof beam. Ken Joyce was working for Allan Turnbull, trading as A&H Site Line Boring and Machining, when the incident happened on 2 December 2008.
HSE news release • CPS news release • BBC News Online • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: ‘Unreasonable pressure’ led to dentist’s suicide
A dentist killed himself after facing “unreasonable pressure” from health chiefs over standards of record keeping at his practice in Leeds, an inquest has heard. Dr Anand Kamath, 42, was in danger of being referred to the General Dental Council and feared for his career.
Yorkshire Evening Post • More on work-related suicide • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Recycling giant fined for worker death failings
A temporary worker at one of the world’s largest metal recycling firms was killed because of a failure to properly segregate people and moving vehicles, a court has heard. European Metal Recycling Limited, which operates across Europe, Asia and the Americas, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after Linas Mataitis, 25, from Mitcham, was struck by the bucket of a wheeled loading shovel.
HSE news release and work transport webpages • Local London • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: BAE Systems sentenced for the death of worker
Global defence company BAE Systems has received a six figure fine after a worker died when he was crushed by the 145-tonne weight of a metal press at its East Yorkshire plant. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) described the death of maintenance engineer Gary Whiting, 51, as an “entirely preventable tragedy” caused by the serious safety failings of BAE Systems (Operations) Ltd at its plant in Brough.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Save Our Safety lobby, London, 11 June 2013
Unions UCATT and Unite are holding a joint lobby of parliament on 11 June 2013 to “expose the Conservative-led government's attacks on health and safety laws.” They say the lobby, which will concentrate on construction safety, “will be an opportunity to dispel many of the myths and lies that surround safety laws and members will have the opportunity to contact their MP about their concerns.”
Unite briefing • Save Our Safety lobby, House of Commons, Tuesday 11 June 2013. Related safety briefing • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Britain: Stopping exposure to carcinogens
The latest of the TUC’s ‘Time to Change’ health and safety campaign bulletins deals with preventing exposure to carcinogens at work. The new bulletin provides an overview of the situation including information on what the law says about exposure to substances that can cause cancer.
TUC publication alert and Time to Change bulletin, Carcinogens – stopping exposure. International trade union workplace cancer prevention campaign • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Argentina: Retail giant Zara is linked to slave labour
The Spanish fashion brand Zara is outsourcing its production in Argentina to clandestine sweatshops employing immigrants under slave-like conditions, campaigners have revealed. The campaign group La Alameda and CGT, the country’s largest trade union confederation, which together have exposed the abuses, say the working hours are inhuman.
Equal Times • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Global: What made the retail giants cave?
A campaign by global unions and labour rights groups that succeeded in getting dozens of the world’s biggest retail and textile companies to sign up to a union-crafted safety accord, has prompted questions about what lessons can be learned for future campaigns.
TUC Touchstone blog • Oxfam blog • TUC Aid appeal for funds • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Global: The pressure is mounting on Gap
More than a million people have already signed an online petition calling on Gap to stop stonewalling and back the global Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord. UNI, the global union for the retail sector, says the company “has been inundated with calls from thousands of angry customers who say they expect better from Gap”.
UNI news release • IndustriALL news release • New York Times • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
USA: Investors tell retailers to get in line
A coalition of faith organisations, investors and labour rights groups is urging major US retailers, including Walmart, Gap and Sears, to sign on to the new binding workplace and fire safety plan to prevent tragedies such as the 24 April building collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 garment workers.
AFL-CIO Now blog • Letter from the investors and the letter from the ICCR • Los Angeles Times • Risks 606 • 25 May 2013
Hazards news, 18 May 2013
Britain: HSE’s independence is undermined by government
A decision by the government to impose an “employee interests” representative on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) board who did not have the support of trade unions has led to serious concerns about the independence of the official safety watchdog.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • FBU news release • The Guardian • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: No public contracts for blacklisters
As unions Unite and GMB and the grassroots Blacklist Support Group up the pressure on blacklisting firms with a rolling programme of demonstrations nationwide, George Tapp, a Unite member attending a protest has been seriously injured in what has been described as “a deliberate hit and run.”
Unite news release • GMB news release • Manchester Evening News • Eastern Daily Post • Watford Observer • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: Parliament’s security staff strike over shifts
Up to 300 security staff at the Houses of Parliament took strike action in a long-running row over imposed shift patterns. The workers, employed by the Metropolitan Police, accepted two years ago that shifts had to change, but their union PCS said during protracted talks senior Met officials “repeatedly moved the goalposts” when the union presented a series of proposals.
PCS news release • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: Union welcome for new sharps injury law
New regulations to control the risks posed by needles and other 'sharps' in healthcare have been welcomed by the union UNISON. Commenting on the new law, which came into effect on 11 May, UNISON safety officer Robert Baughan, said: “This is a great day for the protection of healthcare workers from sharps injuries and the potential of contracting a deadly bloodborne virus such as HIV or Hepatitis C, and the culmination of UNISON's campaign for safer needles.”
HSE news release, needlesticks webpage and guidance • UNISON news release. European BioSafety Network guidance • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: Mental health charity bullies its own staff
A mental health charity has been told to stop bullying its staff and to start practising what it preaches. Turning Point has recently threatened all its 2,600 staff with the sack unless they agree to new and worse contracts – causing huge amounts of stress and anxiety.
UNISON news release • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: ASLEF calls for protection for train drivers
Rail union ASLEF has called for greater protection for train drivers from vandals and trespassers on the railways after two more trains were attacked. ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan called for greater education in schools, on stations and in communities to warn potential vandals of the seriousness of this dangerous anti-social behaviour.
ASLEF news release • The Scotsman • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: BAE pays out after driller’s wrist injury
A GMB member had to give up his trade as a driller when he suffered a serious wrist injury at work. The 29-year-old from Barrow in Furness is now stuck in a desk-based job as a quality assurance engineer after suffering a fractured wrist and torn ligaments when the drill he was manoeuvring suddenly spun around because it had not been fitted with a safety switch.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: BP wants Cameron’s help with disaster costs
BP wants prime minister David Cameron to intervene over the escalating compensation costs arising from the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in 2010. BP feels its financial recovery is in jeopardy and it could become a target for a takeover.
BBC News Online • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: MPs criticise dangerous dogs proposal
Tougher laws to tackle the threat of dangerous dogs and irresponsible owners do not go far enough, MPs have said. Plans to make it a criminal offence in England and Wales to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control on private property have been welcomed by the Commons environment committee, but it criticised a lack of action to address threatening behaviour at an early stage and reduce risk of attacks.
BBC News Online • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: More care for NHS staff is better for patients
A report from King’s College London (KCL) has concluded that improving the health, safety and wellbeing of NHS staff is essential if the government wants to improve patient care. The study found that staff in many settings experienced high job demand and low control over their work, leading to emotional exhaustion, stress and for some burnout.
Does NHS staff wellbeing affect patient experience of care?, Policy+, Issue 39, King’s College London, May 2013. UNISON news release and Making us better sickness guide for safety reps • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: MPs warn about the working wounded
Employees are under pressure not to take sick leave entitlements when they're ill, Labour MPs have warned. They say job insecurity has left the UK workforce scared to take time off.
The Guardian • CIPD news • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: Director fined after worker's deadly fall
The director of a concrete structures firm has been fined £20,000 after a worker died after a fall at a Swansea building site. Carillion Construction Ltd, Febrey Ltd and director Michael Febrey, were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at the Meridian Quay apartment development on 22 January 2008.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: Whiplashing hose breaks tunneller’s leg
An international civil engineering firm has been prosecuted after a construction worker had his left leg broken by the whiplash of an industrial hose. Adrian Murray, 48, was working for Joseph Gallagher Ltd on a tunnelling project beneath the Dorchester Hotel in central London.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Britain: Digger driver saves buried worker
A quick-thinking construction worker saved a colleague who was seriously injured when he was buried up to his waist when a basement wall collapsed. The BBS Construction Ltd employee, who does not wish to be named, smashed his right hip in the incident at Benenden School for Girls in Cranbrook on 18 January 2011.
HSE news release and excavations guide • Construction Enquirer • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Asia: Campaigners denounce the deadly decades
A sequence of deadly industrial incidents in Asia show companies and their appointed ethical standards auditors are failing to tackle corporate safety crimes across the continent, the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV) has said. “Corporate social responsibility driven initiatives and self-regulatory mechanisms have failed time and time again to protect workers,” said Sanjiv Pandita, executive director of the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC).
ANROEV news release • The Pump Handle • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Global: Top retailers sign up to Bangladesh safety deal
Over 30 of the world’s top retailers have signed up to groundbreaking safety deal brokered by global trade unions. Signatories to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which covers more than 1,000 Bangladeshi garment factories, met a 15 May deadline to approve the standard proposed by the global unions IndustriALL and UNI, who had worked in alliance with labour rights groups the Clean Clothes Campaign and Worker Rights Consortium.
IndustriALL news release • ILO statement. Solidarity Center news release • TUC Touchstone blog • In These Times • New York Times • The Guardian • The Independent • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Global: Call to finally ‘stop the race to the bottom’
Commerce unions from all continents have thrashed out plans for a new world of retail in the wake of the Bangladesh factory safety accord. During an emergency meeting of global commerce unions at UNI headquarters, UNI general secretary, Philip Jennings said, “The race to the bottom stops here.”
UNI news release • BBC News Online • The Guardian • Global Post • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Europe: Black Sea action to target ‘sea of shame’
Seafarers from across Europe have exposing substandard and unsafe working conditions in what they have labelled the ‘Black Sea of shame’. Global transport unions’ federation ITF and maritime unions in Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine are involved in the campaign.
ITF news release, campaign and Black Sea of Shame report • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Global: Toxic exports convention ‘in crisis’
Outraged civil society groups attending the Rotterdam Convention conference in Geneva last week have said the convention was hijacked by industry interests. For the fourth time, a handful of countries allied to the asbestos industry have refused to allow chrysotile asbestos to be added to the Convention’s list of hazardous substances that require exporters to obtain ‘prior informed consent’ from the importer; listing of the pesticide paraquat was also blocked.
RightOnCanada news release • IBAS news report • Joint news release by the Berne Declaration, PAN, IPEN and IUF • Risks 605 • 18 May 2013
Hazards news, 11 May 2013
Britain: Cameron’s ‘stupid and dangerous’ move on safety
The TUC’s top safety expert has branded the government’s latest move to relax workplace safety controls as ‘stupid and dangerous’. Hugh Robertson said the Deregulation Bill announced in the 8 May Queen’s speech will pave the way for self-employed workers ‘who pose no risks to others’ to be removed from the scope of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
TUC news release • TUC Stronger Unions blog • Government webpage on the Queen’s Speech 2013 and presentation to parliament • STUC news release • Morning Star • BBC News Online • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: Government to introduced cut-back asbestos scheme
The government is set to introduce a long-delayed compensation scheme for asbestos victims. But plans have now been downgraded so only victims of one asbestos-related condition, mesothelioma, diagnosed after July 2012, will be eligible and payouts will be lower than originally planned too, with an estimated 300 people a year receiving compensation at about 70 per cent of the level paid where the insurer can be found.
UCATT news release • Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release • The Independent. Northern Echo • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: A gentle nudge won’t worry safety criminals
The government’s determination to “nudge rather than regulate” will hand safety criminals greater latitude to maim and kill, the TUC has warned. It says the approach promoted by the government’s soon to be part-privatised Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights Team – the ‘Nudge Unit’ – is already having an impact on workplace health and safety.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Cabinet Office Behavioural Insights Team • House of Lords Science and Technology Committee ‘Behaviour change’ report, July 2011 • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: NUJ welcomes BBC bullying action plan
Journalists’ union NUJ has welcomed recommendations to address the entrenched bullying culture at the BBC. The measures are outlined in the report of the ‘Respect at work’ review conducted by Dinah Rose QC into bullying and harassment at the broadcaster.
NUJ news release and Stop bullying guide • Video clip of Michelle Stanistreet's BBC interview • BBC Respect at work review and trade union section • The Guardian • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: Alarm bells on NHS violence prevention
A new system to provide health service workers with personal alarms as an anti-violence measure shouldn’t detract from measures to prevent violence in the first place, UNISON has warned. The union was speaking out after NHS Protect, which provides support to the NHS on the protection of staff, retained Reliance High-Tech to deliver its NHS framework ‘lone worker service’.
NHS Protect news release • UNISON news release • UNISON It’s not part of the job and Working alone guides for safety reps • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: Whitehall security bollard injured a driver
A delivery driver had to undergo surgery for an injury he sustained while exiting a secure area in Whitehall. The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union member was leaving Whitehall in a work van on 8 September 2009 when a submerged security bollard he was driving over was released prematurely by a police officer.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: Defective crane leads to deformed finger
A plater’s finger has been left deformed after it crushed by a defective crane. The 26-year-old GMB member from Gateshead, whose name has not been released, now has a mangled and desensitised left index finger which he cannot fully bend after the incident at an unnamed multinational on Wearside.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: Scots government blocks progress on blacklisting
Blacklisted workers rallied at Scotland’s Holyrood parliament building as MSPs piled the pressure on government for a public inquiry. Members of the union Unite packed the public gallery for a 2 May blacklisting debate, but the debating chamber itself was nearly deserted as Labour MSP Neil Findlay led calls for a crackdown.
STUC news release • UCATT news release • Morning Star • The Courier • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: Doctors protest at 'cruel' disability tribunals
Doctors in Scotland have hit out at a system of fitness-to-work benefits assessments which they say is failing the sick and placing the most vulnerable patients at risk of suicide. A campaign, backed by leading medics, charities and unions, now intends to encourage GPs to use little-known regulations to challenge cases where declaring patients fit to work would place them in danger of physical or mental harm.
Black Triangle Campaign and letter • Sunday Herald • BBC News Online • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: Washing overalls led to wife’s asbestos death
A grieving husband whose wife died as a result of exposure to asbestos from his overalls has received a £187,500 payout. Mother-of-three Yvonne Moaby died at her home in Quenington from mesothelioma, an incurable form of cancer caused by asbestos, in May 2010.
The Standard • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: Butchery firm slapped with safety gloves fine
A large butchery firm in south London has been fined after an employee sliced his forearm because his safety gloves offered insufficient protection. Rare Butchers of Distinction Ltd also failed to report the “serious incident” at its premises on the Chiltonian Industrial Estate on 21 July 2011 within the legally required ten-day limit – taking 29 days to notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
HSE news release and PPE guidance • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: Head of government agency hauled before HSE
The head of a government agency whose workers were put at serious risk from bovine TB has been forced to appear at a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) office to receive an official reprimand. Chris Hadkiss, chief executive of the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) - an executive agency of DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) - was handed a Crown censure at HSE’s Basingstoke office after an investigation into the handling of samples containing Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) - the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (TB).
HSE news release • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Britain: Man may face amputation after injury a year ago
A Bradford man may need to have his lower leg amputated as a result of a crush injury caused by the criminal safety failures of his employer more than a year ago. The city’s magistrates were told that 51-year-old David Wain suffered serious injuries on 6 February 2012 when a 1.5 tonne pallet of tin plates fell onto his right lower leg and foot when he was employed by Emballator UK Ltd at their factory in Tyersal, Bradford.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Australia: ‘No more excuses’ on quad bike safety
An official call for quad bike manufacturers to fit efficient crush protection devices (CPDs) should lead to strong regulatory action to reduce deaths and injuries, Australia’s national union federation ACTU has said. ACTU assistant secretary Michael Borowick, speaking after the plea from Safe Work Australia chief Rex Hoy, said that there had been enough talk on quad bike safety and it was time for the Australian consumer safety watchdog ACCC and workplace safety bodies throughout the country to act.
ACTU news release • Safe Work Australia news release • ACCC 28 March 2013 news release • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Global: Tragedies expose role of global retailers
The spate of garment factory disasters in Bangladesh has exposed the poor working conditions in the country, but reports say the problem has its origin in a supply chain structure which puts more emphasis on cost than on the working conditions in the Asian nations producing the goods. The 24 April Rana Plaza building collapse had by 9 May claimed over 1,000 lives, with the death toll climbing and rescue work accompanied by the overpowering stench of decaying corpses.
Wall Street Journal. • ILO tripartite mission statement • HRW Asia news release • IndustriALL news release • TUC Stronger Unions blog • BBC News Online • Toronto Star • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
New Zealand: ‘Critical weaknesses’ of a deadly safety system
Unions in New Zealand have called on the government to implement in full the recommendations of an official taskforce that found “critical weaknesses” in the nation’s workplace safety system. The 30 April report of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety calls for urgent, broad-based change.
Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety – news release, website, executive report and main report • NZCTU news release • Risks 604 • 11 May 2013
Hazards news, 4 May 2013
Bangladesh: Pressure leads to garment safety commitments
International clothing brands, bowing to pressure from unions and campaign groups, have agreed to meet a 15 May deadline to finalise an agreement on fire and building safety in the garment industry in Bangladesh. Under the agreement, funds will be made available for inspections, training and upgrading dangerous facilities.
IndustriALL news release • Clean Clothes Campaign news release • Primark statement • Loblaw statement • Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement • BBC News Online • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Treat me like an animal
Animal welfare charity RSPCA takes more prosecutions and secures 200 times more jail terms than all the official workplace safety watchdogs combined, the TUC has revealed. RSPCA’s ‘Prosecutions annual report 2012’, published on 30 April, reveals the organisation secured 4,168 convictions against 1,552 people last year for animal cruelty, with 86 people jailed as result.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • RSPCA news release and RSPCA prosecutions annual report 2012, April 2013 • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
USA: OSHA initiative to protect temporary workers
Temporary employees in the US will be better protected from workplace hazards, the official safety enforcer has pledged. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent a memorandum to the agency’s regional administrators directing field inspectors to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their legal safety responsibilities and newly created code in their information system to denote when temporary workers are exposed to safety and health violations.
OSHA news release and OSHA temporary workers memo • More on temporary worker health and safety • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Global: London protest challenges Russia on asbestos
Russia’s support for global asbestos trade has been exposed by Putin-masked protesters in a union-backed action outside its London embassy. Russia, the world’s largest asbestos exporter, is expected to join with Zimbabwe to block new rules on chrysotile asbestos exports when they are discussed by government representatives on 7 May.
GMB news release • IBAS news report • RightOnCanada news release and appeal from asbestos victims worldwide • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: GMB calls for school asbestos surveys
Everyone with children at school and those who work in our schools must ensure the school heating system has been checked by an authorised asbestos surveyor, the union GMB has urged.
GMB news release • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Retailers shopped by exhausted staff
Understaffing and long opening hours are leaving shopworkers stressed, miserable and unable to take breaks, their union has said. The Morning Star reports that delegates at the annual Usdaw conference have called for action to address low staffing levels. Morning Star • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Uruguay: Mass protest at poor safety standards
An incredible 40,000 scaffolding workers took to the streets of Montevideo last month to protest at a government failure to introduce stalled safety laws. The 17 April march called by the National Union of Building Workers (SUNCA) was accompanied by a 24-hour nationwide strike.
BWI news report • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Wales must press ahead with its dogs law
The Welsh government must press on with domestic dog law reform, unions and campaigners have said. CWU health and safety officer Dave Joyce joined campaigners in Wales to hand in a petition urging the Welsh government to defy pressure from Westminster to drop the Control of Dogs (Wales) Bill.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Renewed protests at Crossrail blacklisters
The Blacklist Support Group, backed by the union Unite, has staged noisy protests against firms involved in the massive Crossrail construction job. On 25 April, they appeared outside the Basingstoke office of construction and engineering giant Kier and on 2 May at the RAILTEX exhibition at London’s Earls Court Exhibition Centre, where Andrew Wolstenholme, the chief executive officer of Crossrail, was the keynote speaker.
Unite news release • The Gazette • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Compensation move puts ideology over justice
The passage of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act means workers will only be able to claim compensation for a workplace injury or disease if they can demonstrate employer negligence, even if it is accepted that employer had broken criminal safety laws. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “It is about bare, raw political ideology from the anti-worker pro-business Tory hawks.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Government questions HSE’s existence
Construction union UCATT has described the government’s announcement of a major review that questions the need for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as “crass and cold hearted”. Announcing the triennial review, the government said it “will assess whether there is a continuing need for HSE’s functions, as well as whether it is complying with the principles of good governance.
DWP announcement and written ministerial statement • HSE news release • UCATT news release • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: HSE union condemns new government attack
The government’s triennial review of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) could mark a dangerous step towards further privatisation of the safety watchdog’s functions, the union PCS has warned. The union said the enforcer has already cut its staffing in half since 2004, adding it will have had to reduce its budget by £80m-£85m a year by 2014, which will directly lead to an increase in deaths, injuries and illnesses.
PCS news release • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: BP’s safety record in the spotlight again
BP’s profits dipped in the first quarter as the UK-based oil multinational revealed it had paid out more than half of the cash it had set aside to cover the cost of damages caused by the 2010 rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. BP's safety record took another knock on 30 April – the same day it released its quarterly results - when Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) censured the company for the second time in two years, after a potentially deadly September 2012 incident at BP’s Ula oilfield in the North Sea.
BP news release and BP quarterly results and webcast • PSA Norway news release • The Guardian and related story. • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Work stress led to school head’s suicide
A stressed headteacher found hanged at her school in Worcestershire killed herself, a coroner has ruled. Helen Mann, whose body was discovered in a stairwell at Sytchampton First School near Stourport-on-Severn on 5 November 2012, was concerned that if an Ofsted inspection was imminent, the school would lose its 'oustanding' rating.
Kidderminster Shuttle • BBC News Online • Malvern Gazette • More on work-related suicides • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Worker dies in tarmac cutter
Direct Plant Services Ltd, trading as South and West Highways Trenching, has been fined after a worker was killed while operating a tarmac cutter which had a deliberately disabled safety switch. Stuart Guard, 28, died after becoming entangled in the cutting wheel of a machine designed to remove the top layers of tarmac on roads.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Global: Call for a weight limit on cement bags
Global construction union federation BWI has launched a new campaign to reduce the weight of cement bags. The ‘25 kilos’ campaign aims to convince cement and aggregates manufacturers and distributors the measure is necessary to prevent manual handling injuries, particularly those affecting the lower back.
BWI news release and campaign poster, guidance for safety representatives on manual handling, letter to companies and checklist manual handling • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Fireball engulfs chemical worker
A worker who sustained severe burns when he was engulfed by a fireball at a chemical factory had to be kept in an induced coma for seven weeks. The 45-year-old from Kirkby, who has asked not to be named, was injured in the chemical explosion at SAFC Hitech Ltd’s plant when a bottle of trimethylindium, or TMI, used during the production of LEDs and in the semiconductor industry, exploded.
HSE news release and chemicals webpage • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Australia: Thousands stand up for site safety
An army of 10,000 construction workers jammed the streets of Melbourne on 30 April, calling for safety on sites operated by construction firm Grocon. The union CFMEU said the turnout was particularly impressive as newspapers, politicians and employer groups had all warned workers off attending the march.
CFMEU news release and 15 minute film on the safety dispute • BWI news release • The Age and related pre-rally article • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Teen hospitalised by textile firm
A textile company has been prosecuted for criminal safety offences after a 1.5 tonne pallet toppled on to a teenage worker, trapping him by the legs. Halifax Magistrates heard that the 18-year-old warehouse worker suffered a broken leg in the incident at THS Industrial Textiles Ltd in Elland on 16 March 2011.
HSE news release and safe lifting guidance • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Hazards Conference, 19-21 July, Stoke-on-Trent
The 24th National Hazards Conference is scheduled for 19-21 July at the University of Keele, Stoke-on-Trent. The Hazards Campaign is urging union safety reps and activists to attend the conference, adding it is now crucial to fight back as the government erodes the employment and safety protections “won by collective action over generations.”
24th National Hazards Conference, 19-21 July, University of Keele, Stoke-on-Trent. Hazards Campaign webpage • 2013 Booking form and sponsorship form • Further information from the Hazards Campaign, tel: 0161 636 7557 • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: New TUC guides
The TUC has supplemented its online guides to the minimum legal health and safety standards with new topics, including: New and expectant mothers at work; working with sewage; meningitis in the workplace; driving lift trucks; working in extremes of temperature (hot or cold); preventing aches and pains from using display screen equipment; working in or near water, rivers and seas; working with animals; and working with lead.
Get the TUC guides: Driving lift trucks. Working in extremes of temperature (hot or cold) • Preventing aches and pains from using display screen equipment • Working in or near water, rivers and seas • Working with animals • Working with lead • New and expectant mothers at work • Working with sewage • Meningitis in the workplace • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Hazards news, 27 April 2013
Global: What did you do on Workers’ Memorial Day…
To track Workers’ Memorial Day events across the globe, take look at the map of events worldwide, produced by the global union federation ITUC and Hazards magazine.
ITUC/Hazards Workers’ Memorial Day webpages to find out what’s happening worldwide on 28 April and sign up to the ITUC/Hazards 28 April facebook page • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
USA: No inspections for 28 years at deadly fertiliser plant
A Texas fertiliser plant where a fire and explosion last week destroyed dozens of buildings, claimed at least 14 lives -including 11 firefighters and emergency medical staff – and injured more than 200, was last inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1985. The West Fertiliser plant disaster is a “stunning indictment” of the safety watchdog’s under-funding, critics have charged.
National COSH news release • Washington Post • In These Times • AFL-CIO Now blog • Huffington Post • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Unite action call in wake of tug tragedy
The union Unite has welcomed news that two firms are to face criminal charges over the sinking of a tugboat in the River Clyde, which led to the deaths of three crew members. The Flying Phantom capsized in thick fog on 19 December 2007, killing skipper Stephen Humphreys, 33; Eric Blackley, 57; and Robert Cameron, 65.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: RMT concern over new rail runaway injury
Another incident involving a runaway rail maintenance vehicle has raised fresh concerns about safety and subcontracting on the rail network, the union RMT has said. A workers was injured at the site run by Amco Rail, with RMT saying other agencies and contractors were thought to be involved.
RMT news release • Rail Technology magazine • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Canada: Inspection blitz targets vulnerable workers
An official safety enforcer in Canada has taken a fresh look at how you define ‘high risk’ workplaces, with an inspection blitz set to prioritise young and temporary workers and recent immigrants. Inspectors from the Ministry of Labour in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, will be examining compliance with employment and as well as more routine safety standards to ensure employees are getting their wages and holiday pay, and aren't being forced to work excessive hours.
Ontario Ministry of Labour news release • Windsor Star • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Unite follows blacklister BAM to Amsterdam
Shareholders attending the annual meeting of Dutch construction multinational Royal BAM received a lesson on blacklisting. They were met by placard wielding members of the union Unite at the 24 April event, who were protesting at the blacklisting and victimisation of trade unionists working on Crossrail by the company’s British subsidiary, BAM Nuttall.
Unite news release • Union News • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Blacklist protesters target industry awards
Blacklisting protesters from Unite and the union-backed Blacklist Support Group protested outside the National Building Awards at London’s Grosvenor Hotel. At one stage the action outside the event on 18 April blocked traffic on Park Lane.
Building magazine • Morning Star • YouTube video • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Asbestos alert on school heaters
Unions this week sent an urgent warning to schools, urging them to check whether they have warm air cabinet heaters that could contain asbestos. The warning from the Joint Union Asbestos Committee follows the discovery of asbestos in warm air cabinet heaters in Cwmcarn High School in Wales in October 2012, which led to the school’s closure.
NUT news release • JUAC website • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Global: Death trap plants awarded ‘safe’ certificates
Factories in which hundreds of workers have died had been labelled ‘safe’ by a fatally flawed auditing system that amounts to ‘privatised regulation’, a report from the US union federation AFL-CIO has found. The report points to two devastating garment factory fires last year in Bangladesh and Pakistan; both companies had been certified as meeting safety standards by official-sounding groups financed by the multinational corporations profiting from the low-wage labour churning out the pants, sweaters, shirts and more destined for boutique stores and department store racks.
Responsibility Outsourced: Social Audits, Workplace Certification and 20 Years of Failure to Protect Worker Rights, AFL-CIO, April 2013. AFL-CIO Now blog • ITUC news report • TUC Stronger Unions blog • Equal Times. • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Train driver cleared of assault charges
Train driver Mick Ward, 42, who was wrongly convicted of assault last year when acting in the interests of safety, has had his conviction quashed at York Crown Court. He was joined by more than 30 of his colleagues, co-workers and fellow ASLEF members in what has been described as an ‘unprecedented’ show of support for the veteran railway worker’s fight to clear his name.
Harrogate News • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Dry liner survives 35ft ladder fall
A self-employed construction worker suffered multiple injuries in a 35ft fall from an unsecured ladder, but at least secured compensation thanks to his union membership. The 26-year-old GMB member from Torrington, Devon, was lucky to survive when his ladder slipped and he fell from the third floor of a new build house onto a concrete floor. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Government forces through law to rob injured workers
The government has successfully pushed through a new law that will remove the right to claim compensation for injuries caused by a criminal breach of workplace health and safety regulations. The change was spelled out in an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which received Royal Assent on 25 April and now becomes law. UNISON news release • Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Alarm about new quickie alcotests
Millions of workers could face routine and possibly daily alcohol tests using a new fingerprint device which gives instant results. Media reports say staff in local government, the NHS and security, transport and leisure industries will be first to be targeted for testing by the world’s first finger-touch system to detect alcohol.
UNISON news release • Metro • Daily Mail • The Guardian • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Steel beam crushes welder
Steel manufacturer Condor Allslade has been prosecuted after a welder was crushed by a falling 1.4 tonne steel beam at its Portsmouth plant. The 64-year-old man, who does not wish to be named, suffered injuries including a fractured skull, two crushed discs in his back, a broken knee and ankle bones, as well as a blood clot on his lung.
HSE news release and manufacturing webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Rail workers crushed by ballast machine
Babcock Rail and Swietelsky Construction have been fined for criminal safety offences after two workers were seriously injured when a ballast regulator machine fell on top of them when a car jack being used to prop it up collapsed.
ORR news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Poor site facilities lead to conditional discharge
A builder has been given a two year conditional discharge after neglecting the welfare of workers at a construction site in West Cornwall. David Lawrance, as a partner for Swiftfix Reinforcement Specialists, failed to provide adequate washing facilities and rest areas at a site in Carbis Bay between May and July 2012 where a new home was being built.
HSE news release and construction welfare webpages • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Bangladesh: Hundreds die in factory building collapse
The worst ever industrial accident in Bangladesh has killed several hundred garment workers, with fears of a final death toll reaching 1,000 as hundreds remain injured and trapped in the debris. The collapse of the eight storey Rana Plaza building in Savar, 30 kilometres outside Dhaka, on the morning of 24 April came the day after workers expressed concerns about cracks in the building.
Industriall news release • TUC news release. BBC News Online • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Worker killed by runaway lorry
A lorry driver died when he was run over by his own lorry, a court has heard. Father-of-three Gary Walters, 51, was working for Gloucester-based contract haulier Larkins Logistics Ltd when the fatal incident occurred on 11 October 2010.
HSE news release • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Britain: Waste industry dangers highlighted in court
A Lincoln man suffered life-changing injuries because of a series of criminal safety failings at the City Scrap Ltd waste recycling plant where he worked in Scunthorpe, a court has heard. The 25-year-old worker had his arm severed when he tried to clear a blockage on a conveyor on a metal sorting line.
HSE news release and waste industry webpages • Risks 602 • 27 April 2013
Hazards news, 20 April 2013
Global: Workers’ Memorial Day is just days away
With Workers’ Memorial Day just a few days away, it seems set to be the biggest commemoration ever. Early indications are that a record number of unions around the world are also planning 28 April events on what is the biggest single workplace health and safety activity on the calendar, beating anything organised by official safety bodies, governments or employers’ groups.
Visit the ITUC/Hazards Workers’ Memorial Day webpages to find out what’s happening worldwide on 28 April and sign up to the ITUC/Hazards 28 April facebook page •
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2013 webpage and events listing and facebook page •
Copies of the Hazards Workers’ Memorial Day 2013 poster are available free in A4 and A3 sizes from Hilda Palmer at the Hazards Campaign. A charge to cover costs will be made for larger orders • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Blacklisters shamed in new report
The extent to which major construction companies were involved in illegal blacklisting activity for over a decade has been revealed in a report from MPs. The interim report by the Scottish Affairs Committee reveals damning evidence of the nature of the “morally indefensible” blacklisting and the lengths to which companies would go to keep it secret.
Scottish Affairs Committee news release and interim report, 16 April 2013. TUC Stronger Unions blog • Blacklist blog • Evening Standard • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Unions welcome ongoing scrutiny of blacklisters
Unions have welcomed a commitment from MPs to continue their investigations into the blacklisting of union safety activists, and have called for justice for victims and action against those responsible. Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) said: “It is time for all involved in any criminal activity to be held to account, it is not a defence to argue that individuals were acting on instructions of others.”
STUC news release • GMB news release • UCATT news release • BBC News Online • Unite news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
USA: Construction boss jailed in safety bonus scam
A former safety manager with a construction firm working on US government nuclear sites has been jailed on eight counts of major fraud after hiding worker injuries to obtain $2.5 million in safety bonuses for his firm. A federal judge sentenced 55-year-old Walter Cardin, who worked for the Shaw Group, to 78 months in prison for deliberately falsifying records of workplace injuries.
US Justice Department news release • Charlotte Observer • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: GMB rejects Skanska’s ‘half-hearted’ offer
A statement from Skanska that it will consider claims for compensation from workers it blacklisted has been dismissed by the union GMB as a public relations stunt. The move by the Swedish construction giant came ahead of demonstration by GMB and the Blacklist Support Group last week outside Skanska’s Stockholm annual general meeting.
GMB news release • ICO blog • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Network Rail puts money before safety
Rail union TSSA has condemned Network Rail over the “entirely preventable” death of a Herefordshire housewife on a level crossing. The union was speaking out on 10 April, after Network Rail was fined £450,000 at Birmingham Crown Court for criminal safety offences related to the death of Jane Harding - and a day after it was revealed four directors of the under-performing rail giant would pocket bonuses totalling over £600,000.
TSSA news releases on Network Rail and profits and bonuses • Daily Mail • Financial Times • Sky News • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Global: Shame of US textiles fire death brands
Major European retailers C&A, KiK and El Corte Inglés have agreed to contribute to a compensation plan for the victims of the Tazreen Fashions fire in Bangladesh – but US corporations Walmart, Sears/Kmart and Disney have snubbed the hundreds of workers killed or injured in the November 2012 disaster.
Industriall news release • Clean Clothes Campaign news release • Bloomberg News • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: A weak watchdog will strengthen rogue gangmasters
Government plans to weaken the Gangmasters Licensing Authority have been condemned by the TUC. In an online commentary, TUC’s Ben Moxham said reducing controls is likely to lead to an increase in rogue gangmasters, adding: “This will undermine the effectiveness of the GLA in tackling tax evasion and in raising compliance with basic employment and health and safety standards.”
TUC Touchstone blog and submission to the GLA inquiry • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Deregulating agency work a mistake
Government plans to repeal regulations which control how employment agencies operate and replace them with a system of self-regulation will lead to more exploitation, the construction union UCATT has warned. Under the government’s proposals included in a consultation by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) which closed on 11 April, the Employment Agencies Act and the existing regulations covering employment agencies would be scrapped.
UCATT news release and full consultation response • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: FBU defends injured firefighters
Firefighters who are injured at work are entitled to and should seek compensation, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said. FBU highlighted the case of firefighters who were poisoned by Campylobacter bacteria during a water training course in Nottingham, with several becoming ill with serious stomach complaints, and some developing lifelong bowel problems as a result.
FBU news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Care worker assaulted five times
A care worker attacked five times by a teenager who should have been placed in a secure unit has been left unable to work. The youngster was not moved to a secure unit until April 2009, three months after the final assault on the UNISON member, by which time she was off work.
UNISON news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Factory noise caused deafness
A Unite member who was exposed to dangerous levels of noise at work for over 25 years developed occupational deafness and tinnitus as a result. The 58-year-old from Loughborough, whose hearing became damaged while working for Brush Electrical Machines from 1986, received £9,500 in damages in a union-backed compensation case. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Asbestos scarred shipworker’s lungs
A Unite member from Ross Shire has received compensation from six of his former employers after he was diagnosed with the debilitating lung-scarring condition asbestosis. The 79-year-old, whose name has not been released, was exposed to asbestos while working as an apprentice gas fitter and then for several shipyards. Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Surgical team worker suffers back injury
A member of a surgical team who suffered a back injury while manoeuvring a patient has received £21,500 compensation. The 49-year-old GMB member from Cornwall has been left with long term back pain following the injury while working at Derriford Hospital.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Injury move ‘a charter for rogue employers’
A government plan that will make it harder for workers to claim legitimate compensation for injuries at work has been criticised by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors’ union Prospect. The union condemnation came after a 16 April vote by MPs to over-rule the House of Lords and go ahead with plans to remove the right to use criminal breaches of safety law by an employer as grounds for a personal injury compensation claim by a worker suffering an occupational injury or disease.
Prospect news release • Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill debate, House of Commons, 16 April 2013, Hansard report • TUC briefing on the Bill • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Little interest in NHS lifestyle promotion at work
An NHS ‘Champions for Health’ pilot health promotion scheme attracted little interest from staff – and this interest quickly waned for the tiny minority who did give it a try. Just 1,300 out of NHS Wales’ 72,000 staff signed up last year for the high profile initiative, and two-thirds of these had dropped out before the end.
NHS Wales news release and Champions for Health webpages • Work and well-being, TUC guide, February 2013. Hazards magazine 'Well, then?' guide • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Europe: New evidence that green job are risky
New and unfamiliar technologies, skills gaps and more familiar ‘old’ hazards like chemicals, electricity and work at heights could place workers in the burgeoning green jobs sector at risk, a new report has warned. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) notes that pressure in the European Union to reduce carbon emissions, reduce waste and increase energy efficiency and the proportion of renewable energy is set to lead to a rapid growth in the number of ‘green jobs’.
EU-OSHA news release, green jobs webpages and full report, Green jobs and occupational safety and health: Foresight on new and emerging risks associated with new technologies by 2020, and summary • ETUI news report • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Scheme allows safety criminals a say
A “primary authority scheme” is giving major companies the right to call for a proposed safety prosecution to be halted. The new power to refer a decision to prosecute for scrutiny by a government red tape watchdog came to light when Tesco was taken to court by Waverley Borough Council after an employee broke her foot in a Farnham store.
Waverley Borough Council news release • EHN Online • BRDO webpage on the primary authority scheme • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: UK Coal fined following another death
UK Coal Mining Ltd has been ordered to pay £300,000 in fines and costs after an employee was killed by falling pipes at Thoresby Colliery in Nottinghamshire. Experienced locomotive driver John Harbron, 47, was working underground with colleagues when the fatal incident occurred on 24 July 2009.
HSE news release • Nottingham Post • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Deadly pit roof collapsed twice in a week
The family of a UK Coal miner who died when a pit roof collapsed has said it hopes lessons can be learned from the “obvious shortcomings” that led to his “untimely and unnecessary” death. Gerry Gibson, 49, died of asphyxiation when he was buried by the rock fall at Kellingley Colliery near Selby, North Yorkshire, in September 2011.
Yorkshire Post • Morning Star • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Lift engineer's death exposes criminal failings
A national lift and elevator firm ThyssenKrupp Elevator UK Ltd’s (TKE) criminal safety failings were uncovered after the death of a lift engineer at Pentonville prison in North London. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated after Steven Loake, 53, was electrocuted while trying to fix a fault on the chapel lift at the prison on 5 October 2010.
HSE news release and electricity webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Britain: Firm fined for scissor lift training failures
A man died after a company failed to properly train staff on how to use equipment intended to allow them to work safely at height. Knowsley-based Firesafe Installations Limited employee Shaun Scurry was trapped between the guardrail of a scissor lift and some overhead ducting a colleague was unable to release him and bring him down because he didn’t know how to use the emergency controls.
HSE news release • Liverpool Echo • Risks 601 • 20 April 2013
Hazards news, 13 April 2013
Britain: Does the government want child labour on farms?
The abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB) could lead to the re-emergence of child labour on British farms, an international union representing agricultural workers has warned. The warning from IUF came ahead of a 16 April Commons vote on the future of the AWB, which has protected the incomes of 150,000 agricultural workers since the second world war.
Unite news release • Western Daily Press • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Rail worker fired for resisting an assault
A rail worker employed by London Midland was fired because he resisted a physical and verbal assault by a known troublemaker. Revenue protection officer James Crabtree was working on the gateline at Watford Junction when he asked the individual to produce a valid travel ticket.
RMT news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
USA: Saving money, ignoring regulators, poisoning workers
Cost-cutting companies, timid regulators and weak laws are proving to be a toxic package that is letting firms poison workers with impunity, an investigation by the New York Times has concluded. A related editorial said the story illustrated failings in enforcement, with the company neglecting to make the changes required by inspectors and being allowed to get away with it.
New York Times feature, related editorial and letter to the paper from the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Union warning on construction skills rip-off
Construction union UCATT is warning workers not to be duped into paying over the odds for construction safety and skills papers. The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards are a mandatory requirement for construction workers on most sites. UCATT news release • CSCS news release • CITB website • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
USA: 'Ag-Gag' bills threatens safety
A bill that would prevent workers from documenting unsafe working conditions and animal cruelty on farms or any industrial workplace using cameras is being pushed through the Indiana Legislature. The "ag-gag" bill, versions of which have been introduced or are under discussion in a dozen other states, has an amendment that would make it a “Class A misdemeanour to photograph at a farm or business without written permission from the owner.”
Change.org petition to stop the legal attacks on whistleblowers • AFL-CIO Now blog • Public News Service. NPR • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Blacklist demo at Skanska’s Stockholm AGM
UK protesters against the construction blacklist this week targeted the annual general meeting of Swedish construction multinational Skanska. The 11 April demonstration, led by the union GMB and the Blacklist Support Group, aimed to enlist support from the company’s shareholders and the Swedish public.
GMB news release • Blacklist blog • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Dropping the hard hats law could kill
The decision to scrap a law requiring hard hats on site is a dangerous move and an “abdication” by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of its responsibilities, construction union UCATT has charged. The Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989 were axed on 6 April.
UCATT news release • Construction Enquirer • Morning Star • HSE list of revealed, revoked and amended health and safety regulations • HSE construction PPE webpages • 13 April 2013
Britain: Danger site exposes construction law loophole
Construction union UCATT is calling for an urgent revision of safety laws after an Aberdeen construction site which has been dangerous for years exposed a deadly legal loophole. UCATT says that because HSE places prohibition notices on a company and not on a site, when the site changes hands the existing prohibition notices are wiped off, even if the problems have not been rectified.
UCATT news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Fall cuts short worker’s career
A civilian police worker had to retire early after injuring his back when he fell down a flight of stairs. The 61-year-old GMB member badly injured his back in the fall at West Yorkshire Police headquarters in Wakefield in November 2008.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Needlestick injuries cause psychiatric trauma
Needlestick or ‘sharps’ injuries are resulting in persistent and substantial psychiatric illness or depression in workers in a wide range of industries, a new study has found. Research published this month in the journal Occupational Medicine found that those affected suffered psychiatric trauma that is similar in severity to trauma caused by other events such as road traffic accidents.
SOM news release. B. Green and EC Griffiths. Psychiatric consequences of needlestick injury, Occupational Medicine volume 63, pages 183–188, 2013 • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: BBC policy change after journalist’s suicide
The BBC has apologised and amended its policy on bullying and harassment after a radio journalist took his own life. The move by the broadcaster came after an inquiry found the BBC's handling of complaints from Russell Joslin was “not good enough.”
BBC News Online and The Granger report • Personnel Today • The Scotsman • More on work-related suicide • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: More firms using zero-hours contracts
Almost a quarter of Britain's major employers now recruit staff on zero-hours contracts that keep workers on standby and deny them regular hours. According to government estimates, 23 per cent of employers with more than 100 staff have adopted the flexible contract terms for at least some staff following a surge in the number of public sector services contracted out to private providers.
The Guardian article and related comment • More on the health impact of insecure work • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Brazil: McDonald’s gets $4m fine for zero hours contracts
In Brazil, fast food giant McDonald's was this year fined US$4 million for operating a zero-hours scheme under which workers sat in the "break rooms" without being paid, until the employer determined there were a sufficient number of customers for hours to be counted. The court ruling required McDonald’s to eliminate the working time scheme throughout Brazil and ordered it to provide healthy meals to its workers.
IUF news report • Equal Times • More on the health impact of insecure work • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Japan: Firm raided over bile duct cancers
Labour ministry investigators searched the Osaka head office of printing firm Sanyo-CYP Co on 2 April amid long-running concerns about workplace cancers. So far, 17 employees have developed bile duct cancer, eight of whom died – with an nationwide investigation subsequently identifying 48 more cases.
Japan Times • Mainichi Japan editorial • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Site blitz shows the need for year round inspections
Construction union UCATT is calling for a far higher number of official site safety inspections after a month-long nationwide blitz by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there has been no improvement in standards since a similar initiative last year.
HSE news release • UCATT news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Director fined after employee’s fatal fall
A building firm and one of its directors have been sentenced after an employee fell 15 metres to his death in an empty water storage tank in Macclesfield. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Galt Civil Engineering Ltd and Peter Stuart following an investigation into the death of Peter Halligan at Sutton Hall Farm on 14 August 2008. HSE news release and falls webpage • Construction Enquirer • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
India: Nothing like a nice cup of tea
Tea workers in Assam are suffering labour abuses and threats to their health and safety, a complaint to the World Bank’s International Financial Corporation (IFC) – which has a 20 per cent stake in the firm - has claimed. Global union federation IUF is supporting the complaint by tea workers at the Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd (APPL) tea gardens in Assam, an associate company of Tata Global Beverages.
IUF news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Worker loses leg after falling wall starts excavator
A director of a Wimborne building firm has been fined after a self-employed worker was seriously injured when a falling wall activated an excavator. Dorchester Crown Court heard that David Mitchell, a director of Ferndown Developments Ltd, had hired James O’Connor to work at the cottage when the incident happened on 29 April 2009.
HSE news release and construction webpages • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Britain: Foundry worker hit by 1.6 tonne bar
A Derbyshire foundry has been fined after an employee suffered multiple injuries when he was hit by a steel bar weighing 1.6 tonnes. The 61-year-old, who has asked not to be named, was working at Padley & Venables Ltd in Dronfield when the nine-metre long bar, and the steel barrow it was travelling on, fell as it was being pushed from one part of the site to another by a tow truck.
HSE news release • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Global: Are you ready for Workers’ Memorial Day?
Are you ready for Workers’ Memorial Day, health and safety’s big day, when unions and safety campaigners pledge to ‘Remember the dead and fight for the living’. Unions around the world are planning 28 April events on what is the biggest single workplace safety activity on the calendar.
Find out what’s happening worldwide on 28 April. Copies of the Hazards Workers’ Memorial Day 2013 poster are available free in A4 and A3 sizes from Hilda Palmer at the Hazards Campaign. A charge to cover costs will be made for larger orders • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Hong Kong: Dockworkers treated like ‘caged animals’
Dockworkers in Hong Kong are being treated no better than caged animals, the global transport workers’ union federation ITF has said. According to ITF, the union and hundreds of thousands of dockers worldwide are calling on HIT and HPH to take responsibility for the welfare of their workers whether they are directly employed or subcontracted and enter into open and transparent dialogue.
ITF News • Labourstart ActNow campaign – send a protest letter to the company • Risks 600 • 13 April 2013
Hazards news, 30 March 2013
Britain: Campaigners vow to take on the blacklisters
Unions and campaigners have pledged to take on the individuals responsible for blacklisting workers for their union and site safety activities. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey and GMB general secretary Paul Kenny announced at the Blacklist Support Group's 23 March AGM in London a new front in the campaign against those who unlawfully persecute union members.
Reel News video report • Morning Star • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
USA: Get well soon - or you’ll be sorry
Employers are using incentives and increasingly penalties to persuade workers to make better lifestyle choices, even though there is no compelling evidence these programmes actually work. Programmes that seek to impose consequences on workers, for example making them to pay a surcharge for failing to take steps to lose weight or quit smoking, have come in for criticism by those who have argued that the policies are invasive and can punish people for health problems that not are always easy to fix.
New York Times • The Nation • Work and well-being, TUC guide, February 2013. Hazards magazine ‘Well, then?’ guide • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Global: Spoof ads target clothing giant
The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) has launched a spoof marketing drive parodying global clothing giant H&M's new 'Conscious Collection' promotional campaign. The campaign group’s 'Unconscious Collapsed' posters aim to draw attention to the oppressive working conditions in Asian garment factories.
CCC news release • The spoof on Facebook and living wage campaign • Take action – sign the call for a Living Wage • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Crossrail targeted over blacklisting
Crossrail has become a key target of anti-blacklisting campaigners. Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Blacklist Support Group last month, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey accused Crossrail of neglecting workers’ rights and failing to investigate claims that blacklisting is taking place on the £15bn project.
Union News • Building • Evening Standard • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Europe: Deregulation threat to safety laws
Last month turned out to be a bad one for workplace health and safety in the European Union (EU). On 7 March, the European Commission announced its plans to “ease the top 10 most burdensome EU laws” for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The EU executive said it planned to do this through the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT) launched in December 2012 – and safety laws are high on a list topped by the REACH controls on hazardous chemicals.
ETUI news reports on Andor’s comments and the Deregulation Commission • European Commission news release • EU Commission webpages on health and safety at work • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: RMT slams HSE’s offshore ‘dilution’
Offshore union RMT has condemned the announcement of a “restructuring exercise” within the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which will see the absorption of its Offshore Safety Division” (OSD) into a new broader “Energy Division”. RMT says that since the findings of Lord Cullen's inquiry into the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster, which killed 167, there has been a distinct division of HSE devoted to the offshore oil and gas industry.
RMT news release • HSE statement • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Prison educators are highly stressed
Education staff who work in prisons have considerably higher levels of work-related stress than British workers in general, a new report commissioned by the union UCU has found. ‘A punishing regime - a survey of occupational stress and well-being among prison educators’ found that 72 per cent of the prison educators who responded 'strongly agreed' or 'agreed' with the statement, "I find my job stressful".
UCU news release and report, A punishing regime - a survey of occupational stress and well-being among prison educators, Gail Kinman and Siobhan Wray, University of Bedfordshire • POA news release • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Schools inspectors are ‘hit men’ for ministers
School inspectors are becoming education ministers’ hit men, teaching union NASUWT has claimed. Ninety-five per cent of teachers who responded to an NASUWT survey into inspection said that they believe the schools inspections system operates in the interests of politicians rather than the public or pupils.
NASUWT news release • Hazards work-related suicide guide • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: ‘Shocking’ truth about classroom asbestos
Children and teachers are still at risk of developing cancer due to asbestos-riddled classrooms, the National Union of Teachers has warned. The union is demanding urgent action after Department for Education officials told the Commons education committee that the government's policy was to “contain and actively manage asbestos and for its removal to be carried out correctly and safely (for example when buildings are demolished or refurbished, or when damage means that asbestos is no longer safely contained).”
NUT news release • Morning Star • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Emails used as a ‘punitive’ management tool
Teachers are being swamped by a deluge of work-related emails sent in holidays, evenings and weekends, adding to their workload and causing stress and distress, the union NASUWT has warned. It says a recent survey conducted by the union revealed that nearly one in five teachers had received a stream of bullying and demanding emails from senior colleagues.”
NASUWT news release • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Union anger over benefits sanctions targets
Civil service union PCS has demanded urgent action after it emerged the Department for Work and Pensions had published a national sanctions “scorecard” that contains precise information on how jobcentre districts are performing on stopping people's benefits. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It is a gross injustice that, with our economy stalling as a direct result of this government's mismanagement, ministers are turning the screw on people who are entitled to benefits.”
PCS news release and Letter to Iain Duncan Smith • The Guardian • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Steel employee injured in ammonia fog
A steelworker suffered a serious shoulder injury after his vision was clouded by ammonia vapour. Unite member Phillip Walters, 54, a shift support technician at the Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot, was walking past an incinerator when it blew out a cloud of ammonia vapour temporarily affecting his sight.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • BBC News Online • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Injury after firm provided wrong equipment
A factory worker suffered a fractured foot after he was provided with the wrong type of equipment to move heavy alloy bars. GMB member Michael Kirby, 47, suffered two fractured metatarsals in his left foot and was off work for seven weeks following the incident at Ross & Catherall Ltd in Sheffield.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: HSE backtracks on disease reporting
A highly unpopular Health and Safety Executive (HSE) proposal to remove the duty on employers to report most work-related diseases has been dropped by the watchdog. The proposal to end disease reporting was opposed by unions, occupational doctors and the safety professionals’ body IOSH.
Minutes of the January 2013 HSE board meeting • BOHS news release • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Worrying HSE findings on site safety
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) snapshot examination of safety conditions on Britain’s construction sites suggest there has been no improvement in standards since a similar inspection blitz last year. Both concluded “nearly one in five construction sites visited” were sub-standard, with the latest figures suggesting there has been a slight increase in the proportion of negligently run sites.
HSE news releases on the 2013 and 2012 site blitzes • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: HSE to keep patient safety role
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to keep the lead role on patient safety, the government has said. The official response to recommendations in the Francis report goes against the recommendation of Robert Francis QC, who led the inquiry into the patient safety scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
Patients First and Foremost: the Initial Government Response to the Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry, Department of Health, 28 March 2013. SHP Online • Francis report website • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Congo: Union recruitment and retractable syringes
A union project to encourage the use of safer retractable syringes in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s health system has delivered benefits for patients, health care workers and their union. Global union federation PSI said during the project, membership of the health care union SOLISCO, a PSI affiliate, rose by 30 per cent in three years.
PSI news release • Map: IMPACT/PSI project collaboration between 2008 and 2013 • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Directors fined £1.8m for transport safety abuse
Two former haulage directors have been ordered to pay more than £1.8m after illegally endangering road users. Patrick Boyle and Mark Boyle, jailed last year, now have six months to pay £1.1m and £738,000 respectively under the Proceeds of Crime Act; investigators found that between them they had benefited from their crimes by more than £10m.
Cumbria Constabulary news release • BBC News Online • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Long term failings led to long term damage
GKN Aerospace has been fined for failing to heed safety regulations for at least six years, leaving a group of employees with permanent nerve damage. Portsmouth Magistrates were told that five workers based at GKN on the Isle of Wight had been left with long-term damage to their circulation and nervous system after contracting hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
HSE news release and vibration webpages • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Deadly risks of living on site exposed
Construction workers have found sleeping overnight in a former brewery undergoing refurbishment were exposed to potentially deadly risks, a court has heard. The owner of the Burton upon Trent brewery and the site manager were prosecuted for a series of safety failings unearthed during a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation.
HSE news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Britain: Firms fined 10 years after rail fatality
Two rail giants have each received six figure fines for criminal safety offences a decade after the death of track worker Liam Robinson, 35. Network Rail appeared at Stafford Crown Court on 22 March and was convicted of two offences following a three week trial and Railway Maintenance Ltd, trading as Carillion Rail, pleaded guilty to two criminal breaches at an earlier hearing.
ORR news release • Risks 599 • 30 March 2013
Hazards news, 23 March 2013
Britain: Major anti-blacklisting breakthrough
Trade unions have achieved what they describe as ‘a major breakthrough’ in the campaign against blacklisting. Employers’ representatives on the Construction Industry Joint Council (CIJC), responsible for the official union-employer industrial Working Rule Agreement which covers 500,000 construction workers, agreed on 20 March to insert a new anti-blacklisting clause, as a result of strong union pressure.
UCATT news release • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
USA: WSJ attack on asbestos victims criticised
The Wall Street Journal has been criticised for portraying asbestos compensation “fraud” as the “troubling underside” of a system that has forced asbestos companies into bankruptcy. In an 11 March article, which is riddled with basic errors, uses the fraud claim as a hook to give column inches to a Republican-backed ‘Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency" bill.
Huffington Post • Wall Street Journal • Corporate Action Network • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Site workers miss out on employment rights
Hundreds of thousands of construction workers are missing out on employment rights and facing job insecurity because firms wrongly label them as self-employed. Construction union UCATT said under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) it is the responsibility of the employer to register workers correctly under the scheme.
UCATT news release • Morning Star • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Attacks on community workers must be stopped
UNISON members working in the voluntary sector are calling for urgent action to stem a growing tide of violence and aggression at work. The union says thousands of its members in the sector are assaulted, abused and suffer debilitating injuries at work every year.
UNISON news release • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: NHS trusts are ‘wasting money’ on sick leave
Too many NHS trusts in England are failing to implement key recommendations made in 2009 to reduce staff sickness absence, physios’ union CSP has said. Documents obtained by CSP under freedom of information (FoI) laws show that many trusts have failed to act on key recommendations in the Boorman Review, a landmark 2009 report into the health of the NHS workforce.
CSP news release and report, Fit enough for patients? • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Rail worker compensated for vibration injury
An RMT member who suffered permanent damage to his hands caused by excessive levels of vibration from workplace tools has received a ‘substantial sum’ in compensation. Kevin Thornton, 48, developed hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), a condition which causes numbness and loss of grip, through working with vibrating tools for 22 years for Network Rail and its predecessors, including British Rail.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • New TUC guide on hand-arm vibration syndrome • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Chancellor accused of sneaky attack on rights
Construction union UCATT has accused George Osborne of hiding a further attack on workers’ safety and rights in the small print of this week’s Budget. The union says buried on page 50 of the chancellor’s 2013 Budget document was the announcement that the government will launch a “second phase of the Red Tape challenge”, while on page 93 it confirms that the second phase of the Red Tape Challenge will begin in “summer 2013”.
UCATT news release • HM Treasury: Budget 2013 • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Europe: Action call on hormone disrupting chemicals
Europe’s lawmakers have said chemical safety laws must be overhauled to take account of the impact of widely-used endocrine disrupted chemicals (EDCs). The large group of common industrial chemicals were linked last year to breast cancer in a range of industrial and other jobs, prompting renewed calls for action from unions and chemical safety campaigners.
HEAL news release and related Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health commentary • ChemSec news report • EDC free campaign website • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Burnout bigger heart risk than smoking
Burnout at work is worse for your heart than smoking cigarettes, research has found. The study, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, found that people suffering work-related burnout are even more likely to develop heart disease than smokers.
TUC Touchstone Blog • Medical News Today • Psychosomatic Medicine • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Work is the top cause of stress
Work is the most stressful factor in people’s lives, research commissioned by Mind has found. The mental health charity found one in three people (34 per cent) said their work life was either very or quite stressful, topping both debt or financial problems (30 per cent) and health (17 per cent).
Mind news release and stress webinars • New TUC guide on mental health conditions at work • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: HSE urged to do act on women’s cancers
Campaigners waved bras outside a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conference last week, to highlight the watchdog’s “denial, delay and dithering” on occupational cancer risks, particularly those affecting women. Hilda Palmer said “this ‘three monkeys’ approach is especially deadly for work-related cancer in women which has been completely ignored, under-researched and so much less likely to be targeted for preventive action.”
Hazards Campaign news release • HSE news release • Morning Star • SHP Online • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Health surveillance needs worker involvement
New health surveillance guidance has been launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The online guide is clear that involving the workforce is critical, noting: “Employees should be encouraged to get involved in developing and using health surveillance because it is only effective with their co-operation.”
HSE news release and health surveillance webpages and information on employee involvement • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Tax breaks for workplace health interventions
Employers will be able to access tax relief for health-related interventions recommended by the forthcoming health and work assessment and advisory service, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in this week’s Budget. George Osborne said the move, flagged up in the government’s January 2013 response to the sickness absence review commissioned from workplace health czar Dame Carol Black and former business lobbyists David Frost, will “recycle funding into creating the health and work assessment and advisory service for those in danger of long-term sickness absence.”
HM Treasury: Budget 2013 • BBC News Online and Budget summary • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Egypt: Lose your thumb and you're fired
Ahmad Abdulghani Awad Abdulghani, 26, worked at Cadbury Egypt, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mondelez, from 2008 to December 2011. He never had a permanent job, but was part of the army of precarious workers making chewing gum at the Alexandria factory. He lost half his thumb while operating a machine which should normally be run by three persons; then he lost his job.
IUF news release and related campaign • Click here to send a message to Mondelez - tell them to rectify human rights abuses and to meet with the IUF! • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Baroness blasts government on safety
A member of the House of Lords has warned that the UK government’s current safety policy will cost lives. Baroness Rita Donaghy, speaking to the Canberra Times ahead of a June address to a safety conference in the Australian capital, said: “To say things have deteriorated is an understatement,” adding: “So it may sound political, but a government which listens is enormously important.”
Canberra Times • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Night shift linked to ovarian cancer
Working night shifts may increase the risk of ovarian cancer, research suggests. A study of more than 3,000 women found that working nights increased the risk of early-stage cancer by 49 per cent compared with doing normal office hours.
Parveen Bhatti and others. Nightshift work and risk of ovarian cancer, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 50, pages 231-237, 2013 [abstract] • BBC News Online • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Workman fined for friend's fall through roof
A self-employed maintenance worker has been fined after a casually-employed friend fell through the roof of a disused factory. The injured man, in his forties, suffered a broken elbow when he fell three metres through the asbestos cement roof at a disused rubber factory at Bullo Pill, Newnham, in the Forest of Dean on 4 September 2012.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Hazards insecure work webpages • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Work experience teen scarred by toxic cocktail
Vehicle repair company Motorhouse 2000 Ltd has been fined after a 16 year-old on work experience, Bret Thomas, suffered burns when toxic paint stripper splashed into his eyes and face. The toxic cocktail was capable of causing problems ranging from asphyxiation, to brain damage and bone rot.
HSE news release • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: Company fined after paper mill injury
A paper manufacturer has been fined after a worker seriously injured his left arm when it became trapped in moving machinery. Stonehaven Sheriff Court was told that the 54-year-old from Aberdeen, whose name has not been released, was employed as a coaterman at the Stoneywood Paper Mill. The mill was operated by Arjo Wiggins Fine Papers Limited when the incident happened on 15 October 2010.
HSE news release • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Britain: TUC workplace health resources
Following up publication of the new edition of its best-selling and seriously large ‘Hazards at work’ guide for safety reps, the TUC has issued a tranche of straightforward short guides on issues free ranging from chicken pox at work to skin problems, vibration and noise. These guides are written for employees, and give straightforward advice on diseases, risks and employers’ duties.
Hazards at work: Organising for safe and healthy workplaces • New TUC guides on workplace substances and skin problems, working with asbestos, noise at work, hand-arm vibration syndrome, chicken pox in the workplace and mental health conditions • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Australia: Asbestos eradication bill introduced
A draft law aiming to ‘eradicate’ asbestos in Australia has been introduced to the national parliament. Employment minister Bill Shorten said the legislation would establish an Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency.
News release from minister for employment Bill Shorten • The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency Bill and explanatory memorandum • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013
Hazards news, 16 March 2013
‘Growth duty’ will mean less health and safety
Hazards magazine has warned that the government’s proposed ‘growth duty’ on regulators will mean businesses pay less as victims, communities and the public purse pick up the tab. “Improving the ‘economic prospects’ of firms by slackening regulatory controls doesn’t reduce costs, it shifts them,” it said.
Hazards magazine • 16 March 2013
Britain: Unions must fight for safety in a ‘hostile’ climate
A ‘hostile’ political climate is jeopardising hard won safety improvements at work, the TUC has warned. Launching the new edition of its bestselling safety publication Hazards at work, TUC said the government’s disdain for workplace safety had resulted in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) being barred from making unannounced visits to most workplaces.
TUC news release and full report Hazards at work: Organising for safe and healthy workplaces • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Global: New global chemicals regime is needed
A new comprehensive global chemicals agreement is needed to safeguard people and the environment, a report has concluded. The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) said existing global agreements for chemicals management fall short, with only 22 hazardous chemicals currently managed throughout their lifecycle at the global level.
CIEL news release and report, Paths to global chemical safety: The 2020 goal and beyond • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Safety is not just ‘nice’, it is necessary
When the TUC’s new assistant general secretary took up his post, he didn’t imagine workplace health and safety would be top of his to-do list – but it was. According to Paul Nowak: “Given all that is going on in the world with unemployment, cuts, pensions, attacks on trade union rights and the general fall in living standards for everyone who is not a banker or company director, it may seem strange that one small decision has got me hot under the collar, that is the decision to remove an Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) to the Management Regulations.”
Stronger Unions blog • Sign the e-petition: Save the ‘code’ to protect workers, businesses and the economy • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Blacklister Balfour Beatty is sorry it got caught
The head of construction giant Balfour Beatty has told MPs he regrets the firm getting caught blacklisting safety and union activists, but seemed less concerned about the blacklisting itself. In 12 March evidence to a House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee inquiry, Mike Peasland, the company’s chief executive officer (CEO), claimed “I don’t know” in response to a series of questions from MPs about what information was fed to covert blacklister The Consulting Association, when and by whom.
Stronger Unions blog • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Union protest in Dundee over blacklisting
Over 200 construction workers joined a 9 March demonstration in Dundee to protest at the blacklist used by major firms to weed out workers who had raised safety concerns at work. They want the Scottish government to launch an inquiry into the practice in Scotland.
Unite news release • BBC News Online • The Courier • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Global: Failed auditing model led to 400 deaths
The ‘blind faith’ companies showed in a failed auditing model resulted in more than 400 garment worker deaths, labour right groups have said. ‘Fatal fashion’, a new report by the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), analysed the causes of two deadly factory fires in the export-oriented garment industry in Bangladesh and Pakistan.
SOMO news release and Fatal fashion report • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Academics stressed by out of control workloads
A survey of more than 14,000 higher education staff in the UK has found academics and academic-related staff are increasingly stressed by a loss of control over the way they work. The research, carried out by the union UCU, found that stress caused by a perceived lack of control at work has increased among higher education staff over the four years from 2008 to 2012.
UCU news release • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: ‘Grave concern’ about further coastguard cuts
The government's refusal to rule out further cuts to coastguard stations is a “grave concern”, the union PCS has said. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “After all the justified criticism the government has received, its refusal to commit to no further coastguard cuts in the coming years is of grave concern. Ministers are already facing a staffing crisis and now risk destabilising this emergency service even further.”
PCS news release • The Coastguard, Emergency Towing Vessels and the Maritime Incident Response Group: follow up: Government Response to the Committee’s Sixth Report of 2012–13, Transport Select Committee, 11 March 2013 • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Unions welcome government defeat on payouts
A decision by peers to throw out a government plan that would have denied some injured workers compensation has been hailed as a “victory for common sense” by unions.
UNISON news release • PCS news release • Hansard report on Lords Report stage debate - Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, amendment 80A, 6 March 2013 • TUC briefing on the Bill • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Wrists at risk wherever you work
Two cases where workers in very different industries suffered broken wrists show it is bad management and not any unavoidable risk of the job that causes workplace injuries. Unite member Ian Jones suffered such a bad break to his wrist in a fall at a Heinz factory in Wigan and a prison worker’s left wrist was fractured when it was crushed by a broken down workplace van.
Thompsons Solicitors news releases on the Unite and PCS cases • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Growth yes – but not at the cost of our safety
The government is pandering to the business lobby at the expense of workplace safety, the TUC has warned. The union body was speaking out after an 8 March invitation from business minister Michael Fallon to “businesses and regulators” to help fashion a 'growth duty' for regulators – a proposed legally-binding measure that “will require regulators to take into account the impact of their activities on the economic prospects of firms they regulate.”
Stronger Unions blog • BIS news release and consultation document, Non-economic Regulators: Duty to Have Regard to Growth • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Europe: Agreement to ‘eradicate’ asbestos for good
The European Parliament has agreed to ‘eradicate’ asbestos by 2028. The resolution, adopted by the parliament on 14 March with a 558 to 51 majority, calls for the implementation of a co-ordinated European Union (EU) strategy to remove all asbestos.
S&D news release • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Report exposes official safety inspection deceit
Official figures obtained by Hazards reveal than while unannounced Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections overall have dropped by over a third since 2011, inspections in high risk workplaces have fallen too. The HSE figures show instead of the promised inspection increases in the highest risk firms, inspections by the Hazardous Installations Directorate (HID) fell by almost 40 per cent and those by HSE’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) also fell, down from 2,092 in 2010/11 to 2,075 in 2011/12. Work rules, Hazards magazine special report, 13 March 2013 • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Insiders criticise ‘dire’ occupational health system
Former Health and Safety Executive (HSE) occupational physician Morris Greenberg has said the UK’s occupational health provision is in a dire state. “The acceptance of the gross decline in the UK's occupational health practice firmly indicates the disrespect with which it is held,” he wrote in the British Medical Journal, adding: “Nothing short of a ministerial inquiry will remedy the dire state of health and safety at work, whether in office, shop, factory or hospital.”
After Mid Staffs: the NHS must do more to care for the health of its staff, BMJ, volume 346, published 7 March 2013 and response from Morris Greenberg, 11 March 2013 • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain; Revised ‘fit note’ guidance launched
Staff on sick leave will have better support to get back into work through new fit note guidance, the government has said. It says the guidance advises doctors on how they can give the most useful advice about what patients can do at work and how they can return to the workplace as soon as possible.
DWP news release and fit note webpages • CSP news release and Allied Health Professions (AHP) Advisory Fitness for Work Report • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Sickness win for agency worker
Agency workers are set to have better anti-discrimination rights after an Employment Tribunal awarded an agency worker who went sick a £35,892.08 payout for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal. The tribunal case, funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, heard that agency worker Corinda Pegg had been dismissed after 44 weeks service with Camden Council due to absences caused by depression.
EHRC news release • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Welcome for Labour's migrant worker pledge
Construction union UCATT has welcomed Labour Party plans to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers. The pledge to extend employment protection to cover more vulnerable workers came in a party political broadcast by Labour leader Ed Miliband last week and in a 7 March speech from shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.
UCATT news release • Speech by Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, to the IPPR • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: MPs raise concerns about port safety
Most UK’s sea ports are failing to submit reports on their safety performance, accident statistics are inadequate and too few resources are devoted to the industry, a committee of MPs has said. Ports are required to confirm that they are complying with the Port Marine Safety Code every three years but the Commons transport committee said this was requirement was overlooked by most ports.
Transport committee news release and report, Marine Pilotage: Ninth report of Session 2012-13 • Morning Star • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Pie factory death fine will go unpaid
A defunct pie manufacturer fined after a worker died in an oven explosion is unlikely to pay up, despite a new operation run by the same man and employing the same staff taking over its business. Huddersfield firm Andrew Jones Pies, which is now in administration, was fined £250,000 at York Crown Court and ordered to pay £124,896 in costs.
HSE news release • Huddersfield Examiner • Yorkshire Post • BBC News Online • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Farm owner sentenced over tractor death
The co-owner of a Lakeland farm has been sentenced after an employee was found dead under the wheel of a tractor. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Stuart Webster following the death of Thomas Phizacklea, 24, at Aurora Park Farm in Scales near Ulverston.
HSE news release and agriculture webpages • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2013
The UK TUC has added a Workers’ Memorial Day facebook events page to its resources for health and safety’s big day. The 28 April event is the biggest single workplace safety activity on the calendar, and is the day unions and safety campaigners worldwide pledge to ‘Remember the dead and fight for the living’. Also now available is the Hazards 2013 Workers’ Memorial Day poster.
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2013 webpage and events listing and facebook page. •
Copies of the Hazards Workers’ Memorial Day 2013 poster are available free in A4 and A3 sizes from Hilda Palmer at the Hazards Campaign • A charge to cover costs will be made for larger orders • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Canada: Court recognises diesel cancer
A mining union has welcomed a decision by the Superior Court in Quebec, Canada, which has recognised the diesel exhaust-related lung cancer suffered by a mining worker as an occupational disease. “This is a very important decision, because it's the first time that a causal link between lung cancer and diesel smoke exposure has been recognised,” said union representative Marc Thibodeau.
USW news release • Risks 597 • 16 March 201
Hazards news, 9 March 2013
Britain: Pensions move will hurt firefighters
The majority of firefighters could face the sack as the get older, as a result of government plans to extend their working lives but only retain those who meet an unrealistic fitness standard.
FBU news release and model letter to MPs • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
USA: Health care undermined by bad jobs
The work is of “well-intentioned, well-prepared” health care workers is being undermined by poor treatment at work, a new US report has concluded. ‘Through the eyes of the workforce: Creating joy, meaning, and safer health care’, a report sponsored by the health care union SEIU, finds that instead of joy and meaning, “many health care workers suffer harm - emotional and physical - in the course of providing care.”
Through the eyes of the workforce: Creating joy, meaning, and safer health care, Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation, March 2013 • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Cutting hospital cleaners will increase infections
Health workers have warned that patients at five hospitals in north-west England face more infections if a hospital trust requires porters to carry out specialist cleaning duties. GMB says University Hospital of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust is proposing to change porters' job descriptions to include “terminal cleans” - deep cleaning operations of specific areas - including ones where there have been particular problems, such as highly infectious and potentially deadly MRSA.
GMB news release • Morning Star • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Thailand: Activist sued for criticising work abuses
A prominent British human rights activist could face a lengthy prison term and a multi-million pound fine, after co-authoring a report that said a Thai food company abused migrant labour at one of its factories. Andy Hall has been charged with broadcasting false statements under Thailand's Computer Crime Act, a charge that carries a maximum jail term of two years; the 32-year-old has also been charged with defaming and damaging the Natural Fruit Company.
Daily Telegraph • Bangkok Post • Prachtai • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: The false economy of unpaid overtime
TUC research published on 1 March has revealed that around one in five workers regularly do around seven hours of unpaid overtime a week. The union body questions whether it’s really necessary for workers to do 1.8 billion hours of unpaid overtime a year – the equivalent of 1 million extra full-time jobs.
Stronger Unions blog • TUC Work Your Better Hours Day website and infographic • TSSA news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: NHS staff in dangerously short supply
Health workers are facing an uphill battle to care for patients in the face of job cuts, mounting pressure and stress, UNISON has warned. The union was commenting after the publication of the NHS Staff Survey 2012, which found 70 per cent of staff were putting in extra hours, with the same percentage believing there were insufficient staff to enable them to do their jobs properly.
UNISON news release • NHS Staff Survey 2012 • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: No justice after most site deaths
The construction union UCATT is calling for urgent action after its research discovered fewer than half of site deaths are followed by a prosecution. A Freedom of Information request to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that of the 332 fatalities involving construction workers between 2004/5 and 2008/9, just 154 (46 per cent) led to a prosecution.
UCATT news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
France: Double your money with safety investment
A new French study has found the benefits of improved health and safety in the construction industry go beyond preventing deaths, injuries and ill-health. Researchers measured the financial impact of 101 preventive actions carried out in 27 firms of all sizes. These gave an overall return of 2.19 - for every £100 invested the prevention efforts yielded savings of £219. ETUI news alert • 9 March 2013
Britain: Crossrail must answer blacklisting charges
A worker on the Crossrail project who believes he was blacklisted because of his union and safety activities has won the right to challenge his sacking. London Central Employment Tribunal ruled last week that both Crossrail and contractor Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK) should appear in court to answer the allegations that Unite safety rep Frank Morris was unfairly dismissed in September 2012 from Europe’s biggest construction project.
Blacklist blog • Unite news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Union outrage at Skanska blacklist role
The construction multinational Skanska was the biggest contributor of information on The Consulting Association’s (TCA) illegally assembled blacklist, the latest evidence session of the Scottish Affairs select committee on blacklisting has heard. Harvey Francis, the executive vice-president of Skanska UK admitted the firm went beyond passing information onto TCA, actively soliciting information from job applicants for use in blacklisting inquiries in the form of a “pre-induction questionnaire”.
UCATT news release • Scottish Affairs select committee 5 March evidence session • Building • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Safety warning as coastguard staffing plummets
Lives will be lost if coastguard stations continue to lose experienced staff, the union PCS has warned. The union says the government is failing to retain staff after its “flawed decision” to close half the coastguard stations in the UK.
PCS news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Unions concern at profit threat to vehicle testing
The privatisation of heavy vehicle testing will have a detrimental impact on road safety, unions from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) have told a committee of MPs. Giving oral evidence to a transport select committee hearing into the work of the agency, trade union side secretary Kevin Warden said VOSA's unions remained “deeply concerned about privatisation,” as the incentive for profit undermined a commitment to road safety.
Prospect news release • Transport Committee evidence session and VOSA inquiry webpage • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Government defeated on compensation changes
A government move to limit compensation for work-related injuries and ill-health has been rejected by the House of Lords. Ministers had wanted to end “civil liability” on employers, meaning compensation would only be payable if negligence was established, even where the employer was found to be in breach of criminal safety laws.
Hansard report on Lords Report stage debate - Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, amendment 80A, 6 March 2013 • TUC briefing on the Bill • TUC Stronger Unions blog • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: One city, three crushing deaths, three broken families
Three separate incidents where Sheffield factory workers were crushed to death provide a painful illustration of the heartache caused to their families.
Sheffield Star on the deaths of Michael Dwyer, David Roberts and Alan Winters • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Scrap firm fined after swinging bus hits worker
Merthyr Tydfil scrap metal firm Abba Scrap Metals Ltd has been fined after an employee was badly injured when a bus swung into him as it was being lifted onto a truck. Clifford Evans, 49 was momentarily pinned against a wall before the bus swung back again, and suffered fractures to his pelvis and ribs.
HSE news release and work equipment webpages • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Billionaire fined £35k for horrific worker injury
Scotland’s richest man ignored safety warnings about his farm shortly before a worker was left looking like a shark attack victim. Wanda Lustig, 34, said she was “laughed at” when she warned about conditions on billionaire Maher Mahdi Al Tajir’s farm in Perthshire.
Scottish Daily Record • The Courier • STV News • BBC News Online • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Network Rail fined £100,000 for track worker injury
Network Rail has been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,000 after its criminal safety shortcomings resulted in a serious injury to a track maintenance worker. Tom Wake, ORR’s deputy director railway safety, said: “In this case, Network Rail’s management and planning for maintenance of the track at Cheshunt Junction, Hertfordshire was not good enough. The company’s failures caused the entirely avoidable and life-changing injuries for its employee Terence Wray.”
ORR news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Police fitness test 'unfair to women'
Scotland’s new national police service has been urged to scrap a make-or-break fitness test for new recruits, after claims it “disproportionately disadvantages women”. The call, from the Scottish Women's Development Forum (SWDF), a gender equality working group of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), came as the new Police Service of Scotland (PSoS) considers how to test officers for fitness.
The Herald • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: Jobs cause hypertension
Low job control is associated with an increased risk of hypertension among men, a study has found. The research by Canada’s Institute for Work & Health (IWH) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), found the proportion of cases of hypertension among men that could be attributed to low job control was 12 per cent, which is higher than the proportion of cases that could be attributed to poor health behaviours such as smoking, drinking, not getting enough exercise, and not eating enough fruits and vegetables.
IWH news release • Work and well-being, TUC guide, February 2013 • Hazards work and health webpages • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Britain: The case for stronger laws
A new TUC health and safety bulletin, ‘The case for stronger laws’, is the second in a series supporting the TUC’s Time for Change manifesto. It says one of the principles that underpin the Health and Safety at Work Act is the belief that the involvement of the workforce is crucial to achieving good standards of health and safety.
Time for Change health and safety bulletin: The case for stronger laws • Time for change manifesto webpage • TUC health and safety webpages •
Check out the TUC’s online resources: sign up to its twitter and facebook page • 9 March 2013
Japan: Fukushima firm criticised over radiation exposures
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) failed to submit radiation dose data to an industry database, government officials have said, compromising the health of 21,000 people who worked at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant after the March 2011 meltdown. The official criticism reinforces concerns about inadequate production for radiation exposed workers.
Asahi Shimbun • Greenpeace news release • BBC News Online • WHO news release • Risks 596 • 9 March 2013
Hazards news, 2 March 2013
Britain: Blacklisted worker wins human rights argument
A blacklisted worker who was denied justice because he was an agency worker has been told his human rights may have been violated and has been granted leave to appeal. An Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) this week decided that construction giant Carillion must face human rights claims over its role in the construction industry blacklisting scandal.
Blacklist blog • GMB news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Zambia: Copper miners face safety abuses
Copper miners in Zambia are facing safety abuses, intimidation and violence, a new report has found. Human Rights Watch researchers found that the government of President Michael Sata, who promised to prioritise labour rights when he took office in September 2011, has made some improvements in the oversight of the mines, but there remains inadequate enforcement of laws designed to protect workers’ rights.
Human Rights Watch news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Electricians hit hardest by site blacklist
Skilled electricians were the group worst affected by the blacklisting scandal, a union analysis has found. GMB researchers reviewed the occupations of workers on an illegal blacklist held by The Consulting Association and found electricians were twice as likely to be blacklisted as labourers, the second largest group targeted.
GMB news release • The Mirror • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Probe into police complicity in blacklisting
Construction union UCATT has welcomed news that the Metropolitan Police is to conduct a major investigation into allegations that the police colluded in the blacklisting of construction workers. The new inquiry follows a review of a complaint made last November on behalf of the Blacklist Support Group that officers has supplied information to those compiling blacklists.
UCATT news release • Channel 4 News • Morning Star • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: FBU condemns ‘reckless’ London fire cuts
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has vowed to mobilise every firefighter at every fire station to defend London’s fire service, after fire authority politicians capitulated to London mayor Boris Johnson, and agreed to start a fire station closure public consultation.
FBU news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Scottish safety cuts are putting the public at risk
Cuts to local council environmental health departments are putting the health of the public and workers at risk, UNISON Scotland has found. Scottish council responses to Freedom of Information requests and the results of two surveys of UNISON members confirm the union’s warnings about the impact of cuts on food safety, public health and workplace health and safety, it said.
UNISON news release and Briefing 31: Bargaining - Cuts in Food Safety and Environmental Health, UNISON Scotland, February 2013 • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Welcome for schools asbestos probe
The union GMB has welcomed a call for evidence by the House of Commons Education Select Committee on the issues around asbestos in schools. The parliamentary committee will hear evidence on 13 March.
GMB news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Bathroom appliance maker in asbestos payout
A Bathroom appliance manufacturer has paid compensation to a former employee who developed an incurable asbestos disease. Unite supported the claim by Eli Richards, 79, from Great Wyrley, Walsall when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2011.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: E-ciggies area problem at work
E-cigarettes are potentially hazardous and have no place in the workplace, the TUC’s head of safety has advised. Hugh Robertson, who said he had received two inquiries from safety reps about the product in the last week, said while the electronic nicotine delivery systems are not banned, they should be subject to the same controls at work as real cigarettes.
TUC Stronger Unions blog – see all the stories in the new Stronger Unions health and safety section • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: We’d base safety policy on evidence says Labour
The government is pursuing an ideologically-driven deregulatory safety agenda, without any regard for the evidence, the opposition has warned. Shadow minister for employment Stephen Timms said welcomed the “sensible proposals” in the TUC ‘Time for change’ health and safety manifesto, pointing to its “strong line on inspection regimes” and “for a priority for occupational health.”
Speech by Stephen Timms • TUC Stronger Unions blog • IOSH news release • SHP Online • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
USA: BP and the uncivilised truth about civil fines
As the US civil trial began this week against energy giant BP for its environmental negligence in 2010’s deadly Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, a workers’ health campaign group has said it is “struck by the vast discrepancy in the size of fines that can be assessed under federal environmental laws and those that can be levied for unsafe conditions leading to the death of a worker.”
National COSH blog • BBC News Online • The Independent • Los Angeles Times • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Muddled safety message from the employer lobby
Manufacturing companies are seeing “significant benefits” from investing in safety, but are still finding time to moan about “safety burdens”. These conflicting messages came this week in ‘Making health and safety work for business: Removing unnecessary health and safety burdens’, a report from the manufacturers’ lobby group EEF.
EEF news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: HSE dismisses nuclear secondments concerns
EDF Energy, which has asked ministers to consider a 40-year subsidy scheme for its proposed UK plants, has seconded two staff to the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). An HSE statement accepted nuclear employees were seconded to the organisation, but said: “We have safeguards in place to ensure there is no conflict of interest; no secondee works on matters directly related to their parent organisation.”
HSE statement • The Guardian • Spinwatch • NuclearSpin • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Up to a third of inspections trigger fees
Between a quarter and a third of inspections carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) since its cost-recovery scheme came into force in October 2012 found a material breach of health and safety law, resulting in a fee for intervention (FFI) on the company involved.
SHP Online • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Petition to defend the management code
A petition to the government is calling on the government to retain and improve a crucial safety management code, rather than follow through with plans to ditch it. The call, on the government’s e-petitions website, is headed “Save the ‘code’ to protect workers, businesses and the economy”.
E-petition: Save the ‘code’ to protect workers, businesses and the economy • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Who is safe from Balfour Beatty?
Balfour Beatty firms landed two fines in one day last week after being convicted of serious criminal safety offences. On 22 February, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Services Ltd, was fined £225,000 plus £100,000 costs after being found guilty of breaches linked to the death of a driver during roadworks; in a second case, Balfour Beatty Rail Track Systems Ltd, was fined £8,000 plus costs of £41,438 after an employee suffered serious hand injuries in two separate incidents.
HSE news releases on the road work and rail incidents • Construction Enquirer • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Roofing firm gets £21m factory fire bill
A roofing contractor has been ordered to pay more than £21m in damages after a fire tore through a factory leaving it in ruins. Bridgend-based Central Roofing (South Wales) Ltd had been working on the roof of Mueller Europe's copper tubing plant when gas heaters ignited a scaffolding deck.
Birmingham Mail • BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Pakistan: Asbestos lobby guilty of ‘deadly’ deception
The front organisation for the global asbestos industry has been accused of using ‘deadly, deceptive’ methods to try and derail moves to ban chrysotile asbestos in Pakistan. Human rights campaign group RightOnCanada was commenting on a letter from Jean-Marc Leblond, chair of the International Chrysotile Association (ICA), to Pakistan’s influential Sustainable Development Policy Institute.
RightsOnCancer.ca report and ICA letter • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Britain: Time for change – on official inspections
Following the launch of the TUC’s ‘Time for change’ manifesto for health and safety, the union body has published a supporting online guide to official inspections by workplace safety regulators.
Time for change manifesto webpage and inspections briefing, Health and safety inspections: Why all workplaces have to be inspected regularly • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Bangladesh: Families of fire victims get compensation
The families of the victims of a 26 January 2013 fire in Bangladesh have received compensation, in a deal brokered by unions. The prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, made the industry-financed payments this week to bereaved relatives of workers killed in the Smart Fashion factory.
IndustriALL news release • Risks 595 • 2 March 2013
Hazards news, 23 February 2013
Britain: Take your time off for training
Union safety reps should take time out for training to make sure they maximise their effectiveness, the TUC has advised. A new ‘Time off for training’ factsheet notes: “Training is very important for any health and safety representative if they are going to be able to represent and support their members with confidence.”
Time off for training: Trade union health and safety representatives, TUC factsheet, February 2013 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
USA: Union calls for breast cancer action
A union representing workers across the USA and Canada has issued an action call to its union reps on occupational breast cancer risk. The union USW issued the hazards alert after a paper published in November 2012 warned a ‘toxic soup’ of chemical exposures in agriculture, plastics, food packaging, metal manufacture and the bar and gambling industry was placing women at an increased risk of breast cancer.
USW Hazard Alert • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Fake safety equipment ‘could kill’
Construction union UCATT is warning all construction workers to make sure that their protective equipment is genuine, following fresh concerns that fake safety equipment has made its way onto sites.
UCATT news release. Checking your Personal Protective Equipment: Guidance for safety representatives, TUC, July 2012 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
USA: Stronger chemical laws ‘spur innovation’
Stronger laws to regulate hazardous chemicals spur innovation, with potential benefits for national economies, as well as human health and the environment, according to a new report from the Washington DC-based Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL).
CIEL news release and full report, Driving innovation: How stronger laws help bring safer chemicals to market, CIEL, February 2013. Forbes.com • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Action call on ‘tough’ blacklisting companies
There should be to a further investigation of the ‘tough’ blacklisting activities of Balfour Beatty and Skanska, the union UCATT has said. The union call came after Mary Kerr, the bookkeeper with the covert blacklisting organisation The Consulting Association (TCA), described Balfour Beatty and Skanska as “very tough” when it came to blacklisting as they would not employ anyone on the list, while other companies could take a more lenient attitude.
UCATT news release. BBC News Online. The Report, BBC Radio 4, 14 February 2013 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Almost 9 out of 10 council workers are stressed
A staggering 87 per cent of local government workers are struggling to cope with increased stress and pressure at work, research by UNISON has found. The survey of more than 14,000 workers by UNISON discovered a ‘toxic cocktail’ of declining staff numbers and increasing expectations from the public and employers is piling on the pressure.
UNISON news release • Morning Star • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Everything Everywhere has stress everywhere
Mobile phone firm Everything Everywhere (EE) might be making a healthy profit, but it is also making its workers stressed, research by the union CWU has found. Using Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stress management criteria, the results rate EE as 'urgent action needed' in all seven areas identified as the main risk factors for workplace stress. CWU news release and EE stress survey • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Overwork led to serious airport injury
An airport worker suffered a broken back when a seriously overworked colleague lost control of a motorised vehicle at Stansted Airport. Mick Draper, 64, from Braintree, Essex was injured in March 2009 when a colleague drove a buggy, used for transporting trailers full of luggage, into a trolley Mr Draper was attending to as part of his job for Swissport.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Survey raises work heart attack concerns
More than half of British businesses do not have a defibrillator, a new poll has found, despite the impact the device has on cardiac arrest survival rates. Safety professionals’ organisation the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) commissioned the survey of 1,000 business decision makers across the UK and found that 513 did not have the lifesaving equipment at work.
IOSH news release and YouTube film on defibrillators at work. Morning Star • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: HSE inspection blitz on refurb sites
A month-long Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection blitz is to target construction sites nationwide. HSE says during the initiative, to run from 18 February to 15 March, it will visit sites where refurbishment or repair works are taking place.
HSE news release and construction webpages. Construction Enquirer • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Global: Chemical controls necessary to protect health
Industrial chemicals found in common household products may cause breast cancer, asthma, infertility and birth defects, global health chiefs have warned. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report indicates a ban could be necessary.
UNEP press release, report summary and full report, State of the science of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals. ChemSec news report. Alliance for Cancer Prevention statement. Daily Mail • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Dogs law is a dog’s dinner
A government committee has criticised England’s dangerous dogs’ legislation and said proposals to improve the law don’t go far enough. Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee chair Anne McIntosh MP said: “New rules should give enforcement officers more effective powers, including Dog Control Notices, to prevent dog-related antisocial behaviour.”
CWU news release and Dangerous Dogs - Bite Back campaign. EFRA news release and EFRA Committee report, 15 February 2013 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Joiner developed life-threatening wood allergy
A joiner developed a wood allergy which could have killed him after working without adequate protection from Iroko hardwood dust. Brian Ogden, 57, was first exposed to the toxic dust at Classic Joinery Manufacturers in Oldham over 20 years ago.
Manchester Evening News • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Paper firm fined for worker's death
A Corby paper manufacturer has been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was crushed to death as her husband worked nearby. Desanka Todorovic, 44, was waiting to collect some flat pack boxes from the warehouse at Merley Paper Converters Ltd, on 16 March 2009 when racking carrying heavy boxes collapsed, burying her underneath.
HSE news release and logistics website. Print Week. BBC News Online • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: New safety initiative for deadly waste industry
A blueprint for addressing the ‘terrible toll of death, injury and ill health in the waste and recycling industry’ is to be published following what the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) describes as a ‘landmark’ summit.
HSE news release, statement of intent, waste and recycling webpages and industry strategy • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Global: Official agencies stung into asbestos action
A United Nations health agency, stung by allegations it had too close a relationship with the asbestos industry, has issued a statement confirming its support for an end to all asbestos use. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO), was responding to a 2 February article in the medical journal The Lancet.
Joint WHO-IARC Statement in response to the recent Lancet report: end all use of asbestos, 19 February 2013. RightOnCanada.ca commentary. Rotterdam Convention meeting, 28 April-10 May 2013 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Engineering firm repeatedly put workers at risk
An engineering firm has been fined for endangering workers over a long period by allowing them to use machinery on which vital safety devices had been disabled. Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard that Washington-based Penshaw Engineering Limited knowingly kept two computer-controlled lathes in use when interlock safety devices were not working.
HSE news release • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: Blacklist Support Group AGM, 23 March 2013
The Blacklist Support Group’s annual general meeting, which will take place in London on Saturday, 23 March, will be the “largest meeting of blacklisted workers ever assembled in one place.” The group says attendees will “discuss the ongoing campaign against the illegal construction industry blacklist in the courts, in parliament, with the unions and on sites.” Speakers include general secretaries Len McCluskey of Unite, Paul Kenny of GMB and Steve Murphy of UCATT. Also addressing the event will be labour rights expert Professor Keith Ewing and leading employment rights lawyer John Hendy QC.
Blacklist Support Group AGM, 10:30am-4:00pm, Saturday, 23 March 2013, Faraday House, 48-51 Old Gloucester Street, London, WCIN 3AE. All welcome • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: The role of the occupational physician
A handy new guide to the role of occupational physicians has been published by the British Medical Association (BMA). Although BMA says the intended audience for ‘The Occupational Physician’ is occupational physicians, employers and organisations offering occupational health services, it is also an extremely useful resource for union safety reps, providing clear guidance on the rules covering referrals to occupational physicians, related ethical issues, good practice and a useful summary on the regulations on access to medical records and issues including sickness absence and ill-health retirement.
The Occupational Physician: Guidance for specialists and others practising occupational health, BMA, 2013 [full guide] • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Hazards news, 16 February 2013
Britain: Healthier workplaces deliver healthier workers
Employers who create healthy workplaces can reduce employee absence and boost productivity, according to a new TUC guide. ‘Work and well-being’ aims to promote healthier working and help union safety reps identify what in their workplaces is making staff ill.
TUC news release • Work and well-being, TUC guide, February 2013 • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
USA: Officials call for breast cancer prevention
A new report from US government health agencies is calling for more resources to target prevention of breast cancer. Compiled by the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee (IBCERCC), the report notes that most cases of breast cancer “occur in people with no family history,” suggesting that “environmental factors - broadly defined - must play a major role in the aetiology of the disease.”
Breast cancer and the environment: Prioritising prevention, IBCERCC, 2013 • Breast Cancer Fund news release • Center for Public Integrity report • New York Times. Forbes.com • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Damaged track exposes rail cuts dangers
Union warnings about the dangers of cutbacks in track renewals and maintenance have been given added credence after another broken rail was found on the InterCity East Coast Mainline (ECML). RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “This shocking new picture highlights the reality on Britain's railways today - staffing, inspections and track renewals have been cut in the dash to save money and there is massive pressure right from the top of government to keep services running at all costs regardless of the potential human cost.”
RMT news release • ITV News • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Global: It pays to prevent work cancers
Preventing environmental and occupational cancers is both possible and “highly cost effective”, according to a new paper by international experts. The authors, who include researchers from the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), note workplace and environmental exposures are responsible for a substantial share of the global cancer toll.
Carolina Espina, Miquel Porta, Joachim Schüz and others. Environmental and occupational interventions for primary prevention of cancer: A cross-sectorial policy framework, Environmental Health Perspectives, 5 February 2013 • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: PCS calls for an end to privatised 'fitness tests'
Controversial assessments run for the Department for Work and Pensions by private contractor Atos should be scrapped and the work brought back in-house, civil service union PCS has said. The union, which represents almost 80,000 of the DWP's 100,000 staff, was commenting after MPs on the public accounts committee criticised the government for its treatment of sick and disabled people forced to undertake a work capability assessment.
PCS news release • Public accounts committee report, 8 February 2013 • The Guardian • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Russia: Eighteen die in coal mine blast
An underground explosion at a coal mine in the Komi region of northern Russia has killed 18 people. Rescuers were brought in to search for people trapped below the surface at the Vorkutinskaya mine after the 11 February blast caused a tunnel collapse.
RT News • Huffington Post • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Global: Union warnings after lifeboat deaths
Unions have expressed serious concerns after five crew members died when a lifeboat fell from a cruise ship docked in the port of Santa Cruz de la Palma in the Canary Islands. The incident happened on the Thomson Majesty, operated by UK-based Thomson Cruises, during a routine safety drill.
Nautilus news release • ITF news release • BBC News Online • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Fire service privatisation will ‘sacrifice lives’
New government plans to privatise the whole fire and rescue service will cost lives, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack has warned. He was speaking out after fire minister Brandon Lewis wrote to the Regulatory Reform Committee at Westminster seeking views on new laws to “enable fire and rescue authorities in England to contract out their full range of services to a suitable provider”.
FBU news release • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: CWU welcomes new dog laws
New legal requirements on dog owners should help make postal workers safer from dog attacks, their union has said. CWU says the government move, which extends the law to cover private property, means workers attacked by dogs will finally have protection under the law.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign • Irwin Mitchell news release • ITV News • The Telegraph • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Eye injury ends lorry driver’s career
An HGV driver employed by Salvesen Logistics in Northampton had to give up his driving licence and lost his job after suffering a serious eye injury at work. Karl Forkin, 43, was securing a trailer in Salvesen Logistic’s yard when one of the trailer’s upright roof supports sprang out of the locked position and hit him in the face with two tonnes of force.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Safety professionals back the TUC manifesto
The organisation representing the country’s safety professionals has welcomed the TUC’s safety manifesto. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s Richard Jones, said: “We particularly welcome the TUC’s focus on the need for effective levels of regulatory inspections and prevention of work-related ill-health, especially occupational cancers.”
SHP Online • TUC’s ‘Time for change’ health and safety manifesto • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Hospital inquiry calls for major safety reforms
A public inquiry highlighting failures in safety oversight in the health service has been welcomed by unions, who are now calling for major changes to protect patients and staff. The inquiry report by Robert Francis QC concluded HSE should not be involved in policing patient safety issues.
The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Inquiry, news release and report. Prime Minister’s statement • Unite news release • UNISON news release • Union News • The Guardian • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Half the office workforce skips their lunch break
More than half of office employees regularly work through their lunch breaks, a poll for BBC Breakfast has found. Commenting on the poll, which found 54 per cent of office staff routinely take no lunch break, TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: “These figures shine a spotlight on Britain's long hours culture.”
BBC News Online • TUC news release • Work Your Proper Hours Day, 1 March 2013 • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Ireland: Tesco staff wear work rate trackers
Staff at a Tesco warehouse in Ireland have been made to wear digital arm-band devices that constantly police their work rate. The Motorola website promoting the technology tells employers the “rugged mobile computing device will allow you to achieve maximum error-proof productivity, operational efficiency and accuracy through voice compatibility for streamlined warehouse and package handling functions.”
Irish Independent • Motorola website • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Factory worker finds his brother dead
A family has been left devastated after a factory worker found his brother lying dead on a machine. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted machine manufacturer Unisign and employer WFEL Ltd after Brian Miller suffered fatal head injuries at the WFEL plant on 12 January 2008.
HSE news release • Manchester Evening News • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Lying director banned from running a firm
The director of a Nottingham building firm has been banned from running a business after lying to safety officials in a bid to cover up a worker’s fall through a dangerous roof. Russell Lloyd denied it had happened and failed to provide any information about the injured person or any workers who may have witnessed the incident.
HSE news release and guidance on safe working practices on fragile roofs • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Britain: Passing inspector stops the job
A chance sighting by a passing Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector of a potentially deadly scaffold led the safety enforcer to stop the job on the spot. Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard Stretford Scaffolding Ltd had been hired to dismantle the scaffolding in front of a row of Oldham shops after it had been used by another company for a roofing project.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Bangladesh: Union anger after ferry tragedy
Repeated union calls for better safety standards had been ignored ahead of an 8 February ferry tragedy in Bangladesh in which dozens died. Police said the final casualty toll could be as high as 200, but the true figure is never likely to be known, because the ferry was not carrying an accurate passenger list.
ITF news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 593 • 16 February 2013
Hazards news, 9 February 2013
Britain: What do we want? Here’s our starter for 10
Regular safety inspections, a maximum temperature in the workplace and far greater control of carcinogens are just some of the improvements that the TUC is calling for in a new 10 point safety manifesto. ‘Time for change’ features 10 key recommendations which the TUC believes, if implemented by a future government, could help turn around the UK’s poor health safety record, and prevent many of the 20,000 workplace-related deaths which occur in the UK every year.
TUC news release Time for change: A trade union manifesto for reclaiming health and safety at work, TUC, February 2013 • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Unions berate government on ‘safety costs’ lie
Unions have reacted angrily to a ‘ridiculous’ government claim that safety regulation is a waste of ‘time and money’ for businesses that should be ‘focusing on growth’. They were commenting after on the publication of two reports outlining how the Health and Safety Executive has responded to government demands to reduce official safety oversight and regulation, based on recommendations from government commissioned reviews by former Tory cabinet minister Lord Young and Professor Ragnar Lofstedt.
UNISON news release • DWP news release • Delivering health and safety reform, HSE, 4 February 2013. Reclaiming health and safety for all: a review of progress one year on, Prof Ragnar Lofstedt, DWP, 2013 • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
USA: Miner who raised safety concerns gets sued
A Kentucky miner who raised safety concerns and got fired from his welding job is now being sued by his former employer and blacklisted by other mines. Reuben Shemwell is now wrapped in a messy legal battle with his former employer, an affiliate of Armstrong Coal, which shut down the mine when the safety regulator stepped in.
Lex18.com • Huffington Post • The Pump Handle • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Train drivers want action on station pollution
Train drivers’ union ASLEF is demanded action to reduce dangerous fumes at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station after a study revealed that air pollution at the station is seven times higher the environmental safety standard. This means workers can be exposed throughout their working shifts to levels of fumes several times the public safety limit.
ASLEF news release • The Scotsman • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Unions continue to benefit asbestos families
An advice service supported by unions had secured approaching £1 million for asbestos victims in northern England since September 2012. The Northern TUC Asbestos Support and Campaign Group says in addition to one-off compensation payments totalling £311,643.00 for asbestos victims in the northern region, it has also sorted out welfare benefits payments of in excess of £105,000 per month for victims and their families.
TUC news release • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
UAE: Latest deaths highlight migrants’ plight
The death of at least 22 Asian workers in a road accident has again highlighted the plight of the United Arab Emirates’ largely migrant workforce. A further 24 workers were injured in the 4 February rush hour incident, when a bus transporting workers collided with a lorry carrying construction materials in the Zakhir district of the oasis city of al-Ain.
Saudi Gazette • BBC News Online • HRW news release • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
USA: Demand for action on deadly silica
Unions and safety advocates are demanding urgent action on silica, linked to hundreds of occupational disease deaths each year and thousands of cases of devastating ill-health. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the official US safety regulator, has drafted a proposal that would reduce occupational exposure to silica but it’s been stalled by the White House for more than two years now.
National COSH network blog • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Huge decline in safety inspections of ‘high risk’ firms
The number of local authority (LA) proactive safety inspections of high risk ‘category A’ premises has fallen 44 per cent, according to new figures, with 1-in-5 local authorities admitting to undertaking no proactive inspections at all. The overall number of proactive inspections across all premises fell by 77 per cent.
Environmental Health News • HELA Paper H14/01: Inspection/visit Data Collection from Local Authorities, paper considered at HSE’s January 2013 board meeting • Delivering health and safety reform, HSE, 4 February 2013 • DWP news release • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Spot inspections linked to superbug decline
Surprise visits by health inspectors are helping hospitals win the war against superbugs, according to Scotland's NHS bug-buster. Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI) chief inspector Susan Brimelow said the unannounced spot checks were ‘paying dividends’ as the latest annual report showed wards and equipment are generally cleaner and superbug infections are falling.
HEI chief inspector annual report 2011/12 and HEI webpages • The Herald • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Bad firms made to pay up for HSE’s costs
Firms breaching safety laws have been hit with bills for hundreds of thousands of pounds from the Health and Safety Executive. The first bills under the Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme total £727,644.81 for visits during the first two months of the scheme. Construction Enquirer • HSE FFI guide • Hazards magazine • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Global: Cancer agency criticised over asbestos ties
Alleged links between the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the asbestos industry have been condemned on the eve of a crucial UN conference. A report in the medical journal The Lancet examines a series of recent decisions by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that have triggered a storm of protest from governments, non-governmental organisations, and health campaigners.
IARC in the dock over ties with asbestos industry, The Lancet, volume 381, issue 9864, pages 359-361, 2 February 2013. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60152-X. International Ban Asbestos Secretariat report • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Construction workers to challenge police over blacklist
Solicitors acting for thousands of construction workers are appealing a decision by the Metropolitan police not to investigate claims that officers supplied information to an illegal blacklist of construction workers.
Building • The Guardian • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Privatising search-and-rescue should be stopped
A controversial move to privatise the UK’s search-and-rescue helicopter service should be halted, experts, rescuers and the rescued have warned.
The Guardian • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Site safety warning over fake hard hats
A UK hard hat manufacturer is urging contractors to check their site workers’ helmets after a potentially lethal batch of poor quality counterfeits was discovered. Experts at JSP are warning that the fake hard hats can be split in two with your bare hands.
Construction Enquirer • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Firm fined £1 after workplace death horror
A metal manufacturer in Manchester has been fined just £1 after an employee was killed when a machine weighing half-a-tonne fell from a forklift truck. Bruce Dempsey, 25, from Eccles, was walking alongside the forklift as it moved the machine at Applied Fusion Ltd in Patricroft when it fell and struck him on the head.
HSE news release • Mancunian Matters • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Honda UK fined after employee loses fingers
Swindon-based Honda UK has been fined after an employee distracted by questions from managers lost two fingers while polishing a piece of equipment. Swindon Magistrates' Court heard that 55-year-old Cesar Santos had been using an emery cloth to polish a metal component as it rotated on a manual lathe on 11 February 2012.
HSE news release and engineering webpages • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Refurb firm fined over fall danger
A West Midlands refurbishment and shopfitting company has been fined after instructing two employees to work at height without any protective measures or relevant roofwork training. The men were working on the roof of a large furniture store in Bridgtown, Cannock, on 26 September 2011 for Fastrac Profiles Limited when they were spotted and photographed by a concerned member of the public.
HSE news release and falls webpages • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Brum builder fined for illegal asbestos work
A Birmingham builder has been prosecuted after he exposed himself and potentially young children and their parents to asbestos on the street where he lives. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Nicholas Sharpe, trading as Sharpe Builders, after he illegally removed and broke up asbestos panels from a home in Castle Bromwich.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Architect in deadly asbestos oversight
An architects' practice has been prosecuted after builders were potentially exposed to asbestos fibres during construction work at Aberystwyth Rugby Club in Mid-Wales. Aberystwyth Magistrates heard that Dilwyn Roberts Penseiri/Architects Ltd failed to pass on vital information about the presence of asbestos insulation board to builders before they removed soffits from an end wall at the clubhouse in January 2012.
HSE news release • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: Washing overalls killed mum
The son of a woman who died from an asbestos-related cancer is appealing for his dad’s former work colleagues to help investigate his working conditions. It is believed Elsie Winter his was exposed to asbestos dust washing her husband’s work clothes.
Irwin Mitchell news release. Anyone with information about the working conditions at Chilton Council between March 1966 and April 1986 should email Roger Maddocks at Irwin Mitchell or call 0191 2790095 • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Europe: Guidance on carcinogens and work-related cancer
Papers from a ‘Carcinogens and work-related cancer’ workshop, organised last year by EU-OSHA, have been made available online. The event reached wide-ranging conclusions, including: “There is an increasing need to identify vulnerable, and ‘hidden’, groups whose occupational exposure to cancer risks and carcinogenic processes is underrepresented in exposure data and intervention strategies…”
'Carcinogens and Work-related Cancer' workshop: summary, conclusions and associated materials • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Hazards news, 2 February 2013
Britain: Report slams the ‘tyranny’ of performance management
The ‘relentless pressure’ of punitive performance management systems intended to push up productivity is instead creating a stressed, sick and insecure workforce, a new study has found. ‘Performance management and the new workplace tyranny’ written by Professor Phil Taylor of the University of Strathclyde, is the culmination of a three year study examining the impact new forms of performance management.
STUC news release • ‘Performance Management and the New Workplace Tyranny’ Report, Professor Phil Taylor, January 2013 • Executive Summary • The Herald • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
USA: Government agency is dangerously close to business
A US government agency intended to assist small businesses is instead operating as an unquestioning promoter of a deadly business lobby wishlist. A report from the independent Center for Effective Government says the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy has been weighing in on issues including scientific assessments of the cancer risks of formaldehyde, styrene, and chromium, regurgitated chemical industry lobbyists talking points.
Center for Effective Government news release and report: Small businesses, public health, and scientific integrity: Whose interests does the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business Administration serve? • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Work Your Proper Hours Day is on 1 March 2013
If staff who regularly work unpaid overtime did all their extra hours from the start of the year they wouldn't get paid until 1 March 2013. The TUC has named this day Work Your Proper Hours Day to celebrate their hard work.
TUC news release and Work Your Proper Hours Day website • BHF news release. Morning Star • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Don't let the PM repatriate workers' rights
The UK government’s ‘sinister’ plans for Europe could leave workers without essential workplace rights, the TUC has warned. TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady has called for help from unions across Europe in persuading their governments to resist David Cameron's attempt to 'repatriate' workers' rights.
TUC news release • TUC Touchstone blog • The Guardian • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Tube bosses ‘lying’ over safety action, says RMT
Rail union RMT has accused London Underground (LUL) bosses of “lying through their teeth” to play down the impact of industrial action the union says is being taken by train drivers to protect passenger safety on the capital’s Bakerloo line.
RMT news release • Morning Star • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Do you want your kid kept in a warehouse?
Changes to the planning rules to allow free schools to open in commercial and industrial buildings without planning permission have been condemned by teaching union NUT. Christine Blower, the union’s general secretary, said: “The government’s latest announcement demonstrates that it is prepared to put its own ideological interests ahead of the health, safety or well-being of children.”
NUT news release • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Ireland: Safety agency undermined by cuts
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has expressed ‘serious reservations’ about the capacity of the Health and Safety Authority to deliver on its programme of work, in the face of ongoing budget and staff cuts. Esther Lynch, ICTU legal affairs officer and a member of the HSA board, said the cuts were eroding the Authority’s capacity to “undertake basic oversight of working conditions with workplace inspections falling from 16,000 to 13,700.”
ICTU news release • HSA news release and HSA Strategy Statement 2013–2015 and Programme of Work 2013 • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: GMB calls on councils to boycott blacklisters
The union GMB is calling on local councils not to award any new public work to the companies that operated the blacklist until they compensate those they victimised. The union has published a map setting out where the 3,213 workers on the blacklist either lived or worked.
GMB news release and related article and map • East London Advertiser • Building • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Union helping hand for worker’s broken hand
A Unite member injured when he stepped in a sunken drain cover as he fixed a company vehicle in the early hours of the morning has received compensation. Vehicle mechanic Peter Day from Swansea was injured when he was working on a broken down Allied Bakeries delivery lorry parked on the bakery premises.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: JCB vehicle fluids caused dermatitis
A GMB member developed a painful skin condition after being exposed to known irritants in the workplace. The 52-year-old from Stafford, whose name has not been released, developed dermatitis after he was exposed to brake fluid and a rust inhibitor while working for JC Bamford Excavators (JCB) in Rocester.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Met chief’s ‘bonkers’ workplace drug testing wish
A suggestion by Britain’s top police officer that workers should face mandatory drug testing by their employers has been condemned by the TUC and a former government drugs policy adviser. Professor David Nutt said the idea, suggested by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, was “bonkers” and would lead to “an enormous amount of errors” and “no net benefit.”
BBC News Online • Daily Mail • TUC drugs at work webpages and guide to drug testing at work • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Global: Late lessons from early warnings – the sequel
A repeated failure to heed the danger signals presented by new technologies and substances has led to deaths, illness and environmental destruction, a new report had concluded. The second volume of ‘Late lessons from early warnings’, published by the European Environment Agency, gives specific examples of where danger signals have gone unheeded with sometimes devastating consequences and recommends the wider use of the ‘precautionary principle’ to reduce hazards in cases of new and largely untested technologies and chemicals.
Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation, EEA, January 2013 • EEA news release • The Guardian • The Pump Handle • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Corporate manslaughter cases increasing
The number of new corporate manslaughter cases opened by the Crown Prosecution Service has risen by 40 per cent in a year. There has been an increase in charges laid from 45 in 2011 to 63 in 2012, with three convictions secured since the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 took effect in 2008.
Pinsent Masons news release • Sky News • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Basildon Hospital guilty after Legionnaires’ deaths
Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust statement has admitted failing to protect the public from deadly Legionnaires’ disease. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the Trust following a series of cases of the disease, two fatal - James Compton, 74, was the first to die, just after cost-cutting reductions in a water treatment programme came into effect.
Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Trust statement • The Telegraph • BBC News Online • Essex Enquirer • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
USA: BP's record $4bn criminal penalties approved
A US court has approved the biggest criminal penalties deal in US history, given to British oil giant BP as part of a settlement related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. In November 2012, BP said it would pay $4bn (£2.5bn) to the US Department of Justice and agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges.
BP news release • New York Times • BBC News Online • More on BP’s safety record • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
India: Rajasthan campaigners in stunning silicosis gains
Workplace health campaigners in India are celebrating after the government of Rajasthan agreed to provide medical, monetary and social benefits to around 2.5 million unorganised mine workers affected by silicosis. As well as registering with the mines department, the firms will be required to report on health and safety violations, including any workers affected by silicosis.
Hindustan Times • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Companies fined following death of contractor
Steel manufacturer Tata Steel and a specialist contractor have been fined a total of £320,000 for safety failings after a worker was killed by a falling metal bar in Redcar. Kristian Lee Norris, 29, from Middlesbrough, was working for Vesuvius UK Limited to re-line a steelmaking furnace at Teesside Cast Products at the time of the fatal incident on 12 April 2008.
HSE news release and falls webpages • More on the Tata’s (previously Corus) safety record • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Britain: Council in court over teen’s fireball horror
A London council has been sentenced for a serious safety breach after a 15-year-old girl was engulfed in a fireball from a cooking stove during a school camping expedition. The teenager, then a pupil at East Ham’s Plashet School, was caught in a flashover when another girl poured methylated spirits on to the cooking stove as she believed it was going out.
HSE news release and education safety webpages • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Europe: Health and safety in supply chains
A new report from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) examines occupational safety and health within the “complex networks” of suppliers and service providers. The Bilbao-based agency says ‘Promoting occupational safety and health through the supply chain’ analyses existing literature on the subject, as well as government policies and case studies, to provide an overview of how occupational safety and health can be managed and promoted through the supply chain, and which incentives and instruments exist for companies to encourage good occupational safety and health practices among their suppliers and contractors.
EU-OSHA news release • Promoting occupational safety and health through the supply chain, EU-OSHA, January 2013 • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Bangladesh: Call for ‘real action’ after another fire
The global trade union body for garment workers has called for ‘real action’ after yet another deadly clothing factory fire in Bangladesh. IndustriALL was speaking out after seven workers were killed in a blaze at the Smart Fashion garment factory in Dhaka only two months after the fire at the Tazreen garment factory in November 2012 that claimed 112 lives.
IndustriALL news release • Risks 591 • 2 February 2013
Hazards news, 26 January 2013
Britain: Pressure increases for blacklisting action
Unions have urged the government to initiate a major inquiry into blacklisting, on a par with the Leveson probe into phone hacking. The calls came ahead of a 23 January debate in parliament, where shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “I believe that what happened in the past needs to be investigated”.
Unite news release • UCATT news release • . Opposition day debate on Blacklisting, House of Commons, 23 January 2013 and Parliament News • Blacklist blog • Building magazine • Financial Times • The Guardian • The Scotsman • The Herald • BBC News Online • ITV News • Building • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
USA: Business hurt by poor regulatory oversight
A lack of regulatory oversight and the outsourcing of jobs can lead to devastating harm to a company, airline giant Boeing has learned to its cost. A series of safety scares have led to several airlines grounding their Boeing 787 Dreamliners and an official no fly order from US authorities.
SPEEA/IFPTE news release • Boeing news release • The Guardian • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: GMB welcomes ICO change of heart
A decision by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to cooperate with union solicitors in a blacklisting legal case has been welcomed by GMB. The union was commenting after ICO indicated it would work with GMB solicitors Leigh Day, which is preparing a compensation case for over the 200 GMB members on the construction industry blacklist.
GMB news release • Morning Star • BBC News Online • Daily Record • The Times • The Herald • Lancashire Evening Post • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: TUC issues bad weather plea
Workers should not be asked to put their safety at risk battling ice and snow to get to work, the TUC has said. With the freezing weather set to continue, the TUC said that while workers should make every reasonable effort to get into work, they shouldn’t attempt to travel if it’s not safe to do so, particularly if they live in isolated areas.
TUC news release • Usdaw’s winter weather guidance • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Government warned on working time
The TUC has said the prime minister is ‘tilting at windmills’ by attacking working time rules. In a 23 January speech on the UK’s relationships with the European Union, David Cameron picked out working hours as an issue that should not be decided in Europe. TUC news release • David Cameron’s speech • Institute of Education news release and full report • Stronger Union blog • Touchstone blog • BBC News Online and related article • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: UNISON launches an asbestos exposure database
UNISON has become the latest union to run an asbestos exposure database. According to the public service union, “the new asbestos exposure database will help secure compensation for affected members, adding it “is of benefit because the time between being exposed to the fibres and developing an asbestos related disease can be a significant number of years.”
UNISON news report • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: ‘Final warning’ on ‘unsafe’ pilot fatigue rules
Airline unions have issued a final warning about ‘unsafe’ European Union pilot fatigue plans. Pilots from the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) delivered a ‘Tired Pilots Risk Lives’ dossier containing scientific reports, correspondence and testimonials to 10 Downing Street, the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spelling out the dangers.
BALPA news release • ITF news release • ECA website and Dead Tired campaign • Morning Star • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Site walkout wins better welfare facilities
Construction workers at Runcorn thermal power station have secured improved toilet and welfare facilities on site after a week long snap strike. The 800 plus workers had walked out in protest at what they considered inadequate toilet and canteen facilities. Unite news release • Morning Star • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
USA: ‘Expendable’ insecure workers need protection
A new report is urging the US government’s safety regulator to step up efforts to protect the soaring number of ‘contingent’ insecure workers. The report notes that contingent workers are disproportionately racial minorities and often come from vulnerable socioeconomic backgrounds.
At the company’s mercy: Protecting contingent workers from unsafe working conditions, CPR, 2013. AFL-CIO Now blog • The Pump Handle • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Safety warning as prisons set to close
A government prison closure plan to take effect in March 2013 will endanger rehabilitation and will put prison staff, prisoners and visitors at risk, prison officers’ union POA has warned. “Safe secure and decent prisons are non-negotiable and the POA will ensure the health and safety of our membership,” the union said.
POA news release • MoJ news release • BBC News Online • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Usdaw want a serious response to retail crime
A new report confirming tens of thousands of retail staff are being subject to assault, threatening behaviour and verbal abuse, has prompted the union Usdaw to call for a “serious” response. The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual Retail Crime Survey, shows that the number of incidents of crime rose across all categories except violence against staff and robbery.
BRC news release • Usdaw news release and Freedom from Fear campaign • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Healthcare worker partially blinded by spit
A healthcare worker has lost most of the sight in her left eye after a service user spat in it. The 32-year-old UNISON member is awaiting a corneal transplant after an incident at Low Moor Resource Centre in Bradford left her with only 20 per cent vision in the eye.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Workplace blighted by vibration disease
A Sheffield steel firm has been forced to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation after 19 workers developed a debilitating condition caused by work with vibrating tools. In one of the highest awards ever paid out by the courts, the Community members at Sheffield based metals company, Firth Rixon, have, in total, been awarded over £812,000 in compensation after suffering from vibration white finger (VWF).
Community news release • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Government action on sickness ‘burden’
The government has announced a series of measures to address what it describes as the ‘burden’ of sickness absence on businesses, taxpayers and people who “get trapped on benefits”. The response to a sickness absence review authored by former top business lobbyist David Frost and government workplace health czar Dame Carol Black gives top billing to the creation of a new independent assessment and advisory service.
DWP news release, review webpage and full response: Fitness for work: the Government response to 'Health at work - an independent review of sickness absence' • The Work Foundation news release • IOSH news release • FOM/SOM news release • CIPD news release • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Sickness strategy is prevention free
The government’s sickness absence review would have worked better if the focus had been less on getting the sick back to work and more on preventing ill-health in the first place, workplace safety campaigners have said. Responding to government initiatives on sickness absence announced last week, the Hazards Campaign said two major conceptual flaws undermine the strategy: That Britain has a ‘sicknote culture’ and that any work is good for you.
Hazards Campaign news release • UNISON news release • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Cleaning jobs linked to asthma
There is strong evidence cleaning jobs increase the risk of developing asthma, a new UK study has concluded. Researchers at Imperial College London tracked the occurrence of asthma in a group of 9,488 people born in Britain in 1958. The study, published in the journal Thorax, found risks in the workplace were responsible for one in six cases of adult onset asthma - more than the one in nine cases attributed to smoking.
Imperial College news release and report, RE Ghosh and others • Asthma and occupation in the 1958 birth cohort. Thorax, 22 January 2013 • Asthma UK news release • BBC News Online • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Pakistan: Compensation for textile fire victims
The German discount clothing chain KiK Textilen has signed a compensation agreement with the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) to make a US$1 million payment to victims of the Ali Enterprises fire in Pakistan. KIK Textilen, one of the company’s major buyers, agreed on 5 January 2013 to make the payment to victims of the September 2012 textile factory fire in which almost 300 workers died.
IndustriALL news release • PILER • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Manslaughter charges over mine deaths
Police have charged a manager and the mine firm with the manslaughter of four miners in the Gleision colliery disaster. David Powell, 50, Charles Breslin, 62, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, died in the flooded Swansea Valley mine on 15 September 2011.
South Wales Police statement • CPS statement • Statement from Peter Hain MP • Wales Online • BBC News Online • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Horror death in a small firm
The dangers of informal work in small firms has been highlighted by a workplace tragedy. Welder Martyn Heal, who was paid £60 a day cash-in-hand for three days a week, died over four months after being badly burned when his shirt caught light while working on a gate, an inquest heard.
Western Daily Press • The Bristol Post • More on the dangers of precarious work • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Worker's hair was ripped out by machine
A company has been fined £60,000 after a young worker was severely injured when her hair was ripped out by poorly guarded machinery. Kelly Nield, 25, of Ellesmere Port, was sorting clothes hangers on a conveyor when her scarf and hair became caught in the chain and sprocket drive of the belt as she bent over to remove accumulated hangers. HSE news release and machine guarding guide • BBC News Online • Daily Mail • Daily Mirror • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Britain: Hospital employees exposed to ‘deadly’ TB strain
Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust (RBHT) has been fined after employees were exposed to a potentially deadly strain of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria when a test vial smashed in a specialist laboratory. HSE had issued an enforcement notice for the same laboratory facility in 2002 for failing to ensure it was sealable for disinfection.
HSE news release • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Global: Piracy problem needs government action
Nautilus International has welcomed a reported global fall in piracy for 2012, but has cautioned that attacks on seafarers in Indonesia and West Africa are still a cause for concern.
Nautilus International news release • IMB news release • Risks 590 • 26 January 2013
Hazards news, 19 January 2013
Britain: CWU gives bad footwear the boot
The union CWU has won a legal test case over slippery boots issued to postal workers. A number of workers were injured wearing the Hi-Tec Magnum Mk1 boots, which workers maintained had poor grip and durability.
Daily Mail • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
USA: Firm railroaded in to anti-victimisation deal
A major US rail firm that retaliated against workers who reported occupational injuries has been forced to sign a good behaviour deal with OSHA, the nation’s official health and safety enforcer. The accord signed with BNSF Railway Co details the voluntary revision of several BNSF personnel policies and requires to compensate 36 workers and remove injury report related probation extensions from 136 others.
OSHA news release and Whistleblower Protection Program • OSHA-BNSF Accord • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: You can bet your life on unions
With the chances of seeing an official safety inspector now vanishingly small, it has never been more important for union reps to be vigilant and active on workplace safety. Writing in the new issue of Hazards magazine, union health and safety specialist Mick Holder says the escalating attacks on health and safety protections mean union reps need to “up their game” to defend their members’ interests.
Game on, Hazards magazine • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: GMB fury at Fresh Start rights attack
The union GMB has warned a manifesto by an anti-Europe Tory grouping could jeopardise essential health and safety and employment rights. Commenting on the launch this week of the Fresh Start Group’s manifesto, GMB said “it is turning the clock back” on workplace safety and other rights and wants to “flush them away”.
GMB news release • Fresh Start news release and manifesto • Conservative Home blog • The Guardian • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Nautilus welcomes target to cut deaths at sea
Seafarers’ union Nautilus has welcomed a call from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) for the seafarer death rate to be halved over the next two years. Speaking at the opening of the IMO’s first meeting of the year, secretary-general Koji Sekimizu told delegates that his vision to halve the number of lives lost at sea should be a legitimate target for the United Nations agency and for the shipping industry.
Nautilus news release • IMO news release • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Greece: Austerity protest fears for journalists
Journalists’ unions worldwide have called for strong action from the Greek authorities to protect media staff following a series of violent attacks on journalists. The homes of five journalists and members of the Journalists' Union of Athens Daily Newspapers were subjected to arson attacks by anarchist groups.
IFJ news release • NUJ news release • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Sir Robert McAlpine faces High Court on blacklist
Construction firm Sir Robert McAlpine played a central role in a “conspiracy to blacklist” 3,300 people from working on Britain's major building projects, according to a multimillion-pound high court claim against the firm.
The Guardian • Building magazine • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Teen death exposes government contempt
A teenage apprentice was killed in an horrific workplace incident just a week after David Cameron had claimed safety protection of young workers was “very, very bad news”. On 10 January, Cameron Minshull was trapped in an industrial metal lathe at Zaffar Engineering UK in Bury.
Daily Mail • The Telegraph • FACK news release • BFAWU news report • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Safety experts slam short consultations
IOSH, the professional body for UK safety professionals, has welcomed a call by a key government committee for adequate time for consultations on government policy. Ministers are looking at slashing the time allowed for organisations to comment on some proposed law changes, from 12 weeks to as little as two.
IOSH news release • Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee news release and 22nd Report: The Government's new approach to consultation - "Work in Progress" • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Enterprise Bill ‘stacks odds against workers’
Government plans to change workplace law are a license for rogue bosses to let safety standards fall, personal injury experts have warned. Not-for-profit group the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) is lobbying against a government amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which would end a right to compensation for an injury following a criminal breach of safety law by an employer without proof of negligence.
APIL news release • Clause 61: Civil liability for breach of health and safety duties, Lords committee hearing, 14 January 2013 • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Firms taking big risks on chemicals
Britain’s manufacturers face the prospect of unlimited fines or even prison if they don’t do more to ‘get to grips’ with chemical safety law. EEF, the manufacturers’ trade body, was speaking out following publication of a survey showing awareness of the implications of the REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) regulations for manufacturers, especially amongst smaller companies, remains worryingly low.
EEF news release and REACH webpages • HSE REACH webpages • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Wrecked health led to job loss and tiny fines
A Cambridge instrument company and a health and safety consultant have received small fines after a worker’s life was ‘wrecked’ by chemical exposures. Paint sprayer Adam Coventon, 36, suffered irritation to his eyes, breathing difficulties, headaches and lost the ability to concentrate after working with trichloroethylene and isocyanates at Prior Scientific Instruments Ltd in Fulbourn.
HSE news release and COSHH webpages • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Fines after asbestos plastic bags cover up
Workers were ordered to tie plastic bags around damaged asbestos insulation boards and carry on working for months during a demolition and refurbishment project in Swansea. Neath Magistrates' Court was told that Wall Colmonoy Ltd had contracted Oaktree Construction to renovate a building opposite its premises in Pontardawe, Swansea, in December 2010.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Suspended jail term after landscaping tragedy
A Staffordshire landscape gardener has been given a suspended prison sentence and 180 hours of unpaid community service, after a man doing him a favour was killed by a falling gate post. Leeson Lavender, 39, was helping Eden Maddocks to install a large oak post at a property in Keele on 20 May 2010.
HSE news release • The Sentinel • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Farmer fined following teen’s quad bike death
A farmer on Dartmoor failed to properly maintain a quad bike which was later involved in a collision that caused the death of a teenage apprentice. Plymouth Crown Court heard that 17-year-old Phillip Nyhan was riding the quad given him to use at Runnage Farm, on Dartmoor when he was in collision with a car on a minor road near Postbridge on 7 June 2007.
HSE news release and quad bikes webpage • Plymouth Herald • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Bangladesh: Call for justice for Tazreen victims
The victims of the Tazreen garment factory fire must get justice and safety lessons of the tragedy must be learned, groups in Bangladesh have said. The conclusion came from a 7 January dialogue session hosted by the Bangladesh Occupational Safety Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE), Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), and the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV).
AMRC news release • Daily Star • BGMEA 1 January 2013 statement • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Parkies suffer debilitating hand injuries
A council has been sentenced after 29 employees were diagnosed with a debilitating condition that has left them with ongoing problems with their hands. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council after workers in the Parks and Leisure Department were affected by hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
HSE news release and HAVS webpages • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Hospital asbestos killed nurse
The family of a former nurse who suffered a ‘heartbreaking’ death from an asbestos-related cancer is appealing for her former colleagues to come forward with information about her working conditions. Joyce Smith died from mesothelioma in March 2012 aged 86 after a nine month battle with the incurable condition.
Irwin Mitchell news release • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Britain: Insurance firms oppose NHS asbestos refund law
Legislation to refund the NHS in Wales for the cost of treating asbestos sufferers is unnecessary and impractical, insurance firms have said. Proposals going through the Welsh assembly would force businesses to pay the medical costs of workers who develop asbestos related diseases as a result of exposures at work.
BBC News Online • Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill. Welsh Assembly Health and Social Care Committee meeting, 10 January 2013 • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Bahrain: Site death blaze building owner arrested
The Bahraini owner of the building where an 11 January blaze killed 13 migrant labourers and injured seven more has been arrested. Officials said an investigation was under way to determine the cause of the fire, which broke out in the overcrowded illegal labour accommodation in the crowded Makharka district of central Manama, the country’s capital.
Khaleej Times • Gulf News • International Islamic News Agency • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
Hazards news, 12 January 2013
Britain: UNISON survey leads to stress action
A UNISON survey of stress problems experienced by council staff in Glasgow has resulted in the employer agreeing to implement a ‘prevention and control’ action plan. The initiative was prompted by concerns raised by UNISON members about the effect spending cuts were having on workloads and workplace pressures.
UNISON news release • UNISON’s Stress at work guide for safety reps and Risk assessment – a guide for UNISON safety reps • Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guide: Managing the causes of work related stress: a step by step approach using the Management Standards • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
USA: Even after deaths, firms don’t pay
Each year, some 4,500 American workers die on the job and 50,000 perish from occupational diseases. Millions more are hurt and sickened by their jobs, and many others are cheated of wages and abused. The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) says that while the official safety watchdog OSHA trumpets announced penalties as evidence of its commitment to forcing companies to follow the law, it failed to collect any of the original fine in one of every 10 cases since 2001.
Center for Public Integrity ‘Hard Labor’ investigation • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Teaching stress up, morale down
Stress in teachers is soaring as morale in the profession plummets, analyses published in December 2012 have revealed. NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the findings reflected the pressure teachers were under and warned austerity measures were placing additional strain on staff.
The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: HSE told to block PPE vending machines
Construction union UCATT has written to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) calling on the official safety regulator to prevent personal protective equipment being sold on site through vending machines. An HSE spokesperson told Hazards magazine: “A letter has been received from UCATT - HSE is looking into the matter and will respond to the issues raised shortly.”
UCATT news release • Hazards magazine • HSE frequently asked questions on PPE • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
USA: Warning on ‘coercive’ wellness programmes
Employer-created wellness programmes are cropping up everywhere in the US, and it is frequently bad news for the workers being ‘helped’. US publication Labor Notes points to a 2012 survey that found in firms with more than 200 workers, 94 per cent had these life-style targeted programmes and more coercive programmes are on the rise.
Labor Notes, January 2013 • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: UCATT calls for best practice on construction skills
Construction union UCATT has demanded stricter controls and scrutiny of “skills cards” for workers on public sector projects in Scotland to avoid inexperienced workers being hired on dangerous jobs. The union was speaking out after the Scottish government said it would require all construction workers to have a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) skills card when working on public sector projects.
UCATT news release • Scottish government news release • CSCS news release • Morning Star • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Rail staff cuts plus network expansion won’t work
Network Rail plans to expand the rail network can’t be done safely while thousands of safety-critical staff are being lost, the union RMT has warned. RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “Whilst RMT supports any plans to expand and invest in Britain’s railways to meet the demands identified by Network Rail you cannot seriously expect to safely increase capacity whilst at the same time the government is looking to axe key front-line staff on trains, track and stations.”
RMT news release • ITV News • BBC News Online • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: How did xmas work for you?
While many of us enjoyed a few days off over the holidays, the numbers required to work on Christmas Day soared, according to figures compiled by the TUC. The TUC analysis of official statistics shows that the number of people who worked on 25 December rose by 78 per cent between 2004 and 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available.
TUC news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Carillion liable for night worker’s injury
A road maintenance worker working in the dark on an unlit stretch of the A52 needed surgery on a badly damaged ankle after he suffered a fall. Dean Ness, 35, was off work for three months following the operation to mend torn ligaments in his ankle when he stumbled on the kerb while putting cones on the road at Spondon, Derby.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Global: Union call to end slaughter of journalists
Last year was one of the bloodiest years for journalists and media workers after recording 121 killings in targeted attacks and cross-fire incidents, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has said. The global union body warned that the “terrible numbers” for 2012 are the result of systematic failure by governments and the United Nations to fulfil their international obligations to protect and enforce journalists’ basic right to life.
IFJ news release and list of journalists and media personnel killed in 2012 • NUJ news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Lorry fall leads to vertigo
A lorry driver suffered a head injury and lasting health problems after he fell six foot from his truck. The Unite member from Rowley Regis, whose name has not been released, was employed as a delivery driver for RJ Haulage Ltd.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Damaged skin points to missing gloves
A mechanical engineer developed a painful skin condition when he was exposed to chemicals at work. The 59-year-old Unite member from Plymouth, whose name has not been released, developed dermatitis after he was exposed to several different chemicals in his role as an engineer for Camtec Engineering Ltd.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: The deadly consequences of sectors without inspectors
Whether your job is making people better or making plastics, don’t expect a safety inspector to call, a new report has warned. ‘Low life’, published by the workers’ health and safety journal Hazards, says on government orders the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has designated most industrial sectors, from farms to footwear, either too safe for them to bother, or just not worth the effort even if they are shockingly dangerous.
Low life, Hazards online report, January 2013 and lists of sectors without inspectors and the 137 dead who went unprotected • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Call for blacklisters to be barred from contracts
Firms involved in blacklisting workers should be banned from receiving contracts involving taxpayers’ cash, members of the Scottish parliament and trade unions have urged. They said they will press for a change the law to prevent firms that use blacklists from bidding for Scottish government contracts, or those that involve public money.
The Scotsman • Morning Star • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Firms getting cooler on fit notes
The government’s attempt to reduce the numbers signed off work sick by GPs is leaving firms increasingly unimpressed. A survey by human resources consultancy XpertHR found the proportion of employers that believe the fit note regime has been a significant step forward in sickness absence management had fallen from 48 per cent in 2011 to just 38 per cent in 2012.
Personnel Today and Fit notes still fail to impress: 2012 XpertHR survey • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Another death fine for UK Power Networks
UK Power Networks has received its second six figure fine in 16 months, following the death of another inadequately trained worker. The latest incident involved the death of electrical engineer John Higgins, who was killed at a substation in Chelmsford in May 2008 when a transformer tap changer exploded.
HSE news release and electricity webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
China: Pledge to investigate killer blast cover-up
A top official in China has promised a thorough investigation of a deadly tunnel explosion amid calls that he should be held accountable for the week-long cover-up of the incident. Shanxi's acting governor, Li Xiaopeng, said he was angered and shocked by the cover-up of the explosion at the Nannuliangshan railway tunnel in Linfen, which also left five workers injured.
South China Morning Post • Shanghai Daily • BBC News Online • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Fine after runaway lorry death
A West Midlands logistics company has been fined £300,000 after one of its drivers was killed by a runaway lorry. Russell Homer, 44, had just started his night shift at Nightfreight (GB) Ltd on 7 December 2010.
HSE news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Director fined after roof fall death
Two Hull firms and a company director have been sentenced for criminal safety failings after a worker died when he fell more than eight metres through a fragile rooflight while cleaning gutters. Kevin Jackson, a father of five, suffered multiple injuries including several fractures of his skull, 15 broken ribs and severe damage to his lungs and other internal organs.
HSE news release and falls webpage • Construction Enquirer • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013
Britain: Steel worker was crushed by a crane
A West Midlands steel company has been fined £120,000 after one of its employees was crushed to death by a 15-tonne crane. Wilfred Williams, 57, was carrying out maintenance on an overhead travelling crane at C Brown & Sons (Steel) Ltd in Dudley when the incident occurred on 27 May 2011
HSE news release • Risks 588 • 12 January 2013