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Hazards news, 14 July 2018

Britain: Lorry driving in crisis due to health, age and skills problems
A severe shortage of skilled lorry drivers is being fuelled by a combination of health problems, an ageing workforce and a failure to recruit younger workers and will damage the economy, the union Unite has warned. Unite national officer Adrian Jones, said: “The way drivers are treated is making workers ill and forcing highly dedicated drivers to leave the industry years before their normal retirement date.”
Unite news release. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Unite warning on unsafe tyre imports
The safety of thousands of road users is being put at risk by the government’s failure to properly enforce strict laws on tyre labelling and quality standards, Unite has warned.  In 2009 the European Union introduced regulations requiring all tyres for passenger, light commercial and heavy commercial vehicles to carry labels which recorded their fuel efficiency, grip in wet conditions and noise levels.
Unite news release. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Urgent recruitment drive needed to make Tube safer
Tube union RMT has called for an ‘urgent’ recruitment drive on the system after an internal London Underground Limited (LUL) document revealed what the union described as a crisis in staffing and safety. RMT said the figures lend more weight to the union’s argument that Tube bosses are attempting to run London Underground “on the cheap in unsafe conditions.”
RMT news release. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Union takes site firms to court over blacklisting of workers
New legal action is being taken against Britain’s biggest construction firms over the illegal blacklisting of workers in Scotand. Unite has lodged a complaint with the Scottish courts on behalf of nine men who they claim were frozen out of their trades for years after being included on a list of ‘troublemakers, union reps and health and safety officers’.
The Metro. Evening Times. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: CWU tells MPs the problem is dangerous dog owners
It’s not the breed that makes a dog dangerous, it is its irresponsible owner, the communications union CWU has told MPs. Dave Joyce, the union’s national health and safety officer, said there needs to be changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act to better reflect this, combined with better enforcement of the law. The call came in CWU evidence to the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee’s inquiry into dangerous dogs legislation.
CWU news release and CWU evidence on Parliament Live TV. Dangerous Dogs: Breed Specific Legislation inquiry, EFRA committee. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Offshore cost- and corner-cutting risks another Piper Alpha
The government and regulators must do more to protect the safety of oil and gas employees, who have been under pressure since a downturn in the North Sea industry in 2014, offshore unions have said. The message came on the 30th anniversary of the Piper Alpha oil rig tragedy in which 167 rig workers died.
Unite news release. RMT news release. Eastern Daily Press. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Strike action will shut oil and gas offshore platforms
There will be a series of strike days on North Sea oil and gas platforms operated by Total E&P, over concerns including a gruelling work rota linked to much higher rates of ill-health, Unite has said. The union says that following the ‘overwhelming mandate’ for industrial action, from 23 July there will be a series of 24-hour and 12-hour stoppages on the Alwyn, Dunbar and Elgin platforms, all of which will be forced to cease production.
Unite news release. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: North Sea should remain free from Super Puma helicopters
Offshore union Unite has welcomed the findings of Norway’s Accident Investigation Board (AIBN) investigation into the Airbus Super Puma helicopter that killed 13 people in April 2016. AIBN’s final report into the crash which killed everyone on board, including Iain Stuart, 41, from Laurencekirk, Scotland, concluded the fatal crash off the Norwegian coast was a result of metal ‘fatigue fracture’ in the helicopter’s gearbox.
AIBN report. Unite news release. Energy Voice. BBC News Online. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Health warning on new Brexit secretary Raab
The new Brexit secretary poses a ‘direct and immediate threat’ to workers’ rights and safety, GMB has warned. Dominic Raab previously called for Britain to use negotiations with the European Union to scrap workers’ rights.
GMB news release. The Independent. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Work-related deaths continue to rise
Work-related deaths are continuing to rise, latest official statistics show. Provisional figures released by the Health and Executive (HSE) reveal fatalities at work increased to 144 in 2017/18, up from 135 the year before, with HSE conceding the long-term decline in work-related fatalities dating back to 1981 has ended, “and the number has remained broadly level in recent years.”
HSE news release and fatality statistics 2017/18 and TUC safety page on facebook. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Number of asbestos deaths from mesothelioma up again
HSE also published figures on deaths from one occupational cancer. These show the annual toll from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma continues to climb, counter to HSE’s repeated predictions. In 2016, the latest year for which figures are available, there were 2,595 deaths, up 46 on the preceding year when 2,549 mesothelioma deaths were recorded.
HSE news release and mesothelioma death figures for 2016. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Call on government to drop ‘deadly’ deregulation obsession
New figures showing an increase in workplace fatalities and asbestos cancer deaths should convince the government to drop its ‘deadly’ obsession with deregulation, the Hazards Campaign has said. Commenting on provisional fatality and mesothelioma statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the national safety activists’ group said: “Work deaths were dropping steadily up to 2010 when the Tory/Lib Dem coalition turbo charged deregulation with the ‘Red Tape Challenge’ and attacks on HSE, but have plateaued since.”
Hazards Campaign blog. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Director jailed after explosion kills two brothers
Company director Simon Thomerson has been sentenced to eight months in jail after pleading guilty to a criminal health and safety breach that resulted in the death of two brothers in ‘horrific circumstances’. Ardian and Jashar Lamallari had been employed as labourers and were working inside a unit at 4:45pm on 3 October 2015 when an explosive fire occurred
HSE news release and information on the safe use of highly flammable liquids. Hertfordshire Mercury. Construction Enquirer. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Textile firm fined after worker dies from conveyor crush injuries
A West Yorkshire textile company has been handed a six figure fine for a criminal safety offence after the death of a worker from crush injuries. Leeds Magistrates Court heard how, on 28 February 2014, WE Rawson Limited employee Paul Whitehead leant into a packaging machine whilst attempting to free a stuck package.
HSE news release. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Firm fined after worker overcome when sawing gas bottles
A Midlands company has been fined after an employee was overcome by vapour whilst disposing of redundant gas bottles. Stoke Combined Court heard how on 7 February 2015, four members of the Air Liquide (UK) Ltd emergency response team were disposing of redundant gas bottles at the company’s site in Tunstall.
HSE news release. Stoke Sentinel. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Britain: Long work hours linked to diabetes in women
Clocking up 45 or more working hours in a week is linked to a heightened risk of diabetes in women, a study has found. Research published online in the journal BMJ Diabetes Research & Care found there was no such heightened risk among women working 30 to 40 hours a week, prompting the researchers to suggest that sticking to this total might help curb the risk of the disease.
BMJ news release. Mahée Gilbert-Ouimet and others. Adverse effect of long work hours on incident diabetes in 7065 Ontario workers followed for 12 years, BMJ Diabetes Research & Care, 2018;6:e000496.doi 10.1136/bmjdrc-2017-000496. Published online 2 July 2018. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Global: ITUC welcomes World Bank labour protection progress
New guidance from the World Bank will help borrower countries uphold fundamental worker rights, decent employment and safe worksites, the global union confederation ITUC has said. Loans from the World Bank seek to create development and jobs, but for decades the workers executing these projects have been vulnerable to rights violations, the union body said.
ITUC news release and ITUC/Global Unions comments to the World Bank. World Bank Guidance Notes. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Global: Samsung singled out for its bad chemical practices
One of the giants of consumer electronics is a laggard in chemicals management, with workers particularly badly hit, environmental and workers’ rights groups have said.  South Korean multinational Samsung has faced prolonged criticism of its failure to protect factory workers from exposure to dangerous substances.
Chemical Watch, Global Business Briefing, July 2018 [subscription only]. Samsung Sustainability Report 2018. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

USA: Two amputations a week in US meat plants
Amputations, fractured fingers, second-degree burns and head trauma are just some of the serious injuries suffered by US meat plant workers every week, according to official data. Records compiled by the government safety regulator OSHA reveal that, on average, there are at least 17 “severe” incidents a month in US meat plants.
Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The Guardian. UFCW news release, 3 May 2018. Risks 587. 14 July 2018

Hazards news, 7 July 2018

Britain: Heatwave shouldn’t leave workers baking
Many employers are shirking their responsibilities when it comes to protecting outdoor workers in hot weather, the TUC has warned. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson notes “every summer millions of outdoor workers face the risk of skin cancer, dehydration and heat stress as well as the increased risk of an accident happening because of the tiredness and lack of concentration that working in the heat can bring
TUC blog and guide to working in heat. BFAWU guidance. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Fire services under strain as the heatwave continues
An increase in fires as a result of the hot weather combined with the ongoing moorland fires has left resource-starved fire services ‘stretched to breaking point’, firefighters’ union FBU has warned. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “In some cases firefighters are working for more than 17 hours without a break because of a lack of relief crews.”
FBU news release and related FBU release on the Home Counties. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: GMB turns in Metropolitan Police over blacklisting
The GMB has referred the Metropolitan Police to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) after the force failed to answer a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. On 9 April, the union filed a request for the Met’s full internal investigation report into surveillance by undercover officers of individuals including union and safety activists, all emails relating to the report and details of overt and covert meetings between officers and members of blacklisting organisations.
GMB news release. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Bristol council signs Unite construction charter
Bristol council has given its backing to a Unite construction charter that seeks to ensure conditions for workers on construction projects under local authority control in the city meet the highest standards. The charter commits the local authority to work with Unite to achieve the highest standards in respect of direct employment status, health and safety, standards of work, apprenticeship training and the implementation of appropriate nationally agreed terms and conditions of employment.
Unite news release. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Excessive workload and cuts hitting teacher morale
Only half of teachers in Scotland say they feel satisfied with their job, with a third saying they would choose a different career if they could make the choice again, according to a new report. The research, undertaken by the University of Stirling on behalf of the teaching union NASUWT, confirms that the pressures of excessive workload, cuts to pay and funding and attacks on working conditions are impacting on teachers’ morale and ability to provide the highest levels of education to children and young people.
NASUWT news release. University of Stirling Report - Teacher Workforce Survey in Scotland 2018. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: TUC slams ‘national disgrace’ on workers’ health
Safety minister Sarah Newton has said the government is “certainly not ruling out” the idea of making it compulsory for employers to provide and invest in occupational health services for their employees as part of its review of workplace health. The statement prompted a sharp rebuke from the TUC, which said the government was guilty of a decade of inaction since an earlier review identified the need for immediate action.
Personnel Today. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Bar worker wins legal fight on cancelled shifts
A bar worker on a zero hours contract has won a legal dispute over last-minute shift-cancellations that campaigners say could lead to significant changes in employers’ practices in the hospitality industry. After contacting Better than Zero, the campaign against precarious work that is supported by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Alasdair Thomson decided to pursue his case legally against SLONLO2 Ltd, the company that held the lease at Phoenix Alehouse.
Thompsons Scotland news release. Better Than Zero website and facebook page. BBC News Online. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Tube injuries up since launch of night service
Injuries on the London Underground have risen by almost a quarter since the introduction of the Night Tube. There were just over 3,000 injuries recorded on the London Underground in 2017, a 23 per cent increase since 2015, and represents a rise from 1.83 injuries per million journeys to 2.237 - up 22 per cent.
BBC News Online. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: More prison officers resigning as violence soars
The number of prison officers resigning from their jobs has more than doubled in the last two years amid soaring levels of violence and self-harm in UK jails. Ministers have been accused of driving a crisis in prisons after an analysis of official figures revealed one in 16 officers resigned last year, compared with one in 33 officers two years before and just one in 100 in 2009/10.
The Independent. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Pupils up, but teacher numbers hit a five year low
The number of teachers working in state-funded schools in England has fallen to its lowest level since 2013, official statistics show, with a union warning the trend is fuelling teacher ‘burnout’. Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the teaching union NEU, said the government must boost pay and reduce workloads to address the retention crisis.
NEU news release. Department for Education statistics: School workforce in England. BBC News Online. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Union concerns prompt train cab redesign
New electric trains for Scotland's central belt have been approved by rail regulators. However, the go-ahead only came when an agreement was reached to fit the train cabs with replacement windscreens after the train drivers’ union ASLEF raised safety concerns.
Hitachi Rail news release. BBC News Online. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Construction boss banned for failing to pay safety fines
The boss of a construction company has been banned after failing to pay fines imposed for multiple criminal health and safety breaches. Michael Allen, 64, a director of Ashbourne-based Allen and Hunt Construction Engineers Limited, put the firm into liquidation in December 2016 however the Insolvency Service found he incorporated a new company after the accident which took on contracts that could have covered the fine.
The Insolvency Service news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

USA: Flight attendants at higher risk of cancers
Flight attendants have a higher prevalence of several forms of cancer, including breast cancer, uterine cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, thyroid cancer and cervical cancer, compared with the general public, according to new research. “Our findings of higher rates of several cancers among flight attendants is striking given the low rates of overweight and smoking in our study population, which highlights the question of what can be done to minimise the adverse exposures and cancers common among cabin crew,” said Irina Mordukhovich, research fellow at Harvard Chan School.
Work cancer hazards blog. Harvard University news release. Eileen McNeely, Irina Mordukhovich and others. Cancer prevalence among flight attendants compared to the general population, Environmental Health, volume 17, number 49, published online 25 June 2018. doi: 10.1186/s12940-018-0396-8 Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Global: Korean activists urge global asbestos pushers to stop it
The Ban Asbestos Network Korea (BANKO) held rallies in front of the Russian, Kazakh and Chinese embassies in Seoul on 3 July, calling on the three countries to stop production of asbestos. BANKO delivered a letter to each of the three embassies, asking for their cooperation in halting the mining of the known human carcinogen.
Yonhap news agency. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Global: Killer asbestos industry feeling the summertime blues
A report from the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) has said the asbestos industry is facing unprecedented attacks around the world. IBAS said the industry’s ‘summertime blues’ include high profile criticism of the asbestos industry in Australia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the United Kingdom.
IBAS news report. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

USA: Hotel ‘hands off’ anti-harassment rules take effect
Celebrating what they called a “cultural shift” for women workers’ rights, union activists and city officials gathered on 1 July to mark Chicago’s implementation of an ordinance requiring hotels to provide panic buttons for employees to report harassment. Hotels are now required to supply portable panic buttons for workers who “clean, inventory, inspect or re-stock supplies” alone in guest rooms or restrooms, allowing them to send out alerts when they feel threatened.
Chicago Sun Times. CBS Chicago News. Hands off pants on website. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

USA: Five killed in targeted attack on newspaper
Five newspaper workers were killed on 28 June when gunman Jarrod Ramos opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper published in Annapolis, Maryland. The tragedy attracted added controversy as two days ahead of the attack Milo Yiannopoulos, a British former editor of the Trump-supporting Breitbart News, said in a text to reporters from the New York Observer and the Daily Beast he “couldn't wait for vigilantes to start shooting journalists down on sight.”
IFJ news release. The Mirror. London Evening Standard. Daily Mail. New York Observer. Business Insider. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Hazards news, 30 June 2018

Britain: Hot workers need enough water and breaks, says TUC
As summer makes itself felt across the UK, the TUC has called on bosses to make sure any staff working outdoors in the baking sun are protected from the harmful effects of over-exposure to sunlight and heat. The TUC says that workers like builders, agricultural workers and gardeners who are outside for lengthy periods in high temperatures are at risk of sunstroke, sunburn and even skin cancer, adding working in hot weather can also lead to dehydration, tiredness, muscle cramps, rashes, fainting, and – in extreme cases – loss of consciousness.
TUC news release and temperature at work guide. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: GMB wins again as tribunal rules Hermes couriers are ‘workers’
Hermes couriers are ‘workers’ and not self-employed, according to an employment tribunal ruling. The GMB-backed tribunal in Leeds involving a group of 65 Hermes couriers found they were not independent contractors, which Hermes argued, but instead were workers, and therefore entitled to rights such as the national living wage and holiday pay.
GMB news release. Leigh Day news release. The Independent. Personnel Today. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Dog attacks still a major concern for posties
Dog attacks remain a major concern for postal workers after 2,275 incidents were reported last year, the union CWU has said. The union comments came ahead of the 2018 Dog Awareness Week, which ran from 22 June.
CWU news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: College staff consider quitting over workloads and stress
Over two-thirds (70 per cent) of further education (FE) college staff working in England have considered leaving the sector, as workloads rise and many suffer from stress, according to a poll by the National Education Union (NEU). Eighty per cent of respondents said their workload has increased over the last 12 months: 62 per cent said this increase was because there are fewer staff in their workplace, 35 per cent said they had to teach more hours, 34 per cent had new subject areas to teach and 31 per cent had more classes to teach.
NEU news release. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Work environment is harming disabled teachers
Almost two-thirds (61 per cent) of disabled teachers believe their working conditions have impacted negatively on their health in the last 12 months, according to teaching union NASUWT. A large majority (72 per cent) of disabled teachers told the union they have considered leaving the profession as a result of factors in the workplace impacting on their health.
NASUWT news release. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Activists expose police collusion in site blacklist
Blacklisted workers have increased the pressure on the police over their covert monitoring of union safety activists and their collusion with an illegal industry-financed blacklisting group. The 25 June edition of BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme featured blacklisted construction workers including Dave Smith and Steve Acheson, both of whom were dismissed for raising safety concerns on site, with Smith telling the programme: “We’ve had people embedded with our group for more than 10 years, and I’m a trade unionist, not a terrorist.”
BBC News Online. Victoria Derbyshire programme, 25 June 2018. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: New union resource tackles sexual harassment
Sexual harassment at work is a trade union issue – that’s the strong message in a new ‘Workplace guide to dealing with sexual harassment’ produced by the linked unions BECTU and Prospect. “The message to employers is clear: cultivating a respectful workplace is the single most valuable protection against sexual harassment and other unwanted behaviours,” Prospect and BECTU note.
BECTU news report and guide. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Southgate explosion shows the need for proper staffing
Unions have praised their members on the London Underground system for their handling on a ‘major incident’. A small explosion at Southgate Tube station on 19 June, which left five people with minor injuries, is believed to have been caused by a faulty drill battery.
RMT news release. TSSA news release. British Transport Police statement. The Guardian. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: MP calls for action now to end gig economy abuses
A Labour MP has called on the government to end the scourge of insecure work. Stephanie Peacock, the MP for Barnsley East, sparked a 20 June parliamentary debate as a consequence of her Private Members’ Bill calling for greater protection of agency workers.  
GMB news release. Insecure work and the gig economy, Hansard, 20 June 2018. Employment and Workers’ Rights Bill. The London Economic. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Low pay is a genuine occupational hazard
Are you sick and tired of too much work for too little pay? Well, you are also likely to be sick because of it, according to a new report in the trade union backed workers’ health publication Hazards. Presenting academic evidence, the report argues: “Workplace risks go up as your employment grade goes down, with a potentially devastating impact on health.”
Degraded, Hazards Magazine, Number 142, June 2018. Hazards’ low pay webpages. Unjust pay rates can be deadly, ETUC, May 2018. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Multinational fined after another employee killed
A multinational company that manufactures ready meals for retailers including Tesco, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose has been fined £176,000 after an employee suffered fatal injuries when he was struck by empty food trays in its Falkirk factory. It was the second prosecution in a year for Bavvakor Foods, which had a group turnover in the year to December 2017 of over £1.8 billion and a profit before tax of £84.8 million.
HSE news release. Bakkavor financial performance 2017. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Convicted painting firm gets off lightly after death
A Devon painting and decorating firm that failed to maintain its mobile elevated work platforms (MEWP) or properly train its staff in their safe use has received no penalty related directly to the death of an employee after a malfunctioning platform overturned. TJ Smith Contracting Ltd employee Kenny Leach, 49, died in hospital from a cardiac arrest the day after the Bronto aerial platform he was working in toppled over on 13 December 2014.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Britain: Work deaths campaigner named ‘most influential’ safety person
Louise Taggart, a campaigner and speaker travelling the country to expose the tragic human cost that can arise from poor health and safety standards, has been named 2018’s ‘Most Influential’ person in health and safety. The accolade was announced last week at the Safety and Health Expo in London, with Louise topping a poll of readers of the workplace safety publication SHP.
SHP news report. Hazards Campaign news release. Michael’s Story. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Canada: Union calls for nationwide action on safety criminals
The United Steelworkers (USW) in Canada has applauding the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s (RNC) announcement that it will undertake criminal investigations into all serious injuries and deaths that occur at workplaces throughout the province. The move by the RNC builds upon similar steps taken in the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Alberta, as well as positive work by the Toronto Police Service, and should be a uniform standard across the country, said USW Western Canada director Stephen Hunt.
USW news release and Stop the killing, enforce the law campaign. CBC News. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Global: Big Tobacco criticised over child labour
The world’s biggest tobacco companies are coming under mounting pressure over child labour and working conditions in tobacco fields globally, from Zimbabwe to North Carolina. While all the major companies have child labour policies in place and have formed organisations such as the UN-recognised Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation, their actions have brought little change and are largely cosmetic, claims Marty Otañez, associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver.
The Guardian. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

India: Tetley’s tea workers denied a drink
For generations, workers living and working on tea plantations in India have struggled with lack of access to safe, potable water and adequate sanitation facilities. For the past two years, women workers on plantations in the states of Assam and West Bengal which supply tea to UK-based Tetley have been organising to demand these basic human rights.
IUF news release and workers’ video. Send a message to Tetley insisting they address human rights violations by negotiating with the workers’ self-organised water and sanitation committees. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Hazards news, 23 June 2018

Britain: Supreme Court delivers big blow to gig working
Plumber Gary Smith’s Supreme Court victory against his employer’s claim he was self-employed has been hailed by the TUC and the equality watchdog as an important defence of workers’ rights and safety. The Equality and Human Rights Commission chief executive, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said “you are entitled to the appropriate protections and adjustments which go with the job, to enable you to work safely and productively,” adding: “Everyone has the right to a healthy working environment and to that end businesses need to recognise their duties to their workers.”
EHRC news release. Morning Star. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Union win, as government bans sexist dress codes
Following years of trade union campaigning against sexist dress codes in the workplace, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) has now published dress code guidance for employers and employees. Unions and safety campaigners have been at the heart of the campaign against sexist dress codes, highlighting the discriminatory and sometimes hazardous nature of the codes.
TUC blog and TUC guide to working feet and footwearDress codes and sex discrimination – what you need to know, Government Equality Office, 2018.
Standing problem, Hazards magazine, August 2005. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Council and HSE accused of ‘inaction’ over on-site living
Westminster council and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been accused of inaction that could place workers lives in danger. Unite said it notified both organisations of workers living illegally on a construction site in St Johns’ Wood, London, but said both organisations have so far failed to intervene.
Unite news release. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Public sector concerns over safety and new tech
Safety, new working practices and the increased use of technology were high on the agenda of UNISON’s water, environment and transport conference. Measures adopted at conference included conducting a safety review within the water industry to analyse accident statistics, their root causes and common themes, and a continued commitment to improving mental health in the workplace.
UNISON news report. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Injured embassy worker in the US can sue in the UK
A government bid to stop an employee injured at the British Embassy in Washington DC from suing for damages in the UK has failed, thanks to the legal expertise of the worker’s union. PCS member Nicholas Callow fractured his wrist when opening a security door at the British Embassy in the US capital, where he worked as an administrator.
PCS news release. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Government ministers must be held to account over Grenfell
The government must be held to account for its role in Grenfell Tower fire which killed 72 people and left hundreds homeless a year ago, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. In a statement on the 14 June anniversary of the tragedy, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack noted: “Government ministers, past and present, must be held to account for overseeing a deregulation agenda that failed to keep people safe in their homes - a basic expectation of public authorities in a civilised society.”
Fire safety: A TUC guide for union activists, September 2017. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Safety experts criticise inaction following Grenfell tragedy
Safety and health professionals are calling on the government to explain its failure to address many of their urgent safety demands following the Grenfell Tower fire last June. Among the demands made in the joint letter to the prime minister was a call for “all politicians to re-emphasise the need for effective health and safety regulation and competent fire risk management.”
IOSH news release. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

USA: Anti-union laws kill, union presence protects, finds study
Anti-union policies lead to a sharp rise in fatalities, while a union presence in the workplace has a protective effect, a new study has found. The author, Michael Zoorob from Harvard University’s department of government, notes: “The paper demonstrates that the protective effect of unions on workplace safety at the micro level translates into large scale reductions in occupational fatalities.”
Michael Zoorob. Does ‘right to work’ imperil the right to health? The effect of labour unions on workplace fatalities, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published Online First: 13 June 2018. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2017-104747
New pin-up-at-work poster: Unions make work safer: Fighting for your life at work, Hazards, June 2018. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Global: Job strain knocks years off your healthy life
Individuals with job strain have a shorter health expectancy compared with those without job strain, a new study has found. The authors said their study, which looked at life expectancy among women and men from Finland, France, Sweden and the UK between the ages of 50 and 75 yearsm” suggested “that individuals with job strain have a shorter health expectancy compared with those without job strain.”
Linda L Magnusson Hanson and others. Job strain and loss of healthy life years between ages 50 and 75 by sex and occupational position: analyses of 64 934 individuals from four prospective cohort studies, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 75, issue 7, pages 486-493, July 2018. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Farm pox ‘that went away’ hits teenager
A 15-year-old boy has contracting cowpox, a historical occupational disease now rarely encountered by doctors. The teenager, who lives on the Wrexham-Cheshire border, developed pus-filled lesions on his hands, arms and feet after feeding calves.
Wales Online. BBC News Online.  The Mirror. The Mail. European Society for Pediatric Dermatology. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Body cams for paramedics in Wales after attack spike
Paramedics in Wales could soon wear body cameras after a spike in ambulance staff being attacked. Paramedic Nathan Holman, the GMB branch secretary for the Welsh Ambulance Service, said the move would help to improve safety and increase prosecutions.
BBC News Online. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Fireworks factory owner gets 10 years jail over deaths
A businessman convicted over the deaths of two men at a factory ‘rammed’ with fireworks has been jailed for 10 years. Richard Pearson was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence, after employee Simon Hillier and customer Stewart Staples died at SP Fireworks in Stafford in 2014, where the number of fireworks stored at the unit was “up to 10 times the permitted limit”, Stafford Crown Court had heard.
CPS news release. Birmingham Mail. BBC News Online. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: TV studios fined after death fall
A TV studio has been fined after a 38-year-old maintenance worker fell five metres through a roof to his death. Maidstone Studios admitted criminal breaches of safety regulations following the death of Justin Newitt.
HSE news release. Kent Online. Construction Enquirer. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Britain: Balfour Beatty fined £500,000 for white finger
Balfour Beatty Utility Solutions Ltd has been fined after exposing workers to serious occupational disease risks over a nine-year period, with several workers permanently harmed as a result. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found workers at the company were exposed to hand-arm vibration between 2002 and 2011 which put them at risk of developing Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

France: Ex-telecom execs face trial over wave of staff suicides
The former chief executive of France Telecom and six other managers are to stand trial over a spate of suicides among their staff in the late 2000s. Prosecutors have claimed they presided over a culture of harassment at the firm that led at least 19 employees to kill themselves; the executives are accused of “moral harassment”.
CBC News. Global News. BBC News Online.
Background: Sarah Waters. Suicide voices: testimonies of trauma in the French workplace, Medical Humanities, volume 43, issue 1, pages 24-29, 2017. Sarah Waters, Suicide as protest in the French workplace, Modern & Contemporary France, volume 23, number 4, pages 491-510, 2015. Suicidal work, Hazards magazine, number 137, 2017. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Russia: Death count of 21 ahead of World Cup kick off
As the 2018 World Cup gets underway, global building union BWI has sent its condolences to the families of the 21 construction workers who died during construction of Russia’s World Cup stadiums. “As fans of the game, we will be cheering in the stands of the newly built stadiums, but we need to also hold a moment of silence in memory of the construction workers who lost their lives in the construction of the stadiums,” said Ambet Yuson, general secretary of BWI.  
BWI news release. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

USA: Tesla tells dismissed workers to keep quiet or else
Language in a confidential severance agreement car manufacturer Tesla is using as part of the biggest job cut in its history is likely to deter dismissed employees from going public with worker safety concerns, according to employment law experts. A proposed severance agreement Tesla presented to one of the more than 3,000 workers dismissed last week required acknowledgment that the employee “had the opportunity to raise any safety concerns, safety complaints, or whistleblower activities against the company, and that if any safety concerns, safety complaints, or whistleblower activities were raised during your employment, they were addressed to your satisfaction.”
Bloomberg News. Critical 16 April 2018 Center for Public Integrity report on Tesla’s safety record. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Hazards news, 16 June 2018

Britain: Do the TUC safety rep survey now!
If you are a union health and safety representative and you have not yet completed the TUC’s health and safety survey, make sure you have your say ahead of the 29 June deadline. The survey is quick and easy to complete online and provides essential intel on unions and safety in the workplace.
Complete the survey online by Friday 29 June.
Got a great case history? Tell the TUC. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: A third of women have faced sexual harassment at work
A third of women have experienced workplace sexual harassment, a survey conducted by the union Prospect has found. The ‘disturbing’ findings indicate many forms of sexual harassment are still prevalent across the UK workforce, the union said.
Prospect news release and guide on sexual harassment at work. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Award for assaulted ambulance worker who inspired campaign
An ambulance technician who suffered a harrowing sexual assault before using her experience to campaign successfully to improve the law has been given a special award. Sarah Kelly, who works for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS), was handed the Eleanor Marx special award at GMB’s annual congress in Brighton.
GMB news release. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: UNISON calls time on violence and abuse at work
A UNISON violence at work charter has been launched officially in the Houses of Parliament. In a blog posting to mark the 11 June event, which was attended by dozens of MPs, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said the charter is “a list of ten basic actions which employers can take to improve safety at work – including training, support for victims of violence and monitoring of incidents.”
UNISON news release and related post. UNISON violence at work charter and campaign briefing. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Northern planning to ‘shred’ safety culture, warns union
Northern Rail is planning to shred the rail safety culture in the same way it has shredded train timetables, the union RMT has said. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “German-owned Northern Rail want to run half a million trains a year without a safety critical guard on board in a move that would wreck both safety and access ‎to services and they should listen to their frontline staff and pull back from that plan immediately.”
RMT news release. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: ‘Severe’ workload is a huge concern for Scottish teachers
High workloads are putting ‘severe pressures’ on teachers in Scotland, the union EIS has warned. EIS survey findings, published ahead of its annual meeting, revealed increasing workloads and long working hours are having an impact on the well-being of teachers.
EIS news release and survey findings. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Pilots warn laser users they could ‘inadvertently’ break law
British pilots are reminding the public that in just a few weeks new laws will mean they could face jail if they shine a laser at an aircraft. The new laser laws, that come in to force on 10 July, give police more powers to catch those who shine lasers at aircraft and introduce tougher punishments for those caught.
BALPA news release. Details on the new law. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: TUC leader hails 'bravery and professionalism' of firefighters
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady has paid tribute to the “bravery and professionalism” of firefighters and control room staff who “saved scores of lives” in the Grenfell Tower disaster. She told delegates to the annual conference of the firefighters’ union FBU d that the public inquiry into the fire must properly address what happens when public housing is deregulated and privatised, when corners are cut and health and safety trivialised.
Morning Star. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Labour will end 'scourge' of sexual harassment at work
Labour will clamp down on the ‘scourge’ of sexual harassment at work and make it easier for victims of discrimination to take their companies to an employment tribunal. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the party would ban the use of non-disclosure agreements to silence victims of sexual assault.
Labour Party news release. The Independent. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Global: Work stress is more deadly in men
Having a stressful job is far more likely to kill men with heart and metabolic problems like diabetes than women, a study found. Men with heart problems are six times more likely to suffer an early death if they have a stressful job - even if they keep fit and eat a healthy diet – the research suggests.
Mika Kivimäki and others. Work stress and risk of death in men and women with and without cardiometabolic disease: a multicohort study, Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, Online First, 5 June 2018. The Guardian. The Independent. Daily Mail. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: University tutor killed himself after struggling with workload
A “dedicated” university tutor took his own life at work after his increasing workload meant he was “often unable to spend time with his family”, an inquest has heard. Malcolm Anderson, 48, the deputy head of section and a personal tutor in accounting at Cardiff University’s Cardiff Business School, went to his office and left two notes – one for his family and one saying his workload had finally got to him.
Cardiff University statement. Wales Online. More on work-related suicides Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Director ignored dangerous work stoppage notices
D&S Building Solutions Ltd and its director Daniel Schipor have been fined after failing to comply with legally-binding stop work notices. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how the company, under the control of its director Daniel Schipor, was issued with two prohibition notices on one if its sites, after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found serious dangers.
HSE news release. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Ignoring damaged asbestos materials led to fine
Aquapac Limited, a company that manufactures and distributes furniture, has been fined £6,000 for failing to properly assess the risk from exposure to damaged asbestos containing materials in its premises. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that, during an inspection on 6 August 2014, concerns were raised by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector about significant damage to what appeared to be asbestos containing materials that were encasing the structural columns and beams of the premises.  
HSE news release. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

China: Amazon blasted over Kindle factory conditions
A labour rights group urging Amazon to improve conditions for the workers at a Foxconn factory in China who make Echo speakers and Kindle e-readers. The call by New York-based China Labor Watch adds to recent allegations that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos became the world’s wealthiest man on the backs of low-paid labour and a series of deaths in its US distribution centres.
China Labor Watch news release and report. Bloomberg News. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

India: Ban on hazardous pesticides would slash suicides
An international group of experts has said a ban on hazardous insecticides, now under consideration by the Indian government, would help reduce suicide deaths in the country. The UK-based Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention (CPSP) has urged India’s agricultural commissioner, SK Malhotra, who heads the committee on the issue, to ban not only the 12 pesticides under review but also several others.
Times of India. First Post.
D Gunnell and others. Prevention of suicide with regulations aimed at restricting access to highly hazardous pesticides: a systematic review of the international evidence, Lancet Global Health, volume 5, number 10, e1026-e1037, October 2017. Centre for Pesticide Suicide Prevention. More on work-related suicides. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Peru: Site union tries to bag a 25kg maximum weight
The Federation of Civil Construction Workers in Peru (FTCCP), working with the global union BWI, has launched a ‘25 Kilos…No More!’ campaign ahead of the games. “In Peru the weight of cement bags is 42.5 kilograms, which causes permanent injuries and health problems to the workers,” said Luis Villanueva, the deputy general secretary of the FTCCP.
BWI news release and 25 kilo campaign poster. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

USA: Stricter silica exposure standard from this month
A hard-won more protective silica exposure standard is to come into effect in the US on 23 June. The new OSHA standard, issued under the Obama administration, reduces the permissible exposure limit for crystalline silica over an eight-hour shift to 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air (down from 0.1mg/m3 to 0.05mg/m3).
OSHA announcement. Confined Space blog. Information on the UK’s inadequate exposure standard for silica. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Hazards news, 9 June 2018

Britain: Amazon workers hospitalised and in constant agony
The ‘terrible conditions’ and poor treatment of workers in Amazon warehouses have been exposed in an investigation by the union GMB. The union says hundreds of ambulance callouts, people in constant agony and heavily pregnant women being forced to work standing, have also been uncovered.
GMB news release. Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Grayling challenged to meet abused rail staff
Rail union RMT has challenged transport secretary Chris Grayling to meet staff that have had faced the full force of passenger anger for the rail timetable chaos, cancellations and delays on Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Northern rail services. “The total chaos unleashed by Chris Grayling on our railways has left staff at the sharp end abandoned to their fate by his private train operators,” RMT general secretary Mick Cash said.
RMT news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Union acts on long hours in film and TV
TV and film production union BECTU has launched the latest phase of its campaign against the long damaging hours culture in film and TV production. The #EyesHalfShut campaign highlights the dangers to health that film and TV workers face every day in an industry BECTU says is beset with unnecessary long hours working.
BECTU news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: One in ten school staff exposed to sexual misbehaviour
Disturbing new figures from the union GMB show more than one in ten school support staff who responded to a survey have experienced sexually inappropriate behaviour from pupils. GMB said the ‘shocking’ statistics come from its nationwide survey of members, which found the abuse was leaving some staff intimidated and ‘mentally scarred’.
GMB news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Fire service in Tyneside ‘stretched to breaking point’
A move this month that means fire appliances in Tyne and Wear will be crewed by just four firefighters has been branded as ‘dangerous’ by their union. The FBU said the cutbacks comes on the heels of a major fire in Sunderland last month, where resources were ‘stretched to breaking point.
FBU news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Security guards ‘die 20 years younger', says GMB
The UK’s security professionals have a lower life expectancy than people born in Afghanistan or Iraq, GMB has said. The union’s research found security guards die 20 years younger than the national average.
GMB news release. ONS life expectancy figures for security guards 2014-2016. WHO global mortality figures. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Drone law doesn’t go far enough, pilots warn
A new law on drones does not go air enough to keep our skies safe, pilots’ union BALPA has warned. BALPA flight safety specialist, Steve Landells, said: “We’re pleased the government is taking near-misses seriously and making changes to the law, but it is crucial that these go further to avoid a potential catastrophe.”
BALPA news release. DfT and CAA news release. CAA drones webpages. BBC News Online. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Campaigners praise Lush stand on the spycops scandal
Cosmetic brand Lush has been praised by campaigners for its nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the ‘spycops’ scandal, which has seen union, safety, environmental and other activists’ groups infiltrated by undercover police officers. Displays condemning the police strategy appeared in Lush store window displays.
Blacklist blog. Letter from John McDonnell and others in support of Lush. The Guardian and related story. Morning Star. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Concern at Sainsbury's plan to axe paid breaks
Britain: Sainsbury's is to plough ahead with contract changes for all workers that will mean up to 9,000 of its staff will lose out. On 1 September, the grocer's minimum wage will increase from £8 to £9.20 an hour - but accompanying the pay hike is a plan to scrap paid breaks and axe Sunday 'premium' pay.
Union news release. Usdaw news release. The Guardian. Daily Mirror. Retail Gazette. Morning Star. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Stressful jobs linked to deadly heart rhythm disorders
Having a stressful job is associated with a higher risk of a heart rhythm disorder, according to new research. The study found the most stressful jobs, linked to a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, are psychologically demanding but give employees little control over the work situation – for example, assembly line workers, bus drivers, secretaries, and nurses.
ESC news release. Eleonor I Fransson, Maria Nordin, Linda L Magnusson Hanson, and Hugo Westerlund. Job strain and atrial fibrillation – Results from the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health and meta-analysis of three studies, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 30 May 2018. DOI: 10.1177/2047487318777387 Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Firefighters are stressed out in underfunded Scottish service
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is under-funded, leading to resource shortages and modernisation plans being put on hold, a report from the Auditor General has found. Denise Christie, regional secretary of the FBU in Scotland, the report highlights resource problems which have led “to increased pressures within the workforce and an increase in absence levels due to work-related stress.”
FBU news release. Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – Auditor General’s report and news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Styrene ranking upgraded to ‘probably carcinogenic’
Styrene, a key component for many plastics and synthetic rubber, is "probably carcinogenic to humans", according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). An assessment this year by an IARC expert working group said there was now sufficient evidence to change its cancer rating from group 2B – possibly carcinogenic to humans – to 2A, a probable cause of cancer in humans.
Manolis Kogevinas and others. Carcinogenicity of quinoline, styrene, and styrene-7,8-oxide, The Lancet Oncology, volume 19, issue 6, pages 728-729, 2018. Chemical Watch. Daily Mail. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Bust company prosecuted after worker killed
A defunct waste paper company has been convicted of a criminal health and safety offence that resulted in the death of one of their employees. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how RRS London Waste Papers Ltd worker Krysztof Pawlak was found dead inside the compaction chamber of a baling machine.
HSE news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Luxury yacht builder fined after engineer injured
A luxury yacht builder has been fined following an engineer being knocked unconscious when he was struck on the back of the head by a solid metal bracket weighing 147kg. Poole Magistrates’ Court heard how the Sunseeker International Limited employee was working under the hull of an 86-foot yacht adjusting the height of a prop when the bracket came free.
HSE news release. Bournemouth Echo. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Asia: Female garment workers for Gap and H&M routinely abused
Pressure to meet fast fashion deadlines is leading to women working in Asian factories supplying Gap and H&M being sexually and physically abused, according to unions and labour rights groups. More than 540 workers at factories that supply the two retailers have described incidents of threats and abuse, according to two separate reports from  Global Labour Justice on gender-based violence in Gap and H&M’s garment supply chains.
Global Labour Justice news release and Gap and H&M reports. Fashion United. The Guardian. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Global: Marriott workers demand action on sexual harassment
Union members from Marriott hotels in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the Americas came together in Geneva on 29 May to call for action to end the ‘endemic sexual harassment’ that plagues the industry. Global union IUF, the federation covering hospitality unions, said surveys around the world have indicated that a large majority of hospitality workers - up to 89 per cent in some countries - have experienced sexual harassment in the course of their working lives.
IUF news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Zambia: Glencore must account for missing mine deaths
IndustriALL has said there is clear evidence of under-reporting of fatalities by multinational Glencore at its Zambia mining operations. The global union for the sector has received reports of three deaths at Glencore’s Zambian operations in 2017; Glencore has reported only one fatality and Glencore’s Zambian subsidiary claims it was fatality-free.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Hazards news, 2 June 2018

Britain: GMB ‘victory’ as Uber concedes new rights for drivers
The union GMB has scored a hard-fought victory after cab hailing company Uber agreed to give drivers a range of employment benefits. The company said it will now give its drivers access to medical cover, compensation for work-related injuries, sick pay, parental leave and bereavement payments.
GMB news release. Uber news release. Sky News. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: FBU wins legal battle outlawing 96-hour shifts
The firefighters’ union FBU has won a High Court case confirming a duty system requiring firefighters to work 96-hour shifts is unlawful. Honourable Justice Kerr was handed down at Manchester High Court and stated: “I am troubled that the stance of the Authority and the Service offers an affront to the rule of law.”
FBU news release, the final judgment and more about unsafe duty systems. Morning Star. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Firefighter job cuts ‘will lead to avoidable deaths’
Firefighters’ union FBU has warned that swingeing fire service budget cuts and the threat of job losses in North Wales would lead to a loss of lives. Expressing anger at the planned £2m budget cut, the union vowed to fight the plans ‘tooth and nail’. 
FBU news release. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Museum workers need a break
Workers at Royal Museums Greenwich have walked out for the third time in protest at cuts in paid breaks. The changes affect staff working at both the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory Greenwich, where the Prospect members calculated that by reducing breaks by 40 minutes a day, they will be working three extra weeks a year.
Prospect news release. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: RMT demands action over timetable meltdown
Rail union RMT has demanded urgent action after staff reported they had faced the full force of passenger anger for rail timetable chaos on Monday 21 May. The new timetables led to wholesale cancellations and delays on Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Northern. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: CWU to increase focus on mental health
Communication workers’ union CWU is to upgrade its approach to dealing with mental health issues at work. It says the growing prevalence of serious mental health issues affecting members in “an ever more stressful and demanding world of work” means a comprehensive strategy is now required to ensure the union can provide the best possible support for members and reps experiencing problems.
CWU news release. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: New guide agreed on seafarer mental welfare
Seafarer unions Nautilus and RMT have agreed guidelines with the UK industry’s group to help shipping companies develop policies on the mental well-being of their seafarers. The advice agreed with the UK Chamber of Shipping comes as evidence suggests the suicide rate among seafarers is one of the highest of all occupations.
Nautilus news release and Nautilus, RMT and UK Chamber of Shipping guidelines. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Work cancer hazards are being neglected, experts warn
Occupational cancer is a big killer, but studies to assess the risks to workers from tens of thousands of chemicals at work are either inadequate or just have not been done, top experts have warned. Scientists from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) note the “recognition of occupational carcinogens is important for primary prevention, compensation and surveillance of exposed workers, as well as identifying causes of cancer in the general population.”
Dana Loomis, Neela Guha, Amy L Hall and Kurt Straif. Review: Identifying occupational carcinogens: an update from the IARC Monographs, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Online First, 16 May 2018. ITUC/Hazards Work Cancer Hazards blog. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Superyachts of the super rich can be deadly for crews
Life on board a luxury yacht can be pretty wonderful for the super rich and their friends. But for the crews staffing them, superyachts can be among the deadliest workplace around, seafarers’ union Nautilus has warned. According to the Guardian report, accidents, injuries and deaths are also commonplace, with union leaders believing working on superyachts to be more dangerous than life on oil rigs; over the past few years at least three young British crew members have died while serving their billionaire bosses.
Nautilus news release. The Guardian. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Contractor and architect fined over site shambles
A main contractor and a building’s architect have been fined for “a total disregard for health and safety and site management” on a care home extension in Devon. Coast & Country Construction Limited did not attend court but was convicted of safety breaches in its absence and was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,039; Paul Humphries Architects Ltd pleaded guilty to criminal breaches of safety regulations and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,039.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Firm fined after worker burned by industrial oven
A company that produces metal sheet components has been fined after a worker suffered serious burns to his, face, ears and head. Hereford Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 12 September 2016, an employee of Mettech (Hereford) Limited sustained burns when attempting to light a gas burner in a powder coating oven.
HSE news release. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Company gets £500k fine over overhead power line strike
A construction company has been fined after a tipper vehicle driven by one of its employees came into contact with overhead power lines during the construction of a waste transfer station. Mick George Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) and was fined £566,670 and ordered to pay costs of £9,000.
HSE news release. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: Firms fined for serious asbestos failings after tip-off
A residential property management company and a specialist contractor have been fined after a resident raised concerns about soffit replacement work carried out on the guttering on three blocks of flats in London. Squaredeal UPVC & Renewables Limited was fined £18,500 and ordered to pay £5,607.90 in costs after pleading guilty to three criminal breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012; Wildheart Residential Management Limited was fined £8,000 with £3,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a single criminal breach of the same regulations.  
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Pakistan: Call for dangerous owners to lose their mines
Mineowners in Pakistan should be stripped of their mine leases if they ignore safety standards, the chair of a human rights commission has said. The call came after the All Pakistan Labour Foundation told a Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights meeting on 23 May that nearly 50 miners have died in Pakistan’s mines in two months.
Daily Dawn. Labour Watch Pakistan. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

USA: McDonald’s workers describe rampant harassment
Cooks and cashiers at McDonald’s fast food restaurants in eight US states have filed 10 complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging they have faced sexual harassment, assault and retaliation for raising concerns at work. Complaints from the McDonald’s workers were filed with financial support from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, a $21 million charity launched in January to support low-income workers who want to report sexual harassment.
National Women’s Law Center news release. Washington Post. Bloomberg News. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

USA: Trump to dump safety rules five years after catastrophe
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to roll back chemical plant safety reforms that the Obama administration proposed after 15 volunteer firefighters died in a fertiliser plant explosion that destroyed large swathes of the city of West, Texas, five years ago. The Industry groups applauded the retreat from the Obama-era reforms, with Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge calling the scaled-back rules “another victory for common sense over environmental radicalism” - a comment the EPA included in a press release.
EPA news release. Austin-American Statesman. Houston Chronicle. Confined Space blog. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Hazards news, 26 May 2018

Britain: New data protection rules don’t trump safety reps’ rights
Some employers are using the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) ‘worryingly’ – and wrongly –to restrict the information going to union safety reps. According to TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson: “If your employer does try it on and says that the GDPR somehow trumps the SRSC Regs then ask them where in the GDRP it says that they should not provide the information covered in Regulation 7 of the SRSC Regulations.”
TUC blog. TUC Education webinar on YouTube. explaining the implications of GDPR for unions. General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Post-Grenfell fire disaster report ‘falls short’
The final report by Dame Judith Hackitt into the adequacy of the current building regulations and fire safety makes a number of good recommendations, “it falls short of providing the kind of safety regime that is needed.” Commenting on the report’s publication, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “The recommendations will be of little help unless the government ensures that there is a strong enforcement regime of inspections and, where necessary, prosecutions, and that means giving the three joint regulators sufficient resources to ensure that all new and existing high-rise buildings are safe.”
TUC blog and TUC advice for union representatives on fire safety. Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: final report, 17 May 2018. Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government report webpage. Hazards Campaign news release. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Firefighters’ union scathing on Grenfell shortcomings
The failure of a major review to recommend a ban on flammable insulation linked to the Grenfell fire tragedy and news that this cladding had never passed fire safety tests have been condemned as ‘perverse’ and ‘beyond shocking’ by the firefighters’ union FBU. The union’s general secretary, Matt Wrack, said “we must look at how a lax regulatory system created an environment where the Grenfell Tower disaster was allowed to happen.”
FBU news release. BBC News Online and Panorama: Grenfell – who is to blame, broadcast 21 May 2018 and related FBU commentary. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Qantas using ‘anti-union’ tactics to silence safety concerns
The union Unite has warned Qantas airlines against employing ‘anti-union’ tactics to try and suppress legitimate health and safety concerns. The union was speaking out after the introduction of the airline’s new 17-hour ultra-long haul flight between London Heathrow and Perth in Australia, which means an average duty period of 19 hours for the ten cabin crew on board each 787 Dreamliner aircraft serving the route.
Unite news release. Morning Star. Travel Weekly. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: UNISON survey spots spike in health board stress
A health board in Wales has been urged to support its staff better after figures obtained by UNISON showed a spike in stress-related sick days. New statistics obtained by the union show Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) lost almost 77,000 days due to stress and anxiety last year - costing more than £5.4m.
BBC News Online. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Fears over ‘potentially lethal’ fire service management move
The appointment of staff with no experience of firefighting to key operational positions at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) is ‘a potentially lethal experiment’, firefighters’ union FBU has warned. The union said it believes the safety of firefighters and the public is being jeopardised by the practice.
FBU news release. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Teacher with cystic fibrosis has discrimination ruling upheld
An English teacher with cystic fibrosis who was discriminated against by his employer has won at the Court of Appeal the final round of a long-running legal battle. NEU member Philip Grosset, who was head of English at the Joseph Rowntree School in New Earswick, outside York, was awarded £180,000 compensation and £208,000 in pension entitlements after the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld an earlier ruling that he had been discriminated against on the basis of his disability.
Morning Star. York Press. Daily Mail. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: MPs slam government’s injury compensation plan
Government plans to change the personal injury compensation system could deny some workers access to justice, the Justice Select Committee has warned. The committee examined the impact of raising the personal injury (PI) small claims limit from £1,000 to £2,000 and to £5,000 for Road Traffic Accidents (RTA) related claims, part of a package of government reforms.
Justice Select Committee news release, report summary and conclusions and recommendations. Usdaw news release. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Small fine after contractor is electrocuted
The partners in FS Watts & Sons, a business running a Suffolk farm, have been fined after a haulage contractor was killed by an overhead power line strike. Basildon Magistrates’ Court heard how on 30 August 2016, haulage driver Christopher Wilson, 36, was killed when his tipping trailer was raised and made contact with overhead power lines that ran across part of the yard hard standing at the Airfield Grain store in Parham.
HSE news release. Farmers Weekly. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Demolition firm fined after concrete panel injury
A demolition company has been fined after a worker suffered multiple injuries when he was struck by a concrete spandrel panel. Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how Vale Park Demolition Services Limited was contracted to demolish a link bridge structure at Littleborough Primary School, Rochdale.
HSE news release and demolition webpages. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Sawmill fined after employee loses his leg
A sawmill has been fined after a worker’s leg was cut off by a saw. Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard that, in July 2016, the employee of A&J Scott Limited attempted to clear a blockage on the conveyor feed and edger machine but was caught by the moving parts, pushed forward and his trailing leg was amputated below the knee by the saw blade.
HSE news release. Northumberland Gazette. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Hazards Conference, 27-29 July, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent
The 2018 National Hazards Conference will take place at Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent, from 27-29 July. The theme is ‘Safety reps@40 – Still vital to the future of safe and healthy work!’ The conference will feature contributions from international and national trade union leaders, academics and campaigners who will address the current health and safety issues facing workers.
Book now! National Hazards Conference, 27-29 July, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent. For further information, email the Hazards Campaign. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Global: Asbestos industry told ‘the end is nigh!’
A global network of 30 trade union, labour, environmental, academic and occupational disease victims’ advocacy organisations has told the asbestos industry its days are numbered. In an open letter headed ‘the end is nigh!’, groups including the global building unions’ federation BWI, the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) and the Asia Monitor Resource Centre note: “As this toxic technology is consigned to the history books, a ‘just transition policy’ for redundant asbestos miners and affected communities should be implemented as a matter of urgency.”
Open letter (also in Russian). Risks 850. 26 May 2018

New Zealand: Union urges breaks for air traffic controllers
Many air traffic controllers in New Zealand have no guarantee they will get any toilet breaks while carrying out safety-critical roles controlling planes, their union has told a select committee. The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA), told the education and workforce select committee that the change it was seeking to the proposed Employment Relations Amendment Bill (ERA Bill) were “safety-critical”, to allow controllers to take a break during each shift.
NZALPA news release. Otago Daily Times. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Pakistan: Ali Enterprises fire families receive pensions for life
The survivors and families bereaved by the Ali Enterprises fire in 2012 are to receive life-long pensions out of a fund financed by the factory’s main buyer, German retailer KiK. The beneficiaries all lost family members or were injured themselves at the deadly fire in the Ali Enterprises factory in Karachi, Pakistan, on 11 September 2012, which killed over 250 garment workers.
CCC news release and compensation timeline. ILO news release. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

USA: Government wants to get teens in hazardous jobs
The US Labor Department (DoL) plans to unwind decades-old youth labour protections by allowing teenagers to work longer hours in some of the nation’s most hazardous workplace conditions. The DoL will propose relaxing current rules - known as Hazardous Occupations Orders (HOs) - that prohibit 16- and 17-year-old apprentices and student learners from receiving extended, supervised training in certain dangerous jobs, according to two well-placed two sources, said Bloomberg Law.
Bloomberg Law. Child Labor Coalition. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Hazards news, 19 May 2018

Britain: Union takes pee protest to Amazon summit
Members of the union GMB protested outside a government-backed Amazon sales summit in Manchester to expose the abusive way the retail giant treats its warehouse workers. The ‘Amazon Seller Summit’ was intended to encourage third-party sellers to use Amazon Marketplace to sell their wares overseas and was held at Old Trafford in Manchester ‘in partnership’ with the Department for International Trade.
Business Insider. Amazon Seller Summit. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

USA: Spaced-out Amazon boss should get back to Earth
A letter from the US National Coalition on Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH) published in the New York Times has criticised multibillionaire Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’ statement that “the only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel.” NYCOSH said it named Amazon as a ‘Dirty Dozen’ employer in the US this year, because of its abusive employment practices and record of seven warehouse deaths in five years, adding: “Mr Bezos needs to pay much more attention to what is happening here on Earth.”
New York Times letter and opinion. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Government must enforce new tyre regulations
The government must fully implement and enforce new European Union regulations which will improve safety by placing import duties on inferior quality tyres imported from China, transport and manufacturing union Unite has said. The union said there are significant safety concerns associated with poor quality tyres as they have a much shorter road life and are more likely to ‘blowout’.
Unite news release. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Pupils and staff left exposed to violence in Scottish schools
Pupils and school staff in Scottish schools are being put at risk as a result of the failure of some schools to act on information about violent and disruptive pupils, teaching union NASUWT has said. The union is concerned that schools are ‘failing in their duty to record and address all incidents of serious pupil violence and disruption’.
NASUWT news release. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Union welcomes new law to tackle the misuse of lasers
New regulations targeting an abuse of lasers that has put transport workers and the public in danger has passed its final parliamentary hurdle and will become law. Welcoming the new rules, which were given Royal Assent on 10 May, pilots’ union BALPA said the law came after its lengthy campaign to tackle laser misuse.
BALPA news release. Department for Transport news release. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Unite gives reps the tools to tackle workplace mental health
Unite is taking action on mental health, which it says is a ‘key concern’ in the workplace. The union, which is running is running a series of mental health awareness courses, is also highlighting how bad management practices can be a major contributory factor to poor mental health.
Unite news release. Mental Health Awareness Week.
TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: More workers want mental health help but few get it
More employees are approaching their managers with concerns around mental health, but most companies are poorly equipped to respond, a new survey has found. An Institute of Directors (IoD) poll of 700 managers found almost four in 10 (39 per cent) had been approached by staff with such a concern but fewer than one in five firms (17 per cent) offered mental health training for managers. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Exercise is good for you - but hard labour isn’t
Men who work as labourers or in other physically demanding roles have a greater risk of dying early than those with more sedentary jobs, a new study has found. The research, from an international team of researchers, reveals an apparent “physical activity paradox” where exercise can be harmful at work but beneficial to health when performed in leisure time.
Pieter Coenen and others. Do highly physically active workers die early? A systematic review with meta analysis of data from 193 696 participants, British Journal of Sports Medicine, published Online First, 14 May 2018. Time magazine. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Lords told construction industry must tackle its health risks
The construction industry should target health risks as well as safety and should ‘design out’ these risks, a House of Lords inquiry has been told. B&CE, a not-for-profit construction industry insurance and occupational health advice body, told a Lords select committee inquiry into ‘offsite manufacture for construction’ that more emphasis on tackling occupational health risks would reduce the likelihood of these conditions, improve productivity and reduce ‘the risk of workers developing latent health conditions.’
B&CE news release and written evidence to the Lords science and technology committee hearing. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Thousands of road workers’ lives put at risk
Reckless drivers are routinely putting the lives of roadworkers at risk, research by Highways England has found. Its figures reveal a catalogue of serious incidents and near misses ranging from motorists driving into coned off areas where road workers are working to physical and verbal abuse.
Highways England news release. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Spice epidemic putting prison nursing staff at risk
An epidemic of the use of the drug ‘spice’ in UK prisons is putting the nurses called in to treat inmates at risk, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned. It said it had members who had been left sick, unconscious or unable to drive after treating prisoners who had taken the illegal drug, which is a potent synthetic cannabis substitute.
RCN news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Nurses 'going whole shifts without a glass of water'
The majority of nurses regularly go through entire shifts without drinking water or taking breaks, a survey has found. Threequarters of nurses do not have time to take a break during one or two shifts every week, according to the poll of 2,000 nurses by journal Nursing Standard.
Nursing Standard. Morning Star. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Concrete firm fined after death of worker
A Somerset pre-cast concrete products manufacturing company has been fined after a 43-year-old man was fatally injured. Bath Magistrates’ Court heard how Jeffery Baulf, a maintenance fitter employed by CPM Group Limited, was carrying out maintenance work when a conveyor started moving and Mr Baulf suffered fatal injuries when he became trapped.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Tesco fined £1.6m after customer is hit by van
Supermarket giant Tesco has been fined £1.6 million after a customer at a London store was left seriously injured. Tesco Stores Limited pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences relating to an August 2014 incident when the driver of one of its vehicles ran into a member of the public whilst reversing into the loading bay of the Greenford Tesco Metro store, in Ealing, west London.
Ealing Council news report. Ealing Today. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Australia: Blackmail charges against union organisers dropped
Blackmail charges against two officers of the construction union CFMEU that have been headline news for three years have been dropped in a major blow to the Australian government. CFMEU state leaders John Setka and Shaun Reardon had demanded a union safety presence on a Boral site, but found themselves accused of ‘blackmailing’ managers Paul Dalton and Peter Head at a café meeting in April 2013.
CFMEU news release and video press conference. ABC News. The New Daily. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Global: Top experts back major reforms on work disease prevention
An international meeting of occupational health experts has called for a major global shake up to improve the prevention of work-related diseases. The 2,200 delegates to the International Congress on Occupational Health, held this month in Ireland, adopted the Dublin Statement on Occupational Health, backing wide-ranging action for prevention of occupational cancer and asbestos related diseases (ARDs) and calling for ‘decent work’.
Dublin statement on occupational health: New avenues for prevention of occupational cancer and other severe occupational health hazards, ICOH, May 2018. ICOH website. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Turkey: Over 50 workers died a day last month
A total of 177 fatalities were recorded across Turkey in April, according to a monthly study released by a non-governmental workplace safety organisation. According to data compiled by the Workers’ Health and Work Safety Assembly (İSİGM), the workplace death toll in the first four months of 2018 now stands at 575.
Stockholm Centre for Freedom news release. UNISON blog. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

USA: Most firms still failing to address sexual harassment
Fewer than a third of working Americans (32 per cent) believe their employer has taken new measures to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. APA found that according to employees, the most common action taken was simply reminding employees of existing sexual harassment training or resources (18 per cent).
APA news release. Workplace sexual harassment: Are employers actually responding? APA, 15 May 2018. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Hazards news, 12 May 2018

Britain: Toxic cabin air warning should trigger public inquiry
The recommendations from an inquest into the death of a cabin crew member should be the ‘catalyst’ for a public enquiry, the union Unite has said. The union call came after Berkshire’s senior coroner in the inquest into the death of Matthew Bass, a Unite member and British Airways’ cabin crew, said he would write to the chief coroner asking him to warn all coroners in England and Wales of the need for additional tests where the cause of death could be toxic cabin air on board aircraft.
Unite news release and cabin air campaign. Why Matt died website. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: One-in-nine workers are in insecure jobs, says TUC
Over 3.8 million people are in insecure work, such as agency work, zero hour contracts and low-paid self-employment, an analysis by the TUC has found. The union body found that 1-in-9 workers, or 11.9 per cent of the workforce, is in insecure forms of employment, or 3,820,000 UK workers overall.
TUC news release and new deal facebook page. More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: GMB takes on Hermes over workers’ rights
The delivery company Hermes is facing a GMB-backed challenge from its drivers. The legal action, which started on 30 April at a Leeds employment tribunal, has been brought by eight couriers at Hermes, which delivers packages for retailers such as Next, Asos, John Lewis, Topshop and River Island.
GMB news release. The Guardian and story update. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: TUC hails Scottish campaign against zero hours
The leader of the UK's trade union movement has praised “brilliant” campaigns against zero hours contracts by young Scottish workers. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the Better Than Zero campaign had revitalised unions in Scotland.
The Herald. Better than Zero facebook page. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: ‘Climate of fear’ at Lidl, claim Scottish workers
Workers at supermarket giant Lidl's Scottish distribution depot “operate in a climate of fear”, retail union Usdaw has warned. Hundreds of staff at the site in Livingston load groceries for transportation to Lidl's 94 stores across Scotland - but random employee theft checks are held without reasonable grounds for suspicion, reports Usdaw, adding that employees suffering extreme back pain from heavy lifting are afraid to take time off sick.
Usdaw news release. The Herald. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Exploitation rife in nail bars, recycling, on sites and in car washes
Exploitation and abuse of workers is widespread across the UK economy, according to a new report, which found that 17 sectors are high-risk for mistreatment ranging from wages theft to slavery. Construction, recycling, nail bars and car washes were among the top sectors where the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) said there was slavery, with agriculture, food packing, fishing, shellfish gathering, warehouse and distribution, garment manufacturing, taxi driving, retail, domestic work, and social care also highlighted in the report.
GLAA news release and full report, The nature and scale of labour exploitation across all sectors within the United Kingdom, GLAA, May 2018. The Guardian. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: GLAA report ‘hits nail on the head’ on site exploitation
The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) on workplace exploitation ‘is entirely right’ in its criticism of the exploitation and modern slavery so prevalent in the construction industry, the union Unite has said. Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Employers must reform working practices to ensure that the unscrupulous cannot exploit workers and the government should be forcing employers to take such appropriate action.”
Unite news release. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Furniture firm exposed workers to carcinogenic wood dust
A Hertfordshire furniture manufacturer has been fined after exposing its employees to significant quantities of hardwood dust, a hazardous substance known to cause occupational asthma, nasal cancer and which has been linked to lung cancer. Luton Magistrates’ Court heard how employees in Andrena Furniture Ltd’s workshop were exposed to hardwood dust on a daily basis.
HSE news release. ITUC/Hazards work cancer hazards website. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Contractor fined £200,000 after dumper death
Civil engineering contractor Tonic Construction Ltd has been fined £200,000 following the death of Shaun Carter, who was hit by a toppling dumper. Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard how the 29-year-old employee was driving a forward tipping dumper on 31 May 2016 onto the top of a spoil heap, but the dumper became stuck on the edge of the spoil heap, and when Carter jumped off the vehicle, it flipped over striking him.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Trainee scaffolder seriously hurt in fall through roof
A company has been fined nearly £35,000 after a trainee scaffolder was seriously injured when he fell through a fragile asbestos roof in a ‘foreseeable and avoidable’ accident. The victim had worked for Acorn Scaffolding (Yorkshire) Ltd for less than three weeks when he plunged about 13 feet through a roof onto a concrete floor at Lockington Grange Farm, East Riding, on 31 May 2013.
HSE news release. Hull Daily Mail. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Food firm fined after worker loses his leg
A Crewe company has been fined after an incident where a contractor lost his leg when he was hit by a forklift truck. Morning Foods Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of safety law and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £35,000.
HSE news release. Crewe Chronicle. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Jersey: Boss fined after gardener is slashed to the bone
The owner of a Jersey gardening business has been fined £10,000 after an employee suffered serious facial injuries. Jose Romao Gouveia De Castro was also ordered to pay £2,500 costs after the Royal Court found him guilty of working “substantially short” of required procedures.
Bailwick Express. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: TUC 150th anniversary safety conference, 8 June, Manchester
A health and safety conference celebrating the 150th anniversary of the TUC is to be held at the Mechanics Institute, Manchester on Friday 8 June. The event – staged in the birthplace of the TUC - has the theme 'You gotta fight for your right to safety'. Speakers include TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady - who will open the conference - and Kevin Rowan, the TUC’s head of organising and a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) board member. Delegates will have the opportunity to “learn how to produce podcasts, and innovative and creative ways of organising.”
Register for the free event: You gotta fight for your right to safety, Friday 8 June 2018, 10:00am-3:00pm, Mechanics Institute, Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6DD.
Email Janet Newsham or telephone Greater Manchester Hazards Centre on 0161 636 7558 for more information. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Global: How your workplace is killing you
The modern workplace can inflict potentially fatal levels of stress on employees, a succession of studies have shown. Stanford University Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of ‘Dying for a Paycheck’, argues that these practices don’t help companies – and warns governments are ignoring an emerging public health crisis.
BBC Capital. Dying for a Paycheck:  How modern management harms employee health and company performance—and What We Can Do About It, HarperBusiness, March 2018.
Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stefanos Zenios. The relationship between workplace stressors and mortality and health costs in the United States, Management Science, volume 62, issue 2, pages 608-628, 13 March 2016. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Global: Dramatic fall in asbestos production worldwide
There has been a dramatic drop in asbestos production worldwide, with just three countries continuing to mine the deadly fibre. Brazil’s 2017 ban on asbestos production and use means only Russia, China and Kazakhstan are now mining asbestos.
International Ban Asbestos Secretariat analysis. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

New Zealand: Work diseases a ‘significant’ workplace problem
A concern over unacceptable levels of highly visible work fatalities should not distract attention from the much greater toll of work-related diseases, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) has said. The union body’s president, Richard Wagstaff, said cancer, respiratory disease, noise related hearing loss, and ischaemic heart disease were some of the most common work-related chronic illnesses, adding “involvement of workers and their unions in assessing how to manage these risks.”
New Zealand Herald. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Pakistan: Union concern at deadly spike in mine deaths
In separate incidents on 5 May, a ‘staggering’ 23 mine workers were killed and 11 injured in horrific mine accidents in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, the global union IndustriALL has said. Condemning the deaths and protesting against what they described as the negligence and apathy of the mine owners and the government, Pakistani trade unions, including IndustriALL affiliate PCMLF, organised protest actions in Quetta the following day.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Hazards news, 5 May 2018

Britain: TUC hails the ‘huge difference’ made by safety reps
The TUC has praised the lifesaving impact of union safety reps in Britain’s workplaces. The TUC pledged “to redouble our efforts to make sure everyone is safe from illness and injury while doing their jobs.”
Safety reps: Getting more than the minimum – A TUC guide to Roving Safety Reps and Union Improvement Notices. Safetyreps@40 campaign. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Global: Record number of countries involved on 28 April
International Workers’ Memorial Day is organised by unions and campaigners and is now the biggest safety event in world. An events map produced by the global trade union confederation ITUC tracked activities in over 70 countries this year, with the global union confederation saying additional national reports are still coming in.
Check out the ITUC 28 April global events map. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: For firefighters like me, the hidden dangers can be worse
Firefighters’ union FBU is facing more than safety hazards; it is battling to highlight the risk of heart attacks, cancer and stress caused by heat and contaminants from fires and close proximity to tragedies. FBU officer Les Skarratts noted that at every turn the union faces barriers.
The Guardian. FBU blog. UCLAN news release. Anna A Stec and others. Occupational exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and elevated cancer incidence in firefighters, Nature’s Scientific Reports, 8, Article number: 2476, 2018.
North American firefighters’ union IAFF publishes a list of presumptive legislation coverage on cancers, heart disease and other conditions in firefighters across North American jurisdictions. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Lorry drivers are facing unaddressed deadly risks
Lorry drivers are being placed in danger from long hours and a chronic lack of adequate welfare facilities, according to new research by Unite. The union has warned that “the true scale of deaths is not being properly investigated due to legal loopholes.”
Unite news release. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: ‘Urgent’ government action needed on agricultural deaths
The government must take urgent action to improve safety in agriculture, Britain’s most dangerous industry, farmworkers’ union Unite has said. The union said last year there were 27 deaths in agriculture, 20 per cent of the total workplace fatality figure, despite the industry employing just one per cent of the UK’s workforce.
Unite news release. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Union welcomes move to ‘protect the protectors’
The union GMB is celebrating a double victory after the 'protect the protectors' Bill won cross-party support from MPs last week – with new measures to punish sexual attacks on emergency workers added to the draft law. The union-backed Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill introduces a new offence of common assault against an emergency worker and requires courts to treat attacks on emergency workers as an aggravating factor when sentencing.
GMB news release and related release on the increase in attacks on ambulance workers. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Female posties more likely to lose out on loos
A lack of toilet facilities for postal delivery workers disproportionately affects women, the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) conference has heard. The Morning Star reports that delegates at the annual gathering in Bournemouth unanimously passed a motion calling for a compulsory list of toilet facilities on every delivery route.
Morning Star. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Fresh Dial-a-Ride action over ‘impossible’ rosters
Workers at Dial-a-Ride have started a new series of walkouts after talks to resolve a dispute over the withdrawal of rest days and the imposition of new rosters failed to make progress. The dispute, which led to strike action in March, involves 120 workers who provide special needs transport for elderly people, the vulnerable and those with disabilities, on behalf of Transport for London (TfL).
Unite news release. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Union calls on MPs for action on workplace sexual harassment
A change to the law may be needed to prevent sexual harassment at work, Prospect’s Marion Scovell has told an influential committee of MPs. The union’s head of legal was one of the expert witnesses called to give evidence to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee as part of their inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.
Prospect news release and evidence to the Women’s and Equalities Committee inquiry. House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into sexual harassment at work and latest evidence session. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Global: Amazon profits soar as workers are ‘treated like robots’
The stratospheric profits announced by online retailer Amazona are ‘built on treating workers like robots’, the union GMB has said. And the US National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) last week put Amazon at the top of its 2018 ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of companies that put workers and communities at risk.
GMB news release. CNBC News. NYCOSH Dirty Dozen list. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: ‘Shocking’ numbers work while ill, survey shows
Employers are seeing more staff turning up to work while ill, according to a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). CIPD surveyed more than 1,000 organisations this year and found that 86 per cent had observed staff attending work while ill, known as ‘presenteeism’; this compares with a survey in 2010 when just 26 per cent of employers observed the behaviour.
CIPD news release. BBC News Online. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Occupational health action pays off, says study
Occupational health services (OHS) have a ‘clear value’ to workers, companies and the economy, a new study has found. The report from the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM), the International SOS Foundation and KU Leuven University examines the value of occupational health from a global perspective and “provides a synthesis of global evidence on the effectiveness of occupational health interventions and cost effectiveness.”  
SOM news release and full report, Occupational health: The global value and evidence, SOM, May 2018. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Offshore operators warned over disaster risks
A number of major disasters in the oil and gas sector have been averted through good luck rather than good management, the offshore union RMT has warned. The union was commenting after it emerged the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had written to all offshore oil and gas production operators regarding gas releases in the North Sea.
HSE news release and HCR prevention guidance. RMT news release. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Global: Oil and gas safety fears 'from quarter of senior managers'
Over a quarter of senior managers in the oil and gas sector believe safety management is not effective, according to a study. The report - from the Norwegian risk management firm DNV GL - It found that more than a third – 38 per cent - felt safety management was effective, however 26 per cent of the respondents disagreed.
DNV GL news release and State of safety report. BBC News Online. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: DHL fined £2m after worker’s depot death
Courier company DHL has been fined £2 million over the death of a worker at one of its depots. Kryzystof Sontowski was crushed between a lorry and the wall of a docking bay as workers manoeuvred it so that the rear of the vehicle was in in the correct position.
MK Citizen. BBC News Online. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Transport firm fined after worker killed by lorry
A Scottish haulage company has been fined £180,000 after a worker was crushed by a lorry. Graham Forsyth was working for Colin Lawson Transport on 31 May 2016 when he was sent to help repark lorries in the company’s yard in Aberdeen when a lorry shunted backwards and hit the 57-year-old, who later died in hospital.
HSE news release. Press and Journal. Evening Express. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Afghanistan: Ten journalists killed in a single day
Unknown gunmen killed Ahmad Shah, a journalist with BBC Afghan service, on 30 April, making it the deadliest for media in the country as nine other journalists were killed earlier in the day in a suicide attack in Kabul. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) in strongly condemning the targeted killing of Shah and demanded swift action from the authorities to arrest and punish the killers.
IFJ news release. BBC News Online. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Global: Unions launch ‘urgent’ safety organising campaign
Global union organisations have launched an urgent campaign to secure safety, justice and accountability at work. The initiative, announced on 28 April – International Workers’ Memorial Day – sets out to underline the vital role that unions play in protecting workers from work-related accidents and disease.
ITUC news release and 28 April webpages. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Global: Day of action against rights and safety violator Samsung
Global electronic giant Samsung has been targeted by safety and labour standards campaigners over its deadly record of abuse. An international day of action against Samsung on 1 May saw the company’s bad practices exposed in Asia, Europe and the United States.
Good Electronics news release. Samsung campaign facebook page.
Modern Technology, Medieval Conditions, an ITUC report on Samsung’s operations worldwide. ITUC multimedia documentary: www.samsungexposed.org. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Hazards news, 28 April 2018

Britain: TUC guide helps safety reps aim high
In the run up to Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April the TUC said it concentrated on supporting events around the global theme of “organised workplaces are safer workplaces”. “We are also focusing on looking forward to the future,” said TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, adding the TUC has just “published a guide to going further than the legal minimum, focusing on Roving Safety Reps and Union Improvement Notices.”
Safety reps: Getting more than the minimum – A TUC guide to Roving Safety Reps and Union Improvement Notices. Safetyreps@40 campaign. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Sex attacks on ambulance workers soaring
The union GMB is calling for tough action after shocking new figures revealed sex attacks on ambulance workers have more than tripled in the last five years. GMB national secretary Rehana Azam said: “GMB is calling for sexual assaults to be included in this new legislation to help give our ambulance staff the reassurance they need to get on with the job.”
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Voluntary sector campaign against work violence wins backing
A UNISON campaign to tackle violence against workers in the voluntary sector is attracting wide support. The union’s community service group says 18 organisations have now signed up to the UNISON violence at work charter.
UNISON news release and  Violence at Work Charter. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Shopworkers policing age-restricted sales need more protection
Shopworkers told to enforce age-limits on restricted products like alcohol need better protection, their union has said.  Paddy Lillis, Usdaw’s general secretary elect, said: “Age-related sales are a cause for concern amongst our retail membership, because they bring with them the very real risk of abuse, legal sanctions, and disciplinary action.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: RMT rail safety protest marks dispute’s second anniversary
Members of the rail union RMT held a national protest outside parliament on 25 April against industry driver only operation on trains. The rally coincided with the second anniversary of RMT’s strike action on Southern Rail - Britain's longest running industrial dispute - in defence of keeping the guard on the train.
RMT news release. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Workers hurt in ‘crisis’ ridden justice system
Workers in legal aid and advice organisations are at breaking point, according to a survey undertaken by their union Unite. The union’s survey of members at over 30 advice centres, law centres and Citizen Advice centres found in 78 per cent of cases members reported that they now feel more stressed at work, with 1-in-3 being forced to take time off due to work-related sickness.
Unite news release. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

The government must ban zero hour contracts, says TUC
The TUC has called on the government to ban zero hours contracts after latest official figures showed the number of workers affected rose by 100,000 in 2017. The statistics published by the Office for National Statistics show that UK firms used 1.8 million zero hour contacts in the year to November 2017, up from 1.7m in 2016, and that 901,000 people had a zero hours contract as their main employment in the final quarter of 2017.
ONS statistics release April 2018. TUC news release. GMB news release. The Guardian. Personnel Today. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Pet store workers picked up bug from poorly lambs
An outbreak of gastrointestinal illness linked to a Stockton-on-Tees pet store is being investigated by Public Health England’s North East team. The PHE North East protection team has confirmed two cases of both cryptosporidium and campylobacter, plus another three cases with cryptosporidium.
The Gazette. Environmental Health News. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Site firms folded ahead of £2m convictions for crushing death
Two firms convicted of criminal offences linked to the crushing death of a worker at a power plant went bust before a court handed each a £1 million fine. Sheffield Crown Court heard how 36-year-old David Beresford was employed by RK Civil Engineers Ltd working at the EON Renewable Energy Plant in the city when he was crushed by a falling pipe.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Waste firm fined following runaway lorry death
A waste management company has been fined for a criminal safety offence after a 56-year-old man was fatally injured by a runaway lorry at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. Plymouth Crown Court heard how on 8 June 2015, at approximately 7am, Viridor Waste Management Ltd employee Lee Jane but was drawn under the runaway trailer, sustaining fatal injuries.
HSE news release and workplace transport webpages. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: BAM Nuttall fined £900,000 over painter’s fall
BAM Nuttall and subcontractor McNealy Brown have been fined £900,000 and £65,000 respectively after a painter fell through a rail station ceiling into a passenger waiting room. Both firms admitted failing to put proper procedures and safeguards in place to prevent painter Paul Welstead falling at East Croydon railway station on 7 January 2015.
ORR news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: Glue firm fined after workers injured in fire
Manchester adhesive manufacturer Itac Ltd has appeared in court after two employees were injured in a major fire that stopped production at the site for five months. Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard enforcement action had been taken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prior to the incident at Bankfield Mills in Radcliffe because of concerns about poor handling, storage and management of risks from flammable liquids at Itac Ltd.
HSE news release. Bury Times. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Australia: World’s largest stevedore targeted over dock safety failings
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is urging Hutchison Ports – the world’s largest stevedore - to address a pattern of serious health and safety incidents across its global operations, as a dockworker was left in a critical condition following workplace collision at the company’s Port Botany terminal in Australia. The ITF’s executive board met in London and passed a resolution “strongly urging Hutchison Ports to address a pattern of serious health and safety incidents across their global operations.”
ITF news release. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Bangladesh: Improvements still needed, 5 years after Rana Plaza
To mark the fifth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1,134 workers, global trade unions and labour rights organisations are calling on all brands sourcing from Bangladesh to take responsibility for workers making their products by signing the renewed Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. The 2018 Transition Accord takes over the work of the current Accord when it expires in May and will ensure that work continues to improve factory safety.
IndustriALL news release. Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Canada: Ontario expands automatic firefighter cancer payouts
The Canadian province of Ontario is extending a system that presumes certain cancers in firefighters qualify for compensation payouts. The new system adds cervical, ovarian and penile cancers to those covered by the scheme, which already includes brain, bladder, ureter, kidney, colorectal, oesophageal, breast, testicular, prostate, lung, skin, leukaemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
Ontario Ministry of Labour news release. Business Insider. IAFF list of presumptive legislation on cancer in firefighters across North American jurisdictions. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

USA: Tesla factory facing renewed safety scrutiny
California’s job safety watchdog is investigating another injury at Tesla’s factory in Fremont that left a worker hospitalised with a broken jaw. News of the investigation came on the heels of a new report from the Center for Investigative Reporting that catalogued a series of injuries suffered by Tesla factory workers and alleged the company had chosen not to report certain incidents as required under California labour law.
New York Times. Reveal News. Confined Space blog. Center for Investigative Reporting. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Hazards news, 21 April 2018

Britain: Steep rise in reported assaults against NHS staff
Physical assaults on NHS staff in England rose by nearly 10 per cent last year compared to 2015/16, according to new research by UNISON and Health Service Journal (HSJ). UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “Across the entire NHS, staff shortages are harming patient care and helping to create a hostile environment where health workers are increasingly at risk of being assaulted.”
UNISON news release. NHS Employers news release. Evening Standard.
TUC violence at work guidance. Hit list: TUC violence and abuse reporting form, Hazards magazine. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Abuse of transport staff surges after minister’s ‘terrorists’ comment
London transport workers have faced a wave of racist abuse and threats after security minister Ben Wallace suggested the workforce had been infiltrated by terrorists. RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, commented: “The union understands that the first senior London Underground managers knew of this story was when they were contacted by reporters and we hope that Tube managers and the Mayor will support and protect staff facing threats and abuse as a result of the coverage.”
RMT news release. London Evening Standard. Daily Mail. Morning Star. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Usdaw presses for Scottish shopworker protection law
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw and businesses are supporting a new law to protect workers in Scotland. Labour MSP Daniel Johnson is promoting a Bill that would create new offences regarding assaults on shopworkers and others, like bar and pub staff, who are involved in the sale and supply of age-restricted good and services.
Usdaw news release and Not part of the job website. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Deeside site protest to halt ‘shameful race to the bottom’
A protest at the £800 million energy to waste construction site at Parc Adfer in Deeside, north Wales on 17 April was intended to stop a ‘race to the bottom’ in pay, conditions and safety at the site, unions have said. Construction unions are demanding that the French contractor CNIM adheres to national construction sector agreements covering pay, terms and conditions.
Unite news release. The Leader. Deeside.com. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Safety is top concern in Lidl distribution centres
Health and safety tops the list of concerns raise by staff in distribution centres for the discount chain Lidl, retail union Usdaw has said. As the union embarked on the latest stage of its campaign for formal recognition in the centres, Paddy Lillis, Usdaw’s general secretary elect, said these workers need union representation, adding: “Topping the list of staff concerns are significant issues around health and safety, often made worse by an unreasonable volume of work and difficult to achieve performance targets.”
Usdaw news releaseRisks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Justice for DWP worker given warning after 'nearly dying'
A man who worked at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and who was given a written warning after ‘nearly dying’ at work has been awarded £26,000 in compensation. PCS member Barrie Caulcutt, who suffers from anxiety, chronic asthma and eczema, was given the written warning for taking 2.5 days sick leave after he suffered a serious asthma attack he believes was triggered by work-related anxiety.
Daily Post. Daily Record. The Mirror. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Midwife fired after lack of loo breaks made her sick wins job back
A midwife sacked from Wakefield’s Pinderfields Hospital has won an appeal against her dismissal after more than 40,000 people signed an online petition calling for her to be reinstated. UNISON member Jane Greaves said she was last off work with a kidney infection she believed she contracted at Pinderfields Hospital’s birth centre - which doesn’t have a staff toilet.
Yorkshire Evening Post. The Independent. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: RMT says rail safety watchdog is just an industry ‘mouthpiece’
Rail union RMT has accused the railway safety watchdog, the Rail Safety Standards Board (RSSB), of political bias following the publication of its business plan for the year ahead. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the RSSB and the Office for Road and Rail “are now merely a mouthpiece of the government cheerleaders the Rail Delivery Group – all jamming their noses in the corporate trough and supporting a safety programme that suits the speculators and not the passengers or railway workers.”
RMT news release. RSSB news release and Business Plan 2018-19. Morning Star. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: For too many, work is pretty miserable
More than one in every ten workers (11 per cent) report regularly feeling miserable at work and one in four workers (25 per cent) feel their job negatively affects their mental health, a study by the human resources professionals’ organisation CIPD has found. Jonny Gifford, senior adviser for organisational behaviour at the CIPD, said: “There are also many things employers can do that make a real difference – in particular, fostering better workplace relationships and giving employees voice and choice on aspects of their working lives.”
CIPD news release. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Asbestos bosses who forged documents escape jail
The bosses of an asbestos removal company who forged documents to fraudulently obtain an asbestos licence from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have escaped jail. Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how Excavation and Contracting (UK) Ltd used both forged medical certificates and forged asbestos training certificates for their asbestos removal operatives.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Specialist asbestos surveyor missed asbestos
A specialist asbestos surveying company has been fined after failing to spot asbestos at a demolition site. Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how EAS Asbestos Limited was commissioned to conduct refurbishment and demolition surveys by Mercer Brother Limited and wrongly stated in their surveys that asbestos was only present in the cement roof sheets, there were no areas that could not be accessed, and that there was no asbestos insulation board present in the garages.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Site firm fined after workers forced to wash in a bucket
A contractor carrying out refurbishment and basement extension work has been prosecuted for repeated criminal safety offences and providing site workers a non-flushing toilet without a cistern and a bucket and cold water to wash in. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that PVAD Limited was the contractor controlling work at a construction site in London when it was inspected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in March 2017.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Global: Events mapped out as biggest safety event draws close!
With just a week to go until International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, unions worldwide have been listing their activities on an online map. The ITUC/Hazards map already includes entries from Argentina to Zimbabwe. There’s also links to events closer to home, with pins on the map highlighting England, Scotland and Wales, where a plethora of national and local events are planned.
Check out the 28 April global events map.  Unions are organising for safer, healthier decent work, ITUC briefing, April 2018 [also available in French, German and Spanish translations]. ITUC 28 April 2018 poster in English, Spanish and French. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 international campaign website.
Hazards Campaign Unions make work safer poster (printed A4 and A3 versions available in single or multiple orders, for the price of postage only) and other 28 April 2018 resources. To order, telephone: 0161 636 7557 or email: info@hazardscampaign.org.uk
Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. When tweeting details of your 28 April plans and resources, use the hashtag #iwmd18. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Canada: Firm behind rail catastrophe is let off
Criminal charges have been dropped against Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), according to Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP). The firm had been accused of causing the deaths of 47 people when 73 train cars of highly combustible crude oil derailed in the small Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic in 2013, turning the downtown into a raging inferno.
Confined Space blog. Montreal Gazette. National Post. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Global: XPO workers demand end to toxic culture
Workers at the logistics giant XPO and union activists from Belgium, France, Spain, the UK and USA have revealed further evidence of worker abuse at the global company. Their concerns are wide-ranging - XPO has been charged by unions with sexual harassment, dangerous working conditions, a death at an XPO site, gender pay discrimination, exploitative employment arrangements and anti-union activity.
ITF news release and XPO global leadership group. Teamsters XPO campaign. News Channel 3. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Global: New index shows up mining industry failings
A comprehensive new index, ranking large-scale mining companies in six different performance areas, has found that companies are scoring lowest on working conditions. The Responsible Mining Index (RMI) 2018, launched in Geneva on 11 April, assesses 30 global mining companies on several economic, environmental, social and governance issues, including working conditions.
IndustriALL news release. Responsible Mining Index 2018. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

USA: Union calls for hotel auditions to be banned
Acting auditions should no longer take place in hotel rooms or homes, the leading US actors' union has said. SAG-AFTRA, which organises the Screen Actors Guild Awards, has called for an end to the practice “to help protect members from potential harassment.”
SAG-AFTRA news release and Four Pillars of Change initiative. BBC News Online. TeenVogue. ITUC action toolkit on the campaign for an ILO standard on gender-based violence. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Hazards news, 14 April 2018

Britain: Safety rep petition calls for protection of safety rights
A group of union safety reps from the north-west of England has launched an online petition calling for a high-profile union campaign to protect workplace safety rights as Brexit looms. The TUC has exposed repeatedly the potential threat to employment and safety standards from Brexit, with TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady this week saying “cliff-edge Brexiteers have key rights in their sights – including protections for agency workers, action against discrimination, and health and safety.”
TUC news release and blog. Sign the Union Safety petition. Union Safety. CBI news release and report.
Protecting health and safety after Brexit, TUC, May 2017. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Equity launches ‘safe spaces’ campaign
Actors’ union Equity has launched a ‘safe spaces’ campaign to tackle what it says is an entertainment industry sexual harassment ‘crisis’. The union says its campaign aims to give members “the confidence to challenge inappropriate behaviour and to report it knowing that the union is always there for them.”
Equity news release, Creating Safe Spaces poster and Agenda for Change. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: GMB demands release of Met Police blacklisting report
Construction union GMB has called on Scotland Yard to release its internal investigation into the secret blacklisting of thousands of construction safety activists by household name companies including Carillion, Balfour Beatty, Costain, Kier, Laing O'Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine, Skanska UK and Vinci. Lawyers Leigh Day, acting for GMB, have filed a Freedom of Information request for the Metropolitan Police’s full internal investigation report, all emails relating to the report and details of overt and covert meetings between officers and members of blacklisting organisations.
GMB news release. Leigh Day news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Intelligence failure puts pupils and staff at violence risk
Pupils and school staff are being put at risk as a result of the failure of some schools to share information about violent and disruptive pupils, teaching union NASUWT has said. The union said “in too many cases adequate risk assessments are not undertaken of pupils who persistently display high levels of aggression and violence in school.”
NASUWT news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Workload is getting teachers down
A ‘staggering’ 81 per cent of teachers have considered leaving teaching in the last year because of escalating workloads, teaching union NEU has said. NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The continual long hours spent on unnecessary work such as data collection for arbitrary government targets is not only demoralising but is unsustainable mentally and physically.”
NEU news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: School support staff struggling with increasing workloads
Teaching assistants, school administrators and other support staff are being made ill by increasing workloads as schools cut staffing to cope with budget cuts, according the union NEU. Dr Mary Bousted, NEU joint general secretary, said: “If the government fails to find any more money for schools, children will start suffering as more staff go off sick with stress.”
NEU news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Academy schools failure to manage asbestos exposed
The continuing presence of asbestos in the majority of schools and academies is a national scandal - putting the lives of pupils and staff at risk, unions have warned. Figures released by the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) in conjunction with the campaigner Lucie Stephens and Rachel Reeves MP, reveal a ‘shocking disparity’ in asbestos management across Multi Academy Trusts (MATs).
NEU news release and Asbestos MAT FOI report. Public Accounts Committee news release. Morning Star. TES. Nursery World. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Hull recycling workers strike for sick pay
Recycling workers working for FCC Environment in Hull have taken industrial action for decent pay sick pay. FCC Environmental is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, a Spanish multinational that reported a 12.7 per cent increase in earnings in the first quarter of 2017, totalling $188m globally.
UNISON news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Cancer common at work, rights often aren’t
More than half (53 per cent) of employees living with cancer do not know that their employer has a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments for them to return to work, according to Macmillan Cancer Support. The charity’s latest estimates say the number of working age people living with cancer in the UK increased by almost 10 per cent between 2010 and 2015, from 810,000 to 890,000.
Macmillan Cancer Support news release. Personnel Today. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Groundworker trapped in trench by concrete lump
A Rotherham civil engineering contractor has been fined for criminal safety offences after a worker suffered life-threatening injuries. Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard that, in September 2016, a 48-year-old employee of KDS Construction Company Ltd was working in a 2-metre-deep excavation when he was struck on the head and pinned down by a large segment of concrete, suffering multiple injuries, including fractures to his skull, ribs, left arm and vertebrae.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: New warning on asbestos deaths linked to site work
Nearly one in four UK construction workers believe they may have been exposed to asbestos fibres, placing them at higher risk of contracting deadly cancers later in life, a major safety organisation has warned. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the organisation for safety professionals, says with potentially half a million buildings containing this lethal mineral, employees across many sectors risk being exposed every day.
IOSH news release and No Time to Lose campaign. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Foundry fined after workers suffer serious burns
A Nottinghamshire foundry has been fined after two employees suffered serious burns from an electrical flashover. Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court heard the workers at BAS Castings Ltd attempting to reinstate the power supply to one of the furnaces after repair work had been completed by contractors.
HSE news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Global: ‘Reinvigorated’ union safety campaign launch on 28 April
Figures establishing a sharp rise in work-related deaths worldwide show why unions worldwide are to renew and reinvigorate their campaign for safer, healthier, decent work, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has said. A briefing from the global union body, published ahead of the 28 April International Workers’ Memorial Day, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said: “It is not just about asking for improvements - it is about having the collective voice and industrial power to demand them.”
Sharan Burrow. Unions are organising for safer, healthier decent work, ITUC, April 2018 [also available in French, German and Spanish translations]. ITUC 28 April 2018 poster in English, Spanish and French. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 international events and campaign website.
Hazards Campaign Unions make work safer poster (printed A4 and A3 versions available in single or multiple orders, for the price of postage only) and other 28 April 2018 resources. To order, telephone: 0161 636 7557 or email: info@hazardscampaign.org.uk
Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. When tweeting details of your 28 April plans and resources, use the hashtag #iwmd18 Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Asia: Korean president urged to stop Samsung Vietnam abuse
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has urged South Korean president Moon Jae-in to challenge labour abuses by Samsung in its factories in Vietnam. In a letter to the Korean leader, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said: “From covering up the name of industrial chemicals that induce workers’ deaths and illness in the interests of ‘trade secrets’, to a no-union policy across its Asian electronics industry, Samsung relies on a business model that has lost its moral compass.”
ITUC news release, letter to President Moon and Modern Technology, Medieval Conditions, a report on Samsung’s operations worldwide. ITUC multimedia documentary: www.samsungexposed.org.
IPEN news release. UN Office of the Human Rights Commissioner news release. Stories of Women Workers in Vietnam’s Electronics Industry, report by CGFED and IPEN. Good Electronics news report. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Pakistan: Anger at new spate of mine accidents
A global union has condemned the ‘apathy and negligence’ behind a spate of worker deaths in Pakistan mines. Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director for the mining sector, said: “To stop the recurrence of fatal accidents, Pakistan must act swiftly to improve safety in mines, strengthen supervisory mechanisms and punish those responsible for the accidents, adding: “The government should also work together with workers’ representatives to improve the situation.”
IndustriALL news release and campaign for health and safety in Pakistan mines. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

USA: The 9/11 rescuers who died a day apart
According to records maintained by the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York (UFANYC) union, roughly one in eight firefighters who were at Ground Zero on 11 September 2001 have since come down with cancer. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) says that about 6,000 of the 9/11 first responders are now living with cancer, with thousands more suffering breathing problems or mental health issues.
BBC News Online. NYCOSH World Trade Center Health Program webpages. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Zimbabwe: Tobacco work is harming children
Children and adults who work on Zimbabwe’s tobacco farms are facing serious risks to their health, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned. A new report from the organisation says child workers are exposed to nicotine and toxic pesticides, and many suffer symptoms consistent with ‘Green Tobacco Sickness’, nicotine poisoning from handling tobacco leaves.
HRW news release and report, A bitter harvest: Child labor and human rights abuses on tobacco farms in Zimbabwe, April 2018. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Hazards news, 7 April 2018

Britain: So, you’re a safety rep? Tell us about it
Do you know how the TUC informs its health and safety policies, priorities and campaigns? It listens to the feedback from unions and their safety reps.
Have your say in the TUC survey of health and safety representatives 2018. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: TUC calls for firms to be made liable for their supply chains
The TUC is calling on the government to give UK supply chain workers the right to challenge their parent employer over minimum wage, holiday pay and other employment abuses. A new TUC report, ‘Shifting the risk’, notes: “For every 100,000 workers, the UK has 0.9 labour market inspectors (excluding health and safety inspectors). In France, there are 18.9 inspectors for every 100,000 workers.”
TUC news release and report, Shifting the risk: Countering business strategies that reduce their responsibility to workers - improving enforcement of employment rights, TUC, April 2018. BBC News Online. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Police blacklisting admission could lead to fresh legal action
Claims by unions and campaigners that undercover officers from the Metropolitan Police infiltrated union groups and spied on their safety activists have been confirmed. The Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin admitted in a letter to the Blacklist Support Group (BSG) that his officers supplied information used by the Consulting Association, a covert blacklister operating illegally.
Unite news release. GMB news release. Morning Star and related article. The Guardian and related article. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Unite calls for action after discovery of offshore ‘blacklist’
The union Unite has questioned the culture of a North Sea operator, after a worker said he had been removed from a platform after discovering a “blacklist”. Trade journal Energy Voice reported the list, which contained the names of 15 offshore workers, was found on the Claymore platform operated by Repsol Sinopec Resources UK.
Energy Voice. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Neglect of teachers’ health is ‘a national scandal’
Three in ten teachers (30 per cent) say they have turned to medication in the last 12 months to deal with the physical and mental toll their job is taking on them, a survey by teaching union NASUWT has found. The union says more than threequarters (78 per cent) of teachers report they have experienced an increase in workplace stress over the past 12 months, with more than four out of five (84 per cent) saying their job has impacted negatively on their health and well-being over the last year.
NASUWT news release. TES. Risks 843. 7 April 2018
TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Union health warning on ‘shocking’ rail diesel fume risks
Workers at Amey Rail could be facing serious health risks from exhaust fumes produced by diesel trains, a union has warned. TSSA says its members at Amey who carry out tunnel examinations could be at risk of cancer and other chronic health conditions from prolonged exposure. TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Despite the seriousness of this health risk, Amey Rail’s management have not stopped using diesel powered Road Rail Vehicle Elevated Platforms in tunnels and have not provided convincing evidence that they are safe.”
TSSA news release. Morning Star. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Harassment victims silenced by 'corrosive' work cultures
Victims of sexual harassment at work need better protection because their voices have been silenced by “corrosive” workplace cultures, a report has said. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it had discovered “truly shocking” examples of sexual harassment.
EHRC news release and report, Turning the tables: ending sexual harassment at work. TUC news release. Unite news release. NUJ news release. Morning Star. The Independent. BBC News Online. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Global: Action on work suicide risks would have ‘large impacts’
A new study has found work factors including poor job insecurity and job control are strongly linked to higher suicide risks and that prevention efforts could have ‘large population impacts’. The paper, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, says a range of work factors lead people to contemplate and attempt suicide and to kill themselves.
A Milner, K Witt, AD LaMontagne and others. Psychosocial job stressors and suicidality: a meta-analysis and systematic review, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 75, pages 245-253, 2018. Related commentary: Marianna Virtanen. Psychosocial job stressors and suicidality: can stress at work lead to suicide?, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 75, pages 243-244, 2018.  
More on work and suicides:  Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist, Hazards, number 141, 2018. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Death scandal spurs DPD to abolish sick leave fines
The courier company DPD is to offer all of its drivers sick and holiday pay and will abolish its controversial £150 daily fines for missing work. The move is part of wholesale reforms to its gig-working model sparked by the death of a driver, Don Lane, who was handed the cash penalty for attending a medical appointment to treat his diabetes and who later collapsed.
The Guardian and related article. Daily Mail. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Court victory on job loss from ‘symptomless’ chemical harm
A landmark judgment at the UK’s highest court has ruled that three former employees of the chemicals company Johnson Matthey should be compensated after they developed a sensitivity to platinum salts which led to them losing their jobs on medical grounds. The Supreme Court ruling means that if an employer has been negligent and that negligence causes a physiological change in the body, and that change results in economic loss, an employee may be entitled to claim compensation, even though the individual is symptomless.
Leigh Day news release. Supreme Court Ruling, 21 March 2018. Hertfordshire Mercury. Personnel Today. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Reduce working hours to tackle teacher retention
Teachers work longer hours - and have seen a sharper drop in pay - than police officers and nurses, researchers have found. The study, by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), shows that teachers worked 50 hours a week during term time in 2015/16, compared with 44 for police officers and 39 for nurses.
NFER news release. NEU news release. The Independent. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Ex-UKIP millionaire jailed for work manslaughter
A corner-cutting former UKIP parliamentary candidate and millionaire has been jailed for the manslaughter of a handyman after ignoring his safety pleas. Keith Crawford, 73, tried to cut costs while having a leak in his outdoor swimming pool repaired at his home in Exeter, admitted paying workers cash-in-hand to do jobs, adding he disliked “red tape.”
BBC News Online. The Mirror. Daily Mail. Plymouth Herald. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Religious group fined for scaffold death ‘cover-up’
A religious group that attempted a ‘cover-up’ when a man died after falling from scaffolding in its hall, has been fined £364,000. Amrik Blaggan, 57, died in hospital two days after he fell about 2m (6.5ft) from a platform at the Science of Soul centre in Haynes Park, Bedfordshire.
Central Bedfordshire Council news release. BBC News Online. Bedford Today. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Global: Countdown to Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April
With just three weeks to go until International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, a welter of new resources has become available to help union safety reps promote the global event.
Hazards Campaign Unions make work safer poster (printed A4 and A3 available in single or multiple orders, for the price of postage only) and other 28 April 2018 resources. To order, telephone: 0161 636 7557 or email: info@hazardscampaign.org.uk
ITUC 28 April 2018 poster in English, Spanish and French. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 international events and campaign website and theme announcement in English, Spanish and French.
TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. When tweeting details of your 28 April plans and resources, use the hashtag #iwmd18
Sharan Burrow: World of trouble: Unions are organising for safer, healthier and decent work, Hazards magazine, Number 141, 2018. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Global: Asbestos bans don’t hurt economies
Claims that asbestos bans will be damaging to the economies of countries making the move are not true, a study has found. Scientists from the World Health Organisation’s Europe office, the University of Sydney and a US economic consulting group found economies quickly recovered from any downturn and that countries persisting with asbestos use could expect ‘substantial costs’ as a result.
Lucy P Allen, Jorge Baez, Mary Elizabeth C Stern, Ken Takahashi and Frank George. Trends and the Economic Effect of Asbestos Bans and Decline in Asbestos Consumption and Production Worldwide, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, volume 15, number 3, page 531, 2018. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Italy: City strikes after deadly port explosion
Members of the CGIL, CISL and UIL unions in the Tuscan port city of Livorno went on strike on 29 March following the death of two workers when a fuel tank exploded the previous day. The victims, named as Lorenzo Mazzoni, 25, and Nunzio Viola, 53, died while doing maintenance in the industrial section of the port, which was evacuated after the incident.
CGIL news release (in Italian). Xinhua. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Thailand: At least 20 migrant workers killed in bus inferno
At least 20 workers have died after a double-decker bus erupted in flames in Thailand. The bus, which was carrying migrant workers from Myanmar, was heading to a factory in an industrial zone near Bangkok when the fire broke out in the early hours of 30 March near the Thai-Myanmar border.
Washington Post. London Evening Standard. WHIO News. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

USA: Worker death exposes Disney's poverty policies
More than 10 per cent of working people at Disneyland resorts have been homeless or have not had a place to sleep in the past two years. Yeweinisht ‘Weiny’ Mesfin, despite working six days per week from 11:30pm to 8am, was one of those Disney employees who was homeless – and was found dead in the car that doubled as her home.
USW news release. Left Voice. AFL-CIO blog. USA Today. 2017 report in the Guardian. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Hazards news, 24 March 2018

Britain: Stressed-out psychologists demand mental health funding
Applied psychologists in the NHS lobbied MPs this week with an urgent call on the government to deliver on its promise to boost mental health funding. Their union, Unite, said workers in the service are suffering from “plummeting morale” and “stress and strain.”
Unite news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: UNISON takes on stress at Scottish council
UNISON is calling for action plan to be put in place to help Dumfries and Galloway council staff facing work-related stress. The public sector union’s survey of nearly 2,500 workers on the Dumfries and Galloway local authority found half of them had faced issues in the past 12 months.
BBC News Online.
Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists.
TUC mental health awareness training. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Support staff in schools stressed out by staff cuts
Teaching assistants, school librarians and lab technicians are facing a soaring workload as staff are cut and they are increasingly expected to teach, according to a National Education Union (NEU) survey of over 1,700 support staff members.  More than half (54 per cent) of respondents reported they are carrying out more tasks that used to be performed by teachers, such as marking pupils’ work and data entry.
NEU news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Safety action to continue on South Western Railway
Rail union RMT has confirmed plans for a further phase of industrial action on South Western Railway in the dispute over safety, the role of the guard and the roll out of driver only operation. The union statement came in response to management’s continued failure “to engage with the union in talks and stepped up their threats and intimidation aimed at frontline staff.”
RMT news releases on South West Trains and bad weather response. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: GMB recovers damages after asbestos death
The family of a GMB member who died as a consequence of his work for asbestos companies has received £340,000 compensation. The member, whose name has not been released, was employed by Spousal (Midlands) Limited and Cape Darlington Limited as an apprentice lagger and then a lagger from 1967 through to 1976.
GMB news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Spycops revelations show need for blacklisting public inquiry
New revelations emerging during the public inquiry into undercover policing highlight the need for a separate and full public inquiry into the workplace blacklisting scandal, the union Unite has said. The ‘spycops’ inquiry is investigating how members of the Metropolitan Police Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) infiltrated union and campaign groups.
Unite news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Global: Heart disease risk from lead at very low exposures
Exposure to lead at levels a fraction those permitted in UK workplaces puts workers at a greatly elevated and previously grossly under-estimated risk of deadly heart disease and other health effects, a study has found. The US study that those individuals in the top 10 per cent for their initial blood lead concentration had a 37 per cent increase in all-cause mortality and a 70 per cent increase in cardiovascular disease mortality compared to those with a blood lead concentration falling in the lowest 10 per cent.
BP Lanphear, S Rauch, P Auinger, RW Allen and RW Hornung. Low-level lead exposure and mortality in US adults: a population-based cohort study, The Lancet Public Health, published Online First, 12 March 2018. CNN Health. Exposure to Lead in Great Britain 2016: Medical Surveillance of Blood-Lead Levels in British Workers 2015/16, March 2017. More on the hazards of lead. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: GMB warning after cleaning health findings
Employers and the government should examine the health risks posed by products used by cleaners, the union GMB has said. The union alert came following a study of 6,000 people by a team from Norway's University of Bergen found that regular exposure to cleaning products significantly effects lung function.
American Thoracic Society news release. Øistein Svanes, Randi J Bertelsen, Stein HL Lygre and others. Cleaning at home and at work in relation to lung function decline and airway obstruction, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published online 16 February 2018 [abstract]. GMB news releases from London, Eastern and Southern Regions. BBC News Online. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Union action call after sharp rise in corner shop crime
A sharp rise in convenience shop crime had spurred a renewed union call for action. The call from retail union Usdaw came after latest Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) figures revealed nearly a million thefts from UK convenience stores in 2017, a 65 per cent increase on the previous year.
ACS news release. Usdaw news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Call for review of emergency towing vessel cover
Seafarers’ union Nautilus has backed a call by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) for a review of emergency towing vessel (ETV) cover in the Dover Strait. The call comes in a report on a collision between the Hong Kong-flagged general cargo ship Saga Sky and a rock-carrying barge off the coast of Kent during a storm in November 2016.
MAIB news release. Nautilus news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Royal Mail and CWU agree ‘menopause at work’ plan
A detailed guide for Royal Mail managers on ‘Supporting women at work through the menopause’ has been agreed with the postal union CWU. CWU national health, safety and environment officer Dave Joyce said the guide, which is the result of lengthy discussion between the union and the business assisted by expert professional advice, has sections covering what the menopause is, how it affects women, how it might affect work, what managers need to do and key points to consider, as well as signposting further sources of information and guidance.
CWU news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Plastics firm fined £1 million after delivery driver killed
A plastic product manufacturer has been fined after delivery driver Gareth Wilson was fatally injured when he was struck by a forklift truck which had large coils suspended from the forks. Glynwed Pipe Systems Ltd pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was fined £1 million and ordered to pay costs of £27,942.57.
HSE news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: School asbestos job put workers at risk
A construction company has been fined after it carried out unsafe and unlicensed asbestos removal during refurbishment works at Dursley junior school. Cheltenham Magistrates Court heard how, in October 2016, RF Gardiner Limited removed asbestos despite not having the appropriate licence to carry out the work.
HSE news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Payout deal to asbestos victim will cover any emerging treatment
A Halifax man who suffers from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma has received a settlement that includes an agreement to cover the cost of treatments that may not currently exist or be available yet. Solicitor Ian Toft, who represented James Casey, 63, said “with new treatments constantly in development but costs also on the rise, it ensures that our client will be able to benefit from whatever is required.”
Irwin Mitchell news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

China: Concern at government plan to abolish work safety body
The Chinese government is to abolish the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS), merging its functions into a new national Emergency Management Department. China Labour Bulletin commented: “The move seems to confirm the suspicion that, on the issue of work safety, the Chinese government is more concerned with disaster management and control rather than in preventing workplace accidents in the first place.”
Xinhua. China Labour Bulletin. Caixin Global. China Digital Times. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Pakistan: Unions launch new campaign for mine safety
A new union campaign is urging the government of Pakistan to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) mine safety convention. The action by ten IndustriALL affiliates follows a decision by the global union’s executive committee in November 2017 to pursue a global campaign to end fatalities in Pakistan’s mines.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Turkey: Report highlights over 2,000 ‘work murders’ last year
A new report has revealed that over 2,000 workers were the victims of ‘work murders’ in Turkey last year. The report from Health and Safety Labour Watch says a marked rise in insecure work and repressive laws were major contributors to a sharp rise in deaths at work.
DİSK news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Hazards news, 17 March 2018

Britain: What should safety reps do about mental health?
TUC’s Hugh Robertson says support for workers is a good thing, but mental health first aiders are not the only option and for union reps usually are not the best option. The TUC safety specialist calls for a much broader approach in the workplace, “and that is best done in co-operation with the union.”
TUC blog. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists.
TUC mental health awareness training. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: ‘Pointless paperwork’ warning on new safety standard
A new health and safety standard must be much more than “pointless paperwork”, the TUC has warned. The ISO 45001 standard, a commercial product produced by the International Organisation for Standardisation and launched on 12 March, allows companies to get certification that confirms their health and safety management systems have passed a set of requirements.
TUC news release and ISO 45001 - Using the new health and safety standard in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists. ISO news report. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Brexit plans for safety are still guesswork, says TUC
Discussing what is likely to happen after Brexit “is just crystal-ball gazing”, the TUC’s Hugh Robertson has asserted. Writing a guest blog for the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM), the union body’s head of safety argues that rather than wait and see, the better approach “is trying to influence what will happen. Those in the occupational health world need to ensure that they are trying to defend what we have and use any opportunities to improve it regardless of the final agreement.”
SOM blog. Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 (draft). The Independent. Report by Caroline Lucas. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Sexual harassment at work is violence against women
Sexual harassment is a form of violence against women, and it’s happening in our workplaces all the time, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has said, adding stopping it is a trade union priority. In a TUC blog article she notes that “before the media attention, before women felt able to say #metoo in their thousands, trade unions were supporting members in their workplaces, fighting for dignity at work, and campaigning to end violence and harassment in all forms.”
TUC blog. ITUC action toolkit on the campaign for an ILO standard on gender-based violence. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Radical overhaul needed following Amey prison scandal
Unite is calling for a radical overhaul in the way prison maintenance work is undertaken following revelations that two workers at Liverpool Prison were unfairly dismissed for raising safety issues. The union said John Bromilow and Harry Wildman, who had combined service of 45 years, were employed by private contractor Amey, which took over the running of maintenance and other functions in 60 prisons in June 2015.
Unite news release. The IndependentRisks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Action threat over assaults on prison officers
The threat of violence against prison officers could lead to industrial action unless they ‘are given the tools to keep them safe’, their union POA has said. The union was speaking out after what it described as “another weekend of chaos and assaults in prisons”.
POA news release. ITV News. BBC News Online. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Traumatised prison officer gets payout for anxiety attacks
A Northampton prison officer has settled a case for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination against the Secretary of State for Justice after she was made ill when forced to work on a sex offenders unit. POA member Rachel McKail, 48, was made to work on the unit at HM Woodhill Prison in Milton Keynes, despite an agreement that she should not be asked to do so, due to pre-existing health concerns.
Northampton Chronicle. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Violence against shopworkers increases ‘significantly’
Surveys by a retail trade group and the shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw have both revealed a disturbing increase in violence against retail staff during 2017. John Hannett, the Usdaw general secretary, commented: “Retail staff have a crucial role in our communities and that role must be valued and respected.”
Usdaw news release. BRC news release. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Unite win establishes ‘pre-cancer’ disability protection
Workplace disability discrimination protection for cancer victims has been widened as a result of a landmark legal case taken by Unite. The legal victory will ensure that people suffering with ‘pre-cancer’ will be protected under the Equality Act 2010.
Unite news release. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Equity acts on sexual harassment crisis
Equity is demanding a safe working environment for its members. The actors’ union says they must not have to endure or observe sexual harassment, adding that perpetrators must understand there is nowhere to hide.
Equity news release. Agenda for Change: Equity’s report on sexual harassment. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Northern Rail to face further action over safety
Rail union RMT has confirmed there will be a further 48 hours of strike action on Northern Rail over ‘attacks on the role of the safety-critical guard and the extension of driver only operation in the name of increased profits’. The 24-hour stoppages, scheduled for 26 and 29 March, were announced as the union demanded tripartite talks with the company and the Department for Transport (DfT) aimed at reaching a resolution.
RMT news release. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Heat melted helmet on factory worker’s head         
A Devon-based Unite member who was left burnt and traumatised by a silo explosion at work has secured a five-figure settlement. Terry Wyatt, 57, was employed by wood manufacturer Norbord Ltd at their South Molton factory as part of the company’s fire control team.
DevonLive. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Postal workers in 'pay threat' after red weather warning
Postal workers’ union CWU has said its members should not be ‘penalised’ for following official advice and heeding the recent red weather warning. The union’s comments came after Royal Mail staff in east central Scotland were told their pay would be docked or they could use annual leave if they failed to get to work during the heavy snow.
Edinburgh Evening News. BBC News Online. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Serious concerns about abuse of parliamentary staff
Civil service union Prospect has said bullying and harassment is never acceptable in any workplace. The union was commenting after BBC Newsnight exposed widespread bullying and harassment of clerks and committee staff in the House of Commons, with some senior MPs implicated.
Prospect news release. BBC News Online. Bullying, harassment and intimidation in the House of Commons, BBC Newsnight, 8 March 2018. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: BBC makes human rights appeal to UN
For the first time in its history, the BBC has made an appeal to the United Nations in Geneva to protect the human rights of BBC journalists and their families. The move comes in response to years of persecution and harassment of London-based journalists by the Iranian authorities, which it says escalated in 2017.
BBC news release. IFJ news release. NUJ news release. ITUC news release. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Minister accepts workload cut needed to tackle teacher shortage
The education secretary has promised to cut teachers’ workload in an attempt to resolve a recruitment crisis in England's schools. In a 10 March speech, Damian Hinds said he will address as a “top priority” concerns about a shortage of teachers.
DfE news release. NASUWT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Leonard vows to crack down on blacklisters
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has said he will crackdown on outsourcing and blacklisting. In his first speech to the Scottish Labour conference as the party’s leader in Scotland, he condemned firms that exploited and blacklisted workers.
Morning Star. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Europe: Agency goes online to prevent work diseases
The European Union’s thinktank on workplace health and safety is targeting prevention of work-related diseases. EU-OSHA says recent estimates indicated work-related diseases account for about 200,000 deaths each year in Europe.
EU-OSHA news release and new webpages on prevention of work-related diseases. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Global: Human rights activists face growing risks
Human rights defenders who challenge big corporations are being killed, assaulted, harassed and suppressed in growing numbers, researchers have claimed. A survey by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre recorded a 34 per cent global rise in attacks against human rights activists last year, including 120 alleged murders and hundreds of other cases involving threats, assaults and intimidation.
The Guardian. Business and Human Rights Centre website. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

USA: Trump targets safety rules ‘written in blood’
While attention has focused on President Trump’s disputed decision in January to reverse drilling restrictions in nearly all US coastal waters, the administration has also been pursuing a rollback of Obama-era regulations in the Gulf. Those rules include safety measures put in place after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010, a disaster that killed 11 people and resulted in the largest marine oil spill in drilling history.
New York Times. Confined Space blog. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Hazards news, 10 March 2018

Britain: Unions protect workers from feeling the big chill
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said it was inundated with reports of employers forcing workers to travel to work, despite severe weather warnings and clear advice from Police Scotland and the Scottish government to avoid travel.  The resulting STUC nationwide survey “found that those with a trade union rep to speak to about health and safety concerns were more than twice as likely to be satisfied with their employer’s response,” said the STUC.
Joint Scottish government and STUC statement. STUC blog. Morning Star. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Strike threat over power firm’s ‘hypocritical’ worker monitoring
EDF Energy smart meter installers in London have voted ‘overwhelmingly’ for strike action over the imposition of tracker devices in vehicles and oppressive and ‘hypocritical’ monitoring of workers. What particularly irks Unite is that managers have refused to have the tracker devices in their own company cars and are not included in the drink and drug testing regime.
Unite news release. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Union safety warning over privatised probation hostel staff  
The government is gambling with safety by privatising night-time probation hostel staff, unions have warned. The warning came as private companies Sodexo and OCS starting night-time supervision in probation hostels accommodating high risk ex-offenders, with its workers not required to have the usual vetting or training.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Everyone deserves a safe and secure workplace
Everyone has the right to expect a safe and secure workplace, UNISON’s community conference in Southport has heard. Workers in the community, voluntary and housing sectors should not have to accept violent or aggressive behaviour as “a normal part of their role”, the union said.
UNISON news release. TUC violence at work guidance. Hit list: TUC violence and abuse reporting form, Hazards magazine. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: ‘Determined’ rail workers walk out again for guards
Workers at Merseyrail and Northern rail mounted a “united and determined” 24-hour strike on 3 March in RMT’s long-running battle against plans to remove safety-critical guards from trains. Southern staff are set to strike on 12 March over the same issue.
RMT news release. BTP news release. Morning Star. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: German embassy lobbied over Northern Rail safety
Members of the rail union RMT held a lobby outside the German Embassy in London on 13 March. The union demanded “that the German state end their profiteering on UK railways through their rail operation Arriva, which runs the Northern Rail franchise, and is helping to drive the moves to axe guards on the service.”
RMT news release. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Respect call on Liverpool hospital job
Workers’ rights and access for unions must be respected on the stalled Royal Liverpool Hospital development, a construction union has demanded. Unite made its call after it emerged that Laing O’Rourke is the favourite to replace collapsed construction giant Carillion as the main contractor on the stalled project.
Unite news release. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Fair managers care about sick employees
How a firm supports people returning to work from sick leave can have a big impact on whether a worker feels they are treated fairly by their organisation and their return is a positive and healthy experience. A new study by researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Stockholm University, found there is a clear link between a person’s health and their perceptions of fairness at work over time.
UEA news release. Constanze Eib, Claudia Bernhard-Oettel, Linda L Magnusson Hanson and Constanze Leineweber. Organizational justice and health: Studying mental preoccupation with work and social support as mediators for lagged and reversed relationships, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, online first, 5 March 2018. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Harassment of staff rife in Scottish parliament
One fifth of Scottish parliament staff - including almost one in three women - have experienced sexual harassment or sexist behaviour while working at Holyrood. The parliament published the results of a confidential survey of MSPs and staff which received input from more than 1,000 workers.
Scottish parliament news release. BBC News Online. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Apprentice, 16, badly injured in fall from scaffold
A scaffolding company has been fined for criminal safety breaches after a 16-year-old apprentice joiner fell approximately four metres from a scaffold platform. Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 6 September 2016, the apprentice was passing roof tiles from the loading bay to a colleague on the scaffold when fell backwards under a single guard rail to the ground below, sustaining injuries including a fractured cheekbone, broken wrist and injuries to his ribs.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Recycling plant blast left worker in coma, eight injured
A recycling company responsible for an explosion and blaze at a Lingfield industrial site, that left a worker in a coma and eight people injured, has been fined. The explosion at Ereco EMEA Corporation Ltd on 3 October 2011 ripped the side out of the building and blew debris across the neighbouring field, injuring eight workers, five seriously.
Surrey County Council news release. HSE news release. Get Surrey. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Air baggage handling firm in double trouble
Airport baggage and cargo handler Swissport GB Limited has been fined following two worker injuries in the space of a few weeks at Luton Airport. The firm pleaded guilty to three criminal safety offences and was fined £502,000 and ordered to pay costs of £44,444.
HSE news release. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Scotland gets geared up for Workers’ Memorial Day
Scottish union body STUC and safety campaign group Scottish Hazards have produced an online listing of International Workers’ Memorial Day events. With nearly two months to go before the annual 28 April event, six events are already planned, in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Falkirk, Alexandria, Kilmarnock and Bonnyrigg.
Scottish Hazards/STUC listing of International Worker’s Memorial Day events in Scotland.  TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 international events and campaign website and theme announcement in English, Spanish and French. Hazards Campaign 28 April 2018 resources.
When tweeting details of your 28 April plans and resources, use the hashtag #iwmd18 Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Australia: Women report 'shocking' treatment at work
Less than a third of Australian working women feel they are being treated equally, and one in 10 report they have experienced sexual harassment, according to a landmark national survey. Researchers at the University of Sydney surveyed more than 2,000 women and 500 men across Australia aged between 16 and 40 for the Women and the Future of Work study into women's attitudes and experiences in the workplace.
University of Sydney news release. ABC News. Sydney Morning Herald. The Guardian. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Australia: Claim nurse’s murder not work-related is questioned
The family of Australian nurse Gayle Woodford, who was murdered while on-call in the outback, is challenging an official ruling that her death was not work-related. An ABC documentary has challenging the conclusion and says bereaved family members are “angry” and “insulted” by the decision by the South Australia safety regulator that her death was not work-related
ABC News online. Final Call, Australian Story. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Laos: Meeting does ground work for plan to end asbestos use
Unions, government officials, health agencies and campaigners have met in Laos to coordinate a plan to ban asbestos. The workshop was organised by the country’s Ministry of Health, supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Union Aid Abroad -APHEDA, to discuss the development of a National Action Plan to ban the use of chrysotile asbestos – the only remaining form of asbestos in commercial use - and to eliminate asbestos-related diseases in the country.
APHEDA news release. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Hazards news, 3 March 2018

Britain: Don’t force staff to make dangerous commutes
As an icy blast and heavy snow hit Britain this week, the TUC called on employers not to force staff to make dangerous journeys into work. The TUC said that while workers should make every effort to get in where they can, bosses shouldn’t force their staff to travel if it’s not safe to do so.
TUC news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Workers put in £31bn in unpaid overtime last year
UK workers gave their employers £31.2 billion in free labour last year by doing unpaid overtime, according to new analysis of official statistics published by the TUC. The figures were released on 23 February, the TUC’s 14th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day.
TUC Work your proper hours day webpage and unpaid overtime calculator. UNISON news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Government rejects compo call on miners’ hand condition
Thousands of former miners say they are being denied compensation for a debilitating hand condition caused by their jobs, despite an official recommendation backing payouts. The Department of Work and Pensions has refused to recognise Dupuytren’s contracture as a prescribed disease qualifying for industrial injuries benefits, a decision described by mining union NUM as ‘grotesque’.
NUM news release. IIAC 2014 report. Northern Echo. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: ASLEF welcomes decision to put police force merger on hold
A decision by the Scottish government to put on hold the controversial decision to merge the British Transport Police (BTP) with Police Scotland has been welcomed by train drivers’ union ASLEF. The plan has been bitterly fought by transport unions and opposition politicians, who say it would compromise morale as well as safety.
ASLEF news release. Morning Star. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: RMT calls further safety strike action on Southern Rail
Rail union RMT has confirmed that guards and drivers on Southern Rail will take further strike action in the on-going dispute in defence of the role of the guard, the extension of driver only operation and the guarantee of a second safety-critical member of staff on Southern services. RMT’s national executive decided that because neither the company nor the government had made “any serious efforts to resolve the dispute”, further strike action will take place on Monday 12 March 2018.
RMT news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Cheshire firefighters protect fire cover
Following a ‘robust campaign’ sustained over two years, the firefighters’ union FBU has succeeded in overturning a decision to downgrade fire appliances at Crewe and Ellesmere Port from full-time to on call, protecting 40 firefighter posts. FBU secretary Andrew Fox-Hewitt said: “Bottom line is that FBU members refused to allow firefighter and public safety to be put at risk.”
FBU news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: British brands criticised over safety deal footdragging
Twenty British brands have still not signed up to a new safety accord for garment workers, originally introduced following the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, campaigners have revealed. So far, 109 garment companies across the world have signed the new agreement, but 20 British companies, including Debenhams, Marks and Spencer, Next, Morrisons and Sainsbury's, are among those that have not.
IndustriALL news release and list of 2018 Accord signatories. Clean Clothes Camaign news release. Morning Star. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Low level asbestos exposures ruling welcomed
The Court of Appeal has reset the threshold for asbestos-related cases, which could pave the way for thousands of potential claims. Caroline Pinfold, an industrial disease solicitor at London firm Fieldfisher, who represented asbestos widow Veronica Bussey, said: “These data that measured levels of asbestos fibres in the air have been wrongly applied by employers and their lawyers to deny or delay claimants the compensation they deserved.”
Law Society Gazette. Irwin Mitchell news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Worker died in fall at 'lethal' Qatar World Cup stadium
Zachary Cox, a UK-based construction worker, was killed in a fall at a Qatar 2022 World Cup stadium building site where management employed a work system that “was chaotic, unprofessional, unthinking and downright dangerous.” an inquest has heard. Giving a narrative verdict, coroner Veronica Hamilton said: “The site managers at the stadium knew or should have known that they were effectively requiring a group of their workers to rely on potentially lethal equipment.”
The Telegraph. BBC News Online. Business Insider. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Ejection seat firm fined £1.1m over Red Arrows death
Ejection seat manufacturer Martin-Baker Aircraft Ltd, prosecuted over the death of a Red Arrows pilot thrown from his jet, has been fined £1.1m. Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, 35, was ejected while conducting pre-flight safety checks at RAF Scampton in 2011, but the parachute on the seat did not then deploy and the airman was fatally injured.
BBC News Online. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Unguarded machine broke recycling worker’s arm
A Rochdale recycling company been fined after an employee’s arm was dragged into unguarded machinery - despite the worker having previously alerted management to the safety breach. Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 23 March 2016, the Anglo Recycling Ltd worker suffered a compound fracture whilst working on a carpet recycling line, when his arm was drawn into machinery and trapped between a conveyor and roller.
HSE news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Britain: Worker seriously injured in fall through fragile roof
A construction firm has been prosecuted after a worker was seriously injured when he fell through the fragile roof of a farm building that was due to be demolished. Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 4 February 2016, an inexperienced labourer working for Fine Dimensions Limited was asked to assist in minor roof work, but fell through a skylight panel the concrete floor below, sustaining head and chest injuries.
HSE news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

DRC: Glencore ‘gravely mistreating’ workers at cobalt mines
A global union fact-finding mission to Glencore’s copper and cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has uncovered alarming mistreatment of workers, directly contradicting Glencore’s claims. At a meeting with about 80 workers from the mines, IndustriALL heard of “systemic human and workers’ rights abuses ranging from constant threats of dismissal, poor health and safety practices, occupational diseases, racism and discrimination, unfair and unjust job classifications, low remuneration, and inferior salaries for local workers compared to foreign workers.”
IndustriALL news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Global: Unions to target multinational LafargeHolcim on 28 April
Global building union BWI is urging union members working for multinational building materials company LafargeHolcim (LH) to use 28 April to highlight the firm’s deadly record and to call for improvements. It said: “Let us stand shoulder to shoulder to make change and save workers’ lives in LafargeHolcim. And the very first condition is the establishment of a fair global social dialogue at all levels.”
BWI news release. TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 campaign website and theme announcement in English, Spanish and French. Hazards Campaign 28 April 2018 resources. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

USA: When you increase wages, you reduce sick leave
When wages go up, workplace sickness absence goes down, a new study has found. Research by the University of California Davis, published in the current issue of BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, concluded better wages led to improved worker health, with improved job satisfaction and better safety programmes coming as part of the better pay package.
UC Davis news release. Juan Du and J Paul Leigh. Effects of Minimum Wages on Absence from Work Due to Illness, BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, volume 18, issue 1, January 2018. The Pump Handle blog. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

USA: Safety regulations deliver massive economic benefits
Not only does a combination of better rights and better regulations save lives, they are good for the economy, an official US government report has concluded. A draft report to the US Congress prepared by the US Office of Management and Budget estimates that for workplace health and safety, costs from regulations in 2015 were US$0.5bn to US$0.6bn, but these were dwarfed by the benefits, calculated at US$1.2 to US$3.1bn.
Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations and Agency Compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, US Office of Management and Budget, published February 2018. Public Citizen news release. Risks 839. 3 March 2018

Hazards news, 24 February 2018

Britain: Government dangerously confused on post-Brexit rights
The UK government’s confused and troubling messages on workers’ rights post-Brexit have been criticised by the TUC. While Brexit secretary David Davis maintained that the UK wanted to lead a “global race to the top” in rights and standards, foreign secretary Boris Johnson had a week earlier said complying with EU rules post-Brexit would be “intolerable”.
TUC response to David Davis. Speech by Brexit secretary David Davis.
Huffington Post. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Boris Johnson says your rights are ‘intolerable’
Boris Johnson has called EU legal protections ‘mad’ and called for major regulatory divergence from the EU. In a 14 February speech, the foreign secretary said: “It is only by taking back control of our laws that UK firms and entrepreneurs will have the freedom to innovate, without the risk of having to comply with some directive devised by Brussels, at the urgings of some lobby group, with the specific aim of holding back a UK competitor.” He added: “That would be intolerable, undemocratic, and would make it all but impossible for us to do serious free trade deals.”
TUC response to Boris Johnson. Speech by Foreign secretary Boris Johnson. IPPR report. Morning Star. The Guardian. Politico. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Union secures movement on excrement dumping
‘Long and hard’ campaigning by the rail union RMT has secured a pledge that rail firms will stop dumping excrement on the railway by the end of 2019. But the union is warning that progress to end the ‘filthy and disgusting practice’ has been far too slow.
RMT news release. Network Rail Strategic Business Plan 2019-2024. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Strike threat as ScotRail axes safety department
A rail union has expressed ‘horror’ after ScotRail axed the health and safety department covering its stations. Manuel Cortes, leader of the white collar rail union TSSA, said the news that voluntary severances and reorganisation at Abellio ScotRail would see all the department’s staff depart, was ‘a potential safety nightmare’.
TSSA news release. The Herald. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Union welcomes sentence after dog bites off postie’s finger
Postal workers’ union CWU has welcomed the prosecution of an irresponsible pet owner after her dog bit off the end of a post delivery worker’s finger. Stockport postwoman Stacey Brennan suffered the horrendous injury while she was delivering post last July, losing the top of her finger when the dog bit her through the letter box.
CWU news release and Bite Back campaign. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Union hails victory in fight against bogus self-employment
Construction union Unite has won a major legal victory in its battle against bogus self-employment and the use of payroll companies. The union took the employment appeal tribunal case on behalf of pipefitter Russ Blakely, who was working at Broadmoor Hospital. Russ, 57, had been taken on by On-Site Recruitment Solutions Limited, which had told him that his salary must come through payroll company Heritage Solutions City Limited - which charged £18 a week to process pay.
Unite news release. The Mirror. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Labour would make schools safe
A future Labour government would ensure all new school buildings are fitted with sprinklers and would remove asbestos and flammable cladding from existing schools. Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said Labour’s £14 billion plan would ensure classrooms are safe.
The Mirror and related article by Angela Rayner. Morning Star. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Next steps in group action on coke oven cancers
Hundreds of former steelworkers are believed to have joined a legal case seeking compensation for cancers and lung diseases caused by their jobs. The window to join the multi-million pound legal battle against Tata Steel UK for compensation for respiratory diseases and lung cancers has now closed, after the High Court set a deadline of 23 February to join a group action.
Scunthorpe Telegraph. Background on the case from Hugh James Solicitors and Hazards magazine. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: Lidl depot builder poisoned by carbon monoxide
A builder who collapsed after being overcome by poisonous gases while working on a Lidl warehouse was lucky to survive, his lawyer has said. Luke Daniels, 29, and fellow construction workers said they had raised concerns about ventilation at the building in Belvedere, south-east London, before they fell ill.  
Plymouth Herald. Evening Standard. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Britain: MoD censured over death of Royal Navy technician
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been issued with a Crown Censure after a Royal Navy engineering technician was killed during lift maintenance work. Leading engineering technician Neal Edmonds, originally from Kidderminster, was crushed between a moving lift and the lift shaft on 11 June 2014.
HSE news release. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

asbestos Britain: Fines after asbestos jet blasting blunders
A manufacturing company and its contractor have been prosecuted for their criminal failure to prevent asbestos exposures during the jet blasting of an asbestos cement roof. Carter Brothers (Rochdale) Ltd contracted Frank Allan, trading as Jet Blast and Maintenance, to clean its premises in September 2016.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

Georgia: Unpoliced workplaces are killing workers
Unpoliced workplaces and high death rates in Georgia are the target of a global cyber campaign. The Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC) has teamed up with online labour campaign group Labourstart to call for an end to the carnage.
GTUC news release. Georgian Trade Union Confederation/Labourstart campaign – sent a message to the Georgian government. Georgia Today and follow up article. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

India: Suicides and deaths blight textile mills
A trail of worker suicides and deaths is blighting textile spinning mills in south India, the global union for the sector has said.  IndustriALL reports that in the latest incident, on 6 February, child labourer Dharshini Balasubramani’s body was found in a hostel at Dollar Spinning Mills in Tamil Nadu.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

India: Unions call for action after deadly shipyard explosion
Shipyard unions have called for a thorough probe into a 13 February explosion that killed five workers and injured several others at Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL). The vessel on which the blast occurred is a drilling ship owned by India's biggest oil explorer, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).
New Indian Express. The Hindu. Deccan Chronicle. Asian Age. BBC News Online. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

USA: School unions call for prevention after gun tragedy
School unions in the US have called for action to prevent further gun deaths, after 17 people were killed and another 16 injured in a 13 February attack by an excluded former pupil. Randi Weingarten, president of the teaching union AFT, said that with 18 school shootings this year in the US, one had to wonder “when is enough enough?”, adding the union “will continue to fight to prevent gun violence from becoming the new normal in our schools.”
EI news release. AFT news release. NEA news release. The Pump Handle. Statement by President Donald Trump. Statement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and related speech. Risks 824. 24 February 2018

 Hazards news, 17 February 2018

Britain: Government ‘good work’ plan nowhere near good enough
Unions have said the government’s new plan for ‘Good Work’ is nowhere near good enough to tackle the menace of job insecurity and employment abuse. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Ministers need to stop making it harder for us to do our job and accept too that the super-charging of low-wage, insecure work can be directly traced to the destructive deregulatory approach of the last 40 years,” and Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, said the government’s response was “like trying to put out a forest fire with a water pistol.”
Good Work: A response to the Taylor Review of modern working practices, HM Government, 7 February 2018. ASLEF news release. GMB news release. Unite news release. Usdaw news release. STUC news release and briefing. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Hermes must ‘come clean’ over danger to couriers
Employment practices used by Hermes, which is forcing couriers who deliver on public highways to work long hours over 13 consecutive days consecutively, must now be considered a major public safety issue, the union GMB has said. GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “Forcing couriers who deliver on public highways to work over 13 days consecutively, and in a number of instances more than 12 hours a day, must now be considered a major public safety issue.”
GMB news release. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Firefighters win payouts after shiftwork shift
Members of the firefighters’ union FBU can apply for compensation after a fire authority imposed a new shift or ‘duty’ system on its employees, which requires periods on duty of 96 hours at a stretch. An Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) ruling means the FBU can pursue compensation claims for ‘injury to feelings’ for members who were forcibly displaced from their fire stations when the new working pattern was introduced.
FBU news release. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Firefighters' union 'horrified' at increase in fire deaths
A rise in the number of fires and fire deaths in England for the second year running has been described as ‘horrifying’ by the firefighters’ union FBU. Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: “It isn’t complicated – the fire and rescue service is cut to the bone, and the result is more people dying in fires because crews can no longer respond promptly and in sufficient numbers to tackle fires professionally, quickly and effectively.”
FBU news release. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Unsafe ‘fish bowl’ windscreens scupper plans for new trains
ScotRail must ensure its new style trains are fit for purpose, train drivers’ union ASLEF has warned, saying that unless modifications are made to their ‘fish bowl’ windscreens, drivers will refuse to work them. Kevin Lindsay, ASLEF’s organiser in Scotland, said: “The windscreen is curved and, at night, is making drivers see two signals.”
ASLEF news release. BBC News Online. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Train split shows the need for train guards
Rail union RMT has called on Northern Rail to withdraw its threat to axe guards and to investigate cost-cutting maintenance after train carriages 'de-coupled' outside Leeds Station. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “What we do know is that there was a guard on board this service who was at the rear of the train with the full suite of safety competencies for exactly this kind of situation.”
RMT news release and related news release. Yorkshire Evening Post and related article. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: UNISON recognises top safety reps
UNISON health and safety reps “go beyond the call of duty,” general secretary Dave Prentis declared at the union’s Safety Rep of the Year awards. The public service union’s event also celebrated the positive difference 40 years of safety reps have made to ordinary people’s working lives.
UNISON news release. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: MPs launch inquiry into workplace harassment
MPs are to examine the use of non-disclosure agreements as part of an inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace. The Women and Equalities Committee will also investigate how to protect staff and make it easier for them to report abuse are among other issues that will be examined.
Women and Equalities Committee news release. BBC News Online. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Action on harassment in parliament ‘not enough’
Unite, which represents hundreds of MPs staff, has welcomed the 8 February publication of a report into tackling the bullying and harassment in parliament. Unite national officer Siobhan Endean said: “The working group has made real progress into starting to tackle the widespread bullying and harassment of parliamentary staff,” but she added: “While the working’s group remit did not include the recognition of trade unions, it is crucial to ensuring that members can receive assistance at an early stage and issues can be quickly and properly resolved, without workers feeling their working lives are a misery and feel forced to resign.”
Statement from Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom, Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy, Hansard, 8 February 2018. Unite news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Potentially lethal disease risks in UK bio labs     
Safety breaches at UK laboratories that handle harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi have spread infections to staff and exposed others to potentially lethal diseases, the Guardian has reported. The paper says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has investigated a series of mistakes over the past two years that led to scientists falling ill at specialist labs run by hospitals, private companies, and even Public Health England (PHE), the government agency charged with protecting and improving the nation’s health and well-being.
The Guardian. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Road works commissioner takes action after near miss
An incident where a worker on a Lanarkshire Council contract was almost hit by a car as he painted road markings without protection has triggered a £5,500 fine from the Scottish Road Works Commissioner. Road Works Commissioner Angus Carmichael said: “Road works carried out on behalf of the authority, by contractors, resulted in endangering road workers and the general public.”
Scottish Road Works Commissioner news release. The Scotsman. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Scaffolder crushed to death in front of his son
A construction firm and its subcontractor have been fined after a scaffolder was crushed to death on a Liverpool construction site. Liverpool Crown Court heard how Henry Jones, 67, was walking across the Redrow site in Knotty Ash when he was struck by a reversing dumper truck in a tragedy witnessed by his son, who was also working at the construction site.
Construction Enquirer. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Firm convicted after employee crushed by lorry
A Fife firm has been fined following the death of a mechanic, crushed under the wheels of a lorry. Robert Purvis Plant Hire was convicted of breaching health and safety legislation after the death of employee Ian Bratchie, 50.
The Courier. Central Fife Times. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Cambodia: Union action call after workplace faintings rise
Unions in Cambodia have called for more government action to protect workers’ health, after latest official figures showed a sharp rise in the number of garment workers fainting at work, with over 1,600 workers affected. Fa Saly, president of the National Trade Union Confederation, commented: “The government should thoroughly examine the fabric and surrounding environmental issues, especially the heat because it has gotten hot recently making it difficult for workers,” adding: “They are still eating insufficient food because wages are limited, which puts them at risk of fainting.”
Khmer Times. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Global: Report reveals the hidden cost of jewellery
Jewellery and watch companies need to do more to ensure their supply chains are free of human rights abuse, a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report has concluded. A total of 29 civil society groups and trade unions have joined the group in an appeal to the jewellery industry to improve its sourcing practices.
HRW news release and report, The hidden cost of jewelry: Human rights in supply chains and the responsibility of jewelry companies, February 2018. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Global: Horrific work pressures are causing suicides
Two recent worker suicides in the US and Canada have illustrated the potentially deadly impact of growing pressures and insecurity in modern workplaces. The tragedies follow recent reports from the UK, US, France and elsewhere highlighting large numbers of work-related suicides.
CBC News. NPR report. Daily Mail. Douglas Schifter’s facebook posting.
Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

USA: Biggest cluster ever of fatal coal miners' disease
US government scientists say they have identified the largest cluster of advanced black lung disease ever reported. In a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), epidemiologists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) confirm 416 cases of progressive massive fibrosis (PMF) or complicated black lung in three clinics treating coal miners in central Appalachia from 2013 to 2017.
NPR investigation and radio report. David J Blackley, Laura E Reynolds, Connie Short and others. Progressive massive fibrosis in coal miners from 3 clinics in Virginia, JAMA, volume 315, number 5, pages 500-501, 6 February 2018. The Pump Handle. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Hazards news, 10 February 2018

Britain: Sexual harassers can’t hide behind secrecy clauses
Non-disclosure agreements must not be used to prevent sexual harassment and other workplace abuses being exposed, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has said. “Scaring workers into staying silent cannot become common practice.”
The Guardian. Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, TUC, July 2016. Protection from sexual harassment, TUC, November 2017. It’s not OK: Sexual harassment at work is more blue collar than red carpet, special report, Hazards, December 2017. Hansard, 22 January 2018. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Union protection is ‘best antidote’ to sexual harassment
Unions play a crucial role in empowering workers to resist sexual harassment, London School of Economics (LSE) researchers have found. LSE professors Sarah Ashwin and Naila Kabeer found organisations working in partnership with local trade unions or worker representatives are more likely to succeed in addressing sexual harassment and violence.
LSE blog. Tufts Labor website. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: TUC alert on looming safety standard
A new international occupational health and safety (OHS) management standard which was heavily criticised by unions throughout the drafting process is due to be launched in March. The TUC says flaws in International Organisation for Standardisation’s (ISO) certifiable ISO45001 standard include the absence of rights to necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) without charge, to refuse dangerous work with protection from victimisation and to OHS training in work time, all of which are in International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards.
TUC facebook posting and briefing on the ISO standard. EHS Today. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Violence injuries in education shoot up
The number of serious injuries suffered by education staff in attacks has shot up by 24 per cent compared to five years ago, the union GMB has said. GMB national officer Karen Leonard said: “Throughout 2018 we will be asking schools to sign up to GMB’s code of conduct to ensure attacks on members, when they happen, are dealt with properly."
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Further rail safety action on ‘pig-headed’ South Western
Rail union RMT has confirmed that members working on South Western Railway will be taking further industrial action from 16 February in a dispute over safety, the role of the train guard and a roll out of driver-only operation. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is frankly disgraceful that South Western Railway point-blank refuse to engage with the union in meaningful talks over their plans to run trains without a safety-critical guard on board across this franchise.”
RMT news release. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Fire lessons not learned in new sprinkler-free schools
Ministers have been accused of a “shockingly cavalier” approach to fire safety after it emerged only just over a third of new schools have been fitted with sprinklers. The revelation has prompted union FBU and NEU to write to education secretary Damian Hinds to demand action.
NEU news release and NEU and FBU letter to Damian Hinds. Huffington Post. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Gig economy action not the ‘giant leap’ needed
The TUC has said the government action on gig worker rights is only ‘a baby step - when it needed to take a giant leap’, with 1.8 million workers left without key protections. It was commenting on the government’s Good Work plan, its response to last year's Taylor Review which recommended changes in conditions to reflect modern working practices.
Government news release. TUC news release. BBC News Online. Daily Express. The Guardian. More on the health and safety impacts of insecure work. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: DPD courier fined for seeing a doctor dies
A courier for the parcel giant DPD who was fined for attending a medical appointment to treat his diabetes collapsed and died of the disease. Don Lane, 53, from Christchurch in Dorset, missed appointments with specialists because he felt under pressure to cover his round and faced DPD’s £150 daily penalties if he did not find cover.
Bournemouth Echo. The Guardian. Daily Mail. The Independent. The Mirror. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Work secretary McVey resigns from Samaritans board
Work and Pensions secretary Esther McVey has resigned from the advisory board of the Samaritans after accusations of hypocrisy. While serving as minister for disabled people under David Cameron, McVey was accused of introducing benefit sanctions to force people with disabilities into work, a move unions and disability rights groups said was driving desperate people to suicide.
Morning Star. Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Government ‘failing to get a grip’ on teacher supply
The Department for Education (DfE) is under fire from MPs for ‘failing to get a grip’ on teacher retention in England, with excessive workload the top reason for the teacher haemorrhage. A Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report concluded the DfE does not have a coherent plan to tackle teacher retention and development.
PAC news release and report. NASUWT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Tata Steel fined £1.4m after crane crushes electrician
Tata Steel has been fined £1.4 million for its criminal safety failings nearly eight years after a crane crushed and killed an electrician at its Scunthorpe steel plant. Hull Crown Court heard how, on 23 April 2010, Thomas Standerline was examining a crane as part of his inspection duties as a maintenance electrician. While carrying out this work, an overhead crane travelled over the cage he was in, trapping and then crushing him.
Scunthorpe Telegraph. Construction Enquirer. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Skip hire company fined after lorry driver fatally crushed
A skip hire company has been fined after a lorry driver was fatally crushed between two vehicles. Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 4 November 2015, MAC Skip Hire Limited employee Beverley Upton was crushed between her lorry and the bucket of a shovel loader while it was being loaded.
HSE news release. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Hazards Campaign resources for 28 April
The national Hazards Campaign has produced new resources for International Workers’ Memorial Day, including commemorative purple ‘forget-me-knot’ ribbons, ‘union workplaces are safer workplaces’ car stickers, ‘organising for safety’ high-vis waistcoats and free posters. The campaign says safety reps can make use of the resources in preparing for their 28 April event.
Hazards Campaign 28 April 2018 resources. TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 campaign website and theme announcement in English, Spanish and French. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Canada: Court rules work injuries are a human rights issue
Canada’s highest court has ruled that a human rights duty to accommodate people with disabilities is applicable in the case of workplace injuries. The legal case was brought by public service union CUPE and injured workers’ groups in Ontario and Quebec.
Canadian Supreme Court ruling. CUPE news release. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Global: Media workers call for end to impunity as 82 die
At total of 82 journalists and media staff were killed doing their jobs in 2017, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has said. ‘Time to end impunity’, the global media union’s report, said the number of work-related killings of journalists fell to their lowest level in a decade, but added “the death toll in journalism remains unacceptably high.”
NUJ news release. IFJ news release and report, Time to end impunity: Journalists and media staff killed in 2017. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Global: New violence and harassment risks in digital technology  
Workers in ‘digitised’ working environments are facing new psychosocial risks and problems with work-related violence and harassment, a study for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found. University of Leicester business professor Phoebe Moore said: “This includes the ’gig economy’, automation practices and algorithmic management, people analytics, computerisation, wearable tracking. Overall, it’s about the use of big data and quantification to make selective, predictive and prescriptive decisions related to work, workers, and the workplace.”
ILO news release and report, The threat of physical and psychosocial violence and harassment in digitalized work, ILO ACTRAV, February 2018. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

USA: Hitech monitoring is getting under our skin
New technologies are being used to monitor employers’ behaviour at work – and potentially outside the workplace. Contract cleaners working for a property management company in the US are being required to upload a Labor Sync app to their personal mobile phones, which uses GPS to monitor both their whereabouts and working hours.
The Guardian. LaborSync app. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

USA: Poultry workers win campaign against speed up
Poultry workers in the United States have won an important victory after campaigning against an industry’s attempt to remove the maximum line speed. If the petition by the National Chicken Council to the Food Safety and Inspection service (FSIS) had been successful it would have reversed an Obama administration decision to limit the number of birds processed to 140 per minute, a ceiling designed to protect workers from strain injuries and other risks.
IUF news report. UFCW news release. RWDSU news release. Confined Space blog. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Hazards news, 3 February 2018

Britain: UK safety laws don’t meet international obligations
The UK’s health and safety laws are ‘not in conformity’ with its international legal obligations, a major review has concluded. The findings are particularly critical of the impact of a UK government move in 2015 that exempted many self-employed workers from the Health and Safety at Work Act.
TUC blog. European Committee of Social Rights news release and decision. European Social Charter. The Independent. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: One in five sites force men and women to share toilets
A union survey has found many construction workers are enduring ‘entirely inadequate’ toilets and washing facilities. The survey of over 3,500 Unite members working in the sector found that on nearly one in five sites (17 per cent) of men and women were forced to share toilet as there were no separate facilities for women workers.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Concern for shopworkers at another shoplifting rise
Retail union Usdaw has questioned whether police cuts are contributing to an increasing in crimes, including shoplifting. The union’s general secretary John Hannett was commenting after the Office for National Statistics revealed a 10 per cent increase in incidents of shoplifting recorded by the police in the year to September 2017.
Usdaw news release. Police recorded crimes in England and Wales for year ending September 2017, ONS, January 2018. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Violent crime payouts to shopworkers cut by half
The number of retail workers receiving criminal injury compensation after a violent crime at work has almost halved since the government introduced cost-cutting changes, research by Usdaw has found. The retail union said its analysis of the impact of restrictive changes in November 2012 to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) “show that applications for compensation by the union on behalf of members injured by a criminal have almost halved, down by 47.4 per cent.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Teaching assistants face daily violence in schools
Teaching assistances are facing daily verbal and physical abuse from pupils, GMB has said. The union, which represents more than a third of support staff, told the BBC Radio 5 Live programme it wants schools to adopt a code of conduct on handling pupil violence against staff.
BBC News Online and BBC 5 Live programme. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Sexual harassment is rife in hospitality, survey shows
Nine out of 10 hospitality workers have experienced sexual harassment at work, according to the preliminary finding of a new survey by Unite. The initial findings of the union’s #NotOnTheMenu survey reveal that of those respondents who had experienced sexual harassment, 56.3 per cent said that they had been targeted by a member of the public and 22.7 per cent said that they had been harassed by a manager.
Unite news release and #NotOnTheMenu survey. Financial Times. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Presidents Club exposes need for sexual harassment laws
The abuse of women hospitality workers at a glitzy men-only London charity dinner shows the need for stronger laws to protect workers from sexual harassment, unions Unite and Prospect have said. They were speaking out after the Presidents Club, which counted billionaires, celebrities and politicians among its high-society patrons, was forced to close down after an undercover journalist for the Financial Times reported how hostesses recruited by an agency were routinely groped and sexually harassed at the charity’s fundraising event.
Unite news release. Prospect blog. Financial Times. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Sexual harassment widespread in theatre industry
Almost a third of theatre professionals in the UK have been sexually harassed at work, according to a survey. The Stage magazine asked over 1,000 people working in the industry for their experiences, with 31 per cent saying they had suffered sexual harassment.
BECTU news release. The Stage. BBC News Online. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Employers urged to let staff 'rest' during working day
Workers should be given places to rest at work to help boost productivity, according to new official guidance. Downtime at work can help employees switch off and get better quality sleep at night, says Public Health England (PHE), adding better sleep maintains cognitive function in employees, as well as cutting health risks.
BBC News Online. Sleep and recovery: A toolkit for employers, Business in the Community in association with PHE, January 2018. Public Health England blog. HSE workplace fatigue webpage.
Fatigue - a guide for health and safety representatives, TUC, July 2016. Tired out: don’t take fatigue risks lying down, a Hazards guide, 2016. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Fracker’s catalogue of safety failings revealed
A catalogue of health and safety infringements has been revealed at Third Energy’s contentious fracking site in rural North Yorkshire. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection found out-dated equipment, inadequate provision of accident and emergency back-up, missing safety documents and lack of provision to deal with gas leaks.
Morning Star. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Cornish gangmaster shutdown for safety abuses
A Cornish gangmaster who systematically exploited her workers through skimming off their pay, sending them to work double shifts with insufficient breaks and charging them to live in unhygienic and unsafe caravans has been shut down by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA). Neringa Butkeviciute, 29, operated her business DNK Recruitment out of the Bosparva Caravan Park in Leedstown, Hayle, where she provided workers for jobs in the GLAA regulated sector.
GLAA news release. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Mother dismayed at son’s ‘accidental death’ verdict
The mother of a young man who was killed in a faulty lift while working in a Swansea pub says she is “totally disillusioned” with the inquest system after a verdict of “accidental death” was recorded. Bar worker Cyran Stewart, 20, was injured while working at a Walkabout pub in Swansea on 24 February 2014, dying in hospital four days later.
FACK news release. Morning Star. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Wind farm worker, 74, dies after being stranded in snow
A 74-year-old man has died after he became stranded in heavy snow while working on a wind farm in East Ayrshire, Scotland. The worker and a younger colleague were left without heat or power at Craigdarroch Farm in New Cumnock when power failed on Sunday 21 January.
BBC News Online. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Farmer gets conditional discharge after man electrocuted
Farmer David Heywood has been given a conditional discharge after a man was electrocuted when the arm of his lorry-mounted crane contacted overhead power lines. Manchester Crown Court heard how on 8 April 2016 self-employed tipper wagon driver Matthew Drummond had been in the process of unloading sand at Heaton Farm near Rochdale, when the incident took place.
HSE news release and guide to working safely near overhead electricity power lines. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Ireland: More than 2-in-5 report mistreatment at work
More than two out of five Irish workers have experienced mistreatment at work, despite most organisations having policies to prevent it, a study has found. Overall, 43 per cent said they have experienced ill-treatment, 47 per cent had witnessed it, and 6 per cent had experienced physical violence.
IOSH news release. Irish Examiner. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

USA: Pork line speed up puts greed before workers
The US food union has warned an official move to speed up pork processing lines puts greed before the health of workers. The union UFCW was speaking out after the US department of agriculture (USDA) announced a proposal to allow pork producers to run their slaughtering lines as fast as they want, in exchange for conducting their own privatised food safety inspections.
UFCW news release. NELP news release. The Pump Handle. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

USA: Las Vegas hotel housekeepers press for panic buttons
The union representing tens of thousands of hotel workers in Las Vegas is to ask casino-resort operators to give every housekeeper a “panic button” as it begins negotiating new contracts amid the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct. Leaders of the Culinary Union will bring the request to the bargaining table this month, on behalf of the more than 14,000 housekeepers who work on the Las Vegas Strip and the destination’s downtown area.
Culinary Workers Union Local 226. National Post.
Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, TUC, July 2016. Protection from sexual harassment, TUC, November 2017. It’s not OK: Sexual harassment at work is more blue collar than red carpet, special report, Hazards, December 2017. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Hazards news, 27 January 2018

Britain: Preventing suicide – the work connection
The TUC has produced a short guide on suicide prevention. According to TUC’s Hugh Robertson: “Unions do not expect their stewards and health and safety representatives to be trained counsellors but we often find that workers confide in their union representative when they have problems and just talking can be a great help. Also, by knowing what warning signs to look out for, sometimes you can make sure that they know where to get help.”
TUC blog. Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Great Jobs Agenda. More on work-related suicide. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Casual workers are more dissatisfied and more anxious
Casual workers experience more job dissatisfaction and anxiety than their permanent counterparts, a TUC study has concluded. The research also found casual staff were five times more likely to drop out of the labour market than those on permanent contracts.
Living on the edge: Experiencing workplace insecurity in the UK, written by the Work, Organisation and Employment Relations Research Centre at the University of Sheffield and by the University of Greenwich, TUC, January 2018 [full report]. TUC blog, related blog posting and Great Jobs Agenda. The Independent. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

HSE drops plans to cut asbestos medical checks
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has abandoned plans to reduce the period between medical examinations for asbestos workers after pressure from the TUC and unions including Unite and HSE inspectors’ union Prospect. Garry Graham, Prospect’s deputy general secretary commented: “Frequent medical checks for those engaged in the dangerous removal of asbestos from old buildings is vital to pick up any symptoms as early as possible,” adding: “We welcome the HSE seeing sense on this issue.”
Prospect news release. HSE consultation. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: New bid to protect retail workers from violence
A member of the Scottish parliament has launched a consultation on his plan for a new law to protect shop and bar workers from violence. Labour MSP Daniel Johnson is seeking views on a member’s bill to create new offences around the assault and abuse of workers who sell age-restricted items such as alcohol and cigarettes.
Usdaw news release. Not part of the job consultation website. BBC News Online. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Lives on Merseyside at risk from cuts to fire service cover
Lives are being put at risk in Merseyside because it will take firefighters far longer to arrive at emergencies due to a cut in the hours that fire engines are crewed, firefighters’ union FBU has said Kevin Hughes, brigade secretary of the FBU in Merseyside, said: “These dangerous cuts could cost lives,” adding: “It puts the public, as well as the firefighters themselves, at greater risk of serious injury or even worse.”
FBU news release. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Pilots welcome end to ‘nonsensical’ HIV medical rules
Pilots’ union BALPA has welcomed an announcement from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that will mean applicants with HIV who want to become a commercial pilot will no longer be barred from obtaining a licence. The union says this addresses an inconsistency in the rules that meant those who develop the condition after getting a medical certificate or their licence, are allowed to continue their career, whereas new applicants with HIV were turned away.
BALPA news release. CAA announcement. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Staff safety fears at Wrexham super-prison
Staff at Wrexham's £250m super-prison have claimed it is unsafe, less than 12 months after it opened. The Prison Officers Association (POA) told BBC Wales a “culture of fear” existed among staff at HMP Berwyn.
POA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Survey drone hits crane on construction site
Hopes that drones will become an important safety inspection tool capable of scrutinising otherwise inaccessible locations suffered a setback. A newly published report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) gave details of an incident last summer when a drone fitted with a Go Pro camera hit a crane on a site in Kent.
AAIB report. Construction Enquirer. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Leaked ledgers confirm Carillion’s blacklisting
Failed construction giant Carillion was a major supporter of an illegal blacklisting outfit that targeted safety activists and trade union reps, leaked documents have confirmed. This month the Canary obtained the Consulting Association’s entire set of ledgers, which confirmed Carillion’s routine payments for data from the Consulting Association files.
The Canary. The Metro. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Construction company fined after worker killed
A construction company has been fined after an employee died after falling over six metres. Plymouth Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee of C&R Construction (SW) Ltd suffered fatal injuries in the preventable incident after falling while installing roof sheets on a new agricultural building; the victim is identified in the HSE fatalities listing as Neil Phillips, 45.
HSE news release and workplace fatalities listing 2016/17. HSE news release on maintenance of agricultural buildings. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Gas storage firm fined after 13 exposed to asbestos
The operator of a natural gas storage facility has been sentenced after 13 employees and contractors were exposed to asbestos fibres. SSE Hornsea Ltd pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,731.
HSE news release. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Britain: Refurb job led to asbestos exposures on site
The principal contractor and site manager of a construction site in Derby city centre have been sentenced after workers were exposed to asbestos during refurbishment work. M&S Developments (Bemrose Court) Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,336; Kynersley Management Services Limited was fined £20,000 plus costs of £1,531.66; and site manager Adam Campbell was given a community order to carry out 120 hours unpaid work and told to pay costs of £1,531.66.
HSE news release. Derby Telegraph. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Global: ITUC announces International Workers' Memorial Day theme
Global union confederation ITUC has announced its worldwide theme for International Workers' Memorial Day, 28 April 2018. The ‘Organised workplaces are safer workplaces’ theme echoes the UK and ETUC themes announced earlier, with ITUC saying variants on the tagline could include ‘Unions make workplaces safer and healthier’ and ‘Union organisation saves lives’.
ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2018 campaign website and theme announcement in English, Spanish and French. ITUC is asking tweeters to use the hashtag #iwmd18 for their 28 April 2018 tweets.
TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of UK events to the TUC health and safety office to be included in the TUC listing. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Australia: Minister recommends electric shocks for truck drivers
The roads minister in the Australian state of New South Wales, Melinda Pavey, has been slammed after suggesting truck drivers could be zapped with electric shocks to reduce the carnage on the roads. The Transport Workers Union slammed her “offensive” suggestion as “heartless, arrogant and completely incompetent”.
The New Daily. Daily Liberal. The Morning Bulletin. Big Rigs. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Canada: Rail workers cleared over Lac-Megantic disaster
A Canadian jury has found three former rail workers not guilty of criminal negligence for their connection to the Lac-Megantic disaster five years ago. On 6 July 2013, a runaway train filled with petroleum crude oil derailed in the small eastern Quebec town; forty-seven people were killed in the tragedy and much of Lac-Megantic's downtown was destroyed.
Montreal Gazette. Vancouver Sun. CBC News. Confined Space. BBC News Online. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Global: Unions win US$2.3m Bangladesh factory payout
Trade unions representing Bangladeshi textile workers have reached a US$2.3m (£1.6m) settlement with a multinational fashion brand accused of postponing the process of fixing life-threatening hazards in factories. The fashion brand, which cannot be named under the terms of the agreement, will pay $2m to fix safety issues in more than 150 textile factories in Bangladesh and a further $300,000 towards improving pay and conditions for workers in global clothing supply chains.
IndustriALL news release and signatories to the 2108 Bangladesh Accord. UNI news release. War on Want news release. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Pakistan: Unions blame criminal neglect for workers’ deaths
Criminal negligence by government watchdogs and the refusal of employers to provide health and safety measures are killing workers, labour rights campaigners in Pakistan have said. Addressing a demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club, Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), said: “According to the International Labour Organisation, around 2.3 million workers are killed annually at workplaces across the world,” adding: “If the situation here is not improved then it would be no wonder that Pakistan may top that list.”
Daily Times. The International News. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

USA: California passes hotel housekeeper injury rules
California’s workplace health and safety regulator has voted unanimously to introduce new rules to reduce the injuries commonly experienced by hotel housekeepers. Cal/OSHA approved the ‘Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention’ standard, which had been promoted by the union Unite Here, at a meeting attended by hotel housekeepers from across the state.
Unite Here news release and new California standard on Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention. IUF news release. Risks 834. 27 January 2018

Hazards news, 20 January 2018

Britain: Flu jab is not the answer to the health service crisis
A shortage of staff and lack of funding is the real threat to the NHS, not too few staff getting the flu jab, health service union UNISON has said. Commenting after the government’s top medical advisers indicated the flu jab should be compulsory for NHS staff, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “It’s important not to lose sight of the real threat to the NHS. It isn’t flu, but the shortage of staff and the lack of funding.”
UNISON news release. Department of Health and Social Care news release and CMO/NHS England letter. NHS flu fighter campaign. BBC News Online. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Esther McVey 'deeply unsuitable' to hold safety brief
The prime minister should reconsider the appointment of Esther McVey as work and pensions secretary, the GMB has said. The cabinet position gives McVey ultimate responsibility for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and work and health, but GMB says when McVey was the employment minister in charge of HSE in 2013, she was ‘unceremoniously stripped’ of this responsibility after it emerged she had been the director of a now-defunct demolition firm run by her father, JG McVey and Co, which was served with two prohibition notices for criminal health and safety breaches.
GMB news release. Prime minister’s office news release. DWP webpage. The Guardian. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: RMT hits out at latest North Sea decommissioning ‘scandal’
Offshore energy union RMT has raised concerns over the North Sea decommissioning industry, following the cash sale of three semi-submersible drilling platforms to a company that transports offshore oil and gas infrastructure to be scrapped in India and Bangladesh. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said sending the rigs to Asia was “a continuation of the disgraceful practice of dumping ships and oil and gas infrastructure on South Asian beaches, where workers are regularly killed and injured in highly dangerous and poorly protected conditions.”
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Stressed-out Anglican priests turn to unions
The unremitting demands placed on Church of England priests is leading increasing numbers to turn to unions for support. Faced with demanding congregations, rarely being off duty, piles of paperwork and disciplinary procedures they often feel are unfair, almost 1,500 priests plus a few rabbis and imams joined the Unite’s clergy branch last year — an increase of 16 per cent in 12 months.
Religion News Service. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Government ‘bung’ stops safety dispute resolution
Rail union RMT says the government has been caught red-handed ‘bunging’ Southern Rail £22 million of taxpayers’ money to keep a rail safety dispute running. The total, revealed in a 8 January parliamentary answer, equates to operator GTR’s lost revenue related to the dispute - this sum is underwritten by the public purse.
RMT news release. NAO news release. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: London fire deaths soar as cuts bite
Firefighters’ union FBU has said its members in London are ‘deeply upset and angry’ after hearing that the number of people killed in fires has risen sharply in the capital. Paul Embery, FBU executive council member for London, said: “This disturbing increase has happened at a time when over a thousand frontline firefighter posts have been ditched, 10 fire stations closed, and specialist rescue equipment and fire engines have been removed from service.”
FBU news release. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Shopworkers challenge attack on injured workers
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is urging the government to drop plans to restrict access to justice for victims of workplace injuries and diseases. The union’s evidence this week to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee argued vulnerable workers would lose out under the proposed government reforms to personal injury cases.
Usdaw news release. Justice Committee hearing. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Reminder of the need to protect aviation safety culture
Ten years after British pilots averted a major catastrophe when their the Speedbird 38 aircraft lost all engine power on its approach to Heathrow, pilots are highlighting the importance of thorough crash investigation. Their union, the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), says that had the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) not been given the time and support to carry out a painstaking investigation, we would never have known the cause of the crash or learnt the lessons that have made flights safer in its wake.
BALPA news release. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Stop bosses exploiting migrant labour
The TUC has called on the government to stop bosses exploiting migrant labour. Responding to a 15 January report on migration from the Home Affairs Committee, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government must work with unions to crack down on employers who use migrants to undercut local labour.”
Home Affairs select committee news release. TUC news release. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Dog handler fitness test was discriminatory
Female police officer Kim-Louise Carter, 31, who completed successfully a gruelling three-and-a-half-hour assault course but who failed the dog handler test because she could not then carry her animal 100 metres has been awarded nearly £15,000 compensation for sexual discrimination. The panel of judges at an employment tribunal in Worle, near Weston-super-Mare, found candidates were unfairly punished and automatically failed the test if they could not complete the “dog carry”, even though a pass mark of 70 per cent should have been applied across the test.
Somerset Live. The Sun. Daily Mail. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: BP takes another £1.2bn hit from Deepwater Horizon
British oil multinational BP has said it will book another US$1.7 billion (£1.2 billion) charge from the deadly Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in 2010 as part of its financial settlement. But the group said despite the fourth-quarter payout, which takes the total cost of the disaster to US$65 billion (£47 billion), the lengthy settlement process for the mammoth claims related to the spill is now winding down.
BP news release. The Courier. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Fatigue is bad for doctors and patients
Lack of sleep resulting from long hours and excessive workloads is jeopardising patient safety and doctors’ health, the doctors’ organisation BMA has warned. A report produced by the association has highlighted how long and demanding hours coupled with frequent changes in rotas and insufficient recovery periods mean thousands of doctors are at heightened risk for sleep deprivation and fatigue, adding that inadequately rested doctors were at greater risk of making errors in patient care as well as occupational hazards such as needlestick injuries and road-traffic accidents.
BMA news release and full report. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Poundstretcher fined £1m for health and safety failures
Budget chain Poundstretcher has faced action by three local authorities for 24 criminal health and safety breaches across three of its stores. Judge Heatherington said the blame did not lie with local management, but with the “complacent attitude” revealed by how “senior management, often at director/company secretary level, dealt with requests for interview by enforcing authorities.”
Lewes District Council news release. Environmental Health News. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: What are you planning for Workers’ Memorial Day?
The TUC is going to start listing events for the 28 April 2018 Workers’ Memorial Day. The theme is “Unionised workplaces are safer workplaces.” The national union body is urging organisation to send details of all local, regional or national events to be included on the online listing. According to the TUC: “As Workers’ Memorial Day is on a Saturday this year it may be that some workplaces will aim to have the two-minutes’ silence or other event on Friday 27 April. However other events should still be scheduled for 28 April.”
TUC 28 April 2018 webpages. Email details of events to the TUC health and safety office. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

China: Apple factory suicide reignites concerns
A factory worker at a firm that produces Apple’s iPhones in China has died after jumping from a building, a labour rights organisation has said. China Labor Watch (CLW) said that Li Ming, 31, jumped to his death from a building in the city of Zhengzhou, in the east-central Chinese Henan province, where he had been working for Foxconn.
The Telegraph. Good Electronics. More on work-related suicides. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Colombia: Workers die in motorway bridge collapse
A motorway bridge under construction in Colombia has collapsed, killing at least nine workers and injuring several others. The bridge in Chirajara was to be part of a highway connecting the capital, Bogotá, with the city of Villavicencio.
The Times. BBC News Online. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Namibia: Union protests poor zinc mine safety
Hundreds of mineworkers have demonstrated against worsening health and safety standards at the Skorpion Zinc Mine, about 600km from Windhoek, the Namibian capital. The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) members are demanding improved communication on safety issues at the mine, which is owned by Vedanta Zinc International.
IndustriALL news release. The Namibian. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

USA: New landscape for work injury and illness tracking
US federal agencies should collaborate to improve injury and illness reporting, to account for a shift in the traditional workforce toward a ‘gig economy’ and to collect information on race and ethnicity to identify vulnerable worker populations, according to a new official report. The consensus report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine was developed by a committee of academic experts, regulators, a union representative and Scott Mugno, an employer representative who is now Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – the US federal safety agency.
Business Insurance. Confined Space blog. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Hazards news, 13 January 2018

Britain: Transport unions welcome clamp down on laser dangers
Transport unions have welcomed measures to tackle the sale of unsafe laser pointers, including new safeguards to stop high-powered lasers entering the country. The government has pledged additional support to local authority ports and borders teams to stop high-powered laser pointers entering the UK.
BEIS news release. ASLEF news release. BALPA news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Disabled DWP worker wins large unfair dismissal payout
A disabled member of PCS working in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), dismissed for non-disability related absences, has won her claim of unfair dismissal and discrimination. The member, who had worked for DWP for nearly four years, was awarded £110,165.14 in compensation plus 36 months pension contributions following her dismissal on 5 March 2016.
PCS news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Teacher recruits plummet due to high workloads and low pay
Low pay, excessive workloads and scrutiny and bureaucracy are behind a huge drop in teacher recruits, teaching union NEU has warned. The number of teacher training applications fell by a third from 19,330 in December 2016 to 12,820 in 2017, according to latest Ucas figures.
NEU news release. Morning Star. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: 'Epidemic’ of teacher stress leaves thousands on sick leave
Teaching union NEU has warned of an “epidemic of stress” as research revealed that 3,750 teachers in England were signed off on longterm sick leave last year because of pressure of work, anxiety and mental illness. Figures obtained through freedom of information requests show a 5 per cent rise on the year before, revealing that one in 83 teachers spent more than a month off work in 2016/17.
The Guardian. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Time to turn down the heat in the classroom
The Scottish government is being urged to establish a maximum acceptable temperature in Scotland’s schools. Teaching union EIS says the Scottish government should set a maximum temperature in schools, in the interest of the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff.
EIS news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: RMT demands action after ‘shocking’ cruise boat incident
Maritime union RMT has written to safety regulators and the cruise ship industry body demanding urgent action on lifeboat safety after a routine training exercise on a Bermuda-registered vessel almost ended in tragedy. Five people were hurt in the incident on the Carnival Cruises vessel MV Arcadia in the Azores on 6 January, one seriously.
RMT news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Shop worker murdered for enforcing the law
A 16-year-old boy who is alleged to have attacked a shop worker who refused to sell him cigarette papers has been arrested on suspicion of murder. DI Ian Lott, who is leading the investigation, said: “A man has lost his life for no reason other than trying to uphold the law.”
Metropolitan Police news release. The Guardian. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Scottish emergency services staff assaulted routinely
Attacks on emergency service workers in Scotland have reached a three-year high, according to new official figures. A total of 6,509 common assaults were recorded on police, fire and ambulance workers across Scotland in 2016/17, equivalent to more than 17 per day.
BBC News Online. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Safety warning on nano use in construction
Self-cleaning windows, very high strength concrete and thin, lightweight, super-efficient insulation are among the new construction materials using nanotechnology, and could carry significant risks, new research has suggested. Estimates suggest that by 2025 up to half of new building materials might contain nanomaterials.
IOSH news release and nanotech reports. Construction Enquirer. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Emotionally demanding work is stressing out GPs
The emotional impact of their daily workload and confrontational patients are among the key stressors for family doctors in England, a new study has found. The analysis of feedback from general practitioners (GPs), published in the online journal BMJ Open, reveals dysfunctional working relationships and unsupportive or bullying colleagues, combined with the fear of making mistakes, complaints, and inspections, are additional factors compounding this emotional labour effect.
Ruth Riley and others. What are the sources of stress and distress for general practitioners working in England?  A qualitative study, BMJ Open, 11 January 2018. doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017361 Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Survey exposes bullying of staff by MPs
Research by the BBC has found almost a quarter of staffers working for MPs have been bullied at Westminster, with 1-in-7 of all those responding saying they had suffered at the hands of the MP for whom they worked. The findings came in responses to a questionnaire sent by BBC 5 live to all staff publicly listed as working for MPs in parliament.
BBC News Online and related article. Updated ministerial code. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Civil engineering firm fined after death of employee
A civil engineering company has been sentenced for criminal safety breaches after father-of-three Darren Richardson suffered fatal crush injuries. Sheffield Crown Court heard that on 5 December 2014 RMB Contractors Ltd was laying a new concrete slab at Ballast Phoenix Ltd in Sheffield.
HSE news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Lost leg costs engineering firm just £8k
An engineering company has been fined £8,000 after its criminal safety failings cost a worker his leg. West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court heard how the Puma Engineering and Construction Limited employee was seriously injured when carrying out a lifting operation involving transporting and loading pipe spools onto a flatbed truck.
HSE news release and guidance, Safety in the storage and handling of steel and other metal stock. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: Esther McVey is the new work secretary
Conservative MP Esther McVey has been named as the new work and pensions secretary in Theresa May’s mini-reshuffle, replacing David Gauke. Sarah Newton retains her role in the department as Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work.
Prime minister’s office news release. DWP webpage. BBC News Online. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Australia: Rise in truck deaths prompts union warning
A spike in fatal accidents involving trucks in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has prompted the transport union to call for the return of a road safety watchdog. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) said deaths were “out of control” and demanded something be done.
TWU news release. Daily Liberal. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Canada: Asbestos ban moves forward
Unions and campaigners have welcomed progress on Canada’s promised asbestos ban. The Canadian federal government had now published a draft law prohibiting the use, sale, import and export of asbestos and products containing the hazardous material.
CELA/CAUT news release. CBC News. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Global: Half of women journalists suffer violence at work
Almost one in two women journalists have suffered sexual harassment, psychological abuse, online trolling and others forms of gender-based violence (GBV) while working. Overall, 85 per cent say no or inadequate action has been taken against perpetrators and most workplaces do not even have a written policy to counter such abuses or provide a mechanism for reporting them.
IFJ news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Hazards news, 6 January 2017

Britain: The future of safety rep training
The TUC is developing exciting new ways to train its legions of union safety reps. Every health and safety representative recognises the benefit of good trade union training, says Jackie Williams of TUC Education, noting it is what gives reps the skills to do their lifesaving, life enhancing job and to keep a safe distance from the employer.
On course: The future of safety rep training, Jackie Williams, Hazards magazine, number 140, 2017. TUC Education website. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: A million more trains a year to run without guards
Rail union RMT has predicted that over a million more trains a year will run without safety critical guards on the five companies with whom the union is currently in dispute - Greater Anglia Railway, Merseyrail, Northern Rail, Southern Rail and South Western Railway.
RMT news release and new Unguarded: Keep the Guard campaign film. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Sellafield firm faces action over union rep’s dismissal
A civil engineering company working at the Sellafield nuclear site could face industrial action after firing a shop steward who raised serious safety concerns. DSD Construction, based in Carlisle, is undertaking work to enhance security at the nuclear reprocessing site at Sellafield.
Unite news release. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: CWU criticises lax dangerous dog sentences
Postal union CWU has questioned whether the police and the courts are ‘going soft on dog attack crimes’ after a succession of offenders faced no or little penalty after their dogs savaged postal workers. CWU head of safety Dave Joyce said: “Of course every case before the courts is different and it would be wrong to single just one instance, but this is now starting to look like a developing trend – it’s very worrying and it makes me wonder if the law is going soft on dog attacks suddenly at a time when attacks, including fatalities, are on the increase.”
CWU news release. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Pilot medical rules should be reviewed, says BALPA
British pilots’ union BALPA has called for a full review into medical restrictions for pilots, describing the current limitations as ‘outdated’. The union was speaking out after it was revealed in December 2017 that an aspiring pilot had been denied a job because of his HIV status.
BALPA news release and Class 1 Medical requirements on the CAA website. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Parliamentary harassment plan got good enough
A 21 December 2017 statement by leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom on progress by the working group on bullying and harassment in parliament reveals not enough progress has been made, unions have said. The statement commits parliament to a new independent complaints and grievance procedure.
Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy, Hansard, 21 December 2017. Unite news release. NUJ news release. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: ‘Alarming rise’ in teacher stress cases in Scotland
There has been a sharp rise in the number of work-related stress compensation cases among teaching staff in Scotland, the union EIS has said. EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the union had “observed an alarming rise in the number of cases of work-related stress illness and injury claims over the past few years.”
EIS news release. The Express. Sunday Post. The Scotsman. The Herald. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: UCU helps vindicate stressed-out college lecturer
An art lecturer driven to the verge of a breakdown by a succession of maddening management decisions has thanked her union UCU after she was ‘vindicated’ in court. Kate Rawnsley was bullied, shunted between successively worse classrooms, and then found her desk had been dumped in a skip, but her ‘cry for help’ emails to the college dean went ignored.
Unravelling: UCU helps vindicate stressed-out college lecturer, Hazards, number 140, December 2017. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Police drop probe into five Birmingham recycling plant deaths
West Midlands Police has ended its investigation into the deaths of five workers at a Birmingham metal recycling plant. The move takes the possibility of manslaughter charges off the table and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will now have ‘assumed primacy’ in the investigation into the 7 July 2016 tragedy.
HSE news release. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Report calls for criminal sanctions for blacklisters
There should be a public inquiry into the blacklisting scandal and there should be criminal sanctions on employers operating blacklists, a new report has recommended. The report from the independent think tank the Institute of Employment Rights comes eight years after the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found evidence that thousands of workers had been locked out of employment in the construction industry for highlighting dangerous working practices or being a member of a trade union.
IER news release and report, Blacklisting: The Need for a Public Inquiry, IER, December 2017. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Farm fined after 'easily preventable' electrocution
The owners of a farm have been ordered to pay almost £100,000 after a scrap metal collector was electrocuted when his crane hit overhead power lines. Edward Evans, 52, was killed as he attempted to collect broken lightweight metal cages by prior arrangement, from Holme Farm in Ince on 17 January 2015.
HSE news release. Chester Chronicle. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: Companies fined after death of road worker
Two companies that admitted criminal health and safety breaches following the death of a Suffolk road worker have been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling nearly £2 million. Sentencing Kier Integrated Services and Ipswich-based Sean Hegarty Ltd, Judge Martyn Levett said the death of 34-year-old Aidan Gallagher in 2014 was “avoidable”.
HSE news release. Ipswich Star. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Canada: GE plant’s compo refusals get reversed
After a decades-long battle for compensation, the voices of ailing General Electric workers are finally being heard. Early indications are that around two-thirds of the previously denied occupational disease claims made by former employees at the GE plant in Peterborough, Ontario - one of Canada’s oldest industrial operations – are being overturned.
Toronto Star. Metro News. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Global: Russia coerces Sri Lanka to reverse asbestos ban
As the first phase of Sri Lanka’s chrysotile asbestos ban was about to take effect, top chrysotile exporter Russia blocked Sri Lankan tea imports to the country, leading international trade unions and health campaigners to condemn the ‘economic blackmail’. On 18 December 2017, Russia abruptly halted imports of tea from Sri Lanka, a serious blow to the Sri Lankan economy - just two days later the Sri Lankan government announced its decision to defer banning asbestos imports from Russia.
APHEDA news release. IBAS news release. ColumboPage. Sunday Times SL. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

USA: Silica court victory will protect millions
An industry challenge to a new occupational silica rule has been rejected in its entirety by a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals. Richard Trumka, president of the US national union federation AFL-CIO, said the court ruling was a ‘huge victory’ for working people, adding: “The court rejected industries’ arguments and directed the agency to further consider additional union safety recommendations.”
AFL-CIO news release. EHS Today. Courthouse News and court ruling. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

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