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Workers' Health International Newsletter
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ARCHIVE - February 2002

Corporate health and safety crime at work

Latest news from Hazards magazine on the corporate safety criminals. Also see related websites and New UK campaign

Huck/Konopacki image
more Huck/Konopacki labor cartoons


Employer sentenced for forced overtime

China
Updated: 25 February 2002

The director of a privately-owned garment plant in the coastal province of
Zhejiang received a suspended sentence of one year imprisonment and a fine
for forcing his employees to work overtime in conditions which resulted in
injuries.

See: China Labour Bulletin
Hazards - Get a life!


Workers take employers to court over birth defects

USA
Updated: 26 February 2002

USA companies are facing court action from workers who say exposure to reproductive hazards has caused birth defects.

See: USA Today

Table: Reproductive risks at work


"Dirty little secret of high-tech revolution"

USA
Updated: 25 February 2002

US recycling of "e-waste" is harming people overseas, says report.

See: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition


Whistleblower may win £600,000

Britain
Updated: 25 February 2002

A Connex train driver who was forced to quit his job after exposing safety lapses could win up to 600,000 damages. Laurie Holden, 49, is the first person successfully to sue a rail operator under the 1998 Public Interest Disclosure Act, designed to protect employees who expose public scandals.

See: Associated Newspapers
October 1999 background to the case


Son of asbestos victim vows to fight on

Britain
23 February 2002

The son of a Teesside asbestos victim has vowed to fight on to ensure those responsible for his dad's death are brought to justice. On his death bed, Jack Wray told his son, Billy, and daughter he wanted someone to "pay the price".

This is Teesside


Delays to vibration directive are slammed by T&G

Britain
Updated: 22 February 2002

The Transport and General Workers' Union has reacted angrily to a decision to delay implementation of new vibration controls on workplace agricultural and forestry equipment. Agricultural and forestry equipment will be covered by the new law from 2013. In other work areas, the law will be phased in from 2004, taking full effect in 2010.

See: T&G news release


UNISON whistleblowers teach college a lesson on asbestos

Britain
Updated: 21 February 2002

Fareham College has been fined £23,000 and costs of £18,000 after UNISON
reps revealed the college had for years required staff to employ unsafe work
methods with asbestos.

See: UNISON news


Labour minister out to get bad employers

South Africa
Updated: 20 February 2002

South Africa's labour minister has warned employers to stop mistreating workers, start training them and help the country by creating jobs. Membathisi Mdladlana said his department would launch a "national inspection blitz" in April, focusing on the security, construction and farm sectors.This follows a crackdown on clothing firms after a woman gave birth to twins on a factory floor because she had been locked up for the night.The twins died because they could not get medical assistance.

See: Business Report


Union and Msauli discuss liquidation and asbestos compensation

South Africa
Updated: 20 February 2002

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Msauli Asbes, the soon to be
delisted Mpumalanga asbestos mining company, have met in a bid to avert possible litigation initiated by former workers seeking compensation. The two parties had an "informal meeting" to discuss the union's threat to request a court interdict preventing Msauli from liquidating without compensating workers who had contracted asbestos-related diseases.

See: Business Report


Thirteen officials punished for Lianyuan mine explosion

China
Updated: 20 February 2002

Hunan Province's Safety Inspection Department says 13 officials had received disciplinary actions after they were found responsible for the explosion which killed 11 miners in the Luanyi coal mine last December. The investigation found that illegal and dangerous operations caused the fatal accident.

See: China Labour Bulletin


Shaanxi Gold Miners Contract Acute Pneumoconiosis

China
Updated: 20 February 2002

Tests have established 32 migrant miners in the Chener gold mine have
occupational pneumoconiosis, an incurable condition that affects the tissues of the lungs. The number represents a startlingly high proportion of the mine's total of 44 workers.

See: China Labour Bulletin


Unions seek child labour bans

Australia
Updated: 18 February 2002

Unions in the Australian state of Victoria are demanding a ban on the employment of children in the state's four most dangerous industries, agriculture, transport and storage, construction and manufacturing, with penalties of up to one year in jail for transgressors.

See: The Age


Improvement Notice issued on workstation assessments

Britain
Updated: 15 February 2002

UNISON safety reps at Manchester Metropolitan University revealed serious weaknesses in the University's display screen equipment risk assessments that led to government inspectors issuing a legal improvement notice.

See: MMU notice


Developer who exposed workers to asbestos running out of appeals

USA
Updated: 15 February 2002

A developer convicted of exposing workers to cancer-causing asbestos has
been refused a second appeal. Unless he wins a rare high court hearing, he
will likely spend a year and a day in prison, the sentence he received in
May 2000.

See: New Haven Register


Asbestos victims still lose out

Britain
Updated: 14 February 2002

Organisations representing asbestos disease victims have said the government's mesothelioma compensation fix does not go nearly far enough. Guilty employers get off scot free and too few victims get too little too late.

See: Government announcement
GMB news release
Occupational and Environmental Diseases Association and Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group


Five thousand people die every year from asbestos, says TUC

Britain
Updated: 14 February 2002

At least five thousand people died in 2001 of asbestos-related diseases,
according to TUC analysis of official figures. The figure is up from 3,000 a
decade ago - an increase of two thirds, and now 50 per cent more people die
from asbestos than die on the roads every year. The TUC warns that the death
toll will continue to rise if measures are not taken now to control asbestos
exposure in British buildings.

See: TUC news release


Unions take on liqueur maker

Haiti
Updated: 14 February 2002

Workers who harvest and process oranges used to make Cointreau, a luxury cognac-based liqueur, have been involved in a long and sometimes violent
struggle for union rights, better pay and improved conditions and health and
safety.

See: Latinamerica Press
Hazards 77 Haiti page


Sick former nuclear workers await aid

USA
Updated: 13 February 2002

Six months after sick US nuclear weapons workers and their families could
begin applying for $150,000 federal compensation payouts, thousands of
applicants are still waiting, with older workers wondering if they will live
long enough to see a payout.

See: Yahoo health news


Company fined £200,000 over fatal accident

Britain
Updated: 12 February 2002

A company has been fined £200,000 after a man's life was "wasted" at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane ground. Two men have been killed while carrying out work for Billington Structures in the last three years and the company has also been fined and warned about two other breaches of safety rules.

See: Yorkshire Post
Earlier Yorkshire Post story


Will Enron bosses pay for deadly failures?

UK/USA
Updated: 11 February 2002

Jeff Skilling, a key player in the collapse of US energy giant Enron who may yet face perjury charges, was the man sent to the UK to explain an August 2001 fatal explosion and prior prosecutions for safety crimes at its UK energy plant. Skilling resigned six days after the August blast.

See: BBC News Online
BusinessWeek
Risks 14
Ananova coverage of the explosion


US automakers lose bid to combine asbestos cases

USA
Updated: 8 February 2002

US automakers fighting asbestos liability claims have lost a battle when a federal judge rejected their bid to transfer thousands of lawsuits into a single federal court. General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler AG had asked for some 15,000 to 20,000 brake-related asbestos claims to be consolidated into the bankruptcy proceedings of auto parts maker Federal Mogul Corp.

See: Reuters Health


Asbestos victims take compo protest to the company

Britain
Updated: 8
February 2002

Angry asbestos victims robbed of their compensation, their families and
campaigners are to lobby the first major Turner & Newall creditors meeting.
On Monday 11 February they will hand a letter of protest to the company's
administrators.

See: Asbestos campaign news release


Asbestos bale-out rumours drive shares up

USA
Updated: 2 February 2002

Rumours that President George W Bush will try and limit asbestos compensation liability have reignited interest in shares in chemical companies. Randall Bono, a lawyer representing asbestos victims, said: "It seems likely that he will want to try and help his political contributors and his corporate friends."

See: Risks 39
BBC News Online
Bloomberg.com
FT.com


TUC reveals "soaring" union stress cases

Britain
Updated: 2 February 2002

The number of new personal injury claims taken by UK unions has dropped
slightly but work-related stress cases have soared, according to a new TUC
report.

See: Risks 39
BBC News Online
FT.com


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