What it comes to conditions at work, union safety reps are the first and last line of defence. In hostile times, Mick Holder says their skills need to be tip-top to win improvements. Hazards 120, October-December 2012
Don't die waiting
The law is being undermined. The law enforcer has been gutted. The only guarantee you have of health and safety at work is union protection – and latest evidence confirms organised workplaces are substantially safer.
Hazards 115, July-September 2011
Worker involvement is currently the biggest thing in health and safety, says the TUC. But Hugh Robertson, the union body’s head of safety, warns the positive chatter from enforcers and employers is not always translating into meaningful consultation at the workplace.
Hazards 110, April-June 2010
The Union Effect
Union workplaces are safer workplaces – so get organised, or you may not live to regret it.
Hazards 109, January-March 2010 [pdf]
Is it possible to take a dysfunctional workplace, battered by assaults, sickness and poor morale, and in less than a year make it a haven of safety and worker contentment, with managers valuing the union role? Union rep Mark White explains how they achieved just that in his workplace.
Hazards 107, July-September 2009
Souped-up safety reps
Trade union safety reps mean fewer accidents and less sickness at work. That’s why TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson is calling for more reps with more rights – and a clampdown on the dangerous employers who try to get in their way.
Hazards 104, October-December 2008
Don’t be a safety nerd
Workers join unions because they are concerned about safety, and stay in unions for the same reason. That’s why training trade union safety reps in the links between safety and organisation is a top priority for TUC. And it is how global building union BWI is recruiting members worldwide.
Hazards 102, April-May 2008
The resource-starved Health and Safety Executive can no longer investigate some of the most serious workplace injuries. Fatalities are rising. HSE needs help. It just doesn’t seem to see it. Hazards editor Rory O’Neill says not only is HSE failing, it is shunning its best possible ally – trade union safety reps.
Hazards 99, August 2007
The government admits the lifesaving work of safety reps saves society hundreds of millions of pounds each year. Now unions are asking why the Health and Safety Executive seems reluctant to expand their role.
Hazards 97, January-March 2007
A new TUC report confirms what Hazards has said all along - union safety reps are your best defence against work-related accidents and ill-health.
Hazards 88, October-December 2004
reps training factsheet
Union safety reps have a dramatic, positive impact on safety at work - and the more training they get, the more marked the "union safety effect." Hazards reports how the union training on your doorstep and now in cyberspace can be a workplace lifesaver.
Hazards 86, April-June 2004
is better organised
When an official safety agency investigated what makes workplaces safer, it got a surprise. It was union safety reps not managers, safety officers or inspectors who made work safer. Plus more on the union effect from safety news from the UK and Australia.
Hazards 79, July-September 2002 [pdf] TUC news release
union, no protection
When it comes to workplace harm, hygienists might have a measure it and doctors a diagnosis for it, but only workers with collective power have much chance of doing anything about it. And there is no shortage of up-to-the-minute evidence demonstrating this "union safety effect." Organised workplaces are safer workplaces.
Hazards 78, April-June 2002 [pdf] TUC backs the Hazards union effect initiative
Worker Safety Advisers, selected and trained by unions and funded by the government, become the first UK union reps to have an officially sanctioned "roving" remit, and are now taking the union safety effect to non-union workplaces.
Hazards 78, April-June 2002 [pdf]
knows you know the answer
Companies that ask their employees for their views on health and safety issues can cut down on accidents, a study by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found. This comes as no surprise to unions.
Hazards 77, January-March 2002
TUC safety reps' training makes you so good you save lives.
Hazards 75, July-September 2002 [pdf]
What makes a rep
Research shows how union education leads to effective health and safety reps
Hazards 75, July-September 2002 [pdf]
You slip, trip, fall. You are exposed to toxic chemicals. You lift, carry, you get strains. You are stressed to the eyeballs. All this and the law says you should be safe and healthy at work. Hazards looks at how safety reps can organise to close the reality gap on workplace safety.
Hazards 74, April-June 2001 [pdf]
For years union negotiators have seen work organisation as a matter of organising shifts and work processes to maximise pay. Jon Richards of the UK public sector union UNISON says Europe's unions are now searching for solutions that improve all aspects of the working world, including health and safety.
Hazards 73, January-March 2001 [pdf]
what we bargained for
The economy is buoyant, but we work harder for less pay. We know more about hazards and their control, but work-related stress, strains, depression and violence are soaring. We have never been more productive, and we are rewarded with temporary contracts, long hours and back breaking workloads. Hazards lists the top 20 questions union reps should ask on workplace change and gives pointers on a better way to work.
Hazards 69, January-March 2000 [pdf]
know-how on chemicals
Officially backed research found 90 per trade union reps understand the principles of chemical safety laws and almost 80 per cent know about chemical safety limits. By contrast, a third of companies using hazardous substances have no knowledge of the relevant law and two-thirds are unaware of their legal duties on chemical safety limits.
Hazards 60, October-December 1997
It is two decades since the first trade union safety reps appeared in British workplaces. Research suggests safety reps have during those two decades helped prevent 2.5 million serious workplace injuries. Workplaces with a full union safety structure are twice as safe as those without. It is no wonder workers want union protection at work. Super safety reps
Hazards 64, October-December 1998
The union effect -El "efecto sindicato"
Mucha gente piensa que la principal función de un sindicato es luchar por mejores condiciones de vida. A menudo, sin embargo, la batalla es más básica y los sindicatos luchan por la vida de los trabajadores.
Por Experienca, n.21, Julio 2003 More on Ardystil - Por experienca
When it comes to health
and safety, your life should be in union hands
Many people think the labour movement is about fighting for a better standard of living. Frequently though the battle is more basic, reports Labour Education, the magazine of the ILO workers' bureau. The unions are fighting for their members' lives. When it comes to health and safety, your life should be in union hands Rory O'Neill, Labour Education, vol.126, April 2002 [pdf] • Español: El sindicalismo, un medio de prevención [pdf] • Français: Le syndicalisme comme moyen de prévention [pdf]
Global union agreements
A comprehensive annotated list of Global Framework Agreements concluded between transnational companies and Global Union Federations. more
report confirms unions are good for you
An August 2004 report from TUC shows that UK unions are you best defence against work-related accidents and ill-health. Report author, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, said: This report confirms in simple and clear terms that safety representatives are one of the most significant factors in improving the safety culture of an organisation. While unions have known this for along time, we need employers to look at the evidence and start accepting the huge impact that consultation can make.
The union effect, TUC briefing, August 2004
ACTU: Safe at work
The Austalian Council of Trade Unions' dedicated safety site.
Global: ILO report calls for bigger union role
A new report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) highlights the crucial union role in securing safer, healthier work and argues strongly for a strengthening of collective voice as the primary means of improving working conditions, and protecting workers health.
ILO news release Factsheet no.11: Work insecurity work related ill-health [pdf] ILO Socio-Economic Security website • Economic Security for a better world, ILO Socio-Economic Security Programme, International Labour Office, 2004. 50 Swiss francs. ISBN 92-2-115611-7. Free online summary [pdf]
UK: Vote with your
feet and save your neck
In his August 2000 paper, Adam Seth Litwin of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics concludes: "Strikes and slow-downs serve as efficacious union tools for reducing workplace injuries. labour possesses vital, tacit, shopfloor knowledge regarding health and safety, knowledge that is imperative for reducing accident rates."
Adam Seth Litwin. Trade unions and industrial injury in Great Britain, Discussion Paper 468, August 2000. Abstract Full paper [pdf format]
protect both jobs and the environment
New union strategies can project both jobs and the environment. Global union co-operation and policies like "just transition" can mean better, more sustainable work. Trade Union World, ICFTU, March 2001
Union workplaces are
Unionised workplaces in Australia are three times as likely to have likely to have a health and safety committee and twice as likely to have undergone a management occupational health and safety audit in the previous 12 months, a major government survey has found.
Hawke, Anne & Wooden, Mark (1997), The 1995 Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey, The Australian Economic Review 30 (3), 323-328, doi: 10.1111/1467-8462.00032. more
impact of a worker health study on working conditions
Workers at 35 Las Vegas hotel-casinos have overwhelmingly approved union contracts that set new limits on housekeepers' workload. The workers' union, Hotel Employees/ Restaurant Employees (HERE) Local 226, brought the workload issue into negotiations by citing preliminary results from a new workers' health study undertaken with the University of California at Berkeley's Labor Occupational Health Program.
The findings were published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, vol.23, no.3, 2002 USA, LOHP
Facts @ Your Fingertips - An
Internet Research Manual
US public sector union AFSCME has produced a pretty impressive guide for union activists, Facts @ your fingertips. This includes a useful section on health and safety... although geared towards a US union audience, the resources on whole would be useful anywhere.
AFSCME • General research • Health and safety
Regional safety reps in
How the Swedish system of regional union safety reps works in the Swedish transport industry. Sweden.
TUTB paper, August 2000 [pdf format]
Back to Basics: Jump-starting stalled
health and safety committees
It's time to jump-start health and safety committees, ensuring they're part of the solution, not part of the problem. Canadian public service union CUPE has launched a "back to basics" initiative to train CUPE activists. The union says: "Too often health and safety committees have become complacent or too 'warm and fuzzy' between workers and employers - or both." Canada.
CUPE, Canada. February 2001
Is organising enough?
"Is organising enough? Race,gender and union culture" concludes the best of the new organising "takes place in locals that balance the organizing priority with the need to encourage members in the life of the union". One local union director notes: "Things were good for a number of years. We got contract after contract with improvements in wages, benefits, pensions, and better health and safety in the plants. We were good grievance administrators and good arbitrators, but everybody got lulled to sleep. We became bureaucrats."
New Labor Forum V6 2000 Spring/Summer Issue • SEMCOSH review
Safety behaviour in the construction industry Full report for Irish HSA
Employee involvement in health and safety: some examples of good practice HSE Health and Safety Laboratory report 2001 [pdf]
HSE publishes new research on how taking workers advice seriously can improve health and safety TUC comment, 21 December 2001
Britain: Don’t get hurt, get organised!
TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson says the union body “has made organising for health and safety central to our approach.” As well as TUC training courses and guides, the TUC points to examples of good practice where union investigations, negotiations and action have led to safer, healthier work.
What did you do to make work safer and healthier? Email your examples to TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson. TUC health and safety organisation webpages. TUC news release. The Guardian. Risks 703. 23 May 2015
Liberia: Unions key to stopping Ebola spread
In Liberia, no new cases of Ebola were reported in the first week in April and the overall death toll, while horrific at nearly 4,200, is far less than some health experts predicted last year - a result based in part on the coordinated efforts of the Liberian trade union movement.
Solidarity Center news report. Risks 698. 18 April 2015
USA: Union mines are safer and more productive
Unionised coal mines are safer and more productive than non-union mines, a study has confirmed. Research by SNL Energy found that in 2013 unionised mines in the US coal belt produced about 94,091 tons of coal per injury versus 71,110 in non-union mines, despite research suggesting that unionised miners are more likely to report workplace injuries.
SNL Data Dispatch. AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 697 • 11 April 2015
USA: ‘Vast’ gains in oil safety strike proposals
A safety strike by refinery workers in the US could be close to settlement after a tentative agreement was struck between oil giant Shell and the union USW. The deal, which has still to be ratified by the membership, requires an immediate review of staffing and workload assessments, with USW safety personnel involved at every facility.
USW news release. AFL-CIO Now blog. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: INEOS safety reps plummet, safety breaches soar
A dramatic drop in the number of union safety reps at the giant INEOS oil processing site in Grangemouth has coincided with a marked upturn in enforcement action for criminal safety breaches. The union Unite says the number of union health and safety representatives at Grangemouth had dropped from 64 to single figures.
Sunday Herald. Rob Edwards’ website and leaked Gordon Milne email [word]. Risks 695. 21 March 2015
Britain: Are you looking for trouble?
The union Unite has embarked on a campaign to nip workplace health and safety problems in the bud. A new national ‘Looking for trouble’ health and safety campaign is urging Unite safety reps to: “Look for it. Find it. Fix it.”
Unite ‘Looking for trouble’ campaign leaflet and health and safety webpages • Risks 683 • 6 December 2014
Britain: Are you looking for trouble?
Unite intends to nip workplace health and safety problems in the bud rather than letting them fester and get worse. The union’s new national ‘Looking for trouble’ health and safety campaign is urging Unite safety reps to: “Look for it. Find it. Fix it.”
Unite ‘Looking for Trouble’ campaign and health and safety webpages • Risks 682 • 29 November 2014
Global: Union campaign wins cargo safety code
Sustained campaigning by the global transport union federation ITF has helped secure an international code of practice on safety in the packing of cargo containers. ITF’s road, rail, dockers’ and seafarers’ sections all participated in the campaign, which has now seen the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) governing body endorse a code of practice on the safe packing of cargo transport units.
ITF news release and the ITF container safety campaign • Risks 680 • 15 November 2014
Global: Unions put your safety on the agenda
Unions don’t just protect your livelihood, they protect your life, the leader of the global union federation ITUC has said. Launching a new ITUC occupational and health and safety newsletter and webpages, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said the new resources demonstrate how unions have influenced directly safety and justice from the workplace level to high level negotiations like September’s G20 meeting of labour and employment ministers.
ITUC news story • ITUC occupational health and safety webpages • Issue 1 of the ITUC occupational health and safety e-news • Risks 677 • 25 October 2014
Global: UK and Canadian TV unions in safety link-up
Unions representing non-fiction TV workers in Canada and the UK have joined forces to challenge poor safety and working conditions in the sector. The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) and BECTU prepared a joint statement of principles aimed at improving the situation, submitting it to production and broadcast executives.
BECTU news release, No to TV abuse webpages and code of practice • CMG campaign webpage • Risks 676 • 18 October 2014
UK: Union health and safety campaign delivers
The power of union organisation to swiftly sort our health and safety problems at work has been demonstrated by a UNISON health service branch. The local UNISON branch was intent on getting the problems sorted, and told management it wanted a joint health and safety committee – which promptly delivered a reduction in injuries, work-related ill-health retirements and compensation claims.
UNISON news release • Risks 675 • 11 October 2014
Bangladesh: Garment unions improve safety skills
Trade union organisers in the ready made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh have received a week of training designed to increase their effectiveness on occupational health and safety issues. The training programme, which received funding from Canada, the Netherlands and the UK, was provided by the International Labour Organisation’s workers’ bureau, ACTRAV.
ILO news release • Daily Star • Risks 674 • 4 October 2014
Cambodia: Brands say they will pay more for clothes
In an unprecedented move, eight major fashion retailers have said they are prepared to pay more for clothes made in Cambodia. It follows a global day of action by unions in support of garment workers’ demands for a higher wage, in a campaign that gathered momentum after repeated reports of workers collapsing at work as a result of poor working conditions and malnutrition.
IndustriALL news release • Risks 673 • 27 September 2014
Britain: Unions make work a fair bit safer
Unions make work safer, fairer and better, a new TUC guide shows. ‘The union advantage’ demonstrates the benefits of unions not only to individual workers but to employers and society as well, and points to government research that established union health and safety reps save taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds each year by reducing lost time from occupational injuries and work-related illness.
TUC news release and guide, The union advantage • Risks 671 • 13 September 2014
Britain: Worker involvement is needed in asbestos firms
A lack of worker involvement in the asbestos removal industry is compromising both the safety of workers and the survival prospects of firms, the union GMB has warned. GMB, which represents workers in the thermal insulation industry, is calling on all licensed asbestos removal companies to join with the union to tackle concerns being raised about health, safety and welfare of workers in the industry.
GMB news release • Asbestos Liaison Group • Risks 670 • 7 September 2014
Britain: UNISON wants action on National Inspection Day
A combination of spending cuts, staff shortages, overwork, and worries over job and financial insecurity mean the role of active union safety reps has never been more necessary, UNISON has said. The union is calling on its safety reps to highlight this safety rep role during European Health and Safety Week, which takes place in the third week in October, running this year from Monday 20 October.
UNISON National Inspection Day briefing and resources and European Week webpage • TUC European Health and Safety Week webpages • Risks 668 • 23 August 2014
Australia: Union fights attacks on safety rights
An Australian union has launched a television advertisement in a new phase of a campaign against a watered down of workplace safety protections. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is challenging attacks on safety rules at both the federal and state level.
CFMEU news release and TV advertisement • Stand up. Speak out. Come Home • Risks 667 • 16 August 2014
Australia: Union right of entry laws ‘save lives’
Calls by Australia’s building industry to further tighten the restrictions on union officials entering construction sites will lead to more injuries and deaths at work, the national union federation ACTU has said. ACTU assistant secretary Michael Borowick said: “The Master Builders Association is effectively trying to diminish the ability of workers to speak up for themselves in their workplaces.”
ACTU news release • Risks 666 • 9 August 2014
USA: How to win safer workplaces
Focusing campaigns to improve workplace safety regulation and practices at the local rather than national level can reap enormous benefits, according to a new how-to manual. The guide from the Center for Progressive Reform concentrates on the progress on worker safety issues likely to come at the state and local levels, far from “the general dysfunction in Washington.”
CPR news release and guide, Winning safer workplaces: A manual for state and local policy reform • The Pump Handle • Risks 661 • 5 July 2014
USA: Huhtamaki workers stand up for safety
Finnish packaging and paper products corporation Huhtamaki is facing criticism in the US for using lower safety and employment standards at its non-unionised plants in the country. A new report from the USW and the national union federation AFL-CIO reveals how the company’s expansion strategy in the US is creating low-wage, precarious employment while threatening the job security and living standards of unionised employees.
USW news release and full report • AFL-CIO Now blog • Risks 659 • 21 June 2014
Global: Unions and GDF Suez sign global safety deal
GDF Suez and global unions have agreed a global safety deal which will underpin improved safety for its workers and subcontractors and see use of hazardous substances reduced. The French multinational signed the Global Framework Agreement last month with global union federations BWI, IndustriALL and Public Services International (PSI).
BWI news release • Risks 658 • 14 June 2014
Australia: Unions are better in life and in deaths
In 2010, two fatalities occurred in the pulp and paper industry in New South Wales, Australia: one at a unionised workplace, the other at a non-unionised site. The difference in the responses was striking, according to the union CFMEU, with no transparency or improvements at the non-union firm, and union involvement, a quickly implemented plan of action and a marked improvement in safety performance at the union firm.
Stand up. Speak out. Come home • Risks 657 • 7 June 2014
Britain: Trio of union reps ‘saved hundreds of lives’
Three local union reps have ‘undoubtedly’ helped save hundreds of lives, a newspaper profile of the men has concluded. The Western Morning News notes that in the five years from 2008 to 2012, a total of 396 asbestos-related deaths were recorded in Devon and Cornwall, but adds: “That figure would most likely be far higher but for the work of former dockyard union leaders Bill Goffin, John Williams and Dick Powell.”
Western Morning News • Risks 649 • 5 April 2014
Global: Safety committees work on union power
Management-worker joint health and safety committees (JHSC) are only effective where “empowerment mechanisms” ensure workers have a real voice, a study has concluded. The review, which considered 31 studies from Canada, the US, Australia and the UK and included input “from various sectors and perspectives including government, employers, and unions”, found unions not only improved the effectiveness of committees, they appeared to promote the introduction of legislation that also led to improvements in safety performance.
Yassi A, Lockhart K, Sykes M, Buck B, Stime B, and Spiegel JM. Effectiveness of joint health and safety committees: A realist review. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, volume 56, number 4, pages 424-438, 2013 • Risks 634 • 7 December 2013
Britain: New tactics see directors face doorstep protests
Unite is championing new ‘leverage’ techniques to get companies to take safety and other union concerns more seriously. The methods, which include demonstrations outside the homes and offices of company directors, were used to startling effect in the recent Crossrail blacklisting dispute says the union.
Unite organising webpages • Construction Enquirer • Risks 631 • 16 November 2013
Canada: Unions fight for safety protections
As unions in Canada press for proper enforcement of the workplace manslaughter law, the federal government is trying to remove long-established union safety rights. The United Steelworkers (USW) has launching a national campaign to lobby provincial and federal governments for greater enforcement of the Westray Act, nine years after the union successfully lobbied for passage of the historic workplace manslaughter legislation. USW news release and Stop the Killing website • Unifor news release • OHS Canada • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013
Canada: Study confirms the union “safety dividend”
The shocking extent and causes of workplace injury under-reporting have been exposed by a Canadian study that also reveals how unions protect workers both from unsafe workplaces and a government keen to downplay the risks. The province of Alberta is under-counting workplace injuries by a factor of 10, according to Athabasca University’s Professor Bob Barnetson, who also identified a significant union “safety dividend”.
Parkland Institute news release, statement and executive summary • Risks 625 • 5 October 2013
Global: Unions are great for health and the economy
A union presence has a strong positive effect on the health of the workforce and the economy, a Europe-wide study has found. Researchers Maureen Dollard and Daniel Neser from the University of South Australia combined five different data sets canvassing 31 wealthy European countries, including the UK; they found 13 per cent of the variance in national life expectancy could be explained by differences in worker self-reported health and national gross domestic product (GDP) – and unions were a key factor explaining these differences.
Maureen F Dollard and Daniel Y Neser. Worker health is good for the economy: Union density and psychosocial safety climate as determinants of country differences in worker health and productivity in 31 European countries, Social Science & Medicine, volume 92, pages 114–123, September 2013 • Risks 617 • 10 August 2013
Australia: Thousands stand up for site safety
An army of 10,000 construction workers jammed the streets of Melbourne on 30 April, calling for safety on sites operated by construction firm Grocon. The union CFMEU said the turnout was particularly impressive as newspapers, politicians and employer groups had all warned workers off attending the march.
CFMEU news release and 15 minute film on the safety dispute • BWI news release • The Age and related pre-rally article • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Bangladesh: Pressure leads to garment safety commitments
International clothing brands, bowing to pressure from unions and campaign groups, have agreed to meet a 15 May deadline to finalise an agreement on fire and building safety in the garment industry in Bangladesh. Under the agreement, funds will be made available for inspections, training and upgrading dangerous facilities.
IndustriALL news release • Clean Clothes Campaign news release • Primark statement • Loblaw statement • Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement • BBC News Online • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Global: Call for a weight limit on cement bags
Global construction union federation BWI has launched a new campaign to reduce the weight of cement bags. The ‘25 kilos’ campaign aims to convince cement and aggregates manufacturers and distributors the measure is necessary to prevent manual handling injuries, particularly those affecting the lower back.
BWI news release and campaign poster, guidance for safety representatives on manual handling, letter to companies and checklist manual handling • Risks 603 • 4 May 2013
Britain: Unions must fight for safety in a ‘hostile’ climate
A ‘hostile’ political climate is jeopardising hard won safety improvements at work, the TUC has warned. Launching the new edition of its bestselling safety publication Hazards at work, TUC said the government’s disdain for workplace safety had resulted in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) being barred from making unannounced visits to most workplaces.
TUC news release and full report Hazards at work: Organising for safe and healthy workplaces • Risks 597 • 16 March 2013
Britain: Take your time off for training
Union safety reps should take time out for training to make sure they maximise their effectiveness, the TUC has advised. A new ‘Time off for training’ factsheet notes: “Training is very important for any health and safety representative if they are going to be able to represent and support their members with confidence.”
Time off for training: Trade union health and safety representatives, TUC factsheet, February 2013 • Risks 594 • 23 February 2013
Britain: What do we want? Here’s our starter for 10
Regular safety inspections, a maximum temperature in the workplace and far greater control of carcinogens are just some of the improvements that the TUC is calling for in a new 10 point safety manifesto. ‘Time for change’ features 10 key recommendations which the TUC believes, if implemented by a future government, could help turn around the UK’s poor health safety record, and prevent many of the 20,000 workplace-related deaths which occur in the UK every year.
TUC news release • Time for change: A trade union manifesto for reclaiming health and safety at work, TUC, February 2013 • Risks 592 • 9 February 2012
Britain: You can bet your life on unions
With the chances of seeing an official safety inspector now vanishingly small, it has never been more important for union reps to be vigilant and active on workplace safety. Writing in the new issue of Hazards magazine, union health and safety specialist Mick Holder says the escalating attacks on health and safety protections mean union reps need to “up their game” to defend their members’ interests.
Game on, Hazards magazine • Risks 589 • 19 January 2013
New Zealand: Union safety reps need more power
Union health and safety representatives must be given increased powers if New Zealand’s poor workplace safety record is to improve, unions have said. The Council of Trades Unions (CTU) is urging an Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety to act on the recommendations of a Royal Commission which called for an expanded safety role for union reps (Risks 581).
NZCTU news release • Risks 584 • 1 December 2012
New Zealand: Unions welcome recommendations on rights
Unions have welcomed the Royal Commission report into the Pike River mine disaster, which concluded workers must be given more safety rights, information and an expanded role. The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) said that the report of the investigation into the tragedy, which killed 29 miners in a 19 November 2010 explosion, “is a damning indictment of both the company and weak regulation of health and safety by government and brings shame to this country that now must be addressed.”
NZCTU news release and Pike River Phase 4 NZCTU submission • EPMU news release and submission • Risks 581 • 10 November 2012
Global: Safety toolkit planned for steel sites
A global health and safety committee at ArcelorMittal is keeping a keen eye on safety standards at the steel giant’s plants worldwide. Over 50 union and company health and safety leaders met in Luxembourg last week to review safety performance across the group, leading to a commitment to develop a new improvement toolkit for sites. IndustriALL news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Warm welcome for union safety passport
The new health and safety qualification - the Creative Industries Safety Passport – launched by theatre, film and TV professionals’ union BECTU received a warm reception on its first formal outing. This positive response at the PLASA2012 trade show this month was followed by the news the training course has been accepted as part of the industry-endorsed Production Safety Passport (PSP) scheme.
BECTU news release • Risks 575 • 29 September 2012
Britain: Safety professionals praise Olympic safety
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health has praised the safety record of the 2012 London Olympics. IOSH executive director of policy Luise Vassie said the planning and hosting of the London Olympic Games had given a twofold health and safety legacy leaving lasting impression on the construction sector and providing a blueprint for how to organise safe, large-scale events. TUC's Head of health and safety Hugh Robertson added the games had been a success mainly because the joint approach involving the ODA, contractors and unions had led to more cooperation
HR Magazine • IOSH podcast • Risks 570 • 25 August 2012
USA: Unions are good for your health
Unions are good for your health, a new study has found. Researchers from Duke University in the USA found that more unionised American workers consider themselves healthy than do their non-union counterparts, an indication that membership is good for the body as well as the pay cheque.
Duke University research blog • Megan Reynolds and David Brady. Bringing you more than the weekend: Union membership and self-rated health in the US, Social Forces volume 90, pages 1023-1049, 2012 [pdf].
CEPR blog • National Electrical Contractors Association news report • Risks 561 • 23 June 2012
Britain: Warning on dangerous flying hours
An influential Commons committee has backed pilots’ concerns about new European flying hour limits. A report from the Transport Select Committee says that the proposals, which could see pilots landing planes after being awake for a 22 hour stretch, could jeopardise safety.
Transport Select Committee news release and report • BALPA news release • BBC News Online • Morning Star • Risks 558 • 2 June 2012
Britain: Safety reps do the business
Union safety reps have saved ‘countless lives’, a new TUC briefing has revealed. The message comes in the latest bulletin from TUC ahead of its national 28 April Day of Action to defend health and safety.
Defend health and safety: 28 April Day of Action, Bulletin 5, April 2012.
TUC resources: 28 April webpage, Infographic, guides to dealing with the press [pdf] and lobbying MPs [pdf] and 2012 Workers' Memorial Day and TUC Day of Action list of activities.
Other resources: Get kitted out with Hazards Campaign forget-me-knot ribbons, posters, lapel/stationery stickers [pdf order form], window stickers and t-shirts [pdf order form] - the perfect attire for a 28 April event. Further information from the Hazards Campaign, telephone 0161 636 7557.
ITUC/Hazards Workers' Memorial Day worldwide list of events and resources • Risks 550 • 7 April 2012
USA: Union-won law saves thousands of lives
A US union-won law to protect health workers from needlesticks injuries and related bloodborne diseases has led to a dramatic reduction in injuries and related deaths. A paper in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes: “Our findings… support the concept that well-crafted legislation bolstered by effective enforcement can be a motivating factor in the transition to injury-control practices and technologies, resulting in a safer work environment and workforce.”
Elayne K Phillips, Mark R Conaway and Janine C Jagger. Percutaneous injuries before and after the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, New England Journal of Medicine, volume 366, number 7, February 2012 [pdf] • SEIU YouTube clip on the role the union played getting the law passed • Risks 547 • 17 March 2012
Britain: Worker involvement saves lives and money
There are substantial business benefits from worker involvement in health and safety, Prospect’s Sarah Page has told an audience of industry figures. Giving a series of examples, Page, the national health and safety officer with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors’ union, said the benefits of involving the workforce in health and safety would be visible in the balance book as well as the accident book.
Prospect news release and ‘union safety effect’ webpages • Risks 546 • 10 March 2012
Global: Olympic merchandise agreement starts to deliver
A landmark workers’ rights agreement between the TUC and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has already started to deliver. Just one day after the agreement was signed, LOCOG published a list of their licensees and suppliers. This included details of the locations worldwide where production is taking place.
TUC Stronger Unions blog • ITUC news release • Risks 545 • 3 March 2012
Britain: Union helps to secure crossing deaths justice
A rail union has been instrumental in securing the criminal prosecution of Network Rail on health and safety charges. Network Rail has admitted safety failings at a level crossing where two teenage girls were killed more than six years ago, saying it will plead guilty to three breaches of health and safety laws and promising to press on with checks on thousands of other crossings.
ORR news release • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Daily Mail • The Telegraph • Risks 541 • 4 February 2012
Britain: Power station pilots joint safety training
A major energy firm is working with Unite to encourage union safety reps to take a bigger workplace health and safety role. Drax Power Ltd is implementing a programme of joint manager and safety rep training, with the full backing of the union.
Unite news release • Risks 538 • 14 January 2012
Australia: Unions ‘speak up for health and safety’
Australian unions have launched a nationwide awareness campaign to inform workers of their rights and employers of their obligations under newly harmonised health and safety laws. Announcing the ‘Speak Up’ campaign, Michael Borowick, assistant secretary of the union federation ACTU, said. “They have an iron-clad right, under law, to elect their own health and safety representatives,” adding: “These reps act as watchdogs within the workplace, making employers comply with the law well before regulators have to become involved.”
ACTU news release and Speak Up website • Canberra Times • Nine News • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Panel finds safety reps are ‘crucial’ offshore
Safety reps are ‘crucial’ to ensuring safety offshore and should have more support from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a government-commissioned report has concluded. A panel headed by Professor Geoffrey Maitland of Imperial College, London concluded “workforce safety representatives have a crucial role to play.”
DECC news release • Offshore oil and gas in the UK – an independent review of the regulatory regime, December 2011 [pdf] • Risks 537 • 7 January 2012
Britain: Workplace reps save lives and money
The prime minister’s threat to remove funding for the time public sector union reps take to do their union work ignores the life- and cash-saving role these reps play, the TUC has said. David Cameron told the Commons: “I do not think full-time trade unionists working in the public sector on trades union business, rather than serving the public, is right, and we will put that to an end.”
SHP Online • BBC News Online • UNISON Active • TURC website • Risks 535 • 10 December 2011
Australia: Strike victory at deadly chicken plant
Staff who had to hide serious injuries at an Australian poultry plant or risk dismissal, have won protection from victimisation and better wages after taking action. The agreement came after a 13-day blockade of the Baiada Poultry plant by picketers and supporters.
NUW news release • The Age • Sydney Morning Herald and related opinion piece • Risks 534 • 3 December 2011
Britain: Safety reps spread on Virgin territory
Health and safety is helping build union influence in parts of a communication giant which has demonstrated “residual resistance” to the union. CWU has more than doubled the number of union health and safety reps in Virgin Media to 17, with 10 new reps recently put through their paces in an intensive five-day union-run training course.
CWU news release • Risks 534 • 3 December 2011
Britain: TUC says it is time for ‘unionreps ACTION!’
The TUC has launch of a new set of online resources for union reps to help them organise, campaign and build stronger unions – ‘unionreps ACTION!’ The union body says they “include everything needed to build the union and campaign to win.” To access the resources, union reps have to register with the existing TUC ‘unionreps’ website.”
Background on unionreps Action! • TUC unionreps website – if you’re already a member, you just need to log in • Risks 533 • 26 November 2011
Britain: Unions and good jobs delivered Olympic safety
Construction union UCATT has said an official report on safety lessons from the London 2012 construction project has ignored the critical safety factors – the role played by unions and direct employment in delivering an unprecedented safety record. UCATT regional secretary Jerry Swain said: “Direct employment allied with full–time union representation created the environment in which worker involvement could be achieved.”
HSE news release and London 2012 website • UCATT news release • Construction Enquirer • Risks 529 • 29 October 2011
Global: Union safety deal with food giant Danone
Global union federation IUF has signed a wide-ranging health and safety agreement with Danone, the giant international food firm. The new document, signed this month by IUF general secretary Ron Oswald and Danone CEO Frank Riboud, covers workplace health, safety, working conditions and stress.
IUF news release and new IUF/Danone health and safety agreement [pdf] • Risks 528 • 22 October 2011
Britain: Union to Union support for banana workers
There are a lot of hazards in banana production, from the liberal use of pesticides to the less than liberal employment practices pursued in the banana production supply chains. Banana Link supports the lobbying and advocacy work of eight Latin American union partners as well as developing and strengthening links with new union contacts in Cameroon, Ghana and the Ivory Coast – but it urgently needs funds to continue the work.
Banana Link ‘Union to Union’ appeal • Risks 528 • 22 October 2011
Britain: Union reps make business sense
Union reps are not a business cost item, but an important resource for employers in both the public and private sector, according to a new paper from the TUC. And, suggests the extensively referenced document on the provision of facilities and facility time for union reps, there’s no clearer indication of this effect than the livesaving, money-saving role of union safety reps.
Stronger Unions • TUC news release and full paper, The Facts about Facility Time for Union Reps [pdf] •The Union Effect - How unions make a difference to health and safety, TUC, July 2011 • Risks 528 • 22 October 2011
South African: Mine workers strike for safety
Thousands of South African miners took strike action on 4 October to protest against the conditions in South African mines. South African mines have a very poor safety record and there are around 100 deaths from injuries every year.
ICEM press release • Risks 527 • 15 October 2011
USA: Food giant pays for PPE time robbery
More than 17,000 Tyson poultry workers in 41 US plants have won a $32 million (£20.7m) lawsuit after a 12-year struggle to get paid for the time they spent donning essential protective clothing. Foodworkers’ union UFCW initiated the suit, which was approved by the United States District Court in Georgia.
UFCW news release • Risks 524 • 24 September 2011
Australia: Union goes to court after being barred
Australian construction union CFMEU is taking building materials giant Boral to court after union safety specialists were barred from entering a company facility to investigate a complaint. The union claims its officials were locked out of Boral's plasterboard distribution centre in Fyshwick twice in recent months after they tried to investigate worker complaints about the presence of asbestos.
Canberra Times • Risks 524 • 24 September 2011
Britain: Could union learning nurture safety reps?
Unions continue to play an effective role in representing workers, a report has concluded, with some non-traditional activities like ‘unionlearn’ sometimes acting an incubator for new union safety reps.
What role for unions in the future of workplace relations?, ACAS, September 2011 [pdf]. TUC Stronger Unions blog • Unionlearn guidance on ULRs • The Union Effect - How unions make a difference to health and safety, TUC, 2011 • Risks 523 • 17 September 2011
USA: ‘Stop work’ card works at ArcelorMittal
The use of a ‘stop work’ card at a US steel plant with a terrible safety record has enabled a dramatic improvement in conditions. The LaPlace steel plant in New Orleans was built in 1979 and was bought by global steel giant ArcelorMittal in 2008.
IMF news release • Risks 521 • 3 September 2011
Global: Unions pact with steel firm saves lives
A safety pact between unions and the world’s largest steel producer has resulted in a dramatic reduction in workplace injuries. A report launched by metals giant ArcelorMittal and union bodies the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF), United Steelworkers (USW), and the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) reviews how unions and management have been working together to deliver better safety results for ArcelorMittal.
IMF news release • joint report and full text of the global health and safety agreement [pdf] • Risks 519 • 20 August 2011
Britain: The writing’s on the wall for safety
Retail union Usdaw has become the latest to take to the walls in a bid to improve workplace organisation around health and safety. Two new posters present bald messages for the workplace noticeboard: ‘Let’s work together for health and safety’; and ‘Put health and safety first.’
Usdaw resources pages and posters • Check out the Hazards magazine poster gallery • Risks 519 • 20 August 2011
USA: Unions push for safe hospitals
A coalition of California hospital workers’ unions is reviving its call for the state to address safety concerns at mental health hospitals. The four unions joined together to form the Safety Now! Coalition after the death of hospital psychiatric technician Donna Gross in October 2010.
Safety Now! Coalition facebook group • Sacramento Bee • Los Angeles Times • Risks 514 • 16 July 2011
Britain: Report confirms ‘strong’ union safety effect
Workplace injuries would be slashed ‘at a stroke’ if all workplaces had a union health and safety rep, a new TUC report has concluded. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, author the 2011 edition of TUC’s ‘The Union Effect’ report, it “shows that the most effective thing that the government could do to protect workers would be to enforce and strengthen the current consultation regulations.”
The Union Effect - How unions make a difference to health and safety • TUC worker involvement webpages • Stronger Unions • Risks 514 • 16 July 2011
Britain: Bid to get more women safety reps
Safety enforcers have joined with unions to encourage more women to become workplace health and safety reps. ‘Help make your workplace safer’, a leaflet published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and backed by rail safety regulator ORR, the TUC and individual unions, notes: “European research suggests that women are under-represented in the health and safety decision-making process. In particular, more women are needed to be safety representatives.”
Help make your workplace safer leaflet [pdf] • TUC safety reps webpages. HSE worker involvement and HSE health and safety representatives webpages • Risks 510 • 18 June 2011
Britain: UNISON pushes organisation on safety
Public sector union UNISON is putting health and safety at the centre of a recruitment and organising drive. General secretary Dave Prentis says the union’s new ‘Organising for health and safety’ guide is part of a strategy “to turn UNISON into a genuinely organising union.”
Organising for health and safety: a UNISON guide [pdf] • TUC health and safety organising pages • Risks 515 • 11 June 2011
USA: Union mines are substantially safer
Miners in unionised coal mines are far less likely to be killed or injured at work than miners in non-union operations - and this effect may be getting more pronounced, a new study has found. The independent Stanford University research found “overall, unionisation predicts about a 17-33 per cent drop in traumatic injuries and about a 33-72 per cent drop in fatalities.”
Alison D. Morantz. Coal mine safety: Do unions make a difference? ,Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 413, Stanford Law School, 27 May 2011 [pdf] • Stanford webpages on Coal mine safety: Do unions make a difference? • AFL-CIO Now blog • UMWA news release • Charleston Daily Mail • More on the union safety effect • Risks 508 • 4 June 2011
Britain: Paper mill reps win top award
A team of union safety reps have won a top award after shaking up safety at a Scottish paper mill. The eight Unite reps from Tullis Russell (TR) received the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) Safety Rep of Year award after negotiated a new approach centred on a recognition that trade union involvement is crucial to effective health and safety management.
Unite news release • Risks 503 • 30 April 2011
Australia: Union says guard it – or ban it
Workplaces are so dangerous in Australia you can expect two amputations to occur every work day, a union conference has heard. “Every year on average about 675 amputations occur due to industrial accidents,” Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) national secretary Paul Howes said.
AWU news release • Risks 494 • 19 February 2011
Philippines: Union reps could be deputised
A labour group in the Philippines has urged the government to deputise union presidents and officers as labour inspectors to strengthen the enforcement of employment standards and safety rules. The call, which has been welcomed by the employment minister, came after reports suggested a construction site where 10 construction workers died on 27 January was ignoring employment and safety rules.
BWI news release • PM news release • Manila Bulletin • Construction Enquirer • Risks 492 • 5 February 2011
USA: Worker involvement is key to safe work
Despite 40 years of regulatory and voluntary programmes by the USA’s workplace safety watchdog, worker protections have not kept up with technological or scientific advances, according to a new report. Researchers at the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production call for comprehensive workplace injury and illness prevention programmes that tap worker and employer knowledge and measures to systematically identify and control workplace hazards.
David Kriebel, Molly M Jacobs, Pia Markkanen and Joel Tickner. Lessons learned: Solutions for workplace safety and health, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, January 2011 • Risks 492 • 5 February 2011
Near miss success for Unite safety rep
A Unite safety representative has been named runner-up at the National Food and Drink Health and Safety Awards. Keith Smith, Unite senior steward and safety rep at the Unilever factory at Burton-on-Trent came second with his idea to boost the number of workplace safety representatives and improve safety on site.
Unite news release • Risks 477 • 9 October 2010
Britain: Non-union firms fail to involve workers
Unless unions are involved, companies are unlikely to take worker involvement seriously and even when they do it will be on management terms, new research has found. The RoSPA report concludes that worker involvement in health and safety “as a concept, is low down on the agendas of most of the employers; there is little willingness to invest money and resources in worker involvement.”
RoSPA news release • Worker involvement in health and safety: What works? [pdf] • TUC worker involvement webpages • Risks 476 • 2 October 2010
Peru: Site workers in mass safety protest
A safety and pay protest in Peru saw 150,000 workers take to the streets this month. The 14 July 2010 protest, called by Peru’s FTCCP construction workers’ union federation, saw 25,000 demonstrate in Lima, with major events also held in other cities.
BWI news report • Risks 466 • 24 July 2010
Britain: Tube workers walk out to defend colleague
Tube workers at Rickmansworth walked out this week in support of a colleague they believe was victimised after a passenger was injured. The 77 ASLEF members stopped work for 24 hours at midnight on Tuesday in protest at the “utterly wrong” decision, with the union saying the incident was “caused by safety deficiencies, especially concerning mirrors, which we had reported regularly to management.”
ASLEF news release • BBC News Online • Risks 466 • 24 July 2010
Australia: Union bans nuke work
An Australian union has banned its members from working in uranium mines, nuclear power stations or any other part of the nuclear fuel cycle. The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) says other unions have expressed strong support for the campaign against uranium, which it has labelled the “new asbestos” of the workplace.
ETU news release and When the dust settles video part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5 • Green jobs, safe jobs blog • Sydney Morning Herald • Brisbane Times • Beyond Nuclear radiation and health webpages and Australia webpages • Risks 459 • 5 June 2010
Morocco: Firm ignores global safety deal
Union reps in Morocco employed by a company part-owned by the multinational ArcelorMittal are demanding the firm respects its global agreement on health and safety. A monitoring mission from the global union federation IMF met last week with shop stewards from SONACID production sites, where workers are reported to be subjected “to psychological pressure” and told they could lose bonuses, other benefits and career opportunities “to convince them not to report accidents,” IMF said.
IMF news release • Risks 458 • 29 May 2010
Turkey: Unions necessary to prevent disasters
Unions provide the ongoing scrutiny of workplace safety standards that can keep Turkish mines safe, a union safety expert has said. Speaking in the wake of three methane explosions in three different mines in the last six months, Fikret Sazak said the disasters were a direct result of a lack of proper precautions and strong workers’ union.
Hurriyet Daily News • Today’s Zaman • Risks 458 • 29 May 2010
Britain: Fighting for your life
Hazards magazine is pressing head with its campaign to defend workplace safety from a retreat from regulation and enforcement. In a pointed reminder to the Conservatives and the Lib Dems – both of whom have called recently for deregulation – a stark poster warns: ‘We didn’t vote to die at work’.
Hazards magazine, issue 110, April-June 2010. Contents list and We didn’t vote to die at work poster • 22 May 2010
Britain: Safety victory for rail union
Rail union RMT says Southern Trains has stepped back from a move that would have undermined rail safety by extending driver-only train operation. The rethink came after RMT threatened industrial action.
RMT news release • Risks 456 • 15 May 2010
USA: Union called in at anti-union deaths mine
Three weeks after the 29 non-union miners died at Massey Energy’s, Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, the colliery did what other non-union miners have done in recent times when company negligence has caused a disaster. They called in the union participate in the investigation - in the past 15 months in the US, 53 miners have perished; 52 of them worked at non-union operations.
ICEM news report • Washington Times • Risks 445 • 8 May 2010
Global: Global action on railway safety
Rail workers pressed the case for rail as a vital, sustainable transport resource this week, on a global day of campaigning organised by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). On the 13 April ITF Railway Workers' International Action Day, affiliates of the global transport federation around the world pressed the case for rail and warned that cost cutting and privatisation were threatening the safety and quality of services.
ITF news release and campaign resources • Risks 452 • 17 April 2010
Britain: Scotrail workers strike for safe staffing
Rail union RMT has said a 72-hour strike this week by RMT guards and drivers at Scotrail in defence of safety staffing was “rock solid”. An RMT lobby of the Scottish parliament on 15 April demanded action over safety, both on Scotrail and at Network Rail, where the union is also in dispute over safety, jobs and conditions.
RMT news release • Morning Star • Risks 452 • 17 April 2010
Britain: Court blocks rail safety strike
Rail union leaders are set to reballot thousands of rail workers over industrial action in a row over safety, jobs and working practices. More than 5,000 signal workers and 12,000 maintenance staff across the rail network were due to stage four days of industrial action this week, but the action was halted at the high court, which backed a Network Rail call for an injunction.
RMT news release • TSSA news release • Morning Star • Stronger Unions blog • Herald • Risks 451 • 10 April 2010
Britain: Safety is a union recruitment tool
Public sector union UNISON says health and safety is one of the main reasons people join unions – and it is making safety a key plank of a recruitment and organising drive. UNISON notes on its safety webpages: “Your union has some of the best health and safety guidance in the UK. It also has specific recruitment materials which focus on health and safety. Use our health and safety recruitment leaflet to sign up new members.”
UNISON news briefing • health and safety member sign up form [pdf], recruitment leaflet [pdf] and poster [pdf] • Risks 450 • 3 April 2010
Britain: Train drivers welcome cool cabs
A union campaign for safer, more comfortable train cabs has had a major breakthrough. Train drivers’ union ASLEF says its SQUASH campaign has now resulted in an agreement to provide cab cooling equipment on all the Class 66 locomotives in the Freightliner group.
ASLEF news release and SQUASH campaign • Risks 449 • 27 March 2010
Britain: Unionised workers are happier workers
Unions can help prevent staff feeling stressed and de-motivated by new working practices and reduce the number of staff quitting their jobs, according to a new report from the TUC. The publication comes in the wake of recent international scandals linking the recession, job insecurity and company restructuring to a deterioriation in staff health and well-being and to an increased suicide risk.
TUC news release • The road to recovery, Touchstone Pamphlet, TUC, March 2010 [pdf] • Risks 448 • 20 March 2010
Britain: CWU welcomes dangerous dogs move
A government consultation aimed at strengthening the Dangerous Dogs Act has been welcomed by the postal workers’ union CWU. Under the government proposals, which come after a lengthy campaign spearheaded by CWU, dog owners could be required to take out third party insurance and to have their dog microchipped and there could be New Dog Control Notices for misbehaving animals, or "Dogbos".
Defra news release and Dangerous dogs consultation • CWU news release • BBC News Online • Risks 447 • 13 March 2010
Britain: Rail workers back action on safety
Network Rail maintenance workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action over safety. The RMT members voted 77 per cent for strike action and by 89 per cent for action short of a strike “over plans by the company to axe up to 1,500 safety critical jobs and to rip up national agreements on working practices,” says the union.
RMT news release • TSSA news release • Risks 447 • 13 March 2010
Britain: The lifesaving union effect
Hazards magazine has updated its webpages on the extremely positive “union effect” on workplace health and safety. A new pin-up-at-work guide notes that “union workplaces are safer workplaces” and urges workers “to get organised – or you might not live to regret it.”
Hazards ‘union effect’ webpages and 28 April poster • Risks 446 • 6 March 2010
Britain: Watchdog confirms RMT rail safety fears
Rail union RMT has demanded an immediate halt to plans to axe up to 1,500 safety-critical Network Rail maintenance jobs after an official probe called for “a significant change in attitudes and behaviours throughout” the company. The call, in a letter from Bill Emery, the chief executive of the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), to Network Rail boss Iain Coucher, came as a damning report from ORR identified major safety concerns related to implementation of Network Rail’s maintenance restructuring.
ORR news release and letter to Iain Coucher, Network Rail [pdf] • RMT news release. BBC News Online • Risks 446 • 6 March 2010
Britain: GMB fights to protect security guards
A new campaign is aiming to tackle the increasing number of attacks on security guards at work. Security industry union GMB, whose SafeGuard campaign was launched on 1 March at the House of Commons, is asking all Britain’s security companies to sign the GMB SafeGuard Charter, committing them to act to tackle the attacks on 350,000 licensed security staff in the course of their work.
GMB news release and SafeGuard charter [pdf] • GMB Security website • BSIA news release • SMT Online • Risks 446 • 6 March 2010
Britain: Aslef go slow ‘saves lives’
A union call for train drivers to drive slowly – no more than 20 mph – over open level crossings has been praised after it was claimed to have saved at least one life. ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman commented: “Others may talk about level crossing safety, but our union actually does something about it, adding: “I hope others, like Network Rail, will follow our lead and get serious about this continuous loss of life.”
ASLEF news release • John O’Groat Journal • Daily Record • Press and Journal • Risks 440
Hazards news, 23 January 2010
Britain: The value of unions
With the recession putting pressure on Britain's workers, the TUC has published new materials to help unions attract new recruits and demonstrate the value of unions to employers. A new report, ‘The union advantage’, includes safety in an array of compelling reasons you are better off in a union.
TUC publication note • The union advantage: The positive impact of trade unions on the economy and British society [pdf] • Risks 436
Hazards news, 12 December 2009
Britain: Slow down gets speedy solution
A rail safety hazard has been remedied after the train drivers’ union ASLEF instructed its drivers to slow down for safety’s sake. The union had advised drivers to approach the New Barn Occupational Crossing in the Barnham, West Sussex, at no more than 30mph.
ASLEF news release • Risks 425
Hazards news, 26 September 2009
Britain: HSE takes its stall to the unions
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says it will use its presence at next week’s TUC conference in Liverpool to promote plans to get more employees involved in health and safety where they work. The watchdog says its research suggests that involving workers has a positive effect on health and safety performance, and there is “strong evidence” that unionised workplaces with health and safety representatives are safer and healthier.
HSE news release and worker involvement webpages • Risks 423
Hazards news, 12 September 2009
Britain: Safety reps make work happy and healthy
Is it possible to take a dysfunctional workplace battered by assaults, sickness and poor morale and in less than a year make it a haven of safety and worker contentment, with managers valuing the union role? UNISON rep Mark White, writing in the new edition of the trade union magazine Hazards, describes how they achieved just that in his workplace.
Safety respect • Hazards magazine, number 107, Summer 2009 • Risks 419
Hazards news, 15 August 2009
Europe: Safety reps are a ‘powerful force’
Trade union safety reps have a “huge potential” for improving workers’ health, a Europe-wide investigation has concluded. The ESPARE project – full name ‘The Impact of Safety Representatives on Occupational Health: A European Perspective’ – was launched in 2006 by the European TUC’s health and safety research arm, REHS.
ESPARE project • The impact of safety representatives on occupational health: A European perspective (the EPSARE project), Report 107, European Trade Union Institute, 2009. Order details • Risks 416
Hazards news, 25 July 2009
Australia: Minister backs union right of entry
Unions in Tasmania have welcomed an announcement by the state’s workplace relations minister that she will press for a union right of entry to workplaces for occupational health and safety issues. Simon Cocker, the secretary of Unions Tasmania, said: “Right of entry to worksites for appropriately authorised union representatives exists in most other states and is an integral part of a working occupational health and safety system.”
Unions Tasmania news release [pdf] • Risks 417
Hazards news, 1 August 2009
Europe: Social dialogue improves working conditions
Unions play a big role in making work better and safer, a European Foundation report has concluded. It says its research found social partners and social dialogue play a key role in helping to create better jobs and improve the quality of work and working conditions through influencing policy decisions, negotiating social pacts and collective agreements as well as through participating in particular programmes and policies.
European Foundation news release and draft report [pdf] • Risks 412
Hazards news, 27 June 2009
Global: International link up wins rights deal
Unions in the UK and US have linked up to win an employment rights deal for workers in Bangladesh. Workers Uniting, a partnership between UK union Unite and North American union USW said it had achieved a “major victory” at the RL Denim factory in Bangladesh.
Unite news release • NLC statement • Workers Uniting • Risks 412
Hazards news, 27 June 2009
Britain: Firm failed to listen to union
London Underground has paid “substantial” compensation to a Tube driver after it ignored union complaints about dirty, hazardous train carriages. Derek Walters, 45, is facing surgery on his hand after his finger was slit open by a piece of broken glass left in a train cab.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 408
Hazards news, 30 May 2009
Norway: Rail workers win violence protection
Railway workers in Norway have won improved protection against violence at work, following their unions’ lobbying efforts. Workers represented by Norsk Jernbaneforbund and Norsk Lokomotivmannsforbund won an amendment to existing criminal law after the union engaged the government in talks to improve the plight of railway workers who were experiencing increasing violence, particularly at night.
ITF news report • Risks 406
Hazards news, 16 May 2009
Britain: Brown praises union safety reps
In a message released to mark Workers’ Memorial Day the Prime Minister praised the role that trade unions and safety representatives play in promoting health and safety. Gordon Brown said: “Their dedication has protected countless workers and their families from the consequences of deaths and injuries at work and I pay tribute to their tireless efforts on behalf of us all.”
Statement by PM • TUC news release • Risks 404
Hazards news, 2 May 2009
Australia: Unions defend safety prosecutions role
Australia’s occupational health and safety laws should include a trade union right to bring safety prosecutions against dangerous firms, a top union official has said. Geoff Fary, assistant secretary of the national union federation ACTU, said a system for union-initiated prosecutions already works well in New South Wales (NSW) and shouldn’t be jettisoned.
Business Spectator • Safety at Work interview with Geoff Fary • ACTU OHS webpages, including links to ACTU submission • Risks 396
Hazards news, 7 March 2009
USA: Hero pilot stresses union role
The pilot of a plane that ditched into the Hudson River in New York with no loss of life has told a US government inquiry that airline employers must bargain with unions “in good faith” in order to keep the skies safe. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger told the Congress subcommittee: “In order to ensure economic security and an uncompromising approach to passenger safety, management must work with labour [unions] to bargain in good faith, we must find collective solutions that address the huge economic issues we face in recruiting and retaining the experienced and highly skilled professionals that the industry requires and that passenger safety demands.”
Subcommittee hearing news release • Hartford Courant • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Risks 395
Hazards news, 28 February 2009
Australia: Top expert backs union safety effect
A top Australian academic has said no-one should underestimate the dramatic positive impact of trade unions on workplace health and safety. Professor Michael Quinlan of the University of New South Wales said “union campaigns played a very significant part in health and safety legislation in the first place, workplace compensation legislation in the first place” and in subsequent improvements in the safety system.
Safety at work blog and podcast • Safety in Action conference website • Risks 392
Hazards news, 7 February 2009
USA: The union role in NY air crash miracle
They're calling it ‘the miracle on the Hudson’ - the successful emergency landing on 15 January of a US Airways jet in the Hudson River and subsequent rescue of all 155 passengers and crew. But what they are not telling you, bloggers have revealed, is that every single one of these heroes is a union member – and the pilot, 57-year-old Chesley B Sullenberger III, is a former national committee member and the former safety chair of his union, the Airline Pilots Association.
AFL-CIO Now • Blog coverage on Emptywheel and Examiner • BBC News Online • Risks 390
Hazards news, 24 January 2009
USA: Victory in the hog house
Workers at the USA’s largest hog slaughterhouse have won a 16-year fight to unionise. Safety had been a key organising theme in food union UFCW’s campaign at Smithfield’s plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina.
Labor Notes • American Prospect • Books, t-shirts and other ‘Troublemakers Union’ resources from Labor Notes • Risks 388
Hazards news, 10 January 2009
Australia: Minister leads union site 'raid'
A senior state government minister in New South Wales (NSW) has led a group of union officials onto the site of Sydney's proposed desalination plant to conduct a safety audit. NSW water minister Phil Costa visited the site run by construction firm John Holland.
The Australian • Business Spectator • Risks 382
Hazards news, 15 November 2008
Britain: HSE chair wants more reps
The benefits of trade union safety reps are beyond all doubt, the chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said. Judith Hackitt told SERTUC’s worker involvement conference: “Throughout my working life it has always been the case that the workforce has been fully involved in health and safety and the importance of safety representatives has never been questioned - because it’s never been in any doubt.”
HSE news release and worker involvement webpages • Risks 383
Hazards news 22 November 2008
Tony Mazzocchi: A real union leader on safety
If you want to learn about union leadership on health and safety, you should learn about Tony Mazzocchi. And if you want a pacy, intriguing and immensely readable biography of the US trade unionist’s extraordinary life, you should read ‘The man who hated work and loved labor’.
The man who hated work and loved labor: The life and times of Tony Mazzocchi, Les Leopold, Chelsea Green Publishing, ISBN 978-1-933392-64-6 • Watch a video tribute to Tony Mazzocchi • Hazards 103 review • Risks 368
Hazards news, 9 August 2008
STUC project tackles violence
A groundbreaking STUC-inspired project to tackle workplace violence has been showcased at the July National Hazards Conference. Four years ago, the Scottish union federation worked with Scotland’s then Labour administration on a report that STUC said “set the foundation for positive collaboration between the trade union movement in Scotland and the Scottish government to raise awareness of the extent of the problem and how to help unions, workers and employers address the issue.”
STUC project presentation [powerpoint] • Risks 367
Hazards news, 2 August 2008
Union precarious work campaign
‘Precarious work affects us all’ is a global union campaign to stop the rise in precarious employment and to regain power and justice for working people. Campaign webpages prepared by the global metal unions’ federation IMF provide links to materials, background information and details on what trade unions around the world are doing to mobilise against precarious work.
IMF ‘Precarious work affects us all’ campaign websites • Risks 366
Hazards news, 26 July 2008
Africa: Union plans safety strike at Gold Fields
South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has said it is planning industrial action at Gold Fields’ four mining operations, in protest at its worsening safety record. Gold Fields is responsible for about a quarter of South Africa's 85 mine fatalities this year.
Hazards news, 12 July 2008
Union protests win safety concessions
More than 5,000 supporters joined 300 striking shipyard workers in a 16 June protest in Turkey’s Tuzla shipyards. The high profile action, which was in response to horrific rates of work-related deaths and injuries, led within days to safety commitments from the Turkish prime minister.
IMF news release • Turkish Daily News • Risks 362
Hazards news, 28 June 2008
National one-hour stoppage for safety
Metalworkers across Italy downed tools from 11am to noon on 17 June in support of a new draft law on health and safety at work. The action follows a public outcry at the escalating toll of workplace deaths in Italy, including a series of recent tragedies.
IMF news release• BBC News Online • Risks 361
Hazards news, 21 June 2008
Unions win in Las Vegas strike deal
A construction safety strike that started on the Las Vegas strip on Monday 2 June, ended on Tuesday after unions secured major safety commitments. Construction workers had marched in circles outside the locked gates of the massive $9.2 million CityCenter development, picket signs raised above their heads reading “Unsafe job site.”
Las Vegas Sun feature and coverage of company statement • Risks 359
Hazards news, 7 June 2008
Worldwide safety pact with steel giant
The world's largest steel company and trade unions representing its employees worldwide have signed a groundbreaking agreement to improve health and standards throughout the company. The global union federation for the metalworking sector, IMF, said the agreement with ArcelorMittal recognises the vital role played by trade unions in improving health and safety.
IMF news release and global agreement [pdf] • Risks 359
Hazards news, 7 June 2008
RMT victory on rail assault pay
A Northern Rail policy which would have reduced pay to many to workers injured in violent workplace attacks has been withdrawn. The move came after pressure from rail union RMT, which said the policy would have meant victims of assault who had not suffered ‘severe physical injury’ would lose money if they needed time off work.
Hazards news, 2 February 2008
Massive miner walkout for safety
Over a quarter of a million Mexican miners walked off the job on 16 January, denouncing a government attack on workers striking over horrendous health and safety conditions at Mexico’s largest copper mine, Cananea, in the northern state of Sonora.
IMF news release • Workplace health and safety survey and medical screening of miners at Grupo Mexico’s copper mine Cananea, Sonora, Mexico, October 5-8, 2007, final Report, MHSSN, January 2008 [pdf] • Cananea site photogallery • MHSSN website • Risks 340
Hazards news, 26 January 2008
Safety reps improve safety
Health and safety representatives clearly help to improve the quality of prevention policies in workplaces where they are present, according to an official French government report. Thomas Coutrot from the Dares, the research institute of the French labour ministry, reviewed recent studies and concluded: “Employees and their representatives can therefore significantly influence the prevention policies implemented, either through conflict, co-operation, or more likely, a combination of the two.”
Dares report [pdf] • Risks 339
Hazards news, 19 January 2008
Workers need access to union help
Australian unions have called for the elimination of ‘artificial restrictions’ on the right of union occupational health and safety experts and officials to represent workers at threat from workplace risks. Ben Swan, assistant national secretary of mining union AWU, said Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) – a system individual contracts introduced by the previous government in a bid to curtail union power – were being used to deny unions access to dangerous workplaces.
AWU news release • Risks 339
Hazards news, 19 January 2008
Africa: Strike puts mine safety on agenda
A national strike by South Africa’s mineworkers has focused the attention of government and mining firms on workplace safety. Over 200,000 miners are believed to have been involved in the action.
Mining Weekly • Business Report and related item on South Africa’s inadequate workplace compensation system
Hazards news, 15 December 2007
Ergo cabs follow union campaign
Rail firm Freightliner is improving train cabs after a campaign by drivers’ union ASLEF. Union general secretary Keith Norman says the company’s production director has given an assurance the company is “more than happy to involve ASLEF as much as possible in the ergonomics of any new cab design.”
ASLEF news release and Squash campaign
Hazards news, 8 December 2007
Federal court supports role of unions
Australia’s Federal Court has supported the role of unions, declaring construction union CFMEU a “competent administrative authority” with a right of access to workplaces to undertake safety probes. The court also found it unlawful for a person to be sacked for reasons including complaining to the union.
SafetyNet Journal, number 128 • Read the judgment online Claveria v Pilkington Australia Ltd  FCA 1692 • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Hazards news, 1 December 2007
Zealand: Worker participation key to improvements
“Involving workers in managing health and safety at work is a key to improving our record in this area,” NZCTU secretary Carol Beaumont has said. Her comments followed the release of the New Zealand government’s Workplace Health and Safety Strategy second progress report.
NZCTU news release • NZ Department of Labour news release
Hazards news, 24 November 2007
Unions and enforcement are the safe option
Rigorous enforcement backed up by active unions is the best way to deliver safety at work, a new World Health Organisation report has concluded. ‘Employment conditions and health inequalities’ says contrary to the current fashion for deregulation, regulations are not the problem.
Employment conditions and health inequalities: Final report, WHO, 2007 [pdf] • The report is a contribution to the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health
Hazards news, 17 November 2007
Study shows safety specialists cut accidents
The more firms invest in safety specialists, the safer they get, new research suggests. The research commissioned by safety professionals’ organisation IOSH and carried out by Glasgow Caledonian University researchers also found organisations where health and safety personnel vet sub-contractors have an accident rate almost 60 per cent lower than in those that don't.
IOSH news release • Glasgow Caledonian University RISC project • Hazards union effect webpages
Hazards news, 3 November 2007
DHL forced to negotiate after strike
Managers at DHL’s air cargo fleet operations in Italy have promised to enter into talks with unions over safety after their hand was forced by strike action. Workers at DHL’s Bergamo hub went on strike on 10 October prompted by managers’ refusals to discuss safety concerns following an accident that seriously injured a worker; he was crushed by a 2000 kilogramme pallet that fell from a forklift truck.
ITF news release
Hazards news, 27 October 2007
Tragedies spur calls for a union voice
Non-union workers at the Utah mine where six miners died in a 6 August collapse and three workers were killed on 16 August in the abortive rescue efforts have asked mining union UMWA to be their representative in discussions with the company and the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). In a highly contentious move, however, the official mines safety watchdog has turned down the request.
UMWA news release • ICEM In-Brief
Hazards news, 1 September 2007
Safety reps mean action at work
Union safety reps make workplace safety campaigns effective, research for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found. The study looked at the involvement of safety reps in HSE’s better backs campaign, examining the impact of the training and support provided by Unite’s Amicus section.
Hazards news report, 1 September 2007 • Hazards safety reps’ webpage • Hazards union effect webpage
Hazards news, 1 September 2007
New charter to protect workers
A new charter of workplace rights that sets out baseline health and safety and compensation standards has been launched by Australian national union federation ACTU. ACTU president Sharan Burrow said: “The health and safety of Australian workers is of paramount importance to the ACTU and the union movement and this charter spells out a decent set of minimum standards for workplace rights that can work in all workplaces across Australia.”
ACTU news release • ACTU occupational health and safety workplace rights charter [pdf] • ABC News
Hazards news, 9 June 2007
Community raises the alarm for safety
A union has demonstrated the safety protection unions can offer, even when the employer refuses formal union recognition. Workers in Betfred betting shops were concerned when the company switched off emergency alarms’ Community contacted the company and made sure that these were switched straight back on.
Community news release and betting shop campaign • Hazards organising news and resources
Hazards news, 12 May 2007
The union effect
Hazards shows why safety is better organised. Here it presents the evidence and details of innovative union safety rep initiatives including "roving" and regional reps and new style global agreements including health, safety and environmental clauses.
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