Artwork: Ned Jolliffe

Work and health wob


Hazards work and health news archive

 

 

Click here for more recent news

Britain: Unions concerned at welfare reform
Telling the unemployed they have to take jobs that don’t exist and handing over control of the system to private companies looking to make a profit are both big mistakes, unions have said. The welfare proposals are closely linked to the government’s health and work agenda, which aims to move sick and disabled workers off benefits and into the workforce.
GMB news releasePCS news releaseRisks 387 • 20 December 2008

Britain: Don’t treat claimants like scroungers
The TUC has said the government should provide support for workers losing their jobs instead of treating all claimants like would-be scroungers.
TUC news releaseDWP news releaseBBC News OnlineRisks 387
Hazards news, 20 December 2008

Britain: Rolls Royce to blame for vibration injury
A Unite member has received compensation after his hands were left permanently damaged by the vibrating tools he used while working for Rolls Royce. John Smith, 62, from Derby was diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) following years of using hand held air powered tools while working for the famous jet engine manufacturer.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseEvening TelegraphRisks 386
Hazards news, 13 December 2008

Britain: National Grid pays out for hearing loss
A retired GMB member who was exposed to dangerous levels of noise in the workplace for over three decades has been compensated, with support from his union. Stanley Owston from Hull now requires a hearing aid. The 67-year-old received £4,000 in damages after suffering occupational deafness caused by his job as an assistant distribution fitter for National Grid.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseRisks 386
Hazards news, 13 December 2008

Britain: Council fined for sawdust asthma
A Scottish council has been fined £5,000 after a woodwork teacher developed asthma caused by exposure to sawdust. Sheriff William Gilchrist said he would have fined Stirling Council even more - but lawyers claimed it would come out of their children's services budget.
HSE news releaseDaily RecordBBC News OnlineRisks 385
Hazards news, 6 December 2008

Britain: Concern about work health blueprint
More organisations have raised concerns about measures announced by the government last month to improve the health of the workforce. Sayeed Khan, chief medical adviser to manufacturers’ body EEF and a member of the Health and Safety Executive board, said the decision not to introduce tax incentives for employers providing occupational health support was “stupid”.
CSP news release • Personnel Today interviews with Sayeed Khan and James PurnellRisks 385
Hazards news, 6 December 2008

Britain: New cases highlight vibration risks
Two settlements for a classic occupational disease caused by vibration show old workplace conditions are persisting in modern workplaces. GMB member Mark Twinn, 51, was awarded £5,000 compensation for Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) and Ben Wright, 29, received a £60,000 payout after developing the same condition.
Pattinson and Brewer Solicitors news releaseThompsons Solicitors news releaseRisks 385
Hazards news, 6 December 2008

Britain: Solder flux sensitised staff
Two GMB members from Cumbria have received compensation after being exposed to dangerous fumes in the workplace. Joanne Moorby and Lorraine Sharpe suffered from flu-like symptoms while working for Marl International in Ulverston.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseNorth West Evening MailRisks 385
Hazards news, 6 December 2008

Italy: Study finds solvent cancer link
Exposure to the industrial solvent benzene increases a person's risk of developing multiple myeloma, according to new research. Adele Seniori Constantini of Italy’s Center for Study and Prevention of Cancer and her colleagues also found two other common workplace solvents in the same aromatic hydrocarbon group and often used as substitutes for benzene, xylene and toluene, were also tied to greater chronic lymphoid leukaemia risk.
ReutersRisks 384
Hazards news, 29 December 2008

Sweden: Bad bosses are bad for your heart
Badly behaved and incompetent bosses not only make work stressful, they can increase the risk of heart disease for their employees, new research suggests. The study, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, concluded feeling undervalued and unsupported at work can cause stress, which often fosters unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking, that can lead to heart disease.
BBC News OnlinePersonnel Today
A Nyberg and others. Managerial leadership and ischaemic heart disease among employees: the Swedish WOLF study, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2008, doi:10.1136/oem.2008.039362 [pdf] • Risks 384
Hazards news, 29 December 2008

Britain: Docs won’t police sick system
Top doctors have had said government proposals on work and health may be a step in the right direction, but have warned GPs should not be used to police sick leave.
BMA news releaseRisks 384
Hazards news, 29 December 2008

Britain: TUC wants more prevention
The TUC has said the government’s proposals on work and health should have been more ambitious, with a greater focus on prevention and on the needs of the worker.
TUC news releaseRisks 384
Hazards news, 29 December 2008

Britain: Ministers back 'fit note' plans
Employee “fit note” are to be brought in as part of government efforts to cut the amount of money lost to the economy from workplace absenteeism. The idea is for GPs in England to spell out those tasks workers can perform rather than the traditional “sick note” focusing on what they cannot do.
DWP news release and Improving health at work: Changing lives, full document [pdf] • Working for Health news releaseIOSH news releaseCIPD news releaseBBC News OnlineThe TimesPersonnel TodayRisks 384
Hazards news, 29 December 2008

Britain: BT’s crude performance slammed by union
British Telecom workers have been penalised for going sick and discouraged from reporting accidents as a result of the company’s “crude” approach to productivity assessment, the union CWU has said. Scores of CWU members gathered outside BT offices in the centre of Coventry to protest at a raft of issues relating to management style and performance management.
CWU news releaseRisks 384
Hazards news, 29 December 2008

Britain: Vibration disease leads to payout
A GMB member has received £10,000 in an out-of-court settlement after his hands were left permanently damaged as a result of using vibrating tools at work. Frederick Roebuck, 61, was left with debilitating condition Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) - also known as vibration white finger (VWF) - after using a vibrating poker for up to five hours a day in his job at manufacturing firm Charcon Tunnels.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseRisks 382
15 November 2008

South Africa: Manganese poisoning scandal exposed
A US medical expert drafted in by a manganese processing giant accused of poisoning its workers resigned a prestigious post after it was revealed he was a major recipient of industry cash, a South African government inquiry has heard. The ongoing inquiry heard Dr Warren Olanow, who was brought in by Assmang in May 2008 to provide medical reassessments when the company disputed the poisoning diagnoses, resigned from his chair at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital around the time a US judge disclosed industry payments to medical experts related to manganese litigation.
Hazards magazine
The MercuryRisks 383
Hazards news 22 November 2008

USA: Pesticide linked to Parkinson's
A widely used fungicide has become the latest pesticide linked to elevated rates of Parkinson’s disease. Researchers have found a strong connection between the debilitating neurological disease and long-term exposure to pesticides, particularly to the common fungicide Ziram.
Fresno BeeRisks 383
Hazards news 22 November 2008

Britain: Just who is really shirking at work?
Employers should sort out unhealthy jobs before they start lecturing workers about their lifestyles, according to a new report in a trade union health and safety journal. Hazards magazine notes: “They’ll weigh us, keep tabs on our bad habits and ask questions when we are sick,” but adds “when we fall short of perfection, they label us shirkers, sickos and slobs.”
You big fat liars, Hazards magazine, number 104, 2008 • Risks 383
Hazards news 22 November 2008

Britain: Union warning on dirty needles
Construction union UCATT has warned workers involved in housing maintenance to be vigilant for dirty needles when entering or working on properties. The union says in some cases anti-social tenants have booby-trapped light switches and sockets with needles.
UCATT news release and needlestick injury adviceRisks 383
Hazards news 22 November 2008

Global: Treaty wreckers protect toxins
Governments doing the dirty work of toxic exporters have succeeding in blocking listing of chrysotile asbestos and the pesticide endosulfan on a global safety warning system. A handful of governments ignored dire health problems linked to the two candidate substances, and vetoed their including on the “Prior Informed Consent” list, which would require importing nations to be given notice of the dangers posed by the product.
Rotterdam Convention news releaseInternational Ban Asbestos Secretariat reportHESA news releaseThe DominionToronto StarRisks 381
Hazards news, 8 November 2008

Britain: Worker dies after inhaling anthrax 
A drum maker from London who inhaled anthrax spores while handling imported animal skins at his workshop has died in hospital.  Fernando Gomez, 35, died from inhalation anthrax rather than cutaneous anthrax, which is contracted through the skin.
HPA news releaseBBC News OnlineThe GuardianRisks 381
Hazards news, 29 December 2008

Australia: Health checks won’t check work health
Progress on a major programme to introduce health checks at work for some Australian workers has stalled – because employers are refusing to entertain a union request to include possible workplace risk factors. The state government had hoped to press ahead with the Aus$218 million (£86m) WorkHealth initiative.
The AgeRisks 380
Hazards news, 1 November 2008

Britain: Workers need mental health support
The UK needs a major rethink of workers' mental health during the current economic uncertainty, government advisers have said. Professor Cary Cooper, one of the authors of the report from the Foresight group, said a pressing issue was the number of workers who did not feel able to take time off when they were sick or stressed.
Foresight Mental Capital and Well-being webpages and report executive summary [pdf] • DIUS news releaseBBC News OnlineRisks 379
Hazards news, 25 October 2008

Papua New Guinea: Workers ‘paid to die’ in dust
Workers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have been “paid to die” instead of being supplied with protective gear against volcanic ash fallout, a top government official has said. David Tibu, secretary of PNG's industrial relations department, said some businesses were paying risk allowances instead of providing safety wear, so in effect their workers are “getting paid to die,” he said.
Sydney Morning HeraldThe AustralianRisks 378
Hazards news, 18 October 2009

Britain: Arthritis support is missing at work
People with arthritis are being forced out of work because employers are not providing the necessary support, a new report has concluded. Health charity Arthritis Care presented its finding to MPs on 15 October, spelling out the extent of avoidable arthritis-related unemployment in the UK.
Arthritis Care news release • Working together? Matching work ambitions with health provision for people with arthritis [pdf] • Risks 378
Hazards news, 18 October 2009

Australia: Piggery workers get heart infection
Two Australian piggery workers have survived a potentially deadly disease of the heart valves after contracting a bug from animals bound for the abattoir. Doctors at Canberra Hospital treated a 46-year-old woman and a 58-year-old man for fevers, sweating and severe weight loss caused by endocarditis, a serious condition that damages heart valves.
Sydney Morning HeraldNews.com.au • Karina J Kennedy and others. Two cases of Streptococcus suis endocarditis in Australian piggery workers, Medical Journal of Australia, volume 189, number 7, page 413, 2008 • Risks 377
Hazards news, 11 October 2009

Britain: Working through mental problems
The government says it is pushing new funds into its Access to Work scheme with the aim of helping people facing mental problems to say in work. Work and pensions secretary James Purnell said the funding increase would allow support to be made available for people with mental health conditions either already in work and experiencing difficulty, or those about to enter employment, as well as for their employers.
DWP news releaseShifting responsibilities, sharing costs: The mental health challenge for welfare reform, Jessica Prendergrast, Beth Foley and Tom Richmond, SMF, October 2008 • Risks 377
Hazards news, 11 October 2009

Britain: We told you we were sick
People who have long spells of sick leave are at far greater risk of an early death than healthier employees, researchers have found. The study of absence records for 6,478 British civil servants between 1985 and 1988, a part of the long running ‘Whitehall II’ research programme, showed that people who had one or more medically certified absence in three years had a 66 per cent increased risk of premature death compared to those with no such absence.
Washington PostBBC News OnlineThe Telegraph • Head J, Alexanderson K, Westerlund H, Vahtera J and Kivimäki M. Diagnosis-specific sickness absence as a predictor of mortality: the Whitehall II prospective cohort study, BMJ Online First, 2 October 2008 [pdf] • Risks 377
Hazards news, 11 October 2009

Britain: University radiation cancer probe begins
An occupational health specialist is to investigate a possible cancer cluster in a Manchester University building. Professor David Coggon from the Medical Research Council will carry out an independent review of health risks at the university's Rutherford Building; the deaths from cancer of five people have been linked with the building, which is where Nobel prize-winning nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford experimented with radon and polonium in 1908.
Risks 376
Hazards news, 4 October 2008

Britain: Inquiry over mercury poisoning
An investigation is under way after workers at a West Yorkshire recycling firm were exposed to mercury. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said staff at Electrical Waste Recycling Co Ltd in Huddersfield had been put at risk of mercury poisoning.
Risks 376
Hazards news, 4 October 2008

Britain: Gloves off in vibrating tools campaign
Urgent action to protect workers from Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is needed, with dozens of workers affected at one council alone, public sector union UNISON has said. The union was speaking out after securing £3,000 compensation for Joseph Beale, a council worker from Bridgend; a Freedom of Information request to Bridgend County Borough Council found that more than 40 staff had developed the condition working at the council.
Risks 376
Hazards news, 4 October 2008

Britain: Bonus scheme fingered in vibration case
A council roadworker who was forced out of his job aged 25 after developing two related occupational diseases has received a £262,000 compensation payout. UNISON member Adrian Bideau, now aged 28, developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS – also known as vibration white finger) and carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful repetitive strain injury, as a result of using vibrating tools such as breaker packs, whacker plates and saws.
Risks 376
Hazards news, 4 October 2008

Britain: Unilever doesn’t care for workers’ skin
A UK multinational with a multimillion pound trade in skin care products has been fined after trashing the skin of its own staff. Unilever was ordered to pay £28,000 in fines and costs after 25 Merseyside workers contracted dermatitis.
Risks 375
Hazards news, 27 September 2008

Britain: Boss escapes jail for silica use
A company boss whose firm used deadly silica despite the process being banned for 58 years has received a £26,000 fine but has escaped jail. Andrew Thomson, trading as Thomson Sandblast, of Great Harwood, was also ordered to pay £24,000 costs and was told that magistrates had considered a custodial sentence.
Global Unions cancer campaignRisks 374
Hazards news, 20 September 2008

Britain: Bootful of cement causes burns
An Oxford building company has been fined £500 after one of its employees sustained burns to his legs after wet concrete poured into his Wellington boots. In addition to the fine, O'Brien & McIntyre LLP was ordered at Stratford upon Avon Magistrates' Court to pay £150 prosecution costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Control of Substance Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).
Risks 374
Hazards news, 20 September 2008

Britain: Report calls for focus on ‘good work’
A package of policies designed to create more ‘good jobs’ is needed to create healthier, more worthwhile jobs, a new report has concluded. The Work Foundation’s ‘Good work’ report says the government cannot make serious progress towards the reduction of health inequalities unless it has policies to improve job quality for the most disadvantaged.
Work Foundation news release • ‘Good work’: Job quality in a changing economy [pdf] • Risks 374
Hazards news, 20 September 2008

USA: Second consumer popcorn lung case
A second US man may have developed ‘popcorn lung’ as a result of microwave cooking and consuming bags of popcorn. Larry Newkirk has been diagnosed with the sometimes fatal lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans.
Seattle Post-IntelligencerHazards diacetyl webpagesRisks 373
Hazards, 13 September 2008

Australia: Uniforms recalled after adverse reactions
An Australian energy firm has recalled thousands of newly issued flame-retardant uniforms after hundreds of workers complained they made them sick, and high chemical levels were found. The workers’ union, ETU, also reported that strong fumes emitted when ironing the uniforms had caused some people to vomit.
Risks 373
Hazards, 13 September 2008

South Africa: Doctors fired for diagnosing work
When specialist doctors diagnosed at least 10 cases of manganese-specific chronic illnesses at a factory in Cato Ridge, the Assmang manganese company dumped them “like hot potatoes”. Evidence to a government enquiry revealed the firm then replaced them with a new team of doctors that revised the diagnoses to suggest the sick workers might be alcoholics, drug abusers or victims of Aids.
Risks 272
Hazards news, 6 September 2008

France: Missing cases could cost 1bn euros
Official French statistics massively under-estimate the extent of occupational accidents and diseases in the country, with tens of thousands of cases missed each year. An expert report submitted to the government in July estimated the cost of these unacknowledged cases to the French health insurance system was between 565 million and 1.015 billion euros a year.
Risks 272
Hazards news, 6 September 2008

Britain: TUC response to health promotion
TUC has issued guidance for safety reps on health promotion initiatives at work. It says ‘lifestyle’ initiatives introduced by employers have their role, but says most of us spend most of our waking hours at work in conditions created by the employer, so employers should first make sure that work hazards are addressed.
Promoting health at work: Guidance for safety representatives • Related information: Hazards magazine ‘futile exercise’ guide, safety reps’ checklist and work and health webpagesRisks 272
Hazards news, 6 September 2008

Global: Social injustice is a major killer
Social factors including poor working conditions are to blame for huge variations in ill-health and life expectancy around the world, an international commission has concluded. The World Health Organisation (WHO) convened commission’s report identified poor work as major contributory factor to health inequities.
Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health, WHO report webpagesRisks 371
Hazards news, 30 August 2008

USA: How manufacturing doubt kills workers
It happens all the time. When a study is published linking a workplace chemical to serious disease, a scientist working for the industry disputes the finding. Writing in the current issue of Hazards magazine, US academic David Michaels reveals industry has taken its lead “directly from the tobacco industry’s playbook”, employing the same tactics and the same public relations firms.
Spin cycle: Product defence – how industry money protects killer chemicals, Hazards magazine, August 2008 • Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (SKAPP)

Doubt is their product: How industry's assault on science threatens your health, David Michaels, Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-19-530067-3, £14.99 (hardback) • Risks 370
Hazards news, 23 August 2008

Britain: Trust fined for ‘appalling mismanagement’
‘An appalling catalogue of mismanagement’ at Boston's Pilgrim Hospital has resulted in a hospital Trust paying out £18,500 in safety fines. Boston Magistrates’ Court was told how necessary safety measures relating to the use of glutaraldehyde, a chemical used to develop film in x-ray machines, had not been in place.
HSE news release and COSHH webpagesRisks 370
Hazards news, 23 August 2008

Britain: Work asthma caused mental problems
Electrical engineer Mark Lawrence has been awarded £100,000 – more than six times the original offer - after he developed occupational asthma which led to a psychiatric disorder. The Unite member was working for Lydmet Limited, now Federal Mogul Camshafts Limited, when he experienced shortness of breath at work in April 2001.
Risks 370
Hazards news, 23 August 2008

Australia: Sedentary work leads to weight gain
Another study has confirmed sedentary occupations carry a significant risk of workers gaining weight than other occupations. The study from the University of North Carolina found only vigorous exercise was significantly associated with non-weight gain - the study comes after recent Australian research added to the growing evidence that shift work negatively impacts on health, revealing shift workers are more likely to smoke and to become overweight.
Risks 369
Hazards news, 16 August 2008

Finland: Union call for ban on creosote poles
A Finnish union is calling for the use of creosote-impregnated wooden electricity poles to be stopped on health grounds. The Electrical Workers’ Union says safer alternatives should be used instead.
Trade Union News from FinlandRisks 368
Hazards news, 9 August 2008

Europe: Union blast on reprotoxins
The European Trade Union Confederation has criticised a European Commission u-turn on substances that are toxic for reproduction. The union body says these reprotoxins should have been brought into the directive that protects workers from carcinogens and mutagens, which is currently up for revision, but is dismayed the Commission has instead changed tack and dropped any mention of reprotoxins from its proposals.
ETUI-REHS news briefing and ETUC note [pdf] • Risks 368
Hazards news, 9 August 2008

USA: Perils of the new pesticides
The US-based Center for Public Integrity has used official government data to expose the ‘Perils of the new pesticides.’ The free online resource is based on a review of 10 years’ worth of adverse-reaction reports filed with the Environmental Protection Agency by pesticide manufacturers.
CPI Perils of the new pesticides websiteRisks 368
Hazards news, 9 August 2008

USA: Prison labour exposed to deadly toxins
US federal health officials have found staff and inmates had no protection against exposure to high levels of lead and cadmium in a prison industry computer recycling plant. The amount of health damage or risk could not be assessed because the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution in eastern Ohio did not conduct medical monitoring or industrial hygiene surveillance.
Full NIOSH report [pdf] • AFGE statement [pdf] • Risks 367
Hazards news, 2 August 2008

Peru: Chinese owner in mine disease denial
Workers in a Chinese owned mine in Peru are developing deadly dust diseases – but the Chinese metal giant is denying the cases exist. The workers at Shougang Corp’s iron ore mine in Peru have pneumoconiosis, a debilitating and potentially fatal lung scarring caused by dust inhalation.
Risks 367
Hazards news, 2 August 2008

Britain: Usdaw’s hot work warning
Retail and food union Usdaw has issued a seasonal warning on the health risks posed by hot work. The union alert spells out the legal position and the health effects of work in excessive temperatures - sweating, irritability, nausea, headaches, dizziness, fainting, muscle cramps, extra strain on the heart and ultimately heat stroke.
Usdaw alert and temperature at work guidanceRisks 367
Hazards news, 2 August 2008

Britain: Campaigners reject work health blueprint
A government approved strategy on work and health is destined to fail, health and safety campaigners have warned. Delegates to the July National Hazards Conference approved unanimously a statement highly critical of Dame Carol Black’s ‘Working for a healthier tomorrow’ report, launched in March.
Hazards Campaign statement and conference motionWorkplace health czar websiteRisks 367
Hazards news, 2 August 2008

Britain: Overweight firefighter gets his job back
A firefighter sacked for being overweight has been reinstated after a campaign by his union, FBU. Talks between the union and Grampian Fire and Rescue Service brokered by mediator Acas also averted a possible strike.
Risks 367
Hazards news, 2 August 2008

USA: Secret Bush rule to protect toxins
The Bush administration has been caught trying to introduce secretly an eleventh-hour rule that would make it harder to set new safety standards limiting workers’ exposure to chemicals. The Labor Department has refused to discuss or disclose the proposal, which has spurred anger and condemnation from unions, Democrats in Congress and public health scientists.
Washington Post and related earlier coverageAFL-CIO Now • Requirements for DOL Agencies' Assessment of Occupational Health Risks. Action: Proposed Rulemaking. Department of Labor, RI 1290-AA23 [pdf] • Risks 366
Hazards news, 26 July 2008

Holland: Solvent repro hazards prompt review
The Dutch government has ordered a review of workplace solvent health effects after new studies added to evidence of a significant reproductive risk in exposed workers. The Dutch State Secretary for Social Affairs has asked the Health Council of the Netherlands to investigate the issue.
ETUI-HESA news reportOccupational exposure to organic solvents: effects on human reproduction, Health Council of the Netherlands, 2008 [pdf] • Risks 366
Hazards news, 26 July 2008

Britain: Government plans in need of rehabilitation
Government efforts to get the long-term sick off benefits and back to work risk being undermined by low levels of rehabilitation support in the workplace, according to a survey. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) Annual Absence Management Survey 2008 found over a third (36 per cent) of employers offer no rehabilitation support.
Risks 366
Hazards news, 26 July 2008

Britain: Physiotherapists want work fitness role
Physios’ union CSP has welcomed a government decision to pilot an NHS-based Fit for Work service. Commenting on the decision, revealed in the DWP welfare reform green paper, chief executive Phil Gray said: “Physiotherapists are ideally placed to provide the advice and treatment that will keep people in work and help people return to work, reducing sickness absenteeism and increasing productivity.”
Risks 366
Hazards news, 26 July 2008

Britain: 'Work for benefits' plan criticised
Unemployed people will be forced to work for their benefits, as part of welfare reforms unveiled by work and pensions secretary James Purnell. The Welfare Green Paper includes plans to scrap incapacity benefit and make those jobless for more than two years work full-time in the community; critics says the proposals duck the issue of the availability of suitable, decent jobs, instead blaming the victims for their plight.
Hazards Campaign news releaseRisks 366
Hazards news, 26 July 2008

Britain: Rolls-Royce fined for dangerous exposures
Rolls-Royce has been fined £120,000 for failing to ensure that five of its agency staff were sufficiently protected against dangerous substances. Derby Crown Court heard the workers developed ill effects, including skin rashes, bowel problems and breathing difficulties, while decommissioning a light alloy foundry at the firm's plant in Osmaston Road, Derby, between July and October 2005.
HSE COSHH webpagesRisks 366
Hazards news, 26 July 2008

Europe: ETUC wants paint stripper outlawed
Europe’s trade union confederation ETUC is calling for a blanket ban on paint strippers that contain dichloromethane. The union made its position clear as the European Parliament's (EP) Environment Committee prepares to publish its opinion on a Commission proposal to restrict the sale and use of products containing the chemical.
European Commission proposal [pdf] • Risks 364
Hazards news, 12 July 2008

Europe: Production and reproduction - the risks
A new guide from the ETUC’s safety thinktank, HESA, sets out to improve awareness of work-related reproductive hazards. ‘Production and reproduction: Stealing the health of future generations’ says potential risks include chemicals, ionising radiation, vibration, heat, biological agents and stress. Adverse effects include male and female infertility, miscarriages, birth defects and impaired child development.
Production and reproduction: Stealing the health of future generations, ISBN 978-287452126-6, 10 Euros. Order onlineRisks 364
Hazards news, 12 July 2008

USA: Welding firms pay for manganese disease
US firms facing thousands of compensation claims from manganese-exposed welders with serious nervous system disease, have been paying millions to scientists who have then produced papers denying any link between the metal and “manganism”, a Parkinson’s-type condition.
Mother JonesRisks 363
Hazards news, 5 July 2008

USA: Beryllium firm caught in spin mode
A major US firm that denied outright having used notorious industry spin doctors to block regulatory action on highly dangerous beryllium was lying, evidence suggests. Earlier this year, David Michaels and Celeste Monforton of the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (SKAPP) published a paper, ‘Beryllium’s public relations problem: Protecting workers when there is no safe exposure level,’ criticising beryllium giant Brush Wellman for its efforts to prevent workplace safety agency OSHA and the US Department of Energy from lowering exposure limits for the highly toxic metal, linked to problems including cancer and debilitating lung and other diseases.
DefendingScience.org and documents relating to Brush WellmanSKAPP case study: Beryllium - Science or public relations?Risks 363
Hazards news, 5 July 2008

Britain: Get working on occupational health
TUC’s new occupational health workbook is now available free online. Over the next year, the TUC hopes that around 15,000 workplace safety reps can be trained using the new guide, 'Occupational health: Dealing with the issues'.
Occupational health: Dealing with the issues [pdf] • Risks 360
Hazards news, 14 June 2008

USA: Does popcorn poison cause Parkinson’s?
A top expert on diacetyl, the chemical responsible for an outbreak of the potentially fatal lung disease ‘popcorn lung’, now fears it could also be linked to Parkinson’s disease. David Egilman, a physician and clinical associate professor at Brown University in the US, says he is aware of two cases of Parkinson’s disease in men who were flavourists at Givaudan in Cincinnati, a large flavourings company.
The Pump HandleSeattle Post-Intelligencer ‘Secret Ingredients’ blogHazards diacetyl webpagesRisks 360
Hazards news, 14 June 2008

USA: Diabetes higher in pesticide sprayers
People who spray pesticides have a higher risk of diabetes than the rest of the population, according to a new study. Scientists from the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) found that people who spent more than 100 days using chlorinated bug sprays were 20 to 200 per cent more likely to get diabetes, depending on which chemical they worked with.
NIEHS news release • MP Montgomery and others. Incident diabetes and pesticide exposure among licensed pesticide applicators: Agricultural health study, 1993-2003, American Journal of Epidemiology, volume 167, pages 1235-1246, 2008 [abstract] • Risks 360
Hazards news, 14 June 2008

Britain: Strains follow workers out of the office
More than two thirds of workers now suffer from repetitive strain injury, costing £300 million in lost working hours, a new study has found. The research from Microsoft revealed cases soared by more than 30 per cent last year because more staff than ever work both inside and outside the office.
Microsoft webpage and report, Ergonomics and repetitive strain injury [pdf] • Daily MailRisks 360
Hazards news, 14 June 2008

Britain: Common solvents threaten fertility
Men regularly exposed to chemicals found in paint and other common products may be more prone to fertility problems, UK research as indicated. Men such as painters and decorators, who work with a family of solvents called glycol ethers, are two-and-a-half times more likely to produce fewer “normal” sperm; the findings reinforce warnings issued in 1983 by the US authorities about reproductive hazards to both male and female workers from occupational exposure to certain glycol ethers.
Sheffield University news releaseScience Daily news releaseRisks 358
Hazards news, 31 May 2008

Britain: Payouts for stone dust disease
Two foundry workers who developed silicosis, one of the longest recognised occupational lung diseases, have received compensation. The Unite members, who both worked in the melting department of Federal Mogul’s Southwick factory on Wearside, have received “substantial” payouts in an out of court settlement.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseSunderland EchoRisks 358
Hazards news, 31 May 2008

Britain: A dangerous case of compost lung
A retired council worker had half a lung removed after developing a disease caused by inhaling fungal spores released by rotting vegetation. He believes the condition may have been caused by exposure to compost.
Barnsley ChronicleRisks 357
Hazards news, 24 May 2008

Britain: Injured then sacked by ‘cavalier’ council
A Scottish roadworker who was fired by a “cavalier” council after taking time off sick after a workplace injury has won an unfair dismissal and disability discrimination claim. GMB member James McGrath, 52, was awarded more than £25,000 compensation by an employment tribunal.
Clydebank PostRisks 357
Hazards news, 24 May 2008

Britain: TUC slams CBI’s sick response
The CBI should quit its bellyaching about sickness levels and do something to make work less sickening, the TUC has said. Commenting after the publication of employers’ organisation’s annual absence survey, TUC said the CBI should acknowledge sickness rates are falling and instead of making claims about the cost of “sickies”, should instead encourage employers to address the unhealthy workplaces and work practices that are making workers sick.
CBI news releaseScotsmanThe GuardianRisks 356
Hazards news, 17 May 2008

Bangladesh: Synthetic materials harm garment workers
Synthetic materials used in Bangladesh’s massive ready-made garment (RMG) sector are causing widespread ill-health in the industry’s workforce.
The Daily StarRisks 355
Hazards news, 10 May 2008

Britain: Care assistants face back breaking work
Healthcare assistants need better training if they are to escape career-ending injuries, the health service union UNISON has warned. The union alert came after a UNISON member suffered a serious back injury, forcing her to give up the job she loved.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseRisks 355
Hazards news, 10 May 2008

Britain: Safety reps get well active!
The TUC is to train up thousands of workplace safety reps to target prevention efforts at the work-related health problems that affect over two million workers. A new occupational health guide from TUC intends to improve the skills and activity level of safety reps. Over the next year, the TUC hopes that around 15,000 workplace safety reps can be trained using the new educational workbook, ‘Occupational health: Dealing with the issues’.
TUC news releaseUnionlearnRisks 354
Hazards news, 3 May 2008

USA: Doctors feel push to downplay injuries
A leading group of US occupational doctors has spoken out against pressure from companies to downplay workplace injuries. “Our members feel they are being methodically pressured... to under-treat and mistreat," said Dr Robert McLellan, president of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).
Charlotte ObserverRisks 353
Hazards news, 26 April 2008

USA: Formaldehyde linked to Lou Gehrig's disease
New preliminary research suggests that exposure to the chemical formaldehyde, present in workplaces from laboratories to hospitals to MDF factories, could greatly increase a person's chances of developing Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Those who reported more than 10 years of exposure to formaldehyde were almost four times more likely to develop ALS.
Marc Weisskopf and others. Prospective study of chemical exposures and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mortality, AAN Meeting 2008; Abstract # S25.005. AAN news release [pdf] • Risks 353
Hazards news, 26 April 2008

Britain: Tiny fine for massive brick maker
The world’s largest clay brick and tile manufacturer has received a £2,000 fine after two employees developed a classic metal fume related occupational disease. Wienerberger Ltd pleaded guilty to two breaches of the chemical control regulations COSHH following an incident in May 2007 which led to one of the employees being hospitalised with welding fume fever.
HSE news releaseRisks 352
Hazards news, 19 April 2008

Britain: Experts highlight spreading cancer risks
A global epidemic of preventable industrial cancers is killing hundreds of thousands each year because governments and employers are failing to take simple and effective preventive action. Top cancer prevention experts and trade union officers and workplace reps from around the world, meeting in Scotland later this month will reveal the full extent of the problem and will call for the use of safer substances and processes and a phase out of the worst cancer-causing culprits.
Stirling University news releaseGlobal union zero cancer campaignRisks 351
Hazards news, 12 April 2008

Australia: Work exposures up vet miscarriage risk
Female vets run twice the risk of miscarriage as a result of exposure to anaesthetic gases and pesticides, suggests a study. Women carrying out surgery and exposed to anaesthetic gases that were not filtered out of the atmosphere, for an hour or more a week, were almost 2.5 times more likely to miscarry, those who used pesticides during the course of their work were also twice as likely to miscarry, and those who performed more than five x-rays a week were around 80 per cent more likely to miscarry than those performing fewer procedures. Maternal occupational exposures and risk of spontaneous abortion in veterinary practice Online First, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 3 April 2008, doi: 10.1136/OEM.2007.035246 [abstract] • Risks 350
Hazards news, 5 April 2008

USA: Laundry work infection risk probed
The US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating several cases of laundry and housekeeping workers suspected of having become infected with HIV as a result of needlestick injuries at work. Between 1981 and 2006, the CDC documented two cases of laundry and housekeeping employees who were infected with HIV as a result of occupational exposure to blood and identified 13 more possible cases.
American Laundry NewsRisks 349
Hazards news, 29 March 2008

Britain: Health service urged to drop allergy gloves
Medical experts are calling for action to reduce the potentially fatal risks to health service staff posed by latex. ‘Latex allergy: Occupational aspects of management’, new guidelines from the Royal College of Physicians and NHS Plus, falls short of calling for a total ban on latex gloves, with union safety experts warning the strategy might also fall foul of the COSHH regulations, which require substitution of hazardous substances were suitable, safer alternatives are available.
RCP news release • ‘Latex allergy: Occupational aspects of management’ is available on the RCP [pdf] and NHS Plus websites [pdf] • Risks 349
Hazards news, 29 March 2008

USA: Watchdogs probe diacetyl threat to cooks
A US federal investigation into the hazards facing cooks exposed to diacetyl, a sometimes deadly artificial butter flavouring, is under way in New York City restaurants. Meanwhile in Seattle, the state safety watchdog is starting a similar inquiry.
Seattle Post IntelligencerConfectionery NewsUnite Here December 2007 news releaseHazards guide to diacetyl risksRisks 348
Hazards news, 22 March 2008

Britain: Healthy work requires good work
Unions have said all workers need good jobs as well as comprehensive occupational health support if the workforce is to become healthier. Commenting on the publication this week of Dame Carol Black’s review of health and work, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Ministers need to come up with practical solutions based on prevention, early access to rehabilitation, and universal occupational health coverage,” adding workers needed ‘good work’ not just any work and “this will only happen if the government clamps down hard on employers who exploit their staff through bad conditions, long hours, or stressful workloads.”
TUC news releaseRisks 348
Hazards news, 22 March 2008

Britain: Work plan won’t work without resources
There are concerns about the ability of a resource-challenged NHS to take on the new role outlined in this week’s ‘Working for a healthier tomorrow’ blueprint. David Coats, associate director of policy at The Work Foundation, said: “Most GPs have little understanding of the relationship between work and health and limited expertise in occupational health,” adding: “GPs may be under-resourced and ill-equipped to take on the responsibilities envisaged in Dame Carol’s proposals.”
BMA news releaseIOSH news releaseHSC news releaseHSE Health Work and Wellbeing webpagesHazards work and health webpagesRisks 348
Hazards news, 22 March 2008

Britain: Rethink urged over work and health
There is a need for an urgent and comprehensive reform of Britain’s approach to health and work, a government-initiated review has concluded. Launching ‘Working for a healthier tomorrow’, national director for health and work Dame Carol Black said the report’s proposals focus on keeping people healthy at work, and also on helping them return to work if they get ill.
Health Work and Wellbeing news release, ‘Working for a healthier tomorrow’ report [pdf] and summary of evidence submitted [pdf] • The GuardianBBC News Online report and Q&A on the reportRisks 348
Hazards news, 22 March 2008

Britain: Warning on new incapacity test
Vulnerable workers could lose out as a result of changes to the current incapacity test, the government has been warned. The union GMB and safety professionals’ organisation IOSH issued separate alerts after chancellor Alastair Darling announced the new rules in his March 2008 Budget.
GMB news releaseIOSH news releaseRisks 348
Hazards news, 22 March 2008

Britain: Latex payout but no job for young nurse
A young nurse who had to give up the profession after developing a potentially deadly latex allergy has received a six figure payout. UNISON member Tanya Dodd, 25, was a trainee nurse at Scarborough General Hospital when she developed type 1 latex allergy from gloves she wore routinely as part of her job.
UNISON news releaseBBC News OnlineRisks 348
Hazards news, 22 March 2008

Global: New chemicals health monitor
The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) has launched a new Chemicals Health Monitor website - an online source of information about chemicals and related diseases. HEAL says the new resource “provides a comprehensive compilation of recent information and evidence” about the links between chemical contaminants and ill-health.
HEAL news release Chemicals Health Monitor websiteRisks 347
Hazards news, 15 March 2008

Britain: Lead exposure still a problem
The number of workers under medical surveillance for lead exposure rose last year. In 2006/07, 8,697 workers were monitored for blood levels of the metal, which can cause serious occupational health problems including cancer, anaemia, kidney and brain damage in chronically exposed workers.
HSE lead statisticsRisks 347
Hazards news, 15 March 2008

Britain: Government busy doing nothing on diacetyl
In an 11 March written answer to a parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock on diacetyl risks in the UK, DWP parliamentary under-secretary of state Anne McGuire replied: “No research has been commissioned by the government or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). However, the Health and Safety Executive accepted the evidence from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in the United States of America as the basis for alerting the food industry to the potential inhalation risks to workers from diacetyl in 2004” - a reported UK case resulted from workplace diacetyl exposures in 2005.
Food: Industrial health and safety, Hansard written answer, 11 March 2008
Hazards news, 15 March 2008

Britain: HSE issues low key diacetyl warning
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has put out a low key, two-paragraph, warning about the risk from diacetyl, a food flavouring that is widely used in the UK and that has been linked to hundreds of cases of serious occupational lung disease in the US.
HSE diacetyl alertI can't believe it's not deadly: Food flavour wrecks lungs, Hazards magazine diacetyl feature and resources • NIOSH flavourings topic pageRisks 347
Hazards news, 15 March 2008

Holland: Roadside workers face brain peril
Half an hour of sniffing diesel fumes in a busy city street is enough to induce a "stress response" in the brain and could cause lasting problems, according to a new study. Scientists have known nanoparticles – which include particulate matter in diesel exhaust fumes - reach the brain when inhaled, but this is the first time they have been shown to affect how we process information.
Bjoern Cruts, Ludo van Etten, Hakan Tornqvist, Anders Blomberg, Thomas Sandstrom, Nicholas L Mills, Paul JA Borm. Exposure to diesel exhaust induces changes in EEG in human volunteers, Particle and Fibre Toxicology, volume 5, number 4, 2008 [abstract and full paper (provisional pdf)] • Risks 347
Hazards news, 15 March 2008

Britain: Study links radiation to heart disease
A study of nearly 65,000 UK nuclear industry workers over more than 60 years has found a possible link between high radiation exposure and heart disease.
Dave McGeoghegan, Keith Binks, Michael Gillies, Steve Jones, and Steve Whaley. The non-cancer mortality experience of male workers at British Nuclear Fuels plc, 1946–2005, International Journal of Epidemiology Advance Access, published online on 4 March 2008 [full paper and abstract] • Risks 346
Hazards news, 8 March 2008

Britain: UNISON warning on well note move
There must be more investigation into the concept of well notes before they are introduced as an alternative to sicknotes, public sector union UNISON has said. UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said the union welcomed the government’s recognition that more needs to be done to get people on long term sick back into work, but added: “Staff go on long term sick leave for many reasons, often due to the work they do itself.”
UNISON news releaseRisks 346
Hazards news, 8 March 2008

Britain: Injured firefighters go to court
Firefighters have started legal moves to challenge new government pension rules that are leaving badly injured and disabled firefighters sacked and without a pension. Their union, FBU, described the treatment of workers suffering injuries or occupational diseases as “totally unacceptable.”
FBU news releaseRisks 346
Hazards news, 8 March 2008

Britain: Lung destroying disease reaches the UK
A union organisation has repeated its call for global action on a lung-destroying occupational disease which has affected hundreds in the USA, after it was revealed the first case had been identified in the UK. Global foodworkers’ union federation IUF said regulatory action and medical surveillance of food workers exposed to the flavouring ingredient diacetyl, the cause of bronchiolitis obliterans, have so far elicited no response by health and safety agencies in Europe.
IUF news releaseIrwin Mitchell solicitors news release I can’t believe it’s not deadly: Food flavour wrecks lungs, Hazards magazine, Number 101, January-March 2008 • Risks 345
Hazards news, 1 March 2008

Britain: Garage work deafened man
A Manchester man has been awarded a £6,000 compensation payout after he developed noise induced hearing loss caused by power tool and engine noise exposure whilst working as a mechanic for North Western British Road Services Limited. Terry Howarth, 51, was exposed to noise from air tools, sledge hammers, steam cleaners, air lines, grinders, engine noise and drills.
Risks 344
Hazards news, 23 February 2008

Britain: Sick workers need sick leave and support
Trade unions have called for more efforts to ensure sick workers are allowed the time and resources to recuperate properly and for decent job opportunities for those with disabilities.
Risks 344
Hazards news, 23 February 2008

Britain: Government calls for “well notes”
Health secretary Alan Johnson has said he wants to see doctors to shift away from sicknotes and instead to issue “well notes,” setting out what tasks a worker can perform instead of certificates automatically signing them off. The move has led to concern in both trade unions and the medical profession, with doctors’ leaders saying GPs should not be used to “police the system”.
Department of Health news releaseNHS Employers news releaseRisks 344
Hazards news, 23 February 2008

France: Gruelling work linked to early retirement
Older manual workers in France are more likely to retire early or be registered economically inactive than the workforce as a whole, with their tough jobs and poor health identified as a key reason why. French employment ministry researchers explored the link between the hardships of work and early departure from the workforce using the findings of a 2003 national health survey.
ETUI-REHS report summaryRisks 342
Hazards news, 9 February 2008

Britain: New construction site health tool
In a bid to help the construction industry tackle occupational health issues, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new online resource, Construction Occupational Health Management Essentials (COHME). HSE says last year 1.8 million days were lost in the construction industry due to work related ill-health compared to 0.9 million days lost due to accidents.
Construction Occupational Health Management Essentials (COHME)Risks 342
Hazards news, 9 February 2008

Britain: Strain injury leads to forced retirement
A factory worker from Port Talbot who was medically retired after suffering a repetitive strain injury (RSI) has received almost £17,000 in compensation. Unite member Barbara Newall’s job was to bag the accessories that accompanied a DVD player; this included a remote control, a battery pack, an RF cable and, in some cases, an additional RF lead - she would pack approximately 4,500 bags per day.
Thompsons Solicitors new release
RSI Action Day, Friday 29 February: Unions can order a special 'Repeat after me' RSI day poster from the Hazards Campaign • 'Repeat after me' posterEmail the Hazards Campaign for poster order detailsRisks 341
Hazards news, 2 February 2008

Britain: Shiftwork linked early retirement in women
Shiftwork may increase the risk of enforced early retirement among women, suggests new research. Researchers used information from just under 8,000 male and female employees, who were part of the Danish Work Environment Cohort Study, which began in 1990, and data from the national welfare register.
Finn Tüchsen, Karl Bang Christensen, Thomas Lund, and Helene Feveile, A 15 year prospective study of shift work and disability pension, Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Published Online First: 15 January 2008. doi:10.1136/oem.2007.036525 [Abstract] • Risks 339
Hazards news, 19 January 2008

Britain: Miners hit by compensation failures
Sick miners and their families have lost out on compensation because of administrative failures, according to an official report. Legal Services Complaints Commissioner Zahida Manzoor said different awards were being made depending on a “bewildering array” of circumstances, such as support from a local MP and conduct of solicitors involved in taking claims under the government scheme for miners’ respiratory diseases and vibration white finger.
OLSCC news release [pdf] and special report [pdf] • Risks 339
Hazards news, 19 January 2008

USA: Deadly lung risk to kitchen staff
Restaurant workers could face serious health risks from exposure to the flavouring ingredient diacetyl. The chemical, an artificial butter flavouring, is a common ingredient in the margarines, shortenings and cooking oils and sprays used in commercial kitchens and has been found to cause the lung-destroying condition bronchiolitis obliterans in popcorn workers, but the risk to other groups of workers has been largely overlooked.
IUF news releaseSeattle Post-Intelligencer and follow up article on union call for actionThe Pump HandleRisks 338
Hazards news,12 January 2008

USA: Farm women’s asthma risk from pesticides
A study suggests farm women who have contact with some common pesticides are at far greater risk of developing allergic asthma. Researchers at the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) found an average increase of 50 per cent in the prevalence of allergic asthma in all farm women who applied or mixed pesticides.
American Thoracic Society news release • Jane A Hoppin and others. Pesticides and atopic and nonatopic asthma among farm women in the Agricultural Health Study, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, volume 177, pages 11-18, 2008 [abstract] • Risks 338
Hazards news,12 January 2008

Britain: Five years to deafen a worker
A 40-year-old Lancashire man has been deafened by just five years of periodic exposure to excessive workplace noise. Mark Bulcock received £5,000 in damages after he lost his hearing because of the noisy machines at the sock manufacturer where he worked.
Irwin Mitchell news releaseRisks 338
Hazards news,12 January 2008

Britain: More vibration, more payouts
A boilermaker from Port Talbot whose hands have been permanently damaged from regular use of vibrating tools has been paid compensation from four employers with the support of his trade union GMB. The man, aged 50, whose name has not been released, has been employed by four different companies during his working life and has been regularly exposed to excessive vibration from tools such as grinders, pistol drills, large drills, needle guns and impact wrenches.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseRisks 338
Hazards news,12 January 2008

USA: Chemicals linked to nurse ill-health
A national survey of US nurses’ exposures to chemicals, pharmaceuticals and radiation at work suggests there are links between serious health problems such as cancer, asthma, miscarriages and children’s birth defects and the duration and intensity of these exposures. The survey, released online last week by the Environmental Working Group and several other US academic, advocacy and nursing organisations, found nurses confront daily low-level but repeated exposures to mixtures of hazardous materials.
EWG news releaseNurses’ health: A survey on health and chemical exposures
Hazards news, 22 December 2007

Pakistan: Cotton pickers suffer pesticide poisoning
Pakistan's cotton-picking women are suffering pesticide poisoning symptoms ranging from mild headaches and skin allergies to cancer, a study has shown. The research by the Islamabad-based Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), found that blood samples of only 10 per cent of the female cotton pickers were clear of pesticides after the harvesting season.
DawnSDPI Research and News Bulletin, volume 14, number 3, 2007
Hazards news, 22 December 2007

Britain: Dawson’s driver develops diesel dermatitis
A delivery driver who developed irritant contact dermatitis when diesel splashed on his hand is to receive £1,800 compensation. Dawson Holdings plc employee William Smith, 54, was filling his work van with diesel using a hand held nozzle, when diesel blew back from the tank of the van and went directly onto his hands.
Thompsons Solicitors news release
Hazards news, 15 December 2007

Britain: Vibration permanently harms man’s hands
A 24-year-old crack tester from Doncaster who says he was forced out of his job after vibrating tools permanently damaged his hands has received a £30,000 compensation settlement. Unite member Dean Grice was employed by MSI Forks Ltd, a firm making forks for forklift trucks, and developed vibration white finger and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Thompsons Solicitors news release
Hazards news, 15 December 2007

USA: Illness lays low 11 at pork plant
Eleven workers at a pork processing plant in Austin, Minnesota, fell ill between last December and July with a neurological disorder whose cause remains unknown, state health officials have said. The condition afflicting five of the workers at Quality Pork Processors Inc has been identified as a rare disease called chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy or CIDP, which normally strikes fewer than two people per 100,000 - in this instance, it may have struck 11 out of about 100 people in a particular part of the plant, state officials said.
Minnesota Department of Health news release, webpage and factsheet [pdf]
Hazards news, 8 December 2007

Britain: Controversy over mental health measures
The government will treble the number of employment advisers in GP surgeries and pilot a new £8m advice and support service for smaller businesses as part of a new approach it says will help people with stress and other mental health conditions find and keep work. The drive to get people with mental health problems off benefits and into work has been criticised by mental health charity Mind.
DWP news releaseMind news release
Hazards news, 1 December 2007

Britain: TUC says sort out work hazards not workers
Many employers have a healthier appetite for addressing their employees’ diet, exercise and smoking habits than addressing the work-related causes of ill-health, the TUC has said. In a TUC submission to Dame Carol Black’s review of the health of the working age population, the TUC says employers’ attempts to encourage healthy living are most effective when they look at how work can contribute to or cause lifestyle problems and warns against employers moralising over lifestyle issues, like drug and alcohol use.
TUC news release and full response to the consultation
Hazards news, 1 December 2007

Britain: Inspector unearths more dust disease
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Andrea Robbins has unearthed a second case of a stonemason suffering a potentially fatal dust disease. Silica dust levels had previously been found to be over 100 times than the current legal exposure limit.
HSE news release
Hazards news, 24 November 2007

Britain: Concerns about new work capability tests
Disability, work policy and union organisations have warned changes next year to the incapacity benefit system risk penalising and harassing the sick and those with disabilities. The TUC said returning the sick to work required cooperation, not coercion.
Mind news releaseDisability Alliance news release
Hazards news, 24 November 2007

Britain: 'Tougher' work tests for disabled
New incapacity benefit tests planned for next year mean fewer sick and disabled people will qualify as being unable to work. The new work capability assessment, which will cover the entire UK, is being introduced alongside the employment support allowance - which will replace incapacity benefits for new claimants from next autumn.
DWP news releaseTransformation of the Personal Capability Assessment - Technical Working Group's Phase 2 Evaluation Report
Hazards news, 24 November 2007

Britain: Workplace health project a costly flop
A multi-million pound government funded project designed to provide advice on workplace health issues to small and medium-sized firms is failing dramatically in achieving this goal, with almost 9 out of 10 calls received not workplace health-related. An Institution for Employment Studies evaluation of Workplace Health Connect’s (WHC) first 16 months in operation has found “the data demonstrates that the adviceline is primarily of interest to employers as a source of advice about safety related matters, although about 11 per cent of callers did ring with a specific health enquiry.”
Workplace Health Connect: July Progress report, HSE, published online 30 October 2007 [pdf] • Workplace Health ConnectHazards magazine work and health webpages
Hazards news, 3 November 2007

Britain: Workers need mental health support
Family doctors need to do more to help people with mental health problems make a productive return to work, a new report has concluded.
CIPD news release
Hazards news, 17 November 2007

Britain: What you don’t know is killing us
The government’s “work is good for you” push is missing one inconvenient truth – a combination of job insecurity, punitive sick leave policies, a failure to recognise the extent of the country’s work-related health crisis and a lack of official health and safety enforcement means for many work is bad and getting worse.
Dame blast – To Hain and Black: What you don’t know is killing us, Hazards magazine, October-December 2007 • Hazards work and health webpagesWorking for Health news release
Hazards news, 17 November 2007

Nicaragua/USA: US payout awarded over pesticide
A US jury has awarded a total of $3.3m (£1.58m) to six workers who claim they were left sterile by a pesticide used at a banana plantation in Nicaragua. The workers accused Dole and Standard Fruit Co and Dow Chemical Co of concealing the dangers posed by the pesticide, used in the 1970s.
BBC News Online
Hazards news, 10 November 2007

Global: IUF calls for action on lung destroyer
A global union body is demanding urgent control measures on the food flavouring diacetyl, a widely used chemical that can destroy workers’ lungs. IUF, the international federation for foodworkers’ unions, says the ingredient in artificial butter flavours has been shown to cause disabling and sometimes fatal illnesses in exposed workers.
IUF news releaseFood Navigator
Hazards news, 10 November 2007

Britain: TUC dismay at rise in workplace ill-health
The TUC has expressed dismay at new official figures showing a dramatic rise in work-related ill-health. Commenting on statistics released this week by the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) which showed a 10 per cent upturn in health problems related to work, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the figures were “very disappointing.”
TUC news releaseHSC/E stats news release • HSE news release and statistics webpages
Hazards news, 3 November 2007

Britain: Planes boycott by airline staff
Some crew at a leading budget airline are refusing to fly part of the company's fleet, saying poor air quality is putting them and passengers at risk. Flybe staff raised the concerns about the company's British Aerospace 146 fleet.
BBC News OnlineMetroToxic Free AirlinesAerotoxic Association
Hazards news, 27 October 2007

Europe: Union dismay at EMF law delay
A European law intended to protect workers from possible health risks caused by electromagnetic fields, is to be delayed for four years. The TUC believes the MRI issue could have been dealt with without shelving what was intended solely as a workplace health and safety measure - electromagnetic radiation has been linked to high rates of breast cancer in flight attendants and to cancers and other health effects in other groups of workers, including railway staff and microchip workers.
The GuardianBBC News OnlineTrade union cancer campaign
Hazards news, 27 October 2007

Britain: Grass cutting caused vibration injury
A council gardener has developed debilitating vibration white finger (VWF) as a result of cutting grass with strimmers and mowers. GMB member Robert Llewellyn received £3,000 compensation from Cardiff County Council.
Thompsons Solicitors news release
Hazards news, 27 October 2007

Europe: ETUC goes on the strains offensive
Unions in Europe are being urged to join “a massive offensive” against workplace strain injuries. John Monks, ETUC general secretary, said: “We want to launch a mass trade union offensive focused on work organisation to stem these rapidly-spreading work-related illnesses.”
ETUC news release [pdf] • Conference papers
Hazards news, 20 October 2007

Britain: ‘Work while you’re sick’ is hurting firms
Pressure to stagger into work when sick is hurting workers and damaging productivity, commitment levels and motivation, according to research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Its ‘Quality of Working Life’ found 1 in 3 managers believe a culture of not taking time off work for sickness exists in their organisation.
CMI news releaseQuality of Working Life report, executive summary
Hazards news, 20 October 2007

Britain: Business says business is bad to workers
A top business organisation has urged companies to put the health of the nation’s workforce on to the boardroom agenda, after its research revealed “apathy” on the issue was damaging both workers’ health and productivity. Business in the Community (BITC) said its research has revealed that a third of workers (31 per cent) feel their health is neglected at work, while six in 10 (62 per cent) “don’t believe bosses consider staff as assets worth investing in.”
BITC news release
Hazards news, 20 October 2007

Britain: How unhealthy are the nation’s workers?
The government has launched what it claims is the first ever review of the health of the working-age population. Dame Carol Black, the government’s national director for health and work, launched the “call for evidence”; the intention is to identify the action “government, business and the medical profession should take to improve the health of working age people and help more people who develop health problems to remain in or quickly return to work.”
DWP news releaseCall for evidence: deadline for responses 7 November 2007
Why bad work is not a good idea. Safety reps’ guide to occupational health services
Hazards news, 20 October 2007

USA: Work linked to deadly autoimmune diseases
Occupational exposures in farming and industry may be linked to higher death rates from systemic autoimmune diseases, a new study has found. The conditions involve the immune system attacking the body's own tissues, damaging organs. Science Daily.
LS Gold and others. Systemic autoimmune disease mortality and occupational exposures, Arthritis & Rheumatism, volume 56, issue 10, pages 3189–3201, 2007 [abstract] • More on the diseases linked to work, including the Hazards detective
Hazards news, 13 October 2007

Britain: Stonemason develops deadly silica disease
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned quarrying companies and stonemasons of the risk from the potentially fatal disease silicosis, if adequate measures to monitor and prevent exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) are not in place. The alert came after a quarry owner was fined for breaches of the COSHH chemical control regulations and the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) – he had failed to notify the HSE of a reportable work disease, silicosis.
HSE news release
Hazards news, 13 October 2007

Global: Work stress linked to heart risk
People who go back to a stressful job after a heart attack are more prone to a second attack than those whose work is not stressful. Canadian researchers followed over 1,000 patients returning to work and found those with job strain were twice as likely to fall ill.
JAMA news release • Corine Aboa-Éboulé and others. Job strain and risk of acute recurrent coronary heart disease events, Journal of the American Medical Association, volume 298, number 14, pages 1652-1660, 2007 [abstract] • Hazards worked to death webpages
Hazards news, 13 October 2007

Europe: Getting to grips with strain injuries
Three simple letters - MSD – identify the leading cause of occupational illness in Europe, according the European trade union safety thinktank, REHS. Its new guide to musculoskeletal disorders – MSDs – provides a “summary of the current scientific knowledge of this complex group of pathologies, examines the connection between MSD and changes in the organisation of work and proposes ideas for a necessary trade union mobilisation against this exploding health problem.”
Musculoskeletal disorders. An ill-understood pandemic. Further details and online order form
Hazards news, 6 October 2007

Britain: Liverpool council workers poorly protected
Workers at Liverpool City Council are not being provided the legally required level of occupational health support, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said. HSE has issued the local authority with an improvement notice requiring it to improve occupational health services for its 19,000 staff or face legal action.
Liverpool Daily PostHazards guide to occupational health services
Hazards news, 6 October 2007

Britain: Health and safety and disability equality
The Health and Safety Executive says it new ‘health and safety for disabled people and their employers’ web resource “promotes good practice in disability equality at work and health and safety risk assessment.” HSE says the microsite provides: An introduction to disability discrimination and health and safety law; advice for people doing health and safety risk assessments; advice for disabled people; and links to further sources of information, including grants.
HSE safety and disability equality microsite
Hazards news, 29 September 2007

Britain: Airline cabins to be tested for fumes
Pilots’ union BALPA has welcomed a government decision to test the cabins of commercial jets for toxic fumes. The move comes after a government-backed report called for an investigation into whether pilots are being disorientated by poor quality air.
Statement from BALPA to the Committee on Toxicity [pdf] • Committee on Toxicity update paper [pdf] and webpages
Hazards news, 29 September 2007

Britain: Six figure payout for dental nurse allergy
A dental nurse who had to pack in work after developing occupational dermatitis has received a £200,000 payout. The 50-year-old UNISON member, who has not been named, worked for the Central Manchester Primary Care Trust and developed the debilitating skin condition as a result of using latex gloves between 1980 and 2004.
Thompsons Solicitors news release
Hazards news, 29 September 2007

Global: Psychosocial risks and work-related stress
The World Health Organisation’s global occupational health network (GOHNET) has in its latest newsletter turned its attention to psychosocial risks and work-related stress. The document concentrates on countries in economic transition and newly industrialised and developing countries, but has a great deal of useful information for anyone interested in these topics anywhere.
WHO occupational health webpages • Addressing psychosocial risks and work-related stress in countries in economic transition, in newly industrialized countries, and in developing countries, GOHNET Newsletter [pdf]
Hazards news, 22 September 2007

Global: Mum’s job can affect the fetus
Workplace exposures in pregnancy can affect the health of the fetus with workers in blue collar jobs at greatest risk, researchers have found. The authors say the evidence suggests workplace exposures may have negative effects on fetal development, but add more research needs to be conducted on the reasons why the risk is elevated in particular occupations.
Parvez Ahmed and Jouni JK Jaakkola. Maternal occupation and adverse pregnancy outcomes: a Finnish population-based study, Occupational Medicine, volume 57, Number 6, pages 417-423, 2007 [abstract] • OHS reps, issue 123, 13 September 2007
Hazards news, 22 September 2007

Global: Pesticides cause asthma in farmers
Exposure to several commonly used pesticides dramatically increases the risk of asthma in farmers, new research suggests. This finding stems from a study of nearly 20,000 farmers, which was presented at the European Respiratory Society annual congress in Stockholm.
Pesticides associated With atopic and non-atopic asthma among farmers in the Agricultural Health Study [abstract]; ERS congress presentation, 16 September 2007 • Daily Mail
Hazards news, 22 September 2007

Britain: CBI wants GP visits off the clock
Family doctors are costing business a billion pounds a year because it is so hard to see them outside normal working hours, employers have said – a claim which has been challenged forcefully by the British Medical Association. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said millions of staff were forced to take time off work to visit GPs because they could not get evening or weekend appointments.
CBI news releaseBMA news release
Hazards news, 22 September 2007

Britain: Call for more physios to help workers
Workplace strain injury victims are being let down by a shortage of physiotherapists – yet most physio graduates are out of work. Physio’s union CSP says just 24 per cent of physio graduates who could be treating patients have a job.
CSP news release
Hazards news, 22 September 2007

Britain: Docs pressed to send sick to work
The government has given another push to its contentious “work is good for you” campaign. Unions and health campaigners have warned that pressure on GPs to get patients back into work fails to take into account that it is good work and not just any work that can be good for you.
DWP news releaseWhy bad work is not a good ideaSafety reps’ guide to occupational health services
Hazards news, 15 September 2007

Britain: Back to work push could be “dangerous”
Unions and health campaigners have warned that pushing injured workers back into work too soon or without the necessary support could exacerbate their problems. The warning comes after a new report said people with conditions such as back pain and arthritis need to stay in work as much as possible.
The Work Foundation news releaseBBC News OnlineGMHC news release [word]
Hazards news, 15 September 2007

USA: Massive asthma rate in Ground Zero rescuers
A new health peril is hitting the estimated 40,000 rescue and recovery workers who dug through the deadly rubble and toxic debris at Ground Zero of New York’s World Trade Center. A survey has found they are developing asthma at 12 times the normal rate for adults.
New York City Department of Health news releaseAFL-CIO Now
Hazards news, 8 September 2007

Europe: ETUC strains conference, 9-10 October, Brussels
More than one in three European workers suffers from work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and the situation appears to be getting worse. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has decided to take action by hosting a joint ‘On the offensive against MSDs’ conference with its health and safety research arm, ETUI-REHS, in Brussels on 9 and 10 October 2007.
ETUC/ETUI-REHS MSD conference, 9-10 October 2007, Brussels, Belgium
Hazards news, 25 August 2007

USA: Extra screen breaks are healthy and productive
More frequent breaks from screen-based work reduce fatigue and increase productivity, US government researchers have found. A team from the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concluded: “These results provide further converging evidence that supplementary breaks reliably minimise discomfort and eyestrain without impairing productivity.”
Traci Galinsky and others. Supplementary breaks and stretching exercises for data entry operators: A follow-up field study, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, volume 50, issue 7, pages 519–527, 2007 [abstract]
Hazards news, 18 August 2007

USA: Authorities accept firefighter heart risks
Firefighters are dying heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions caused by their work and that could be prevented, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has concluded. A new alert from the official US workplace health research body says sudden cardiac death represents the most common cause of on-duty firefighter fatalities, killing about 45 firefighters each year.
NIOSH news releaseNIOSH Alert: Preventing firefighter fatalities due to heart attacks and other sudden cardiovascular events
Hazards news, 11 August 2007

Britain: Asthma risk for nurses and cleaners
Nurses and cleaners are much more likely as people with other jobs to develop asthma, according to a new study. The study found that conditions in the workplace may be causing up to 25 per cent of new asthma cases in the developed world.
ETUI-HESA news report • Manolis Kogevinas and others. Exposure to substances in the workplace and new-onset asthma: an international prospective population-based study (ECRHS-II), The Lancet, volume 370, number 9584, pages 336-341, 28 July 2007 [abstract – requires registration]
Hazards news, 11 August 2007

Britain: Probe call into 'plane poisoning'
A union is demanding an investigation into suspected toxic gas poisoning of an airline cabin crew. Two Flybe crew members reportedly collapsed and became violently ill on a flight between Birmingham and George Best Belfast City Airport.
BBC News OnlineToxic Free AirlinesAerotoxic Association
Hazards news, 11 August 2007

Australia: Office printers 'are health risk'
An office laser printer can damage lungs in much the same way as smoke particles from cigarettes, a team of Australian scientists has found. An investigation of a range of printer models showed that almost a third emit potentially dangerous levels of toner into the air.
Environmental Science & Technology Online
Hazards news, 4 August 2007

Britain: Upped work rate caused clerk's strain injury
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has paid out almost £500,000 after an RAF computer clerk developed a chronic repetitive strain injury caused by an increased work rate. A total of £484,000 in compensation and legal costs was awarded following the onset of the condition in the hand of the unnamed employee.
Birmingham Post
Hazards news, 4 August 2007

Canada: Smoke, fire and Lou Gehrig's disease
At least seven out of 10,500 full-time firefighters in the Canadian province of Ontario have recently developed Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, an incurable and fatal neurodegenerative condition, investigations have found. Statistically, only one or two people in 100,000 get the disease.
Globe and Mail
Hazards news, 28 July 2007

Britain: CWU action on mail strains
Postal union CWU has launched a new guide to tackle the high rates of workplace strains suffered by mail delivery staff. It says musculoskeletal injuries in Royal Mail are running at over 10 times the rate for workplaces overall.
CWU news release • CWU safe working on delivery guide [pdf]
Hazards news, 28 July 2007

Britain: Nestlé pays out for tennis elbow cases
Nestlé UK Ltd has paid compensation to four workers at the coffee making giant's site at Burton on Trent after each of them developed tennis elbow – mirroring the experiences of workers at another of the company’s plants in Brazil. Steven Davis, received £11,000, a colleague £4,000 and two other workers undisclosed sums after developing the occupational strain injury.
IUF news release
Hazards news, 28 July 2007

Britain: Workplace noise still a health threat
Workers, some exposed recently, are still developing noise-induced hearing loss, recent compensation cases show.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseIrwin Mitchell Solicitors news release
Hazards news, 21 July 2007

Britain: Scheme reveals official blindspot on work health
The National Audit Office report on the coal health compensation schemes has cast serious doubt on Great Britain’s official occupational disease estimates. The government’s original, wildly inaccurate, forecast was that there would be a total of 218,000 vibration white finger (VWF) and chronic obstructive airways disease claims under the scheme, but the final claims total was over three times higher, at 760,000.
Self-reported Work-related Illness and workplace injuries in 2005/06: Results from the Labour Force Survey [pdf] • Coal Health Compensation Schemes and headline statistics
Hazards news, 21 July 2007

USA: Study on black lung spots growing problem
Black lung, the archetypal occupational disease that blighted a past working generation, is re-emerging an official US report has found. Noting “hot spots” of advanced black lung disease in eastern Kentucky and south western Virginia, the report says there are troubling “gaps” in efforts to control dust in coal mines.
Courier-JournalCourier-Journal Black Lung special reports
Hazards news, 14 July 2007

Britain: Pupils screened after TB outbreak
More than 200 pupils at a Flintshire secondary school are being tested for TB after a member of staff was diagnosed with the infection. Last month, TUC published an online briefing for safety reps, outlining occupational infection risks posed by TB.
BBC News OnlineHazards infections webpages
Hazards news, 14 July 2007

USA: Watchdog ordered to release exposure database
The US government’s workplace safety watchdog has wrongfully withheld data documenting years of toxic exposures to workers and its own inspectors, according to a federal court ruling. As a result, the world's largest compendium of measurements of occupational exposures to toxic substances - more than 2 million analyses conducted during some 75,000 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace inspections since 1979 - should now be available to researchers and policymakers.
PEER news release
Hazards news, 7 July 2007

Britain: More work cancers than officials admit
Occupational cancers are killing more people that published official estimates, new figures show. Research commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and presented to an HSE-organised seminar last month concluded six cancers alone were responsible for 7,380 deaths a year. HSE’s current estimate for all occupational cancers, published on its website, is 23 per cent lower, putting the figure for all workplace cancers at just 6,000 deaths a year.
Risks 314, 7 July 2007 • Hazards work and cancer webpages
Hazards news, 7 July 2007

Britain: Pesticide wipes out worker’s memory
A pesticide-affected local authority groundsman went missing overnight and was discovered by a colleague wandering in a park the following day with no memory of what had happened. Andrew McKeith’s employer, Macclesfield Borough Council, was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £3,747 costs after pleading guilty to two HSE charges at Macclesfield Magistrates Court.
HSE news releaseMacclesfield Express and related report
Hazards news, 7 July 2007

Britain: Whiteboard projector safety fears
Interactive whiteboards, now a common feature in UK schools, may pose a threat to the eyesight of teachers and children. A whistleblower from the whiteboard industry itself has pressed the authorities to investigate potential problems and wants printed warnings alongside all screens because of the light projected onto them.
BBC News OnlineBecta whiteboard safety adviceNational Whiteboard Network guide
Hazards news, 7 July 2007

Britain: Bosses 'failing on staff health'
Almost a third of employers are failing to recognise the need to create a healthy workplace, an Investors in People (IIP) survey has found. According to the study of 900 firms, 31 per cent of bosses wrongly think healthy working just means that their staff eat the right food during the day.
IIP news releaseBBC News OnlineHazards work and health webpages
Hazards news, 30 June 2007

Britain: Pilots poisoned by toxic cabin air
Toxic fumes on planes are poisoning pilots and rendering them unable to fly safely, say pilots, who are campaigning for “aerotoxic syndrome” to be recognised as a disease. Two official investigations are being opened after concerns that highly toxic fuel contaminants are leaking into cabin air supply on commercial airliners in flight.
Toxic Free Airlines news releaseToxic Free AirlinesAerotoxic AssociationUNSW aerotoxic syndrome webpages
Hazards news, 23 June 2007

Welcome Aboard Toxic Airlines – YouTube clip

Britain: Modern miner gets deafness payout
A miner and GMB member whose hearing was severely damaged working for just 11 years in modern coal mines has received a £4,500 payout. UK Coal Ltd is to pay the damages to former employee David Burns, 49.
Thompsons Solicitors news release
Hazards news, 23 June 2007

Britain: TUC tuberculosis briefing for reps
TUC has produced an online briefing for safety reps, outlining occupational infection risks posed by tuberculosis (TB). The guide outlines the law and provides a prevention checklist for safety reps, covering notification of risks, provision of infection control advice, routine and post exposure screening and vaccination. TUC says where workers are at higher risk, “consideration should be given to prevention through immunisation for those not yet vaccinated.”
Tuberculosis – a TUC briefing for safety representativesHazards infections webpages
Hazards news , 16 June 2007

Britain: It’s bad jobs that make us sick, says PCS
Attacks on driving examiners, job cuts leading to increased workloads and stressful work conditions are the true story behind sickness absence in the Department for Transport (DfT) and its agencies, the union PCS has said. Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “Job cuts resulting in increasing workloads combined with an unacceptable rise in attacks on driving examiners is the real story here.”
PCS news releaseNAO news release
Hazards news , 16 June 2007

Britain: Unhealthy bosses bad for site workers
Disinterested and unconcerned site bosses are risking the health of construction workers, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) backed study has found. And contrary to ‘macho’ stereotypes about workers in the construction industry, site workers – unlike many site managers - are very concerned about their health and working conditions.
IES news releaseConstructing Better Health Pilot: Final Evaluation Report, HSE Research Report RR565 [pdf]
Hazards news , 16 June 2007

Thailand: Workers win cotton lung payouts
An 11-year campaign for compensation for Thai mill workers suffering ‘cotton lung’ has ended in success. The 37 female workers all suffer from byssinosis, caused by inhaling cotton dust.
Thai Labour Campaign and background on the case
Hazards news, 9 June 2007

Britain: Powertrain workers in legal victory
More than 20 former Powertrain workers struck down by work-related breathing difficulties have won the fight to lodge industrial disease benefit claims. The workers, members of the TGWU section of Unite, triumphed in a long-running battle to allow sufferers of extrinsic allergic alveolitis - EAA, also known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis - to lodge disability claims.
Birmingham MailHazards compensation webpage
Hazards news, 9 June 2007

USA: Toyota puts health on the line
Workers at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, gather on Wednesdays between shifts to shape a battle plan. The United Auto Workers union (UAW) has launched a big new push to organise the plant, amid concerns about lower pay, outsourcing of jobs and the treatment of injured workers.
UAW Toyota campaign
Hazards news, 2 June 2007

South Africa: Poisoned worker fights for justice
A brain-damaged factory worker who was poisoned by toxic manganese fumes has lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission after his company attempted to fire him “via the back door.” The complaint has been lodged on behalf of Brian Anderson, a 51-year-old foreman at the Assmang ferromanganese smelter at Cato Ridge who was diagnosed with manganism - a crippling, job-related neurological sickness which causes Parkinson’s disease type symptoms - in January 2006.
Independent Online
Hazards news, 2 June 2007

Australia: Caring hurts nurses’ feet
Nurses could face an ‘epidemic’ of foot problems, a podiatric researcher has warned. Queensland University of Technology lecturer Lloyd Reed said foot problems are widespread among Australian nurses and are likely to worsen as the nursing workforce ages and spends more time on its feet.
NSW Nurses’ AssociationStanding hazards news and resources
Hazards news, 2 June 2007

Global: Workers are damaged by job cuts
Workplace restructuring and job losses have a serious effect on the health and well-being of workers, a top academic has concluded. In a paper for Australia’s National Research Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, Professor Michael Quinlan said international evidence has linked downsizing and organisational restructuring to poorer mental health outcomes, bullying, and other forms of occupational violence and concluded that regulators, employers and unions have failed to respond adequately to “substantial if not compelling evidence that downsizing and organisational restructuring pose a serious risk the physical and mental health and wellbeing of workers.”
• Michael Quinlan. Organisational restructuring/ downsizing, OHS regulation and worker health and wellbeing, National Research Centre for OHS Regulation, Working Paper 52, 2007 [pdf] • OHS Reps newsletter
Hazards news, 2 June 2007

Switzerland: Magnetic fields linked to rail cancers
Railway workers exposed to extremely low frequency magnetic fields have an elevated risk of certain blood cancers, new study findings suggest. In a study of more than 20,000 Swiss railway workers who were followed for 30 years, researchers found that certain workers' risk of myeloid leukaemia and Hodgkin's lymphoma climbed in tandem with their exposure to these fields, with train drivers most at risk.
Dr Martiin Röösli and others. Leukaemia, brain tumours and exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields: cohort of Swiss railway employees, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published online 24 May 2007; doi: 10.1136/oem.2006.030270 [abstract] •
Hazards prevent work cancer kit
Hazards news, 2 June 2007

Europe: New study links pesticides to Parkinson's
Exposure to pesticides could lead to an increased risk of contracting Parkinson's disease with the risks substantially higher in those occupationally exposed, a study has found. Those who had been exposed to high levels of pesticides, such as farmers, were 1.41 times as likely to be affected, according to the findings.
• Finlay Dick and others. Environmental risk factors for Parkinson’s disease and Parkinsonism: the Geoparkinson study; Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published online 30 May 2007; doi: 10.1136/oem.2006.027003 [abstract]
• Do you know of anyone who might have developed parkinsonism that could have been caused by workplace exposure to pesticides, organic solvents or heavy metals, for example manganese? Hazards magazine would like to hear details, in confidence
Hazards news, 2 June 2007

Britain: Driver contracts killer bug working abroad
A lorry driver from Warrington who had been working across France and Spain, was admitted to hospital on his return to the UK after contracting Legionnaires’ disease whilst working abroad. Philip Barlow, 43, had arrived back in the UK on 28 September 2006 after working for the company Trial-Out delivering frozen foods on the continent.
Irwin Mitchell news release
Hazards news, 26 May 2007

Britain: Firms want work pain solutions on hand
Workers should be able to get medical treatment close to workplaces as part of a major attack on sickness absence levels, according to employer groups. A news report on the Personnel Today website says manufacturers’ body EEF has urged the government to pump resources into getting people back to work quickly.
Personnel Today
Hazards news, 26 May 2007

USA: Lung ailment linked to Trade Center collapse
A clinical study has made a clear link between World Trade Center dust and serious and sometimes fatal diseases. US doctors have found that the number of New York City rescue and recovery workers with a rare type of lung-scarring condition soared in the year after the trade center collapsed in the 11 September 2001 attack, with workers developing sarcoidosis, a debilitating illness in which the lungs and other organs develop inflammation that produces lumps of cells, called granulomas.
Gabriel Izbicki and others. World Trade Center “Sarcoid-like” Granulomatous Pulmonary Disease in New York City Fire Department rescue workers, Chest, volume 131, pages 1414-1423, 2007 [abstract]
Hazards news, 12 May 2007

France: Chemical firm liable for kidney cancers
The world’s third largest animal feed supplement producer has been found liable for kidney cancers suffered by its staff. A social security tribunal in Moulin, France ruled in April that Adisseo had been grossly negligent and ordered the company to pay out compensation of 50,000 to 60,000 euros (£34,000-41,000) to each of nine current or former workers suffering from kidney cancer.
ETUI-REHS news report
Hazards news, 12 May 2007

Canada: Ontario tackles firefighting cancers
Firefighters deserve compensation for fire-related illnesses and the Ontario government is working to ensure they get the help they need, provincial premier Dalton McGuinty has said. The proposed amendment to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act in Canada’s most populous province would allow the government to make regulations affecting Ontario's firefighters that would identify eight types of cancer as presumed to be work-related and would include heart attacks as presumed to be work-related if they occur within 24 hours of a fire.
Ontario Office of the Premier news releaseHazards cancer prevention resources
Hazards news, 12 May 2007

Britain: Bar staff 'should wear ear plugs'
Campaigners have attacked the music and entertainment industry for not preparing measures to protect the hearing of bar and club workers. The Royal National Institute for Deaf People RNID) said staff working where loud music was played should get ear plugs.
RNID news releaseBBC News Online
Hazards news, 12 May 2007

Britain: TUC backs call for action on epilepsy
The TUC is backing a campaign to end workplace discrimination against people with epilepsy. Epilepsy Action has criticised the outdated attitudes of those UK employers who continue to discriminate against people with epilepsy, as part of a campaign launched to mark National Epilepsy Week, which runs from 20-26 May.
National Epilepsy Week, 20-26 May
Hazards news, 12 May 2007

Britain: TUC raises skin problems
Employers are showing a “shameful” lack of concern for the health of their employees, the TUC had said. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber spoke out following new advice from the official safety watchdog that thousands of workers are still affected by a painful skin conditions caused by coming into contact with harmful substances at work.
Personnel Today
Hazards news, 12 May 2007

Britain: Car union in offer to cancer families
Union leaders want to meet grieving families of men who died of cancer contracted while working at Southampton's Ford factory. The Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU) has offered to support relatives if they take legal action, after an investigation by local paper the Daily Echo revealed 21 cases of oesophageal cancer among workers at the Swaythling factory - more than three times the number of cases investigated in an independent study commissioned by Ford.
Daily EchoWork Cancer Prevention Kit, including guide to combating the top 10 workplace cancer concerns
Hazards news, 12 May 2007

Nicaragua/USA: Pesticide company settles sterility case
A Southern California chemical company has agreed to pay $300,000 (£150,000) to Nicaraguan field workers who filed a lawsuit alleging one of the firm's pesticides caused them to become sterile. Lawyers for the plaintiffs announced the settlement with Amvac Chemical Corp during a 15 April rally in Chinandega, Nicaragua.
Risks 302, 21 April 2007

Britain New IOSH occupational health toolkit
IOSH, the organisation for safety professionals – safety officers to you and me – has produced a new, free, online occupational health toolkit. IOSH says this new resource “brings together information, guidance, factsheets, case studies, training materials, presentations and more to help you tackle occupational health problems.”
Risks 300, 31 March 2007 • IOSH occupational health toolkit

Britain: New review of the working nation’s health
The government has announced a comprehensive review of the health of the working age population, which it says will assess current health levels and provide a benchmark against which to measure future workplace health improvements. Work and pensions secretary John Hutton said the review will increase understanding of the beneficial link between work and health, and help identify where the greatest improvements can be made to the health of those who are in or want to return to work.
Risks 300, 31 March 2007

France: Few workers protected from major health risks
A major survey of French workplaces has revealed few workers are adequately protected from from the risks posed by carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic substances (CMR agents) – in general, substances that carry a cancer or reproductive health risk. Inspections at 2,000 firms found only 40 per cent of workplaces using CMR agents - nearly half of all the firms visited were using these substances - had carried out the necessary risk assessment.
Risks 299, 24 March 2007

Extraterrestrial: Lunar dust 'may harm astronauts'
Scientists are investigating the possible threat posed to astronauts by inhaling lunar dust. A study suggests the smallest particles in lunar dust might be cause lung scarring and other health effects, if comparisons with dust-related exposures and ill-health on Earth apply.
Risks 299, 24 March 2007

New Zealand: Deep vein thrombosis threat to office workers
Workers who spend excessive amounts of time at their desk could be putting their lives at risk, according to a study. The Medical Research Institute in New Zealand found a third of patients admitted to hospital with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – blood clots in a deep vein - were office workers who spent hours at a computer, with the worst affected workers were managers, IT workers and taxi drivers.
Risks 298, 17 March 2007

Britain: Soap firm settles for scaly skin
Toiletries giant PZ Cussons has paid out £10,000 to a former employee who developed occupational dermatitis. The 35-year-old TGWU member from Nottingham was required to wear latex gloves to protect his hands from workplace chemicals and went on to develop latex allergy.
Risks 298, 17 March 2007 • Hazards compensation webpages

Britain: Vibrating injury victim secures compensation
A production worker has secured £7,000 compensation after developing debilitating hand and arm conditions caused by exposure to vibrating tools. The union GMB has secured the payout from two former employers of John Coggon, 52, who was diagnosed with vibration white finger (VWF) and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in September 2005 following his employment with National Power from 1977 to 1992 and then Newells from 1992 to 2002.
Risks 298, 17 March 2007 • Hazards work and health and compensation webpages

Sweden: Site dust causes heart attacks
Construction workers who are exposed to airborne particles in the workplace are more likely than others to die of a heart attack, a major Swedish study has found. Researchers from Gothenburg and Umeå found there has been little improvement in building site health and safety conditions in the last 25 years.
Risks 297, 10 March 2007

South Africa: Sick manganese workers demand action
Scores of factory workers - many shuffling about on walking sticks - gathered last week to urge South Africa’s labour department to get to the bottom of a manganese poison scandal. The meeting was called by senior inspectors of the labour department at the request of Spoor and shop stewards from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).
Risks 296, 3 March 2007

Canada: Unions push for shipyard cancer action
Official Canadian health and safety agencies in Newfoundland and Labrador say they will thoroughly investigate complaints from 15 former shipyard workers who say their workplace gave them cancer. All worked at the Marystown Shipyard and blame exposure to asbestos and toxic chemicals for their cancers.
Risks 296, 3 March 2007

Canada: Cancer study links site work to head cancers
The risk of developing health and neck cancers is doubled if you work in construction, a new study suggests. Researchers from the University of Stirling’s Occupational and Environmental Health Research found men who had been diagnosed with head and neck cancer were twice as likely to have worked in construction as participants in a control group.
Risks 296, 3 March 2007

Britain: Job burn-out increased diabetes risk
People who suffer from job burn-out may be prone to developing type 2 diabetes, research suggests. A study of 677 mostly male, middle-aged Israeli workers found those affected by burn-out were nearly twice as likely to develop the condition.
Risks 296, 3 March 2007

Britain: What do you mean, ‘good work’
After several months extolling the health giving properties of “good work”, the government is now asking what “good work” exactly means. This week new DWP minister Lord McKenzie posed the question to businesses, government and charities – but made no mention of workers.
Risks 296, 3 March 2007 • What’s wrong with the strategy – from Hazards magazine

Britain: Most reportable work accidents not reported
New research for the Health and Safety Executive suggests most legally-reportable workplace accidents, including major injuries, are not being reported. Researchers from the University of Liverpool interviewed 581 patients at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital who had suffered reportable work-related injuries and found only 30 per cent of reportable accidents to employees were in fact reported.
Risks 296, 3 March 2007 • Hazards compensation

Britain: One-in-five women with lung cancer never smoked
One-in-five lung cancers in females and almost 1-in-10 in men occur in people who have never smoked, a new study has concluded. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Northern California Cancer Center have concluded that never-smokers get lung cancer more often than thought.
Risks 294, 17 February 2007

Britain: Small firms don’t get occupational health services
Workers in small firms rarely have access to occupational health services but rarely take sick leave either, a business survey has found. Survey responses from nearly 4,000 members of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) revealed 43 per cent of firms had not experienced any sickness absence in the past twelve months and found barely one in 20 of the respondents (6.5 per cent) provided access to occupational health services.
Risks 293, 10 February 2007

Britain: Ford cancer probe highlights work risks
An 18-month investigation into a throat cancer cluster at Southampton's Ford car factory has concluded six cases – twice the expected number – occurred as a matter of chance. Experts were called in after five employees in the paint shop died of throat cancer. Another developed the illness but recovered; the six staff members were diagnosed with the disease between 1994 and 2005 - more than twice the number of cases medical researchers would expect to occur over an 11-year period.
Risks 293, 10 February 2007

Britain: Councils must act to protect employees’ health
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned local authorities across Scotland to be proactive in identifying and addressing health and safety issues affecting their staff. The HSE alert comes after an employment tribunal involving Dundee City Council, which upheld a legally binding improvement notice issued by HSE after it determined the council had an inadequate management system and provisions in place to deal effectively with occupational health risks.
Risks 292, 3 February 2007

Britain: Flood of support for UNISON water@work campaign
A union campaign for easy access to drinking water at work has won the backing of public health and water industry bodies. The UNISON campaign, launched by general secretary Dave Prentis in London on 30 January, aims to encourage businesses to recognise the benefits of water to human health and encourage employers to provide wholesome drinking water at work.
Risks 292, 3 February 2007 • Water@Work website

USA: Women’s work cancers under the spotlight
Many work environments - no matter how seemingly innocuous - expose people to human carcinogens, substances that can cause cancer. Cornell University’s Suzanne Snedeker said: “It's appalling how little data we have,” adding: “Until the 1990s we had very little data on exposure to chemicals.”
Risks 291, 27 January 2007 • Hazards cancer webpages

Britain: Government must ‘neutralise’ workplace allergies
The union Amicus is calling for action from the government to combat workplace allergies. Amicus health and safety officer Rob Miguel, a member of the official Advisory Committee for Toxic Substances, put the union’s case in evidence to an allergy sub-committee of the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology.
Risks 290, 20 January 2007

India: The real cost of cheap stone
Research and “diagnosis camps” run by the Gujarat-based Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC) have identified an “epidemic” of silicosis, a deadly lung disease caused by exposure to stone dust. Quarry workers, gem polishers, foundry and other industrial workers are at risk.
Risks 289, 13 January 2007 • PTRC websiteMore on the PTRC dust campaign

Australia: ABC staff may strike over cancer concerns
Staff employed by Australian broadcaster ABC in Brisbane have threatened further industrial action as concerns continue about elevated cancer rates linked to its ageing studios in the city. The studio was abandoned before Christmas after an independent panel of experts found the breast cancer rate there was up to 11 times higher than the general working community.
Risks 289, 13 January 2007 • Hazards workplace cancer webpages

Britain: TUC repeats call for hearing checks
Hearing charity RNID and the TUC have teamed up for the second year running to call on workers and their managers to 'break the sound barrier' and take the charity's telephone hearing check on 0845 600 55 55. To date, 300,000 people have taken the telephone hearing check but RNID believes many more could benefit from taking the check to discover their level of hearing loss.
Risks 289, 13 January 2007

Europe: Cancer problems hidden at work
Occupational cancers are being missed because of flaws in the reporting system, according to a new report. It says a major factor in the near invisibility of occupational cancer is that the related tumours in the great majority of cases only occur after the worker has retired - however, a pilot scheme by France’s health protection agency which started in 2005 is using post-occupational monitoring for employees and self-employed skilled workers.
Risks 287, 16 December 2006

Canada: Work-related deaths rising sharply
The number of work-related deaths in Canada is rising sharply, revealing a dark side to the boom in the oil fields, mining and the construction sector. The escalating work deaths figure also reflects a steady increase in the number of workers dying from long-ago exposure to dangerous products such as asbestos, according to a report from the Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
Risks 287, 16 December 2006 • Hazards asbestos and work and age webpages

Britain: Fat chance this will work?
The government's health advisers are urging companies to do more to get their staff on their feet in order to combat a nationwide epidemic of unfitness. A raft of recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) range from providing bike sheds for those who want to cycle to work to encouraging staff to take the stairs instead of the lift.
Risks 287, 16 December 2006

Britain: Scientist played down work cancer risks
A world-famous British scientist failed to disclose that he held a paid consultancy with a chemical company for more than 20 years while investigating cancer risks in the industry. Sir Richard Doll, the celebrated epidemiologist, was receiving a consultancy fee of $1,500 a day in the mid-1980s from chemical multinational Monsanto.
Risks 287, 16 December 2006 • HSE occupational cancer estimates

Sweden: Work still hurts one in four Swedes
Almost a quarter of Swedish employees (24 per cent) had suffered from a health problem caused by their work in the preceding year, an official survey has found. More women reported work-related health problems, with over a quarter (27 per cent) saying work had affected their health, compared to 21 per cent of men, the figures representing a 1 per cent drop on last year’s report.
Risks 285, 2 December 2006

Britain: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease webpage
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published new webpages on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These “obstructive” conditions are commonly caused by workplace exposures, a problem Hazards magazine last year warned was massively under-estimated by UK authorities, with possibly hundreds of thousands of cases missed in workers in dusty trades.
Risks 285, 2 December 2006 • HSE COPD webpagesA job to die for?, Hazards 92, November 2005

USA: Multinationals blame workers for chemical cancers
Nine former employees of a US tyre plant who developed occupational cancers as a result of toxic exposures have been told by chemical giants it was their own fault. The group, who all worked at Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin, were exposed to benzene but have been told they caused their own cancer because they “voluntarily used the chemicals knowing the dangers and risks, and they failed to take precautions which could have avoided injuries.”
Risks 284, 25 November 2006

Costa Rica: Pineapples take a bitter toll on workers
The workers harvesting the pineapples found on UK supermarket shelves are working in desperate conditions, an investigation has found. The fact-finding mission made up of Costa Rican trade unionists, representatives from the non-governmental organisation Banana Link and the UK’s GMB trade union carried out their own independent tour of one particular plantation this month visited the Pinafruit SA plantation in Limon province on Costa Rica's Atlantic coast.
Risks 284, 25 November 2006 • Banana Link website and Union to Union initiative

Britain: Danger, cancer at work
Hazards magazine is campaigning for greater recognition of the occupational cancer risk. It needs evidence from UK workplaces to add additional weight to its arguments and wants to hear about any cancer risks where you work, compensation payouts made to people developing occupational cancers, union guidance on the issue or union initiatives to remove or reduce workplace cancer risks.
Hazards cancer webpages

Britain: Call centre staff face 'hearing risk'
Two-thirds of UK call centres fail to protect their workers against hearing damage from noise, a report has warned, with many of the UK’s 900,000 call centre staff at risk. Experts say increasing numbers of injuries and illnesses are being caused by acoustic shock and other noise related hazards.
Risks 284, 25 November 2006

Global: Gender equality, work and health
‘Gender equality, work and health’, a new review published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), documents the relationship between gender inequality and health and safety problems. It reviews gender issues in research, policies and programmes on work and health, and highlights some specific issues for women, including the types of jobs they do, as well as their need to reconcile the demands of work and family.
Gender equality, work and health: A review of the evidence, WHO, 2006 • Full report [pdf]

Global: Raised cancer risk in firefighters
Firefighters are at a far higher risk of developing certain cancers than people in many other professions, according to new research. A University of Cincinnati team said exposure to substances such as benzene, chloroform and soot posed a threat.
Risks 283, 18 November 2006 • Hazards cancer and work and health webpages • US firefighters' union IAFF webpages on presumption laws in the US and Canada

Global: HSE’s cancer favourite had “secret ties to industry”
Researchers have revealed that the co-author of the most frequently cited but much criticised estimate of occupational cancer prevalence had “secret ties to industry”. An analysis of the academic literature on occupational cancer found: “The most striking case is that of Sir Richard Doll, co-author (with Richard Peto) of one of the most influential papers in cancer epidemiology, one that concluded
Risks 283, 18 November 2006

Global: Concern over chemicals brain risk
Industrial chemicals may be causing a pandemic of brain disorders because of inadequate regulation, researchers have warned. An online report in the Lancet identifies 202 chemicals, including metals, solvents and pesticides, which have potential to damage the brain.
Risks 283, 18 November 2006

Britain: Semiconductor cancer deaths inquiry call
The UK semiconductor industry and the official safety watchdog must take urgent action to address cancer risks in the semiconductor industry, a union has said. Manufacturing union Amicus has called for an inquiry into cancer risks in the computer and semiconductor manufacturing industry following damning new research from the United States.
Risks 282, 11 November 2006

Britain: Renewed government call on health and work
Safety minister Lord Hunt has told public health professionals to ensure they recognise the health benefits of work, as part of the government’s “work is good for you” push. The call came in the week HSE confirmed that 2 million UK workers report suffering a health problem caused or made worse by their work, over half a million had developed the problem in the last year, and 30 million days of sick leave were the result of work-related ill-health and injuries.
Risks 281, 4 November 2006

Britain: Amicus takes on “terrible” silica problems
An Amicus campaign is seeking to minimise the risks of “terrible” diseases caused by workplace exposure to silica. Crystalline silica can cause silicosis and other respiratory disease and has been linked to lung cancer, kidney and autoimmune system problems.
Risks 280, 28 October 2006

Global: Breast cancer linked to jobs
Women who have worked, or grown up, on a farm have a much higher risk of getting breast cancer, a study suggests. Stirling University researchers said women who then worked in healthcare further increased their risk, although more research is needed to explain why.
Risks 279, 21 October 2006

Britain: Pen pushers face bad backs
People who work in offices are among the most likely to suffer from back pain, according to the British Chiropractic Association. It says poor posture while sat at a computer can cause more back problems than the excessive lifting and carrying done by manual workers.
Risks 279, 21 October 2006

Britain: Amicus prepares Lords appeal on pleural plaques
An appeal to the Law Lords to reinstate compensation for sufferers of the asbestos related condition pleural plaques has been set for summer 2007.The move by Amicus is seeking to overturn a Court of Appeal ruling this year which stopped compensation payouts to those with the condition.
Risks 279, 21 October 2006

Britain: Man develops illness with photochemicals
The former employer of a photo booth engineer whose health was wrecked by toxic chemicals has been fined £100,000. The problem only came to light after Stuart White, 37, blew the whistle on the workplace dangers.
Risks 278, 14 October 2006

Britain: Hunt says age discrimination is a work health issue
Safety minister Lord Hunt has called for support for a new law barring age discrimination in the workplace. He said there were proven health benefits of being in work and stressed the legislation will ensure that older workers are not denied the opportunity to increase their life expectancy while minimising the risks of depression, obesity and poverty.
Risks 277, 7 October 2006

Britain: Raised lead levels linked to heart disease risk
Two new studies have linked even relatively low lead exposures to a higher rate of heart disease.
Risks 276, 30 September 2006

Global: Cancer linked to rotating shifts
Men who work a rotating shift pattern may be at increased risk of prostate cancer, research suggests. Japanese scientists found that staff working rotating shifts were three times as likely to develop the disease as those working day or night shifts.
Risks 275, 23 September 2006 • Hazards occupational cancer webpages

Britain: Better backs tools for safety reps
As part of its better backs campaign, HSE has published two new tools for safety reps, a checklist for workplace manual handling inspections and a practical guide to managing sickness absence and return to work. HSE says the “documents have been put together in partnership with the TUC to help safety representatives get involved with the campaign.”
Risks 275, 23 September 2006 • Hazards work and health webpages

Britain: Over stretched NHS can’t reach strain victims
The health service is too stretched to deal with the one million plus workers with a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) caused or made worse by work, physios’ union CSP has warned.
Risks 275, 23 September 2006

USA: Most Ground Zero workers now suffering
The majority of the 40,000 rescue and recovery workers who responded to the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York could be suffering health problems as a result of toxic exposures. A new study by doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center has found nearly 70 per cent of firefighters, police officers, emergency medical crews, construction workers, utility workers and volunteers have suffered new or worsened lung and other health problems.
Risks 274, 16 September 2006

Britain: New official “work is good for you” push
A government commissioned review has concluded being out of work is bad for both mind and body, progressively damaging health and decreasing life expectancy. ‘Is work good for your health and well-being?’ concludes that overall, the beneficial effects of work outweigh the risks of work, and are greater than the harmful effects of long-term unemployment or prolonged sickness absence.
Risks 274, 16 September 2006

USA: Corporate cancer kills off real prevention
The organisation representing occupational health doctors in the US has been labelled an “embarrassment” after making claims about the supposed “success” of occupational cancer prevention measures. The flak heading the way of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) has been amplified because of its support for a “CEO Cancer Gold Standard™”, backed largely by pharmaceutical companies and concentrating entirely on lifestyle measures.
Risks 273, 9 September 2006 • How big a problem is occupational cancer? - see the Hazards webpages

Britain: Move to stop waste sector’s wasted lives
New guidance aimed at stemming a spate of deaths involving waste vehicles has been issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It says since December 2005 there have been six fatalities reported involving reversing waste or recycling collection vehicles.
Risks 273, 9 September 2006

USA: Workplace lead exposure a brain cancer risk
People who are routinely exposed to lead at work are far more likely to die from brain cancer than people who are not exposed. The US study found the death rate among people with jobs that potentially exposed them to lead was 50 percent higher than unexposed people, and the number of deaths was larger than in many previous studies.
Risks 273, 9 September 2006

Britain: Research cuts put health at risk
Research into serious workplace and public health risks is being put at risk as a result of cutbacks in government research agencies, a union has warned. Prospect, the union representing 3,400 scientists and specialists in Defra, says “a barrage of cuts” are facing Defra agencies and laboratories undertaking research into problems including avian flu, BSE, foot and mouth disease and anthrax.
Risks 273, 9 September 2006

Britain: Saws cut butcher’s hearing
A butcher who developed occupational deafness has received a £5,000 compensation payout. UNISON member Eric Stonier worked for a number of companies in Wakefield and Manchester, including Britt Broadbent and Louis C Edwards.
Risks 272, 2 September 2006 • Hazards work and health webpages

USA: Why are miners still choking to death?
It's been well over 100 years since the US Congress first told mine companies to limit coal dust in mines and four decades since the first efforts were made to reduce the incidence of coal miners’ pneumoconiosis, or black lung, a deadly choking of the lungs with coal dust. But an official study has revealed miners in eastern Kentucky and western Virginia are at greater risk than miners in other coal belt areas and are developing the condition earlier.
Risks, 271, 26 August 2006

Britain: Animal diseases kill workers
Two workers have been killed in separate incidents as a result of “zoonoses”, animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Christopher “Pascal” Norris, 50, a craftsman who made musical instruments from untreated hides, died from an anthrax infection and farmer John Freeman, 29, died of rabbit flu.
Risks, 271, 26 August 2006

Cancer and work conference, Glasgow, 14 September
Unions and workplace health campaign organisations are hosting a 14 September conference in Glasgow on cancer and work.
Risks 270, 19 August 2006

USA: Officials failed to act on Ground Zero perils
Emergency crews exposed to dust after the collapse of the World Trade Center were poorly protected and now have lung problems equal to 12 years of age-related respiratory damage, new research indicates. Lung tests of 12,000 rescue workers in the year after the disaster showed those present in the very early stages of rescue suffered the most damage.
Risks 269, 12 August 2006

Britain: Updated workplace health stats from HSE
A report published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) this week shows that an estimated two million British workers suffer ill health, which they believe was caused or made worse by work.
Risks 269, 12 August 2006

Britain: Updated workplace health stats from HSE
A report published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) this week shows that an estimated two million British workers suffer ill health, which they believe was caused or made worse by work.
Risks 269, 12 August 2006

Britain: Essex fined £15,000 for cement burns
A construction firm has been fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £7,000 costs after a plasterer suffered serious cement burns.
Risks 269, 12 August 2006

USA: Call for emergency action on work popcorn peril
Two large US unions and dozens of leaders in public and occupational health are petitioning the US government to use emergency powers to control worker exposure to a chemical in butter flavouring that has sickened hundreds of workers. The government safety watchdog, though, says it could take two years to consider the request.
Risks 268, 5 August 2006

Britain: Worker gets £5,500 for lost hearing
A worker suffering severe hearing loss caused by foundry noise has received a £5,500 payout. Amicus member David Richards, 58, worked at the former St Gobain foundry in Risca, south Wales, for 35 years until 2005.
Risks 268, 5 August 2006

Britain: Body map finds missing toilets
A bodymapping exercise has identified unreported bladder problems in a group of firefighters with inadequate access to toilets at work. FBU members discovered while bodymapping that they suffered from urinary problems they had been reluctant to admit it to each other.
Risks 268, 5 August 2006

Britain: Meat staff contract Q fever
Eighteen people who work at a meat processing plant in Bridge of Allan in Stirlingshire have contracted the work-related infection Q fever. NHS Forth Valley said it was possible others could be affected by the outbreak of the flu-like illness and can also lead to Q fever endocarditis, a serious heart condition in a minority of sufferers.
Risks 267, 29 July 2006

Ukraine: Chernobyl thyroid cancer risk confirmed
A new study has confirmed a substantially increased risk of thyroid cancer among people exposed to radiation during childhood and adolescence after the Chernobyl disaster.
Risks 265, 15 July 2006

Britain: Two million shaken, not heard
More than two million workers in Great Britain are exposed to either excessive noise or hand arm vibration, says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which has launched a national programme to tackle the problems.
Risks 265, 15 July 2006

Britain: Miscarriage welder wins damages
A female welder who raised safety concerns when pregnant and who went on to win a sex discrimination claim against her father's company has been awarded £7,500 for injury to feelings. Suzanne Bunning, 31, took GT Bunning of Dereham, Norfolk to an industrial tribunal after suffering a miscarriage.
Risks 265, 15 July 2006

Britain: Trust fined for latex blunder
The health trust running Swindon’s Great Western Hospital has been fined after a nurse with a known allergy to latex was given latex gloves to wear. Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs after admitted failing to properly assess the risk to nurse Wendy Roberts of wearing latex gloves
Risks 265, 15 July 2006

Britain: Cautious union response on welfare
Unions have given a cautious response to the government’s new welfare proposals.
Risks 264, 8 July 2006

Britain: Ministers reveal welfare overhaul
A shake-up of the benefits system aimed at getting one million sick or disabled people into jobs has been published. The bill spells the end of incapacity benefits, which will be replaced by an employment and support allowance from 2008, saving an estimated £7bn a year.
Risks 264, 8 July 2006

China: Campaign calls for cadmium compensation
The global metalworkers’ union federation IMF is calling on its affiliates worldwide to join the campaign for compensation for workers in China suffering from cadmium poisoning. When Gold Peak Industries opened its Huizhou factories in 1994, Chinese workers were not warned of the dangers of handling highly dangerous cadmium and were initially refused masks. Years later, these workers suffer from cadmium poisoning, are going into debt from medical bills and unable to find new employment.
Risks 263, 1 July 2006

Britain: It’s in your hands
A new short guide to work-related dermatitis and its prevention is available on the TUC website. The ‘It’s in your hands’ guide is part of a campaign coordinated by the Health and Safety Executive and the safety clothing trade organisation BSIF and is backed by occupational hygiene and medical organisation and TUC.
TUC skin hazards webpages

USA: More proof links Parkinson's to pesticides
New highly credible evidence linking exposure to pesticides to the development of Parkinson’s disease has come from a study in the US. A team from Harvard School of Public Health found that people who said in 1992 that they had been in contact with pesticides were 70 per cent more likely to develop Parkinson’s within the next 10 years.
Risks 263, 1 July 2006

Britain: UK faces huge lung disease toll
Lung diseases kill more people in the UK than in most other European countries, according to a study. The report says occupational lung diseases such as mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos fibres, are increasing. Mesothelioma deaths have increased by 70 per cent to 1,862 since 1992.
Risks 263, 1 July 2006

Britain: Allergy nurse's compensation deal
An RAF dental nurse whose career was ruined by a potentially fatal allergy to latex gloves has been awarded £260,000 compensation. Lisa Furphy, 35, had to be invalided out of the RAF in 2004 because of her allergy to powdered latex gloves, following an anaphylactic attack while working at RAF Holton in 2003.
Risks 263, 1 July 2006

Europe: Workplace health to be top priority
Workplace health will be a top priority for the Finnish government’s presidency of the European Union, to run for six months from 1 July.
Risks 262, 24 June 2006

USA: Heart attacks linked to job loss
Losing your job late in your career doubles the chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke, a study says. Once risk factors such as diabetes, smoking, obesity and high blood pressure were taken into account, the risk of the involuntary job loss group having a heart attack after losing their job was 2.5 per cent and a stroke 2.4 per cent.
Risks 262, 24 June 2006

Britain: Study looks at pesticide link with Parkinson's
Scientists have begun a three-year study aimed at establishing whether pesticides can cause Parkinson's disease. The project, funded by the environment department Defra comes as a US study of men exposed to pesticides published online last week found they are more than twice as likely to develop Parkinson's disease as are men who have managed to avoid contact with the toxic chemicals.
Risks 262, 24 June 2006

Britain: TUC in renewed work cancer call
The UK must revise its massive official under-estimate of the work cancer toll, the TUC has said. The call comes after research this month confirmed TUC’s charge that the UK’s occupational cancer estimate is outdated and inadequate, missing most workplace cancers.
Risks 262, 24 June 2006

Australia: Work cancers massively under-estimated
About 5,000 Australians a year develop cancer after being exposed to cancer-causing substances at work - more than twice as many cases as previously estimated. Research by the Queensland Cancer Fund and University of Sydney found 11 per cent of all cancers in men and 2 per cent of cancers in women were linked to occupation, prompting doctors to warn that occupational health and safety regulations may be failing to protect workers.
Risks 261, 17 June 2006

Britain: White finger sufferer gets four digit payout
A Leeds man has been awarded a £7,500 compensation payout after he contracted the industrial disease vibration white finger (VWF). Barry Wallis, 47, was awarded the sum following a claim against Insituform Technologies Ltd, based in Wakefield.
Risks 261, 17 June 2006

Australia: Jobs cause one in 10 adult asthma cases
One in 10 people who develop asthma as an adult probably have their workplace to blame, a study has found.
Risks 260, 10 June 2006

Global: Fraudulent chrome cancer study downplayed risks
A highly influential occupational health journal has had to retract a paper on risks posed by cancer-causing chromium after it emerged the paper was not written by the scientists credited, but by consulting firm which has chromium industry clients.
EWG “Chrome-plated fraud” webpages • Risks 260, 10 June 2006

Canada: Job-related cancer killed firefighter
Days after he died from colon cancer, a firefighter finally won a legacy that will help other firefighters hit with job-related illnesses. Joe Adamkowski, 49, died on 14 May before learning the Workplace Safety Insurance Board had approved his claim for job-related cancer compensation.
Risks 259, 3 June 2006 • US firefighters’ union IAFF webpages on presumption laws in the US and Canada

Britain: New criticism of workplace health advice service
The resources allocated to Workplace Health Connect (WHC) should have been devoted to local authority health and safety enforcement, a council safety boss has told the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health’s (CIEH) May conference. Geoff Makin, environmental health manager at Coventry City Council, said the number of site visits proposed by the service were a “drop in the ocean”, adding “wouldn’t it have been better to spend that money on local government instead?”
Risks 259, 3 June 2006

Britain: Nat Semi cancer toll is “tip of the iceberg”
More than 70 cancer deaths at the National Semiconductor plant in Greenock, Scotland, could be the tip of the iceberg, health experts have warned. Experts have identified several types of cancer, including brain and breast tumours, which are four to five times higher than normal.
Risks 259, 3 June 2006

Britain: Cancer warning from bladder cancer widow
The widow of a process worker who died from bladder cancer caused by exposure to workplace chemicals is urging other at risk workers to seek immediate medical attention. Douglas Taylor worked for the Castleford company, Hickson and Welch, between 1961 and 1990 during which he came into contact with aromatic amines.
Risks 258, 27 May 2006 • Hazards cancer news and resources

Britain: Report unearths hidden workplace health crisis
A new report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggests levels of work-related ill-health, injury and exposure to hazards could be much higher than earlier official estimates suggest. The WHASS report found over threequarters of all workers have workplace health and safety concerns.
Risks 258, 27 May 2006 • WHASS webpage

Britain: Editor wins £37,500 RSI damages
A Guardian newspaper night editor who says she was refused access to the company physiotherapist after developing crippling elbow pain has been paid £37,500 in damages for repetitive strain injury (RSI). Andrea Osbourne, who had been a casual at the paper for two and a half years, worked almost exclusively using a mouse, at speed, for an average nine hours a night, and up to 45 hours a week, without a break.
Risks 258, 27 May 2006

Britain: TUC plan to help disabled people into work
Far too few disabled people who want to work are being recruited by employers and too many disabled employees, including workers who become disabled after being injured at work, are losing their jobs, according to a TUC report.
Risks 258, 27 May 2006

Australia: “Serious” concerns at building tumour link
A union has said there is a “serious problem” with an Australian university building that had to have its top floors evacuated after a cluster of brain tumours were discovered. University union NTEU has called on RMIT University in Melbourne to ensure the health and safety of its staff following reports that seven staff members working in the tower block have been diagnosed with brain tumours over the last seven years.
Risks 257, 20 May 2006

Canada: Work conditions raise risk of having a small baby
Exposure to range of workplace risks in pregnancy can increase the likelihood of having an under-sized infant, according to a new report. Researchers reporting in the American Journal of Public Health said factors that had a cumulative effect on risk included working night hours, irregular or shiftwork schedule, standing, lifting loads, noise, and high psychological demand coupled with low social support.
Risks 257, 20 May 2006

Britain: Occupational health pays off
Investing in occupational health helps cut absence rates, a study by the manufacturers’ organisation EEF has concluded. Its survey of 600 firms employing over 120,000 workers found a “clear link” between addressing sickness absence and improving business performance.
Risks 257, 20 May 2006

Britain: Warning on work skin cancer risk
Rising skin cancer rates have prompted renewed union warnings about reducing work-related risks from sunlight exposure. General union GMB said Britain’s 1 million outdoor workers should be protected.
Risks 257, 20 May 2006

Ireland: “Massive increase” in work illnesses
There has been a massive increase in work related illnesses in Ireland, with 60,000 people affected in just three months, a union has revealed. SIPTU called for action to tackle the escalating numbers of employees affected.
Risks 256, 13 May 2006

Australia: Company doctors hurt injured workers
Australia Post has been found by an official inquiry to have broken the law by using its in-house doctor scheme to force injured workers back to work and to deny workers' compensation. Evidence provided to AIRC showed employees who attended their own doctor were found unfit for work 95 per cent of the time, yet when they saw a company-appointed doctor just six per cent were found unfit for work.
Risks 256, 13 May 2006

Britain: Immobile office workers given DVT warning
Office workers risk being struck down by deep vein thrombosis (DVT) if they sit at their computer screens for long periods without a break, health experts have said. The warning came as it emerged that a computer programmer from Bristol almost died after a 12-hour stint in front of his screen in what is believed to be one of the first cases in the UK of a growing phenomenon dubbed e-thrombosis.
Risks 256, 13 May 2006

Britain: Refuse collectors face rubbish risks
Fortnightly rubbish collections could put refuse workers’ health at risk due to toxic gases released, experts have warned. The longer period between collections allows dangerous emissions to build up, causing respiratory irritation, scientists have found.
Risks 256, 13 May 2006

Britain: No prosecution for record lung disease firm
There will be no safety prosecution of the Birmingham engineering firm which in 2004 saw what officials say may be world’s largest outbreak of a long-recognised work-related lung condition. Hilda Palmer of Greater Manchester Hazards Centre expressed concern at the failure of both the firm and HSE to take more prompt action.
HSE news release • Risks 255, 6 May 2006

Europe: Agreement on workplace silica risks
More than 2 million workers in many different sectors across Europe are to be covered by a joint union-employer pact to reduce risks from exposure to crystalline silica, a substance that can cause lung cancer, respiratory disease and which has been linked to kidney and autoimmune system problems.
Risks 254, 29 April 2006

Britain: New workplace health czar is a Dame
The first “workplace health czar” has turned out to be Dame. The new czarina, Professor Dame Carol Black, a doctor and president of the Royal College of Physicians.he becomes the first ever National Director for Health and Work, despite being a rheumatologist with no experience of occupational health and safety.
Risks 254, 29 April 2006

Britain: Five x-ray scanners have miscarriages
A union has called for answers after it was revealed five security guards operating new airport body scanners have had miscarriages. TGWU fears the x-ray machines, which penetrate 1cm under the skin, could be responsible.
Risks 254, 29 April 2006

Britain: Five year delay on microchip cancer study
A study into cancers at a Scottish microelectronics plant has not started after years of delays, with just eight months to go before it's supposed to finish. Top boffins from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) promised five years ago to undertake the study at the National Semiconductor in Greenock, says health and safety campaign group Phase II.
Risks 253, 22 April 2006

USA: Official statistics miss most work cases
The US national surveillance system for work-related injuries and illnesses could miss two-thirds of occupational injuries and illnesses, according to a new study. A research team led by Professor Kenneth D Rosenman of Michigan State University concluded: “Based on the results of our analysis we estimate that the number of work-related injuries and illnesses in Michigan is three times greater than the official estimate derived from the BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] annual survey.”
Risks 252, 15 April 2006

USA: Coal mining’s deadly legacy
Award-winning US photo journalist Earl Dotter has joined with the Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University to produce a powerful new photo exhibit, ‘Our future in retrospect: Coal miner health in Appalachia,’ chronicling the impact of these jobs on mining communities. The exhibit is dedicated to the 21 coal miners killed in West Virginia, Kentucky, Utah and Maryland this year – a year that has already seen the mines fatality toll near the total for 2005.
Our future in retrospect? Coal miner health in Appalachia

Sweden: Work hurt one in four last year
One in four employed persons in Sweden suffered from a work-related disorder in 2005, according to official figures. Latest survey results reveal that 28 per cent of women and 22 per cent of men stated they had experienced work-related disorders during the last 12 months, with the overall workforce figure at 25 per cent.
Risks 250, 1 April 2006

France: Work diseases are growing
Working conditions in France have deteriorated in recent years, according to an official survey, with occupational diseases now on the increase. Survey results presented on the European Foundation website point to a “generally deteriorating” situation with work now blamed by workers for 20 per cent of all health problems.
Risks 250, 1 April 2006

Britain: Study identifies badly managed worker syndrome
Workers are suffering an array of common health ailments caused by poor management, job stress and lack of control at work, a study has found. Researchers asked 4,000 civil servants from 44 buildings in London about their environment and job pressures and about symptoms such as coughs and tiredness.
Risks 249, 25 March 2006

Global: Union warning on bird flu epidemic
Foodworkers are in the frontline of a potential bird flu catastrophe and if an epidemic is to be avoided must be protected from the disease and from victimisation for raising safety concerns. The warning comes from IUF, the global foodworkers’ union federation.
Risks 248, 18 March 2006

Canada: Push for new cancer prevention law
The Canadian government must do more to prevent cancers caused by industrial chemicals, campaigners have said. They are pushing the new Conservative government to ban or phase out some chemicals altogether.
Risks 248, 18 March 2006

Britain: Deadly legacy of Britain’s coal mines
Workers who toiled for decades in Britain’s coal mines are suffering disability and early death as a result. Since a government scheme was set up in the late 1990s, hundreds of thousands of miners have received compensation for just two of the many common industrial diseases affecting those who have worked in the industry, with the figures suggesting there is a hidden epidemic of work-related ill-health in the UK.
Risks 248, 18 March 2006

Global: Boffins get to the bottom of seat problems
An international study has found good seat design can reduce vibration through a lorry seat by a third. Sweden’s National Institute for Working Life says it has established that lorry seats can be improved to reduce vibration-related complaints by tackling sideways as well as vertical vibration.
Risks 248, 18 March 2006

Global: Kids face heightened pesticides risk
New studies in Equador and the US have highlighted a massively increased risk to children from common pesticides. The Ecuador study found children whose mothers were exposed to pesticides while pregnant had increased blood pressure and diminished ability to undertake some simple tasks compared to a control group.
Risks 248, 18 March 2006

Global: Asian silicosis victims to hit Europe
Two jewellery workers from China and two gem polishers from India will travel to Basel, Switzerland, to raise awareness of the deadly side effects of their jobs, particularly silicosis. The workers will attend a jewellery fair from 30 March to 4 April, and hope to have talks with a large number of organisations, including the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Risks 247, 11 March 2006

Britain: Payouts to sick miners pass £3 billion
Compensation payments to sick miners have topped £3bn, new figures show. The government pays out about £2m every weekday to compensate for respiratory and vibration-related injuries.
Risks 247, 11 March 2006

Britain: Employers told to take heed of noise warning
Firms have been warned that they could face a barrage of compensation claims from staff if they fail to heed improved measures to protect workers' hearing. Hearing charity RNID and the TUC are warning employers and employees to take hearing damage more seriously in preparation for the new Control of Noise at Work Regulations coming into effect on 6 April 2006.
Risks 247, 11 March 2006

USA: Groups challenge deadly chrome standard
US government safety watchdog OSHA, under pressure from the courts to issue a health standard for a deadly workplace substance, has published a limit so lax “that workers will die,” health campaigners have warned.
Risks 246, 4 March 2006

Britain: Outsourced £20m HSE work health scheme goes live
A £20 million government financed, privately run Health and Safety Executive (HSE) scheme to provide free occupational health advice to small firms is now in operation. Although financed entirely by the government and launched by and “delivered in partnership” with HSE, the service “is provided entirely by private contractors” a Workplace Health Connect spokesperson told Risks, adding “but HSE does provide a framework and quality assurance.”
Risks 246, 4 March 2006

Britain: Lives 'devastated' by tinnitus
Research into the effects of tinnitus - a buzzing or ringing in the ears - shows that it has a profound impact on all aspects of people's lives, and reveals that more than one in five affected people believe the condition was caused by noise at work.
Risks 245, 25 February 2006

India: Deadly business of quarrying marble
Workers in Rajasthan's marble quarries toil in conditions that often lead to injury, disease and death, but campaigners say neither the mine owners nor the state government has done enough to mitigate their suffering.
Risks 244, 18 February 2006

Britain: NUM to launch joint damage test case
Thousands of South Wales miners who have suffered damage to their joints could benefit from a major legal test case being launched by their union. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says many miners and former miners who worked in cramped conditions, in narrow seams with inadequate protection, have suffered debilitating osteoarthritis in their knees.
Risks 243, 11 February 2006

Britain: NHS plan “should promote occupational health”
The health of people in the workplace should be a key consideration in the government’s ‘Our health, our care’ White Paper on the health service, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has said.
Risks 242, 4 February 2006

Britain: Sickness absence bill put at £12 billion a year
The cost of sickness absence to the British economy is around £12 billion per year, the safety minister has said.
Risks 242, 4 February 2006

Britain: Work stress link to heart and diabetes risk
People who suffer from chronic stress caused by their job are more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes, according to a major study. The researchers, writing in the British Medical Journal, investigated work stress and the “metabolic syndrome” — which includes factors such as obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol — and found evidence of a direct link between stress exposure and ill-health.
Risks 241, 28 January 2006

Britain: Unions call for more resources for welfare plan
Unions whose members work in rehabilitation and welfare services have said the government will have to plough in more resources if its welfare reform plans are going to work.
Risks 241, 28 January 2006

Britain: TUC says concerns remain on welfare reform
The government's proposals to reform incapacity benefit have been given a guarded welcome by TUC, but the union body says concerns still remain.
Risks 241, 28 January 2006

USA: Farmworkers demand action on Parkinson’s
The US farmworkers’ union UFW is demanding government action on a reported Parkinson’s disease risk from occupational exposure to pesticides. A UFW petition urges people to tell the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that federal scientists “should be looking at the real-life scenarios of exposures for everyone — especially farmworkers and farmers — which includes exposure to multiple chemicals that can produce cumulative impacts on the body and environment.”
Risks 240, 21 January 2006

China: Workers pay deadly price for dusty trades
Thousands of workers in China are falling victim to deadly dust diseases, official figures have revealed. Pneumoconiosis – the group name for the diseases caused by dust scarring the lungs – is the most common occupational condition in China, with 440,000 sufferers, according to Ministry of Health figures.
Risks 238, 7 January 2006

Britain: Government push on incapacity benefit reform
The government is seeking support for its controversial reforms for incapacity benefit. It says getting people off benefit and into work will ease deprivation and have a positive impact on health, but union, health and disability campaigners are concerned the move could lead to harassment of genuine claimants.
Risks 238, 7 January 2006

Britain: Healthy workplaces strategy “won’t work”
The government’s healthy workplaces strategy “lacks cohesion and will have little impact on the real issues affecting health and productivity,” according to a new report from The Work Foundation. It says problems such as sickness absence, dependence on welfare benefits and low pay have their root in bad jobs that give employees little voice and control.
Risks 238, 7 January 2006

USA: Court upholds welder’s $1m Parkinson’s award
A US court as upheld a US$1m (£580,000) compensation award to a welder who developed Parkinson’s disease he believes was caused by exposure to manganese in welding fumes. Defendants in the case included UK company BOC Group, which described the verdict as “an aberration”.
Risks 238, 7 January 2006

Europe: Experts forecast changes in occupational risks
Changes in society, work organisation and production methods are leading to new types and new combinations of occupational risks which demand new solutions, a European Agency survey has concluded.
Risks 237, 17 December 2005

Malaysia: Massive under-reporting of workplace illness
The majority of cases of occupational disease are being missed in Malaysia, a survey has found. The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) investigated patient admissions over 24 hours in a health clinic serving a large worker population from the Penang free trade zone.
Risks 236, 10 December 2005

Global: Occupational medicine faces twin attack
The scientific integrity of occupational medicine is being increasingly undermined as a result of pressure from governments and industry, a new report has concluded.
Risks 235, 3 December 2005

USA: Job exposure to common pesticide linked to cancer
Workplace exposure to the common pesticide diazinon appears to increase the risk of lung cancer and possibly other cancers, according to a major study.
Risks 235, 3 December 2005

Britain: New national centre on workplace health opens
A new national centre of excellence to promote health in the workplace was launched in Buxton this week. The Centre for Workplace Health aims to develop simple, practical solutions to workplace health problems through academic research and will provide a range of training and occupational health services designed to minimise ill health and injury in the workplace.
Risks 234, 26 November 2005

Britain: Unhappy workers 'risk becoming ill'
Workers who are unhappy in their jobs are more likely to become ill, according to research. A study of 250,000 employees by Lancaster University and Manchester Business School found that job satisfaction influenced mental health in particular.
Risks 234, 26 November 2005

Britain: Cancer chemicals killing tens of thousands, says TUC
Britain is facing an occupational cancer epidemic that could be killing up to 24,000 people every year, four times official estimates, according to an authoritative new TUC report. The report by Hazards, the TUC-backed health and safety magazine, concludes that the incidence of occupational cancer in the UK is much higher, and suggests that it is between 12,000 and 24,000 deaths a year.
Risks 234, 26 November 2005 • Hazards cancer guide

Global: New epidemics at work
A retreat from regulation and enforcement, combined with the impact of globalisation, is leading to new problems and new epidemics, according to a new book. ‘Occupational health and safety: International influences and the “new” epidemics’ exposes how hard won regulations are being undermined by deregulation and how the export of hazardous work is creating a new degeneration of workplace disease victims in developing nations.
Risks 233, 19 November 2005

Canada: Firefighters win fight for cancer compensation
Firefighters in British Columbia (BC), Canada with certain kinds of work-related cancer will find it easier to get official compensation, thanks to rule changes agreed by the provincial government. The new law, which was introduced after a lengthy campaign by firefighters’ unions, will recognise leukaemia, brain cancer and five other kinds of cancer as occupational hazards for long-time firefighters.
Risks 231, 5 November 2005

Sweden: Heavy work makes you sick
Workers performing jobs that require heavy work are far more likely to take long-term sick leave, a Swedish study has found.
Risks 231, 5 November 2005

France: Daily grind wears out joints
Wear and tear caused by heavy jobs can cause permanent damage to the joints, a study has found. French researchers found certain jobs were linked to a greatly increased risk of osteoarthritis in the knees, hips and hands.
Risks 231, 5 November 2005

Britain: Action on acoustic shock
A conference next week will address an emerging and serious occupational health issue – acoustic shock. By 2005, £2 million in out-of-court acoustic shock injury settlements claims have been secured in the UK, with unions CWU and PCS handling 700 cases between them.
Risks 230, 29 October 2005

Britain: Government launches new health strategy
The government has launched a new strategy on health, work and well-being at work. TUC's Hugh Robertson called for more occupational rehabilitation and said: “We strongly welcome any initiative that will help produce a joined up initiative on issues such as rehabilitation and return to work, however the government must not loose sight of the fact that the top priority must be to prevent people being made ill or being injured in the first place.”
Risks 230, 29 October 2005

 

 

Search Hazards

Work and health