The aftermath of the BP Texas city refinery explosion in 2005 that killed 15 workers

 


DEADLY BUSINESS NEWS

Australia: Targeting exploited riders will led to deaths
The Transport Workers’ Union in Australia has slammed the New South Wales (NSW) state government’s new food delivery laws, saying the targeting and punishment of exploited riders will add to the deadly pressures they face. NSW minister for better regulation Kevin Anderson revealed riders will receive unique identification numbers and be targeted by police in compliance blitzes.
TWU news release. NSW government news release. Sydney Morning Herald. The Guardian. Risks 1000.
Hazards news, 10 June 2021

Global: Shame of ‘scandalous’ child labour figures
A reversal in the long-term downward trend in child labour shames the world, the global union confederation ITUC has said. The new joint ILO and UNICEF report warns that progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years, with the total number of children in child labour increasing by over eight million in the period 2016-2020, while the absolute number of children in hazardous work rose by 6.5 million.
ITUC news release. UNICEF news release. ILO news release, related release, video and ILO-UNICEF report, Child Labour: Global estimates 2020, trends and the road forward.  The Guardian. Risks 1000.
Hazards news, 10 June 2021

India: Many dead in India chemical plant fire
At least 18 workers have died in a fire at a chemical plant on the outskirts of the western Indian city of Pune. Some 37 workers were trapped inside the SV Aqua Technologies factory when the blaze started in the afternoon of 7 June.
Pune Mirror. BBC News Online. Hindustan Times. Risks 1000.
Hazards news, 10 June 2021

India: Court backs unions on carmaker Covid safety
An Indian court has ordered safety agencies to visit carmakers in the southern state of Tamil Nadu to draw up uniform safety guidelines for workers during a new and devastating wave of Covid-19 infections. Unions acting on behalf of workers at the Indian unit of Renault-Nissan had asked the Madras High Court for operations to be halted, saying social distancing norms were being flouted and the risk to their lives outweighed the health benefits provided by the company.
Saltwire. Risks 1000.
Hazards news, 10 June 2021

Britain: Site giant fined after worker crushed to death
A construction company has been fined £700,000 over its criminal safety failings after one of its employees was crushed by a dumper truck. John Cameron, who was in his early 60s, was working for BAM Nuttall during the building of an electricity substation at Blackhillock, near Keith in Moray, Scotland.
BBC News Online. Risks 1000.
Hazards news, 10 June 2021

Britain: Employment rights talk, but no employment rights action
Unions have said the government’s announcement about a new workers’ rights watchdog will not have a meaningful impact if it isn’t accompanied by new employment rights. Mike Clancy, general secretary of the civil service union Prospect, said said improvements to employment protection were also needed, calling for the government “to end the delay and bring forward the Employment Bill.”
Usdaw news release. RMT news release. GMB news release. Prospect news release. BEIS news release. Risks 1000.
Hazards news, 10 June 2021

Britain: Biggest construction project recognises ‘fundamental’ safety
Unions and employers on Europe’s biggest construction project have signed a declaration recognising occupational health and safety as a ‘fundamental’ right at work. Unite signed the joint declaration with EDF Nuclear New Build at the Hinkley Point C (HPC) site in Somerset.
BWI news release and declaration. ITUC campaign and fundamental safety factfile. Risks 1000.
Hazards news, 10 June 2021

Britain: Union action kills off electrician deskilling plans
A plan by two major building firms that union members warned could have led to dangerous deskilling of electrical work on site has been abandoned. The union Unite welcomed confirmation by contractors Balfour Beatty and NG Bailey that they remain committed to the existing Joint Industry Board (JIB) agreement and the training of fully qualified electricians on the Hinkley Point C (HPC) project, dropping plans to introduce training standards for a new position of ‘electrical support operative’.
Unite news release and 28 February statement Hinkley Point C and Threatened Deskilling of Electricians. Balfour Beatty Bailey joint venture (BBB JV) statement. Risks 1000.
Hazards news, 10 June 2021

Bangladesh: Garment safety transition accord extended
Negotiations on the future of the 2018 Transition Accord on labour standards in the Bangladesh garment sector are to continue after global unions and international fashion brands agree to a three-month extension. The deal between global unions UNI and IndustriALL and a negotiating committee representing leading fashion brands must still be signed by the individual brands.
IndustriALL news release. UNI news release. Risks 999.
Hazards news, 2 June 2021

Britain: Covid firm fined after worker seriously injured
Kepak Group Limited (formally 2 Sisters Red Meat Limited), a food firm hit by large scale Covid-19 outbreaks, has been fined £600,000 for criminal safety breaches after a worker was seriously injured. A company’s safety record should be taken into account when deciding on enforcement action over Covid breaches, including prosecution, under HSE’s Enforcement Management Model, however neither firm faced prosecution or sanction following major outbreaks.
HSE news release. Risks 999.
Hazards news, 2 June 2021

Britain: Waste firm convicted after traffic marshal is killed
Grundon Waste Management has been convicted of a criminal health and safety offence after traffic marshal Kiril Karadzhov was hit and killed by a waste lorry at a construction site at the former BBC Television Centre. In November 2020, construction logistics provider, Wilson James Limited, was fined for its role in the incident and fined £850,000 plus £11,750 in costs.
HSE news release and earlier news release. Materials Waste Recycling. Risks 999.
Hazards news, 2 June 2021

Britain: Director fined after teen injured in fall from height
Company boss Wayne McKnight has been fined for criminal safety breaches after a 17-year-old worker fell from a mezzanine floor to the ground below. McKnight, trading as RJE Construction, pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2015 and was fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,300.
HSE news release. Risks 999.
Hazards news, 2 June 2021

Britain: Many new school buildings ‘have combustible insulation’
Dozens of schools have been built using combustible insulation since the material was banned on high-rise apartment blocks after the Grenfell Tower disaster, raising fears for safety. More than 70 schools are likely to have used plastic foam insulation, which burns, since it was banned on residential buildings over 18 metres in height in December 2018, according to industry research.
The Guardian. Risks 999.
Hazards news, 2 June 2021

Britain: FBU protects ‘vital’ fire safety apparatus
The firefighters’ union FBU has successfully overturned a policy it said would have “endangered firefighters’ lives and undermined public safety.” The policy proposed by London Fire Brigade (LFB) would have allowed firefighters fighting a fire in a tall building, to be deployed without breathing apparatus (BA) including an air supply.
FBU news release. LFB statement, 25 May 2021. Risks 999.
Hazards news, 2 June 2021

Britain: New Amazon safety tech is a dangerous admission
Amazon has finally admitted it has a workplace safety problem after introducing new health and safety technology to one of its warehouses, GMB has said. A site in Yorkshire has been chosen by the online giant to trial technology in its UK operations which it says will support safer ways of working - including automated guided vehicles and robot sorters.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Hackney Gazette. Risks 998.
Hazards news, 26 May 2021

Britain: Bus win means walk out on remote sign-on is off
Planned London bus strikes slated for 25 May were called off after the operator Metroline agreed to halt a remote sign-on process Unite warned would lead to fatigue, lack of access to welfare facilities and other hazards. The dispute involving more than 4,000 bus drivers was prompted by Metroline’s plans to introduce the controversial system, in which drivers do not report to a depot but meet a bus along a route, such as at a bus stop.
Unite news release. Risks 998.
Hazards news, 26 May 2021

Britain: MP gets ‘slap on the wrist’ for sexual misconduct
In any normal employment setting the “inappropriate and predatory” behaviour of MP Rob Roberts would probably have been classed as gross misconduct and seen him fired, the civil service union Prospect has said. The union was commenting after the Conservative MP for Delyn was found by an independent panel to be guilty of sexual misconduct and suspended from parliament for six weeks.
Prospect news release. Independent Excerpt Panel report, 25 May 2021. BBC News Online. Risks 998.
Hazards news, 26 May 2021

Britain: Employers ‘massively under-reporting’ Covid deaths
The number of people who have died of work-related Covid-19 is being “massively under-reported” by employers, according to a new TUC report. ‘RIDDOR, Covid and under-reporting’ highlights a huge discrepancy between Covid work-related deaths reported by employers and data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Public Health England.
TUC news release. RIDDOR, Covid and under-reporting , TUC, 23 May 2021. The Observer. Morning Star.
Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. Risks 998.
Hazards news, 26 May 2021

Britain: Boss jailed for failing to report lost leg
A builder has been imprisoned for 24 weeks after he failed to report a serious incident at a construction site which led to a worker’s leg being amputated. Trading as Surrey Conversions, Paul Adams pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) and was handed a 24-week jail sentence and was ordered to pay costs of £2,033.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 997.
Hazards news, 19 May 2021

Zimbabwe: Safety campaign in small-scale mining
Campaigns by trade unions, civil society organisations and mine affected communities in Zimbabwe are seeking to improve the deadly working conditions of miners by formalising artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). IndustriALL, the global union for the mining sector, says with no other source of income, over one million miners, or 14 per cent of the country’s labour force, continue to look for minerals, especially gold, to eke out a living.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 996.
Hazards news, 13 May 2021

Canada: Renewed call to hold deadly employers to account
Canada’s unions are marking the anniversary of the 1992 Westray mining disaster by calling for negligent employers to be held accountable in the event of a workplace death or injury, through effective enforcement of the Westray law. The first known criminal probe into a Covid-19 workplace outbreak occurred in January when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) initiated a criminal investigation into the 10 May 2020 death of Benito Quesada, a worker at the Cargill meat packing plant in High River, Alberta.
CLC news release. Risks 996.
Hazards news, 13 May 2021

Global: Companies urged by UN to protect seafarers
A wide-ranging human rights checklist has been issued to businesses in the maritime industry to protect seafarers stranded on ships due to new Covid-19 variants and government-imposed travel restrictions. The joint initiative by the UN Global Compact, the UN Human Rights Office, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has created a Human Rights Due Diligence Tool for cargo owners and charterers.
UN news release. Risks 996.
Hazards news, 13 May 2021

Britain: Plan to boost workers’ rights absent from plan
The TUC has accused the government of ‘rowing back’ on its promise to boost workers’ rights, after ministers failed to include an employment bill in the Queen’s Speech. Commenting on the decision to exclude the bill from the 11 May Queen’s Speech, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said “the government has rowed back on its promise boost to workers’ rights by not bringing forward its long overdue employment bill.”
TUC news release. Queen’s Speech, 11 May 2021. GMB news release. Unite news release. NUJ news release. Prospect news release. BBC News Online. Risks 996.
Hazards news, 13 May 2021

Britain: Union safety first call as train cracks stop services
The cancellation of train services after cracks were found in the high-speed fleet show the need for rigorous safety controls, rail unions have said. Eight trains in the fleet were taken out of service last week after the hairline cracks were discovered. Great Western Railway (GWR) said the cracks were found during routine maintenance of two of its Hitachi 800 trains and added “possible issues” had been discovered on another six trains, which had been withdrawn from service while an investigation was carried out.
RMT news release. TSSA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 996.
Hazards news, 13 May 2021

Britain: RMT accuses rail firm Abellio of cutting corners on safety
Rail union RMT has accused ‎Abellio of playing fast and loose with safety on its trains. The union said that during industrial action the company has been using unqualified ‘scab labour’ to act as a second person on trains responsible for fare collection, despite these volunteers lacking the knowledge, experience and safety competencies required of the job.
RMT news release, related news release and petition. Risks 996.
Hazards news, 13 May 2021

Britain: ‘Remote sign-on’ prompts more bus action
London bus operator Metroline’s decision not to drop permanently its controversial ‘remote sign-on’ policy will lead to five days of strike action that will cause serious disruption to services in the capital, Unite has said. The union announced 48 hours of strike action by more than 4,000 bus drivers will take place on Tuesday 25 May and Wednesday 26 May, to be followed by a 72-hour strike from 7 June to 9 June.
Unite news release. Risks 996.
Hazards news, 13 May 2021

Britain: Inquest into Covid death of Belly Mujinga welcomed
An inquest is to be held into the death of rail worker Belly Mujinga, more than a year after she died of Covid-19. North London Coroner Andrew Walker, in a ruling welcomed by Belly’s union TSSA, said there was reason to suspect that Ms Mujinga’s death was “unnatural.”
TSSA news release. Morning Star. Risks 996.
Hazards news, 13 May 2021

Britain: Under 1-in-200 workplaces inspected during pandemic
Just 1-in-218 workplaces have been inspected by a workplace safety regulator during the pandemic, a TUC analysis has revealed The TUC’s research, covering the period from March 2020 to April 2021, was released ahead of indoor hospitality reopening on 17 May.
TUC news releases. The TUC Action Plan to reform the labour market enforcement system, May 2021. Risks 996.
Hazards news, 13 May 2021

USA: Union report shows 275 US workers killed a day
In 2019, 5,333 working people were killed on the job and an estimated 95,000 died from occupational diseases, according to a new report from the US national union federation AFL-CIO. ‘Death on the job: The toll of neglect’ reveals that every day, on average, 275 US workers die from hazardous working conditions.
AFL-CIO news release and report, Death on the job: The toll of neglect, 4 May 2021. Report summary. Risks 995.
Hazards news, 6 May 2021

Europe: Huge fall in labour inspections raises Covid risk
The number of labour inspections has collapsed across Europe over the last decade, leaving workplaces less prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic. New research from the Europe-wide trade union confederation ETUC reveals that safety inspections have been cut by a fifth since 2010, falling from 2.2 million annual visits to 1.7 million.
ETUC news release. Risks 995.
Hazards news, 6 May 2021

Britain: Firefighters honour 2,300 fallen colleagues
Firefighters across the UK held a minute’s silence at midday on 4 May for Firefighters’ Memorial Day, in memory of more than 2,300 firefighters who have died in the line of duty. Firefighters and control staff stood outside their stations and workplaces and sounded their sirens to commemorate the fallen firefighters, including two serving UK firefighters who have lost their lives to Covid-19 over the last year.
FBU news release and Firefighters’ Memorial Day website. Risks 995.
Hazards news, 6 May 2021

Britain: Bosses still cash in as their workers die
Calls are growing for an end to the practice of paying executives health and safety bonuses if none of their employees die on the job, as an analysis revealed the average value of a human life in some boardrooms under such schemes is as little as £33,000. The research, by the shareholder advisory firm Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (PIRC), looked at annual reports from 38 FTSE 350 companies in which at least one person died at work between 2015 and 2019 and found that at least two had not reported docking their top executive’s bonus at all after employees died, while those that did imposed an average cut of £33,628 – the equivalent of less than 1 per cent of the executive’s total annual pay.
The Guardian. Risks 995.
Hazards news, 6 May 2021

Britain: HSE condemned for going easy on offshore criminal
Offshore union RMT has responded with concern to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) light-touch action after a serious safety incident in the offshore decommissioning sector. The safety offences came to light in 2020 when a video was circulated of a dangerous occurrence during decommissioning work carried out by contractor Ocean Kinetics on the Buchan Alpha rig in waters off Shetland.
RMT news release. Energy Voice. Shetland News, including the video clip. Risks 995.
Hazards news, 6 May 2021

Britain: Official figures hide thousands of work Covid deaths
Official worker fatality figures are hiding thousands of work-related Covid deaths, the union GMB has said. Just 111 people died at work during the year to 31 March, according to HSE figures, but GMB said according to the government’s own statistics, at least 8,000 working age deaths have been linked to Covid in England and Wales in 2020.
GMB news release. Risks 995.
Hazards news, 6 May 2021

Britain: Government fire adviser pick a 'harbinger of doom'
Firefighters must be ready to fight ‘tooth and nail’ for their service, the FBU has said, after a service slashing fire boss was appointed as a government adviser on forthcoming reform to fire and rescue services in England. The firefighters’ union was commenting on the selection of former National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC) chair and service slashing former fire chief Roy Wilsher as the person who would advise the Home Office ahead of a white paper, due later this year.
FBU news release. Risks 994.
Hazards news, 28 April 2021

Britain: Transport operator fined £1.5m after worker electrocuted
Tyne & Wear Metro operator Nexus has been fined £1.5m after a maintenance worker was electrocuted. Nexus pleaded guilty at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Crown Court following the death of John Bell at the company’s South Gosforth depot on 6 July 2014.
ORR news release. Construction Enquirer. Newcastle Chronicle. Risks 994.
Hazards news, 28 April 2021

Britain: Director evades jail after a decade of crimes
A buy to let property developer and company director have been fined for poor health and safety standards on a construction site in Cardiff. JNR Developers Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £32,000 plus £8,000 costs and Mehrded Chegounchei, who has been guilty of safety crimes spanning a decade, pleaded guilty to a criminal safety breach and received a six month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to undertake 80 hours of unpaid work.
HSE news release. Risks 994.
Hazards news, 28 April 2021

Britain: Action call as agriculture deaths show steep increase
An analysis of workplace deaths in agriculture by Unite has shown a steep increase in fatalities in the sector. Figures for the period April 2019 to March 2020 - show there were a total of 20 deaths in the agricultural sector, but according to the Health and Safety Executive’s fatality list for 2020/21, by the third week of February there had already been 33 deaths, an increase of 61 per cent.
Unite news release. Health and Safety Executive fatality list for 2020/21. Morning Star. Risks 994.
Hazards news, 28 April 2021

Britain: ‘Work should support life – not endanger it’, says IOSH
IOSH, the largest organisation of safety professionals’ worldwide, says 28 April’s International Workers’ Memorial Day is a reminder of the importance of the role played by the occupational safety and health profession in protecting workers. Jimmy Quinn, president of IOSH, said: “IOSH has always advocated that the best approach is prevention first.”
IOSH news release. Risks 994.
Hazards news, 28 April 2021

Global: Why unions make a stand on 28 April
As workers around the world who have lost their lives to workplace accidents and disease are commemorated on 28 April, trade unions are pressing two key demands to save lives, says the global union confederation ITUC. First, it says occupational health and safety must be given the status of a fundamental right by the International Labour Organisation (ILO); the second priority is for Covid-19 to be classified as an occupational disease.
ITUC news release. ITUC photostory – Why occupational health and safety must be a fundamental right at work. EN | ES | FR. ITUC/Hazards 28 April fundamental factfile. Risks 994.
Hazards news, 28 April 2021

Global: Union frees seafarer after years on abandoned ship
Seafarer Mohammad Aisha last week boarded a plane en route to his native Syria, ending a four-year battle where he was forced to live on an abandoned ship in the Suez Canal while the vessel waited to be sold. He is free because the global seafarers’ union ITF offered to have one of its union representatives in Egypt take Mr Aisha’s place and become the legal guardian of the vessel.
ITF news release. The Independent. Risks 994.
Hazards news, 28 April 2021

Global: Work to keep garment factories safe must continue
In the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013, in which over 1,100 garment workers died, the groundbreaking Bangladesh Accord was created. The legally binding agreement has transformed factory safety in Bangladesh’ garment industry, saved lives, supported freedom of association and increased collective bargaining.
UNI news. IndustriALL news release and related story. Thomson Reuters Foundation Op Ed. Toronto Star. Related news: CLC news release. Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Risks 994.
Hazards news, 28 April 2021

Britain: Wrongly accused Post Office worker took his own life
A former post office worker killed himself after he was wrongly accused of stealing. Martin Griffiths, who took his own life in 2013 at the age of 59, was one of many post office workers who died with convictions against their names and whose lives were “irreparably ruined” after they were wrongly prosecuted by the Post Office.
Evening Standard. BBC News Online. The Guardian and related story. Morning Star. More on work-related suicide.
ACTION! Use the Hazards e-postcard to tell the HSE to recognise, record and take action to prevent work-related suicides. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide Risks 994.
Hazards news, 28 April 2021

Britain: PM must set timetable for Covid-19 public inquiry
The TUC is calling for an immediate public inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The TUC says that alongside scrutinising the quality of decision-making across the pandemic response in government, the public inquiry must specifically look at infection control and workplace safety, including the failure to provide adequate financial support to self-isolate, PPE availability for health and care staff and other frontline workers throughout the crisis, the effectiveness of test and trace, and the failure to enforce the law on workplace safety.
TUC International Worker’s Memorial Day activities. TUC report calling on the government to introduce tough new measures to ensure that before lockdown restrictions are eased, all employers assess the risks of their staff team returning to work outside the home. TUC Yorkshire and Humber news release. BBC News Online.  
Napo news release. NUJ news release. PCS news release.  POA news release. UCU news release.
Check out what’s going on worldwide on 28 April 2021. Risks 994.
Hazards news, 28 April 2021

Britain: PM ‘bodies pile high’ allegation adds to pressure
The prime minister’s alleged comment that he would rather see ‘bodies pile high’ than approve a third lockdown shows why a public inquiry is needed now, the union GMB said. The GMB – which represents hundreds of thousands of frontline key workers – says the PM must come clean on why they were put in harm’s way and why he thinks it’s ok to let them die.
GMB news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 994.
Hazards news, 28 April 2021

Britain: Contract dispute coffee factory labelled ‘toxic’
Conditions for staff working at the JDE coffee factory in Banbury are becoming unsafe because of increasing pressure on workers, staff have warned. JDE (Jacobs Douwe Egberts) workers have voted for industrial action in protest at a 'fire and rehire' process that aims to force them to accept different contracts.
Unite news release. IUF news release. Banbury Guardian. Risks 993.
Hazards news, 22 April 2021

Britain: Food delivery firms must address rider safety concerns
Food delivery companies such as Deliveroo should be forced to investigate accidents and address risks facing their Scottish couriers, according to campaigners. The call comes as the Workers’ Observatory – an Edinburgh project supporting fast food couriers – prepares to launch a manifesto in response to rider safety concerns such as traffic hazards.
The Ferret. The Workers’ Observatory. Risks 993.
Hazards news, 22 April 2021

Britain: Rail disaster report shows need for action
An interim report into the crash at Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire which claimed the lives of three people – driver Brett McCullough, 45, conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62 – and in which six other people were injured has exposed Network Rail’s failures, unions have said. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report on into the 12 August 2020 tragedy exonerated the driver of the train and has found it was caused by “debris washed onto the track near Carmont, Aberdeenshire, following heavy rainfall.
Interim report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch. ASLEF news release. RMT news release. TSSA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 993.
Hazards news, 22 April 2021

Britain: RMT launches 'No cuts at Network Rail' campaign
Rail union RMT has launched the latest phase of its campaign to derail Network Rail plans that could increase risks and result in thousands of job losses by September. The union says the move would result in a “wholescale dilution of safety standards, including a halving the frequency of safety critical maintenance work.”
RMT news release and campaign webpage. Risks 993.
Hazards news, 22 April 2021

Britain: Network Rail fined for injuries after ignoring safety warnings
Network Rail has been fined almost £700,000 after pleading guilty to a criminal safety offence that left an employee with serious burns after safety warnings were ignored. The worker suffered third degree and mixed depth burns in a fire at the at Godinton substation in Kent at the end of 2018.
ORR news release. Risks 993.
Hazards news, 22 April 2021

Britain: Nothing smart in government motorways response
The UK government’s changes to the way it runs Smart and All Lanes Running (ALR) motorways will not remedy serious problems unless it also addresses staffing shortages among the traffic officers and a lack of capacity at the regional operating centres responsible for road safety, the union Prospect has warned. Garry Graham, Prospect deputy general secretary, commented: “Technology can identify breakdowns but you need an operator in an ROC to spot the problem, and then you need traffic officers to resolve it.”
Prospect news release. DfT written statement to parliament. BBC News Online. Risks 993.
Hazards news, 22 April 2021

USA: Meat plant line speed-up thrown out by court
In a major victory for workers in America’s pork industry, a federal district court in Minneapolis has ruled that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) acted unlawfully when it eliminated limits on the speed at which plants run their slaughter lines without considering the increased risk of injury to workers. “The court’s decision recognised that Trump’s USDA violated basic principles of administrative law when it refused to consider the impact of its actions on plant workers and claimed, contrary to its longstanding practice, that it was not allowed to do so,” said Adam Pulver, the Public Citizen attorney who serves as lead counsel on the union UFCW-backed case.
UFCW news release. Public Citizen news release. Daily Kos. Risks 992.
Hazards news, 14 April 2021

USA: Amazon grovels after pee-in-vans denial
Amazon has apologised to a US politician for falsely denying its drivers have been forced to urinate in plastic bottles. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin, referenced Amazon making “workers urinate in water bottles” in a tweet; the official Amazon Twitter account then replied: “If that were true, nobody would work for us,” but then apologised after evidence emerged of drivers having to urinate in bottles.
Amazon statement and Amazon twitter exchange with Rep. Pocan. BBC News Online. Risks 992.
Hazards news, 14 April 2021

Britain: Waste firm fined £1m over binman's death
A waste contractor has been fined £1m after a young refuse collector was killed under his own bin lorry. Kane Beard, 22, from Daventry, Northamptonshire, was working in a four-person crew when he died from head injuries after falling under the reversing lorry on 8 April 2016.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Northampton Chronicle. Risks 992.
Hazards news, 14 April 2021

Britain: Covid toll shows the need for investment in work safety
The high numbers of Covid-19 deaths linked to exposures to the virus at work reveal “the abject failure of too many to keep workplaces safe,” the union GMB has said. The union points to official figures that show that 31,000 the suspected cases of occupational exposure to coronavirus were reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) between 10 April 2020 and 13 March 2021.
GMB news release. Risks 992.
Hazards news, 14 April 2021

Global: ‘Fundamental’ health and safety moves a step closer
A significant step towards making occupational health and safety a fundamental workers’ right has been taken at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Governing Body, an influential committee comprised government, employer and union delegates. On 23 March, governments at the governing body’s meeting overwhelmingly supported a call from worker members to move ahead with the process.
ITUC news release. Collegium Ramazzini statement. Risks 991. Hazards news, 31 March 2021

Global: US to seize PPE over labour and safety abuses
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency has ordered the seizure of disposable gloves made by Malaysia's Top Glove company. The order said CBP had sufficient information to believe that Top Glove uses forced labour in the production of disposable gloves; the firm was forced to shut more than half of its 28 factories in November 2020 after almost 2,500 employees tested positive for coronavirus.
BBC News Online. Risks 991.
Hazards news, 31 March 2021

Germany: Firms to face justice for safety violations abroad
Germany could force companies to take responsibility for any labour or environmental abuses in their global supply chains. The law passed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet, and which still needs approval from the country’s parliament, was spurred by a deadly fire in a textile factory in Pakistan and a devastating dam collapse at a Brazilian iron ore mine, both of which had links to German companies.
The Local Germany. India Times. Risks 991.
Hazards news, 31 March 2021

USA: Proof Amazon knows drivers forced to pee in bottles
A denial by Amazon that its delivery workers have been forced to pee in bottles or poop in bags was shot down last week when a leaked internal memo revealed the company has been aware of the problem for at least several months. Documents provided by employees at Amazon to the Intercept showed that an email sent in May 2020 admonished workers for urinating in bottles and defaecating in bags while on the job.
The Intercept. The Guardian. Risks 991.
Hazards news, 31 March 2021

USA: Amazon makes drivers sign spy in the cab consent
Amazon drivers are being forced to sign “biometric consent” forms to continue working for the retailing giant. Cameras being introduced to vehicles across the US would use artificial intelligence to access drivers' location, movement, and biometric data. 
Vice. Risks 991.
Hazards news, 31 March 2021

Britain: DB Cargo fined £200,000 after amputation
DB Cargo has been fined £200,000 after pleading guilty to a criminal safety offence that saw a worker lose his arm at the Dollands Moor freight yard in 2018. Terry Currie, then aged 43 and working as a shunter, suffered life changing injuries including the amputation of his right arm, when a freight train collided with his vehicle on a level crossing at the yard on 4 September 2018.
ORR news release. Risks 991.
Hazards news, 31 March 2021

Britain: Unite campaign for a ‘new deal’ for Amazon workers
A major newspaper and digital advertising campaign to alert Amazon workers to a new Unite confidential whistleblowing hotline has been launched by the union. It says Amazon workers can blow the whistle and expose poor treatment free from reprisals by contacting the hotline freefone or online.
Action on Amazon Campaign. Call 08000 14 14 61 in the UK or 1800 851 268 for the Republic of Ireland; twitter @ActionOnAmazon and Action on Amazon facebook page. BBC News Online. The Mirror. Risks 991. 31 March 2021

Britain: RMT set for nationwide rail dispute
RMT is moving onto a “national dispute” footing with Network Rail after it was revealed the government controlled company is planning thousands of job cuts by September and a wholesale dilution of safety standards, including a halving the frequency of safety critical maintenance work. The attack on jobs and safety comes on top of an attempt by the company to implement an open-ended pay freeze on Network Rail workers and a wide-ranging attack on working conditions, the union said.
RMT news release. Risks 990.
Hazards news, 23 March 2021

Britain: Site worker killed by high pressure jet of grease
Specialist plant hire firm Ruislip Plant Ltd has been fined for a criminal safety offence after a worker was fatally injured while undertaking maintenance on a piling rig. Reading Crown Court heard that, on 13 May 2014, Ben Wylie was assisting Ruislip Plant director Noel Kearney, who has since died, with the maintenance of a high-pressure grease track adjusting mechanism at a construction site in Maidenhead.
FACK news release. HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 990.
Hazards news, 23 March 2021

Britain: Contract changes will make British Gas 'less safe'
Contract changes being imposed by British Gas will make the work ‘less safe’, the company’s skilled engineers have warned. Thousands of British Gas workers responded to a GMB survey on the planned contract changes, with 87 per cent of respondents saying that the reduced times allocated for jobs would make them less safe.
GMB news release. Risks 990.
Hazards news, 23 March 2021

Britain: Tesco accused of ‘morally bankrupt’ fire and rehire tactics
Tesco is facing a legal challenge to its ‘morally bankrupt’ fire and rehire tactics. Thompsons Solicitors issued High Court proceedings against the supermarket giant, supported by the retail union Usdaw.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Usdaw news release. Risks 990.
Hazards news, 23 March 2021

Britain: MPs and industry leaders back better workers’ rights
Ahead of the anniversary of the UK’s first lockdown, a poll of MPs and industry leaders on their post-pandemic priorities has found strong support for improving workers’ rights and for better sick pay. Unite, which commissioned the Survation poll, says that the findings should see the government 'seize the initiative' and move to outlaw the horrific practice of fire and rehire.
Unite news release. Survation poll of MPs and business leaders. Risks 990.
Hazards news, 23 March 2021

Britain: MPs told the virus put a spotlight HSE funding crisis
The experience of the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the underfunding of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), MPs on the Commons Work and Pensions Committee have been told. Mike Clancy, the general secretary of Prospect, the union representing health and safety inspectors at the HSE, made the comments at a committee session on 17 March.
Prospect news release. Work and Pensions Committee oral evidence, 17 March 2021. Risks 990.
Hazards news, 23 March 2021

Britain: ‘Damning verdict’ on failure to prevent bus driver deaths
Evidence an earlier lockdown last year would have saved bus drivers’ lives is a “damning verdict on the failure to protect vulnerable key workers,” Unite has said. The union, which represents over 20,000 bus drivers in London, was commenting on a March 2021 report from University College London (UCL), which found that 80 per cent of the bus workers who died of Covid-19 in the first wave had ceased work by 3 April 2020.
Unite news release. UCL news release. Report of the second stage of a study of London bus driver mortality from Covid-19, UCL Institute of Health Equity, 19 March 2021. BBC News Online. Risks 990.
Hazards news, 23 March 2021

Britain: ‘Rogue bus service’ probed for serial safety breaches
The ‘rogue bus service’ run by Go North West in the Greater Manchester area is under investigation for serial Covid-19 safety failures and breaches of other vital safety regulations. Go North West, which is part of the multi-billion pound Go Ahead group, launched its ‘rogue bus service’ rather than seek a negotiated settlement to the dispute with Unite, over plans to fire and rehire its bus drivers on vastly inferior terms and conditions.
Unite news release. Risks 990.
Hazards news, 23 March 2021

Global: IFJ reveals 65 journalists died at work in 2020
The circumstances in which 65 media workers died last year while doing their jobs has been revealed in a new report from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). The global journalist union’s federation detailed how they had been victims of targeted attacks, bomb attacks and crossfire incidents in 16 countries.
IFJ news release. Risks 989.
Hazards news, 16 March 2021

USA: Regulator lays out Covid enforcement plan
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the US government’s federal safety regulator, has launched a national emphasis program (NEP) focusing enforcement efforts on companies that put the largest number of workers at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus. The move, in response to President Biden's executive order on protecting worker health and safety, also targets employers that retaliate against workers for complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions, or for exercising other rights protected by federal law.
OSHA news release and National Emphasis Program – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Department of Labor news release. Risks 989.
Hazards news, 16 March 2021

Britain: Waste firm fined after horrific bin worker death
A waste collection company has been fined nearly £2 million after  binman Peter Coleman, 54, was killed when he was dragged under the wheels of his runaway lorry. The F&R Cawley Ltd lorry was found to have had two defects - a faulty set of brakes on the second axle, and a disabled mechanism intended to stop bins being lifted while the lorry was in gear.
BBC News Online. Watford Observer. Risks 989.
Hazards news, 16 March 2021

Britain: Global firm fined after chemical spill
A global engineering firm has been fined after a hazardous chemical spill left four workers suffering serious health symptoms. Poole Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 9 October 2017, between 150 and 200 litres of a chemical preparation including highly hazardous hydrofluoric acid spilled across a large area of the factory floor of Nasmyth Technologies Limited’s fabrication division, and that four workers with no training and inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE) suffered ill-health in the clean-up, included an asthma attack, a severe headache, nausea, sore eyes and throat.
HSE news release. Dorset Echo. Risks 989.
Hazards news, 16 March 2021

Global: UK shipping firm can be sued for shipbreaking death
A shipping company that sold on a defunct vessel for scrapping will have to face a claim by the widow of a Bangladeshi man who died while breaking up the ship. An attempt by Maran (UK) Limited to have the claim struck out by the Court of Appeal failed, and followed an earlier high court judgment also in favour of the widow.
Leigh Day news release and Court of Appeal judgment, 10 March 2021. Risks 989.
Hazards news, 16 March 2021

Britain: IOSH backs ‘fundamental right’ to safety
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has said health and safety should be treated as a ‘fundamental right’ at work. The world’s biggest safety professionals’ organisation was commenting after it signed up to the United Nations (UN) Global Compact.
IOSH news release.
More on International Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2021. Risks 989.
Hazards news, 16 March 2021

Britain: The safety of workers is secondary to Rees-Mogg
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House of Commons, has been condemned for putting the safety of workers in Westminster below his ‘bizarre’ sense of tradition. The criticism by civil service union Prospect came after Rees-Mogg rejected a report by parliament’s Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body recommended that in order to renovate parliament safely, a full decant to alternative premises should be undertaken.
Prospect news release and related release. Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body news release and full report. Risks 989.
Hazards news, 16 March 2021

Britain: Workers’ court on Covid delivers guilty verdicts
The UK governments, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and employers have been found guilty of a series of charges relating to deadly negligence in addressing the workplace risks posed by Covid-19. The verdicts, returned at a Workers’ Court on the 11 March anniversary of the start of the pandemic, conclude the combined failures led to the preventable deaths of tens of thousands of workers and members of the public.
Hazards Campaign news release. Video record: Court verdict and concluding remarks; jury deliberations; and witness statements. Risks 989.
Hazards news, 16 March 2021

India: No progress on workplace health and safety crisis
‘Incessant’ industrial accidents in India show that no progress has been made in improving occupational health and safety, IndustriALL has said. The global union’s compilation of accidents reported in the press since India’s lockdown ended in May 2020 shows that “the shockingly high accident rate in India’s factories, chemical plants and mines continues,” it said
IndustriALL news release. Risks 988.

Hazards news, 11 March 2021

Global: Work health and safety must be fundamental
A death toll from work hazards that claims five lives every minute of every hour of every day around the world demonstrated the scale of the problem. That’s why, says Owen Tudor, that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conference agreed two years ago that occupational health and safety should become a ‘fundamental right at work’.
ETI blog and ETI member supporting health and safety as an ILO fundamental right. More on International Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2021. Risks 988.
Hazards news, 11 March 2021

Britain: Foundry fined £500k after workers hit by vibration disease
A multinational building products giant has been fined £500,000 after its workers developed debilitating hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) caused by their jobs. Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates’ Court heard that three employees at the Saint-Gobain Construction Products UK Limited foundry in Telford were diagnosed with HAVS in 2016, but the company did not identify each employee’s daily exposure to vibration and did not measure cumulative exposures from using different vibrating tools throughout a shift.
HSE news release. Risks 988.
Hazards news, 11 March 2021

Britain: Capita slashes firefighters at Clyde naval bases
Unite has raised ‘major’ safety concerns following plans by Capita to reduce the number of firefighters based at the Faslane and Coulport nuclear naval bases. The union has been notified that Capita, which won the outsourced contract last year, is set to reduce the specialist fire safety crew by eight positions, or 15 per cent.
Unite news release. Risks 988.
Hazards news, 11 March 2021

Britain: UK government has downplayed work Covid risks
The risk of Covid-19 transmission in the workplace remains significant but is being dangerously downplayed by the UK government, new research has concluded. A report from the Institute of Employment Rights (IER), written by 11 specialists in occupational health and safety and labour law, calls for measures including more resources for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and enhanced rights for union safety reps.
IER news release and recommendations. HSE and Covid at work: A case of regulatory failure [preview], IER, March 2021. Purchase details.
SHP Online. Left Foot Forward. Personnel Today. Risks 988.
Hazards news, 11 March 2021

Britain: England's fire services cut by £140m since 2016
Government funding for fire and rescue services in England has been cut by £139.7m since 2016/17, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has revealed. The new analysis of the 2021/22 local government finance settlement shows a reduction in funding for fire and rescue services of 13.8 per cent in cash terms over the five years since the last local settlement, leaving fire and rescue services exposed as they face emerging threats from flooding, wildfires and the Covid-19 pandemic.
FBU news release. Risks 987.
Hazards news, 3 March 2021

Britain: Zombie firm resurrected and fined for death
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ordered the restoration of a defunct roofing contractor to the Companies House register ahead of a court hearing that saw the firm receive a six figure fine following a fatal fall. Basildon Crown Court heard how on 25 February 2018 Jonathan Moore, 34, an employee of R4 Industrial Roofing Cladding Systems Ltd, fell more than 10 metres to the concrete floor below, sustaining fatal injuries
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 987.
Hazards news, 3 March 2021

Britain: Let off for bosses after worker dies in revolving drum
Waste recycling firm Stonegrave Aggregates, its director and site manager have been sentenced after pleading guilty to criminal safety offences that saw employee Simon Hogg, 47,  die and a second employee seriously injured when a large rotating drum was switched on with the two workers inside. Site manager David Basham, 60, was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for a year; company director Bruce David Whitley, 61, was given a 12-month community order, and the firm was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £48,952.90 in prosecution costs.
HSE news release. The Gazette. BBC News Online. Risks 987. Hazards news, 3 March 2021

Britain: Severe scalding injuries left worker suicidal
A chemical company has been fined £560,000 after scalding water ‘erupted’ over a father-of-two at its Scottish plant, scarring him for life. Colin Brockie suffered burns to his right arm and leg, partial burns to his left foot, and burns to his left leg and groin in the incident at Calachem in Grangemouth, Scotland and had suicidal thoughts and saw a psychologist for 18 months after suffering the injuries.
HSE news release. Daily Record. Falkirk Herald. Risks 987Hazards news, 3 March 2021

Britain: Health and safety is ‘key’ to reopening the economy
The success of economic recovery is dependent on maintaining workplace safety for everyone - but to achieve that we need a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that is properly resourced, HSE union Prospect has stated. Mike Clancy, the union’s general secretary, said: “For less than half the cost of the failed Eat Out to Help Out scheme, the government could reverse all of the cuts to HSE so that it was fully funded for the rest of the parliament.”
Prospect news release. Risks 987.
Hazards news, 3 March 2021

Britain: Confusion over rethink on low HSE Covid risk ranking
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has disputed claims that bosses have privately agreed to review the classification of Covid-19 as a ‘significant’ workplace risk. However, it is now believed several HSE board members pressed successfully for the review, after voicing concerns that inspectors felt constrained from using their full enforcement powers to keep workplaces safe.
The Mirror. Risks 987.
Hazards news, 3 March 2021

Qatar: Thousands of migrant construction workers die
More than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup 10 years ago, an investigation by the Guardian has found. Using information compiled from official sources, it estimates an average of 12 migrant workers from five south Asian nations have died each week since December 2010.
The Guardian. Risks 986.
Hazards news, 24 February 2021

Britain: HSE union calls for enforcement resources and action
Maintaining workplace health and safety and controlling any spike in Covid-19 case numbers will be vital to economic recovery and protecting jobs in 2021, safety inspectors’ union Prospect has said. A joint statement by the union’s general secretary, Mike Clancy, and Prospect’s branch in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) calls for the Covid workplace risk ranking to be moved from up from ‘significant’ to ‘serious’, which would “remove the shackles preventing inspectors from using enforcement to bring an activity to an immediate stop where their opinion supports such ac
Hazards news, 24 February 2021

Britain: Welsh firms ignore Covid rules, HSE ignores safety reps
Most employers in Wales have not been fully following the Welsh government’s Covid Workplace Guidance and the safety regulator is routinely bypassing union safety reps, Wales TUC/YouGov monthly polling of workers has found. Commenting on the poll findings, Wales TUC policy office Joe Allen said long-term funding cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) made it “more important than ever that workers’ voices are captured in the enforcement process – so that, despite the limited resources, inspectors can get as full a picture as possible.”
TUC blog. Risks 985.
Hazards news, 17 February 2021

USA: Deadly chicken plant accused of intimidating workers
Meat plant workers who were injured or lost their jobs after a fatal accident in the US last month have been intimidated and denied necessary medical care, workers’ rights advocates have reported. A liquid nitrogen leak at a Foundation Food Group poultry plant in Gainesville, Georgia, killed six people in January and hospitalised at least 11 others.
The Guardian. Risks 985.
Hazards news, 17 February 2021

Morocco: Supply chain pressure behind factory disaster
A 14-year-old girl was among the 28 garment workers killed in a factory disaster in Tangier, Morocco, on 8 February. The illegal facility, which was flooded, operated in an underground garage in a residential area with 130 workers, most of them women.
Solidarity Center news release. Morocco World News. Risks 985.
Hazards news, 17 February 2021

Britain: Report shows need for direct employment on sites
Unite has welcomed a report supporting a major increase in direct employment in the electrical contracting sector, with the report concluding this could have a positive effect on safety and employment conditions. The report prepared by Howard Gospel, emeritus professor of management at King’s College London, is based on interviews with over 50 experts, industry materials, government reports and peer-reviewed academic research.
Unite news release.  Electrotechnical JIB news release and report, Direct Employment - A Study of Economic Business and Social Outcomes, Electrotechnical JIB, February 2021 [full report and summary]. Risks 985.
Hazards news, 17 February 2021

Britain: HSE refuses to close Covid-risk workplaces
The government’s health and safety watchdog has failed to shut down any workplaces that put employees at risk of coronavirus even though there have been over 3,500 outbreaks at work since the start of the pandemic. An analysis of the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) enforcement database reveals there have been no Covid-related prohibition notices, which allow inspectors to immediately halt activity in workplaces deemed injurious or damaging to health, since last March.
The Observer. Morning Star.
HSE Enforcement Management Model (EMM) Operational version 3.2. Risks 985.
Hazards news, 17 February 2021

Britain: Covid rule-breakers face jail - except employers
The UK government has this year threatened 10-year prison terms for people who lie about their travel history, imposed £800 fines for people who go to house parties and paid for adverts that warn a takeaway coffee or chat on a park bench could “cost lives”. At the same time, writes Financial Times columnist Sarah O’Connor, “the Health and Safety Executive, the UK regulator responsible for workplace safety, has not brought a single prosecution against an employer for breaking Covid-19 rules.”
Financial Times. Risks 985.
Hazards news, 17 February 2021

Britain: Campaign raises ‘extreme concern’ over HSE role
The national Hazards Campaign has said it “is extremely concerned about the HSE’s response to the Covid pandemic in the workplace generally, and more specifically about recent published revelations that the HSE designated Covid-19 not as a ‘serious’ workplace risk but rather as a ‘significant’ risk.” The campaign, in a 16 February open letter to HSE chair Sarah Newton and chief executive Sarah Albon, said it could not understand “how a disease that is ‘highly contagious’, the consequences of becoming infected are, in the words of the prime minister, ‘deadly’, which can leave infected workers with long-term life-changing and life-shortening ill health, leads to thousands of deaths, thousands of sick days and disabilities, can be classified as ‘not serious’ just a ‘significant workplace risk’.”
Hazards Campaign open letter. ASLEF news release. Risks 985
Hazards news, 17 February 2021

Britain: Covid work death serial law breaker not prosecuted
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has blasted Perth and Kinross Council over a series of criminal safety breaches at a waste recycling depot following a deadly Covid-19 outbreak - but has opted not to prosecute. Binman Scott Hunter, 52, died in hospital last month after an 18-day battle with coronavirus; his family said he tried to protect himself on his rounds using hundreds of pounds worth of cleaning equipment bought by his wife, Fiona.
The Courier and related story. Daily Record. Risks 985. Hazards news, 17 February 2021

Global: Saving lives at work is ‘fundamental’
Many governments and employers don’t think that being protected should be a fundamental worker’s right, the global union confederation ITUC has warned. This year, trade unions around the world will be pressing governments and employers to agree to put that commitment into practice, said ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow, adding: “Making occupational health and safety a fundamental right at work — on a par with the prohibition of child and forced labour, discrimination at work, and the right to join a union, bargain collectively and ultimately to take strike action — wouldn’t solve every problem at work.”
ITUC news release. Medium.com.
Find out more about International Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2021. #iwmd21 Risks 984.
Hazards news, 11 February 2021

Britain: Rail union warning after track worker is killed
The rail union TSSA has issued a safety warning after railway track worker Tyler Byrne was struck and killed by a train. The 30-year-old from Hampshire was struck by a service operated by South Western Railway (SWR) near Surbiton, Kingston, south-west London, shortly after 11:30 in the morning on 9 February.
TSSA news release. BBC News Online. Risks 984.
Hazards news, 11 February 2021

Britain: Worker fell to his death through fragile roof
A glass firm has been fined for a criminal health and safety offence after a worker fell to his death through an asbestos roof. Marius Andrus, 36, was carrying out snagging repairs to a roof above the “toughening area” at Pearsons Glass in Kirkdale, on 22 May 2017 when he plunged down six metres into an unnetted part of the factory.
HSE news release. Liverpool Echo. Risks 984.
Hazards news, 11 February 2021

Britain: Tile factory boss 'drove car at workers'
The boss of tile firm that has faced complaints over Covid safety drove his car at workers during a Christmas strike, the union GMB has said. The same manager at Marley Tiles, in Beenham, near Reading, then instructed a lorry driver to head straight for the picket line, GMB members have charged.
GMB news release. Risks 984.
Hazards news, 11 February 2021

USA: Nitrogen leak at poultry plant kills six workers
A liquid nitrogen leak at a US poultry plant killed six people on 28 January, and sent at least 11 others to the hospital, some in a critical condition. The incident occurred at the Prime Pak Foods plant near Gainsville, Georgia.
RWDSU news release. CSB statement. New York Times. Insurance Journal. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Whittier Daily News. Risks 983.
Hazards news, 3 February 2021

Britain: Sawmill worker fatally injured by conveyor collapse
A sawmill company has been fined after Roman Kokot, 32, was fatally injured when a lift conveyor collapsed on top of him. Hereford Crown Court heard how on 20 December 2017, two employees were working below a lift conveyor at Pontrilas sawmill in Hereford to remove wood debris.
HSE news release. Free Press. Risks 983.
Hazards news, 3 February 2021

Britain: Relief as new u-turn sees rights review dropped
UK government u-turns that saw ministers deny then admit they was considering downgrading workers’ rights have now seen the plans dropped. The latest reverse comes in the wake of a 25 January joint statement, where 12 unions warned they would fight Boris Johnson “tooth and nail” to stop any watering down of workers’ rights.
Unite news release. Community news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. The Guardian. Morning Star. Personnel Today. Risks 983.
Hazards news, 3 February 2021

Britain: Government should publish rights rollback review
Unite is demanding that the UK government discloses the full impact of any rollback of workers’ rights. The union call comes in a letter from general secretary Len McCluskey to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who is overseeing the review. Unite has described efforts to cut rights as a 'bad bosses' charter' and a gift to rogue employers that will force workers to work longer hours, on lower pay and seriously undermine family life.
TUC news release. Unite news release. Usdaw news release. Labour Party news release. The Mirror. Risks 982.
Hazards news, 28 January 2021

Britain: UNISON demands higher PPE ‘human rights standards’
UNISON has joined a push for a new law to prevent UK businesses and public services from sourcing from companies that violate workers’ human rights. Evidence has emerged throughout the pandemic that PPE suppliers to the NHS were tied to severe, widespread human rights violations of workers in the global south.
UNISON news release. Parliamentary briefing on a ‘Failure to Prevent’ law.
UNISON is encouraging union members to add their voice to a EU consultation on measures that would apply to UK headquartered companies by signing here. Risks 982.
Hazards news, 28 January 2021

Britain: Action needed as assaults on emergency workers soar
Urgent action is needed to address rising levels of violence directed at emergency workers, the union GMB has said. The union was commenting in the wake of new Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) figures on assaults against emergency workers linked to Covid-19.
GMB news release. CPS news release. BBC News Online. Risks 982.
Hazards news, 28 January 2021

Britain: Steel company fined after driver fatally injured
An Essex steel firm has been fined after a 47-year-old worker was fatally injured by steelwork, which fell from a telehandler forklift truck during loading. Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard how on 4 April 2019, Chris Sparks, an employee of South East Galvanizers Limited, had visited PCR Steel Ltd at their premises in Essex to collect a load, but was crushed when the balcony frame weighing approximately 400kg fell.
HSE news release. Risks 982.
Hazards news, 28 January 2021

Global: Call to end ‘humanitarian crisis’ at sea
A broad group of unions, companies and other organisations is calling for all countries to designate seafarers as key workers and implement crew change protocols to address a ‘humanitarian crisis’ at sea. The Neptune Declaration signed by over 300 maritime industry and human rights leaders is intended to pressure the industry to use its leverage to end the deepening crew change crisis.
ITF news release. Neptune Declaration and full list of signatories. Risks 982.
Hazards news, 28 January 2021

USA: Low paid workers face greatest Covid risk
Essential workers, especially in food and transportation industries, bear the greatest risk of death among Californians of working age, a study has found. “While we pay a lot of lip service to essential workers, when you see the actual occupations that rise to the top of the list as being at much more risk and associated with death, it screams out to you who’s really at risk,” said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a UCSF epidemiology and biostatistics professor who worked on the study.
Yea-Hung Chen, Maria Glymour, Alicia Riley, John Balmes, Kate Duchowny, Robert Harrison, Ellicott Matthay, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo. Excess mortality associated with the COVID-19 pandemic among Californians 18–65 years of age, by occupational sector and occupation: March through October 2020, medRxiv 2021.01.21.21250266; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.21.21250266  San Francisco Chronicle. Risks 982.
Hazards news, 28 January 2021

USA: Biden acts immediately to address work Covid risks
On his first full day as US president, Joe Biden ordered immediate action to address workplace Covid-19 risks. A 21 January executive order requiring “swift action” to address workplace risks notes: “Ensuring the health and safety of workers is a national priority and a moral imperative.”
AFL-CIO statement. Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety, President Joseph R Biden Jr, 21 January 2021.
National strategy for the Covid-19 response and pandemic preparedness, President Joseph R Biden Jr, 21 January 2021. Risks 982.
Hazards news, 28 January 2021

Britain: Covid outbreaks at all-time high, enforcement at new low
The week to 21 January saw the highest number of reported Covid outbreaks since the pandemic began, prompting the TUC to repeat its call for stricter rules and greater enforcement of the rules. TUC safety lead Shelly Asquith expressed dismay that in 2020, despite the pandemic, there had been significantly fewer Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections compared to previous years, with just 0.1 per cent of cases investigated by HSE resulted in any official enforcement notices being served.
TUC blog and TUC guide to the protective union effect on workplace safety. Risks 982.
Hazards news, 28 January 2021

Global: Safety at work is a ‘fundamental’ right
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed an occupational health crisis in workplaces worldwide. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) says that occupational health and safety should be recognised as an International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental right at work – the decent, universally accepted and binding rights protecting all workers, everywhere.
28 April 2021 International Workers’ Memorial Day theme announcement (also in French and Spanish). ITUC Campaign Brief. Resources and updates will be posted on the ITUC/Hazards dedicated 28 April webpages: www.28april.org Risks 981. 20 January 2021
Hazards news, 20 January 2021

Britain: Government owns up to plan to weaken workers’ rights
In a reversal of an earlier denial, Kwasi Kwarteng has admitted reports that his department is planning to dilute UK workers' rights are correct. The business secretary has now confirmed the government is looking at scrapping some EU-derived labour laws.
TUC news release. Unite news release. GMB news release. ETUC news release. Labour Party news release. CIPD news release. Financial Times. Morning Star. The Guardian and related update. BBC News Online. Britannia Unchained. Risks 981. 20 January 2021
Hazards news, 20 January 2021

Britain: Scotland says no to ditching employment protections
The Scottish government and the country’s national union federation STUC have issued a joint call to the UK government to rule out the downgrading of employment protections. The move came after revelations that the UK government has asked the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to work up a package of deregulatory measures following the UK’s final departure from the European Union.
STUC news release. Risks 981.
Hazards news, 20 January 2021

Canada: Mounties to probe massive meat plant outbreak
Ariana Quesada, 16, walked into a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment in High River, Alberta and filed a formal complaint asking police to investigate potential criminal negligence in the death of her father. Benito Quesada, a 51-year-old immigrant from Mexico supporting a wife and four children, was hospitalised with Covid-19 in mid-April, one of hundreds of workers at the town's Cargill meat plant infected with the coronavirus.
CBC News. Risks 980.
Hazards news, 13 January 2020

Korea: Union accuses steel firm of manslaughter
A pattern of fatal accidents at a global steel company will only be resolved when workers have the right to organise freely and participate in safety systems, the Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU) has said. The KMWU had earlier indicated POSCO CEO Jeong-Woo Choi should the first person to be held accountable under a new corporate manslaughter law.
IndustriALL news release. Korea Times. Risks 980.
Hazards news, 13 January 2020

Britain: Jail terms after electrocution on farm
A farmer whose ‘reckless disregard’ of the dangers of trying to do electrical work led to the death of his partner in their caravan home has been jailed. James Atkin had denied the manslaughter of Deana Simpson by gross negligence – but was found guilty following a trial at Warwick Crown Court.
HSE news release. Coventry Telegraph. Risks 980.
Hazards news, 13 January 2020

USA: Trump’s air safety pick silenced safety whistleblower
Donald Trump’s pick to head the agency responsible for airline safety had, when an airline boss, used a psychological evaluation to ground and intimidate a pilot who raised safety concerns, an official investigation has found. The Labor Department ruling determined that before becoming head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Steve Dickson participated in efforts by Delta Air Lines management to use the evaluation to retaliate against veteran pilot Karlene Petitt.
Wall Street Journal. Pulling Wings from Butterflies. Christine Negroni website and related story. Risks 979.
Hazards news, 4 January 2021

Britain: Urgent appeal to UN about threats to BBC journalists
An urgent appeal has been filed with three United Nations (UN) experts on behalf of all BBC Persian Service staff. The 18 December appeal, which is backed by both the BBC and the journalists’ union NUJ, details ‘serious and credible death threats’ made to BBC Persian Service journalists in recent months, and further harassment of both BBC Persian Service staff and their families, including freezing of journalists’ assets and online attacks.
NUJ news release. Doughty Street Chambers news release. Risks 979.
Hazards news, 4 January 2021

Britain: RMT calls for probe into bus and coach fires
A rising trend of bus and coach fires must be “thoroughly investigated”, transport union RMT has demanded. The call came after figures obtained by The Scotsman showed they increased for three consecutive years, with the RMT warning the figures obtained in Scotland are mirrored by a spate of fires on buses across the south west of England.
RMT news release. The Scotsman. Risks 979.
Hazards news, 4 January 2021

Britain: TUC calls on government to ‘plug the gaps’ in trade deal
The TUC has called on the government to urgently build on the UK-EU trade agreement, which it says “falls far short” of the deal ministers promised. The union body warned that the deal’s flimsy protections on workers’ rights would fail to prevent the government pursuing a deregulatory agenda.
TUC news release and report, The TUC’s ten-point plan to protect jobs, rights and public services after Brexit, 30 December 2020. Risks 979.
Hazards news, 4 January 2021

Britain: Covid causing a work-related death a day
The number of officially reported work-related Covid-19 deaths is running at one a day, over three times the rate for all other work-related fatalities, a new report has revealed. The report, which criticises the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), for ‘resignation and inaction’, notes: “As hundreds died and tens of thousands fell ill as a result of workplace exposures, HSE’s preferred response was to have a little word.”
No! No! No! Covid-19 deaths at 3.4 times the rate for all other work fatalities, Hazards, number 152, December 2020 and related ‘Fighting our corner’ safety reps’ poster.
Venting - Coronavirus risks are mostly up in the air, safety reps’ factsheet, Hazards, number 152, December 2020. Risks 979. 4 January 2021
Hazards news, 4 January 2021

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