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




Recent news

China: Coal miners killed by carbon monoxide poisoning
Eighteen miners have died and several others are missing after a leak of carbon monoxide gas at a coal mine in the south-west of the country, Chinese state TV has reported. One person was rescued from the Diaoshuidong mine in Chongqing municipality, broadcaster CCTV reported.
BBC News Online. Risks 977.
Hazards news, 9 December 2020

Global: Pressure grows to let seafarers off ships
Pressure is mounting on governments to designate seafarers as ‘key workers’ to avoid the prospect of forced labour and human rights abuses in major supply chains this holiday season, representatives of the global transport unions’ federation ITF have said. An estimated 400,000 seafarers have been trapped on ships for months, as ports have refused to allow them to disembark during the Covid crisis.
ITF news release. ILO news release. Risks 977.
Hazards news, 9 December 2020

USA: Don’t give deadly bosses Covid immunity
With political leaders in the US now rallying around a relief package that could include a Republican-backed moratorium on Covid-19 lawsuits against employers, we cannot forget just how brazenly many large corporations continue to disregard the lives of frontline workers, top workers’ safety advocates have warned.
The Hill. CBS News.
Public Citizen petition: Do NOT give in to Mitch McConnell. Demand a vote on — and pass — coronavirus relief legislation WITHOUT legal immunity for corporations. Risks 977.
Hazards news, 9 December 2020

Britain: Police probe after water plant blast kills 4 workers
An explosion at a Bristol water recycling centre on 3 December has killed four workers. Emergency services were called at approximately 11.20am to reports of a large explosion involving one of the chemical tanks at Wessex Water’s Avonmouth site. Those killed have been named as Brian Vickery, 63; Raymond White, 57; and 16-year-old apprentice Luke Wheaton, all employed by Wessex Water, and contractor Michael James, 64.
Avon and Somerset Police news release. Wessex Water statement. HSE statement. Hazards Campaign news release. Bristol Post and related news item. BBC News Online. The Mirror. Risks 977.
Hazards news, 9 December 2020

Britain: Unions offer support after ‘terrible tragedy’
Unions GMB and Unite have expressed their sympathy to the families of the four workers who died in the Wessex Water explosion, and have said they are supporting members and their families caught up in the tragedy. GMB confirmed one of the dead, Brian Vickery, was a member.
GMB news release and related news release. Unite statement. The Mirror.
GMB’s minute’s silence ‘tribute to the fallen’, live on Facebook at 11 am, Thursday, 10 December. Risks 977.
Hazards news, 9 December 2020

Britain: Bosses could be liable for college Covid cases
Senior management teams in universities could face prosecution and civil action where their actions or omissions led to a member of staff falling ill or dying as a result of Covid-19 infection. The stark warning comes in specialist legal advice obtained by 10 branches of the lecturers’ union UCU.
Leigh Day news release. UCU news release. Risks 977.
Hazards news, 9 December 2020

Britain: Bakkavor agrees full absence pay after Covid deaths
Workers at a Bakkavor factory have claimed a massive victory after the major fresh food supplier agreed full pay for staff off work because of a Covid outbreak. The move comes after confirmation of two Covid-related deaths of workers from the Tilmanstone factory in recent days; GMB said cases in an outbreak at the factory had ‘rocketed’ from around 35 in the third week of November to 99 as of 3 December.
GMB news release and news release on the second Bakkavor death and the earlier death. BBC News Online. Risks 977.
Hazards news, 9 December 2020

Global: Bad, cold jobs link to virus risk in meat plants
Cold work and other dangerous work practices have a clear link to the high rates of Covid-19 outbreaks in meat processing plants, public health experts have warned. The findings by a team of researchers led by Dr David Nabarro, the co-director of the Institute for Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, come in a working paper for the global foodworkers’ union IUF.
IUF news release. Full report: COVID in cold environments: risks in meat processing plants in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish. Risks 976.
Hazards news, 2 December 2020

USA: Emergency laws needed to protect food workers
The darkest days of the pandemic are still ahead of us, as we head into the winter with a surge of cases and without a national strategy to address Covid-19, a US health expert has warned. Amy Liebman, the director of occupational health for the Migrant Clinicians Network, warned winter will be especially grim for essential food workers like farmworkers and meat packers who still lack basic protections in the workplace.
Stat News. Risks 976.
Hazards news, 2 December 2020

USA: Covid’s work deaths going unreported by firms
Workplace safety regulators in the US have taken a lenient stance toward employers during the pandemic, giving them broad discretion to decide internally whether to report worker deaths. As a result, scores of deaths were not reported to occupational safety officials from the earliest days of the pandemic through to late October, a study by Kaiser Health News (KHN) has found.
Kaiser Health News. The Guardian. Risks 976.
Hazards news, 2 December 2020

Britain: Concern at safety ‘reversal’ across the wind sector
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has expressed concern about a series of serious incidents and an apparent general ‘reversal’ in health and safety performance across areas of the wind energy sector. HSE union Prospect said the safety regulator raised the issue in letters to SafetyOn and G+, in July, as the UK was starting to emerge from the first pandemic lockdown and work activity was starting to increase again.
Prospect news release and related news release on fatigue in the energy sector. Risks 976.
Hazards news, 2 December 2020

Britain: Amazon’s ‘dehumanising’ conditions should be probed
There should be a parliamentary inquiry into ‘dehumanising’ working conditions at Amazon warehouses, the union GMB has said. The union call came as it projected a huge ‘Make Amazon Pay’ banner on the online giant’s London HQ as part of global Black Friday protests on 27 November.
GMB news release. ITUC news release. Amnesty International news release. Risks 976.
Hazards news, 2 December 2020

Britain: Danger warning on Heathrow operation during strike
Unite has warned there are very serious concerns about the safe operation of Heathrow airport during strike action in a dispute over firing and rehiring the workforce and slashing their pay and conditions. The strikes, the first of which began on 1 December, involve firefighters, engineers, campus security, baggage operations, central terminal operations, landside and airside workers.
Unite news release. The Independent. Risks 976.
Hazards news, 2 December 2020

Recycling company fined after employee dies
Enva Scotland Limited has been fined £264,000 for criminal safety offences after employee Martin Kane, 28, was fatally injured whilst cleaning a mobile shredder. Mr Kane and another employee at the company’s Paisley site were trying to remove waste that was trapped between a heavy magnet and a hopper on the shredder machine when Mr Kane was struck by the magnet.
HSE news release. Risks 975.
Hazards news, 28 November 2020

[chemicals/deadly bus] Global: ReWORKing safety virtual conference, 30 Nov-3 December
Leading global safety standards group Electronics Watch is running a four-day occupational health and safety virtual summit, kicking off on Monday 30 November. The theme is ‘ReWORKing Health and Safety - Protecting Workers and Promoting Resilient Public Sector Supply Chains’.
ReWORKing Health and Safety - Protecting Workers and Promoting Resilient Public Sector Supply Chains, 30 November-3 December, opening session starts 9am UK time. Register. Risks 975Hazards news, 28 November 2020

USA: OSHA’s slammed for ‘absurd’ Covid-19 reporting rule
Workplace exposures continue to be a major driver of the coronavirus pandemic, something that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) should be on top of, says David Michaels. But the former head of OSHA, writing in Stat News, warns a reinterpretation of a reporting rule is making that all but impossible.
Stat News. Risks 975.Hazards news, 28 November 2020

Britain: ‘Unforgivable’ failures left health care staff at risk
Shockingly bad planning that saw ministers react too slowly when buying protective kit left health and care staff at risk from the coronavirus, UNISON has said. Responding to a National Audit Office (NAO) report issued on 25 November into the government’s attempts to source personal protective equipment as the first Covid wave struck, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “It’s unforgivable that shockingly poor government planning left care and health staff to fight Covid-19 without the safety kit to protect themselves.”
NAO news release and full report, The supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic, 25 November 2020. UNISON news release. BBC News Online. Risks 975.Hazards news, 28 November 2020

Britain: Pilots launch new ‘Most Wanted’ safety strategy
UK pilots’ union BALPA has launched at ‘Most Wanted’ safety strategy that highlights the 11 issues pilots believe are most likely to cause a fatal accident. The union says its strategy aims to ensure flight safety and the health of everyone involved in aviation is not overlooked as the industry tries to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
BALPA news release and BALPA Most Wanted campaign. Risks 974.
Hazards news, 19 November 2020

Britain: Safety regulator had 'political' pressure to approve PPE
Britain's workplace safety watchdog felt leaned on by the government to make factually incorrect statements about lower standard PPE suits bought for NHS staff earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic, the BBC has found. Emails reveal how the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said protective suits, bought by the government in April, had not been tested to the correct standard and describe “political” pressure to approve them for use.
BBC News Online. Risks 974.
Hazards news, 19 November 2020

USA: Covid work safety fines near US$2.5m
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through to 29 October 2020, the US government’s workplace safety regulator OSHA has issued citations arising from 179 inspections for violations relating to coronavirus, resulting in proposed penalties totalling $2,496,768 (£1.9m).
OSHA news release and Covid-related citations list. OSHA’s short and long guides to employers on where they are getting it wrong and the laws they are breaking. Risks 973.
Hazards news, 14 November 2020

Britain: Firefighter’s water training death an ‘avoidable tragedy’
Firefighters’ union FBU has broadly welcomed the recommendations of an investigation the into a water training accident that resulted in the death of 35-year-old firefighter Josh Gardener. The union was commenting after Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) chief inspector Andrew Moll said: “This tragic accident could have been avoided had the training activities been properly planned and communicated to all the fire and rescue crew on the water that morning.”
FBU news release. MAIB news release and report. BBC News Online. Wales Online. Risks 973.
Hazards news, 14 November 2020

Truck firm fined after employee engulfed in fireball
A haulage firm in Scotland has been fined for the serious criminal safety failings that left a young worker with horrific injuries after he was engulfed in flames in a gas cylinder explosion. A hearing at Paisley Sheriff Court saw Linwood firm A&D Logistics being ordered to pay £48,000 for failures that resulted in worker Dean Beggs suffering life-changing burns to his face, arms and hands.
HSE news release. Daily Record. Risks 973.
Hazards news, 14 November 2020

Britain: Work injury and sickness levels soar as enforcement falls
The Health and Safety Executive’s new workplace injury and ill-health statistics have revealed a major increase in the numbers being harmed at work. The figures show 1.6 million workers suffering from work-related ill-health, up from 1.4m the previous year; within this total, 638,000 were new cases of work-related ill-health, up over 28 per cent from 497,000 cases in 2018/19; and the non-fatal injury toll has seen a 20 per cent increase on the previous year, rising to 693,000 workers sustaining non-fatal injuries in 2019/2020 from the figure of 581,000 in 2018/19.
HSE news release and statistics summary for 2019 and 2018 comparison. Risks 973.
Hazards news, 14 November 2020

USA: Unions sue over shelved infection standard
US teaching and health care unions started legal proceedings against Donald Trump’s labour secretary Eugene Scalia and the safety regulator OSHA for unlawfully delaying rulemaking on an occupational standard to protect healthcare workers from infectious diseases transmitted by contact, droplets, or air - like influenza, Covid-19, and Ebola. The move comes in response to the Trump administration shelving a ready-to-go Infectious Diseases Standard in 2017.
AFT news release and the 29 October 2020 petition for mandamus (the court filing) and the full appendix.
JAMA news report. Wesley H Self and others. Seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Among Frontline Health Care Personnel in a Multistate Hospital Network — 13 Academic Medical Centers, April–June 2020, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), volume  69, number 35, pages 1221-1226, 4 September 2020. Risks 972.
Hazards news, 7 November 2020

Britain: Site firm fined for concrete pour injuries
Construction company Axio (Special Works) Limited has been fined after an employee was struck by the placing boom of a concrete pump during a pour, causing serious injuries. During the pour, the ground beneath one of the pump outriggers collapsed, causing the concrete pipe and boom to strike the employee, dislocating and fracturing his hip, fracturing his spine and tearing ligaments and muscles; he was later diagnosed with a brain injury.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 972.
Hazards news, 7 November 2020

Global: FBU backs investigation call into Beirut chemical blast
The UK Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has joined Amnesty International in calling on the UK government to press for a full international investigation into the devastating explosion in Beirut three months ago. In a new one-minute video, UK firefighter Holly Ferguson, 36, who has been in the fire service for 11 years, says the Lebanese firefighters were “badly let down” by officials who knew that dangerous chemicals were stored at the port but failed to pass on this information.
Amnesty International news release and video. Morning Star. Risks 972.
Hazards news, 7 November 2020

Britain: UK not ready for two national emergencies at once
Fire and rescue services won’t be prepared to deal with major threats to the UK without more firefighters, the firefighters’ union FBU has warned. The union said the combined threats of climate change related events, terrorism, and the post-Grenfell building safety crisis will require the immediate funding for at least 5,000 firefighters in the next year, to ensure the fire and rescue service can tackle “the risks of today and tomorrow”.
FBU news release. Risks 972.
Hazards news, 7 November 2020

Britain: Transport firm fined £5,000 for agency driver’s death
A transport company has been fined after a worker was fatally injured when the pallet of stone tiles he was attempting to deliver fell onto him. High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 23 November 2016, agency driver Petru Pop, 52, died while carrying out a delivery for Reason Transport UK Limited in High Wycombe.
HSE news release. Motor Transport. Buckinghamshire Free Press. Risks 971.
Hazards news, 31 October 2020

Britain: Major workplace role in Covid spread has been buried
Around four in 10 people testing positive for Covid-19 identified ‘a workplace or education event’ as their activity in the days prior to onset of symptoms, ahead of all other causes, an analysis of official figures has revealed. Public Health England data examined by Hazards magazine reveals a sharp rise in Covid-19 outbreaks in workplaces in England tracked ‘an incubation period behind’ the UK government’s back-to-work messages.
Laid bare: The scandal of expendable workers before, during and after Covid, Hazards, Number 151, October 2020. Risks 971.
Hazards news, 31 October 2020

Britain: Health workers linked to 1 in 6 hospital Covid-19 cases
Healthcare workers and their families account for a sixth (17 per cent) of hospital admissions for Covid-19 in the working age population (18-65 years), a study from Scotland has found. Although hospital admission with Covid-19 in this age group was very low overall, the risk for healthcare workers and their families was higher compared with other working age adults, especially for those in “front door” patient facing roles such as paramedics and A&E department staff, say the researchers.
Anoop SV Shah and others. Risk of hospital admission with coronavirus disease 2019 in healthcare workers and their households: nationwide linkage cohort study, BMJ, 2020; 371: m3582. Published online 28 October 2020. Risks 971.
Hazards news, 31 October 2020

USA: Hospital giant cited over airborne Covid
California workplace safety officials have issued a serious citation against a Kaiser Permanente psychiatric facility in Santa Clara, accusing the centre of failing to provide workers with appropriate respirators and other protection against Covid-19. The citation, issued by the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health with a proposed fine of $11,200, is the first in an expected wave of citations against Kaiser Permanente facilities statewide for failing to acknowledge that Covid-19 can be transmitted via aerosol particles, according to a source inside the state safety regulator Cal/OSHA.
Cal Matters. Scientific Brief: SARS-CoV-2 and Potential Airborne Transmission, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), updated 5 October 2020. Risks 970.
Hazards news, 24 October 2020

Pakistan: Six workers suffocate in factory chemical tank
Six workers have been asphyxiated while trying to clean a chemical tank in a garment factory near Naurus Chowrangi, Pakistan. After receiving information on 17 October that some workers were trapped in the tank, police and rescue workers arrived at the factory and took the six victims to a nearby private hospital, where doctors pronounced them dead on arrival.
The News and follow up story. Risks 970.
Hazards news, 24 October 2020

Britain: Calls for public inquiry into Belly Mujinga's death
The family and union of a rail worker who died from Covid-19 after being complaining she was spat on at a London station have called for “an immediate public inquiry” into her death. The calls came after it emerged there were critical flaws in evidence gathering around the spitting incident prior to Belly Mujinga’s death.
BBC Panorama. TSSA news release. Morning Star. Risks 970.
Hazards news, 24 October 2020

Britain: Public grounded but deadly firms still at large
The government’s new three tier system for England risks penalising the general public while leaving schools, colleges and workplaces packed to the gills without the necessary support and oversight to maintain Covid safety, a campaign group has warned. The national Hazards Campaign said there is a ‘recurring narrative’ by politicians and the media that the transmission of Covid-19 is fuelled by misbehaving families and students shirking their responsibilities to our communities - however, the campaign says this ignores the evidence that workplaces are the major sites of infection and transmission.
Hazards Campaign news release. Risks 970.
Hazards news, 24 October 2020

Global: Health and safety at work is ‘fundamental’
The global union body ITUC has condemned employer representatives and employer-aligned governments for blocking moves to get health and safety at work recognised formally as a “fundamental right.” Despite a pledge in the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Centenary Declaration adopted last year that all workers should have adequate health and safety protection, the industry lobby and compliant governments are blocking discussion of the issue at the ILO’s Governing Body meeting in November.
ITUC news release. IOE statement. Risks 969.
Hazards news, 17 October 2020

Korea: Overwork concern as another delivery worker dies
Unions in Korea are demanding rigorous safety measures to protect deliver workers after another death they say is linked to overwork. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) said the CJ Logistics worker, who was a 20-year veteran, had delivered around 400 parcels on average each day, working from 6:30am to around 9 to 10pm, adding: “Of the eight delivery workers who died from overworking, five of them worked for CJ Logistics.”
Korea Herald. Yonhap News. Risks 969.
Hazards news, 17 October 2020

USA: Trump administration accused of Covid ‘forced labour’
Trade unions in the US have filed a complaint with the United Nations' International Labour Organisation (ILO), making the case that under the Trump administration, the US has violated a catalogue of labour laws during the coronavirus pandemic. National union federation AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) filed the complaint with ILO, detailing how the White House has undermined the quality and enforcement of labour laws and occupational health and safety measures.
Common Dreams. Mass Device. Risks 969.
Hazards news, 17 October 2020

Global: XPO accused of safety crimes and causing deaths
Workers employed by the global logistics firm XPO have died of Covid-19 and as a result of other safety violations, a report has found. The report, ‘XPO - Delivering Injusticel’ by the global transport union federation ITF looks at practices at global firm, and also describes pregnant women miscarrying after being denied lighter shifts and drivers having to live in their lorries for months on end.
GMB news release. ITF news release. Risks 969.
Hazards news, 17 October 2020

Britain: Government must stand up to Amazon
The government must use its purchasing power to stand up to Amazon on workers’ rights, unions have said. The call came joint TUC and GMB union research revealed Amazon was awarded national and local government contracts with a lifetime value of up to £630 million between 2015 and 2020, including contracts related to test and trace valued at £8.3 million.
TUC news release and TUC/GMB Challenging Amazon report. The Guardian. Risks 969.
Hazards news, 17 October 2020

Britain: Second censure for MoD over diving death
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been issued with a Crown Censure by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a military diver died during training. The censure followed an incident on 14 November 2018, where 26-year-old Marine Benjamin McQueen was brought back to surface after he became separated from other divers.
HSE news release. Risks 968.
Hazards news, 10 October 2020

Global: Amazon ‘in denial’ over work injury ‘crisis’
Online retail giant Amazon is ‘in denial about its appalling safety record’ after a new report revealed accidents are significantly higher in warehouses with robots, the union GMB has said. The union was commenting after a Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) probe found serious injuries are 50 per cent higher for fulfilment centres that have robots than those without.
How Amazon hid its safety crisis, Center for Investigative Reporting, 29 September 2020. GMB news release. BBC News Online. CBS News. Risks 968.
Hazards news, 10 October 2020

Britain: NHS testing contractor broke safety laws
NHS Covid-19 testing contractor The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) breached several criminal health and safety rules, and official investigation has found. TDL is one of the key providers of tests and courier services for the NHS, including by transporting Covid-19 samples from the Nightingale hospital in London to laboratories.
Morning Star. Risks 968.
Hazards news, 10 October 2020

Britain: Fire alert for Covid lock down universities
Firefighters and education staff have warned universities that it is “dangerous and illegal” to block or lock fire exits, after pictures emerged of a locked fire exit at a student accommodation block. Obstructing fire exits "can, and has, cost lives in the past", the leaders of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and University and College Union (UCU) warned, in a letter to all UK universities, demanding that the safety of students and staff be “absolutely paramount.”
UCU news release. Risks 968.
Hazards news, 10 October 2020

Britain: We’ll be ‘policed all the way to the factory gates’
Larger penalties and £60m new money to enforce social distancing rules will mean ‘we’ll be policed all the way to the factory gates’, while workplace scrutiny remains threadbare. The warning from the national Hazards Campaign came after the UK government announced fines of up to £10,000 for individuals flouting Covid-19 rules, together with new enforcement cash and ‘Covid Marshals’ to police the rules.
Hazards Campaign news release and ‘where are the sirens?’ zoom recording. Risks 968.
Hazards news, 10 October 2020

Europe: Industry tries to stall hazardous chemicals database
A coalition of 40 manufacturing industry organisations has urged the European Commission to put the brakes on a new EU chemicals database requiring suppliers selling products containing hazardous substances to provide extra information about their chemical constituents. The trade bodies, which represent business across wide sections of the economy from aerospace to battery manufacturers, wrote to commission president Ursula von der Leyen on 21 September urging her to postpone by at least one year the European Chemicals Agency’s (ECHA) new Substances of Concern in Products (SCIP) database.
Ends Europe. Industries letter to EC president Ursula von der Leyen. Risks 967.
Hazards news, 3 October 2020

Britain: Firm fined £2m after water jetting fatality
A company has been fined £2 million after a worker suffered a fatal injury while cleaning waste water pipes. Birmingham Magistrates Court heard how, on 18 June 2017, Joseph McDonald was using high pressure water jetting equipment to clear paint residue from pipes in the paint shop at a car manufacturing site in Solihull.
HSE news release. Leamington Observer. Risks 967.
Hazards news, 3 October 2020

USA: Safety regulator has abandoned at risk workers
Estimates based on data from the US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that more than 150,000 US hospital and nursing home staff have been infected by the coronavirus at work, and more than 700 have died. As the epidemic has spread, many other workers, including emergency responders, corrections officers, transit workers, and workers in meat and poultry factories, farms, grocery stores, and warehouses, also have been infected, with “a devastating effect on communities of colour”, a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has warned.
David Michaels and Gregory R Wagner. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Worker Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic, JAMA, published online 16 September 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.16343 Risks 966.
Hazards news, 26 September 2020

Britain: Improved coronavirus safety enforcement call
A warning that curfews could be imposed in London to fight a second Covid-19 wave, has prompted a union call for stricter enforcement of safety rules to protect workers. Commenting on an interview in the Evening Standard with Public Health England director Professor Kevin Fenton, Unite secretary for the London and Eastern region, Pete Kavanagh, said: “In workplaces, we need more inspections and fines on employers who are not safeguarding their employees, coupled with firms and the authorities working with trade union health and safety reps to keep outbreaks at bay.”
Unite news release. Evening Standard. Risks 966. Hazards news, 26 September 2020

At least 50 people are thought to have died when an artisanal gold mine collapsed near Kamituga in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a local mining NGO said. The cave-in occurred on the Detroit mine site at around 3pm local time on 11 September following heavy rains, said Emiliane Itongwa, president of the Initiative of Support and Social Supervision of Women.
Aljazeera. The Guardian. Risks 965.
Hazards news, 19 September 2020

USA: Under Trump, worker safety has been abandoned
An editorial board statement in the New York Times has expressed dismay at the lack of protection afforded US workers by the Trump administration. “Even as the dangers and virulence of the coronavirus have become more glaring, infecting 6.5 million Americans and killing nearly 200,000, the nation’s top worker protection arm has been asleep at the wheel,” the editorial board noted.
New York Times. OSHA news release. UFCW news releases on the Smithfield Foods and JBS fines. Risks 965.
Hazards news, 19 September 2020

Britain: Jail terms for attacking emergency workers to be doubled
The maximum penalty for assaulting police officers, nurses or any other emergency workers is to be doubled from one to two years, the government has announced. A law will be introduced raising the maximum sentence to two years in jail and will, the MoJ said, offer greater protection to emergency workers, including police, prison officers, custody officers, fire service personnel, search and rescue services and frontline health workers.
The Guardian. Risks 965.
Hazards news, 19 September 2020

Britain: Prospect blasts ‘outdated’ attitudes to work safety
Outdated attitudes that saw health and safety regulation as a burden on business must be banished if we are to adjust to the impact of the global pandemic, Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy has said. He praised the work of Prospect members working for the HSE who have been trying to keep the public safe as they return to workplaces, but argued that the agency had been performing ‘regulatory gymnastics’, with the number of inspectors now lower than the number of MPs.
Prospect news release and campaign for a fully funded HSE. Risks 965.
Hazards news, 19 September 2020

Pakistan: Many dead in marble mine collapse
At least 22 workers have been killed and dozens are battling for their lives after a 7 September rock collapse at a famed marble mine in Pakistan's Ziarat Ghar mountain. Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary with the global union for the sector, IndustriALL, commented: “It’s a massacre,” adding: “Pakistan cannot wait for more workers dying and must work with national and international agencies, including the ILO and global unions, to improve mine safety.”
IndustriALL news release. The Hindu. Discourse on Development. Risks 964.
Hazards news, 12 September 2020

Britain: 'Shocking' lack of regulation at Leicester garment firms
Leicester’s garment district, which is home to more 1,000 factories, has received fewer than 60 health and safety inspections and only 28 fire inspections since October 2017 despite long-held concerns about working conditions, a Guardian investigation has found. The paper said the figures highlight the low rate of regulatory oversight of factories in Leicester despite the creation of a multi-agency group to try and tackle their problems in October 2017.
The Guardian. Risks 963.
Hazards news, 6 September 2020

Britain: Isle of Wight firms fined over site worker death
Three firms have been fined for criminal safety failings after a worker was fatally injured on a building site. David Shayler, 53, died in hospital after he was hit on the head by masonry at the site in Newport, Isle of Wight, in October 2016.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Island Echo. Risks 963.
Hazards news, 6 September 2020

Britain: MoD censured following death of military diver
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been issued with a Crown Censure by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a military diver died during training. On 26 March 2018, 27-year-old Lance Corporal George Partridge was brought back to surface after he stopped responding to lifeline signals while he was underwater.
HSE news release. Risks 963.
Hazards news, 6 September 2020

Britain: Death linked to poor PPE guidance for home care workers
A home care worker who did not wear protective equipment may have infected a client with a fatal case of coronavirus during weeks of contradictory UK government guidance on whether the kit was needed or not, an official investigation has found. The government’s confusion about how much protection care workers visiting homes needed is detailed in a report into the death of an unnamed person by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), which conducts independent investigations of patient safety concerns in NHS-funded care in England.
HSIB news release and report, PPE: care workers delivering homecare during the Covid-19 response, HSIB, 27 August 2020. The Guardian. Risks 963.
Hazards news, 6 September 2020

Britain: Government ‘abdicating responsibility’ on work risks
The UK government has been accused of “abdicating responsibility” for making workplaces safe before urging people back to offices, ahead of the launch of a publicity campaign aimed at reducing working from home. The Independent Sage (I-Sage) group of scientific advisers has called for a national system of inspections to make sure even the worst employers are complying with social distancing best practice to keep workers safe.
Independent Sage YouTube channel, 28 August 2020 and The COVID-19 Safe Workplace Charter and briefing document on ending work lockdowns in GB. Hazards Campaign news release. The Independent. Risks 963.
Hazards news, 6 September 2020

Britain: HSE must end rumours on deadly crane collapse
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) must publish its initial findings into the causes of the fatal crane accident in east London in July, in which a member of the public died and worker was seriously injured. Construction union Unite wrote to the HSE last month urging it to not to delay publication of the initial findings in order to end ‘a cloud of suspicion’ about who was to blame.
Unite news release. Risks 962.
Hazards news, 29 August 2020

Britain: TSSA raises concerns over deadly Stonehaven crash
The leader of the rail union TSSA has questioned why rail services across the country were allowed to continue on the day of a train derailment killed three people in Aberdeenshire. TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes has written to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) to “raise questions” relating to the fatal derailment of a ScotRail passenger train near Carmont, west of Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire on 12 August.
TSSA news release. Network Rail news release. The Herald. The National. BBC News Online and related story. Press and Journal. Risks 962.
Hazards news, 29 August 2020

Britain: Celebs back Surrey ‘deadly’ fire cuts campaign
Surrey firefighters have welcomed a new petition campaigning against cuts to their fire and rescue service. More than 3,700 people have signed a petition from writer, actor and Celebrity Masterchef winner Emma Kennedy calling for a reversal of cuts to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service; the move comes after Queen star Brian May spoke out about the “criminally under-supported” fire service during August’s wildfires which highlighted the impact of cuts on the service.
FBU news release. Save our Stations petition. Surrey Live. Risks 962.
Hazards news, 29 August 2020

Britain: Prediction of ‘explosion in work cases’ proved right
The workplace is emerging as the new frontline for Covid-19 spread, after the UK government and health agencies ignored warnings on the dangers of a rush back to work, occupational health experts have warned. The campaign’s analysis of Public Health England (PHE) figures shows that over the last five weeks the ‘workplace’ has emerged as the second most common site of Covid-19 ‘situations/incidents’, trailing only care homes; PHE’s definition of workplaces does not include work-related Covid incidents in hospitals, schools or prisons, so under-estimates the real extent of work-related cases.
Hazards Campaign report. National COVID-19 surveillance report: 14 August 2020 (week 33) and National COVID-19 surveillance report: 21 August 2020 (week 34), PHE. Risks 962.
Hazards news, 29 August 2020

Britain: Virus risks fuelled by ‘shoddy’ guidance and HSE cuts
Unions have condemned official inaction on workplace Covid-19 risks. The unions were speaking out after the national Hazards Campaign revealed workplaces are suffering ‘an explosion’ of Covid cases because the government ignored warnings not to rush Britain back to work.
Morning Star. Risks 962.
Hazards news, 29 August 2020

Britain: HSE hampered by ‘chronic’ resource shortages
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors “have been let down by a chronic lack of resources”, the safety regulator’s inspectors have warned. Neil Hope-Collins and Geoff Fletcher, both experienced HSE field inspectors and members of the union Prospect, said there are only 390 full-time equivalent band 3 (main grade) inspectors for the whole of mainland UK,” adding: “That is just not enough.”
Prospect blog. Risks 962.
Hazards news, 29 August 2020

Britain: Dangerous understaffing warning on Surrey fire cover
Firefighters in Surrey have warned it is ‘only a matter of time until lives are lost’ after a shortage of firefighters left Surrey Fire and Rescue Service with just one fire engine to cover the entire county, as wildfires tore across the county this month. Their union FBU has called it a “stark warning” that understaffing can put residents and firefighters at risk.
FBU news release. The Guardian. The Express. Risks 961.
Hazards news, 22 August 2020

Britain: £5k fine after worker brain damaged at boss’s villa
A Scottish worker suffered brain damage after falling 15 feet on to concrete while he was helping to build a luxury villa for his boss. Dalgety Bay-based Brebner & Williamson Ltd pleaded guilty to criminal safety offences that took place during the construction of director Graham Williamson’s new home in Crook of Devon, Kinross, in July 2016.
HSE news release. The Courier. Risks 961.
Hazards news, 22 August 2020

Global: Beirut explosion shows lessons forgotten
A devastating port warehouse explosion in Beirut has exposed how well-known major workplace risks continue to be ignored with devastating consequences. The 4 August blast in the Lebanese capital killed over 200 and injured thousands and occurred when tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate exploded and came seven years after one of the deadliest fertiliser plant explosions in US history partly levelled the rural town of West, Texas, killing 15.
BBC News Online. AP News. WNBG News 12. The Guardian and related story.
FBU news release. Nautilus news release. US Lebanon Embassy news release. HSE ammonium nitrate webpages. IndustriALL ammonium nitrate briefing and statement. Risks 960.
Hazards news, 15 August 2020

Global: Covid led to ‘brutal crackdown’ on workers’ rights
Some of Europe’s biggest retailers are standing by while Covid-19 is used as a pretext for union busting and other workplace abuses, human rights activists have warned. A new report, from the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), portrays an “emerging and widespread pattern of supplier factories appearing to target unionised workers for dismissal”.
Union busting and unfair dismissals: Garment workers during Covid-19, BHRRC, August 2020. The Guardian. Risks 960.
Hazards news, 15 August 2020

Britain: Concern as ex-Tory minister takes the helm at HSE
In a break with convention, a former Conservative minister has been appointed as the new chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Sarah Newton was minister for safety under the tenure of both Amber Rudd and Esther McVey as secretary of state at the Department of Work and Pensions, with Janet Newsham, chair of the national Hazards Campaign, commenting: “The Tory party has starved and neutered HSE over the last decade, and Sarah Newton as a former safety minister and MP is complicit in this disaster.”
DWP news release, public appointment details and Sarah Newton biography. IOSH news release. Risks 960.
Hazards news, 15 August 2020

Britain: New report calls for Scottish work safety shake up
The Scottish workplace safety system needs a ‘radical’ revision, a new report has concluded. The report released by the Jimmy Reid Foundation, authored by Professor Andrew Watterson of the University of Stirling, argues for new principles, policies and practices that reject the “deregulation on occupational health and safety throughout Britain.”
Jimmy Reid Foundation news release and report, Occupational health and safety in Scotland after the Covid-19 pandemic: the case for new principles, policies and practices involving lessons we have forgotten, lessons we have learnt and lessons we should apply in the future, Jimmy Reid Foundation, August 2020. Risks 959.
Hazards news, 8 August 2020

Britain: Concrete company fined after worker’s death
Concrete manufacturer Treanor Pujol Ltd has been fined for criminal safety breaches linked to the death of an employee and serious injuries to a second worker in two separate incidents. Treanor Pujol Ltd pleaded guilty to four criminal safety offences and was fined £285,000 and ordered to pay costs of £56,324.97.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 959.
Hazards news, 8 August 2020

Britain: HSE accused of being ‘missing in action’ on Covid-19
The Health and Safety Executive’s “worrying lack of on the ground intelligence” on the workplace Covid-19 crisis and a shocking failure to inspect workplaces has been criticised in a new report. ‘Abdication’, an analysis of HSE’s performance throughout the crisis, says the ‘absentee regulator’ is unaware of outbreaks and is failing to either undertake inspections or enforcement action for criminal breaches of reporting and safety rules related to Covid-19.
Abdication: HSE has been missing in action throughout the Covid-19 crisis, Hazards, number 150, 2020, and Hazards infections special issue. ETUC note on occupational health and safety violations under Covid-19. Covid-19 disease reports to HSE.
EVENT: Safety reps taking the lead – during and after Covid-19, Hazards Campaign national Hazards Conference 2020 workshop, 12:00 noon, 1 August. Risks 958.
Hazards news, 1 August 2020

Britain: Data flaws exposed on Oldham spike link to high risk jobs
A surge in Covid-19 cases in Oldham has been linked to “at-risk occupations”, but concerns have been raised about poor or absent data on occupation in virus testing results. Katrina Stephens, director of public health for Oldham council, said the new cases involved younger people, aged 20 to 40, and many were in areas of high deprivation; she added they were likely to be among those in “at-risk occupations,” such as warehouse workers, taxi drivers, manufacturing jobs and health and social care workers.
BBC News Online. The Guardian. ITV News. Risks 958.
Hazards news, 1 August 2020

Britain: Royal Mail warned it could face Covid action
Royal Mail has been warned it could face enforcement action unless it acts on a catalogue of safety failings at a mail centre and a delivery office in Kent. The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) said the safety shortcomings identified by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector had earlier been drawn to the attention of management by CWU area safety representatives (ASRs).
CWU bulletin. Risks 958.
Hazards news, 1 August 2020

Britain: PCS says no return without consultation
Government departments must consult ‘properly’ with PCS over safe working before submitting plans to get more people back into their workplaces, the civil service union has said. The union was commenting after talks with Cabinet Office officials on 27 July, where they discussed civil service chief executive Alex Chisholm’s letter instructing departments to accelerate the return to the workplace from 1 August.
PCS news release, related news release and Mark Serwotka video message. Daily Mail. The Express. Civil Service World. Risks 958.
Hazards news, 1 August 2020

Britain: More cleaners needed to make schools safe
Some cleaners in English schools are still having to work without protective kit and are not given the ‘deep-clean’ training needed to keep people safe, a UNISON survey has found. The union is calling on the government to provide schools with money to hire extra cleaners.
UNISON news release. Risks 958.
Hazards news, 1 August 2020

Britain: Earlier lockdown would have saved bus driver lives
Imposing an earlier lockdown in England would have saved workers’ lives, according to a report into the high death rate of London bus drivers in the pandemic by a leading expert on health and social inequalities. Male London bus drivers aged 20 to 65 were 3.5 times more likely to die from Covid-19 between March and May than men in other occupations across England and Wales, said Sir Michael Marmot of the Institute of Health Equity (IHE).
Institute of Health Equity (IHE) news release. London Bus Drivers Review, IHE, 2020. TfL statement. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 958.
Hazards news, 1 August 2020

Britain: Public inquiry call into bus worker virus deaths
Poor working conditions have been an unacceptable contributor to the high Covid-19 death toll affecting bus drivers, Unite has said. Commenting on the Transport for London (TfL) commissioned report that found an earlier lockdown would have saved lives amongst London bus drivers, Unite regional officer John Murphy said: “This report makes it quite clear that in its approach to lockdown the government tried to lock the stable door after the horse had bolted.”
Unite news release. Risks 958.
Hazards news, 1 August 2020

Britain: Costain fined £1.2m after cage collapse injuries
Costain and one of its subcontractors have been fined after two workers were injured when a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) was struck by a collapsing reinforcement cage during construction of a bypass. Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard that in the summer of 2015, to support the construction of the A556 bypass in Cheshire, work had started to build a pier designed to eventually support a bridge.
Construction Enquirer. Risks 958.
Hazards news, 1 August 2020

India: ‘Industrial homicide’ during Covid-19 kills at least 75
There have been more than 30 industrial accidents in India since May, killing at least 75 workers and injuring over a hundred, IndustriALL has said. These numbers are based on reported incidents and the real number may be far higher, the global union has said.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 956.
Hazards news, 18 July 2020

Britain: Government must up UK radiation protection and fund HSE
A new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on standards of radiation protection in the UK has highlighted the urgent need for greater funding for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to meet its obligations, the union Prospect has said. The union for HSE specialists and inspectors says there are almost 17,000 UK employers using radiation sources, ranging from local dentists and vets to hospitals and industrial applications, but HSE employs just seven specialist radiation inspectors, which means there is one inspector for about every 2,500 employers.
Prospect news release. Risks 956.
Hazards news, 18 July 2020

Global: Bangladesh shipbreaking widow can pursue UK claim
A widow whose husband was killed while dismantling a large vessel in a shipbreaking yard on the beaches of Bangladesh can press ahead with her claim against the UK-based shipping company involved in the vessel’s sale. In a judgment handed down on 13 July,  an English High Court judge refused to strike out a claim for negligence brought by widow Hamida Begum against Maran (UK) Ltd.
Leigh Day Solicitors news release. The Guardian. Risks 956.
Hazards news, 18 July 2020

Britain: Regulators too weak and unprepared for pandemic
An occupational health and safety expert has said UK’s regulators were under-resourced and under-prepared when the coronavirus [SARS-CoV-2] pandemic hit, with the workplace enforcement agency the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) going ‘missing’. Stirling University professor Andrew Watterson said the Leicester lockdown “continues to expose even wider and still neglected policy failings along with inadequate national, regional and local capacity relating to information, surveillance and inspection of workplaces.”
BMJ Rapid Response, 11 July 2020. Risks 956.
Hazards news, 18 July 2020

Britain: Covid exposes need to address HSE’s ‘chronic’ problems
Prospect members in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have reacted angrily after it was revealed that inspectors who have left are being offered short-term contracts on beneficial terms to return to help with Covid spot checks. Retirees and people who left for other employment are being offered pay levels at the top of their former bands to return to work for eight months.
Prospect news release. Risks 956.
Hazards news, 18 July 2020

Britain: Shame of our high health worker death rates
The union GMB has said the UK government has ‘utterly failed’ health care workers after a report revealed more than 540 health and social workers have died of Covid-19 in England and Wales, compared to a worldwide total of 3,000 deaths in these jobs. The Amnesty International report makes wide-ranging recommendations, including provision of full PPE and other protections to all at-risk workers, recognition of Covid-19 as an occupational disease, compensation for all those made sick as a result of ‘work-related activities’, and protection of workers from any disadvantage for raising safety concerns.
GMB news release. Amnesty International news release. Exposed, silenced, attacked: Failures to protect health & essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Amnesty international, 14 July 2020. Risks 956.
Hazards news, 18 July 2020

One in five bosses not trained in health and safety
One in five companies don’t train their managers in health and safety, according to a new report. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) report, ‘How to manage your people safely’, found 96 per cent agreed that line managers are important in ensuring the people who report to them are safe and healthy in the workplace, with 21 per cent saying investigations into accidents had shown a management failure was a contributing factor.
IOSH news release and report, Managing your people safely, 7 July 2020. Personnel Today. Risks 955.
Hazards news, 11 July 2020

Australia: Welcome for work safety, diseases and suicides move
Unions have welcomed a new legal safety measures coming into force in the Australian state of Victoria.  From 1 July, employers in the state that fail to meet health and safety obligations face tough new workplace manslaughter penalties should their negligence lead to a worker dying on the job, and the state regulator WorkSafe has also broadened the definition of a workplace death to include killed on the road while working, suicides attributable to a workplace health and safety failure, deaths from industrial diseases such as silicosis, and workplace deaths resulting from a criminal act.
WorkSafe Victoria news release and workplace manslaughter law. ACTU news release. Risks 955.
Hazards news, 11 July 2020

Britain: Creating safe workplaces is more urgent than ever
New workplace death figures are a ‘devastating’ indictment of safety standards in UK workplaces, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on provisional Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures showing there were 111 fatalities at work in Great Britain in 2019/20.
TUC blog. HSE news release and statistical summary, Fatal injuries in Great Britain, 2019/2020. Risks 955.
Hazards news, 11 July 2020

Britain: Sharp rise in site deaths as enforcement plummets
A large increase in construction deaths could be related to a steep fall in proactive inspections and prosecutions being undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Unite has said. The union was commenting after provisional figures released by HSE showed that construction fatalities increased by 33 per cent in a year from 30 in 2018/19 to 40 in 2019/20, and made up over a third of all work-related deaths.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 955.
Hazards news, 11 July 2020

Britain: HSE inspector calls for ‘desperately needed’ funds
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is desperately in need of more funds to meet the ‘expectations’ of politicians and the public, an HSE inspector had said. Neil Hope-Collins, who is also the vice-president of HSE union Prospect, said: “The country needs to invest in the health and safety of workers, and that means building the regulators that ensure workers go home at the end of the day.”
Prospect news release. Risks 955. 11 July 2020
Hazards news, 11 July 2020

India: Advocacy group condemns release of LG managers
A workplace and environment health advocacy group has slammed an Indian court decision that has allowed three South Koreans managers at a LG Polymers plant where a deadly gas leak occurred to leave the country. The Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV) said the passports of the South Korean bosses had been confiscated because of the importance of their evidence in the ongoing investigation in the styrene monomer vapour leak from a storage tank at the plant owned by the Korean multinational LG Chem – the incident occurred as it rushed to restart production after the coronavirus shutdown.
The Hindu. Risks 854.
Hazards news, 4 July 2020

Britain: Families criticise migrant crush deaths case delays
The families of five migrant workers who were crushed to death at a scrap metal plant four years ago say they have been treated “as if our lives do not matter” after the criminal investigation was hit with further delays. The men, who were from the Gambia and Senegal and were employed on zero-hours agency contracts, were killed on 7 July 2016 when a 3.6-metre wall and 263 tonnes of metal collapsed on top of them at the Hawkeswood Metal Recycling site in Birmingham.
Birmingham Live. The Guardian. Risks 854.
Hazards news, 4 July 2020

Britain: Firm fined £200k after warehouse worker loses leg
Parcels firm DX Network Services has been fined £200,000 after a Scottish warehouse worker lost a leg. Les More was hit by a forklift truck and trapped under the vehicle for an hour. Surgeons couldn’t save his left leg which had to be amputated above the knee.
Daily Record. Risks 854.
Hazards news, 4 July 2020

Europe: Probe exposes trucking ‘pandemic of exploitation’
Road transport companies are using Covid-19 to further exploit truck drivers and cut transport prices, pay, conditions and health and safety across Europe, an investigation from union bodies FNV-VNB, ITF and IUF has revealed. A new report and documentary video released by the groups reveals that human trafficking is alive in European trucking, and has uncovered shocking human rights abuses on the doorstep of the European Union, said Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the global transport union ITF.
ITF news release, report and documentary video. Risks 854.
Hazards news, 4 July 2020

Germany: Meat union demands strict regulation and enforcement
New coronavirus hotspots in Germany's meat processing plants have highlighted the massive abuse of subcontracted migrant labour on which the industry depends, unions have said. Draft legislation published in May 2020 and due to take effect on 1 January 2021 would require the meat companies to directly employ their workforce, impose new oversight of working hours and payment and enforce strict liability for violations.
IUF news release. Risks 854.
Hazards news, 4 July 2020

Britain: Government plan for just 12 new fire inspectors criticised
The UK government expects to fund just a dozen extra staff to inspect and enforce fire safety in more than 2 million homes after Grenfell, a new analysis has found. Firefighters’ union FBU had said this is a “gross underestimate” of the resources needed to tackle the building safety crisis in England.
FBU news release. Risks 854.
Hazards news, 4 July 2020

USA: Naming and shaming of safety criminals works
A single official press release naming a company that has violated workplace health and safety regulations can result in a 73 per cent improvement in compliance by other facilities, new research has found. The study in the American Economic Review reported that beginning in 2009, the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) sent press releases to the local newspaper near a facility, detailing serious health and safety violations found during an inspection.
Duke University news release. Matthew S Johnson. Regulation by Shaming: Deterrence Effects of Publicizing Violations of Workplace Safety and Health Laws, American Economic Review, 110, number 6, June 2020. DOI: 10.1257/aer.20180501. Business Insurance. Risks 953.
Hazards news, 27 June 2020

USA: America pays a high price for cheap meat
Workers’ rights in the United States are exceptionally limited, while the coronavirus pandemic is exceptionally widespread. James Ritchie, of the global food and farming union IUF said slaughter line speeds could make it impossible to comply with coronavirus precautions, noting: “You can’t even stop to cough into your hand or your elbow because the line speeds are so, so fast.”
New York magazine. The Food and Environment Reporting Network. Risks 952.
Hazards news, 20 June 2020

China: Many dead as truck blows up destroying factories
A tanker truck explosion in southeast China has killed at least 20 people and left over 170 injured. The vehicle was carrying liquefied natural gas when it exploded on a highway in Zhejiang province on 13 June, with a second explosion occurring after the damaged truck was propelled onto a factory building near to the highway, destroying the building and causing serious damage to adjacent factories.
China Labour Bulletin. BBC News Online. Sixth Tone News. Risks 952.
Hazards news, 20 June 2020

Europe: Campaign wins Covid-19 guarantees for workers
European workers will benefit from better protection from Covid-19 following pressure from the union federation ETUC and MEPs on the European Commission. ETUC deputy general secretary Per Hilmersson said: “The ETUC would have preferred the virus to be classified in the highest risk level but it’s important Covid-19 is included in the Directive and we welcome the commitment to enforcing the measures and to a future review of the legislation.”
ETUC news release. Socialists & Democrats news release. Risks 952.
Hazards news, 20 June 2020

Britain: FBU ‘will not accept another year’ of Grenfell inaction
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has said firefighters will not accept another year of inaction on building safety. Commenting on the 14 June third anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, the union called for an end to “a politics that values profit over people.”
FBU news release. PCS news release. The Guardian. Evening Standard. Morning Star Risks 952. 20 June 2020

Europe: Despite the virus, safety doesn’t make EC’s to-do list
Trade unions have said they are ‘shocked and concerned’ that the European Commission still has no official plans to make workplaces safer in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. An updated work programme published by the Commission on 28 May includes 43 new initiatives, including proposals ranging from airport charges to crypto assets and ‘better regulation’.
ETUC news release. Risks 950.
Hazards news, 6 June 2020

Britain: Refurb firm convicted and fined £1.1m after engineer’s fall
Relocation and refurbishment company Modus Workspace Limited has been fined £1.1 million after a worker was seriously injured in a fall from a ladder. Luton Crown Court heard that, on 5 September 2016, an engineer was testing a sprinkler system for leaks at a site in Hemel Hempstead, suffering injuries and severe blood loss, estimated at about half the blood in his system.
HSE news release and construction and work at heights webpages. Risks 949.
Hazards news, 30 May 2020

USA: Frozen food plant cited over Covid-19 failures
The workplace safety regulator in Oregon, USA, has issued a citation to National Frozen Foods, accusing the company in Albany of “failing to implement physical distancing measures to protect workers from the spread of the coronavirus.” The citation, which carries a penalty of $2,000, “stems from an inspection launched April 20 in response to multiple complaints about the facility, which produces frozen fruits and vegetables.”
Oregon OSHA news release. NBC 16 News. CBS News. Risks 947.
Hazards news, 16 May 2020

Europe: Commission blasted on Covid-19 risk ranking
A European Commission decision not to put Covid-19 in the highest risk category of the Biological Agents Directive has been criticised by unions. The unions had earlier argued the virus, for which there is no vaccine, should be classified in the top risk group,“but we regret that the decision today, if confirmed by the Commission, would mean that it will be classified as an agent belonging only in the second highest risk group.”
ETUC news release and note on Biological Agents Directive. Risks 947.
Hazards news, 16 May 2020

Global: The deadly cost of unregulated and illegal fishing
Video evidence and media reports detailing gross abuses aboard a Chinese fishing vessel operating with migrant seafarers have again shone a spotlight on the violence and human trafficking proliferating in the global fishing industry. On 24 April, two Chinese-owned vessels entered Korean waters and 26 Indonesia seafarers were disembarked after spending more than a year at sea without interruption.
IUF news release. Risks 947.
Hazards news, 16 May 2020

Global: Chemical industry must step up on human rights
A deadly gas leak at a chemical plant in India last week is a grim wakeup call for the industry to recognise and meet its responsibility to respect human rights, a UN expert has said. Baskut Tuncak, the UN special rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes, was commenting on a 7 May the LG Polymers leak in India in which at least 12 people died and more than 1,000 fell ill.
OHCHR news release. ANROEV statement. Hindustan Times. New York Times.
United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Risks 947.
Hazards news, 16 May 2020

Britain: Landmark fine after exhausted welders killed in van crash
Welding specialist Renown Consultants Limited has been fined £450,000 and ordered to pay £300,000 costs for failing to ensure that two of its workers were sufficiently rested to work and travel safely, and who subsequently died when their van crashed on the journey home. The sentence was passed virtually by His Honour Judge Godsmark sitting at Nottingham Crown Court after Renown were found guilty on 19 March 2020 in a prosecution by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
ORR news release. Construction Enquirer. BBC News Online. Risks 947.
Hazards news, 16 May 2020

Britain: Johnson accused of ‘criminal negligence’ and ‘social murder’
A top safety law academic has accused prime minister Boris Johnson of criminality and ‘social murder’ after he called for an early return to work. Steve Tombs, professor in social policy and criminality at the Open University, said “the government must know that construction workers are exposed to and unwitting carriers of coronavirus,” adding: “In my view this is criminal negligence, it’s manslaughter, it’s social murder.”
Reel News. Shut the Sites blog. Deaths in England and Wales related to Covid-19 by occupation, ONS, 11 May 2020.
The Guardian. Good Morning Britain. Construction Enquirer. Risks 947.
Hazards news, 16 May 2020

Britain: Minute’s silence for fallen firefighters
Fire stations across the UK and internationally fell silent at noon on 4 May, Firefighters’ Memorial Day. The event is organised jointly by the UK Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the Firefighters Memorial Trust (FMT). Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, placed a wreath at the National Firefighters’ Memorial at St Pauls, London, in lieu of any larger ceremony during the pandemic.
FBU news release. Risks 946.
Hazards news, 9 May 2020

Britain: Brutal cuts to fire services being rushed through
Firefighters have warned of a major threat to public safety as politicians and fire chiefs try to sneak through cuts to the fire and rescue services while firefighters respond to the coronavirus crisis. The firefighters’ union FBU made the comments after a consultation on sweeping fire and rescue cuts was launched mid-pandemic.
FBU news release. Risks 945.
Hazards news, 2 May 2020

Britain: UK’s failure to stockpile crucial PPE exposed
The government failed to buy crucial personal protective equipment (PPE) to cope with a pandemic, a BBC investigation has found. There were no gowns, visors, swabs or body bags in the government's pandemic stockpile when Covid-19 reached the UK, the BBC Panorama investigation found, with the government subsequently ignoring a warning from its own advisers to buy missing equipment and instead downgrading risk warnings and workplace protection guidelines.
BBC News Online. Has the Government Failed the NHS?, Panorama, BBC One, 27 April 2020. Evening Standard.
Evaluating the protection afforded by surgical masks against influenza bioaerosols: Gross protection of surgical masks compared to filtering facepiece respirators, HSE research report number 619, 2008. Risks 945.
Hazards news, 2 May 2020

Britain: Government must say no to work-related virus deaths
The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) has reiterated its call on the UK government to set a goal of ‘zero work caused fatalities’ from Covid-19 within the NHS, essential services and UK business. The organisation said its campaign is now being backed by the British Dental Association (BDA), the British Medical Association (BMA), the Doctors’ Association and many other organisations, stating “that work-related fatalities due to Covid-19 exposure is not a given.”
SOM news release. Risks 943
Hazards news, 18 April 2020

Britain: NHS workers’ Covid-19 deaths ‘beyond heartbreaking'
The union GMB has expressed its deep concern after health secretary Matt Hancock’s devastating disclosure that at least 19 NHS workers have died of Covid-19. Commenting on 11 April, GMB criticised the government for “broken promises” over protective equipment.
GMB news release and Get Me PPE Toolkit. The Independent. The Guardian. Risks 943.
Hazards news, 18 April 2020

Pakistan: Health workers beaten by police in pandemic protests
Health workers in Pakistan have warned of “deplorable” conditions on the frontlines of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, describing the pandemic as untreatable in one region and accusing police of brutally suppressing protests over working conditions. The country has reported 4,000 cases of Covid-19, but testing rates are low and doctors believe the real figure is much higher.
The Guardian. Risks 942.
Hazards news 11 April 2020

USA: The government safety inspectorate has gone missing
This year, a new crisis put workers in many US industries unexpectedly in harm’s way, but the official workplace safety watchdog has been conspicuously absent from the coronavirus response, a former top government safety official has charged. David Michaels, the Obama era head of the safety enforcer OSHA, said: “Instead of pressing employers on worker safety, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia and President Donald Trump’s political appointees at the Labor Department have decided to tell workers there is little OSHA can do because it has no standard covering airborne infectious diseases.”
Politico. US Covid-19 Strike Wave Interactive Map. Risks 942.
Hazards news 11 April 2020

Britain: Campaigners hit out at Covid-19 work safety failings
Millions of lives have been needlessly put at risk by the government’s inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic, health and safety campaigners have warned. The Hazards Campaign’s analysis has identified a catalogue of government shortfalls, including its refusal to stop all non-essential work, an inability to supply health service staff with protective equipment and failure to introduce a comprehensive testing and tracking system to contain the virus.
Hazards Campaign news release, full analysis and infographic. Morning Star. CIEH news report. Risks 942.
Hazards news 11 April 2020

Britain: Stop work if not protected, union tells transport workers
Transport union RMT has told it members in the rail and bus sectors they should stop work if employers do not provide protection from coronavirus exposures. The union’s message to members follows escalating concerns that many employers are not taking steps to protect transport workers despite rail and bus staff playing a key role in keeping people and goods moving in the fight against Covid-19.
RMT news release. Risks 942.
Hazards news 11 April 2020

USA: NY transit workers in deadly virus peril
In New York, subway and bus employees have been particularly badly affected by the disease, with at least 33 deaths. New York governor Andrew Cuomo commented: “They’re doing heroic work, very high rate of illness - that’s a problem.”
The City. Risks 942
Hazards news 11 April 2020

Britain: HSE unions demand virus action as the watchdog goes missing
Unions representing staff at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have written to the regulator for the second time in a week asking management to intervene directly with the government on behalf of the public and their members. Prospect, the FDA and PCS have written a joint letter to HSE Gold Command asking them to fulfil their duty as the independent regulator in charge of enforcing health and safety at work.
Prospect news release and earlier release. Hazards Campaign letter to HSE.
Thompsons Solicitors’ updated briefing on coronavirus and the law. Risks 941.
Hazards news, 4 April 2020

Britain: Essential role of low paid workers deserves recognition
The critical role played by low paid workers in combating the coronavirus threat to public health deserves much greater recognition, the TUC has said. Commenting on the new national minimum wage rates which come into force on 1 April, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Britain is indebted to its army of minimum wage heroes. Many – including care workers and supermarket staff – are currently on the frontline of the battle against coronavirus.”
TUC news release and Coronavirus/COVID-19 Guidance to Unions, TUC, March 2020. Risks 941.
Hazards news, 4 April 2020

Brazil: Meat giant in ‘brutal’ attack on its workers
JBS, the world's largest meat company, has presented workers in Brazil with a stark choice: risk potentially fatal illness, or risk losing your job. On 23 March, workers from the JBS units in Forquilhinha and Nova Veneza in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina were brutally repressed for protesting the company's decision to keep the production lines running without adequate protection against the spread of the coronavirus.
IUF news release and video. Risk 940.
Hazards news, 28 March 2020

Global: ‘Havoc’ as half of countries placed on lockdown
Over half of all countries surveyed (53 per cent) are containing the spread of the coronavirus with national lockdown measures, the closure of schools and non-essential businesses. The Covid-19 pandemic survey by the global union confederation ITUC found six out of fifteen G20 countries which are the drivers of the global economy closed non-essential businesses between 17-23 March 2020 - but only 50 per cent of countries are providing free health care.
ITUC news release and Global Covid-19 survey key findings. ITF news release. IndustriALL news release. ILO blog.
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Covid-19 resource page. Risk 940.
Hazards news, 28 March 2020

Britain: RCM concern over PPE shortage for midwives
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has called on the government to ensure that midwives and maternity support workers receive appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure they remain safe and well so they can continue to care for people. The union call came as health care workers across the NHS said they were encountering difficulties obtaining the correct masks, aprons, goggles and gloves. 
RCM news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online.
RESOURCE: RCM guidance for pregnant health care workers. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Myanmar: Growing union pushes for mine safety
A mining union is Myanmar is calling on the government and employers to improve health and safety in mines, demanding measures including emergency exits, clean drinking water and fire extinguishers at the worksites. The Mining Workers Federation of Myanmar (MWFM), which is affiliated to the global union IndustriALL, has said there can be no compromise when it comes to health and safety, stating that authorities and employers must put human lives before profit.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 939.
Hazards news, 21 March 2020

Britain: Government should be ‘ashamed’ of unsafe budget
The firefighters’ union FBU has condemned chancellor Rishi Sunak’s 11 March budget for “failing to recognise the role of firefighters in responding to flooding, for failing to provide building safety funding for buildings under 18m and for promising a ‘pittance’ to fund firefighters’ crucial fire safety work.” Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This budget once again fails to end a decade of pay restraint for firefighters and the chronic underfunding of the fire and rescue service.”
FBU news release and related release. HM Treasury news release and Budget 2020. Risks 939.
Hazards news, 21 March 2020

Britain: Unions worldwide demand Amazon addresses virus safety
In the wake of coronavirus outbreaks in Amazon warehouses, a global alliance of unions is calling on the company to take urgent measures to protect workers and communities. The alliance, coordinated by the global UNI and which includes the UK union GMB, is making its demands as workers in Italy are striking and workers in Spain are filing complaints to make the company fulfil its legal obligations to provide a safe workplace.
UNI news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 939. Hazards news, 21 March 2020

Turkey: Right to life ‘violated’ in Soma mine disaster
Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that workers’ right to life was violated in the 2014 mine explosion in Soma where 301 workers lost their lives and 162 were injured. Relatives of 11 killed workers made an individual application to the court on 12 August 2016.
Bianet.  Risks 938.
Hazards news, 14 March 2020

USA: Amazon’s disposable worker model exposed
Online retailer Amazon relies on an extreme high-churn model, continually replacing workers in order to sustain a dangerous and gruelling work pace, new research has concluded. The report from the US National Employment Law Project (NELP) cites data from the company’s own records which reveal ‘stunningly high injury rates’ and staff turnover in the retailer’s warehouses.
Amazon’s disposable workers: High injury and turnover rates at fulfillment centers in California, executive summary and full report, National Employment Law Project, March 2020.  Risks 938.
Hazards news, 14 March 2020

Britain: Company fined for ‘entirely avoidable’ death of dock worker
A shipping company has been fined £120,000 over the death of a ship’s cook at a Norfolk port more than two years ago. Marine accident investigators described the incident in which Alfred Ismaili was killed at Alexandra Dock in King’s Lynn as ‘entirely avoidable’.
Lynn News. Eastern Daily Press. Risks 938.
Hazards news, 14 March 2020

USA: White House doctored chemical warning
A common workplace solvent linked to fetal heart deformations, cancer and other serious health disorders has been given a healthier spin after a draft report from a US government agency was doctored by the White House prior to publication. A report from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) reveals the report was altered radically at the direction of the Trump White House, with several instances where wording on the risks to workers revised.
Center for Investigative Reporting report and The Weekly Reveal podcast. Risks 937.
Hazards news, 7 March 2020

Britain: FBU blasts ‘endless delays’ to the Grenfell inquiry
Firefighters’ union FBU has criticised the “endless delays” to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and said that the inquiry “must finally learn what led to Grenfell becoming such a death trap.” The inquiry was halted within minutes of its restart on 2 March when community activists stood up in the room and angrily shouted it was “a cover-up” after contributors were told evidence given would not be used in criminal prosecutions.
Morning Star. Construction Enquirer. The Guardian and related story. Risks 937.
Hazards news, 7 March 2020

Global: Dock unions warn about lashing dangers
International transport unions have called upon ship operators to ensure lashing work is undertaken by shore-based dock workers. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) said that lashing – securing loads safely and securely – is expert work that should only be undertaken by trained dock workers rather than already over-stretched seafarers.
ITF news release. Risks 936.
Hazards news, 29 February 2020

Korea: Trade secrets law protects Samsung, not workers
Global electronics giant Samsung, which in 2018 made a public apology for the toxic workplace exposures that led to a spate of occupational diseases known to have killed over 100 workers in Korea (Risks 899), can keep its toxic secrets, the Seoul administrative court has ruled. Occupational disease victims’ advocacy group SHARPS, which has appealed the latest court decision, commented: “The latest ruling is in tune with a revised trade secret law that took effect on 21 February,” adding: “The amendment exempts companies from the disclosure of information on hazardous materials should they prove it as core national technology.”
SHARPS blog on trade secrets vs safety and related post. Risks 936.
Hazards news, 29 February 2020

Britain: Director dodges jail after ignoring HSE stop work orders
The former director of a construction company has received a suspended prison sentence after ignoring official stop work orders on a potentially deadly site. Imtiaz Hussain, then a director of Bradford Builders (UK) Ltd, failed to comply with legally binding Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prohibition notices relating to unsafe work at height during roofing work on a new build house.
HSE news release. Risks 936.
Hazards news, 29 February 2020

Britain: Discharge for boss who threatened HSE inspector
A waste site owner who abused and threatened a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector has received a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to a public order offence. The HSE inspector was conducting an inspection at a waste and recycling site belonging to Jacob Alexander Thompson in August 2019 Thompson, then crossed the yard towards the inspector, who was subjected to repeated verbal abuse and offensive language and was physically threatened when Thompson stepped towards him and raised his fist as he told him aggressively to leave.
HSE news release. Risks 936.
Hazards news, 29 February 2020

Britain: Inquiry call as Amazon UK warehouse injuries spike
Amazon warehouses have been hit by more than 600 serious injuries or near misses in the past three years, a GMB investigation has found. The shocking figures came to light in response to Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by GMB to local authorities across the UK.
GMB news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 936.
Hazards news, 29 February 2020

Australia: Truck drivers in Aldi crash deaths protests
Hundreds of truck drivers took part in Australia-wide protests on 12 February demanding supermarket chain Aldi pay safe rates throughout its supply chain. The union TWU wants Aldi to raise its transport contract rates and standards to reduce the pressure on drivers and operators to cut corners in safety.
TWU news release. Fully Loaded. Risks 935.
Hazards news, 22 February 2020.

Canada: Union calls for crackdown on corporate safety crimes
Major corporations and their directors must be held accountable for deadly workplace crimes, a Canadian union has said. USW national director Ken Neumann said: “Killing workers should never be part of the cost of doing business.”
USW news release and related news release. Canadian Lawyer Magazine. CBC News. Risks 935.
Hazards news, 22 February 2020.

India: Fire deaths denim factory had no way out
Workers in an Indian denim factory struggled to claw their way up a ladder to a door, their only exit as a fire blazed through fabric and machinery. Seven people died in the 8 February blaze. The factory where the fire occurred, Nandan Denim, has ties to major international retailers, according to its website.
AP News. Washington Post. New York Times. InStyle. Nandan Denim. Risks 935.
Hazards news, 22 February 2020.

Britain: Fishing firm fined £50,000 over crewman’s death
Marine fishing company MB Aquarius Ltd has been fined £50,000 for criminal safety offences that led to a crewman’s death nearly five years ago. Annang Neurtey was lost at sea after he was struck by a wire on board the 20-metre trawler Aquarius.
COPFS news release. Aberdeen Evening Express. Press and Journal. Risks 935. Hazards news, 22 February 2020.

Britain: Criminal charges possible over Grenfell - inquiry chair
Those involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower are facing possible charges of fraud and conspiracy to defraud, according to the chair of the public inquiry into the disaster that claimed 72 lives. Sir Martin Moore-Bick has told the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, that during forthcoming hearings examining the marketing of the combustible cladding and insulation that spread the fire, witnesses are “very likely” to be asked to discuss issues involving potential fraud offences.
The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 934.
Hazards news, 15 February 2020

Britain: Government ‘red tape challenge’ risks another Grenfell
Sajid Javid’s “Brexit red-tape challenge” will fuel the deregulation agenda that led to the Grenfell tragedy, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has warned. Javid, who resigned as chancellor in the days after the announcement, said he intended to use the Budget on 11 March to launch a public and business consultation to propose ways in which the British government could “improve or remove” EU laws.
Morning Star. Financial Times. The Telegraph. Risks 934.
Hazards news, 15 February 2020

Britain: Rare work death jail term exposes justice shortfall
A rare occasion where a negligent employer was jailed for manslaughter has highlighted a widespread failure to hold negligent directors to account for deaths at work, a trade union body has said. TWL director Han Rao was sentenced to four years for the manslaughter of employee Marian Iancu at The Old Bailey in February, prompting a  statement from Waltham Forest Trades Council that noted: “Mr Rao is going to jail because TLW is a small business and identifying him as responsible was far easier than in much larger businesses” adding: “We need a legal system which acts as a deterrent for all organisations.”
Waltham Forest UNISON news release. Environmental Health News. Risks 934.
Hazards news, 15 February 2020

Britain: Danger firms fined after worker dies in explosion
Materials Movement Ltd and PJ Labour Services Ltd have been fined after a 54-year-old worker was killed in an explosion at a London demolition site. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 16 March 2017, Stephen Hampton was killed when an old fuel storage tank he was cutting up exploded and the end of the vessel struck him, causing fatal injuries.
HSE news release. Risks 934.
Hazards news, 15 February 2020

Britain: Defunct firm convicted after temporary worker death
A defunct London skip hire company has been fined £240,000 for criminal failures that led to a temporary worker being crushed to death. Stelian Florin Gavriliuc died while employed by Ace Waste Haulage in August 2017; the 24-year-old, who had only been with the firm for two weeks, was killed as he walked from his work station through the only exit open to employees and was crushed by a shovel loader vehicle that didn't see him.
Metropolitan Police news release. Kilburn Times. Risks 934.
Hazards news, 15 February 2020

Britain: Police convicted after employee gets heart breaking shock
A police force has been fined after an employee received an electric shock whilst installing computer data cables. Cardiff Magistrates’ Court heard that on the 16 October 2015, at Bridgend Police Station, a 48-year-old civilian South Wales Police employee sustained damage to his heart muscles when he came into contact with an exposed end of a live 3-core electrical cable which had been left in a ceiling void.
HSE news release. Risks 934.
Hazards news, 15 February 2020

Britain: Global giant fined after worker loses arm
A company that designs, manufactures and distributes construction materials has been fined after an employee suffered serious injuries, resulting in his left arm being amputated. The 48-year-old employee of Saint-Gobain Construction Products UK Limited, part of the global Saint-Gobain Group which has over 179,000 employees worldwide and had sales of 41.8 billion Euro in 2018 (£35.2bn), was seriously injured on 13 August 2017 when a rock handling belt failed at the company’s plant in Barrow-Upon-Soar, Leicestershire.
HSE news release. Risks 934.
Hazards news, 15 February 2020

Global: Growing hazard posed by illegal pesticide trade
Over the past two decades, the trafficking of highly toxic pesticides has quietly grown into one of the world’s most lucrative and least understood criminal enterprises, a report in Washington Post has revealed. Adulterated in labs and garages, hustled like narcotics, co-opted by gangs and mafias, counterfeit and contraband pesticides are flooding developed and developing countries alike, with environmental and social consequences that are “far from trivial,” the UN Environment Program reported last year.
Washington Post (subscription needed). Risks 934.
Hazards news, 15 February 2020

Korea: ‘Irresponsible’ Merck management led to worker suicide
After Merck Biopharma Korea shut down its general medicine (GM) division late last year, an employee who complained of being pressured to apply for an early retirement programme (ERP) took his own life, a union has reported. The worker was found dead on a playground near his home on 21 January this year.
Korea Biomedical Review.
RESOURCES: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. More on work-related suicide.
UK ACTION! Use the Hazards e-postcard to tell the HSE to recognise, record and take action to prevent work-related suicides. Risks 933.
Hazards news, 8 February 2020

Pakistan: More deaths as mine safety crisis continues
The start of 2020 has seen increasing dangerous incidents and deaths in Pakistan’s coal mines, exposing the near non-existence of safety measures and continued negligence from the employers and the government, IndustriALL has warned. Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL mining director, commented: “According to published media reports, more than 430 coal mine workers have been killed since 2010, and this may even be an underestimation.”
IndustriALL news release. Risks 933.
Hazards news, 8 February 2020

Britain: Boss jailed for four years after employee’s death
A company boss has been jailed after employee Marian Iancu, 39, was crushed to death by nearly half a tonne of glass panels. Han Rao was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for manslaughter following trial at the Old Bailey, and further sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for criminal breaches of health and safety laws, to run concurrently.
Metropolitan Police news release. Walthamstow Guardian. Barking and Dagenham Post. Risks 933.
Hazards news, 8 February 2020

Britain: Amazon made £10bn profit, its workers paid the price
Online retailer Amazon made a ‘mammoth’ profit of over £10 billion last year off the back of its workers’ health, safety, pay and working conditions, the union GMB has charged. Figures released by the company show that the firm, which runs a string of giant ‘fulfilment centres’ across Britain, made £10.7 billion in global profits over the whole of 2019, with final the quarter profits hitting £3.1bn.
GMB news release. Amazon news release. Morning Star. CNBC News. BBC News Online. Risks 933.
Hazards news, 8 February 2020

Britain: ‘Lashings of despair’ over seafarer safety on docks
An international agreement that cargo handling should be carried out by trained dock workers rather than seafarers is being flouted in UK ports, the seafarers’ union Nautilus has warned. The union says reports from the port of Liverpool indicate that seafarers are being forced to undertake lashing work on some ships in unsafe conditions despite the introduction of agreement known as the 'Dockers Clause' on 1 January 2020.
Nautilus news release. Risks 933.
Hazards news, 8 February 2020

Britain: Grenfell suppliers request for immunity is ‘outrageous’
Unite has described as ‘absolutely outrageous’ the revelation that companies involved in supplying and installing the cladding blamed for the rapid and deadly spread of the Grenfell Tower fire are seeking immunity from prosecution before they give evidence. Representatives from organisations including cladding company Harley Facades, building contractor Rydon and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation made the application for the guarantee from Attorney General Geoffrey Cox that they will be protected.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 933.
Hazards news, 8 February 2020

Britain: Grenfell investigation must go right to the top
The Grenfell Tower Inquiry must look at the decades of deregulation that allowed fire safety at Grenfell to be undermined, the firefighters’ union FBU has demanded. It its opening submission to phase 2 of the inquiry, the union outlined three factors that rendered the UK’s regulatory regime as “unfit for purpose”, “facilitating the hazardous refurbishment” of Grenfell Tower, and impeding the London Fire Brigade’s ability to respond effectively to the fire.
FBU news release. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 933. 8 February 2020
Hazards news, 8 February 2020

Global: Bankruptcy ruse will hurt asbestos victims
DBMP LLC, an affiliate of US building materials maker CertainTeed LLC and part of the global Saint Gobain building products empire, has filed for bankruptcy in North Carolina, citing the ‘burden’ of tens of thousands of unresolved asbestos-related claims tied to products manufactured prior to 1993. Section 11 bankruptcy has been used by a number of US asbestos companies to reduce asbestos liabilities, often denying cancer victims the payouts they would otherwise receive.
Business Wire. Bloomberg.
Asbestos: Think Again. 'Business as Usual' Bankruptcies, EWG, 4 March 2004. Risks 932.
Hazards news, 1 February 2020

USA: Climate crisis puts workers at deadly heat risk
Though the climate crisis is creating conditions where workers in the US are facing hotter temperatures on a more frequent basis, there are no federal safety protections for workers in extreme temperatures, and only three states, California, Washington and Minnesota, have heat stress workplace protection standards. According to projections conducted by the not-for-profit organisation Climate Central, the number of dangerous heat days for 133 US cities, will increase from 20 a year on average in 2000 to 58 in 2050.
The Guardian. Risks 932.
Hazards news, 1 February 2020

Britain: Conflicted Grenfell adviser resigns from inquiry
A recently-appointed Grenfell Tower fire inquiry panel member has resigned after she was linked to the charitable arm of Arconic, the firm that supplied the block's deadly cladding. Last week Grenfell United, the survivors and bereaved group that first discovered Benit Mehra’s link to Arconic, had insisted her position represented a conflict of interest and called for her to stand down had said it would make sure she went.
Grenfell Tower Inquiry 23 December 2019 update on Benita Mehra’s appointment and 25 January 2020 update on Benita Mehra’s resignation. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 932.
Hazards news, 1 February 2020

Britain: Grenfell Tower inquiry told firms 'deny responsibility'
None of the companies involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower have accepted responsibility for the deadly fire, an inquiry has heard. Firms expressed “no trace” of accountability despite previous findings that the work did not comply with building regulations, counsel to the inquiry Richard Millett QC said.
The Guardian and related story. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer.
Grenfell United. Grenfell Tower Inquiry. Risks 932.
Hazards news, 1 February 2020

China: Officials punished for burying blast death toll
A total of 29 officials have been punished after the death toll in a factory blast in central China's Hunan Province was intentionally underreported, the state media agency Xinhua has reported. The number of fatalities in the 4 December 2019 explosion at a workshop of a fireworks company in the city of Liuyang was initially given as seven, but the provincial authorities later confirmed 13 people were killed.
Peoples’ Daily. Risks 931.
Hazards news, 25 January 2020

Ireland: Union demands access to sites as deaths spike
The Irish construction union SIPTU has called for its organisers to be granted a legal right of access to building sites across the country following a doubling in the number of construction workers who died in workplace incidents. SIPTU sector organiser John Regan said: “The government must act to ensure greater safety on building sites by amending the 2005 Health and Safety Act to give union organisers access to all building sites.”
SIPTU news release. HSA news release. Risks 931.
Hazards news, 25 January 2020

Britain: Boss faked dead worker’s signature after fatal fall
Contracts manager Mark Bray, 49, who forged a dead worker’s signature after he was killed in a fall through a broken roof at work, has been jailed for two years. Kenneth Drake, 54, suffered mortal head injuries when the roof he was working on collapsed and he fell to the floor below.
Greater Manchester Police news release. Liverpool Echo. Cheshire Live. Risks 931.
Hazards news, 25 January 2020

Britain: Dad killed in ‘tragic and wholly avoidable’ incident
Chesterfield Special Cylinders Ltd, a subsidiary of engineering firm Pressure Technologies, has been fined £700,000 after 64-year-old John Townsend was fatally wounded by shrapnel ejected from testing equipment. The father-of-two was due to retire the week after the incident.
Unite news release. HSE news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Sheffield Star. Yorkshire Post. Risks 931.
Hazards news, 25 January 2020

Britain: Site firm fined after worker crushed by concrete slab
A construction company has been fined half a million pounds after a father-of-two was killed when a re-enforced concrete slab collapsed underneath him during a demolition job. Southwark Crown Court heard that on 14 April 2014, 33-year-old labourer Dainius Rupsys from Lithuania was working with an excavator operator at the McGee Group Limited site in London’s Grosvenor Square, as part of the operation to demolish the existing multi-storey building before 31 residential flats could be built.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 931.
Hazards news, 25 January 2020

Britain: New building safety regulator to be run by HSE  
The Health and Safety Executive is to set up a new building safety team immediately, ahead of a new law requiring the formation of the Building Safety Regulator. The new regulator, which will operate from within HSE, will “be at the heart” of the government’s “biggest change in building safety for a generation.”
Ministry of Housing news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 931.
Hazards news, 25 January 2020

Britain: Buildings regulator ‘must be properly resourced’
The new Buildings Safety Regulator, to be based in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), must be given the resources to do its job properly, the TUC and HSE inspectors’ and specialists’ union Prospect have said. Prospect warned that “cuts in recent years have left the HSE struggling to fulfil its functions and to recruit and retain skilled staff.”
Prospect news release. Risks 931.
Hazards news, 25 January 2020

Britain: PM vows to look into his ‘scandalous’ Grenfell inquiry pick
Boris Johnson has told Grenfell survivors he will investigate the role of a key member of the public inquiry after it was revealed she had links to the company that made the tower’s deadly cladding. The prime minister met representatives of the Grenfell community at a pre-arranged visit to Downing Street on 16 January after it emerged that Benita Mehra was previously president of a charity that received a £71,000 donation from the philanthropic arm of Arconic, the US firm that made the panels found to be the main cause of fire spread.
The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 931.
Hazards news, 25 January 2020

Cambodia: Concern as building collapse kills 36 workers
The collapse of a seven-storey building in the small coastal town of Kep in Southern Cambodia on 3 January has killed 36 workers, authorities have confirmed. Ambet Yuson, general secretary of the global construction union federation BWI, commented: “We strongly call on the government of Cambodia to work closely with the Building and Wood Workers’ Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) to hold those responsible accountable and to increase and strengthen safety and health inspections to prevent further accidents across the country.”
BWI news release. Jakarta Post. Risks 930.
Hazards news, 18 January 2019

Britain: Killed within hours of starting new job
A vehicle recovery and repair company has been fined for a criminal safety breach after a new worker suffered fatal crush injuries during maintenance work, only hours after he had started his new job. Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that on 24 November 2014, Albert Road Recovery and Repair Limited employee John Glenn, 56, was fatally injured when a rigid vehicle fell suddenly from an inadequate axle support prop at its premises in Coventry.
HSE news release. Fleet News. Risks 930.
Hazards news, 18 January 2019

Britain: Delivery drivers ‘less valuable than the food they carry'
Jeremy Corbyn has joined delivery drivers in demanding an end to the gig economy after a moped rider was stabbed to death in London. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the scene of the knife attack in Finsbury Park where a 30-year-old man named locally as Taki Dine was killed on the evening of 3 January, noting delivery drivers are “often on zero hours contracts, yet the food they are carrying is insured… So the delivery driver is less valuable than the food they are carrying.”
Evening Standard. Daily Mail. Morning Star. BBC News Online.  ITV News. Risks 930.
Hazards news, 18 January 2019

Britain: Builder injured working on McAlpine director’s house
Construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd has been fined £260,000 for criminal safety breaches after a worker fell 4.8 metres through an unprotected opening while working on the house of a McAlpine’s director. Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 28 April 2016, Mark Smith, 36, was working at Stone Gappe Hall, Lothersdale, Keighley, owned by Richard McAlpine, a director of the McAlpine group of companies.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 930.
Hazards news, 18 January 2019

Britain: Baggage handler suffers brain injury in fall from plane
An airport ground support company has been fined for a criminal safety breach after a baggage handler suffered a brain injury when she fell from a height of more than two metres. Luton Magistrates’ Court heard that on 24 December 2016 Rebecca Smith, an employee of Menzies Aviation (UK) Limited, was injured as luggage was being loaded onto an aircraft at London Luton Airport.
HSE news release. Risks 930.
Hazards news, 18 January 2019

Britain: Fire emergency call mergers ‘unsafe and unsustainable’
The firefighters’ union FBU has issued a ‘safety critical notice’ after Surrey and West Sussex control rooms were merged, without an increase in staff. The union is concerned that emergency fire control staff cannot handle the current volume of 999 calls, and is calling on Surrey Fire and Rescue Service to address the “significant risk to both public and firefighter safety.”
FBU news release. Risks 930.
Hazards news, 18 January 2019

Peru: Teens electrocuted at McDonald's
The beverage machine which killed the two teenage workers in a McDonald’s restaurant in Peru was known to be faulty, the franchise’s general manager has admitted. Alexandra Porras, 18, and Carlos Gabriel Campo, 19, were electrocuted while cleaning the kitchen at the fast food outlet in Lima on 15 December 2019.
IUF news release. The Mirror. Risks 929.
Hazards news, 11 January 2020

USA: Boeing boss fired as plane crash crisis deepens
The head of aerospace giant Boeing has been fired after the company faced escalating criticism of its response to fatal crashes involving its 737 Max airliners. In a statement announcing the departure of its CEO Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing said the board had “decided that a change in leadership was necessary to restore confidence in the company moving forward as it works to repair relationships with regulators, customers, and all other stakeholders.”
Boeing statement. The Independent. Daily Mail. Risks 929.
Hazards news, 11 January 2020

Britain: Fedex UK Ltd fined £500k after forklift truck injury
Parcel carrier Fedex UK has been fined for criminal safety failings after an employee was seriously injured when he was struck by a forklift truck. Cannock Magistrates’ Court heard that in the early morning of 2 November 2017, an employee was walking across a depot when he was struck by a reversing forklift.
HSE news release. Risks 929.
Hazards news, 11 January 2020

Britain: Director sentenced after ignoring HSE notices
A construction company director has been ordered to undertake community service and has been given a suspended jail term for a criminal safety offence. Tahir Ahmed pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was sentenced to 18 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months, 180 hours of unpaid work, and was ordered to pay full costs of £5,060.69; All Type Electrical and Building Limited was fined £60,000 and full costs of £5,216.46.
HSE news release. Risks 929.
Hazards news, 11 January 2020

Britain: Demolition workers ‘pay with their lives’ for lax safety
Unite has said 2020 must bring safety improvements for demolition workers following a high number of fatalities and serious incidents this year. The construction union said it would be writing to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to demand that the incidents are investigated properly and lessons implemented.
Unite news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 929.
Hazards news, 11 January 2020


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