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TUC fortnightly Changing Times

USA: Night work linked to premature births
Working nights while pregnant increases the risk of giving birth prematurely by up to 50 per cent, according to a new study. Working nightshifts in the first three months was linked to a doubling in a woman's risk of early labour.
Risks 237, 17 December 2005

Europe: On-call is working time says European Court
On-call time must be included in working time calculations, according to a European Court of Justice ruling. In a case brought by French unions, the court ruled that night duty carried out by a teacher in an establishment for people with disabilities must be taken into account in its entirety when ascertaining whether the rules of Community law laid down to protect workers – in particular the maximum permitted weekly working time – have been complied with.
Risks 236, 10 December 2005

Britain: Employers failing tackle the UK’s long hours culture
Government claims that Britain's long hours culture is being transformed by new rights to request flexible work patterns have been challenged in a new TUC report.
Risks 234, 26 November 2005

Britain: Scots workplace mental illness toll revealed
Mental illness is the most common cause of absence from work, according to new research for the Scottish Executive. The See Me campaign found a third of employees off work due to mental illness gave a different reason for their absence, with some using faked sick notes rather than admit to depression or stress.
Risks 232, 12 November 2005

Britain: 24 February 2006 is Work Your Proper Hours Day
The TUC's award-winning 'Work Your Proper Hours Day' will take place on Friday 24 February next year. This is when the TUC estimates that people who do unpaid overtime will stop working for free in 2006 and start to get paid.
Risks 231, 5 November 2005

Britain: Stress rife in NHS, bosses say
Most NHS employers think up to half of their staff may be suffering from workplace stress, a report has concluded. A survey for NHS Employers found that 62 per cent of health service organisations estimated that half their workforce might be under stress.
Risks 231, 5 November 2005

Global: Unhappy workers face health risks
Researchers in Finland have found that workers who felt they were being treated fairly had a much lower incidence of coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in all Western societies. Study author Mika Kivimaki of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health wrote in Archives of Internal Medicine: “Lack of justice may be a source of oppression, deprivation and stress.”
Risks 230, 29 October 2005

Global: Union says fatigue is a silent assassin
Professional drivers from across southern England converged on Dover on 14 October to drive home the message that fatigue kills. The action, part of an international week of action by transport workers, was organised by the Transport and General Workers’ Union to reinforce the union’s message that long hours means tired drivers and tired drivers are more of a killer on the roads than drunk drivers.
Risks 228, 15 October 2005

Finland: Job stress link to stroke and heart attack risk
Young men with high work demands and a lack of control over their job situation show signs of early atherosclerosis, according to a new study. Researchers conducting imaging tests found increased thickness of the lining of the carotid arteries, which supply blood to the head, in men who reported having low job control and high job strain, according to the study in the current issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.
Risks 226, 1 October 2005

Britain: TUC welcomes minister’s move on offshore hours
TUC has welcomed an indication from a government minister that he is minded to change the law to make clear offshore workers are covered by the Working Time Directive.
Risks 225, 24 September 2005

Britain: Workers “need mental health help”
Employers should do more to help support workers who are suffering from mental health problems, according to a new report. The British Occupational Health Research Foundation (BOHRF) said counselling could help staff to stay in work.
Risks 224, 17 September 2005

Britain: Work smarter not longer says government
Working smarter is key to improving employee msatisfaction and productivity, the government has said. The call came on the publication of a joint DTI, TUC and CBI guide to tackling Britain’s unhealthy long hours culture.
Risks 223, 10 September 2005

Britain: Cocktail effect of doctors' hours
A study has shown how important the reduction of junior doctors' hours has been, equating the effect of long shifts to drinking a few cocktails.
Risks 223, 10 September 2005

Britain: Unions meet in offshore leave row
Union leaders representing North Sea oil workers seeking four weeks' paid holiday per year have met to decide their next move and have agreed to continue to support and encourage North Sea employees to take employment tribunal cases over the disputed holiday rights.
Risks 223, 10 September 2005

USA: Female night workers face breast cancer risk
The 24-hour economy is placing women at an increased risk of breast cancer, a major study has warned. Researchers from Harvard University have established that regular night shifts increase the chance of developing the disease by as much as 50 per cent.
Risks 222, 3 September 2005

Sweden: Stressed women stop working earlier
Stress at work is a more common reason for women taking early retirement than illness according to new research. The study, conducted on 300 women in Stockholm by the public health institute at the Karolinska Institute, found that less than half of healthy working women actually work up to the age of 65.
Risks, 27 August 2005

Global: Long working hours boost risk of illness and injury
Long working hours drive up the risk of injury and illness regardless of the job you do, according to a new study. Research in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine shows the greatly increased risk has nothing to do with how hazardous the job is and support government initiatives, such as those espoused by the European Union, to cut working hours.
Risks 220, 20 August 2005

Britain: Staff suffering stress in silence
One in four workers know a colleague whose mental wellbeing has suffered as a result of workplace stress, according to a new survey. Half of workers believe that stress in the workplace is a “serious problem” and over 40 per cent believe their careers would suffer if they admitted to being affected by stress.
Risks 217, 30 July 2005

Britain: Amicus wins offshore working time ruling
Amicus has won a test case ruling, establishing the Working Time Regulations cover UK oil employees working offshore.
Risks 217, 30 July 2005

Britain: Mental illness now Scotland’s top work health problem
Mental illness is the most common work-related health problem in Scotland, and Scottish workers are more likely to suffer from it than those in the rest of the UK. A new study shows mental health problems have overtaken musculoskeletal disorders as the most common health problem in Scotland’s workplaces.
Risks * Number 216 * 23 July 2005

Britain: Stressed caretaker faces punitive rent hike
A school caretaker who is off sick with work-related stress has been hit by the school with a massive rent rise that could eat up two-thirds of her monthly pay cheque.
Risks * Number 216 * 23 July 2005

India: Out-sourced and stressed out
Complaints of stress and depression among Indian call centre and software workers are rising. Long hours and the stress of masquerading as a western worker have been blamed.
Risks 215, 16 July 2005

Britain: TUC tells safety reps they can tackle stress
The TUC is urging union safety reps to tackle the workplace stress epidemic, a problem which makes half a million people ill and costs society £3.7 billion every year.
Risks 215, 16 July 2005

Britain: TUC guide to HSE’s stress management standards
The TUC has published an online safety reps’ guide to the Health and Safety Executive’s stress management standards.
Risks 214, 9 July 2005

Britain: Landmark legal case triumph for overworked staff
A pub landlord who collapsed due to overwork and successfully sued his former employers for failing to cut down on his hours has won a “landmark” appeal court victory, says his union TGWU. The ruling will have businesses across the UK re-thinking their employees’ working hours, according to the union’s solicitors
Risks 214, 9 July 2005

Japan: New high for work suicide and mental illness
A record 130 people in Japan were eligible for workers' compensation for suicide or mental illness induced by stress and excessive work in 2004, according to latest labour ministry figures.
Risks 212, 25 June 2005

Britain: Long hours peril in the NHS
The NHS shift system could be putting doctors and patients at risk, experts have warned.
Risks 212, 25 June 2005

Britain: NHS stress levels “very high and very real”
The NHS needs to do much more to tackle soaring levels of stress in the workplace, because of the huge human and financial costs, Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at the University of Lancaster, has said.
Risks 212, 25 June 2005

Britain: Dull work increases heart attack risk
Having a dull job may increase your risk of a heart attack, researchers have found. Dull, steady, unexciting work is associated with a faster and less variable heart rate, which, in turn, is linked to heart disease, said a team from University College London. They found that men with “low-grade jobs”, meaning they had little control over daily tasks, and men in low social positions were at greatest risk.
Risks 210, 11 June 2005

Europe: UK stalls progress on working hours limit
The UK government has led a minority group of European ministers which on 2 June successfully blocked moves to end the UK “opt-out” from the European Working Time Directive’s 48 hour ceiling on the working week.
Risks 209, 4 June 2005

Britain: Long hours are bad for health and productivity
Long working hours are damaging the health of UK’s industry and its workforce, new research from TUC has shown. A report cites a string of UK and international reports showing higher accident levels and higher rates of heart disease, mental illness, bowel problems and diabetes in those regularly working in excess of 48 hours a week.
Risks 209, 4 June 2005

Britain: Burnout hits half Britain's workers
More than half British workers claim they have experienced problems associated with overwork and burnout during the past six months, according to a new survey.
Risks 209, 4 June 2005

Britain: Fatigue is causing ship collisions
Fatigue among sailors on merchant ships caused a “worrying number” of collisions or near misses in 2004, the chief maritime investigator has reported.
Risks 209, 4 June 2005

Japan: Migrant worker wins heart attack payout
Authorities in Japan have recognised that a heart attack suffered by a Bangladeshi construction worker was caused by overwork and have ruled he should be paid state compensation. Experts say it is rare for a foreign worker to win recognition that heart problems are related to their job.
Risks 208, 28 May 2005

Europe: Unions call for European Commission to act on hours
Unions across Europe are calling on the European Commission to back worker-friendly changes to the Working Time Directive already supported by the European Parliament.
Risks 208, 28 May 2005

Britain: Bad jobs are stressing out millions
Excessive stress at work is causing an epidemic of depression and anxiety, costing the British economy about £100bn a year in lost output, according to a new report from mental health charity Mind.
Risks 207, 21 May 2005

Finland: Overwork and stress causes excess girth
Overworked and stressed employees are more likely to put on weight, researchers have found. The study by the University of Helsinki’s Department of Public Health found there were clear risk groups for weight gain, with those suffering from work-related fatigue and those working a lot of overtime at a particularly high risk.
Risks 207, 21 May 2005

Britain: Landlord loses heart attack damages claim
Pub landlord Edward Harding has lost his Court of Appeal fight for compensation after claiming he suffered a heart attack from the stress of working long hours at a Greater Manchester pub. He had claimed that the stress of working 70 hours a week behind the bar in an area of high crime meant he was entitled to compensation from his employer, The Pub Estate Company.
Risks 207, 21 May 2005

Britain: NHS launches anti-stress campaign
NHS bosses have launched a national campaign to help combat stress in the workplace. Steve Barnett, director of NHS Employers, said the campaign will help health service employers to target signs of stress in their employees and to take steps to reduce them.
Risks 207, 21 May 2005

Britain: TGWU stands firm on drivers’ hours
Drivers’ union TGWU is telling haulage bosses it will continue its push for improved regulation on working hours behind the wheel.
Risks 207, 21 May 2005

Global: Time to act on fatigue at sea
A union has called for urgent action to tackle the “appalling” fatigue risk facing staff on commercial ships.
Risks 206, 14 May 2005

Europe: Victory for common sense on 48 hour work week
Unions have welcomed a European Parliament vote to scrap an opt-out rule limiting the working week in the EU to an average of 48 hours.
Risks 206, 14 May 2005

Japan: Union blames rail firm “humiliation” for tragedy
Union members in Japan have placed the blame for last week’s massive train crash that claimed 106 lives squarely on the railway company, saying under pressure workers face humiliating penalties for slight delays. “The accident is a result of JR West's corporate stance of prioritising operations and high-pressure management that uses terror to force employees to follow orders,” said Osamu Yomono, vice-president of the Japan Confederation of Railway Workers' Unions.
Risks 203, 7 May 2005

Europe: Unions “optimistic” on European working hours rules
Europe’s trade unions are “quietly confident” that MEPs will back demands to scrap Britain’s controversial opt-out from EU rules on working time.
Risks 203, 23 April 2005

New Zealand: Company fined for worker’s stress
A marine engineering firm has become the first in New Zealand to receive a safety conviction for work-related stress. Nalder and Biddle admitted the charge and was fined $8,000 (£3,060), and ordered to pay reparation of $1,300 (£497) to the employee.
Risks 202, 16 April 2005

Global: Job pressure is breaking hearts
The longer hours, faster pace, and insecurity typical of many new jobs is taking a toll on workers' hearts, according to a growing body of occupational health research. And researchers say the damage is cumulative and will become more apparent and costly over time.
Risks 201, 9 April 2005

USA: Wal-Mart seeks 16 hour "sweatshops on wheels"
Public safety advocates and transport unions have called on the US government to defeat a proposed law being pushed by Wal-Mart and other retail and short-haul truckers that would extend truckers' workdays to 16 hours.
Risks 199, 19 March 2005

Britain: Enforced "binge working" is creating a nation of workaholics
Overwork is forcing workers into unhealthy lifestyles as they attempt to reconcile long working hours and family responsibilities.
Risks 199, 19 March 2005

Britain: Physios warn "hurried women" to slow down
Thousands of women battling to cope with greater working hours on top of a hectic home life could be risking poor physical and mental health, according to a new report from physios' union CSP.
Risks 199, 19 March 2005

Britain: TGWU drives transport working time watch
Transport union TGWU has launched a "working time watch" to make sure new rules on driving hours for commercial drivers are properly implemented by employers and give workers sufficient protection.

Risks 199, 19 March 2005

Britain: Leaked report suggests new UK hours opt-out challenge
Britain's opt-out from Europe's 48-hour working week ceiling could be once again under threat. A leaked report suggests the European Commission is going to press the UK to come into line with European law.
Risks 198, 12 March 2005

Japan: Unions target unpaid overtime
The Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) has made the elimination of unpaid overtime a key pillar in its spring wage negotiations. The issue of unpaid overtime has risen to prominence because there has been a rise in work-related accidents and deaths linked to long working hours.
Risks 197, 5 March 2005

Denmark: Slowing down and stopping reduces computer strains
Giving workers the freedom to take regular breaks and to have control over the speed of their work is the remedy to computer-related strain injuries, a study has found.
Risks 196, 26 February 2005

Britain: TUC reveals Britain's unpaid overtime scandal
Teachers and lecturers on average do longer hours of unpaid overtime than any other occupation, according to the TUC's unpaid overtime league table. The latest figures, based on Labour Force Survey statistics and published ahead of TUC's 25 February "Work Your Proper Hours Day," show how the £23 billion of unpaid overtime worked in the UK last year breaks down between different occupational groups.
Risks 196, 26 February 2005

Sweden: Study finds work stress can give women diabetes
Women who experience stress and a lack of control over their work could be at great risk of diabetes, according to Swedish research.
Risks 195, 19 February 2005

USA: Car crashes on the way home linked to excessive shifts
Grossly excessive work shifts could leave workers at twice the risk of a car crash, US government-backed research has shown. It found first year doctors in training who work shifts of longer than 24 hours are more than twice as likely to have a car crash leaving the hospital and five times as likely to have a "near miss" incident on the road as medical interns who work shorter shifts.
Risks 191, 22 January 2005

Taiwan: New rules on death from overwork
Taiwan has broadened the definition of death from overwork. The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) health and safety department said that the new standard for reaching a verdict of death by overwork, known in Japan as "karoshi" and China as "guolaosi," and serious medical conditions, such as a stroke, will not be based solely on hours worked.
Risks 190, 15 January 2005

Britain: Average unpaid overtime was worth £4,650 in 2004
UK employees did unpaid overtime worth £23 billion in 2004, according to TUC - a mindblowing £4,650 worth per worker.
Risks 189, 8 January 2005

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