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Britain: 'Macho' school judgements criticised after head's death
An independent review, prompted by the suicide of head teacher Ruth Perry after her school's Ofsted rating dropped from "outstanding" to "inadequate," has criticised the high-stakes accountability culture in UK schools. The review recommended scrapping Ofsted's one-word verdicts, but was called a "missed opportunity" by Perry's sister Julia Waters, who felt it didn't adequately address the local authority's failings.
BBC News, 12 July 2024

Britain: Strangers ‘eavesdropped’ on confidential workplace mental health helpline
The UK's largest provider of workplace mental health services, Health Assured, allowed corporate clients to listen to confidential helpline calls without the knowledge or consent of the callers, according to a BBC investigation. Former employees described the practice as "highly inappropriate" and "unethical," with legal experts suggesting potential breaches of privacy and data protection laws. Health Assured, which serves 13 million workers across the UK and Ireland, admitted the practice occurred but claimed it was not company policy and assured it would cease.
BBC news, 12 July 2024

Britain: Train conductors speak out about abuse directed at train crew
Northern Railway train conductors have reported increasing incidents of verbal and physical abuse from passengers. The conductors shared experiences to raise awareness of the hostile environment train crews often face in performing their duties. One conductor spoke of homophobic abuse and death threats.
Northern railways news release, 12 July 2024

Britain: Hospital consultants feel overworked and undervalued
A survey by the British Medical Association (BMA) has revealed hospital consultants are experiencing significant disenfranchisement, feeling overworked and undervalued within the healthcare system. The BMA highlights systemic issues contributing to low morale and high stress among medical professionals.including heavy workloads, insufficient support and a lack of appreciation for their contributions. These issues are affecting their overall job satisfaction and mental health.
Morning Star, 11 July 2024

Britain: Devon man jailed for 'worst ever' asbestos and waste dump
Christopher Garrett, a 64-year-old from Devon, was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for illegally dumping thousands of tonnes of waste, including asbestos, on his land near Newton Abbot. Despite previous prosecutions and multiple warnings from the Environment Agency, Garrett continued to import and dispose of dangerous waste. The court also ordered him to pay a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation sum of over £200,000.
Devon live, 11 July 2024

Pakistan: Record number of journalist murders in 2024
A report by the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) reveals 7 journalists have been killed in Pakistan this year, marking a record high. The PPF attributes this to growing threats from militant groups, criminal organizations, and political factions. PFF demands: "Authorities must ensure that the media is free to work without fear of retribution and ensure that these killings are subject to an immediate, thorough, and transparent investigation.”
The Guardian, 10 July 2024

India: 90 per cent of Amazon workers find bathroom break time too restrictive
A UNI Global Unon survey of Amazon India employees reveals nearly 90 per cent of Amazon India’s warehouse employees say they are not allowed sufficient time to use the restroom. The survey adds to a growing body of evidence of poor working conditions at the multinational corporation.
The Independent, The Economic Times.
Uni Global Union newsExporting the Amazon Panopticon. 10 July 2024

Britain: MoD in hearing loss co mpensation turnaround
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to compensate thousands of veterans for hearing loss incurred during combat or training. Compensation claims were often disputed, but in a recent turnaround those discharged after 1987 may now be eligible which could lead to 10,000 additional claims.
BBC News, 8 July 2024

Sweden: Five workers killed when inadequately maintained hoist failed
A construction hoist collapse in Ursvik, Sweden, on December 11, 2023, killed five workers due to missing screw and nut assemblies. The hoist, provided to Andersson Company, was improperly assembled and inspected. The Swedish Accident Investigation Authority cited insufficient safety inspections and inadequate safety measures.
Construction briefing, 4 July 2024

USA: BP is not learning from repeated failures
Nineteen years after a fatal explosion at BP’s Texas City Refinery, fourteen years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and two years after a deadly explosion at the BP/Husky Refinery in Ohio, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) issued a report last month. The report highlights BP's chronic inability to learn from its repeated mistakes over the decades.
Confined space, 3 July 2024

Britain: Council fined after school technician loses finger
West Sussex County Council was fined £16,000 after school technician, Adi Soday, lost his right index finger using a circular bench saw at The Forest School in Horsham, West Sussex. An Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed Mr. Soday was not trained to use the saw safely.
HSE news release, 3 July 2024

USA: Fourth human case of avian flu reported
A human case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5) virus has been reported in Colorado, marking the fourth case so far in a multistate outbreak involving A(H5N1) in dairy cows. Previous cases were found in Texas and Michigan states.
CDC news release, 3 July 2024

USA: Biden unveils rules to protect millions of US workers from extreme heat
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing the first federal safety standard to address excessive workplace heat. The rule would would impact 36 million workers and includes identifying heat hazards, developing response plans, providing training, and implementing work practices like rest breaks, shade, water and acclimatisation for new employees. AFL-CIO president Liz Shuler applauded the move: “As we enter the second summer with temperatures reaching scorching record highs, the Biden administration’s new proposed rule could not be more urgently needed."
White House Briefing, AFL-CIO news release, 2 July 2024

Britain: Safety failures led to fatal explosion at Wiltshire factory
Explosives manufacturer Chemring Countermeasures has been fined £670,000 following a fatal explosion at its Salisbury site. The incident on August 10, 2018, resulted in the death of employee Piotr Zukowski and serious injuries to Jake West. An investigation by HSE revealed multiple safety failures including inadequate training, supervision, and risk assessments that led to the fatal explosion that was triggered by the ignition of a chemical mixture. The company pleaded guilty to failing in its duty of care. Since the 2018 incident Chremring has been issued with three new safety improvement notices, in 2020 and 2021
Salisbury Journal, HSE enforcement database, 30 June 2024

Turkey: Five dead after restaurant explosion
A devastating propane tank explosion at a restaurant in Izmir, a city in western Turkey, resulted in five fatalities and 63 injuries on Sunday, according to local authorities. The blast, which was captured on security cameras, wreaked havoc on the street and caused minor damage to nearby buildings.
The Mirror, 30 June 2024

Palestine/Global: Scientists call for rebuild to make Gaza livable again
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has caused severe environmental impacts which pose grave health risks. This new commentary from 40 health scientists highlights the need to rebuild healthcare and infrastructure to create a livable environment, especially for the vulnerable. Immediate cessation of violence is crucial. Environmental remediation should be central to international reconstruction efforts, aiming for lasting peace, health, and sustainable development, in line with international human rights obligations.
London, L., Watterson, A., Mergler, D. et al. A call from 40 public health scientists for an end to the continuing humanitarian and environmental catastrophe in Gaza. Environ Health 23, 59 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-024-01097-9, 28 June 2024

Britain: Prison staff's 'health worries over radon'
Staff at a Devon prison, currently under investigation for high levels of radioactive radon gas, are worried about their health, their union POA reports. According to a BBC FOI request, peak radon levels at HMP Dartmoor in 2020 and 2023 were 10 times the recommended workplace limit. Since December 2023, over 400 prisoners have been relocated from the Devon prison.
BBC news online,, 28 June 2024

India: Amazon admits safety lapses Amazon
India has admitted to workplace safety lapses at its warehouse in the National Capital Region. In its submission to the central labour commissioner, the company accepted that there was a violation of workplace safety standards on May 16, 2024, at its Manesar warehouse and assured the government of a prompt corrective action.
The Economic Times, 26 June 2024

Yemen: ITF calls to divert ships from war zone following four deaths
At least four people have been killed in strikes on shipping by Yemen's Houthi movement since December 2023. The International Transport Workers’ Federation, speaking on behalf of seafarers’ unions globally, is urging flag states '“which are responsible for assuring a safe working environment for seafarers on their vessels’ to ‘instruct companies to divert their ships’ from the region.'
Nautilus International, 26 June 2024

Britain: Chef's appeal for information after asbestos cancer diagnosis
Former chef David Robinson is seeking ex work colleagues' help following his diagnosis with asbestos cancer mesothelioma.Robinson's solicitors, Thompsons, are investigating his work history seeking to claim comensation to cover his loss of earnings and future treatment. Robinsons recalls dusty conditions during refurbishment at Northern Rock House, Gosforth, where he worked from 1991-1998.
Chronicle Live, 26 June 2024

South Korea: Condemnation after battery fire kills 23
The Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV) has condemned the fatal negligence at the Aricell lithium battery plant that killed 23 workers, including 17 from China, in a blaze triggered by battery explosions. Most died from toxic gas exposure. ANROEV says the grave safety lapses illustrate the critical need for more stringent regulations and enforcement and is urging comprehensive investigations, compensation for victims' families, and enforcement of strict safety laws.
ANROEV statement. The Independent. 25 June 2024

Britain: £165,000 for firm after entangled hoodie death
A firm has been fined £165,000 after a worker died when his hoodie became entangled in industrial door equipment at a car dealership in Aberdeen in 2018. Mark Mathers, 33, was repairing the door when a spring unwound tightening his clothing around his neck and body casugin him to lose consciouness. He was declared dead three days later. Industrial Doors admitted to breaching health and safety guidelines at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.
BBC news online, 25 June 2024

Britain: Trust fined after wall collapse fatality
Wilts & Berks Canal Trust has been fined £30,000 after volunteer Peter Konitzer, 62, died in a wall collapse during excavation work on 24 August 2016. An HSE investigation found inadequate safety measures and planning. The trust pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was also ordered to pay £10,822 in costs.
HSE news release, 24 June 2024

Southern Africa: Unions push for climate justice and safe workplaces
Southern African unions from ZCATWU and CLAWUZ (Zimbabwe), MANWU (Namibia), NUBEGW (Zambia), NUM and BCAWU (South Africa), CMWEU (Mauritius) and SINTICIM (Mozambique).are advocating for climate justice and safer workplaces.They highlighted the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable workers and communities. and called for policies that address environmental issues while ensuring job security and fair labor practices.
BWI news release, 22 June 2024

Britain: Small fines for two companies exposing young worker to asbestos
Two companies were fined after a 16-year-old worker was exposed to asbestos when refurbishing a property in Richmond, North Yorkshire. P Turnbull Joinery and Building Services Ltd and Alt Berg Holdings Limited failed to conduct an asbestos survey and prevent exposure. The teenager broke cement sheets containing asbestos. P Turnbull was fined £2,000, and Alt Berg £6,000, both with additional costs, after pleading guilty to safety breaches.
HSE news release, 20 June 2024

Italy/India: Union calls for crackdown on ‘barbaric exploitation
Flai Cgil union demands a crackdown on "barbaric exploitation" after an Indian farm worker, Satnam Singh, 31, died. He was allegedly abandoned on a road by his employer following an accident that severed his arm. Singh was injured while working on machinery on a farm in Latina, near Rome.
The Guardian, 20 June 2024

Britain: £30,000 fine for construction company after electrocution
BBM Contracts Limited was fined £30,000 after delivery driver Levi Alleyne was electrocuted by an overhead power line while delivering concrete in Reading. The Health and Safety Executive found that the company failed to manage the risks associated with power lines.
HSE news release, 20 June 2024

Britain: Auctioneers fined after man killed by cow
J.J. Morris Limited was fined £75,000 after 75-year-old Huw Evans was killed by an escaped cow at Whitland Livestock Market in Wales. The Health and Safety Executive found the company failed to implement adequate control measures and had an insufficient risk assessment. The incident was deemed foreseeable and preventable. The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was also ordered to pay £5,047.55 in costs.
HSE news release, 20 June 2024

Britain: Firm fined after worker killed by falling concrete blocks
Avant Homes (Scotland) Limited was fined £333,000 after driver Conor Joseph Morgan was killed by falling concrete blocks at a South Lanarkshire construction site. The incident occurred due to improper unloading practices. Regen Waste Limited was also fined £23,000 for inadequate risk assessment.
HSE news release, 19 June 2024

Britain: Company fined after worker suffers severe injuries
Harper UK (Aberdeen) Ltd has been fined £10,000 after employee Miroslaw Pancyzk suffered severe injuries including fractured wrists and the loss of a finger, while polishing a metal bar on a lathe. An HSE investigation found inadequate safety measures and no risk assessment. The 4 April 2022 incident was deemed wholly preventable.
HSE news release, 18 June 2024

Global: First steps taken towards global biological hazards regulation
The 112th International Labour Conference (ILC) has made significant progress towards establishing the first international standards for biological hazards in the workplace. No such global regulation currently exists. Consultations will continue at next year's ILC, potentially leading to a new Convention or Recommendation. The initiative aligns with the recent decision to make of safe and healthy working environments a fundamental right.
ILO News.17 June 2024

Kuwait/India: India brings back bodies of 45 workers from Kuwait
An Indian Air Force flight repatriated the bodies of 45 Indian workers killed in a fire in Kuwait, which claimed 50 lives in total. The fire occurred in Mangaf city on 12 June 2024, injuring dozens, mainly Indian workers. Human rights concerns persist over their living conditions.
BBC news online, 14 June 2024

Britain: Teacher awarded over £60,000 for menopause-related dismissal
A Clydesdale Support Base teacher sacked after her menopause symptoms worsened during a dispute about moving to a different school has been awarded over £60,000 for unfair dismissal. Allison Shearer won her tribunal against South Lanarkshire Council. Shearer feared moving to a violent school would worsen her symptoms. Despite health concerns, she was dismissed. Shearer, anxious about the move, was sacked while on sick leave. The court awarded her £61,074.55 for unfair dismissal and injury to feelings.
BBC news online, 14 June 2024

Europe: NGO's say EU has “legal duty” to ban PVC
Chemical experts have urged the EU to ban polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to comply with its own laws. This recommendation follows a report by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) on the dangers of PVC and its additives. The call for the ban comes from four NGOs: ClientEarth, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Zero Waste Europe, and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH),
Client Earth, 13 June 2024

South Africa: Worker fatality follows explosion at animal feed factory
Quantum Foods has reported a fatal incident at its Malmesbury feed mill due to an explosion on Monday. Three were injured, one fatally. Two remain stable after serious injuries. The cause of the explosion is under investigation.
Independent Online, 12 June 2024

Britain: BAM Nuttall fined £2.345m after worker drowns
Construction firm BAM Nuttall has been fined £2.345 million plus £25,770.48 in costs following the death of worker Gary Webster, who drowned in the River Aire on 30 October 2017. Mr. Webster was on a boat removing debris at Knostrop Weir when it capsized due to turbulent water. Mr. Webster died later on 1 November 2017. An HSE investigation revealed that BAM Nuttall Ltd failed to control the weir gates, which could have prevented the accident. The company pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations.
HSE news release, 12 June 2024

Britain: Union carers survey finds widespread violence and mental ill health
A GMB survey revealed 70 per cent of care workers report understaffing negatively affects their mental health. Of nearly 900 surveyed, half said workplace abuse—mental, physical, or sexual—has impacted their mental health.
GMB news release, 12 June 2024

Global: Most security workers feel underpaid and unsafe
UNI Global Union has released a global survey revelaing poor working conditions for security workers. "Insecurity in Security Work," reports most security officers feel underpaid, unsafe and in need of union representation. The findings call for urgent industry-wide reforms for safer and fairer working environments. UNI's Michala Lafferty emphasised the need for immediate employer action to improve pay and safety. The survey included over 11,000 security workers across 35 countries.
UNI news release, 12 June 2024

Britain: Paid menstrual leave would bring many benefits
GMB Congress has said paid menstrual leave would combat absenteeism, reduced productivity, and stress. Conference delegate Charmaine Weston-Porter highlighted that countries like Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia already have such policies. Paid leave would acknowledge it as a health concern, allowing women to manage symptoms without financial penalty and promoting gender equality.
GMB news release, 12 June 2024

Australia: Right to disconnect essential for workers - ACTU
The ACTU is calling for a clear mechanism to grant workers the right to disconnect and restore work-life balance. On 10 June 2024, ACTU submitted its 'Right to Disconnect' proposal to the Fair Work Commission offering a draft model clause on how the mechanism would operate. The proposal would mandate employers to avoid unnecessary after-hours contact.
ACTU news release, 11 June 2024

Britain: GMB survey finds 1 in 3 ASDA staff have suffered work violence
GMB research has found one-third of Asda staff have experienced workplace attacks, including stabbings and threats with syringes. Incidents include drivers being chased by cars and being workers assaulted with food, bottles, and verbally threatened. Over half were injured or made ill by the violence with some encounterig spitting, broken bones, and death threats.
The Guardian, 11 June 2024

Britain: Bakers' union calls for new sexual harassment at work law
Food workers at the bakers’ union’s annual conference called for new legislation to combat endemic sexual harassment, demanding mandatory reporting of cases similar to workplace accidents. Following revelations of frequent complaints at McDonald’s, delegates also pushed for a dedicated anonymous reporting hotline.
Morning Star, 10 June 2024

Britain: BFAWU calls for COVID style worker furlough scheme in extreme heat
At their annual conference, bakers' union members called for a COVID-style furlough scheme to support workers during extreme heat events. They also demanded legal limits on workplace temperatures. BFAWU president Ian Hodson criticised employers that force staff to take leave without pay during hot spells.
Morning Star, 10 June 2024

Britain: Car wash firm fined for failing to protect workers and public
Tavistock firm Best Car Wash Ltd has been fined £40,000 for failing to address electrical safety risks despite five Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforcement notices.They were found guilty in their absence and were also ordered to pay £3,164 in costs.
HSE news release, 6 June 2024

Britain: Openreach fined after engineer drowns
Openreach Limited was fined £1.34 million after engineer Alun Owen died while repairing a telephone line. Owen slipped and fell into the River Aber during flooding, and was swept away. The Health and Safety Executive found no safe working system for work near water. Openreach pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was also ordered to pay £15,858.35 in costs.
HSE news release, 5 June 2024

Britain: Tata fined £1 million following young father's death
Tata Chemicals was fined £1 million for safety breaches that led to the death of a 25-year-old worker. The incident occurred when the worker fell from height at the company’s Cheshire plant. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Tata Chemicals failed to implement adequate safety measures and provide proper training, contributing to the tragic accident.
HSE news release, 5 June 2024

Britain: Contractor Fined £233,000 after fatal rig collapse
Nottingham engineering contractor Van Elle Limited has been fined £233,000 after a 52-year-old HGV driver was killed by a collapsing piling rig mast at a site in Annan. An investigation revealed the 21 January 2021 incident was due to the corrosion of the rig's securing lug that caused the mast to topple. Van Elle admitted breaching safety regulations.
HSE news release, 4 June 2024

Britain: Skip hire firm fined £24,000 after worker suffers severe hand injuries
W M Russell & Sons Limited, a Scottish skip hire and recycling business, was fined £24,000 after a worker sustained severe injuries while changing blades on a rapid granulator machine on April 9 2021. The worker, Barry Edward Pae, lost his left index, middle and ring fingers and suffered an open fracture to his left wrist. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to provide a safe work system or adequate training.
HSE news release, 30 May 2024

Britain: Boss avoids custodial sentence after worker death
Roger Gibbons, director of RM Gibbons Ltd, was given a 16-week suspended prison sentence and ordered to complete 140 hours of unpaid work following the death of Uldis Sankans, who was crushed between a girder and a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) on November 8, 2019. His company was also fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £9,424 in costs. An HSE investigation revealed failures in risk assessment and employee training related to MEWP operation.
HSE news release, 30 May 2024

Britain: Rates of melanoma skin cancer hit all-time high in UK, study finds
Rates of generally preventable melanoma skin cancers have reached an all-time high in the UK, with a substantial rise in the number of cases in past decade. Cancer Research UK (CRUK) figures show new diagnoses have increased by almost a third from 21 to 28 in every 100,000 people between 2007-09 and 2017-19,
The Guardian, 27 May 2024

Britain: Recycling company fined £80,000 after wood dust exposures
A recycling company was fined £80,000 following an incident where workers were exposed to dangerous levels of wood dust. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company failed to implement sufficient dust control systems and provide necessary training, which contributed to the unsafe working conditions.
HSE news release, 24 May 2024

Farmer given suspended jail sentence after man killed by cattle
A farmer received a 16-week suspended prison sentence after a fatal incident in which a member o the ublic was killed by cattle on his farm. The court found that the farmer had failed to implement adequate safety measures to prevent such accidents. In addition to the suspended sentence, the farmer was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £3,700 in costs.
HSE news release, 22 May 2024

Britain: Fruit worker who said her hands bled sues former UK employer
A Nepalese farm worker who came to the UK to pick berries is suing her ex-employer for unpaid wages and discrimination in what campaigners say is the first case of its kind. Sapana Pangeni, 31, said in a witness statement Wednesday that her hands bled because she was not given gloves and was forced to live in an unheated caravan in winter 2022 with five men at a farm near Reading in Southern England.
Business and Human Rghts Resource Centre. 22 May 2024

Britain: 'Mad cow disease' case found on farm in Scotland
The Scottish Government has identified a case of BSE on a farm in Ayrshire. The animal did not enter the food chain but it is unclear if farm workers have been exposed. Precautionary measure have been applied to the farm and three other sites.
BBC News Online, 10 May 2024

Britain: Waste firm fined after worker suffers burns to body and face
Waste management company New Earth Solutions (West) Limited was fined £200,000 and £12,466.60 in costs after a worker sustained severe burns to his body and face plus a broken left arm, fractured ribs and a dislocaed kneecap following an electrical explosion and fall. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company failed to provide proper protective equipment nor relevant training prior to the incident.
HSE news release, 10 May 2024

Britain: Companies fined £600,000 after worker injured at Pirelli factory
Pirelli Tyres Ltd and PPG Industries (UK) Ltd were fined £350,000 and £250,00 respectively following an incident where a worker was seriously injured at the Pirelli factory in Carilisle. The worker suffered multiple fractures and a dislocated ankle after being crushed and trapped by two skips. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed failures in guarding and risk assessment procedures at the factory.
HSE news release, 10 May 2024

Britain: Pork pie maker fined after two workers lose fingers
Pork Farms Ltd has been fined £800,000 after two young workers lost fingers just weeks apart at two Nottingham bakeries. In the first incident a 22 year old had to have a finger amputated after their hand became trapped when trying to unblock a conveyor. In the second incident a 19 year old suffered simlar injuries after his finger came into the rotating shaft on a conveyor.
HSE news release, 18 March 2024

Britain: Workplace mental health service firm faces investigation
Claims about one of the UK's biggest providers of workplace mental health services are to be investigated by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). One caller to the Health Assured employee assistance programme (EAP) provider claims he was advised "to go on a date" with his wife after he said he was having suicidal thoughts, with staff instructed to refer no more than 1-in-5 callers for counselling.
BBC News Online. 12 March 2024

Britain: Union secures £800k after worker’s bowel hell
A Crohn's disease patient who had his bowel removed after a work trip has won £800k in compensation with his union’s help - as his employers didn't consider the risk of sending him. Unite member Martin Smith, 62, had to undergo two major surgeries and have a stoma bag after he went to India with London based company Primetals Technologies Ltd.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Daily Mirror. 11 March 2024

USA: Florida bans water breaks for workers
US rights advocates Public Citizen reports that "the Florida House of Representatives today voted to approve legislation specifically intended to prohibit local workplace standards requiring drinking water, cooling measures, recovery periods, posting or distributing materials informing workers how to protect themselves, and requiring first aid or emergency responses."
Public Citizen, 8 March 2024

Britain: INEOS fined after worker seriously injured
Chemicals multinationa INEOS incurred a fine of £400,000 following a serious incident on November 25, 2019. During a routine task at their chemicals site in Grangemouth, Scotland, an unnamed 47-year-old employee sustained severe injuries. The individual was trying to clear a sump filled with a caustic solution when they fell in due to insufficient grating, resulting in significant burns.
HSE news release, 8 March 2024

Britain: Over 25 per cent of ambulance staff 'sexually harassed by public’
A 2023 NHS staff survey for England has revealed more than 58,000 staff have experienced sexual assaults and harassment from patients and other members of the public. Out of the 675,140 NHS staff respondents, over 84,000 reported sexual assaults and harassment in 2023. Rates were highest in the ambulance service with 27 per cent reporting sexual harassment from the public. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "Staff morale within the NHS is at rock bottom. The figures are jaw dropping, a third of staff want to leave within a year."
The Guardian. Unite news release. NHS Staff Survey 2023 National results briefing. 7 March 2024

Global: Short-term air pollution exposure kills one million people a year
A global study by researchers at Monash Universty reports that globally more than one million deaths per year are explained by exposure to short-term (hours to days) fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in air pollution.
Monash University News release. 7 March 2024
Wenhua Yu, Rongbin Xu, Tingting Ye, and others. Estimates of global mortality burden associated with short-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2·5), The Lancet Planetary Health Volume 8, Issue 3, March 2024, Pages e146-e155.

Britain: Recycling firm fined £200,000 after worker ’s arm severed
An Essex scrap metal recycling company, F.J. Church and Sons Ltd, has been fined £200,000 after 34 year old employee, Elena Troi, lost her arm when it became caught in a catalytic converter sampling machine whilst clearing a blockage.
HSE news release, 6 March 2024

USA: AFL-CIO 28 April webpage is live
The AFL-CIO's Workers Memorial Day web page is now live – orders can be placed for posters, stickers and fliers in both Spanish and English. The toolkit will be released shortly. AFL-CIO has selected the theme  ‘Good Jobs. Safe Jobs. Protect Our Rights.’ The focus is on promoting contracts that ensures good jobs are fundamentally safe and also  to protect and deepen health and safety rights. Affiliates are requested to share their 28 April events so AFL-CIO can help with promotion. 28 April queries should be directed to Ayusha Shrestra. ashrestha@aflcio.org
AFL-CIO 28 April webpage. 6 March 2024

Britain: Soldier's heatstroke death was avoidable
A soldier who died from exertional heatstroke may have survived if he had been treated earlier, a  Defence Safety Authority (DSA) report has concluded. Sapper Connor Morrison, 20, of 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment stationed in Woodbridge, Suffolk, collapsed during a group run on 21 July 2022.
BBC News Online, 2 March 2024.

Britain: UK paraquat maker in Parkinson's cover up
Syngenta, the UK-based chemical giant, is facing allegations of covering up evidence linking its pesticide, paraquat, to Parkinson's disease. Legal documents reveal that Syngenta's internal research, which dismissed any connection between paraquat and Parkinson's, only examined death certificates of former workers at its Widnes site and did not consider the health records of living individuals. This approach has been criticised as Parkinson's disease was often underreported on death certificates.
Kimberly C Paul and others. Agricultural paraquat dichloride use and Parkinson's disease in California's Central Valley, International Journal of Epidemiology, volume 1, number 53(1), February 2024. www.academic.oup.com/ije
28 February 2024

Australia: Qantas payout to illegally stood down worker
Australian airline Qantas agreed to pay Aus$21,000 in compensation to former health and safety representative Theo Seremetidis for being unlawfully stood down after he raised concerns about worker safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. An investigation by SafeWork NSW was prompted by concerns raised by the Transport Workers Union, which revealed the unsafe practices within Qantas, including assigning workers to clean planes arriving from Covid hotspots without adequate personal protective equipment, Covid-safe training, or proper disinfectant measures – for example, relying only on water and a single rag to clean multiple tray tables.
ACTU news release, 28 February 2024

Canada: Union in compensation call for forest firefighters
A firefighters’ union has slammed Ontario’s Ford government for its ‘complete disregard’ for forest firefighters’ health and safety as the 2024 fire season looms. OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick criticised a ‘shameful’ compensation anomaly meant forest firefighters “must jump through hoops to prove a strong causal link between their exposure and diagnosis – all while managing a serious illness.”
OPSEU SEFPO news release, 26 February 2024

Britain: People in 20s more likely to be out of work sick
Young people are more likely to be out of work because of ill health than people in their early 40s, a report calling for action on Britain’s mental wellbeing crisis has found. The Resolution Foundation research, which calls for government action, also found that 79% of 18 to 24-year-olds who are workless due to ill health only have qualifications at GCSE level or below, compared with 34 per cent of all people in that age group.
The Guardian. BBC News Online. 26 February 2024

UK workers put in £26bn in unpaid overtime
UK workers put in £26 billion worth of unpaid overtime during the last year, according to a TUC analysis. Unpaid overtime is more common in the public sector, with teachers doing more than any other job, the union body found, and is urging ministers must set an example by reducing unpaid overtime in the public sector.
TUC news release. 23 February 2024

Britain: Tory legacy is long-term sickness and bad jobs
The legacy of the Conservative’s lengthy term in office is low pay, ill health and more insecure jobs, the TUC has said. The union body was responding to latest ONS labour market figures, which show real wages still below their level in 2008, more than a million people on zero-hours contracts, and 2.8 million people not working due to long-term sickness.
TUC news release. 13 February 2024

Britain: Climate crisis hitting farm mental health
Farms are suffering record levels of mental health problems due to droughts, floods, heatwaves, excessive working hours and other problems, research has found. According to a study by the Farm Safety Foundation, 95 per cent of Britain’s farmers under the age of 40 rank poor mental health as one of the biggest hidden difficulties facing farmers today.
Farm Safety Foundation news releaseMorning Star. 12 February 2024

Palestine/Israel: NUJ urges PM hold Israel accountable for killing journalist
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has co-signed a letter to Rishi Sunak urging an immediate end to hostilities and accountability for Israel's killing of journalists in the Israel-Gaza conflict. Over 100 journalists have died, prompting concern over the UK government's silence on IDF's targeting of journalists. The letter, sent on February 8, demands government action to ensure accountability and protection for journalists covering the conflict.
Protecting journalists and press freedom in the Israel Gaza conflict letter. NUJ news.
8 February 2024

Britain: FBU endorses 'action plan' to tackle sexual harassment
Officials at the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have approved an ‘initial action plan’ to tackle sexual harassment which will include mandatory sexual harassment training for all union officials, ensuring safe spaces and conducting an annual equalities audit. A full plan is expected by the summer. The move follows an indendent report that found sexual harassment was an issue in the union. 
FBU news. 7 February 2024

Britain: Ruth Perry suicide: Council to challenge rogue inspections
Reading Borough Council will survey its headteachers annually about their mental health and take responsibility for challenging rogue Ofsted inspections following the suicide death of Ruth Perry. But the headteacher’s sister, Julia Waters, said: “We are genuinely shocked to learn that the council is only now proposing to bring in many of the policies and actions that most people would expect from a responsible employer.”
Schools Week. 7 February 2024

Britain: Don’t force staff to make dangerous journeys to work in the snow, says TUC
With the Met Office issuing a yellow warning for snow in much of north Wales and northern and central England. the TUC has called on employers not to force their staff to take any risks by making dangerous journeys to work.  The TUC suggests that all employers have clear weather policies to set out what staff should do when snow and ice, or a lack of public transport, prevents them getting to work, and is reminding employers to keep their workplaces safe during the cold weather.  
TUC News release. 7 February 2024

Britain: Fruit firm fined after fatal fall of family man
Fruit and vegetable producer M.A.Forshaw Limited was fined £320,000 with £4,574 after Frank Schlachter's fatal fall from a skip at their Burscough site on January 3, 2020. 64 year old Schlachter, a much loved family man, suffered fatal head injuries. The firm neglected to secure equipment properly and failed to assess risks pleading guilty to breaching safety regulations.
HSE news, 7 February 2024

Britain: Worktop firm fined for repeated safety failings
Stockport's Granite & Marble Shop Ltd has been fined £26,000 following a guilty plea at Manchester Magistrate's Court on 31 Janury 2024 admitting endangering workers repeatedly The company neglected Health and Safety Executive (HSE) warnings. Machinery at their Roland Road site in Reddish, lacked safety guards and despite enforcement actions in 2019 remained inadequate on reinspection in 2021. HSE said Granite & Marble Shop had failed to properly manage, supervise, and monitor the control measures that had been put in place,
HSE news. 7 February 2024

Global: Mixed exposures to lung carcinogens at work heightens risks
Greater than expected increases in lung cancer rates have been found when workers faced exposures to more than one potential workplace cause, a study has found. The findings have implications for those working in construction, foundries and welding where multiple exposures to some or all of these carcinogens may be routine.
Olsson A, Bouaoun L, Schüz J, Vermeulen R, Behrens T, Ge C, and others. Lung cancer risks associated with occupational exposure to pairs of five lung carcinogens: results from a pooled analysis of case-control studies (SYNERGY), Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 132, issue 1, published online 18 January 2024. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP13380.
Environmental Health Perspectives. Work cancer hazards. 6 February 2024

England: Government still not doing enough to address teacher concerns
NASUWT's latest polling of teachers in England has found that excessive workload and working hours are an escalating problem, whilst basic employment rights are being ignored. Since the academic year began, 72 per cent reported an increase in workload. Top workload drivers were identified as Ofsted, school policies , funding shortages, government policies and inadequate support for pupil behavior and mental health.
, 6 February 2024

India: Seven dead, 75 injured in firework factory explosion
At least seven people died and 75 were injured in a giant explosion at a firework factory in India, reports AFP. Video images on Indian broadcasters showed a tower of flame reaching high into the sky after the explosion at the firecracker plant, with hospital officials reporting seven dead, dozens of ambulances sent and army helicopters called in to evacuate the wounded.
The Peninsula
. 6 February 2024

Britain: Driver death leads to call for new laws on transport worker violence
Unite has urged for new laws to be introduced to protect transport workers after 58 year old bus driver Keith Rollinson, died folowing an aassault in Elgin, Scotland.
Morning Star. 6 February 2024

Britain: Six figure fine for construction company following site death
HACS Construction Ltd has been fined following an incident at their Ripley site on January 13, 2021, where emplyee Dean Myers, 56, was fatally struck by a 16-ton excavator bucket. He was pronounced dead at the scene having suffered catastrophic injuries to his face and head. An HSE inquiry found the company failed to implement a safe saystem of work. HACS Construction Ltd admitted guilt and was fined £330,500 plus £9,141.80 in costs by Leeds Magistrates’ Court.
HSE news. Yorkshire Post. 6 February 2024

Britain: Company fined after young worker dies
George Setchfield died at Electrostatic Magic Limited's Peterborough site following exposure to dichloromethane and hydrofluoric acid. An HSE probe revealed the company's negligence in controlling exposure to hazardous substances. Electrostatic Magic Limited admitted breaching safety regulations and was fined £67,000 plus £7,231 in costs by Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on January 19, 2024.
Health and safety matters, 6 February 2024

Britain/France: Essential Covid workers treated as disposable
A study by University of Leeds academic Sarah Waters published in the Global Labour Journal has found that employment policies in France and the UK during the pandemic saw ‘essential’ workers in both countries treated as disposable, as governments introduced systems with “a capacity to kill in the interests of the economy."
Sarah Waters. Pandemic Necrolabour and Essential Workers in the UK and France, Global Labour Journal, volume 15, Number 1, January 2024.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.15173/glj.v15i1.5408. 2 February 2024

Britain: Grenfell Tower firefighters win £20m damages
Firefighters who tackled the Grenfell Tower fire have secured compensation in an out-of-court-settlement from construction companies, the council block landlord, and the London fire commissioner. Payouts to 114 firefighters ranged from £10,000 to £1.1m. Some firefighters have been unable to return to work due to the trauma. Claims were filed for personal injury and loss, alleging negligence during the 14 June 2017 blaze.
The Guardian, 1 February 2024

Britain: Heatwave plan urgently needed to save lives, say MPs
The UK urgently needs a plan to prevent thousands of heatwave deaths a year as the climate continues to warm, a cross-party committee of MPs has warned. More than 4,500 people died in heatwaves in 2022, the MPs’ report said, and this number could rise to 10,000 a year by 2050 without action. Heatwaves are “silent killers”, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said, pushing up heart rate and blood pressure, with those over 65 and with existing health problems most at risk.
The Guardian. 31 January 2024

Europe: Commission has four months to deliver on asbestos promise
In a letter to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyden, European unions have warned that the failure to deliver on the promise to deliver legislation on the screening and registration of asbestos in European buildings would compromise safey and erode trust. The proposal was included in the Commission's work programme for 2023. Discussion was scheduled for 15 June 2023 but to date has not been delivered. The letter warns of the significant risk still present to workers in numerous work sectors such as construction, industry, education and white collar work.
ETUC news release. 30 January 2024

Britain: Appeal for information on grandmother's asbestos exposure
Isabel Caithness, an 80-year-old grandmother and former teaching assistant in Tidworth, diagnosed with asbestos-related mesothelioma, is seeking help from ex-colleagues. Caithness, represented by Irwin Mitchell solicitors, is investigating a potential link between her illness and past work history. They urge former coworkers from B&P Nicholson in Aldershot (1974-1975), Cromwell School in Osnabrück, Germany (1977-1981) and Clarendon Infant School in Tidworth (1981-1983) to provide information about working conditions hoping to gather insights into asbestos exposure that may have contributed to her terminal cancer.
Salisbury Journal. 29 January 2024

Britain: TUC slams new consultation on introducing employment tribunal fees
The government has announced it has opened a consultation on re-introducing fees in the employment tribunal and the employment appeal tribunal system. In 2017 the Supreme Court quashed a previous tribunal fees regime because it “effectively prevents access to justice, and is therefore unlawful.” The TUC says that by seeking to reimpose fees the government is “taking the side of bad bosses” over workers exercising their rights. TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “This is another example of ministers taking the side of bad bosses, not working people."
TUC news. Morning Star. 29 January 2024

Britain: Single-word Ofsted judgments on schools must stop
MPs on the Commons education select committee have urged the government to stop the use of single-word judgments such as “inadequate” or “outstanding” in Ofsted’s headline grades of schools in England. The Conservative chair of the committee, Robin Walker, said: “Clearly there is a need for a rigorous inspection regime. But the bulk of the evidence we received expressed widespread and deep concern about how the system works. On the now totemic issue of single-word judgments, Ofsted and ministers should heed the widespread calls for change. We urge the new chief inspector - Martyn Oliver - and government to consider a more nuanced system that can provide value to both schools and parents.”
The Guardian. 29 January 2024

Recycling company fined after worker killed by loading shovel
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reports that a recycling company has been fined £2.15 million after an agency worker was killed by a loading shovel at its site in Hartlepool. Dean Atkinson lost his life when he was struck and run over by the vehicle at Ward Recycling Limited’s premises on Windermere Road, Longhill Industrial Estate in January 2020. HSE said Mr Atkinson’s death could have been prevented had Ward Recycling implemented an alternative traffic route for pedestrians at its site on Windermere Road. The company was fined £1.75m for corporate manslaughter and £400,000 for breaching health and safety regulations at Middlesbrough Crown Court on 26 January 2024. Judge Paul Watson, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, said: “The absence of even the most basic precautions against this sort of accident is truly staggering.”
HSE news. Hartlepool Mail. 26 January 2024

USA: Multi-million dollar fine for milling company after fatal dust explosion
The Sun Prairie milling company linked to a 2017 explosion that claimed five lives has received a five-year probation sentence. The company was also fined $1 million and must pay $10.25 million in restitution after pleading guilty to two felony charges connected to the fatal Cambria mill explosion that was caused by the ignition of combustible corn dust.
LA Crosse Tribune. 26 January 2024

Mali: Gold mine collapse kills over seventy
A gold mine tunnel collapse in Mali has resultedthe loss of 73 lives, according to officials. The incident occurred in the south-western Koulikoro region.
BBC News online. 25 January 2024

Britain: Being attacked is a simple reality for many nurses
BBC reports over 1,700 physical assaults on hospital staff in Kent and Sussex in 2022. This is a 47 per cent increase on 2018 - from 1,159 to 1,714. The Royal College of Nursing says being spat at, hit and punched is "is the reality of working life for many nurses."
BBC news, 24 January 2024

Mongolia: Three firefighters among six killed in gas truck explosion
A truck carrying 60 tons of liquefied natural gas exploded in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, claiming six lives, including three firefighters from the 63rd Fire Fighting and Rescue Unit. The incident near Dunjingarav market also left 11 people injured. Over 600 firefighters and 100 vehicles fought the fire that engulfed nearby structures, including a residential building and numerous cars.
The Straits Times, 24 January 2024

Britain: Bullying 'normal occurrence' at Newcastle NHS trust
Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found widespread bullying of staff in hospitals run by the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Ann Ford, CQC's director of operations in the north, said: “Some staff told us that bullying was a normal occurrence, and they were encouraged to 'turn a blind eye' and not report this behaviour,” adding: "This is completely unacceptable."
BBC News Online. 24 January 2024

Trinidad: OWTU calls for release of fatal Niquan explosion report
The Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) is calling on the Government to release the report on the Niquan Energy Trinidad explosion that claimed the life of pipefitter Allanlane Ramkissoon. OWTU president general Ancel Roget said: “What do you think would happen in areas where you do not have a union present?", adding: "It is all about not just the investigation for investigating sake of public relations and so on, but getting to the root cause, dealing with it and making sure that all of the recommendations that emanate from these investigations are implemented to the letter."
Trinidad Guardian. 23 January 2024

France: Amazon fined for 'excessive' surveillance of workers
Amazon France has been fined €32m (£27m) in France for "excessive" surveillance of its workers, including measures the data watchdog CNIL found to be illegal.  The CNIL said Amazon France Logistique, which manages warehouses, recorded data captured by workers' handheld scanners andtracked activity so precisely, it led to workers having to potentially justify each break.
BBC News Online. 23 January 2024

Global: ILO action call on violence at work A new ILO report emphasizes using Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) frameworks to address the root causes of violence and harassment and to encourage collective action for better work environments. The report, Preventing and addressing violence and harassment in the world of work through occupational safety and health measures , finds that more than one-in-five people in employment have experienced violence and harassment and notes of the 25 countries studied, about two-thirds of all legal provisions on workplace violence and harassment are contained in OSH legislation and regulations. ILO news release. 22 January 2024

Somalia: FESTU applauds new national occupational safety and health policy
The Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) has warmly welcomed a decision by Somalia’s Council of Ministers, who granted their seal of approval to the National Policy on Occupational Safety and Health, with the federation saying this represented “a significant leap forward in fortifying the safety and well-being of Somalia’s dedicated workforce.” FESTU said the process of developing this national policy began in 2019 and “was characterized by a collaborative tripartite approach, which involved the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, trade unions, and employers, all working together in the spirit of social dialogue,” receiving crucial technical guidance and support from the International Labour Organization (ILO).
FESTU news release. 19 January 2024

Britain: Director escapes jail after scaffolder suffers electric shock
Canterbury City Scaffolding Ltd has been fined and its director given a suspended prison sentence after scaffolder Steven Gilmore, 36, suffered an 11,000-volt electric shock. The company was fined £50,000 and director Ian Pepper was sentenced to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to undertake 200 hours unpaid work and 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
HSE news release, 15 January 2024

Scotland: Austerity kills as cuts harmed efforts during Covid
Scotland’s largest trade union body has claimed that years of budget cuts and austerity from government had “lethal” consequences during the COVID pandemic. The news comes as the UK COVID-19 Inquiry gets underway in Edinburgh. In their response to the Inquiry, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has set out how sustained cuts to public services in health and social care had a “grave” impact on Scotland’s ability to protect workers and the public during the pandemic.
Daily Record, 17 January 2024

Britain: HSE warning on asbestos duties
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new campaign, Asbestos: Your Duty, aimed at ensuring the safe management of asbestos in a wide range of buildings, including schools, hospitals, and workplaces. The campaign stresses the legal obligation for businesses and organisations, particularly those managing properties built before 2000, to conduct asbestos checks and adhere to safety regulations.
HSE news release, 15 January 2024

Britain: Community order for illegal asbestos removal
Sean Thomas Faulkner, 55, has been sentenced to an 18-month community order after admitting to removing asbestos from Our Lady Lourdes School without the necessary license and falsifying clearance documents. Faulkner, who had previously undertaken similar unlicensed work at a domestic property, failed to ensure proper safety protocols and clearance were followed, posing significant risks. The court imposed 15 days of rehabilitation, 90 days of monitored alcohol abstinence, and 150 hours of unpaid work, along with £1,000 in costs.
HSE news release, 15 January 2024

Global: Hundreds of chemicals linked to breast cancer
More than 900 chemicals, many present in common consumer products, have the potential to increase breast cancer risks, a new study has concluded. Researchers at the Silent Spring Institute examined chemicals listed in major reference databases, including those from the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the US Environmental Protection Agency. They then classified chemicals based on their toxicity and ability to interfere with key human hormones associated with breast cancer. Based on that analysis, the researchers identified 921 chemicals that can promote breast cancer, including pesticides and those used in food, drinks and medications. Chemicals on the list include permethrin, which is used to control mosquitoes; profenofos, which is used to kill bugs on cotton crops; and trifluralin, which is used to control weeds.
Jones R, White A. Invited Perspective: New Motivations and Future Directions for Investigating Environmental Risk Factors for Breast Cancer, Environmental Health Perspectives, 10.1289/EHP13777, 132, 1, (2024).
Work Cancer Hazards, 15 January 2024

Britain: Keep workers safe from the future dangers of asbestos, HSE warns
A new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) campaign, "Asbestos: Your Duty," was launched on January 15, 2024. The campaign aims to safeguard people from asbestos dangers helping employers improve their understanding of their legal duty to manage asbestos remaiinign in building since the 1999 ban. HSE has updated information, templates, and videos on its website.
HSE news, 15 January 2024

Britain: Union scheme urges employers to make workers feel valued
A new joint union initiative is urging education employers to demonstrate that they value their staff and will treat them well. The unions GMB, NASUWT, UNISON and Unite are encouraging schools and colleges to sign up to the Valued Worker Scheme. The scheme highlights schools and colleges that treat their staff well and encourages improvements at those that currently do not. Guiding principles include working with unions to agree workplace policies and providing “a secure and enjoyable working environment” and ensuring “the wellbeing and dignity at work of all employees.”
FE news, 15 January 2024

Global: Artificial Intelligence will impact over 40 per cent of jobs worldwide
In a new analysis, examining the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence on the global labor market, the International Monetary Fund reports "striking findings" including that in developed economies most jobs will be impacted in some way. The report also warns of increased financial inequalities and calls on countries to establish comprehensive social safety nets and to offer retraining programs for vulnerable workers.
IMF blog, 14 January 2024

Britain: MoD faces sexual harassment probe
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) faces a potential Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation following allegations of inadequate handling of sexual harassment and assault claims by female civil servants. The union Prospect, representing about 60 senior women at MoDsubmitted a complaint, has urged the EHRC to examine if the ministry has violated the public sector equalities duty (PSED). The union expressed concerns about MoD's failure to comply with obligations under the Equality Act 2010. Prospect called for an inquiry after a joint letter from senior women detailed sexual assault claims, and an additional civil servant reported three incidents of assault. The EHRC will now consider whether to take action.
The Guardian, 14 January 2023

Britain: Life changing symptoms after hospital blunder
Three hospital staff experienced life-changing health issues after exposure to toxic ionised hydrogen peroxide vapour, released by Bio Decontamination during a deep cleaning process. The chemical, which can cause severe harm, was used in a ward that was not properly sealed off or monitored, leading to the staff’s exposure. They now suffer from persistent medical conditions affecting their daily lives. The company, found guilty of failing to ensure proper safety measures and risk assessment, was fined £16,775 and ordered to pay £27,228 in prosecution costs.
HSE news, 12 Janury 2024

Wales: Teachers strike due to increased pupil violence
Teachers at Pencoedtre High School in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, are striking due to over 50 reported serious incidents of verbal and physical abuse since September 2023. An unnamed maths teacher said declining pupil behavior left staff with "no choice." Teaching union NASUWT reported six schools in Wales are embroiled in disputes regarding classroom safety.
BBC news, 10 January 2024

Britain: Garden landscaper sentenced after worker dies
Watford-based gardener Fernando Araujo received a suspended six-month prison sentence following a fatal workplace incident. A 31 year old laborer, employed by Arauko for just two days, died after the circular saw he was using kicked back into his groin causing a fatal laceration when cutting a railway sleeper on August 11, 2021. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Araujo failed to ensure the safe use of equipment, fitting a toothed circular saw blade onto an angle grinder. The guard had been removed, and the sleeper was unsecured. Araujo pleaded guilty and was given a suspended six month prision sentence, 200 hours of unpaid work, and £3,467.72 in costs.
HSE news, 9 January 2024

USA: Heat stroke death leads to small fine and much anger
On June 20, 2023, postal worker Eugene Gates succumbed to heat stroke while delivering mail in Lakewood, Texas, amidst a scorching summer heatwave with temperatures hitting 98 degrees. The heat index soared over 113 degrees due to high humidity. Gates wasn't alone. OSHA estimates 121 heat-related worker fatalities from 2017 to 2022, likely undercounted due to resembling "natural cause" deaths. Bureau of Labor Statistics note nearly 34,000 work-related heat injuries and illnesses (2011-2020), these are self-reported by employers suggesting a significant undercount. OSHA issued a $15,625 citation against the United States Postal Service in response to the death of Gates. OSHA doesn’t have a heat standard to protect workers so it used the General Duty Clause which simply requires employers to provide a safe workplace. Gates’ wife was not pleased with the size of the penalty. “I was mad. I was hurt. I was disappointed"
Confined Space, 9 January 2024

Britain: NHS trust fined after employee found unconscious in manhole
Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust received a £480,000 fine following an incident where an employee sustained a brain injury. Found unconscious in a manhole while clearing a drain at the hospital on February 1, 2022, the worker was rescued by Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and treated for acute sulphate intoxication. This led to a traumatic brain injury, causing ongoing memory loss and nerve damage.
HSE news release, 9 January 2024

Britain: Fines for two firms after worker fatally struck at bus depot
Arriva and cleaning firm Cordant Cleaning Limited have both been fined at St Albans Magistrates’ Court after 25 year old Albin Trstena died when he was struck by a reversing bus at Arriva's Hemel Hempstead depot. The Health and Safety Executive found both Arriva and Cordant Cleaning Limited had failed to implement adequate safety measures leading to the tragedy. Arriva was fined £32,000, while Cordant Cleaning Limited, now C.L.C Realisations Limited, received a £1,000 fine.
HSE news release, 8 January 2024

Britain: Ofsted pause should kickstart reform
Ofsted inspections will be on hold until later in January, it was announced on 2 January 2024, prompting unions to insist the pause should start a much needed root-and-branch reform of school inspection. The body’s new chief inspector Sir Martyn Oliver said the pause will take place to ensure inspectors receive mental health awareness training.
Morning Star. 2 January 2024

Brtain: Overheated workers ‘should get day off’
A report by the Fabian Society recommends the UK government introduce a law mandating a day off for workers if indoor temperatures exceed 30°C, or 27°C during strenuous work. The report highlights the increasing health risks from extreme heat, citing over 4,500 heat-related deaths in England in 2022 and a significant rise in annual flood damage costs. It emphasises the disproportionate impact on low-paid workers who often lack access to cooling measures and protective equipment.
Whatever the weather: A progressive strategy for climate resilience and adaptation, Fabian Society, December 2023. www.fabians.org.uk 2 January 2024

Britain: Textiles firm fined £100,000 after worker loses hand
Johnson Textile Services has been fined after 45 year old worker, Scott Drummond suffered severe injuries when investigating a commercial dryer fault at the Chester laundry. His arm was crushed suffering injuries so serious it was eventually amputated. The company pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £100,000 and was ordered to pay £10,741.69 costs at a hearing at Chester Magistrates on 11 December 2023.
HSE news. 11 December 2023

Britain: FACK response to corner's suicide ruling
Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) has responded to the Coroner's verdict on the death of head teacher Ruth Perry that attiributed her suicide partly to the impact of a critical Ofsted inspection. FACK stressed the urgent need to prevent such tragedies and called for Ofsted's immediate scrapping and replacement. FACK demanded free legal representation for work victims' famlilies in inquests and reforms in HSE inspection systems.
FACK news release. The Guardian. BBC news. Inquest. The Mirror. 7 December 2023

Global: Work kills three million yearly
According to new ILO estimates, nearly three million workers die every year due to work-related accidents and diseases, a 5 per cent increase on 2015. Work related diseases account for the bulk of the deaths totalling 2.6 million. Work accidents account for another 330,000 deaths. Circulatory diseases, malignant neoplasms and respiratory diseases rank among the top three causes of work-related death contributing more than three-quarters of total work-related mortality.
A Call for Safer and Healthier Working Environments. ILO News. 7 December 2023

Britain: FACK response to corner's suicide ruling
Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) has responded to the Coroner's verdict on the death of head teacher Ruth Perry that attiributed her suicide partly to the impact of a critical Ofsted inspection. FACK stressed the urgent need to prevent such tragedies and called for Ofsted's immediate scrapping and replacement. FACK demanded free legal representation for work victims' famlilies in inquests and reforms in HSE inspection systems.
FACK news release. The Guardian. BBC news. Inquest. The Mirror. 7 December 2023

Britain: Traumatised Grenfell firefighters to receive compensation
More than 100 firefighters who battled the Grenfell Tower blaze are to receive compensation from Kensington and Chelsea Council. Councillors agreed to enter into a negotiated out-of-court settlement with 114 firefighters over the 2017 tragedy.
The Fire Brigades Union said firefighters were deeply affected and traumatised in battling the very preventable fire. FBU estimates around 6,000 working days were lost due to firefighters suffering PTSD after the incident.
The Standard, 7 December 2023

Türkiye: Approaching 2,000 worker deaths in 2023
In the first 11 months of 2023 Health and Safety Labor Watch (İSİG) reports Türkiye has recorded at least 1,772 deaths in work-related accidents, with 173 in November alone
Stockholm Centre for Freedom, ISIG. 6 December 2023

Wales: Man jailed for storing asbestos without a permit
Aidan Rowden has received an eight-month jail term after pleading guilty to storing asbestos without the required permit following a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) investigation. He was found to have breached the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016. Rowden, the sole director of Asbestos North West & Wales Ltd, received and stored asbestos waste without permission at Llwyn Onn Industrial Estate in Amlwch. Caernarfon Crown Court sentenced Rowden and fined his company £20,000, also charging £11,853 in costs.
Natural Resouces Wales. 6 December 2023

Global: Potential effect of low dose radiation on cardiovascular deaths
In a systemic review of the literature up to 2022, researchers have found a higher risk of heart disease deaths in workers exposed to low-dose ionising radiation, particularly for ischemic heart disease (IHD) mortality in studies up to 2022.
Exposure to low-dose radiation in occupational settings and ischaemic heart disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.Cheryl E PetersEmma Kathleen QuinnLaura Andrea Rodriguez-VillamizarHeather MacDonaldPaul J Villeneuve. (19 October 2023). 5 December 2023

USA: A gruesome week in the American workplace
US safety blog Confined Space reports on a 'gruesome week' in the American workplace listing a worker pulled head-first into wood chipper, an MTA subway worker dragged to his death by a train, Electrocutions, vehicle incidents, shootings, an explosion, a forklift accident and more. The blog notes that on average, over 100 workers are killed every week and more than 20 times as many die from occupational diseases.
Confined space. 4 December 2023

Britain: Teacher permanently injured by pupil he had warned about
Schoolteacher Craig Hearne suffered permanent facial nerve damage when a pupil he'd raised concerns about attacked him with a catering lid at Queenswood School in 2020. Hearne suffered ongoing psychological trauma and has lost sensation in part of his face. His employer settled the claim following the support of NASUWT and law firm Thompsons Solicitors. Hearne was keen to point out the school's failure to implement consistent safety measures and critiicsed the school's prioritisation of money over safety.
Birmingham Mail, 2 December 2023

Britain: Tory MPs vote through brazen attack the on right to strike
The voting through of the code of practice and minimum service regulations by Conservative MPs has triggered outrage from the TUC, branding it a "brazen attack" on the right to strike. TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak condemned the laws as unworkable, undemocratic, and potentially breaching international law, affecting the striking rights of 1 in 5 workers. He noted the laws' potential to escalate disputes rather than resolve them. Criticism came from various quarters, including politicians, employers, and rights groups including the Joint Committee on Human Rights that raised serious concerns about the legislation possibly violating international law.. Labour reaffirmed its commitment to repeal the Strikes Act. Earlier in November the TUC announced a special Congress to fight the Conservative attack on the right to strike.
TUC campaign to protect the right to strike. 30 November 2023

Thailand: Orchard chemicals explosion kills 3 workers
A blast at a Longan plantation in Thailand has killed three workers. They were in the process of making a flowering stimulant by mixing potassium chlorate with urea when the blast occurred. Two died instantly with the third dying from their injuries later.
Bangkok Post, 29 November 2023

Britain: USDAW praises labour's commitment to shopworker safety
Labour has pledged to back a new law safeguarding shopworkers against violence and abuse, mirroring Scotland's legislation. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper vowed to amend the Criminal Justice Bill aiming to strengthen protections for shop staff. Usdaw, the retail trade union, praised the Labour party commitment, noting the government's opposition to similar measures.
Usdaw news. 29 November 2023

Global: Worldwide surge in work-related fatalities and disabilities
A study by researchers from Tampere University, Finland, and the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) highlighted a global surge in work-related fatalities and disabilities. Analysing data from 2011 to 2019, researchers noted a 26 per cent increase in work-related disease fatalities. The study assessed the impact in terms of lost healthy years and economic loss relative to GDP. Findings revealed 2.9 million deaths linked to work, with circulatory diseases causing the most deaths globally. Work-related diseases' burden rose by 26 per cent, and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) increased by 47 per cent.
Takala J, Hämäläinen P, Sauni R, Nygård C-H, Gagliardi D, Neupane S. Global-, regional- and country-level estimates of the work-related burden of diseases and accidents in 2019. Scand J Work Environ Health – online first. 29 December 2023

USA: Cannabis worker’s death highlights need for improved work safety rules
Lorna McMurrey's death at a Holyoke cannabis cultivation facility in January 2022, is the first attributed to occupational asthma in a US cannabis worker. They were exposed when processing kief, a type of finely ground marijuana dust that is produced by grinding cannabis flower. The company, Trulieve, was fined $35,200 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. McMurrey's illness underscores the urgent need for improved workplace safety rules prevent avoidable tragedies in the cannabis sector.
Boston Globe. Commonwealth Beacon. 28 November 2023

Wales: Bill to tackle air and noise pollution passed in the Senedd
New legislation in the Senedd grants the Welsh Government expanded authority to enhance air quality and curb noise pollution in Wales. Recognising air pollution as a significant health risk and noise pollution as a major concern, the Bill aims to improve environmental conditions, human health, biodiversity, and the economy The Bill further supports delivery of a crucial package of measures set out in our Clean Air Plan for Wales to improve the air environment in Wales.
Welsh Government, 28 Nov 2023

Palestine/Israel/Lebanon: At least 57 media workers killed in Israel/Gaza war
The latest flare up in the decades long war against the illegal occupation of Palestine has been devastating for journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports at least 57 media workers among the 16,000 casualties since 7 October - 50 Palestinian, 4 Israeli and 3 Lebanese, three are still missing. This marks the deadliest month for journalists since CPJ's records begain in 1992. Gaza-based journalists face extreme risks amid Israeli airstrikes, disrupted communication, supply shortages, and power outages. The Israel Defense Forces couldn't assure safety for journalists in Gaza as it continued it's attack. CPJ has joined the calls for a humanitarian ceasefire to spare civilians.
CPJ news. The Guardian. 28 November 2023

Britain: Helping workers stay safe and warm in codl weather
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has reminded employers of their responsibilities to keep workers safe as the first spell of cold weather is set to hit the country. HSE is stressing the importance of protecting workers during the cold weather.
HSE news, 28 November 2023

USA: Death of 16 year old at sawmill highlights rise of child labour
Michael Schuls, 16, died tragically at a Wisconsin sawmill when he became trapped in machinery.The company Florence Hardwood is facing penalties for employing underage workers and operating dangerous machinery.The incident coincides with a surge in violations across the country.
The Guardian, 28 November 2023

Britain: Family of head teacher hopes lessons can be learned at inquest
Ruth Perry, a 53-year-old head teacher at Caversham Primary School in Reading for 13 years, tragically took her life before a critical Ofsted report. Her family hopes the on the 8 January 2024 inquest illuminate missed chances to prevent her death . Despite work pressures being a clear factor, the Health and Safety Executive didn't look into the circumstances surrounding her suicide (Hazards 161).
BBC news. Hazards magazine Work Suicide news and resources. 28 November 2023

South Africa: Impala Platinum mine accident kills 11 with 75 injured
An accident at the Impala Platinum Rustemberg mine has killed 11 workers and injured 75. The incident was due to a lift winding rope malfunction causing the lift to move downwards into the mine shaft unexpectedly. South Africa, a major platinum and gold producer, faces ongoing safety concerns. The latest tragedy has prompted a complete suspension of operations by Impala Paltinum as they investigate.
BBC news, 28 November 2023

Britain: The shocking treatment of migrant workers harms us all
UNISON has gathered evidence of appalling exploitation of migrant workers by unscrupulous care bosses including beingoverworked on 80 hours a week, or given too few hours to survive off. Given inadequate training, living in poor conditions and threatened with deportation if they speak out. Care is one of the biggest industries in the UK, but also one of the most precarious. It’s broken, on the brink of collapse and only being propped up by the work of migrants.
Unison General Secretary's blog. Expendable labour: the exploitation of migrant care workers. The Guardian. 28 November 2023

Britain: Accidents skyrocket at non-unionised workplaces
Tribune has revealed a striking disparity in accident rates between unionised and non-unionised construction sites. It reports Unite the Union analysis that revealed non-unionised HS2 construction firms in London had over three times the accident rate of unionised Hinkley Point C, despite Hinkley employing a much larger workforce. HS2 sites reported 158 accidents since January 2023, whereas Hinkley Point C, with around 11,000 workers, recorded only 51 incidents.Unite's general secretary, Sharon Graham, emphasised the critical role of unions in accident prevention, noting that the HS2 joint ventures, unlike Hinkley Point C, resist union involvement and lack crucial safety representatives. Graham said, "The key difference...is that the HS2 joint ventures are union busters, and Hinkley Point C is not."
Tribune. Hazards magazine Union Effect pages. 27 November 2023

Britain: Unite survey highlights women's workplace toilet struggle
A Unite survey of 12,000 women has revealed female workers are still struggling for access to clean toilets. The survey found 14 per cent face sporadic or no access to workplace toilets, while 17 per cent encounter unhygienic facilities. Industries like transport report nearly half of bus workers affected. Respondents shared accounts, from health issues to embarrassment over necessary breaks. Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: "Access to clean, dignified toilets is a fundamental right, not a privilege. Yet, our survey starkly exposes the ongoing neglect many women face in the workplace."
Unite News, Unite news release. 27 November 2023

Britain: Lift maintenance company fined after engineer fatally crushed
Lift maintenance company, Lift Monitoring Systems Limited, was fined £200,000 following a fatal incident involving 24-year-old engineer Lewis McFarlin at a Muller factory. Lewis was crushed while repairing a lift becoming trapped in a void between the lift car and its structure. Despite efforts, he couldn't be saved. Lewis' family emphasised the preventable nature of his death. Lift Monitoring Systems Limited admitted guilt and was fined for failing to meet safety obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
HSE news. 27 November 2023

USA: Tiny fine for death of Amazon worker
Caes Gruesbeck, a 20-year-old Amazon warehouse worker, tragically lost his life in Fort Wayne, Indiana, due to a machinery accident. Despite safety violations found in the investigation, the $7,000 fine imposed by Indiana falls dismally short for a company of Amazon's financial size, sparking concerns about workplace safety enforcement and the value placed on an employee's life..
The Street. Washington Post. 26 November 2023

Britain: Almost half of female transport workers experience sexual harassment
RMT research of 1,400 women in public transport revealed 40 per cent experienced sexual harassment yearly. Owing to scepticism their complaints wouldn't be taken seriously over 70 per cent did not report incidents. A large majority in the survey saw harassment as a growing issue with encounters ranging from from unwanted advances and explicit language to intimidation. Reduced staffing was seen to embolden perpetrators. RMT's General Secretary, Mick Lynch, has called for increased staffing and reduced lone working arrngements.
RMT news, 25 November 2023

Britain: Seventy per cent of workers cannot afford time off over Christmas
Many workers face a bleak Christmas as financial constraints prevent over 70 per cent from taking time off. The cost-of-living crisis has forced workers to work over the festive season eroding work-life balance. TUC's Paul Nowak said: "This government has overseen record levels of in-work poverty. And most working people’s pay packets have fallen in real-terms over the last decade — the worst squeeze in earnings in more than 200 years."
Morning Star, 27 November 2023

Europe: Toxic air killed over 500,000 in in the EU in 2021
In 2021, toxic air caused caused 500,000 deaths in the EU, with half preventable by adhering to recommended pollution limits. PM2.5 particles alone accounted for 253,000 deaths, surpassing WHO guidelines. Despite a 41 per cent decrease in PM2.5-related deaths from 2005 to 2021, urgent action is required as air pollution remains the primary environmental health threat.
The Guardian, 24 November 2023

Britain: Deflated tyre leads to tractor driver death
Richard Norton Lewis, 50, died in April 2022 on a neighbor's farm near Tywyn. While spreading lime, a tyre on his tractor's trailer burst, causing the vehicle to lose control. Lewis was thrown from the cab, and the tractor tumbled down a hill, fatally crushing him. Despite efforts to summon help, he succumbed to severe injuries. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) determined the cause as the trailer tyre deflating, but the reason for the burst remained unclear.
BBC News, 24 November 2023

Britain: Sawmill fined after employee suffers serious injuries
D.A.F. Timber Limited, a sawmill in Bishop Auckland, was fined £26,500 plus costs after a worker lost parts of two fingers in a saw accident. The Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) investigation revealed the company failed to prevent access to dangerous machine parts. HSE said: "The company have had a poor inspection history with the Health and Safety Executive previously issuing improvement notices for failing to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery and failure to maintain guards and protection devices."
HSE news, 22 November 2023

Britain: Mother’s grief after only son killed working for egg firm
A mother has spoken about her grief after her only child was killed while working at ‘Sunrise Eggs’ in Loughborough. Nineteen-year-old Ben Spencer had only been working for Sunrise Poultry Farms for two weeks when he was crushed between a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) and a wall on 12 April 2021. Sunrise Poultry Farms pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 17 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and was ordered to pay a fine of £233,000 plus costs of £8,841 at a hearing at Leicester Magistrates’ Court on 22 November 2023.
HSE news, 22 November 2023

Britain: HSE publishes work-related ill health and injury statistics for 2022/23
Nearly two million workers in Great Britain reported suffering from work-related ill health in 2022/23. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published its annual statistics on work-related ill health and workplace injuries. The statistics reveal that 1.8 million workers were suffering from work-related ill health in 2022/23, with half - 875,000 - of the cases down to stress, depression or anxiety; higher than the pre-pandemic level. Work-related ill health or injury accounted for an estimated 35.2 millionlost working days.
HSE news, 22 November 2023

Scotland: Women firefighters demand facilities
The First Minister fo Scotland Humza Yousaf has been urged to act after revelations emerged that women firefighters had been forced to change in cupboards and go home to use the toilet due to poor facilities in the nation’s fire stations. FBU Scotland’s women’s rep Rachel Rogers has written to Mr Yousaf to demand action on the culture of exclusion further branding the situation deeply humiliating,.
Morning Star, 21 November 2023

Britain: Man jailed for manslaughter after fatal boat collision
A boat captain was jailed for gross negligence manslaughter after passenger David Haw was killed in a high speed collision. Morgan Smith, 21, had been drinking alcohol prior to the collision when the vessel he was steering crashed into a buoy at Poole Harbour during the early hours of 2 May, 2022.
CPS news, 21 November 2023

Britain: Tens of thousands may suffer Covid symptoms for over a year
Researchers at Imperial College London have reported persistent Covid-19 symptoms - such as worse mental health, quality of life, fatigue and difficulty concentrating - are believed to be affecting tens of thousands for over a year. The researchers analysed a sample from the Real-time Assessment of Community Transition (React) study, set up in 2020 to monitor the coronavirus epidemic.
Environmental Health News, 16 November 2023

Global: Authors hire lawyer as journal plans to retract pesticide poisoning article
Health journal BMC Public Health intends to retract an article that estimated how many unintentional pesticide poisonings happen each year worldwide. In response, the Pesticide Action Network affiliated authors have hired a lawyer to represent them in contesting the retraction, and maintain the journal’s decision “undermines the integrity of the scientific process.” The article published in December 2020 and cited 145 times concluded that unintentional pesticide poisoning “is an ongoing major global public health challenge” and “a problem that warrants immediate action.”
Retraction Watch, 15 November 2023

Britain: McDonald's faces up to two sex abuse claims a week
The UK boss of McDonald’s, Alistair Macrow, told MPs at the Business and Trade Select Committee that it had received more than 400 complaints from workers since July, between one or two sexual harassment claims a week. 18 people had since been sacked, but it is how many complaints were referred to the police. Workers as young as 17 were being groped and harassed in a toxic workplace culture at McDonald's where claims of sexual assault, racism and bullying were not taken seriously.
BBC news, 15 November 2023

Global: Brands commit to long-term future and expansion of International Accord
Global trade unions and fashion brands and retailers have reached agreement on a new International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry. The renegotiated contract secures the work of the Accord until the end of the decade, strengthens the complaint mechanism for workers and includes commitments for an expansion into other countries.
IndustriALL, 6 November 2023

Britain: Health staff win Covid bonus after legal action threat
Workers who previously missed out on a one off ‘Covid bonus’ to recognise the pressure of the pandemic on staff have now been awarded a payment of at least £1,655. The workers had previously missed out because they worked for organisations outside of the NHS.
BBC news, 6 November 2023

Britain: HSE twice refused to probe multiple workload mental breakdowns
HSE was told twice of a significant workload crisis at an Oxford Job Centre this year but refused to act. HSE was first told in April 2023 that six work coaches and one administrative officer had taken time off with stress-related conditions because of the workload; and also 11 team members had quit due to working conditions.
Disability news service, 2 November 2023

Britain: Care worker died by suicide following work worries
A 1 November inquest at Accrington Town Hall has heard how care home manager Jason Burridge was found dead after he had been struggling with his new role at work. Burridge, 51, was found on July 18. The "highly thought of" worker had been promoted to a managerial role at Aykroyd Lodge, Burnley, but was struggling with paperwork. He wanted to step down but agreed to stay in post until a replacement was found.
Lancashire Telegraph, 2 November 2023

USA: US proposes complete ban on trichloroethylene
A new rule, expected to be finalised sometime in 2024, to ban all uses of trichloroethylene has proposed by US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The highly prevalent industrial degreasing solvent is considered to be a human carcinogen.
Chemistry World, 1 November 2023

Britain: Government ignored Covid safety warnings due to union hostility
Evidence provided by Martin Reynolds at the UK Covid-19 Enquiry showed the then prime minister Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson put politics before people by rejecting masks in schools. He said they were in a "no surrender mode" towards unions. TUC assistant general secretary Kate Bell said "Education leaders righty raised concerns about the need to protect staff and children in schools. But these warnings were dismissed out of hand due to vindictiveness towards unions."
TUC News, 30 October 2023

Britain: No rise in pension age after the post-Covid drop in life expectancy
Teaching union NASUWT has called on the government to rule out pension age rises amid the drop in life expectancy post-Covid. The pension age is to increase from 66 to 67 between 2026 and 2028.
Morning Star, 29 October 2023

Australian regulator's silica plan will save lives - unions
Australia's top union body ACTU has welcomed a report by the country's national safety regulator recommending a complete prohibition on the use of engineered stone. The use of the product has been linked to especially damaging exposures to respirable crystalline silica, which can cause the lung scarring and progressive disease silicosis, lung cancer and autoimmune and other diseases.
Work cancer hazards, 27 October 2023

Britain: New law protects workers from sexual harassment
MPs have approved a new law that puts a duty on bosses to stop sexual harassment - instead of relying on employees to report incidents. Following opposition from the house of lords the bill was watered down to scrap a section that would make employers liable for third party harassment and reworded the requirement for employers to take "reasonable steps." Reasonable steps may include training on and investigations into harassment. There will be a 25 per cent uplift to sexual harassment compensation where reasonable steps aren't taken. Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who introduced the now approved bill told MPs: "I cannot stand here and say that I am completely happy with the amendments. But if I did not accept them the bill would not progress into law, and that would be a lot worse."
BBC news, 21 October 2023

Britain: Waste company fined £260,000 after worker crushed
Cappagh Public Works Limited has been fined £260,000 with £4,358 costs after a worker was trapped between a conveyor and a metal bridge on 11 September 2023. Grzegorz Poreba suffered multiple injuries, requiring the insertion of 23 screws and two plates in his body. Three years later he is still unable to work. He said: “The whole accident has turned my life upside down. I cannot walk or stand for longer than an hour and a half. It has been very hard... The doctors have been trying to regain my physical and mental health." An Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found numerous safety failings at Cappagh Public Works Limited.
HSE news, 20 October 2023

USA: IAFF calls for broad strategy to end fire fighter cancer
The union representing US firefighters is calling on the fire service, government, industry, and scientific community to unite in support of a broad strategy to combat fire fighter occupational cancer.
Work cancer hazards, 20 October 2023

Britain: Food processing firm fined after worker suffers 'easily preventable' serious injuries
Belwood Foods has been fined £20,000 with £7,839.21 in costs, after an employee’s arm was seriously injured in machinery at Lowmoor Business Park, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottingham. Piotr Zielinski, 58, had his right arm pulled into a poultry processing machine that crushed his wrist and removed skin and muscle. His injuries required surgery. HSE found the access panel door of the machine could opened freely whilst an auger was in motion, with no controls in place to prevent access. HSE inspector Lee Greatorex said: “This injury was easily preventable.”
HSE news release, 11 October 2023

Canada: Ontario to create database to track workplace-related illnesses
The Ontario government is creating a database that will track workplace-related illnesses. The province said that many workplace illnesses go undiagnosed or are unreported due to a delay between exposure and symptoms.The Occupational Exposure Registry will track exposures, identify at-risk workers, and improve worker compensation and has the potential to expand the list of presumptive illnesses and help with early diagnoses.The Ontario Federation of Labour said in a statement that it supports the government’s proposal to create the registry, citing a study that found less than 10 per cent of Ontarians with occupational cancers get compensated for their illness.
CP24.com, 10 October 2023

Tesla workers in Germany join union as health and safety issues grow
Tesla workers are joining the IG Metall union in increasing numbers over issues of safety, health and overwork. Low staffing and poor safety provision has led to a high number of work accidents with up thirty per cent off sick at one time. IG Metall says the rise in union membership at the company has been steep with over 1,000 members joining the collective effort to raise standards.
Yahoo! finance news. Elektrek news. Hazards union effect pages. 9 October 2023

Global: Work cancers in women go unstudied and unaddressed
A rare study of occupational hazards and ovarian cancer has found new evidence that many common jobs undertaken by women are associated with an elevated risk. After accounting for other risk factors, calculations using the Canadian job-exposure matrix (CANJEM) confirmed that working for 10 or more years as a hairdresser, barber, beautician and in related roles was associated with a three-fold higher risk, while employment for 10 or more years in accountancy was associated with a doubling in risk, and working in construction with a near tripling in risk.
Work cancer hazards, 5 October 2023

Global: Low level radiation risk ‘under-estimated’
The cancer risk resulting from ‘low level’ radiation exposures at work has been under-estimated, the UN’s top cancer agency has said. Researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), working with institutions in France, Spain, the UK, and the USA, report that workers in nuclear facilities who are persistently exposed to low doses of ionising radiation experience an increase in deaths due to cancer.
Work cancer hazards, 5 October 2023

Global: Chemicals safety deal - big wins for workers, big challenges for ILOThe fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) concluded with agreement on a new Global Framework on Chemicals. A global trade union delegation secured big wins for workers concerning the extraction, production, use, distribution and disposal of chemicals. The agreement sets the agenda for the UN, governments, industry, and in particular the ILO, which will consider a Biological Hazards Convention and tough new chemicals safety legal instruments. The High-Level Declaration commits the global community to a human rights-based approach, promoting decent, safe, healthy and sustainable work throughout value and supply chains, preventing exposure to harmful chemicals and phasing out the most harmful during the course of a just transition that leaves no one behind. ITUC Deputy General Secretary Owen Tudor said: “This groundbreaking agreement gives unions the opportunity to push for safer, healthier work in collective bargaining at the workplace and sectorally, in national and international laws, in public and private investment decisions, in public procurement and in trade, with due diligence at the heart of decision-making."
ITUC news, 5 October 2023

USA: Five people killed after truck carrying toxic substance overturns in Illinois
Five people, including two children, died after a semitruck carrying a toxic chemical overturned in Teutopolis, Illinois, releasing a cloud of ammonia that prompted the evacuation of area 500 residents. Illinois environmental protection agency (IEPA) said the tanker was carrying approximately 7,500 gallons of anhydrous ammonia, and early estimates indicate approximately 4,000 gallons had been released in the 29 September 2023 accident.
The Guardian, 30 September 2023

Global: Study finds lead exposure has health and economic costs at par with PM2·5 air pollution
A study published in The Lancet reports an estimate of the global health burden of lead exposure found lead exposure to be an environmental risk factor on a par with PM2·5 ambient and household air pollution combined; and ahead of unsafe household drinking water, sanitation, and handwashing. Authors reported: "A central implication for future research and policy is that LMICs [Low and Middle Income countries] bear an extraordinarily large share of the health and cost burden of lead exposure; consequently, improved quality of blood lead level measurements, lead exposure identification, research, policies, and practices are very urgently needed to address that burden."
Global health burden and cost of lead exposure in children and adults: a health impact and economic modelling analysis, The Lancet, 28 September 2023

Britain: Self-employed would prefer full-time work
An academic study has found 40 per cent of the UK self-employed workforce say the mental distress and financial insecurity of self-employment is so bad they would prefer full-time work, with many prepared to take a significant pay cut to do so.
The Guardian, 25 September 2023

Global: Transport unions unite to call for safer roads
More than 50 trade unions representing over one million road transport workers have joined together to call for a new 'Safe Rates' system to improve workers' rights and make roads safer. The campaign spearheaded by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), launched in Seoul, Korea, puts an unprecedented call on governments, road transport employers and other industry stakeholders to support a system of regulatory and legal changes which unions say will not only dramatically improve conditions for road transport drivers, but also make roads safer for all road users. 
ITF News, 21 September 2023

Britain: Many education staff unaware of abestos risks they face
Research from legal services provider Slater and Gordon shows education workers have little idea of the risks posed by exposure to asbestos in their workplaces, a threat that is worsened with the latest news regarding RAAC. The research found that 69 per cent of those surveyed were not aware that asbestos can be found in walls, with 77 per cent unaware it can be found in floor tiles. Half of those working in education are not aware that asbestos can be found in ceiling and floor cavities.
FE newsMorning Star, 21 September 2023

Britain: Bectu urges action to tackle industry’s sexual harassment scourge
Following allegations of rape and sexual assault against Russell Brand, Bectu is calling for a joint overhaul of employers' processes for handling complaints of sexual haarassment.. Bectu's head Philippa Curtis signalled the development of the Creative Industries Independent Standards Authority, a sector-wide initiative set up to improve and uphold standards of behaviour, as a critical development in giving workers increased confidence in raising concerns, and in leading independent investigations.
Bectu news release, 18 September 2023

Britain: £300k fine for chemical company after exposing workers to chlorine gas
Bradford-based agricultural chemical company Nufarm UK Limited has been fined £300k plus costs after two of its workers were exposed to chlorine gas in 2021. An HSE investigation found the uncontrolled release of chlorine gas caused two men to suffer injuries requiring hospital treatment.
HSE news release, 20 September 2023

Scotland: Deep concern over 21 per cent increase in shoplifting
Police recorded crime statistics for Scotland have shown that in the 12 months to June 2023 there has been a 21 per cent increase in shoplifting. Retail trade union USDAW has called for retail crime to be taken seriously, pointing to their their latest annual survey of 7,500 shopworkers that revealed a doubling of violent incidents since 2016.
Usdaw news release, 19 September 2023

Britain: Benefits cuts and penalties threatened for the sick
Under new government plans people deemed unable to work could face penalties and have their benefits cut. DWP plans to make changes to the 'mobility and social interactions' categories that help determine both the level of cash support a sick person receives and also if they must look for work. Those affected by the proposals would include people with a risk of suicide or a history of self-harm. A consultation on the proposals was launched on 5 September and will run until the end of October. The DWP plan is set for implementation in 2025.
The Guardian, 6 September 2023

Britain: New AI taskforce launched to protect workers
The TUC has launched an Artificial Intelligence taskforce as it calls for “urgent” new legislation to safeguard workers’ rights and to ensure AI benefits all. The taskforce says AI is already making “high-risk, life changing” decisions about workers’ lives – such as line-managing, hiring and firing staff. Left unchecked, this could lead to greater discrimination, unfairness and exploitation at work across the economy, the taskforce warns
TUC news, 4 September 2023

Korea: Teacher suicide exposes parent bullying
In the wake of weeks of protests, tens of thousands of schoolteachers in Korea went on strike on 4 September 2023 dem anding better protection at work. On 3 July a 23-year-old primary school teacher wrote that she had become so overwhelmed by the craziness of work she “wanted to let go”, and two weeks later she was found dead in her classroom store cupboard by her colleagues.
BBC News Online, 4 September 2023

USA: Unions mean better intelligence at work
Nursing homes that unionise are more likely to report workplace injury and illness data to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a new study has found. “Unionisation led to a 78 per cent increase in employer compliance with OSHA’s requirement to report workplace injury and illness data,” said the lead author of the study, Adam Dean, professor of political science at the George Washington University, adding: “Reporting such information helps make nursing homes safer.” Adam Dean, Jamie McCallum, Atheendar S Venkataramani, and David Michaels. The Effect Of Labor Unions On Nursing Home Compliance With OSHA’s Workplace Injury And Illness Reporting Requirement, Health Affairs, volume 42, number 9, September 2023. www.healthaffairs.org American Prospect. 9 September 2023. 

USA: Striking support for US unions
A majority of Americans support unions, with their ‘positive’ role on workplace health and safety topping the reasons why. A poll for the US national trade union centre AFL-CIO found that 71 per cent of Americans support unions, with this rising to 88 per cent among people under 30 – and workplace safety scored highest on union impact, with 82 per cent of those polled saying that unions had a positive effect, and threequarters (75 per cent) supporting “workers going on strike to negotiate better wages, benefits, and working conditions, with nearly half (47 per cent) strongly supporting doing so.” AFL-CIO news release and poll resultsUSA Today.  29 August 2023.

Britain: NHS workers to strike over safe staffing crisis
NHS workers at four London NHS Trusts are set to strike in September due to low staffing. A recent Unite survey found staff shortages have reached such a dangerous level they risk the health of patients and threaten staff welfare.The 2,800 workers include nurses, pathologists, cleaners, caterers, porters and ancillary roles.
Unite the union, 31 August 2023

Britain: Bradford chemical company fined £300k after workers exposed to chlorine gas
An agricultural chemical company has been fined £300,000 after two workers were exposed to chlorine gas.The incident took place at Nufarm UK Limited in Bradford on 2 August 2021. Two mechanical fitters were assigned to repair a leak on a carbon block heat exchanger. However, later in the day, both fitters started coughing, struggling to breathe and their eyes and throats began to sting and burn. HSE found chlorine gas had escaped from an ope drain valve causing the men to suffer injuries requiring hospital treatment.
HSE news, 25 August 2023

Global: WHO accused of ‘failure’ on women’s work cancer
The UN’s top health and cancer agencies were accused in August 2023 of ‘institutional failure’ and of perpetuating the under-count of occupational cancers in women through “the publication of inaccurate statements about the adverse health effects of exposure to asbestos among females.”
Work cancer hazards, 5 August 2023

New Zealand: Call for tougher regulation after rudder falls off log ship
The Maritime Union says there needs to be a tightening up on Flag of Convenience ships coming into New Zealand waters before there is another disaster. The rudder of the Panamanian flagged log ship Achilles Bulker fell off on 24 July. Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison said “This situation could have ended very badly if it had occurred in bad weather conditions," adding the quality of Flag of Convenience ‘ships of shame’ coming onto the New Zealand coast is a decades long problem..
Maritime Union of New Zealand, 1 August 2023

Armenia: The government must put an end to journalist harassment online
The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ) have joined Armenian affilaite, the Union of Armenian Journalists (UAJ), in condemning the social media harassment campaign conducted by government supporters.The EFJ calls on the Armenian authorities to denounce, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of the threats of death and violence to journalists. The IFJ Deputy General Secretary Tim Dawson said: “Harassment on social media seriously affects journalists’ mental health and their ability to do their jobs."
European Federation of JournalistsUnion of Journalists of Armenia, 1 August 2023

Spain: Major study confirms wood dust link to lung cancer
Occupational exposure to wood dust causes an increase of over 40 per cent in the risk of developing lung cancer, a major study has found. Researchers from Spanish universities and health institutes evaluated eleven studies with a total of 2,368 small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cases and 357,179 controls. The systematic review and meta-analysis of the scientific literature determined there was a 41 per cent higher relative rate of this type of lung cancer in workers occupationally exposed to wood dust.
Work cancer hazards, 30 July 2023

Britain: Coroner calls on Heathrow operators to improve safety after fatality
The coroner who oversaw the inquest into the death of John Coles, British Airways engineer and Unite member at Heathrow Airport, has written to airport operators, Heathrow Airports Limited (HAL) seeking answers to concerns over worker safety at Heathrow. The family of John Coles and the union Unite, have called on HAL to implement improvements immediately to prevent further deaths.
Unite the Union, 26 July 2023

Italy: Furlough plan misses many heatwave workers
Italy’s main union CGIL says special government measures proposed to help construction and agricultural firms keep staff at home during an intense summer heatwave do not go far enough.  "Nothing is provided to help people working for delivery firms or seasonal workers, or other categories of employees," it said in a statement.
Yahoo! News, 25 July 2023

India: Three workers killed in explosion at cement factory
An oxygen cylinder explosion at the UltraTech Cement plant in Himri, Chhattisgarh, resulted in the death of three contract workers. Two other workers sustained injuries. The incident has drawn attention to the issue of precarious employment in the Indian cement industry with the Indian National Cement Workers' Federation (INCWF) demanding fair compensation for the families of the deceased workers.
IndustriALL, 24 July 2023

Australia: ACTU calls for urgent reform of gig economy
Reacting to the twelfth death of a food delivery worker since 2017, ACTU has called for urgent reform of the gig economy. ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said: “The unchecked transport gig economy puts workers lives at risk just to earn enough money. We urgently need reform to fix this crisis. No worker’s life is expendable for convenience.” 
ACTU news releaseThe Guardian, 24 July 2023

Britain: Union wins cash for life-changing prosthetic
Unite member Paul Branch, 61, can now go fishing and angling despite having his finger amputated in 2018 after a serious injury at work. The fishing enthusiast from West Sussex who lost a finger in at work received £190,000 in compensation to help fund a prosthesis that has “opened up a whole new world.”
Thompsons solicitors news release, 20 July 2023.

Britain: Union anger at Glasgow bar closure
Unite has condemned the ‘shocking’ closure of the 13th Note bar in Glasgow, whose owners decided on the move rather than address safety and other complaints from staff. Bryan Simpson, Lead for Unite Hospitality, said: “To close a workplace and sack more than 20 people is both trade union intimidation and with only one week of wages and less than 30 days’ notice is also unlawful – plain and simple.”
STUC news release. Unite news release, 19 July 2023.

Britain: TUC vows to fight attack on the right to strike
The TUC has condemned a Tory “wrecking ball” to right to strike passed on 18 July and says it won’t rest until the legislation is repealed. The union body has urged employers to do “everything in their power” to avoid using this counterproductive legislation to settle disputes.
TUC news release, 18 July 2023.

Britain: Company fined after vibration injuries
A manufacturing company has been fined £200,000 after two of its employees were diagnosed with hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). The workers were employed at Ross & Catherall Limited – a company that manufactures and supplies metal bars for the aerospace and automotive industries – but didn’t look into the risks or the cause of the cases.
HSE news release, 13 July 2023.

Britain: Firefighters need 12-month maternity pay
Firefighters’ union FBU has called for 12 months of maternity leave on full pay for firefighters, citing research finding that exposure to contaminants while firefighting impacts the health of pregnant firefighters, fetuses, and babies. In a letter addressed to the Local Government Association, the FBU’s National Women’s Committee reports that many women feel they must return to firefighting duties once their pay is halved as they cannot afford to stay on maternity leave. 
FBU news release, 13 July 2023.

Britain: Tory court defeat ‘strike-breaking’ law
“Ministers should spare themselves further embarrassment” by ditching changes to agency worker regs and junking the anti-strike bill, the TUC has said.  In a major defeat for the Conservative government, the High Court ruled on 13 July that its agency worker regulations are unlawful, after a successful legal challenge by trade unions – coordinated by the TUC.
TUC news release, 13 July 2023.

Britain: HR worker gets payout over maternity discrimination
Am HR worker has been awarded £28,000 in a discrimination claim after being ordered to clean toilets after she returned from maternity leave. Sabbah Messum, 38, was demoted to housekeeping duties by her boss, who was attempting to 'degrade and humiliate' her in an attempt to force her to leave, an employment tribunal heard.
The Mirror, 11 July 2023.

Kenya: Kenyan workers can sue tea giant
A Scottish court has ruled that a group of Kenyan farm workers can continue with a multi-million pound damages case against a major global tea firm. Up to 2,000 employees claim they suffered injuries due to working conditions at James Finlay Kenya Ltd.
BBC News Online, 11 July 2023.

Britain: Ruth Perry death could face ‘enhanced investigation’
AN ‘enhanced investigation’ into the cause of death of a Caversham headteacher is still being considered, an inquest has heard.  At a 11 July 2023 pre-inquest into the death of Caversham Primary School principal Ruth Perry, Senior coroner Heidi Connor told the inquest she has not yet made a final decision on whether to make the inquest an ‘Article 2’ inquest, which occurs where the “State or 'its agents' have 'failed to protect the deceased against a human threat or other risk' or where there has been a death in custody”.
Reading Chronicle, 11 July 2023.

Britain: Migrant care staff ‘exploited and harassed’
Migrant staff coming to the UK to take up jobs in social care are being forced to pay back thousands of pounds in fees, housed in sub-standard accommodation and even forced to share beds with colleagues, UNISON has warned.
UNISON news release, 10 July 2023.

Britain: Wildfire failures were ‘negligence driven by cuts’
The London Fire Brigade has released a Major Incident Review looking at its response to the July 2022 wildfires. It confirms that a shortage of crew and fire appliances hampered the response.
FBU news release, 10 July 2023.

Britain: Ofsted upgrades Ruth Perry's school to good
The school run by a head teacher who took her own life after a critical Ofsted report has been rated as good after a new inspection. Ruth Perry died in January after being told Caversham Primary School in Berkshire was being downgraded from outstanding to inadequate.
BBC News Online, 8 July 2023.

Britain: Work-related fatalities up
One hundred and thirty-five workers were killed in work-related incidents in Great Britain in the last year, according to latest figures published by the Health and Safety Executive, up from 123 in 2021/22.The industries with the highest deaths were construction (45), agriculture, forestry, and fishing (21), manufacturing (15), and transportation and storage (15).
HSE news release, 6 July 2023.

Britain: Massive rise in construction workers killed
Forty-five construction workers were killed in site accidents last year according to the latest official figures from the Health and Safety Executive. The figure is sharply up on last year’s 29 fatalities and higher than the five-year average of 37 annual deaths.
Construction Enquirer, 6 July 2023.

Britain: New strategy needed on healthcare burnout
A new approach is needed to tackle high levels of burnout among healthcare workers, a new report has concluded. Shocking figures recently showed that NHS England experienced an absence rate of 5.6 per cent in 2022, the equivalent of losing nearly 75,000 staff to illness, often caused by burnout.
SOM news release, 6 July 2023.

Global: Green transition can improve work conditions
The transition to greener economies can improve working conditions and practices for migrant workers, according to IOSH. Responding to a United Nations (UN) consultation on human rights in the extractive sector, IOSH called for a sharp focus from governments and industry stakeholders to ensuring people are protected in the complex context of a transition towards environmentally sustainable economies.
IOSH news release, 5 July 2023.

Britain: Docs debilitated by long Covid
Significant numbers of doctors are still suffering with the debilitating effects of long Covid, a worrying new report has warned. Many are in financial limbo after being forced to quit work or reduce their hours, the study from doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) stressed.
BMA news release. Morning Star, 4 July 2023.

Britain: Record number leave NHS as stress hits
Nearly 170,000 workers left their jobs in the NHS in England last year, in a record exodus of staff struggling to cope with some of the worst pressures ever seen in the country’s health system. More than 41,000 nurses were among those who left their jobs in NHS hospitals and community health services, with the highest leaving rate for at least a decade.
The Observer, 13 July 2023.

Europe: Stress linked to heart disease and depression
A European trade union research organisation ETUI report has estimated the fractions of cardiovascular disease and depression attributable to five different psychosocial work factors. It concludes: “Our study showed a high burden of CHD and depression attributable to the studied psychosocial work exposures in the EU28 in 2015, with a higher burden for depression.”
ETUI publication notice and full report, July 2023.

Britain: UK falls down workers’ rights rankings
The UK has fallen down the global rankings on workers’ rights because of the Conservatives’ attacks on the right to strike, according to a new report. The ITUC’s global rights index rates countries based on their record on labour rights and human rights – and for the first time in the index’s ten-year history, the UK has slipped down the rankings and is now accused of a “systematic violation of rights” because of the introduction of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill.
ITUC news release, 30 June 2023.

Britain: NHS staff sickness hits record high in England
Figures for 2022 show an absence rate - the proportion of days lost - of 5.6 per cent, meaning the NHS lost the equivalent of nearly 75,000 staff to illness. This is higher than during the peak pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 - and a 29 per cent rise on the 2019 rate.
BBC News Online, 29 June 2023.

Britain: Spycop unit should have been shut down
A SECRET police unit that spied on over a 1,000 left-wing groups over 40 years should have been disbanded shortly after it was created, a public inquiry has concluded. Inquiry chairman Sir John Mitting, a retired judge, said in an interim report that the tactics used by police spies to infiltrate protest groups in the 1970s and ’80s were not justified.
Morning Star, 29 June 2023.

Britain: Workers rally for sacked at safety rep
Workers rallied outside the City of Edinburgh College today to demand the re-instatement of a sacked trade unionist. Lecturer and EIS-FELA union health and safety rep Kevin Scally was made redundant after what was described as a “rigged” process which targeted trade unionists at the college.
Morning Star, 29 June 2023.

Britain: Construction inspections falls to record low
Unite, the UK’s construction union, has discovered that life-saving proactive (unannounced) inspections in the construction industry have fallen to a record low. A freedom of information request made by the union discovered that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) undertook only 7,647 unannounced inspections in 2022/23 a two per cent decline on the previous year when there were 7,793 inspections.
Unite news release, 28 June 2023.

Britain: Hundreds of schools face urgent structural checks
Specialists are carrying out urgent checks on almost 600 schools in England identified as being at possible risk of structural collapse because of crumbling concrete, with many more not aware of the danger of their buildings, a new report finds. The Department for Education (DfE) has identified 572 schools so far where it believes reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), a building material that deteriorates over time and is susceptible to sudden failure, may have been used during construction.
The Guardian, 28 June 2023.

Britain: NAO reports reveal shocking state of schools
Two reports from the National Audit Office (NAO) show the goverment has failed to maintain the school estate or improve its resilience, teaching union NEU has said. It added the era of hoping such problems will go away of their own accord is over.
NEU news release, 28 June 2023.

Britain: Tory plans to increase pension age slammed
Unite and the NPC have joined forces to demand the Tories rule out an attack on the state pension. Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham said: “I’m in no doubt that Rishi Sunak and co are hell bent on raising the state pension age if they win the next general election,” adding: “That’s why we intend to expose the Prime Minister’s cruel plan to make people work until they drop. In a country as wealthy as ours we can afford to retire with dignity.”
Unite news release, 27 June 2023.

Britain: Soaring probation workloads put public at risk
Workloads in the austerity-hit probation service are putting the public at risk, unions representing workers in the essential sector in England and Wales have warned. The worsening situation will lead to a catastrophic breakdown of the service if the Ministry of Justice does not intervene, UNISON, GMB and Napo said.
Morning Star, 26 June 2023.

Britain: Private health care firm fined over chlorine gas
Private health care provider Circle Health Group has been fined £160,000 after three workers received treatment following exposure to chlorine gas. The workers were exposed to the potentially deadly gas on 11 March 2021.
HSE news release, 21 June 2023.

Hazards news, 7 June 2023

Britain: Safety a victim of public service cuts
Real terms cuts and underinvestment in public services from 2010 to 2020 undermined the UK’s ability to provide an effective response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with workplace safety among the casualties. A new TUC report notes: “During the pandemic, instead of raising the number of inspections and enforcement notices, they fell to an all-time low, despite widespread workplace linked cases of infection.”
TUC news release and report, Austerity and the pandemic: How cuts damaged four vital pillars of pandemic resilience, TUC, 5 June 2023. The Guardian. Sky News. 7 June 2023

Britain: Ministers cannot be Covid ‘judge and jury’
The TUC has warned attempts by ministers to limit the evidence submitted to the Covid Public Inquiry are ‘deeply worrying’. Responding to the government’s decision to launch a judicial review to block the disclosure of unredacted evidence to the Covid Public Inquiry, TUC assistant general secretary Kate Bell said: “Ministers cannot be the judge and jury over what is disclosed to the inquiry.”
BBC News Online. 7 June 2023

Britain: Inquiry must examine UK’s ‘broken sick pay’ system
The Covid inquiry must take an unflinching look at how the UK’s lack of decent sick pay left the country “brutally exposed” during the pandemic, the TUC has said. TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Many workers simply couldn’t afford to self-isolate,” adding: “This pushed up infection rates, put a huge strain on our public services and ballooned the cost of test and trace.”
UK Covid-19 inquiry and module 1 on resilience and preparedness. The Guardian. 7 June 2023

Britain: Most wood firms have deadly dust exposures
Many woodworking businesses are endangering workers’ lives by failing to implement the measures required to prevent or control exposure to wood dust, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned as it launched a 2023/24 inspection campaign. In 2022/23, HSE carried out more than 1,000 woodworking inspections and found 78 per cent of businesses were not compliant in protecting workers from dusts linked to asthma, cancer and lung diseases - primarily dust from hardwoods, softwoods and composite materials such as MDF.
HSE news release and Dust Kills: Wood Dust campaign page. 7 June 2023

Britain: Governments must heed wildfire warning
Britain’s governments must heed the ‘stark warning’ provided by a Scottish wildfire visible from space, firefighters’ union FBU has said. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “We need urgent climate action to prevent loss of life, and that must also involve serious investment in our fire services.”
FBU news release. 7 June 2023

Britain: Tube track workers ‘afraid to raise safety concerns’
Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of ‘gig economy’ track workers being used by London Underground would be unhappy about raising safety concerns about their work, for fear of not being offered future shifts, an RMT survey has revealed. The workers who perform vital and safety-critical work on London Underground’s track are engaged through two ‘employment agencies’, Morson and Cleshar, who RMT says put them on ‘bogus’ self-employed contracts that deny them sick pay, holiday, pensions and travel facilities.
RMT news release. 7 June 2023

Britain: RMT warning after Indian train tragedy
Rail union RMT has issued a rail safety warning after a signalling fault was blamed for the India train disaster on 2 June 2023 that killed at least 288 people and injured over 1,000 more. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, who has warned of the impact of funding cuts on UK rail safety, said: “Whenever there is an accident of this magnitude, it underlines that safety on railway systems everywhere must be a top priority.”
RMT news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. 7 June 2023

Britain: Thousands of ambulance workers attacked
Austerity-hit ambulance staff have been subjected to thousands of violent attacks while working in recent years, a GMB investigation has revealed. Crews were bitten, head-butted, spat at and struck with weapons at least 9,565 times across Britain and Northern Ireland between 2017-18 and 2021-22, freedom of information requests found; the research also shows 1,248 sexual assaults were recorded.
GMB news release. Morning Star. 7 June 2023

Britain: Prospect condemns abuse of UEFA referee
Prospect has condemned the abuse faced by referee Anthony Taylor following the 31 May UEFA Europa League final between Sevilla and Roma. Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said: “The abuse Anthony Taylor and his family received travelling back from Budapest following the UEFA Europa League final was utterly disgraceful,” adding: “No-one should face threats or abuse for doing their job, nor should they have to fear for the safety of their family.”
Prospect news release. The Mirror. 7 June 2023

Britain: Prison officer compensated after attempted murder
A prison officer who suffered horrendous head injuries and psychological trauma after being violently attacked by a prison inmate, has secured a six-figure compensation settlement with the help of his union, the Prison Officers Association (POA). Derek Walker, 48, was brutally attacked by a prisoner at HMP Wayland, near Thetford, in July 2017, with the prisoner responsible convicted of attempted murder in July 2019.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. 7 June 2023

Britain: Toilets for drivers a ‘basic human right’
Toilets for taxi and private hire drivers, courier and road transport workers are a ‘basic human right’, GMB’s congress has heard. Mike Tinnion, GMB London region delegate said: “This is a health and safety issue for professional drivers,” adding: “If you risk not using a proper facility you can face prosecution and can lose your job.”
GMB news release. 7 June 2023

Britain: Union win in sight on exclusion of offending MPs
A House of Commons Commission report has brought a step closer the prospect of excluding from parliament MPs accused of serious offences such as rape or other violent crimes. The report, whose recommendations are to be voted on by MPs, proposes having a risk assessment on exclusion for any MP accused of serious crimes.
Prospect news release. House of Commons Commission news release and report. 7 June 2023

Britain: Public wants AI rules at work
New polling by tech trade union Prospect has found that workers overwhelmingly believe the government should set rules around the use of generative AI such as ChatGPT. Over half (58 per cent) of workers responding to polling by Prospect and Opinium supported regulation.
Prospect news release. 7 June 2023

Australia: Cancer risk from welding fumes
Unions in Australia are demanding action to protect workers from cancer- and lung disease-causing welding fumes. Andrew Dettmer, national president of the union AMWU, which has launched a national campaign, said: “It's not just people who are doing the welding, but people in a welding workplace,” adding: “If they are exposed and they do get lung cancer or other diseases such as manganism, that can be a death sentence.”
Nine News. 7 June 2023

Britain: Global: Investors now concerned about work toxins
Interest in chemicals has skyrocketed among investors in the last year, according to the non-profit ChemSec. Sonja Haider, senior investors adviser with the Sweden-based independent organisation, said in 2010 “only 18 out of 152 asset managers and rating agencies within the realm of Socially Responsible Investments (SRI)” looked at chemical safety risks in their portfolios, but she added: “ChemSec is now coordinating a network of 50+ investors with a staggering US $11 trillion in assets dedicated to reducing the impacts of hazardous chemicals on people and the planet.”
ChemSec article. 7 June 2023

Ukraine: Nuke workers face forced labour
Workers at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine have been subjected to forced labour and coercion to join unions controlled by occupying Russian forces, Ukrainian unions have charged. They warn many workers are being exposed to life-threatening occupational safety and health (OSH) risks, with emergency response and OSH management systems no longer functioning effectively.
ILO news release and joint briefing paper by the ILO and IndustriALL. 7 June 2023

Hazards news, 31 May 2023

Britain: Government must come clean on Covid
The government must not withhold evidence from the Covid Public Inquiry, the TUC has said. The call came after the chair of the inquiry, Baroness Hallett, criticised the Cabinet Office for refusing to hand over unredacted WhatsApp messages from Boris Johnson and his advisers.
TUC news release. UK Covid-19 inquiry and module 1 on resilience and preparedness. Morning Star. BBC News Online. 31 May 2023

Britain: Calls for menopause and menstruation action
A new standard on menopause and menstruation support at work has been welcomed by retail union Usdaw and safety professionals’ body IOSH. The ‘Menstruation, menstrual health and menopause in the workplace standard’ has been introduced by the British Standards Institute (BSI) to help organisations retain experienced and talented staff.
BS 30416, Menstruation, menstrual health and menopause in the workplacefull standard download page. Usdaw news release. IOSH news release. BBC News Online. 31 May 2023

Britain: Boost for mental health programme in film and TV 
Following the success of the WellBeing Facilitator programme for film and TV productions in Wales, launched last year by creative industries union Bectu’s joint learning project Cult Cymru, Creative Wales and wellbeing specialists 6ft from the spotlight, the programme is set to benefit from an additional £150,000 in funding from the Welsh government
Bectu news release. WellBeing Facilitator programme. 31 May 2023

Britain: Army missed chances to prevent cadet’s suicide
The army missed opportunities to prevent the death of a “positive and bubbly” officer cadet who killed herself at Sandhurst military academy, a coroner has found. Olivia Perks, 21, fell victim to a “complete breakdown in welfare support” during her time at the academy, the 16-day inquest at Reading town hall heard.
The Guardian. BBC News Online.
ACTION! Send an e-postcard to tell HSE to investigate and record work-related suicides and suicide risks. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide 31 May 2023

Britain: calls pupil violent behaviour summit
Scottish teaching union EIS has welcomed the announcement that the Scottish government is to convene a summit on violent behaviour by pupils in schools in the coming weeks, but has said it is just a ‘first step’. EIS general secretary Andrea Bradley said violent incidents have been increasing, noting: “Schools must be safe places to learn and to teach, safe spaces for students and staff alike, not least because health and safety legislation requires it.”
EIS news releases. Scottish government news release. 31 May 2023

Britain: Checks reveal deadly chemical risk on ships
Checks of specialist production and storage vessels in UK waters have revealed alarmingly high concentrations of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) which could kill crew members instantly and which can pose a threat to vessel safety by corroding steelwork. In response to the findings, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning operators of floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) and floating storage and offloading (FSO) vessels and floating storage units (FSU) to take a series of preventive measures to protect workers from the toxic gas.
Nautilus news release. HSE safety notice. 31 May 2023

Britain: Scots rail safety fears over crash fails
Scotland’s railways have been hit by new safety concerns after it emerged Network Rail faces swingeing cuts while 18 out of 20 official recommendations for action in the wake of the Stonehaven rail disaster have still not been completed. Latest figures reveal the Scottish government's rail budget for the upkeep of the rail infrastructure has been reduced by £150m over the past four years.
The Herald. 31 May 2023

Britain: Testicular cancer linked to certain jobs
Agricultural, sales and electrical and electronics workers are at almost twice the risk of a testicular cancer, a study has found. “Our findings suggest that agricultural, electrical and electronics workers, and salesmen workers experience an increased risk of TGCT,” the paper concluded, with rates more than 70 per cent higher than expected in these groups.
Margot Guth and others and the TESTIS study group. Testicular germ cell tumour risk by occupation and industry: a French case-control study – TESTIS, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 25 May 2023:oemed-2022-108601. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2022-108601. Epub ahead of print. 31 May 2023

Britain: Serco fined £2.25m after death of custody officer
Security firm, Serco, has been fined £2.25 million plus £433,596.07 in costs for criminal health and safety failings following the death of custody officer Lorraine Barwell. The-54-year-old was kicked twice, once in the body and once in the head, at Blackfriars Crown Court in 2015 during the restraint of a prisoner in custody.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. 31 May 2023

Britain: Hygiene consultancy fined after admitting failures
Hampshire-based Envirochem Analytical Laboratories Limited has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £6,583 in costs after admitting criminal failures that put workers at risk of exposure to hazardous substances. An exposure monitoring report provided to a firm by the hygiene consultancy firm was “deficient”, said the Health and Safety Executive.
HSE news release. 31 May 2023

Britain: National Hazards Conference, 1-3 September 2023
It’s time to book your place for the national Hazards Conference for trade union safety reps and activists. This year the event, which has a mix of plenary sessions, meetings and a comprehensive workshop programme, runs from 1-3 September at Keele University, Stoke on Trent, or can be attended remotely online.
National Hazards Conference, Keele University or online, 1-3 September 2023. Register for the conference using this form or on Eventbrite. Sponsorship form. 31 May 2023

Global: Death-trap trawler crew must be allowed home
Fishers on a 50-year-old ‘death trap’ trawler should not be made to go back to sea, even to sail to a repair yard, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is demanding. The fishing vessel Santa Isabel, flying under the Belize flag, has been detained by maritime authorities in the port of Vigo in northern Spain since 10 May 2023, after the ITF drew attention to its ‘appalling’ state, as well as the ‘intolerable’ conditions for crew observed by an ITF inspector.
ITF news release. 31 May 2023

Global: Technological change in shipping must be worker-led
Technological change in commercial shipping, including autonomous ships, can be safer and greener but only if worker-led, research has concluded. Commenting on the study, published jointly by the Korean Maritime Institute (KMI), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the Korea Institute of Maritime and Fisheries Technology (KIMFT), ITF’s David Heindel said: “Developments in artificial intelligence are making the possibility of fully autonomous ships more real.”
ITF news release. 31 May 2023

Gulf States: Migrant workers at serious risk from heat
Migrant workers toiling in the Gulf are at serious risk from dangerous heat exposures through the working day, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned. “Despite substantial scientific evidence on the devastating health impact of exposure to extreme heat, Gulf states’ protection failures are causing millions of migrant workers to face grave risks, including death,” said Michael Page, HRW’s deputy Middle East director.
HRW news release. 31 May 2023

Spain: Big win for hotel housekeepers on workload
More than 20,000 hotel housekeepers in the Balearic Islands, Spain, will benefit from a new methodology to regulate their workloads, taking into account the class of hotel, the specifications of each room and mandated requirements for cleanliness. The collective agreement addresses workload, breaks, overexertion around the moving of beds and trolleys, personal protective equipment (PPE), outsourcing, and the high turnover among the largely female workforce.
IUF news release. 31 May 2023

Hazards news, 24 May 2023

Britain: HSE ‘must investigate’ every work-related suicide
The Health and Safety Executive ‘must investigate every work-related suicide’, two top experts have said. Writing in the British Medical Journal, professors Martin McKee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Sarah Waters from the University of Leeds note these investigations should take place “in whichever sector they occur and ensure that work-related suicides are subject to the same requirements for reporting and prevention as other occupational deaths.”
Sarah Waters and Martin McKee. Ofsted: a case of official negligence?, BMJ, volume 381, page 1147, 21 May 2023. doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.p1147. BBC News Online. BBC Breakfast. Personnel Today. 24 May 2023

Britain: TUC demands work-related suicide probes
Work-related suicides should be reported by employers and investigated by the safety regulator, unions have said. The Trades Union Congress (TUC), teaching and other unions are all backing a change in Health and Safety Executive (HSE) rules so it investigates work-related suicides, with the TUC noting work-related stress is now at ‘epidemic levels.’
The Guardian. ACTION! Send an e-postcard to tell HSE to investigate and record work-related suicides and suicide risks. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide. 24 May 2023

Britain: Unite action call on work suicides ‘scandal’
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors must be allowed to investigate all suicides where work is a factor in someone taking their own life Unite has said. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The failure to fully investigate the reasons why workers in all sectors are taking their own lives is a scandal,” adding until “all aspects” of why workers kill themselves are investigated, “the necessary reforms needed to save lives cannot be implemented.”
Unite news release. 24 May 2023

Britain: Unions and doctors back work suicide demands
Major trade unions and doctors have joined calls for work-related suicides to be investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Jon Richards, an assistant general secretary at UNISON, said: “The HSE should take account of the full impact of work on employees, and Prof Phil Banfield, the chair of the British Medical Association, said “HSE must have the necessary resources and correct processes in place to ensure that they can effectively investigate and evaluate this in a way that can result in much-needed change within the healthcare system to ultimately help reduce the prevalence of work-related suicides.”
The Guardian. Hazards work-related suicide campaign and action on the work mental health crisis. 24 May 2023

Britain: Rise in shoplifting is driving shop violence
Retail union Usdaw has warned a rise in shoplifting is driving an increase in violence against shopworkers. The union is concerned that police crime statistics show a significant increase in shoplifting across England and Wales in the 12 months to December 2022.
Usdaw news release. Morning Star. 24 May 2023

Britain: ‘Shocking’ epidemic of sexual assault in the NHS
NHS trusts recorded more than 35,000 cases of rape, sexual assault, harassment, stalking, and abusive remarks between 2017 and 2022, a joint investigation by The BMJ and the Guardian has found. Responses to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from 212 NHS trusts and 37 police forces in England, show that a total of 35,606 sexual safety incidents were recorded on NHS premises over this five year period.
Ingrid Torjesen and Adele Waters. Investigation: Medical colleges and unions call for inquiry over “shocking” levels of sexual assault in the NHS, BMJ, volume 381, page 1105, 2023.
Simon Fleming. Opinion: With sexual harassment or assault, what you permit, you promote, BMJ, volume 381, page 1117, 2023. Published 23 May 2023.
Rosalind Searle. Opinion: How many more people will be abused before we act on sexual violence in healthcare?, BMJ, volume 381, page 1094, 2023.
The Guardian. 24 May 2023

Britain: Tube workers facing threats of violence
Rail union RMT has called on Transport for London (TfL) to end its cuts programme, which is forcing repeated station closures across the London Underground network, exposing staff up to abuse from frustrated passengers. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Frustration amongst the travelling public has boiled over in some cases to nasty threats of violence and verbal abuse of our members, something RMT will not tolerate.”
RMT news release. 24 May 2023

Britain: Continued opposition to Tory rules axe
The battle against the government’s now significantly scaled back plan to axe EU derived laws by the end of the year is not over, civil service union Prospect has said. Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham said “we are not out of the woods yet,” adding Prospect would be keeping a close eye on developments as the union continues to campaign against the Bill.
Prospect news release. 24 May 2023

Britain: School improvement fund ‘nowhere near enough’
More than £450 million provided by the government to improve hundreds of dilapidated school buildings across the country is “nowhere near enough,” a teaching union has warned. Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) general secretary Geoff Barton said the £456m pot “is the bare minimum and nowhere near enough to meet the cost of remedial work to repair or replace all defective elements in the school estate in England, which at the last count stood at £11.4 billion.”
DfE news release. Morning Star. Construction Enquirer. 24 May 2023

Britain: Ministers must come clean on school collapse risks
The government must publish information showing the location and extent of school buildings it has admitted are “very likely” to collapse. Commenting ahead of Labour questions to the minister in the Commons on 23 May, NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “It is unacceptable for the government to sit on vital information that affects the day-to-day safety and welfare of children, young people and staff working in schools.”
NASUWT news release. 24 May 2023

Britain: ‘Disturbing’ silence on unsafe school buildings
Teaching union NEU has said it is ‘disturbing’ the government has allowed schools to fall into a dangerous state of disrepair, while refusing to reveal the at-risk buildings. Dr Mary Bousted, the NEU’s joint general secretary said: “It is disturbing that the government has let school buildings fall into such a state of disrepair that some even pose a risk to those who work and study in them,” adding: “It is equally disturbing that despite the warnings government either does not know, or will not tell us, which buildings fall into this category.”
NEU news release. 24 May 2023

Britain: Details of crumbling schools must be published
Parents, carers and staff should be told if any school buildings are on the brink of collapse, school support workers’ union UNISON has said. The union’s head of education, Mike Short, commented: “By concealing the truth, ministers are failing in their duty of care to protect thousands of pupils and staff by exposing them to such threats.”
UNISON news release. 24 May 2023

Britain: Dog handler compensated for road traffic injuries
A search dog handler injured in a car crash with a drink driver has secured a six-figure compensation settlement with the help of his wife’s union, NASUWT. David Bentley, 67, suffered life-changing injuries including several broken bones and requiring multiple operations in November 2018 following a head-on collision with the drunk, uninsured driver.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. EssexLive. 24 May 2023

Britain: Eight out of 10 firms are safety criminals
More than 80 per cent of businesses checked during an inspection blitz on the Isle of Wight were in criminal breach of safety laws. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) two-day inspection programme on the island over two May days found 84 per cent of businesses in breach of health and safety regulations.
HSE news release. 24 May 2023

Britain: £1.9m fine after worker killed by HGV
Two major transport companies have been fined a total of £2.2m after depot manager Neil Roberts, 60, was killed when he was hit by a reversing HGV in Birmingham. Turners (Soham) Limited pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was fined £1.9m plus £7,300 costs and The Haulage Group Ltd pleaded guilty to the same offences and was fined £300,000 plus £7,300 costs.
HSE news release and guidance on workplace transport safety. 24 May 2023

Britain: Young worker’s injury caught on camera
CCTV footage of the moment a young worker’s arm was caught in a machine, breaking it in two places, has been released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). A 60m lathe started as the 22-year-old recent recruit at Gates Engineering and Services UK Limited, which was fined £200,000 plus £3,653.70 costs, had reached to retrieve rubber material that had fallen from the machine, which then caught his arm.
HSE news release. 24 May 2023

Australia: Low wages put road transport safety at risk
An Australian transport union leader has warned the safety and livelihood of truck drivers and others is being ‘gravely compromised’ due to the industry’s poor conditions and inadequate pay rates. TWU national secretary Michael Kaine told Sky News Australia: “There are decades of evidence that show in road transport that if you have poor conditions and poor rates of pay, then there is a safety outcome on our roads.”
TWU safe rates campaign. Sky News. More on the hazards of low pay. 24 May 2023

USA: Minnesota acts to protect warehouse workers
Minnesota lawmakers have passed a bill that would provide more protection for warehouse workers who have to meet productivity quotas, a move aimed at helping employees at companies like Amazon. The bill prohibits companies from firing or taking any adverse actions against an employee for failing to meet a quota that has not been disclosed to them and says companies can’t implement productivity quotas that prevent workers from taking breaks, and allows the state to open an investigation if a company has an injury rate 30 per cent or higher compared to its peers.
ABC News. 24 May 2023

Hazards news, 17 May 2023

Britain: Working people ‘pushed to breaking point’
Working people are being “pushed to breaking point”, the TUC has said, as latest ONS labour market figures show that real weekly wages are down £19 per week over the past year. The number of people on zero hours contracts is up to 1.13 million, from 1.02 million this time last year.
TUC news release. ONS labour market figures. More on the hazards of low pay and insecure work. 17 May 2023

Britain: Record numbers not working due to ill-health
The number of people not working in the UK due to long-term sickness has risen to a new record, official figures have revealed. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) show more than two and half million people were not working because of health problems.
BBC News Online. 17 May 2023

Britain: Government retreats from EU law axe
The government has announced it is scrapping the Retained EU Law Bill ‘sunset clause’, reducing the number of EU-derived law set to be axed on 31 December from over 4,000 to 600. Commenting on the government retreat, spelled out in a ‘Smarter regulation to grow the economy’ report, TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “After countless warnings from unions, business and environmental groups – the government is finally stepping back from its disastrous plan to rip up every single piece of EU-retained law by the end of the year.”
Statement from Kemi Badenoch, secretary of state for business and trade, written statement to parliament, and report, Smarter regulation to grow the economy, 10 May 2023. Bectu news release. Prospect news release. The Telegraph. BBC News Online and commentary. 17 May 2023

Britain: TUC slams plan to scrap working hours rules
Workers’ rights and safety will be put at risk by plan to scrap EU working hours rules, the TUC has said. Commenting on the measures, included in the Department for Business and Trade’s ‘Smarter regulation to grow the economy’ report and one of the exceptions from the government’s REUL rowback, TUC general secretary Paul Nowak warned the move was “a gift to rogue employers looking to exploit workers and put them through long, gruelling shifts without enough rest.”
The Guardian. Morning Star. Lexology. 17 May 2023

Britain: Red tape cut means misery for workers
The government’s announcement that it is removing the requirement on employers to record how many hours employees work has been branded a “boost for bad bosses” by Unite. Unite said lifting the duty on employers to record night work is ‘especially worrying’ as working excessive periods at night has been linked with an increased risk of developing cancer and diabetes.
Unite news release. Morning Star. 17 May 2023

Britain: Pared-back plans are still reckless, say lawyers
The Conservative government decision to water down proposed legislation to remove 4,000 EU laws from the statute books is still a “reckless” and “irresponsible” project, leading barristers have said. While the business secretary, Kemi Badenoch, was accused of “a massive climbdown”, barristers say the retention of sweeping “undemocratic” ministerial powers and the removal of the “interpretive effect” of EU law will blow up decades of legal precedent set by courts in Britain and makes for legislation like that found in authoritarian states.
The Guardian and related story. 17 May 2023

Britain: Safety body warns plan will harm growth
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has warned that the government’s amended plans to scrap EU laws don’t go far enough and will continue to harm economic growth, as a new survey of its members reveals concerns about the impact on businesses and inward investment. Over half of the 330 health and safety professionals surveyed by IOSH said the Bill will cost business more (55 per cent), almost two-thirds (63 per cent) anticipate it will increase costs to government, and eight in ten (79 per cent) are opposed to the Bill.
IOSH news release. 17 May 2023

Britain: Most young women sexually harassed at work
Almost two in three young women have experienced sexual harassment, bullying or verbal abuse at work, according to a TUC poll. However, most victims do not report it for fear of not being believed or of damaging their relationships at work or their career prospects, the union body said.
TUC news release. The Guardian. 17 May 2023

Britain: FBU drive to tackle harassment and bullying
Firefighters’ union FBU has launched a major drive to tackle discrimination in the fire service. FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said that firefighters had lost faith in Chief Fire Officers or the government ending the abuse, after decades of failure on the issue and unveiled plans to investigate the sector itself, and to tackle discrimination, harassment and bullying of firefighters.
FBU news release. 17 May 2023

Britain: Physios urged to ‘call out microaggressions’
A new campaign by the physiotherapists’ union CSP is aiming ‘to reduce microaggressions faced by CSP members in order to improve their working lives.’  “Our insight showed CSP members face microaggressions regularly, with around a third experiencing them on a weekly basis,” the union said.
CSP microaggressions campaign webpage. 17 May 2023

Britain: Stop insulting civil servants, union tells ministers
The head of the union for senior civil servants has urged Rishi Sunak to stop insulting officials or accusing them of trying to unseat the government. David Penman, general secretary of the FDA union, also accused the prime minister of treating civil servants like “second-class public sector workers” after the government offered them a worse pay deal than teachers and health staff.
FDA news release. The Guardian. 17 May 2023

Britain: MoD worker wins stress claim
An MoD cryptographic auditor who developed severe depression and anxiety when her employer suspended her and charged her with a disciplinary offence has secured compensation for disability discrimination and personal injury. Prospect member Dawn Malloy had to wait 18 months on suspension before the MoD issued her a first written warning.
Prospect news release. 17 May 2023

Britain: Autism worker gets payout after attack
A UNISON member who suffered permanent arm injuries after being pushed over by a care home resident, has secured £30,000 in compensation. Elizabeth ‘Bet’ Hoyles, a 70-year-old former autism support worker, was attacked by a resident at Autism Hampshire care home in August 2018, leaving the 23-year veteran with ongoing pain in her arm and struggling with ‘debilitating psychological issues’.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. 17 May 2023

Britain: Parliamentary staff at risk in crumbling buildings
Parliamentary staff are being put at risk from crumbling buildings and need protection, Prospect has warned. Responding to the Public Accounts Committee report on the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster, Prospect union general secretary Mike Clancy said: “Parliament is the workplace for thousands of people, who - as the report makes clear, and as unions have warned for years - face an increasing risk of ‘catastrophic consequences’ if those in charge continue to delay vital repair work.”
PAC news release and report. Sky News. 17 May 2023

Britain: Teachers walk out over ‘adverse management’
Teachers at Gendros Primary School in Swansea walked out on 17 May, on the first of eleven planned days of strike action over ‘adverse management practices’ the union says are affecting teachers’ health and working conditions. NASUWT members say the local authority and school governors have failed to adequately address ‘management incompetence’ at the school.
NASUWT news release. Wales Online. 17 May 2023

Britain: RMT slams government plans for longer lorries
Logistics union RMT has criticised government plans to permit longer lorries on UK roads. The unions comments came amid widespread warnings that the move will increase the number of fatal road accidents. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said that it was completely baffling that the government had made the announcement on longer lorries despite the fact that the climate emergency was accelerating alongside the ‘increasingly obvious managed decline’ of the rail system, including the freight sector.
RMT news release. 17 May 2023

Britain: Two poultry workers test positive for bird flu
Two poultry workers on the same farm in England have tested positive for bird flu after coming into contact with infected birds, according to the UK Health Security Agency. The cases were picked up through a screening programme for people who have come into close contact with the virus, though neither individual suffered symptoms and both have since tested negative.
HSA news release. The Guardian. Hazards guide to biohazards. 17 May 2023

Britain: Support the Covid safety pledge!
Unions at all levels are being asked to work with employers to sign up to a Covid Safety Pledge. The initiative, which has strong backing from national trade union organisations, wants employers to reduce airborne transmission by: Cleaning the air through improved ventilation and the use of HEPA air filters; wearing of FFP2/FFP3 respirator masks in shared indoor air, especially necessary in badly ventilated areas and those used by infectious and vulnerable people (notably healthcare settings); and ensuring that when employees are sick they are encouraged and supported to stay at home.
Covid Safety Pledge and signatories. 17 May 2023

Britain: Directors jailed after five workers lost their lives
Two directors of a Birmingham metal recycling firm have been jailed after five agency workers died when a 45-tonne wall fell on them. Wayne Hawkeswood and Graham Woodhouse denied risking workers’ safety when the wall overloaded with 263 tonnes of briquettes collapsed at Shredmet; both men were jailed for nine months and their firms fined £1.6m in total.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. 17 May 2023

Britain: Company convicted after impaled worker dies
Sheffield-based Linbrooke Services Limited has been fined £550,000 over the "foreseeable and avoidable death" of a worker who was impaled on metal piping. Matthew Mason, 20, was working at Bearsden train station in East Dunbartonshire to install a PA system when he fell to his death.
COPFS news release. Daily Record. Sheffield Star. 17 May 2023

Britain: HSE site inspection blitz to target lung health
Failure to prevent life-threatening diseases caused by dust at work is unacceptable, the the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said. The regulator said an inspection initiative across Great Britain, which kicked off on 15 May, will involve inspections throughout May, June and July and will focus on respiratory risks from exposure to dust.
HSE news release.
ACTION! Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective UK silica workplace exposure limit. www.hazards.org/HSEstopkillingus 17 May 2023

Britain: Boss escapes jail after roof horror
A Bradford man has been given a suspended prison sentence after an employee sustained life-threatening injuries when he fell 30-feet through a fragile roof. Fazal Subkhan, 57, was given the nine-month sentence, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to criminal health and safety breaches related to an incident on 25 March 2020 when Uzaifa Khan, 34, suffered a number of significant injuries including  broken ribs, wrist, elbow and pelvis and a partially collapsed lung.
HSE news release. 17 May 2023

Britain: Seafarers urged to complete port welfare survey
Seafarers are being urged to give their views on the services and support available during visits to UK ports, in a new survey aimed at improving future maritime welfare provision. The UK Port Welfare Seafarers' Survey aims to shine a light on improvements needed to enhance seafarers' welfare.
MNWB news release and welfare survey. Nautilus news release. 17 May 2023

Australia: Sydney at a standstill as truckies protest deaths
Sydney’s central business district was brought to a standstill on 16 May as union protesters demanded action over 301 truck driver deaths on Australia’s roads since 2016. The “unauthorised public gathering” began at about 11am, when about 100 members of the union TWU sat in the road, blocking a busy intersection.
News.com.au. 17 May 2023

Global: Narrow defeat in bid for global right to know
An effort supported by unions and public interest groups to reform a UN right to know treaty on the export of the most hazardous substances has narrowly failed. In total 92 governments supported the proposal to amend the Rotterdam Treaty, with only 32 voting against – but this fell just seven votes shy of the 75 per cent threshold for a rule change.
ACTU news release. BWI news release. 17 May 2023

North Macedonia: Dangerous work hours plan condemned
A proposed labour law amendment in North Macedonia would dramatically and dangerously increase working hours, global union confederation ITUC has warned. The rule change submitted to the Assembly of North Macedonia on 8 May would allow employers to increase working hours to 60 or even 72-hours per week.
ITUC news release and letter to the government of North Macedonia. 17 May 2023

Qatar: Unions central to World Cup stadium protections
Union-negotiated worker representation and inspections during the construction of the Qatar World Cup facilities were key factors in protecting the migrant workforce, a report from the global construction union federation BWI has concluded. ‘Decent work for migrant workers in Qatar’ details BWI’s engagement in joint health and safety inspections on stadium and related infrastructure projects with Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC).
BWI news release and report. 17 May 2023

Hazards news, 10 May 2023

Britain: Government work hours plan means burnt out Britain
Any government attempt to undermine key working hours protections such as rest breaks, limits on excessive hours and paid holiday, is a recipe for a low paid, burnt out Britain, the TUC has said. Commenting on media reports the government is set to dilute or remove protections introduced under the EU Working Time Directive, TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “People are already working all hours to make ends meet. Paid holiday and safety measures like rest breaks and limits on excessive hours are all fundamental protections – not a nice-to-have.”
The Telegraph. The Express. 10 May 2023

Britain: RMT marks 21 years since Potters Bar tragedy
Rail union RMT has marked the 10 May 21st anniversary of the Potters Bar rail disaster, when a train to Norfolk derailed at high speed, killing seven and injuring 76 at Potters Bar station. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Potters Bar could have been avoided if safety had been put ahead of profits.”
RMT news release. 10 May 2023

Britain: Rail union slams longer lorries approval
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has slammed a government decision to approve the use of longer lorries on British roads from 31 May, warning it will be bad for road safety and the environment. Stating the government should instead by encouraging greater use of safer and less polluting rail freight, Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary, said: “To encourage the use of longer, heavier, lorries will only mean more emissions, more deadly particles in the air that we breathe, and more danger – with the six extra feet, deadly tail swing, and a bigger area at the rear end when the truck is turning – for pedestrians, cyclists, and people in cars. It will mean more accidents, more injuries, and more deaths on our roads.”
DfT news release. BBC News Online. 10 May 2023

Britain: Woman killed herself because of work pressures
A community care officer took her own life after the ‘cumulative pressures of her employment became too great’, an inquest has found. Kasey Browett, 25, was found dead at her home in Spalding on 1 July 2022, with the Record of Inquest stating “when the cumulative pressures of her employment became too great for her and despite extensive medical treatment she was unable to cope and took her own life.”
Spalding Today.
ACTION! Send an e-postcard to tell HSE to investigate and record work-related suicides and suicide risks. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide  10 May 2023

Britain: UK a hostile environment for LGBTQ+ journalists
LGBTQ+ journalists face a hostile environment in the UK, with most finding themselves the objects of online harassment and abuse, a study has suggested. The research, which was commissioned by the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity (LHC), indicated that many saw their roles as dangerous and wanted more support from senior colleagues.
The Guardian. 10 May 2023

Britain: Majority of NHS trusts poor on harassment prevention
Only one of 199 NHS trusts in England provides dedicated training to prevent sexual harassment, according to research. The University of Cambridge study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, found that the vast majority of NHS trusts did not provide any dedicated training to prevent sexual harassment.
Ava Robertson and Sarah Steele. A cross-sectional survey of English NHS Trusts on their uptake and provision of active bystander training including to address sexual harassment, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, first published online 4 May 2023. The Guardian. 10 May 2023

Britain: Firms told to cut the booze at work parties
Businesses are being urged to limit the amount of alcohol served at work social events in order to prevent people from acting inappropriately towards others. The warning from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) came as it released a new poll of 1,009 managers, suggesting a third have seen harassment or inappropriate behaviour at parties.
BBC News Online. 10 May 2023

Britain: Scottish police officers challenge ‘clean-shaven’ policy
At least four front line police officers are pursuing discrimination claims after Police Scotland announced plans for a “clean-shaven” policy without adequate consultation, according to their professional body. Officers are being told to shave off their beards and moustaches so they can use protective respirators, which are face-fitted and require the wearer to be clean-shaven.
SPF statement. The Guardian. 10 May 2023

Britain: Woman fired while battling breast cancer
A marketing manager who was sacked after bosses avoided criticising her because she had breast cancer has won a discrimination claim after successfully representing herself. Lucy Lyddall had been underperforming in her role at The Wooldridge Partnership construction company but was never told her managers were unhappy with her, an employment tribunal heard.
Daily Mail. Yahoo News. 10 May 2023

Britain: Nuclear safety incidents on the Clyde leap by a third
The number of nuclear safety incidents recorded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) at Faslane and Coulport on the Clyde has rocketed by a third in a year. MPs at Westminster were told that the total number of “nuclear site events” at the two Trident bases increased from 153 in 2021 to 204 in 2022.
The Ferret. 10 May 2023

Britain: Mowi fined over worker’s death at salmon farm
International salmon farming company Mowi has been fined £800,000 following an employee’s death at one of its sites in the Highlands. Clive Hendry, 58, was crushed as he tried to move from a work boat to a barge at a fish farm near Kyle of Lochalsh in February 2020.
COPFS news release. BBC News Online. 10 May 2023

Global: We have a Right to Know about toxics!
A major UN toxic treaty remains paralysed by the tactics of the chemicals industry and a small group of countries, campaigners have warned. An open letter from unions, public interest and asbestos and pesticide action groups, notes that no more than 10 countries, led by China, Russia and India, continue to block the listing on the Rotterdam Convention of highly hazardous chemicals, chrysotile asbestos and pesticides.
Global coalition news release. Open letter. Rotterdam Convention. 10 May 2023

Myanmar: H&M questioned on continued presence
A global union has accused H&M of sullying its good record by refusing to stop sourcing garments from Myanmar, a military dictatorship where unions are banned and foreign exchange is used to buy weapons. The Swedish fashion giant’s continued presence in Myanmar was questioned by IndustriALL at the company’s AGM
IndustriALL news release. 10 May 2023

Peru: Gold mine fire kills at least 27
At least 27 people have died in a gold mine fire in Peru, in the worst mining accident in the country in decades. The mine company, Yanaquihua, said 175 miners were rescued from the small mine in the Arequipa region. An electrical short circuit is thought to have sparked the fire on Saturday 6 May 2023.
San Diego Union-Tribune. BBC News Online. 10 May 2023

Qatar: Experts urge Qatar to pass heat stress law
Occupational health experts have urged Qatar to establish new heat stress regulations. The call came at an International Labour Organisation (ILO) conference in Doha.
Reuters News. 10 May 2023

USA: Posties demand action as robberies surge
Robberies of US postal carriers surged 78 per cent to nearly 500 in 2022, according US Postal Inspection Service figures. Commenting on the statistics obtained by the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, Paul Barner, the postal union’s executive vice president, said letter carriers “demand solutions now,” adding: “While we will continue to engage with the Postal Service and relevant law enforcement agencies to develop measures that will enhance the safety of letter carriers, the fear and the danger that letter carriers are confronting has to end.”
PBS News. WBUR Radio. The Independent. 10 May 2023

Hazards news, 4 May 2023

Britain: 200-fold increase cancelled HSE investigations
The number of mandatory Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigations that weren’t carried out because of resourcing issues increased nearly 200-fold between 2016/17 and 2021/22, the union Prospect has revealed. The union’s report, ‘HSE under pressure: a perfect storm’, uses HSE’s own figures and shows that in 2016/17 there were just two mandatory investigations cancelled because of insufficient resources; in 2021/22 the figure was 389.
Prospect news release and report, HSE under pressure: a perfect storm, 28 April 2023. The Guardian. 4 May 2023

Britain: ‘Dangerous’ government slammed over law cull
Unions, employers, and occupational health and safety bodies have joined forces to slam the Retained EU Law Bill as dangerous legislation which threatens to rip up key workplace safety protections. In a joint letter to ministers, 25 organisations including the TUC, British Safety Council, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development and Institution of Occupational Safety and Health set out why the Bill should be ditched.
TUC news release. British Chambers of Commerce news release. 4 May 2023

Britain: Prospect slams power grab by ministers
A government bill which allows ministers to remove any EU law from the statute book without parliamentary oversight, is a “draconian shift of power to ministers,” civil service union Prospect has said. Commenting on reports the government may be ‘rowing back’ on the Retained EU Law Bill, Mike Clancy, general secretary of the union that counts Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors in its membership, said “even these reported changes still represent an unprecedented transfer of power to the executive and until we know what laws may be impacted, we must maintain opposition.”
Prospect news release. 4 May 2023

Britain: Government must deliver sexual harassment rules
Unions and women’s groups have warned the government not to abandon essential legislation on workplace sexual harassment, following reports ministers will allow the Worker Protection Bill to fall following objections from Conservative backbenchers.  The Bill would introduce a legal duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and to protect staff from third party harassment by clients and customers.
TUC news release. Community news release. CSP news release. Musicians’ Union news release.
ACTION: The Fawcett Society is calling on the public to write to their MP asking for them to support the Bill. Further information. 4 May 2023

Britain: Firefighters’ union calls for cancer compensation  
The firefighters’ union FBU has called on the UK government to introduce legislation to ensure that firefighters with cancer and other diseases linked to their work can receive compensation. The union says ‘presumptive legislation’ is already the norm for many forms of cancer and some other diseases in the USA, Australia and Canada.
FBU news release and FBU research on occupational diseases and firefighters. Details of presumptive legislation in North America and Australia. 4 May 2023

Britain: Union calls for joint probe after HS2 tragedy
An HS2 worker suffered serious injuries during drilling work on 27 April, dying later in hospital. Unite said it wants to be involved in a “full joint investigation” following the Solihull tragedy. Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “BBV [Balfour Beatty VINCI] will be conducting its own investigation and Unite believes that this must be conducted jointly with the union
Unite news release. MSN News. Construction Enquirer. 4 May 2023

Britain: Fatalities at work double in Scotland
New information revealed by STUC and Scottish Hazards show those dying as a result of their work in Scotland has reached its highest levels since 2019, prompting urgent calls for reform of corporate homicide legislation. The STUC, Scotland’s largest trade union body and Scottish Hazards said provisional data show that 21 workers died as a result of industrial harm this past year, almost doubling the 2019 total (11).
STUC news release. 4 May 2023

Britain: Unions want injuries council for Scotland
Trade unions from across Scotland have backed the calls from an MSP to establish a new expert council to support the delivery of a Scottish social security benefit to be paid to workers injured as a result of industrial harm. Lead union body STUC and its affiliated unions have backed the Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council Members’ Bill from Scottish Labour MSP Mark Griffin.
STUC news release and statement. 4 May 2023

Britain: Unhealthy price paid by overworked teachers
A major survey of Scotland’s teaching professionals, carried out by the union EIS, has laid bare the health and wellbeing implications of the ‘severe’ levels of teacher workload, chronic system underfunding and the cost of living crisis on teachers and schools. Almost half said they had poor (34 per cent) or very poor (10 per cent) wellbeing within their job overall.
EIS news release. 4 May 2023

Britain: Teachers take action over bullying
Teachers at Durham High School for Girls have taken strike action over bullying and intimidation by school management. NASUWT members at the private school say they have been subject to long-standing ‘adverse’ management practices and treatment which has undermined their wellbeing, health and safety.
NASUWT news release. 4 May 2023

Britain: Nearly half of bus workers abused at work
Almost half (48 per cent) of bus workers have experienced incidents of workplace abuse in the last two years, an RMT survey has revealed. The most common form of abuse suffered was verbal (90 per cent), over a fifth were spat and over 10 per cent had experienced a physical assault.
RMT news release. 4 May 2023

Global: Work chemical exposure causes pancreatic cancer
Every year spent working with chemical agents increases the risk of pancreatic cancer, a study has found. Overall any work with chemicals increased the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 1 per cent; those with more than 20 years of exposure had a 39 per cent increased risk of the disease, according to a study published in the Journal Occupational Medicine
H Boonhat, A P Pratama, J T Lin, R T Lin. Duration–response association between occupational exposure and pancreatic cancer risk: meta-analysis, Occupational Medicine, 2023, kqad050, 27 April 2023. https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqad050 4 May 2023

Britain: Trucking firm fined after worker dies unloading wagon
A North Yorkshire trucking company has been fined £140,000 and ordered to pay £18,355.07 in costs after a worker was killed unloading a wagon. Anthony Clark, 51, an employee of GCS Johnson Limited, was helping move a large piece of machinery from one trailer to another on 17 August 2018 at a GCS Johnson depot, when  part of the machine fell from the vehicle trailer and hit the father-of-two, killing him instantly.
HSE news release. 4 May 2023

Britain: Joinery workers exposed to dangerous wood dust
A London joinery firm has been fined £20,000 plus £1,500 costs for failing to control its employees’ exposure to wood dust. F&E Joinery Limited was inspected in May 2022 as part of a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) campaign targeting woodworking businesses.
HSE news release. 4 May 2023

Britain: Teen injured in fall through dairy farm roof
Bodmin dairy farm CP Button Limited has been fined £63,466 and ordered to pay £4,223.50 in costs after one of its workers sustained multiple injuries when he fell more than 20 feet through a roof on to a concrete floor. Mike Rossiter was just 18 when the shed roof on which he was clearing gutters gave way.
HSE news release. 4 May 2023

Global: Unions strike new deal for aviation workers
Aviation unions say they have made major strides in advancing labour standards for the global aviation industry at a tripartite meeting at the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The April meeting, bringing together government officials of ILO member countries, employers and workers’ representatives, recognised the need to assess the exclusion of aviation workers from protections provided by ILO’s international labour standards, particularly on issues of health and safety, and calls for the ILO to address this gap.
ITF news release and New Deal for Aviation. 4 May 2023

USA: Attacks on Florida gig workers raise fears
Recent incidents in Florida where delivery app workers have been shot or injured while making deliveries have raised safety fears among gig workers across the US. The ride share and food delivery companies claim that these violent instances are very rare, however, some app-based workers have expressed increased concerns regarding their safety.
AP News. 4 May 2023

Hazards news, 26 April 2023

Britain: No backtracking on sexual harassment laws
The government must not backtrack on promised new sexual harassment laws, the TUC has warned. The union body has told the government that it would be “shameful” if it failed to strengthen the law. According to a 24 April report in the Financial Times, ministers will allow The Worker Protection Bill to fall – despite previously vowing to support the legislation that will introduce a new preventative duty on employers to tackle harassment and abuse in the workplace. 
TUC news release. Usdaw news release. Financial Times. Government consultation on Worker Protection Bill. 26 April 2023

Britain: Usdaw demands action on sexual harassment
More proactive and robust action is needed from employers to shift workplace cultures and to stop sexual harassment at work, Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis has said. Writing in the Morning Star, he noted “we are calling on the government to stand by its 2021 commitment to introduce a new preventative duty on employers and reinstate the protections from third party harassment removed in 2013 to the Equality Act.”
Morning Star. 26 April 2023

Britain: FDA inquiry call on ministerial bullying
Following the resignation of Dominic Raab, after Rishi Sunak received a report on 20 April that upheld claims the deputy prime minister bullied civil servants, the union FDA has called for reform of the complaints procedure and for and inquiry in to ministerial bullying. FDA general secretary Dave Penman said: “This resignation is not a vindication of the current system, it’s a damning indictment of the inadequacy of a process that relies solely on the prime minister of the day to enforce standards.”
FDA news release. BBC Breakfast. BBC News Online. Newsnight. Channel 4 News. ITV News. The Guardian. The Independent. 26 April 2023

Britain: PM needs to end government’s ‘toxic culture’
Civil service union Prospect has called on Rishi Sunak to end the toxic culture at the top of government. General secretary Mike Clancy said: “There has been a toxic culture at the top of government for too long with civil servants and public trust paying the price for this chaos. The prime minister now needs to clean out the rest of the stables.”
Prospect news release. 26 April 2023

Britain: Major push to test firefighters for work diseases
A life-saving firefighter cancer monitoring project has begun in Greater Manchester, as part of a new UK-wide research project commissioned by the firefighters’ union FBU. In total, 100 firefighters are participating by providing blood and urine samples to be analysed for the number of biomarkers of cancers and other diseases, and toxic chemicals.
FBU news release. Morning Star. 26 April 2023

Britain: Bosses not addressing effects of extreme weather
Companies must act to protect outdoor workers from the dangerous effects of adverse weather conditions, retail staff have said. Usdw deputy general secretary Dave McCrossen reminded bosses of their legal right to identify potential risks in the workplace and encouraged them to provide appropriate outdoor clothing and the right personal protective equipment.
Morning Star. 26 April 2023

Global: Exploitation continues 10 years after Rana Plaza
Workers are still facing exploitation and dangerous work a decade after the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse. Commenting on 24 April, the tenth anniversary of the tragedy in which more than 1,100 workers lost their lives, TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “It’s time to do right by every single worker that died – fundamental rights must be respected and workers must be able to join a union without fear of attack.”
TUC news release. ITUC report on Bangladesh, 2022. ITUC Global Rights Index. Morning Star. The Guardian. 26 April 2023

Britain: Head's sister hits out at Ofsted boss over suicide
The sister of a head teacher who took her own life after an Ofsted inspection has criticised the watchdog's boss for saying “I don't have any reason to doubt the inspection.” Amanda Spielman told the BBC she had no reason to doubt the report into Caversham Primary in Reading. Headteacher Ruth Perry died in January, knowing inspectors would downgrade the school's rating.
Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, BBC One, 23 April 2023. BBC News Online and related story. Metro. The Guardian.
ACTION! Send an e-postcard to tell HSE to investigate and record work-related suicides and suicide risks. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide 26 April 2023

Britain: Ofsted’s ‘tentative’ moves not enough
Ofsted has lost the trust of the teaching profession and needs to reverse its ‘mad’ decision to retain the single-word grading system implicated in the suicide death of headteacher Ruth Perry, the school leaders’ union ASCL has said. General secretary Geoff Barton, commenting on a statement by Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman which announced limited changes but defending the current grading system, said: “Despite the chief inspector’s insistence that the grading system plays an integral part in the school system, the truth is that it is the grading system that is the single biggest problem.”
Ofsted commentary, 21 April 2023. ASCL statement. 26 April 2023

Britain: Ofsted not listening on ‘bad system’
Ofsted continues to be out of touch and must recognise that its approach to safeguarding needs to change, the teaching union NEU has said. Commenting on the statement from the chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, Dr Mary Bousted, NEU joint general secretary, said the “proposals try to make a bad system and more bearable” and “it is clear from the proposals outlined that Ofsted has not properly listened to, or reflected enough about, the concerns and harms that teachers and leaders have spoken out about for so long.”
NEU statement. 26 April 2023

Britain: Heads call for Ofsted reforms
There needs to be a ‘fundamental review’ of the Ofsted inspection system going far further than the proposals from the chief inspector Amanda Spielman, headteachers’ union NAHT has said. The union’s general secretary, Paul Whiteman, commented: “It is becoming very clear that overarching judgments have had their day and a fundamentally different approach is required.”
NAHT news release. 26 April 2023

Britain: Shopworkers put safety high on the agenda
Delegates at the annual conference of the retail and distribution trade union Usdaw have put health and safety firmly on the agenda, debating issues from risk assessments, to sexual harassment, pregnant workers’ safety, safe transport, abuse and workplace temperatures.
Usdaw news release. 26 April 2023

Britain: Union says Amazon needs to talk
Workers at the retail giant Amazon have had enough and the company has to start listening, the GMB has said. Commenting after publication of a highly critical report from a committee of MPs, Laurence Turner, GMB head of research and policy, said: “This report confirms what Amazon workers tell us - they are stressed and burned out due to punishing targets, low pay and constant surveillance..”
GMB news release and release on the Amazon strike. The Guardian. BBC News Online. 26 April 2023

Britain: MPs speak out Amazon's 'climate of distrust'
A committee of MPs has warned that workplace surveillance by global retailer Amazon is stressing out its workers. The cross-party House of Commons' BEIS Committee's report on UK labour markets warns that Amazon's “surveillance practices (for whatever intention they are deployed) are leading to distrust, micromanagement and, in some cases, disciplinary action against its workers.”
Post-pandemic economic growth: UK labour markets, BEIS committee tenth report, 21 April 2023. 26 April 2023

Britain: CBI hired 'toxic' staff and failed to sack offenders
The UK's biggest business group has admitted it hired “culturally toxic” staff and failed to fire people who sexually harassed female colleagues. The CBI said a failure to act allowed a “very small minority” of staff to believe they could get away with harassment or violence against women.
CBI open letter. Personnel Today. BBC News Online. The Guardian. 26 April 2023

Britain: Stressed ambulance staff quitting
NHS ambulance trusts in England are struggling with high staff turnover as key workers leave the crisis-hit service for less stressful or better paid work, according to figures obtained by the Observer. Data sourced under the Freedom of Information Act reveals the turnover rate for advanced paramedics is 20 per cent, rising to more than 40 per cent for dispatchers, 55 per cent for assistant dispatchers, and 80 per cent for emergency call-takers and NHS 111 healthcare advisers.
The Observer. 26 April 2023

Britain: Small fines after site worker injured
Two construction companies have been fined for criminal safety offences that saw a worker on a Newcastle site hospitalised for nearly two weeks after being struck by a 124kg panel. Tolent Construction, which went into administration earlier this year, pleaded guilty to criminal safety offences and was fined £1,000 plus £8,468.50 costs and Clad Build UK Limited, which was responsible for the installation of the panels, was fined £12,000 plus £45,000 costs.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. 26 April 2023

Global: 28 April call to organise for work safety
On International Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April, trade unions are promoting the role that organising plays in making workplaces safer and healthier as we remember all working people who have lost their lives to workplace accidents and disease. The global trade union confederation ITUC says unions are planning to use the new ILO fundamental right to a safe and healthy working environment to tackle the shocking death toll of three million workers who die each year because of their work, with tens of millions more suffering life-changing injuries and ill health.
ITUC news release in English, French and Spanish. Resources: ITUC 28 April infographics in English, French and Spanish. ITUC International Workers Memorial Day #iwmd23 graphics webpage. Find out what is happening worldwide. ILO fundamental right to a safe and healthy working environment. 26 April 2023

Global: More brands must sign the Accord
Global unions are calling on garment and textile brands to sign the International Accord to safeguard worker safety in Bangladesh, Pakistan and beyond. They say the legally binding Accord, orchestrated by IndustriALL and UNI in 2013 and signed with global brands and retailers, has since transformed factory safety in Bangladesh’s garment industry, given workers the right to refuse unsafe work, saved lives, supported freedom of association and increased collective bargaining.
IndustriALL news release. IOSH news release. 26 April 2023

Global: Amazon must sign up to safety
The Make Amazon Pay coalition is calling on Amazon to sign the International Accord for health and safety in the apparel and textile industry.  “Amazon’s failure to sign the Accord is a failure to respect the workers producing goods in its supply chains, said  Christy Hoffman, general secretary of the global union UNI. Over 200 brands have signed the International Accord since its launch, securing safer jobs for over two million garment and textile workers in Bangladesh. The Accord established an independent body to inspect factories and set timelines for correcting occupational hazards. Lauded as “the most effective campaign of the globalised era,” UNI said it ‘revolutionised’ safety in the Bangladeshi garment industry and has now expanded to Pakistan.  Amazon is the largest retailer of clothing in the US. 
UNI news release. 26 April 2023

Europe: Top court condemns EC over carcinogen
The EU’s top court has condemned the European Commission over its 2020 decision to allow a group of companies to continuing to use chromium trioxide, a cancer-causing chemical found in everything from chrome plating to lipstick cases. The Court of Justice of the EU found that the assessment on which the Commission based its decision did not comply with the EU’s chemicals legislation, REACH, as it had “too many shortcomings.”
Politico. 26 April 2023

New Zealand: Call for silica action spreads
New Zealand’s national union body NZCTU is calling on the country’s government to protect working people who are being exposed to deadly dust from engineered stone. NZCTU president Richard Wagstaff said workers across multiple industries are facing unnecessary risks associated with hazardous exposure to silica and other dust.
NZCTU news release.
ACTION! Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective UK silica exposure limit no higher than 0.05mg/m³ and with a phased move to 0.025mg/m³. www.hazards.org/HSEstopkillingus 26 April 2023

Hazards news, 19 April 2023

Britain: No protection from new AI technology abuses
The government is failing to protect workers from being “exploited” by new AI technologies, the TUC has warned. The union body’s alert warned AI could “set unrealistic targets that then result in workers being put in dangerous situations that impact negatively on their both physical health and mental wellbeing.”
TUC news release. TUC manifesto on the ethical use of AI at work. BBC News Online. The Guardian. More on work hazards from AI. 19 April 2023

Britain: Miserly sick pay is punishing low paid
Britain's “miserly” sick pay system is “punishing” low-paid workers, the TUC has said. Commenting on the Resolution Foundation’s Low Paid Britain Report, which criticises the UK’s lack of decent sick pay, TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “We must fix our broken sick pay system by making statutory sick pay available from day one and raising it to the level of the real living wage.”
TUC news release. Resolution Foundation news release and Low Paid Britain Report. Morning Star. 19 April 2023

Britain: Evidence sought in blacklisting collusion inquiry
Unite is stepping up its search for information into the possible collusion by trade union officials into the blacklisting of construction workers. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite has been and continues to be at the forefront of stamping out this practice once and for all.”
Unite news release. Independent Blacklisting Collusion Inquiry. Blacklist Blog. Personnel Today. 19 April 2023

Britain: Teachers overworked and under-paid – official
Urgent action is required to tackle an ‘out of control’ system that is seeing teachers overworked and driven out of the profession, the NEU has said. The teaching union was responding to a government report that found full-time teachers averaged 51.9 hours, with 37.3 hours for part-time teachers.
NEU news release. Working lives of teachers and leaders report, DfE, 11 April 2023. 19 April 2023

Britain: Usdaw joins #Shopkind campaign
Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed the 19 April launch of national #ShopKind Week, which encourages shoppers to treat staff with respect. New polling reveals that more than one in three people believe that shopping has become more frustrating as a result of the cost of living crisis and 36 per cent of customers have personally witnessed a shopworker being verbally or physically abused by another customer.
Usdaw news release. ShopKind Week. 19 April 2023

Britain: Ministers must commit to asbestos removal
The TUC is demanding a national plan to remove asbestos from all public and commercial buildings. The TUC call came as MPs debated asbestos in workplaces.
TUC news release. Asbestos in the workplace, parliamentary briefing, 14 April 2023.
The asbestos crisis: Why Britain needs an eradication law, All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health, January 2023. 19 April 2023

Britain: Labour MP died of industrial disease
A former Labour MP died from the deadly effects of asbestos, an inquest has heard. Alice Mahon, who was Halifax’s MP for 18 years until 2005, died on Christmas Day 2022 as a result of the cancer mesothelioma she developed because of exposure to asbestos, the inquest at Bradford Coroner's Court heard.
Telegraph and Argus. Yorkshire Post. Huddersfield Examiner. ITV News. 19 April 2023

Britain: Alarm as asbestos kills school and hospital workers
Fresh concerns have been raised about the amount of asbestos remaining in dilapidated schools and hospitals, after a new analysis found that almost 150 health and education workers were recorded as dying from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma in recent years. According to official data, there have been 147 mesothelioma deaths among health and education workers since 2017.
IBAS News. The Observer. Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, 2022, HSE, November 2022. 19 April 2023

Britain: Unions repeat asbestos concerns
Latest statistics on the asbestos cancer mesothelioma have reinforced repeated union warnings about the risk from asbestos in public buildings. Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the teaching union NEU, said capital spending on school buildings has collapsed since 2010, with a decline by 50 per cent in real terms, “ and Jon Richards, Unison’s assistant general secretary, said: “The solution is a properly funded building programme.”
The Observer. The Conversation. 19 April 2023

Britain: Public buildings asbestos crisis revealed
More than 4,500 public buildings across 20 of the highest populated council areas in Britain still contain asbestos. The figures were collated in response to requests submitted by law firm Irwin Mitchell under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and revealed that 4,533 public buildings across the 20 councils – ranging from as far north as Glasgow to as far south as Cornwall – still contain asbestos.
Irwin Mitchell news release and Asbestos in Public Buildings report, April 2023. 19 April 2023

Britain: Asbestos rogue firm fined after director jailed
Unlicensed asbestos removal company Asbestos Boss Ltd has been fined £80,000 after its director was jailed last month for failing to ensure the safe removal of the dangerous product from premises countrywide. As well as failing to take precautions to protect its workers and customers, the company provided fake air test certificates and waste transfer notes to customers and falsified asbestos training certificates and insurance documents.
HSE news release. 19 April 2023

Britain: Site suicide rate up for fifth year in a row
The suicide rate among construction workers has increased for a fifth year in a row. Glasgow Caledonian University, in conjunction with the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, found that the suicide rate for construction occupations in 2021 is now at 33.82 per 100,000, up from 25.52 per 100,000 in 2015.
Morning Star.
ACTION! Send an e-postcard to tell HSE to investigate and record work-related suicides and suicide risks. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide 19 April 2023

Britain: Big rise in nurses trying to kill themselves
Hundreds of nurses tried to take their own lives last year, with many feeling at ‘a point of no return’ amid intense pressures and burnout, a mental health charity has said. Data from the Laura Hyde Foundation (LHF) shows 366 nurses are known to have tried to take their own lives in 2022, a 62 per cent increase from 226 in 2020, with latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing 482 nurses took their own lives between 2011 and 2021 in England.
Nursing Standard. 19 April 2023

Britain: Work factors linked to nursing suicides
A new study has found substantial evidence that nursing professionals, especially women, are at a higher risk of suicide as a result of heavy workloads, bullying, understaffing and feeling ill-prepared to do their jobs. Researchers from Oxford University, who examined 100 papers on suicide risks in nurses, found occupational issues appear to have both direct and indirect influences on suicide risk, “perhaps supported by evidence showing suicide rates are lower around retirement age.”
Samantha Groves, Karen Lascelles, Keith Hawton. Suicide, self-harm, and suicide ideation in nurses and midwives: A systematic review of prevalence, contributory factors, and interventions, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 331, 15 June 2023, Pages 393-404, ISSN 0165-0327. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2023.03.027 19 April 2023

Britain: HSE challenged on ‘dust lies’
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been accused of condemning over 1,000 workers a year to a slow, agonising death by refusing to follow the US, Canada, Australia and other countries by introducing a more protective workplace exposure limit for silica dust. The UK safety regulator told Hazards magazine there is neither the evidence nor the costings to justify tightening the exposure standard for the lung-shredding dust.
Dust lies: UK workers face deadly silica exposures while other countries act, Hazards magazine, number 161, 2023.
ACTION! Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective UK silica exposure limit no higher than 0.05mg/m³ and with a phased move to 0.025mg/m³. www.hazards.org/HSEstopkillingus 19 April 2023

Britain: Health workers need better radiation protection
Women working in healthcare who are regularly exposed to radiation from x-rays and other imaging procedures need better protection to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. An editorial in the journal BMJ notes that ionising radiation is a known human carcinogen and breast tissue is highly radiation sensitive - however, current radiation PPE provides inadequate protection for breast tissue as it leaves exposed the area close to the armpit (known as the upper outer quadrant and axilla - the most common site of breast cancer).
Isobel Pilkington and others. Editorial: Protecting female healthworkers from ionising radiation at work, BMJ, 12 April 2023;381:e075406 19 April 2023

£1m fine for concrete firm after horror death
Concrete manufacturer Creagh Concrete Products Ltd (CCP) has been fined £1m and ordered to pay costs of £47,521.08 after a 24-year-old worker died at a site in Nottingham. Stewart Ramsay suffered fatal head injuries on 15 March 2017 after his head became trapped in the jaws of a metal grab after a rope connected to the locking lever snapped.
HSE news release. Hucknall Dispatch. Nottingham Post. 19 April 2023

Britain: Roofer jailed after fatal fall
A man has been jailed after a worker fell from the roof of a commercial property in North London and died a week later. Patrick McCarthy, trading as All Care Home Improvements, was given a 14-month custodial sentence after the death of Andrei-Ionel Hutanu, 33, in August 2019.
HSE news release. 19 April 2023

Britain: Trucking firm fined after mechanic dies
Lancashire trucking company E Jackson (Chatburn) Limited has been fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,712.80 after a mechanic died while repairing a forklift truck. Joseph Robinson was working with a new employee as they attempted to fix a steering fault on the 30-year-old forklift at the firm’s site Clitheroe on 13 October 2020.
HSE news release. 19 April 2023

Britain: Communications job at hazards charity
Greater Manchester Hazards Centre (GMHC) is recruiting a communications worker. The 10-hours a week job includes liaison with the national Hazards Campaign, working on multi-media campaigns on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and contributing to delivery of multi-media campaigns and training.
GMHC job description, notes for applicants and application form. 19 April 2023

Global: Are you geared up for 28 April?!
Just over a week to go until International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April – the biggest event on the trade union safety calendar. Make sure you are ready with your own events and activities or know about other local initiatives.
RESOURCES: Hazards Campaign 28 April resources. Organise! 28 April posters, specify A4 or A3, free plus cost of postage. Purple ribbons, £50/100. Car stickers: single £1, 2-10 50p each, 11-100 30p each. Bags, £5 plus postage. Organise v-neck t-shirts or Hi-viz gilets (sizes S, M, L, XL), £10. Contact the campaign for discount rates for larger orders.
Print off order form. Further details, email Janet Newsham or phone 07734 317158.
TUC EVENTS LISTING: TUC 28 April resources and events webpages. Get your 28 April event on the map!
GLOBAL: ITUC 28 April infographics in English, French and Spanish. ITUC International Workers Memorial Day #iwmd23 graphics webpage. Find out what is happening worldwide. 19 April 2023

Africa: New plan to protect health workers
In a move to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of health workers in African countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has embarked in a collaboration with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The joint project will focus on placing safety at the centre of health care, promoting the rights of health workers to healthy and safe environments, and building capacities for improving working conditions in in the health sector.
WHO news release. 19 April 2023

Global: Union organisation is a life or death issue
No-one should die to make a living. But a report in Hazards magazine warns bad jobs still kill someone somewhere every six seconds, every day, round the clock. The report ahead of International Workers’ Memorial Day “shows walking out or being walked all over can be a life or death decision.”
Everyday heroes: The lifesaving union effect. Hazards, number 161, 2023. 19 April 2023

USA: Serious fungal infection hits paper mill workers
The United Steelworkers union (USW) has called for testing and cleaning in paper mills across the US after an outbreak of the fungal disease blastomycosis killed one worker and sickened more than 90 others at a facility in Escanaba, Michigan. USW international president Tom Conway commented: “Rather than waiting to see if cases develop at other paper mills, management across the industry must be proactive and institute robust safeguards now.”
Billerud news release. USW news release. Detroit News. Detroit Free Press. NBC News. PHDM statement. 19 April 2023

USA: Amazon injury rates twice that of competitors
Amazon warehouses have an injury rate more than twice that of their competitors, according to an analysis by a coalition of unions. The report, which was compiled by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), examines data Amazon submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and found the company's injury rate was 6.9 per cent in 2022, down on the 7.9 per cent the year before but up on the 2020 rate of 6.6 per cent – compared to 3.2 serious injuries for every 100 workers at its competitors.
CBS News. 19 April 2023

Hazards news, 12 April 2023

Britain: Fears sexual harassment law could be dropped
The government has been urged to protect vulnerable workers as media reports indicate ministers may backtrack on plans to strengthen workplace sexual harassment laws. TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “It would be utterly shameful if the government allows this bill to fall.”
Update from the This is Not Working Alliance on the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill. The Telegraph. The Observer. Morning Star. 12 April 2023

Britain: NEU votes to abolish Ofsted inspections
School inspections in England and Wales should be abolished and headteachers should refuse to work as inspectors until “toxic” pressures on mental health have been resolved, a teaching union has agreed. NEU wants a freeze on all inspections until a mental health impact assessment on teaching staff is carried out, and for data on work-related suicides to be collected.
NEU news release. Morning Star. The Guardian. BBC News Online.
ACTION! Send an e-postcard to tell HSE to record work-related suicides. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide. 12 April 2023

Britain: Life blighting Ofsted should go - NASUWT
Teaching union NASUWT has become the latest union to call for the abolition of Ofsted, adding to growing pressure on the schools watchdog. Teachers described a “deep-seated fear” of Ofsted inspections at the union's annual conference and instructed the NASUWT's national executive to work with other education unions to call for an immediate inspections freeze, and to launch a campaign to abolish the system in its “current form”, replacing it with a supportive framework.
BBC News Online. The Guardian. 12 April 2023

Britain: Teachers average 54-hour work week
Teachers are working 54 hours a week on average – with about 13 of these falling outside of the normal school day, an NASUWT survey indicates. Nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) of teachers surveyed said their workload has increased over the last year, according to a poll by the teaching union.
NASUWT news release. Morning Star. 12 April 2023

Britain: Teachers should not have to tolerate violent pupils
More than one in ten (13 per cent) teachers have been physically assaulted by a pupil in the last year, research by NASUWT has revealed. The NASUWT’s Big Question Survey also showed that teachers have in the last year been subjected to, pushing/shoving (22 per cent), threats of physical assault (19 per cent), and verbal abuse (58 per cent) by pupils.
NASUWT news release. Morning Star. 12 April 2023

Britain: Teachers highlight ‘unacceptable’ asbestos dangers
It is totally unacceptable that staff and children are at risk of cancer because of the buildings in which they work and learn, delegates to the annual conference of the teaching union NEU have said. Commenting on as asbestos motion passed at the conference, Dr Mary Bousted, the union’s joint general secretary, said: “Since 1980 more than 400 school teaching professionals have died of mesothelioma in Britain, with 300 having died since 2001… it is totally unacceptable that education staff and children should be put at risk of developing this terrible disease because of the condition of the buildings in which they work and learn.”
NEU news release. 12 April 2023

Britain: Action call on ‘workforce crisis’ in social care
The TUC and the leaders of the largest unions representing social care staff – UNISON, GMB and Unite – have called for an urgent and “critical” meeting with ministers to discuss the workforce crisis in social care. The joint letter to care minister Helen Whately came in response to the government announcement it was halving its planned funding for the social care workforce, from £500m to £250m.
TUC news release. GMB news release. 12 April 2023

Britain: TSSA marks rail worker’s Covid death
Rail union TSSA has marked three years since Belly Mujinga died from Covid-19 and is calling for greater focus on health and safety for workers. The TSSA member, who died on 5 April 2000, worked at Victoria station in central London.
TSSA news release. 12 April 2023

Britain: New Boohoo shame over warehouse work
More than 200 low paid Boohoo workers at the firm’s giant warehouse in Crick, Northamptonshire, have lodged a collective grievance against the imposition of ‘unconscionable’ shift changes. Unite said the workers are angry that the new shift patterns will leave the mostly female workforce having only one weekend off in every five.
Unite news release. 12 April 2023

Britain: Government to put plan to ditch EU laws on hold
Ministers have begun a full-scale retreat over post-Brexit plans to ditch thousands of EU laws by the end of this year, after Tory peers warned they would join a mass cross-party revolt in the House of Lords. The Observer reports the government has dropped plans to hold the report stage of the retained EU law bill (REUL) in the Lords soon after Easter, apparently to prevent a row in the run-up to the local elections on 4 May and to allow it time to consider a list of likely concessions to rebels.
The Observer. The Independent. 12 April 2023

Britain: HSE implicated in NHS Covid ‘cover-up’
Almost two-thirds of NHS employers did not make a single, legally-required report of Covid being caught by staff working during the first 18 months of the pandemic. An investigation by Byline Times found the reporting failure was linked to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) actively discouraging trusts from making reports under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases & Dangerous Occurrences (RIDDOR).
Byline Times. 12 April 2023

Britain: The job you did determined your Covid risk
A new study found that occupation was a major contributor to increased risk of Covid-19 infection among a number of groups of workers in England and Wales, and this risk was independent of other socioeconomic and demographic risk factors. The University College London study found healthcare workers and teachers were among those occupational groups found to be at highest increased risk of infection.
Sarah Beale, Susan Hoskins, Thomas Byrne and others. Differential Risk of SARS-CoV-2 Infection by Occupation: Evidence from the Virus Watch prospective cohort study in England and Wales, Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, volume 18, number 5, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12995-023-00371-9 12 April 2023

Britain: Mental health sick days soar in civil service
Whitehall civil servants took a record 771,433 days of sick leave last year because of stress and other mental health problems, figures obtained by Labour show. That number of mental health sick days taken by officials working for government departments was 38 per cent higher than the 558,125 recorded the year before.
The Guardian. 12 April 2023

Britain: ‘Scandalous’ mental health crisis in civil service
Unions representing Whitehall workers have blamed soaring levels of mental health sick leave on increased workloads, the impact of Covid-19, staff cuts, low pay, long hours and poor morale. Lucille Thirlby, the assistant general secretary of the FDA, which represents many civil servants, said: “It’s not surprising that civil servants’ mental health is suffering, as our members report increasing workload pressures and regularly working well beyond their contracted hours,” and PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka added: “Staff cuts, increased pressure from unmanageable workloads and low pay have worsened the already rock-bottom morale of staff.”
The Guardian. 12 April 2023

Britain: HSE not ‘ambitious’ enough on forever chemicals
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommendations on how to deal with ‘forever chemicals’ are only a limited step forward, the national Hazards Campaign has said.  The charity was commenting on the regulatory management options analysis (RMOA) on per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) published this month by the regulator.
Hazards Campaign news release. HSE news release. 12 April 2023

Britain: Report confirms firefighter exposures to PFAS
Firefighters face an occupational risk from exposure to PFAS ‘forever chemicals’, a report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has confirmed. Riccardo la Torre, national officer with the firefighters’ union FBU, commenting on the regulator’s RMOA report, said: “In addition to eliminating exposures to PFAS we need other vital measures in place to prevent, mitigate and address exposure to dangerous chemicals.”
FBU news release. HSE news release. 12 April 2023

Global: ‘Forever chemicals’ linked to infertility in women
Women with higher levels of ‘forever chemicals’ in their blood have a 40 per cent lower chance of becoming pregnant within a year of trying to conceive, according to a new study on the effect of PFAS on female fertility. “Our study strongly implies that women who are planning pregnancy should be aware of the harmful effects of PFAS and take precautions to avoid exposure to this class of chemicals,” said Dr Nathan Cohen, lead author of the research.
Nathan J Cohen, Meizhen Yao, Vishal Midya and others. Exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances and women's fertility outcomes in a Singaporean population-based preconception cohort, Science of The Total Environment, volume 873, 15 May 2023, 162267. The Guardian. 12 April 2023

Britain: Amey Rail fined over £500k for electrical shock
Amey Rail Limited (ARL) has been fined £533,000 and ordered to pay costs of £41,000 after pleading guilty to a criminal safety offence. An investigation by industry regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) followed a serious electric shock experienced by self-employed senior linesman Allister Hunt during remedial ‘snagging’ works to overhead lines outside Paddington Station, London.
ORR news release. 12 April 2023

Britain: Firm fined after worker’s leg crushed by forklift
Manufacturing company AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Limited has been fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,188.60 after a worker’s leg was crushed by a forklift truck. The man had been walking across a pedestrian crossing at the Birmingham workplace when a forklift truck, being driven by another worker, collided with him, crushing his leg and ankle.
HSE news release. 12 April 2023

Britain: Factory fined over vibration failure
Trucast Limited has been fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £12,204.06 costs for failing to adequately assess and control the risks to its employees when using vibrating tools. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that prior to June 2019, the manufacturer of turbocharger wheels for the automotive industry had failed to assess or take action to reduce the health risks to employees using vibrating equipment. The investigation also found the company failed to put in place an adequate health surveillance programme to monitor its workers’ health for vibration-related health effects.
HSE news release. 12 April 2023

Britain: Communications job at hazards charity
Greater Manchester Hazards Centre (GMHC) is recruiting a communications worker. The 10-hours a week job includes liaison with the national Hazards Campaign, working on multi-media campaigns on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, and contributing to delivery of multi-media campaigns and training.
GMHC job description, notes for applicants and application form. 12 April 2023

Britain: Less than three weeks to go to #iwmd23!
There’s just over two weeks to go until International Workers’ Memorial Day, the world’s largest occupational health and safety event. The 28 April day of action, which was created by unions, sees thousands of protests, trainings and workplace activities worldwide. There are around 40 events around the UK already posted on the TUC website. Check out the website and get resources for your own event!
Britain: TUC 28 April resources and events webpages. Get your 28 April event on the map!
Global: ITUC 28 April infographics in English, French and Spanish. ITUC International Workers Memorial Day #iwmd23 graphics webpage. Find out what is happening worldwide.
Create your own customised #iwmd23 ‘Organise!’ events poster! Just add details of your own event to the Hazards poster and use online or in print. 12 April 2023

Global: Keep working for safer garment factories
24 April – four days before International Workers’ Memorial Day - marks the 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, an ‘industrial homicide’ that killed more than 1,100 people and injured many more, says IndustriALL. “For the anniversary of Rana Plaza, please join us on social media in the fight for safe factories and to support the demand for a global agreement on factory safety,” the global union says.
IndustriALL news release. Download the poster, take a photo, post on social media tagging @industriALL_gu on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @industriALL_gu. Use the hashtags: #GarmentWorkersNeedUnions, #GarmentWorkersNeedSafeFactories #RPNeverAgain 12 April 2023

Global: Medical guide a lifesaver for work at sea
A new medical guide for ships has been published by the global shipowners’ association, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). Welcoming the new guide, which was produced with input from the global seafarers’ union ITF, general secretary Stephen Cotton said “having up-to-date medical guidance to hand can make a real difference for limiting adverse health and safety outcomes for seafarers and fishers.”
ITF news release. 12 April 2023

USA: Injuries expose racism in safety enforcement
Workers organised under the Union of Southern Service Workers have filed a civil rights complaint against South Carolina’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (SC OSHA), alleging that the state agency “discriminates by disproportionately excluding black workers from the protection of its programmed inspections.” The complaint notes: “SC OSHA neglects key industries whose workforce is 42 per cent black employees, while focusing the vast majority of its programmed inspections on industries made up of only 18 per cent black workers.”
News Click. OHS Canada. 12 April 2023

Hazards news, 5 April 2023

Britain: State pension decision is ‘no cause for celebration’
The government’s announcement that a rise in the state pension age to 68 will not be brought forward still leaves worrying questions for workers, the TUC has said. TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “The promise of yet another review after the next election is a worry for workers - it looks like the government just wants to keep asking the same question until it gets the answer it wants.”
DWP news release. The Guardian. 5 April 2023

Britain: Ofsted to face union court challenge after suicide
Ofsted could face a legal challenge over its decision not to pause its school inspections after the death of headteacher Ruth Perry. On 31 March, NAHT wrote to His Majesty’s Chief Inspector to demand a suspension of Ofsted inspections - the letter is the first step in judicial review proceedings and cites Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which imposes obligations on public authorities to take reasonable steps where there is a real and immediate risk of a loss of life.
NAHT news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian.
ACTION! Send an e-postcard and tell HSE to act on work-related suicide risks. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide 5 April 2023

Britain: Ofsted exhausts teachers, study finds
Teachers who believe an Ofsted inspection is likely in the coming 12 months have a higher work intensity with lower task discretion and are more likely to report always coming home from work exhausted than other teachers, a study has found. The University College London and the University of Cardiff research was funded by the teaching union NEU.
NEU news release and study first findings. 5 April 2023

Britain: Education staff facing ‘unmanageable’ workloads
Education staff are facing “unmanageable” levels of stress and workload, the teaching union NEU has said. The union’s survey of almost 18,000 workers found more than a third of teachers saying they are stressed 80 per cent or more of the time.
NEU news release and The Guardian. 5 April 2023

Britain: Lifeboat falls off low wage P&O ferry
Maritime union RMT has written to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) after a lifeboat fell off the new P&O superferry P&O Pioneer while moored off the coast of the Isle of Wight. The union said accidents involving lifeboats are one of the most common causes of injuries and fatalities amongst seafarers in the shipping industry.
RMT news release. ITV News. 5 April 2023

Britain: Electrician fired after raising site safety concerns
A Unite member has been sacked from his job as an electrical contractor after raising safety concerns. Lee Fowler, who has fought for workers’ health and safety for more than 30 years, was dismissed by contractor Bilfinger after he warned about working conditions at food production firm Cargill’s refinery site in Merseyside.
Blacklist blog. Morning Star. 5 April 2023

Global: Pacific trade pact “dire” for workers - TUC
The TUC has condemned a new trade deal that will allow large companies to sue the UK government behind closed doors if they believe their profits have suffered from changes to laws or regulations and which turns a blind eye to ‘egregious’ rights abuses. Commenting on the UK joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Time and time again, ministers have turned a blind eye to egregious rights abuses in the pursuit of trade deals.”
10 Downing Street news release. TUC news release. The Guardian. 5 April 2023

Britain: Strike wins asbestos safety agreement
Strikes at social housing landlord Magenta Living have ended with a deal on safe working with asbestos, Unite has said. The new agreement stipulates that for those technicians who have opted out there will be no requirement for them to undertake essential tasks with asbestos.
Unite news release. 5 April 2023

Britain: Equality is a firefighter safety issue, says FBU
Equality is a trade union principle and a safety priority for the FBU, the firefighters’ union has said. “Firefighters have the right to work without fear of being mistreated because of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability or neurodiversity - or bullied or abused while doing their job,” the union said, adding: “Just as much as fire contaminants and unsafe working practices, this kind of toxic culture is a matter of health and safety in the workplace.”
FBU news release. 5 April 2023

Britain: Fire service bullying and abuse widespread
Staff at a quarter of fire and rescue services in England have reported alleged racist, homophobic and misogynistic behaviour in their ranks in the past five years, inspectors have said. Roy Wilsher of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) said he was “shocked and appalled” by the findings and urged the sector to “get a grip” on how it handles misconduct.
FBU news release. Values and culture in fire and rescue services, HMICFRS, 30 March 2023. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Morning Star. 5 April 2023

Britain: Firefighter instructors at ‘high risk’ for diseases
Firefighter instructors, who train firefighter staff across the UK and typically face up to five to ten times the number of live fires compared to regular firefighters, have been found to have chronic inflammation leaving them at greater risk of cardiovascular diseases, infection and illness, according to new research by the University of Roehampton London.
lan Richardson and others. Inflammatory and psychological consequences of chronic high exposure firefighting, Journal of Thermal Biology, volume 111, 2023, 103399. doi.org/10.1016/j.jtherbio.2022.103399. 5 April 2023

Britain: HSE backs limits on some ‘forever chemicals’
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is recommending limits on the use of ‘forever chemicals’ in a range of industries. Its 4 April report sets out the extent to which PFAS (Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances) are used in Great Britain, with recommendations include limiting the use of PFAS-containing foams used by firefighters to put out fires, as well as the use of PFAS in textiles, furniture, and cleaning products.
HSE news release. 5 April 2023

Britain: Teachers working 12-hour days - leaked report
Almost a quarter of teachers in England are working 12-hour days, according to a leaked government report. The research, commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE), was carried out in Spring 2022 and has not yet been made public.
BBC News Online. Frank Pega, Bálint Náfrádi, Natalie C Momena and others. Global, regional, and national burdens of ischemic heart disease and stroke attributable to exposure to long working hours for 194 countries, 2000–2016: A systematic analysis from the WHO/ILO Joint Estimates of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury, Environment International, volume 154, September 2021. 5 April 2023

Britain: Bullying and toxic culture at NHS trust
Repeated cases of bullying and a toxic environment at one of England's largest NHS trusts have been found in a review. The independent rapid review headed by Prof Mike Bewick highlighted “a culture that is corrosively affecting morale” at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB).
independent Bewick rapid review. University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) statement. BBC News Online. 5 April 2023

Britain: £600k fine after employee died loading lorry
An East Yorkshire garden landscaping company has been fined £600,000 and ordered to pay £20,848.71 costs after an employee died while loading a lorry. Brian White, 59, was working for Kelkay Limited when he was operating a forklift truck at the company’s site in Pollington, East Yorkshire, on 15 June 2020 when was fatally injured when the lorry he was loading was moved by the driver, pulling the forklift truck over.
HSE news release. 5 April 2023

Global: ITUC 28 April social media resources
ITUC has published a collection of free to use infographics and social media resources in English, Spanish and French for use in promoting International Workers’ Memorial Day. The world’s largest occupational health and safety event, which was initiated by unins, is held each year on 28 April.
Global: ITUC 28 April infographics in English, French and Spanish. ITUC International Workers Memorial Day #IWMD23 graphics webpage. Find out what is happening worldwide.
Britain: TUC 28 April resources and events webpages. Get your 28 April event on the map! 5 April 2023

Honduras: Melon pickers protest unsafe work
Hundreds of Honduran seasonal farmworkers marched on the Japanese-owned billion-dollar multinational fruit company Fyffes on 29 March to deliver a petition signed by more than 1,000 melon pickers demanding their international labour rights. The march came after multiple accidents, including workers being hospitalised from toxic fumes in a Fyffes packing area, and a worker who was recently hit by a truck and died on the job.
IUF news release. 5 April 2023

Spain: Abusive work endemic on strawberry farms
Abusive conditions are endemic in parts of Spain’s fruit sector, a new report alleges, with workers reporting have been regularly underpaid and forced to live in dilapidated shacks. The  fruit-picking workforce in the region – dominated by migrants from Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa – face abuse, are frequently paid less than the minimum wage and are required to work overtime without pay, according to a new report from the organisation Ethical Consumer.
Ethical Consumer agricultural workers in Spain campaign. The Guardian. 5 April 2023

Turkey: Relief agencies warn of earthquake rubble risks
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned of the presence of asbestos in buildings affected by the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey in early February and its impacts on health and the environment. “With more than 210 million tons of earthquake rubble, relief teams and victims are both exposing themselves to elevated health risks from asbestos,” the IFRC said, with other hazards including lead, lithium, fluorescent lights and mercury.
Stockholm Center for Freedom report. 5 April 2023

USA: Climate change requires new work safety rights
With the climate crisis accelerating, workers in every state will increasingly face natural dangers in the workplace, a new report from the US National Employment Law Project has warned. It argues workers will increasingly need to exercise their right to refuse dangerous work, but this right needs strengthening to make it effective.
The Right to Refuse Unsafe Work in an Era of Climate Change, NELP, 27 March 2023. 5 April 2023

Hazards news, 29 March 2023

Britain: TUC slams ‘flimsy’ AI white paper
The TUC has criticised the government’s ‘flimsy’ and ‘vague’ Artificial Intelligence (AI) white paper. The government says responsibility for AI governance will not be given to a new regulator, and wants existing regulators - such as the Health and Safety Executive, Equality and Human Rights Commission and Competition and Markets Authority - to come up with their own approaches, using existing laws rather than being given new powers.
Department for Science, Innovation and Technology news release and white paper, AI regulation: a pro-innovation approach, 29 March 2023. BBC News Online.
Register for the TUC AI summit, 8:30-12:30, Tuesday 18 April, TUC Congress House London. 29 March 2023

Britain: Migration Bill is ‘a gift’ to dodgy employers
The government’s Illegal Migration Bill is “a gift to dodgy employers” who are looking to exploit migrant workers, the TUC has warned. TUC general secretary Paul Nowak, commenting on the ‘deplorable and very likely unlawful’ proposals, said: “Exploitation of migrant workers is already rampant – but this Bill will make a bad situation much, much worse.”
TUC news release.29 March 2023

Britain: Workers with Long Covid need protection
UK ministers should act to ensure Long Covid sufferers receive the support they need from employers, with as many as two-thirds claiming they have been unfairly treated at work, a new report from the TUC and the charity Long Covid Support has warned. It says that failing to accommodate the 2 million people who, according to ONS data, may be suffering from long Covid in the UK will create, “new, long-lasting inequalities”.
TUC news release, summary and full report, Workers' experience of Long Covid, Joint report by the TUC and Long Covid Support, 27 March 2023. The Guardian. 29 March 2023

Britain: Covid death families still owed millions
Millions of pounds of compensation promised by ministers to relatives of frontline health and social care workers who died during the pandemic remains unclaimed, UNISON has said. Fewer than 800 families across England have received the £60,000 payouts from the government’s life assurance scheme – but the health union said official figures show more than 2,000 deaths involving Covid occurred among health and care staff, including porters, nurses and care home employees.
UNISON news release. 29 March 2023

Britain: Head teachers call for Ofsted to be replaced
Teachers and headteachers have handed a petition to the government calling for Ofsted to be replaced. The petition was started before headteacher Ruth Perry took her own life while waiting for an Ofsted report she knew would downgrade her outstanding school to ‘inadequate’.
BBC News Online. 29 March 2023

Britain: Ofsted inspections a factor in 10 teacher suicides
Stress caused by Ofsted inspections was cited in coroners’ reports on the deaths of 10 teachers over the past 25 years. The research by the Hazards Campaign and the University of Leeds, will intensify what Ofsted has called the “outpouring of anger” in the sector over the death of Berkshire headteacher Ruth Perry, who killed herself in January.
The Observer. 29 March 2023

Britain: Unite member ‘vindicated’ on Crossrail blacklisting
An electrician who exposed contemporary “blacklisting” on the flagship Crossrail project has said he feels ‘fully vindicated’. Unite member Daniel Collins took a case for blacklisting, breaches of data protection and misuse of private information against construction companies Crossrail, Costain, Skanska, T Clarke and NG Bailey. Daniel, who was fired and then blacklisted after raising safety concerns, has since received compensation and had his damning statement detailing the allegations read out in London’s Royal Courts of Justice. 
Unite news release. The full statement in open court. Blacklist blog. Construction News. Personnel Today. 29 March 2023

Britain: New railway work life and death project
RMT has launched a joint health and safety data initiative with the University of Portsmouth, the National Railway Museum (NRM) and the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick (MRC). The union says it provides a “fascinating insight into the past health and safety experiences of RMT members, including risk posed by their jobs and any accidents they were involved in.”
RMT news release. 29 March 2023

Britain: Freeports must not undermine rights and safety
Maritime union RMT has warned that new freeports must not undermine the working conditions and safety standards for seafarers in Holyhead, Milford Haven and Port Talbot. The union was reacting to news that two sites in Wales will gain Freeport status, meaning there will be special exemption from tax rates, customs rules and other regulations.
RMT news release. 29 March 2023

Britain: Wales TUC action on sexual harassment
A new toolkit on tackling sexual harassment in the workplace has been launched by Wales TUC. The union body said the resource, co-authored with Welsh Women’s Aid, will give workers in Wales the information they need to tackle this problem in the workplace.
Wales TUC news release. 29 March 2023

Britain: Union alarm at ‘disturbing’ rise in shoplifting
Retail trade union Usdaw has said it is deeply concerned by new figures revealing record levels of shop theft in convenience stores last year. It says the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) findings add to evidence from police recorded crime statistics showing increases in shoplifting over the last year, ending a decade-long downward trend.
ACS news release. Usdaw news release. 29 March 2023

Britain: Extreme audience behaviour hitting UK theatres
A new survey from theatre union Bectu has uncovered the extent of anti-social behaviour from theatre audiences. Based on responses from over 1,500 workers in the sector, the union found 90 per cent had directly experienced or witnessed poor audience behaviour, and more than 70 per cent felt that the problem is worse post-pandemic.
Bectu news release. 29 March 2023

Britain: Stress could cause NHS staff exodus
More than threequarters of NHS staff are considering quitting due to stress, burnout and anxiety, according to new figures. A survey of 2,500 NHS workers by campaign group Organise found 78 per cent reported experiencing stress and over half (55 per cent) had taken time off because of stress, anxiety or burnout as the crisis in the NHS deepens, with 25 per cent staying away from work for more than a month.
Morning Star. 29 March 2023

Britain: Ministers put off state pension age change
Ministers have reportedly delayed plans to bring forward a rise in the state pension age. State pensions are currently payable at age 66, but this was due to rise to 68 after 2044.
Financial Times. The Guardian. 29 March 2023

Britain: Ikea UK deal with EHRC on sexual harassment
Ikea UK has made an agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to improve its sexual harassment policies and practices after a complaint by a former employee. As part of the agreement, Ikea UK – which 22 stores in the UK and more than 11,700 staff - has committed to reviewing the way it deals with sexual harassment and meeting its responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010, the EHRC said in a statement.
EHRC news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. 29 March 2023

Britain: Over 20 hospitalised after ship tips at dockyard
Thirty-five people have been injured after a ship tipped over at an Edinburgh dockyard. The Scottish Ambulance Service said 23 people had been taken to hospital, many said to have serious injuries, and 12 people were treated at the scene of the incident at Imperial Dock, Leith.
BBC News Online. The Guardian. 29 March 2023

Britain: Firms fined over asbestos removal cartel
Ten construction firms have been fined by Britain's competition regulator after they were found to have engaged in bid rigging and been ordered to cough up a combined £59.3 million after an investigation by the UK Competition and Markets Authority. The 10 groups fined by the regulator were Squibb; Brown and Mason; John F Hunt; Cantillon; McGee; Scudder; Erith; Clifford Devlin; Keltbray, and DSM.
CMA news release. This is Money. The Guardian. 29 March 2023

Global: Alarm at single pilot commercial flights move
A move to reduce the size of crews on commercial flights, including a shift to single pilot operation, have been condemned as a ‘threat to safety’ by pilots’ unions. The warning comes from the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA), the European Cockpit Association (ECA) and the Air Line Pilots Association, International (US-ALPA), who described single pilot operations as a “threat to safety”.
ITF news release. 29 March 2023

USA: Workers' physical and mental health declining
Three out of four US employees have reported that their physical and mental health either declined or stagnated in 2022, a recent study has found, and this has impacted their productivity. Fortune magazine reports that although many employers have taken strides to provide mental health benefits, especially post-pandemic, workers are being deterred from utilising these benefits because they are overwhelmed by how to navigate the USA’s private health insurance and healthcare system.
Fortune magazine. 29 March 2023

Hazards news, 22 March 2023

Britain: Experienced HSE inspectors ‘leaving in droves’
Prospect members at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) walked out on 15 March after voting overwhelmingly for strike action. The budget day action by HSE inspectors came in response to a chronic lack of resources and low pay at the regulator.
Prospect blog. 22 March 2023

Britain: Headteacher killed herself 'over Ofsted report'
A popular Reading headteacher killed herself after worrying about a negative Ofsted report about her school, her family have said. Caversham Primary School principal Ruth Perry died on 8 January 2023 shortly after being told her school was being downgraded from outstanding to inadequate following a 15-16 November 2022 Ofsted inspection.
BBC South Today report, 16 March 2023. BBC News Online. Reading Chronicle. The Mirror. Daily Express. The Guardian.
Work-related suicide: a qualitative analysis of recent cases with recommendations for reform, Sarah Waters and Hilda Palmer, University of Leeds, July 2021. 22 March 2023

Britain: School unions call for pause on inspections
Teaching unions have called for the suspension of Ofsted inspections after the Ruth Perry suicide tragedy. The NEU, school leaders' union NAHT and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) all called for inspections to be paused, with Dr Mary Bousted, the NEU joint general secretary, accusing Ofsted of ‘an absolute lack of empathy’.
NEU news release. NAHT news release. ASCL news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. 22 March 2023

Britain: Work-related suicide highlights lack of oversight
The tragic death of headteacher Ruth Perry after a devastating Ofsted inspection has again highlighted an enforcement anomaly where work-related suicides are not investigated or subject to enforcement action by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Hazards magazine has warned that the UK safety regulator “is sticking with its official blind-eye to work-related suicide risks, despite coroners’ inquests, evidence reviews and campaigners presenting alarming evidence of a substantial but unaddressed toll.”
Six simple measures to make work-related suicides count, Hazards Magazine.
Send an e-postcard and tell HSE to act on work-related suicide risks. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide 22 March 2023

Britain: Women’s health is a workplace issue
The health and wellbeing of women cannot be separated out from the workplace, the TUC has said. Responding to a UK government consultation on its women’s health strategy, the union body said that good workplace terms and conditions and policies that support women at work are essential in supporting women’s health and women’s equality more broadly.
Women’s health and the workplace: TUC response to call for evidence on a women’s health strategy, 14 March 2023. 22 March 2023

Britain: Raising safety concerns led to Crossrail sacking
A long running case concerning ‘contemporary blacklisting’ on Crossrail concluded on 20 March with an open statement in court. Unite member Daniel Collins was employed by the Costain/Skanska joint venture via an agency on the Bond Street Crossrail station project in February 2015, when he raised health and safety concerns – but three days later he was told to leave the project.
Unite news release. 22 March 2023

Britain: Union concern over funds for school building repairs
Teaching union NASUWT has expressed concern that the government is cutting back on school building refurbishment and repairs, despite the Department for Education’s recent disclosure that there was a “critical – very likely” risk of buildings collapsing. The union said the Spring budget on 15 March had cut the DfE’s capital expenditure limits by £400m, from £6.3bn allocated in last November’s autumn statement to £5.9bn.
NASUWT news release. The Observer. 22 March 2023

Britain: Government to consult on OHS expansion
The government is to consult on measures to increase access for workers to occupational health services (OHS). The announcement, which formed part of the Jeremy Hunt’s Spring budget, will look at incentives like tax breaks for firms providing OHS and will expand the small and medium sized businesses pilot subsidy to £25m.
DWP news release. UK Spring Budget. FOM news release. SOM news release. IOSH magazine. 22 March 2023

Britain: Ambulance worker’s Covid death was a work disease
An ambulance worker who caught Covid from a patient died as the result of an industrial disease, a coroner has concluded. Alan Haigh, 59, from Cwmduad, Carmarthenshire, died in Glangwili Hospital on 9 February 2021, with coroner Paul Bennett saying the greatest risk to him was “his employment.”
BBC News Online. 22 March 2023

Britain: Under pressure junior docs suffer panic attacks
NHS junior doctors suffer panic attacks and feelings of desperation because they get so stressed from the pressure they are under at work, research has found. Some also experience intrusive thoughts, migraines and hair loss as a direct result of trying to give patients high-quality treatment in hospitals struggling with serious staff shortages.
Leeds University report, March 2023. The Guardian. 22 March 2023

Britain: Tea firm doesn’t want case heard in Scotland
The boss of a tea company being sued by 2,000 Kenyan farm workers has argued a Scottish court would not understand cultural issues that affect the occupational injuries compensation case and it should instead be heard in Kenya. James Finlay Kenya Ltd (JFK) managing director Simeon Hutchinson told the court the company has no connection whatsoever to Scotland other than its “historical registered address,” however the website of the Scotland-based James Finlay company lists JFK as its part of its global operations.
James Finlay and Co website. BBC News Online. 22 March 2023

Britain: Government pledge broken over NHS staff abuse data
NHS staff have accused Conservative MP and current health secretary Steve Barclay of breaking a pledge to publish details of how many of them are abused and assaulted in the course of their work. GMB policy head Laurence Turner said: “How can ministers tackle the problem if they don’t know its scale?”
The Guardian. 22 March 2023

Britain: Morrisons convicted after employee’s epilepsy death
Morrisons has been convicted of criminal safety offences and fined £3.5 million after an employee with epilepsy died when he fell from the stairs during a seizure. Matthew Gunn, 27, suffered catastrophic head injuries at the supermarket’s store in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.
The Guardian. 22 March 2023

Britain: Firm convicted after worker suffers brain trauma
Singh Will Mix It Ltd has been convicted of criminal safety offences and fined £175,000 plus £75,722 costs after a worker suffered serious head injuries. The man, who was 35 at the time, was working at a domestic property on 3 March 2019 when he was injured during concrete pumping operations carried out by the sub-contractor.
HSE news release. 22 March 2023

Colombia:  Mine explosion leaves 21 dead
A coal mine explosion in Colombia has killed 21 miners. The tragedy, attributed to methane gas build-up in several adjoining coal mines, took place late on 14 March in a rural area of Sutatausa, about 75 kilometres north of Bogota.
ABC News. 22 March 2023

Pakistan: Situation worsening in deadly mines
Pakistan’s government and mine owners are allowing a catastrophic loss of lives to continue, unions have warned. They note that over the last two years, at least 300 miners have been killed and more than 100 severely injured.
IndustriALL news release. 22 March 2023

Qatar: Labour rights must happen now
International trade union organisations have expressed serious concerns at the situation facing migrant workers in Qatar now that the men’s football FIFA World Cup 2022 is over. The global trade union confederation ITUC warned if the labour law reforms made by the government at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in November 2017 are not fully implemented and built on there will be no positive and lasting legacy of the FIFA World Cup.
ITUC statement. IUF news release. BWI news release. 22 March 2023

South Korea: Government backtracks on 69-hour week
South Korea’s government has been forced to reconsider its plan to increase working hours after facing heavy criticism about health concerns. The backlash prompted the presidential office to order the government to re-examine the proposed bill and better “its communication with the public to seek improvements”.
SBS News. 22 March 2023

Hazards news, 15 March 2023

Britain: Safety regulator must tackle sexual harassment at work
Sexual harassment at work is “a form of violence and assault” and should be targeted like other hazards by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), unions and campaigners have said. A letter from the STUC’s women’s committee co-signed by Scottish Hazards and Scotland’s feminist me mbership organisation Engender to the safety regulator reflects concern that HSE is neglecting the trauma and occupational distress caused by harassment within the workplace and instead treating sexual harassment as solely an equality issue.  
STUC news release. 15 March 2023

Britain: Violence, threats and abuse hurt retail workers
Nearly a third of shopworkers are on the verge of quitting due to spiralling levels of in-store violence, threats and abuse, retail union Usdaw has warned. Around 30 per cent are considering a change of job and four in 10 feel anxious at work because of abusive customers, according to Usdaw’s latest annual survey.
Usdaw news release and report. Morning Star. 15 March 2023

Britain: Case for work-related Covid recognition hardens
Pressure is increasing on the Westminster government to recognise Covid as an occupational disease. In January, a Welsh senior coroner found that the two nurses – aged 65 and 63 – most likely contracted Covid either from patients or their colleagues while working in hospitals in Cardiff in the first few months of the pandemic – and the TUC is urging the government to follow the advice of its own experts and approve Covid as an occupational disease for health and social care workers.
The Medical Republic. 15 March 2023

Britain: Staffing on railways vital to protect women
Staffing levels on railways are vital to protect women passengers, the TUC Women’s Conference has heard. Delegates were told that railways in Britain have become profit-driven under the Conservative government, with bosses planning to close most ticket offices and extend driver-only operation (DOO).
Morning Star. 15 March 2023

Britain: ‘Me, work and the menopause’ campaign
Retail trade union Usdaw has launched a new campaign about the menopause to raise awareness and to seek better workplace rights. The union said it is clear that the menopause is an occupational health issue.
Usdaw news release and Me, work and the menopause campaign.
Resources: TUC menopause at work interactive guide and Supporting working women through the menopause: guidance for union representatives. 15 March 2023

Britain: Menopause is a workplace issue
Teachers should not have to feel they must hide symptoms of the menopause and employers must instead make necessary ‘reasonable adjustments’ at work to protect their health and wellbeing, NASUWT has said. The teaching union warned employers are still failing to recognise the impact the menopause can have on many women, adding schools are often ill-equipped to make the changed needed to allow women to manage their symptoms.
NASUWT news release. 15 March 2023

Britain: Young workers told to take asbestos ‘seriously’
Millennials, gen Z workers and other younger people who work as plumbers, electricians, and in other trades need to take the risk of asbestos much more seriously, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned. The workplace regulator has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with the cancer-causing fibre.
HSE news release and Asbestos and You campaign. 15 March 2023

Britain: Asbestos boss jailed over unsafe removal jobs
An asbestos removal company has been convicted and its director given a prison sentence totalling 10 months after failing to ensure the safe removal of asbestos. Asbestos Boss Limited, also known as Asbestos Team and its director, Daniel Luke Cockcroft, advertised as a licensed asbestos removal company and removed licensable material from domestic properties throughout Great Britain – despite never having held a licence.
HSE news release. Stockport Trading Standards news release. Yorkshire Post. 15 March 2023

Britain: Unsafe director fined after house partially collapses
Construction company Servotec and its director Shaun Brae have been fined after a house partially collapsed in Manchester and Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors had to impose a series of stop work prohibition notices. Two of the notices were issued for structural problems, another for silica exposures and an improvement notice was imposed over breaches of asbestos regulations.
HSE news release. 15 March 2023

Britain: Workers killed by Covid-19 remembered 
A vigil in memory of workers killed by Covid-19 was held on 11 March - the third anniversary of the World Health Organisation’s declaration of a pandemic. The event, outside the People’s History Museum in Manchester, was organised by Manchester Hazards, the workplace health and safety research and campaign group.
Morning Star. 15 March 2023

Britain: Council fined after school caretaker dies
A council has been fined £66,666 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs after the death of school caretaker David Mobsby, 71, who was working at Blatchington Mill School in Hove, suffered a fatal head injury in a fall from a ladder. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Brighton and Hove City Council, the local authority that employs staff at the school, had failed to ensure that the cleaning of the school’s bike shed was properly planned, appropriately supervised, and carried out using a safe work method.
HSE news release. 15 March 2023

Britain: Whisky plant worker get £45k for noise damage
A Dumbarton bottling plant worker has been awarded £45,494.13 in compensation after her employer didn’t do enough to protect her hearing from deafening workplace noise. Margaret Denny, 63, sustained permanent hearing loss and developing tinnitus whilst working from 1990 to 2018 at Chivas Brothers and its predecessors Allied Distillers.
Dumbarton Reporter. 15 March 2023

Germany: Labour standards return to the meat industry
Two years after the German government banned subcontracting in the meat sector, research by the food union NGG has found widespread improvements in safety and working conditions. Since the Protection Control Law for the Meat Industry was passed 35,000 subcontracted workers have been hired directly by meat companies, collective bargaining has secured a substantial pay increase and occupational health and safety has ‘dramatically improved’, the union says, with union membership increasing.
IUF news release. 15 March 2023

South Korea: Anger at 69-hour work week proposal
South Korea’s conservative government has proposed increasing the legal cap on weekly work hours from 52 to 69 hours, triggering backlash from the opposition and wage earners. The move is opposed by unions and opposition parties, who say South Koreans toil more than many of their overseas counterparts.
Financial Times. Washington Post. The Spokesman Review.
Frank Pega, Bálint Náfrádi, Natalie C Momena and others. Global, regional, and national burdens of ischemic heart disease and stroke attributable to exposure to long working hours for 194 countries, 2000–2016: A systematic analysis from the WHO/ILO Joint Estimates of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury, Environment International, volume 154, September 2021. 15 March 2023

USA: Prison time inevitable for trench collapse death
A US construction company operator has been jailed in connection with the death of labourer Luis Sánchez Almonte, who was fatally crushed in a trench collapse in 2018. Supreme Court Justice Danny K Chun convicted Jiaxi “Jimmy” Liu of the construction group WSC Group of criminally negligent homicide, in addition to offenses related to workers compensation fraud.
Confined Space blog. The City. 15 March 2023

Global: Union initiatives protect mental health
As part of a commitment by global transport unions’ federation ITF to ensuring unions are equipped to protect their members’ mental health, the union body commissioned research on the impact of the pandemic on young public transport workers. The study explored initiatives in seven countries – Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Spain, Uganda and the United States – and found positive initiatives included collective bargaining with employers and lobbying governments to achieve structural change, with ‘bread and butter’ union issues like decent pay “underlining the vital link between these issues.”
ITF news release and full report, Essential public services, essential workers’ health: union-based initiatives to protect the mental health of young public transport workers, March 2023. Briefing paper. 15 March 2023

Hazards news, 7 March 2023

Britain: ‘Stark class divide’ on ill-health job loss
There is a “stark class divide” on workers forced out of the labour market by long-term sickness, the TUC has warned, with older low-income workers far more likely affected. A new report by the union body shows the number of people aged 50-65 neither in work nor looking for a job because of poor health has surged by more than 20 per cent in the last three years to reach 1.5 million – and men and women in low-income sectors of the economy make up more than threequarters (77 per cent) of this increase.
Creating a healthy labour market: Tackling the root causes of growing economic inactivity among older people, TUC, 1 March 2023 [pdf]. Morning Star. 7 March 2023

Britain: Protecting information about workers’ health
Health information is some of the most sensitive personal information that might be processed about workers and must be protected, the TUC has said. Responding to an Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) consultation, the union body warned the draft guidance would not adequately support all the groups who might seek to use it, adding it needs more explicit recognition of the important role played by unions and equalities groups.
TUC update and TUC response to ICO on ‘Employment practices information about workers’ health’. 7 March 2023

Britain: 'Life-saving' firefighter cancer monitoring study
A first-of-its-kind firefighter cancer and health monitoring has begun as part of a UK-wide research project commissioned by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). Participating firefighters are volunteering to provide blood and urine samples to be analysed, with the results used to identify the number of firefighters with occupational cancers and other diseases resulting from exposure to toxic contaminants in fire.
FBU news release. 7 March 2023

Britain: Mayors back Unite’s get me home safely campaign
The mayors of both Liverpool and Manchester have pledged support for Unite’s ground-breaking Get Me Home Safely campaign. This calls for employers to provide safe and free transport home for all workers past 11pm.
Unite news releases on commitments from Manchester and Liverpool mayors. 7 March 2023

Britain: Inquiry confirms spying on unions and blacklisting
The first stage of the public inquiry into undercover policing has been completed – and has concluded there was systematic spying on union activists because of their safety and other organising activities, and that this was linked to an employment blacklist. Commenting on the findings of the ‘spycops’ inquiry led by judge Sir John Mitting, a statement from the union-backed Blacklist Support Group noted: “This is state sponsored blacklisting: plain and simple”.
Unite news release. Blacklist blog. BBC News Online. The Canary. The Guardian. Morning Star and related story. 7 March 2023

Britain: FDA calls for investigation into ministerial bullying
The senior civil servants’ union FDA has asked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to conduct an investigation into ministerial bullying in the civil service and the absence of an effective procedure to deal with it. Calling on HSE to intervene, FDA added “over two-thirds (69.3 per cent) of respondents said that if they had to raise a concern about unacceptable behaviour at work by a minister they did not have confidence it would be dealt with fairly.”
FDA news release. The Guardian, BBC News Online, The Times, Sky News, The Herald, MailOnline, The Spectator, The Evening Standard. 7 March 2023

Britain: UK workers put in £26bn in unpaid overtime last year
UK employers claimed £26 billion of free labour last year because of workers doing unpaid overtime, according to new analysis by the TUC. The union body was commenting on 24 February – this year’s Work Your Proper Hours Day. TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said “employers shouldn’t rely on unpaid overtime – that’s just exploitation.”
TUC news release. 7 March 2023

Britain: RMT marks anniversary of ferry tragedy
Seafarers’ union RMT has marked the 36th anniversary of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster which took the lives of 193 crew and passengers in waters off Zeebrugge on 6 March 1987. After paying tribute to the crew and passengers who died, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch pledged: “This union will re-double its resolve to support high maritime safety standards for all seafarers and passengers using Channel ferry services, despite P&O’s efforts to speed up the race to the bottom by sacking all its British seafarers just over a year ago.”
RMT news release. 7 March 2023

Britain: UK firms want to keep health and safety rules
A survey has revealed that UK businesses strongly support health and safety regulations and has highlighted fears over the impact of the Retained EU Law Bill, which is in the House of Lords at committee stage. According to the research by Unchecked UK with support from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and others, seven in 10 (69 per cent) businesses are not willing to accept lower health and safety standards as part of the Retained EU Law Bill.
Regulation: what does UK business think?, Unchecked UK, March 2023. Personnel Today. HR Review. IOSH news release. 7 March 2023

[work and health] Britain: Worker health checks plan to tackle labour shortages
Ministers are looking at bringing in annual health checks for workers and allowing more hospitality staff to come from abroad in an effort to deal with labour shortages. A report in the Sunday Times notes Westminster’s plans could involve giving companies subsidies for occupational health services to prevent workers going off long-term sick, as part of the government’s review of the workforce to be unveiled alongside the budget on 15 March.
Sunday Times. The Guardian. 7 March 2023

[work and health] Britain: Docs reject plans to force the sick to work
Government proposals to force GPs to sign fewer sick notes for workers have been rejected by Doctors in Unite, which represents GPs and doctors operating in the NHS. Calling for the creation of a national occupational health service, Doctors in Unite said it believes that it is a fundamental duty of doctors to be allowed to record people as sick or able to work solely based on their medical condition and not on arbitrary government guidelines.
Unite news release. Sign the petition demanding that the government does not progress with its plans to change the sick note system. 7 March 2023

[mental health] Britain: ‘Intrinsic link’ between NHS staff wellbeing and patient safety
NHS staff in England have faced "significant distress" and harm over the past year, a health service safety watchdog has found, identifying an ‘intrinsic link’ between staff wellbeing and patient safety. An investigation team from the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) spoke to staff working across the urgent and emergency care system in the NHS including in emergency departments, NHS 111 call handling centres and ambulance services.
HSIB news release. BBC News Online. 7 March 2023

[chemicals] Britain: Hospital workers face massive N2O exposures
The Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) has said it has been called in to several hospitals to measure levels of exposure of nitrous oxide (N2O) following concerns that health worker exposure levels were up to 50 times higher than the legal workplace limit. Because of concerns over workers’ health, a number of hospitals have now stopped using ‘Entonox’ pain relief – also known as ‘gas and air’ or ‘laughing gas’ - for women in labour.
IOM news release. BBC News Online.
NHS guidance on guidance on minimising time weighted exposure to nitrous oxide in healthcare settings in England, 2 March 2023. 7 March 2023

[stress] Britain: Royal Mail used trackers to up work pace
The chief executive of Royal Mail has admitted digital tracking devices carried by postal workers were used to pressure them to work faster, blaming rogue managers for using the information in breach of the delivery company’s policy. Simon Thompson was hauled back in front of the business select committee after MPs felt he did not give “wholly correct” answers during his first appearance in February.
The Guardian. 7 March 2023

[women] Britain: Labour pledges paid time off for menopause
Menopausal women could be offered paid time off and working environments with temperature-controlled areas under Labour plans to support the wellbeing of women in the workplace. In an effort to support women to stay or return to the workforce, Labour has pledged to bring in a requirement for large companies to publish and implement a “Menopause action plan” that sets out how they are supporting their employees experiencing menopausal symptoms.
The Guardian. 7 March 2023

[women] Britain: Restaurant worker sacked for being pregnant
A Scottish restaurant worker who was sacked for being pregnant has been awarded almost £16,000 in compensation. The woman was told by an HR boss at Fenwick Tapas in Grennock that she had been “P45’d” when she called to discuss her maternity pay arrangements.
The National. The Mirror. 7 March 2023

[violence] Britain: Retail figures reveal ‘appalling levels’ of abuse of staff
A retail industry annual survey has exposed soaring levels of retail violence and abuse of workers in the sector, now at twice the pre-pandemic levels. The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) BRC’s Crime Survey reveal that incidents, including racial and sexual abuse, physical assault, and threats with weapons, rose from the pre-Covid high of over 450 per day in 2019/20, to over 850 per day in 2021/22.
BRC news release. Usdaw news release. Morning Star. 7 March 2023

Britain: Sellafield fined after hazmat worker breaks back
Nuclear decommissioning firm Sellafield Ltd fined £400,000 plus costs of £29,210.64 after a maintenance worker suffered serious back injuries when he fell from a scaffolding ladder at the nuclear site. The employee of Sellafield Ltd was carrying out repair work in a low active chamber at the Magnox Reprocessing Facility at the Cumbrian site and was wearing a positive pressure hazmat suit while attempting to climb down a ladder, when he suffered a fall of around 3 metres sustaining fractures to his vertebrae.
ONR news release. Construction Enquirer. 7 March 2023

[work and health] Global: Low dose radiation linked to heart disease
Exposure to low doses of ionising radiation is associated with a modestly increased excess risk of heart disease, according to an analysis of the latest evidence published by The BMJ. The researchers say these findings “have implications for patients who undergo radiation exposure as part of their medical care, as well as policy makers involved in managing radiation risks to radiation workers and the public.”
Mark P Little and others. Ionising radiation and cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis, BMJ 2023;380:e072924. doi: 10.1136/bmj-2022-072924 Related editorial: Anssi Auvinen. Increased cardiovascular disease risk after exposure to low dose radiation, BMJ 2023;380:e074589. doi: 10.1136/bmj-2022-074589 7 March 2023

Britain: Our big day is just 7 weeks away - 28 April!
In seven weeks’ time, it will be International Workers’ Memorial Day, which as many of you know is an international day marked by the trade union movement to remember all workers who lost their lives to workplace illness or injury, and to recommit ourselves to fighting to keep workers safe: Remember the Dead, Fight for the Living! You might on 28 April remember someone who died as a result of work by using our online memorial wall; check out our workers’ health and safety timeline and use it for member education; host a IWMD event and list it on our website with an interactive map; or ask your local council to sign up to our Stay Safe, Join a Union campaign.
Action: Online memorial wall. IWMD interactive events map. Stay Safe, Join a Union campaign.
Resources: IWMD posters and graphics for social media. TUC guide to Organising on Health and Safety. Upcoming TUC Education courses for reps. 7 March 2023

[dust] Australia: Big union wins on deadly silica risks
Unions in Australia have won a major tightening of workplace dust limits on deadly silica and could now see one of the deadliest silica-containing products heavily restricted or banned. A union campaign had already seen the federal workplace exposure limit cut to 0.05mg/m3 for respirable crystalline silica dust, which can cause lung-scarring silicosis, cancer and other fatal diseases – and now states and territories have agreed to consider banning potentially deadly engineered stone products, following a meeting led by workplace relations minister Tony Burke.
AMWU news release. AWU news release. ETU news release. Australian Unions news report. The New Daily. The West Australian. Sydney Morning Herald. 7 March 2023

USA: Government clampdown on child labour
The Biden administration is seeking to reverse an alarming upturn in child labour violations involving migrant children at US companies. Leaders of the US departments of Labor and Health and Human Services announced on 27 February they are taking new steps to address exploitative child labour practices, including forming an inter-agency taskforce on ‘Child Labour Exploitation’.
Department of Labor news release. New York Times. Bloomberg Law. 7 March 2023

[dust ] USA: Coal miner dust disease deaths on the increase
Coal miners in the United States are at an increased risk of dying from lung diseases such as cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and death rates are higher for these workers than they are among the general US population, according to new research from the government’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The results show not only that coal miners are more likely to die from diseases of the lung than other workers, but that today’s coal miners actually face greater mortality risk than their predecessors, with younger workers the worst affected. 
Modern Coal Miners Have Higher Death Rates From Lung Diseases Than Their Predecessors, Kirsten Almberg, PhD, and Robert Cohen, MD. NIOSH Science Blog, Posted 27 February 2023. Business Insurance. 7 March 2023

[infections] USA: Covid top police line-of-duty death
Covid was the top cause of death in the line of duty for American law enforcement for the third year in a row in 2022, although the pace has slowed. The total number of Covid deaths in 2022 was significantly lower than the previous two years, with 70 deaths in the line of duty, but it still outpaced all other causes of mortality on the job, according to a report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF).
The Guardian. 7 March 2023

Hazards news, 22 February 2023

Britain: Union warns government about EU law cull
The union representing Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors has written to the business secretary raising deep concerns about the government’s plan for a mass cull of EU laws at the end of the year. The letter from Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy to Kemi Badenoch, the secretary of state for business and trade, highlights dangers from the forthcoming Retained EU Law Bill, including the impact on the regulation of hazardous industries and on employment rights.
Prospect news release and letter. 22 February 2023

Britain: Train driver tragedy prompts safety recommendations
An official investigation after the death of a train driver who it is believed may have got out of his cab to urinate and was hit by another train has called for safety improvements on the network. The train drivers' union Aslef, which described the report a ‘wake up call’ for the industry, had previously raised concerns that the model of train he was driving has no toilet and the West Worthing timetable did not allow drivers time to use a toilet between services.
RAIB news release and report. BBC News Online. Sussex Express. The Argus. 22 February 2023

Britain: Don’t forget lessons of Tebay tragedy - RMT
Rail union has warned of the dangers of ignoring the lessons of the 2014 Tebay tragedy in which four workers died. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch warned “despite these tragedies and others, we are having to resist further attacks on safety with 50 per cent planned reductions in scheduled maintenance tasks, hundreds of job losses and more unsocial shifts.”
RMT news release. 22 February 2023

Britain: Unions call for action on ‘dangerous’ schools
Seven unions - Community, GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON and Unite - have written to the government demanding immediate action to address the “shocking” state of school buildings in England, some of which are in danger of collapse. The action followed a call from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for full disclosure over exactly which school buildings are most at risk, and for urgent intervention to shore up those buildings most likely to structurally fail.
NEU news release. NASUWT news release. Morning Star. The Guardian. Construction Enquirer. 22 February 2023

Britain: Schools closed due to unsafe buildings
At least 39 state schools in England have been forced to close either partially or entirely in the last three years because one or more buildings have been deemed unsafe, the government has confirmed. In three cases, concerns about building safety were so extensive that the entire school site had to be closed down permanently, with pupils moved off-site to alternative accommodation.
The Guardian. 22 February 2023

Britain: Over half of LGBT teachers face abuse
Over half of LGBTI teachers (52 per cent) experience discrimination and abuse from pupils and parents, new polling by teaching union NASUWT has found. Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, commented: “With teacher recruitment and retention reaching crisis levels, governments and employers need to be doing everything in their power to make teaching an inclusive and attractive profession.”
NASUWT news release. Morning Star. 22 February 2023

Britain: Screen workers welcome mental health report
The creative union Bectu has welcomed the publication of the Film and TV Charity’s Looking Glass ’22 report. The charity’s latest survey of 2,000 people across the film and TV sector found attitudes towards mental health and bullying and harassment are improving, with more workers and employers taking incidents seriously and listening to the concerns of their colleagues.
Bectu news release. 22 February 2023

Britain: Zero hours contracts hit record high
The union GMB has accused Rishi Sunak of presiding over a ‘tidal wave’ of insecure work after zero hours employment hit its highest rate in history. New official figures show that 1,133,441 people were employed on a zero hours contract in October to December 2022, an increase of 8.5 per cent on the previous three months.
GMB news release. 22 February 2023

Britain: Call for swift action to protect threatened journalists
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called on the government and police to act swiftly and robustly to secure the safety of journalists working in the UK for Iran International and the BBC Persian service. The union was commenting after Iran International said in the face of escalation of threats against its journalists, it had closed its London TV studios on the advice of police.
NUJ news release. The Guardian. 22 February 2023

Britain: Doctors could be told to deny sick notes
The government could tell doctors to sign fewer sick people off work as part of a bid to boost the flagging performance of Britain's economy. People deemed ill enough to get a sick note would instead be “helped” to remain in work under plans reported by the Telegraph and under consideration in Whitehall, and includes changing advice to GPs to encourage people to stay in employment and to stress the “benefits of work.”
The Telegraph. The Independent. 22 February 2023

Britain: Government has got it wrong on labour supply
A drive by Rishi Sunak’s government to push people who have taken early retirement back to work to fix chronic staff shortages is addressing the wrong problem, according to a new report. The sharp rise in economic inactivity – when working-age adults are neither in work nor looking for a job – is more likely to be driven by people waiting for treatment as the health service struggles to cope, as well as by people who permanently live in poorer health, according to the consultancy LCP.
LCP news release. The Guardian. 22 February 2023

Britain: Tugboat giant fined £2m after worker death
Multinational tugboat operator Svitzer Marine Ltd has been fined £2 million plus £136,000 costs for criminal safety offences that led to the death of an experienced worker. Ian Webb, 62, was working as the chief engineer on a tugboat at Tranmere Oil Terminal during a “violent storm” on 27 January 2019 when he slipped into the river from a jetty and was killed.
Liverpool Echo. 22 February 2023

Britain: Director penalised over unusable open air toilet
Construction company ID8 Design and Build Ltd and its director Adeel Bhatti have been fined for failing to provide suitable welfare facilities at a North London construction site, with and HSE investigation finding the was no rest facilities and the toilet provided was not flushable and was in a room without a door or window coverings. There was no sink, no hot water, no soap and no towels – cold water was only available from a pipe in the room next to the toilet.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. 22 February 2023

Britain: Making safety representatives more representative
TUC research found over 90 per cent of union safety reps are white, and 80 per cent are male – so TUC training courses are now aiming to encourage greater diversity. To  encourage more women and Black workers to become union safety reps the TUC has organised four free, one-day, online introductory courses.
Sign up for the women only safety rep online courses on Thursday 23 March and Thursday 11 May; or the Black members only online safety reps courses on Tuesday 21 March and Friday 12 May. 22 February 2023

Australia: Union ramps up push to ban engineered stone
There’s a fresh push in Australia to ban the engineered stone commonly used in kitchen benchtops and linked to high numbers of cases of the incurable lung-scarring disease silicosis. The construction union CFMMEU has said it will instruct its members not to work with the product by the middle of next year unless the government stops it being imported and used Australia-wide.
In Queensland. Canberra Times. Insurance News. 22 February 2023

Canada: Amazon pays after over 1,300 work injuries
New workplace injury data from Ontario, Canada, shows Amazon was ordered to pay out nearly Can$5 million (£3.1m) in connection with over 1,300 workplace injuries last year. According to health and safety data from Ontario’s Workplace Safety And Insurance Board, Amazon Canada Fulfillment Services ULC has seen a sharp increase in workplace injuries since the start of the pandemic – with related penalties up five-fold from Can$1 million in 2019.
PressProgress. 22 February 2023

France: Union wins night worker breast cancer case
In a landmark case, a night worker in France has had her breast cancer recognised as an occupational disease. This decision was the result of a large-scale union campaign launched in 2017 by a 'breast cancer collective' created by the union CFDT.
HESA magazine, ETUI, February 2023. More on breast cancer and night work. 22 February 2023

USA: Work is a ‘key social determinant of health’
Ignoring the work-related “social determinants of health” (SDOH) is a big mistake, US government occupational health experts have warned. “Work influences many aspects of life that affect health, including income, workplace hazards, social status, healthcare access, housing, economic security, and more,” the experts from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) note, but are overlooked in official analyses.
Andrea L Steege, Sharon Silver, Amy Mobley and Marie Haring Sweeney, NIOSH Science Blog, 16 February 2023. 22 February 2023

Hazards news, 15 February 2023

Britain: Union calls for ‘bullying’ Raab to be accountable
Dave Penman, the general secretary of the senior civil servants’ union FDA, has written to the prime minister urging him to consult his ethics adviser over bullying claims against Dominic Raab. In the letter to Rishi Sunak, Penman highlighted that the investigation by Adam Tolley KC is only seeking to establish the facts around the complaints against the deputy prime minister, but Sunak alone will determine the outcome of the investigation. that confidence and that, after all, is why the independent adviser role exists.”
FDA news release. 15 February 2023

Britain: Union backs plan to bar violent MPs
A proposal that could mean MPs are barred from parliament if they are arrested for a violent or sexual offence has been welcomed by the senior civil servants’ union FDA. In response to a House of Commons commission’s consultation, the Committee on Standards recommended that precautionary exclusion should be considered at the point of arrest, rather than when a parliamentarian is charged.
Committee on Standards report, 10 February 2023. The Guardian. 15 February 2023

Britain: Petrofac workers strike over rotas
A 48-hour strike commenced on 8 February on BP Petrofac installations, in a dispute over rotas. The latest action, involving around 80 Unite members, came as negotiations with Petrofac failed to reach a breakthrough.
Unite news release. 15 February 2023

Britain: Rights hope for pregnant workers and new parents
There has been a significant step forward for pregnant workers and new parents, UNISON has said, as a bill to provide new and expecting parents with additional protections in the workplace passed its third reading. UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said the union had worked with Labour MP Dan Jarvis on the new law – the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill – to prevent employers from laying off expectant mothers and new parents, by extending redundancy protections to six months.
UNISON blog. 15 February 2023

Britain: Tory sunsetting bill set to kill off work protections
Repeat claims by government ministers that its Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill will not remove employment protection have been dismantled by Labour peer John Hendy. He told the Lords “most employment rights and health and safety are EU law,” adding: “We are talking about regulations on: management of health and safety, workplace health and safety, work equipment, PPE, manual handling, display screen equipment, carcinogens, biological agents, construction, safety signs, pregnant women, drilling, mining, chemical agents, dangerous substances, explosive atmospheres, fishing vessels, ionising radiation, lifts, machinery, biocidal products, major hazards, transport, working time, work at height, temporary and mobile worksites, explosive atmospheres, young persons, physical agents, noise, vibration, and offshore installation safety cases.”
House of Lords debate, 6 February 2023. IOSH news report. 15 February 2023

Britain: Concern over safety rules set for the chop
The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), the workplace protection professional body, has said it is ‘concerned’ that the Control of Asbestos Regulations are among a swathe of safety laws listed for abolition at the end of the year by the UK government’s Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.
BOHS news release and list of significant regulations scheduled to be repealed. 15 February 2023

Britain: Work evacuation procedures leave disabled at risk
Disabled employees are being put at risk by bosses’ ignorance of safe workplace evacuation procedures, a study has found. West Midlands-based emergency evacuation chair manufacturer Evac+Chair International surveyed 490 small and medium business decision-makers nationwide and found a quarter were not aware of the number of mobility-impaired people in their organisation and 29 per cent have only “some” or “very little” understanding of their obligations when it comes to safe evacuations.
Risky business, Evac+Chair International, 2023. Morning Star. 15 February 2023

Britain: Honest Burgers faces backlash over unpaid breaks
Honest Burgers is facing a backlash after it said it intended to ‘fire and rehire’ its workers if they do not accept the loss of paid breaks. Comments on social media dubbed the firm ‘Dishonest Burgers’ and ‘Greedy Burgers’ and called for a boycott unless the proposal is withdrawn.
TUC Instagram post. Evening Standard. The Caterer. 15 February 2023

Britain: Firm fined after deadly roof fall
PTSG Electrical Services Limited has been fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £5448.51 in costs after a worker died following a fall from the roof on a building site. Father-of-one Dennis Vincent, 36, was lowering access equipment from the roof, using a rope attached to a frame at roof level and a handrail at ground level when both he and the frame fell from the roof to the ground.
HSE news release. 15 February 2023

Britain: Logistics multinational fined for safety crimes
GXO Logistics Services UK, formerly known as XPO, has been fined £125,000 and ordered to pay £80,623 in costs after pleading guilty to criminal safety offences. The firm, which employs 130,000 people worldwide, was also charged with a RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) offence for failing to keep Swindon Borough Council informed of accidents at its depot.
Swindon Council news release. 15 February 2023

Global: Organising for health and safety on 28 April 2023
Announcing the theme for International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April this year, ITUC’s deputy general secretary Owen Tudor noted ILO’s recognition that a safe and healthy work environment is a fundamental right for workers, adding: “This has given a new impetus to organising for health and safety – a crucial part of union action. This year’s Workers’ Memorial Day, April 28 is dedicated to this core union priority.”
ITUC/Hazards 28 April 2023 website. TUC #iwmd23 webpages. ITUC newsletter, 6 February 2023. Occupational health and safety adopted as an ILO fundamental right at work.
Health and Safety and Organising - A guide for reps, TUC and related interactive guide for union reps (you may need to register to access this resource).
More on organising for OHS. 15 February 2023

Britain: TUC guide to building retrofit at work
Cold and draughty buildings with poor air quality affect our wellbeing and health at work. Running buildings is increasingly expensive due to the cost of living and energy bill crisis and is the third largest carbon emitting sector globally. Done in the right way, maintenance and retrofit can fix these issues – and a new TUC short guide provides suggestions for trade unionists for why and how to start advocating for building retrofit at work.
TUC publication alert and report. Retrofit Action For Tomorrow (RAFT). 15 February 2023

Canada: Schools added to list of high-risk industries
Schools are now listed alongside foundries, sawmills and excavation sites as the most “high-risk industries” in Manitoba. The move came as the workplace safety and health department in the Canadian province updated and expanded its index of job fields with “significantly higher than average” rates of employee injuries.
Winnipeg Free Press. 15 February 2023

Ukraine: Unions set to fight rights violations
Ukrainian unions are looking to address human and workers’ rights violations in the country. Global union IndustriALL and its European counterpart IndustriAll Europe met with Ukrainian affiliates on 9 February, to hear from representatives of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission for Ukraine (HRMMU).
IndustriALL news report. 15 February 2023

USA: States look to roll back child labour laws
Some US states are looking to relax child labour protections to help employers meet staffing shortages. Legislators in Iowa and Minnesota introduced bills in January to loosen child labour law regulations around age and workplace safety protections in some of the country’s most dangerous workplaces.
Washington Post. The Guardian. 15 February 2023

USA: New protections for immigrant workers
A new US policy introduced by the federal safety regulator OSHA will offer significant protections for immigrant workers, safety campaigners have said. Under the changes, OSHA now has authority to issue visas to workers who have suffered mental or physical abuse as a result of illegal conduct by their employers, such as wage theft, violations of safety laws, and other mistreatment in the workplace.
OSHA news release. 15 February 2023

Hazards news, 8 February 2023

Britain: McDonald's to be monitored over sexual harassment
Fast food chain McDonald's has signed an agreement with the UK equality watchdog following complaints over how it handled sexual harassment complaints. The move came after concerns were raised by employees via their union BFAWU about inadequate processes to deal with allegations, which led the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to get involved.
BFAWU news release and McDonald’s sexual harassment report form. EHRC news release and information on section 23 agreements. BBC News Online. The Guardian. 8 February 2023

Britain: Equality watchdog concerned by driver only trains
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has expressed concerns over staffing cuts on the rail network. Responding to a letter signed by dozens of MPs and peers, highlighting the impact on vulnerable passengers of ticket office closures and driver only operation (DOO) on trains, the EHRC said we “share your concerns that changes to how some rail services operate are making rail travel more inaccessible.”
RMT news release. 8 February 2023

Britain: Network Rail changes concern safety regulator
RMT’s concern that Network Rail's Modernising Maintenance programme is “a catastrophe waiting to happen” is shared by the rail regulator, the union has said. The acknowledgment came in a meeting between RMT and representatives of the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
RMT news release. 8 February 2023

Britain: Suspend Raab over bullying claims - union
Deputy prime minister Dominic Raab should be suspended while he is investigated over bullying allegations, a civil service union leader has said. FDA general secretary Dave Penman told the BBC: “If that was any other employee… they would in all likelihood be suspended from their job.”
BBC News Online. Morning Star. 8 February 2023

Britain: Usdaw pushes mental health rights at work
Retail union Usdaw is highlighting the role of workplace union reps play in making sure workers receive the right mental health support at work. Speaking ahead of Time to Talk Day on 2 February, Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “Usdaw reps play a crucial role promoting respectful and safe workplaces and giving members a voice at work, both of which are factors in supporting mental health and wellbeing… our mental health campaign provides the union’s workplace reps with the resources they need to better support members receive the adjustments they need at work.”
Usdaw news release and mental health campaign. 8 February 2023

Britain: Housing workers strike over asbestos fears
Workers at social housing landlord Magenta Living are taking strike action over fears that new working practices will expose them to asbestos. The dispute arose after Magenta Living imposed a change of policy when dealing with asbestos, so workers are now expected to work with asbestos.
Unite news release. IBAS news report. 8 February 2023

Britain: Employers guilty of ‘wellbeing washing’
Over half of employers are guilty of ‘wellbeing washing’, a snap poll by safety professionals’ organisation IOSH has found. The safety body said the term was coined to shame employers wanting to appear mindful of their workers’ wellbeing yet that fail to provide them with any real benefits.
IOSH News. 8 February 2023

Britain: Fire chief apologises over firefighter suicide
The head of the London Fire Brigade (LFB) has personally apologised to the mother of a black firefighter whose suicide triggered a review of the service and found it to be “institutionally misogynist and racist”. The review was launched by the London fire commissioner, Andy Roe, in response to the death of Jaden Francois-Esprit, who was neurodiverse and who took his own life aged 21 in August 2020.
The Guardian. 8 February 2023

Britain: MPs’ staff facing ‘toxic’ workloads
Staff working for MPs face similar levels of psychological distress as frontline NHS workers, a survey has found, facing a “toxic” workload and fears for their safety. A study of 315 parliamentary workers found many were struggling with the vicarious trauma of helping desperate people in a worsening cost of living crisis.
Wellness Working Group. The Guardian. 8 February 2023

Britain: Stress led to more NHS staff absences than Covid
“Burnout” and stress among doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health staff has cost the NHS in England more than 15 million lost working days since March 2020, about 50 per cent more than the days lost to Covid infections and self-isolation, analysis of official figures by the Observer has revealed. The NHS sickness figures show that between March 2020, the month of the first Covid lockdown, and September 2021, 15.4m working days have been lost in the NHS because of stress-related absences, compared with 9.8m days lost from staff who were required to self-isolate or were ill with Covid.
The Observer. 8 February 2023

Britain: Burnt out docs say it is getting worse
More than threequarters (78 per cent) of junior doctors in England felt unwell as a result of work-related stress in the past year, a survey has found. The BMA’s latest survey, based on nearly 3,000 responses, found about half (49 per cent) described their physical and mental wellbeing as low or very low and over half (55 per cent) said their health and wellbeing was worse than a year ago.
BMA news release. 8 February 2023

Britain: Labour vows to help ‘written off’ back to work
Labour plans to reach thousands of people with addiction or mental health issues “written off” by the Department for Work and Pensions to help them back into employment, with personalised support offered through treatment centres. Shadow work and pensions secretary, Jon Ashworth, said it was wrong to assume those undergoing treatment for drug and alcohol addiction or facing mental health crises did not want to find ways to work.
The Guardian. 8 February 2023

Britain: Mechanics in danger working under vehicles
Leading voices in motor vehicle repair have teamed up with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to warn of the dangers of working under vehicles without proper equipment. Figures recorded by HSE in the five years up to March 2022 show that 13 workers in the motor vehicle repair industry were killed when work took place under a vehicle that wasn’t properly supported.
HSE news release. 8 February 2023

Britain: Siemens fined £1.4m following death of contractor
Siemens plc has pleaded guilty to a criminal safety breach and been fined £1.4m and ordered to pay costs of £99,284.84 after a worker was crushed to death by a train motor. Ian Parker, a 58-year-old self-employed technician, was killed on 13 June 2017 when the 650kg traction motor he was preparing for removal from an electric locomotive fell on him at the company’s Train Care Facility in west London.
ORR news release. The Independent. 8 February 2023

Europe: Asbestos protections too little, too late
A new European asbestos exposure limit will be too little and too late to protect workers from cancer, trade unions are warning. The European Parliament voted in October 2021 for a new limit of 0.001 fibres/cm3, based on the finding by the International Commission of Occupational Health that any limit higher than that would not protect sufficiently against asbestos related cancer - but the parliament’s latest report, published on 6 February, instead recommends an asbestos exposure limit that is ten times higher.
ETUC news release. 8 February 2023

Europe: Unions protect window cleaners from falls
Window cleaners will not be put at a higher risk of deadly falls after trade unions convinced manufacturers against lowering the safety standards for ladders. Following consideration of ETUC research findings, as well as a targeted awareness-raising campaign by the ETUC and UNI Europa, the European trade union federation for cleaners, the members of CEN/TC 93 decided to withdraw the proposal.
ETUC news release and study on the safety of loft ladders and ladder foots. ‘Zero Death At Work’ Manifesto. 8 February 2023

Turkey: Latest report highlights ‘murders’ at work
At least 1,843 workers in Turkey lost their lives in ‘work-related murders’ in 2022, new research has shown. Health and Safety Labour Watch analysed press reports and reports from deceased workers' colleagues and families, occupational safety specialists, occupational physicians, unions and regional press to estimate the toll.
Health and Safety Labour Watch/Turkey. 8 February 2023

USA: Amazon cited again over unsafe conditions
The US government safety regulator OSHA has issued citations at three more Amazon warehouses – in Aurora, Colorado; Nampa, Idaho; and Castleton, New York – for failing to keep workers safe and has issued hazard alert letters for exposing workers to ergonomic hazards. “Amazon's operating methods are creating hazardous work conditions and processes, leading to serious worker injuries,” explained OSHA head Doug Parker.
OSHA news release. 8 February 2023

Hazards news, 1 February 2023

Britain: Workers’ health information must be protected
Workers’ health information must be protected, medical confidentiality rules respected and workplace practices agreed between employers and unions, the TUC has said. Responding to an Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) consultation on employment practices and data protection regarding information about workers’ health, the TUC added: “An online resource with topic-specific guidance on employment practices and data protection could be vital to workers, employers, trade unions and trade union representatives.”
TUC response to ICO consultation, Employment practices information about workers’ health. 1 February 2023

Britain: Firefighters save lives but struggle to pay bills
While the government will praise firefighters when they save lives, when it comes to fair pay and safe working conditions, those in power fall silent, firefighters’ union FBU has said. Commenting after FBU members voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action over pay, general secretary Matt Wrack stated: “The government and the employers have the power to stop strikes from happening by making a credible offer that can resolve this dispute.” 
FBU news release. The Guardian. 1 February 2023

Britain: Rees-Mogg ‘trivialising’ Raab bullying claims
Civil service union FDA has accused former cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg of ‘trivialising’ allegations against the deputy prime minister. It was commenting after Rees-Mogg told Sky News “we mustn’t be too snowflakey” about bullying allegations levelled against Dominic Raab, who faces formal complaints involving at least 24 civil servants over alleged bullying in three separate government departments.
The Guardian. The Independent. 1 February 2023

Britain: Union concern over threat to grievance women
The GMB is calling for clarification from an NHS trust on why a manager has not been suspended after being made the subject of a formal grievance on behalf of 27 female employees. The union, which has written to management at Frimley Health NHS Trust, understands that despite the grievance making specific reference to ‘not feeling comfortable’ around him, the manager in question has been moved to an admin role rather than suspended, and is still working on site.
GMB news release. 1 February 2023

Britain: Teachers at ‘end of their tether’, says union
Teachers are at “the end of their tether”, the leader of the teaching union NEU has said, ahead of further schools strikes in England. The union’s joint general secretary Mary Bousted added: “They are undervalued, they feel underpaid, they are completely overworked.”
The Observer. 1 February 2023

Britain: ‘Shocking’ silence on school collapse risks
Ministers have sparked a furious row over the safety of thousands of dilapidated school buildings in England by abandoning the imminent publication of data showing those judged to be most at risk of collapse. The headteachers’ union, the NAHT, condemned the decision to hold back on publication, with James Bowen, the union’s director of policy, saying: “It really is quite shocking that the government knows there are schools where there is a significant risk of collapse but are not being transparent about which schools are affected and where they are located.”
The Observer. 1 February 2023

Britain: Better records needed on Scottish schools violence
Scottish teaching union EIS is demanding better recording of violence in schools after it emerged councils could not provide conclusive data to show the extent of the incidents. EIS said it has received reports of rising numbers of violent incidents, but believes teachers have been discouraged from reporting them.
BBC News Online. 1 February 2023

Britain: Solving NHS workforce emergency is key
The UK government’s plans to fix emergency care won’t work without tackling low pay and inadequate staffing, UNISON has said. Commenting on the government’s proposals to boost NHS emergency care, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “No plans to deal with waiting times and handover delays stand a chance without tackling staffing shortages.”
DHSC news release. UNISON news release. 1 February 2023

Britain: NHS emergency plan ignores ‘elephant in the room’
The government’s announcement that it intends to invest an additional £1 billion in the NHS to increase the number of hospital beds and ambulances, is again failing to address ‘the elephant in the room’ of low pay, huge vacancies and experienced staff quitting the service, Unite has said. Unite national officer for health, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, said: “The government’s announcement misses a key factor: Investment in hospital beds and ambulances is only worthwhile if there are staff to operate them.”
Unite news release. 1 February 2023

Britain: NHS staff with long Covid risk losing vital pay
Thousands of NHS staff across the UK are facing pay cuts because of a change in Covid sickness policy. Analysis by BBC Panorama suggests that between 5,000 and 10,000 NHS workers could be off sick with long Covid, but changes to special sick pay rules introduced during the pandemic mean that some NHS staff unable to work due to long Covid may soon no longer receive full pay.
BBC News Online. 1 February 2023

Britain: Sickness leaving over 50s unable to work
More than 1.6 million adults aged 50 and over are unable to work because of long-term sickness, according to the most detailed analysis yet of official data for this age group. The number has increased 20 per cent, or by 270,000 in three years, according to an analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures by Rest Less, a group that advocate for over fifties.
The Guardian. Morning Star. 1 February 2023

Britain: Wine supplier fined after HGV driver killed
Wine and drinks supplier Kingsland Drinks Ltd has been fined £800,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,614.30 after a visiting HGV driver was killed after being hit by a forklift truck at its depot in Salford. John Fitzpatrick, 59, was waiting for his trailer to be loaded on 19 August 2020 when the incident occurred.
HSE news release. 1 February 2023

Global: To be fair, ask ‘what work do you do?’
Asking what job a person does is ‘critical’ to addressing social inequalities in health, a new academic paper has concluded. “With work now being a recognised social determinant of health, use of work and employment information, including industry and occupation, is a critical component of core public health surveillance systems,” stated researchers led by Karla Armenti of the University of New Hampshire.
Karla Armenti, Marie H Sweeney, Cailyn Lingwall and Liu Yang. Work: A Social Determinant of Health Worth Capturing, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2023; 20(2):1199. 1 February 2023 

South Africa: Union welcomes compensation for ex-miners
South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has welcomed a government commitment to identify and compensate former mineworkers suffering from work-related silicosis and tuberculosis. The Department of Health announced it is to roll out a massive screening, verification, medical examination and payment benefits programme for eligible former mineworkers who developed the conditions as a result of working in certain mines between March 1965 and December 2019.
COSATU news report. 1 February 2023

USA: Warning for bosses putting profit before safety
New enforcement guidance from the US safety regulator OSHA will mean harsher penalties and greater scrutiny of employers who put profits before safety. “Smart, impactful enforcement means using all the tools available to us when an employer ‘doesn’t get it’ and will respond to only additional deterrence in the form of increased citations and penalties,” said OSHA head Doug Parker.
Department of Labor news release. OSHA news release. Confined Space blog. 1 February 2023

Hazards news, 26 January 2023

Britain: Amazon treats robots better than workers
Amazon workers have accused the firm of imposing “severe” conditions and low pay. Staging their the first-ever UK strike against the online giant on 25 January, the GMB members said they are constantly monitored and upbraided for “idle time” lasting just a few minutes, with staff treated worse than the company’s robots.
GMB news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star. 26 January 2023

Britain: Government ‘setting fire’ to workers’ rights
The UK government’s Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill is ‘setting fire’ to workers’ rights in its ‘forever war’ against workers, Unite has warned. It says the bill will destroy long-standing protections for workers  on holiday pay, pregnancy and equality rights, “as well as in health and safety where it plans to remove laws that prevent exposure to hazardous materials in the workplace.”
Unite news release. 26 January 2023

Britain: ‘Rampant’ exploitation of migrant workers condemned
Trade unions have condemned UK government attempts to ‘pit’ workers against each other, and are calling for urgent action to advance the rights of migrant workers, including undocumented people, and end migrant worker exploitation. The call from the TUC and 20 national unions came as the government ramps up the hostile environment, including an announcement by the prime minister he will increase immigration raids on workplaces by 50 per cent this year.
JCWI news release. BFAWU news release. Usdaw news release. 26 January 2023

Britain: Dismay as government rejects menopause leave
Retail trade union Usdaw has said it is deeply disappointed the UK government has rejected calls for a large scale pilot of menopause leave and a recommendation from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee to make menopause a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Equalities Act. In response, the union vowed to continue its “campaign to raise awareness of the menopause, for better workplace rights, along with supporting improved health and well-being for women in mid-life and beyond.”
Usdaw news release. 26 January 2023

Britain: Plan to scrap EU laws clears the Commons
Plans to scrap all remaining EU-made laws in the UK by the end of the year have cleared the Commons. MPs voted 297 to 238, a majority of 59, to give the EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill a third reading and it will now go to the Lords for further scrutiny.
The Independent. 26 January 2023

Britain: Workplaces must take note of new fire regulations
Fire regulations which came into force in England on 23 January are “a significant step forward” in protecting people occupying high-rise buildings, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). While the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 apply only to residential buildings, IOSH is urging those in charge of high-rise and multi-occupied buildings and workplaces to take note.
Home Office news release. IOSH news release. 26 January 2023

Britain: MPs urge asbestos giant to cough up £10m
MPs and peers have written to a former asbestos giant, calling on it to make a £10m donation towards mesothelioma research “for knowingly putting people in danger”. In a letter to Altrad, parent company of building products firm Cape, the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on occupational safety and health says that documents released after a long-running court battle show that Cape historically “provided misleading reassurance about the dangers of asbestos”.
The Guardian. 26 January 2023

Britain: Many hospitals in London still contain asbestos
The TUC and a group of MPs have warned hundreds of NHS buildings across London still contain asbestos – including hospitals. The research was carried out by Labour Research Department (LRD) for the TUC and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health and found at least 451 premises with asbestos in London during the first half of 2022.
TUC news release and research on asbestos in NHS buildings. The asbestos crisis: Why Britain needs an eradication law, All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health. 26 January 2023

Britain: Asbestos danger is Scotland’s NHS buildings
Patients in Scotland cannot afford to wait any longer for asbestos to be removed from hospitals, STUC has warned, as hundreds of health service buildings were found to still contain the potentially cancer-causing material. The union body was commenting after new research discovered asbestos was present in at least 695 NHS buildings in the country.
Press and Journal. The Scotsman. 26 January 2023

Britain: Site workers furious over asbestos exposure
Furious construction workers are threatening to sue a major housebuilder in Scotland over claims they were exposed to deadly asbestos. Springfield Properties – run by multi-millionaire Sandy Adam – was forced to pay a £10,000 fine after breaking safety laws at a building site in Milton of Campsie, Stirlingshire.
Daily Record. 26 January 2023

Britain: Director escapes jail after work death conviction
Company director Jalal Rana has been given a suspended prison sentence and two firms have been fined after a worker was killed when 17 glass panes fell on top of him while unloading a shipping container from a lorry. Tawanda Chamwandayita, 37, suffered fatal crush injuries in the incident in Birmingham on 26 October 2017.
HSE news release. 26 January 2023

Britain: Fine after joiner crushed by excavator
A construction company has been fined £146,000 plus £4,621.90 costs after a joiner was crushed and killed by a 20 tonne excavator. Philip McDonald, 48, had been hired by Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd – which went into liquidation in September 2022, five years after the tragedy - to assist with the construction of a concrete overflow weir at Monks Pond, near Ashbourne.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. 26 January 2023

Britain: Act loud and legal – TUC industrial action guide
Despite some of the most repressive laws on industrial action in the western world, it’s legal to strike in the UK – but only if strict requirements are met. ‘Act loud and legal’, a TUC guide, says union reps “can make sure members understand their rights and support action safely and legally.”
Act loud and legal: How to take action safely and effectively, TUC guide. 26 January 2023

China: Several dead in chemical plant explosion 
China's State Security Commission has ordered an investigation into an explosion at Panjin Haoye Chemical Co Ltd's factory, according to a statement from the Liaoning provincial government on 19 January. Twelve people were killed and one was missing after the explosion on Sunday 15 January at the refinery and petrochemical complex in China's northern Liaoning province, the statement said.
Chemistry World. 26 January 2023

Germany: Most reported Covid cases are work-related
Nearly two-thirds of notifiable workplace cases of Covid-19 have been found to be an occupational disease in Germany and eligible for related injury benefits. A total of 317,403 notifiable workplace cases of the infection were reported to the state insurance and prevention body BGW between 1 March 2020 and 30 September 2022; of these, 200,505 (63.2 per cent) were recognised as an occupational disease.
Nienhaus A, Stranzinger J, Kozak A. COVID-19 as an Occupational Disease —Temporal Trends in the Number and Severity of Claims in Germany, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, volume 20, number 2: 1182,  2023. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20021182. 26 January 2023

USA: Amazon safety citations at three warehouses
Retail giant Amazon has been cited for failing to keep workers safe and has been issued hazard alert letters after inspections at three warehouse facilities – in Deltona, Florida; Waukegan, Illinois; and New Windsor, New York. Federal safety regulator OSHA found workers had been exposed to ergonomic hazards.
OSHA news release. Strategic Organizing Center news release. US Department of Justice news release. 26 January 2023

USA: Two charged over deadly shooting on film set
Actor Alec Baldwin is to be charged with involuntary manslaughter over the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was killed on a film set when he fired a prop gun. Baldwin had been rehearsing a scene for the Western film Rust when the shooting happened at a ranch near Sante Fe, New Mexico in October 2021.
BBC News Online. 26 January 2023

Hazards news, 18 January 2023

Britain: Violence towards players ‘completely unacceptable’
The PFA has said that ‘violence towards players is completely unacceptable’ after Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was attacked by a supporter after the north London derby against Tottenham. Footage showed a Spurs fan trying to kick Ramsdale in the back after the Gunners’ 2-0 Premier League win on 15 January.
PFA news release. BBC News Online. 18 January 2023

Britain: Women ‘deserve to feel safe’
GMB’s parliamentary staff branch has expressed concern over police vetting procedures after police officer David Carrick admitted rape and sexual assault charges involving 12 women over two decades. The serial rapist used his role as an armed Met Police Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command officer to put fear into his victims.
GMB news release. BBC News Online. 18 January 2023

Britain: Fire contaminants linked to mental health problems
Toxic contaminants in fires are directly linked to increased rates mental health issues among firefighters, research has found. Studies commissioned by the firefighters’ union FBU and carried out independently by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) found firefighters were 30 per cent more likely to report a mental health condition if they identified noticing the smell of fire smoke on the body even after washing, or eating with sooty hands.
FBU news release.
Scientific Reports papers on Contamination of UK firefighters personal protective equipment and workplaces, volume 13, article number: 65 (2023); Culture and awareness of occupational health risks amongst UK firefighters, volume 13, article number: 97 (2023); Mental health of UK firefighters, volume 13, article number: 62 (2023); and Cancer incidence amongst UK firefighters, volume 12, article number: 22072 (2022). 18 January 2023

Britain: Grenfell firefighters in cancer cluster shock
Up to a dozen firefighters who saved lives at the Grenfell Tower have been diagnosed with cancers. The Mirror said its investigation found firefighters, some aged only in their 40s, are suffering with rare cancers linked to the high levels of exposure to contaminants during the huge rescue effort in 2017 and could be the tip of the iceberg, with some cancers taking up to 25 years to appear.
The Mirror. 18 January 2023

Britain: RMT raises Tube safe staffing concerns
Tube union RMT has hit out at unsafe staffing levels on London Underground following a series of reports suggesting waivers to safety regulations are being inappropriately used. In a letter to London Mayor Sadiq Khan, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch highlighted incidents where stations have had less than the required staff and, in some cases, no staff at all.
RMT news release. 18 January 2023

Britain: UN’s ILO concerned at Tory’s anti-strike plan
The head of the UN's agency for workers' rights has said the organisation does not support the UK's plans for tough new strike laws. Gilbert Houngbo’s statement came after UK ministers repeatedly suggested the International Labour Organisation (ILO) supported government plans to enforce "minimum service levels" during public sector strikes.
BBC News Online.
TUC national ‘protect the right to strike’ day on 1 February. Sign the petition defending the right to strike. 18 January 2023

Britain: Government called out on anti-strike law ‘mistruths’
The TUC has welcomed interventions from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Biden administration against the government’s new anti-strikes bill. TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “Ministers have rightly been called out for spinning mistruths.”
BBC News Online and related story. 18 January 2023

Britain: Conservatives slammed over rights ‘wrecking ball’
The Conservatives are set to take a wrecking ball to hard-won workers’ rights, the TUC has warned, as the union body called on the government to drop the retained EU law bill before “lasting damage is done”. The call came on 18 January, as the bill returned to parliament for its report stage.
Usdaw news release. The Guardian. Regulatory Policy Committee opinion. 18 January 2023

Britain: Coroner rules Covid deaths from ‘industrial disease’
Two nurses who died with Covid both died of an industrial disease, an inquest has concluded. The coroner ruled Gareth Morgan Roberts and Dominga David, who lived in hospital accommodation, both died as a result of industrial disease.
Doughty Street Chambers news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. 18 January 2023

Britain: Welcome for Labour’s return to work plan
A Labour Party plan to get people with health conditions and disabilities back into work has been welcomed by the safety professionals’ body IOSH. Ruth Wilkinson, the IOSH head of policy, said in statement: “With the size of the UK workforce still well below pre-Covid levels, the announcement by shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth of his party’s plans to support more people with health conditions and disabilities to return to work cannot be ignored.”
Labour Party news release. IOSH statement. 18 January 2023

Britain: Teachers harmed by racism at work
Ethnic minority teachers are being harmed by the racism they encounter at work, new research has found. Commenting on its study, wellbeing charity Education Support the findings “clearly illustrate the differential experiences of Black and Brown and other ethnic minority teachers and leaders in schools across the country, including barriers to progression, tokenism and microaggressions.”
Education Support news release and Mental Health and Wellbeing of Ethnic Minority Teachers report. NASUWT news release. 18 January 2023

Britain: Fire safety reforms needed after hotel deaths
A safety campaign group has called for urgent action to address fire safety in hotels. Scottish Hazards was speaking out on publication of the Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into a devastating 18 December 2017 fire at the Cameron House hotel on the banks of Loch Lomond that claimed the lives of Simon Midgley and his partner Richard Dyson.
Scottish Hazards news release. Scottish Courts FAI determination. BBC News Online. 18 January 2023

Britain: BA offshoot fined after coma fall
An aircraft maintenance subsidiary of airline giant BA has been fined £230,000 and ordered to pay £21,623 costs after a worker fell from height while inspecting the wings of a Boeing 747 Jumbo jet at its facility in Cardiff. Iain Mawson, a 52-year-old British Airways Maintenance Cardiff Ltd employee, was placed into an induced coma for three weeks such were the extent of his injuries, which included numerous skull fractures and a brain haemorrhage.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. 18 January 2023

Britain: Civils firm fined £4.4m over powerline strikes
Civil engineering giant Kier has been fined £4.415m and ordered to pay costs of £87,759.60 after its workers twice struck overhead powerlines while working on the M6 motorway, causing cables to land in the path of passing vehicles.
HSE news release. 18 January 2023

Bangladesh: Shipbreaking continues to take workers’ lives
Workers’ lives continue to be in danger due to unsafe working conditions at Bangladesh’s shipbreaking yards, the global union IndustriALL has said. Incidents on 12 January in two separate yards killed one worker and severely injured another.
IndustriALL news release. 18 January 2023

Global: Extreme heat linked to kidney disease in workers
Evidence of a deadly link between exposure to extreme heat and chronic kidney disease is emerging. As the world grows hotter and climate change ushers in more frequent and extreme heat waves, public health experts fear kidney disease cases will soar among laborers who have no choice but to work outdoors.
Washington Post 18 January 2023

Global: Report highlights crisis management challenge
Organisations should provide their crisis management teams with the correct level of training, investment and support so they can respond effectively to the major global risks facing the world in 2023, a health and security group has warned. According to International SOS’s Risk Outlook 2023, employers are experiencing high levels of crisis management fatigue having spent the past few years dealing with a series of major events that have significantly disrupted the global economy, most notably the Covid-19 pandemic.
International SOS Risk Outlook 2023 report. IOSH magazine. 18 January 2023

USA: More women sickened by work viruses
Women accounted for 70.8 per cent of the 390,020 reported workplace illness cases in the US caused by viruses in private establishments, new US government figures show. The figures are sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities programme.
Women accounted for 70.8 percent of workplace illnesses caused by viruses in 2020, Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Economics Daily, US Department of Labor, 9 January 2023. 18 January 2023

Hazards news, 10 January 2023

Britain: Countdown to saving vital work rights 
A Bill being considered by the UK parliament could see a swathe of workplace, environmental and other protections swept away at the stroke of midnight on 1 January 2024, the TUC has warned. The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill could see erased employment and health and safety rights derived from, or reinforced by, EU law.
TUC blog. Make sure you have your say - write to your MP. 10 January 2023

Britain: Reject cynical ‘sack key workers bill’ - TUC
The TUC has called on MPs of all parties to reject the government’s “latest attack on the right to strike.” The union body was commenting as the minimum service levels bill came before parliament for its first reading on 10 January 2023.
TUC news release. BBC News Online. 10 January 2023

Britain: Pension age plan fails sick and injured workers
The UK government is failing to take account of workers being forced out of their profession due to ill-health and injury, as it prepares to increase the state pension age, research by the union Unite has revealed. A review of the state pension age is expected to report in early 2023.
Unite news release.10 January 2023

Britain: Unite members protest at blacklisting
Electricians are demanding energy firms SSE and Scottish Power intervene after one of their contractors sacked and allegedly blacklisted three colleagues when they sought recognition for their union Unite. Greig McArthur, one of the workers fired by Kirby Group Engineering, said the dismissals came as the company was about to enter discussions at Acas over a recognition agreement with Unite.
Blacklist blog and 5 January 2023 protest video on YouTube. Morning Star.10 January 2023

Britain: Firefighters hit by cancer, strokes and heart problems
Firefighters are far more likely to die from cancer, heart attacks and strokes than the general public, a new FBU backed study has found. Their mortality rate from all cancers is 1.6 times higher than the rest of the population, according to the research, conducted by the University of Central Lancashire for the union. The workers are also five times more likely to die from a heart attack and three times more susceptible to strokes, the paper revealed. Firefighters’ greater exposure to contaminants and fire toxins are almost certainly the cause, the union warned, calling for immediate preventive action.
FBU news release. AA Stec, A Robinson, TAM Wolffe, E Bagkeris. Scottish Firefighters Occupational Cancer and Disease Mortality Rates: 2000-2020, Occupational Medicine, kqac138, 10 January 2023. https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqac138.
Morning Star. The Guardian. BBC News Online.10 January 2023

Britain: Heads ‘at risk of heart attacks and strokes’
Headteachers are breaking down in tears, suffering migraines and even passing out, with six in 10 admitting they have considered changing jobs in the past year because of increased level of stress, education sector experts have warned. Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), told the Observer: “The anger and even despair we are hearing from our members right now is unprecedented. School leaders are telling me they cannot continue to run their schools in the current circumstances.” Sinéad McBrearty, chief executive of Education Support, the charity which recently surveyed school leaders on their mental health, said: “Heads are at risk of heart attacks and strokes. They are asking ‘Do I choose my career or my health?’.”
The Observer. Education Support Teacher Wellbeing Index 2022. 10 January 2023

Britain: Reform needed to protect parliament workers
Pressure is growing for third parties to be allowed to make complaints to Westminster’s sexual misconduct watchdog, after concerns were reignited about parliament’s culture by Labour MP Charlotte Nichols, who privately shared a list of 20 ‘sex-pest’ MPs to avoid. Mike Clancy, general secretary of the civil service union Prospect, said: “Trade unions and others in parliament have been warning for many years about a dangerous culture which fails to address sexual misconduct. It is abundantly clear that further reform is needed to protect those working there.”
Prospect news release. The Guardian. Daily Mail. 10 January 2023

Britain: Payouts for teachers injured in Scotland's schools
Scottish teaching union EIS last year secured £295,597 for members who were injured or assaulted at their workplace. The union said the settlements show that “the employer has failed in their duty of care” to their employees.
EIS news release. Scottish Daily Express. 10 January 2023

Britain: Filled in the TUC safety reps’ survey yet?
The TUC’s latest survey of union health and safety representatives is online, and waiting for you to spend just five minutes sharing your experiences. The TUC says responses from safety reps are “valuable to us, they let us know the issues safety reps are dealing with, and what work the TUC and our member unions should prioritise and campaign on in the years ahead.”
TUC alert. Take the survey - it should take approximately 5 minutes to complete.10 January 2023

Britain: Older workers not returning after ill-health
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show economic inactivity due to long-term sickness has increased most among 50- to 64-year-olds outside the capital since the Covid pandemic. Rates of economic inactivity – when working-age adults are neither employed nor looking for a job – have ballooned since the health emergency spread to Britain nearly three years ago, in an exodus from the workforce fuelled by rising ill-health and older workers retiring early.
The Guardian. 10 January 2023

Britain: Soaring levels of zero hours contracts in over-50s
Zero hours contracts among the over-50s have reached their highest level since records began, according to new analysis of official government statistics. There are nearly 300,000 people aged 50 and older with zero hours contracts, the highest number for this age group since records began in 2013 and almost double the number 10 years ago, from 149,000 in October to December 2013 to 296,000 in July to September 2022.
Rest Less news release. The Guardian. More on the hazards of insecure work.10 January 2023

Britain: Asbestos cancers are rising in women
Cases of the deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma are rising in women who joined the workforce decades ago, latest statistics show. While men account for most cases of mesothelioma, cases among women rose by 93 per cent between 1993 and 2018, compared with 47 per cent in men.
Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, 2022, HSE, November 2022. Daily Mail.10 January 2023

Britain: Peers concerned over plan to scrap EU laws
Members of the House of Lords are preparing to slow down attempts to axe thousands of pieces of European Union legislation, with some warning there is no chance of the bill passing by the end of 2023 as promised. Peers and experts from business groups, trade unions and environmental campaigns have all warned that such a deadline is impractical.
The Guardian.10 January 2023

Britain: PM’s ethics adviser risks ‘being fig leaf’
The prime minister’s appointment of a new ethics adviser in late December 2022 risks being a ‘fig leaf’ for bad behaviour by ministers, civil servants’ union Prospect has warned. General secretary Mike Clancy said the selection of investment banker Sir Laurie Magnus as the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests came after a catalogue of alleged misbehaviour by ministers, including bullying and harassment of staff.
Prospect news release.10 January 2023

Britain: Appeal court blow on right to refuse
The Court of Appeal has upheld an employment judge’s decision that an employee who was dismissed after he refused to return to the workplace until the Covid-19 lockdown eased was not automatically unfairly dismissed for leaving or refusing to return to the workplace because of what he believed was an imminent risk. Supporting earlier employment tribunal and employment appeal tribunal rulings in the case of Rodgers v Leeds Laser Cutting Ltd, the court said the right to refuse provisions of section 100(1)(d) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 did not protect the worker as there were no circumstances of danger that he could not otherwise “reasonably avert” through social distancing, use of PPE and other measures.
Rodgers v Leeds Laser Cutting Ltd, the Court of Appeal, Case No: CA-2022-001244, 20 December 2022.10 January 2023

Britain: Admin assistant unfair dismissed for pregnancy
A recently appointed admin assistant whose post was terminated after she told the company she was pregnant has received a £14,884.90 payout for unfair dismissal. Charlotte Leitch joined CIS Services Limited on 21 May 2021. On 23 June, Ms Leitch – who had yet to complete and sign her contract – told her supervisor she was unable to work because she needed to attend hospital as she was pregnant.
Miss C Leitch v CIS Services Limited, Employment Tribunal, Case Number: 3205908/2021, 2022. The HR Director.10 January 2023

Britain: Firm fined after employee badly injured in fall
A property management company has been fined after an employee was left in a wheelchair as a result of falling eight metres through a rooflight. Robin Williamson, an asbestos surveyor employed by City Property (Glasgow) LLP, suffered severe injuries after he fell while carrying out a survey on the roof of Netherton Community Centre, Glasgow on 5 April 2018.
HSE news release.10 January 2023

Britain: Union safety and asbestos support jobs
The Trade Union Safety Team (TRUST), which works closely with Chesterfield Trade Union Council, is seeking a coordinator based at their site in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. The job involves coordinating the day-to-day work of the organisation, setting and monitoring budgets and producing monitoring and evaluation reports for stakeholders. TRUST’s sister organisation, Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team (DAST), is seeking a funding development worker and a bereavement support assistant.
Job descriptions for the TRUST coordinator (deadline 13 Feb), DAST funding development worker (deadline 15 Feb), DAST bereavement support assistant jobs (deadline 5 Feb). 10 January 2023

Canada: The ‘top employer’ that kept on killing
On 7 July 2022, a 26-year-old worker was killed at Suncor Energy’s oilsands plant, one of five deaths at the company’s Alberta, Canada, worksites in just two years. Suncor’s poor safety record led to its CEO Mark Little resigning in July 2022 – but four months later, on 18 November 2022, the national Globe and Mail newspaper published a report naming Suncor as one of Canada’s top 100 employers 2023, prompting a backlash from occupational health and safety experts.
The Tyee. Globe and Mail: Canada’s Top 100 Employers 2023.10 January 2023

Europe: Progress on platform workers’ rights
The European Parliament has fought off platform industry attempts to weaken a proposed law giving their workers decent rights. The December 2022 vote in favour of keeping a strong presumption of employment in the Platform Work Directive by the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee was whole-heartedly welcomed by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
ITF news release. 10 January 2023

Global: Pope praises unions on rights and safety
Pope Francis has praised the role played by unions in protecting workers. Addressing members of the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), the head of the Catholic church called on union members to be “sentinels” of the world of labour, adding: “There is no union without workers, and there are no free workers without a union.”
Vatican News. 10 January 2023

USA: Extreme weather a threat to essential workers
As storms hit vast parts of the US over the Christmas holiday, outdoor workers warned they are facing unacceptable risk from extreme weather. Having suffered through a summer of blistering heat, essential workers now face an even more dangerous foe in the cold.
The Guardian. US NIOSH cold stress guide. HSE temperature in the workplace webpages. 10 January 2023

USA: Union action stopped tragic NFL game
After Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of a tackle in a Buffalo Bills vs Cincinnati Bengals American football game on 2 January 2023 – requiring nine minutes of CPR, an hour-long stoppage and leaving the Bills player in a critical condition and other players visibly distressed – game administrators gave the teams five minutes to warm up and restart the game. The league only called off the game after player reps from both teams contacted their union, the NFLPA, which informed the league that the game was over.
The Nation. BBC News Online. 10 January 2023



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