Hazards banner

Hazards news, 10 May 2022

Britain: Missing employment bill good news for bad bosses
The TUC has accused the government of “turning its back” on working people after ministers failed to include an employment bill in the Queen’s Speech.  The union body said that the government’s broken promise to boost workers’ rights will see “bad bosses celebrating”.
TUC news release. Usdaw news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Britain: Government’s serial failures to enhance workers’ rights
UK government ministers have promised on 20 occasions to deliver an employment bill to enhance workers’ rights but are still failing to act, the TUC has revealed. The government first announced it would bring forward the employment bill in December 2019 to “protect and enhance workers’ rights as the UK leaves the EU, making Britain the best place in the world to work” - but failed again to include an employment bill in the Queen’s Speech. 
TUC news release including the government’s 20 unkept promises. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Britain: P&O illegal sackings boss gets rewarded
P&O CEO Peter Hebblethwaite, who was castigated by MPs and the media over his response to the company’s illegal sackings scandal, has been promoted. Ferries union RMT said the ‘disgraced’ boss has been handed another directorship within the beleaguered company, despite overseeing 800 unlawful sackings and ‘countless breaches of safety’ on the P&O fleet – the union said ‘gangster capitalists’ should not be rewarded.
RMT news release. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Britain: Education unions warn about work overload
Work overload is adversely affecting the health and welfare of teachers and lecturers, their unions have warned. A meeting of leaders from 10 education unions in the British and Irish Group of Teacher Unions (BIGTU) called on policy makers to prioritise action to tackle the problem.
EIS news release. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Britain: Teachers are showing signs of clinical depression
Evidence of widespread clinical depression amongst teachers and headteachers has been uncovered by the teaching union NASUWT. The analysis of responses from 12,000 teaching staff found an average wellbeing score amongst teachers of 38.7 on the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale; a score below 41 indicates the risk of probable clinical depression.
NASUWT news release. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Britain: Welcome move to tackle film and TV harassment
The union Bectu has welcomed a Creative UK and UK Time’s Up’s consultation with creative industries for an Independent Standards Authority (ISA) to strengthen efforts to tackle bullying and harassment and drive greater accountability across the sector. After a year of talks involving UK Time’s Up, BAFTA, BFI and others, the industry is now in final consultation regarding setting up the watchdog, which would have the power to investigate allegations of abuse.
Bectu news release. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Britain: Restore free testing in schools or risk ‘disruption’
More than seven in ten (74 per cent) teaching assistants and learning support staff say pupils are facing more disruption to their education than usual because school employees and children have recently been off sick with Covid, a UNISON survey has found. UNISON head of education Mike Short said: “Testing has helped reduce the risk of transmission,” adding: “Government inaction and recklessness are to blame for schools becoming virus breeding grounds.”
UNISON news release. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Britain: Rees-Mogg called out on return to office policy
The general secretary of the civil service union PCS has called out Jacob Rees-Mogg on his efforts to force workers back into the office. In his letter to the government efficiencies minister, Mark Serwotka accused Rees-Mogg of “deliberately prioritising your ideological approach to Covid safety over civil servants’ welfare and the quality of public service they deliver,” adding: “Your insistence on a return to the office policy which completely ignores the risks to staff and to the wider community is negligent.”
PCS news release. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Britain: Second director jailed at asbestos firm
A second boss of an asbestos removal company is now facing jail time for failing to protect workers from asbestos exposure during a major refurbishment project in Plymouth. Ensure Asbestos Management Limited contracts manager Phillip Hopwood pleaded guilty to three criminal safety offences and was sentenced to 15 months in prison and disqualified from being a director for 10 years, after company director Billy Hopwood was earlier sentenced to 10 months imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director for five years.
HSE news release. Your Harlow. Construction Enquirer. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Britain: Goat farming company fined after fatality
A goat farm has been fined £180,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs for criminal safety breaches after a farm worker was run over and fatally wounded. Hull Crown Court heard that on 1 August 2018, 53-year-old Janet McDonald, an employee of Yorkshire Dairy Goats, was struck by a reversing telescopic materials handler vehicle, or telehandler, whilst working at St Helen’s Farm in York.
HSE news release. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Britain: Council fined over vibration disease cases
Lancashire County Council has been fined £50,000 plus £10,366,78 costs after several employees carrying out work in the highways department developed a debilitating vibration-related occupational disease. Health surveillance records had not been acted upon promptly to reduce or stop exposures when symptoms were reported, and most of the cases were reported late.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Australia: Unions wants more firefighter cancers covered
The United Firefighters Union of Australia is leading calls for the number of cancers covered by firefighter presumptive legislation to be expanded from 12 to 19. Union president Greg McConville said the seven additional cancers would be thyroid, pancreatic, skin, cervical, ovarian, penile and lung cancer.
UFUA news release and briefing paper. News.com.au. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Canada: Let’s Raise the Bar on women’s health and safety
Women are being forced to work in workplaces and with safety equipment designed for men, Canadian union USW has said. Rather than letting employers dismiss or ridicule the concerns of women workers, the union’s ‘Raising the Bar’ campaign intends to support women workers and health and safety committees in challenging the problem.
USW news report, Raise the bar campaign and action guide. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Mexico: Another journalist killed as violence soars
The murder of another Mexican journalist has brought this year’s toll to nine media workers, in a unprecedentedly bloody year for the country. Luis Enrique Ramírez, a veteran journalist and columnist at El Debate, was found dead in a black bag on the side of a highway, his employer said.
IFJ news release (in Spanish). The Guardian. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

South Africa: Union anger afte r latest mine deaths
South Africa’s mining industry is putting profit before people as miners continue to die, the union NUM has said. It was commented after a 7 May tragedy at the Harmony Gold Mine, where four mineworkers lost their lives at the company's Kusasalethu operation near Carletonville.
NUM news release. Reuters. Risks 1044. 10 May 2022

Hazards news, 4 May 2022

Britain: Covid inquiry must get to truth on worker deaths
The TUC and Covid Bereaved Families for Justice are calling for the public inquiry into coronavirus to focus on what could have been done to prevent worker deaths. They add that the voices of key workers and the families of those who contracted the virus at work will be central to understanding what went wrong and learning lessons for the future.
TUC news release and listing of 28 April events. STUC news release.
Check out what happened worldwide on 28 April. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Tory care home policy inevitably tragic
Care workers’ union GMB has slammed the government’s ‘callous disregard’ for care home residents and workers. The union was commenting after a damning 27 April High Court ruling in a case brought by bereaved families against the government and health bosses, which found the policy not to isolate people discharged from hospitals to care homes in the first weeks of the pandemic in spring 2020 without testing was ‘unlawful’ and ‘irrational’.
GMB news release. The Guardian. Daily Mail. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Covid ‘spread like wildfire’ in care homes
UNISON has slammed government decisions that saw untested but Covid positive patients discharged from hospitals. Commenting on the High Court judgment that the discharging of untested Covid patients into care homes was ‘unlawful’, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Covid spread like wildfire as untested but positive patients were discharged from hospitals,” adding: “Thousands of elderly people died well before their time, and many care staff lost their lives too.”
UNISON news release. The Mirror. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Health care workers must have better PPE
Every health and social care worker must be given enhanced personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, campaigners have demanded.  Doctors in Unite called for all staff in the sector to be issued with respiratory protective equipment (RPE) — a higher quality version of standard PPE — during a commemorative 28 April event at the National Covid Memorial Wall in central London.
Doctors in Unite. Morning Star. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Bring back Covid funding for care sector
The UK government must bring back Covid funding for the care sector to safeguard ‘lives and livelihoods’, UNISON and the Care Provider Alliance have said. In a joint letter to Sajid Javid, they warn the health and social care secretary that the government’s decision to end the adult social care Covid infection control fund (ICF) – at a time when virus rates are still high – is an ‘incredibly dangerous move’ that will ‘cost lives’.
UNISON news release. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: NHS staff with long Covid will ‘feel forced out’
Anxiety, fear and ‘shockingly bad’ treatment from bosses is forcing staff who are still suffering from long Covid to return to the workplace early, a UNISON health worker survey has found. UNISON’s head of health Sara Gorton called for long Covid to be treated as a disability, to protect workers.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Long Covid means absence policies must change
Company absence management policies must be amended to support employees with long Covid, so they are not pressured to return to work before they are fully recovered, the retail union Usdaw has said. The union’s deputy general secretary Dave McCrossen said: “Those who have been left with long Covid deserve better. They have every right to expect support from their employer.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Sainsbury’s Covid absence policy warning
A change to Sainsbury’s Covid absence policy that came into effect on 1 May puts both workers and shoppers at risk, Unite has warned. Previously, Sainsbury’s staff with Covid were entitled to sick leave that did not not count towards the total amount of time they could be absent before a disciplinary procedure can be triggered, but the change now counts time off due to Covid in the maximum absence of three per cent of annual contracted hours – about a week and a half - that can lead to sanction or dismissal if exceeded.
Unite news release. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Rail maintenance cuts will compromise safety
Rail funding cuts will compromise passenger safety and could mean the loss of much needed train services, a new TUC report has warned. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said “if the Network Rail cuts go ahead it will mean the loss of safety-critical jobs and a greater risk of serious accidents like Stonehaven, Potters Bar and Hatfield,” adding: “Ministers must not risk passenger safety through funding cuts to Network Rail.”
TUC news release and report, The future of rail funding in the UK, May 2022. TSSA news release. The Guardian. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Study uncovers ‘huge gaps’ in safety reporting
Injuries and fatalities amongst the workforces of Britain’s biggest listed companies, and the regulatory penalties that result, are routinely unreported to investors, according to a new study. A review by the responsible investment thinktank PIRC of the annual reports of FTSE350 companies, and analysis of enforcement activity by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), uncovered ‘worrying gaps’, including unreported safety violations, cherrypicking of reporting metrics and exclusion of contingent workers from company tallies.
Euronews. Reuters. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Shopworkers call for safety lessons to be learned
Shopworkers have called for employers to do more on security in stores, the retention of EU safety standards and for the lessons of Covid-19 to be learned. Paddy Lillis, general secretary of Usdaw, told the retail union’s conference: “Usdaw remains committed to ensuring that employers take health and safety seriously.”   
Usdaw news release. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Pride of Kent fails MCA inspection again
P&O’s Pride of Kent ferry has failed a full safety inspection by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) for third time. On 3 May the vessel again fell short of minimum safety levels safety regulator, following failed MCA inspections on 28 March and 13 April, prompting RMT general secretary Mick Lynch to comment: “Passengers and hauliers need to know that P&O’s fleet is operated by over worked and under skilled agency crews, some expected to work for up to 17 weeks on the intensive Dover-Calais route.”
RMT news release. Sky News. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Site employers must insure workers or go
Construction union Unite has written to all the major construction clients and principal contractors demanding they provide guarantees that all workers throughout the entire supply chain on their projects are protected by a death and injury insurance scheme. According to Unite, accident and death benefit cover is available for only £3 per week per worker but many employers are refusing to pay it. 
Unite news release. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Ambulance staff uniforms are an unsafe, bad fit
Ambulance staff are having to deal with emergencies in uniforms that don’t fit properly and aren’t always visible to other drivers, a UNISON survey has found. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of ambulance staff who responded to the survey agreed or strongly agreed that their uniform was too hot in summer, 40 per cent that it was too cold in winter, and nearly two in five (39 per cent) that their uniform didn’t fit well; nearly a quarter (24 per cent) do not feel visible to other drivers when on the roadside wearing their uniform.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Retail workers need protection from AI
Retail workers need greater protection from the growing threat of automation in the workplace, Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis has warned. The retail union’s general secretary said artificial intelligence (AI) is exacerbating a lack of job security and mental health issues for workers, adding “if we are not prepared, if we are not organised and if we fail to represent the interests of our members, then new technology has the potential to make members’ working lives harder.”
Usdaw news release and National Executive Council (NEC) Statement on Understanding Technology and Automation: Shaping the Future of Work, 1 May 2022. Morning Star. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Northampton University case exposes ‘toxic’ culture
Northampton University needs to address a ‘toxic work culture’ that led to a staff member being bullied out of her job, lecturers’ union UCU has said. The union was responding to an employment tribunal ruled that Northampton University had unfairly dismissed fashion tutor Chris Hill.
UCU news release. Employment Tribunal findings. The Telegraph. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Scale of abuse of public-facing workers confirmed
An Institute of Customer Service survey has found that abuse of public-facing workers remains high and is still hugely under reported. The survey of over 1,100 workers suggested that half do not report incidents of abuse and hostility mainly because workers did not believe it would make a difference, or incidents happen too regularly to be worth reporting.  
ICS Service with Respect campaign. Usdaw news release. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Engineering firm fined £500k after crushing death
A manufacturer of hazardous waste containers and drums for the nuclear, aerospace and medical industries has been convicted of a criminal safety offence and fined £500,000 after a worker was crushed to death by a hydraulic press.  Preston Crown Court heard that on 21 May 2018, Graham Engineering Ltd employee Colin Willoughby, 52, died when a part of 1,000 tonne capacity press he was working under came free and fell on him.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Bosses urged to ‘Get Me Home Safely’
Unite is calling on councils and employers to back the union’s Get Me Home Safely campaign. It said it wants the hundreds of councils and authorities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow East Dunbartonshire council’s lead in finding innovative ways to support the late night workforce.
Unite news release, campaign and Get Me Home Safely campaign video. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Britain: Firefighters’ Memorial Day marked by FBU
Firefighters’ Memorial Day on 4 May has been marked around the country. The event honours firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Firefighters’ union FBU said over 2,300 such deaths are recorded by the Firefighters’ Memorial Trust.
FBU news release and Firefighters’ Memorial Day webpage. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Global: Safety at work must be ‘fundamental’
As the number of workplace cases of Covid-19 shows, failures in health and safety at work can have catastrophic effects, the global union confederation ITUC has said.  The union body said that was why trade unions – globally, sectorally, nationally and in factories, care homes and offices everywhere – marked International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, by demanding that the ILO’s International Labour Conference this June take the ‘long overdue’ step to make occupational health and safety a top priority ILO ‘fundamental’ right at work.
ITUC news release. ETUC news release. BWI news release. IndustriALL news release. ITF news release. IUF news release. ILO news release.
Check out what happened worldwide on 28 April.
Deadline - International Workers’ Memorial Day – dying to work must end now!, ITUC/Hazards, 2022. Risks 1043. 4 May 2022

Hazards news, 26 April 2022

Britain: Independent Sage urges firms to sign Covid pledge
Independent SAGE is calling on employers to sign up to a Covid safety pledge to ensure safe work spaces for their employees, customers and other users. The civil service union PCS, which is backing the initiative, said “that while the UK government has decreed that the Covid crisis is over,” the facts on the ground show otherwise.
PCS news release. Independent SAGE Covid-19 pledge to promote the creation of safe spaces at work. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: Rees-Mogg slammed for empty desk notes
Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has been criticised for leaving a note for civil servants, saying “sorry you were out when I visited.” Dave Penman, general secretary of the top civil servants’ union FDA, said: “These notes from JRM are not only condescending, crass and insulting, they completely undermine the leadership of the service.”
FDA news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: Dropping pregnant women’s protection is ‘reckless’
Trade unions and organisations representing hundreds of thousands of pregnant women have blasted a “reckless” decision by Tory ministers to suddenly withdraw Covid-19 advice that protects them in the workplace. In a joint letter to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the TUC, Maternity Action and health unions RCM, Unite, UNISON and SoR warn that the move could expose expectant mothers to harm at work.
RCM news release. Morning Star. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: Government chose to abuse health workers
The pandemic efforts of health staff are being undermined by political choices, UNISON has said. The union said most worked extra hours and took on more intense workloads. Addressing UNISON’s annual health conference, general secretary Christina McAnea said: “It’s a political choice that keeps pay down and pushes workloads up.”
UNISON news release. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: MPs back TUC’s calls for asbestos removal
A TUC call for all asbestos to be removed from public and commercial buildings has been backed by MPs. The report of a Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into asbestos management cites TUC calls for an explicit asbestos removal plan.
TUC news release. House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee news release, report summary and full report. CWU branch briefing. NAHT news release. HSE asbestos disease statistics. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: UNISON hope for getting asbestos out of schools
UNISON has welcomed the call from a cross-party committee of MPs for the safe removal of all asbestos in public buildings. The House of Commons work and pensions committee report also calls on the UK government to develop a central, digital asbestos register, containing information on asbestos in schools and hospitals as well as other public buildings.
UNISON news release. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: GMB to take 'callous' Yodel to tribunal
Parcel delivery firm Yodel is to face an employment tribunal over its “callous” move to sack a disabled worker. The union GMB said Tony White, 56, who has several conditions including a spinal issue, was fired after 19 years of service on “capability grounds.”
Morning Star. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: P&O shows protection needed from unscrupulous firms
Unscrupulous employers will launch more attacks on workers unless P&O Ferries bosses are forced to reinstate 800 mariners they unlawfully sacked, TUC leaders have warned.  Speaking at the TUC’s Yorkshire & the Humber regional conference in Hull, regional secretary Bill Adams said: “If anybody thinks it is not going to happen to them, they are living in cloud cuckoo land.”
TUC Yorkshire and Humber conference. ITF news release. Nautilus news release. Morning Star. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: Port of Dover refuses P&O welfare checks
Officials at the Port of Dover improperly refused access last week to safety inspectors from the global union ITF. ITF said its inspectors have ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security code) clearance, which enables them to enter all UK ports and board unannounced all vessels in UK waters where seafarers request assistance, but port officials instead phoned P&O Ferries.
ITF news release. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: Ambulance workers exhausted by unprecedented demand
A damning snapshot of the ambulance service released ahead of the UNISON health conference in Liverpool shows that staff are so overwhelmed by months of unprecedented demand they are suffering emotional breakdowns, chronic anxiety and stress, with many on anti-depressants. The union said staff shortages, lack of capacity in hospitals due to Covid and long-term underfunding have all contributed to “major problems” over the past few months.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: Safer workplaces key to radiographer retention
Radiographers’ union SoR is running a safety rep recruitment campaign in the face of rising safety concerns and a staff retention crisis. The initiative comes after an SoR workplace survey found only just over one in five (22 per cent) said their department was very safe while a quarter said it was either somewhat or very unsafe; almost 1 in 4 (24 per cent) said they lacked any confidence their employer would do anything at all after an accident to a staff member.
SoR news release. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: Securitas workers protected by domestic abuse charter
Securitas has signed up to GMB’s Work to Stop Domestic Abuse charter, following a campaign by GMB London members. The deal gives the security giant’s 9,000 workers the right to 10 days paid leave when facing domestic violence or abusive behaviours.  
GMB news release. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: Transport Scotland undermining railway safety
Rail union RMT has uncovered new evidence that Transport Scotland directly requested that track operator Network Rail cut the funding for vital railway operations and maintenance across Scotland. The FOI response obtained by RMT shows Transport Scotland requested that Network Rail reduce its baseline budget by £65 million in both 2022/23 and 2023/24.
RMT news release. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Britain: Shopworkers want action on mental health at work
Delegates from the retail trade union Usdaw to the Scottish Trades Unions Congress (STUC) conference have called for action to address the link between bad jobs and mental health problems. Tracy Gilbert, Usdaw regional secretary for Scotland, said: “Low-paid, insecure work and poor working practices increase the risk of mental health problems.”
Usdaw news release and ‘It’s good to talk’ campaign. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Global: Tragedy led to global safety accord
On 23 April 2013,  5,000 workers were forced to go to work in the Rana Plaza factory that had clear warning signs of an early collapse; 1,132 workers died and more than 2,500 were injured when it did. Commented ahead of the anniversary, IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie said it led his global union and another, UNI, creating an International Accord which has already signed up 160 brands to binding core safety commitments.
IndustriALL news release. UNI news release. CLC news release. Daily Star. New Age.
International Accord. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Canada: Firms ignoring safety of new recruits
Almost 20 per cent of Canadian businesses do not offer the safety and orientation programmes that are legally required for new workers in much of the country, a survey has found. The research, commissioned by Threads of Life, a group that advocates for workplace safety, questioned hiring managers at 545 companies and discovered of these, 102 said their companies offer no orientation, onboarding, safety, emergency, hazard or illness and injury protocol training.
CBC News. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

USA: Staff and residents safer in unionised nursing homes
The substantial union safety effect has been confirmed in a study of Covid-19 infections in US nursing homes. A research team led by Adam Dean of George Washington University “found that unions were associated with 10.8 per cent lower resident Covid-19 mortality rates, as well as 6.8 per cent lower worker Covid-19 infection rates,” and concludes: “With more than 75,000 Covid-19 deaths among residents in non-unionised nursing homes during our study period, our results suggest that industry-wide unionisation would have been associated with approximately 8,000 fewer resident deaths.”
Adam Dean, Jamie McCallum, Simeon D. Kimmel, and Atheendar S. Venkataramani.  Resident Mortality And Worker Infection Rates From COVID-19 Lower In Union Than Nonunion US Nursing Homes, 2020–21, Health Affairs, Published online ahead of print, 20 April 2022. Jacobin magazine. More on the union safety effect. Risks 1042. 26 April 2022

Hazards news, 20 April 2022

Britain: ‘Ludicrous’ Rees-Mogg wants civil servants in the office
Civil servants must stop working from home and return to the office to ensure government buildings are at full capacity, Cabinet Office minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has said. Dave Penman, the general secretary of the senior civil servants’ union FDA, said the proposal was ‘ludicrous’, and PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, said it was “deeply insulting” and seeks to “denigrate and offend” its members.
PCS news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian and update. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Britain: Tory MP must apologise to health staff
A Conservative MP who suggested health staff regularly broke Covid rules should retract his comments and apologise, UNISON has said. The union call came after Michael Fabricant repeated on social media remarks he had made in an earlier attempt to defend lockdown lawbreaking by the prime minister Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak, which saw both fined by the Metropolitan Police.
UNISON news release. Lichfield Live. The Independent. Sky News. BBC News Online. The National. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Britain: Business group’s plea for Covid tests to keep staff safe
The recent spike in Covid cases has caused havoc, with staff sickness impacting entire supply chains, a business group has said. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is calling for all companies to be given free or cheap lateral flow tests.
BBC News Online. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Britain: NEU warns of school mental health crisis
A State of Education survey by the teaching union NEU has identified critical mental health challenges in schools. The survey of 1,788 NEU members found 90 per cent of teachers in English state schools believe pupils’ poor mental health has become more prevalent in their school, compared to before the pandemic.
NEU news release. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Britain: Hybrid teaching harming teachers
The extra time, energy and workload required to deliver hybrid teaching is having a detrimental effect on the health, safety and welfare of teachers. Delegates to the annual conference of the teaching union NASUWT said while technology has played a vital role during the Covid-19 pandemic when pupils were learning from home, the additional expectations placed on teaching staff to provide remote learning in addition to classroom teaching is resulting in unsustainable and damaging workload demands.
NASUWT news release. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Britain: Wellbeing must be at the heart of education recovery
The wellbeing of pupils and teachers cannot be written off as collateral damage from the pandemic, but must be put at the heart of our schools’ agenda, delegates to the annual conference of the teaching union NASUWT have said. More than nine out of every ten teachers (91 per cent) who responded to an NASUWT survey reported their job has adversely affected their mental health.
NASUWT news release and related news releaseRisks 1041. 20 April 2022

Britain: TUC action call on unsafe P&O’s services
The UK government should take over the running of P&O Ferries’ passenger and freight services “as a last resort”, the TUC has said.  The call came after P&O ferries flunked safety inspections by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA).
TUC news release. Nautilus news release. RMT news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Britain: Avanti boss urged to withdraw see through uniforms
Transport and travel union TSSA has called on Avanti West Coast to abandon see through uniforms after an outcry from women members and union reps. TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes has written to the rail company telling it to ditch the blouses, which women staff members have described as “disgraceful” and “appalling.”
TSSA news release and earlier news release. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Britain: Injured sushi maker 'sent to hospital in taxi'
A sushi maker who sliced off the tips of two fingers was sent to A&E in a taxi, his union GMB has said. The incident in January at the Taiko Foods factory in London – a major supplier to supermarkets including Waitrose and Sainsbury’s – as Viraj Kakadia was operating an unsafe and dangerous vegetable cutting machine that had stopped working during use.
GMB news release. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Britain: Cardiff council bullying prompts strike vote
A ‘bullying culture’ at Cardiff City Council Waste Services has resulted in a near unanimous vote in favour of strike action. The industrial action ballot saw Unite members in the council’s waste services vote by a majority of 98 per cent to strike, with six weeks of continuous action scheduled to commence from 22 April.
Unite news release. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Britain: Teacher awarded £850,000 for pupil attack trauma
A London academy teacher has been awarded £850,000 in compensation after being punched in the face and kicked during a science lesson by a pupil with a history of violence towards other children and teachers. The attack at the unidentified school was so severe it left the teacher with severe psychological trauma that resulted in him being sectioned twice under the Mental Health Act for his own safety, his union NASUWT said.
The Guardian and related NASUWT news release. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Britain: Company boss convicted of roofer’s manslaughter
A jury has convicted the bosses of two construction companies of safety crimes after the death of a roofer in Hove. Graham Tester, 60, died on 27 July 2018 after a two storey fall from an unsafe ladder while working on the conversion of the Lansdowne Place Hotel into flats.
Sussex Police news release. Brighton and Hove News. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Global: Safety professionals back fundamental safety
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the world’s largest organisation of safety professionals, has thrown its weight behind the global union campaign for occupational health and safety to be recognised as an ILO fundamental right at work. IOSH’s head of health and safety Ruth Wilkinson said: “At a time when the ongoing universal post Covid-19 recovery effort has highlighted the importance of strengthening the coherence between human rights and OSH standards, IOSH advocates for worker health and safety to be recognised as a fundamental human right.”
IOSH news release and video promoting OHS as an ILO fundamental right at work. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Safety professionals back fundamental safety
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the world’s largest organisation of safety professionals, has thrown its weight behind the global union campaign for occupational health and safety to be recognised as a fundamental right at work.

Commenting ahead of International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, organised by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), IOSH highlighted the global union body’s call to make occupational safety and health (OSH) at work an International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental principle and right at work.

IOSH’s head of health and safety Ruth Wilkinson said: “At a time when the ongoing universal post Covid-19 recovery effort has highlighted the importance of strengthening the coherence between human rights and OSH standards, IOSH advocates for worker health and safety to be recognised as a fundamental human right.”

IOSH news release and video promoting OHS as an ILO fundamental right at work. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Global: International Workers’ Memorial Day is next week!
With just one week to go until International Workers’ Memorial Day on Thursday 28 April, record numbers of unions and safety activists are preparing to mark the world’s biggest safety event ever. It comes as the union movement globally is on the verge of winning recognition of occupational health and safety as an International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental right at work. It just needs one final push – so, make sure you press home the union message that dying to work must end now.

Global union ITUC has published a package of ready-to-use Twitter and Facebook images and infographic resources for 28 April – available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French. Find out what is happening worldwide. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

International Workers’ Memorial Day is next week!

With just one week to go until International Workers’ Memorial Day on Thursday 28 April, record numbers of unions and safety activists are preparing to mark the world’s biggest safety event ever.

It comes as the union movement globally is on the verge of winning recognition of occupational health and safety as an International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental right at work.

This designation would require recognition worldwide of commonsense rules requiring countries and companies to address the carnage at work that claims 3 million lives each year.

It just needs one final push – so, make sure you press home the union message that dying to work must end now.

Global union ITUC has published a package of ready-to-use Twitter and Facebook images and infographic resources for 28 April – available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French. Find out what is happening worldwide. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Global:  New paper spotlights core ILO safety rules
As part of a major push to persuade the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to finally recognise occupational health and safety as a top priority ‘fundamental’ right at work, global construction union BWI has released a detailed position paper. BWI said that with occupational health and safety declared as a fundamental right, countless workers’ lives could be saved, and it will prevent untold suffering from many work-related ill-health.
BWI news release including link to the full paper. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Bangladesh: Investigate journalist shot dead
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the killing of a journalist in Bangladesh who was investigating the drugs trade and is urging the authorities to investigate the murder and to punish those responsible. The global union said on 13 April, 28-year-old Mohiuddin Sarkar Nayem was shot dead, allegedly by drug dealers, in Cumilla city near the border with India.
IFJ news release. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

USA: Amazon ‘injury machine’ twice as dangerous as rivals
A sharp rise in injuries among Amazon’s warehouse workers in the last year has come as the e-commerce giant's profits have soared. A new report from the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), ‘The Injury Machine: How Amazon's Production System Hurts Workers’, reveals a 20 per cent rise in serious injuries in a year, and an overall rate now twice that of Amazon’s rivals.
The Injury Machine: How Amazon's Production System Hurts Workers, Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), 2022. SOC news release. Common Dreams. CNBC News. Seattle Times. Risks 1041. 20 April 2022

Hazards news, 13 April 2022

Britain: Covid-19 inquiry must include work safety
The UK government-commissioned Covid-19 inquiry must include a focus on workplace safety and enforcement, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting as it published its submission to the Covid-19 public inquiry consultation on its terms of reference, which closed on 7 April.
TUC news release and submission to the terms of reference consultation. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Britain: ‘Living with Covid’ is a dangerous plan
Ministers should reconsider England’s ‘living with Covid’ plans, health leaders have said, while accusing the government of ignoring the ongoing threat for ideological reasons. The NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, has accused No 10 of having “abandoned any interest” in the pandemic, despite a new Omicron surge putting pressure on an already overstretched NHS.
NHS Confederation news release. The Guardian. Social Europe. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Britain: Unite slams Caterpillar’s dangerous strikebreaking
Unite has hit out at management at the plant manufacturer Caterpillar, saying its failed attempt to undermine a strike has resulted in mounting concerns for workers’ health and safety. The union was responding to reports that untrained employees at sites in Britain were being offered money to take up production roles at the company’s dispute hit sites in Larne and Belfast.
Unite news release. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Britain: RMT tells Shapps to detain dangerous P&O ferry
Maritime union RMT has demanded that the transport secretary detain a P&O ferry over serious safety breaches. The union call came in a letter to Grant Shapps following what it described as a catalogue of failures on the P&O operated Pride of Hull vessel, which has a history of safety issues.
RMT news release. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Britain: Unworkable workload could drive out teachers
A poll shows nearly half of teachers in England plan to quit within the next five years. The teaching union NEU) found 44 per cent of teachers plan to leave the profession by 2027, with its survey of 1,788 teachers find a fifth (22 per cent) said they would leave within two years, and more than half of respondents (52 per cent) said the workload was “unmanageable” or “unmanageable most of the time”, up from 35 per cent in 2021.
NEU news release. The Guardian. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Britain: Tiny sick pay rise ‘an insult to working people’
Retail trade union Usdaw has repeated its call for reform of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The union, commenting after the ‘miserly’ £3 taking it to just £99.35 a week from 6 April, said sick pay needs to be paid from day one, at an individual’s normal rate of pay.
Usdaw news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Britain: Ambulance wait times leaving lives at risk
Lives are at risk because 999 callers face unacceptable and appalling waits for ambulances in England, the country’s top emergency medicine doctor has said. Dr Katherine Henderson, the president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said pressure in the NHS was now so severe that it was breaking its “basic agreement” with the public to treat the sickest in a timely way.
RCEM news release. The Guardian. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Britain: Tory peer sorry for Grenfell death toll blunder
Former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Pickles has apologised for getting the number of people who died in the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire wrong while giving evidence to the inquiry into the disaster. The minister has also said he was ‘discourteous’ when he chided a senior inquiry lawyer for ‘wasting his time’, adding he was ‘extremely busy’.
BBC News Online. Architects Journal. ITV News. Daily Mail. Huffington Post. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Britain: Firefighters agree terrorist response role
Firefighters in London and Manchester have signed agreements that will see them respond to Marauding Terrorist Attacks (MTA), following a ballot of FBU members. MTAs are incidents when terrorists move through a location, aiming to find and kill or injure as many as possible.
FBU news release. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Britain: MoD censured after employee is shot
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been issued with a Crown Censure by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an employee was shot during a training exercise. In January 2019 an MoD employee suffered severe injuries as a result of being shot with live ammunition, where blank ammunition should have been used.
HSE news release. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Britain: Worker’s burns cost chemical firm £0.5m
A chemical firm has had to pay out almost £500,000 in fines and costs after a worker suffered superficial burns when hairspray chemicals ignited. Robert McBride Ltd was handed the penalty for criminal safety breaches after the 31-year-old worker suffered 13 per cent burns to his right arm and hand following the incident at the company’s site in Hull.
HSE news release and DSEAR Regulations – Fire and explosion. BBC News Online. Hull Daily Mail. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Britain: Companies guilty after cable strike injuries
Two firms have been fined after an employee’s retina was damaged by an explosion caused by a cable strike during construction works at a substation.  Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how VolkerInfra Ltd, a high voltage cabling contractor, had been subcontracted by principal contractor Siemens Energy Ltd to carry out cabling works as part of a wider construction project in Manchester.
HSE news release and guide, Avoiding danger from underground services – HSG47. Construction Enquirer. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Britain: Just two weeks to Workers’ Memorial Day
With just two weeks to go until International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, the TUC is urging unions and safety activists to get their plans in place for the biggest event ever. It says there are two reasons for making an extra effort this year - Covid has exposed how worker safety is being disregarded and the union movement globally is on the verge of winning recognition of occupational health and safety as an International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental right at work.
TUC 28 April resources and events webpages. Get your 28 April event on the map!
STUC listing of 28 April events in Scotland.
Find out what is happening worldwide.
Check out the damning new analysis from Hazards of soaring work-related ill-health and collapsing enforcement in the UK. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Brazil: Natura workers force cosmetics giant to talks
Job cuts and spiralling workloads that were leading to more stress and worker injuries at a Brazilian cosmetics giant have been challenged by the union. The company agreed to talks four days after 25 March protest by members of Químicos Unificados, the union representing workers at Natura Brazil, brought production to a standstill.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Global: Building worker power through health and safety
A new report from the global union UNI shows how unions have risen to the challenges of Covid-19 and increased strength through organising for occupational safety and health improvements. ‘Safer jobs & stronger unions, building worker power through health & safety’ highlights recent trade union campaigns and reveals how occupational safety and health became a rallying point for workers fighting for their rights across the globe.
UNI news release and report, Safer Jobs & Stronger Unions, Building Worker Power Through Health & Safety, April 2022 [In English and Spanish]. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Global: Black Sea mines threat to seafarers
International maritime employers and unions are urging governments to significantly increase efforts to ensure safe and secure passage for vessels in the Black Sea, following reports of drifting mines. The call follows discussions between global transport workers’ federation ITF and the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) – the union-industry partners in the International Bargaining Forum (IBF).
ITF news release. ILO news release. Risks 1040. 13 April 2022

Hazards news, 6 April 2022

Britain: HSE boss rejects call for Covid worker deaths probe
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is refusing to investigate a formal complaint from one of its own advisers alleging that healthcare workers died due to flawed guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) against Covid-19, which didn’t protect workers from airborne transmission of the virus. The publication Byline Times says it has seen documentation supporting the claims by chartered safety consultant David Osborn, who the paper describes as a ‘consultee member’ of HSE’s COSHH Essentials working group and a former health and safety adviser for the manufacturing employers’ representative body.
Byline Times. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Most workers now have to pay for Covid tests
The UK government has confirmed that from 1 April most people have to pay for a lateral flow test in England. In a 29 March announcement, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said free Covid tests will only be available for some groups, including NHS staff caring directly for patients, and prison and care home staff, as part the government's 'living with Covid' plan, although levels of the virus are high.
NHS Confederation news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Covid infections at a record high
REACH-1 study findings from Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI, covering 8 March to 31 March 2022 and published by the UK Health Security Agency on 6 April, show a Covid-19 prevalence in England during this period of 6.37 per cent – or 1-in-16 people infected. This is the highest recorded figure since the beginning of the study in May 2020 and significantly up on the 2.88 per cent recorded in the period 8 February to 1 March 2022.
UK Health Security Agency news release and related news release. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Ending free Covid tests could threaten public services
Vital services in education, utilities, refuse collection and local government could face huge challenges if workers don’t continue to receive free Covid tests, the public service union UNISON has warned. The union said staff sickness will rise as untested but infected workers unwittingly spreading the virus.
UNISON news release. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Musicians raise ‘serious concerns’ as free tests end
The Musicians’ Union has said it has serious concerns about how the end of free testing may affect musicians, in particular those who are clinically extremely vulnerable. The MU is urging its members to email their MPs to ask that free testing be reintroduced for workers, like musicians, who are generally unable to work from home and often unable to socially distance.
Musicians’ Union news release. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: School staff abandoned to deal with Covid
The UK government’s decision to withdraw most Covid-specific guidance for education and childcare settings in England is leaving school staff anxious and confused, UNISON has warned. Workers – including teaching assistants, cleaners, catering workers, admin and clerical staff – worry ministers’ hands-off approach is leaving them alone to battle the virus, the union said.
UNISON news release. UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) health protection in education and childcare settings DfE emergency planning and response DfE good estate management for schools, updated 1 April 2022. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Removing school restrictions is ‘reckless’
The UK government’s last-minute plans to remove most pandemic counter measures in schools in England when Covid-19 cases are rapidly rising is “nothing short of reckless,” teaching union NEU has warned. The Department for Education’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan, which came into full effect across England on 31 March despite schools only being given 24 hours’ notice, saw regular free testing for pupils end immediately.
NEU news release. Morning Star. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Care workers plunged back into ‘sick pay poverty’
Care workers could be plunged back into sick pay poverty, with the end of a pandemic scheme on 1 April, unions have warned. Under the axed Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, many employers could receive funding from the UK government to provide full pay for any Covid related absence.
GMB news release. UNISON news release. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Statutory sick pay remains below the ‘survival rate’
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rates are still set below the ‘survival rate’ despite a small increase, the TUC has said. The increase in statutory sick pay by £3 to £99.35 a week comes a fortnight after the closure of the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, and just over a month after the end of the £500 self-isolation support payment for people on low incomes who test positive.
The Mirror. iNews. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: ‘Serious questions’ over Grenfell inquiry justice
The firefighters’ union FBU has raised questions after it was revealed the Grenfell Tower inquiry hearings is allowing just five days for questioning of national politicians. The union said the time given to evidence from witnesses such as civil servants, firefighters and control staff relative to national politicians “shows that the inquiry is – unwittingly or not - helping to protect politicians, whom the union believes have responsibility for the disaster.”
FBU news release and earlier release. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Tory fire minister ‘dismantled the fire service’
The firefighters’ union FBU has said there is evidence showing former fire minister Brandon Lewis damaged the fire and rescue service in the years preceding the June 2014 Grenfell fire disaster as part of the government’s deregulation drive. Matt Wrack, the FBU general secretary, said: “Our union warned of the destruction he was risking, yet we were ignored time and time again.”
FBU news release. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Stress, fatigue and workloads hurt energy workers
Workers in the energy sector are facing ‘significant pressure’ from stress, fatigue and heavy workloads, their union Prospect has warned. The union’s third Energy Workforce Survey findings are based on responses from more than 2,700 Prospect members working across the energy industry, from electricity networks to nuclear decommissioning.
Prospect news release. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Woolwich Ferry must act now  
Woolwich Ferry’s workers have suspended their industrial action and also plans to hold another strike ballot in a goodwill gesture to resolve the long-running dispute, Unite has said.  The union has put forward proposals, which remain confidential, to Transport for London (TfL) bosses it hopes will kick-start ‘meaningful talks’ over the poor employment relations and safety problems that have plagued the ferry firm.
Unite news release. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Crime report confirms shop violence crisis
A Home Office report has found that attacks against shopworkers significantly increased during the pandemic, with workers experiencing high levels of verbal abuse, threats and violence, confirming union and industry findings. Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the retail union Usdaw, commented: “Faced with such appallingly high levels of violence and abuse and so many shopworkers lacking confidence in the system providing the protection they need, the government must ensure that retail employers, police and the courts work together to make stores safe.”
Usdaw news release. Home Office Crime against businesses: findings from the 2021 Commercial Victimisation Survey, 30 March 2022. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Co-op launches enhanced menopause policy
A Co-op menopause support guide for all of its 4,500 managers across its food stores, funeral homes, legal services and insurance businesses aims to help more women access menopause support in the workplace. New research from the company found that over half (52 per cent) of managers in the UK don’t feel confident in supporting a colleague who is or has experienced perimenopause or menopause.
Co-op news release and Co-op menopause guide for managers. Usdaw news release. Morning Star. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Improving work will reduce health inequalities
A major new review of health inequities lays out a roadmap for the role of industry in ‘levelling up’ by improving working conditions. The UCL Institute of Health Equity launched ‘The Business of Health Equity: The Marmot Review for Industry’, which proposes three ways business can improve people’s lives by reducing health inequality: ensure healthy working conditions; ensure good physical and workplace health; and provide sufficient pay and in-work bargaining.
UCL Institute of Health Equity news release and full report, The Business of Health Equity: The Marmot Review for Industry, April 2022. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Train driver tragedy highlights safety concerns
A coroner’s inquest has concluded an ‘accidental death’ verdict in an inquest following the death of a Birmingham train driver. Abdul Rasheed Rehan, a 64-year-old father of four and member of union ASLEF, died instantly when he was crushed between two train carriages while working at the Tyseley Depot as an employee of West Midlands Trains on 14 December 2019.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Morning sickness sacking was unfair
A pregnant woman has been awarded compensation for unfair dismissal and discrimination after being fired because of her extreme morning sickness. An employment tribunal ruled in the unidentified worker’s favour and she was awarded £6,479.30 in compensation after it was found she was discriminated against by Appliance Engineers in August 2021 after calling in sick to work.
Glasgow Live. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: Worker dies after fall from shipping container
A transport and haulage company has been fined £200,000 after a worker died as a result of a fall from the rear of a transport shipping container. Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard that on 27 June 2018, JR Adams (Newcastle) Limited employee Keith Robson, 69, was inside the open topped container with the rear doors open preparing access for the overhead crane, when he fell approximately 1.5 metres from the rear of the container.
HSE news release. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Canada: Survey reports widespread violence at work
Research conducted by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and academics has identified a major violence and harassment problem in the country’s workplaces. The National Survey on Harassment and Violence at Work, run by CLC and researchers from the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto, includes responses from nearly 5,000 workers and revealed 7 in 10 workers have experienced a form of harassment and violence at work, with nearly 1 in 2 workers has experienced sexual harassment and violence in the last two years.
CLC news release. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Global: Dying to work must end now!
Work is killing 3 million workers worldwide each year, The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has warned. But Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the global union body said dying to work must end now, and health and safety must be recognised as a fundamental right for all workers.
Sharan Burrow. Deadline!, Hazards magazine, number 157, 2022. ITUC International Workers’ Memorial Day news and resources webpage.
TUC 28 April resources and events webpages. Get your 28 April event on the map! Find out what is happening worldwide.
Need some background stats? Check out the damning new analysis from Hazards of soaring work-related ill-health and collapsing enforcement in the UK. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Dying to work must end now!
Work is killing 3 million workers worldwide each year, The International Trade Union

Confederation (ITUC) has warned. But Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the global union body said dying to work must end now, and health and safety must be recognised as a fundamental right for all workers.

“This year, occupational health and safety (OHS) must join freedom from forced and child labour, from discrimination at work, and freedom to join a trade union and bargain collectively as International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental rights at work,” she said.

“There must be no more opposition from callously indifferent employers, or recalcitrant governments. Our right to go to work and come back at the end of the day just as fit and well as we started it must be baked in.”

The March 2022 meeting of ILO’s Governing Body agreed recognition of OHS will be on the agenda for a final decision at the UN agency’s International Labour Conference in June 2022.

Burrow said unions already have an action plan for fundamental safety. “We want unions to be able to establish joint health and safety committees in every workplace, and worker safety representatives covering not just big workplaces but individual and self-employed workers through initiatives like roving safety reps,” she said.

“We have been laying plans with national trade union centres and sectoral Global Union Federations to celebrate the adoption of OHS as a fundamental right with a new organising drive across every sector on every continent.”

She said International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April 2022 would be the next focus of the campaign, concluding: “Workers must have the right to refuse unsafe work, and to take part in the decisions about prevention at their workplace. They need unions to make sure those rights become reality, and – this International Workers’ Memorial Day above all others - they need you to make it all happen. If not now, then when?”

Sharan Burrow. Deadline!, Hazards magazine, number 157, 2022. ITUC International Workers’ Memorial Day news and resources webpage. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Britain: No-one is coming to save you

Since the Conservatives came to power in the UK, the number of workers harmed by their jobs each year has increased by 30 per cent, but convictions for criminal safety offences have fallen by 75 per cent.

Preventive Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections are down by over two-thirds. Fines are in freefall. The trade union-backed safety journal Hazards says this is no accident, it a policy of deliberate and sustained criminal neglect. It warns no UK government has ever cared less.

The report notes unions have always fought for the lives as well as the livelihoods of working people, concluding: “On 28 April – International Workers’ Memorial Day – it has never been more important to make a stand.”

Check out the damning new analysis from Hazards of soaring work-related ill-health and collapsing enforcement in the UK. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Global: Overworked tugboat workers ‘reaching breaking point’
A rapid deterioration of safety and conditions of employment, driven down by industry consolidation and cartel-like behaviour from the major shipping lines, has been laid bare in a new report from the global union ITF. ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton warned that the tug and towage sector “is likely to be the next frontier of the supply chain crisis”, adding shipping companies were increasingly using the leverage gained from consolidating into ‘ocean alliances’ to drive down tug and towage rates to unsafe and unsustainable levels
ITF news release and resources: Stopping the Race to the Bottom - How to stop rate- and corner-cutting in the tug and towage sector. ITF Inland Navigation Section Position Paper. (ITF, 2022) [PDF]; Tug Workers Sound the Siren: Troy Pearson’s Story is available on YouTube.
Sign the ITF's global petition calling on the Svitzer and AP Moller-Maersk CEOs to take action over Svitzer's ongoing undermining of Australian, Dutch and UK tug workers' rights, pay and conditions. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

India: H&M pledges to end shopfloor sexual violence
Global fashion retailer H&M has signed a legally binding agreement to end sexual violence and harassment against women workers at one of its largest Indian suppliers, following the murder of a young garment worker by her supervisor last yearAn independent investigation last year by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), which has not yet been made public, heard testimony from other female workers of widespread gender-based violence at Natchi Apparel, prompting H&M and Eastman Exports to begin talks with the Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU), as well as regional and international labour rights groups.
The Hindu. The Guardian. Worker Rights Consortium. Risks 1039. 6 April 2022

Hazards news, 29 March 2022

Britain: Employers should pay for required Covid tests
Anyone required by their employer to test for Covid-19 infection as part of their job should by law have the lateral flow or other tests provided free of charge, a top occupational health expert has said. Free Covid-19 tests come to an end in England from 1 April - however, Raymond Agius, an emeritus professor of occupational and environmental medicine at Manchester University, said on twitter: “It's illegal to charge employees for covid tests to ensure safety.”
Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, section 9. Raymond Agius tweet. NHS Confederation news release. Sky News. The Guardian. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Britain: P&O vessel detained for safety breaches
Seafarers’ unions RMT and Nautilus have welcomed the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) detention of the P&O vessel European Causeway in Larne for multiple safety and operational breaches. The union has demanded that the government seize the entire fleet and take action to get them back in service with the sacked crew reinstated.
RMT news release. Nautilus news releases on the European Causeway detention and P&O campaign. TUC news release and blog. ITF news release. PCS news release. Prospect news release.
The Guardian. Yorkshire Post. BBC News Online. Morning Star.
Sign the petition calling on P&O to reinstate the sacked workers immediately. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Britain: Second P&O ferry detained over safety concerns
A second P&O ferry, The Pride of Kent, has failed a safety inspection and been detained, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has said. On 28 March, the P&O ferry become the second in three days to be held after being declared “unfit to sail.”
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Britain: RMT calls on the MCA to target ‘whole fleet’
Following the seizure of P&O vessels by inspectors, seafarers’ union RMT is calling for urgent talks with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), demanding they take a “whole fleet” approach. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, accusing P&O of ‘secrecy on safety’, said: “It's rare for the MCA to seize a ferry but we now have two P&O vessels detained in less than a week due to clear safety breaches and that should set alarm bells ringing with both the government and the Agency.”
RMT news release. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Britain: MCA warned to block P&O ferries until checked
Prospect, the trade union that represents surveyors working at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), had urged the MCA to ward off potential disaster by performing rigorous inspections before any P&O Ferries vessels were permitted to sail. Commenting before two ferries were detained by the agency, the union said that in a safety critical industry such as shipping, the importance of a competent, well trained, experienced crew cannot be overstated.
Prospect news release and related news release. MCA guidance on recruitment of agency staff. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Britain: P&O Ferries bosses failed to address key demands
A meeting between representatives of seafarers’ union Nautilus International with P&O Ferries executives on 25 March broke up after just 20 minutes when the company continued to insist it acted correctly in sacking 800 staff and failing to consult with unions. The union stated that P&O Ferries should pause in its actions, reflect, and consult with unions, following Peter Hebblethwaite’s disastrous appearance at the Transport Select Committee and the ongoing backlash from politicians and the public against the sackings.
Nautilus news release. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Britain: STUC slams ‘shambolic’ P&O effort at Scottish Parliament
Scotland’s national union body STUC has given a scathing assessment of appearance by P&O’s top boss at a Scottish parliament committee, to respond to concerns about the ‘mass culling’ of jobs. Following the quizzing of P&O Ferries chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite at the parliament’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee on 29 March - where he reiterated his claim that any consultation with unions “would be a sham” - STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “Hebblethwaite’s appearance at the Scottish Parliament today was as pathetic as it was shambolic and entirely representative of how P&O have behaved these past weeks.”
P&O Ferries chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite’s appearance before the parliament’s Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee on 29 March [starts at approx. 10:49]. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Britain: Business and transport failing late-night workers
Nearly six in ten workers (58 per cent) report that their employers have never provided them with safe transport home after work, a new poll for Unite has found. The union poll also confirmed that people feel it has become less safe when travelling home at night and that public transport is not a decent option because there are too few staff (51 per cent), the wait for a bus or train is too long (48 per cent), streets and stations are badly lit (44 per cent) and the services are unreliable (45 per cent).
Unite news release and Get me home safely campaign. Agreement reached after negotiations between Unite and East Dunbartonshire council. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Britain: Double win for CWU in mental health awards
The communications workers’ union CWU has bagged two major awards for its work on mental health in the workplace. Area safety rep (ASR) Jamie McGovern, from the union’s Greater Mersey branch, received a Behind The Scenes Champion award in the Mental Health First Aid category at the InsideOut 2022 awards and the CWU’s head office safety team also received an award sponsored by Mental Health First Aid England at the same 24 March ceremony, for its nationwide work.
CWU news release. InsideOut Award winners 2022. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Britain: Welcome for mental health support for education staff
Extra money for mental health support for the education workforce in Wales should mean that schools are able to identify and support staff with their wellbeing, NEU Cymru has said. Wales secretary for NEU Cymru David Evans, commenting after the Welsh government announced an extra £900,000 of mental health support for staff in the sector, said: “Pressure on the education workforce has never been higher, with Covid-19 still having an impact in our schools. In an NEU Cymru survey last year, 80 per cent of respondents said that work had an impact on their mental health, with 60 per cent saying work had made their mental health worse since the pandemic.”
NEU Cymru news release. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Just four weeks to go to 28 April #IWMD22
Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don't die of mystery ailments, or in tragic "accidents". They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn't that important a priority. International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) on 28 April commemorates these workers. The union-initiated action day is the world’s biggest single safety event each year.

This year, unions worldwide are making a final push for occupational health and safety to be recognised as a ‘fundamental right’ at work by the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO). This would be a big win – and there’s just one final hurdle, approval at the ILO’s June 2022 conference.

Show health and safety at work is important by organising or participating in an event near you… every year.

In the UK, the TUC lists events nationwide. Make sure your activity is on the TUC list. For organising ideas and resources, visit the dedicated TUC webpages.

TUC 28 April resources and events webpages. Get your 28 April event on the map! Find out what is happening worldwide.
Need some background stats? Check out the damning new analysis from Hazards of soaring work-related ill-health and collapsing enforcement in the UK. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Britain: Chemicals and hazardous substances at work survey
Greater Manchester Hazards Centre (GMHC) is working with trade unions to reduce worker exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals in a project on ‘Toxics Use Reduction’. To help safety reps deal with toxic exposures better, the centre says it needs “to know more about the types of chemicals workers are exposed to, the harms caused, their awareness and knowledge of risks and of successful eliminations or substitution of safer chemicals or changes to processes that have been made in your workplace;” it is asking people to help out with the work by completing a short questionnaire, which should only take about 10 minutes.
Complete the toxics use reduction survey.
See the related GMHC alert and toxics use reduction report. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Argentina: ‘New model’ airport safety agreement
In a first for Latin America, an accord to improve health and safety has been agreed between the global transport union federation ITF and Argentina’s biggest airport operator. ITF says its Healthy Airports memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 will result in the creation of “health and safety committees to discuss and put in place new health and safety measures.”
ITF news release. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Australia: Workplace protection needed as Covid cases rise
Despite rising numbers of Covid cases linked to the highly contagious BA.2 omicron subvariant, workers are being put at additional risk because many of the protective public health orders have been withdrawn, Australia’s top union body has warned. The national union federation ACTU said preventive measures must remain in place at work.
ACTU news release. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Global: Teleperformance blighted by poor work standards
A report from the global union UNI has exposed widespread workers’ rights problems throughout Teleperformance’s global, 400,000 employee, call centre business. ‘Not a Great Place to Work: The Case for Building a Better Workplace at Teleperformance’ documents unpaid work, health and safety complaints, excessive worker surveillance and aggressive trade union avoidance in eleven countries.
UNI news release and report, Teleperformance - Not a Great Place to Work, UNI, March 2022. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Norway: Benzene risks to offshore workers under-estimated
The number of workers exposed to the cancer-causing benzene contaminating the muds used in offshore drilling is greatly under-estimated, a union has warned. Halvor Erikstein, an organisational secretary and occupational hygienist with the Norwegian energy union SAFE, investigated benzene exposures during offshore oil well drilling and found a University of Bergen matrix used to designate exposed jobs “has completely omitted exposure from benzene blending into drilling mud” and during the ‘deaeration’ of systems.
Drilling Mud and Benzene The Elephant in the Room Chemical Environment, SAFE, 2022. Summary. Risks 1038. 29 March 2022

Hazards news, 24 March 2022

Britain: Call for HSE ‘clarity’ on Covid risk assessments
Public service union UNISON is warning the UK government’s ‘potentially dangerous’ Living with Covid-19 plans could undermine health and safety law. UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea has written to the chief executive of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), expressing the union’s fears over the imminent removal of explicit attention to Covid-19 in risk assessments.
UNISON news release. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Britain: Low paid care workers put their lives on the line
Care workers have ‘put their lives on the line’ for £8.72 an hour throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, UNISON has said. Delegates to UNISON’s community services group conference said is it ‘shameful’ that, throughout the pandemic, social care workers were exposed to deadly risks without appropriate PPE.
UNISON news release. More on the hazards of low pay. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Britain: Act now to end the scandal of insecure work
The government must act now to stop ‘rogue employers’ treating workers like disposable labour, unions have said. The joint union letter demands that the business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng names a date for the government’s long-overdue employment bill in the wake of “the callous, illegal and pre-meditated firing of 800 workers by P&O Ferries”.
TUC news release and update. More on insecure work. BALPA news release. Bectu news release. GMB news release. ITF news release. Nautilus news release. Prospect news release. RMT news release. STUC news release. TSSA news release. UNISON blog. Unite news release. CIPD news release. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Britain: Unions raise alarm over safety of P&O ships
Seafarers’ unions RMT and Nautilus International have written to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to express serious safety concerns about the sacking of P&O Ferries crew and their replacement with agency staff with no experience of the ships. The unions say the replacement staff are only receiving a few days familiarisation and will be put under intense pressure from the company, which “will have the effect of importing a far higher level of safety risk to passengers and workers meaning that lives will be put in jeopardy.”
RMT news release. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Britain: Racism hurts in the jobs market
Ministers must end the racism in the UK jobs market, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on the government’s 16 March 2022 acceptance of the recommendations of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, published in March 2021 in the Sewell report, which the TUC described as ‘complacent’. 
TUC news release. The Guardian. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Britain: Saved documents expose Cape asbestos guilt
Documents saved from destruction thanks to a court battle waged by an asbestos campaign group have revealed UK multinational Cape was aware decades ago of the high risk of fatal cancer from the use of its top selling Asbestolux insulation board, but still pressured the government successfully in the 1960s and 70s to abandon a planned ‘no dust’ policy. The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK says the documents it fought to preserve will be vital to future asbestos compensation cases.
Leigh Day news release. Asbestos Forum. The Guardian. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Britain: Union pilots and firefighters link up to train
Members of The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have completed a new, innovative and first of its kind training collaboration, which the they say paves the way for future training co-operation between unions. For the first time ever, union reps from the two safety critical fields of aviation and firefighting came together to share experiences and learn new skills that will enable them to help union members tackle health and safety issues in the workplace.
BALPA news release. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Britain: Reasonable adjustments must not be an afterthought
The TUC must use its power to argue for legislative changes to strengthen the rights of disabled workers to receive “reasonable adjustments” and for employers to be fined if they do not provide them. A motion passed at the TUC Disabled Workers’ Conference, held online this year, said Employment Tribunals must liaise with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to investigations employers who are “serial disability discrimination offenders”.
NUJ news release. Usdaw news release. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Britain: BBC appeals to UN over online abuse of women journalists
The BBC World Service has filed a new urgent appeal to the United Nations (UN) against Iran over the online violence faced by women journalists working for BBC News Persian. It says women journalists at BBC News Persian face daily, relentless online attacks and harassment, including threats of rape and death.
NUJ news release. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Britain: Usdaw calls for action to end to gender violence
Usdaw has called for action on the ‘appalling scale and scope’ of violence against women and girls. The retail union’s comments came at Labour’s women’s conference.
Usdaw news release. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Britain: Suspended sentence for unsafe excavation work
A principal contractor has been handed a suspended jail term after he was found to have supervised unsafe excavation work which put workers in danger and rendered a neighbouring property unstable. Mustapha Matib pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was sentenced to sixteen weeks imprisonment suspended for twelve months, ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and pay costs of £5,673.
HSE news release. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Britain: Livestock mart fined after fatal incident with bull
A livestock auction mart has been fined after an employee was fatally injured when he was struck by a bull as he was helping to load it on to a lorry. Preston Magistrates’ Court heard that on 25 August 2017 Martin Leverton, 70, was helping to move the bull and four cows towards a waiting lorry at the premises of his employer, Gisburn Auction Marts Ltd when the bull turned and attacked him, causing fatal injuries.
HSE news release. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Bangladesh: Inaction on violations of workers’ rights
New evidence of violations of workers’ rights in Bangladesh in three major economic sectors – the ready-made garment, shipbreaking, and leather sectors – reveals the impact of government inaction on the lives of working people, the global union confederation ITUC has said. The report, released by ITUC ahead of the government’s latest progress report to the ILO Governing Body, shows the human face of a government’s failure to put in place labour protections.
ITUC news release and report, We Need a Better Bangladesh: Violations of workers’ rights in the ready-made garment, shipbreaking and leather sectors, 15 March 2022. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Global: Fundamental safety move gets closer
A high profile union campaign to get occupational health and safety recognised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as a ‘fundamental’ right at work has taken a big step forward. ILO’s Governing Body has agreed an amendment to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, to include occupational safety and health, will be on the agenda the UN agency’s International Labour Conference in June.
ILO news release. ITUC 28 April #iwmd22 webpages. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

USA: Unsafe Amazon cited for ‘wilful serious violation’
E-commerce giant Amazon has been cited for a ‘wilful’ serious violation and told to pay a $60,000 fine for knowingly putting workers at risk of injury at a US fulfilment centre. A Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) inspection at the facility in Kent, Washington State, found 10 of the 12 processes L&I evaluated create a serious hazard for work-related back, shoulder, wrist and knee injuries, and because it has cited Amazon for similar violations at three Washington locations, “the most recent violation is classified as a wilful violation and comes with a significantly higher penalty than those issued as a result of earlier inspections.”
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries news release. Risks 1037. 24 March 2022

Hazards news, 16 March 2022

Britain: Government ‘sowing dangerous confusion’ at work
The TUC is warning that workers’ safety is being put at risk by ‘confused’ guidance announced by the prime minister on Covid-19 and workplace risk assessments, which appears to contradict safety law. The union body has written to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to raise concerns about the ‘Living with Covid’ plan, presented to parliament on 21 February, which states that from 1 April, employers will no longer have to explicitly consider Covid-19 in their risk assessments.
TUC news release and letter to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. ONS infection survey, UK: 11 March 2022. Management Information: Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease reports: Made by employers to HSE and Local Authorities since 10 April 2020, figures up to 5 March, HSE, 14 March 2022 update.
BBC News Online. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: Wilko sorry for saying staff could work with Covid
Retail chain Wilko has apologised for ‘some miscommunication’ in which it told staff they could continue to work if they tested positive for Covid. In a memo, the company said staff with the virus could continue to work in stores if they felt well enough; Wilko confirmed the memo was sent out and the firm has since made a u-turn.
Wilko CEO apology on Facebook. The Mirror and related report. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: Union inspection notice leads to HMRC commitments
The head of the HRMC has made key safety commitments after civil service union PCS raised formal safety concerns over Covid, risk assessments and return to workplaces. On 22 February, PCS served a Union Inspection Notice (UIN) on HMRC chief executive Jim Harra “outlining our concerns with the consultation and engagement process around risk assessments, in relation to returns to the office.”
PCS news release. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: Mental health concern for journalists covering conflict
Employers must offer ‘adequate support’ to all journalists covering the conflict in Ukraine from the frontline and in newsrooms handling often distressing copy and images of the war, the UK journalists’ union NUJ has said. The call came in resolution from the union’s newspaper and agency industrial council (NAIC).
NUJ news release. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: Usdaw focused on young workers and mental health
Retail trade union Usdaw is reach out to young workers to highlight its campaigning work. It says the union’s first Young Workers’ Week, running from 14-20 March, will focus on mental health in the workplace.
Usdaw news release. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: Union backs film and TV healthy work campaign
Creative industries union Bectu has welcomed the latest phase of the Film and TV Charity’s 12-month campaign to redefine working culture in the film and TV industry. ‘The Whole Picture Toolkit: For Mentally Healthy Productions’ is a free to use website, created by the charity and a coalition of industry partners and bodies, freelancers, mental health experts and sector practitioners, including Bectu.
Bectu news release. The Whole Picture Toolkit. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: Always-on culture is a significant problem
The right to disconnect is supported by a clear majority of workers, new data from Ipsos has revealed. Despite 67 per cent of the UK workforce having work-related communications outside of their working day, more than half think it is unacceptable to do so, the world’s third largest market researcher found.
Prospect news release. City AM. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: Carmont rail crash report shows systemic failures
Rail unions have called for wide-ranging safety improvements and an end to Network Rail jobs and maintenance cuts after a report blamed systematic safety failings for a fatal train derailment. In the report into the 12 August 2020 Carmont tragedy, the RAIB exonerated the driver and blamed ScotRail and Network Rail for failures in the crash near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire in which three people died – train driver Brett McCullough, 45, conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62.
ASLEF news release. RMT news release and related news release. TSSA news release. RAIB statement, video and report, Derailment of a passenger train at Carmont, 10 March 2022. ORR statement. Construction Enquirer. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: City Hall gets ‘world-leading’ menopause policy
The Mayor of London has announced new support for City Hall workers going through the menopause. Sadiq Khan said the ‘world-leading’ policy aims to ensure the working environment is comfortable wherever possible, including the possibility of temperature-controlled areas; other measures include allowing for flexible adjustments in the working day, for example taking breaks for severe symptoms or time off to attend medical appointments.
UNISON news release and menopause resources. Mayor of London news release.
Resources: TUC menopause at work interactive guide and Supporting working women through the menopause: guidance for union representatives. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: Flagship MacMerry pub hit by protest
Protestors have demonstrated outside Scottish pub chain MacMerry’s flagship central London pub, as the campaign against the company’s ‘appalling’ treatment of staff intensified. Members from Unite were joined by a Los Angeles delegation from the US Unite Here union in the 9 March demonstration outside the Abandon Ship pub in Covent Garden.
Unite news release. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: Network Rail pays out over drug test sacking
A rail inspector with ‘shy bladder syndrome’ has been awarded a £90,000 payout after he was sacked by Network Rail for failing to provide on demand a urine sample for a drugs test. Lewis Smith couldn’t provide a urine sample when Network Rail called him in for the random check and offered to carry out a blood test - but he was fired anyway for refusing to take part.
Hampshire Live.
Resources: Drug testing in the workplace - Guidance for workplace representatives, TUC, 2019. More on workplace drug policy. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Britain: FBU highlights increased risk for firefighters
Firefighters’ union FBU is continuing its campaign to use a cancer registry to expose the link between the job and raised cancer risks and to press for prevention. FBU national officer Riccardo la Torre said: “We need every single firefighter to fill out that registry, whether you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, whether you’ve been diagnosed with a disease or if you’ve never been diagnosed with anything – we need you to fill out that registry now.”
FBU news release and video. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Europe: MEPS call for a law on psychosocial risks
The European Parliament has voted strongly in favour of a new law on psychosocial risks at work. In a newly adopted parliamentary report, ‘A new EU strategic framework on health and safety at work post 2020’, the European Parliament has echoed union calls for a directive on work-related psychosocial risks.
Eurocadres news release. ETUI policy brief on psychosocial risks in Europe. Socialists and Democrats news release. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Global: Safety must be a fundamental right at work
Global unions are calling for an amendment to the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work that will lead to occupational health and safety (OHS) being recognised as a fundamental principle and right at work. The call from the chemicals, mining and manufacturing global union IndustriALL came ahead a meeting of the International Labour Organisation’s governing body, which started on 14 March.
IndustriALL news release. ITUC 28 April campaign webpage and facebook page. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Ireland: Migrant fisher injuries linked to permit scheme
Injuries sustained by migrant fishers have been linked to a culture of excessive hours and ‘cover-ups’ driven by Ireland’s controversial work permit scheme. Campaign lead for the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in Ireland, Michael O’Brien, told media that fishers were working longer hours than was safe or legal, but that the risk of fishers losing their visa status if they are fired or taken out of work due to injury meant many feel compelled to endure unsafe practices on board.
ITF news release. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Ukraine: US reporter shot and killed
An award-winning US journalist working in Ukraine, Brent Renaud, has been shot dead in Irpin, outside Kyiv. Ukrainian police said the journalist was targeted on 13 March by Russian soldiers.
IFJ news release. IFJ/EFJ Ukraine safety fund. NUJ news release and war zone safety information. Risks 1036. 16 March 2022

Hazards news, 9 March 2022

Britain: Mandatory vaccination plan was always wrong
A UK government demand for mandatory vaccination for NHS staff was a policy ‘that should never have seen the light of day,’ the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has said. The midwives’ union was commenting after ministers announced that the legal requirement for health and social care staff to be vaccinated against Covid would be revoked on 15 March.
RCM news release. DHSC consultation outcome, 1 March 2022. The Mirror. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: Rapid testing at work works well
Comprehensive workplace rapid testing programmes to identify Covid-19 infections work well, give accurate results and are welcomed by participating employers, a study has found. A research team from the University of Toronto, Canada, noted: High-frequency testing programmes offer the potential to break chains of transmission and act as an extra layer of protection in a comprehensive public health response.”
Rosella LC and others. Large-scale implementation of rapid antigen testing system for COVID-19 in workplaces, Science Advances, volume 8, number 8, 25 February 2022. Doi:  10.1126/sciadv.abm3608  Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: ‘Structural racism’ reflected in insecure work
Insecure work is “tightening the grip” of structural racism on the labour market and deepening gender inequalities, a new analysis from the TUC has concluded. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said “the time for excuses is over,” adding: “The government must publish its long overdue employment bill and ban exploitative practices like zero hours contracts.”
TUC news release. Morning Star. More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: UK ratifies violence at work treaty
The TUC has welcomed the UK government signing on to a international treaty on prevention of violence at work. Commenting on the 7 March ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Violence and Harassment Convention – Convention 190 - TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It now comes down to the action and enforcement that follows.”
TUC news release. ITUC Convention 190 campaign toolkit.
ILO Convention 190, Violence and harassment convention 2019. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: STUC reveals ‘shocking’ data on sexual harassment
Scotland’s national union body STUC has revealed survey data exposing widespread sexual harassment in the country’s workplaces, the systemic under-reporting of sexual harassment by victims and the risks faced by women travelling to and from work. The STUC found 45 per cent of women had experienced sexual harassment at work, with a third of respondents experiencing it at work within the last year.
STUC news release and full report and recommendations. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: Shop violence high and often unreported
Abuse, threats and violence against shopworkers remain high, but confidence in reporting incidents is low, a union survey has found. The ‘shocking’ results of the 2021 annual survey of nearly 3,500 retail staff by the shopworkers’ union Usdaw found in the 12-month period 90 per cent of respondents reported they had experienced verbal abuse, and almost two-thirds (64 per cent) had been threatened by a customer.
Usdaw news release and full Freedom from Fear 2021 survey findings and campaign. ACS news release and The Crime Report 2022, 8 March 2022. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: Powerful must be held to account
A report into former Commons Speaker John Bercow that found that he was a “serial bully” has been welcomed by the union Prospect. Garry Graham, deputy general secretary of Prospect, which represents staff in parliament, responded: “The findings of the Independent Expert Panel underline the importance and the need to hold individuals to account, irrespective of their status.”
Prospect news release. UK Parliament news release. Independent Expert Panel (IEP) report. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: Northumberland teachers strike over workloads
Teachers at a Northumberland school began a 15-day strike on 8 March, citing excessive workloads and a failure to tackle badly behaved pupils. Members of NASUWT walked out of Bedlington Academy in Bedlington, with the union saying more than 20 staff were taking part due to management “negatively impacting welfare.”
NASUWT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: Rail jobs axe could be ‘devastating’ for rail safety
Plans by Network Rail to cut 2,660 maintenance and works delivery jobs could have “devastating consequences” on the safe running of the rail system, the rail union TSSA has warned. The concerns were echoed by Mick Lynch, general secretary of the rail union RMT, who said the cuts would be “a significant threat” to rail safety.
TSSA news release. RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: UK not ready for climate change emergencies
The firefighters’ union FBU has warned the UK’s emergency response is not capable of dealing with the extreme weather the country could face as a result of climate change. The union was commenting after the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that Europe will face increasingly severe climate impacts, including in terms of heatwaves and flooding, unless action is taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
FBU news release and climate change campaign. IPCC report. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: Government safety adviser ‘must be held to account’
Government ministers “took an axe to Britain’s fire-and-rescue service and fire safety regulation” in the years before the Grenfell Tower disaster, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. The union’s 9 March demand that those responsible are brought to book came on the day key adviser Ken Knight, who advised the government on fire safety in the years before the Grenfell fire, was scheduled to give evidence to the long-running inquiry.
FBU news release. Morning Star and related editorial. Building. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: Farmer sentenced after nephew dies in farm fall
The mother of a four-year-old boy who fell from a farm vehicle and was run over sustaining fatal injuries has called for a change in attitude in agriculture. Sarah Nutter was commenting after farmer Brian Nutter was given a suspended prison sentence following the death of his nephew, Harry Lee.
HSE news release. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: Suspended jail terms after scaffolder death
Four men have received suspended prison sentences following the collapse of the former Citadel Church in Splott, Cardiff which killed scaffolder Jeffrey Joseph Plevey, 55. Their firms received combined fines of more than £340,000.
South Wales Police news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Britain: School fined after teaching assistant breaks back  
A primary school in West Yorkshire has been fined £4,000 after a member of staff broke their back after falling through a fragile ceiling. Bradford Magistrates’ Court heard that on 18 September 2019, a teaching assistant at Todmorden Church of England Junior Infants and Nursery School had accessed the loft space in the school and as they entered, they fell around four metres through the fragile ceiling which resulted in a broken back.
HSE news release. Telegraph and Argus. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Global: ITF launches sanitation rights toolkit
A new toolkit containing resources for transport workers to win sanitation rights has been launched by the sector’s global union ITF. The toolkit includes key information about health risks related to a lack of access to toilet and welfare facilities, checklists for negotiators and model contract language.
ITF news release, Sanitation Toolkit and Sanitation Charter. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Brazil: Meat sector safety campaign reaches Europe
As the Brazilian Ministry of Labour, backed by corporate interests, prepares to amend regulations which govern health and safety in the country’s meat industry, unions have raised concerns with the European Parliament about “a race to the bottom.” EFFAT, the European regional organisation of the global foodworkers’ union federation IUF, convened a meeting with MEP Bernd Lange, the chair of the trade committee at the European Parliament.
IUF news release. Send an urgent message to the Brazilian government. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Europe: Stress campaign reaches the European Parliament
A call for a European Union-wide stress law has been ‘well-received’ by the European Parliament’s employment committee, the unions behind the initiative have said. Their draft report on Mental Health in the Digital World of Work, presented to the committee on 28 February, includes the call for a directive on work-related psychosocial risks.
Eurocadres news release. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Ukraine: Serious concern at Chernobyl workers’ plight
Ukrainian nuclear authorities told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on 8 March that the safety of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant could be compromised by the “dangerous and stressful” situation facing safety critical staff at the installation. The regulator told IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi it was essential measures were taken to rotate some 210 technical personnel and guards who have been working there since Russian forces took control of the site almost two weeks ago.
IAEA update 8 March 2022. Daily Mail. Risks 1035. 9 March 2022

Hazards news, 2 March 2022

Britain: Changes to sick pay rules creates a pandemic threat
Imminent changes to sick pay rules will leave those off work due to Covid-19 just £38 to get through the first week of their illness, the TUC has warned. The Tory government’s decision to end day-one statutory sick pay payments (SSP) for Covid from 24 March will put millions of workers at risk of extra hardship, the union body said.
Prime minister’s 21 February statement to the House of Commons, related Number 10 news story and COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19. GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Don’t rush back into workplaces
The end of Covid restrictions should not be a greenlight for the civil service to engineer a rush back to workplaces, civil service union PCS has stressed. The union said before staff return to their workplaces risk assessments need to happen, and provision made for vulnerable workers, together with ongoing protections for isolation and sickness absence.
Prime minister’s press conference statement, 21 February 2022. PCS news release. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Government must rethink schools rules axe
Chaos will reign in schools and millions of hours of learning will be lost unless the government rows back from the ‘reckless’ decision to scrap all remaining Covid safety rules in England, three education unions have warned. GMB, UNISON and Unite are urging the prime minister to think again and keep in place free testing and the requirement to self-isolate, as an absolute minimum.
GMB news release. UNISON news release and update. NEU news release. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: End of free Covid tests is ‘a real threat’
The UK government’s ‘Living with Covid-19’ plan for removing the remaining legal restrictions presents a ‘real threat’, creative industries union Bectu has said. Among the changes announced was and end to free universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England from 1 April.
Bectu news release. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Changes ‘to hit low-paid workers hard’
The end of Covid rules will leave low paid workers are an increased risk, retail union Usdaw has warned. The union was commenting after prime minister Boris Johnson scrapped the remaining Covid legal restrictions in England and said he wanted to shift the onus from state mandates to personal responsibility.
Usdaw news release. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Wales retains mask wearing in shops
Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed the Welsh government decision to retain the legal requirement for shoppers to wear face coverings. While the requirement is being phased out in some public venues, face coverings will continue in Welsh retail, transport and health care settings, possibly for another month.
Usdaw news release. Welsh government guidelines, updated 28 February 2022. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Sickness is forcing workers out of their jobs
Thousands of older workers are being forced out of the labour market by ill-health, a TUC report has warned. The analysis by the union body shows that the number of older workers who have left the labour market due to sickness and ill-health (97,000) is nearly twice the rate of those who have retired (50,000) during the pandemic. 
TUC news release and report, Older workers after the pandemic: creating an inclusive labour market, 23 February 2022. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Rules needed on intrusive worker surveillance
Intrusive worker surveillance tech and AI risks “spiralling out of control” without stronger regulation to protect workers, the TUC has warned. Left unchecked, the union body says that these technologies could lead to widespread discrimination, work intensification and unfair treatment.
TUC news release, TUC AI manifesto and examples of surveillance and monitoring of workers. Financial Times. People Management. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: UK workers put in £27 billion in unpaid overtime
UK employers claimed £27 billion of free labour last year because of workers doing unpaid overtime, according to a new analysis published by the TUC. Commenting on 25 February, the TUC’s 18th annual Work Your Proper Hours Day, the union body said 3.8 million people did unpaid overtime in 2021, putting in an average of 7.6 unpaid hours a week.
TUC news release. Wales TUC news release. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: ‘Unsustainable’ rise in teachers' working hours
An ‘unsustainable’ rise in teachers’ working hours must be tackled, teaching union NASUWT has said. General secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “Teachers yet again rank among the professions working the highest number of hours, with the TUC’s figures suggesting both an increase in the number of teachers undertaking unpaid overtime in 2021 and a rise in the number of unpaid extra hours worked.”
NASUWT news release and wellbeing survey. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Teachers ranked high on the overwork league table
The appearance of teachers yet again high on league table of professions working the most unpaid overtime demonstrates the need for urgent action, teaching union NEU has said. Commenting on an analysis released by the TUC for Work Your Proper Hours Day on 25 February, NEU joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “This is not a sustainable situation, and it is leading to burnout.”
NEU news release. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Cambridge tutors criticise ‘explosive workloads’
Cambridge University lecturers are accusing the institution of pressuring them into taking on “explosive workloads” to deliver its famous one-on-one tutorials. A survey of university teaching officers (UTOs) by the University and College Union (UCU) Cambridge branch found that a third (35 per cent) felt they could not refuse requests from peers and superiors to take on extra weekly tutorials, or “supervisions” as they are known, even though nearly half of those surveyed said they would like to deliver fewer of them.
UCU Cambridge branch meeting alert. The Guardian. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Bectu’s welfare policy to improve mental health
Creative industries union Bectu has launched a welfare policy to support the mental health of people working in film and TV production. Initiated by the union’s members working in the sector, the document provides a model mental health, stress and wellbeing policy for companies.
Bectu news release and policy. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: BA workers spat at and abused as tech crashes
GMB members working for British Airways have been spat and abused as the airline cancelled flights following IT problems last weekend. The union said the blame lies with the airline’s decision to outsource IT systems to India in 2016 - as well as years of chronic under-investment in the business.
GMB news release. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Receptionist unfairly fired for severe morning sickness
A law firm receptionist has been awarded a £23,000 payout after her bosses told her she was “no longer needed” while off work sick with debilitating severe morning sickness. Kiran Nasreen won her discrimination claim after a panel ruled that bosses believed her difficult pregnancy was “inconvenient” to the firm.
Full decision: Ms K Nasreen v Dr Malik T/a Malik Law Solicitors (in intervention): 3201138/2018 - Reasons. The Mirror. Daily Mail. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Union expert appointed to Scottish dog control review
Dave Joyce, the national safety officer for the union CWU, has been appointed to a Scottish government-led Dog Control and Dangerous Dogs Law Review Group. The union safety specialist, who has spearheaded the CWU ‘bite back’ campaign to protect postal workers, telephone engineers and other CWU members from dog attacks, joins a process to review Scotland’s 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.
CWU Bite Back campaign. Union Safety. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Why no action six years after four demolition deaths?
An investigation into a building collapse that killed four demolition workers has still not reached a conclusion, six years after the tragedy, bereaved families have said. Mick Collings, Chris Huxtable, Ken Cresswell and John Shaw died on 23 February 2016 when a boiler house collapsed during the demolition of Didcot power station in Oxfordshire.
FACK news release. Thames Valley Police statement. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Company convicted after electrician dies in fall
Cleveland Bridge UK Limited has been convicted of criminal safety offences and fined £1.5 million after an electrician Keith Poppleton was killed when he fell about eight metres after stepping on an unmaintained access panel. Judge Timothy Stead was scathing in his assessment of Cleveland Bridge, criticising its inability to introduce appropriate health and safety measures, noting: “The entirety of the blame falls on Cleveland Bridge and its failings over a period of many years.”
HSE news release. Northern Echo. The Gazette. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Boss of asbestos removal firm jailed
Billy Hopwood, a director of Ensure Asbestos Management Limited, has been jailed for 10 months after failing to protect workers from asbestos exposure during a major refurbishment project in Plymouth. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered irregularities in the asbestos surveys and clearance certificates, with some found to be fraudulent.
HSE news release. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Suspended sentence after scrapyard worker crushed
A motor vehicle scrap company’s director has been given a suspended jail term after a worker suffered crush injuries in an incident involving a forklift truck. Cambridge Magistrates’ Court heard how on 1 March 2021, an employee of Queensferry Car Breakers Limited was injured when he was hit and run over by a forklift truck driven by his employer Ghol Mohammad Navabi, who has been handed a 20-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, including 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days and 180 unpaid work hours.
HSE news release. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Manufacturing firm fined after forklift fatality
A West Midlands manufacturing company has been fined after a 23-year-old employee was found fatally injured under the forks of a side-loader lift truck. Cutting Edge Trading Limited employee Mitchell Poutney was fatally injured at the company site in Rowley Regis during a lifting operation.
HSE news release. Halesowen News. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: Candlelit vigil for work Covid victims, 11 March
The UK Hazards Campaign is organising a national candlelit vigil to commemorated those who have died from work-related Covid-19. The event on 11 March marks the second anniversary of when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid a pandemic.
Candlelit vigil for workers who died because of Covid, 11 March 2022, nationwide. Send information about what you are doing in your city, town or workplace to Janet Newsham so that the campaign can share details on social media and through its trade union networks.
Suggested hashtags: #Candle4CovidkilledWorkers, #VigilForWorkers, #ShineLightOnWorkers Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Britain: New legal duty extends PPE provision for all workers
A new briefing from the trade union law firm Thompsons Solicitors spells out a new legal duty on employers to provide PPE to all workers. The move follows a November 2020 High Court ruling confirmed gig workers should have the same occupational safety and health protections as employees.
Thompsons Solicitors briefing on PPE. HSE guidance on the regulations and on PPE. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Australia: State says insecure work is a health hazard
In an Australian first, Western Australia (WA) has formally recognised that job insecurity can harm both a worker’s physical and mental health. The recognition comes in a new code of practice on psychosocial hazards in the workplace introduced by the state safety watchdog and which provides practical guidance on how all workplaces across the state can comply with their duties under its Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Code of practice - Psychosocial hazards in the workplace, Western Australia Worksafe 2022. The Conversation. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Bangladesh: Child among the dead in shoe factory fire
At least three people, including a 15-year-old girl, have been killed and several others injured in a 23 February fire at an ‘illegal’ shoe factory, the global union IndustriALL has said. According to reports, the factory, owned by Uniworld Footwear Technology Limited and located in an industrial area in Savar, lacked both safety measures and a permit to operate.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Global: New ILO code to improve construction safety
More than 229 million construction workers around the globe may benefit from a revised and updated code of practice on safety and health, adopted by International Labour Organisation (ILO) experts from governments and employers’ and workers’ organisations. The updated code includes new or improved language proposed by unions on issues including chemicals, carcinogens, silica, asbestos, biological hazards, ergonomics, procurement and, for the first time in an adopted ILO text, psychosocial risks at work and makes a clear connection between construction, extreme weather events and disaster management.
BWI news release. ILO news release. Risks 1034. 2 March 2022

Hazards news, 17 February 2022

Britain: Upward surge in work Covid cases continues
Cases of work-related Covid-19 reported to health and safety enforcing authorities are continuing to increase. Figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 14 February show the total number of cases reported to HSE and local authorities since 10 April 2020 has risen from 39,701 on 8 January 2022 to 42,059 on 5 February 2022. The number of Covid-19 deaths notified rose from 439 to 446.
Management Information: Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease reports made by employers to HSE and Local Authorities since 10 April 2020, updated 14 February 2022. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Britain: Ministers must fix broken sick pay system
The UK government must fix the “broken sick pay system once and for all”, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting after the 9 February announcement by the prime minister that all remaining Covid restrictions in England - including the legal rule to self-isolate - could end later this month.
Prime minister’s questions, House of Commons, 9 February 2022. BBC News Online and prime minister’s questions coverage. The Guardian. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Britain: Ending isolation rules is going ‘too far too soon’
Abandoning Covid isolation rules early is going too far way too soon, UNISON has said. The public sector union said everybody wants to get back to normal, but Covid risks haven’t disappeared.
UNISON news release and follow up news release. Zero Covid UK news release. Morning Star. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Britain: Lifting self-isolation rules bad news for shopworkers
Retail trade union Usdaw is urging the UK government to think again about lifting all Covid rules. The union added the plan to end free Covid tests alongside removing the self-isolation rules and the masks requirement creates a dangerous ‘triple whammy’ for Covid safety in stores.
Usdaw news release and follow-up news release. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Britain: Long Covid has hit half of firms, survey finds
A quarter of UK employers say long Covid is now one of the main causes of long-term sickness absence among their staff, a study has found. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) survey of 804 organisations, representing more than 4.3 million employees, found that one in four put it among the top three reasons for long-term absence and half had staff who had suffered from long Covid in the past 12 months.
CIPD news release and report, Working with long COVID: Research evidence to inform support, 8 February 2022.
Long Covid: a guide for supporting our members, TUC – use the interactive guide [takes approx. 25 minutes]. Workers’ experiences of long Covid: A TUC report, June 2021 and summary. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Global: Stricter diesel exhaust rules would save many lives
A substantial number of lives would be saved each year by implementing a stringent workplace diesel engine exhaust exposure limit, a study has concluded. Risk assessment experts from Utrecht University calculated implementing the proposed health based DEE limit would reduce the ELR by approximately 93 per cent, while the proposed regulatory limits of 10 and 50  µg/m3 would reduce the ELR by 51 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively.
Roel Vermeulen and Lützen Portengen. How serious are we about protecting workers health? The case of diesel engine exhaust,  Occupational and Environmental Medicine Published Online First: 11 February 2022. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2021-107752 Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Britain: New study exposes UK inaction on diesel controls
A new evaluation of the protective health effect of tight workplace exposure standards for diesel engine exhaust has exposed the potentially high cost of the UK’s continuing failure to introduce any standard and its refusal to regulate diesel exhaust as a workplace cancer risk. The Utrecht study would indicate enforcing the EU standard would save over 300 lives a year in Great Britain from lung cancer alone.
Control of diesel engine exhaust emissions in the workplace, HSE, 2012. IARC Monographs – volume 105, Diesel and gasoline engine exhausts and some nitroarenes,  IARC, 2012.
Roel Vermeulen, Debra T Silverman, Eric Garshick, Jelle Vlaanderen, Lützen Portengen, and Kyle Steenland. Exposure-Response Estimates for Diesel Engine Exhaust and Lung Cancer Mortality Based on Data from Three Occupational Cohorts, Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 122(2), pages 172-7, February 2014 (first published online 22 November 2013). 
The burden of occupational cancer in Great Britain: Lung cancer, HSE, 2012.
Fuming feature, Diesel out prevention factsheet and Die diesel die pin-up-at-work poster. Hazards 144, October-December 2018.
Diesel exhaust in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, October 2018. Unite diesel emissions register. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Britain: ‘Grave’ safety concerns over rail funding cuts
Rail union TSSA has raised its ‘grave concerns’ over a planned £4 billion in cuts planned for Britain’s rail infrastructure and has referred the plans to the rail safety regulator ORR. Publicly owned Network Rail, which owns and maintains the infrastructure, plans to shed 905 jobs on top of 1,000 voluntary redundancies, the union said.
TSSA news release. Morning Star. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Britain: More rail action over ‘safety critical’ roles
Further strike action on CrossCountry trains is set go ahead from 19 February over ‘an assault on the safety critical role of senior conductors and train managers’, the union RMT has said. The union said its decision to proceed with the action came after the company snubbed a possible settlement in talks driven from the union side.
RMT news release. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Britain: Fire response times face big slow down
Response times by the fire and rescue service to significant fires in England have slowed by the biggest amount since 2015. New figures show that the average response time for primary fires in England was 8 minutes and 43 seconds for the year ending September 2021, a slowing of six seconds compared to the previous year.
FBU news release. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Britain: Teacher welfare treated as ‘collateral damage’
Government ministers, employers and inspectorates are failing in their duty of care to teachers, instead treating their welfare as ‘collateral damage’, teaching union NASUWT has said. The union’s survey into teacher wellbeing found more than nine out of ten (91 per cent) reported their job has adversely impacted their mental health in the last year.
NASUWT news release. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Britain: Working in film and TV is ‘mentally unhealthy’
Creative industries union Bectu has welcomed a new report exposing working conditions in the sector. The Film and TV Charity’s ‘Looking Glass ’21’ report, a follow-up to the charity’s 2019 research, is based on responses from more than 2,000 workers and identifies major concerns including long working hours, harassment and the continuation of a ‘mental health crisis’ in the industry uncovered in the 2019 findings.
Bectu news release. Through the looking glass report 2021, Film and TV Charity, February 2022. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Britain: NHS staff isolate after Lassa fever cases
NHS services across the east of England have been affected after three cases of Lassa fever were discovered in the region. Staff who had been in contact with the patients have been told self-isolate for a fortnight, with no patient contact for 21 days and it is understood the number of staff affected at both Addenbrooke’s and the Luton and Dunstable is in the hundreds.
UKHSA Lassa fever updates. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Cambridge News. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Brazil: Meat worker safety under attack
Health and safety regulations for meat and poultry processing introduced in Brazil in 2013 were a major advance for workers’ rights, unions say, but they warn they are now under attack. Meat companies are lobbying Brazil’s government to withdraw or weaken the regulations, global foodworkers’ union IUF has said.
IUF news release. UFCW Canada news release.
ACTION: Sign the petition. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Canada: Miner’s daughter exposes toxic aluminium ‘treatment’
A decade-long campaign led by the daughter of a deceased Canadian uranium miner has led to a major victory for workers struck by Parkinson’s disease after being subjected to aluminium dust inhalation “treatments” in their jobs. Supported by her union, the United Steelworkers (USW), and other worker advocacy organisations, Janice Martell waged a relentless campaign to compel Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to recognise Parkinson’s as an occupational disease linked to the use of McIntyre Powder in mining and other industries.
USW news release. McIntyre Powder Project. Ontario WSIB McIntyre Powder update. Canadian Occupational Safety.
Janice Martell and Tee Guidotti. Breathe Deep, Boys: Voices of the McIntyre Powder Project Miners, New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, 9 February 2022. https://doi.org/10.1177/10482911221079056. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

New Zealand: Firefighters issue cease work notices
New Zealand’s firefighters’ union NZPFU has issued a stop work notice on a dangerous appliance and had taken wider action to demand measures to address safety concerns across the service. The union said the ‘dangerous saga’ of appliances failing at fires has been a growing concern.
NZPFU news release. WorkSafe New Zealand guide to PINs. Risks 1033. 17 February 2022

Hazards news, 9 February 2022

Britain: Workers on low wages lose out on sick pay
Workers on low wages are among those most likely to lack access to sick pay and most likely to die from Covid-19, new research had concluded. Older people and those from ethnic minorities are also considered at risk of missing out on sick pay, the study from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found.
IPPR news release and report, A healthy labour market: Creating a post-pandemic world of healthier work by Parth Patel and Carsten Jung, IPPR, 4 February 2022. UNISON news release. Morning Star. More on the hazards of low pay. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Britain: Big office outbreak highlights protective role of rules
After the UK government axed social distancing and face covering rules, and two weeks after self-isolation rules were weakened, over half the workforce in a UK office where everyone was double vaxxed developed Covid-19, a new study has found. Experts from the UK Health Security Agency, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the London School of Tropical Medicine undertook the study.
Barry Atkinson, Karin van Veldhoven, Ian Nicholls and others. An outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in a public-facing office in England, 2021, medRxiv 2022.01.31.22269194; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.01.31.22269194. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Britain: CWU alert on ‘sweeping’ Highway Code changes
The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) has issued a road safety warning to its members, noting a ‘staggering’ number of drivers are unaware of major changes to driving rules. The alert, issued to all its union branches by CWU’s national health and safety officer Dave Joyce, explains that the revamped code establishes a hierarchy of road users, which means those who pose the greatest risk to others have a higher level of responsibility, with drivers having a greater responsibility to look out for and give way to pedestrians and cyclists.
DfT/DVSA news release and Highway Code changes summary. CWU Highway Code changes - alert to union branches. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Britain: Usdaw campaign for mental health at work
Retail trade union Usdaw is promoting the role of trade union workplace reps in supporting members and highlighting the benefits of mental health conversations. Paddy Lillis, the union’s general secretary said: “Usdaw reps are campaigning on mental health to raise awareness of workplace rights and tackle stigma, which can get in the way of members talking to the union at an early stage.”
Usdaw news release and It’s good to talk campaign. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Britain: UCU condemns 'endemic’ bullying at Imperial
Lecturers’ union UCU has condemned an ‘endemic culture of bullying’ at Imperial College London. The union was speaking out after a damning report found Britain’s highest-paid university chief and another senior executive created a culture of favouritism and exclusion at the university.
UCU news release. Redacted report. ICO decision notice. The Guardian. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Britain: FBU firefighter cancer campaign takes off
A campaign by firefighters’ union FBU to reduce the risk of occupational cancer linked to exposure to fire contaminants is having an impact “in every corner of the fire and rescue service”, the union has said. FBU national officer Riccardo la Torre said: “We’re so pleased with how this project has taken off since we launched it live from a fire station.”
FBU news release, DECON campaign and cancer campaign video. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Britain: Time to get tough on asbestos, says IOSH
Stronger measures on asbestos management are needed to save lives, according to the global body for health and safety professionals. A lack of consistency in managing asbestos among duty holders and a lack of awareness and knowledge about the material, particularly among smaller businesses, are among the issues concerning the UK-based Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).
IOSH news release. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Britain: New collaboration to reduce pesticide harm
A broad-based UK network is aiming to challenge the harm caused by pesticides and involve more workers and unions. The Pesticide Collaboration, which already includes the union Unite and the national Hazards Campaign, said: “The Pesticide Collaboration brings together health and environmental organisations, academics, trade unions, farming networks and consumer groups, working under a shared vision to urgently reduce pesticide-related harms in the UK, for a healthy future.”
The Pesticide Collaboration. More information. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Britain: Probe after train driver killed at work
Investigations are continuing into the death of a Southern Railway train driver who was killed in the course of his work. The man, who has not been named, was found on the tracks near West Worthing station in Sussex on 1 February.
TSSA news release. The Argus. Worthing Herald. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Britain: Community order for dangerous construction boss
Roofing contractor Ian Davey has been ordered to undertake 80 hours of unpaid work in the community after an unpaid casual labourer suffered serious injuries when he fell through a skylight during the renovation of an old asbestos cement roof. Trading as Exe Fibreglass, he pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was given a 12-month community order, which includes 80 hours of unpaid work, and was ordered to pay costs of £3,000.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Britain: Covid airborne protections at work webinar, 17 February
A TUC webinar will explore the risk and the responses to Covid at work. It says the airborne virus, which mainly spreads in the air, requires measures like ventilation and face masks to reduce the chance of infection. In a HeartUnions week event on 17 February, Dr Jonathan Fluxman from Doctors in Unite will describe Covid airborne protections – the steps reps can take and what unions should demand of employers to protect workers from aerosol spread at work.
Register for HeartUnions webinar: Covid airborne protections in the workplace, 14:00 to 15:00, Thursday 17 Feb 2022. Live captions will be available.
* The annual #HeartUnions week, which this year will run from 14-20 February, is a chance to demonstrate why unions are vital for everyone at work, and to encourage people who aren't yet in a union to join. Get your HeartUnions campaign materials online. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Britain: Candlelight Covid-19 vigils for workers, 11 March
The Hazards Campaign is organising candlelight vigils on 11 March to remember workers killed by Covid-19. The events mark the anniversary of the day two years ago of when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Candlelight vigils to remember workers killed by Covid-19, 11 March 2022.
Suggested social media hashtags: #Candle4CovidkilledWorkers  #VigilForWorkers #ShineLightOnWorkers. Share details of your events on the Hazards Campaign Facebook page or Twitter feed.
Send information about what you are doing in your city, town or workplace to janet@gmhazards.org.uk so that the campaign can share details on social media and through its trade union networks. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Australia: Work cancer action could save thousands a year
Over one in ten (14 per cent) cases of lung cancer in Australia could be prevented if asbestos, silica, diesel exhaust and welding fume exposure were reduced in workplaces, according to the country’s national union federation ACTU. It says the figure, based on best available data, corresponds to roughly 1,800 work-related deaths every year from lung cancer that could have been avoided with better safety measures.
ACTU news release. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

China: New concerns after tech worker ‘overwork’ death
Claims that another Chinese tech worker has died after excessive overtime have reignited debate over the industry’s “996 culture”. Bilibili, the Chinese video streaming company listed in New York and Hong Kong where the 25-year-old was employed as a content auditor, said company representatives went to the hospital to assist and then notified his family
South China Morning Post. Bloomberg. The Guardian. More on the hazards of overwork. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Global: Final push for ‘fundamental right’ to safe work
Workers’ unions worldwide are pressing their demand for health and safety to finally become a globally recognised fundamental principle and right at work. “We demand that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopts occupational health and safety as a fundamental right at work.” said ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow, adding: “It’s as important as freedom of association and the elimination of forced labour, child labour and discrimination in employment.”
ITUC news release and 28 April #iwmd22 webpages. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

USA: Study confirms union safety effect
New evidence has confirmed the ‘union advantage’ when it comes to workplace health and safety. A new study conducted by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) and the Project for Middle Class Renewal (PMCR) at the University of Illinois examined data from more than 37,000 inspections conducted by the US safety regulator OSHA in 2019 and found union jobsites were 19 per cent less likely to have health and safety violations than non-union jobsites.
LHSFNA news report. The Illinois Update.
Frank Manzo, Michael Jekot and Robert Bruno. The impact of unions on construction worksite health and safety: Evidence from OSHA inspections, ILEPI, 2021.
The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety, TUC, 2016. More on the union safety effect. Risks 1032. 9 February 2022

Hazards news, 2 February 2022

Britain: Government to drop NHS no jab, no job plan
The UK government is suspending the Covid vaccine mandate for NHS and care staff, Sajid Javid has said. Speaking to the Commons on 31 January, the health secretary said he believes the requirement, which was opposed by health unions, is 'no longer proportionate'.
DHSC news release and Sajid Javid’s statement. NHS Confederation news release. Daily Mail. The Guardian. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: Swift report needed to end vaccine anguish
The UK government’s eleventh hour decision to shelve the vaccine mandate requirement for NHS staff is welcome, but will only prolong the uncertainty for the NHS which is engulfed in a staffing crisis, Unite has said. The union said the consultation on the policy announced by health secretary Sajid Javid must be ‘swift and decisive’.
Unite news release. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: Jab backdown right but the damage is done
Health care union UNISON has said the UK government’s ‘ill-thought-out rules’ have worsened the staffing crisis hampering the NHS and social care and have caused significant upset. UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Huge amounts of time and resources, which employers could have spent persuading staff to be vaccinated and on patient care, have been wasted.”
UNISON news release. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: Midwives welcome suspension of ‘wrongheaded’ policy 
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has welcomed the UK government’s suspension of mandatory Covid-19 vaccination for frontline NHS staff in England but is warning it has come at a further cost of broken trust among midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs). Jon Skewes, executive director for external relations at the midwives’ union, said: “Mandatory Covid vaccination was always a wrongheaded policy and it’s disappointing that it’s taken the government until the eleventh hour to put the brakes on.”
RCM news release. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: CSP warns against ‘back door’ vaccine mandates
Physios’ union CSP has welcomed the UK government’s u-turn on compulsory vaccination for NHS staff but has said it concerned that the government has asked NHS employers to consider requiring all new staff to be vaccinated regardless of their role and circumstances. The CSP added it is disappointed that the government has asked professional regulators to review their rules and that it has refused to rule out reintroducing a legal requirement in future.
CSP news release. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: U-turn too late for thousands of care workers
The UK government’s u-turn on mandatory vaccination for NHS and care staff has come too late for thousands of care workers, the union GMB has said. GMB national officer Rachel Harrison commented: “People are voting with their feet, choosing to work in supermarkets or warehouses instead,” adding: “We need a national plan for social care and £15 an hour so these dedicated professionals can do the job the nation needs them to do.”
GMB news release. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: Care staff owed an apology, says UNISON
The UK government must apologise to care staff over a ‘no jab, no job’ rule which saw thousands of dedicated and experienced workers lost to the sector, UNISON has said. UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The government must singlehandedly take the blame for aggravating the staffing crisis and pushing care homes to the brink.”
UNISON news release. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: Back to work drive ignores work Covid risk
Workers’ health and safety is being jeopardised in the government’s haste to drive them back to work as the Covid-19 pandemic continues, campaigners have warned. The Hazards Campaign, the UK-wide network of resource centres and campaigners for justice and safety at work, highlighted statistics that show a “huge number of workplace outbreaks” of Covid-19 infections as restrictions are relaxed.
Hazards Campaign news release, podcasts page and webinar, What next for workers after Plan B?. HSE Covid disease reports webpage. Morning Star. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: End of indoor face masks rule 'premature'
The UK government’s decision to lift the requirement to wear face masks in indoor venues in England is ill-advised and could leave workers at risk, the union GMB has warned. GMB national secretary Andy Prendergast, said: “With the government battling crisis after crisis and negative headlines from all sides, a cynic might think unnecessary changes to Covid safety rules are nothing more than a diversionary tactic.”
GMB news release. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: Schools reinstate masks rule as Covid cases soar
Schools that ended the requirement for pupils to wear face coverings this month, in line with government guidance, are reinstating it again because of surges in Covid cases. In total, 9 per cent of heads and teachers – 47,000 – were absent on 20 January, up from 44,000 two weeks previously, with a similar proportion of teaching assistants and other staff were also out of school.
The Guardian.
Good Law Project legal opinion supporting the right to wear masks in schools. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: Hospital porters and cleaners demonstrate for sick pay
GMB members have protested outside Croydon Hospital in their fight for Covid sick pay. The workers, cleaners and porters within the hospital trust, want outsourced employer G4S to provide full sick pay. GMB regional organiser Helen O’Connor said: “I have email trails which prove that members have been at home, suffering from Covid without a penny coming in.”
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: Assaults on prison staff rise once again
Assaults on prison staff in England and Wales are on the rise once again, latest UK government figures show. The number of assaults on staff increased by 5 per cent to 2,110 incidents - an average of almost 23 assaults on staff every day in the quarter to September 2021.
Community news release. Safety in custody: quarterly update to September 2021, Ministry of Justice/HMPPS figures, 27 January 2022. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: Investigation into work sexual harassment in Wales
Unions in Wales have launched an investigation into the sexual harassment that workers face at work. The first stage of this work is a new survey, launched by the Wales TUC.
Wales TUC news release. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: BFAWU launches sexual harassment survey
Bakery and food workers have being asked to tell their union about their experience of sexual harassment in their workplaces, at work and union events, and within their union. The union BFAWU said responses have started to flow in and “it is clear there is an issue in the food industry, where it seems there is a culture of sexual harassment and even violence being brushed off as banter, swept under the carpet and ignored, or the survivor being blamed.”
BFAWU news release. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Britain: Covid airborne protections at work webinar, 17 February
A TUC webinar will explore the risk and the responses to Covid risk at work. In a HeartUnions week event on 17 February, Dr Jonathan Fluxman from Doctors in Unite will describe Covid airborne protection – the steps reps can take and what unions should demand of employers to protect workers from aerosol spread at work.
Register for HeartUnions webinar: Covid airborne protections in the workplace, 14:00 to 15:00, Thursday 17 Feb 2022. Live captions will be available.
* The annual #HeartUnions week, which this year will run from 14-20 February, is a chance to demonstrate why unions are vital for everyone at work, and to encourage people who aren't yet in a union to join. Get your HeartUnions campaign materials online. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Belgium: Civil servants get the right to disconnect
Belgian civil servants will no longer need to answer emails or phone calls out of normal working hours after the country became the latest in Europe to offer workers the right to disconnect. The law, which took effect on 1 February, means 65,000 federal officials are able to make themselves unavailable at the end of the normal working day unless there are “exceptional” reasons for not doing so.
The Guardian. Prospect ‘right to disconnect’ campaign. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Global: Amazon urged to support tortured whistleblower
A whistleblower who exposed illegal working conditions in a factory making Amazon’s Alexa devices and who was then tortured before being jailed by Chinese authorities has called on the company’s founder Jeff Bezos to protect its supply chain workers. Tang Mingfang, 43, was jailed after he revealed how the Foxconn factory in the southern Chinese city of Hengyang used schoolchildren working illegally long hours to manufacture Amazon’s popular Echo, Echo Dot and Kindle devices.
China Labor Watch news release. Tang Mingfang’s letter to Jeff Bezos and Amazon executives. The Observer. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Global: New Covid-19 safety guide for hotel workers
The danger posed by Covid-19 to hotel workers and guests drove critical discussions with international institutions, IUF has said, leading to groundbreaking new guidance. In the G20 Tourism Working Group meeting in March 2021, the global union for the sector called upon governments to “develop and implement protocols – negotiated with trade unions - to protect hotel workers.”
IUF news release and publication, IUF Guide to COVID-19 Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in hotels (in English, French and Spanish). Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Global: Covid waste mountain a risk to workers
Tens of thousands of tonnes of extra medical waste from the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has put tremendous strain on health care waste management systems around the world, threatening human and environmental health and exposing a dire need to improve waste management practices, according to a new World Health Organisation (WHO) report. WHO notes: “Today, 30 per cent of healthcare facilities (60 per cent in the least developed countries) are not equipped to handle existing waste loads, let alone the additional Covid-19 load,” adding: “This potentially exposes health workers to needlestick injuries, burns and pathogenic microorganisms, while also impacting communities living near poorly managed landfills and waste disposal sites through contaminated air from burning waste, poor water quality or disease carrying pests.”
WHO news release and report, Global analysis of health care waste in the context of Covid-19, WHO, 1 February 2022. Equal Times article from July 2021 on the risks to clinical waste collectors. Risks 1031. 2 February 2022

Hazards news, 26 January 2022

Britain: We need a safe return to workplaces, says TUC
Employers must consult with unions to ensure any return to the workplace is safe, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on the prime minister’s announcement of the lifting of all Plan B restrictions.
Prime minister’s statement, 19 January 2022, and related slides and datasets. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: People must have confidence their workplace is safe
People must have confidence their workplace is safe as the UK government presses for a return to normality, the TUC general secretary has said. Writing in PoliticsHome, Frances O’Grady said the government should build on the “undoubted success” of the furlough scheme and “set up a permanent short-time working scheme means that workers and companies have no protection against sudden shocks to demand – such as those which may come from a future variant or the transition to net zero.”
TUC news release. PoliticsHome. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Employers ‘must not let their guard down’
UNISON is urging employers not to let their guard down on workplace Covid-19 safety, but to continue to comply with health and safety legislation, including their duties to identify and reduce risks for their employees. The public sector union was commenting as UK nations prepared to remove some or all Covid-19 restrictions in the coming days and weeks.
UNISON news release and earlier news release. APPG on Covid news release. Morning Star. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Government must consult on return to work
Government departments must consult health and safety reps over a workplace return, the civil service union PCS has said. The union made the call after the UK government announced the end of Covid plan B restrictions in England - mask wearing will no longer be mandatory in certain settings and the ‘work from home if you can’ message has been dropped.
PCS news release and follow up news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Civil servants deserve respect
Press reports claiming UK government ministers want civil servants to “return to the office” to “show an example to the private sector” neglects the need for a planned, negotiated system, Prospect has said. Garry Graham, the union’s deputy general secretary, said: “To suggest that staff have not been working hard whilst working from home is a nonsense not borne out by the facts.”
Prospect news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Health warning on lack of school lateral flow tests
Nearly a third (32 per cent) of school support and nursery staff say their employers are unable to provide them with enough lateral flow tests to do the recommended twice-weekly checks, the union UNISON has said. Its survey of more than 2,300 school support staff – including teaching assistants, administrators and cleaners – revealed they were unable to follow government guidance for twice-weekly tests as their school did not have an adequate supply of kits.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Mitigations could have headed off schools spike
Rising Covid-related absences in schools will mean increasing disruption to education and could have been avoided by better mitigation efforts, teaching union NEU has said. Commenting on the Department for Education (DfE) attendance and Covid-related data for education settings published on 25 January, NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The DfE could have avoided much of this disruption by investing in ventilation and air filtration to suppress case numbers whilst vaccination is rolled out and these measures would have been made more effective by maintaining mask wearing.”
NEU news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Union welcomes mitigations in Welsh schools
Teaching union NEU has welcomed a Welsh government announcement on continuing mitigations in the country’s schools. Commenting on the 25 January written statement by education minister Jeremy Miles, David Evans, Wales secretary of NEU Cymru, said: “NEU Cymru members will be pleased to hear that the minister has taken the sensible step of keeping face coverings in place for secondary school children, in line with everyone still wearing them in busy places in Wales.”
NEU Cymru news release. Welsh government statement. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Long Covid hitting NHS staff hard
NHS trusts in England lost nearly 2m days in staff absences due to long Covid in the first 18 months of the pandemic, according to figures that reveal the hidden burden of ongoing illness in the health service. MPs on the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on coronavirus estimate that more than 1.82m days were lost to healthcare workers with long Covid from March 2020 to September 2021 across England’s 219 NHS trusts.
The Guardian. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Welcome for new Covid-19 guidance for healthcare
A broad-based coalition of health care organisations has welcomed new government guidelines recognising the high level protection that should be provide to health care staff. For the last 16 months the Covid Airborne Protection Alliance (CAPA) – which includes several health care unions - has been campaigning to influence infection prevention control (IPC) guidance to ensure that all healthcare workers can access the right level of respiratory protective equipment to protect them from Covid-19.
BDA news release. BOHS news release. Updated infection prevention control (IPC) guidance and Cabinet Office guidance. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Cuts leave fire and rescue workers at infection risk
Parts of the North East of England, which government statistics show has had some of the worst recent Covid hotspots for Omicron, are continuing to report fire service shortages as Covid hits the service. FBU regional secretary Brian Harris said: “It’s entirely unclear how the government thinks it is acceptable to have a fire and rescue service with such a low level of resilience.”
FBU news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Concern at ‘flip-flopping’ on shop face coverings
Retail trade union Usdaw has expressed deep disappointment at the UK government decision to end the mandatory wearing of face covering in shops in England from 27 January. Paddy Lillis, the Usdaw general secretary, said the government had “subcontracted responsibility for safety out to the public, which is a recipe for confusion and Covid.”
Usdaw news release and update. BBC News Online. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: TSSA backs face coverings call on public transport
A call from London mayor Sadiq Khan that face coverings should remain compulsory on Transport for London (TfL) services and the wider transport network, has been backed by TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes. Their comments came after the announcement from the UK government that England's Plan B measures would end and with them the mandatory face coverings in public places and Covid passports requirements.
TSSA news release. Mayor of London news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Union welcomes Belly Mujinga inquest
Rail union TSSA has welcomed confirmation that a public inquest into the death of Belly Mujinga will be held this summer. Manuel Cortes, TSSA general secretary, said: “Our union stands shoulder to shoulder with Belly’s family and colleagues. Her death sent shock and sadness across our railway family and much further, in fact her story touched the world.”
TSSA news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Covid sick pay non-payment strike threat
GMB is warning private contractor G4S that denying full sick pay to hospital workers may result in strike action. The outsourcing giant, which holds the cleaning and portering contract with Croydon University Hospital NHS Trust, has stopped paying Covid sick pay to employees, leaving workers reliant on statutory sick pay of under £100 a week.
GMB news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Prospect member wins stress dismissal tribunal
A Prospect member suffering work-related anxiety and depression who was dismissed on capability grounds has received a five-figure settlement on the brink of his employment tribunal hearing. The worker, whose name has not been released, had worked for his employer for over 30 years when he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression as a result of workplace bullying and harassment.
Prospect news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: 'Mentally destroyed' teacher was unfairly dismissed
A school has been ordered to pay £130,000 to a former teacher who was forced out of her job due to management’s response to her crippling bowel condition leaving her “mentally destroyed.” An employment tribunal ordered The District CofE Primary School, in Newton-le-Willows, and St Helens Council to compensate Alison Davin for loss of earnings, injury to feelings and aggravated damages.
Liverpool Echo. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Anonymous tool for VOA harassment reporting
‘Shocking accounts’ of sexual harassment of workers at a government agency have led to the introduction of a new tool for reporting incidents anonymously. Civil service union PCS, working with the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), has developed the resource to support staff uncomfortable using official reporting processes.
PCS news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Workload victory for college staff
Staff at West London College have won action to address soaring stress and workloads after successful negotiations between management and the unions UCU and UNISON. UCU London regional official Adam Lincoln said: “Other employers who have not reached an agreement with UCU for 2021/22 should look to West London College and work with staff on improving pay and workloads, rather than forcing them to contemplate strike action.”
UCU news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Teacher needed new wrist after school fall
An Essex teacher, whose passion for playing music and hobby of riding motorbikes was ruined after a fall in the classroom 11 years ago, has received a ‘significant’ settlement with the help of her union, NASUWT. Ingrid Leatherdale was a maths and music teacher at an Essex secondary school when she fell while having to balance precariously on a chair and table to turn on a projector during a lesson.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: HSE finds two-thirds of firms guilty of safety crimes
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection blitz has found almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of business inspected were in criminal breach of health and safety law. The watchdog said during the week-long initiative in South Yorkshire inspectors served three prohibition notices, 31 improvement notices and a further 23 companies were written to – but did not indicate it intended to start any prosecutions.
HSE news release and earlier news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Fatal fall through asbestos roof leads to fine
A Powys construction company has been fined £51,000 plus £5,000 costs after a Romanian employee was fatally injured in Liverpool when he fell six metres while working on a replacement roof project. The prosecution of AJM Services (Midlands) Ltd came almost a year after the building owner was fined for criminal safety offences relating to the death of roofer Marius Andrus, 36.
HSE news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Britain: Guide to supporting union safety reps
Greater Manchester Hazards Centre (GMHC) has published a new guide for union safety reps. Launching ‘Supporting our elected trade union safety representatives’, GMHC worker Janet Newsham said: “It is about providing trade unions with information about taking a more proactive approach to supporting safety reps.”
Supporting our elected trade union safety representatives, GMHC guide, January 2022. Hazards Campaign publication alert. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Global: Fishing firm accused of safety and labour abuses
A major operator of fishing vessels has been accused of failing to provide compensation to a fisher who died in an accident at work and of labour abuses including forced labour, crew abandonment and unpaid wages. Global union federation ITF said the Hull-based seafood buyer J Marr has profited from the supply chain labour abuses by Pescatlant Ltd.
ITF news release. Risks 1030. 26 January 2022

Hazards news,19 January 2022

Britain: Self-isolation cut won’t fix UK’s sick pay problem
Reducing the self-isolation period won’t fix the UK’s fundamental sick pay problem, the TUC has warned, as a new government policy move reduced self-isolation from seven days to five days. The union body said workers on low or no sick pay still face the impossible choice of self-isolating and facing hardship or putting food on the table but potentially spreading the virus.
TUC news release. ONS private sector self-isolation figures, 13 January 2022. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Britain: Omicron quick fix won’t work for NHS 
Surging Omicron cases are leaving hospitals struggling to cope and health workers guilt-stricken at the potential harm to patients, according to reports received by UNISON from staff at 40 NHS trusts across England. Data obtained from the union’s acute, ambulance and community health branches in the week to 12 January detail the impact of the longstanding workforce crisis – exacerbated by Omicron – on the NHS, the union said.
UNISON news release. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Britain: Croydon hospital workers to demand Covid sick pay
Workers at Croydon Hospital are to stage a protest to press their demand for Covid sick pay. Their union GMB says porters and cleaners at the south London hospital are angry after their employer - private NHS contractor G4S - stopped paying Covid positive hospital workers occupational sick pay.
GMB news release. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Britain: Johnson should resign over ‘disastrous’ Covid role
Boris Johnson should resign as prime minister in the light of his ‘disastrous’ handling of the pandemic, NHS, transport and college workers have said. The workers are represented by the unions Unite and UCU, with UCU general secretary Jo Grady saying: “Instead of bring your own booze, it should be bring your own P45 for a prime minister who has demonstrated time and again that what he lacks in integrity, he more than makes up for in unadulterated selfishness.”
Unite news release. UCU news release. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Britain: Campus staff need better protection
College and university union UCU has called on the sector’s employers across the UK to 'raise their game' in the fight against Omicron. The union said vulnerable staff should be allowed to work remotely and higher quality face masks should be freely available for all staff working in-person on campus.
UCU news release and updated guidance. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Britain: Concern over offshore ‘jab or job’ policy
Unite Scotland has demanded the Scottish government intervene after an offshore contractor introducing mandatory vaccinations for all staff. The union said the policy introduced by Canadian Natural Resources (CNR) International, which came into full effect on 14 January, is believed to be the first of any offshore contractor or operator to demand that its workforce receive Covid-19 related vaccinations or not to return to work.
Unite news release. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Britain: Two vaccine doses not enough for Omicron
Three doses of the Pfizer vaccine offer protection equivalent to two doses against other variants, new research has found. “Our data show that a third BNT162b2 [Pfizer] dose effectively neutralizes Omicron at a similar order of magnitude as was observed after two doses of BNT162b2 against wild-type SARS-CoV-2,” the authors concluded.
Alexander Muik and others. Neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 Omicron by BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine–elicited human sera, Science, first release 18 Jan 2022. DOI: 10.1126/science.abn7591 Cidrap news update. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Britain: Woman fired after raising Covid concerns
A woman was unfairly dismissed from her job after raising safety concerns and her male employer shouted “she must be on her menopause,” an employment tribunal has found. Leigh Best, 54, was dismissed as a sales assistant for pet food retailer Embark on Raw, based near Billericay, Essex, for raising Covid-19 safety concerns, the hearing found.
BBC News Online. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Britain: ‘Too short’ bus driver wins job back
Tracey Scholes, a Unite member who was dismissed after she flagged that she was “too short” to drive safely due to a bus redesign has been reinstated after a high profile union campaign. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Tracey Scholes is back in the driving seat where she belongs,” adding: “Go Ahead have finally come to their senses and agreed to Unite's demand for Tracey's hours and pay to be protected.”
Unite news release. The Guardian. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Britain: Union welcomes end of smart motorways rollout
A pause on the rollout of new ‘all-lane running’ smart motorways while their safety is assessed has been welcomed by Prospect. The union, which represents staff in Highways England, had warned a combination of staff under ‘intolerable strain’ and ‘unreliable’ technology would lead to avoidable accidents.
Prospect news release. Department for Transport news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Britain: Shopworker anguish at policing age-restricted sales
Retail trade union Usdaw says its members are worried by the prospect of criminal prosecution or disciplinary action if shopworkers get a decision about the sale of an age restricted product wrong. Asking customers for proof of age identification or refusing a sale of an age-restricted product can be a key flashpoint for abuse, threats and violence against shopworkers, the union says.
Usdaw news release. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Britain: Fab firm fined after workers get vibration disease
Metals fabrication company MTL Advanced Limited has been sentenced for a criminal breach of health and safety law after several workers were diagnosed with hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) or carpal tunnel syndrome. Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard that the company was visited by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in March 2018 after an employee raised concerns.
HSE news release. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Britain: Directors fined for unlicensed asbestos removal
Two printing company directors have been fined for criminal safety offences after organising the removal of asbestos insulation board by untrained personnel. Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard how, between August 2016 and December 2016, Charles Dunn and Jeremy Mills, respectively the managing director and director of D&M Heritage Limited, consented to work taking place at the company’s premises which failed to use adequate measures to prevent the spread of asbestos.
HSE news release and asbestos webpages. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Australia: Unions will ‘ban’ unsafe work
Unions in Australia are demanding new Covid safe plans from all employers and free lateral flow tests for workers, and have pledged to take action to ‘ban’ unsafe work. The 17 January joint statement from the leaders of national unions followed a meeting to discuss the ongoing health and economic crisis caused by the rapid spread of Omicron.
ACTU statement and related news release. Business Insider. The Age. ABC News. 7 News. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Australia: Union win as Covid abattoir backs down
A major South Australian abattoir has bowed to union demands and agreed the company will no longer compel its workforce to continue working while infected with Covid. Infected staff at the Teys Australia plant in Naracoorte had been told to wear yellow hairnets to show they have Covid-19.
ACTU news release and earlier news release. ABC News. The Guardian. Farm Online. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

France: Schools close in Covid strike
Schools were shut across France on 13 January as teachers staged a mass one-day strike in protest against the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis. The nationwide strike was organised by 11 unions representing teachers, parents and other school staff.
BBC News Online. Risks 1029. 19 January 2022

Hazards news, 12 January 2022

Britain: TUC calls for delay on mandatory NHS vaccines
Unions are calling for the government to delay the introduction of mandatory vaccinations for NHS workers in bid to avert a ‘catastrophic’ staffing crisis. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We are in the middle of an NHS staffing crisis, borne not only from Covid absences, but also long-term problems that need long-term solutions. Now is not the right time to introduce more bureaucracy.”
TUC news release. CSP news release. GMB news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Almost all key workers will miss out on tests
The TUC has criticised the prime minister’s announcement of a workplace ‘priority testing scheme’ that will guarantee Covid tests for only a tiny fraction of all key workers. The union body was commenting after Boris Johnson told a 4 January press conference the UK government had “identified 100,000 critical workers, in areas from food processing to transport to our border force - and from 10 January we’ll be rolling out lateral flow testing for all these workers, available on every working day.”
TUC news release. No.10 Downing Street news release and Prime minister’s press conference opening statement, 4 January 2022. GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Easing Covid testing 'undoubtedly bad idea'
UK government plans to ease Covid test rules are ‘undoubtedly a bad idea’, the union GMB has said. From 11 January, people in England without symptoms will no longer need to confirm a positive lateral flow test with a PCR test. Dan Shears, director of health and safety at the GMB, added “it suppresses official figures and ensures asymptomatic carriers will never be identified.”
GMB news release. UK Health Security Agency news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Long Covid drives workers to the food bank
Two Bedford Borough Council care workers are relying on food banks to survive, after Long Covid saw them use up all their sick pay allowance. Their union Unite said the cases – which followed catching Covid during a large outbreak in their workplace - raised issues for other UK workplaces where employees also suffer from chronic after effects of the infection.
Unite news release. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Decisive action needed as Covid hits education
With 1-in-20 teachers off work on 6 January as a result of Covid, it has become abundantly clear that the omicron variant is having a ‘highly significant’ impact on the operation of schools, teaching union NEU has said. Latest official figures show 8.6 per cent of teachers and school leaders were absent on 6 January - and 4.9 per cent were absent because of Covid, up from 3 per cent on 16 December; 8.9 per cent of teaching assistants and other staff were also absent from open schools, up from 7.3 per cent.
NEU news release. Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: 23 March 2020 to 6 January 2022, Department for Education, 11 January 2022. BBC News Online. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Staff absences having serious impact on schools
Nearly a quarter of teachers say staff absences due to Covid-19 are having a major impact on their schools, research by the teaching union NASUWT has found. Of nearly 7,000 teachers who responded to the union’s survey, 23 per cent said absences were having a major impact and 61 per cent said they were having some impact as schools returned over the preceding week.
NASUWT news release and news release on school ventilation. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Government guidance for schools ‘unsafe’
Using support staff to cover for teachers isolating with Covid is the wrong approach to dealing with the school staffing crisis and ensuring pupils’ education continues, UNISON has warned. The union was speaking out after the Department for Education (DfE) issued guidance encouraging schools to use support staff “more flexibly” as children return after the Christmas break.
UNISON news release. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Over 100 new cases at DVLA Swansea in a week
There were 110 cases of Covid reported by DVLA staff in Swansea in the first week on 2022, the union PCS has indicated. It said the daily figure was higher than last year when the site was declared a “breakout” site by health authorities.
BBC News Online. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Scottish bar workers in grievance over safety
Almost 60 employees of a Scottish hospitality group have accused it of multiple health and safety failings at its bars in Dundee and Glasgow. Staff say MacMerry 300 and Abandon Ship Ltd failed to inform them about potential close contacts with those testing positive for Covid-19.
The National. BBC News Online. Daily Record.
Unite Hospitality website and twitter page. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: University slammed as sacked lecturer gets payout
Lecturers’ union UCU has condemned the University of Huddersfield after a sacked lecturer secured a £100,000 award because the institution refused to reinstate him, despite being ordered to do so by an employment tribunal. The tribunal ruled in July 2021 that Jonathan Duxbury, who had stress and mental health problems related to poor management practices, had won the right to return to work and should be reinstated by the university into his role as a senior lecturer in the department of accounting, finance and economics.
UCU news release. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Bus driver sacked for being ‘too short’
Unite has criticised the ‘blind intransigence’ of Go North West bus bosses who have dismissed a veteran bus driver after a new bus design left her unable to operate the vehicle safely. Tracey Scholes, 57, who stands at 1.52m (five feet) tall, lost her job because she lacks the “capability” to drive the new model of bus used on her route.
Unite news release. The Guardian. Manchester Evening News. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Government playing ‘Russian roulette’ with road safety
The government is failing to monitor how many foreign lorries are entering and leaving the UK under a controversial scheme introduced last year, the union Unite has found. It says a panic move aimed at tackling the HGV driver crisis saw the government change the cabotage rules at the end of October - but the Department for Transport (DfT) has now confirmed, in its response to a Unite freedom of information (FOI) request, that it does not monitor compliance with the relaxed rules.
Unite news release. Morning Star. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Government must reverse fit note relaxation
Unite is calling on the UK government to abandon a relaxation to the fit note system the union believes is ‘dangerous’ and could damage workers’ health. The changes, announced before Christmas and set to run until at least 26 January, mean an employee who is off sick can only ask for a fit note from their GP after 28 days of absence, rather than the usual seven days.
Unite news release. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Tube workers vote for strike action
London Transport union RMT confirms has confirmed that members voted yes for strike action and action short of a strike. The ballot of over 10,000 members saw 94 per cent vote in favour of a strike. The ballot took place after London Underground members were refused assurances on jobs, pensions and working conditions in the midst of what RMT described as “an on-going financial crisis driven by central government.”
RMT news release. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Scottish shopworkers law gains must be extended
A Scottish law introduced to protect shopworkers from violence and abuse has had a marked impact on reporting of cases which must be further encouraged, the retail union Usdaw has said. It says new figures from the Scottish Business Resilience Centre show 285 incidents of abuse or threats against shopworkers in Scotland in the three months after the Protection of Workers Act came into force in August 2021.
Usdaw news release and Freedom from Fear Campaign. Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021.
Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Gritter workers condemn ‘reckless’ council
The union GMB has accused Carmarthenshire Council of jeopardising residents’ safety during a gritter strike. The union criticised the authority's ‘reckless behaviour’, after residents were told arrangements were in place to ‘ensure the safety of travelling residents’ during the industrial action.
GMB news release. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Britain: Volunteers needed - Virus Watch Study
Researchers at University College London are recruiting households to take part in Virus Watch - a national study of Covid-19 across England and Wales. The latest phase of the study has focused on occupational risks of Covid-19 and their prevention – and thestudy would now like to include more people from a wide range of occupations.
More information on Virus watch how to join. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Global: Infected meat workers forced to work
Workers employed in a South Australian meat processing plant co-owned by one of the world’s largest agribusinesses are being forced to report for duty at one of its giant abattoirs even though they have tested positive for Covid and are actively infectious, unions have revealed. Teys Australia is forcing workers to wear special yellow hairnets as a sign of their Covid status; the company is the country’s second largest meat processing company and is a joint venture between Teys Brothers and the multinational Cargill.
ACTU news release. CBC News. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Australia: Isolating workers forced to work without pay
Thousands of Australian workers are isolating without pay and are unable to access Paid Pandemic Leave because of the Morrison government’s ‘ridiculous and dangerous’ definition of a ‘close contact’ which is limited to household contacts only, national union federation ACTU has said. The union movement is urging the national government to immediately change the definition of a ‘close contact’ to include contact with a Covid positive case that happens in the workplace.
ACTU news release. SDA union news release. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Australia: Laundry worker dies in hellish heat
‘Deplorable’ conditions in a Perth laundry led to the death of a worker on Christmas Eve, unions have said. Zenaida Fabian, 55, who worked 60-hour weeks at South Pacific Laundry, collapsed inside the factory about 8.20pm on 22 December and died two days later after suffering from a blood clot and cerebral aneurysm.
West Australian. Daily Mail. Risks 1028. 12 January 2022

Hazards news, 4 January 2022

Britain: Real sick pay falling as Omicron strikes
The UK now has the lowest statutory sick pay in real terms in almost two decades, according to a new analysis by the TUC. The union body is calling on ministers to deliver decent sick pay for all – which it says is a “vital public health tool” in the fight against the virus - it wants the UK government to extend statutory sick pay protection to every worker by removing the lower earnings limit and to increase statutory sick pay to at least the value of the real Living Wage – £346 per week, compared to the current figure of under £100 a week.
TUC news release. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Plan for work absences of up to 25 per cent
Boris Johnson has called on ministers to draw up ​“robust contingency plans” to tackle the coronavirus-related staff absences threatening to disrupt UK businesses and supply chains over the coming weeks. With rising case numbers exacerbating the staff shortages already plaguing many sectors, public sector leaders have been asked to test plans against worst-case scenarios of 10 per cent, 20 per cent and 25 per cent workforce absence rates.
BBC News Online. The Guardian. The Telegraph. Evening Standard. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Give workers priority access to lateral flow tests
The TUC has warned that supply problems with lateral flow test (LFT) kits are putting working people at risk. Commenting ahead of the xmas break, the union body warned vital services were under threat due to outbreaks that could be contained if tests were readily available. The TUC said workers who cannot work from home should have priority access to LFT kits until supply problems are resolved.
TUC news release and TUC blog. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

USA: Omicron could be ‘lifetime’ public health challenge
US experts Michael T Osterholm of the University of Minnesota and Ezekiel J Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania warned in the Washington Post that the “current omicron surge represents one of the greatest public health challenges not only of the pandemic but also of our lifetime.” They said effective planning would involve being realistic about the effectiveness of vaccination at this point; taking immediate steps to improve public health messaging, data collection and the availability of drug therapies; and doing whatever is possible to ameliorate the potentially devastating consequences for our health-care system.
Washington Post. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: TUC stresses ‘ventilation, ventilation, ventilation’
The TUC’s work safety lead Shelly Asquith has said effective ventilation is a critical factor in protecting workers from Covid-19. She explained that because transmission of the coronavirus is largely airborne, “a combination of concentration, airflow, humidity and temperature, all contribute to whether the aerosol load will be infectious.”
TUC blog. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: PCS pressure forces DWP jobcentre concessions
Pressure by the civil service union PCS has forced concessions by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which had been increasing pressure for more Jobcentre staff to return to face-to-face work. At a 16 December 2021 meeting with the DWP executive team, the union said “the department agreed to issue communications to Jobcentre staff that would reduce footfall in Jobcentres.”
PCS news release. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Masks back in English secondary schools
Face masks are to be worn in secondary classrooms in England's schools to reduce the spread of the omicron variant, the UK government has announced. The temporary reintroduction of face coverings aims to address concerns about schools remaining open for face-to-face learning in the spring term.
NEU news release. NASUWT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: School unions call for more government support
Six trade unions representing the majority of education staff have issued a joint statement prior to the return of schools and colleges for the spring term, calling for greater government support for Covid safe education. The statement, from education unions ASCL, GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU and UNISON, notes: “As trade unions representing the vast majority of education staff, we wish to emphasise that teachers, leaders and support staff desperately want to be able to conduct face-to-face teaching for all children and young people on a consistent basis and without further interruption caused by the pandemic.”
NASUWT news release and news release on more government ambition needed. NEU news release and news release on higher rates of Covid-19 in education workers.
ONS: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, characteristics of people testing positive for COVID-19, UK: 16 December 2021Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Measures ‘should have been introduced weeks ago’
The education secretary’s announcement a couple of days before the new term of provision of a limited number of air filtration systems for schools and for masks to be worn in secondary classrooms is too little, too late, UNISON has indicated. UNISON assistant general secretary Jon Richards commented: “Unions have been calling for these changes for months. But just like last year, changes announced at the last minute leave little time to prepare for the new term.”
UNISON news release. The Guardian. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Virus leaves London with fire engine shortages
In the last week in 2021, London had over a third of its fire engines unavailable as omicron hits staffing numbers, London Fire Brigade data has revealed. FBU London regional secretary Jon Lambe said “omicron should not be having an effect on this scale – the reason it is that London Fire Brigade has been left in a terrible state by years of government cuts, with almost one in five of London firefighters having been cut since 2010.”
FBU news release. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Safety concerns as theatres face Covid pressures
As dramatic increases in Covid-19 cases due to the omicron variant puts pressure on UK theatres, entertainment union Bectu has issued guidance on Covid health and safety concerns in the workplace. Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said: “We are receiving worrying reports of safety concerns in theatres, including out of date risk assessments and people being asked to continue working while displaying Covid symptoms.”
Bectu news release and health and safety guidance. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Welcome for Wales work from home rule
Wales TUC has welcomed the reintroduction of the ‘work from home’ regulation in the country and a focus on employer compliance with the rules. Commenting on the 20 December 2021 measures, the union body said it was “relieved to hear the first minister clarify that the focus of this, including any enforcement activity, will be on employers permitting and enabling home working, and that employers who do not comply are at risk of a £1,000 fine.”
Wales TUC news releases on possible fines on workers and work from home. GMB news release. Wales Online. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Covid fears worker fails in discrimination tribunal
A woman who refused to go into work because she had “a genuine fear” she could catch Covid and infect her high risk partner has lost a discrimination claim over lost wages. A Manchester tribunal ruled she was not protected by the Equality Act after refusing to return to her workplace in June 2020, because her fear did not meet the criteria for a “philosophical belief” that would be protected under section 10 of the Equality Act 2010.
The Guardian. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Health staff ‘wrung dry’ by pandemic pressures
More than two thirds (69 per cent) of health staff say they’ve experienced burnout during the pandemic, and three in five (62 per cent) feel overwhelmed after long, intense shifts, according to a UNISON survey. The survey findings – published on 23 December 2021 and based on responses from more than 10,000 health employees in Wales, England and Northern Ireland – show half (51 per cent) are covering more shifts because of staff shortages.
UNISON news release. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Enforcement collapses as 1.7m plus hurt by work
New Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics confirm shockingly high rates of work-related ill-health accompanied by a collapse of enforcement action. New statistics for 2020/21, from which HSE excluded work-related Covid infections, show 1.7 million workers suffering from a work-related illness, around half of which was down to stress, depression or anxiety, accompanied by a catastrophic fall in HSE enforcement activity to a record low, with just 185 cases prosecuted and only 2,929 enforcement notices issued.
HSE news release and statistics webpage. Workplace fatal injuries in Great Britain 2021, webpage and full updated December 2021 report. Reported work-related Covid-19 cases and HSE decision to exclude Covid from the statistics. HSE 2009/10 statistics. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: HSE downplaying workplace stress catastrophe 
As latest official figures confirm work-related stress cases in the last two years have hit an all-time high, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been accused of downplaying the extent of the harm caused by Britain’s top workplace health problem. The charge comes in the new issue of the trade union safety journal Hazards and follows the launch of HSE’s Working Minds campaign, where the regulator’s executive Sarah Albon warned: “No worker should suffer in silence and if we don’t act now to improve workers’ mental health, this could evolve into a health and safety crisis.”
Tear up: HSE must admit there is a stress catastrophe under its nose and act, Hazards, number 156, December 2021. HSE Working Minds campaign.
Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, HSE, 16 December 2021. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Over 1,000 serious injuries at Amazon sites
‘Shameful’ figures reveal more than a thousand serious injuries at Amazon sites have been reported to health and safety authorities since 2016, a GMB investigation has found.  The union said ‘disturbingly’ the number of injuries reported to health and safety bodies is rapidly increasing, with 294 reported in the financial year 2020/21 – up from 231 the year before, or an increase of 27 per cent.
GMB news release. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Amazon’s high churn, high pace work model slammed
Amazon’s high turnover, high paced work model is hurting us all, a new report has warned. ‘Fast and furious’, publishing in the union safety journal Hazards, noted: “Excessive pace of work is becoming the norm – driven by performance management systems, reward systems and piece work, job insecurity and old fashioned management because-I-say-so.”
Fast and furious: Amazon’s high churn, high pace work template hurts us all, Hazards, number 156, December 2021. Fast and furious pin up at work poster.
When AI is the boss: An introduction for union reps, TUC, December 2021. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Scottish teachers feeling the stress
The health and wellbeing of Scotland’s teachers is being put at risk by their working conditions, a survey by EIS has found. The Scottish teaching union said responses to its research confirm that 70 per cent of teachers report that they experience stress as a result of their current working environment either ‘frequently’ or ‘all of the time’.
EIS news release and workload findings. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: HSE acknowledges work-related suicide risks
While new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on suicide prevention continues to emphasise “suicides in the workplace are not RIDDOR reportable”, it does break new ground in recognising work-related causes and the duty on employers to address them. The new HSE suicide prevention webpage calls on employers to: “Tackle potential mental health triggers such as bullying, harassment and discrimination,” and: “Consider the impact of change, redundancies and job security. Consider things happening at work that are likely to be additionally stressful for workers, for example: change, no matter how small; reorganisation, especially if this may lead to job losses; disciplinary action.”
HSE guidance on suicide prevention, 2021. Is HSE edging closer to acting on suicide?, Hazards, number 156, December 2021. More on work-related suicide.
ACTION! Tell the HSE to recognise, record and take action to prevent work-related suicides. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Sexual violence ‘endemic’ on campuses
Sexual violence is endemic in the UK's university and college workplaces and employers must do more to tackle it, the union UCU has said. A new report from the union found 1 in 10 university and college staff surveyed had directly experienced workplace sexual violence in the past five years, whilst around a quarter of staff knew a staff member who had experienced sexual violence at their college or university workplace.
UCU news release. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Firefighters urged to protect themselves from toxics
Firefighters have been urged by their union to use its DECON campaign protect themselves from toxic fire contaminants. FBU national officer Riccardo la Torre said: “DECON guidance and training helps firefighters protect themselves through simple actions like better cleaning of gear and making sure to always wear breathing apparatus when it’s needed, never putting it on too late.”
FBU news release and DECON training and guidance. Firefighter Cancer and Disease Registry. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Britain: Get lunch in McDonald’s, ambulance workers told
Ambulance workers have expressed fury after an ambulance trust told them to take their lunch breaks in the nearest McDonald’s. In December 2021, North East Ambulance Trust (NEAS) announced its paramedics will - from January - be told to take lunch breaks at hospitals or their nearest ambulance station, rather than returning to base, their union GMB said, with workers were also told to head to their nearest McDonald’s or to eat in their ambulance in a bid to improve response times.
GMB news release. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Long Covid: a TUC guide for supporting members
The TUC says union reps have a vital role in making sure employers properly protect workers with long Covid, and in prevent new long-lasting inequalities. To help reps, the union body has produced an interactive guide, which it says will: Explain what long Covid is; describe how it affects working people; and detail how you as a workplace rep can support members and review employer policies.
Long Covid: a guide for supporting our members, TUC – use the interactive guide [takes approx. 25 minutes]. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Global: WHO concedes respirators are necessary
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has finally conceded higher protection respirators are necessary to protect workers from Covid-19 in a wide range of health and care workplace settings. The new recommendations take the UN agency closer to the long-time union position that all frontline staff should have access to properly fitted respirators.
WHO recommendations on mask use by health workers, in light of the Omicron variant of concern: WHO interim guidelines, 22 December 2021. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

USA: Health care worker protections removed
The Biden administration “has just thrown its most important assets in the fight against Covid-19 under the bus”, a top safety official from the Obama administration has warned. Jordan Barab, who was deputy director at the US safety regulator OSHA, was commenting after the 27 December 2021 OSHA announcement “that it is withdrawing the non-recordkeeping portions of the healthcare ETS.” 
OSHA statement. Confined Space. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

USA: Essential workers need mandatory protections
US unions have demanded urgent and mandatory protections for health care and other frontline workers. National union federation AFL-CIO and unions representing workers in education, health care, care homes, public service, food and retail and wider industry issued the strongly worded statement after national safety regulator OSHA removed a Covid-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) for health care workers.
AFL-CIO news releases on the ETS removal and the high work-related death rates in essential workers. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

Myanmar: Junta profits as workers die in jade mines
The death of at least six jade miners in a landslide in Hpakant, Myanmar on 22 December 2021 highlights the urgent need to curb unsafe mining practices and protect miners’ lives, the global union IndustriALL has said. Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, said the “vicious cycle” of unsafe mining cannot be ended “under the military regime that benefits from the current unsafe practices,” adding: “It is crucial for a democratically-elected government to demilitarise the jade mine industry, implement a sound industry safety standard and eliminate corruption at the union, state and regional level.”
IndustriALL news release. Global Witness news release and June 2021 report. France 24. The Guardian. Risks 1027. 4 January 2022

EARLIER ARCHIVED NEWS

 

Hazards news archives
20212020 201920182017201620152014 2013201220112010200920082007200620052004/3

See the archive RSS 2.0   Français

Get health and safety news direct to your website

More Hazards news