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Hazards news, 1 February 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 26 January 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 18 January 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 10 January 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hazards news, 21 December 2022

Britain: ‘Worsening’ risk of school buildings collapse
Teaching union NEU has said under-funding of education has left schools in an unacceptable and dangerous state. The union was commenting after the Department for Education’s annual report said the “school buildings” risk rating has been upgraded from “critical – likely” to “critical - very likely” with the issue escalated to a group of top officials from across government.
NEU news release. DfE Consolidated Annual Report and Accounts 2021-22. TES. 21 December 2022

Britain: Avanti chickens coming home to roost
Train drivers’ union ASLEF is to ballot members who work for Avanti West Coast at Euston for industrial action after the company imposed new rosters or drivers, without agreement. Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary, said: “If it had done the right thing and employed, as we have consistently asked it to do, enough drivers it would not have had the problems that have persisted all through this year.”
ASLEF news release. 21 December 2022

Britain: Scottish shopworkers say give us a break
Retail trade union Usdaw is calling on the Scottish government to reverse its opposition to giving retail workers a proper festive break. The Christmas Day and New Year’s Day Trading (Scotland) Act 2007 prohibits trading in most large shops on Christmas Day and gave powers to the Scottish government to stop the opening of those shops on New Year's Day.
Usdaw news release. 21 December 2022

Britain: Filled in the TUC safety reps’ survey yet?
The TUC’s latest survey of union health and safety representatives is online, and waiting for you to spend just five minutes sharing your experiences. The TUC says responses from safety reps are “valuable to us, they let us know the issues safety reps are dealing with, and what work the TUC and our member unions should prioritise and campaign on in the years ahead.”
TUC alert. Take the survey - it should take approximately 5 minutes to complete. 21 December 2022

Britain: HSE accused of failing on work suicide risks
The UK safety regulator is sticking with its official blind-eye to work-related suicide risks, despite coroners’ inquests, evidence reviews and campaigners presenting alarming evidence of a substantial but unaddressed toll, a report in Hazards magazine has warned. ‘Death wish’ says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is in the ‘slow lane’ on recognition and reporting of work-related suicides and does not include workplace suicides or suicide risks in its inspection, reporting and enforcement management policies.
Death wish: Pressure grows on HSE to act on work-related suicide risks, Hazards, number 160, October-December 2022.
ACTION: Send an e-postcard and tell HSE to act on work-related suicide risks 21 December 2022

Britain: Precarious employment hurts mental health
Insecure work can deprive people of the financial benefits of secure employment and the social benefits of regular routine, valued social status and positive social interactions, new research has found. The authors from Kings College London reviewed evidence from 32 studies of the impact of precarious work in western economies and found that several reported experiences of stress, exhaustion, anxiety, depression and other emotions such as frustration, guilt and low self-esteem.
KCL news release.  Annie Irvine and Nikolas Rose. How Does Precarious Employment Affect Mental Health? A Scoping Review and Thematic Synthesis of Qualitative Evidence from Western Economies, Work, Health and Society, Online First, 6 December 2022. Work Foundation blog. More on the hazards of insecure work. 21 December 2022

Britain: Sunak's relaxation of modern slavery rules ‘dangerous’
The prime minister’s plans to toughen the criteria for claims of modern slavery are dangerous and risk undermining protections for victims, campaigners and experts have warned. Rishi Sunak said he is planning to rewrite modern slavery guidance as part of a crackdown on asylum seekers “cheating the system,” adding “we will significantly raise the threshold someone has to meet to be considered a modern slave.”
Prime minister’s statement to parliament, 13 December 2022. Morning Star. 21 December 2022

Britain: If you want to kill and get away with it, do it at work
Great Britain has no moral or legal high ground when it does to workplace health and safety, a leading criminology expert has said. Steve Tombs, an emeritus professor at the Open University, said while thousands in Great Britain die each year because they were needlessly – and often criminally – exposed to work hazards, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “convictions have been in freefall since 2010, when there were 730, even if the latter figure is a pinprick in the context of tens of thousands of deaths.”
The Guardian. 21 December 2022

Global: ‘Forced labour’ in Thailand making Tesco jeans
Burmese workers that produced F+F jeans for Tesco in Thailand report being trapped in effective forced labour and working 99-hour weeks for illegally low pay in appalling conditions. Tesco faces a landmark lawsuit in the UK from 130 former workers at VK Garment Factory (VKG), who are suing them for alleged negligence and unjust enrichment.
Leigh Day news release. The Guardian. 21 December 2022

Britain: Full inquest granted into men's mining deaths
A full inquest will be held into the deaths of four miners in a south Wales colliery disaster 11 years ago. Charles Breslin, 62, David Powell, 50, Phillip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, died when water flooded the Gleision drift mine, near Cilybebyll, in September 2011.
BBC News Online. 21 December 2022

Britain: Suspended jail after wall collapse kills labourer
A property development company has been fined £100,000 plus £8,401.59 costs. and  building firm director David Peter Hartley handed a 26 weeks suspended prison sentence after a labourer was fatally crushed while demolishing a wall. Jakub Fischer, a 41-year-old self-employed labourer, was hired as a subcontractor by North West Facilities Limited to work on a house refurbishment project for Thorndyke Developments Limited in Liverpool when he was trapped between an outer kitchen wall and a collapsed section of the yard wall.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. 21 December 2022

Britain: Worker’s scalped and has ear ripped off
A company in Scunthorpe has been fined £70,000 plus £13,012.76 costs after a 26-year-old employee’s scalp and an ear were ripped off after his hair got stuck in a machine. The man was working for Caspian Group Limited (formerly known as Caspian Access and Plant Hire Limited) when he went to oil a machine when his hair, which was tied back in a ponytail, became trapped in the machine’s rotating shaft.
HSE news release. The Lincolnite. 21 December 2022

Britain: Snowball worker injured by forklift
A firm that makes teacakes, snowballs, and meringues has been fined £5,000 after a worker was left with a broken arm and head wound. On 4 June 2019 the worker at Lees of Scotland Limited Coatbridge factory suffered the injuries as a forklift driver attempted to remove a too heavy crate from the lorry, causing it to tip and lose its load.
Glasgow Live. 21 December 2022

Britain: Food firm fined £858,000 after worker loses arm
A food production company has been fined £858,000 plus £8,000 costs after an employee had his arm amputated after becoming entangled in an unguarded industrial food mixer with a disabled interlock. Lee Simpson, who was 21 at the time of the 27 September 2021 incident, was removing filling ingredients from a paddle mixer at David Wood Baking Limited’s premises in Sheerness, Kent, when his right hand and arm were drawn in.
HSE news release. 21 December 2022

France: Social charter for the 2024 Paris Olympics
The Paris Council has voted to create a social charter to make the French capital, host city of the 2024 Olympic Games, an example in terms of safety at work. The draft resolution aims to achieve “zero death at work”.
ETUI news report. 21 December 2022

Global: International Accord expands to Pakistan
Global unions IndustriALL and UNI, two key drivers of the historic Bangladesh Accord, have said they “are proud to announce the extension of the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry to Pakistan.” The decision to expand to Pakistan was announced during a signatory brand caucus meeting held on 14 December 2022.
UNI news release. IndustriALL news release. Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Worker Rights Consortium news release. Pakistan Accord. International Accord. 21 December 2022

USA: White House steps up Covid prevention efforts
As Covid-19 cases rise again in the US, the White House has announced its plans for controlling cases this winter. More free tests will be made available at schools, community health centres, rural health clinics, long-term care facilities, and other locations, and the administration also is providing testing, vaccinations and treatments for nursing homes and long-term care facilities, whose residents are particularly vulnerable to severe Covid-19.
USA Today. 21 December 2022

USA: Black workers hit hardest as work fatalities spike
A sharp rise in work fatalities in the US has disproportionately affected Black workers, new official figures have revealed. Doug Parker, head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said: “In 2021, 5,190 workers suffered fatal work injuries, equating to one worker death in the US every 101 minutes, including 653 Black workers, whose fatality rate hit an all-time high.
OSHA news release. 2021 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 16 December 2022. AFL-CIO statement. Confined Space. 21 December 2022

Hazards news, 14 December 2022

Britain: Hey, safety reps, fill this in!
It’s time to tell us what you think. The TUC’s latest survey of union health and safety representatives is online, and waiting for you to spend just five minutes sharing your experiences.
TUC alert. Take the survey - it should take approximately 5 minutes to complete. 14 December 2022

Britain: Go ahead for legal challenge to ‘strike-breaking’ law
The High Court has given the green light to a union legal challenge against “strike-breaking” agency worker regulations. The TUC said the go ahead for the legal case is a “major blow” to government attempts to undermine workers’ right to strike for better pay and conditions.
TUC news release. NASUWT news release. Usdaw news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. 14 December 2022

Britain: £3.5m payout for stone mason with silicosis
A stone mason who was exposed to dust while working at Elgin Cathedral has accepted a £3.5m compensation payout. Thompsons Solicitors Scotland, brought in by Gordon Walters’ union PCS to act in the case, said he worked on the renovation and maintenance of the cathedral in the Moray town in the 1980s, and was subsequently diagnosed with silicosis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). 
Press and Journal. BBC News Online. 14 December 2022

Britain: Scottish government workers win right to disconnect
The Scottish government and unions have agreed a ‘right to disconnect’ policy meaning that for the first time workers will have an agreed right not to be contacted out of hours. The guidance struck in consultation with the Council of Scottish Government Unions (CSGU) spells out the right to be able to disengage from work and refrain from engaging in communications outside their normal working hours to avoid an ‘always on’ culture.
Prospect news release. 14 December 2022

Britain: Glasgow latest to ‘get them home safely’
Glasgow City Council has become the latest local authority to back Unite’s Get Me Home Safely campaign. It is the eighth and largest so far to call on employers to provide safe and free transport home for all workers after 11pm.
Unite news release and Get Me Home Safely campaign film. 14 December 2022

Britain: Government rail strike intervention ‘a scandal’
The secretary of state for transport Mark Harper repeatedly refused to deny that Number 10 had intervened to scupper a deal in the rail dispute by inserting a precondition that the union accept Driver Only operation, rail union RMT has said. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the “chaotic government” was “seeking to impose Driver Only Operation (DOO) that will make our railways less safe, secure and accessible and they seem prepared to sacrifice Christmas business to force it through.”
RMT news release. 14 December 2022

Britain: Cost of living stress harming workers’ performance
Workers in the UK are becoming so anxious about the cost of living crisis that it is affecting their performance at work, with two-thirds of managers reporting issues such as rising absenteeism and lack of engagement among stressed-out staff. In a Chartered Management Institute (CMI) survey of more than 1,000 managers and team leaders, 71 per cent said they had seen evidence of the crisis increasing stress and anxiety for their teams, with two-thirds (66 per cent) of all the managers surveyed saying it was adversely affecting employees’ productivity.
The Guardian. 14 December 2022

Britain: Police no substitute for ambulance workers
Rank and file police officers have expressed “grave concern” at being asked to cover for ambulance workers during strikes, at a time when they say law enforcement is already facing unprecedented pressure. Steve Hartshorn, the chair of the Police Federation, issued a strongly worded warning to the government that requiring police to drive ambulances would push over-burdened officers “closer towards a tipping point.”
Police Federation news release. The Guardian. 14 December 2022

Britain: You shouldn’t be cold at work
Employers are being reminded of their legal responsibilities to keep workers safe as cold weather continues to affect large parts of the country. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is stressing the importance of protecting workers during the cold weather.
HSE news release and temperature in the workplace webpages. Usdaw guide on low temperatures. 14 December 2022

Britain: Payout after teacher dies of asbestos cancer
A settlement has been secured on behalf of a widower whose former PE teacher wife died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma aged 78. Julia Browne was head of physical education (PE) at St Teresa’s Secondary Girls School in Sunbury on Thames in the 1970s.
Leigh Day news release. 14 December 2022

Britain: Fire authority fined over training injuries
A fire authority has been fined after a firefighter was trapped underneath a car in a training exercise, breaking his legs in more than a dozen places. Cleveland Fire Authority pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £600 with £7,304 costs.
HSE news release. 14 December 2022

Global: Working in extreme heat bad for fetus
Heat stress can adversely affect the fetuses of women working in extreme temperatures, according to new research. The study, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), looked at 92 farmers working in rice fields in The Gambia and suggests that for every extra degree Celsius in extreme heat stress, there was a 17 per cent increase in fetal strain.
LSHTM news release. Ana Bonell and others. Environmental heat stress on maternal physiology and fetal blood flow in pregnant subsistence farmers in The Gambia, west Africa: an observational cohort study, The Lancet Planetary Health, volume 6, issue 12, e968-e976, 1 December 2022. BBC News Online. 14 December 2022

Global: Unions back call on banned pesticides 
Global farming union IUF and more than 325 trade unions and NGOs worldwide have issued a joint statement calling for an immediate ban on the export of toxic pesticides banned in the European Union (EU). The joint statement also calls for the prohibition on the export of banned chemicals to be complemented by just transition measures to support a move away from hazardous chemicals towards “safer and sustainable alternatives, especially Integrated Pest Management, Integrated Weed Management, agroforestry and agroecology.”
IUF news release. 14 December 2022

Global: IFJ records 67 killings of media staff
New figures released by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) reveal an increase in the number of journalists murdered because of their work. The rise in deaths marks a shift from recent years where a decline in figures had been recorded.
IFJ news release and IFJ’s list of journalists and media staff killed in 2022. NUJ news release 14 December 2022

USA: Democrats push for rail paid sick leave
Rail workers in the US could get the paid sick days at the heart of their threat to go on strike – if the Biden administration steps in with an executive order. On 9 December, 70 Democrats in Congress signed a letter asking for the president Joe Biden or some federal agency to issue an order giving rail workers the seven sick days paid sick leave a year they were seeking, but had been refused by rail bosses in protracted negotiations with unions.
CNN News. 14 December 2022


Hazards news, 7 December 2022

Britain: MP can visit Commons despite serious allegations
A union has expressed concerns that a sitting Conservative MP who has been reported to the police regarding allegations of rape and sexual assault is at liberty to continue to visit the Commons. Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, said: “This highlights yet again that there is no fit-for-purpose process in place to deal with this type of case and make parliament a safe place to work.”
Prospect news release. The Guardian. 7 December 2022

Britain: Scots teachers live in fear of being attacked
Scotland's teachers have been attacked thousands of times in the past year, UNISON figures have revealed. Council staff reported mo re than 22,000 incidents, with the majority of attacks against teachers and classroom assistants. According to the UNISON report, 22,507 violent incidents have been recorded by Scotland’s 32 councils between April 2021 and March 2022. Union leaders are now calling for new legislation and protection for staff.
Daily Record. 7 December 2022

Britain: Bristol council housing officers in safety strike
Around 50 Bristol council housing officers and team leaders, responsible for managing the local authority’s 27,000 tenancies, are to recommence strike action over unsustainable workloads on 14, 15 and 16 December. The Unite members say extra work caused by a sharp increase in casework with vulnerable tenants is causing high rates of stress and anxiety.
Unite news release. 7 December 2022

Britain: Felixstowe protest over bullying management
Hundreds of port of Felixstowe workers protested on 5 December in defence of seven Unite members who have been victimised by “malicious” bosses. The union said the workers at the firm, owned by multinational CK Hutchison, have been victimised on trumped up charges, including one union rep who the company is attempting to suspend for failing to say ‘good morning’ to a manager.
Unite news release. 7 December 2022

Britain: Low paid workers cannot afford sick leave
Retail union Usdaw is reiterating its call for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) reform after it found most low paid workers cannot afford to take sick leave. The union’s survey found that 76 per cent of respondents cannot afford to go sick on SSP of just £99.35 a week, rising to 9 in 10 for those on in-work benefits.
Usdaw news release. 7 December 2022

Britain: Three reasons retail workers are hurting
A group of retail workers visited the House of Commons on 6 December to share their experience of work-related stresses with the shadow minister for mental health, Doctor Rosena Allin-Khan. Usdaw has identified three key areas of concern for members’ mental health. It says the cost of living crisis is severely impacting workers' living standards, with Usdaw’s recent survey finding it is affecting 72 per cent of its members' mental health.
Usdaw news release. 7 December 2022

Britain: Take better care of workers, businesses warned
UK businesses must take better care of their workforce, or risk greater uncertainty, safety professionals’ organisation IOSH has warned. It said new research commissioned by IOSH ‘paints a gloomy picture’ of the UK workplace as a demotivated world of insecurity and weak identity, dogged by a prevailing sense of workers being undervalued.
IOSH news release and Catch the Wave e-book. 7 December 2022

Britain: Record numbers of construction suicides
Suicides in the English and Welsh construction industries have hit their highest rate since analysis began, a Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) analysis has confirmed. The data, compiled by Professor Billy Hare, shows the suicide rate for construction occupations in England and Wales in 2021 was 34 per 100,000 in employment, up from 26 per 100,000 in the seven years to 2021.
GCU news release.
ACTION! Tell the HSE to recognise, record and take action to prevent work-related suicides. More on work-related suicides. 7 December 2022

Britain: Care home nurses need Covid trauma support
Those on the front line of the Covid pandemic need mental health support to help them recover from, or manage, the stress and trauma they faced, according to University of East Anglia (UEA) research. A new report published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship “shows that care home nurses were completely unprepared for the extraordinary situation they found themselves in during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that this has impacted their mental health and wellbeing,” said lead researcher Diane Bunn, from UEA’s School of Health Sciences.
UEA news release. Linda Birt and others. Care-home nurses’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic: Managing ethical conundrums at personal cost: A qualitative study, Journal of Nursing Scholarship, early view 4 December 2022. 7 December 2022

Britain: Long Covid linked to labour market exit
Long Covid is likely to have contributed to the record number of people leaving the labour market in Britain, an Office for National Statistics (ONS) study has found. The analysis identifies for the first time a link between long Covid and the recent workforce exodus, which has seen 600,000 workers go “missing” from the job market since early 2020.
Self-reported long COVID and labour market outcomes, UK: 2022, ONS, 5 December 2022. Morning Star. 7 December 2022

Britain: Firm fined for sewage clean-up infection
A company has been fined £126,100 plus £43,494 costs after an employee became seriously ill when he contracted a blood infection while working at a lake contaminated with sewage. The employee worked at the lake for two weeks before contracting Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease), a disease related to contact with rat urine, and becoming seriously ill.
HSE news release and leptospirosis webpage. 7 December 2022

Britain: More school children die of Strep A infection
More primary school children have died after catching invasive Group A Streptococcal disease (iGAS), or Strep A. The government has said at least 15 children in the UK have died in the current outbreak.
BBC News Online and update. 7 December 2022

Britain: Disabled council worker gets harassment payout
A disabled council worker who was ‘humiliated’ by a boss has been awarded compensation for ‘injury to feelings’. A tribunal found comments made by Rotherham Council's former assistant chief executive Shokat Lal to Yassir Mahmood amounted to disability-related harassment.
BBC News Online. 7 December 2022

Britain: There should be a right to flexible work
Employees will be given the right to ask for flexible working from their first day at a new job, the government has proposed. New legislation will mean that workers will not have to wait for 26 weeks to seek flexible arrangements, as set out under the current law – but remains only a right to ‘ask’.
BBC News Online. 7 December 2022

Britain: Paint firm fined over worker’s serious burns
A chemicals company has been fined £800,000 plus £14,032 costs after a worker suffered life-changing injuries in an explosion. The employee at International Paint Limited’s Gateshead premises spent eight days on life support and has been left with all-over body scarring, partial blindness to one eye, hearing damage, and other injuries.
HSE news release. Newcastle Chronicle. 7 December 2022

Britain: Husband ‘a stranger’ after work injuries
The wife of a man left severely disabled by a workplace accident says he is a “stranger in her husband’s body”. Sue McFarlane’s partner John, 57, suffered life-changing brain injuries in a 5 June 2018 fall of 2.5 metres from a delivery vehicle to a concrete floor at Autoneum Great Britain Ltd, the vehicle parts company where he worked.
HSE news release. 7 December 2022

Australia: Big progress for women’s workplace safety
A Respect@Work Bill has been passed in Australia’s parliament, signalling the new Labour government’s firm commitment to gender equality. The new law will mean women can earn a living safe from sexual harassment, Australian Unions said.
Australian Unions. 7 December 2022

Global: Violence at work affects one in five
More than one in five people (almost 23 per cent) in employment have experienced violence and harassment at work, whether physical, psychological or sexual, according to a new joint analysis by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF) and Gallup. ‘Experiences of Violence and Harassment at Work: A global first survey’ found 17.9 per cent of employed men and women said they had experienced psychological violence and harassment in their working life, and 8.5 per cent had faced physical violence and harassment.
ILO news release and report, Experiences of Violence and Harassment at Work: A global first survey.
ILO Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) and Recommendation (No. 206). 7 December 2022

China: Garment factory fire kills 38
China's worst workplace fire in nearly a decade killed 38 people after a fire in an undergarment factory staffed mostly by elderly women on 22 November. China Labour Bulletin reported the tragedy in the city of Anyang, Henan province, “highlighted that basic safety measures - functioning fire exits, worksite safety training, and a responsive trade union - are still not in place after years of the same cycle of deadly disasters and official condemnations.”
China Labour Bulletin. 7 December 2022

USA: ‘PTO Woes’ are making workers skip holiday
Stressed out workers are skipping paid time off (PTO) because unmanageable workloads, a survey suggests. Nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) of the 1,399 US workers polled by job site Monster reported they’d experienced what has been dubbed ‘PTO Woes’, and nearly threequarters (72 per cent) said they’ve neglected to request time off because of how pronounced those woes really were.
Fortune magazine. 7 December 2022

Hazards news, 30 November 2022

Britain: Don't scrap EU rules, firms and unions say
Business groups and unions are urging the government not to go ahead with plans to ditch a wide range of EU laws, warning the move could cause put “vital protections” at risk in the UK. In a joint letter, groups including the TUC and the Institute of Directors called on ministers to withdraw its Retained EU Law bill.
IoD news release. BBC News Online. 30 November 2022

Britain: University staff are ‘absolutely burnt out’
University staff are suffering as a result of high workloads and precarious contracts, a union official has said. UCU Scotland’s Mary Senior said staff are “absolutely burnt out” given their current conditions.
UCU news release. Morning Star. 30 November 2022

Britain: Working conditions poor at Boohoo warehouse
John Lyttle, the CEO of online fashion retailer Boohoo, is being urged to join a discussion ‘without preconditions’ with the union Usdaw following the latest revelations of poor conditions at the firm’s Burnley warehouse. An undercover reporter from the Times wrote: “Staff label themselves ‘slaves’ and have complained of racism, sexual harassment, gruelling targets, inadequate training and ill-fitting safety equipment,” adding: “The harsh conditions have led to workers collapsing in the aisles, with an ambulance called to the site once a month on average.”
Usdaw news release and update. The Times. 30 November 2022

Britain: Flawed system for sorting ministerial bad behaviour
There are fundamental problems with the system of dealing with unacceptable ministerial behaviour, civil service union Prospect has said. The union was commenting after the UK government announced it has appointed an independent lawyer, Adam Tolley KC, to look into allegations of bullying against justice secretary Dominic Raab.
Prospect news release. 30 November 2022

Britain: Dominic Raab facing ‘series’ of bullying claims
Dominic Raab is facing multiple fresh complaints from senior civil servants in multiple government departments over allegations of bullying behaviour. Dave Penman, the general secretary FDA union which represents senior civil servants, said “f they are serious allegations about his conduct, that the prime minister has seen, he has to make a decision - is it safe essentially for civil servants to continue to work with him?”
BBC News Online. The Guardian. 30 November 2022

Britain: FBU responds to damning criticism of London brigade
The firefighters’ union FBU has responded to an independent report that found incidents of misogyny, racism and bullying in the London Fire Brigade (LFB). The review was commissioned after the suicide of trainee firefighter Jaden Francois-Esprit, aged 21, in August 2020, which came after racist bullying.
FBU news release. The Guardian. 30 November 2022

Britain: Pilots start fatigue talks with Jet2
A collective conciliation process to resolve scheduling and rostering issues has started between the airline Jet2 and the pilots’ union BALPA. The union said although no agreement was reached at the 23 November meeting at Acas, both sides “hope to draw a line under recent events and move into the New Year working constructively together.”
BALPA news release. 30 November 2022

Britain: Freezing DVLA staff told to wear more clothes
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has been accused of ‘recklessly’ telling staff to work in its Swansea HQ after the central heating broke. Laura Bee, an industrial officer with the civil service union PCS, said there was no hot water in toilets and workers were told to wear more clothes, adding temperatures dropped below 11 Celsius in the building, which was “not safe” for workers.
BBC News Online. 30 November 2022

Global: Amazon workers protest on Black Friday
Amazon staff and their supporters have staged rallies in dozens of countries worldwide to demand better conditions while kicking off fresh efforts to unionise the retail giant’s workforce. The protests were timed to coincide with Black Friday on 25 November, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Morning Star. The Guardian. 30 November 2022

Britain: Child dies after school infection outbreak
One child has died and another has been hospitalised after a bacterial infection outbreak at a primary school in Surrey. The UK Health Security Agency said the pupils at Ashford Church of England Primary School caught the invasive group A streptococcal infection (iGAS), with pupils and staff prescribed antibiotics.
BBC News Online. 30 November 2022

Global: Top WHO scientist admits airborne Covid errors
The World Health Organisation’s outgoing chief scientist has expressed regret over the organisation’s early handling of the Covid pandemic. Soumya Swaminathan, 63, admitted that the WHO should have acknowledged earlier on that SARS-CoV-2 could be transmitted through the air as she reflected on her time in the post.
Science.
Rory O’Neill. WHO Knew. How the World Health Organization (WHO) Became a Dangerous Interloper on Workplace Health and Safety and COVID-19, New Solutions, volume 30, number 3, November 2020. 30 November 2022

Britain: Stressed out man found dead at workplace
A man who struggled with mental health difficulties should have been 'prevented' from going to his workplace, where he was found dead, an inquest has heard. Wayne Mason, 49, killed himself at Claxton Engineering Limited in Great Yarmouth on 17 March this year.
Great Yarmouth Mercury and verdict update.
ACTION! Tell the HSE to recognise, record and take action to prevent work-related suicides. More on work-related suicides. 30 November 2022

Britain: Work-stressed doctor took her own life
A hospital doctor took her own life after ‘struggling to cope’ with work stresses and a family bereavement, an inquest has ruled. Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital junior doctor Dr Vaishnavi Kumar, who felt 'belittled' at work, often returned home crying.
Birmingham Mail. 30 November 2022

Britain: Payout after wind farm worker froze to death
The family of a security guard who froze to death at a Scottish wind farm has received a six-figure sum in compensation. Ronnie Alexander, 74, died in hospital after being found lying in snow at the site near New Cumnock, East Ayrshire.
BBC News Online. 30 November 2022

Britain: Trawler boss fined 10 years after safety crime
A trawler owner who told a crew to keep fishing instead of seeking medical help for an injured colleague has been fined £13,500 – over a decade after the incident. TN Trawlers Ltd director Thomas Nicholson, 60, who was not on the vessel at the time of the incident but told the skipper by text the boat should continuing fishing, admitted breaches of maritime safety law.
Daily Record. 30 November 2022

Britain: Boss gets community order after worker crushed
Demolition firm Ace Demolition Services Ltd has been fined and one of its directors ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work after Shannon Brasier, 20, was crushed against a fuel tank, suffering life-changing injuries. The firm was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £9,731 costs and company director John Gilligan, who was responsible for supervising the work, was given a 12-month community order with a requirement to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work.
HSE news release. Essex Live. 30 November 2022

Britain: Health board workers got vibration syndrome
A Welsh health board has been fined £160,000 plus £5,599 costs after three employees were diagnosed with Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). Powys Teaching Health Board had ignored requests from its own occupational health department to conduct a risk assessment.
HSE news release. 30 November 2022

Australia: Union demands action on deadly stone
Pressure is growing on the Australian government to end the use of engineered stone products that can cause disabling and often fatal silicosis in the workers who handle them. Construction union CFMMEU warned that if the federal government does not ban production, importation and use of the material by July 2024, it will instruct its members not to handle it.
ABC News. The Age. 30 November 2022

Dominican Republic: US acts on forced labour imports
The US government announced on 23 November 2002 that it will detain all imports of sugar and related products made in the Dominican Republic by Central Romana Corporation Ltd, amid allegations it uses forced labour. A US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) investigation found that the company isolated workers, withheld wages, fostered abusive working and living conditions and pushed for excessive overtime.
CBP news release. Yahoo News. 30 November 2022

Europe: Stop bosses firing revenge porn victims
Bosses should be prevented from discriminating against victims of revenge porn and other forms of online sexual harassment at work as part of an EU directive on combating violence against women, the Europe-wide union confederation ETUC has said. Employers now routinely carry out online searches for prospective employees, which research has found has resulted in discrimination against victims of cyber violence in the labour market.
ETUC news release. 30 November 2022

Korea: Truck strike over broken safety promise
Truck drivers in South Korea announced indefinite strike action from 24 November after the government sparked fury by reversing its promises on Safe Rates legislation. “The government is backtracking on its promise to the detriment of workers and public safety,” said Bongju Lee, KPTU-TruckSol president, adding: “We are prepared to strike until that changes.”
ITF news release. 30 November 2022

Hazards news, 23 November 2022

Britain: P&O chief named ‘Worst Boss in the World’
P&O chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite has been named the world’s worst boss in a global poll after illegally firing almost 800 UK workers in a pre-recorded Zoom call. His award was announced at the World Congress of the global union confederation ITUC in Melbourne, Australia.
ITUC news release. ITF news release. 23 November 2022

Britain: Do not abandon workers with Long Covid  
The UK government must act now on an official recommendation from its experts that persistent ill-health related to Covid-19 infection be recognised as an occupational disease. Commenting on a report from the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) – the body advising government on which diseases should be classified as work-related – which recommends that health and social care workers experiencing long term symptoms following Covid infection should be able to claim industrial injuries benefit, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s time to recognise this condition as occupational, and make sure workers who are living with post-Covid symptoms get the support they need.”
TUC news release. Covid-19 and Occupational Impacts, the report from the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, 16 November 2022.  23 November 2022

Britain: Workers’ rights ‘illusory’ in Qatar - TUC
The TUC has warned that Qatar’s World Cup legacy risks being left “in tatters” without wholesale changes to protect workers. The warning came as the union body published a new report detailing widespread labour abuses in Qatar, ahead of the kick off of the World Cup on 20 November.
TUC news release and report, “I have nothing" - Workers' rights and the Qatar 2022 World Cup,18 November 2022.  The Guardian. 23 November 2022

Britain: Government fails to spend a penny on driver toilets
The government’s much heralded multi-million pound budget to improve toilet facilities for lorry drivers has been entirely unspent after a year, research by Unite has found. Following a freedom of information request made by Unite, DfT – which is responsible for administering the funding - has admitted that a year after Sunak made the funding commitment: “No companies have as yet received funding from the £32.5 million match funding scheme.”
Unite news release, FOI findings and Toilet Dignity campaign. 23 November 2022

Britain: Lack of toilets makes lorry drivers sick
Lorry drivers are leaving the job and even becoming ill because of a shameful lack of toilet facilities they can use during work, according to new research by Unite. One in 10 of the 1,700 drivers surveyed by the union said a lack of toilets on the roads resulted in them developing a medical condition.
Unite news release. Morning Star. 23 November 2022

Britain: Unite protest at MoD toilet shame
Members of Unite marked the UN-recognised World Toilet Day on Saturday 19 November with a protest outside RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire, to highlight the Ministry of Defence’s failure to provide decent toilets for workers. The problem initially arose when the first female civilian firefighters were recruited to the base in 2014, where ageing facilities were not fit for purpose or suitable for unisex use.
Unite news release. World Toilet Day. 23 November 2022

Britain: Toilet facilities ‘essential’ on railways
Staff and passengers working and travelling on Britain’s railways deserve decent toilet facilities, ASLEF has said. Marking World Toilet Day on 19 November, the train drivers’ union said it would “again lobby the government, train companies and industry groups on the need for access to clean, safe, and appropriate toilets.”
ASLEF news release. 23 November 2022

Britain: Tram workers defend terminally ill colleagues
GMB members on Nottingham’s tram network have backed strike action in defence of two terminally ill colleagues. The union said 94 per cent of the city’s tram workers have voted in favour of action over threats from company management to cut the pay of Robert Currie and David Brown as they battle life-threatening conditions.
GMB news release. 23 November 2022

Britain: Don’t repeat deadly King’s Cross mistakes - RMT
Rail union RMT has marked the 35-year anniversary of the deadly King’s Cross Underground fire by calling for an end to job cuts on the Tube. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said “in the wake of the disaster, a completely new safety critical culture was built in which the vital role that staff play was fully recognised, on the basis that such a thing should never happen again, but he warned: “In pressing on with their plans to cut more station staff jobs, London Underground’s managers are making an historic error and unpicking the work that dates back to 1987.”
RMT news release. 23 November 2022

Britain: Highest ever levels of work-related ill health
The number of workers in Great Britain suffering work-related ill-health has increased again to a new all-time high. Latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures put the total reporting work-related ill-health at 1.8 million in 2021/22, up from 1.7 million in 2020/21 – and is now almost 40 per cent higher than when the Tories came to power.
HSE news release and statistics, Health and safety statistics 2021/22, HSE, 23 November 2022. 23 November 2022

Britain: Workplace stress soars to a new record high
A record number of stress, depression and anxiety cases now makes up around half of the total work-related ill-health in Great Britain, new official figures show. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics on work-related ill health and workplace injuries reveal there were an estimated 914,000 cases of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety in 2021/22 - this is over 10 per cent up on the previous all-time high of 828,000 cases in 2019/20.
HSE news release and statistics, Health and safety statistics 2021/22, HSE, 23 November 2022. HSE Working Minds campaign.
RESOURCES: TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress. Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. 23 November 2022

Severely ill can’t afford to go sick, say GPs
Ill patients are refusing sicknotes from their GP because they cannot afford time off work, while physicians suffer “moral distress” at their powerlessness to do more to help the most vulnerable, the new leader of Britain’s family doctors has said. Dr Kamila Hawthorne, the chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Recently I’ve had patients refusing sicknotes because they can’t afford not to work,” adding: “Quite often, when it’s clear that somebody needs some time off, they won’t take it.”
The Guardian. 23 November 2022

Britain: Bid to delay deletion of 4,000 EU laws
The UK government is to face attempts to delay the deletion of up to 4,000 EU laws from UK statute books and stop the scrapping of key workers’ rights, with opposition parties set to table dozens of amendments next week. The retained EU law (revocation and reform) bill has been described as “reckless” by legal experts, who say it is badly designed and gives unprecedented powers to ministers to personally decide which laws stay and which go.
The Guardian. BEIS retained EU law dashboard. Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. 23 November 2022

Britain: NHS England workforce to get menopause rights
Menopausal women working in NHS England will be able to work flexibly should they need to under new guidance. The guidance aims to boost awareness as well as support the introduction of practical measures and flexible working patterns – including lighter duties, fans to make temperatures more comfortable, cooler uniforms and staff training.
Supporting our NHS people through menopause: guidance for line managers and colleagues, NHS England, 22 November 2022. The Telegraph. The Guardian. 23 November 2022

Britain: Recycling wall deaths directors convicted
Two directors of a multi-million pound Birmingham metal recycling firm have been convicted of criminal health and safety breaches after five men died when a 45-tonne wall fell on them in 2016. Wayne Hawkeswood and Graham Woodhouse, directors of Hawkeswood Metal Recycling and Shredmet, now known as ENSCO101, denied risking workers’ safety but a jury convicted them and their companies of all 12 criminal safety counts after a trial which lasted six weeks.
BBC News Online. Birmingham Mail. 23 November 2022

Britain: Suspended sentence for fall death roofing boss
A Wakefield roofing company has been fined and its sole director given a suspended prison sentence after father-of-two Jonathan May, 39, was killed when he fell 12 metres through a skylight. Melvyn Davis, the director of Davis Industrial Roofing Limited, pleaded guilty to criminal safety breaches and was sentenced to eight weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months and was ordered to do 15 days of rehabilitation activity; his company also pleaded guilty and was fined £20,000 plus £12,557 costs.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. 23 November 2022

Asia: Work safety is a strategic organising tool
Unions in South East Asia are looking to use occupational health and safety (OHS) strategically to organise workers and build strong unions. Glen Mpufane, OHS director for IndustriALL, the global union that organised the meeting of its affiliates across the region, said: “When employers deny trade unions entry in the area of OHS, it is the duty of unions to regain control to save workers’ lives.”
IndustriALL news release and manual for health and safety activists, Saving ourselves. 23 November 2022

Global: Twitter locks staff out of offices
Social media giant Twitter locked workers out of the company's office buildings with immediate effect on 18 November, saying they would not reopen until 21 November. The move came amid rumours of a staff exodus as new owner Elon Musk demanded workers sign up for “long hours at high intensity” or leave.
BBC News Online. 23 November 2022

Global: Decent sanitation ‘a vital right’ for workers
Across the world, millions of transport workers - and women transport workers in particular - face the indignity of workplaces where it is nearly impossible to do something as simple as go to the toilet, ITF has said. The global transport union said in workplaces in every corner of the globe, transport unions and ITF-affiliates are leading the struggle for the right to decent sanitation facilities, with the help of the ITF Sanitation Toolkit.
ITF news release and case history. Sanitation rights are human rights: public transport worker voices , ITF, November 2022. 23 November 2022

Hazards news, 18 November 2022

Britain: Amazon slammed over worker monitoring
Online retail giant Amazon has been criticised for 'misleading' MPs over worker monitoring. Giving evidence to a Business Select Committee on 15 November, Brian Palmer, an Amazon policy chief, repeatedly said surveillance of workers was not the ‘primary focus’ of their monitoring systems but when pressed admitted the company tracks productivity of your workers in its warehouses.
Business Select Committee news release, Inquiry: Post-pandemic economic growth: UK labour markets and 15 November 2022 hearings. GMB news release. 18 November 2022

Britain: Government policies behind Grenfell disaster - FBU
The lawyer for firefighters’ union FBU’s has told the Grenfell Inquiry that “the disaster was a direct consequence of a generation of government policies which combined to create a death trap for the residents of Grenfell Tower.” The comments came in the closing submissions for Phase 2 of the inquiry, which covers the run-up to the night of the fire.
FBU news release. The Guardian. Construction Enquirer. 18 November 2022

Britain: Summit calls for respect for shopworkers
A summit of retail employers and their representative bodies, looking at the continuing problem of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers and hosted by Usdaw, has seen the union launch a ‘Protecting Retail Workers: Sharing Best Practices’ guide.
Usdaw news release, Protecting retail workers: Sharing best practice report and Freedom from Fear campaign. Respect for Shopworkers Week, 14-20 November 2022. Morning Star. 18 November 2022

Britain: School strike over failure to protect teachers
Teachers at Bannerman High School in Glasgow are taking industrial action including strikes in response to failures by the employer to address concerns over violent and abusive pupil behaviour. The union had issued instructions to members to refuse to teach pupils who are known by the school to be threatening and abusive - however, Glasgow City Council then wrote to the union’s members to tell them they will be sent home without pay if they refuse to stay in a classroom with a pupil who is threatening their safety.
NASUWT news release. 18 November 2022

Britain: Protecting ill workers is an urgent priority
A coalition of unions, health and disability charities and civil society organisations is calling on the government to reform the UK sick pay system. The group – which includes the TUC, individual unions, the Child Poverty Action Group, and mental health charity Mind – has asked to meet the Mel Stride, the secretary of state at the Department of Work and Pensions, to find an equitable solution.
PCS news release. 18 November 2022

Britain: Worker crushed to death at Hinkley Point C
Construction work was suspended at the Hinkley Point C site after a site supervisor died following an accident on the giant nuclear job on the morning of Sunday 13 November. The victim was working for main contractor Bylor – a joint venture of Bouygues and Laing O’Rourke.
Construction Enquirer. BBC News Online. 18 November 2022

Britain: Allegations shows Sunak must appoint ethics adviser
Top civil servants’ union the FDA has said a gulf remains between Rishi Sunak’s intention to govern with integrity and the reality for government officials. Following the bullying revelations that led to the resignation of Gavin Williamson and allegations about the behaviour of deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, FDA general secretary Dave Penman told BBC News that the entire process for civil servants to make a complaint against a minister “is a sham”.
FDA news release. BBC News Online and update on Dominic Raab complaints. Morning Star. 18 November 2022

Britain: FBU Scotland makes strides on DECON
There has been significant progress in Scotland on the FBU’s groundbreaking DECON campaign, the firefighters’ union has said. What initially began with an intention to engage Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) managers and Scottish FbU members on DECON quickly grew into a much larger piece of work, including a meeting of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Contaminants Group, a livestream for members, meetings with Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), and a meeting of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Senior Leadership team.
FBU news release. 18 November 2022

Britain: Merseyside fire service faces industrial action
Merseyside firefighters, control staff and green book (non-uniform) staff have voted “overwhelmingly” to take action short of strike at Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service. The dispute centres on issues including the imposition of reduced night time staffing in the control room, new duty shift systems introduced without consultation, the non-agreed expansion of the firefighter role in contracts for all new entrants, and training and assessments outside of paid work time.
FBU news release. 18 November 2022

Britain: Sunak must reverse reporting exemptions - IOSH
Safety professionals’ body IOSH has called on the prime minister to reverse a decision made by his predecessor Liz Truss to exempt about 40,000 businesses from reporting requirements and regulations. In a letter to Rishi Sunak, IOSH chief executive Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher said there is “an opportunity to make an early, bold step in the right direction” by scrapping the move.
IOSH news release. 18 November 2022

Britain: Work health and work safety minister jobs split 
The role of the minister of state response for work and health and for health and safety enforcement has been split in Rishi Sunak’s government. Tom Pursglove has been named as the minister for disabled people, health and work, with responsibilities include work and health strategy, and Mims Davies, the new minister for social mobility, has responsibility for the Health and Safety Executive. 
DWP appointment notices on Tom Pursglove and Mims Davies. 18 November 2022

[work and health] Britain: Best practice’ HSE guide on health issues and work
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Great Britain’s workplace regulator, has issued new ‘best practice’ guidelines on what employers can do to allow staff with disabilities or long-term health issues to ‘thrive’ at work. The guidance stresses the importance of making sure workplaces are accessible, that staff communication is clear and inclusive, and appropriate occupational health support is available.
HSE news release and new guidance, Support disabled workers and workers with long-term health conditions in work, HSE, November 2022. 18 November 2022

Britain: Back pain and long-term sickness rise linked to home working
Back and neck injuries caused by working from home during the Covid pandemic has been identified as a possible factor contributing to a sharp rise in people leaving the labour market over the past three years. The Office for National Statistics said there had been a marked increase in disabilities often associated by medical experts with excessive screen use, after the increase in the number of people home working while offices were shut during the pandemic.
ONS report, 10 November 2022. The Guardian. 18 November 2022

Britain: UK vulnerable to major animal disease outbreaks
The UK’s main animal disease facility has been left to deteriorate to an “alarming extent” leaving the country vulnerable to major outbreaks on the scale of the devastating 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis, MPs have warned. An inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee found that the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in Weybridge was “continually vulnerable to a major breakdown” because the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had “comprehensively failed” in its management of the site.
PAC news release and report, Redevelopment of Defra’s animal health infrastructure, Twenty-Fourth Report of Session 2022–23, PAC, 16 November 2022. The Guardian. 18 November 2022

Britain: Pagabo to introduce mental health contract clauses
Contractors bidding for work with Pagabo will now be quizzed on their mental health policies. Gerard Toplass, group CEO of Pagabo, with provides services to companies throughout the tendering process, said: “I think it’s a good idea to introduce a mental health narrative into all contracts so that all businesses within the supply chain are asked to demonstrate how they are looking after their people during projects.”
Pagabo news release. Construction Enquirer. 18 November 2022

Britain: Football governing bodies sued over dementia
A group of 30 former footballers and their families are suing football's governing bodies, claiming they failed to protect them from brain injuries. The Football Associations of England and Wales and the International Football Association Board (Ifab) are accused of “failing to take reasonable action” to reduce blows to the head.
BBC News Online. 18 November 2022

Britain: Dyson faces legal case over abusive working conditions
A group of 24 people have issued legal claims in the High Court in London against several Dyson companies alleging that they experienced forced labour and abusive working conditions when working in two factories producing Dyson products in Malaysia. They also allege that workers suffered dangerous conditions with minimal protection against industrial accidents, unsanitary and cramped living accommodation, onerous production targets and were denied toilet breaks, meaning they were forced to work upwards of 12 hours at a time without relieving themselves.
Leigh Day news release. 18 November 2022

Britain: Firm fined £2m after worker died from burns
A chipboard company has been convicted and fined more than £2m over health and safety failings which led to a worker dying from serious burns in Stirlingshire. George Laird sustained fatal injuries at Norboard Europe Ltd's factory in Cowie in 2016 and died later in hospital.
COPFS news release. BBC News Online. 18 November 2022

Britain: Driver killed in trailer fall
A transport company has been fined £400,000 after one of its drivers suffered fatal injuries after being knocked off his trailer. On 16 November 2020, Robert Gifkins, who worked for Arnold Laver & Company Ltd, was delivering timber to a company in Whaddon near Salisbury when he was struck by the trailer’s crane and fell from the vehicle to the ground and subsequently died of his injuries on 17 December 2020.
HSE news release. 18 November 2022

Canada: Trans workers face more violence at work
Canada’s unions are calling attention to the alarming results from the recent national survey on harassment and violence in Canadian workplaces, which revealed that non-binary and trans workers were disproportionately affected. “Two spirit, trans, non-binary and gender non confirming people are bearing the brunt of violence and harassment both within and outside of the workplace,” said Larry Rousseau, executive vice president at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the national union centre that conducted the research.
CLC news release and Workers in Transition guide. 18 November 2022

USA: Workers at Tesla gigafactory site to sue
Construction workers who toiled on one of Tesla’s sprawling so-called Gigafactories have filed a complaint and a case referral with the federal Department of Labor detailing exploitative work conditions they say they experienced while building the plant. Whistleblowers came forward to allege serious labour and employment violations during construction of the electric car manufacturer’s massive new facility in Austin, Texas, that left them vulnerable to injuries and wage theft.
The Guardian. 18 November 2022

USA: ‘Oppressive child labour’ violations at processing plants
The US Department of Labor has asked a federal court to issue a nationwide temporary restraining order and injunction against Packers Sanitation Services Inc. Ltd (PSSI) – one of the nation’s leading providers of food safety sanitation – to stop the company from illegally employing dozens of minor-aged workers while the department continues its investigation of the company’s labour practices. The complaint was prompted by an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division that discovered that PSSI had employed at least 31 children – from 13 to 17 years of age – in hazardous occupations.
US Department of Labor news release. 18 November 2022

USA: Work-related asthma linked to cannabis production
Exposure to cannabis dust, fume or smoke can lead to the development of work-related asthma, warns a new hazard alert from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Workers at risk include cannabis growers, production staff, extract manufacturers, retail stockers, laboratory and research personnel, and police and drug enforcement officers.
Washington State Department of L&I factsheet. Safety + Health magazine. 18 November 2022

Hazards news, 10 November 2022

Britain: Ryanair workers demand end to ‘repeat tragedies’
Workers from Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport demonstrated on 8 November in honour of their colleague, Cinzia Ceravolo, who was killed crossing the city’s treacherous Hale Road in August this year after leaving work. The Unite members, who were joined by members of the GMB who work at the airport, are angry that despite repeated tragedies, no action has been taken to make the junction safe.
Unite news release and open letter to the mayor. 10 November 2022

Britain: Journalists get safety tips on the go
Journalists’ union NUJ and the Society of Editors have launched a mobile-friendly safety toolkit to help members find advice and information while they are on the move. The free-to-access toolkit is part of the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists’ action plan to protect journalists from threats of violence and online abuse in the course of their work.
NUJ news release and Journalists Safety Toolkit. 10 November 2022

Britain: Shock at death threats to British-Iranian journalists
Journalists’ union NUJ has pledged to support two British-Iranian journalists working for the UK-based Persian-language TV channel Iran International who have been warned of an ‘imminent, credible risk’ to their lives. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “It is shocking and outrageous that journalists carrying out their work in London are being targeted and facing credible death threats that are clearly emanating from the Iranian state.”
NUJ news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. 10 November 2022

Britain: Support workers struggle with ‘unrealistic workloads’
Unrealistic workloads have left community support workers in Hounslow with no option but to consider industrial action, their union Unite has said. The workers employed by Hestia, a referral service which provides services ranging from mental health, addiction and immigration to language barrier support, have begun a ballot for action.
Unite news release. 10 November 2022

Britain: College signs up to the Dying to Work Charter
Kirklees College has become the latest employer to sign up to the TUC’s dying to work charter, providing protection for their 884 employees. The Dying to Work campaign would like to see terminal illness recognised as a ‘protected characteristic’ so that an affected employee would enjoy a ‘protected period’ where they could not be dismissed as a result of their condition.
TUC news release. TUC Dying to Work campaign and Charter signatories. 10 November 2022

Britain: More safety rules could subject to ‘sunsetting’
Government researchers have found another 1,400 laws that will be wiped off the statute books next year by Brexit legislation tabled by Jacob Rees-Mogg in September, according to a Financial Times report. Three more health and safety regulations have been added to the original list, which has now increased to 58 rules, all of which will be ‘sunset’ next year unless the government takes explicit action to retain them.
BEIS retained EU law dashboard. Financial Times. The Guardian. 10 November 2022

Britain: Botched ventilation tests put hundreds at risk
A company that tests ventilation systems has been fined after it ‘completely flouted’ safety regulations and put hundreds of workers at risk of serious lung diseases. Airtec Filtration Ltd was used by businesses across the UK to test exhaust ventilation systems, which reduce exposures to airborne contaminants in a workplace.
HSE news release. 10 November 2022

Britain: Shop workers face tide of abuse as prices rise
One in three shop workers are shouted at, spat on, threatened or hit every week, according to The Retail Trust. The charity’s survey of more than 1,000 workers found nine out of ten had been the target of abusive behaviour from customers, and more than two-thirds said verbal and physical assaults had increased in the last two years.
Usdaw news release and Respect for Shopworkers Week, 14-20 November 2022. BBC News Online. ITV News. Morning Star. 10 November 2022

Britain: Manager’s call to sick worker led to unfair dismissal
A Scottish bank worker who suffered severe anxiety has been awarded £22,304 compensation after her boss rang her while she was off sick to ask her not to post pictures of cakes on Facebook. The manager also told Victoria Lindsay to get her GP to reevaluate her medication for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Employment Tribunal decision. Ms V Lindsay v Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS), Employment Tribunals (Scotland), Case No: 4103007/2022. The HR Director. 10 November 2022

Britain: Small fine after worker crushed to death
A construction firm has been fined £10,000 after the death of a worker at St Enoch shopping centre in Glasgow. Derek McLean, 43, was crushed after attempting to move a 3.5 tonne Brokk demolition machine up a set of stairs by remote control in August 2019.
BBC News Online. 10 November 2022

Britain: Two firms fined after driver fatally crushed
Two companies have been fined after a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver suffered fatal chest injuries while unstrapping a load on a trailer. Andrew Bayley-Machin, 41, was fatally crushed when he was hit by a pack of steel gates that fell approximately three metres from a load on a flatbed trailer.
HSE news release. 10 November 2022

Britain: Eddie Stobart exposed workers to asbestos
Logistics company Eddie Stobart has been prosecuted after work in one of its yards exposed staff to asbestos. The firm was fined £133,000 plus £9,260 costs for a series of failures that took place while excavation work was carried out at its rail and container freight port in Widnes.
HSE news release. 10 November 2022

Europe: Airlines must act on cabin air standards
Aviation workers and safety experts are calling on airlines, plane manufacturers and the EU Aviation Safety Agency to immediately implement new cabin air quality standards designed to protect staff and passengers from chemical fumes. After more than seven years of work on the issue, the European Committee on Standardisation (CEN) has published a technical report including recommendations on how to prevent exposure to fumes through improvements in the design, maintenance, and operation of aircraft.
ETUC news release. 10 November 2022

Global: Make Black Friday ‘Make Amazon Pay day’
The Make Amazon Pay campaign has announced a global day of action with strikes and protests in around 30 countries on 25 November, the shopping day known as Black Friday. The campaign accuses Amazon of “squeezing every last drop it can” from “workers, communities and the planet” in the face of the cost of living scandal, global debt crisis and climate emergency.
UNI news release. Find out about and join the Make Amazon Pay campaign events on 25 November. 10 November 2022

Hazards news, 3 November 2022

Britain: Night workers face lower pay and higher risks
The 3.2 million workers who regularly work nights face lower pay and higher work-related risks to their health, the TUC has warned.  The TUC adds that in addition to no evidence of ‘premium pay’, the health risks of regular night work include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression and adds workers, particularly women, are at greater risk of harassment and attacks in their journey to and from work when it’s late at night.
TUC news release. 3 November 2022

Britain: Tram staff anger over treatment of terminally ill workers
GMB members working across Nottingham’s tram network have begun balloting for industrial action over the mistreatment of two terminally ill GMB members employed by Keolis, the company responsible for the city's tram system. The move was announced after the company said it would slash the pay of veteran workers Robert Currie and David Brown as they battle life-threatening conditions.
GMB news release. 3 November 2022

Britain: New guide on shooting intimate scenes 
Creatives union Bectu has published guidance for shooting intimate scenes in the UK film and TV industry. Authored by its Intimacy Coordinators Branch, practicing intimacy coordinators and film and TV professionals, the guide establishes a set of industry standards.
Bectu news release and full guidance. 3 November 2022

Global: End impunity for crimes against journalists - NUJ
UK journalists’ union NUJ is backing a call for an end to violence against journalists and for those responsible to be held to account. On 2 November 2022, International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the NUJ said it was throwing its weight behind the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) campaign.
NUJ news release. IFJ news release. 3 November 2022

Britain: Aberdeen school action over 'violent' pupils
Teachers at an Aberdeen school are being balloted for industrial action over escalating pupil violence against staff. The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said there were serious concerns over the safety of staff at Northfield Academy.
EIS news release. BBC News Online. 3 November 2022

Britain: MPs bullying and humiliating staff, inquiry told
MPs’ staff are being undermined, humiliated and shouted at in public, according to anonymised evidence given to an inquiry by the Speaker of the House of Commons. In submissions to the Speaker’s conference on employment of members’ staff, two unions, Unite and the GMB, said the current system for supporting those who work for MPs was not adequate.
The Guardian. 3 November 2022

Britain: Surveillance software being used on tech workers
One in five tech workers are subject to employee monitoring or gathering technologies, according to a new Prospect survey of members and non-members in tech jobs. Only 11 per cent of respondents reported being very sure what data their employer collects about them and why.
Prospect news release. 3 November 2022

Britain: HSE must combat AI spying at work
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) must be empowered to combat the creeping use of artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor staff in the workplace, MPs have been told. Dr Matthew Cole from the Fairwork, which promotes better working practices for app-based employees, said:“HSE should play a greater role in the regulation of AI systems, to uphold standards of employment,” adding “excessive monitoring” can lead to “increased stress and anxiety and we know they can have significant negative impact on health.”
Connected tech: smart or sinister?, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee investigation, 1 November 2022 oral hearings and video of evidence session. Fairwork. Morning Star. 3 November 2022

Britain: Many skip work and get sick over hygiene shame
People's inability to afford essential hygiene products is leaving many too ashamed to go to work and is adversely affecting their physical and mental health, a charity has revealed. Hygiene Bank suggests 3.2 million UK adults are affected by so-called hygiene poverty, where items like soap, toothpaste and period products are unaffordable - with 12 per cent saying they have avoided facing colleagues as a result.
Hygiene Bank: Hygiene Poverty 2022, October 2022. BBC News Online. 3 November 2022

Britain: HSE blasts offshore firm over asbestos risk
The UK’s safety regulator has reprimanded Apache over its handling of incidents in which offshore workers were potentially exposed to asbestos on its Forties Charlie platform. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued the North Sea operator with two improvement notices after it discovered a six-week delay to the firm’s incident reporting, and a lack of key safety paperwork.
Energy Voice. 3 November 2022

Britain: Director gets community order after fire risk failings
A building firm has been fined £600,000 and its director has been ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and fined £4,200 following serious and repeated failings in managing the risk of fire during work at a construction site. S&S Quality Building Contractors Limited was fined £600,000 plus costs of £36,894 and company director Shlomo Pines pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and received a community order to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and was fined £4,200.
HSE news release. 3 November 2022

Britain: Scottish Hazards Conference, 17 November 2022
The 22nd Scottish Hazards national conference will take place on 17 November, on the theme ‘Organising for Safe and Healthy Work’. Speakers at the in-person event including STUC deputy general secretary Dave Moxham will give updates on campaign issues, including the Fair Work Construction Inquiry, Long Covid and Toxics Use Reduction.
Register for the Scottish Hazards National Conference, 10am – 3.30pm, City of Glasgow College, Glasgow, 17 November 2022. The cost is £60 per delegate, which includes lunch. 3 November 2022

Canada: Manufacturing had most workplace Covid deaths
Working in manufacturing came with the highest risk of work-related Covid death in Ontario, official figures from the Canadian province have shown. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board fatality reports, from the start of the pandemic to the end of 2021, reveal the vast majority of those who died had working class jobs and many received no pay from their employers as they tried to recover.
Toronto Star. 3 November 2022

Gibraltar: No excuse for online abuse of teachers
Teaching union NASUWT has welcomed a statement from the Gibraltar government criticising online abuse of teaching staff. The union is now urging the government, school employers and social media companies to take action immediately to protect teachers and pupils.
NASUWT news release. 3 November 2022

Turkey: Arrests over deadly coal mine blast
Eight suspects have been remanded in custody for “causing the deaths of multiple persons by gross negligence” in an investigation into the 14 October 2022 mine explosion in the Amasra, Turkey. Forty-one mine workers were killed and more than 20 others were injured in the firedamp explosion in the mine operated by the Turkish Hard Coal Enterprise Institution (TTK).
Bianet. 3 November 2022

USA: Serious biolabs incidents go undisclosed
Hundreds of dangerous incidents in US biolabs have occurred but were not disclosed to the public, Freedom of Information Act requests have revealed. An Intercept investigation based on over 5,500 pages of National Institutes of Health documents involving 18 years of lab incident reports has uncovered a litany of mishaps, from malfunctioning equipment to a sedated macaque coming back to life and biting a researcher hard enough to lacerate their hand.
The Intercept. 3 November 2022

Hazards news, 26 October 2022

Britain: Labour leader says Amazon should recognise union
Amazon it should recognise a union in its workplaces, Keir Starmer has said. At the TUC’s annual Congress on 20 October the Labour leader stated: “I would be very clear... to Amazon. They should recognise the GMB,” which has long campaigned for Amazon to recognise the union in order to help improve the company’s record on health and safety issues.
GMB news release. 28 October 2022

Britain: Train drivers shouldn’t be dying for a toilet
A train driver was killed after getting out of his cab to urinate at the track side because there were no toilets on board, drivers’ union ASLEF has said. The union is waiting for the Department for Transport’s Rail Accident Investigation Branch to produce its report into the tragedy - but it is calling on all rail operators to remedy the lack of facilities for train crew where no toilet is provided on board.
Morning Star. 28 October 2022

Britain: Magistrates’ courts strike over ‘unworkable’ computer system
PCS members at magistrates’ courts across England and Wales have gone on strike over a computer system which they say is wrecking their working lives. The union says the Common Platform computer system forced on them by HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) is “unworkable,” adding it had increased stress among workers and sometimes kept them working until midnight recording court cases.  
PCS news release. Morning Star. 28 October 2022

Britain: Ambulance strike ballot over ‘unsafe’ services
More than 15,000 ambulance workers across 11 trusts in England and Wales are voting on strike action. Workers are angry over the government’s imposed 4 per cent pay award as well as unsafe staffing levels across the ambulance service.
GMB news release. 28 October 2022

Britain: Woolwich Ferry use of agency staff ‘unsafe’
Unite has written to London Assembly members to raise concerns about the poorly trained agency workers being used to run a limited service during the Woolwich Ferry strike. The union has called on GLA members to give an assurance that the agency staffing arrangements, along with the condition of the boats, “give no cause for concern as far as safety is concerned.”
Unite news release. 28 October 2022

Britain: Bristol council strike over unsustainable workloads
Around 50 housing officers and team leaders, responsible for managing Bristol council’s 27,000 tenancies, have taken strike action over unsustainable workloads. The Unite members say they are angry Bristol council is refusing to act, even though the extra work is causing high rates of stress and anxiety.
Unite news release. 28 October 2022

Britain: Avanti West Coast stressing out staff
Bosses at the strike-hit train company Avanti claim they have imposed rosters is to prevent cancellations, but the rail union RMT says the truth is that the company’s neglect has resulted in ‘dreadfully low morale’ among staff. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Avanti… show little concern for the health and safety of our members as some of their rostering proposals would lead to unacceptable levels of fatigue amongst train managers.”
RMT news release. BBC News Online. 28 October 2022

Britain: CWU rep receives TUC’s top safety award
A Communication Workers’ Union safety rep has received the TUC’s top safety award. Jamie McGovern, who was announced as the winner of the 2022 Health and Safety Rep Award at TUC’s Congress, said trade unionism was now more relevant than ever, adding: “You are better supported when you are united.”
TUC Award Winners 2022. 28 October 2022

Britain: Lawyer’s suicide linked to work pressure
A Welsh government lawyer whose job included writing Covid laws killed himself after struggling with work pressure and pandemic lockdowns, an October 2022 inquest has heard. Owain Vaughan Morgan, 44, had not suffered depression until 2020, Pontypridd Coroners' Court was told, with Coroner Gaynor Kynaston, recording a verdict of suicide, and telling the court Mr Morgan had subsequently suffered “acute” mental health problems related to work stress and low self-esteem.
BBC News Online.
ACTION! Tell the HSE to recognise, record and take action to prevent work-related suicides. More on work-related suicides. 28 October 2022

Britain: HSE expert committee calls for work suicide reporting
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been told by its own expert group that it would be ‘beneficial’ if work-related suicides were reportable. The independent Workplace Health Expert Committee (WHEC) added: “While there are clear differences in risks of suicide between occupational groups in the UK, current means to identify high risk organisations and workplaces are weak.”
Work-related suicide, Evidence Review Paper, HSE Workplace Health Expert Committee (WHEC), WHEC-18, 2022.
WHEC experts will discuss the suicide report in a free lunchtime seminar from 1.00 to 2.00pm on Wednesday 16 November 2022. Registration is required. 26 October 2022

Britain: New push to eliminate toxic substances at work.
A new ‘Eliminating toxic substances at work’ website is aiming to provide workers and their trade union representatives with a ‘one stop’ access to information, innovative solutions and case studies to highlight how reduction or elimination of these substances can be achieved.  The resource, developed by Greater Manchester Hazards Centre (GMHC) with funding from the CSEU Alex Ferry fund, was launched at the North West TUC’s occupational health and safety conference.
Eliminating Toxic Substances at Work website. NW TUC health and safety conference. 28 October 2022

Britain: Sunak appoints ally Stride as new DWP secretary
New prime minister Rishi Sunak has appointed close ally Mel Stride as work and pensions secretary. The new Cabinet minister has responsibility for a wide brief, including work, health and disability and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Stride ran both of Sunak’s leadership campaigns.
DWP webpage entry on Mel Stride. BBC News Online. 28 October 2022

Britain: Worker scalded to death at industrial cleaning company
A catering equipment cleaning company has been fined £200,000 plus costs of £14,597.17 after a worker died as a result of falling into a tank of hot water. On 8 January 2018, Stephen Wohler was standing on the lid of a covered tank at Pan Glo (UK) Ltd, in Skelmersdale, Lancashire when he fell through the lid into hot water heated to 76 degrees Celsius, with the 58-year-old dying a week later in hospital.
HSE news release. Lancashire Evening Post. 28 October 2022

Britain: Nestlé fined £800,000 after worker seriously injured
Confectionery to cleaning products multinational Nestlé has been fined after a Newcastle worker was left seriously injured when his arm got caught in an unguarded Rolo machine at the company's Fawdon factory. The 25-year-old maintenance technician was underneath the ‘Rolo Racetrack’ machine assessing an issue on 20 November 2020, when his sleeve got caught in a roller and trapped his left arm, causing multiple fractures and soft tissue damage.
HSE news release. Newcastle Chronicle. 28 October 2022

Britain: Supporting workers with Long Covid, TUC webinar, 27 October 2022
Long Covid is still affecting the day-to-day activities of 1.4 million people in the UK. But many workers are not getting the support they need from their employer. Join a one-hour TUC webinar on 27 October to hear what employers should be doing to support workers and how reasonable adjustments can be used to help workers dealing with the impact of Long Covid.
Register! Supporting workers with Long Covid, TUC webinar, Thursday 27 October 2022, 14:00-15:00. 28 October 2022

Colombia: Teleperformance workers’ ‘trauma’ moderating TikTok
A Bureau of Investigative Journalism probe has exposed the gut-wrenching experiences and alarming treatment of workers moderating TikTok videos for global contact centre giant Teleperformance in Colombia. Workers say they are exposed to child sexual abuse, murder, cannibalism and extreme animal cruelty.
Bureau of Investigative Journalism report. UNI news release. Time Magazine. 28 October 2022

Europe: Red card for countries over fundamental failure
A majority of EU member states are failing to support health and safety at work as a fundamental and international right – despite voting for it to become one, the Europe-wide union federation ETUC has said. The ETUC has given ‘red card’ warnings to Italy, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Estonia and Malta, who have ratified neither of the ILO’s fundamental safety conventions; Germany, France, The Netherlands, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Ireland and Latvia get an ETUC amber card.
ETUC news release. 28 October 2022

Korea: Boycott of food giant spreads after worker’s death
A boycott of companies affiliated with SPC Group, Korea’s leading food company, has been gaining momentum after a 23-year-old worker died on the floor of a bread factory affiliated with SPC. The tragedy on 15 October 2022 came as part of a growing public sentiment that large companies have crossed a line in trivialising workers’ safety.
Hankyoreh. 28 October 2022

USA: Surgeon general says work health risks a ‘priority
The US Surgeon General has identified protecting workers’ mental and physical health as one of his top priorities. A new report from Vivek Murthy cites workplace trends like quiet quitting and the Great Resignation as signals of the damage done to Americans by problems like endless hours, unpaid leave, and chronic stress.
US Surgeon General priorities and US Surgeon General’s Framework for Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing, October 2022. Stat News. 28 October 2022

USA: UPS worker’s suicide exposes ‘tragic’ conditions
The suicide of a worker at UPS Worldport, the largest automated package sorting facility in the world, has highlighted the company’s brutal working conditions, her co-workers have said. The suicide on the premises in Louisville, Kentucky, which employs around 20,000 workers and is capable of handling 115 packages a second, happened on 5 October 2022 and is under investigation by Louisville Metro police.
The Guardian. 28 October 2022

Hazards news, 20 October 2022

Britain: Government risks voter backlash over rights bonfire
The Conservative government will face a “significant” voter backlash, including losing all ‘red wall seats’ and those of several of the Tory party’s ‘big beasts’, if it follows through on plans to rip up key workplace protections which originated from EU law, the TUC has said. The warning came as the union body published data from its new MRP poll which revealed ‘whopping’ nationwide and cross-party support for protecting EU-derived workers’ rights.
TUC news release. 21 October 2022

Britain: HSE must get more funds and more staff – unions 
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) must be provided with the appropriate funding to do its job, with increased staffing and better pay, unions have said. A motion passed unanimously at TUC’s Congress explained how government cuts have “substantially weakened” the HSE, adding: “It is struggling to effectively regulate as it should across many sectors, from construction and factories to major hazard installations.”
PCS news release. 21 October 2022

Britain: Most workers want shorter working week - survey
Most workers in industries including the engineering, shipbuilding and automotive sectors want a shorter working week with no loss of pay, according to new research. A survey of almost 2,400 workers by the Institute of Employment Rights (IER) showed that more than nine out of 10 supported a cut in the working week. The Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU), which conducted the poll, said the majority of respondents believed the most important benefit would be a better work-life balance and improved mental and physical health.
Morning Star. 21 October 2022

Britain: Retail union welcomes #ShopKind campaign
Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed an action week involving police forces engaging with local businesses, retailers and the community to raise awareness of business crime. The week-long #ShopKind initiative, which kicked off on 17 October, is organised by the National Business Crime Centre, which represents UK police forces and urges the public to be mindful of shopworkers’ essential role serving the public and emphasises that workers should be treated with respect, kindness and gratitude.
Usdaw news release and Freedom from Fear Campaign. 21 October 2022

Britain: Union helps retired union rep get medical error justice
A former UNISON rep has received £225,000 in compensation with the help of the union after a medical error led to his foot being amputated. Dennis Burns, 81, from Middlesborough, was not provided the necessary medicine by his GP when he sought treatment for gout, which then got worse leading to the amputation of his foot.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. 21 October 2022

Britain: Tesco sickness absence policy now covers menopause
Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed Tesco’s agreement to change its sickness absence policy to better support staff experiencing menopause symptoms. Usdaw national officer Daniel Adams commented: “We welcome that Tesco has recognised that women experiencing the menopause need additional support and flexibility and that absence should be managed supportively, not punitively.”
Usdaw news release. 21 October 2022

Britain: HSE not up to its post-Brexit work on chemicals
Key government regulators including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) do not have the necessary staff and skills to protect workers and the public from chemical and other risks, MPs have said. The Commons public accounts committee said government plans to cut budgets at HSE “would mean it was not resourced to take on its new functions and maintain existing ones.”
House of Commons Public Accounts Committee news release, report and Inquiry: Regulation after EU exit. Morning Star. 21 October 2022

Britain: MPs say work suicides should be reported to HSE
Suicides at work should be reported in the same way as occupational accidents and work diseases, a group of MPs has said. An All Party Group Parliamentary Group (APPG) report, “Tackling Male Suicide: A New ‘Whole System’ Approach”, calls for: “Suicides at work to be disclosed as a RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations).”
APPG on issues affecting men and boys. ‘Third enquiry: Male suicide’, news release and report.
ACTION! Tell the HSE to recognise, record and take action to prevent work-related suicides. More on work-related suicides. 21 October 2022

Britain: Monkeypox a risk to UK health workers
Monkeypox can be a significant risk to health care workers, a UK study has found. The researchers concluded: “PPE contamination was observed after clinical contact and changing of bedding,” adding: “Contamination of hard surfaces in doffing areas supports the importance of cleaning protocols, PPE use, and doffing procedures.”
Gould S and others. Air and surface sampling for monkeypox virus in a UK hospital: an observational study. Lancet Microbe, 7 October 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2666-5247(22)00257-9 . NHS England Airborne High Consequence Infectious Diseases Network. 21 October 2022

Britain: Uninsured furniture retailer gets small fine
A furniture retail boss who did not have the insurance that would cover his legal liabilities if a worker suffered an injury or disease as a result of his negligence has escaped with a small fine. Exclusive Oriental Classics Ltd and its director Kian Hoo Tay appeared at Luton Magistrates Court for failing to have Employers’ Liability (Compulsory) Insurance (ELCI) and both were fined £1,650 plus £1,750 costs.
HSE news release. 21 October 2022

Britain: Security guard seriously injured at abattoir
Meat production company Dunbia (UK) has been fined £440,000 after a security guard at an abattoir was seriously injured by a vehicle passing through the site gate. The 63-year-old worker, who was employed by an independent security company, sustained serious leg and head injuries requiring surgery when she was hit by a vehicle towing a trailer. She was holding the gate open at the time.
HSE news release. 21 October 2022

Britain: Petrol blunder saw worker engulfed in flames
A Kent groundwork contractor has been fined £10,000 plus costs of £7,333.42 after a worker sustained serious burns as a result of petrol thrown on a bonfire. The 26-year-old groundworker employed by Kent County Surfacing Ltd was instructed to light the bonfire, but was engulfed in flames as the petrol vapour ignited resulting in serious life-changing burns.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. 21 October 2022

Britain: Bernard Matthews fined after separate injuries
Bernard Matthew’s Food Ltd has been fined following two separate incidents where employees were seriously injured, leaving one paralysed. The turkey giant pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,000.
HSE news release. 21 October 2022

Britain: Supporting workers with Long Covid, TUC webinar, 27 October 2022
Long Covid is still affecting the day-to-day activities of 1.4 million people in the UK. But many workers are not getting the support they need from their employer. Join a one-hour TUC webinar on 27 October to hear what employers should be doing to support workers and how reasonable adjustments can be used to help workers dealing with the impact of Long Covid.
Register! Supporting workers with Long Covid, TUC webinar, Thursday 27 October 2022, 14:00-15:00. 21 October 2022Britain: Do you have, or have you had Long Covid symptoms?
The TUC and the Long Covid Support Employment Group are interested in the experiences of people with Long Covid. Their survey aims to better understand how workers with Long Covid have been treated in the workplace and what support is needed.
If you have experienced Long Covid, complete the survey and share with others. Risks 1064. 20 October 2022

Turkey: IndustriALL mourns after mine ‘homicide’
Mining unions have expressed outrage and sadness after a 14 October explosion in a coal mine in Amasra, Turkey, killed 41 miners. Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, said: “This is a homicide, not an accident”.
IndustriALL news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Bne Intellinews. 21 October 2022

USA: Food giants use smartwatch app to monitor workers
Two of America’s largest meat companies - JBS and Tyson Foods - have invested in a smartwatch application that allows managers to monitor workers’ movements. The start-up behind the application, Mentore, claims to improve worker productivity while reducing injuries, however experts said the use of digital technologies and artificial intelligence to manage workers can have negative effects, such as increased stress and injuries, particularly when companies use the technology to make disciplinary decisions.
Missouri Independent. 21 October 2022

Hazards news, 14 October 2022

Britain: Still no way to bar MPs accused of misconduct
The sacking of Conservative trade minister Conor Burns after a complaint of serious misconduct at the Tory party conference has exposed again the need for greater safeguards to protect parliamentary staff, Prospect has said. Mike Clancy, the union’s general secretary, said the case “highlights once again that no formal mechanism exists to prevent MPs accused of this kind of serious misconduct from attending Westminster and interacting with staff, other MPs, visitors and school groups.”
Prospect news release. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: Urgent action on winter Covid needed
A rise in Covid cases shows a winter plan for Covid is urgently needed, health service union UNISON has said. Commenting on official figures released on 7 October, which showed deaths in England were up almost 10 per cent in the week to 1 October and positive tests were up by over 21 per cent, UNISON assistant general secretary Jon Richards said: “Unless urgent action is taken, cases will surge and schools, hospitals, care homes and other key public services will be without the staff they need to function.”
UK government coronavirus statistics. UNISON news release. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: Scottish firework sales restrictions welcomed
Retail trade union Usdaw has given a qualified welcome to new legislation to improve public safety by banning the supply of fireworks to under-18s in Scotland. The union said the law, which came into force on 10 October, must be backed up with support for the shopworkers who have to enforce the law.
Usdaw news release. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: RMT slams regulator’s cost-cutting priorities
The government’s rail safety and efficiency regulator is giving a higher priority to slashing costs and jobs than the safety and employment conditions of railway staff, the rail union RMT has said. The union was responding to a 6 October Office of Rail and Road (ORR) ‘annual efficiency’ report on Network Rail which found it had made £1.9 billion in efficiency savings in the last three years, largely as a result of ‘workforce reform initiatives’, with a target of billions more in cuts by 2024.
RMT news release. ORR news release. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: Usdaw marks day of action on mental health
Retail trade union Usdaw held its first co-ordinated Day of Action on Mental Health on 10 October 2022, featuring thousands of Usdaw activists holding events in workplaces across the UK to promote mental health awareness. Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary said: “Being in a union is good for your mental health. Usdaw reps are talking about mental health and support members at work every day of the year.”
Usdaw news release, day of action on mental health and ‘it's good to talk’ campaign. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: Conservatives killing off compensation and prevention
The number of workplace injury and disease settlements have dropped by 50 per cent since the Conservatives came to power – despite a dramatic risk in work-related ill-health, new research has found. Following Freedom of Information Act requests in 2012 and 2022, the figures obtained by the workers’ safety journal Hazards show that there were 87,655 claims registered with the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) in 2011/12, but this had fallen to 44,435 in 2021/22 – a 50 per cent drop.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Worth less: Conservatives are burying compensation and prevention, Hazards, number 159, 2022. Personnel Today. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: Ill-health driving record numbers out of the job market
The number of people not looking for work because they are suffering from a long-term illness has hit a record high, latest official figures show. The jobless rate fell to 3.5 per cent in the three months to August, its lowest for nearly 50 years, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said as the economic inactivity rate increased to 21.7 per cent in the June to August period, with those inactive because they are long-term sick hitting a record high of nearly 2.5 million.
Labour market overview, UK: October 2022, ONS, 11 October 2022. BBC News Online Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: New call for decent work
The Liz Truss government’s new policy priorities show decent work is something it does not value, the UK Hazards Campaign has said. Commenting on 7 October, the World Day for Decent Work, the campaign said: “The latest proposed bonfire of employment and health and safety regulations of everything that originated in the EU and the shackling of trade unions, will place workers enslaved in low paid, dangerous, unhealthy work at the behest of unscrupulous employers.”
Hazards Campaign news release. World Day for Decent Work. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: Mental health support must be the employer priority
Supporting staff wellbeing is not only the right thing for bosses to do but could also benefit Britain’s economy, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said. Commenting on the 10 October International Mental Health Day, HSE said a supportive working environment can improve productivity and performance, and workers are more likely to stay with an employer that prioritises good mental health.
HSE news release and Working Minds campaign.
Mental health at work: Policy brief, ILO/WHO, 28 September 2022. Unravelling: Mental health at work is a trade union issue, Hazards, number 159, September 2022. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: Work stress tops 'Sunday scaries' causes
Nearly one in seven (67 per cent) Britons experience anxiety about the week ahead, dubbed the ‘Sunday scaries’, with work stress the most common trigger, a UK government study has shown. The research by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities also found 53 per cent of people feel anxious about working in person, compared to 6 per cent of people who feel anxious about working at home.
DHSC news release and Every Mind Matters campaign. The Observer. Sky News. Daily Mail. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: New fund for work and mental health support
The UK government says a new £122 million fund will provide people receiving mental health support with employment advice to help them stay in work or return to the job market quicker, with the right support in place. The service, with will be available in England, brings therapists and employment advisers together to help people with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression find work tailored to them.
DWP news release. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: Caped crusaders demand asbestos justice
Campaigners working with families hit by deadly asbestos diseases are demanding a donation of £10 million from the multinational Cape to fund research on a cure for the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK (the Forum) call came in a demonstration outside the Warrington offices of Cape/ALTRAD. Dressed as ‘Caped Defenders of Justice’, the protesters demanded Cape Intermediate Holdings Ltd pay up after the company lost a major Supreme Court case.
Asbestos Forum news release, campaign, video and Cape documents. Sign the petition urging Cape to pay up. Warrington Guardian. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: Slavery order against unsafe car wash owner
The owner of a Kent hand car wash has had been handed a 10-year slavery order. Margate Magistrates’ Court approved the application for a full Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order (STRO) against Genc Gjocaj at a hearing on 6 October over concerns about the Margate car wash in relation to the absence of protective equipment, contracts and payslips for the workers.
GLAA news release. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Britain: Firm fined after factory’s chlorine gas leak
A chemicals company has been fined after releasing a cloud of toxic chlorine gas that spread through its factory, yard and the surrounding area resulting in staff needing hospital treatment and significant damage to the factory. On 12 June 2019, Wiltshire company GEA Farm Technologies (UK) Ltd mistakenly put an Intermediate Bulk Container (IBC) containing approximately 700 kg of concentrated sulphuric acid into a mixing vessel which already contained 1,600 litres of sodium hypochlorite solution, the chemicals reacted releasing a large cloud of toxic chlorine gas, which CCTV footage showed as it permeated the factory and surrounding area.
HSE news release. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Europe: ‘Patchy commitment’ to workplace safety
The June 2022 decision to recognise occupational health and safety as an International Labour Organisation ‘fundamental’ right was a major victory for trade unions, progressive governments, OSH professionals and victims’ groups. Now Claes-Mikael Stahl and Owen Tudor, respectively deputy general secretaries of the European and global union federations ETUC and ITUC, say unions are turning their attention to the harder task of putting the paper win into practice, as only 11 of the European Union’s 27 member states have ratified both core conventions – Convention 155 covers occupational health and safety, 187 its promotion.
Social Europe. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Global: UK firms driving human rights abuses abroad
UK companies operating overseas are afforded far greater legal protections than the citizens of the countries they operate in, a new report has fund. The Transform Trade charity said none of UK’s 99 current bilateral investment treaties (BITs) contain provisions in relation to human rights.
People Centred Trade - Why we need to transform trade now, Transform Trade, September 2022. The Guardian. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Global: Call to action on asbestos bans
Despite absolutely certainty of the cancer-causing properties of asbestos, many countries have yet to recognise the urgency of banning asbestos and do not support World Health Organisation’s (WHO) aim of reducing or ending the incidence of asbestos-related cancers, top cancer specialists have warned. Writing in the journal Lancet Oncology, they say say as the global asbestos cancer “epidemic shows no sign of abating, oncologists should reinforce the idea that the continued harm caused by asbestos cannot be reduced without ceasing all asbestos mining and trade, increasing public awareness, enforcing regulations, and improving diagnosis and treatment.”
Nico van Zandwijk. John E J Rasko. Anthony M George. Arthur L Frank. Glen Reid. The silent malignant mesothelioma epidemic: a call to action, Perspectives, Essay, Lancet Oncology, volume 23, issue 10, pages 1245-1248, 1 October 2022. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(22)00269-8. Risks 1063. 14 October 2022

Hazards news, 6 October 2022

Britain: Airport workers call for action on death road
Liverpool council must act without delay to address the hazardous conditions on road near to the city’s airport, Unite has said. The call follows the recent death of Unite member, Cinzia Ceravolo in August as she was trying to cross Hale Road on her journey home from work at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.  
Unite news release, film and open letter to Liverpool mayor Joanne Anderson. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Britain: RMT warning of rail disaster repeat risk
Twenty-three years after 31 lives were lost in the Ladbroke Grove rail disaster, rail union RMT has warned that government policy is in danger of dragging the railways closer towards ‘the same cocktail of conditions that lead to tragedy’ on 5 October 1999. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The proliferation of private agencies and contractors, often employing casual staff on zero hours contracts is rapidly dragging us back to the edge.”
RMT news release. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Britain: Rail workers fight for a safe, sustainable network
Ongoing rail strikes involving the unions RMT, ASLEF, TSSA and Unite are critical to the fight for a safe and sustainable rail system, the global transport unions’ federation ITF has said. The demands of ITF’s global ITF campaign for Safe and Sustainable Rail include “safety - ensuring railways are properly staffed and that staff have decent pay and conditions, as well as proper training on occupational health and safety.”
ITF news release. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Britain: Serco workers strike over impossible rosters
Royal Navy vessels using the dockyard at Plymouth will be unable to refuel on 7 and 8 October as barge crews take strike action over the imposition of a punishing rota system. The dozen barge crew workers, who are members of Unite, are in dispute with their employer, outsourcing giant Serco, over the imposition an ‘impossible’ roster.
Unite news release. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Britain: Concerns grow over ‘sunsetting’ of EU rules
Alarm at government plans to ‘sunset’ all retained EU laws is spreading. The laws, which include many key employment protections and 55 workplace safety and chemical regulations, are being targeted as part of a government drive to remove “burdensome EU regulation”. The Brexit Freedoms Bill proposes to end the special status retained EU law has on the UK statute books by 2023.
CIEH news report. BEIS retained EU law dashboard. Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Britain: Rees-Mogg seeking to bypass HSE fracking scrutiny
Ministers are actively examining ways to evade legal scrutiny of new oil and gas projects, including fracking. The Guardian reports that senior staff working on energy projects in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have been instructed to look into ideas raised by Jacob Rees-Mogg, the business secretary, including a move to “streamline” requirements from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), with the email noting this “would speed matters up further”.
The Guardian. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Britain: Action call on workplace suicide prevention
One-in-four employees admit to having experienced suicidal thoughts at work, research by a suicide charity has found. Announcing its findings based on responses from 2,001 UK adults, R;pple said its new ‘Working 9-Alive’ campaign is seeking mandatory suicide prevention requirements on employers, “entrenched in their existing health and safety policies.”
Ripple Suicide Prevention. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Britain: Protesters urge work disease centre rethink
Campaigners fighting to keep open a specialist occupational disease assessment site are to take to the streets in protest. Barrow's Phoenix House is among several sites across the country to have been earmarked for closure by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and processes benefits claims for people with industrial injuries.
North West Mail. Asbestos Forum. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Britain: Firms fined for workers’ excessive radiation exposure
A company that provides diagnostic imaging services, and its radiopharmaceutical subsidiary company, have been given six-figure fines following incidents at two sites in which employees were exposed to radiation. Medical Limited pleaded guilty to criminal breaches of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 and was fined £300,000 plus £11,382 costs; Alliance Medical Radiopharmacy Limited, also pleaded guilty and was fined £120,000 with £11,382 costs.
HSE news release and advice, Health and Safety: Ionising Radiation. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Global: BBC ‘endangering’ World Service Vietnamese staff
Journalists at the BBC World Service have said plans to move its Vietnamese service from London to Thailand pose a danger to press freedom and to its journalists. Several reporters at the World Service raised concerns that the Vietnamese state had a history of abducting journalists from Thailand.
The Guardian. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Britain: HSE silica inspection initiative targets manufacturers
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors have begun a targeted inspection initiative focusing on manufacturing businesses where materials that contain silica are used. However, HSE had faced sustained criticism for refusing to introduce a tighter exposure standard for respirable silica, with the current standard lagging significantly behind international best practice and leading to significant levels of occupational disease even where it is observed.
HSE news release and updates on the HSE silica campaign.
ACTION: Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective UK silica standard no higher than 0.05mg/m³ and with a phased move to 0.025mg/m³. www.hazards.org/HSEstopkillingus. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Cancer risks in healthcare workers, ETUI webinar, 12 October
In the healthcare sector, 12.7 million workers across the EU are potentially exposed to Hazardous Medicinal Products (HMPs). These can also pose health risks to nurses, pharmacists, cleaners and other exposed workers. The Europe-wide trade union research institute ETUI, which is to run a 12 October webinar on the issue, has identified 121 HMPs commonly used in the healthcare sector which can cause cancer or reproductive disorders in professionals exposed to them.
Cancer risks in healthcare workers: Identification of Hazardous Medicinal Products (HMPs), ETUI webinar, 10-11am UK time, 12 October 2022. Register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
The ETUI's list of hazardous medicinal products (HMPs), ETUI report, October 2022. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Global: New ILO head puts social justice first
The new director-general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said social justice and equality will be cornerstones of his approach. Gilbert F Houngbo, whose term as head of the UN employment rights body began on 1 October 2022 identified occupational health and safety as one of six key priorities, noting: “Another important point is the major decision taken by the International Labour Conference (ILC) in June, for the integration of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) as part of the Fundamental Conventions.”
ILO news release. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Global: Health and care workers hurt by pandemic
At least a quarter of health and care workers surveyed reported anxiety, depression and burnout symptoms working in the pandemic, new research has found. A report by the Qatar Foundation, World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘Our duty of care: A global call to action to protect the mental health of health and care workers’, found that 23 to 46 per cent of health and care workers reported symptoms of anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic and 20 to 37 per cent experienced depressive symptoms; burnout among health and care workers during the pandemic ranged from 41 to 52 per cent in pooled estimates
WHO news release and report, Our duty of care: A global call to action to protect the mental health of health and care workers, October 2022. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Korea: Make road transport ‘safe rates’ laws permanent
There is overwhelming evidence for the link between road safety and driver pay, international experts and global union leaders have told South Korean lawmakers.  A discussion forum on the ‘Global Trends towards Safe Rates and Implications for Legislative Improvements’ was held in the South Korean National Assembly on 28 September, the day before a parliamentary committee started reviewing an extension of Safe Rates legislation, which is set to lapse at the end of the year.
ITF news release. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

USA: Amazon sues regulator after safety action
Amazon, the world’s biggest retailer, is suing a workplace safety regulator in Washington state, after it was penalised for a series of safety violations. In its 3 October 2022 court filings, Amazon argued the measures required by the regulator to mitigate risks would be ‘tremendously disruptive’ and require a ‘costly study’.
Seattle Times. Lincoln Star Journal. Confined Space. Risks 1062. 6 October 2022

Hazards news, 29 September 2022

Britain: Attacking employment rights is bad for safety
The Tory government’s plans for union ballots outlined by the chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng on 23 September will undermine safety and working conditions, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea has warned. She said: “By threatening every employment right won through the membership of the EU, ministers are showing a blatant disregard for the health, safety and well-being of working people.”
UNISON news release. Kwasi Kwarteng speech. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Britain: Climate and safety complacency a threat to firefighting
A “horrible complacency” about the impact of the climate emergency on the fire service has left it under-funded and ill-prepared, the general secretary of the firefighters’ union FBU has warned. Matt Wrack said: “It has become a case of what else can we do when they ignore us on staffing levels, ignore us on PPE equipment and then they ignore us on pay as well,” he said.
FBU news release. The Guardian. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Britain: Labour backs action on violence against public workers
Retail trade union Usdaw has welcomed a decision at the Labour Party conference to support investment in improved protection for public-facing workers, who it says are suffering unprecedented levels of abuse. Speaking at the conference, Usdaw deputy general secretary Dave McCrossen said Yvette Cooper’s 27 September speech to the conference “promising £360 million for community led policing is a real step forward to ensuring victims of crime get the justice they deserve.”
Usdaw news release. Yvette Cooper speech. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Global: Workers' rights central to cleaning up shipping
Governments must incentivise employers to ensure workers are given appropriate time and financial support to retrain and develop their skills to meet zero carbon targets, seafarers’ union Nautilus has said.  “A sustainable future for the maritime industry cannot simply be about technological innovation,” the union’s general secretary Mark Dickinson said, adding: “It must ensure jobs are protected, education and skills are accessible, safety is paramount, all while engaging an increasingly diverse and representative workforce.”
Nautilus news release. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Britain: Tories bringing on the ‘death of decency’ at work
Decent work is the hallmark of a modern, progressive economy but the Conservative government doesn’t want it, won’t police it and thinks workers should not have the power to defend it, a new report has charged. The analysis in the workers’ safety journal Hazards presents evidence suggesting “new prime minister Liz Truss is planning for a low paid, lawless and disposable worker UK plc.”
Death of decency: Conservatives promise a deadly bonfire of rights, Hazards, number 159, September 2022. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Britain: Tory assault on workplace rights begins
The UK government’s push to removed EU-derived employment and safety rights is underway. On 22 September, the government published its Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill in the House of Commons – a total of 55 health and safety laws are on the government’s scrutiny list, including the ‘big six’ workplace safety laws introduced in response to EU directives.
Thompsons Solicitors news release and update. BEIS news story and retained EU law dashboard. Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Britain: Seasonal worker visas could increase slavery risk
More people will be at risk of modern slavery on British farms if a cap on seasonal worker visas is lifted, labour rights experts have warned. Liz Truss has signalled that she intends to lift the cap on foreign workers in seasonal agriculture as part of a review of visas to tackle labour shortages.
FLEX news release. The Guardian. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Britain: Directors get small fines for asbestos crimes
Two directors of a construction company have received small fines for their criminal failure to ensure the safe removal of asbestos from a plot of land. Anthony Sumner and Neil Brown, both directors of Waterbarn Limited, were involved in the uncontrolled removal of asbestos from the plot in Grasscroft, Oldham; both were fined £1,400 and ordered to pay costs of £2,418.33.
HSE news release. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Britain: Catalyst firm fined after motor blasts through roof
A chemical manufacturing company has been fined after an explosion led to a reactor bursting open and ejecting a motor through a roof. CatAlloy Limited pleaded guilty to two criminal safety offences and was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,000
HSE news release. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Britain: HSE campaign to combat site strains and pains
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning that construction workers are picking up injuries and conditions as a result of manual handling that can stop them working and leave them struggling to stand, walk or sit down. It says HSE inspectors will be carrying out 1,000 inspections in October and November checking how workers are moving heavy or bulky materials.
HSE news release and resources, Manual handling assessment charts (the MAC tool) and WorkRight Construction: Your health. Your future – Work Right to keep Britain safe. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Global: UN agencies back mental health at work action
The United Nations agencies with responsibility for employment and health – the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) – have published their first ever joint policy brief on good practice on mental health at work. The new resource, which is strongly supportive of the union role in securing solutions, notes 11 per cent of depression worldwide is attributable to occupational risks, with 12 billion working days lost worldwide every year to depression and anxiety.
Mental health at work: Policy brief, ILO/WHO, 28 September 2022. Unravelling: Mental health at work is a trade union issue, Hazards, number 159, September 2022. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Global: Unions in action to stamp out harassment
The ground-breaking work of unions to secure the ratification and implementation of a key International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention to tackle violence and harassment in the world of work has been captured by a new ITUC survey and report, as part of the ITUC’s #RatifyC190 campaign. The survey of 107 ITUC-affiliated unions in 70 countries revealed that 97 per cent of trade unions surveyed have worked to secure the ratification and implementation of Convention 190.
ITUC news release. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Argentina: Strike wins quick offshore safety deal
Unions representing thousands of striking Argentine oil workers called off a strike one day after it started after a meeting with business leaders produced a deal on greater safety measures and training for employees. The strike was triggered by a fire in a storage tank which caused an explosion at the New American Oil (NAO) refinery in the town of Plaza Huincul in western Neuquen province, leaving left three workers dead and one injured.
Reuters. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Europe: New EU asbestos limit leaves workers at risk
Responsible EU action on asbestos exposure could save up to 90,000 lives a year across Europe – but the European Commission has sided with business lobbyists who want to limit measures in order to save money. A new European Commission proposal says the asbestos exposure limit should be reduced to 0.01 fibres/cm3, a tenth the current limit, however, the European Parliament had called for a new limit of 0.001 fibres/cm3, based on the recommendation of the International Commission of Occupational Health.
ETUC news release. European Commission news release. Politico. Risks 1061. 29 September 2022

Hazards news, 23 September 2022

Britain: Legal challenge against ‘strike-breaking’ law
Eleven trade unions, coordinated by the TUC have begun legal proceedings to protect the right to strike. The unions – ASLEF, BFAWU, FDA, GMB, NEU, NUJ, POA, PCS, RMT, Unite and Usdaw – have taken the case against the government’s new regulations which allow agency workers to fill in for striking workers and break strikes.
TUC news release and submission to ILO committee of experts, September 2022. Thompsons Solicitors news release. BFAWU news release. NASUWT news release. UNISON news release. Usdaw news release. The Guardian and related story. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Britain: TUC warning on dangerously lax labour laws
The TUC has warned the government that another P&O style scandal is on the cards, unless ministers deliver stronger protections for workers. The warning came on 17 September, the six-month anniversary of the P&O scandal, which saw 800 seafarers illegally sacked without notice and consultation.
Nautilus news release. Morning Star. LabourList. More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Britain: Furlough had ‘damaging’ impact on UK pilots
Flight safety and the performance of pilots could have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 furlough, research supported by the UK pilots’ union BALPA has found. The study carried out by Dr Simon Bennett, director of Leicester University’s Civil Safety and Security Unit, with the assistance of the BALPA, found that many felt their performance on return to work post-furlough was not satisfactory, and that morale across the industry had been impacted by inadequate government and employer actions.
BALPA news release, full study and summary. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Britain: Milk disruption continues over bad Muller rotas
HGV drivers and shunters at Mullers’ Stonehouse factory in Gloucestershire are taking further strike action over imposed rota changes they say are detrimental to their quality of life. The change to a five days on, two days off rota system contravenes an agreement with Unite signed by the company earlier this year.
Unite news release. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Britain: Union concern at trade show harassment claims
Stage and screen technical union Bectu has said it is dismayed at reports of sexual harassment and bullying at the Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA) Show. Commenting after this year’s PLASA Show, held at Olympia London from 4-6 September, the union said “bullying and harassment is unacceptable in all its forms and Bectu will always work to stamp out this sort of behaviour, which has no place in our industry.”
Bectu news release. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Britain: Cornwall to cut vital fire service control operation
The firefighters’ union FBU has said Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service should be ‘utterly ashamed’ at plans to scrap its entire control operation on money-saving grounds. The provision by firefighter control staff, who handle calls from the public, provide safety guidance and deploy resources during incidents, is set to end in April 2023.
FBU news release. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Britain: Payout for road injuries on the way to work
A school administrator who was seriously injured when she was hit by a car on her way to work, has received over £287,000 compensation with the help of her union. UNISON member Michelle Miller, 49, was on her way to Kingsmead Primary School in Hackney, London, when she sustained multiple life-changing injuries – both physical and psychological – as a result being hit by a car being driven on the wrong side of road.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Britain: Compensation doubt for NHS Covid deaths
The government payouts for families of NHS workers who died in the pandemic are to end. More than 700 bereaved families have so far received a £60,000 compensation payment following the death of a health or care worker from Covid-19 - however, the Nursing Standard reports there are fears others could be left struggling following the closure of life assurance schemes across the UK.
Nursing Standard. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Britain: Firefighters warn 100-hour weeks are ‘gamble with safety’
Firefighters are taking second jobs and working up to 100 hours a week to make ends meet, leading to growing concerns that an increasingly exhausted workforce is resulting in a “gamble with public safety”. Wages in the fire service are often about £30,000 but can be as low as £23,000.
FBU news release. The Observer. More on the hazards of low pay. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Britain: Firm fined £200,000 after machine cleaning injury
Mexichem Specialty Compounds Limited, a company specialising in the manufacture of stabilisers and additives used in plastic products. has been fined £200,000 plus £7,846.78 costs after an employee suffered serious hand injuries while cleaning machinery. The employee was attempting to clean a rotary valve, standing with one foot on the machinery framework and the other on a ladder, when he slipped, resulting in a severed fingertip and lacerations to his hand.
HSE news release. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Britain: Bosses failed to control risks from vibration
Two partners in a construction firm have been fined for failing to adequately control the risk to its employees from exposure to vibration, with one developing hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Andrew Hatto and Paul Kiff, trading as Roywood Contractors, pleaded guilty to two criminal breaches of the Control of Vibration Regulations 2005 and were each fined £1,150 and ordered to pay costs of £3,500 each.
HSE news release. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Europe: Unions back ban on forced labour goods
A new EU ban on good produced through forced labour is crucial to tackling the rise in the number of victims of modern slavery, Europe-wide trade union body ETUC has said. The European Commission has proposed a prohibition on products found to have been made using forced labour from sale in the EU, whether they are made in the EU or in third countries.
ETUC news release. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

France: Authorities link asbestos to more cancers
Some cancers of the larynx and ovaries are linked to exposure to asbestos, French health authorities have confirmed. Laryngeal and ovarian cancers are “under-reported and under-recognised” when they are linked to occupational exposure to this material, reported the National Health Security Agency (Anses), in a move clears the way for better compensation for affected individuals, with Anses supporting the addition of both cancers to the list of occupational diseases officially recognised in France.
France Télévisions. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Turkey: Children sickened in plastics recycling jobs
Children as young as nine are working in plastic waste recycling centres in Turkey, putting them at risk of serious and lifelong health conditions, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).  In a new report, HRW accuses the Turkish government of exacerbating the health and environmental impact on the workers by failing to enforce laws that require strict licensing and regular inspections of recycling centres.
HRW news release and report, “It’s As If They’re Poisoning Us”. The Health Impacts of Plastic Recycling in Turkey, 21 September 2022. The Guardian. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

USA: Three farm deaths, but regulators are powerless
The deaths of three people killed after being trapped in a grain silo in Pennsylvania will not be investigated because they died on a family farm. Andrew Beiler, 47, and his two sons - a 19-year-old and a 14-year-old whose names were not released - died of asphyxiation from “silo gas” - one son was overcome by fumes, and his father and sibling attempted a rescue, but all three were asphyxiated.
Confined Space blog. Risks 1060. 23 September 2022

Hazards news, 15 September 2022

Britain: Stark TUC warning to Liz Truss on workers’ rights
The TUC has urged the new prime minister “not to touch our hard-won workers’ rights”. It has been reported that Liz Truss will review all rights which derive from EU law, including safety rules, holiday pay, safe limits on working time and equal pay – with a view to watering down or getting rid of those rights.
Unite news release. Usdaw news release. Prospect news release. Financial Times. Morning Star and related story. The Guardian. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Britain: New PM must tackle harassment in Westminster
The general secretaries of Prospect and FDA trade unions have written to the new prime minister, calling on her to “restore confidence that Parliament, and Westminster politics more broadly, is a safe place to work”. The letter encourages the prime minister to work with the Speaker of the House of Commons and other party leaders to introduce a formal mechanism to prevent MPs accused of serious sexual misconduct from attending Parliament and to “commit to restoring ethics and standards in public life.”
Prospect news release. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Britain: PCS slams Cabinet Office computer surveillance
The union PCS has raised concerns about a worrying Big Brother-style development which could be used to victimise home-working civil servants. The Cabinet Office says it has introduced surveillance in a bid to boost efficiency following a fall in office occupancy, despite thousands of civil servants working from home since 2020 and successfully delivering services to the public.
PCS news release. Morning Star. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Britain: NHS crisis can only be solved by making work better
Britain’s waiting times crisis can’t be addressed successfully without fixing workforce issues, health service union has said UNISON. Commenting on new figures showing record waiting times for NHS treatment in England, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said; “If the new Prime Minister’s serious about tackling problems in the NHS, that must start with a serious plan to keep hold of existing staff.”
UNISON news release. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Britain: Chloe Smith named work and pensions secretary
Chloe Smith has replaced Thérèse Coffey as work and pensions secretary in new prime minister Liz Truss’ first cabinet. The Conservative MP has been a minister in the department since September 2021, with her brief including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - that role, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, has now been absorbed into her secretary of state role, so there is no longer a junior minister of state with dedicated responsibility for health and safety at work.
DWP news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Britain: Anger at the ‘political hijacking’ of HSE
The UK Hazards Campaign has said it is deeply concerned at the ‘political hijacking’ of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), leaving it without a TUC representative on its board for the first time in the regulator’s near 50-year history. The seat usually occupied by a high-ranking TUC official has remained vacant for a year after the TUC’s highly qualified pick to replace TUC head of organising Kevin Rowan, who had completed his terms on the HSE board, was twice rejected by the work and pensions secretary.
Hazards Campaign news release. Morning Star. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Britain: New PM must not ‘compromise’ work safety rules
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has highlighted ‘3 Key Areas for Action’ to support UK workers, in a letter to the new prime minister. Referring to “an increasingly uncertain labour market”, IOSH chief executive Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher noted occupational health and safety is now an ILO fundamental right at work and stressed that the UK government’s focus should not be on compromising health and safety standards but on reinforcing them to allow workplaces to be positive drivers of innovation, improved productivity and sustainability.
IOSH news release. HSE’s first ever TUC-free board. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Britain: UK businesses neglecting work-related suicides
Businesses in the UK are not doing enough to prevent work-related suicides, the  Hazards Campaign warned ahead of World Suicide Prevention day on 10 September. Using data from the Office for National Statistics, Hazards Campaign research found as many as 650 suicides in the UK each year could be work-related, equalling 10 per cent of all suicides in the country.
HR Magazine. SHP podcast. More on work-related suicide.
ACTION: Tell HSE to act on work-related suicide risks. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Britain: HSE takes small step to reduce work silicosis risks
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says it has ‘refreshed’ its silica guidance for brick and tile manufacturing, stonework and foundries ahead of manufacturing sector focused inspections later this year, in a bid to reduce the risk of related diseases including silicosis. However, HSE has faced sustained criticism for refusing to introduce a tighter exposure standard for respirable silica, with the current standard lagging significantly behind international best practice.
HSE news release, e-bulletin and short video.
ACTION: Send an e-postcard to HSE demanding it introduce a more protective UK silica standard no higher than 0.05mg/m³ and with a phased move to 0.025mg/m³. www.hazards.org/HSEstopkillingus. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Britain: Suspended sentences for managers after site crush death
Two site managers have been handed suspended jail sentences and two construction firms have been fined over the death of 18-year-old Josh Disdel on a housing site. He was clearing a blocked sewer when he was crushed by a van.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Britain: Suspended sentence for roofing contractor after fall death
A roofing contractor has been fined after an employee fell from a roof ladder and died at the scene. Richard Anthony Thornton pleaded guilty to breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 and was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay costs of £3,600.
HSE news release. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Britain: Sickness absence - workers' rights, TUC webinar, 21 September
How can reps ensure their employer is managing sickness absence in a clear and fair way and what support can they offer colleagues who have a brief illness, injury, or a more long-term physical or mental condition? A one-hour TUC webinar starting at 2pm on Wednesday 21 September will hear Labour Research Department expert, Lewis Emery, talk reps through understanding sickness absence policy, negotiating income protections, and how to call on their employer to avoid discrimination when they are managing sickness absence.
Sickness absence - workers' rights, TUC webinar, Wednesday 21 September 2022 14:00-15:00. Register. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Australia: Dossier exposes Qantas outsourcing dangers
Australian transport union TWU is calling on authorities to investigate Qantas’ supply chain. The move comes with publication of the union’s explosive dossier of serious safety breaches at Swissport, the ground handling labour provider carrying out the bulk of Qantas’ ‘illegally outsourced’ work.
TWU news release and dossier of Swissport safety incidents. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Global: Shocking new modern slavery figures
A new estimate that 49.6 million people are in modern slavery on any given day has exposed the need for immediate international action to end this scandal, the global union confederation ITUC has said. ‘Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage’, from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Walk Free and the IOM, calculates that the number has risen by ten million in five years.
ITUC news release. ILO news release. Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage, ILO/Walk Free/IOM, September 2022. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Pakistan: Garment workers need safe factories
Workers in Pakistan’s garment sector are still working in dangerous conditions, IndustriALL, the global textiles and garment unions’ federation, has warned.  It was speaking out ahead of the 11 September 10th anniversary of the fire at Ali Enterprises, in which more than 250 garment workers were killed and over 50 were injured.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

USA: First work-related monkeypox case confirmed
The first US healthcare worker to be infected with monkeypox (MPX) while at work has been reported in Los Angeles County, public health officials have confirmed. “We have identified a healthcare worker with monkeypox who appears to have been exposed to the virus at their worksite,” Dr.Rita Singhal, chief medical officer for the LA County Department of Public Health, said in a presentation to the Board of Supervisors.
Los Angeles Times. Risks 1059. 15 September 2022

Hazards news, 7 September 2022

Britain: TUC calls on Liz Truss to ‘come clean’
The TUC has called on Liz Truss to “come clean” over her plans for workers’ rights. The union body was commenting on 3 September press reports that Liz Truss, who was confirmed the new Tory leader and next prime minister on 5 September, is looking to begin a review of EU-derived worker protections, which include many safety laws.
Unite news release. Usdaw news release. The Times. The Guardian and related article. Morning Star. 7 September 2022

Britain: ‘Nation of grafters’ has earned more breaks
The government should create four new public holidays, the TUC has said. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Some politicians have been calling UK workers lazy,” adding: “But we work some of the longest hours in Europe and we get the fewest public holidays.”
Morning Star. 7 September 2022

Britain: Thousands quit jobs because of racism
More than 120,000 workers from minority ethnic backgrounds have quit their jobs because of racism, TUC research have found. The landmark study concluded workplace discrimination is sapping the confidence of a large part of the UK workforce.
TUC news release. Usdaw news release. The Guardian.
Health, safety and racism in the workplace: A study of Black workers’ experiences, TUC, 2022. 7 September 2022

Britain: ‘Damning’ review of discrimination in the Cabinet Office
Civil service union PCS has demanded a full overhaul of the Cabinet Office’s process of dealing with bullying, harassment and racism by senior staff. The call came after an internal review leaked to The Times revealed around one in ten people working in the department have been affected, with non-white civil servants left feeling alienated and having to “work harder to be respected and understood”. 
PCS news release. BBC News Online. 7 September 2022

Britain: End of NHS Covid testing will cause safety worries
The government’s decision to end Covid testing for NHS staff will create safety worries and must be kept under review, health union UNISON has said. Responding to the UK government’s announcement on 24 August that asymptomatic Covid testing is no longer required for NHS workers, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said: “This decision must be kept under careful review and asymptomatic testing has to be restored as soon as possible if infections begin to escalate.”
UNISON news release. 7 September 2022

Britain: Care workers in Wales to lose ill isolation sick pay
Care workers who have to self-isolate in Wales will not get their sick pay topped up from the end of September, the Welsh government has announced. Public service union UNISON said the decision meant thousands of its members in Wales are under threat from poverty and rising bills.
Morning Star. 7 September 2022

Britain: Report it to sort it, says Usdaw
Retail trade union Usdaw has marked the first anniversary of a protection of workers law in Scotland coming into force by urging retail staff to report incidents. The Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021 took effect on 24 August 2021.
Usdaw news release and Freedom From Fear campaign. Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021. 7 September 2022

Britain: New ‘whole school approach’ to wellbeing in Wales
An NEU project in Wales aims to introduce ‘a whole school approach to wellbeing for all’. Stuart Williams, NEU Cymru’s policy officer, said: “Every time a new policy/strategy/initiative is introduced, a workload impact assessment must be conducted,” adding: “Educators must be told what they can STOP doing.”
NEU news release. 7 September 2022

Britain: Campaigners join forces to end exploitation in UK fishing
A groundbreaking collaboration between unions and a labour-based human rights group plans to identify and combat human rights violations on commercial fishing vessels in the UK. The partnership between the global union federation ITF and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Fair Food Program (FFP) — a US-based group concerned with the monitoring and enforcing of workplace protections in food industry supply chains — follows an explosive report released by the University of Nottingham earlier this year that exposed the ‘horrific’ racial, physical and sexual abuse migrant workers face while working in the UK fishing industry.
ITF news release. CIW Fair Food Programme. 7 September 2022

Britain: FBU safety campaign wins top TUC award
The firefighters’ union FBU’s DECON cancer prevention campaign has won a top prize at the TUC communications awards. The union snagged first place for best membership communication project for the DECON campaign, which aims to reduce the impact of fire contaminants on firefighters’ health, by providing firefighters with practical training around PPE, washing and decontamination protocols.
FBU news release. 7 September 2022

Britain: New Tory deregulation drive would be dangerous
Ditching the UK’s green and social regulations in the bonfire of red tape that both Tory leadership candidates promised would risk irreparable damage to the natural environment, to people’s health and workers’ rights, a group of 40 organisations has warned. The letter, which predated the selection of Liz Truss as the new Tory leader, was coordinated by Unchecked and warned that health and safety in the workplace could also be threatened if current regulations are abandoned.
Unchecked letter to Tory leadership candidates. The Guardian. 7 September 2022

Britain: Covid-19 study shows isolation period is too short
A comprehensive study has revealed that two-thirds of people with Covid-19 are still infectious five days after symptoms begin, calling into question the UK’s self-isolation advice. Seran Hakki and colleagues at Imperial College London found towards the end of people’s illness, two-thirds were still infectious five days after their symptoms began – the current UK isolation guideline - and a quarter were still infectious after seven days.
Seran Hakki, Jie Zhou, Jakob Jonnerby and others. Onset and window of SARS-CoV-2 infectiousness and temporal correlation with symptom onset: a prospective, longitudinal, community cohort study, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, published online 18 August 2022. DOI: 10.1016/S2213-2600(22)00226-0. New Scientist. 7 September 2022

Britain: Family of suicide firefighter demands an apology
The family of a trainee firefighter who killed himself two years ago has called on London fire brigade to issue a public apology for “multiple failings” they believe played a part in his death. On the 26 August second anniversary of Jaden Francois-Esprit’s death, aged 21, Francois-Esprit’s mother, Linda Francois, called for the apology and for major changes to the fire service to prevent similar tragedies.
The Guardian. Work-related suicide: a qualitative analysis of recent cases with recommendations for reform, Sarah Waters and Hilda Palmer, University of Leeds, July 2021.
Tell HSE to act on work-related suicide risks. 7 September 2022

Britain: Sturgeon urged to cancel Amazon contracts
Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to cancel contracts with multinational corporation Amazon because of its treatment of workers. Labour MSP Katy Clark wrote to the first minister over Amazon’s refusal to meet unions and negotiate an agreement with workers.
Morning Star. 7 September 2022

Britain: Repeat offender escapes with small fine
A property development company has escaped with a small fine after failing to assess adequately the risks involved in a refurbishment project, despite having been subject to previous enforcement action. Daneets Developments Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £8,000 at Blackpool Magistrates Court and ordered to pay costs of £2,744.
HSE news release. 7 September 2022

USA: Monkeypox - what workers need to know
The US National Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) has published a short guide for workers to the risks posed by Monkeypox. It notes “as the disease increases in the community, some jobs that may carry a risk of exposure to monkeypox are in healthcare (direct patient care, laboratories, home health care), and in laundry and janitorial/housekeeping services.”
National COSH Monkeypox guides for workers in English and Spanish. 7 September 2022

Japan: Asbestos manufacturer in payout first
An asbestos products manufacturer in Japan has become the first to settle an asbestos-related cancer claim. The settlement was reached at Osaka District Court on 23 August, when Japan Insulation Co agreed to pay the bereaved family of a male construction worker 12.87 million yen (£80,000) in compensation, almost on par with the maximum amount of benefits provided by the government under the asbestos victims relief law, or 13 million yen per victim.
Nippon News. 7 September 2022

Korea: Truck drivers fight ‘deadly squeeze’
On 16 August, four members of the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union Cargo Truckers’ Solidarity Division (KPTU-TruckSol) gained access to the top of the building housing the headquarters of Hite-Jiro, South Korea’s top alcohol manufacture. The workers were protesting Hite-Jiro’s ‘deadly squeeze’ on truck drivers.
ITF news release. 7 September 2022

Global: Toxic war ship rejected by Turkey
The Turkish government has blocked the Brazilian aircraft carrier São Paulo from accessing the country, in response to complaints by unions and environmental organisations about illegal export of toxic waste on the vessel, which was en route to a shipbreaker in the country. Turkey's Environment Ministry said the 26 August veto came after the Brazilian government refused to carry out a new analysis to assess risks posed by asbestos and other dangerous substances on the ship.
Basel Action Network news release. MSN News. 7 September 2022

USA: Insecure income is harmful to workers
The insecure income associated with ‘gig work’ has a negative impact on the overall health and wellbeing of US workers, according to University of Texas (UT) research. It found that insecure income from gig work contributed to poor health outcomes, including a sicker workforce, higher unreimbursed healthcare costs, and greater costs to the consumer, with insecure income earners reporting a 50 per cent increase in poor overall health and psychological distress compared to salary earners.
Robert D Thomas, John W Davis, Paula M Cuccaro, Gretchen L Gemeinhardt. Assessing associations between insecure income and US workers’ health: An IPUMS-MEPS analysis, Social Science & Medicine, volume 309, September 2022: 115240.
University of Texas news release. Science Daily. 7 September 2022

Hazards news, 23 August 2022

Britain: Black workers need better representation and safety
Black workers are typically in more dangerous jobs than wide workers, TUC commissioned research has found. Greenwich University academics used a survey and focus groups of Black workers and reps, including health and safety reps, to examine the experiences of frontline workers during the pandemic and the role unions have played and could play, and note: “Racialised occupational hierarchies led to the exposure of frontline workers, disproportionately Black, to extreme risk while disproportionately white management were able to isolate.”
Health, safety and racism in the workplace: A study of Black workers’ experiences, TUC, 2022. 23 August 2022

Firms like P&O must face serious consequences
The government must strengthen laws so firms like P&O face serious consequences when they illegally fire workers, the TUC has said. Commenting on the announcement by The Insolvency Service that it will not commence criminal proceedings with P&O Ferries, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Our laws should protect working people from companies that brazenly flout the rules and treat staff like disposable labour.”
The Insolvency Service news release. TUC news release. RMT news release. 23 August 2022

Britain: New commitment to protect actors
Actors’ union Equity has launched a new ‘Statement of Commitment Against Bullying, Harassment and Inappropriate Behaviour in TV.’ The statement brings together 21 major organisations in the TV industry – both in the UK and internationally – who pledge to tackle workplace bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviour. It follows a ground-breaking first meeting of representatives from these organisations, called by Equity, to discuss how to contribute to a respectful workplace and to agree how concerns should be raised if there is inappropriate behaviour
Equity news release and Statement of Commitment Against Bullying, Harassment and Inappropriate Behaviour in TV. 23 August 2022

Britain: Contractors urged to follow Kier lead on sick pay
Campaigning by Unite has secured sick pay of up to £100-a-day for workers with the construction giant Kier. The union is now calling on other contractors to follow suit and boost their terms beyond the statutory rate, which can be as little as £16 per day.
Construction Enquirer. 23 August 2022

Britain: Safety at risk through TfL’s ‘managed decline’
The Department for Transport’s damaging funding strategy for Transport for London (TfL) will affect safety and ability to deal with incidents, rail union TSSA has warned. Following a report in New Civil Engineer that the government’s funding offer to Transport for London (TfL) is “so complex that TfL has not received a final draft of the settlement yet”, transport union TSSA has raised safety concerns and demands the government end its deliberate strategy of ‘managed decline’.
TSSA news release. New Civil Engineer. 23 August 2022

Britain: River boat pilot compensated after fall at work
A Unite member has received ‘significant’ compensation after a fall at work left him with back and head injuries. Iain Baird, a 55-year-old self-employed river boat pilot from the Wirral, was attempting to climb a rope ladder onto a vessel in the Liverpool Bay in August 2018 when it snapped, causing him to fall and part of the ladder – which weighs more than 200kg- landing on top of him.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. 23 August 2022

Britain: Covid-19 after effects on brain can last years
Increased risk of some neurological and psychiatric conditions such as dementia, psychosis and seizures is still higher two years after Covid-19 compared to other respiratory infections, according to an observational study of more than 1.25 million patient health records published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal. Professor Paul Harrison, lead author of the study, from the University of Oxford said: “The results have important implications for patients and health services as it suggests new cases of neurological conditions linked to Covid-19 infection are likely to occur for a considerable time after the pandemic has subsided.”
Maxime Taquet, Rebecca Sillett, Lena Zhu, Jacob Mendel, Isabella Camplisson, Quentin Dercon, Paul J Harrison. Neurological and psychiatric risk trajectories after SARS-CoV-2 infection: an analysis of 2-year retrospective cohort studies including 1 284 437 patients, Published Online 17 August 2022. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(22)00260-7. 23 August 2022

Britain: Tea firm told it can’t block tea pickers case
A Scottish tea company has been ordered to stop taking legal action in Kenya to block an injury lawsuit in Scotland involving more than 1,000 workers. The former and current employees of James Finlay Kenya Ltd (JFK) are suing the company for damages at Scotland's supreme civil court, the Court of Session.
BBC News Online. 23 August 2022

Britain: Shipping firm fined over port worker’s death
Shipping firm Portico Shipping has been fined £200,000 plus £15,000 costs after a port worker was crushed to death between containers. Mieczyslaw ‘Mitch’ Siwak, 34, died at Flathouse Quay, Portsmouth, on 25 August 2017, while working the night shift, when he was caught between two 40ft (12m) containers as one was being moved on a specialist forklift truck.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. 23 August 2022

Britain: Waste management company fined after 7m fatal fall
A waste management company has been fined £190,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,816 after a contractor died when he fell seven metres while carrying out maintenance work. Philip Glasson, 48, was part of a team under the control and direction of Wiltshire-based Hills Waste Solutions Limited.
HSE news release. 23 August 2022

Britain: Fine after worker trapped by hydraulic ram
A manufacturer of articulated vehicle trailers has been fined £400,000 plus £3,472.40 costs after a worker became trapped under a hydraulic ram. The man, who was working at Fruehauf Ltd in Grantham, which is now in administration, suffered a fractured back in the incident on 14 January 2020.
HSE news release. 23 August 2022

Australia: Tips for taking a mental health day
Australian Unions have produced a useful guide to ‘taking a mental health day’. The organisation says employers and workers alike need to take mental wellbeing just as seriously as we would physical health.
Four tips for taking a mental health day, Australian Unions, August 2022. 23 August 2022

Canada: Migrant workers treated like slaves
Jamaican migrant farm workers in Canada have sent an open letter to Jamaica's Ministry of Labour requesting more support in the face of what they call “systematic slavery”. The workers, members of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), wrote they are “treated like mules” and punished for not being quick enough and they are exposed to dangerous pesticides without adequate protection, and their bosses are verbally abusive.
CBC News. 23 August 2022

Cuba: Sixteen firefighters killed in fuel depot blaze
Sixteen firefighters have died while battling a blaze in what has been described by officials as the worst fire in Cuba’s history. The fire broke out at the Matanzas fuel depot on 5 August after lightning struck a fuel tank at the depot on Cuba's northern coast.
BBC News Online. 23 August 2022

Ghana: Children accuse big brands cocoa supplier
A group of 60 Ghanaian children has taken the first steps in legal action against cocoa producer Olam, which supplies big name brands including Cadbury (Mondelez), Nestle, Ferrero and Starbucks, claiming the company is negligent as a result of the unlawful, exploitative and dangerous conditions in which they work.  In their letter, the group aged 5- to 17-years-old, which is the first step in legal proceedings, the children claim that Olam has breached international and Ghanaian laws in relation to hazardous work.
Leigh Day Solicitors news release. 23 August 2022

New Zealand: Firefighters take action to defend safety
The New Zealand firefighters’ union NZPFU has given notice of additional national one-hour strikes in a safety dispute with the national fire service FENZ. The union said the service is relying on exhausted crews who are working extraordinary levels of overtime to keep trucks on the run only to have those trucks fail at critical times.
NZPFU news release and related news release. RNZ News. 23 August 2022

Hazards news, 16 August 2022

Britain: Covid must be classed as an occupational disease
Ministers must class Covid as an occupational disease to strengthen protections for workers, the TUC has said. A new report from the union body notes many other countries already officially recognise Covid as an occupational illness, with important consequences for workplace safety and the support working people workers can access if they suffer long-term damage to their health.
Covid-19: an occupational disease, TUC, August 2022. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Britain: Fire service bosses guilty of ‘sabotage by inaction’
Firefighters’ union FBU has reacted angrily to a series of statements made by several chief fire officers which it says are ‘clearly’ an attempt to downplay the impact of under-resourcing on their response to wildfire incidents. FBU assistant general secretary Andy Dark said: “Wildfires have been on the government’s National Risk Register since 2013,” adding: “Fire bosses knew that this was a high risk facing the UK and chose to look the other way.”
FBU news release. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Britain: Union plan for meeting safely as Covid persists
Medics union Doctors in Unite has joined forces with the UK Hazards Campaign to produce detailed guidance for unions on how to control infection risks at all in-person events in inside spaces. “We know from research that the more times you are infected the more risk there is of developing Long Covid-19,” a statement from the groups noted, adding: “We know from all the evidence that indoor events without good ventilation, and which have overcrowding without any risk controls, can be vectors of transmission.” 
Reducing risk of Covid-19 and infectious diseases at Trade Union Meetings and Conferences, Doctors in Unite/Hazards Campaign report and news release, August 2022. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Britain: Hinduja Global Solutions workers walk out
Members of the civil service union PCS at Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) walked out on 15 August, calling for a living wage, paid breaks and pay when sick. The workers are employed by the Liverpool-based firm to run the contact centre and back-office functions of the government’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), the highest rated public service organisation.
PCS news release. Sign the PCS petition. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Britain: Bus giant must learn lessons after worker crushed
The bus company Stagecoach must learn the lessons of a serious workplace injury and ‘engage constructively’ with the union to make its workplaces safe for all, the union RMT has said. The union call came after Stagecoach Devon was fined £380,000 plus £18,000 costs after pleading guilty to the criminal safety failings that saw driver David Heathfield crushed between a reversing bus and a stationary vehicle at the company’s Torquay depot on 3 October 2019.
HSE news release. Morning Star. Devon Live. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Britain: RMT warns of dangerous inaction on the railways
Network Rail is “dragging its feet dangerously” on key safety recommendations of the investigation into a rail crash which saw two workers and a passenger die, the RMT has said. Commenting on the 12 August second anniversary of the Carmont rail tragedy, the rail union said none of the 20 recommendations to improve safety made by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) in March have been implemented.
RMT news release. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Britain: Invest in Network Rail jobs to prevent tragedy
Rail union TSSA has called for outdated and potentially unsafe High Speed Trains (HST) to be taken out of service and an end to job cuts in Network Rail. The union called for the ‘museum piece’ HST fleet to be taken out of service “immediately and forever,” noting the Rail Accident Investigation Branch made it clear that HST failings contributed to the tragedy.
TSSA news release. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Britain: Train drivers remember dead colleagues
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has said Britain must no longer neglect the infrastructure of the railway system, or we could see a repeat of the Carmont tragedy in which three people lost their lives after a landslip onto the railway line caused a train to derail.  ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said the tragedy highlighted the need to “ensure that the infrastructure of Britain’s railways is not neglected, so that accidents of this sort do not happen again.”
ASLEF news release. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Britain: Employers told to prepare for a warmer future
Employers need to act now to make sure their workplaces are ready for warmer weather in the future, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said. The safety regulator said it is asking employers to ensure extreme heat becomes part of their long-term planning, adding heat is classed as a hazard and comes with legal obligations like any other hazard.
HSE news release and temperature at work webpages.
TUC too hot, too cold digital guidebook. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Britain: Flooring firm convicted after worker dies in fall
Taylor Grange (Retail) Limited, trading as flooring retail company Floors Today, has been fined £300,000 plus £6,713.33 costs after self-employed contractor Lukman Hakim died after falling 4m through an asbestos cement roof panel. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to follow its own contractor selection procedures.
HSE news release. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Britain: Ex-site worker awarded millions after devastating injury
A worker whose leg was crushed by three-tonne machinery and subsequently amputated has secured millions of pounds in compensation. Damien Bundock, 29, was crushed by the machinery when he was working on a demolition project in June 2017 for construction firm S Walsh & Sons at a site in Essex.
EssexLive. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Global: Risks of AI for worker management probed
Artificial intelligence-based worker management (AIWM) systems can help design healthy and safe jobs and workplaces, the EU research agency EU-OSHA has said, but may also bring about risks to workers such as intensification of work, loss of job control and dehumanisation. The agency’s new report also explores possible prevention measures, emphasising the need for human-centred and ‘prevention through design’ approaches to ensure workers’ health, safety and wellbeing.
EU-OSHA news release and report and summary, Artificial intelligence for worker management: implications for occupational safety and health. Policy briefs: Artificial intelligence for worker management: risks and opportunities and Artificial intelligence for worker management: prevention measures and Digitalisation of work project.
More on health and safety and AI. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Global: Finding out about Monkeypox
Monkeypox is a potential risk to workers in a range of jobs, latest information suggests. In addition to direct contact with an infected person, UK government guidance says infection may occur as a result of contact with contaminated bedding, clothes, towels or other materials, which would mean worker in health and care, hospitality, laundry, gym and other work groups could be at risk.
Monkeypox: What you need to know, ATF. WHO Monkeypox briefing. UK government guidance. US CDC briefing. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Canada: Vocal stress common in video game actors
Doing voice-over work for video games is leading to voice problems for the actors employed to do the work, a Canadian union has warned. Nearly three in four (74.32 per cent) actors reported their sessions very often or almost always included loud/projected, aggressive or vocally extreme work, according to ACTRA, a union representing professional performers, noting 38.13 per cent said that very often or almost always experienced vocal fatigue or stress during the voiceover session.
Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Magazine. More on occupational voice loss. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Global: Union action on asbestos ship hazards
Brazilian and Turkish trade unions are working together to oppose plans to break up and recycle the toxics laden vessel warship Nea São Paulo in a yard in Turkey with poor facilities and safety systems. They want the former French navy vessel to be recycled in France.
DISK/CUT statement. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

USA: Industries fight heat safeguards for workers
Extreme heat is making work more dangerous in the US but beyond the West Coast, legal measures to protect workers are being opposed by industry groups. While places like California and Washington have adopted workplace rules to address heat exposure,   many other states’ attempts to mandate these protections have been blocked or weakened following opposition from industry groups representing agriculture, construction and other business interests, according to public records and those involved in efforts to craft new rules.
Washington Post. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

USA: UPS drivers push for safety as temperatures soar
Drivers with the US Postal Service (UPS) are wilting under the pressure of making hundreds of stops a day in sweltering conditions, as the company makes record profits. Now the workers, represented by the Teamsters union, are pushing for air conditioning in vehicles and better protections on the job.
The Guardian. Risks 1056. 16 August 2022

Hazards news, 9 August 2022

Britain: TUC calls on employers to keep staff safe in the heatwave
With the UK facing a fresh heatwave, the TUC has repeated its call on employers to make sure their staff are protected from the sun and heat. The union body is calling on government to improve protections for workers by bringing in rules on maximum working temperatures.
TUC digital guidebook, Too hot, too cold digital guidebook. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: Firefighter shortage warning as wildfires threaten
Firefighters’ union FBU has warned that the fire service continues to be understaffed and needs huge investment, as another heatwave looms and with it the risk of wildfires. Andy Dark, FBU assistant general secretary, said: “Just over a fortnight ago firefighters had to deal with many serious wildfires across much of the country,” adding: “Several firefighters were injured and many people lost their homes.”
FBU news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: ‘Frightening’ drop in site safety inspections exposed
There has been a shocking and frightening decline in vital unannounced construction inspections being undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), research by Unite has revealed. The union’s Freedom of Information (FOI) requests discovered that inspections have declined by 31 per cent in less than a decade and there has also revealed a huge decline in the number of HSE enforcement notices - issued to employers to ensure that safety improvements are made - following an inspection.
Unite news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: Rail unions announce Network Rail strike dates
Members of the unions Unite, RMT and TSSA working for Network Rail (NR) on essential track work will take strike action on 18 August and 20 August in a dispute over pay, job security and working conditions. TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Our door remains open but only if there is a meaningful offer on the table which will give our members the fair deal they deserve for keeping our rail network safe every day of the year.”
TSSA news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: Safety concerns as P&O again found lacking
Nearly 20 deficiencies have been found onboard another P&O Ferries vessel, raising concerns from maritime unions about the safety of the travelling public. More than half the 17 deficiencies were identified on the Cyprus-flagged Spirit of France, relating to safety failures with fire doors and fire extinguishers and an invalid safety management certificate; labour conditions were also deficient on the vessel with crew contracts improperly filed and some seafarer’s medical fitness ‘not as required’.
Nautilus news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: Devonport security guards in safety strike vote
PCS members working at the Devonport naval base are balloting for strike action over Covid-safe working conditions. The union added it remains concerned about the immediate risk of Covid-19 infections to members and others on the base, further risk of biological, viral and bacterial infection to the general population and a lack of health and safety monitoring, consultation, and engagement with employees, as required by law and industrial relations at Devonport.
PCS news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: Better conditions key to solving crisis in social care
Low wages and inadequate sick pay are to blame for thousands of care workers quitting, UNISON has warned.  Commenting on a 4 August report from the House of Commons’ Levelling up, Housing and Communities Committee, which calls on the government to put more money into the social care sector, UNISON head of business and community Donna Rowe-Merriman said: “Low wages and inadequate sick pay explain why thousands of staff are quitting for better paid jobs elsewhere.”
UNISON news release.  House of Commons’ Levelling up, Housing and Communities committee news release and report. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: Film and TV firms urged to join wellbeing pilot
Creative industries union Bectu is urging film and TV production companies in Wales to place a freelance ‘wellbeing facilitator’ on their productions, as part of a new union managed pilot that seeks to combat poor mental health in the industry. The pilot programme is a partnership between Bectu, through its joint union learning programme CULT Cymru, and mental health and wellbeing specialists 6ft from the Spotlight.
Bectu news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: Comedian safety is no laughing matter
The performing arts and entertainment trade union Equity has launched a ‘comedian’s charter’ in an effort to ensure good working practices and the safety of performers. Developed by the union’s comedians’ network, the measures included in the charter “will ensure pay transparency, a safe working environment, late-night safety, and anti-harassment and discrimination policies”, according to Equity.
Equity news release and Comedians’ Charter. The Guardian. Morning Star. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: VXF artists speak out against Marvel
Marvel, the Disney-owned multibillion-dollar franchise, has been accused of placing impossible demands and of bullying its visual effects (VFX) artists. Joe Pavlo, an Emmy award-winning visual effects artist and chair of the animation and visual effects branch of the creative union BECTU, said: “The visual effects industry is filled with terrific people with lots of goodwill who really care but, at the end of the day, there’s nothing in place when their backs are up against the wall and Disney is making crazy demands.” Risks 1055
The Guardian. . 9 August 2022

Britain: TV drama highlights NHS work suicide risks
Suicides among NHS staff are being “brushed under the carpet,” the creator of the hit BBC medical drama This Is Going To Hurt has warned.  Former junior doctor Adam Kay joined NHS leaders, charities and bereaved families to plant the first official memorial, after an estimated 300 nurses died by suicide in the seven years to 2017; more than 220 nurses attempted to end their lives during the first year of Covid in 2020, according to the Laura Hyde Foundation.
BBC News Online. ITV News. More on work-related suicide. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: Future PM must end ‘national shame’ of asbestos deaths
The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) and the Faculty of Asbestos Assessment and Management (FAAM) have urged upon both candidates for the Tory party leadership – and with it the role of prime minister - to commit to a proper national plan on asbestos. BOHS said the call to end the ‘national shame’ of asbestos deaths follows latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics showing an increase in asbestos deaths, with deaths from asbestos-related mesothelioma and lung cancer in Great Britain still at over 5,000 each year.
BOHS news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: Mining firm fined £3.6m after electricians burnt
A mining company has been fined after two electricians suffered severe burns in separate incidents – with the prosecution coming seven years after the first incident. Cleveland Potash Limited (CPL), the owners of Boulby Mine in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, were fined £3.6 million and ordered to pay costs of £185,000 after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). own the mine, which extracts organic fertiliser known as Polyhalite.
HSE news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Britain: Site boss fined for refusing entry to HSE inspectors
A man who was in control of a construction site in Scotland has been fined £1,500 for not allowing two HSE inspectors access to the site to deal with unsafe work activity. Baldev Singh Basra refused to unlock the gates and let the HSE inspectors in; only after officers from Police Scotland attended and gained entry to the site, were the HSE inspectors able to take enforcement action to stop the unsafe work.
HSE news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

India: Garment workers hospitalised after gas leak
A total of 121 workers at a Brandix India Apparel City garment manufacturing unit in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Atchutapuram, were hospitalised this month after inhaling poisonous gas. On 2 August, the women workers at the Seeds Intimate Apparel India PvT Limited garment factory complained of difficulties in breathing, suffocation, nausea, coughing and headaches while some of them also fainted before they were hospitalised.
INdustriALL news release. Times of India. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Iran: UN’s ‘grave concern’ over harassment of journalists
The United Nations (UN) has raised its ‘grave concern” over the harassment of BBC Persian Service journalists and has requested an explanation from the Iranian government. The UN communication came after the BBC filed an urgent appeal to the UN in February 2022 about the online violence and gendered attacks faced by women journalists, as well as increased financial pressure from an ongoing asset freeze, which operates as a blunt financial sanction against BBC News Persian journalists and their extended families.
UN communication to Iran. NUJ news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

New Zealand: Union concern over seasonal worker abuse
Revelations that seasonal migrant workers are being exploited, forced to live in cold, damp homes and are being threatened against joining unions, must prompt urgent action from the New Zealand government, the Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) has demanded. “We are simply appalled at reports that Pacific workers have been forced to live in crowded, unhealthy homes in the middle of winter and face other restrictions which amount to a breach of human rights,” said NZCTU president Richard Wagstaff.
NZCTU news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

South Africa: Mineworkers discuss safety strategies
South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) national health and safety committee met on 4 August in Johannesburg to discuss the impact of the union’s health and safety campaigns and training programmes in the mining, energy, construction, and metals’ industries. Masibulele Naki, the NUM national secretary for health and safety, said: “We continue with our campaigns and training on health and safety and so far, we have trained 500 workers, in addition to the regular training that we provide to the health and safety shop stewards.”
IndustriALL news release. Risks 1055. 9 August 2022

Hazards news, 3 August 2022

Britain: TUC slams Tory attack on the right to strike
Conservative plans to restrict the ‘fundamental’ right to strike would put working conditions and safety at risk, the TUC has warned. Commenting on transport secretary Grant Shapps’ proposals to restrict strike action, set out in the Telegraph on 26 July, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Threatening the right to strike tilts the balance of power too far towards employers,” adding: “It means workers can't stand up for decent services and safety at work – or defend their jobs and pay.”
TUC news release. Unite news release. The Telegraph. Financial Times. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: London Underground safety rep wins tribunal
An employment tribunal has ruled that Kyle Dempsey, an RMT safety rep working for a division of London Underground, was subject to detrimental treatment after being suspended for repeatedly raising health and safety concerns. The tribunal concluded the main purpose of the suspension was “to remove the claimant from his role as the trade union representative due to his previous union activities” which involved bringing safety concerns.
Doughty Street Chambers news release. IOSH Magazine. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: Offshore safety fears as Altera provides no answers
Unite has raised concerns for the safety of crew aboard the Foinaven Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO) as continuous strike action is set to go ahead from 5 August. Vessel operator Altera has refused repeatedly to respond to safety concerns raised by Unite over the emergency services provision for the vessel if it comes into distress or if a fire breaks out, as the workers will remain on the Fionaven while taking strike action until it reaches Hunterston Port.
Unite news release. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: Ambulance workers say delays are causing deaths
A third of ambulance workers have been involved with cases where a patient’s death was linked to a delay, according to a trade union survey for ITV. The findings of the GMB poll also revealed 82 per cent of ambulance staff feel the current pressure puts them at an unacceptable level of stress and 72 per cent have considered leaving the service.
GMB news release. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: Grenfell fire took huge toll on firefighters
Nineteen firefighters and three 999 control room operators have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following the inferno at the Grenfell Tower block five years ago in which 72 people died, it has been revealed, with seven firefighters and a call handler retired as a result. Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show 5,975 lost days because of London Fire Brigade staff needing sick leave due to the trauma of Grenfell - 5,529 days for firefighters with PTSD and 446 for call handlers.
The Mirror. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: Firefighters respond to fire service inspection reports
Reports by the fire services regulator have exposed the ‘shocking’ impact of a decade of devastating cuts, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. Tam McFarlane, FBU national officer, said: “It’s particularly shocking that eight of the fifteen services inspected don’t have enough fire protection staff to carry out vital fire safety work and that services are over reliant on overtime to provide operational response, a direct impact of the cuts made to funding and firefighter jobs.”
FBU news release. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: TUC warning on fire and rescue service reforms
The TUC has warned that government plans for the reforming fire and rescue service do not address the desperate need for investment as it struggles with spiralling demand and a decade of cuts. In its response to a government white paper, the union body said it “would threaten the legal rights of firefighters to collectively bargain with their employers over pay, conditions, safety and other vital contractual matters.”
TUC news release and full TUC response. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: BALPA calls out Jet2 on unsafe pilot rosters
The UK pilots’ union BALPA has said it is dismayed at the airline and holiday company Jet2’s refusal to address the fatigue and stress caused by pilot roster disruption. BALPA national officer Terry Brandon said: “BALPA recently wrote to Jet2 management on behalf of our members to offer to work collaboratively with the company on scientific, evidence-based fatigue analysis using our in-house experts. Jet2 refused, saying that although they take safety ‘extremely seriously’, they ‘do not wish, and are not obliged, to engage with BALPA on these matters’.”
BALPA news release. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: NUJ welcomes convictions for harassing BBC journalist
The journalists’ union NUJ has welcomed the conviction of five men and a woman responsible for intimidating BBC Newsnight journalist Nick Watt in June last year. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “The harassment of Nick was completely unacceptable and convictions against those responsible should send a clear message – that journalists must not be targets because of the work they do and that attacks will not go unpunished.”
Met Police statement. NUJ news release. Press Gazette. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: Sick days plunge at flex-working site firms
Four major construction contractors that took part in a ground-breaking flexible working pilot have all committed to continue flexi-working after finding work stress and sick leave plunged during the trial. The firms – BAM Construct, BAM Nuttall, Skanska UK and Willmott Dixon – all recorded a decline in the rate of sickness absence.
Timewise news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: Politics trumped science on Covid risk evidence
The UK government’s decision to relax the isolation guidelines while also withdrawing free lateral flow tests was driven by politics and ignored the evidence on infection risks, studies have shown. An article in Nature points to “a series of studies confirming that many people with Covid-19 remain infectious well into the second week after they first experience symptoms” – the current UK guidance recommends those with a positive test “try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days.”
David Adam. How long is COVID infectious? What scientists know so far, Nature, 26 July 2022.
Hermaleigh Townsley and others. Non-hospitalised, vaccinated adults with COVID-19 caused by Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 present with changing symptom profiles compared to those with Delta despite similar viral kinetics, medRxiv 2022.07.07.22277367. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: Working women need greater menopause rights - MPs
Women going through menopause should be given greater rights and protection in the workplace, MPs have said. The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee said a lack of support in the UK was pushing women out of work.  
Women and Equalities Committee news release and report, Menopause and the workplace, 28 July 2022. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: Time for action on asbestos, says top safety body
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has called on the UK government to work with policy makers, regulators, employers and worker representatives to increase awareness about asbestos. Responding to the UK government’s rejection of a Work and Pensions Committee recommendation of a 40-year deadline to remove asbestos from all public and commercial buildings, Ruth Wilkinson, head of health and safety at IOSH, said the plan “should also include enforcement.”
IOSH news release. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: Poor conditions see teacher sick days soar
Increased workloads, ‘supersized’ classes, low pay and the Covid legacy are leading to more absences and an exodus of teaching staff, new figures suggest. Teachers have spent at least 1.5 million days off work in the last year as a result of stress and mental health issues, the figures in responses to Liberal Democrat freedom of information requests have revealed.
FE News. The Observer. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Britain: Dyson fined £1.2m after machine injures worker
Technology firm Dyson has been fined £1.2m after an employee sustained head and chest injuries when he was struck by a 1.5 tonne milling machine. The worker only escaped being crushed under the weight of the machine because it landed on two toolboxes and the handle of another machine.
HSE news release. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Australia: Health scientists back call for sick pay for casuals
The Australian government is facing growing calls from epidemiologists, unions and others for sick leave to be extended to casual employees. Michele O’Neil, president of the national union federation ACTU, said: “Nearly one million ‘casual’ workers are effectively working permanent full-time hours,” adding: “These workers should have the right to be permanent with paid leave including sick leave provisions.”
The Guardian. More on health and safety and insecure work. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Australia: DP World on collision course with dockworkers
The safety credentials of one of the world’s largest stevedoring companies is being called in to question, with Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) safety officials expressing their ‘gravely held concerns’ about a push from management to implement a reckless benchmarking system. “DP World want to pit worker against worker in an attempt to foster a speed-culture on the waterfront that will inevitably place safety a distant second in some of the highest-risk working environments in Australia,” said the MUA’s assistant national secretary, Adrian Evans.
MUA news release. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Europe: Digital technologies a new challenge to management
‘Digitalisation’ has been identified as an emerging occupational safety and health (OSH) concern by the just released 2019 European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER). “But despite the increasing use of robots, laptops, smartphones or wearable devices, less than one in four workplaces (24 per cent) are having discussions about the potential impact of such technologies on the safety and health of workers,” said EU-OSHA, the European workplace safety research agency behind the research.
EU-OSHA news release and the report, summary and Technical Annex. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

South Africa: Union action plea after workplace ‘gang-rape’
South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has called for action to address workplace violence and harassment after the arrest of a gang of armed men that raped eight members of a video production crew in Johannesburg. Over 80 suspects have appeared in court facing charges of 32 counts of rape and attempted murder, with the attackers allegedly part of criminal syndicates that are involved in artisanal and small-scale mining in abandoned mines.
NUM news release. IndustriALL news release. Risks 1054. 3 August 2022

Hazards news, 26 July 2022

Britain: ‘PPE profiteers’ undermined Covid safety
Unite has said ‘PPE profiteers’ and government ministers must be held to account following a damning report from the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee (PAC). PAC identified ‘significant failings’ in the management of 176 personal protective equipment (PPE) contracts worth £2.7 billion that led to a stockpile of almost 4 billion items that are not needed.
Unite news release. PAC news release and report. 26 July 2022

Britain: Firefighters fight heatwave and ‘wrecked’ fire service
Firefighters have been on the frontline of the heatwave, but have ‘been stretched to the limit’ in a fire service ‘wrecked’ by government policy, their union FBU has said. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “There is a growing anger at the way firefighters have been treated for more than a decade and at the way our service is being dismantled in front of our eyes.”
FBU news release. 26 July 2022

Britain: Safety warning as dispute hits offshore vessel
Unite has warned safety could be jeopardised by any attempt to move the Foinaven Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel without safety critical crew during a planned strike over ‘second class’ redundancy terms. Vic Fraser, Unite industrial officer, said: “The thought of having safety critical work done while in tow with no qualified competent crew working is a real concern.”
Unite news release. 26 July 2022

Britain: Aviation workers suffering as work hours soar
Aviation workers across the entire sector are working excessive hours to keep air traffic functioning, research by Unite has found. In some cases the number of shifts being offered to individual employees is so great that Unite is becoming increasingly concerned about worker and passenger safety due to exhaustion and fatigue.
Unite news release. 26 July 2022

Britain: Union safety warning over Tube staff cuts
Transport for London (TfL) plans to cut 600 frontline Tube customer service staff and use more temporary staff will have long term impacts on passenger safety, TSSA has warned. TSSA general secretary, Manuel Cortes, said members on London Underground “describe this as an accident waiting to happen.”
TSSA news release. 26 July 2022

Britain: RMT campaign to save railway ticket offices
The rail union RMT has said it will attempt to stop the closure of all ticket offices on the railway network with a mass campaign across the country. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Ticket offices are a vital service on our railways and profit hungry train operating companies simply do not care about the detrimental impact it will have on vulnerable passengers and staff safety.”
RMT news release. Sign the petition to save rail ticket offices. 26 July 2022

Britain: ASLEF drives better train cab design
A ‘Better cab design’ campaign by train drivers’ union ASLEF has seen better, safer cabs introduced on London Underground’s new Elizabeth Line. A union survey confirmed a good quality cab needs to be “clean, adjustable and able to be temperature controlled.”
ASLEF news release, report and Better Driving Cabs campaign. 26 July 2022

Britain: Worrying spike in shoplifting shows need for action
Usdaw has said it is ‘deeply concerned’ by a sharp increase in shoplifting and is calling for action to protect retail staff. Latest police recorded crime statistics show that in the 12 months to March 2022 there was a 21 per cent increase in shoplifting over the previous year.
Usdaw news release. 26 July 2022

Britain: Tory leadership hopeful Truss wants a ‘bonfire of rights’
Hundreds of laws covering employment and environmental protections could disappear overnight if Liz Truss becomes prime minister, after she promised to scrap all remaining EU regulations by the end of 2023. Despite warnings about the scale and complexity of the task, Truss launched her leadership runoff campaign by promising a “sunset” for all EU-derived laws within 15 months – and these include many important safety rules.  
RMT news release. The Guardian. 26 July 2022

Global: Shift workers ‘can’t all adjust to a night shift’
A new study has challenged the widespread belief that shift workers adjust to the night shift. Using data drawn from wearable tech, the study found the more years they had been on night work, the more severe the circadian disruption, contradicting assumptions about adaptation to night work.
University of Warwick news release.  Digital circadian and sleep health in individual hospital shift workers: A cross sectional telemonitoring study, eBioMedicine, Volume 81, 104121, 1 July 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2022.104121   26 July 2022

Britain: Rail regulator concerned at post-crash inaction
Concerns about Network Rail’s safety response to an the Stonehaven train crash in 2020 which claimed three lives have been raised by the industry regulator. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said Network Rail Scotland had failed to provide tangible supporting evidence to demonstrate steps taken so far to implement safety recommendations.
BBC News Online. 26 July 2022

B&M fined £1m after electrician's horrific injuries
Discount retailer B&M has been ordered to pay £1m after an electrician suffered horrific injuries in an explosion at the company's Speke headquarters and warehouse. &M Retail Limited admitted two criminal safety breaches, while electrical contractor Daker Limited pleaded guilty to one and was fined a “nominal” amount of £100 due to its “dire financial straits.”
HSE news release. Liverpool Echo. 26 July 2022

Britain: Director escapes jail for asbestos management crimes
A company director has evaded jail after failing to manage the risks to employees from asbestos. Peter Gerard Parkes pleaded guilty to several criminal counts and was given a 12 month suspended prison sentence, fined £9,000 and plus £14,000 costs.
HSE news release. 26 July 2022

Australia: Unions call for employer action as Covid soars
Health and social care workers in Australia are facing unsustainable pressure from the current Covid wave, prompting unions to urge employers to do more to protect them.   Michele O’Neil, president of the national union federation ACTU, said: “Australia’s entire healthcare system will be compromised unless Covid cases are controlled by all employers stepping up and supporting the health and safety of their workers.”
ACTU news release. 26 July 2022

Europe: Climate crisis requires temperature controls
Another summer of deadly heatwaves shows why Europe badly needs a law on maximum working temperatures to protect workers from the effects of climate change, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has said. ETUC deputy general secretary Claes-Mikael Ståhl said: “Politicians can’t continue to ignore the danger to our most vulnerable workers from the comfort of their airconditioned offices.”
ETUC news release. ETUC Resolution on the Need for EU Action to Protect Workers from High Temperatures. ETUI report on Heatwaves as an Occupational Hazard. ABC News. 26 July 2022

Global: Work contributes to poorer health of migrants
A new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found work hazards are a contributor to far poorer health outcomes for many vulnerable refugees and migrants. The report points out “a recent meta-analysis of more than 17 million participants from 16 countries across five WHO regions found that, compared with non-migrant workers, migrant workers were less likely to use health services and more likely to have an occupational injury.”
WHO news release and report, World report on the health of refugees and migrants, WHO, 20 July 2022. 26 July 2022

USA: Amazon warehouses under fed investigation
Federal prosecutors in New York and the government’s safety regulator OSHA are inspecting Amazon warehouses around the US as part of a civil investigation into unsafe workplace conditions. A statement from US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Nicholas Biase said “the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration entered Amazon warehouses outside New York City, Chicago and Orlando to conduct workplace safety inspections in response to referrals received from the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York concerning potential workplace hazards related, among other things, to Amazon's required pace of work for its warehouse employees.”
ABC News. Bloomberg Law. 26 July 2022

USA: Union ‘Stop Work Authority’ will protect workers
The United Steelworkers (USW) union is telling its workplace union reps how to go about ‘Bargaining for Stop Work Authority to Prevent Injuries and Save Lives.’ The purpose is to negotiate programmes that allow reps to stop unsafe or unhealthy operations and processes until hazards are resolved.
USW news release and guide, Bargaining for Stop Work Authority to Prevent Injuries and Save Lives. 26 July 2022

Hazards news, 19 July 2022

Britain: Employers must provide protection from extreme heat
With the Met Office issuing its first ‘Red Extreme’ heat warning for parts of the UK this week, the TUC has calling on bosses to make sure that any staff working outdoors are protected from the sun and the heat. The union body says workers are entitled to remain away from the workplace if – in their opinion – the prevailing circumstances represent a real risk of serious and imminent danger which they could not be expected to avert.
TUC news release and TUC learning tool, Too hot, too cold - Too hot, too cold.
Sign the TUC petition for a maximum working temperature. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: Unions demand extra protection from the heat
Unions have reiterated TUC calls the protection of workers from excessive heat. Lynsey Mann, the GMB's health and safety officer, said: “Bosses need to do everything possible to keep workplaces cool and, more importantly, safe,”  and Unite national health and safety adviser Rob Miguel said: “Unite is pressing for a maximum temperature for safe working of 27 degrees Celsius for strenuous jobs and 30 degrees Celsius for sedentary jobs, and a trigger of 24 degrees Celsius where action should be taken to reduce temperatures indoors and strict protection measures put in place for outdoor workers.”
GMB news release. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Usdaw news release and Keep your cool leaflet. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: PCS calls on British Museum to put safety first
Civil service union PCS is calling on the British Museum to put staff and public safety first when the temperature soars. The union was speaking out after the museum refused to consider closing during the period covered by the 'Red extreme' heat national severe weather warning, despite high indoor temperatures and poor indoor air quality.
PCS news release. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: Firefighters slam ‘scandalous’ attack on fire service
The firefighters’ union FBU has responded formally to the government’s fire and rescue white paper, describing it as a ‘scandalous’ coordinated attack on pay, conditions and safety.  In its consultation response, the union said the government proposals are an attack on firefighters’ right to have a say on their pay and conditions, including many conditions relating to safety.
FBU news release and consultation response. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: Train drivers forced to use incontinence products
The UK government and rail firms are using the pandemic ‘health emergency’ as an excuse to force through changes that mean the safety and dignity of train drivers is being disregarded. In 13 June evidence to MPs, rail union ASLEF said some train drivers were so short of breaks they had to rely on incontinence products.
Transport Select Committee hearing on rail strikes, 13 July 2022. The Guardian. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain Newcastle pubs must get staff home safe
Pubs, bars and restaurants in Newcastle will have to make sure staff get home safely after a late shift if they want an alcohol licence. Under new rules signed off by the city council in response to a Unite ‘Get me home safely’ campaign, all late-night venues that serve alcohol will have to provide free transport home for staff finishing work after 11.30pm, when public transport ends in the city.  
The Big Issue. Unite Get me home safely campaign. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: The NHS is not living with Covid, it’s dying from it
Now is the time to face the fact that the nation’s attempt to ‘live with Covid’ is the straw that is breaking the NHS’s back, a BMJ editorial has asserted. Kamran Abbasi, editor in chief at The BMJ and Alastair McLellan, editor at the Health Service Journal (HSJ), call for a return to some of the measures taken in the last two years, such as advising people to wear masks in crowded places, ensuring good ventilation, and re-introducing free tests for the public.
Editorial: The NHS is not living with covid, it’s dying from it, BMJ, volume 378:o1779, 18 July 2022. doi: 10.1136/bmj.o1779 Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: Number of fit notes issued hits record high
The number of fit notes issued to workers on sick leave has hit an all-time high, an analysis has found, with the number given out jumping more than 20 per cent in the last year. Research conducted by law firm GQ|Littler, based on NHS data for the year-ending March 2022, showed a 21 per cent yearly increase in the number of fit notes – up to 10.4 million from the 8.6 million issued in 2020/21 - figure stood at 10.2 million in 2019/20; 9.5 million in 2018/19; and 9.2 million in 2017/18.
GQ|Littler news release. People Management. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: Schools to face asbestos inspections
Schools in England, Scotland and Wales are to be subject to an inspection programme, looking at how they are managing the risks of asbestos, starting in the new academic year. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said its inspectors would contact the school beforehand to arrange a suitable date and time for the inspection.
TES magazine. Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, HSE, 6 July 2022. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: Agriculture-related jobs 21x more deadly
The number of people killed in agriculture-related activities in the last 12 months has fallen from its high level in 2021, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said, but the rate of fatal injuries in the sector remains the highest of all major industries. The worker fatal injury rate for the sector is 21 times higher than the average five-year annual rate across all industries.
HSE news release and report, Fatal injuries in agriculture, forestry and fishing in Great Britain: 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022, July 2022. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Boss jailed after recycling worker’s horrific death
Recycle Cymru Ltd boss Stephen Jones has been jailed for the manslaughter of Norman Butler, 60, who fell into a baler and bled to death.  Jones, 60, was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence was jailed him for nine years and disqualified him from being a company director after his sentence for the same period.
Daily Post. BBC News Online. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: MoD censured over marine’s death
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been issued with a Crown Censure by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after Royal Marine recruit Ethan Jones died during a routine training exercise. HSE found the MoD failed to undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, failed to properly plan, failed to properly supervise, and therefore failed to ensure the safety of their employees.
HSE news release. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: Firefighters seriously injured in training exercise
A fire service has been prosecuted after two of its firefighters received serious head injuries – with one paralysed from the chest down – during a rope rescue training exercise at a disused quarry near Buxton on 29 September 2019. Staffordshire Commissioner Fire and Rescue Authority pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,808.40.
HSE news release. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: Protect services for workers made ill by their jobs!
A key service supporting people who become seriously ill as a result of work is under threat. Phoenix House in Barrow is a specialist site which processes claims for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit and compensation for asbestos-related cancer and pneumoconiosis – and unions are campaigning against DWP plans to shut it.
Sign the petition and share it in your networks and on Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Britain: UK Hazards Conference, Keele, 29-31 July 2022
It is your last chance to sign up for the National Hazards Conference, the best workers’ health and safety event in the UK. The Hazards Campaign-organised conference, on the theme ‘Decent work is safe and healthy’, is returning to its usual Keele University venue after two years online.
UK Hazards Conference, Keele University, 29-31 July 2022. Online booking form and programme to download or complete online. Sponsorship form.
For further information, email hazconf@gmhazards.org.uk or call 07734 317158. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Canada: Poor housing is killing migrant farm workers
This month, Canada’s federal government is holding a roundtable to improve migrant farm workers’ employer-provided housing. Welcoming the initiative, Canadian researchers Anelyse Weiler and C Susana Caxaj, who are both members of a Migrant Worker Health Expert Working Group, are calling on the federal government to take urgent action to ‘significantly’ raise and enforce standards for “physical housing conditions (eg. no bunk beds), health and safety, freedom from employer control and security of tenure.”
The Conversation. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Pakistan: Mine safety still a deadly concern
Continuing high numbers of mineworker deaths in Pakistan due to lax safety procedures and inadequate emergency response must be addressed, the global union IndustriALL has said. IndustriALL affiliates in the country report that as of 7 July there had been around 60 accidents in the country’s mines this year, killing more than 90 workers and severely injuring around 40.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

USA: Amazon’s warehouse ‘disciplines’ out of control
Internal Amazon documents reveal how routinely the company measured workers’ performance in minute detail and admonished those who fell even slightly short of expectations – sometimes before their shift ended.  In the year ending April 2020, the company issued more than 13,000 ‘disciplines’ at its Staten Island warehouse, a lawyer for Amazon admitted in court papers, adding management for a warehouse in Robbinsville, NJ, with an average of about 4,200 workers as of December 2020, gave employees more than 15,000 disciplines in the year leading to April 2020, and a North Haven, Conn., warehouse, with an average 4,800 workers as of December 2020, issued more than 5,000 such notices in the year ending in April 2020.
New York Post. Risks 1052. 19 July 2022

Hazards news, 13 July 2022

Britain: Keep staff safe as temperatures soar
The TUC is urging employers to make sure their staff are protected from the sun and heat after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued a heat-health alert. The union body wants a change in the law so that employers must attempt to reduce temperatures if they get above 24 degrees Celsius and workers feel uncomfortable. And employers should be obliged to provide sun protection and water. It would also like ministers to introduce a new absolute maximum indoor temperature, set at 30 degrees C (or 27 degrees C for those doing strenuous jobs), to indicate when work should stop. Working in hot weather can lead to dehydration, muscle cramps, rashes, fainting, and – in the most extreme cases – loss of consciousness and death. Outdoor workers are three times more likely to develop skin cancer.
TUC news release and TUC learning tool, Too hot, too cold - Too hot, too cold. Bectu news release. Fortune Magazine.
Sign the petition for a maximum working temperature. 13 July 2022

Britain: Ministers must recognise Long Covid as a disability
The TUC is urging ministers to recognise Long Covid as a disability, warning that many workers are suffering as a result of their jobs. The TUC is also calling on government to recognise Covid-19 as an occupational disease. This would entitle employees to protection and compensation if they contracted the virus while working.
TUC news release. Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK: 7 July 2022, ONS. 13 July 2022

Britain: One in 10 told to work despite infection signs
Nearly one in 10 workers with Covid symptoms are being pressured by managers to come into work, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has said. Polling by the TUC reveals that 9 per cent of employees displaying symptoms have been forced into workplaces, and, in the past 12 months, 10 per cent have been asked to work alongside colleagues who had tested positive.
The Observer. The Mirror. 13 July 2022

Britain: Ministers must act now as Covid infection rates rise
A sharp increase in Covid infection rates shows just wishing Covid away is dangerous, health service union UNISON has said. Responding to ‘alarming’ new Office for National Statistics data, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The fact the virus is spreading so quickly during the warmer months should set off alarm bells across the government.”
UNISON news release. ONS coronavirus data and latest insights. 13 July 2022

Britain: NHS fights sickness crisis as new Covid wave hits
Hospitals are battling staff absences, exhaustion and persistent backlogs in the wake of the latest wave of Covid, as infection levels continue to rise across the UK. Dr Naru Narayanan, president of the HCSA, a hospital doctors’ union, commented: “NHS staff are already under intense pressure amid a workforce crisis and morale is at rock bottom,” adding: “Exhausted staff are stepping up to ensure that patient care does not suffer, but every week is a battle to fill rotas.”
The Guardian. 13 July 2022

Britain: Greening schools equals jobs plus safety
Making UK school buildings energy efficient and fit for the future could also make schools safer and create tens of thousands of jobs, according to a new report from the TUC. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “If we invest now to make schools energy efficient, we will save a lot more in the long run.”
TUC news release and report, Schools built for the future: Why teachers, headteachers, school staff, and construction workers back school buildings upgrades, July 2022. 13 July 2022

Britain: Union reports fire brigades to HSE
The firefighters’ union FBU has reported two fire and rescue services to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and identified several others, over concerns firefighters are to be sent to fires with their breathing equipment turned off. A letter from the union calls for the HSE to “investigate our complaint and use its statutory powers to bring an end” to this policy.”
FBU news release and letter. 13 July 2022

Britain: Maritime suicides are ‘unacceptably high’
Maritime union RMT has said the high levels of suicides at sea demonstrate the need for strong trade unions in supporting the mental wellbeing of seafarers. The union points to a study in the International Maritime Health journal that estimated 5.9 per cent of deaths at sea are connected to suicide; when ‘suspicious’ deaths that were possibly suicides were included, the percentage increased to 18.3 per cent.
RMT news release. 13 July 2022

Britain: Transport workers demand extra protection
Transport workers are demanding the same legislative protection as emergency service staff when it comes to assaults. Delegates at the RMT’s annual meeting agreed overwhelmingly that having transport workers covered by the Emergency Workers (Offences) Act would mean stronger sentencing guidelines for offenders at a time when assaults on staff are “through the roof,” according to RMT surveys.
Morning Star. 13 July 2022

Britain: MPs approve agency worker ‘scab charter’
Legal changes that end a ban on agency workers replacing striking workers have been slammed as a ‘scab charter’ that risks public safety and workers’ rights. Ministers approved controversial plans, voting through the regulations on 11 July by 289 votes to 202.
TUC news release. REC statement. The Guardian. 13 July 2022

Britain: Strike breaking bill ‘impractical’ and unsafe
A new law that will allow the use of agency workers to replace strikers and which was pushed through by the Conservatives in response to rail strikes has been slammed by rail union RMT. The union’s general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The use of agency labour to break strikes is not only unethical and morally reprehensible; it is totally impracticable.”
RMT news release. 13 July 2022

Britain: Agency workers can’t drive trains
Train drivers’ union ASLEF has slammed the government’s ‘petty’ decision to introduce a ‘scab’s charter’ in Britain. Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, said the law “will put public safety at risk, and encourage not best practice, but worst practice, in British business.”
ASLEF news release. 13 July 2022

Britain: Broadcast bar fired staff after safety complaints
Staff at a Glasgow bar and music venue have said they were dismissed or had their hours cut after complaining about health and safety failures. Eleven employees at the Broadcast bar had signed a grievance listing more than 50 concerns.
BBC News Online. 13 July 2022

Britain: Over 200 die in work-related incidents
A hundred and twenty-three workers and 80 members of the public were killed in work-related accidents in Great Britain in the last year, according to new figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The figures cover the period from April 2021 to March 2022, and relate to work-related accidents alone and do not include deaths arising from occupational diseases or diseases arising from certain occupational exposures (including Covid-19), both of which dwarf the fatality toll.
HSE news release and report, Fatal injuries in Great Britain, 6 July 2022. 13 July 2022

Britain: Asbestos cancer deaths stay high
Deaths linked to just one asbestos cancer are remaining around the high mark of over 2,500 cases each year, despite Health and Safety Executive (HSE) predictions that a sharp decline would start years ago. The new figures show that 2,544 people died from the disease in 2020; this was 6 per cent higher than the 2,404 deaths in 2019 and is broadly in line with the 2,523 average annual mesothelioma deaths figure over the eight year period from 2012 to 2019.
Mesothelioma statistics for Great Britain, HSE, 6 July 2022. 13 July 2022

Britain: Site workers make up a quarter of all deaths
Thirty construction workers were killed on sites last year, according to the latest official figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Construction makes up nearly a quarter of the 123 workers killed in work-related accidents across all industries in the UK in the 12 months to March 2022.
Construction Enquirer. 13 July 2022

Britain: UK falling behind EU on chemicals standards
The UK government confirmation it will not match new EU restrictions on a number of potentially hazardous chemicals will put people at risk, a chemical charity has warned. Chem Trust said there was the prospect of a “chasm” emerging between Brussels and the UK, leaving Britain with weaker regulations on chemicals that are potentially harmful to human health and the environment.
Chem Trust. Business Telegraph. 13 July 2022

Britain: Rail firms criticised after fatigue near miss
A rail maintenance firm and Network Rail have been told to improve management systems after driver fatigue was linked to two trains almost colliding in Leicestershire, with officials noting just 10 seconds separated the engines from disaster. The findings made by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) follow investigations into the near miss at Sileby Junction, near Loughborough, when a rail grinding train and an empty passenger train almost collided on 5 May 2021.
RAIB news release. Leicester Mercury. 13 July 2022

Britain: Suspended sentence for dangerous contractor
A Blackburn based building contractor has been handed a suspended jail term after unsafe work methods resulted in a danger to workers and the public and asbestos being disturbed. Mohammed Shafiq, owner of a roller shutter business, pleaded guilty to criminal breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and received a 12-month suspended sentence and was fined £5,000 plus £4,636.08 costs.
HSE news release. LancsLive. 13 July 2022

Australia: Stricter silica rules will save lives and money
Preventing just five deaths a year caused by exposure to respirable silica would cover all the costs of far stricter controls on the cancer and lung disease-causing dust. Curtin University occupational cancer researchers Renee Carey and Lin Fritschi warn that that without this action, Australian workers over a working lifetime will develop more than 10,000 future lung cancers, or a ‘future excess fraction’ of around 1 per cent of all the lung cancers in the Australian adult population plus more than 80,000 cases of the often deadly lung scarring disease silicosis.
The future burden of lung cancer and silicosis from occupational silica exposure in Australia: A preliminary analysis. Curtin University report commissioned by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), 2022. The Conversation. 13 July 2022

Netherlands: Victory for seafarers on container lashing
Unions have secured an important victory in the campaign for seafarers’ safety as a Dutch court has ruled that ship managers, ship owners and charterers must honour a clause that prevents seafarers from being assigned dangerous lashing work where professional dock workers are available. The ruling from the Rotterdam District Court means that the companies who employ seafarers on shipowners’ behalf, must ensure that cargo handling is performed by trained local dock workers where possible, and not given to seafarers as an additional responsibility.
ITF news release. Nautilus news release. 13 July 2022

USA: Covid risk linked to key jobs
A US government study has confirmed production, health care, food, construction, mining and certain other groups of workers face a higher risk of Covid-19 infections.  Scientists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found the major occupational groups of “production", “building and grounds cleaning and maintenance,” “construction and extraction,” “healthcare support,” and “food preparation and serving” had the five highest test positivity percentages (16.7 per cent – 14.4 per cent).
Cox-Ganser JM. et al. COVID-19 test positivity by occupation using the Delphi US COVID-19 trends and impact survey, September–November 2020. AJIM. Early view 5 July 2022. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.23410 13 July 2022

USA: Protecting immigrant workers protects us all
All workers, regardless of their immigration status, must feel free to participate in US Department of Labor (DoL) investigations and proceedings “without fear of retaliation or consequences”, according to a government policy clarification. The DoL has now created a tailored system for workers to register concerns about “abusive and exploitative labour practices,” with some protection from the attention of the immigration services.
AFL-CIO News reléase. Department of Labor News reléase. 13 July 2022

Hazards news, 5 July 2022

Britain: Only half of firms have a policy on abuse of LGBT staff
A new TUC poll has revealed a widespread lack of support for lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) staff at work. The survey found only half (51 per cent) of managers surveyed told the TUC they have a policy prohibiting discrimination, bullying and harassment against LGBT workers; but less than half (47 per cent) said they have a clear reporting route for workers to raise concerns on these issues – even though one in seven (15 per cent) managers have responded to bullying, harassment or discrimination against one or more LGBT workers.
TUC news release. Morning Star. 5 July 2022

Britain: RMT leader pledges ‘fight of our lifetime’
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the national rail dispute was “the fight of our lifetime” for safety and decent jobs. Addressing the union’s annual general meeting in Birmingham, the RMT leader accused Network Rail and the train operating companies of “trying to cut thousands of jobs and they have no scruples in cutting back on safety regimes in order to do so.”
RMT news release. 5 July 2022

Britain: Heaping more pressure on childcare staff won’t work
Instead of trying to provide childcare on the cheap, the government must improve funding for the sector, UNISON has said.  Responding to the government’s launch of a consultation into increasing early years staff-to-child ratios from 1:4 to 1:5 for two-year-olds, the union’s head of education Mike Short said: “Workers are already quitting due to unmanageable workloads.”
UNISON news release. 5 July 2022

Britain: Coca Cola could face strikes over pay bullying
Supplies of Coca Cola could be under threat this summer because workers at its Wakefield plant are furious about an ‘abysmal’ pay deal accompanied by management threats and bullying. Calling on the company to ‘think again’, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This Coca-Cola bottling plant is trying to bully and threaten our members into taking a pay cut while making money hand over fist.”
Unite news release. 5 July 2022

Britain: RMT presses for improved lifeboat drill safety
Maritime union RMT is to step up its campaign for the safety workers undertaking lifeboat drills. The union said it will be entering further discussions with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to raise ‘high level’ priorities including maintenance and safety equipment installation and maintenance and the conditions under which drills take place.
RMT news release. 5 July 2022

Britain: Parliament ‘an unsafe workplace’, say unions
Parliament must act to stop the ‘seemingly endless’ allegations of sexual misconduct by MPs as political parties cannot be trusted to make it a safe place to work, two unions have warned.  As No 10 admitted Boris Johnson had known about allegations against Chris Pincher before making him deputy chief whip, the FDA and Prospect said politicians were time and again failing to “deal properly with sexual misconduct by one of their own”.
Prospect news release. The Guardian. 5 July 2022

Britain: Schools failing to tackle poor pupil behaviour
Teachers are warning of a rise in poor and problematic pupil behaviour in schools across Wales following the pandemic, which is leaving teachers exposed to increased abuse. Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “Where employers do not fulfil their duty of care to our members we will have no hesitation in taking steps, including taking refusal to teach ballots, in order to protect their health and welfare from abuse and violence.”
NASUWT news release. 5 July 2022

Global: Work exposures as a firefighter cause cancer - official
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has declared that occupational exposures as a firefighter a preventable cause of human cancer. On 1 July, a working group of the World Health Organisation (WHO) agency announced: “After thoroughly reviewing the available scientific literature, the Working Group classified occupational exposure as a firefighter as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), on the basis of sufficient evidence for cancer in humans.”
IARC alert, news release, Q&A and infographic.
Demers P, DeMarini D, Fent K, Glass D, Hansen J, Adetona O and others. Carcinogenicity of occupational exposure as a firefighter, Lancet Oncology, Published online 30 June 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(22)00390-4 5 July 2022

Britain: Firefighters’ union welcomes cancer recognition
The UK firefighters’ union FBU has welcomed a decision by the World Health Organisation’s cancer research agency IARC to recognise work as a firefighter as a cause of several cancers and has called on the UK government and fire service employers to act. FBU national officer Riccardo la Torre said: “This classification should be a huge wake-up call for both the government and fire and rescue services. Government now need to urgently acknowledge that cancer is an occupational hazard within firefighting.”
FBU news release. Work Cancer Hazards blog. 5 July 2022

Britain: Film industry rethink on working culture
The British Film Institute (BFI) has acknowledged that long hours working remains a persistent problem for the industry and that more support should be provided for its freelance workforce. The BFI’s Skills Review examined the needs for training and skills development across the production sector for scripted film and high-end television and made recommendations to address increasing pressure on the industry.
Bectu news release. 5 July 2022

Britain: Special Covid leave scrapped for NHS England staff
Enhanced sick pay provided to NHS staff during the Covid-19 pandemic has been axed. The special pay arrangements were offered to staff who were off work sick with either Covid or long Covid during the pandemic. Staff received pay if they were isolating from the virus and a full 12 months pay if they had long Covid - but from 7 July staff will revert to normal contractual sick pay arrangements.
BBC News Online. Evening Standard. 5 July 2022

Britain: Dangerous incidents at UK laboratories exposed
Dangerous incidents at UK laboratories, hospitals and Covid test centres potentially exposed staff to coronavirus and other hazards over the course of the pandemic, according to official reports. The Health and Safety Executive recorded at least 47 “dangerous occurrences” involving coronavirus at UK hospitals, Lighthouse labs and research facilities - including Public Health England’s Porton Down laboratory, which received a Crown improvement notice - over the course of the pandemic.
The Guardian. 5 July 2022

Britain: Recycling boss guilty of worker’s manslaughter
The boss of a Wales recycling company has been found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter after one of his employees, Norman Butler, 60, died when he was trapped in machinery. Company director Stephen Jones, 60, who was found to have failed in his duty of care to protect the employee, was released on bail and will be sentenced on 15 July.
BBC News Online. Daily Post. Wales Online. 5 July 2022

Global: Substituting hazardous chemicals at work
The OECD has revamped its ‘Replacing harmful chemicals with the Substitution and Alternatives Assessment Toolbox’ (SAAToolbox). The new SAATtoolbox provides information “about chemical substitution and alternatives assessments and get practical guidance on conducting them.”
SAAToolbox. 5 July 2022

Britain: National Hazards Conference, Keele, 29-31 July 2022
The National Hazards Conference, the biggest and best workers’ health and safety event in the UK, will again be face-to-face this year. The conference, which features top speakers and a wide range of workshops and provides unparalleled opportunities to network and exchange ideas, relies on delegate fees and union sponsorship to survive.
UK Hazards Conference, Keele University, 29-31 July 2022. Online booking form and programme to download or complete online. Sponsorship form.
For further information, email hazconf@gmhazards.org.uk or call 07734 317158. 5 July 2022

Europe: MEPs call for psychosocial risk law
MEPs have again called on the European Commission to prepare a new law on the prevention of psychosocial risks. Warning that psychosocial risks are the cause of 60 per cent of all working days lost, the European Parliament this week adopted a Mental Health in the Digital World of Work report.
ETUC news release. 5 July 2022

Global: New ILO guide on biological hazards at work
Groundbreaking new guidelines on handling biological hazards in the workplace have been agreed at an International Labour Organisation (ILO) meeting in Geneva. The meeting of experts from governments and employers’ and workers’ organisations agreed the guidelines on preventing and controlling work-related injuries, diseases and deaths related to exposure to biological hazards in the working environment.
ILO news release. 5 July 2022

Global: IOSH welcomes biohazard guidelines
New international technical guidelines on biological hazards at work have been welcomed by the safety professionals’ organisation IOSH. Dr Ivan Williams Jimenez, the IOSH policy development manager, said: “Harmonisation and improvement in existing classification systems of occupational infectious diseases is needed, together with stronger evidence base on the impact of hazardous agents on occupations, industries and infectious diseases.”
IOSH news release. 5 July 2022

Jordan: Officials sacked after port chlorine gas deaths
Top port and safety officials had been sacked after a deadly toxic gas leak. A tank of chlorine gas fell as it was being loaded by crane onto a ship in Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba on 27 June, releasing the toxic substance, killing at least 13 people, including five Vietnamese nationals, and injuring at least 260 others.
Khaleej Times. BBC News Online. 5 July 2022

Global: Tragedy shows why safety is ‘fundamental’
The tragic deaths of at least 13 people in a chlorine gas leak in a Jordan port highlights the need for safety to be top global priority, the international transport unions’ federation ITF has said. Commenting on the 27 June incident in the Red Sea port of Aqaba, ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “It throws into sharp relief the safety regime at this port and raises tough questions about how dangerous loads are typically handled in the region.”
ITF news release. 5 July 2022

Qatar: Worker deaths under-reported in killer heat
A BBC Arabic investigation has uncovered allegations that Qatar is under-reporting the number of migrant workers who have died of heat stroke. Migrant workers who have complained about labour laws being broken have been jailed, the investigation found.
BBC News Online. 5 July 2022

Hazards news, 29 June 2022

Britain: Strike breaking plan will ‘endanger public safety’
The government’s decision on 23 June 2022 to lift the ban on the use of agency workers during strikes will endanger public safety, the TUC has warned. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Bringing in less qualified agency staff to deliver important services will endanger public safety, worsen disputes and poison industrial relations.”
TUC news release and TUC/REC joint statement. Unite news release. 29 June 2022

Britain: Agency worker plans ‘desperate and dangerous.’
Plans to change the law so that agency workers can be used to cover strikes have been condemned as ‘desperate and dangerous’ by the rail union TSSA. The rail union’s general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Bringing in strike breaking workers who do not possess the knowledge or skills to run a safe railway is deeply troubling.”
TSSA news release and investigation demand news release. 29 June 2022

Britain: Workers’ rights warning over post-Brexit trade deals
Ministers have been accused by the TUC of pushing for post-Brexit trade deals with more than a dozen countries that do not guarantee workers’ rights or systematically violate employee protections. The union body said ministers were in active talks with 13 nations with a worrying track record on employment rights, including Brazil, Burundi, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in order to secure trade deals after leaving the EU; and out of the 67 non-EU countries the government has negotiated trade deals with, as many as five are listed in the 10 “worst countries in the world for workers” according to an index published by the global union confederation ITUC.
The Guardian. 29 June 2022

Britain: Most sick workers in Wales carry on working
A shocking number of people have continued to work while unwell during the pandemic, according to a new survey.  YouGov polling, commissioned by Wales Trades Union Congress (Wales TUC), reveals that two-thirds (65 per cent) of people who were sick in the last 12 months had carried on working.
Wales TUC news release. 29 June 2022

Britain: Absence of sick pay for care workers exposed
More than half of care workers employed in the private sector receive under £100 a week if they take time off sick, with many getting nothing at all, a UNISON survey has found. The results highlight the precariousness of low-paid care staff in unstable employment who fear the consequences of taking time off when ill, the union said.
UNISON news release. 29 June 2022

Britain: Ambulance staff unable to drive new vehicles
Dozens of staff at an ambulance trust are unable to drive its £54m fleet of new vehicles due to their height or body shape. Documents obtained by freedom of information requests reveal a string of problems with converted Fiat Ducatos, which replaced ageing Mercedes vans at the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) – and the vehicles are part of an NHS drive to standardise its fleet and are being adopted by trusts across the country.
BBC News Online. The Guardian. 29 June 2022

Britain: Shocking scale of abuse facing frontline staff
Abuse and violence towards shop workers and service staff is on the rise again, research shows, with a quarter of those reporting hostility blaming the cost of living crisis putting increased stress on customers. Figures from the trade body the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) revealed 44 per cent of frontline retail staff have experienced hostility from customers in the past six months – up by a quarter from the figure of 35 per cent in February.
Usdaw news release. The Guardian. 29 June 2022

Britain: Boss jailed for 13 years after pig feed drowning tragedy
An owner of food waste recycling company Greenfeeds Ltd, convicted of corporate manslaughter after two employees would drowned in pig feed, has been jailed. Sixty-year-old Gillian Leivers, who was responsible for the day-to-day running of the site, was handed a 13-year prison sentence after being found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter at an earlier trial; her husband, Ian Leivers, 59, who owned and ran the company with his wife, was jailed for 20 months after being found guilty of criminal breaches of safety law.
Leicester Police news release and related releases on Nathan Walker and Gavin Rawson. Melton Times. The Lincolnite. The Guardian. BBC News Online. 29 June 2022

Britain: Deadly history shouldn’t be allowed to repeat itself
The parents of a man who was one of two killed in horrific incident at Greenfeed Ltd have asked why regulators had not been allows to continue operating after an early death in similar circumstances.  Gavin Rawson's mother Linda demanded to know why the company was allowed to continue, following an incident in 2005 that saw Greenfeeds convicted in 2006 for criminal breaches after the death of an employee involved in tanker cleaning.
BBC News Online. 29 June 2022

Britain: ‘Due diligence’ failure led to horror fall
A Blackburn warehouse firm has been fined for failing to undertake ‘due diligence’ checks on a roofing firm.  Floors ‘n’ Carpets Limited was prosecuted after an inadequately trained employee of roofing contractor Nizamuddin Gorji fell approximately 30 feet through a glass skylight on a warehouse roof, resulting in life changing injuries, and was fined £96,000 plus £36,919.75 costs.
HSE news release. 29 June 2022

Britain: Carlsberg fined £3m following ammonia tragedy
Carlsberg has been fined £3 million following a November 2016 ammonia gas leak from a refrigeration system at one of its breweries that killed father-of-two David Chandler, 45, and seriously injured David Beak, now 57. Both were employees of sub-contractor Speedrite NE Ltd.
HSE news release. Northampton Chronicle. 29 June 2022

Global: Find out about ‘fundamental’ safety, 11 July
An online information session hosted by the ILO International Training Centre is to be held on 11 July on the topic ‘A Safe and Healthy Working Environment is now a Fundamental Principle and Right at Work’. The session will provide detail on the game-changing June ILO decision, which elevated occupational health and safety to join the four other ‘fundamental’ rights at work [the right to organise, and protection from child labour, forced labour and discrimination at work] that must be observed by all ILO’s 187 member states.
A Safe and Healthy Working Environment is now a Fundamental Principle and Right at Work, 1.30-3.00pm UK time, Monday 11 July [in English, with simultaneous interpretation to French and Spanish]. Register online. 29 June 2022

Britain: Hazards Conference, Keele, 29-31 July 2022
The National Hazards Conference, the biggest and best workers’ health and safety event in the UK, will again be face-to-face this year. The Hazards Campaign-organised conference, on the theme ‘Decent work is safe and healthy’, is returning to its usual Keele University venue after two years online, with an online option for those who would rather not attend in person.
UK Hazards Conference, Keele University, 29-31 July 2022. Online booking form and programme to download or complete online. Sponsorship form.
For further information, email hazconf@gmhazards.org.uk or call 07734 317158. 29 June 2022

Global: Time to raise our game on fundamental safety
After a stunning global union campaign against determined resistance, occupational health and safety last month joined the big four – child labour, forced labour, discrimination and the right to organise – in the ILO’s top priority universal labour rights.  But Owen Tudor, deputy general secretary of the international union confederation ITUC, has said this “is only the beginning.”  
Owen Tudor, The Fifth Element, Hazards magazine, 2022. BWI news release. 29 June 2022

Europe: Firefighters discuss work cancer response
The UK Fire Brigades Union’s pioneering DECON project has been showcased at a meeting of the Europe-wide European Public Service Union (EPSU) Firefighters’ Network. Riccardo la Torre, FBU national officer, said: “DECON is here to stay in the UK fire and rescue service. It’s got the entire sector speaking about the risk posed, and now firefighters from across Europe are keen to learn from each other.”
FBU news release and DECON project. 29 June 2022

Europe: Danger alert for defective 3M asbestos masks
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has drawn the attention of all its European affiliates to a warning about defective Proflow asbestos masks manufactured by the US 3M corporation. These protective masks are the most widely used in asbestos removal operations throughout Europe.
ETUI news release. 29 June 2022

Europe: Pollution causes 10 per cent of all cancer cases
Exposure to air pollution, second-hand smoke, radon, ultraviolet radiation, asbestos, certain chemicals and other pollutants causes over 10 per cent of all cancer cases in Europe, according to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report. Most of these environmental and occupational cancer risks can be reduced by preventing pollution and changing behaviours, according to 'Beating cancer — the role of Europe’s environment.’
EEA news release and Beating cancer — the role of Europe’s environment. 29 June 2022

Hazards news, 14 June 2022

Britain: Strike-busting plan ‘reckless’ and unsafe, says TUC
A government indication it could lift the ban on the use of agency workers during strikes has been described as ‘extremely reckless’ by the TUC. The union body was responding after transport secretary Grant Shapps, commenting on planned rail strikes, told the Sunday Telegraph a potential change in legislation could allow companies to hire temporary workers to cover some roles and prevent disruption.
TUC news release. Sunday Telegraph. Morning Star. BBC News Online. 14 June 2022

Britain: Unions rubbish government’s strikebreaker plan
The UK government’s suggestion it could allow agency staff to replace striking rail workers is unsafe and bad business, unions have said. Mick Lynch, general secretary of the rail union RMT, said: “Grant Shapps needs to stop smearing the RMT and unshackle the rail operating companies so they can come to a negotiated settlement that can end this dispute.”
RMT news release. TSSA news release. Unite news release. UNISON news release. 14 June 2022

Britain: Industry groups say strikebreaking resolves nothing
Industry groups have said dialogue with unions is the way to resolve the rail dispute, not the use of agency workers as strikebreakers. Neil Carberry, the chief executive of REC - the agency worker industry body - tweeted: “Repealing the ban on agency workers replacing those on strike is the wrong policy - it puts agency workers and agencies in an invidious position and moves the focus away from resolving the dispute.”
Neil Carberry tweet. CBI news release. 14 June 2022

Britain: Prospect warns HSE is ‘at breaking point’
Many government agencies are facing long-term problems due to under-resourcing and capacity issues – and ‘nowhere has this been more apparent than in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)’, Prospect has said. Launching a campaign for a better resourced HSE, the union, which represents HSE inspectors and specialists, warns cuts have left the regulator ‘at breaking point’ and ‘unable to adequately fulfil its regulatory function’.
Prospect news release. ETUC news release. 14 June 2022

Britain: Social workers quitting over work pressure
Excessive workloads, high stress levels and low morale are rife among social workers who are at breaking point, according to a new UNISON report. ‘Social work and the impact of the Covid pandemic’, based on a survey of nearly 3,000 social workers across the UK, found more than threequarters (78 per cent) said they had experienced increased stress levels and 77 per cent were worried about their mental health due to the pressure they’re under.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. 14 June 2022

Britain: Pilot fury at Wizz Air boss work-while-fatigued call
The UK pilots’ union BALPA is warning safety must not be put on the backburner as airlines race to recover after Covid and return to profitability. BALPA was responding to ‘unacceptable’ comments made by the Wizz Air CEO József Váradi, who indicated pilots should be more willing to work when fatigued.
BALPA news release. Wizz Air comments. The Guardian. 14 June 2022

Britain: Work surveillance is hurting mental health
One in three workers feel technological surveillance by bosses has a negative impact on their mental health, new GMB research has found. Artificial intelligence should be used to make working life easier for people, not trap them in an “Orwellian nightmare,” the union warned.
Morning Star. 14 June 2022

Britain: Improve ventilation to save money and lives
Mandating improved ventilation and other forms of disease control in public buildings could save the UK economy billions of pounds each year through the prevention of ill-health and its wider impacts, experts have said. A report from the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) concludes the greatest gains could be made by improving ventilation and other forms of infection control in public buildings such as schools, hospitals and local community buildings including libraries and care homes.
CIBSE news release and report, Infection resilient environments: time for a major upgrade, NAE/CIBSE, National Engineering Policy Centre, 13 June 2022. RAE news release. The Guardian. 14 June 2022

Britain: Report echoes FBU concerns over private BRE
Firefighters’ union FBU has welcomed ‘massively significant’ evidence revealed in a new report to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry which echoes concerns raised previously by the union. The report, written by Luke Bisby, a professor of fire and structures at Edinburgh University and an expert witness to the inquiry, exposes flaws with the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the government’s former safety research and testing body that was privatised in 1997.
FBU news release and call for BRE to be renationalised. 14 June 2022

Britain: Damning report on Leicester garment factories
More than half of the Leicester garment workers are still experiencing poor working conditions almost two years on from revelations about poor standards in the city’s factories, a new report suggests. The study was commissioned by the Garment and Textile Workers Trust, funded by online fashion retailer Boohoo as part of its response to exposure of poor practices in its Leicester supply chain
University of Nottingham Rights Lab news release and findings and recommendations. The Guardian. 14 June 2022

Britain: Construction bosses jailed after roofer’s death   
Two construction company bosses have been jailed for criminal safety offences after subcontracted roofer Graham Tester, 60, fell to his death at an unsafe building site in Hove. Steven Wenham, 48, was sentenced to five years in prison and disqualified from being a company director for ten years and oofing subcontractor John Spiller, 52, was jailed for 15 months after being found not guilty of manslaughter, but guilty of two safety offences.
Sussex Police news release. Construction Enquirer. Brighton and Hove News. 14 June 2022

Britain: Directors convicted of asbestos crimes
Two asbestos company directors have received suspended jail terms and been banned for 10 years from running a company after being convicted of criminal safety breaches. James Keegan, 65, and Alan Barraclough, 51, both directors of Keebar Construction Ltd, were both handed 14-month prison sentences suspended for two years and banned them from being company directors for 10 years, ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work and to pay £44,774.21 in costs.
HSE news release. Chronicle Live. 14 June 2022

Britain: Hazards Conference, Keele, 29-31 July 2022
The National Hazards Conference, the biggest and best workers’ health and safety event in the UK, will again be face-to-face this year. The Hazards Campaign-organised conference, which features top speakers and a wide range of workshops and provides unparalleled opportunities to network and exchange ideas, relies on delegate fees and union sponsorship to survive.
UK Hazards Conference, Keele University, 29-31 July 2022. Online booking form and programme to download or complete online. Sponsorship form.
For further information, email hazconf@gmhazards.org.uk or call 07734 317158. 14 June 2022

Global: Major breakthrough on workplace safety
Working people around the world are set to benefit directly from the 10 June decision at the International Labour Conference (ILC) to recognise occupational health and safety as the fifth ILO fundamental right at work. It means all the International Labour Organisation’s 187 member states have now to respect and promote core safety rights, including involvement of workers and workers’ organisations, a right to refuse dangerous work, and for workers to receive necessary information and training.
ITUC news release. ILO news release. ETUC news release. ACTU news release. IndustriALL news release. 14 June 2022

Global: International unions welcome fundamental safety
The decision to recognise occupational health and safety as an ILO fundamental right at work has been welcomed by global unions. IndustriALL said it was “a milestone in the global efforts to stem the tide of deaths in the world of work”, IFJ  said “we hope that this decision will be an important step towards ending the growing attacks on journalists while doing their job” and BWI said: “This is a historic and colossal victory for the global trade union movement which was made possible by the collective work of many campaigners and stakeholders.”
BWI news release and Facebook video. IndustriALL news release. IFJ news release. 14 June 2022

Europe: EU ‘playing catch-up’ on work safety
A landmark decision to make occupational health and safety an International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental right at work has left the European Union ‘playing catch-up’, the Europe-wide union confederation ETUC has said. It said 12 European governments - including the UK - have yet to ratify ILO Convention 155, the main legal occupational health and safety instrument named in the ILO fundamental rights decision.
ETUC news release. 14 June 2022

Korea: Anger as government scuppers ‘safe rates’ deal
An agreement that would have ended a South Korea truck drivers’ strike in defence of ‘safe rates’ of pay has been scuppered after the country’s conservative government withdrew support. The move, condemned by the global transport union federation ITF, came after the government, unions and business groups had agreed a provisional deal.  
ITF news release. 14 June 2022

USA: Capitol riot officer suicide was job caused
The suicide of Washington DC police officer Jeff Smith, days after being injured in the 6 January 2021 attack on the US Capitol, has been accepted as a death in the line of duty. A DC Police and Firefighters’ Retirement and Relief Board Order stated: “Officer Smith sustained a personal injury on January 6, 2021, while performing his duties and that his injury was the sole and direct cause of his death.”
BBC News Online. US work-related suicide classifications. More on work-related suicides. 14 June 2022

Hazards news, 8 June 2022

Britain: No-one wants Tory ‘bonfire of red tape’
Unions have demanded that hard-won workers’ rights are protected after media reports suggested that Jacob Rees-Mogg is drawing up a list comprising over 1,000 EU-derived regulations to be ripped up, including workplace safety, employment and environmental protections. Mike Clancy, general secretary of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors’ union Prospect, said: “No-one is clamouring for a bonfire of red tape, not business nor unions.”
TUC news release. Prospect news release. The Express. 8 June 2022

Britain: ‘Criminal injustice’ as working people died
Conservative ministers committed a ‘criminal injustice against working people’ by letting so many die unnecessarily during the Covid-19 pandemic, BFAWU’s national president has said. Speaking at the union’s conference, Ian Hodson said unions were the safe choice and called on workers to “organise in our workplaces and make demands to improve our lives.”
Morning Star and related story. 8 June 2022

Britain: Warning on NHS ‘no breaks, no food’ culture
Overstretched NHS staff often have no time for breaks or food during their shifts and are worried this is affecting their ability to do their jobs, according to a UNISON survey. More than half (53 per cent) said they are unable to take regular breaks and almost one in six (16 per cent) only have time to grab snacks like crisps or chocolate during busy shifts.
UNISON news release. 8 June 2022

Britain: Road haulage bosses must improve conditions
The haulage industry should be given a two-year deadline to recruit more lorry drivers and improve facilities or face a new supply chain levy, a group of MPs has said. The transport select committee said the sector needed to “get its house in order,” and called for minimum standards for facilities, including security, clean showers, toilets, healthy food options and services for female drivers.
Unite news release. Transport select committee news release and report, Road freight supply chain, 1 June 2022. BBC News Online. 8 June 2022
Britain: Firefighters hit out at single fire extinguisher plan
Cheshire firefighters have spoken out against a move to send them to incidents with no firefighting equipment except a single fire extinguisher. The FBU says the plan requires attendance by just two to three firefighters, with no breathing apparatus and in a pick-up truck rather than a fire engine.
FBU news release. 8 June 2022

Britain: Violence against shopworkers more than tripled
Violence and abuse against shopworkers more than tripled during the pandemic as social distancing and face mask restrictions were enforced, according to new figures. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the number of incidents surged to 1,301 each day in the year to March 2021, from 455 per day a year earlier.
Usdaw news release. BRC news release. Morning Star. 8 June 2022

Britain: New tech and self-service stresses out shop staff
Retail trade union Usdaw has given evidence to MPs on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Future of Retail, highlighting the challenges workers face with the introduction of new technology and focussing on the greater use of self-service tills. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis singled-out self-service checkouts as one problem area, noting: “Shopworkers suffer significant stress and feel overstretched when covering banks of self-service tills, with having to deal with so many customers at the same time.”
Usdaw news release and policy statement on technology and automation. 8 June 2022

Global: Tea firm loses legal bid to block injury cases
An Aberdeen tea firm has lost its appeal against a decision to allow hundreds of Kenyan plantation workers who say they have been injured picking tea to sue for compensation. James Finlay (Kenya) Limited’s bid to have the legal challenge thrown out was rejected by Scotland’s most senior judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Press and Journal. 8 June 2022

Britain: Tube dust ‘could cause serious illness’
Dust exposures on the London Underground system have the potential to cause serious illness to station staff, research has revealed. The first study on the impact of particulate matter (PM) from an underground railway found exposure increased the risk of pneumococcal infections such as pneumonia.
Lisa Miyashita and others. Underground railway particulate matter and susceptibility to pneumococcal infection, The Lancet eBioMedicine, volume 80, 104063, 1 June 2022. Evening Standard. 8 June 2022

Britain: Suspended jail terms after deadly fall
Construction bosses Ian Blacklin and Dennis Spence have received suspended jail sentences after a worker suffered mortal injuries when he fell over five metres through fragile roof panels. Newcastle Crown Court heard that on 16 November 2015, 25-year-old Anthony Spence fell as he was carrying out over-cladding work, involving the installation of new roofing material over the existing fragile asbestos cement roof.
HSE news release. 8 June 2022

Britain: Hermes fined £850k after depot worker dies
Delivery company Hermes Parcelnet Ltd has been fined £850,000 after pleading guilty to criminal health and safety offences that saw a worker crushed to death at a panel depot. David Kennedy, 43, was working at the firm’s parcel sorting office at Eurocentral near Motherwell on 19 March 2019, when the incident took place at 10.15pm.
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service news release. Daily Record. 8 June 2022

Britain: Furniture firm fined over vibration disease
A North Wales company that manufactures sofas and chairs has been fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,033.50 after failing to ensure the risks to workers from vibrating tools was sufficiently risk assessed and managed. Westbridge Furniture Designs Limited required at least two employees to carry out their normal duties, even though they had been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, with one suffering permanent nerve damage and now no longer able to work.
HSE news release. 8 June 2022

Bangladesh: Over 40 killed, hundreds injured in depot blast
A fire and a huge explosion have killed at least 41 people and injured hundreds more at a storage depot near the city of Chittagong, Bangladesh. As firefighters, police and volunteers tried to extinguish the blaze a huge explosion rocked the site, engulfing many of the rescuers in flames and throwing debris and people into the air.
ILO statement. BBC News Online and update. 8 June 2022

India: Hundreds ill in garment factory gas leak
Around 400 women workers at a giant garment factory in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in India fell ill on 3 June after inhaling an unidentified hazardous gas. Some workers at the Brandix India Apparel factory in Atchutapuram fainted, others complained of headaches, stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, and burning eyes.
IndustriALL news release. 8 June 2022

South Korea: Truck drivers strike to defend safe rates
South Korean truck drivers have started an ‘unlimited’ national strike action in defence of the country’s ‘Safe Rates’ system. The KPTU-TruckSol union estimates 15,000 members participated in strike rallies held in 16 locations across the country on 7 June, and several thousand more drivers, both members and non-members, joined the strike in solidarity.
ITF news release. 8 June 2022

USA: ‘Essential’ workers bore brunt of Covid deaths
Most working age Americans who died of Covid-19 during the first year of the pandemic were so-called ‘essential workers’ in labouring, service and retail jobs that required on-site attendance and prolonged contact with others, a study has found. The investigation of Covid deaths in 2020 affirms that those who could not work from home and who toiled in low-paying jobs with few or no benefits, such as paid sick leave and health insurance coverage, bore the brunt of deaths during the pandemic’s first year, said Jason Salemi, an associate professor in the University of South Florida College of Public Health and a co-author of the study.
Pathak EB, Menard JM, Garcia RB, Salemi JL. Joint Effects of Socioeconomic Position, Race/Ethnicity, and Gender on COVID-19 Mortality among Working-Age Adults in the United States. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2022; 19(9):5479. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19095479. Miami Herald. 8 June 2022

Hazards news, 26 May 2022

Britain: Right to strike limits would put workers at risk
Revelations that UK government ministers may draw up laws requiring minimum numbers of staff to work during a strike are ‘unworkable’ and could leave workers at risk of abuse, the TUC has said. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We will fight these unfair and unworkable proposals to undermine unions and undermine the right to strike. And we will win.”
TUC news release. RMT news release. TSSA news release. UNISON news release. Unite news release. 26 May 2022

Britain: PCS calls for safety reforms
Stronger health and safety laws, more legal powers for reps and the right to digitally disconnect from work are needed to protect workers, civil servants’ union PCS has said. The union’s conference agreed to campaign alongside the TUC for a raft of health and safety measures, include more funding and statutory powers for the Health and Safety Executive, the right to full sick pay from day one and more powers for unions.
PCS news release. 26 May 2022

Britain: Covid death probe finds college broke law
A damning investigation into Covid-19 safety at Burnley College after the death of teacher Donna Coleman has found that “health and safety laws... were broken”.  The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) opened a fatality investigation into Donna Coleman's death aged 42 after lecturers’ union UCU raised Covid-19 health and safety concerns with both the safety regulator and the college.
UCU news release. FE Week. 26 May 2022

Britain: Long Covid ‘protocol’ urgently needed
Civil service union PCS calling on the Cabinet Office and the devolved administrations to put in place protocols so people affected by long Covid are treated fairly. The union’s conference agreed to “press for the exclusion of all Long Covid absences from absence management triggers and to press for full pay to be paid for all Long Covid-related absences.”
PCS news releases on the protocol, sick leave and Covid-19 as an occupational disease.
Resource: Impact of long Covid on workers and workplaces and the role of OSH, EU-OSHA, May 2022. 26 May 2022

Britain: Injured truck driver gets payout
A Unite member from Morecambe has received compensation of £200,000 in a union-backed claim after falling from his truck. Hugh Copeland, 56, suffered a bleed to the brain and has been left in life-long pain.
LancsLive. 26 May 2022

Britain: Government failed to protect doctors
The UK government failed in its duty of care to protect doctors and other healthcare staff from avoidable harm during the Covid-19 pandemic, a major review by the doctors’ organisation BMA has concluded. Its two reports published on 19 May lay bare the devastating impact of the pandemic on doctors and the NHS, with repeated mistakes, errors of judgment and failures of government policy, the BMA said.
Covid review 1: How well protected was the medical profession from Covid-19? and Covid review 2: The impact of the pandemic on the medical profession, BMA, May 2022. BMJ News. BBC News Online. 26 May 2022

Britain: HSE refused to investigate NHS Covid deaths
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) refused to look into at least 89 dangerous incidents that NHS trusts said involved healthcare workers being exposed to Covid, including 10 deaths, it has been revealed. TUC safety specialist Shelly Asquith said HSE’s behaviour was “really concerning.”
Pharmaceutical Journal. The Guardian. 26 May 2022

Britain: Low paid No 10 staff subject to ‘appalling’ treatment
Support staff at No 10 and the Cabinet Office have had to endure ‘unacceptable’ abuse at work, the Gray report has found. Civil servant Sue Gray’s report into the Partygate scandal disclosed that cleaners and security guards have been subjected to a “lack of respect and poor treatment”, and yet felt “unable to raise [this] properly” with the authorities.
The Guardian. UNISON news release. Prospect news release. 26 May 2022

Britain: MPs’ staff have clinical ‘psychological distress’
Half of all MPs’ staff are suffering from clinical levels of psychological distress, a study has found. Parliamentary aides said they were at “breaking point” after years of crises, from Brexit to Covid, a lack of support from superiors and abuse from the public.
The Guardian. 26 May 2022

Britain: 'Extreme' work stress linked to alcohol death
A 26-year-old man struggling with ‘extreme’ work-related stress 'self-medicated' with alcohol, which subsequently caused his death, an inquest has heard. Area coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp gave a narrative conclusion and said that Jamie Honey's death was drink related, adding: “Unfortunately, wanting to do well and having an extremely stressful job can lead to worsening anxiety and stresses at work.”
Hampshire Live. 26 May 2022

Britain: Fish firm fined over worker’s forklift death
Shetland fish company QA Fish Ltd has been fined £80,000 over the death of a 61-year-old employee who was run over by a forklift. Karen Allan died three weeks after the incident at Blacksness Pier on 31 January 2018.
Press and Journal. BBC News Online. 26 May 2022

Global: Twin climate and child labour perils in agriculture
There is a need for urgent action to address the twin perils in agriculture of climate change and child labour, an expert has warned. Writing in The Lancet Planetary Health, Hidayat Greenfield, the regional secretary of the global food and farming union federation IUF, concluded: “It is well understood that both child labour and climate change are complex, multi-layered issues… it is equally well understood that complexity should not justify inaction.”
Muhammad Hidayat Greenfield. An urgent need to reassess climate change and child labour in agriculture, The Lancet Planetary Health, first published online 18 May 2022. ITUC news release. 26 May 2022

Global: UN bodies rebut asbestos safety claims
The UN bodies responsible for global labour and health rights have rebutted statements by the asbestos industry lobby that they “support” the continued use of chrysotile, the last remaining commercially traded asbestos fibre.  The damning responses from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) came after the International Chrysotile Association (ICA) claimed both WHO and ILO policies are pro-asbestos.
WHO position on chrysotile asbestos. ICA website and ICA Summary for Decision-Makers. 26 May 2022

Global: Fifa urged to pay reparations to Qatar migrants
World football’s top body Fifa should pay reparations of at least $440m (£356m) to migrant workers whose human rights have been compromised by the Qatar World Cup, a group of non-governmental organisations has said. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Football Supporters Europe and the global union Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) are among those calling for a remediation scheme that would address the documented failings of human rights protections, including “a significant number of deaths”, which have scarred the history of Qatar’s World Cup.
Open letter to Fifa and report, Predictable and Preventable, Amnesty International, May 2022. HRW news release and video. The Guardian. 26 May 2022

Global: Big wins for seafarers at top level negotiations
Seafarers have won important concessions on connectivity, food and personal protective equipment during negotiations on amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC). Among the changes is an agreement that personal protective equipment will be made available in sizes that suit all the seafarers onboard a vessel, including women, and improved access to free drinking water, quality provisions and balanced diets.
Nautilus news release. 26 May 2022

Hazards news, 18 May 2022

Britain: Deadly asbestos remains in public buildings
Thousands of local authority buildings in England still contain asbestos, the TUC has warned. A survey carried out by Labour Research Department (LRD) for the TUC and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health found only one local authority in a sample of 31 has removed asbestos from all of its premises, over two decades after all asbestos use was banned in the UK.
TUC news release and asbestos report. 18 May 2022

Britain: RMT in strike ballot over windfarm victimisation
Offshore union RMT is to ballot all members at a major windfarm company for industrial action over the victimisation of a member for “simply for raising questions over serious health and safety infringements.” The union said it is appalled at the actions of Orsted Walney Operations and its treatment of a member who reported Orsted to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
RMT news release. 18 May 2022

Britain: Rail staff could boycott line over safety fears
Rail staff could refuse to work on services between Balloch and Glasgow that have been blighted by disruptive passenger behaviour. RMT regional organiser Mick Hogg issued the warning, as he outlined fears that it could only be a matter of time before a member of Scotrail staff is seriously injured or killed as a result of violent behaviour on train services.
Daily Record. 18 May 2022

Britain: School strike warning over violence and abuse
NASUWT members could be left with no option but to consider strike action at a Glasgow school if effective steps are not taken to address violent and disruptive pupil behaviour and protect the safety and welfare of teachers, their union has said. Union members at Bannerman High School have been engaged in action short of a strike since October 2021, citing the employer’s failure to address persistent verbal and physical assaults and violence against staff from pupils.
NASUWT news release. 18 May 2022

Britain: Arrested MP should be made to stay away
MPs under investigation for alleged abuse behaviour must be suspended from parliament, the union Prospect has said. The union was speaking out after an MP was bailed after his arrest on suspicion of rape and sexual assault, with only a voluntary agreement in place with Conservative Party whips that he will stay away.
Prospect news release. BBC News Online. 18 May 2022

Britain: FBU calls for building safety body to be renationalised
Firefighters’ union FBU has said it will fight for the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to be renationalised. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Corners have been cut and building safety compromised as the BRE bowed down to the building material companies which pay its wages.”
FBU news release. 18 May 2022

Britain: STUC backs Covid-19 safety pledge
Scottish trade union body STUC is backing a new Covid-19 Safety Pledge, launched by a coalition of trade unions, safety groups and Independent SAGE. STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “It’s vitally important that the legacy of Covid-19 isn’t a rollback on workers’ safety or rights.”
The Covid-19 Safety Pledge. Independent SAGE. 18 May 2022

Britain: FBU expands work on fire contaminant risks
Firefighters’ union FBU is to expand its work on the health impact of fire contaminants – toxic substances produced by fires - on firefighters. At its annual conference, FBU agreed to fight for its DECON best practice training and prevention programme to be expanded throughout the fire service, including via national guidance, contaminants monitoring, cancer screening and fire station design principles.
FBU news release. 18 May 2022

Britain: Union welcomes Tesco menopause action
A new guide outlining menopause support available to Tesco workers has been welcomed by Usdaw. The new resource, published following discussions between the retail union and the supermarket chain, sets out to increase awareness and understanding of menopause in the workplace and to ensure all employees know what support is available and where they can access it.
Usdaw news release. 18 May 2022

Britain: Employment Bill delay an ‘imminent threat’
The global chartered body for health and safety professionals has warned delays to a promised Employment Bill in the UK poses an “imminent threat to the labour market”. Ruth Wilkinson, head of health and safety at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), said: “This long-awaited development is crucial both for driving up employment practices and for reducing the precariousness of workers in zero-hours contracts, agency workers and those in temporary or low-paid self-employment.”
IOSH news release. 18 May 2022

Britain: England’s crumbling schools are a ‘risk to life’
Many school buildings in England are now in such disrepair they are a “risk to life”, according to internal government documents leaked to the Observer. Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the teaching union NEU, commenting on the revelations, said “whether the issue to be addressed is potentially dangerous roofing, retrofitting for energy efficiency and to help meet climate obligations, or basic repairs, the challenge is made all the greater by the presence of asbestos in so many school buildings.”
The Observer. 18 May 2022

Britain: Fishers beaten and exploited on UK boats
A third of migrant workers on UK fishing vessels work 20-hour shifts, and 35 per cent report regular physical violence, according to new research that concludes there is rampant exploitation and abuse on British ships. Researchers at the University of Nottingham Rights Lab, which focuses on modern slavery, found more than 60 per cent of fishers - including UK nationals - said they would never report a grievance out of fear of being blacklisted and refused re-employment.
University of Nottingham news release and report, Letting Exploitation Off the Hook, University of Nottingham Rights Lab, May 2022. ITF news release and report, A one way ticket to labour exploitation: how transit visa loopholes are being used to exploit migrant fishers on UK fishing vessels, May 2022. The Guardian. 18 May 2022

Britain: Pregnant ice cream shop worker sacking unfair
An ice cream shop's assistant manager who was made to feel “ashamed to be pregnant” by her employer has been awarded £38,677 by a tribunal. Abbey Gannapureddy, 29, was demoted from her role at Chester's Icestone Gelato after she became pregnant in 2019 and told to find another job when she complained.
BBC News Online. 18 May 2022

Britain: Network Rail fined £1.4m for serious injuries
Network Rail has been fined £1.4 million for criminal health and safety offences after an investigation by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). The regulator found failings that led to a worker being crushed between the conveyor of a 25 tonne ‘Superboss’ ballast distributor and Kubota people carrier and suffering catastrophic and life-changing injuries.
ORR news release. 18 May 2022

India: Dozens killed in office fire
At least 27 people have died and dozens more injured in a huge fire in a commercial building in India’s capital, Delhi. The fire broke out at the four-storey building near a railway station in the western suburb of Mundka in the late afternoon on 13 May; the following day, police confirmed they had arrested two owners of the company on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and a criminal conspiracy.
The Hindu. BBC News Online. The Guardian. 18 May 2022

Global: Justice call for killed Palestinian reporter
The global trade union movement has called for justice after Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed on the West Bank.  The respected journalist, who had worked for Al Jazeera Network for over two decades, was reportedly shot dead by Israeli soldiers while covering their raid on the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on 11 May, with the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) saying the crime was “deliberate and planned to assassinate her.”
ITUC news release. IFJ statement. ITF news release. PSI news release. NUJ news release. Al Jazeera. The Guardian. The Times of Israel. 18 May 2022

Netherlands: Unions call for work long Covid fund
Care workers and teachers who have developed long Covid should be entitled to compensation from the government, trade unions in the Netherlands have said. The government did not do enough to protect the health of people working in healthcare or education during the height of the pandemic and thousands of them are entitled to cash payments, according to the FNV and CNV trade union federations, and the AOB teaching union.  
DutchNews. 18 May 2022

USA: Meat giants deliberately put workers at risk
At the height of the pandemic, as coronavirus infected tens of thousands of US meat industry workers and caused hundreds to die, executives at the nation's largest meat producers were aware of the transmission risk in their plants and successfully lobbied the Trump White House and regulators to circumvent coronavirus prevention measures and regulations, according to a congressional investigation. “The Select Subcommittee's investigation has revealed that former President Trump's political appointees at USDA [department of agriculture] collaborated with large meatpacking companies to lead an Administration-wide effort to force workers to remain on the job during the coronavirus crisis despite dangerous conditions, and even to prevent the imposition of commonsense mitigation measures,” committee chair, US Rep. James Clyburn, said in a 12 May statement.
US Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, news release and report, 12 May 2022. UFCW statement. CNN News. Washington Post. ProPublica. 18 May 2022

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

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