Hazards news, 24 December 2004

Global: Working conditions and labour rights around the world
'Behind the label: Working conditions and labour rights in export processing zones', a new report from global union federation ICFTU, looks at the impact of these deregulated industrial zones on workers' rights.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004

Britain: Sick pay runs out for blast injured workers
Workers from the Stockline factory in Glasgow are facing an anxious Christmas after their sick pay entitlement ran out, seven months after surviving an explosion which killed nine colleagues.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004

Australia: Campaigners secure James Hardie asbestos agreement
Unions and campaigners in Australia have signed a deal with former asbestos products manufacturer James Hardie for what is believed to be the largest personal injury settlement in Australia's history.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004

Britain: More delays for workplace death law
Plans to make it easier to prosecute companies following fatal accidents have suffered a further setback, with the Home Office now admitting draft legislation might not be published until shortly before next spring's expected general election.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004

Canada: Unions say don't toy with workers' rights
Canadians support the right of working people to earn a decent wage and work in conditions that are safe, healthy and free from discrimination, says Canada's national union federation CLC - but adds that not all retailers seem to think the same way.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004

Britain: Bosses say they want to help the sick back to work
Most employers say they take measures to help sick workers reintegrate to the workplace, according to a new report published by DWP. Almost all employers interviewed allowed employees to return to work on reduced hours to ease their return, gradually building up the number of hours worked over time.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004

France: Revulsion at gruesome nurse murders
The macabre double murder of a nurse and auxiliary nurse at a mental hospital in Pau in the French Pyrenees last weekend has caused a wave of revulsion throughout France and provoked questions about the under-funding of psychiatric medicine. Repeated calls for improved security on psychiatric units have been ignored, according to health unions.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004

Britain: Fines for "serious" and fatal failures
Two companies have been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £100,000 in the Central Criminal Court, London after pleading guilty to what were described as "serious failures" to comply with safety duties, leading to a worker's death.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004

Japan: Five workers may have bird flu virus
Five workers in Japan may have been infected with the bird flu virus after an outbreak among chickens in February, but government officials says there is no risk they will develop symptoms and no chance of more infections.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004

Britain: Scotland pushes forward with smoking ban
A new Bill aims to improve Scotland's health record by banning smoking in enclosed public places in order to protect people from the effects of second hand smoke, said Scottish health minister Andy Kerr.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004

Global: Media death toll hits a record 120
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has confirmed that 2004 has turned into the worst year on record for the killing of journalists and media staff as two new violent deaths were recorded this week in Africa and Asia, bringing the death toll to 120 in the year so far.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004

South Africa: NUM excluded from mine deaths probe
Leaders from South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) say they have been excluded from the investigation into the deaths of seven miners at a mine in Brits. The mineworkers were killed in an underground accident at the Hernic Ferrochrome mine.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004

USA: Race and class discrimination rife in workplace safety
African-Americans with work-related back injuries have less money spent on their medical care, are granted less time off and receive less compensation for their injuries than Caucasians, according to a Saint Louis University study. Those of lower socioeconomic status also received less costly medical care and smaller financial settlements for their injuries than those who were more educated and had higher incomes, although the discrepancy was nowhere near as marked.
Risks 188, 24 December 2004


Hazards news, 18 December 2004

Global: Union blueprint for worldwide safe work
Unions from across the globe have created a blueprint for workplace health and safety. Union leaders attending the congress of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) in Japan agreed a 26-point action programme for a "21st century approach to occupational health and safety for trade unions".
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Britain: TUC search for the modern day Scrooge The TUC has launched a campaign to find the modern Ebenezer Scrooge, Christmas' meanest boss. It wants to track down modern day employers who couldn't give a Dickens for working conditions.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

USA: Workers pay for failing compensation system
The US workers' compensation system is dramatically failing occupational disease victims. New research shows the employer insurance based system, which is supposed to cover income and medicals costs of workers suffering work-related injuries or ill-health, is instead shifting the costs onto employees and their families.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Britain: Posties deliver Christmas letter box message
Poorly designed letter boxes are giving long-suffering postmen and women bad backs, says postal union CWU.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Global: US turns up heat in Hardie scandal
The powerful US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has joined the growing pack of watchdogs in the hunt to bring actions against James Hardie Industries and its executives and directors.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Britain: Amicus speaks up for asbestos victims
Amicus has condemned insurers who it says are attempting to shirk their responsibility to compensate up to 75 per cent of asbestos claims. The union says insurers are this week challenging in the High Court the right of workers to claim compensation for pleural plaques, a calcification of the lungs that can be caused by exposure to asbestos.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Europe: Health at work is an equality issue
Cutting health risks and tackling stress at work are equality issues, a European conference of service sector unions has heard. Delegates to the UNI-Europa women's Conference in Brussels heard a gender specific approach to health and safety at work is needed to avoid "gender specific distortions in occupational health and safety."
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Britain: Scaffolding collapse sparks anger
Workers at a Nottinghamshire power station staged a walk out last week after a colleague was badly injured when scaffolding collapsed. Union officials said the scaffolding at Cottam power station near Retford was installed by Portuguese workers and added they were concerned the workers had not been trained up to UK standards.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Australia: New law ups safety penalties and reps' rights
The Australian state of Victoria has introduced a new safety law that creates the new offence of "exposing a person to risk of serious injury or death" with a possible jail term of up to five years. Another provision gives union occupational health and safety representatives the right to make surprise inspections of even non-unionised work sites.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Britain: Code warning for employers on health information
Employers could be breaking the law if they fail to respect workers' privacy on health issues. New guidance on obtaining and handling information about workers' health published by the Information Commissioner's Office puts strict limits on the health information that can be obtained and says in most instances alcohol, drug and genetic testing are an unwarranted intrusion.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Britain: Putting the dead in deadlines
Setting tight work deadlines can raise the risk of a heart attack six-fold, researchers have found. The Karolinska Institute team found high demands, competition and conflict in the workplace were linked to heart attack risk.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Global: Men warned of laptop health risk
Experts are urging males to keep their laptops off their laps because they could damage their fertility. Laptops, which reach high internal operating temperatures, can heat up the scrotum, which could affect the quality and quantity of men's sperm, say the researchers, writing in the journal Human Reproduction.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Britain: Hospital knife attacker gets life
A murderer has been jailed for life for two knife attacks committed at a hospital while he was out on licence from prison. Lord Drummond Young, sentencing the man for attempted murde, said: "Any assault in hospital premises, whether on patients or staff, must attract a very severe sentence."
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Britain: MPs call for more site inspection and enforcement
An MPs' committee has said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) should do more to reduce the "unacceptable" toll of construction site injuries. The Commons public accounts committee called for higher penalties and for HSE to change its inspection regime to include more unannounced visits - to investigate whether these reveal more serious breaches of health and safety than notified visits.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Britain: Action call on workplace deaths
A £20,000 fine after the death of a 20-year-old worker in a forklift truck accident has led to calls for tougher penalties. The HSE prosecution of EW Pepper Ltd related to the death of Hungarian employee Ezther Nagy who died after her forklift truck overturned.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Britain: Plans to tackle bird flu outbreak
The UK is drawing up plans to deal with a possible outbreak of bird flu. The Department of Health has confirmed proposals under consideration include providing anti-viral drugs to key health workers and emergency services.
Risks 187, 18 December 2004

Britain: Safety reps communicating for themselves
BT safety reps in the north west have taken a great leap for union kind. NW BT unions' health and safety coordinators' committee has boldly gone into cyberspace. Its new website - - brings together news and resources that would be useful to safety reps whatever their industry. The CWU and Connect collaboration is a great example of how unions at a local level can use technology to create better, more effective networks. It includes details of latest national and local union safety business and will even provide email updates.
NW BT union health and safety


Hazards news, 11 December 2004.

Britain: February 25 is 'work your proper hours' day in 2005
Here's one for your diary. Friday, February 25 is the day in 2005 when the TUC estimates that people who do unpaid overtime will stop working for free and start to get paid.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

USA: Trench warfare is killing workers
Dozens of labourers die in the United States every year while working in trenches on construction sites, most unvisited under a threadbare system of official safety inspection. Industry experts say the reason for the carnage is simple: too many employers, especially owners of small construction companies, ignore safety rules.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Britain: "Ear-splitting" music is deafening bar and club workers
The UK's 568,000 bar, pub and club workers are being subjected to music so loud that they could lose or permanently damage their hearing, according to a report published by deaf people's advocacy charity RNID and the TUC.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Finland: Older workers helped to stay on the job
Finland, facing the possibility of an ageing workforce and labour shortages, has taken action to ensure older workers maintain their "work ability". Under a pilot scheme devised by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), some workers in the town of Tervasaari have since 2000 been given extra training, moved to more appropriate jobs and treated as the wise elders of the company.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004FIOH ageing and work webpages

Britain: Latex allergy nurse gets £1/3 million payout
Nurse Alison Dugmore, who developed potentially life-threatening occupational asthma caused by latex exposure, is to finally receive compensation totalling £1/3 million.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Global: Benzene limit leaves workers at risk
Exposure to levels of benzene below that allowable in UK workplaces may pose a health risk, suggests new research. The study has shown that workers who inhaled less than one part per million (1ppm) had fewer white blood cells than those who were not exposed.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Britain: Haulage boss jailed after fatal crash
A haulage boss who taught truckers how to cheat vehicle logs so they could travel "as far and as fast as they wanted" was given a seven year jail term this week after three men died when one of his drivers fell asleep at the wheel. Drivers at Keymark Services - where Melvyn Spree was director - regularly falsified records so that it would appear that they were complying with the law when they were actually working grossly excessive hours.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Britain: Tube workers ballot for action to head off dangerous hours
The biggest union on London Underground (LUL) is to ballot more than 330 signallers and line controllers for strike action. The move comes after six months of negotiations failed to resolve a four year dispute over a pay deal the company wants to link to job cuts, longer shifts and fewer breaks.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

USA: Lead exposure link to cataracts
Accumulated lead exposure may increase the risk of developing a cataract, research suggests. The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association "suggests that reduction of lead exposure could help decrease the global burden of cataract."
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Britain: Workers can't be victims of the war on red tape
A government plan to reel in red tape must not remove safety protections, campaigners have warned. They were responding after Gordon Brown announced "the regulatory focus should be on advice not inspection."

Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Australia: Workers die in official bid to rub out unions
A scathing official report into mine safety in West Australia has exposed the human cost of a drive by Australia's federal government to reduce union power by introducing individual contracts as an alternative to collective bargaining. The five month Ritter Inquiry, prompted by a spate of workplace deaths, found mining multinational BHP Billiton's aggressive use of individual contracts had compromised workplace safety.

Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Britain: Chancellor announces new work rehab measures
The government is to introduce a range of measures which could help sick workers remain in their jobs or that could assist workers on incapacity benefit back into work.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Britain: Government backs GP-based work health advisers
The government has announced a new scheme to place employment advisers in GPs surgeries.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Britain: Record sickness among demoralised civil servants
Stress and anxiety is causing record numbers of civil servants at the Department for Work and Pensions to go sick, a National Audit Office report has found. The highest rates of sickness were among staff who had the lowest paid, most stressful or repetitive jobs, often working in call centres, on benefit office counters or recording data; the lowest rates were among the top executives.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Britain: New bill hopes to make safety a boardroom priority
Senior Labour backbenchers and former ministers are backing a private member's bill which would see company directors held to account for negligent health and safety practices that cause injuries or fatalities.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Europe: Promoting better jobs for workers with disabilities
The European Agency for Health and Safety at Work has produced a factsheet on the workplace safety of people with disabilities. It looks at a key area concerning the employment of workers with disabilities - how to ensure safety and health, while avoiding discrimination.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Britain: Language barriers mean new dangers at work
Concern that migrant workers could be missing out on crucial health and safety training because their employers are not providing safety material in any language other than English has prompted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the TUC to publish a new safety guide translated into 19 different languages.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Britain: TUC believes in a xmas party sanity clause
As the office party season approaches the TUC has joined forces with accident prevention group RoSPA to wish for a safe Christmas.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004

Global: Cabin crew want recognition of safety role
Airline cabin crews worldwide are calling for a standard certificate that gives proper recognition of the vital safety and security skills their jobs demand. On 7 December the international trade union federation ITF launched the latest phase of its campaign for recognition, respect and proof of ability.
Risks 186, 11 December 2004


Hazards news, 4 December 2004.

Global: Clouds of injustice hang over Bhopal
The failure of the Indian government and Union Carbide to tackle the after-effects of the Bhopal disaster has left a legacy of pollution and inadequate medical care for survivors, according to an Amnesty International report.
Risks 185, 4 December 2004

Britain: Put directors in the dock over workplace casualties
Unions TGWU and UCATT are promoting a private member's bill that would hold individual directors to account for workplace casualties.
Risks 185, 4 December 2004 • How the Health and Safety (Directors' Duties) Bill would look [pdf]

Europe: Unions call for action on paint solvent hazards
Construction unions from across Europe have called for urgent action to protect workers from brain damage and other hazards from solvent based paints. A conference organised by the Danish Painters' Union brought together top expert and representatives of trade unions from 10 European countries, the Nordic Federation of Building and Wood Workers (NFBWW) and the European Federation of Building and Wood Workers (EFBWW).
Risks 185, 4 December 2004 • "Solvents do your brains in" [pdf]

Britain: Mapping out solutions to workplace slips and trips
Retail union Usdaw is urging its safety reps to use risk maps to tackle the problem of workplace slips and trips, which account for a third of all reported major injuries.
Risks 185, 4 December 2004 • Risk mapping for slips and trips guide [pdf]

China: Global bid to improve deadly mines
A global deal aimed at improving the health and safety of China's mining industry was signed this week in Beijing. The agreement, which involves global union federation ICEM, comes in the week that China suffered its worst coal mine disaster in recent history, with 166 confirmed dead.
Risks 185, 4 December 2004

Britain: STUC dismay as Stockline injured face xmas hardship
The decision by Stockline to end enhanced sick pay to those injured in the Maryhill explosion in May has dismayed unions.
Risks 185, 4 December 2004

Canada: Safe needles laws spread further
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Canada is applauding a commitment from the provincial government in Manitoba to convert from conventional to safety-engineered medical sharps devices.
Risks 185, 4 December 2004

Britain: Call for global accountability for UK firms
British companies whose serious negligence causes deaths abroad will not be brought to account under the provisions of a draft manslaughter bill due to be published this month.
Risks 185, 4 December 2004

Canada: Work environment linked to rheumatism job loss
A change in working conditions may help adults with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) stay in work, preliminary research suggests. The survey of nearly 600 adults with the condition found that certain work-related factors, such as whether workers received ergonomic adjustments to their workstations or had a difficult commute to work, affected their ability to stay on the job.
Risks 185, 4 December 2004

Britain: Back to work is working says minister
Twice as many people on incapacity benefit return to work when they have access to the government's pilot "Pathways to Work" schemes, according to a new report.
Risks 185, 4 December 2004

USA: Job exposure to pesticide linked to lung cancer
Workers exposed to the pesticide chlorpyrifos may have an elevated risk of lung cancer, according to a report from US government researchers.
Risks 185, 4 December 2004

Britain: Staff monitoring is on the increase
Office workers could face an explosion in workplace monitoring, scrutiny and micro-management, according to a new report. Supply chain technology developed for monitoring goods is now being applied to individuals instead of products, warns research from the London School of Economics (LSE).
Risks 185, 4 December 2004

Australia: "Abominable" banker earns union wrath
Commonwealth Bank CEO David Murray has launched a blistering attack on New South Wales' health and safety regime, describing proposed jail sentences as "absolutely abominable." He added that the existing system that allows successful prosecutors to recoup costs in safety cases was "corrupt," charges that attracted strong condemnation from unions.
Risks 185, 4 December 2004

Britain: Zoo fined after worker is killed by elephant
The mother of a zoo worker who died after he was struck by an elephant said she was "very pleased" after his employer was fined £25,000.
Risks 185, 4 December 2004

Canada: Women's work worse than records show
Injury statistics do not provide a complete picture of the occupational hazards experienced by women in the workplace, according to a report in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Institute for Work and Health newsletter
• PM Smith and CA Mustard. Examining the associations between physical work demands and work injury rates between men and women in Ontario, 1990-2000, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 61, pages 750-756, 2004 [abstract]
Hazards webpages
on women's work
Risks 185, 4 December 2004


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