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Union effect wob


Rep prep At some point every safety rep is likely to find themselves sitting opposite a manager to discuss a health and safety issue. Whether it’s a safety committee meeting with someone from HR taking minutes or an informal chat, this can be daunting for a new rep. So, it’s useful to have a bit of a checklist for when we meet management. Hazards 165, January-March 2024

All eyes and ears Union safety reps don’t need to be superheroes nor to be experts in the law. Nor do they need awards, special qualifications, or years of experience. Something that is important, though, is an innate sense of common decency.
Hazards 164, September-December 2023

Live wires A blacklisted construction worker’s eight-year battle for justice has ended in victory, with a damning statement delivered to the Royal Courts of Justice. Electrician Daniel Collins received a substantial settlement, but his real win was exposing along the way how far some major firms will go to suppress union activity over safety. Hazards 161, January-March 2023

Union active It took guts, guile and some impressive organising to see off a serious threat to safety on Hinkley Point C project, Europe’s biggest construction site. But for Unite members the mixture of talking and walking stopped a deskilling plan that could have seen safety critical electrical workers replaced by a cut-price, skills-lite alternative. Hazards, number 154, 2021

You gotta fight for your right to safety You think we have got safety cracked? Well, injuries may have fallen but problems including work cancers, insecurity and mental health conditions are rocketing. Dave Smith says only informed collective action will really make work better. Hazards, number 139, 2017

It's down to you The government is axing safety controls and a cut back and commercialised Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a stranger in most workplaces. Who’s picking up the slack? Trade union safety reps of course, who in October 2017 celebrate the 40th anniversary of their lifesaving role.
Hazards, number 139, 2017

Safety in numbers
There are about 100,000 union safety reps countrywide. And there are many thousands of workers alive today because of the work they do. The TUC’s Hugh Robertson says the union body is launching a new organising drive with this life-saving union effect at its core.
Hazards 133, January-March 2016

Game on!
What it comes to conditions at work, union safety reps are the first and last line of defence. In hostile times, Mick Holder says their skills need to be tip-top to win improvements. Hazards 120, October-December 2012

Don't die waiting
The law is being undermined. The law enforcer has been gutted. The only guarantee you have of health and safety at work is union protection – and latest evidence confirms organised workplaces are substantially safer.
Hazards 115, July-September 2011

Better talk?
Worker involvement is currently the biggest thing in health and safety, says the TUC. But Hugh Robertson, the union body’s head of safety, warns the positive chatter from enforcers and employers is not always translating into meaningful consultation at the workplace.
Hazards 110, April-June 2010

The Union Effect
Union workplaces are safer workplaces – so get organised, or you may not live to regret it.
Hazards 109, January-March 2010 [pdf]

Safety respect
Is it possible to take a dysfunctional workplace, battered by assaults, sickness and poor morale, and in less than a year make it a haven of safety and worker contentment, with managers valuing the union role? Union rep Mark White explains how they achieved just that in his workplace.
Hazards 107, July-September 2009

Souped-up safety reps
Trade union safety reps mean fewer accidents and less sickness at work. That’s why TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson is calling for more reps with more rights – and a clampdown on the dangerous employers who try to get in their way.
Hazards 104, October-December 2008

Don’t be a safety nerd
Workers join unions because they are concerned about safety, and stay in unions for the same reason. That’s why training trade union safety reps in the links between safety and organisation is a top priority for TUC. And it is how global building union BWI is recruiting members worldwide.
Hazards 102, April-May 2008

What gorilla?
The resource-starved Health and Safety Executive can no longer investigate some of the most serious workplace injuries. Fatalities are rising. HSE needs help. It just doesn’t seem to see it. Hazards editor Rory O’Neill says not only is HSE failing, it is shunning its best possible ally – trade union safety reps.
Hazards 99, August 2007

Safety repressed
The government admits the lifesaving work of safety reps saves society hundreds of millions of pounds each year. Now unions are asking why the Health and Safety Executive seems reluctant to expand their role.
Hazards 97, January-March 2007

Union protection
A new TUC report confirms what Hazards has said all along - union safety reps are your best defence against work-related accidents and ill-health.
Hazards 88, October-December 2004

Safety reps training factsheet
Union safety reps have a dramatic, positive impact on safety at work - and the more training they get, the more marked the "union safety effect." Hazards reports how the union training on your doorstep and now in cyberspace can be a workplace lifesaver.
Hazards 86, April-June 2004

Safety is better organised
When an official safety agency investigated what makes workplaces safer, it got a surprise. It was union safety reps — not managers, safety officers or inspectors — who made work safer. Plus more on the union effect from safety news from the UK and Australia.
Hazards 79, July-September 2002 [pdf] • TUC news release

No union, no protection
When it comes to workplace harm, hygienists might have a measure it and doctors a diagnosis for it, but only workers with collective power have much chance of doing anything about it. And there is no shortage of up-to-the-minute evidence demonstrating this "union safety effect." Organised workplaces are safer workplaces.
Hazards 78, April-June 2002 [pdf] • TUC backs the Hazards union effect initiative

The safety squad
Worker Safety Advisers, selected and trained by unions and funded by the government, become the first UK union reps to have an officially sanctioned "roving" remit, and are now taking the union safety effect to non-union workplaces.
Hazards 78, April-June 2002 [pdf]

HSE knows you know the answer
Companies that ask their employees for their views on health and safety issues can cut down on accidents, a study by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found. This comes as no surprise to unions.
Hazards 77, January-March 2002

Courses, courses
TUC safety reps' training makes you so good you save lives.
Hazards 75, July-September 2002 [pdf]

What makes a rep work?
Research shows how union education leads to effective health and safety reps
Hazards 75, July-September 2002 [pdf]

You slip, trip, fall. You are exposed to toxic chemicals. You lift, carry, you get strains. You are stressed to the eyeballs. All this and the law says you should be safe and healthy at work. Hazards looks at how safety reps can organise to close the reality gap on workplace safety.
Hazards 74, April-June 2001[pdf]

Thoroughly modern militancy
For years union negotiators have seen work organisation as a matter of organising shifts and work processes to maximise pay. Jon Richards of the UK public sector union UNISON says Europe's unions are now searching for solutions that improve all aspects of the working world, including health and safety.
Hazards 73, January-March 2001 [pdf]

Not what we bargained for
The economy is buoyant, but we work harder for less pay. We know more about hazards and their control, but work-related stress, strains, depression and violence are soaring. We have never been more productive, and we are rewarded with temporary contracts, long hours and back breaking workloads. Hazards lists the top 20 questions union reps should ask on workplace change and gives pointers on a better way to work.
Hazards 69, January-March 2000 [pdf]

Unions know-how on chemicals
Officially backed research found 90 per trade union reps understand the principles of chemical safety laws and almost 80 per cent know about chemical safety limits. By contrast, a third of companies using hazardous substances have no knowledge of the relevant law and two-thirds are unaware of their legal duties on chemical safety limits.
Hazards 60, October-December 1997

Super safety reps
It is two decades since the first trade union safety reps appeared in British workplaces. Research suggests safety reps have during those two decades helped prevent 2.5 million serious workplace injuries. Workplaces with a full union safety structure are twice as safe as those without. It is no wonder workers want union protection at work. Super safety reps
Hazards 64, October-December 1998


Other features

The union effect -El "efecto sindicato"
Mucha gente piensa que la principal función de un sindicato es luchar por mejores condiciones de vida. A menudo, sin embargo, la batalla es más básica y los sindicatos luchan por la vida de los trabajadores.
Por Experienca, n.21, Julio 2003 • More on Ardystil - Por experienca

When it comes to health and safety, your life should be in union hands
Many people think the labour movement is about fighting for a better standard of living. Frequently though the battle is more basic, reports Labour Education, the magazine of the ILO workers' bureau. The unions are fighting for their members' lives. When it comes to health and safety, your life should be in union hands Rory O'Neill, Labour Education, vol.126, April 2002 [pdf] Español: El sindicalismo, un medio de prevención [pdf] Français: Le syndicalisme comme moyen de prévention [pdf]


Global union agreements
A comprehensive annotated list of Global Framework Agreements concluded between transnational companies and Global Union Federations. more

TUC report confirms unions are good for you
An August 2004 report from TUC shows that UK unions are you best defence against work-related accidents and ill-health. Report author, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, said: This report confirms in simple and clear terms that safety representatives are one of the most significant factors in improving the safety culture of an organisation. While unions have known this for along time, we need employers to look at the evidence and start accepting the huge impact that consultation can make.
The union effect, TUC briefing, August 2004

ACTU: Safe at work
The Austalian Council of Trade Unions' dedicated safety site.

Global: ILO report calls for bigger union role in safety
A new report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) highlights the crucial union role in securing safer, healthier work and “argues strongly for a strengthening of collective voice as the primary means of improving working conditions, and protecting workers’ health.”
ILO news releaseFactsheet no.11: Work insecurity – work related ill-health [pdf] • ILO Socio-Economic Security website Economic Security for a better world, ILO Socio-Economic Security Programme, International Labour Office, 2004. 50 Swiss francs. ISBN 92-2-115611-7. Free online summary [pdf]

UK: Vote with your feet and save your neck
In his August 2000 paper, Adam Seth Litwin of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics concludes: "Strikes and slow-downs serve as efficacious union tools for reducing workplace injuries. labour possesses vital, tacit, shopfloor knowledge regarding health and safety, knowledge that is imperative for reducing accident rates."
Adam Seth Litwin. Trade unions and industrial injury in Great Britain, Discussion Paper 468, August 2000. AbstractFull paper [pdf format]

Unions protect both jobs and the environment
New union strategies can project both jobs and the environment. Global union co-operation and policies like "just transition" can mean better, more sustainable work. Trade Union World, ICFTU, March 2001

Union workplaces are safer workplaces
Unionised workplaces in Australia are three times as likely to have likely to have a health and safety committee and twice as likely to have undergone a management occupational health and safety audit in the previous 12 months, a major government survey has found.
Hawke, Anne & Wooden, Mark (1997), The 1995 Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey, The Australian Economic Review 30 (3), 323-328, doi: 10.1111/1467-8462.00032. more

The impact of a worker health study on working conditions
Workers at 35 Las Vegas hotel-casinos have overwhelmingly approved union contracts that set new limits on housekeepers' workload. The workers' union, Hotel Employees/ Restaurant Employees (HERE) Local 226, brought the workload issue into negotiations by citing preliminary results from a new workers' health study undertaken with the University of California at Berkeley's Labor Occupational Health Program.
The findings were published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, vol.23, no.3, 2002 USA, LOHP

Facts @ Your Fingertips - An Internet Research Manual
US public sector union AFSCME has produced a pretty impressive guide for union activists, Facts @ your fingertips. This includes a useful section on health and safety... although geared towards a US union audience, the resources on whole would be useful anywhere.
AFSCMEGeneral researchHealth and safety

Regional safety reps in Sweden
How the Swedish system of regional union safety reps works in the Swedish transport industry. Sweden.
TUTB paper, August 2000 [pdf format]

Back to Basics: Jump-starting stalled health and safety committees
It's time to jump-start health and safety committees, ensuring they're part of the solution, not part of the problem. Canadian public service union CUPE has launched a "back to basics" initiative to train CUPE activists. The union says: "Too often health and safety committees have become complacent or too 'warm and fuzzy' between workers and employers - or both." Canada.
CUPE, Canada. February 2001

Is organising enough?
"Is organising enough? Race,gender and union culture" concludes the best of the new organising "takes place in locals that balance the organizing priority with the need to encourage members in the life of the union". One local union director notes: "Things were good for a number of years. We got contract after contract with improvements in wages, benefits, pensions, and better health and safety in the plants. We were good grievance administrators and good arbitrators, but everybody got lulled to sleep. We became bureaucrats."
New Labor Forum V6 2000 Spring/Summer IssueSEMCOSH review

Safety behaviour in the construction industry Full report for Irish HSA

Employee involvement in health and safety: some examples of good practice HSE Health and Safety Laboratory report 2001 [pdf]

HSE publishes new research on how taking workers’ advice seriously can improve health and safety TUC comment, 21 December 2001


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

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

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

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

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

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

Britain: Strike wins asbestos safety agreement
Strikes at social housing landlord Magenta Living have ended with a deal on safe working with asbestos, Unite has said. The new agreement stipulates that for those technicians who have opted out there will be no requirement for them to undertake essential tasks with asbestos.
Unite news release. 5 April 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Jul 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: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Britain: Deal struck in prison educators’ safety dispute
A long running dispute between prison educators at 49 prisons in England and Novus has ended after the employer agreed to UCU's demands to address health and safety concerns. Around 600 prison educators took four days of strike action between April and June 2021 after their Covid-19 safety concerns were not addressed.
UCU news release. Risks 1020. 4 November 2021

Britain: Union safety reps in the pandemic, seminar, 11 November
A free University of Greenwich online seminar on 11 November will explore the critical role played by trade union workplace health and safety reps during the pandemic. Over the past year, research by the university’s Centre for Research on Employment and Work (CREW) has evidenced the key role of trade union workplace health and safety reps.
Register for On the Frontline –workplace union health and safety reps in the pandemic, Thursday, 11 November 2021, 10am–1.00pm. Free. Risks 1019. 26 October 2021

Britain: HS2 accident spate ‘a result of union busting’
Unite has blamed a spate of serious accidents on the HS2 tunnelling and track laying project on a refusal to allow the union to speak to workers and a resulting absence of safety reps. The accidents have occurred on the section of the project in London being built by the joint venture company Costain/Skanska/Strabag.
Unite news release. Risks 1016. 29 September 2021

Britain: Unite vows to tackle NG Bailey union busting
Unite has vowed to stamp out attempts by major construction contractor NG Bailey to ‘union bust’ on the Mensa project at the Aldermaston Weapons establishment in Berkshire. The union says problems began on the project late on Friday 17 September, when five workers, including four members of Unite - one a health and safety representative - were informed that they had to leave the site immediately.
Unite news release. Risks 1016. 29 September 2021

Global: Brands and retailers back new safety accord
A new legally-binding international safety agreement is attracting support from top global brands and retailers. The International Accord for Health and Safety in the Garment and Textile Industry took effect on 1 September, with the number of firms signed up quickly toppping 100.
IndustriALL news release. UNI news release. International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry. Full list of signatories. Risks 1013. 8 September 2021

Global: New port safety app welcomed by unions
Dockers’ unions have welcomed a new safety app “developed by dockers, for dockers” that helps teach workers how to identify and reduce hazards in ports. Global transport union ITF said port workers who download the OSH Ports app and complete a short course can then take an assessment and receive an official completion certificate.
ITF news release and OHS ports app. Risks 1011. 26 August 2021

Global: New accord on worker safety programmes
A new workplace safety agreement has been negotiated by global unions and textile and garment manufacturers. The deal signed by IndustriALL, UNI and leading apparel brands updates the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and now includes provision to extend the programme to other countries, with a commitment to add at least one more country within two years.
IndustriALL news release. Bangladesh Accord news release and full text of the new International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry. CCC news release. Workers Rights Consortium news release. Reuters. Risks 1011. 26 August 2021

Britain: Union action kills off electrician deskilling plans
A plan by two major building firms that union members warned could have led to dangerous deskilling of electrical work on site has been abandoned. The union Unite welcomed confirmation by contractors Balfour Beatty and NG Bailey that they remain committed to the existing Joint Industry Board (JIB) agreement and the training of fully qualified electricians on the Hinkley Point C (HPC) project, dropping plans to introduce training standards for a new position of ‘electrical support operative’.
Unite news release and 28 February statement Hinkley Point C and Threatened Deskilling of Electricians. Balfour Beatty Bailey joint venture (BBB JV) statement. Risks 1000. 10 June 2021

USA: Union role in Covid prevention confirmed again
Union-negotiated improvements led to a significant reduction in Covid-19 infection rates in grocery workers, a study has found. The authors conclude: “This report supports the importance of union-negotiated safety and health measures during the pandemic and suggests the importance of labour–management cooperation,” adding: “Stores that responded positively to worker complaints also had better outcomes.”
Nancy A Crowell, Alan Hanson, Louisa Boudreau, Robyn Robbins, and Rosemary K Sokas. Union Efforts to Reduce Covid-19 Infections Among Grocery Store Workers, New Solutions, published online 8 May 2021. doi: 10.1177/10482911211015676
Adam Dean, Atheendar Venkataramani, and Simeon Kimmel. Mortality Rates From COVID-19 Are Lower In Unionized Nursing Homes, Health Affairs, volume 39, number 11, pages 1993-2001, September 2020. Risks 997. 19 May 2021

Global: IUF and Sodexo sign safety declaration
Global food and farming union IUF has signed a first of its kind ‘Declaration of intent on health and safety’ with the catering transnational Sodexo. The declaration references the international standards contained in International Labour Organisation (ILO) health and safety conventions, with a particular emphasis on its risk assessment and hierarchy of control approach and the central role for elected union health and safety representatives.
IUF news release and IUF-Sodexo Declaration of intent on health and safety, March 2021. Hospitality and Catering News. Risks 990. 23 March 2021

Britain: CWU win on backbreaking low letter boxes
Postal union CWU has won another local victory against buildings with low-level letter boxes. The latest win came courtesy of Vistry Group, who own Bovis Homes and Linden Homes, who are building 250 homes on Bexley-on-Hill’s “Gateway” development site – the agreement came after a CWU health and safety rep alerted the union’s national safety department, which lobbied the house builders, local MPs and the local authority.
CWU news release. Risks 988. 11 March 2021

Britain: TV probe highlights DVLA Covid failures
Staff at the DVLA offices in Swansea have told an ITV Wales investigation that their concerns about Covid safety have been ignored and they feel forgotten by management. Workers at the vehicle licensing agency featured on the programme, broadcast on 3 March, said it was only following pressure from their union PCS and local MPs that any action on safety was taken by management.
PCS news release. ITV Wales investigation. Risks 988. 11 March 2021

Britain: Union role recognised in Bakkavor breakthrough
Newsnight, the BBC's flagship news programme, has highlighted the union role in exposing unsafe work practices and securing protection for staff. The programme featured GMB’s work at the food giant Bakkavor, where in December 2020 the union secured full pay for staff off work and a rollout of mass testing at the Tilmanstone salads factory.
BBC Newsnight, 4 March 2021. GMB news release. Risks 988. 11 March 2021

Britain: Union safety reps are saving lives in the pandemic
We always knew unionised jobs were safer, the TUC says - statistically, workplaces with a recognised trade union have half as many injuries. But the union body says the Covid crisis has placed in sharp relief this protective effect.
TUC blog. Risks 984. 11 February 2021

Britain: Union wins ‘unsung hero’ award for Covid fight
A foodworkers’ union has won an ‘unsung hero’ award for its lifesaving work at a food factory where around 300 workers tested positive for the coronavirus. The union BFAWU, which represents workers at Greencore’s Northampton factory, was recognised by Northamptonshire County Council for its response to a major outbreak at the Moulton Park site that saw the town put on the health secretary’s watchlist.
Northampton Chronicle. Risks 981. 20 January 2021

Britain: Praise for union ‘unsung health and safety heroes’
The head of Scotland’s lead trade union body has praised the country’s ‘unsung health and safety heroes’. Roz Foyer, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), stated: “Facing a deadly virus, with scarce early support from governments, health and safety reps have rose to the occasion in deeply challenging circumstances.”
STUC news release and news release on non-essential workplaces. Morning Star. Risks 979. 4 January 2021

Britain: Union safety win sees food workers get organised
Covid fears have spurred hundreds of essential workers at the poultry division of Noble Foods Ltd to get organised, winning a Unite recognition agreement. In March of this year, workers at the Lincolnshire plant became concerned that factory equipment was blowing cold air along a line of production workers, which staff feared had the potential to spread coronavirus - as soon as the issue was raised and the union intervened, the management quickly resolved the problem.
Unite news release. Risks 975. 28 November 2020

Britain: Air conditioning victory for bus drivers
The announcement that London buses have been fitted with an improved, safer air conditioning system has been greeted by Unite as a ‘major victory’. All London buses have had changes made to their air conditioning systems so that the air entering the driver’s sealed cab comes directly from the outside and does not pass through the passenger area of the bus.
Unite news release. Risks 975. 28 November 2020

Britain: ‘Union Improvement Notice’ served on British Museum
The British Museum must take action to remedy Covid-19 safety breaches – but it is a union and not a safety regulator that is laying down the law. Because of overcrowding and difficulties with social distancing, civil service union PCS said it “has been left with no alternative but to issue a Union Improvement Notice (UIN) on 30 October.”
PCS news release and webpage on Union Improvement Notices. TUC guide to union health and safety inspections and safety reps’ tools including UINs.  UIN form. Risks 973. 14 November 2020

Britain: UNISON recruits record numbers of safety reps
UNISON’s summer campaign to recruit new health and safety reps has already paid dividends, with over 1,000 members so far declaring an interest in taking on the role. UNISON said it will hold introductory webinars for potential new safety reps on 29 September and 13 October.
UNISON news release and safety reps’ campaign page. Risks 966. 26 September 2020

Britain: Safety reps are key to a safe economy
The statutory right of union health and safety representatives to paid work time to perform their functions is essential and must be protected, teaching union NASUWT has told TUC Congress. An NASUWT motion adopted at the national union event highlights the importance of trained health and safety representatives in reviewing Covid-19 risk assessments and ensuring workplace safety.
NASUWT news release. Risks 965. 19 September 2020

Britain: Unions must work together to keep society safe
Civil service union PCS has said it will work with other unions to help keep everyone in society safe and to hold government to account. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told the TUC Congress the handling of the coronavirus crisis by Boris Johnson’s government had contributed to thousands of deaths.
PCS news release. Risks 965. 19 September 2020

USA: Empowering workers is key to safe reopening
Workers have a key role to play in designing and implementing new, on-the-job health practices - and even more so in the absence of enforceable federal standards, top US work practice experts have said. Writing in Fortune Magazine, Sharon Block, the executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School and Rachel Korberg of the Ford Foundation’s Future of Work(ers) initiative, warn that where workers “aren’t able to speak up when they spot a problem, we risk prolonging this crisis, deepening the economic pain, and ultimately losing more lives.”
Fortune magazine. Risks 962. 29 August 2020

Global: Unions are key to return to work talks
As governments start to ease lockdowns, unions around the world are negotiating the return to work and say how this happens is critical for unions and workers. Global union IndustriALL cites the example of its UK affiliates Unite, GMB and USDAW, who it says “will not recommend a return to work for their three million members until the government and employers agree to a nationwide health and safety revolution as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
IndustriALL news report. A safe and healthy return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, ILO policy brief, 22 May 2020. Key issues on the return to work, ITUC Covid-19 briefing, 15 May 2020. Risks 952. 20 June 2020

Britain: Scottish tourism reboot must include roving union reps
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has sounded a serious note of caution at the Scottish government’s plan to re-open tourism and hospitality next month. STUC said any reopening of the largely non-union sector should occur only in full consultation with staff. They should be supported by union roving reps and union organisers provided access to their workplace, it added. The union body was commenting after the Scottish government’s tourism secretary Fergus Ewing said the tourism and hospitality businesses should prepare, within appropriate safety guidelines, for reopening on 15 July. He added that “absolutely nothing can be guaranteed” and this date may change if the evidence on Covid-19 requires it. STUC general secretary designate Rozanne Foyer said: “As things stand, we have a contact tracing system, which is at the very early stages of roll-out. Equally, there is no coherent transport plan and we continue to raise significant concern of the government guidance for its safe operation.” She added: “Given that levels of trade union membership in tourism and hospitality is low, along with prevalence of precarious work in the sector, we will need clear undertakings that employers wishing to re-open will fully consult their staff and admit union organisers and mobile union health and safety reps to support workers. We will need to see a special health and safety risk assessment for each and every establishment that re-opens including viable rostering to ensure travel safety.” Commenting on the 10 June announcement, she concluded: “Employers must commit to supporting contact tracing and not to penalise staff who obey public health guidance. We expect to play a full part on the taskforce announced today to guide the easing of lockdown in this sector.”
STUC webpage. BBC News Online. Risks 951. 13 June 2020

Britain: Roving union safety reps in Scotland’s reopening plan
Official return-to-work guidance in Scotland is recommending the deployment of union roving health and safety reps to ensure reopening of workplaces is safe. The roving reps are to be on call for workers and employers in non-unionised workplaces, according to a joint statement from the Scottish government, Police Scotland, Health and Safety Executive and local authorities.
STUC news release. Scottish government news release and Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer workplaces statement. BBC News Online. Risks 949. 30 May 2020

Britain: Unite cooks up furlough for fired Carluccio’s workers
In the first legal test of the government's job retention scheme (JRS), Unite has secured clarification that the scheme can be used by companies in administration during the Covid-19 crisis. Unite is now calling on Carluccio’s workers who were made jobless in March when the restaurant chain went into administration to respond to get in touch with their union so that they can access the scheme and establish some wage security.
Unite news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: RMT ‘stop work’ call to unprotected workers
Transport union RMT has advised tens of thousands of workers in the rail and bus sector to stop work on safety grounds if employers do not provide protection from Covid-19. It says the union’s message to members follows escalating concerns that many employers are not taking steps to protect transport workers.
RMT news release and advice for rail and bus members. Risks 943. 18 April 2020

Britain: Safety at the centre of Rolls-Royce coronavirus package
Unite says it has hammered out a package, with health and safety at its heart, with engineering giant Rolls-Royce. Unite regional officer Tony Tinley, responsible for the union’s members at the 12,000-strong Derby workforce, said: “Our reps have worked really hard to achieve a stringent health and safety regime, with such features as a one-way system, which will enable the required employees to continue to work during the coronavirus emergency.”
Unite news release. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Failing to stand together could cost you dearly
Workers can protect their income as well as their health if they stand together during the pandemic crisis, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has said. The union body has called on workers to come together and organise to ensure employees, agency workers and freelance staff follow the correct procedure for ‘furloughing’ them during the period ahead, and to maximise their pay during the months ahead.
STUC news release. The Guardian. Risk 940. 28 March 2020

Global: Unions insert labour rights in development bank deals
Trade union action has delivered binding labour safeguards in multilateral development bank projects, the global trade union confederation ITUC has said. Its new manual now shows how unions can use these safeguards to fight for labour rights, including stringent occupational health and safety stipulations.
ITUC news release and guide, Labour standards at the multilateral development banks. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Hospital staff to get sick pay boost as jobs go in-house
A thousand low-paid porters, cleaners and catering staff at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London have won the right to be directly managed by the NHS, health service union UNISON has said. From 1 April the staff – who work in the trust’s five hospitals across the capital – will no longer be employed by private contractor Sodexo and will see their sickness allowances, pay and conditions brought in line with other health service workers, ending years of unfair treatment.
UNISON news release. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Union power can protect jobs, health and safety
After civil service union PCS successfully fought off privatisation of the Land Registry (HMLR) in 2016, it set out to negotiate new and “meaningful agreements and practices” - and the union says this delivered ‘real progress’ on health and safety. PCS Land Registry group vice president Dave Lunn said the union had negotiated a formal agreement with the employer built on that successful campaign and high membership density levels.
PCS news release.
Resources: The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety. Organising for health and safety: A TUC guide for reps. More on the union safety effect. 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. TUC mental health awareness training. Risks 929. 11 January 2020

USA: Union construction jobs ‘safer than non-union’
A new employers’ study has shown non-union construction sites in the US have several times more fatalities than unionised sites. In a blog post, construction union IBEW noted: “New York’s Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA)… found that union construction workers in the Big Apple are five times less likely to suffer a fatal accident compared to their non-union counterparts,” and received 33 per cent fewer violations per project than their non-union counterparts, and 25 per cent fewer stop work orders.
Ucomm blog. BTEA summary statistics. Risks 927. 14 December 2019

Britain: ‘Landmark’ win on prison union safety rights
The prison officers’ union POA has secured a groundbreaking safety agreement with the Prison Service. The union says the ‘landmark’ deal for the first time commits prison managers to a legally binding procedure for addressing urgent health and safety concerns’ ot also ensures that the POA can advise its members of their health and safety rights without being accused of unlawfully inducing industrial action.
POA news release. Risks 927. 14 December 2019

Britain: Why workers deserve better rights at work
Workplaces that recognise unions and where there is dialogue about how work is organised and how the company can improve, offer lifesaving, life enhancing benefits, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Laurie Heselden explained: “The best way to improve pay, working conditions, equality outcomes and safety at work is collective bargaining and union representation,” adding: “And if you are in a union, organise to change the world of work for the better.”
TUC news release. If you are not in a union, join one. TUC news release on the living wage.
Resources: The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety. Organising for health and safety: A TUC guide for reps. Risks 925. 30 November 2019

Australia: Government union-busting bills criminalise safety protests
The Australian government’s determination to proceed with the ‘extreme’ union-busting Ensuring Integrity and Worker Benefits bills would leave unions less able to keep workers safe or fight for better pay and conditions, the national union federation ACTU has warned. It said by ignoring evidence to a senate inquiry of the inevitable damaging consequences of the changes, the government demonstrated that these bills are not about good policy but a ‘blind attack on the union movement’ which will hurt millions of working people.
ACTU news release. Financial Review. Risks 921. 2 November 2019

Australia: Union-bashing bill jeopardises public health
A draconian ‘union-busting’ drive by Australia’s federal government will undermine public health campaigns, the country’s national union federation has warned. ACTU said the fight for public safety and to secure justice for asbestos victims would not have been won without a campaign of work stoppages, boycotts and protests.
ACTU news release. Nine News. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Tube victory for union over track noise
Tube union RMT has suspended planned industrial action by drivers on four key London Underground lines after securing a ‘massive victory’ on the issue of excessive track noise. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “I want to pay tribute to RMT’s Tube drivers and our health and safety reps and negotiators who have secured this major victory for militant trade unionism.”
RMT news release. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Global: Protecting garment workers with global agreements
Trade union leaders from Turkey, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Mauritius and Morocco have explored the use of global framework agreements (GFA) to boost union organising, collective bargaining agreements and to improve safety and working conditions. The meeting organised by the global union IndustriALL in Cesme, Turkey, discussed how this type of agreement, negotiated at a global level between trade unions and a multinational company, put in place the very best standards of trade union rights, health, safety and environmental practices, and quality of work principles across a company's global operations, regardless of whether these exceed legal standards in place in some of the countries where the firm is based.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: London backs Unite’s blacklisting charter
In what it described as ‘a major boost’ to employment standards for construction workers in London, Unite has welcomed the London Mayor’s office signing the capital up to Unite’s Construction Charter. The union said the charter requires that construction firms planning to work on Great London Authority (GLA) building projects will need to meet a set of high employment and safety standards.
Unite news release. Mayor of London news release. Morning Star. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Music teacher is TUC safety rep of the year
NEU’s Jenny Cooper is this year’s recipient of the TUC Safety Rep Award. Jenny, a music teacher, says she is passionate about keeping her pupils and staff safe at her school.
TUC news release and video on the TUC health and safety award 2019. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

USA: Undercover union probe exposes deadly asbestos dangers
A US asbestos removal firm has been fined after a union worker went undercover and exposed dangerous work practices on the non-union demolition site. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) fined EcoServices LLC, which had been contracted to remove asbestos from a former General Motors plant near Newport, saying it was unsafely disposing of the cancer-causing material.  
Delaware News Journal. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: Union safety reps ‘save lives’ – so be one!
By becoming a trade union safety rep you could save lives, the union Community has said. Speaking after one of the union’s popular courses for safety reps, the union’s national safety officer Rob Sneddon said: “To any Community member looking to make a difference for themselves and their colleagues, consider becoming a health and safety rep, you could save lives.”
Community news release.
TUC ‘union effect’ health and safety briefing and safety representatives and worker involvement webpages. More on the union safety effect. Risks 910. 17 August 2019

Britain: More councils back Unite’s construction charter
Two West Midlands councils have become the latest to sign up to Unite’s construction charter. In doing so, Sandwell council and Birmingham city council have pledged to ensure conditions for workers on construction projects under the councils’ control meet the highest standards.
Unite news release. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: Postal union CWU delivers letterbox win
‎The CWU is celebrating a major victory for postal workers after the government agreed to introduce a law which would outlaw back-busting low level letterboxes on new doors. The government has now indicated it will accept an amendment to the Building Regulations so doors in the future will have letterboxes positioned at a safer height.
CWU news release. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: RMT rep who was ‘grudge’ victim is reinstated
A prominent activist and safety rep with the rail union RMT has been reinstated following negotiations between management and union representatives. Benjamin ‘Ben’ Frederick, a guard on Great Western Railway (GWR) got his job back following an announcement that workers would ballot for industrial action in support of their colleague.
Morning Star. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Global: Port unions press for ‘safety through solidarity’
Union members from Hutchison ports in Indonesia, Pakistan and Australia have joined forces to form a regional safety committee. The move comes in the wake of at least six deaths and many other serious incidents in Hutchison terminals in the three countries over the past two years.
ITF news release. MUA news release. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Global: Worker representation ‘critical’ to protecting miners
More employer and state commitment to worker representation on health and safety issues is ‘critical’ to the protection of coal miners, an international study has found. The Cardiff University study, funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), found “a clear regulatory steer, managerial commitment and well trained and informed health and safety representatives, supported by strong workplace trade union organisation, were critical to the effectiveness of the arrangements for worker representation.”
IOSH news release. Representing miners in arrangements for safety and health in coal mining: a global perspective, IOSH, 2018. Research summary. Volume 1: A comparative analysis of findings from five countries. Volume 2: Case studies in five countries. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Anti-union laws threaten safety
A research report from Harvard University in the USA gives very clear confirmation of the union effect when it comes to preventing fatalities, as well as sounding a warning about the implications of anti-union regulation. These findings are consistent with research in the UK, Canada, Australia and several other countries that show clearly, that unionised workplaces are safer workplaces.
Research summary The Union effect. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

USA: More evidence of ‘the union advantage’ on work safety
In the wake of Harvard university research that this year found US states introducing anti-union right-to-work laws had considerably higher fatality rates, more evidence of the union protective effect is emerging. Terry O'Sullivan, general president of the construction labourers’ union LIUNA, said the Harvard study “isn’t the only new research showing the union advantage when it comes to worker safety and health”, pointing to the findings of a recent survey of more than 3,000 union and non-union construction firms by the CPWR (the Center for Construction Research and Training).
Laborers Health and Safety Fund newsletter, August 2018.
Michael Zoorob. Does ‘right to work’ imperil the right to health? The effect of labour unions on workplace fatalities, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published Online First: 13 June 2018. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2017-104747
Hazards pin-up-at-work poster: Unions make work safer: Fighting for your life at work. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: Union concerns prompt train cab redesign
New electric trains for Scotland's central belt have been approved by rail regulators. However, the go-ahead only came when an agreement was reached to fit the train cabs with replacement windscreens after the train drivers’ union ASLEF raised safety concerns.
Hitachi Rail news release. BBC News Online. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

USA: Anti-union laws kill, union presence protects, finds study
Anti-union policies lead to a sharp rise in fatalities, while a union presence in the workplace has a protective effect, a new study has found. The author, Michael Zoorob from Harvard University’s department of government, notes: “The paper demonstrates that the protective effect of unions on workplace safety at the micro level translates into large scale reductions in occupational fatalities.”
Michael Zoorob. Does ‘right to work’ imperil the right to health? The effect of labour unions on workplace fatalities, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published Online First: 13 June 2018. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2017-104747
New pin-up-at-work poster: Unions make work safer: Fighting for your life at work, Hazards, June 2018. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Global: Unions launch ‘urgent’ safety organising campaign
Global union organisations have launched an urgent campaign to secure safety, justice and accountability at work. The initiative, announced on 28 April – International Workers’ Memorial Day – sets out to underline the vital role that unions play in protecting workers from work-related accidents and disease.
ITUC news release and 28 April webpages. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: TUC hails the ‘huge difference’ made by safety reps
The TUC has praised the lifesaving impact of union safety reps in Britain’s workplaces. The TUC pledged “to redouble our efforts to make sure everyone is safe from illness and injury while doing their jobs.”
Safety reps: Getting more than the minimum – A TUC guide to Roving Safety Reps and Union Improvement Notices. Safetyreps@40 campaign. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Unions protect workers from feeling the big chill
The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) said it was inundated with reports of employers forcing workers to travel to work, despite severe weather warnings and clear advice from Police Scotland and the Scottish government to avoid travel.  The resulting STUC nationwide survey “found that those with a trade union rep to speak to about health and safety concerns were more than twice as likely to be satisfied with their employer’s response,” said the STUC.
Joint Scottish government and STUC statement. STUC blog. Morning Star. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: The future of safety rep training
The TUC is developing exciting new ways to train its legions of union safety reps. Every health and safety representative recognises the benefit of good trade union training, says Jackie Williams of TUC Education, noting it is what gives reps the skills to do their lifesaving, life enhancing job and to keep a safe distance from the employer.
On course: The future of safety rep training, Jackie Williams, Hazards magazine, number 140, 2017. TUC Education website. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Global: How unions are keeping workers safe
In a changing world, how do workers get their employers to raise wages and assure safe conditions? Some of the world’s most innovative worker groups are hopeful they have found a solution, the Worker-Driven Social Responsibility Network, an ambitious effort to improve the lives of millions of workers in the corporate supply chains.
The Guardian US. Worker-Driven Social Responsibility Network. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: TUC celebrates 40 years of union safety reps
The TUC marked the 40th anniversary of a landmark safety law on 25 October, celebrating four decades of lifesaving work by trade union safety reps. The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 gave union reps legal rights to act on health and safety concerns in workplaces.
TUC news release and Safetyreps@40 report, case histories and resources, leaflet and Union effect report.
It’s down to you: Safety reps@40 – four decades of making work safe and healthy, Hazards magazine, number 139, 2017. Morning Star. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Bins strike victory protects ‘vital’ safety role
Unite has said its victory in the long running Birmingham bins dispute has protected a vital safety role. The union said that the city council had accepted the refuse workers’ case and restored the grade 3 jobs, which are responsible for safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles, leading to the suspension of the industrial action.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Bins strike victory protects ‘vital’ safety role
Unite has said its victory in the long running Birmingham bins dispute has protected a vital safety role. The union said that the city council had accepted the refuse workers’ case and restored the grade 3 jobs, which are responsible for safety at the rear of the refuse vehicles, leading to the suspension of the industrial action.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Official study recognises the value of safety reps
The ‘valuable’ role and ‘expert insight’ of workers and their health and safety reps has been recognised in a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) study of updated safety practices in the ports industry. The research, which looked at the impact of a code of practice on safety in docks introduced in 2014, examined the impact of more extensive ‘worker engagement’.
HSE publication notice and full report, Leadership and worker engagement in the ports industry, Research report RR1089, 2017. Risks 814. 26 August 2017

Britain: Unite victory in Woolwich Ferry dispute
The long-running Woolwich Ferry ‘bullying culture’ dispute has been settled, following what Unite has described as ‘a remarkable display of worker solidarity’. The deal hammered out between Unite and Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd has seen one manager dismissed and another senior manager leave the site, and what Unite said was a ‘fair’ settlement for a female employee who suffered sexual harassment.
Unite news release. Risks 807. 8 July 2017

Britain: GMB wins employment tribunal on union safety role
A GMB branch officer who was denied safety training has won a legal challenge against his local authority employer and has been awarded compensation. An employment tribunal in London Central ruled in favour of Grant Bennett, is the health and safety branch officer for GMB, and against London Borough of Camden on the right to time off for training under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act (TULRA) 1992.
GMB news release. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Hong Kong: Union campaign wins chairs for checkouts
Hong Kong supermarket giant Wellcome is now providing chairs for all on-duty cashiers, after a creative union campaign. The supermarket chain came under fire in January after the Retail, Commerce and Clothing Industries General Union reported that none of the 154 Wellcome outlets surveyed provided seats to cashiers during working hours.
Hong Kong Free Press. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Bangladesh: Union action prevents major factory tragedy
Four years after the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed, killing over 1,100 most women workers, a similar tragedy has been averted thanks to the union brokered Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord. “Four years on, the case of the Ananta textile factory in Dhaka suggests that it’s working, on this occasion saving 3,000 workers from suffering the same fate as Rana Plaza’s workforce,” notes Owen Tudor, head of the TUC’s international department.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. IndustriALL news release. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Asbestos fine ‘is a lesson for all ship owners’
Seafarers’ union Nautilus has welcomed the prosecution of a shipping company that failed to act on a report warning of the presence of asbestos on one of its vessels. The enforcement action came after the union alerted authorities to the problem.
Nautilus news release. HM Coastguard blog. Bognor Regis Observer. Southern Daily Echo. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Bangladesh: Rana Plaza anniversary shows need for Accord
The 24 April fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse, killing 1,138 workers, shows why a groundbreaking, union-brokered Accord must be continued, IndustriALL has said. The global union says that although progress has been made, efforts to make Bangladesh’s garment industry a safe place for workers are still needed and the Bangladesh Accord must continue beyond its planned 2018 expiry date.
IndustriALL news release. Confined Space blog. The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: Safety reps must be given time
A new says the unique legal rights to time off for union health and safety representatives cannot be reduced as a result of a union-bashing clampdown in the Trade Union Act. The guide advises unions to ensure that the time taken by union health and safety reps is not included in any facility time agreement.
Facility time: A TUC guide to defending the right to represent members, April 2017. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: NUJ reps win top safety award and new members
Scotland’s top trade union safety award has been won by members the journalists’ union NUJ. The union reps at Newsquest Herald & Times are this year’s recipients of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) Frank Maguire Award for Health and Safety, after a campaign that saw union membership hit record levels. The award recognised the NUJ chapel committee’s use of health and safety “to campaign for healthier and safer workplaces at The Herald and Times, while at the same time improving industrial democracy within the organisation.”
STUC news release. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Europe: Worker representation key to safety
Effective worker representation is a crucial factor in securing improved safety standards at work, according to a new report. The European workplace safety agency EU-OSHA warned however that its study on worker participation and consultation in occupational safety and health (OSH) found worker representation is declining across Europe, while management-led arrangements are on the increase.
EU-OSHA news release and report, Worker participation in the management of occupational safety and health: qualitative evidence from the second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2). Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: If you want to improve work safety, find a friend
A workplace may be seriously unhealthy, but it’s frequently only budgets, deadlines and margins in the must-do column for senior management, a leading trade union safety educator has warned. Dave Smith, writing in the latest issue of Hazards magazine, says when it comes to organising around workplace health and safety, the key to success is recognising that unions are collective organisations.
Find a friend, Hazards 137, March 2017 and Dave Smith’s guide to organising around safety. TUC health and safety organising guide. Register for TUC eNotes on health and safety organising and other health and safety topics. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Global: Mining study shows trade unions save lives
A strong trade union presence makes mines safer, according to the preliminary finding of a major international study. The researchers confirmed that health and safety representatives supported by a trade union were more effective in getting important safety matters addressed and resolved than health and safety representatives acting on their own.
IndustriALL news report. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Union reps are good for workers and employers
The TUC has ripped apart the latest attempt by a right-wing lobby group to claim paid release for union reps comes at a cost. TUC national organiser Carl Roper said the annually regurgitated claim by the Taxpayers’ Alliance that union volunteers are a drain on the public purse and taxpayers gets picked up uncritically by sections of the media, despite the irrefutable evidence proving precisely the opposite.
TUC Stronger Unions blogTUC guide to the union safety effect. The Guardian. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Pilots welcome landmark victory against Jet2
The pilots’ union BALPA has won a key legal case establishing the union right to negotiate the full range of terms and conditions for their members. The case involving Leeds-based airline Jet2 at the Court of Appeal centred around whether rostering and scheduling of pilots fell within the scope of  the “pay, hours and holidays” on which BALPA  could negotiate with the employer.
BALPA news release and Court of Appeal ruling. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: Organising around health and safety just got easier
A brand new TUC ‘eNote’ is now available to anyone who wants to make their workplace safer through building a strong union. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “An eNote is a great resource to help representatives get a good grasp of an issue and this one is a self-contained module that contains a mixture of text, video and quizzes that you can work through.”
Register for TUC eNotes. TUC Stronger Unions blog. TUC health and safety organising guide. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Union victory in unsafe hospital equipment row
A union campaign has won the reinstatement of two hospital porters five weeks after they were suspended for refusing to use dangerous equipment. The two men, one of whom was a GMB union representative, were working at Watford General Hospital for Medirest when they refused to use food trolleys they described as “damaged and unsafe in a manner that could injure themselves and patients”.
St Albans Review. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Union reps get an appetite for connecting by app
The TUC says a big strength of trade union courses is the opportunity it provides for union representatives from different unions, different workplaces and different backgrounds to exchange information and experiences. Outside the classroom, keeping up this mutual support can be problematic, though – which is why the TUC developed the Unionreps website and mobile app.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Unionreps - join the online community of union reps or download the app from Google Play or the App Store. Risks 773. 22 October 2016.

Britain: Prospect member is TUC safety rep of the year
A member of the union Prospect has been named TUC health and safety rep of the year. Helen Edwards works at Sellafield Ltd in Cumbria and is the operations division lead union safety rep and the Prospect branch health and safety officer.
TUC news release and video. Risks 770. 1 October 2016.

Britain: TUC says union safety reps rock!
Union safety reps are increasingly the only health and safety protection workers can rely on, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the union body’s biennial survey findings show “despite all the attacks on unions from both the government and many employers, trade union health and safety representatives are still doing an amazing job.” Adding: “Over threequarters of them have managed to get themselves trained, despite the pressures of work and the barriers that employers often put in their way… Also around 80 per cent of representatives had inspected their workplace and of these who had, well over half had inspected three or more times in the past year.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 679. 24 September 2016.

Britain: Get the credit you deserve for your ‘union effect’
Doing preventive work on health and safety at work so good it should get an award? The UK-wing of the European Campaign on Healthy Workplaces for all Ages is seeking entries for its Good Practice Awards (GPA) on this year’s ‘ageing workforce’ theme.
The TUC is urging safety reps, union branches and campaigns to get their submissions in ahead of the 7 October 2016 deadline. HSE 2016 campaign website, including links on to how to get involved in the campaign or how to enter the Good Practice Awards. EU-OSHA Good Practice Awards webpages provide more information on what the judges will be looking for. Risks 764. 20 August 2016

Britain: Safety rep reinstated after fire alarm firing
A high profile Unite campaign for the reinstatement of a Unite safety rep fired after raising concerns about non-functioning fire alarms has been successful. David Biddle, the chief executive of CGL, Birmingham’s leading substance abuse charity, received thousands of emails calling for Alison Morris’ reinstatement.
Unite news release. Unite for our Society website. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

USA: Unions win safer jobs for working people
For centuries, unions have been at the forefront of fighting for and winning safer protections for working people, US union federation AFL-CIO has said: “Unions are critical in the push for stronger safety and health protections and to keep the protections workers have - making sure that profits are not put ahead of working people’s right to provide for their families and return home alive, in one piece and not burdened with lifelong illness. Unions will keep winning for working people.”
AFL-CIO Now blog. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

Britain: Safety reps are our ‘secret weapon’
Health and safety reps are unions’ secret weapon against the government’s assault on workers’ rights, the TUC’s top safety official has said. Addressing the South West TUC’s May 2016 ‘health and safety and organising’ event in Bristol, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “Health and safety is a good organising issue because it is winnable, empowers workers and sends a strong message to the employer.”
TUC news report. Health and safety and organising - A guide for reps, TUC, March 2016, pdf and e-book versions. Risks 753. 4 June 2016

USA: Unions win safer jobs for working people
For centuries, unions have been at the forefront of fighting for and winning safer protections for working people, US union federation AFL-CIO has said: “Unions are critical in the push for stronger safety and health protections and to keep the protections workers have - making sure that profits are not put ahead of working people’s right to provide for their families and return home alive, in one piece and not burdened with lifelong illness. Unions will keep winning for working people.”
AFL-CIO Now blog. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: Safety reps are our ‘secret weapon’
Health and safety reps are unions’ secret weapon against the government’s assault on workers’ rights, the TUC’s top safety official has said. Addressing the South West TUC’s May 2016 ‘health and safety and organising’ event in Bristol, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said: “Health and safety is a good organising issue because it is winnable, empowers workers and sends a strong message to the employer.”
TUC news report. Health and safety and organising - A guide for reps, TUC, March 2016, pdf and e-book versions. Risks 752. 4 June 2016

Britain: Fire shows life-saving role of rail guards
The swift action of a train guard in evacuating passengers after an engine fire has been praised by the union RMT. It was the train guard who got passengers safely off the service, something the union says was acknowledged by Network Rail in tweets that were later deleted.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Get Reading. Risks 752. 28 May 2016

USA: Unions essential to public health
Any decline in union power is a threat to public health, according to a paper in the latest edition of the American Journal of Public Health. Mike Wright, director of health and safety with the steelworkers’ union USW, notes that as well is improving workplace health and safety, unions negotiate better working conditions and access to health care, improve pay rates and benefits, protect workers from discrimination and unfair treatment and press for measures to reduce the environmental impact of production. Michael J Wright. The decline of American unions is a threat to public health, American Journal of Public Health, volume 106, number 6, pages 968-969, June 2016. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Europe: Worker participation makes work safer
Firms across Europe are far less likely to undertake risk assessments where there is an absence of effective worker participation, a survey has found. The findings come in the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) second European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER-2), which also found the most commonly reported reason for addressing occupational health and safety issues was to fulfil legal obligations, reported by 85 per cent of establishments.
EU-OSHA news releaseRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Under threat Tube staff saved woman’s life
Staff cuts on the London Underground system are putting lives at risk, a rail union has warned after investigators confirmed that a woman dragged along a platform was only saved by the intervention of under-threat ‘safety critical’ Tube workers. Rail union RMT said the loss of “nearly 1,000 safety-critical station staff” has damaged the ability of staff to prevent fatalities — and hit out at Tube bosses for floating the idea of driverless trains.
RAIB news release. Morning Star. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: TUC renews safety warning on government plans
As the government’s Trade Union Bill continues its progress through parliament, the TUC has reiterated its warning about the dangers of restricting access to facility time for trade union safety representatives in the public sector. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson explained: “Health and safety reps’ functions are extremely variable and they may find that, if an unusual situation arises such as a fatality or the introduction of new safety systems, they are limited to an inappropriate, and potentially unlawful, cap.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog and report on the union effect and the benefits of paid time off for union reps. TUC guide to the Trade Union Bill.
Sign the petition against the Bill. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: Safety reps make unions bigger and better
New guidance to help recruit more union members and encourage more existing union members to become health and safety reps has been launched by the TUC. The new TUC guide, published in partnership with Hazards magazine, notes that health and safety is a good way of recruiting members as concerns about workplace safety are one of the main reasons that people join a trade union. BTUC news release and Health and Safety and Organising guide in e-book and pdf formats. Strength in numbers, Hazards, number 133, March 2016. Risks 743. 19 March 2016

Britain: TUC puts safety campaigner on video
The TUC’s YouTube channel is a great resource for union activists – and a new video includes a useful example of union safety at work. The short clip features Pauline, a paramedic and a GMB union rep for the Ambulance Service, who was able to redesign the ambulances her members were using, creating a safer environment where staff can now take better care of their patients.
Video clip on the TUC YouTube channel. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Australia: Unions to build ‘safety army’
Unions in the Australian state of Victoria are setting out to build a ‘union safety army’ – and will be starting by meeting potential union members before they ever set foot in a workplace. Launching the new trade union safety network, Luke Hilakari, secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC), said: “We want to build this OHS safety army,” identifying this as the union body’s ‘key performance indicator’ for the year.
Safety at work blog. We are union campaign and OHS webpages. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: Why health and safety requires ‘cooperation’
Unions should remember that health and safety has lots of ‘special’ features that make it good for members and good for organising, a union safety specialist has said. Sarah Page, the national safety officer with the union Prospect, said it was worth considering “how unions achieve health and safety ‘voice’ at work.”
Prospect safety blog. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: Safety reps have it all to play for
The TUC has said it is crucial the government’s Trade Union Bill faces a robust challenge – not least because it could make work a far more dangerous place. Hugh Robertson, the union body’s head of safety, said the proposed measures would allow the government to restrict the time given to trade union health and safety representatives in the public sector, allow inexperienced and inadequately trained agency workers to substitute for skilled, safety savvy workers during strikes, and restrict the ability of workers to strike over safety issues.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. Risks 741. 5 March 2016

Britain: Union wins ‘livesaving’ action on asbestos in housing
Action is being taken to protect tenants and maintenance workers in Wales against the danger of asbestos, after discussions between the union UCATT and the Welsh government. As a result of the talks, communities minister Lesley Griffiths has written to every local authority and registered social landlord in Wales calling on them to ensure contractors are fully informed of asbestos in a property before starting maintenance work.
UCATT news release. Free Press. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Britain: Unions are a live-saving, money-saving success
For every £1 spent on paid time off for public sector union reps to represent their members, taxpayers get at least £2.31 back in savings, according to a new study published by the TUC. The safety contribution is even more stunning - half of these savings come from the union success in reducing work-related injuries and ill-health.
TUC news release and full report, The benefits of paid time off for trade union representatives, TUC, February 2016.
The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety, TUC, February 2016. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Britain: Union safety reps save lives, save millions
The UK’s network of 100,000 trade union health and safety reps not only reduce the toll of injuries and ill-health at work, but save the economy many millions of pounds, according to a new TUC report. ‘The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety’ reveals that workplaces with a union presence have a 24 per cent lower rate of injuries than non-unionised workplaces.
TUC news release and full report, The Union Effect: How unions make a difference on health and safety. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: TUC condemns government attack on safety reps
A government attack on basic trade union rights could not only make workplaces more dangerous, it is at odds with the legal rights of trade union safety reps, the TUC has warned. Criticising the ‘nasty’ Trade Union Bill, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said clauses in the proposed law to curtail ‘facility time’ for union representatives in the public sector would have a ‘cynical’ knock-on effect on the lifesaving work of union safety reps.
TUC news release, Stronger Unions blog, Touchstone blog and Trade Union Bill briefing. ASLEF news release. The Mirror. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Britain: Unite says ‘say no to unsafe jobs’
Unite is urging its union reps to reject to unsafe jobs. A new guide, part of Unite’s ‘Looking for trouble’ health and safety campaign, urges reps to ‘say no’ to taking risks, dangerous work, cutting corners and to putting production before safety.
Unite Say No to unsafe jobs, say Yes to make it safe guide. Risks 733. 9 January 2016

Global: Unions and their allies make dangerous firms listen 
When firms embroiled in deadly workplace disasters improve their safety performance it is primarily because of the heat they feel from unions and campaigners, a researcher has said. Juliane Reinecke, associate professor of organisational behaviour at the University of Warwick, said her research, which examined several major incidents including the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, said “the real change came about thanks to the increasingly organised alliance of unions and campaign groups.” 
The ConversationRisks 729. 21 November 2015

Britain: Traffic wardens win proper sick pay  
Traffic wardens in Hackney, in east London, have secured the London living wage and a proper company sick pay policy after last ditch talks to avert strike action. The 30 Unite members at APCOA Parking, their private sector employer, won a sick pay scheme allowing 15 days paid sick leave over a rolling year, the London living wage backdated to November 2014, and a 1.5 per cent pay increase.” 
Unite news releaseRisks 728. 14 November 2015

Britain: Protect yourself and your union rights
In early November, the Trade Union Bill will have its final vote in the House of Commons. The TUC says the proposals would fundamentally undermine UK workers' right to strike and attack key civil liberties, and would seriously hamper the life-saving trade union safety role.
Tweet your MP now and tell them to oppose the Trade Union Bill. If you (or your MP) aren't on Twitter, send them an email about the vote instead. Risks 727. 7 November 2015

Global: ILO green light for road transport action plan
A key meeting of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has agreed a far-reaching resolution intended to tackle the low pay rates in road transport that can lead to dangerous driving. The resolution of a tripartite transport health and safety meeting at ILO calls on the ILO, a UN agency, to research good practice in the area and makes explicit mention of the highly successful union ‘safe rates’ campaign in Australia.
ITF news release. TWU news release and Safe Rates campaign.
ILO Resolution Concerning Best Practices in Road Transport Safety. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.

Britain: Sellafield victory in safety dispute
Construction workers involved in the nuclear decommissioning and renewal project at Sellafield have hailed a ‘groundbreaking’ victory at the end of a major dispute over health and safety and productivity. The deal secured by their union, Unite, sees Sellafield Ltd and the 14-strong group of on-site sub-contractor companies drop their refusal to a union demand for a senior shop steward to deal with health and safety, workplace welfare and training issues and also sees the formation of a health and safety committee spanning all contractors on the site.
Unite news release. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.

Britain: TUC provides graphic proof of the safety rep effect
A defence of the life-saving role of safety reps is an increasingly visible theme in the TUC’s campaign against the government’s rights-robbing Trade Union Bill. Announcing new infographics spelling out why the government should be addressing the damage to health caused by a neglect of safety rather than attacking employment and trade union rights, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson notes: “One of the things that completely shows how the Bill is based on ideology rather than any desire to change things for the better is the focus the government is putting on the number of strikes we have.”
TUC safety poster to print off and use and related Twitter and Facebook versions for use online.
TUC Stronger Unions blog, The Union Effect report and Trade Union Bill briefing.
We’re here to stay! Unions challenge wrong-headed government attack that could cost lives, Frances O’Grady, Hazards online report, September 2015.
National rally and march on the Conservative conference, 4 October 2015. Risks 722. 3 October 2015

Britain: Your best defence at work is to be organised
With the government intent on introducing more anti-trade union laws and continuing its attack on workers’ rights and essential safety protections, your best defence at work is to be organised and active, according to Mick Holder of the train drivers’ union ASLEF. In a pep talk for safety reps in the new issue of Hazards magazine, he spells out how union health and safety reps can ‘turn it on’, using their rights and organising power to protect and improve workplace health and safety.
Turn it on!, Hazards magazine, number 131, 2015. TUC health and safety organisation webpages. Risks 721. 26 September 2015

Britain: A creative guide to organising for safety
Dave Smith’s long history as a workplace safety activist, union safety rep and trade union health and safety tutor has meant he’s heard many union reps relate inspiring examples of the most creative ways to get a workplace safety message across. And now he’s writing them down, in a regular ‘Organising 101’ column in Hazards magazine. Organising 101: Dave Smith's guide to organising. Risks 721. 26 September 2015

Canada: Study shows unions keep site workers safer
Unionised construction workers are significantly less likely than their non-unionised counterparts to be seriously injured on the job, a new Canadian study has shown. The report found that workers with unionised firms reported 23 per cent fewer injuries that required time off than those at non-union shops, and unionised workers, 17 per cent less likely to experience muscle, tendon, and nerve injuries that affect mobility, and were almost 30 per cent less likely to suffer critical injuries — defined as those that place workers’ lives in jeopardy.
IWH news release. OCS union safety effect infographic. FIU news release.
Toronto Star.
Benjamin C Amick, Sheilah Hogg-Johnson, Desiree Latour-Villamil and Ron Saunders. Protecting construction worker health and safety in Ontario Canada: Identifying a union safety effect, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published online ahead of print, September 2015. doi 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000562 [full paper]. Risks 719. 12 September 2015

Britain: TUC slams ‘vindictive’ and dangerous Bill 
The government’s ‘vindictive’ Trade Union Bill could put your life at risk, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has warned. In a special feature in Hazards magazine she says David Cameron’s plan would rob union safety reps of the time and rights they need to perform their role
We’re here to stay! Unions challenge wrong-headed government attack that could cost lives, Frances O’Grady, Hazards online report, 4 September 2015. Risks 718. 5 September 2015

Britain: Have you taken strike action to protect your rights?
The TUC says government’s Trade Union Bill “threatens the right to strike – and that’ll make it harder to raise safety concerns, oppose job cuts or service closures, or win better conditions.” The union body adds: “That’s where you come in. If you have been involved in a recent dispute that has resulted in strike action, please tell us your story.”
Tell TUC what you did and why. Risks 718. 5 September 2015

Philippines: Rescued fishers launch 'worker safe' boats
Five months after internationally coordinated union action secured the release and repatriation of 43 fishing crew detained in Indonesia and abandoned by Philippines tuna giant Citra Mina, the Citra Mina Workers' Union and its allies have celebrated the launch of three newly built fishing vessels owned and operated by the union. The boats were built by the 43 returned fishing workers and will be crewed by them as part of the 'Worker Safe' tuna campaign to make workers’ rights, decent working conditions and workers’ health and safety integral to the sustainability of the tuna industry in the Philippines.
IUF news report. Risks 716. 22 August 2015

Australia: Anger as mines ban union safety stickers
Coal miners in Queensland, Australia, wore safety stickers on their work gear on a 16 July Day of Action - despite the stickers being banned by many employers. Stephen Smyth, district president of the mining union CFMEU, said the union was ramping up its safety campaign following the deaths of three mineworkers this year in the state.
CFMEU news release and Stand Up. Speak Out. Come Home. campaign. Daily Mercury. Risks 712. 25 July 2015.

Britain: Government takes a swipe at safety reps
The government’s Trade Union Bill will damage more than productivity and civil liberties, it could put our lives at risk at work, the TUC has warned. The union body said the Bill includes measures that could dramatically curtail the time available to union safety reps to perform their functions and get trained.
TUC Stronger Unions blog and related entry. The union effect, TUC. Trade Union Bill.
Risks 712. 25 July 2015.

Britain: Bill exposes government’s strike hypocrisy
If the government was really concerned about the harm to the economy caused by lost working days, it would be addressing the scourge of work-related ill-health not the by comparison tiny impact of strikes, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) has said. STUC general secretary Grahame Smith said: “The days lost due to strikes were less than 3 per cent of the 28.2 million days lost due to work related accidents and ill-health.”
STUC news release. SNP news release.  Fair Work Convention. ILO news release. Morning Star. Risks 712. 25 July 2015.

Britain: Don’t get hurt, get organised!
TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson says the union body “has made organising for health and safety central to our approach.” As well as TUC training courses and guides, the TUC points to examples of good practice where union investigations, negotiations and action have led to safer, healthier work.
What did you do to make work safer and healthier? Email your examples to TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson. TUC health and safety organisation webpages. TUC news release. The Guardian. Risks 703. 23 May 2015

Liberia: Unions key to stopping Ebola spread
In Liberia, no new cases of Ebola were reported in the first week in April and the overall death toll, while horrific at nearly 4,200, is far less than some health experts predicted last year - a result based in part on the coordinated efforts of the Liberian trade union movement.
Solidarity Center news report. Risks 698. 18 April 2015

USA: Union mines are safer and more productive
Unionised coal mines are safer and more productive than non-union mines, a study has confirmed. Research by SNL Energy found that in 2013 unionised mines in the US coal belt produced about 94,091 tons of coal per injury versus 71,110 in non-union mines, despite research suggesting that unionised miners are more likely to report workplace injuries.
SNL Data Dispatch. AFL-CIO Now blogRisks 69711 April 2015

USA: ‘Vast’ gains in oil safety strike proposals
A safety strike by refinery workers in the US could be close to settlement after a tentative agreement was struck between oil giant Shell and the union USW. The deal, which has still to be ratified by the membership, requires an immediate review of staffing and workload assessments, with USW safety personnel involved at every facility.
USW news release. AFL-CIO Now blog. Risks 695. 21 March 2015

Britain: INEOS safety reps plummet, safety breaches soar
A dramatic drop in the number of union safety reps at the giant INEOS oil processing site in Grangemouth has coincided with a marked upturn in enforcement action for criminal safety breaches. The union Unite says the number of union health and safety representatives at Grangemouth had dropped from 64 to single figures.
Sunday Herald. Rob Edwards’ website and leaked Gordon Milne email [word]. Risks 695. 21 March 2015

Britain: Are you looking for trouble?
The union Unite has embarked on a campaign to nip workplace health and safety problems in the bud. A new national ‘Looking for trouble’ health and safety campaign is urging Unite safety reps to: “Look for it. Find it. Fix it.”
Unite ‘Looking for trouble’ campaign leaflet and health and safety webpagesRisks 6836 December 2014

Britain: Are you looking for trouble?
Unite intends to nip workplace health and safety problems in the bud rather than letting them fester and get worse. The union’s new national ‘Looking for trouble’ health and safety campaign is urging Unite safety reps to: “Look for it. Find it. Fix it.”
Unite ‘Looking for Trouble’ campaign and health and safety webpagesRisks 68229 November 2014

Global: Union campaign wins cargo safety code
Sustained campaigning by the global transport union federation ITF has helped secure an international code of practice on safety in the packing of cargo containers. ITF’s road, rail, dockers’ and seafarers’ sections all participated in the campaign, which has now seen the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) governing body endorse a code of practice on the safe packing of cargo transport units.
ITF news release and the ITF container safety campaignRisks 68015 November 2014

Global: Unions put your safety on the agenda
Unions don’t just protect your livelihood, they protect your life, the leader of the global union federation ITUC has said. Launching a new ITUC occupational and health and safety newsletter and webpages, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said the new resources demonstrate how unions have influenced directly safety and justice from the workplace level to high level negotiations like September’s G20 meeting of labour and employment ministers.
ITUC news storyITUC occupational health and safety webpagesIssue 1 of the ITUC occupational health and safety e-newsRisks 67725 October 2014

Global: UK and Canadian TV unions in safety link-up
Unions representing non-fiction TV workers in Canada and the UK have joined forces to challenge poor safety and working conditions in the sector. The Canadian Media Guild (CMG) and BECTU prepared a joint statement of principles aimed at improving the situation, submitting it to production and broadcast executives.
BECTU news release, No to TV abuse webpages and code of practiceCMG campaign webpageRisks 676 • 18 October 2014

UK: Union health and safety campaign delivers
The power of union organisation to swiftly sort our health and safety problems at work has been demonstrated by a UNISON health service branch. The local UNISON branch was intent on getting the problems sorted, and told management it wanted a joint health and safety committee – which promptly delivered a reduction in injuries, work-related ill-health retirements and compensation claims.
UNISON news releaseRisks 67511 October 2014

Bangladesh: Garment unions improve safety skills
Trade union organisers in the ready made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh have received a week of training designed to increase their effectiveness on occupational health and safety issues. The training programme, which received funding from Canada, the Netherlands and the UK, was provided by the International Labour Organisation’s workers’ bureau, ACTRAV.
ILO news releaseDaily StarRisks 6744 October 2014

Cambodia: Brands say they will pay more for clothes
In an unprecedented move, eight major fashion retailers have said they are prepared to pay more for clothes made in Cambodia. It follows a global day of action by unions in support of garment workers’ demands for a higher wage, in a campaign that gathered momentum after repeated reports of workers collapsing at work as a result of poor working conditions and malnutrition.
IndustriALL news releaseRisks 67327 September 2014

Britain: Unions make work a fair bit safer
Unions make work safer, fairer and better, a new TUC guide shows. ‘The union advantage’ demonstrates the benefits of unions not only to individual workers but to employers and society as well, and points to government research that established union health and safety reps save taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds each year by reducing lost time from occupational injuries and work-related illness.
TUC news release and guide, The union advantage • Risks 67113 September 2014

Britain: Worker involvement is needed in asbestos firms
A lack of worker involvement in the asbestos removal industry is compromising both the safety of workers and the survival prospects of firms, the union GMB has warned. GMB, which represents workers in the thermal insulation industry, is calling on all licensed asbestos removal companies to join with the union to tackle concerns being raised about health, safety and welfare of workers in the industry.
GMB news releaseAsbestos Liaison GroupRisks 6707 September 2014

Britain: UNISON wants action on National Inspection Day
A combination of spending cuts, staff shortages, overwork, and worries over job and financial insecurity mean the role of active union safety reps has never been more necessary, UNISON has said. The union is calling on its safety reps to highlight this safety rep role during European Health and Safety Week, which takes place in the third week in October, running this year from Monday 20 October.
UNISON National Inspection Day briefing and resources and European Week webpageTUC European Health and Safety Week webpagesRisks 66823 August 2014

Australia: Union fights attacks on safety rights
An Australian union has launched a television advertisement in a new phase of a campaign against a watered down of workplace safety protections. The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is challenging attacks on safety rules at both the federal and state level.
CFMEU news release and TV advertisementStand up. Speak out. Come HomeRisks 66716 August 2014

Australia: Union right of entry laws ‘save lives’
Calls by Australia’s building industry to further tighten the restrictions on union officials entering construction sites will lead to more injuries and deaths at work, the national union federation ACTU has said. ACTU assistant secretary Michael Borowick said: “The Master Builders Association is effectively trying to diminish the ability of workers to speak up for themselves in their workplaces.”
ACTU news releaseRisks 6669 August 2014

USA: How to win safer workplaces
Focusing campaigns to improve workplace safety regulation and practices at the local rather than national level can reap enormous benefits, according to a new how-to manual. The guide from the Center for Progressive Reform concentrates on the progress on worker safety issues likely to come at the state and local levels, far from “the general dysfunction in Washington.”
CPR news release and guide, Winning safer workplaces: A manual for state and local policy reformThe Pump HandleRisks 6615 July 2014

USA: Huhtamaki workers stand up for safety
Finnish packaging and paper products corporation Huhtamaki is facing criticism in the US for using lower safety and employment standards at its non-unionised plants in the country. A new report from the USW and the national union federation AFL-CIO reveals how the company’s expansion strategy in the US is creating low-wage, precarious employment while threatening the job security and living standards of unionised employees.
USW news release and full reportAFL-CIO Now blogRisks 65921 June 2014

Global: Unions and GDF Suez sign global safety deal
GDF Suez and global unions have agreed a global safety deal which will underpin improved safety for its workers and subcontractors and see use of hazardous substances reduced. The French multinational signed the Global Framework Agreement last month with global union federations BWI, IndustriALL and Public Services International (PSI).
BWI news releaseRisks 65814 June 2014

Australia: Unions are better in life and in deaths
In 2010, two fatalities occurred in the pulp and paper industry in New South Wales, Australia: one at a unionised workplace, the other at a non-unionised site. The difference in the responses was striking, according to the union CFMEU, with no transparency or improvements at the non-union firm, and union involvement, a quickly implemented plan of action and a marked improvement in safety performance at the union firm. 
Stand up. Speak out. Come homeRisks 6577 June 2014

Britain: Trio of union reps ‘saved hundreds of lives’
Three local union reps have ‘undoubtedly’ helped save hundreds of lives, a newspaper profile of the men has concluded. The Western Morning News notes that in the five years from 2008 to 2012, a total of 396 asbestos-related deaths were recorded in Devon and Cornwall, but adds: “That figure would most likely be far higher but for the work of former dockyard union leaders Bill Goffin, John Williams and Dick Powell.”
Western Morning NewsRisks 6495 April 2014

Global: Safety committees work on union power
Management-worker  joint health and safety committees (JHSC) are only effective where “empowerment mechanisms” ensure workers have a real voice, a study has concluded. The review, which considered 31 studies from Canada, the US, Australia and the UK and included input “from various sectors and perspectives including government, employers, and unions”, found unions not only improved the effectiveness of committees, they appeared to promote the introduction of legislation that also led to improvements in safety performance.
Yassi A, Lockhart K, Sykes M, Buck B, Stime B, and Spiegel JM. Effectiveness of joint health and safety committees: A realist review. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, volume 56, number 4, pages 424-438, 2013 • Risks 6347 December 2013

Britain: New tactics see directors face doorstep protests
Unite is championing new ‘leverage’ techniques to get companies to take safety and other union concerns more seriously. The methods, which include demonstrations outside the homes and offices of company directors, were used to startling effect in the recent Crossrail blacklisting dispute says the union.
Unite organising webpagesConstruction EnquirerRisks 63116 November 2013

Canada: Unions fight for safety protections
As unions in Canada press for proper enforcement of the workplace manslaughter law, the federal government is trying to remove long-established union safety rights. The United Steelworkers (USW) has launching a national campaign to lobby provincial and federal governments for greater enforcement of the Westray Act, nine years after the union successfully lobbied for passage of the historic workplace manslaughter legislation. USW news release and Stop the Killing website • Unifor news release • OHS Canada • Risks 630 • 9 November 2013

Canada: Study confirms the union “safety dividend”
The shocking extent and causes of workplace injury under-reporting have been exposed by a Canadian study that also reveals how unions protect workers both from unsafe workplaces and a government keen to downplay the risks. The province of Alberta is under-counting workplace injuries by a factor of 10, according to Athabasca University’s Professor Bob Barnetson, who also identified a significant union “safety dividend”.
Parkland Institute news release, statement and executive summaryRisks 625 5 October 2013

Global: Unions are great for health and the economy
A union presence has a strong positive effect on the health of the workforce and the economy, a Europe-wide study has found. Researchers Maureen Dollard and Daniel Neser from the University of South Australia combined five different data sets canvassing 31 wealthy European countries, including the UK; they found 13 per cent of the variance in national life expectancy could be explained by differences in worker self-reported health and national gross domestic product (GDP) – and unions were a key factor explaining these differences.
Maureen F Dollard and Daniel Y Neser. Worker health is good for the economy: Union density and psychosocial safety climate as determinants of country differences in worker health and productivity in 31 European countries, Social Science & Medicine, volume 92, pages 114–123, September 2013 • Risks 61710 August 2013

Australia: Thousands stand up for site safety
An army of 10,000 construction workers jammed the streets of Melbourne on 30 April, calling for safety on sites operated by construction firm Grocon. The union CFMEU said the turnout was particularly impressive as newspapers, politicians and employer groups had all warned workers off attending the march.
CFMEU news release and 15 minute film on the safety disputeBWI news releaseThe Age and related pre-rally articleRisks 6034 May 2013

Bangladesh: Pressure leads to garment safety commitments
International clothing brands, bowing to pressure from unions and campaign groups, have agreed to meet a 15 May deadline to finalise an agreement on fire and building safety in the garment industry in Bangladesh. Under the agreement, funds will be made available for inspections, training and upgrading dangerous facilities.
IndustriALL news releaseClean Clothes Campaign news releasePrimark statementLoblaw statementBangladesh Fire and Building Safety AgreementBBC News OnlineRisks 6034 May 2013

Global: Call for a weight limit on cement bags
Global construction union federation BWI has launched a new campaign to reduce the weight of cement bags. The ‘25 kilos’ campaign aims to convince cement and aggregates manufacturers and distributors the measure is necessary to prevent manual handling injuries, particularly those affecting the lower back.
BWI news release and campaign poster, guidance for safety representatives on manual handling, letter to companies and checklist manual handlingRisks 6034 May 2013

Britain: Unions must fight for safety in a ‘hostile’ climate
A ‘hostile’ political climate is jeopardising hard won safety improvements at work, the TUC has warned. Launching the new edition of its bestselling safety publication Hazards at work, TUC said the government’s disdain for workplace safety had resulted in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) being barred from making unannounced visits to most workplaces.
TUC news release and full report Hazards at work: Organising for safe and healthy workplacesRisks 59716 March 2013

Britain: Take your time off for training
Union safety reps should take time out for training to make sure they maximise their effectiveness, the TUC has advised. A new ‘Time off for training’ factsheet notes: “Training is very important for any health and safety representative if they are going to be able to represent and support their members with confidence.”
Time off for training: Trade union health and safety representatives, TUC factsheet, February 2013 • Risks 59423 February 2013

Britain: What do we want? Here’s our starter for 10
Regular safety inspections, a maximum temperature in the workplace and far greater control of carcinogens are just some of the improvements that the TUC is calling for in a new 10 point safety manifesto. ‘Time for change’ features 10 key recommendations which the TUC believes, if implemented by a future government, could help turn around the UK’s poor health safety record, and prevent many of the 20,000 workplace-related deaths which occur in the UK every year.
TUC news release • Time for change: A trade union manifesto for reclaiming health and safety at work, TUC, February 2013 • Risks 5929 February 2012

Britain: You can bet your life on unions
With the chances of seeing an official safety inspector now vanishingly small, it has never been more important for union reps to be vigilant and active on workplace safety. Writing in the new issue of Hazards magazine, union health and safety specialist Mick Holder says the escalating attacks on health and safety protections mean union reps need to “up their game” to defend their members’ interests. 
Game on, Hazards magazine • Risks 58919 January 2013

New Zealand: Union safety reps need more power
Union health and safety representatives must be given increased powers if New Zealand’s poor workplace safety record is to improve, unions have said. The Council of Trades Unions (CTU) is urging an Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety to act on the recommendations of a Royal Commission which called for an expanded safety role for union reps (Risks 581).
NZCTU news releaseRisks 5841 December 2012

New Zealand: Unions welcome recommendations on rights
Unions have welcomed the Royal Commission report into the Pike River mine disaster, which concluded workers must be given more safety rights, information and an expanded role. The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) said that the report of the investigation into the tragedy, which killed 29 miners in a 19 November 2010 explosion, “is a damning indictment of both the company and weak regulation of health and safety by government and brings shame to this country that now must be addressed.”
NZCTU news release and Pike River Phase 4 NZCTU submissionEPMU news release and submissionRisks 58110 November 2012

Global: Safety toolkit planned for steel sites
A global health and safety committee at ArcelorMittal is keeping a keen eye on safety standards at the steel giant’s plants worldwide.  Over 50 union and company health and safety leaders met in Luxembourg last week to review safety performance across the group, leading to a commitment to develop a new improvement toolkit for sites. IndustriALL news releaseRisks 575 • 29 September 2012

Britain: Warm welcome for union safety passport
The new health and safety qualification - the Creative Industries Safety Passport – launched by theatre, film and TV professionals’ union BECTU received a warm reception on its first formal outing. This positive response at the PLASA2012 trade show this month was followed by the news the training course has been accepted as part of the industry-endorsed Production Safety Passport (PSP) scheme.
BECTU news releaseRisks 57529 September 2012

Britain: Safety professionals praise Olympic safety
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health has praised the safety record of the 2012 London Olympics. IOSH executive director of policy Luise Vassie said the planning and hosting of the London Olympic Games had given a twofold health and safety legacy leaving lasting impression on the  construction sector and providing  a blueprint for how to organise safe, large-scale events. TUC's Head of health and safety Hugh Robertson added the games had been a success mainly because the joint approach involving the ODA, contractors and unions had led to more cooperation
HR MagazineIOSH podcastRisks 57025 August 2012

USA: Unions are good for your health
Unions are good for your health, a new study has found. Researchers from Duke University in the USA found that more unionised American workers consider themselves healthy than do their non-union counterparts, an indication that membership is good for the body as well as the pay cheque.
Duke University research blog • Megan Reynolds and David Brady. Bringing you more than the weekend: Union membership and self-rated health in the US, Social Forces volume 90, pages 1023-1049, 2012 [pdf].
CEPR blogNational Electrical Contractors Association news reportRisks 56123 June 2012

Britain: Warning on dangerous flying hours
An influential Commons committee has backed pilots’ concerns about new European flying hour limits. A report from the Transport Select Committee says that the proposals, which could see pilots landing planes after being awake for a 22 hour stretch, could jeopardise safety.
Transport Select Committee news release and reportBALPA news releaseBBC News OnlineMorning StarRisks 5582 June 2012

Britain: Safety reps do the business
Union safety reps have saved ‘countless lives’, a new TUC briefing has revealed. The message comes in the latest bulletin from TUC ahead of its national 28 April Day of Action to defend health and safety.
Defend health and safety: 28 April Day of Action, Bulletin 5, April 2012.
TUC resources: 28 April webpage, Infographic, guides to dealing with the press [pdf] and lobbying MPs [pdf] and 2012 Workers' Memorial Day and TUC Day of Action list of activities.
Other resources: Get kitted out with Hazards Campaign forget-me-knot ribbons, posters, lapel/stationery stickers [pdf order form], window stickers and t-shirts [pdf order form] - the perfect attire for a 28 April event. Further information from the Hazards Campaign, telephone 0161 636 7557.
ITUC/Hazards Workers' Memorial Day worldwide list of events and resourcesRisks 5507 April 2012

USA: Union-won law saves thousands of lives
A US union-won law to protect health workers from needlesticks injuries and related bloodborne diseases has led to a dramatic reduction in injuries and related deaths. A paper in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes: “Our findings… support the concept that well-crafted legislation bolstered by effective enforcement can be a motivating factor in the transition to injury-control practices and technologies, resulting in a safer work environment and workforce.”
Elayne K Phillips, Mark R Conaway and Janine C Jagger. Percutaneous injuries before and after the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, New England Journal of Medicine, volume 366, number 7, February 2012 [pdf] • SEIU YouTube clip on the role the union played getting the law passed • Risks 54717 March 2012

Britain: Worker involvement saves lives and money
There are substantial business benefits from worker involvement in health and safety, Prospect’s Sarah Page has told an audience of industry figures. Giving a series of examples, Page, the national health and safety officer with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors’ union, said the benefits of involving the workforce in health and safety would be visible in the balance book as well as the accident book.
Prospect news release and ‘union safety effect’ webpagesRisks 54610 March 2012

Global: Olympic merchandise agreement starts to deliver
A landmark workers’ rights agreement between the TUC and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has already started to deliver. Just one day after the agreement was signed, LOCOG published a list of their licensees and suppliers. This included details of the locations worldwide where production is taking place.
TUC Stronger Unions blogITUC news releaseRisks 5453 March 2012

Britain: Union helps to secure crossing deaths justice
A rail union has been instrumental in securing the criminal prosecution of Network Rail on health and safety charges. Network Rail has admitted safety failings at a level crossing where two teenage girls were killed more than six years ago, saying it will plead guilty to three breaches of health and safety laws and promising to press on with checks on thousands of other crossings.
ORR news releaseThe GuardianBBC News OnlineDaily MailThe TelegraphRisks 541 • 4 February 2012

Britain: Power station pilots joint safety training
A major energy firm is working with Unite to encourage union safety reps to take a bigger workplace health and safety role. Drax Power Ltd is implementing a programme of joint manager and safety rep training, with the full backing of the union.
Unite news releaseRisks 53814 January 2012

Australia: Unions ‘speak up for health and safety’
Australian unions have launched a nationwide awareness campaign to inform workers of their rights and employers of their obligations under newly harmonised health and safety laws. Announcing the ‘Speak Up’ campaign, Michael Borowick, assistant secretary of the union federation ACTU, said. “They have an iron-clad right, under law, to elect their own health and safety representatives,” adding: “These reps act as watchdogs within the workplace, making employers comply with the law well before regulators have to become involved.”
ACTU news release and Speak Up websiteCanberra TimesNine NewsRisks 5377 January 2012

Britain: Panel finds safety reps are ‘crucial’ offshore
Safety reps are ‘crucial’ to ensuring safety offshore and should have more support from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a government-commissioned report has concluded. A panel headed by Professor Geoffrey Maitland of Imperial College, London concluded “workforce safety representatives have a crucial role to play.”
DECC news release • Offshore oil and gas in the UK – an independent review of the regulatory regime, December 2011 [pdf] • Risks 5377 January 2012

Britain: Workplace reps save lives and money
The prime minister’s threat to remove funding for the time public sector union reps take to do their union work ignores the life- and cash-saving role these reps play, the TUC has said. David Cameron told the Commons: “I do not think full-time trade unionists working in the public sector on trades union business, rather than serving the public, is right, and we will put that to an end.”
SHP OnlineBBC News OnlineUNISON ActiveTURC websiteRisks 53510 December 2011

Australia: Strike victory at deadly chicken plant
Staff who had to hide serious injuries at an Australian poultry plant or risk dismissal, have won protection from victimisation and better wages after taking action. The agreement came after a 13-day blockade of the Baiada Poultry plant by picketers and supporters.
NUW news releaseThe AgeSydney Morning Herald and related opinion pieceRisks 5343 December 2011

Britain: Safety reps spread on Virgin territory
Health and safety is helping build union influence in parts of a communication giant which has demonstrated “residual resistance” to the union. CWU has more than doubled the number of union health and safety reps in Virgin Media to 17, with 10 new reps recently put through their paces in an intensive five-day union-run training course.
CWU news releaseRisks 5343 December 2011

Britain: TUC says it is time for ‘unionreps ACTION!’
The TUC has launch of a new set of online resources for union reps to help them organise, campaign and build stronger unions – ‘unionreps ACTION!’ The union body says they “include everything needed to build the union and campaign to win.” To access the resources, union reps have to register with the existing TUC ‘unionreps’ website.”
Background on unionreps Action!TUC unionreps websiteif you’re already a member, you just need to log inRisks 53326 November 2011

Britain: Unions and good jobs delivered Olympic safety
Construction union UCATT has said an official report on safety lessons from the London 2012 construction project has ignored the critical safety factors – the role played by unions and direct employment in delivering an unprecedented safety record. UCATT regional secretary Jerry Swain said: “Direct employment allied with full–time union representation created the environment in which worker involvement could be achieved.”
HSE news release and London 2012 websiteUCATT news releaseConstruction EnquirerRisks 52929 October 2011

Global: Union safety deal with food giant Danone
Global union federation IUF has signed a wide-ranging health and safety agreement with Danone, the giant international food firm. The new document, signed this month by IUF general secretary Ron Oswald and Danone CEO Frank Riboud, covers workplace health, safety, working conditions and stress.
IUF news release and new IUF/Danone health and safety agreement [pdf] • Risks 52822 October 2011

Britain: Union to Union support for banana workers
There are a lot of hazards in banana production, from the liberal use of pesticides to the less than liberal employment practices pursued in the banana production supply chains. Banana Link supports the lobbying and advocacy work of eight Latin American union partners as well as developing and strengthening links with new union contacts in Cameroon, Ghana and the Ivory Coast – but it urgently needs funds to continue the work.
Banana Link ‘Union to Union’ appealRisks 52822 October 2011

Britain: Union reps make business sense
Union reps are not a business cost item, but an important resource for employers in both the public and private sector, according to a new paper from the TUC. And, suggests the extensively referenced document on the provision of facilities and facility time for union reps, there’s no clearer indication of this effect than the livesaving, money-saving role of union safety reps.
Stronger UnionsTUC news release and full paper, The Facts about Facility Time for Union Reps [pdf] •The Union Effect - How unions make a difference to health and safety, TUC, July 2011 • Risks 52822 October 2011

South African: Mine workers strike for safety
Thousands of South African miners took strike action on 4 October to protest against the conditions in South African mines. South African mines have a very poor safety record and there are around 100 deaths from injuries every year.
ICEM press releaseRisks 52715 October 2011

USA: Food giant pays for PPE time robbery
More than 17,000 Tyson poultry workers in 41 US plants have won a $32 million (£20.7m) lawsuit after a 12-year struggle to get paid for the time they spent donning essential protective clothing. Foodworkers’ union UFCW initiated the suit, which was approved by the United States District Court in Georgia.
UFCW news releaseRisks 52424 September 2011

Australia: Union goes to court after being barred
Australian construction union CFMEU is taking building materials giant Boral to court after union safety specialists were barred from entering a company facility to investigate a complaint. The union claims its officials were locked out of Boral's plasterboard distribution centre in Fyshwick twice in recent months after they tried to investigate worker complaints about the presence of asbestos.
Canberra TimesRisks 52424 September 2011

Britain: Could union learning nurture safety reps?
Unions continue to play an effective role in representing workers, a report has concluded, with some non-traditional activities like ‘unionlearn’ sometimes acting an incubator for new union safety reps.
What role for unions in the future of workplace relations?, ACAS, September 2011 [pdf]. TUC Stronger Unions blogUnionlearn guidance on ULRsThe Union Effect - How unions make a difference to health and safety, TUC, 2011 • Risks 52317 September 2011

USA: ‘Stop work’ card works at ArcelorMittal
The use of a ‘stop work’ card at a US steel plant with a terrible safety record has enabled a dramatic improvement in conditions. The LaPlace steel plant in New Orleans was built in 1979 and was bought by global steel giant ArcelorMittal in 2008.
IMF news releaseRisks 5213 September 2011

Global: Unions pact with steel firm saves lives
A safety pact between unions and the world’s largest steel producer has resulted in a dramatic reduction in workplace injuries. A report launched by metals giant ArcelorMittal and union bodies the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF), United Steelworkers (USW), and the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) reviews how unions and management have been working together to deliver better safety results for ArcelorMittal.
IMF news releasejoint report and full text of the global health and safety agreement [pdf] • Risks 51920 August 2011

Britain: The writing’s on the wall for safety
Retail union Usdaw has become the latest to take to the walls in a bid to improve workplace organisation around health and safety. Two new posters present bald messages for the workplace noticeboard: ‘Let’s work together for health and safety’; and ‘Put health and safety first.’
Usdaw resources pages and postersCheck out the Hazards magazine poster galleryRisks 51920 August 2011

USA: Unions push for safe hospitals
A coalition of California hospital workers’ unions is reviving its call for the state to address safety concerns at mental health hospitals. The four unions joined together to form the Safety Now! Coalition after the death of hospital psychiatric technician Donna Gross in October 2010.
Safety Now! Coalition facebook groupSacramento BeeLos Angeles TimesRisks 51416 July 2011

Britain: Report confirms ‘strong’ union safety effect
Workplace injuries would be slashed ‘at a stroke’ if all workplaces had a union health and safety rep, a new TUC report has concluded. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, author the 2011 edition of TUC’s ‘The Union Effect’ report, it “shows that the most effective thing that the government could do to protect workers would be to enforce and strengthen the current consultation regulations.”
The Union Effect - How unions make a difference to health and safetyTUC worker involvement webpagesStronger UnionsRisks 51416 July 2011

Britain: Bid to get more women safety reps
Safety enforcers have joined with unions to encourage more women to become workplace health and safety reps. ‘Help make your workplace safer’, a leaflet published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and backed by rail safety regulator ORR, the TUC and individual unions, notes: “European research suggests that women are under-represented in the health and safety decision-making process. In particular, more women are needed to be safety representatives.”
Help make your workplace safer leaflet [pdf] • TUC safety reps webpages. HSE worker involvement and HSE health and safety representatives webpagesRisks 51018 June 2011

Britain: UNISON pushes organisation on safety
Public sector union UNISON is putting health and safety at the centre of a recruitment and organising drive. General secretary Dave Prentis says the union’s new ‘Organising for health and safety’ guide is part of a strategy “to turn UNISON into a genuinely organising union.”
Organising for health and safety: a UNISON guide [pdf] • TUC health and safety organising pagesRisks 51511 June 2011

USA: Union mines are substantially safer
Miners in unionised coal mines are far less likely to be killed or injured at work than miners in non-union operations - and this effect may be getting more pronounced, a new study has found. The independent Stanford University research found “overall, unionisation predicts about a 17-33 per cent drop in traumatic injuries and about a 33-72 per cent drop in fatalities.”
Alison D. Morantz. Coal mine safety: Do unions make a difference? ,Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper No. 413, Stanford Law School, 27 May 2011 [pdf] • Stanford webpages on Coal mine safety: Do unions make a difference?AFL-CIO Now blogUMWA news releaseCharleston Daily MailMore on the union safety effectRisks 5084 June 2011

Britain: Paper mill reps win top award
A team of union safety reps have won a top award after shaking up safety at a Scottish paper mill. The eight Unite reps from Tullis Russell (TR) received the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) Safety Rep of Year award after negotiated a new approach centred on a recognition that trade union involvement is crucial to effective health and safety management.
Unite news releaseRisks 503 30 April 2011

Australia: Union says guard it – or ban it
Workplaces are so dangerous in Australia you can expect two amputations to occur every work day, a union conference has heard. “Every year on average about 675 amputations occur due to industrial accidents,” Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) national secretary Paul Howes said.
AWU news releaseRisks 49419 February 2011

Philippines: Union reps could be deputised
A labour group in the Philippines has urged the government to deputise union presidents and officers as labour inspectors to strengthen the enforcement of employment standards and safety rules. The call, which has been welcomed by the employment minister, came after reports suggested a construction site where 10 construction workers died on 27 January was ignoring employment and safety rules.
BWI news releasePM news releaseManila BulletinConstruction EnquirerRisks 4925 February 2011

USA: Worker involvement is key to safe work
Despite 40 years of regulatory and voluntary programmes by the USA’s workplace safety watchdog, worker protections have not kept up with technological or scientific advances, according to a new report. Researchers at the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production call for comprehensive workplace injury and illness prevention programmes that tap worker and employer knowledge and measures to systematically identify and control workplace hazards.
David Kriebel, Molly M Jacobs, Pia Markkanen and Joel Tickner. Lessons learned: Solutions for workplace safety and health, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, January 2011 • Risks 4925 February 2011

Near miss success for Unite safety rep
A Unite safety representative has been named runner-up at the National Food and Drink Health and Safety Awards. Keith Smith, Unite senior steward and safety rep at the Unilever factory at Burton-on-Trent came second with his idea to boost the number of workplace safety representatives and improve safety on site.
Unite news releaseRisks 477 • 9 October 2010

Britain: Non-union firms fail to involve workers
Unless unions are involved, companies are unlikely to take worker involvement seriously and even when they do it will be on management terms, new research has found. The RoSPA report concludes that worker involvement in health and safety “as a concept, is low down on the agendas of most of the employers; there is little willingness to invest money and resources in worker involvement.”
RoSPA news releaseWorker involvement in health and safety: What works? [pdf] • TUC worker involvement webpagesRisks 476 • 2 October 2010

Peru: Site workers in mass safety protest
A safety and pay protest in Peru saw 150,000 workers take to the streets this month. The 14 July 2010 protest, called by Peru’s FTCCP construction workers’ union federation, saw 25,000 demonstrate in Lima, with major events also held in other cities.
BWI news reportRisks 466 • 24 July 2010

Britain: Tube workers walk out to defend colleague
Tube workers at Rickmansworth walked out this week in support of a colleague they believe was victimised after a passenger was injured. The 77 ASLEF members stopped work for 24 hours at midnight on Tuesday in protest at the “utterly wrong” decision, with the union saying the incident was “caused by safety deficiencies, especially concerning mirrors, which we had reported regularly to management.”
ASLEF news release BBC News OnlineRisks 466 • 24 July 2010

Australia: Union bans nuke work
An Australian union has banned its members from working in uranium mines, nuclear power stations or any other part of the nuclear fuel cycle. The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) says other unions have expressed strong support for the campaign against uranium, which it has labelled the “new asbestos” of the workplace.
ETU news release and When the dust settles video part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5Green jobs, safe jobs blogSydney Morning HeraldBrisbane TimesBeyond Nuclear radiation and health webpages and Australia webpagesRisks 459 • 5 June 2010

Morocco: Firm ignores global safety deal
Union reps in Morocco employed by a company part-owned by the multinational ArcelorMittal are demanding the firm respects its global agreement on health and safety. A monitoring mission from the global union federation IMF met last week with shop stewards from SONACID production sites, where workers are reported to be subjected “to psychological pressure” and told they could lose bonuses, other benefits and career opportunities “to convince them not to report accidents,” IMF said.
IMF news releaseRisks 458 • 29 May 2010

Turkey: Unions necessary to prevent disasters
Unions provide the ongoing scrutiny of workplace safety standards that can keep Turkish mines safe, a union safety expert has said. Speaking in the wake of three methane explosions in three different mines in the last six months, Fikret Sazak said the disasters were a direct result of a lack of proper precautions and strong workers’ union.
Hurriyet Daily NewsToday’s ZamanRisks 458 • 29 May 2010

Britain: Fighting for your life
Hazards magazine is pressing head with its campaign to defend workplace safety from a retreat from regulation and enforcement. In a pointed reminder to the Conservatives and the Lib Dems – both of whom have called recently for deregulation – a stark poster warns: ‘We didn’t vote to die at work’.
Hazards magazine, issue 110, April-June 2010. Contents list and We didn’t vote to die at work poster • 22 May 2010

Britain: Safety victory for rail union
Rail union RMT says Southern Trains has stepped back from a move that would have undermined rail safety by extending driver-only train operation. The rethink came after RMT threatened industrial action.
RMT news releaseRisks 456 • 15 May 2010

USA: Union called in at anti-union deaths mine
 Three weeks after the 29 non-union miners died at Massey Energy’s, Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, the colliery did what other non-union miners have done in recent times when company negligence has caused a disaster. They called in the union participate in the investigation - in the past 15 months in the US, 53 miners have perished; 52 of them worked at non-union operations.
ICEM news reportWashington TimesRisks 445 • 8 May 2010

Global: Global action on railway safety
Rail workers pressed the case for rail as a vital, sustainable transport resource this week, on a global day of campaigning organised by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). On the 13 April ITF Railway Workers' International Action Day, affiliates of the global transport federation around the world pressed the case for rail and warned that cost cutting and privatisation were threatening the safety and quality of services.
ITF news release and campaign resourcesRisks 452 • 17 April 2010

Britain: Scotrail workers strike for safe staffing
Rail union RMT has said a 72-hour strike this week by RMT guards and drivers at Scotrail in defence of safety staffing was “rock solid”. An RMT lobby of the Scottish parliament on 15 April demanded action over safety, both on Scotrail and at Network Rail, where the union is also in dispute over safety, jobs and conditions.
RMT news releaseMorning StarRisks 452 • 17 April 2010

Britain: Court blocks rail safety strike
Rail union leaders are set to reballot thousands of rail workers over industrial action in a row over safety, jobs and working practices. More than 5,000 signal workers and 12,000 maintenance staff across the rail network were due to stage four days of industrial action this week, but the action was halted at the high court, which backed a Network Rail call for an injunction.
RMT news releaseTSSA news releaseMorning StarStronger Unions blogHeraldRisks 451 • 10 April 2010

Britain: Safety is a union recruitment tool
Public sector union UNISON says health and safety is one of the main reasons people join unions – and it is making safety a key plank of a recruitment and organising drive. UNISON notes on its safety webpages: “Your union has some of the best health and safety guidance in the UK. It also has specific recruitment materials which focus on health and safety. Use our health and safety recruitment leaflet to sign up new members.”
UNISON news briefing • health and safety member sign up form [pdf], recruitment leaflet [pdf] and poster [pdf] • Risks 450 • 3 April 2010

Britain: Train drivers welcome cool cabs
A union campaign for safer, more comfortable train cabs has had a major breakthrough. Train drivers’ union ASLEF says its SQUASH campaign has now resulted in an agreement to provide cab cooling equipment on all the Class 66 locomotives in the Freightliner group.
ASLEF news release and SQUASH campaignRisks 449 • 27 March 2010 

Britain: Unionised workers are happier workers
Unions can help prevent staff feeling stressed and de-motivated by new working practices and reduce the number of staff quitting their jobs, according to a new report from the TUC. The publication comes in the wake of recent international scandals linking the recession, job insecurity and company restructuring to a deterioriation in staff health and well-being and to an increased suicide risk.
TUC news release • The road to recovery, Touchstone Pamphlet, TUC, March 2010 [pdf] • Risks 448 • 20 March 2010

Britain: CWU welcomes dangerous dogs move
A government consultation aimed at strengthening the Dangerous Dogs Act has been welcomed by the postal workers’ union CWU. Under the government proposals, which come after a lengthy campaign spearheaded by CWU, dog owners could be required to take out third party insurance and to have their dog microchipped and there could be New Dog Control Notices for misbehaving animals, or "Dogbos".
Defra news release and Dangerous dogs consultationCWU news releaseBBC News OnlineRisks 447 • 13 March 2010

Britain: Rail workers back action on safety
Network Rail maintenance workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action over safety. The RMT members voted 77 per cent for strike action and by 89 per cent for action short of a strike “over plans by the company to axe up to 1,500 safety critical jobs and to rip up national agreements on working practices,” says the union.
RMT news releaseTSSA news releaseRisks 447 • 13 March 2010

Britain: The lifesaving union effect
Hazards magazine has updated its webpages on the extremely positive “union effect” on workplace health and safety. A new pin-up-at-work guide notes that “union workplaces are safer workplaces” and urges workers “to get organised – or you might not live to regret it.”
Hazards ‘union effect’ webpages and 28 April posterRisks 446 • 6 March 2010

Britain: Watchdog confirms RMT rail safety fears
Rail union RMT has demanded an immediate halt to plans to axe up to 1,500 safety-critical Network Rail maintenance jobs after an official probe called for “a significant change in attitudes and behaviours throughout” the company. The call, in a letter from Bill Emery, the chief executive of the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), to Network Rail boss Iain Coucher, came as a damning report from ORR identified major safety concerns related to implementation of Network Rail’s maintenance restructuring.
ORR news release and letter to Iain Coucher, Network Rail [pdf] • RMT news release. BBC News OnlineRisks 446 • 6 March 2010

Britain: GMB fights to protect security guards
A new campaign is aiming to tackle the increasing number of attacks on security guards at work. Security industry union GMB, whose SafeGuard campaign was launched on 1 March at the House of Commons, is asking all Britain’s security companies to sign the GMB SafeGuard Charter, committing them to act to tackle the attacks on 350,000 licensed security staff in the course of their work.
GMB news release and SafeGuard charter [pdf] • GMB Security websiteBSIA news releaseSMT OnlineRisks 446 • 6 March 2010

Britain: Aslef go slow ‘saves lives’
A union call for train drivers to drive slowly – no more than 20 mph – over open level crossings has been praised after it was claimed to have saved at least one life. ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman commented: “Others may talk about level crossing safety, but our union actually does something about it, adding: “I hope others, like Network Rail, will follow our lead and get serious about this continuous loss of life.”
ASLEF news releaseJohn O’Groat JournalDaily RecordPress and JournalRisks 440
Hazards news, 23 January 2010

Britain: The value of unions
With the recession putting pressure on Britain's workers, the TUC has published new materials to help unions attract new recruits and demonstrate the value of unions to employers. A new report, ‘The union advantage’, includes safety in an array of compelling reasons you are better off in a union.
TUC publication noteThe union advantage: The positive impact of trade unions on the economy and British society [pdf] • Risks 436
Hazards news, 12 December 2009

Britain: Slow down gets speedy solution
A rail safety hazard has been remedied after the train drivers’ union ASLEF instructed its drivers to slow down for safety’s sake. The union had advised drivers to approach the New Barn Occupational Crossing in the Barnham, West Sussex, at no more than 30mph.
ASLEF news release • Risks 425
Hazards news,  26 September 2009

Britain: HSE takes its stall to the unions
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says it will use its presence at next week’s TUC conference in Liverpool to promote plans to get more employees involved in health and safety where they work. The watchdog says its research suggests that involving workers has a positive effect on health and safety performance, and there is “strong evidence” that unionised workplaces with health and safety representatives are safer and healthier.
HSE news release and worker involvement webpagesRisks 423
Hazards news, 12 September 2009

Britain: Safety reps make work happy and healthy
Is it possible to take a dysfunctional workplace battered by assaults, sickness and poor morale and in less than a year make it a haven of safety and worker contentment, with managers valuing the union role? UNISON rep Mark White, writing in the new edition of the trade union magazine Hazards, describes how they achieved just that in his workplace.
Safety respectHazards magazine, number 107, Summer 2009 • Risks 419
Hazards news, 15 August 2009

Europe: Safety reps are a ‘powerful force’
Trade union safety reps have a “huge potential” for improving workers’ health, a Europe-wide investigation has concluded. The ESPARE project – full name ‘The Impact of Safety Representatives on Occupational Health: A European Perspective’ – was launched in 2006 by the European TUC’s health and safety research arm, REHS.
ESPARE project • The impact of safety representatives on occupational health: A European perspective (the EPSARE project), Report 107, European Trade Union Institute, 2009. Order detailsRisks 416
Hazards news, 25 July 2009

Australia: Minister backs union right of entry
Unions in Tasmania have welcomed an announcement by the state’s workplace relations minister that she will press for a union right of entry to workplaces for occupational health and safety issues. Simon Cocker, the secretary of Unions Tasmania, said: “Right of entry to worksites for appropriately authorised union representatives exists in most other states and is an integral part of a working occupational health and safety system.”
Unions Tasmania news release [pdf] • Risks 417
Hazards news, 1 August 2009

Europe: Social dialogue improves working conditions
Unions play a big role in making work better and safer, a European Foundation report has concluded. It says its research found social partners and social dialogue play a key role in helping to create better jobs and improve the quality of work and working conditions through influencing policy decisions, negotiating social pacts and collective agreements as well as through participating in particular programmes and policies.
European Foundation news release and draft report [pdf] • Risks 412
Hazards news, 27 June 2009

Global: International link up wins rights deal
Unions in the UK and US have linked up to win an employment rights deal for workers in Bangladesh. Workers Uniting, a partnership between UK union Unite and North American union USW said it had achieved a “major victory” at the RL Denim factory in Bangladesh.
Unite news releaseNLC statementWorkers Uniting • Risks 412
Hazards news, 27 June 2009

Britain: Firm failed to listen to union
London Underground has paid “substantial” compensation to a Tube driver after it ignored union complaints about dirty, hazardous train carriages. Derek Walters, 45, is facing surgery on his hand after his finger was slit open by a piece of broken glass left in a train cab.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseRisks 408
Hazards news, 30 May 2009

Norway: Rail workers win violence protection
Railway workers in Norway have won improved protection against violence at work, following their unions’ lobbying efforts. Workers represented by Norsk Jernbaneforbund and Norsk Lokomotivmannsforbund won an amendment to existing criminal law after the union engaged the government in talks to improve the plight of railway workers who were experiencing increasing violence, particularly at night.
ITF news reportRisks 406
Hazards news, 16 May 2009

Britain: Brown praises union safety reps
In a message released to mark Workers’ Memorial Day the Prime Minister praised the role that trade unions and safety representatives play in promoting health and safety. Gordon Brown said: “Their dedication has protected countless workers and their families from the consequences of deaths and injuries at work and I pay tribute to their tireless efforts on behalf of us all.”
Statement by PMTUC news releaseRisks 404
Hazards news, 2 May 2009

Australia: Unions defend safety prosecutions role
Australia’s occupational health and safety laws should include a trade union right to bring safety prosecutions against dangerous firms, a top union official has said. Geoff Fary, assistant secretary of the national union federation ACTU, said a system for union-initiated prosecutions already works well in New South Wales (NSW) and shouldn’t be jettisoned.
Business SpectatorSafety at Work interview with Geoff FaryACTU OHS webpages, including links to ACTU submissionRisks 396
Hazards news, 7 March 2009

USA: Hero pilot stresses union role
The pilot of a plane that ditched into the Hudson River in New York with no loss of life has told a US government inquiry that airline employers must bargain with unions “in good faith” in order to keep the skies safe. Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger told the Congress subcommittee: “In order to ensure economic security and an uncompromising approach to passenger safety, management must work with labour [unions] to bargain in good faith, we must find collective solutions that address the huge economic issues we face in recruiting and retaining the experienced and highly skilled professionals that the industry requires and that passenger safety demands.”
Subcommittee hearing news releaseHartford CourantThe GuardianBBC News OnlineRisks 395
Hazards news, 28 February 2009

Australia: Top expert backs union safety effect
A top Australian academic has said no-one should underestimate the dramatic positive impact of trade unions on workplace health and safety. Professor Michael Quinlan of the University of New South Wales said “union campaigns played a very significant part in health and safety legislation in the first place, workplace compensation legislation in the first place” and in subsequent improvements in the safety system.
Safety at work blog and podcastSafety in Action conference websiteRisks 392
Hazards news, 7 February 2009

USA: The union role in NY air crash miracle
They're calling it ‘the miracle on the Hudson’ - the successful emergency landing on 15 January of a US Airways jet in the Hudson River and subsequent rescue of all 155 passengers and crew. But what they are not telling you, bloggers have revealed, is that every single one of these heroes is a union member – and the pilot, 57-year-old Chesley B Sullenberger III, is a former national committee member and the former safety chair of his union, the Airline Pilots Association.
AFL-CIO Now • Blog coverage on Emptywheel and ExaminerBBC News OnlineRisks 390
Hazards news, 24 January 2009

USA: Victory in the hog house
Workers at the USA’s largest hog slaughterhouse have won a 16-year fight to unionise. Safety had been a key organising theme in food union UFCW’s campaign at Smithfield’s plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina.
Labor NotesAmerican Prospect • Books, t-shirts and other ‘Troublemakers Union’ resources from Labor Notes • Risks 388
Hazards news, 10 January 2009

Australia: Minister leads union site 'raid'
A senior state government minister in New South Wales (NSW) has led a group of union officials onto the site of Sydney's proposed desalination plant to conduct a safety audit. NSW water minister Phil Costa visited the site run by construction firm John Holland.
The AustralianBusiness SpectatorRisks 382
Hazards news, 15 November 2008

Britain: HSE chair wants more reps
The benefits of trade union safety reps are beyond all doubt, the chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said. Judith Hackitt told SERTUC’s worker involvement conference: “Throughout my working life it has always been the case that the workforce has been fully involved in health and safety and the importance of safety representatives has never been questioned - because it’s never been in any doubt.”
HSE news release and worker involvement webpagesRisks 383
Hazards news 22 November 2008

USA: Tony Mazzocchi: A real union leader on safety
If you want to learn about union leadership on health and safety, you should learn about Tony Mazzocchi. And if you want a pacy, intriguing and immensely readable biography of the US trade unionist’s extraordinary life, you should read ‘The man who hated work and loved labor’.
The man who hated work and loved labor: The life and times of Tony Mazzocchi, Les Leopold, Chelsea Green Publishing, ISBN 978-1-933392-64-6 • Watch a video tribute to Tony MazzocchiHazards 103 reviewRisks 368
Hazards news, 9 August 2008

Britain: STUC project tackles violence
A groundbreaking STUC-inspired project to tackle workplace violence has been showcased at the July National Hazards Conference. Four years ago, the Scottish union federation worked with Scotland’s then Labour administration on a report that STUC said “set the foundation for positive collaboration between the trade union movement in Scotland and the Scottish government to raise awareness of the extent of the problem and how to help unions, workers and employers address the issue.”
STUC project presentation [powerpoint] • Risks 367
Hazards news, 2 August 2008

Global: Union precarious work campaign
‘Precarious work affects us all’ is a global union campaign to stop the rise in precarious employment and to regain power and justice for working people. Campaign webpages prepared by the global metal unions’ federation IMF provide links to materials, background information and details on what trade unions around the world are doing to mobilise against precarious work.
IMF ‘Precarious work affects us all’ campaign websitesRisks 366
Hazards news, 26 July 2008

South Africa: Union plans safety strike at Gold Fields
South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has said it is planning industrial action at Gold Fields’ four mining operations, in protest at its worsening safety record. Gold Fields is responsible for about a quarter of South Africa's 85 mine fatalities this year.
Risks 364
Hazards news, 12 July 2008

Turkey: Union protests win safety concessions
More than 5,000 supporters joined 300 striking shipyard workers in a 16 June protest in Turkey’s Tuzla shipyards. The high profile action, which was in response to horrific rates of work-related deaths and injuries, led within days to safety commitments from the Turkish prime minister.
IMF news releaseTurkish Daily NewsRisks 362
Hazards news, 28 June 2008

Italy: National one-hour stoppage for safety
Metalworkers across Italy downed tools from 11am to noon on 17 June in support of a new draft law on health and safety at work. The action follows a public outcry at the escalating toll of workplace deaths in Italy, including a series of recent tragedies.
IMF news releaseBBC News OnlineRisks 361
Hazards news, 21 June 2008

USA: Unions win in Las Vegas strike deal
A construction safety strike that started on the Las Vegas strip on Monday 2 June, ended on Tuesday after unions secured major safety commitments. Construction workers had marched in circles outside the locked gates of the massive $9.2 million CityCenter development, picket signs raised above their heads reading “Unsafe job site.”
Las Vegas Sun feature and coverage of company statementRisks 359
Hazards news, 7 June 2008

Global: Worldwide safety pact with steel giant
The world's largest steel company and trade unions representing its employees worldwide have signed a groundbreaking agreement to improve health and standards throughout the company. The global union federation for the metalworking sector, IMF, said the agreement with ArcelorMittal recognises the vital role played by trade unions in improving health and safety.
IMF news release and global agreement [pdf] • Risks 359
Hazards news, 7 June 2008

Britain: RMT victory on rail assault pay
A Northern Rail policy which would have reduced pay to many to workers injured in violent workplace attacks has been withdrawn. The move came after pressure from rail union RMT, which said the policy would have meant victims of assault who had not suffered ‘severe physical injury’ would lose money if they needed time off work.
Risks 341
Hazards news, 2 February 2008

Mexico: Massive miner walkout for safety
Over a quarter of a million Mexican miners walked off the job on 16 January, denouncing a government attack on workers striking over horrendous health and safety conditions at Mexico’s largest copper mine, Cananea, in the northern state of Sonora.
IMF news releaseWorkplace health and safety survey and medical screening of miners at Grupo Mexico’s copper mine Cananea, Sonora, Mexico, October 5-8, 2007, final Report, MHSSN, January 2008 [pdf] • Cananea site photogalleryMHSSN websiteRisks 340
Hazards news, 26 January 2008

France: Safety reps improve safety
Health and safety representatives clearly help to improve the quality of prevention policies in workplaces where they are present, according to an official French government report. Thomas Coutrot from the Dares, the research institute of the French labour ministry, reviewed recent studies and concluded: “Employees and their representatives can therefore significantly influence the prevention policies implemented, either through conflict, co-operation, or more likely, a combination of the two.”
Dares report [pdf] • Risks 339
Hazards news, 19 January 2008

Australia: Workers need access to union help
Australian unions have called for the elimination of ‘artificial restrictions’ on the right of union occupational health and safety experts and officials to represent workers at threat from workplace risks. Ben Swan, assistant national secretary of mining union AWU, said Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) – a system individual contracts introduced by the previous government in a bid to curtail union power – were being used to deny unions access to dangerous workplaces.
AWU news releaseRisks 339
Hazards news, 19 January 2008

South Africa: Strike puts mine safety on agenda
A national strike by South Africa’s mineworkers has focused the attention of government and mining firms on workplace safety. Over 200,000 miners are believed to have been involved in the action.
Mining WeeklyBusiness Report and related item on South Africa’s inadequate workplace compensation system
Hazards news, 15 December 2007

Britain: Ergo cabs follow union campaign
Rail firm Freightliner is improving train cabs after a campaign by drivers’ union ASLEF. Union general secretary Keith Norman says the company’s production director has given an assurance the company is “more than happy to involve ASLEF as much as possible in the ergonomics of any new cab design.”
ASLEF news release and Squash campaign
Hazards news, 8 December 2007

Australia: Federal court supports role of unions
Australia’s Federal Court has supported the role of unions, declaring construction union CFMEU a “competent administrative authority” with a right of access to workplaces to undertake safety probes. The court also found it unlawful for a person to be sacked for reasons including complaining to the union.
SafetyNet Journal, number 128Read the judgment online Claveria v Pilkington Australia Ltd [2007] FCA 1692Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Hazards news, 1 December 2007

New Zealand: Worker participation key to improvements
“Involving workers in managing health and safety at work is a key to improving our record in this area,” NZCTU secretary Carol Beaumont has said. Her comments followed the release of the New Zealand government’s Workplace Health and Safety Strategy second progress report.
NZCTU news releaseNZ Department of Labour news release
Hazards news, 24 November 2007

Global: Unions and enforcement are the safe option
Rigorous enforcement backed up by active unions is the best way to deliver safety at work, a new World Health Organisation report has concluded. ‘Employment conditions and health inequalities’ says contrary to the current fashion for deregulation, regulations are not the problem.
Employment conditions and health inequalities: Final report, WHO, 2007 [pdf] • The report is a contribution to the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health
Hazards news, 17 November 2007

Britain: Study shows safety specialists cut accidents
The more firms invest in safety specialists, the safer they get, new research suggests. The research commissioned by safety professionals’ organisation IOSH and carried out by Glasgow Caledonian University researchers also found organisations where health and safety personnel vet sub-contractors have an accident rate almost 60 per cent lower than in those that don't.
IOSH news releaseGlasgow Caledonian University RISC projectHazards union effect webpages
Hazards news, 3 November 2007

Italy: DHL forced to negotiate after strike
Managers at DHL’s air cargo fleet operations in Italy have promised to enter into talks with unions over safety after their hand was forced by strike action. Workers at DHL’s Bergamo hub went on strike on 10 October prompted by managers’ refusals to discuss safety concerns following an accident that seriously injured a worker; he was crushed by a 2000 kilogramme pallet that fell from a forklift truck.
ITF news release
Hazards news, 27 October 2007

USA: Tragedies spur calls for a union voice
Non-union workers at the Utah mine where six miners died in a 6 August collapse and three workers were killed on 16 August in the abortive rescue efforts have asked mining union UMWA to be their representative in discussions with the company and the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). In a highly contentious move, however, the official mines safety watchdog has turned down the request.
UMWA news releaseICEM In-Brief
Hazards news, 1 September 2007

Britain: Safety reps mean action at work
Union safety reps make workplace safety campaigns effective, research for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found. The study looked at the involvement of safety reps in HSE’s better backs campaign, examining the impact of the training and support provided by Unite’s Amicus section.
Hazards news report, 1 September 2007Hazards safety reps’ webpageHazards union effect webpage
Hazards news, 1 September 2007

Australia: New charter to protect workers
A new charter of workplace rights that sets out baseline health and safety and compensation standards has been launched by Australian national union federation ACTU. ACTU president Sharan Burrow said: “The health and safety of Australian workers is of paramount importance to the ACTU and the union movement and this charter spells out a decent set of minimum standards for workplace rights that can work in all workplaces across Australia.”
ACTU news release • ACTU occupational health and safety workplace rights charter [pdf] • ABC News
Hazards news, 9 June 2007

Britain: Community raises the alarm for safety
A union has demonstrated the safety protection unions can offer, even when the employer refuses formal union recognition. Workers in Betfred betting shops were concerned when the company switched off emergency alarms’ Community contacted the company and made sure that these were switched straight back on.
Community news release and betting shop campaignHazards organising news and resources
Hazards news, 12 May 2007

Earlier news stories


The union effect

Hazards shows why safety is better organised. Here it presents the evidence and details of innovative union safety rep initiatives including "roving" and regional reps and new style global agreements including health, safety and environmental clauses.


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Union activist and prominent safety campaigner Dave Smith gives useful tips and iron clad examples of effective union organising methods more

Safety reps


Graphic: Ned Jolliffe

Graphic: Andy Vine

Graphic: Mary Schrider

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