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IMage: Mary Schrider



Discounting women
Cancer studies have neglected the workplace risks faced by women. Hazards editor Rory O’Neill looks at new evidence of the damaging consequences for prevention, compensation and women’s health. Hazards 163, July -September 2023

Women work
Women workers face unaddressed and under-estimated hazards at work. Canadian professor Karen Messing tells Hazards it’s a problem that can be addressed through a collaboration between researchers and unions that enhances workplace organisation.
Hazards 155 July-September 2021

Expecting more
For two decades employers have had an explicit legal duty to ensure the health and safety at work of expectant mothers. But two in five mums-to-be still believe they have been placed at risk during their pregnancy. Hazards spells out their legal rights and how to get them.
Hazards 146, April-June 2019

Hands off
Both the UK safety regulator and the equality regulator said an unequivocal ‘#NotMe’ when we asked who investigates and prosecutes cases of sexual harassment at work. Hazards editor Rory O’Neill exposes the regulatory vacuum that guarantees those employers that let bad things happen know it is safe to carry on regardless.
Hazards 146, April-June 2019

It's not OK
You think sexual harassment and assaults are at their worst in the movie industry? Hazards editor Rory O’Neill says try life as a cleaner, hotel housekeeper or waitress – or anyone in low paid ‘women’s work’ facing routine abuse with few rights and little chance of redress.
Hazards 140, October -December 2017

Women's work?
Ever tried lifting an adult off the ground several times a day? Or lugging groceries around for eight hours solid? Or working the night shift then spending the day unpaid and caring for others? For many women that’s a normal working day. Hazards editor Rory O’Neill says the time to take seriously occupational risks faced by women workers is long overdue.
Hazards 138, June 2017

Graveyard shift
An Oxford University study concludes the classification of night work as a cause of breast cancer ‘is no longer justified’. Cancer Research UK says women should be ‘reassured’. But Hazards discovered the research may have got it seriously wrong, with devastating consequences for prevention.
Hazards 136, October-December 2016

Women reps
Unions work best when they represent everyone in the workplace. And they are at their most effective when grassroots union safety reps reflect the make-up of that workforce - and that means more women safety reps at work.
Hazards women reps pagesPoster

Women’s work Too many assumptions about the nature of ‘women’s work’ combined with too little attention to the real risks means the hazards of women’s jobs may be far less likely to get resolved.
Hazards 101, January-March 2008 [pdf]

Work's worse for women US government research shows women are at greater risk from many workplace hazards, and examines evidence on "working women and stress" and "women in construction". Another study shows women facing high work demands, low control and low social support are at the greatest risk of ill-health.
Hazards 71 July-September 2000 [pdf]• Also: Providing health and safety protection for a diverse construction workforce: Issues and ideas, NIOSH

Women hurt at work Ever see a sign saying "Danger! Women at work"? Ever wonder why not? Well, it is not because women do not do the 3D - dirty, difficult and dangerous - jobs. Infact for many modern work hazards it is often women facing more of the risk. Hazards guide and resources on a "gender sensitive" health and safety approach.
Hazards 67, July-September 1999 [pdf] or html version

Women under strain
Men do heavy, dangerous work, women do light, safe work - so it's men that are at risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Nothing could be further from the truth. more



WHO gender and occupational health webpages

Women primary victims of safety negligence at work Although invisible in official statistics on work-related accidents and illnesses, women are more likely to be victims of poor safety standards at work, says the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).
ICFTU OnlineICFTU Online: Health and safety - women pay dearly

Older women's health and safety ignored A new TUC report says the health and safety of twelve million women is being ignored. The Health and Work of Older Women: a neglected issue, says that older women work longer hours than younger women, have lower status jobs and have a higher chance of developing bad backs and broken bones. It sets out an agenda for action by government, employers, unions and researchers. News release

TUC resources on women's health and safety List of TUC resources referring to women's occupational health and safety TUC safety webpages

TUC resources on gender and occupational safety and health TUC has reconvened its Women’s Health and Safety Working Group. The Group is focusing on a gender-sensitive approach to occupational health and safety and ensuring equal rights to protection for all workers. TUC GOSH page

Women, work and health Gender sensitive health and safety - a February 2001 report of a TUC symposium on research into women's health and safety. TUC safety webpages

A woman's work is never safe This TUC report highlights some of the occupational hazards unique to women due to physiological and social differences between the sexes, and the way that women's concentration in certain occupations leads to some health and safety hazards having a much greater impact on women. TUC safety webpages

Women's health and safety: putting back strain on the map The TUC wants to see women workers use their own experiences to demand better standards of health and safety from their employers. Women's jobs can be just as back-breaking as men's, and this report demonstrates that we have only just begun to address this huge health problem. TUC safety webpages

UNISON women's health and safety guidance This guide for health and safety representatives from UK public service union UNISON should be used to ensure that employers consider women staff when developing any health and safety initiatives, such as carrying out risk assessments, planning new systems of work or introducing work equipment or personal protective equipment. It can also be used to start raising awareness of women's health and safety concerns among members.
UNISON guide [pdf]Women at work [pdf]

European trade union website The European Trade Union Confederation's safety research arm, HESA, has pulled together detailed resources and news on women's health and safety
HESA women's health and safety webpages

ITF Women's campaign An International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) women's campaign includes a call for for measures to address safety problems and bullying at work. Campaign page

NIOSH women's safety and health at work webpages As the only US federal agency mandated to conduct research to prevent injuries and illnesses in the workplace, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has an expanding research program to address the occupational safety and health needs of working women. These pages contain information on working women, the hazards they may face, and NIOSH research in areas of particular concern to women.
NIOSH women's health and safety webpagesNIOSH women's health and safety at work factsheet

Occupational safety gender gap
Ellen Rosskam explains how an occupational safety, health and environment (OSHE) training programme is helping women find ways to expand personal possibilities and develop creative health promotion strategies for trade unions and communities.
Women work to close the "occupational safety gender gap"

Women and men do different jobs, so face different risk factors for work-related mental illness A study in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health identified several occupational risk indicators for poor mental health among women, especially sub-clinical depression and high alcohol consumption. Occupational factors such as shift work, job strain, no education at the employer's expense, low occupational pride, low stimulation at work and poor social support were related to poor mental health among women.
International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, Volume 75, Number 4, May 2002



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Britain: Pregnant women fear Covid job loss
More than a third of pregnant women fear losing their jobs due to safety concerns about Covid in the workplace and over half have raised related concerns with their employers, a new survey has found. Research from Maternity Action shows 36 per cent are concerned about their work if they take time off or ask their employer to do more to protect them from Covid.
Unsafe and unsupported: workplace health and safety for pregnant women in the pandemic, Maternity Action, December 2021. Maternity Action campaign - ask your MP to improve the health and safety at work of pregnant women.
Personnel Today. People Management. The Guardian. Risks 1025. 8 December 2021

Britain: Covid-concerned menopausal key worker killed herself
A menopausal supermarket worker killed herself two days after being signed off with anxiety because of her fear of falling ill with Covid, an inquest has heard. Linda Salmon, 56, took her own life in April last year after her anxiety worsened during the Covid pandemic.
BBC News Online and video report. The Mirror. Yorkshire Live.
Resources: TUC menopause at work interactive guide and Supporting working women through the menopause: guidance for union representatives. Menopause is a workplace issue guide, UNISON. Risks 1022. 17 November 2021

Britain: Safety professionals call for menopause action
Employers should develop more inclusive and supportive workplace cultures and managerial styles to help menopausal women feel comfortable discussing their symptoms and requesting support, the top UK safety professionals’ organisation has said. The call is among a series of recommendations from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) in response to a UK government inquiry into menopause and the workplace.
IOSH news release. Musicians’ Union news release. PCS news release.
House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into Menopause and the Workplace and 23 July 2021 news release.
Resources: TUC menopause at work interactive guide and Supporting working women through the menopause: guidance for union representatives. Menopause is a workplace issue guide, UNISON. Risks 1018. 20 October 2021

Britain: Women teachers express safety concerns
Women teachers have concerns about their safety inside and outside of work, the teaching union NASUWT has said. Members discussed the increasing problem of sexual harassment and violence against women at the union’s online Women Teachers’ Consultation Conference, where a real-time poll of delegates found one in ten said they feel “not safe” at work or “concerned and anxious about my safety at work.”
NAWUWT news release and related news release. ILO Convention 190. Risks 1017. 13 October 2021

Australia: ‘Management culture’ behind mining harassment
Representatives of the joint union Western Mineworkers Alliance (WMWA) have told a West Australia government inquiry into sexual harassment in the mining industry that the problem is endemic. WMWA representatives Brad Gandy of the Australian Workers’ Union and Greg Busson of the mining and energy union told the inquiry a recent Alliance survey found 1-in-5 women reported they had experienced physical acts of sexual assaults, with the same proportion saying they had been explicitly or implicitly offered career advancement or benefits in return for sexual favours.
AWU news release. WMWA submission. Risks 1014. 16 September 2021

Britain: ‘Bent out of Shape’ online book launch, 7 September
The Hazards Campaign is hosting the 7 September UK launch of Karen Messing’s book ‘Bent out of Shape - Shame, Solidarity, and Women’s Bodies at Work.’ Messing, an award-winning ergonomist and global expert on gender and work hazards, will be joined at the 6pm launch by ‘Invisible women’ author Caroline Criado Perez, Wales TUC general secretary Shavanah Taj and Hilda Palmer of the Hazards Campaign.
Register for launch of 'Bent out of Shape' by Karen Messing, 6pm UK time, 7 September 2021. Buy the book. Further details from the Hazards Campaign. Risks 1012. 2 September 2021

Australia:  Women’s amenities should be mandatory
Women’s amenities to be mandatory on worksites across Australia to boost the number of women in male dominated industries, a union has said. The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) is launching a ‘Nowhere To Go’ campaign after its report outlined the ‘significant obstacles’ women face within the industry and makes recommendations on how to increase female participation.
Mirage News. Risks 1012. 2 September 2021

Global: Women far more likely to face work violence
Women are more likely to face violence and harassment at work, a new poll commissioned by the global union confederation ITUC has indicated. The respondents, in ten countries, were asked “Do you think men or women are more likely to face violence and harassment, or are they equally likely?” for nine professions: teaching, nursing, doctors, journalism, law, sport, politics, finance and banking, and building and construction.
ITUC news release and full report. Risks 1006. 22 July 2021

Britain: Survey finds widespread harassment at work
Half of women report having suffered unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace, according to a new poll. Around a quarter of women suffered unwanted touching at work, heard colleagues make comments of a sexual nature about a fellow colleague in front of them at work, or were questioned or interrogated about their sex life in the workplace, the survey by YouGov found.
Avaaz website. The Independent.
Joint union statement, 12 March 2021. ILO convention 190. Risks 1003. 30 June 2021

Britain: Call for safeguards against harassment on set
Broadcasters and production companies must take action to safeguard workers from bullying and harassment on sets, a union leader has said. In her address to the union’s conference, Bectu leader Philippa Childs, speaking in the wake of a series of high profile scandals in the sector, called for the industry to step up.
Bectu news release. Risks 997. 19 May 2021

Britain: Screen workers call for action on sexual harassment
TV and film union Bectu is calling for a meeting of industry bosses to address sexual harassment concerns, following an open letter signed by 1,000 workers from across the industry. The letter, penned by producer and Bectu rep Meriel Beale, demands an end to a culture that turns a blind eye to predators and harassers operating in plain sight.
BECTU news release. Joint letter. Risks 996. 13 May 2021

Global: Big Mac makes little move on gender-based violence
Following significant international pressure by workers and unions to deal with systemic sexual harassment and gender-based violence in its restaurants, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski has announced new “Global Brand Standards” related to working conditions for the brand’s two million workers worldwide. Although the move has been welcomed by unions, the global food and farming union IUF noted: “The announcement fails to mention cooperation with trade unions, an ‘essential element’ in ILO Convention 155 on occupational safety and health; prior efforts to end the systemic sexual harassment have proven ineffective due to lack of enforcement and involvement by trade unions.”
IUF news release. McDonald’s news release. Risks 994. 28 April 2021

Britain: Empower schools to tackle sexism, harassment and abuse
Schools must be empowered to do more to address harassment abuse aimed at female pupils and staff, teaching union NEU has said. Commenting on an emergency motion passed at the NEU’s online annual conference, joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “Sexism has real negative consequences for girls and for female staff, who disproportionately experience sexual violence and harassment.”
NEU news release. Risks 992. 14 April 2021

Britain: Lift the burdens on working mums, says TUC
The TUC is asking ministers to do more to lift the burdens facing working mums. While the reopening of schools has eased some of the burden mums face, there are ongoing pressures about getting enough childcare to cover hours at work, the union body said.
TUC news release. Risks 989. 16 March 2021

Britain: Virus death risk 4x higher in women garment workers
Women working in Britain’s garment factories are four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than the average woman worker, according to a new TUC analysis of official data. The analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released last month reveals that women sewing machinists have the highest Covid-19 fatality rate (64.8 deaths per 100,000) of any female occupation.
TUC news release. Coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths by occupation, England and Wales: deaths registered between 9 March and 28 December 2020, ONS, 25 January 2021. Morning Star. Risks 986. 24 February 2021

Global: Impact of chemicals on women’s health ignored
The global food and farming union IUF has welcomed a new report from IPEN – the International Pollutants Elimination Network - highlighting the overlooked impact on women of exposure to chemicals. The IPEN review found there is a lack of research and information about women’s exposure to chemicals or nanomaterials and their effects on women’s specific physiology or endocrine [hormone] system, as well as the long-term effects on their reproductive health.
Women, chemicals and the SDGs: Gender review mapping with a focus on women, February 2021. IUF news release and manual, Making women visible in occupational health and safety. Risks 984. 11 February 2021

Britain: Workplace protection for domestic abuse victims welcomed
Public sector union UNISON has won a key amendment to ensure that domestic abuse protection orders (DAPOs) will apply to the workplace. The provision is included in the Domestic Abuse Bill currently moving through the UK parliament.
UNISON news release. Risks 984. 11 February 2021

Britain: Women facing ‘impossible’ pandemic burden
The TUC has said women have been put in an impossible position and left stressed out during the pandemic and have been left to combine work and childcare. The comments from the union body came in response to a report by the Commons Woman and Equalities Committee that found government policies in the pandemic have “repeatedly skewed towards men.”
Women and Equality Committee news release and report, Coronavirus and the gendered economic impact, 9 February 2021. TUC news release. TUC self-report survey January 2021. BBC News Online. Morning Star.
Sick pay that works, TUC, 3 February 2021. Risks 984. 11 February 2021

Britain: BME women over-represented in insecure, risky jobs
Black and minority ethnic (BME) women are around twice as likely as white workers to be employed in insecure jobs, according to a new TUC study. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Being trapped in insecure work has exposed BME women to extra risk during this crisis, with many losing their lives.”
TUC news release, blog and briefing paper, Black women and work, 28 October 2020. Risks 971. 31 October 2020

Britain: Women bear the brunt of Covid work stress
Women are being disproportionately affected by a rise in mental health problems caused by increasing workloads, as people do their jobs from home amid the pandemic. ‘Burnout Britain’, a report by the 4 Day Week campaign and thinktanks Compass and Autonomy, notes that women are 43 per cent more likely to have increased their hours beyond a standard working week than men, and for those with children, this was even more clearly associated with mental health problems.
Burnout Britain: Overwork in an age of unemployment, 4 Day Week Campaign, Compass and Autonomy, October 2020. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 969. 17 October 2020

Global: IARC confirms night work cancer link
An association between night work and breast and other cancers has been confirmed after a major review by an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) expert group. IARC’s 2007 ‘probably carcinogenic in humans’ Group 2A ranking was challenged in 2016 after an Oxford University study co-financed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) concluded “night shift work, including long-term night shift work, has little or no effect on breast cancer incidence.”
IARC Monographs Volume 124: Night Shift Work, June 2020. Volume 124 webpage. Graveyard shift: Cancer all-clear for night work based on ‘bad science’, warn scientists, Hazards magazine, number 136, December 2016. Risks 951. 13 June 2020

Britain: New, enforced rights needed to protect pregnant women
The TUC’s new report on pregnancy discrimination during the Covid-19 crisis shows working women do not have the protection they deserve. ‘Pregnant and precarious: new and expectant mums’ experiences of work during Covid-19’ calls for wide-ranging changes to improve and enforce legal curbs on discrimination.
Pregnant and precarious: new and expectant mums’ experiences of work during Covid-19, 11 June 2020. Risks 951. 13 June 2020

Britain: Employers illegally forcing pregnant women out
A quarter of pregnant women have faced discrimination at work during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a new TUC survey. The poll of more than 3,400 women who have been pregnant or on maternity leave during the Covid-19 pandemic found that one in four (25 per cent) had experienced unfair treatment at work, including being singled out for redundancy or furlough, and one in four (25 per cent) saying felt unsafe at work.
TUC news release and report, Pregnant and precarious: new and expectant mums’ experiences of work during Covid-19, 11 June 2020. GMB news release. Risks 951. 13 June 2020

Britain: PPE still not right for women
Personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied to women in the coronavirus frontline is not designed for them and puts their health at risk and is causing injuries, research by the union Prospect has confirmed. In a blog posting, Prospect senior deputy general secretary Sue Ferns noted: “Personal protective equipment will never be the right fit if manufacturers or employers make decisions without taking the diversity of the workforce into account, and ill-considered remarks by government ministers seeking to explain current unavailability of much-needed PPE do not help.”
Prospect blog. Labour Party news release. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Women and insecure workers in coronavirus frontline
The impact on health and wealth of the coronavirus pandemic is hitting certain groups much harder, new research has found. A study by the Resolution Foundation found key workers are disproportionately likely to be female, low paid and insecure.
Resolution Foundation news release and briefing note, Risky business: Economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis on different groups of workers, 28 April 2020. Risks 945. 2 May 2020

Britain: Government must protect pregnant workers, says TUC
The TUC has called on the government to protect the health, jobs and income of pregnant workers during the coronavirus outbreak. Employers already have a legal duty to keep their pregnant employees safe, says the TUC. Health and safety law says that if they can’t do that in their workplace, then they should allow pregnant staff to work from home.
TUC news release and blog. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Global: Time for a world of work free of violence
Global union IndustriALL is calling on national governments to ratify the new ILO Convention 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work. It says International Women’s Day on 8 March can be a focus for unions to pick up this campaign theme.
IndustriALL news release and Convention 190 resources.
Violence and Harassment Convention (Convention 190), ILO, June 2019. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Global: Making women visible in health and safety
Greater efforts are needed to make sure occupational risks to women are taken into proper account, the global food and farming union federation IUF has said. Launching its new guide, IUF notes “a gendered approach” to occupational health and safety “emphasises that it is the employers' responsibility to make the workplace safe for every worker and exposes the dangers of behaviour-based safety, which makes the individual worker responsible for workplace safety.”
IUF news release and full guide, Making women visible in occupational health and safety, January 2020. The guide is available in English, French and Spanish editions. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Global: Women's work safety must get more attention
Trade unions are key to making workplaces safer and healthier for all workers but often women's occupational health and safety (OHS) is not given enough attention, a union workshop has concluded. The workshop in Akuse, Ghana, co-organised by the global food and farming union federation IUF, brought together IUF union affiliates, OHS and women's committees and management of three banana plantations.
IUF news release. Risks 927. 14 December 2019

Britain: UNISON plan to improve work for menopausal women
Guidance aimed at improving workplace conditions for employees who are experiencing the menopause has been published by the public sector union UNISON. The union says its ‘Menopause is a workplace issue’ guide is aimed at supporting employers to create a working environment where female staff feel supported.
UNISON news release and Menopause is a workplace issue guide. BECTU news release. Prospect news release. NUJ news release. ACAS news release and Menopause at work guidance. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: TUC leads the way on menopause in the workplace
In 2003, the TUC’s groundbreaking ‘Working through the change’ report first raised the issue of the menopause as an important occupational health issue;. in 2011, it produced the first edition of its now updated ‘Supporting working women through the menopause’ guide for union representatives. Now the TUC has now produced a new interactive guide reiterating why ‘the menopause is a workplace issue.’
TUC menopause at work interactive guide, Supporting working women through the menopause: guidance for union representatives and details of TUC’s Working through the change report, 2003. Risks 920. 26 October 2019

Britain: Lloyd’s of London admits ‘truly terrible’ sexual harassment
The chief executive of insurance giant Lloyd’s of London has described as “truly terrible” the findings of a survey that showed that nearly 500 people working in its insurance market have either suffered or observed sexual harassment in the past 12 months. The survey, conducted by the Banking Standards Board on behalf of Lloyd’s after news reports of bullying and harassment, found that “the experience of women is much less positive than it is for men.”
The Guardian. BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

Labour plans more rights for menopausal workers
Large employers would be forced to provide flexible hours to women experiencing the menopause under plans announced by Labour. Shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler said companies with more than 250 employees would also be required to train managers on the effects of the menopause so they can accommodate the needs of employees.
Speech by Dawn Butler to the Labour Party conference. Usdaw news release. BBC News Online. Personnel Today.
TUC guide to supporting women through the menopause. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

USA: New ‘working women at risk’ tool
A new online tool – Working Women at Risk – intends to help researchers and advocates to visualise the exposures to chemicals that might be putting working women in California at risk for breast cancer. Using the tool, which is equally useful wherever you live and work, individuals can search data on over 1,000 chemicals, sorted into 24 chemical groups, by occupation, ethnicity/race, and age.
Working women and risk tool and background. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: GMB slams ‘shameful and dangerous’ airline ‘trolley dolly’ culture
A union representing tens of thousands of cabin crew workers has condemned the airline industry’s ‘frankly dangerous’ dress codes. Nadine Houghton, GMB national officer, commented: “While these policies don't constitute sexual harassment they contribute to a frankly dangerous perception of the way women 'should' look and behave in order to fit in with a superficial, patriarchal standard. It's these perceptions and dress code requirements placed on women that lead to them being sexually objectified.”
GMB news release. The Independent.
TUC #ThisIsNotWorking Alliance petition and campaign webpage.
Hands off: Time to take sexual harassment at work seriously and change the law, Hazards, number 146, July 2019. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

USA: McDonald's facing new sexual harassment charges
For the third time in three years, McDonald's Corp is facing allegations of rampant sexual harassment of female employees in its burger joints. Twenty-three new complaints against McDonald's –  20 of which were filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – have been brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the labour group Fight for $15, and the TIME'S UP Legal Defense Fund.
Metoomcdonalds.org. NPR. Bloomberg News. New York Times. CNN Business. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Victims of sexual harassment ‘should get time off’
Victims of sexual harassment should get more support and a right to paid time off, the union PCS has said. The decision, carried unanimously at the civil service union’s national conference, calls for a PCS campaign for a range of measures to combat sexual harassment.
PCS news release. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Businesses must be banned from sacking new mums
The law must be changed so women cannot be sacked from the moment they become pregnant until 12 months after they return to work, the union GMB has said. The union’s call came as Conservative MP Maria Miller, the chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, pressed for new protections for pregnant women and mothers by introducing a 10-minute Rule Bill in the House of Commons. 
GMB news release. Women and Equalities Committee news release. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Pregnant women are not always safe at work
The TUC and Maternity Action have warned that employers are not doing enough to protect pregnant women at work. The organisations have published new guidance which details steps bosses should be taking to keep female staff safe during and after pregnancy.
TUC news release and Pregnancy, breastfeeding and health and safety: A guide for workplace representatives, TUC, May 2019 [pdf version]. Maternity Alliance. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Britain: Government’s union watchdog blocks harassment action
The TUC has criticised the government’s trade union watchdog for blocking a union’s ‘sensible action’ to stand up for women members by stopping sexual harassment. The union body was commenting after the watchdog, the Certification Officer, forced the Musicians’ Union to restore the membership of a someone expelled from the union after a succession of sexual harassment complaints against him were made via the union’s ‘safe space’ online reporting system.
TUC blog. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Vietnam: Women making clothes for export face sexual abuse
Female factory workers producing clothing and shoes in Vietnam – many probably for major US and European brands – face systemic sexual harassment and violence at work. Approaching half (43.1 per cent) of 763 women interviewed in factories in three Vietnamese provinces said they had suffered at least one form of violence and/or harassment in the previous year, according to a study by the Fair Wear Foundation and Care International.
The Observer. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: Webinar on the menopause
The TUC is holding a webinar on the menopause on Thursday 25 April at 14:00.. Sign up to hear first-hand experiences and to get ideas on how you can change the conversation in your workplace. 
Register here. TUC guide to supporting women through the menopause. Risks 892. 6 April 2019

Britain: Working nights linked to greater risk of miscarriage
Working two or more night shifts in a week may increase a pregnant woman's risk of miscarriage the following week by around a third, a new study has found. The authors of the prospective study published online in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine conclude: “The new knowledge has relevance for working pregnant women as well as their employers, physicians and midwifes,” adding “the results could have implications for national occupational health regulations.”
Luise Moelenberg Begtrup and others. Night work and miscarriage: a Danish nationwide register-based cohort study, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Online First 25 March 2019. DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2018-105592  Science Daily. Risks 891. 30 March 2019

Global: ILO rules needed to address gender-based violence
Violence and harassment affect the lives of millions of women workers on a daily basis - yet there is still no law at the international level that sets a baseline for taking action to eradicate the problem at work, the global union IndustriALL has said. The union comments came ahead a second International Labour Organisation (ILO) discussion on violence and harassment in the world of work which will take place in June 2019 at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
IndustriALL news release.
ITUC campaign toolkit for a convention on gender-based violence at work. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Global: Seafarers slam cruise worker pregnancy tests
Female seafarers must reject outright the mandatory pregnancy testing required of some cruise ship workers, a leading trade unionist has said. International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) maritime co-ordinator Jacqueline Smith said the practice was blatantly discriminatory.
Morning Star. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: TUC criticises ‘piecemeal’ action on work harassment
The government has said it intends to prevent employers from using gagging clauses to stop people reporting criminal behaviour, harassment or discrimination to police. However, the TUC has criticised the government’s slow progress on sexual harassment at work, saying non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are ‘just one part of the jigsaw’.
The Guardian. Personnel Today. BBC News Online. The Independent. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: Make bosses liable for sexual harassment at work
Employers who fail to tackle members of the public who grope and subject female staff to lewd jokes should be held to account, UNISON has said. The union wants to see the reinstatement of Section 40 of the Equality Act – a clause that ensured staff doing their jobs were safeguarded against third-party harassment.
UNISON news release. Risks 886. 23 February 2019

Australia: Work sexism damages women's mental health
Sex discrimination in the workplace has a damaging impact on women’s health, a study has found. The research, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, investigated the associations between workplace sexism, sense of belonging at work, mental health, and job satisfaction for women in male-dominated industries.
Mark Rubin and others. A confirmatory study of the relations between workplace sexism, sense of belonging, mental health, and job satisfaction among women in male‐dominated industries, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, February 2019. Related project website, including full text of the article. EurekAlert. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Minister promises consultation on harassment gags
A government minister has promised to launch a consultation into limiting the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) against employees after the emergence of further allegations of sexual, racial and physical abuse by retail billionaire Sir Philip Green. Penny Mordaunt, the minister for women and equalities, responded to reports in the Sunday Telegraph that Green had slapped a senior female executive on the bottom and kissed her on the face, after which she was allegedly paid more than £1m to stay silent about the incidents.
The Telegraph. Personnel Today. The Guardian. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Entertainment unions challenge bad practices
Entertainment unions have challenged the industry to ‘change the culture’ and tackle harassment in the creative sector, with many workers saying they fear speaking out. A conference organised by the Federation of Entertainment Union’s (FEU), as part of its Creating without Conflict campaign against bullying, harassment and discrimination in the media and creative industries, featured the launch of a new FEU equalities e-course and updated guidance.
NUJ news release and full FEU conference report. BECTU news release. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Worker who spoke out about harassment vindicated
A Prospect member criticised and reduced to tears by a senior manager after going public about sexual harassment in a previous job has won a victimisation tribunal with the union’s support. An email from a senior manager criticised Lizzie Walmsley for lack of judgment in trusting journalists, the potential exposure of the Big Lottery Fund and breaches of Big Lottery Fund’s ethics and social media policies and at a follow up meeting with the same manager she was reduced to tears.
Prospect news release. The Third Sector. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Global: Landmark agreement on hotel harassment
IUF, the global union for the hospitality sector, has signed a landmark agreement with Meliá Hotels International on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. The union federation says it is the first between the IUF and an international hotel chain.
IUF news release. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Chronic stress 40 per cent higher in working mums
Biological markers for chronic stress are 40 per cent higher in women bringing up two children while working full-time, new research has found. Working from home and flexitime have no effect on their level of chronic stress – only putting in fewer hours at work helps, according to the study published in the British Sociological Association journal Sociology.
Essex University ISER news release. The Independent. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: More backing for Unite’s ‘period dignity’ campaign
A Unite campaign for ‘period dignity’ launched in the summer of 2018 has had another success. The Glasgow University Campus development which is being built by Multiplex has become the latest – and the first construction firm - to sign up to the union’s four-point plan.
Unite period dignity campaign page. Construction Enquirer. Project Scotland magazine. Risks 881. 19 January 2019.

Britain: ‘Disappointing’ government response on sexual harassment
The government’s plan to tackle sexual harassment at work falls way short by not creating a legal duty on employers to tackle the problem, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on the government’s December 2018 response to a Women and Equalities Select Committee report, which includes a new code of practice and a commitment to undertake consultations on legal protections and on additional protections for volunteers and interns.
Government Equalities Office news release. TUC news release. House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee report into sexual harassment in the workplace and government response.
TUC Know Your Rights leaflet about sexual harassment and guide for union reps. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: TUC webinar on harassment at work, 11 December 2018
Workers suffer abuse from customers and members of the public all too frequently, from harassment through to violent acts. In its latest webinar, TUC young workers policy officer Kathryn Mackridge, will present young workers’ experiences of third-party abuse and show what unions can do to tackle this problem.
‘Don’t put up or shut up’, TUC webinar on workplace harassment, starts 2pm, 11 December 2018. Free. Register. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: BECTU wants to break the menopause taboo
With more women aged over-50 in the workplace than ever before, thousands of people are finding themselves forced to juggle the impact of the menopause with career demands, while employers have failed to keep pace with workers’ needs. But the film, TV and theatre union BECTU says handled right – with empathy and understanding hand-in-hand with practical support measures – employers could hold the key to not only easing the burden, but also celebrating the positive contribution of female workers both during and after the menopause.
BECTU news release. Supporting working women through the menopause: Guidance for union representatives, 2018. The Menopause Exchange. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Global: Unions welcome Google walkout over harassment
Unions have demanded Google toughens up its act in dealing with sexual harassment claims, after the tech giant’s staff across the globe walked out on 1 November in a protest over the issue. An estimated 17,000 Google employees worldwide joined the action against a pattern of sexual harassment, gender inequality and systemic racism they say goes “all the way to the top” of the transnational company.
Unite news release. New York Times and related article. Wall Street Journal. Bloomberg News. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

USA: Miscarriages linked to lack of protection at work
Pregnancy discrimination is widespread in corporate America. But for women who work in physically demanding jobs, pregnancy discrimination often can come with even higher stakes, with women suffering miscarriages, premature labour or, in one case, a stillborn baby after their employers rejected their pleas for assistance.
New York Times. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Global: Study finds breast cancer risk in women working nights
Women who work at night, especially during pre-menopause, may be at greater risk of developing breast cancer, a new study has found. The findings, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, revealed the rates of certain breast cancers increased with the number of hours worked per night, as well as the number of years spent on the night shift - however, the risk seemed to diminish two years after going off the night shift.
University of Montreal news release. Emilie Cordina-Duverger and others. Night shift work and breast cancer: a pooled analysis of population-based case–control studies with complete work history, European Journal of Epidemiology, volume 33, issue 4, pages 369–379, 2018. doi: 10.1007/s10654-018-0368-x Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Firms must be forced to tackle sexual harassment, says MPs
Businesses, government and regulators are failing to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace, MPs have found. The parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee has published a five-point plan to deal with the problem and has called for new laws to protect workers.
Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee news release and 25 July 2018 report. TUC news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian. Huffpost. The Independent.
TUC Know Your Rights leaflet about sexual harassment and guide for union reps. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Long work hours linked to diabetes in women
Clocking up 45 or more working hours in a week is linked to a heightened risk of diabetes in women, a study has found. Research published online in the journal BMJ Diabetes Research & Care found there was no such heightened risk among women working 30 to 40 hours a week, prompting the researchers to suggest that sticking to this total might help curb the risk of the disease.
BMJ news release. Mahée Gilbert-Ouimet and others. Adverse effect of long work hours on incident diabetes in 7065 Ontario workers followed for 12 years, BMJ Diabetes Research & Care, 2018;6:e000496.doi 10.1136/bmjdrc-2017-000496. Published online 2 July 2018. Risks 857. 14 July 2018

USA: Hotel ‘hands off’ anti-harassment rules take effect
Celebrating what they called a “cultural shift” for women workers’ rights, union activists and city officials gathered on 1 July to mark Chicago’s implementation of an ordinance requiring hotels to provide panic buttons for employees to report harassment. Hotels are now required to supply portable panic buttons for workers who “clean, inventory, inspect or re-stock supplies” alone in guest rooms or restrooms, allowing them to send out alerts when they feel threatened.
Chicago Sun Times. CBS Chicago News. Hands off pants on website. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Union win, as government bans sexist dress codes
Following years of trade union campaigning against sexist dress codes in the workplace, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) has now published dress code guidance for employers and employees. Unions and safety campaigners have been at the heart of the campaign against sexist dress codes, highlighting the discriminatory and sometimes hazardous nature of the codes.
TUC blog and TUC guide to working feet and footwearDress codes and sex discrimination – what you need to know, Government Equality Office, 2018.
Standing problem, Hazards magazine, August 2005. Risks 854. 23 June 2018

Asia: Female garment workers for Gap and H&M routinely abused
Pressure to meet fast fashion deadlines is leading to women working in Asian factories supplying Gap and H&M being sexually and physically abused, according to unions and labour rights groups. More than 540 workers at factories that supply the two retailers have described incidents of threats and abuse, according to two separate reports from  Global Labour Justice on gender-based violence in Gap and H&M’s garment supply chains.
Global Labour Justice news release and Gap and H&M reports. Fashion United. The Guardian. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Global: Marriott workers demand action on sexual harassment
Union members from Marriott hotels in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the Americas came together in Geneva on 29 May to call for action to end the ‘endemic sexual harassment’ that plagues the industry. Global union IUF, the federation covering hospitality unions, said surveys around the world have indicated that a large majority of hospitality workers - up to 89 per cent in some countries - have experienced sexual harassment in the course of their working lives.
IUF news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

USA: McDonald’s workers describe rampant harassment
Cooks and cashiers at McDonald’s fast food restaurants in eight US states have filed 10 complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging they have faced sexual harassment, assault and retaliation for raising concerns at work. Complaints from the McDonald’s workers were filed with financial support from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, a $21 million charity launched in January to support low-income workers who want to report sexual harassment.
National Women’s Law Center news release. Washington Post. Bloomberg News. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

USA: Most firms still failing to address sexual harassment
Fewer than a third of working Americans (32 per cent) believe their employer has taken new measures to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. APA found that according to employees, the most common action taken was simply reminding employees of existing sexual harassment training or resources (18 per cent).
APA news release. Workplace sexual harassment: Are employers actually responding? APA, 15 May 2018. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: Union calls on MPs for action on workplace sexual harassment
A change to the law may be needed to prevent sexual harassment at work, Prospect’s Marion Scovell has told an influential committee of MPs. The union’s head of legal was one of the expert witnesses called to give evidence to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee as part of their inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace.
Prospect news release and evidence to the Women’s and Equalities Committee inquiry. House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee inquiry into sexual harassment at work and latest evidence session. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

USA: Union calls for hotel auditions to be banned
Acting auditions should no longer take place in hotel rooms or homes, the leading US actors' union has said. SAG-AFTRA, which organises the Screen Actors Guild Awards, has called for an end to the practice “to help protect members from potential harassment.”
SAG-AFTRA news release and Four Pillars of Change initiative. BBC News Online. TeenVogue. ITUC action toolkit on the campaign for an ILO standard on gender-based violence. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Harassment victims silenced by 'corrosive' work cultures
Victims of sexual harassment at work need better protection because their voices have been silenced by “corrosive” workplace cultures, a report has said. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said it had discovered “truly shocking” examples of sexual harassment.
EHRC news release and report, Turning the tables: ending sexual harassment at work. TUC news release. Unite news release. NUJ news release. Morning Star. The Independent. BBC News Online. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Royal Mail and CWU agree ‘menopause at work’ plan
A detailed guide for Royal Mail managers on ‘Supporting women at work through the menopause’ has been agreed with the postal union CWU. CWU national health, safety and environment officer Dave Joyce said the guide, which is the result of lengthy discussion between the union and the business assisted by expert professional advice, has sections covering what the menopause is, how it affects women, how it might affect work, what managers need to do and key points to consider, as well as signposting further sources of information and guidance.
CWU news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Serious concerns about abuse of parliamentary staff
Civil service union Prospect has said bullying and harassment is never acceptable in any workplace. The union was commenting after BBC Newsnight exposed widespread bullying and harassment of clerks and committee staff in the House of Commons, with some senior MPs implicated.
Prospect news release. BBC News Online. Bullying, harassment and intimidation in the House of Commons, BBC Newsnight, 8 March 2018. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Australia: Women report 'shocking' treatment at work
Less than a third of Australian working women feel they are being treated equally, and one in 10 report they have experienced sexual harassment, according to a landmark national survey. Researchers at the University of Sydney surveyed more than 2,000 women and 500 men across Australia aged between 16 and 40 for the Women and the Future of Work study into women's attitudes and experiences in the workplace.
University of Sydney news release. ABC News. Sydney Morning Herald. The Guardian. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Australia: Claim nurse’s murder not work-related is questioned
The family of Australian nurse Gayle Woodford, who was murdered while on-call in the outback, is challenging an official ruling that her death was not work-related. An ABC documentary has challenging the conclusion and says bereaved family members are “angry” and “insulted” by the decision by the South Australia safety regulator that her death was not work-related
ABC News online. Final Call, Australian Story. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: Harassment of staff rife in Scottish parliament
One fifth of Scottish parliament staff - including almost one in three women - have experienced sexual harassment or sexist behaviour while working at Holyrood. The parliament published the results of a confidential survey of MSPs and staff which received input from more than 1,000 workers.
Scottish parliament news release. BBC News Online. Risks 840. 10 March 2018

Britain: MPs launch inquiry into workplace harassment
MPs are to examine the use of non-disclosure agreements as part of an inquiry into sexual harassment in the workplace. The Women and Equalities Committee will also investigate how to protect staff and make it easier for them to report abuse are among other issues that will be examined.
Women and Equalities Committee news release. BBC News Online. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Britain: Action on harassment in parliament ‘not enough’
Unite, which represents hundreds of MPs staff, has welcomed the 8 February publication of a report into tackling the bullying and harassment in parliament. Unite national officer Siobhan Endean said: “The working group has made real progress into starting to tackle the widespread bullying and harassment of parliamentary staff,” but she added: “While the working’s group remit did not include the recognition of trade unions, it is crucial to ensuring that members can receive assistance at an early stage and issues can be quickly and properly resolved, without workers feeling their working lives are a misery and feel forced to resign.”
Statement from Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom, Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy, Hansard, 8 February 2018. Unite news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 837. 17 February 2018

Global: New violence and harassment risks in digital technology  
Workers in ‘digitised’ working environments are facing new psychosocial risks and problems with work-related violence and harassment, a study for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found. University of Leicester business professor Phoebe Moore said: “This includes the ’gig economy’, automation practices and algorithmic management, people analytics, computerisation, wearable tracking. Overall, it’s about the use of big data and quantification to make selective, predictive and prescriptive decisions related to work, workers, and the workplace.”
ILO news release and report, The threat of physical and psychosocial violence and harassment in digitalized work, ILO ACTRAV, February 2018. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Sexual harassers can’t hide behind secrecy clauses
Non-disclosure agreements must not be used to prevent sexual harassment and other workplace abuses being exposed, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has said. “Scaring workers into staying silent cannot become common practice.”
The Guardian. Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, TUC, July 2016. Protection from sexual harassment, TUC, November 2017. It’s not OK: Sexual harassment at work is more blue collar than red carpet, special report, Hazards, December 2017. Hansard, 22 January 2018. Risks 836. 10 February 2018

Britain: Union protection is ‘best antidote’ to sexual harassment
Unions play a crucial role in empowering workers to resist sexual harassment, London School of Economics (LSE) researchers have found. LSE professors Sarah Ashwin and Naila Kabeer found organisations working in partnership with local trade unions or worker representatives are more likely to succeed in addressing sexual harassment and violence.
LSE blog. Tufts Labor website. Risks 836. 10 February 2018


USA: Las Vegas hotel housekeepers press for panic buttons
The union representing tens of thousands of hotel workers in Las Vegas is to ask casino-resort operators to give every housekeeper a “panic button” as it begins negotiating new contracts amid the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct. Leaders of the Culinary Union will bring the request to the bargaining table this month, on behalf of the more than 14,000 housekeepers who work on the Las Vegas Strip and the destination’s downtown area.
Culinary Workers Union Local 226. National Post.
Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, TUC, July 2016. Protection from sexual harassment, TUC, November 2017. It’s not OK: Sexual harassment at work is more blue collar than red carpet, special report, Hazards, December 2017. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Sexual harassment is rife in hospitality, survey shows
Nine out of 10 hospitality workers have experienced sexual harassment at work, according to the preliminary finding of a new survey by Unite. The initial findings of the union’s #NotOnTheMenu survey reveal that of those respondents who had experienced sexual harassment, 56.3 per cent said that they had been targeted by a member of the public and 22.7 per cent said that they had been harassed by a manager.
Unite news release and #NotOnTheMenu survey. Financial Times. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Presidents Club exposes need for sexual harassment laws
The abuse of women hospitality workers at a glitzy men-only London charity dinner shows the need for stronger laws to protect workers from sexual harassment, unions Unite and Prospet have said. They were speaking out after the Presidents Club, which counted billionaires, celebrities and politicians among its high-society patrons, was forced to close down after an undercover journalist for the Financial Times reported how hostesses recruited by an agency were routinely groped and sexually harassed at the charity’s fundraising event.
Unite news release. Prospect blog. Financial Times. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Sexual harassment widespread in theatre industry
Almost a third of theatre professionals in the UK have been sexually harassed at work, according to a survey. The Stage magazine asked over 1,000 people working in the industry for their experiences, with 31 per cent saying they had suffered sexual harassment.
BECTU news release. The Stage. BBC News Online. Risks 835. 3 February 2018

Britain: Dog handler fitness test was discriminatory
Female police officer Kim-Louise Carter, 31, who completed successfully a gruelling three-and-a-half-hour assault course but who failed the dog handler test because she could not then carry her animal 100 metres has been awarded nearly £15,000 compensation for sexual discrimination. The panel of judges at an employment tribunal in Worle, near Weston-super-Mare, found candidates were unfairly punished and automatically failed the test if they could not complete the “dog carry”, even though a pass mark of 70 per cent should have been applied across the test.
Somerset Live. The Sun. Daily Mail. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Global: Half of women journalists suffer violence at work
Almost one in two women journalists have suffered sexual harassment, psychological abuse, online trolling and others forms of gender-based violence (GBV) while working. Overall, 85 per cent say no or inadequate action has been taken against perpetrators and most workplaces do not even have a written policy to counter such abuses or provide a mechanism for reporting them.
IFJ news release. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Global: Sexual harassment at work is a chronic health problem
Workers who are subject to sexual harassment at work suffer more sickness and are at risk of a wide range of serious health problems as a consequence, a new report has said. ‘It’s not OK’, a special report from Hazards magazine, notes: “Sexual harassment is an everyday fact of working life for many women, too ordinary to interest the media and too scared or concerned for their jobs to cry for help.”
It’s not OK: Sexual harassment at work is more blue collar than red carpet, special report, Hazards, December 2017. Risks 830. 16 December 2017

Britain: Insecure workers face more sexual harassment
Two fifths of women and a fifth of men in the UK say they have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour at work, an in-depth poll for the BBC has found. The ComRes Sexual Behaviour Survey for BBC News also fond that in those in flexible work - including zero hours contracts, self-employed, freelancer and gig economy workers – 43 per cent had experienced some form of sexual harassment at work, compared to 29 per cent of those with permanent jobs.
BBC News Online. ComRes Sexual Behaviour Survey. Personnel Today. Risks 830. 16 December 2017

Britain: Warning on sexual harassment at Xmas parties
Employers should be extra vigilant during the office Christmas party season, when sexual harassment can be a particular problem, the TUC has said.  Polling for the TUC discovered 1 in 7 victims of sexual harassment said it took place at a work social event.
TUC news release and resources: Protection from sexual harassment, TUC, November 2017.  Tackling sexual harassment in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, TUC, July 2016.  Still just a bit of banter?, TUC, August 2016. Risks 830. 16 December 2017

Global: Unions call for strong rules on violence at work
Trade unions have reiterated their call for a stron g International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention to tackle gender-based violence at work. Next year’s ILO Conference in June will discuss the development of international labour standards on violence against women and men at work.
ITUC news release and portal on gender-based violence. ETUC news release and Safe at Home, Safe at Work project. Risks 828. 2 December 2017

Britain: Post-Weinstein firms need a 'respect at work' clause
Employers in film and TV production should introduce a ‘respect at work’ clause into all contracts to promote workplaces free from bullying and harassment, the union BECTU has said.  The proposal is set out in a letter to several key industry bodies and highlights the problems freelancers face when they experience bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment.
BECTU news release and blog, It's not ok - and you don't have to put up with it. Risks 828. 2 December 2017

Britain: Union protection needed against parliamentary bullying
A confidential Unite survey of members employed by MPs and Lords has revealed a ‘toxic’ working environment, with many staff suffering stress and bullying. The survey undertaken by Unite’s parliamentary and constituency branch found that almost a fifth (19 per cent) of respondents had suffered bullying by either their MP or a line manager.
Unite news release and petition calling for trade union recognition of parliamentary and constituency staffRisks 828. 2 December 2017

USA: Unions challenge ‘rampant’ worker abuse
The headline-grabbing sexual harassment cases in politics, the media and entertainment are just a small indication of the ‘rampant’ abuse of workers, with low paid workers frequently the hidden victims. Chicago hotel workers this month celebrated a new ‘Hands Off Pants On’ ordinance it says will protect them from harassment.
Unite Here Local 1 news release. Slate. CBS Chicago News. ‘Hands Off Pants On’ ordinance.
Economic Hardship Reporting Project. In These Times 27 May 2011 article on the Dominique Strauss Kahn case. Risks 827. 25 November 2017

Britain: ‘No confidence’ in parliament’s harassment working group
Unite’s parliamentary branch has expressed ‘deep concern’ over the lack of staff ‘voice’ in a working group proposed by the leader of the House of Commons to tackle harassment, bullying and abuses of power in parliament and the constituencies. Replying to a letter dated 9 November from MP Andrea Leadsom that outlined the process and composition of the working group, the branch warned that the make-up of group, comprising 10 parliamentarians and two staff representatives, would lead to staff having ‘no confidence’ in the group’s results.
Unite news release. Morning Star.
Unite petition calling for union recognition for parliamentary staff. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Equity seeks solutions to sexual harassment crisis
Performers’ union Equity is launching an investigation into practical ways to combat sexual harassment and the fear of disclosure in the theatre, film, TV, audio and new media industries. The union, which has existing agreements with all the major employers in the industry, says it is uniquely placed to create meaningful change.
Equity news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: Stamp out abuse in the media industry
Journalists’ union NUJ has said it is crucial that the workplace cultures that allow predatory behaviour and sexual harassment to flourish are dismantled. Michelle Stanistreet, the union’s general secretary, said: “Such abuse of power needs to be stamped out.” In a statement, she added: “Newspaper and broadcasting organisations have a duty of care for their employees and people who work for them and it’s time they took that seriously.”
NUJ statement. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: 'Half of women' sexually harassed at work
Half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed at work or a place of study, a BBC survey has found. The ComRes poll for Radio 5 live surveyed 2,031 British adults and found that 37 per cent of all those asked – 53 per cent of women and 20 per cent of men - said they had experienced sexual harassment, ranging from inappropriate comments to actual sexual assaults, at work or a place of study.
BBC News Online. Yorkshire Evening Post. Evening Standard. Huffington Post. Pump Handle. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: Musicians get support against abuse at work
In the wake of a slew of reports from women working in arts, culture, media and entertainment about sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse in the workplace, the Musicians’ Union has stressed it is there to provide support. The union said thousands of workers in the industry have shared their stories across social media using hashtags including #metoo and #himthough.  
MU news release. Risks 823. 28 October 2017

Britain: Equity challenges casting couch culture
Allegations of sexual harassment and serious sexual assaults against film mogul Harvey Weinstein have exposed the unacceptable pressures women frequently face in the entertainment industry, UK actors’ union Equity has said. The union is promoting its recently launched Manifesto for Casting, “to inform the entertainment industry of the standards it demands of all those engaged in the casting and employment process.”
Equity news release. BBC News Online. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Let’s celebrate women safety reps
The TUC wants to hear from women safety reps, past and present, about their safety successes at work. He said make sure you include the name of the union, the employer, what was done and what was achieved, together with the who, why, where and when of how it happened.
You can send your case histories to Hugh by email or via an online form. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Spain: Airline Iberia to drop pregnancy test requirement
The Spanish airline Iberia has said it will stop requiring female job candidates to take a pregnancy test after being fined for the practice. The International Airlines Group-owned firm had been discovered by labour inspectors to be requiring the test in the Balearic Islands, and was fined €25,000 (£22,000).
New York Times. BBC News Online. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Global: Sodexo signs up to sexual harassment prevention
Global food union federation IUF has signed an international agreement with catering and services multinational Sodexo on measures to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace. The IUF-Sodexo Joint Commitment, which IUF says is based on a ‘shared recognition’ that sexual harassment is a human rights violation and that women working in the services are exposed to high levels of risk, sets out a policy and procedures for ensuring zero tolerance.
IUF news release and IUF/Sodexo sexual harassment agreement. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Britain: Women are invisible to the safety watchdog
An official failure to acknowledge the serious risks faced by women at work means there is little pressure for preventive action, a new report has warned. ‘Women’s work?’ says while many jobs dominated by women can be more physically and emotionally arduous than traditionally male jobs, a serious emphasis on addressing these risks is missing because of the relatively low occupational fatality rate in women, whereas women are more at risk of stress and strain injuries.
Women’s work? Ignore occupational risks to women and you hurt us all, Hazards, number 138, 2017. Gender in occupational health and safety, TUC guide including safety reps’ action checklist, 2017. Risks 808. 15 July 2017

Australia: Nine out of 10 hospitality workers sexually harassed
A union poll of hospitality workers in Australia has revealed that almost 9 out of 10 (89 per cent) report being sexually harassed at work, with almost one in five (19 per cent) reporting sexual assaults. United Voice found only one-third of the over 300 workers who took part in the online survey believed their employer took sexual harassment at the workplace seriously, with nearly half believing they did not.
IUF news release. United Voice news release. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Few women get protective clothing designed for women
Only 3 in 10 women are given protective clothing specifically designed for women at work, according to a new TUC report. Despite a legal duty on bosses to provide the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) to their staff free of charge, less than a third (29 per cent) told the TUC that the PPE they wear for their jobs is specially designed for women.
TUC news release and full report. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: Let workers challenge discriminatory dress codes
Workers must be given the power to challenge sexist dress codes at work, the TUC has said. The union was responding to an announcement by the government that it intended to issue new guidance to improve compliance with laws that ban discriminatory workplace dress codes.
TUC news release. Government response to the parliamentary petitions committee report. BBC News Online. Globe and Mail. Risks 797. 29 April 2017

Britain: TUC initiative to keep men and women safe at work
Trade union safety reps are being advised to take differences between men and women into account when identifying health and safety concerns at work. A new TUC guide for trade union representatives, ‘Gender in occupational health and safety’, says that historically the health and safety needs of men in the workplace have been prioritised over women.
TUC news release and guidance, Gender in occupational health and safety, April 2017.
TUC webpages for Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2017. ITUC International Workers’ Memorial Day website. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Global: We are all sickened by inequality at work
Whether it is a gaping gulf in pay, job insecurity or job discrimination based on your class, gender or race, a divided workplace is bad for your health, a top union official has warned. In a commentary ahead of International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April, Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the global union body ITUC, said who lives and who dies at work is not an accident of chance.
Face it. We are all sickened by inequality at work, editorial by ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow, Hazards online, April 2017.
Unsafe and unfair – discrimination on the job hurts us all, ITUC briefing for International Workers’ Memorial Day, 28 April 2017.
TUC Workers’ Memorial Day 2017 events listing. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Unions join forces to fight abuse at work
Collective bargaining from trade unions can play a key role in tackling violence against women, campaigners have said, but they add the government must also take action. Delegates at the TUC women’s conference heard how Britain has some of the highest levels of workplace violence against women in Europe.
Speech by TUC head Frances O’Grady to the TUC women’s conference. Morning Star. TUC guide to reporting workplace violence. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: MPs 'shocked' by women's dress code stories
An inquiry into work dress codes has exposed “widespread discrimination” against women, MPs have said. The investigation was prompted by a petition, being debated by MPs, that called for a ban on requiring women to wear high heels at work.
House of Commons debate on Workplace Dress Codes (High Heels), 6 March 2017 – watch the debate, read the transcript and see the petition. BBC News Online. ITV News. Morning Star. Risks 791. 11 March 2017

Britain: Heavy work and shifts make it harder to get pregnant
Being employed as a shift worker or in a physically demanding job could make it harder for a woman to get pregnant, a new study has concluded. Scientists found working outside of normal office hours or having a strenuous job may lower a woman’s chances of conceiving via IVF.
Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, Irene Souter, Paige L Williams and others. Occupational factors and markers of ovarian reserve and response among women at a fertility centre, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published Online First, 6 February 2017. London Evening Standard. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: Asbestos on husband’s overalls led to wife’s deadly cancer
A retired chef died as a result of an ‘industrial disease’ caused by exposure to asbestos on her mechanic husband’s work clothes, an inquest has concluded. Jill Moore of Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire died of the asbestos cancer mesothelioma aged 71 on 11 November 2016.
East Anglian Daily Times. Newmarket Journal. The Mirror. Risks 788. 18 February 2017

Britain: Pregnancy discrimination plans don’t go far enough
Government plans to address discrimination against pregnant women at work don’t go far enough, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy response to an August 2016 report from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee on pregnancy and maternity discrimination in the workplace… TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said it was “pretty scandalous” that the government had rejected the committee’s call for an improved role for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “in ensuring compliance and research into how to encourage greater enforcement.”
TUC news release. TUC Stronger Unions blog. Department for Business news release. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: Bosses need to sharpen up on work dress
Too many employers are ‘stuck in the past’ on workplace dress codes, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting after a report on high heels and workplace dress codes was published this week by two committees of MPs, which said the government must enforce the law properly to ban sexist dress rules at work that discriminate against women.
Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committee news release and High Heels and Workplace Dress Codes – summary, conclusions and recommendations and full report, 25 January 2017. TUC news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Global: Addressing occupational violence affecting women
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has published a report putting a ‘gender lens’ on the issue of violence prevention in the workplace. The report summary says it “reviews the international literature and a selection of regulatory instruments with respect to occupational violence - work-related violence involving incidents in which a person is physically, psychologically or sexually assaulted, threatened, harassed, bullied or mobbed in circumstances relating to their work.”
Addressing occupational violence: An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens, ILO, November 2016. Risks 779. 3 December 2016

Global: Ending violence against women at work
Unions are putting the issue of violence against women at work high on their safety agenda. IndustriALL assistant general secretary Jenny Holdcroft said: “More trade unions need to adopt strong policies against violence in the workplace, which can be used to educate all their members about what is and what is not acceptable treatment of women.”
IndustriALL news release. ITUC statement and campaign for an ILO Convention to stop gender-based violence at workITUC gender-based violence at work campaign webpage and campaign guide. Risks 779. 3 December 2016

Britain: Why are preventable breast cancer risks ignored?
Breast Cancer Awareness Month has provided a welcome focus on a condition that has risen sharply over the last 40 years, but campaigners are concerned the government and breast cancer charities are resolutely ignoring the host of preventable occupational and environmental causes of the condition. To address this, campaign group From Pink to Prevention has produced a new ‘toolkit’ with an interactive webpage, posters and an action guide.
Alliance for Cancer Prevention news release. From Pink to Prevention news release and toolkit. Get your MP to sign Early Day Motion 588, Breast cancer and environmental and occupational toxicants. Risks 774. 29 October 2016

Britain: Safety warning on ill-fitting protective kit at sea
Ill-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE) is putting seafarers’ health and safety at risk, the union Nautilus has warned. Nautilus council member Jessica Tyson, addressing the union’s UK conference, moved a motion warning that a lot of PPE is manufactured to traditional specifications — often meaning it is not suitable for the increasing number of female seafarers - but she stressed the issue affects all seafarers.
Nautilus news release. Risks 772. 15 October 2016

Britain: Union breastfeeding victory for working women
A landmark employment tribunal victory for two easyJet cabin crew will have wide implications for working women wishing to continue breastfeeding after their maternity leave ends, Unite has said. The union argued successfully that the budget airline had neglected health and safety procedures, despite claiming it was acting on safety grounds.
Unite news release. Risks 772. 15 October 2016

Global: Campaign against gender-based violence at work
Global trade union confederation ITUC is warning that gender-based violence is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. The union body is calling for a new global standard on prevention,  noting: “Trade unions are taking action to end gender-based violence at work and are campaigning for a new international labour Convention to tackle the various forms of gender-based violence that occur in the world of work,” through the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
ITUC gender-based violence at work campaign webpage. Join the campaign! Risks 771. 8 October 2016

Britain: Migrant domestic workers need more protection
Urgent changes are needed to the UK visa system to protect migrant workers from being used as domestic slaves, a union-affiliated campaign group has warned. Justice 4 Domestic Workers is calling for a better deal for foreign workers, who are employed mainly as nannies or maids in private homes.
BBC News Online. BBC1 Inside Out. Justice for Domestic Workers UK. Risks 771. 8 October 2016

Britain: Unions make a stand against sexist dress codes
‘Ridiculous’ dress codes imposed by some employers are both sexist and bad for women’s health, unions have warned. A motion from the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (SCP) noted the issue of sexist dress codes had been a long-time concern to unions, with a requirement to wear high heels a particular bugbear.
TUC news release and report Working feet and footwear. SCP news release and motion 80 to the TUC conference. Risks 768. 17 September 2016.

Britain: Unions call for action to stop sexual harassment at work
Sexual harassment at work is a major under-reported problem in Britain’s workplaces, the TUC’s annual conference has heard. Delegates agreed unanimously an emergency motion calling for measures to stamp out sexual harassment at work after hearing two-thirds of young women had been directly affected.
Prospect news release. Usdaw news release. TUC guide to your rights on sexual harassment, union reps’ guide to addressing sexual harassment and report, Still just a bit of banter?  Everyday Sexism Project and ‘shouting back’ platform. Risks 768. 17 September 2016.

Britain: MPs call for more protection for pregnant women
A committee of MPs has called for UK women to have far greater legal protection at work after a 'shocking' increase in workplace pregnancy discrimination over the past decade. Measures proposed by the Women and Equalities Committee include a system of individual risk assessments to be introduced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) by the end of the year and a straightforward mechanism to ‘compel’ employers to remedy any work-related health risks to the pregnant woman, the pregnancy or the baby.
House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee news release and report. TUC news release. BBC News Online. Risks 766. 3 September 2016.

Sri Lanka: Garment workers pay high price for cheap clothes
Garment workers toiling behind the electrified fences of Sri Lanka’s free trade zones are paying a high price for making the cheap clothes sold on the UK high street. UK-based charity War on Want investigated conditions in the factories, said “despite the rhetoric from local and foreign clothing brands on their commitment to workers’ rights, the stark reality for women like Disna remains long hours, poverty pay and scant regard for safety.”
War on Want news release and Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign. Risks 764. 20 August 2016

Britain: Sexual harassment is widespread and damaging at work
More than half (52 per cent) of women - and nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of women aged 18-24 years old - report experiencing sexual harassment at work, according to a TUC-backed research. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Let’s be clear – sexual harassment is undermining, humiliating and can have a huge effect on mental health.”
TUC news release, guide to your rights on sexual harassment, union reps’ guide to addressing sexual harassment and report, Still just a bit of banter?
Everyday Sexism Project and ‘shouting back’ platform. Risks 764. 20 August 2016

Britain: It’s all about the dress – and whether it’s safe
The TUC is investigating gender-related problems associated with workplace dress codes and personal protective equipment (PPE). The TUC probe comes after reports of blatant sexism related to work clothing, including stipulations to wear high heels or lose your pay and the provision of ill-fitting, unsuitable PPE for women workers.
Women, dress codes and personal protective equipment – email case studies to the TUC health and safety department by 9 September. Risks 764. 20 August 2016

Britain: STUC women’s health and safety toolkit
The STUC says working women’s health and safety at work is a ‘major priority’ for its women’s committee, and is behind its decision to produce a tailored health and safety toolkit. The Scottish union body said its new women’s health and safety toolkit, which includes a series of checklists and detailed information on a wide-range of topics, was produced with the help of its affiliates.
STUC Women’s health and safety toolkit. Risks 762. 6 August 2016

USA: New York nail salon workers win protection
All nail salons in New York State will be required to have ventilation systems to protect manicurists and others from the potentially dangerous health effects of chemicals used in nail products, the state’s governor has announced. The new rule is among the most sweeping changes in the state’s initiative, more than a year long, to make the industry safer and more equitable for workers, many of whom say they suffer ill-health effects as a result of their jobs.
Governor Andrew M Cuomo news release. NY Healthy Nail Salons Coalition news release. New York Times. Risks 761. 30 July 2016

Britain: Women report protective equipment is a bad fit
Women are being forced to use ill-fitting personal protective equipment at work causing discomfort and putting their safety at risk, according to a Prospect survey. Just 29 per cent of the women who took part in the union study reported that the PPE they wear at work was designed for women.
Prospect news release. TUC Touchstone blog. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: MPs to investigate high heels at work
A call for it to be made illegal for a company to compel women to wear high heels at work is to be investigated by MPs. Over 140,000 people signed a petition to the government calling for the move after temp worker Nicola Thorp, 27, was sent home without pay after refusing to change into high heels.
High heels forum. Petition - Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work. On twitter: #heelsatworkinquiry Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: Dressing down for high heels required firm
A firm’s decision to send home a London receptionist after she refused to wear high heels has attracted widespread criticism. TUC women’s equality officer, Scarlet Harris, commented: “From a health and safety perspective, heels are bad for feet, joints and back,” adding: “The TUC even has an excellent guide on footwear at work which states unequivocally that dress codes which require women to wear heels are sexist – it’s not often you find a health and safety guide for reps calling out sexism.”
TUC Touchstone blog. Working feet and footwear, TUC guide. More on the hazards of standing at work. Background: Linder M and Salzman CL. A history of medical scientists and high heels, International Journal of Health Services, volume 28, number 2, pages 201-225, 1998. BBC News Online and BBC News Magazine.
Sign the petition: Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Women and protective equipment - one size doesn’t fit all
Specialists’ union Prospect and TUC are among the organisations behind a new initiative to discover issues arising from provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to women at work. “We are keen to learn whether the provision of PPE for women has improved in recent years; to identify good practice and to highlight any continuing areas of concern,” they say.
Women’s PPE survey: Does one size fit all? The closing date is 3 June. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Have you experienced sexual harassment at work?
Recent TUC polling indicates that sexual harassment is still rife in many workplaces. As part of its project on sexual harassment in the workplace, the TUC would now like to hear about your experiences of sexual harassment. It has prepared a short online survey where you can describe your experience. The information you share will be treated in confidence and the survey can be completed anonymously.
TUC news alert. Take the survey now. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Action call on pregnancy discrimination ‘disgrace’
The TUC has demanded immediate government action after a report revealed over threequarters of working mothers had experienced pregnancy discrimination. The union body’s call came in response to a report published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which also revealed “4 per cent of mothers reported they left their job as a result of health and safety risks which were not resolved; if scaled up to the general population this could affect 21,000 mothers a year.”
EHRC news release. TUC news releaseRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Don’t treat women like skivers, period
The decision by a Bristol company to implement a ‘period policy’, including the option for women to take time off has been met with a note of caution from the TUC. TUC women’s equality officer Scarlet Harris said: “Instead of menstrual leave policies, how about employers and government stop perpetuating the myth that workers on sick leave are workshy skivers?”
TUC Touchstone blog. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 742. 12 March 2016

Global: Unilever and unions in harassment agreement
Global soaps-to-snacks manufacturer Unilever has joined IndustriALL and IUF, the international trade unions representing the company’s union workforce, in a joint commitment to prevent sexual harassment in its workplaces worldwide.
IUF and IndustriALL news releases and joint statement. Risks 737. 6 February 2016

Global: Survey identifies issues facing women seafarers
Seafarers’ union Nautilus is to seek better tailored guidance and action to address health problems faced by women seafarers. The union’s commitment follows the publication of the findings of a large scale international survey of the health concerns of women working at sea that found the problems encountered mirror those of their male counterparts, with back and joint pain, and stress being the most commonly reported health concerns.
Nautilus news release. Nautilus Telegraph. Risks 719. 12 September 2015

Europe: Work risks to women go ignored
Risks to women at work are under-estimated, under-researched and women continue to suffer as a result. This was a conclusion of a conference on women’s health and work, organised by the European trade union research body ETUI from 4 to 6 March in Brussels.
ETUI news report and video presentations. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.

Britain: The menopause is a workplace health issue
The menopause is an overlooked workplace health and safety issue, teaching union NUT has said. ‘Working through the menopause’ notes it is “important to recognise that the menopause is an occupational health issue for women teachers, as well as being an equality issue.” 
NUT news release and Working through the menopause: Guidance for members in England and Wales.
Supporting women through the menopause: A TUC guide for union representatives. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.

Britain: Employers stuck in a pregnancy ‘time warp’
The attitude of many employers to the protection of pregnant women at work is decades behind the times, a new report from the TUC has concluded. The union body says despite 40 years of protective legislation, the sacking, bullying and sidelining of expectant mothers remains commonplace.
TUC news release and full report, The Pregnancy Test: Ending discrimination at work for new mothersRisks 6836 December 2014

USA: Walmart told to ‘Respect the Bump’
Courageous current and former Walmart workers are calling on the mega retailer to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. The ‘Respect the Bump’ campaigners want improvements including lighter duties where medically necessary and being able to drink water or sit down while at work.
AFL-CIO Now blogBlack Friday protestsRespect the BumpRisks 68229 November 2014

Britain: Affected by pregnancy discrimination?
As part of a wider project on discrimination against pregnant women and women on maternity leave, the TUC is keen to hear from women who have been treated unfavourably while pregnant, on maternity leave, or on return to work. A TUC survey, which is entirely anonymous, covers employment and health and safety issues including if you were “made to do work that was difficult or hazardous because of your pregnancy”.  
TUC briefing and online surveyRisks 65417 May 2014

USA: Walmart cagey on pregnant workers concessions
Walmart has improved its workplace pregnancy policies – but is saying the move has nothing to do a series of legal challenges. OUR Walmart, the union-backed group pressing for better working conditions at the US multinational, and a number of legal groups take a different view.
Washington PostBusinessweekOrganisation United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) facebook pageUFCW blogRisks 65012 April 2014

Norway: Landmark win on mercury at work
Health workers exposed to mercury were harmed and should be compensated, Norway’s top court has ruled. Former dental nurse Bertha Regine Serigstad took the union-backed case against her government employer all the way to Norway’s Supreme Court.
PSI news reportRisks 63818 January 2013

Britain: Call for ‘zero tolerance’ of sexual harassment
Employers must adopt a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment, the TUC has said. The union body was speaking out after research published by employment law firm Slater & Gordon found that six in ten working women have had a male colleague behave ‘inappropriately’ towards them.
TUC news releaseSlater & Gordon news releaseRisks 62826 October 2013

Germany: Workplace health ‘gender gap’ exposed
A ‘gender gap’ in health and safety at work has been identified in Germany. The initial analysis of a 2012 survey found women more often than men suffer a wide range of work-related complaints. The survey was conducted by the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB) in cooperation with the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA).
ETUI news reportTUC women and health and safety webpagesRisks 6292 November 2013

USA: Chemical exposure at work poses worst pregnancy risk
The evidence that exposure to chemicals in pregnancy leads to adverse reproductive and developmental health outcomes is “sufficiently robust,” medical experts have warned, with the risks highest for those exposed at work. A report from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) urges doctors to push for stricter policies to better identify and reduce exposure to chemicals that prove truly risky.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists committee opinion, number 575, October 2013 • Risks 62428 September 2013

Britain: Top pregnancy docs say safety first with chemicals
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has concluded pregnant women may want to “play it safe” and avoid chemicals found in many common industrial and household products. RCOG says its paper on the issue is informing women and filling a void - until now, there has been no official advice for pregnant and breastfeeding women to turn to.
RCOG news release and full report, Chemical exposures during pregnancy: Dealing with potential, but unproven, risks to child health, RCOG, June 2013. BBC News OnlineRisks 6088 June 2013

Britain: Night shift linked to ovarian cancer
Working night shifts may increase the risk of ovarian cancer, research suggests. A study of more than 3,000 women found that working nights increased the risk of early-stage cancer by 49 per cent compared with doing normal office hours.
Parveen Bhatti and others. Nightshift work and risk of ovarian cancer, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 50, pages 231-237, 2013 [abstract] • BBC News OnlineRisks 59823 March 2013

Global: ‘Toxic soup’ of chemicals causes breast cancer
Working in a “toxic soup” of chemicals can double a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, new research suggests. High risk jobs include those in agriculture, plastics, food packaging, metal manufacture and the bar and gambling industry, according to the University of Stirling study.
Brophy JT, Keith MM, Watterson A and others. Breast cancer risk in relation to occupations with exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors: a Canadian case-control study, Environmental Health, 11:87, 19 November 2012. Stirling University news releaseCenter for Public Integrity articleBBC News OnlineHuffington PostFox NewsDaily MailManufacturing WeeklyRisks 58324 November 2012

Britain: Women’s health and safety is neglected
Health and safety issues affecting women are either ignored, under-researched or unrecognised, problems that must be addressed by unions, Unite has said. According to the union, which has just published online its negotiators’ guide to raising the issue: “Working women’s health and safety at work is a major priority for Unite.”
Women’s health, safety and well-being at work: Negotiators’ guideRisks 5766 October 2012

Britain: Women’s work gets more insecure
Falling numbers of women in full-time work and a rise in their self-employment and involuntary part-time and temporary employment has left women increasingly insecure at work, a TUC economic report reveals. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Replacing full-time jobs with low-paid, insecure work will drive down wages and keep this country mired in recession.”
TUC news release and Economic report: Women and workHazards insecure work webpagesRisks 57422 September 2012

Global: Work can be damaging in late pregnancy
Working after eight months of pregnancy could be bad for your baby, according to a new study. Women who worked after they were eight months pregnant had babies on average around 230g (0.5lb) lighter than those who stopped work between six and eight months according to the study, published in the July edition of the Journal of Labor Economics.
Emilia Del Bono, John Ermisch, and Marco Francesconi. Intrafamily resource allocations: A dynamic structural model of birth weight, Vol. 30, No. 3, pages 657-706, July 2012 • Medical DailyCBC NewsThe GuardianScottish Daily RecordMarie ClaireRisks 567 4 August 2012

Global: Standing at work is bad for a pregnancy
Standing for long periods at work while pregnant may curb the growth of the developing fetus, new research indicates. Dutch researchers, who published their findings online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found women who spent long periods on their feet during their pregnancy, in jobs such as sales, childcare, and teaching, had babies whose heads were an average of 1 cm (3 per cent) smaller than average at birth, implying a slower growth rate, and those who worked more than 40 hours a week had smaller babies than those who worked under 25 hours a week.
Claudia A Snijder, Teus Brand, Vincent Jaddoe, Albert Hofman, Johan P Mackenbach, Eric AP Steegers and Alex Burdorf. Physically demanding work, fetal growth and the risk of adverse birth outcomes. The Generation R Study, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 27 June 2012, Online First doi 10.1136/oemed-2011-100615. TUC working feet and footwear guide [pdf] • More on the occupational hazards of standingRisks 56230 June 2012

Britain: Why the media must protect its staff
Media organisations must ensure women journalists are safe in their work, unions have said. A motion from the journalists’ union NUJ was passed unanimously last week at the TUC women’s conference.
NUJ news release TUC Women’s conference 2012Risks 54824 March 2012

Global: Women journalists in danger zones
The challenges faced by women journalists working in conflict and danger zones around the world have been highlighted in a new book. The International News Safety Institute’s (INSI) 'No Woman's Land: On the Frontlines with Female Reporters' describes the risks, challenges and the emotional and physical impact of danger on newswomen around the globe.
INSI news release and video of the related panel debateRisks 54717 March 2012

Britain: Women worried about work journey
One in seven women has safety concerns about the journey to and from work, a survey by the retail union Usdaw has found. 'What's happening on your journey to work?', the report of Usdaw’s survey, says the union found women members are also twice as likely as men to feel unsafe on their journeys to and from work.
Usdaw news release, campaign materials and full What's happening on your journey to work? report • Risks 54717 March 2012

Britain: Women still treated unfairly on site
Half of women working on building sites believe they are treated unfairly at work because of their gender, a survey by the construction union UCATT has found. However, safety was one area where conditions for women construction workers appeared to be improving, the survey found. More than 7 in 10 respondents (71 per cent) reported that sufficient attention is given to health safety and welfare facilities.
UCATT news releaseRisks 54717 March 2012

USA: Miscarriages in nurses linked to work exposures
Nurses who worked with chemotherapy drugs or sterilising chemicals were twice as likely to have a miscarriage as their colleagues who didn't handle these materials, a US study has found. Nurses who gave patients x-rays had a slightly elevated risk of miscarriage too, about 30 per cent higher than nurses who didn't work with x-rays; and nurses who handled sterilising agents, such as ethylene oxide or formaldehyde, more than an hour a day also had a doubled risk of miscarriage, but only during the second trimester. Christina C Lawson and others. Occupational exposures among nurses and risk of spontaneous abortion, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, published online ahead of print, 30 December 2011 • MedlinePlus •  Mother Nature NetworkRisks 54028 January 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

USA: Union protection against sex assaults
A hotel worker who spoke out after an alleged serious sexual assault by former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn  may have been able to do so because she was protected by union membership. The 32-year-old housekeeper, originally from Guinea, was employed at New York’s Sofitel Hotel, where staff are represented by the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council.
New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council editorialIn These TimesAlternetIPS NewsNew York TimesRisks 5084 June 2011

Britain: BA stops pay of pregnant cabin crew
British Airways (BA) is throwing safety and equality law out the window by denying pay to some pregnant cabin crew who can no longer perform their normal duties, the union Unite has indicated. The union says cabin crew members who are pregnant and live too far from Heathrow or Gatwick to travel there to perform ground duties, “will now be forced to take unpaid leave by the airline.” 
Unite news releaseRisks 49819 March 2011

Britain: Call for firms to support menopausal women
The menopause is an important occupational health issue, the TUC has said, and is calling on employers to provide more support at work. The union body has published new guidance on how employers and union reps can work together to support women through the menopause at work.
TUC news release and Supporting women through the menopause report [pdf] • BOHRF report [pdf] and guide for managers [pdf] • Personnel TodayRisks 49712 March 2011 

USA: Firefighter wins breast cancer payout
A Las Vegas firefighter has been told by the Nevada Supreme Court she is entitled to workers' compensation benefits under the presumption that she developed breast cancer through exposure to carcinogens at work.
City of Las Vegas v Robin Lawson, Nevada Supreme Court [pdf] • Courthouse News ServiceAllgov.comRisks 48915 January 2011

Britain: Women and health and safety seminar, 3 February
A TUC seminar on the topic of ‘women and health and safety’ will take place at its London HQ on Thursday 3 February 2011. The half day event is aimed at union officers and workplace reps with responsibility for health and safety, equality and women’s rights in the workplace, or any union researchers or officers with an interest in gender and occupational health.
Women and health and safety seminar, TUC, Congress House, 3 February 2011. To express an interest in attending or to get further details, email TUCRisks 48915 January 2011

Britain: RAF flew in the face of pregnancy law
The Royal Air Force (RAF) ignored its risk assessment duties and created an “offensive environment” for an officer who was denied the right to stay in her job when she became pregnant.  A tribunal found she had faced discrimination and its recommendations included calling on the Ministry of Defence to carry out an individual risk assessment for each pregnant woman and to consider adjusting her role to enable her to remain in her post.
EHRC news releaseLeigh Day and Co news releaseRisks 46012 June 2010

Britain: Young women 'face work stress risk'
Stress at work can greatly raise the risk of heart disease for women under 50, a study of more than 12,000 nurses suggests. The study, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, concludes work pressure has a greater effect on young women than those in their 50s and 60s.
Yrsa Andersen Hundrup and others. Psychosocial work environment and risk of ischaemic heart disease in women: the Danish Nurse Cohort Study, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 67, pages 318-322, 2010 [pdf] • BBC News OnlineRisks 4458 May 2010

Britain: Breast cancer link to shiftwork confirmed
Nearly 2,000 women contract breast cancer every year in the UK because they work night shifts, according to a new report. The figure, published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), is based on 2005 data and attributes 1,969 new cases of breast cancer and 555 deaths from the disease that year to shiftwork.
The HeraldThe burden of occupational cancer in Great Britain, research report 800, HSE, 2010 [pdf] • While you were sleeping, Hazards magazine, number 106, Summer 2000 • Risks 4458 May 2010

USA: Jobs not gender cause work’s pain
A study of workers at 50 hotels in the United States has found that women are 50 per cent more likely to be injured than men, and that Hispanic women have an injury rate two-thirds higher than their white female counterparts. The study, which will be published in January 2010 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, said the injury rate was higher for female hotel employees because they worked disproportionately as housekeepers, which is the hotel job most likely to lead to injury.
APHA abstract • New York Times • Risks 432 •  14 November 2009

Britain: Trip led to back problems for pregnant mum
A pregnant civil servant who tripped at work and damaged her back has received £9,000 in compensation. PCS member Andrea Swales, 39, was almost five months pregnant when she tripped on a loose carpet tile at HM Revenue and Customs offices in Peterlee in July 2006.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseRisks 42312 September 2009

Global: Work stress increases caesarean births
Women who stop working at least a month before their baby is due are four times less likely to have a caesarean delivery because they are less tired and anxious, research has found.
Sylvia Guendelman and others. Maternity leave in the ninth month of pregnancy and birth outcomes among working women, Women’s Health Issues, volume 19, issue 1, Pages 30-37, January 2009 [abstract]
Sylvia Guendelman and others. Juggling work and breastfeeding: Effects of maternity leave and occupational characteristics, Pediatrics, volume 123: pages e38-e46, January 2009 [abstract] Sydney Morning HeraldRisks 38917 January 2009

Global: Women and work hazards
A number of organisations have created new or dusted off their old materials on women and work hazards.
HSE mothers at work webpagesEuropean Agency gender issues in health and safety at work webpagesBWI women and work hazards webpagesTUC women’s health and safety webpagesHazards at Work women’s chapter and Hazards women and work hazards webpagesRisks 347 • 15 March 2008

Britain: TUC wants a healthy approach to gender
The TUC is asking safety reps to make sure their workplaces have a gender sensitive approach to health and safety management. TUC’s Gender and Occupational Safety and Health (G&OSH) working party has produced a checklist to help assess workplace health and safety policies and practices.
TUC summary document and checklist [also available as a pdf] • TUC women’s health and safety webpagesHazards women and work hazards webpagesRisks 33919 January 2008

Afghanistan: Women workers face deadly risks
Women working in four wool and fur factories in Afghanistan as dying as a result of the harsh, dusty work. Over 1,500 women work in the factories in Herat city, where they separate fur from goats’ hair and weave sheep’s wool without protective gloves or masks.
IRIN news Risks 3303 November 2007

Global: Mum’s job can affect the fetus
Workplace exposures in pregnancy can affect the health of the fetus with workers in blue collar jobs at greatest risk, researchers have found. The authors say the evidence suggests workplace exposures may have negative effects on fetal development, but add more research needs to be conducted on the reasons why the risk is elevated in particular occupations.
Parvez Ahmed and Jouni JK Jaakkola. Maternal occupation and adverse pregnancy outcomes: a Finnish population-based study, Occupational Medicine, volume 57, Number 6, pages 417-423, 2007 [abstract] • OHS reps, issue 123, 13 September 2007 Risks 324 22 September 2007

Saudi Arabia: Migrant domestics killed by employers
The killing of two Indonesian domestic workers by their employers in Saudi Arabia highlights the Saudi government’s ongoing failure to hold employers accountable for serious abuses, campaign group Human Rights Watch has said. The brutal beatings by these employers also left two other Indonesian domestic workers critically injured.
Human Rights Watch news releaseRisks 32025 August 2007

USA: New Solutions special issue
The new issue of New Solutions, a US-based international journal on environmental and occupational health policy, focuses on women’s occupational health. Papers look at how policy, prejudice and practice combine to place women at risk at work and in the wider community. There are contributions from some of the top experts on workplace health and gender, including Professor Karen Messing, author of ‘One-eyed science: Occupational health and women workers.’
New Solutions, Special issue: Women's occupational health, volume 17, number 1-2, 2007 • Risks 3174 August 2007

Britain: Teachers ‘victims of sexist bullies in class’
Young teachers are increasingly seen as “fair game” by some pupils for sexual harassment including touching and innuendo, according to a report from teaching union NUT. The union’s study found young female teachers in particular are frequently confronted with sexist language and bullying in school.
Risks 2852 December 2006

Global: Gender equality, work and health
‘Gender equality, work and health’, a new review published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), documents the relationship between gender inequality and health and safety problems. It reviews gender issues in research, policies and programmes on work and health, and highlights some specific issues for women, including the types of jobs they do, as well as their need to reconcile the demands of work and family.
Gender equality, work and health: A review of the evidence, WHO, 2006 • Full report [pdf] • Risks 28318 November 2006

Britain: Older women’s workplace health “neglected”
Too little is known about the work and health of older women, according to a new report. ‘Older women, work and health’, a research paper jointly commissioned by Help the Aged and TAEN – The Age and Employment Network - shows that few studies have explored the links between the work and health of older women despite their increased participation in the labour market.
Risks 28211 November 2006

Britain: Payout for woman filmed by her boss
A woman whose boss bombarded her with love notes and who rigged up a CCTV camera to watch her at work has been awarded £16,500 compensation. Amicus member Heather Harrop, 42, became sick with stress and was forced to leave her job after she attracted the unwanted attention of Michael Richardson, 66.
Risks 280 28 October 2006

Sweden: Gender analysis lacking in research
Occupational medicine fails to take account of risks to women, according to a top occupational health research unit. Sonya Bylund, a researcher at Sweden’s globally respected National Institute for Working Life, said research in the field of occupational medicine is largely carried out on men, with the findings assumed to apply to women as well, adding legislation, risk assessment and measuring standards are often based on men.
Risks 27921 October 2006

Global: Road transport women put safety first
Women road transport workers are “very worried” about health and safety issues, a new survey from global transport union federation ITF shows. Initial results of an ongoing study found 43 per cent of respondents “expressed the highest level of concern,” it says.
Risks 27814 October 2006

Britain: Harassed woman awarded second payout
A woman made sick by sexual harassment at work has been awarded compensation. An Exeter employment tribunal this week ordered Councillor Tony Prior, the former mayor of Chard, Somerset to pay £33,697 in damages to former town clerk Sally Bing.
Risks 27814 October 2006

Britain: Long hours may be worse for women
A University of Leeds, study has concluded long work hours may affect women worse than men. Research has found that women who work longer hours were more likely to smoke, take less exercise, and eat unhealthily, patterns not seen in men.
Risks 26622 July 2006

Britain: Miscarriage welder wins damages
A female welder who raised safety concerns when pregnant and who went on to win a sex discrimination claim against her father's company has been awarded £7,500 for injury to feelings. Suzanne Bunning, 31, took GT Bunning of Dereham, Norfolk to an industrial tribunal after suffering a miscarriage.
Risks 26515 July 2006

Britain: Waitress wins harassment payout
A waitress made ill by the sexual harassment she experienced is to be paid £124,000 in compensation for unlawful discrimination and unlawful dismissal by a leading London restaurant. The London employment tribunal heard of a culture of bullying and harassment at the kitchen of Harry's Bar in Mayfair.
Risks 2518 April 2006

Britain: Campaign exposes chemical link to breast cancer
Women are being kept in the dark about the cancer risks from industrial chemicals, campaigners have warned. Public service union UNISON and the Women's Environmental Network (WEN) say their ‘Big See Challenge' will press the case for tighter controls on cancer causing chemicals.
Risks 2278 October 2005

USA: Passive smoking at work linked to breast cancer
Secondhand smoke exposure has been linked conclusively to breast cancer, with half of all cases linked to workplace exposures. The Californian study found exposure to secondhand smoke increased the risk of breast cancer by 70 per cent.
Risks 21516 July 2005

Britain: Women bear the brunt of back pain
Women suffer more back pain at work but are less likely to take time off, an official survey has found. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) survey also found women were less likely to tell their bosses they were in pain.
Risks 21225 June 2005

Britain: Pregnant women and risk assessment
A new TUC online guide provides a detailed and practical workers’ resource on pregnancy and risk assessments. TUC says safety representatives must ensure employers fulfil their legal obligations and protect both pregnant women and those who return to work while breast-feeding.
TUC pregnancy and risk assessment briefing
Risks 20323 April 2005

Britain: TUC's two step on women and work hazards
The TUC wants to know what's happening on women's health and safety in the workplace and has devised a two step plan.
Risks 19812 March 2005

USA: Metalworking fluids linked to breast cancer risk
Women with jobs that involve metalworking fluids may have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, a preliminary study suggests. The new study looked at women who spent at least three years working at one of three large car manufacturing plants in the US.
Risks 19626 February 2005

Sweden: Study finds work stress can give women diabetes
Women who experience stress and a lack of control over their work could be at great risk of diabetes, according to Swedish research.
Risks 19519 February 2005

Europe: Health at work is an equality issue
Cutting health risks and tackling stress at work are equality issues, a European conference of service sector unions has heard. Delegates to the UNI-Europa women's Conference in Brussels heard a gender specific approach to health and safety at work is needed to avoid "gender specific distortions in occupational health and safety."
Risks 18718 December 2004

Canada: Women's work worse than records show
Injury statistics do not provide a complete picture of the occupational hazards experienced by women in the workplace, according to a report in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Institute for Work and Health newsletter • PM Smith and CA Mustard. Examining the associations between physical work demands and work injury rates between men and women in Ontario, 1990-2000, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 61, pages 750-756, 2004 [abstract] • Risks 1854 December 2004

Global: High stress doubles risk of painful periods
High levels of stress double the risk of painful periods, according to new research. Dysmenorrhoea, or painful periods, is one of the most common gynaecological problems among women of childbearing age.
Risks 18320 November 2004

Britain: Stress 'linked to miscarriages'
Stress could be linked to miscarriages, researchers have suggested. A research team led by Dr Petra Arck monitored the progress of 864 pregnant women. Blood samples were taken at the start of their pregnancies. The women also completed standard questionnaires to measure their own perceptions of the stress they felt. It was found that the 55 women who miscarried were more likely to have reported stress than women whose pregnancies continued. Dr Arck said: 'We can clearly say that stress has a major impact on pregnancy maintenance.' The research was presented to a meeting of the British Society for Endocrinology last week. The authors say their work with mice suggests giving at-risk women extra doses of the hormone progesterone could protect pregnancies.
Risks 18213 November 2004

Denmark: Night shift work can be bad for pregnancies
Working a night shift can lead to longer pregnancies and lower birth weight babies, researchers have found. The researchers examined Danish statistics and concluded: "Night work may prolong the duration of pregnancy and reduce fetal growth, especially among industrial workers."
Risks 17418 September 2004

Britain: Ignorant bosses put pregnant employees at risk
Lack of awareness could be putting the health and well-being of pregnant women and their unborn babies at risk, says the shopworkers' union Usdaw. And two other reports from the Equal Opportunities Commission also call for workplace health and safety action.
Risks 17311 September 2004

Britain: "Frantic life syndrome" hits women workers
Working women in the UK think new technology makes their lives even more hectic, according to a new report. As a result, a growing number of career women are suffering from what has been dubbed "frantic life syndrome."
Risks 16914 August 2004

Britain Expectant and new mums feeling the heat
Shopworkers' union Usdaw is warning that pregnant workers could be wilting in the face of Britain's steamy summer weather.
Risks 16914 August 2004

Menopause A new TUC study reveals many women have jobs that could be making menopause-related symptoms worse, and calls on employers to provide better welfare facilities, rest breaks and a lot more forethought and understanding. [large pdf]

USA: Axing safety law left women at risk
President Bush's decision to axe an ergonomics safety law introduced in the last days of the Clinton presidency has left workers in the heavily female health care field particularly prone to injury.
Risks 16012 June 2004

Britain: Don't let employers be gender blind
General union GMB is urging safety reps to raise the profile of women's health and safety within their workplaces.
Risks 14713 March 2004

Women's work: Lots of risks and little work protection Women's health and safety is neglected, say unions - and something must be done about it.
Hazards 77 [pdf]

Europe: Work risks to women are neglected
Safety and health risks facing women at work tend to be underestimated and neglected, says a report from the Bilbao-based European Agency. Gender issues in safety and health - a review says its investigation found the traditional prevention approach can underestimate work-related risks to women.
European Agency news release, report and new gender websiteRisks 14131 January 2004

Europe: The gender workplace health gap in Europe
A new report from the European trade union safety think tank TUTB says women's issues tend to be absent from health and safety policies. It says the hazards involved are either unknown or underestimated and priorities are defined in male-dominated sectors and occupations, and recommends improvements.
Risks 14024 January 2004

Global Workplace health research isn’t the fairest of them all
A gender blind approach to occupational health research is can undermine efforts to properly assess the impact of work on health. An international group of researchers, writing in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, conclude gender-sensitive practices enrich the scientific quality of research and should lead to better data and ultimately to well-targeted prevention programmes.
Karen Messing and others. Be the fairest of them all: Challenges and recommendations for the treatment of gender in occupational health research, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, vol.43 (6), pages 618-29, 2003 [abstract] • Risks 12023 August 2003

Five point programme for positive pregnancies
A national charity has launched a Pregnancy Accreditation Programme for UK employers. Tommy's, the baby charity, will vet employers wanting accreditation to make sure they attain five key goals: encouraging attendance at ante-natal sessions at times convenient for the pregnant worker; providing a smoke-free workplace; providing easily accessible smoke-free rest areas; providing healthy pregnancy information; and making available to all employees details of current laws and guidance on pregnancy at work.
Risks 1818 September 2001


Women and
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Safety reps


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