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Hazards news, 19 January 2019

Britain: TUC warning on the dangers of disciplinary action
Most union representatives can vouch that when a member is subjected to disciplinary action it can be a very traumatic event. The TUC says sometimes the disciplinary process can take months before a decision is made, leaving the worker ‘in limbo’ and under prolonged stress – and is advising what union reps should do in response.
TUC safety facebook page and work and suicide guide. More on work-related suicide.
New: Hazards Campaign workplace stress and mental health resources. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Union porters win protection from clinical waste
A union has welcomed moves by health chiefs to introduce measures to protect porters at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness who are dealing with clinical waste – including extra staff. GMB Scotland had threatened strike action after reporting four of 14 workers had recently suffered needlestick injuries working with the specialist waste.
Press and Journal. BBC News Online. Daily Record. Risks 881. 19 January 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: Edinburgh rail contract staff set to strike
Cleaning and maintenance workers at Scotland’s biggest railway station are set to strike later this month over “scandalous” working conditions. Their union RMT said contractor ISS had reneged on promises to improve staff accommodation facilities and install air conditioning at Edinburgh’s Waverley station.
RMT news release. Morning Star. The Herald. STV News. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Lords back protection for shopworkers
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw has welcomed cross-party support for the protection of shopworkers during the second reading of the Offensive Weapons Bill in the House of Lords. Usdaw is calling on the government to provide greater protection for the shopworkers who will enforce the new law at the point of sale of knives and corrosive chemicals, a call backed by peers on 7 January.
Usdaw news release. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: ASLEF condemns ‘irresponsible’ Bird Box challenge
An incident where a man was filmed walking down a railway track blindfold has been condemned by the rail union ASLEF, which has warned dangerous stunts of this kind could put both workers and the public at risk. Mick Whelan, general secretary of the train drivers’ union, was speaking out after footage was posted online of the young man walking along a railway line while wearing a blindfold in a ‘challenge’ inspired by the Netflix film Bird Box.
ASLEF news release. The Mirror. The Guardian and related article. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Prison officer seriously hurt in boiling sugar water attack
Kent prison officer James Grant, who suffered burns and psychological trauma after a prisoner threw boiling sugar water at his face has secured £7,000 compensation with the help of his union POA. The mixture of boiling water and sugar, often referred to by prisoners as ‘napalm’, sticks to the skin and intensifies the burn.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Kent Online. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Union law firms wants employers ‘under the COSHH’
A trade union law firm wants employers to take hazardous substances seriously at work - and is giving employees a toolkit to help make sure that happens. Thompsons Solicitors says most organisations today use or create substances, but thousands of workers die each year as a result of exposures to these substances at work.
Thompsons Solicitors news release and Under the COSHH toolkit.
You can share images on twitter showing how your employer is providing a safe place of work using the hashtag #UnderTheCOSHH. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: New manifesto for a ‘safety system fit for workers’
The national Hazards Campaign says three factors could make the country’s workplaces safer and healthier at a stroke - strong laws, strict enforcement and a workplace safety push by strong, active trade unions. Launching a new ‘manifesto’ for health and safety, the campaign’s Janet Newsham said: “The right framework of strong laws, strict enforcement and support for active worker and union participation will have massive payback for workers, employers and whole economy.”
Hazards Campaign news release. Manifesto webpage and full document, Manifesto for a health and safety system fit for workers: Decent jobs and decent lives, January 2019. EHN Online. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Peed off call centre staff slam toilet break limit
Workers at a Scottish call centre are refusing to sign a new contract that limits toilet breaks to as little as two minutes a day. CWU members at the Virgin Media site in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, have been told their “personal time” should take up no more than one per cent of their shift.
Daily Record. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Calls to ban low-level letterboxes
Low-level letterboxes should be banned to prevent postal workers straining their backs or being bitten by dogs, a Conservative MP has said. Proposing new legislation, Vicky Ford called for all new letterboxes to be installed at a height of between 70cm and 170cm.
BBC News Online. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Global: Protective gear not protective for pesticide workers
Studies of pesticide use in horticultural workers have found they can be exposed to the chemicals by both skin contact and ingestion despite wearing protective gear, with colleagues and the public also at risk. A study published online in January in the journal Annals of Work Exposures and Health and conducted by NUI Galway in Ireland, the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) and the Health and Safety Executive, looked at exposures to glyphosate, a herbicide used to control the growth of weeds and invasive plant species such as Japanese knotweed.
Alison Connolly and others. Evaluating glyphosate exposure routes and their contribution to total body burden: A study among amenity horticulturalists, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, wxy104, published online 4 January 2019.
Also see: Alison Connolly and others. Exploring the half-life of glyphosate in human urine samples International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, published ahead of print, October 2018. Personnel Today. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Europe: Glyphosate reprieve based on ‘plagiarised’ report
European regulators based a decision to relicense the controversial weedkiller glyphosate on an assessment large sections of which were lifted directly from industry documents, according to a report for the European parliament. A crossparty group of MEPs commissioned an investigation into claims that Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) copy-and-pasted tracts from studies by the pesticide manufacturer Monsanto.
Stefan Weber and Helmut Burtscher-Schaden. Detailed Expert Report on Plagiarism and superordinated Copy Paste in the Renewal Assessment Report (RAR) on Glyphosate, 2019.
Socialists and Democrats of the European Parliament news release and related video report. BfR statement.
Charles M Benbrook. How did the US EPA and IARC reach diametrically opposed conclusions on the genotoxicity of glyphosate-based herbicides?, Environmental Sciences Europe, volume 31, number 2, 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12302-018-0184-7 The Guardian. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Canada: Job-related deaths ‘dramatically’ under-reported
Close to 1,000 Canadians die each year because of their jobs, according to official numbers from Canada's workers' compensation agencies. But a new study says that figure ‘dramatically underestimates’ the true extent of work-related deaths across the country.
Steven Bittle, Ashley Chen and Jasmine Hébert. Work-related deaths in Canada, Labour/Le Travail, volume 82, pages 159-187, Fall 2018. CBC News. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

China: Over 20 dead after coal mine roof collapses
At least 21 miners have been killed after a roof collapsed at a coal mine in northern China. Sixty-six other workers were rescued after the incident on 12 January at the Lijiagou mine near the city of Shenmu in Shaanxi province.
The Independent. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

USA: Nappy-wearing protesters win bathroom breaks
When campaigners showed up outside a Texas poultry plant in October 2018 their attire, at least for mo Risks 881. 19 January 2019st adults, was unusual. The group protesting outside the Sanderson Farms poultry processing plant in Bryan were all wearing adult diapers [nappies] over their trousers – and the  tactic to force the plant to introduce improvements worked.
The Pump Handle blog. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Hazards news, 12 January 2018

Britain: New ISO stress guide ‘is the last thing we need’
The new draft guide on stress being prepared by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is worrying and ‘total nonsense’, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on ISO’s proposed guidelines on ‘Psychological health and safety in the workplace’.
TUC blog. HSE Stress Management Standards.
TUC stress webpages. Hugh Robertson, Tough luck: Resilience - a case of pointing the finger and missing the point, Hazards, 2013. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Poor gig worker plans won’t shift the balance of power
The government’s Good Work Plan “won’t shift the balance of power in the gig economy” and let platform companies “off the hook”, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting after the government announced the plan on 17 December 2018.
Department for Business news release and the government Good Work Plan. TUC news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Court of Appeal victory for GMB on Uber driver rights
In a major victory for the union GMB, the Court of Appeal has ruled that tens of thousands of drivers working for cab firm Uber are employees entitled to the minimum wage, holiday pay, sick pay and other employment rights. The December 2018 decision was Uber’s third court defeat in a case launched by the general union GMB more than two years ago.
GMB news release. Morning Star. The Guardian. BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Action call after sharp rise in ‘hidden’ lorry driver deaths
Transport union Unite has called for urgent changes to how the deaths of workers and members of the public killed and injured in road accidents involving lorries are recorded, after research found a 50 per cent increase in lorry driver deaths. Following a freedom of information request the union, which represents thousands of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers, discovered that the number of lorry drivers killed in road accidents increased by 50 per cent in 12 months, from 14 in 2016 to 21 in 2017.
Unite news release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Call for action over the London bus ‘killing machine’
The union GMB has called for ‘decisive action’ to address chilling new evidence of the devastating toll of serious injuries involving London buses. The union says eight people were killed and 719 very seriously injured in incidents involving the capital’s fleet of buses in the 12 months from July 2017 to June 2018.
GMB news release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Incidents up, firefighter numbers down
Firefighters are expected to do more with less, putting public safety at risk, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The need for firefighters in all their roles is increasing, and yet year on year we are seeing appalling cuts to the service. Fire and rescue services in England are expected to do more with less, putting public safety at risk.”
FBU news release. Morning Star. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Workload leaves teachers stress out
Over 75 per cent of Scotland's teachers frequently feel stressed as a result of their workload, the union EIS has said. It says the ‘shock finding’ comes from an EIS survey of 12,000 teachers.
EIS news release. Risks 880. 12 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 Risks gets backing from Thompsons Solicitors
Thompsons Solicitors has announced a new partnership with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) by sponsoring the TUC Risks e-newsletter. The union law firm said the newsletter plays a ‘pivotal’ role in highlighting concerns with modern labour standards, which continue to leave many workers vulnerable to injury or exploitation.
Thompsons Solicitors news release and trade union website. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Network Rail fined after employee left with brain injury
Network Rail has been fined £200,000 following a prosecution by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) after an employee was left with a critical brain injury following a road traffic accident. The ORR prosecuted Network Rail at Maidstone Crown Court for contravening the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. The firm was fined £200,000 plus costs of £86,389.21.
ORR news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Diesel industry and regulators condemn thousands to die
A warning over 30 years ago that workplace diesel fume exposures were deadly went ignored, a ‘criminal’ move that condemned thousands of workers each year to an early grave, a report in Hazards magazine has revealed. The Hazards report says “the UK’s prevention strategy – or absence of one – is based on a fatal mixture of a lack of the right intelligence and lack of give-a-damn. All topped up with a dose of industry foul play.”
Fuming feature, Diesel out prevention factsheet and Die diesel die pin-up-at-work poster. Hazards 144, October-December 2018.
Diesel exhaust in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, October 2018. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Health trust fined over nurse stabbings
A health trust has been fined £300,000 after two nurses were repeatedly stabbed by a patient at a mental health centre in Kent. Sentencing the trust, Mr Justice Edis QC criticised procedures that were meant to ensure all knives were locked up and out of reach of patients as “ad hoc and inadequate.”
HSE news release. Gravesend Reporter. BBC News Online. Health Service Journal. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Care company fines workers £50 for calling in sick
One of Britain’s biggest providers of agency care workers has been fining staff who phone in sick £50, raising concerns that frontline employees are being forced to turn up for shifts when they are not fit for work and risk spreading illnesses to vulnerable patients. An investigation by the Guardian found Newcross Healthcare Solutions has failed to pay its employees if they cancel shifts because of illness without 24 hours’ notice, and has also docked money from their pay.
The Guardian and follow-up story. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: New farming attitudes needed, says safety watchdog
Farmers are being told they must pay closer attention to how they manage workplace risks or face serious penalties. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said its forthcoming inspection blitz will review health and safety standards on farms across the country.
HSE news release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Company director jailed for illegal chemicals sales
Company director Nicholas Corbett has been sentenced to 10 months in prison for the online sale of products containing prohibited substances. The company was selling paint stripper containing dichloromethane (DCM), which is restricted under the REACH regulations as well as was selling a prohibited plant protection product containing sodium chlorate.
HSE news release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Australia: Call for killer bosses to be jailed  
“Kill a worker: go to jail.” That was the cry led by Christy Cain, the Western Australian branch secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, as the opposition Labor Party passed a resolution calling for industrial manslaughter laws on the final day of its national conference.
MUA news release and video of Christy Cain’s conference speech. The Guardian. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Global: Deaths on docks spur urgent union safety plan
A global union has launched a major campaign to address the ‘appalling’ fatality record in the dock industry. The Dockers’ Section Occupational Safety and Health Working Group of the international transport unions’ federation ITF launched its new work programme in December 2018.
ITF news release and related release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Global: IFJ records 94 media worker killings in 2018
The International Federation of Journalists’ annual list of media workers killed doing their job shows that 84 journalists, camera operators, fixers and technicians died in targeted killings, bomb attacks and cross-fire incidents. Ten other media staff members who worked as drivers, protection officers and a sales assistant also lost their lives.
IFJ news release and Killed List 2018. NUJ news release. Courthouse News.
IFJ Safety Fund. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

USA: Miners’ lung epidemic could have been stopped
A multiyear investigation by US national radio station NPR and the PBS documentary TV programme Frontline has confirmed a widespread outbreak of the advanced stage of black lung disease, known as complicated black lung or progressive massive fibrosis. Their analysis of federal regulatory data — decades of information recorded by dust-collection monitors placed where coal miners work — has revealed “a tragic failure to recognise and respond to clear signs of danger,” where regulators were urged to take specific and direct action to stop it, but they didn't.
All things considered, NPR. Confined Space. The Guardian. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Hazards news, 17 December 2018

Britain: Santa’s drones could be dangerous, warn pilots
Anyone buying or being given a drone this Christmas needs to understand the new drone laws, or they could end up in court, the pilots’ union has warned. BALPA says that drone users who flout safety rules introduced this year “could face a fine, up to five years in prison, or both.”
BALPA news release. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: RMT warns of escalating violence on de-staffed railways
Rail union RMT has warned of a growing threat from violence on Britain’s railways as a result of understaffing on the network. The union says staff numbers have been ‘hacked to the bone’, which could lead to major problems coping with demands over the festive season.
RMT news release. Network Rail news release. The Independent. Yorkshire Evening Post. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: New MoD advice on Sea King asbestos checks ‘not good enough’
The latest advice from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the estimated 1,000 former employees who could have been exposed to asbestos while maintaining Sea King helicopters ‘does not go far enough’, the union Unite has said. The union was commenting on a 5 December MoD statement that said veteran and former civilian employees ‘may wish’ to complete ‘MoD Form 960 Asbestos – Personal Record Annotation’ - if they ‘consider’ they have been exposed to asbestos from the Sea Kings.
Unite news release and online asbestos register. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Cladding plans do not go far enough, say firefighters
The first changes to fire safety legislation since the Grenfell Tower fire 18 months ago do not go far enough, firefighters’ union FBU has said. Echoing concerns raised by the TUC, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Buildings up and down the country are unsafe - the government must address it as a whole, rather than providing a sticking plaster.”
FBU news release. Morning Star. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: No confidence vote after firefighter safety reps ignored
Firefighters in East Sussex have passed a vote of no confidence in their senior management teams after they ignored union warnings about serious safety blunders. The unanimous vote by FBU’s East Sussex Committee came after East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) managers ignored repeated FBU warnings about planned changes the union believes “seek to reduce both public and firefighter safety.”
FBU news release. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Positive signs on protection for shopworkers
A round-table discussion between the Home Office, retailers and the union Usdaw on how to protect staff from violence, threats and abuse was ‘positive’, the retail union’s leader Paddy Lillis has said. Home Office minister Victoria Atkins agreed to the 11 December talks last month during the report stage of the Offensive Weapons Bill.
Usdaw news release. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Work ‘resilience’ programmes stop ‘meaningful activity’
Workplace resilience programmes are of no proven value but could deflect energy from ‘meaningful activity’ researchers have warned. The initiatives, which are intended to bolster mental health and wellbeing, might not make any difference at all, according to the study published online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Norman Jones and others. Resilience-based intervention for UK military recruits: a randomised controlled trial, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, e-publication ahead of print, 19 December 2018. doi:10.1136/oemed-2018-105503
Hugh Robertson. Resilience: A case of pointing the finger and missing the point, Hazards magazine, 2013. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Work wellbeing ‘comprised’ by ‘incoherent’ practices
Employee wellbeing is being compromised by a lack of understanding of how to implement effective programmes, a safety body has found. A new British Safety Council (BSC) ‘comprehensive review of the existing literature and market intelligence’ found only one in six (17 per cent) organisations evaluate the impact of their health and wellbeing initiatives. It also reported that in nearly two-thirds of companies (63 per cent), other priorities take precedence over employees’ wellbeing.
BSC news release and full report, Not just free fruit: Wellbeing at work, December 2018.
Your Health at Work: an indispensable guide to physical and mental well-being, TUC, September 2018. Order form.
TUC Work and well-being’ guide and related article. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Rail tragedy’s lessons ‘forgotten’ warn safety experts
Thirty years on from one of Britain’s worst train crashes, a rail safety expert has warned that the lessons learned have been forgotten and lives are being put at risk. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Railway Group has said several incidents and near-misses in recent years have sparked new concerns for rail safety.
IOSH news release. ASLEF news release. RMT news release. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Stress and depression hit firefighters post-Grenfell
The main reason for sickness absence in the London Fire Brigade (LFB) is now stress, anxiety and depression, Commissioner Dany Cotton has said. LFB has seen a "small increase" in the number of days taken off as sick leave over the last three years, the brigade's most senior firefighter said, but for the first time mental health has been the leading cause of the absences, she told the London Assembly.
ITV news release. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Nine out of 10 NHS trusts have asbestos in hospitals
About nine out of 10 NHS trusts say they have hospitals containing asbestos, research by the BBC has revealed. Of the 211 trusts to respond to a BBC inquiry, 198 said they ran hospitals containing the material, which can cause potentially fatal illnesses including cancer.
BBC News Online. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Plastics firm fined after employee killed by machine
Plastics firm Nylacast Engineering Plastic Solutions has been fined £293,000 plus costs of £10,205.61 for criminal safety failing after a worker died in an incident at its factory. Tarsem Singh, 52, died of a heart attack a day after being hit by machinery in April 2016.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Director fined following concrete pumping fatality
Concrete pumping company Anytime McDaids and its sole director Laurence McDaid have been fined after an employee was struck and killed by concrete. Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how on 13 February 2017 Kevin Hoare was attempting to clear a blockage in a vehicle mounted concrete pump when the pump ejected concrete, which struck and killed the 26-year-old, who had only started work for the firm in December 2016.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Balfour fined £333,000 after rail worker crushed
Balfour Beatty Rail Limited and London Underground Limited have been fined £333,000 and £100,000 respectively after a worker was crushed at Whitechapel station in east London. Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that in the early hours of 4 June 2016, Adrian Rascarache, 36, was struck by a Road Rail Vehicle (RRV), and his lower body was crushed between the RRV and the platform edge of the station, resulting in serious injuries to his pelvis.
ORR news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Bakery fined after workers suffer flour dust allergy
A bakery company has been fined for criminal safety breaches after employees suffered long term exposure to flour dust, a respiratory sensitiser. Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that between April 2002 and April 2016 employees of Coopland & Son (Scarborough) Ltd were exposed consistently to risks to their health, with some being diagnosed with occupational asthma.
HSE news release. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Turkey: Court frees 31 airport safety campaigners
An Istanbul court has ordered the release of 31 construction workers that had been jailed since September after protesting about poor conditions and fatalities on Istanbul’s giant site third airport site. Fifty-two people have died while building Istanbul’s giant new airport, according to official figures on workplace deaths at the site disclosed this month by Turkey’s official Presidential Communications Centre (CİMER). Hurriyet Daily News. Amnesty International news release. Ahval News. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

USA: Union sues over company’s safety let off
The US mining union UMWA is suing the federal mine safety regulator MSHA after it reduced its oversight of a West Virginia coal mine with a poor safety record. MSHA has the power to declare mines with a history of significant safety violations as having a “Pattern of Violations.”
UMWA news release. NPR report. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

USA: Amazon robot puts 24 workers in hospital
Twenty-four employees at an Amazon warehouse in the US were taken to hospital on 5 December after a robot accidentally punctured a can of bear repellent. The 255g pepper spray can containing concentrated capsaicin, a compound in chilli peppers, was punctured by an automated machine after it fell off a shelf.
RWDSU news release. The Guardian. ABC News video report. Wall Street Journal. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Hazards news, 8 December 2018

Britain: Government cladding ban ‘ignores most workplaces’
It makes no sense that under the terms of the government’s new cladding restrictions developers will still be able to build office blocks, stadiums, concert halls and private schools with combustible cladding, the TUC has said.  TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson sai: “There is no doubt that hundreds, if not thousands of workplaces in the UK could have some form of combustible cladding.”
TUC blog and fire safety guidance. Ministry of Housing news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Unite vindicated over academy’s asbestos blunders
A ‘scathing’ report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into refurbishment work at the Bridge of Don Academy in Aberdeen has vindicated Unite for raising safety concerns, the union has said. The HSE report highlights a catalogue of health and safety breaches by Aberdeen city council officials, requiring the regulator to issue legal improvement notices.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: MoD member injured in the US wins injury compensation
A Ministry of Defence worker who fractured his wrist when opening a security door at the British Embassy in Washington DC has been awarded compensation in the British courts. PCS member Nicholas Callow fractured his wrist while working as an information officer at the embassy.
PCS news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Warning over ‘dangerous’ downgrading of pole testers
Telecoms union CWU is calling on Openreach to reconsider urgently an apparent ‘dumbing down’ of safety-critical pole tester roles in the company’s fibre networks. The union says that despite the fact that ‘pole testing is generally regarded as crucial for the safety of not just the engineers who climb them – but also for nearby residents and the public at large’, at a meeting Openreach ‘dropped the bombshell’ that the role was to be downgraded to a lower pay band.
CWU news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: More support for Usdaw's injured workers campaign
The British Safety Council has become the latest organisation to back Usdaw’s Justice for Injured Workers Campaign, which seeks to stop the government from forcing more workers into the small claims court. The government proposes to double the threshold for employer liability cases taken in the small claims court to those likely to be settled for £2,000 or less, with claimants unable to recoup their legal costs.
Usdaw news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Home Office to talk about legal protection for shopworkers
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has welcomed a commitment from the Home Office to a round-table discussion with the union and retailers on how to legally protect staff from violence, threats and abuse. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis welcomed the Home Office move and added: “A specific offence of obstructing a retail worker who is enforcing the law, which is easily understood by employers, staff, police, judiciary, shoppers and most of all violent criminals is absolutely necessary.”
Usdaw news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Backing for compensation reform in Scotland
People who have suffered traumatic personal injuries should have their long-term compensation determined in a fairer and more transparent way, a cross-party group o members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs) has said. Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst said: “We heard compelling evidence for payments which allow those that have suffered a personal injury to receive lifelong compensation instalments.”
Herald Scotland. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Spy-in-the-cab is a dozy idea on trains, says union
Plans to introduce monitors in train cabs in a bid to keep drivers awake is a dozy idea while train companies refuse to deal with work-related fatigue, ASLEF has said. The train drivers’ union was commenting after it emerged Britain's rail safety body is considering installing monitoring devices in trains that constantly scan driver's faces and vibrate their chairs if they start to doze off.
LBC News. Seeing Machines. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Deaths firm Stagecoach had ignored 24 bad driver complaints
Stagecoach firm Midland Red (South) Ltd has been fined £2.3 million after ignoring 24 letters of complaint about a bus driver who went on to kill two people in a crash. Kailash Chander, now 80, lost control of the Midland Red bus after working 72-hour weeks.
CPS news release. The Mirror. Coventry Observer. Daily Mail. Labourlist. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Three port firms fined after security guard killed
Associated British Ports, DFDS Seaways plc and ICTS (UK) Ltd have been fined after a security guard was fatally injured when he was struck by an articulated vehicle. Hull Crown Court heard how, on 9 September 2015, Lyndon Perks, a 50-year-old security guard, was hit and dragged underneath an HGV as it turned towards a warehouse.
HSE news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Contracting firm fined after wagon driver killed
A contracting firm has been fined after a driver died when his wagon overturned. Sheffield Crown Court heard how on 17 September 2013 tipper wagon driver Alan Clements was fatally injured when his wagon overturned while he was tipping spoil onto a stockpile.
HSE news release. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Dad crushed to death was working with son
A metal recovery company has been sentenced for criminal safety offences after a worker suffered fatal crush injuries when cutting up metal for scrap. Sheffield Crown Court heard how, on 4 March 2013, employee Michael Dwyer was working with his son, also called Michael, dismantling a 3-core reactor vessel when an unsupported metal section weighing approximately 1.3 ton fell and fatally crushed the 48-year-old between the fallen cylinder and a shipping container.
HSE news release. Sheffield Star. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Europe: Work cancers cost hundreds of billions a year
Work-related cancers costs between €270 and €610 billion (£240bn to £543bn) a year across the EU, the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) has said. The trade union health and safety thinktank says occupational cancers are the primary cause of work-related deaths in industrialised societies, with more than 100,000 people losing their lives each year as a result of exposure to workplace carcinogens.
ETUI news release. Cancer and work: understanding occupational cancers and taking action to eliminate them, ETUI, December 2018: Free pdf downloadHesaMag 18, Work-related cancer: emerging from obscurity, ETUI, December 2018. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Global: World of false promises on occupational health
The UN agencies with a role in occupational health and safety have been given monumental tasks but only trivial budgets, a new analysis has found. The authors, members of the occupational health experts group the Collegium Ramazzini, warn that the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have limited capacity to press for the changes necessary and are further compromised by interference from ‘vested interests’.
Joseph LaDou, Leslie London and Andrew Watterson. Occupational health: a world of false promises, Environmental Health, 17:81, 2018. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Australia: It should be Uber in the dock after taxi deaths
The Australian Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) is calling for Uber and not just drivers to face criminal prosecution over the deaths of passengers. The call came as an Uber driver was convicted in Sydney over the death of a passenger.
TWU news release. ABC News. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Australia: Emergency workers in suicidal thoughts crisis
Police and other emergency service workers in Australia report suicidal thoughts twice as often as other adults and are three times more likely to have a suicide plan, a study has found. The research found one in three emergency service workers experience high or very high psychological distress compared to one in eight Australian adults.
UWA news release and Answering the call report executive summary and final report. Beyond Blue news release. Canberra Times. More on work-related suicide. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Hazards news, 1 December 201

Britain: Brexit deal threatens your rights at work
Theresa May’s Brexit deal has failed to deliver any essential protections for working people, the TUC has warned. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady warned that a future government of Tory Brexiteers could under May’s template “try to negotiate a free trade agreement that undermines our hard-won workplace protections.”
TUC blog. Prime Minister’s Office news release. Huffington Post. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Global: UCU calls for review of rights on overseas campuses
Lecturers’ union UCU has welcomed the pardon of British postgraduate student Matthew Hedges, who it said had been unjustly sentenced to life imprisonment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). But UCU head of policy and campaigns Matt Waddup said: “UK universities with overseas operations should launch reviews covering human rights, trade union representation, academic freedom and ensuring that local workers employed by the institution are not exploited,” adding: “It is vital that the profits from overseas operations are not achieved on the back of the dilution of staff and student rights and personal safety.”
UCU news release. BBC News Online. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Bus driver was unfairly dismissed after botched drugs test
A bus driver and former union rep who was sacked after testing positive for cocaine has been ‘exonerated’ and awarded almost £40,000 in compensation at an employment tribunal. Employment Judge Tobin said Ken Ball had, 62, was unfairly dismissed by First Essex Buses because managers had “closed their minds to all possible explanations that did not fit their predetermined conclusions,” adding the company’s approach was “puerile” and “grossly unfair”.
Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Amazon ignores call for a joint safety probe
Amazon had turned down a joint plea from the union GMB and a shadow minister for a joint health and safety review to determine how to reduce the hundreds of ambulance call outs to the company’s warehouses. Jack Dromey, the shadow minster for work and pensions and fellow labour MP Emma Reynolds, whose constituency includes the giant Amazon warehouse in Rugeley, made the unanswered request in a letter to Lesley Smith, Amazon’s public policy director for UK and Ireland.
GMB news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Sales season is not a jolly time for Asos workers
High pressure times in the retail sector put unbearable strain on warehouse workers, the union GMB has said. Commenting as the ‘Black Friday to Cyber Monday’ sales bonanza got underway, the union said thousands of Asos workers at the company’s Barnsley distribution warehouse endured a “frantic work rate pack to meet the demands of customers, whilst little regard is paid to their health and safety by the retail giant.”
GMB news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Materials giant Hanson works with Unite on welfare facilities
Unite and building materials giant Hanson UK have joined forces to upgrade welfare facilities at the company’s sites, including new toilets, showers, washing amenities and rest areas. Hanson and Unite’s shop stewards worked together to audit existing facilities and formulate an action plan to make improvements where needed.
Unite news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: ‘Disgusting’ toilets at Deeside construction site
The controversial Parc Adfer energy from waste construction site in Deeside, north Wales, has become the first to be named and shamed by construction union Unite for the poor state of its toilets and welfare facilities. Photographs of the ‘disgusting’ welfare facilities were provided to Unite by a whistleblower.
Unite news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Research exposes 'significant issues' with MHFA at work
Days after a plea was issued to government for ‘mental health first aid’ (MHFA) to become mandatory, new research has highlighted “significant issues around the lack of clarity with boundaries and potential safety concerns”. The University of Nottingham feasibility study, published by the professional body for occupational safety and health IOSH, found examples where staff felt unsupported and where, for example, they had co-workers contacting them outside working hours: there were significant issues around lack of clarity with boundaries and potential safety concerns for the trained person.”
IOSH news release and full report, MENtal health first aid in The wORkplace (MENTOR): A feasibility study, November 2018.
Mental Health First Aid England news release and Letter from business and union leaders.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Amnesty suicide linked to ‘serious’ management failings
Amnesty International failed to support a London-based researcher who killed himself at work after feeling “abandoned and neglected” by the organisation, an investigation has found.  The independent inquiry commissioned by Amnesty into the May 2018 suicide of Gaëtan Mootoo, 65, has concluded that multiple failures to support the veteran research amounted to “a serious failure of management.”
Amnesty International news release and independent report. The Guardian. The Times.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists , January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist , Hazards, 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: When it gets busy, logistics firms should take care of workers
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has called on employers to look after the health and safety of warehouse staff and delivery drivers at particularly busy times of year. In an article ahead of Black Friday for the trade publication HSS Magazine, HSE’s Michael Paton wrote: “Staff across Britain are expected to work longer hours to cope with demand – whether that’s those in shops dealing with customers, warehouse staff lifting and moving heavy parcels or delivery drivers on the road for hours on end.”
HSS Magazine. Usdaw news release.
HSE Go Home Healthy campaign, including guidance on musculoskeletal problems. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Site workers facing needless dangers, study shows
Construction union Unite has called on employers to start taking workers’ safety seriously, after a survey highlighted the extent of the carnage on Britain’s building sites. The study by Direct Line for Business reported there were 196 fatalities and 26,196 non-fatal injuries in the construction industry in the five years from 2012 to 2017, while at the same time, the number of prosecutions being taken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in construction has substantially declined.
Unite news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Industry wants big boost in occupational health capability
Britain’s manufacturers are urging the government to use its review of occupational health provision in the UK to ensure all companies have access to an occupational health service (OHS). Manufacturers’ group EEF said this should be part of a wider ‘overarching strategy’.
EEF news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

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

Canada: Border agents at risk of cancer, report finds
Workers guarding the Canada-US border are at a higher risk of developing cancer, according to researchers. Their report, published online in the peer-reviewed journal New Solutions, examines evidence from a workers' compensation case involving a female border guard who worked for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on the Ambassador Bridge for 20 years before developing breast cancer.
Michael Gilbertson and James Brophy. Causality Advocacy: Workers’ Compensation Cases as Resources for Identifying and Preventing Diseases of Modernity, New Solutions, Online First, 22 November 2018. CBC News. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

China: Silicosis sufferers protest and are attacked by police
Over 300 silicosis victims and their family members from Hunan Province who staged a peaceful 7 November march and sit-in protest in front of the Shenzhen city government were attacked and tear gassed by police. The workers, some of whom were hospitalised as a result of the attempt by police to disperse the group, were demanding the city government help them with medical expenses and compensation issues.
HKCTU news release. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Korea: Samsung must now work with unions on safety
Global electronics giant Samsung has said it is sorry for the work diseases it caused but it must now engage with unions to make its plants safer, the global union IndustriALL has said. The union call came after the company sealed a comprehensive occupational disease compensation deal with a public apology.
SHARPS news report. IndustriALL news release. Korea Times. Good Electronics news report. NPR news report. BBC News Online. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

USA: Poultry industry workers living in fear
The poultry industry “has created a culture to keep people living in fear,” a union official has warned. Brandon Hopkins of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the union that represents workers at US poultry giants including Sanderson Farms, JBS and Pilgrim’s Pride, says in his 10 years as a union representative in Texas and Louisiana, he has “had employees go to the bathroom on themselves because they are so scared of getting in trouble that they don’t leave the line.”
The Guardian. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Hazards news, 24 November 2018

Britain: UK workers routinely denied toilet access
Tens of thousands of people do not have access to basic toilet facilities in their workplace, according to Unite. The sectors where Unite has identified problems are wide-ranging, including banking, bus driving, construction, finance, lorry driving, warehousing and agriculture. 
Unite news release. The Guardian. iNews. BBC News Online. Construction Enquirer. More on health and safety and toilet breaks. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: 'Report it to sort it' message to under attack shopworkers
Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis is urging retail staff not to suffer in silence as Usdaw’s latest survey shows that 59 per cent of those who experienced violence, threats or abuse at work did not report the incident to their employer. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said “it is very concerning that over half have never reported an incident, with one in six not reporting something as serious as an assault to their employer.”
Usdaw news release and Scottish release. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Unions slam ‘unacceptable’ failure on schools asbestos
The lack of earmarked funding to make schools free from the “scourge” of asbestos is “totally unacceptable”, unions have said. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) comments came after the Department for Education revealed it would not be publishing the results of its much-anticipated school asbestos survey until next spring, prompting fears the report could come too late to influence long-term spending plans.
JUAC news release. Schools Week. Asbestos management assurance process, DfE, updated 12 November 2018. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Payout for driver after badly loaded lorry tipped
A lorry driver who injured his arm when his vehicle overturned on a road near Wolverhampton has secured £35,000 compensation with help from his union. The Unite member, whose name has not been released, fell awkwardly on his right arm after the HGV he was driving toppled and landed on its side because it been loaded unevenly by a third party working on behalf of his employer, whose name has not been released.
Unite legal report. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Court again rules Addison Lee drivers are workers
Addison Lee has lost its claim at the employment appeal tribunal (EAT) that its drivers are self-employed. The EAT ruling upheld a previous decision that the taxi and courier company’s drivers are workers and should quality for minimum employment rights, including working hours limits, holiday pay and breaks.
GMB news release. Leigh Day news release. Personnel Today. The Guardian. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

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

Britain: Union heads call for justice for injured workers
Five trade union general secretaries have written a joint letter to The Guardian condemning government proposals that will deny access to justice for workers suffering injuries that could include a collapsed lung, a fractured wrist or elbow and loss of front teeth. The 16 November letter, written ahead of the Civil Liability Bill completing its passage through parliament on 20 November, states: “The government’s proposed changes are a green light to irresponsible employers to cut corners on safety in the knowledge that injured workers will either not seek compensation or struggle to do so on their own.”
Usdaw news release. Letter to the Guardian. Civil Liability Bill progress. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Call to make mental health as important as first aid
Business leaders and unions have called for mental health to be given the same weight as physical first aid in workplace legislation. An open letter urging Theresa May to prioritise manifesto pledges to act on mental health has been signed by some of Britain’s biggest employers, including Royal Mail, WH Smith, Mace, Channel 4 and Ford, as well as the unions Unite, NASUWT and Community.
Mental Health First Aid England news release and Letter from business and union leaders. The Guardian. BBC News Online.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018.
Summary of the evidence on the effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training in the workplace, HSE Research Report, RR1135, 2018. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Amber Rudd becomes the latest work secretary
Theresa May has appointed Amber Rudd as the sixth work and pensions secretary since 2016. Sarah Newton remains the DWP minister of state responsible for work and health, the HSE and industrial injuries and disease benefits.
Labour Party news release. DWP ministers. BBC News Online. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Families say ‘foreseeable’ deaths were no accident
The families of five men who died while working at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling in Birmingham have rejected an inquest ruling that the tragedy was ‘accidental’. Reacting outside the court to the verdicts of accidental death – reached at the direction of the coroner - the men’s families said they would continue to look for “justice” following the “very violent deaths.”
Birmingham Mail. Morning Star. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

[work and health] Britain: Furnace firm fined after poor controls hurt workers
Furnace relining company, Calderys UK Ltd, has been sentenced for failing to control exposure to both vibration and silica for its workers. HSE inspector Julian Franklin commented: “Exposure to vibration can cause HAVS, a loss of nerve function, strength and dexterity in the fingers which is permanent and untreatable while exposure to silica can cause silicosis, leading to impaired lung function, lung cancer and death.”
HSE news release. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Dyeing firm fined for separate serious injuries
A dyeing company has been sentenced for criminal breaches of safety law after two separate incidents saw employees suffer serious injuries. Holmfirth firm Premier Hank Dyers Ltd pleaded guilty to criminal safety offences and was fined a £12,000 and ordered to pay £12,014.70 in costs.
HSE news release. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Facilities contractor fined for lab biohazard blunders
A facilities management contractor’s failings could have put staff at an animal lab at serious risk from ‘high hazard biological agents’, a court has heard. Interserve (Facilities Management) Ltd was fined £93,600 with £32,056 costs for multiple criminal safety failings at an Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency laboratory in Weybridge.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Nuke weapons site fined £1m after worker injured
The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) has been fined £1 million after admitting criminal health and safety breaches that saw a worker injured in an ‘electrical incident’. AWE was also ordered to pay costs of £26,096.88 during a sentencing hearing at Reading Magistrates Court.
ONR news release. AWE news release. In Your Area News. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Australia: Over six in ten women sexually harassed at work
Some 61 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men say they have experiencing sexual harassment at work, according to a survey conducted by Australia’s top union body. Preliminary findings of the ACTU survey on workplace harassment, which has so far received over 7,500 responses, reveal the widespread nature of sexual harassment in the workplace as unions lobby for the Fair Work Commission to be given powers over workplace disputes including harassment.
ACTU news release. The Guardian. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Global: Unions call for better protection for dock workers
Unions representing dock workers have called for better protections and safety protocols for all dock and port workers following the death on 14 November of Dennis Gomez Regana. The seafarer, from the Philippines, was killed on Southbank Quay in Dublin, Ireland, doing a job the unions maintain can only be done safely by skilled dock workers.
SIPTU news release. ITF news release and lashing campaign. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

USA: Suicide increasing among US workers
The suicide rate in the US working age population increased 34 per cent over the period 2000 to 2016, with construction topping the at risk list for male workers and creative jobs for females. The new official analysis published in the US government’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) examined lifetime occupations of 22,053 people aged 16-64 years old who died by suicide in the 17 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) in 2012 and 2015.
CDC news release and Preventing Suicide: A Technical Package of Policies, Programs, and Practices and the National Violent Death Reporting System. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 15 November 2018.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists , January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist , Hazards, number 141, 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Hazards news, 17 November 2018

Britain: Microchipping workers is a terrible idea, warns the TUC
The use of technology that allows employers to chip their workers must be discouraged, the TUC has said. Commenting on news that the UK firm BioTeq, which offers the implants to businesses and individuals, has already fitted 150 implants in UK workers.
TUC news release, blog and report on surveillance at work. More on privacy and health and safety. The Observer. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: New official work stress-busting toolkit is just a start
A new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) toolkit on tackling workplace stress has its uses, but won’t on its own lead to stress prevention, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson advised that “preventing stress is something best done collectively across the organisation, not just individually, and that in many workplaces the line manager has no power to make the kind of changes the toolkit suggests.”
TUC blog. HSE talking toolkit – preventing work-related stress and stress management standards. Risks 875. 17 November 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

Britain: Avoidable strain caused hernia at work
A delivery driver has received a substantial payout after suffering a hernia at work. Unite member Peter Warwick, who was a DHL driver when he suffered the injury, strained his groin trying to move an unusually heavy pallet as part of a delivery to a TK Maxx store.
Unite legal report. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Corby council signs up to Unite’s construction charter
Corby borough council has signed up to a Unite construction charter that seeks to ensure employment and safety conditions for workers on construction projects under the local authority’s control meet the highest standards. Health and safety clauses are prominent in the Unite construction charter, which notes: “It is a recognised fact that the presence of trade union safety representatives significantly improves safety in the workplace. Contractors and their supply chain are required to work collaboratively with the appropriate trade unions to identify and implement reasonable real-world initiatives.”
Unite news release. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: RMT calls for immediate halt to plans to axe guards
Rail union RMT has demanded plans to axe guards from trains should be abandoned immediately after a government minister admitted that these guards are in the front line in the fight against crime and drug gangs. A letter from organised crime minister Ben Wallace spells out his concerns that driver-only trains will mean the loss of the guards in a position to spot children recruited to carry heroin and cocaine.
RMT news release. Daily Mail. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Attacks on shopworkers up, police numbers down
Retail trade union Usdaw has called on the government to increase funding and resources for the police to help them tackle a rising tide of attacks on shopworkers and theft from shops. The union was speaking out during its annual Respect for Shopworkers Week, 12-18 November.
Usdaw news release, related news release and Respect for Shopworkers Week. Suzy Lamplugh Trust news release and survey. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Education workers call for backing for school safety charter
Education workers are urging local schools and councils to add their weight to a union charter aimed at ending violence against school staff by pupils. Between January 2017 and November 2018 1,594 physical assaults were carried out by pupils against school support staff across 13 local education authorities (LEAs), a Freedom of Information request by the GMB union has revealed.
Morning Star. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Serious safety incidents toll at Amazon tops 600
The true number of recent serious health and safety incidents reported at Amazon warehouses has been revealed to have topped 600, a GMB investigation has revealed.  The union has discovered that since 2015/16, a total of 602 reports have been made from Amazon warehouses to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
GMB news release. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Global: Agency pays ‘substantial’ damages in asbestos spying settlement
K2 intelligence has agreed to pay ‘substantial’ damages to five prominent anti-asbestos campaigners after evidence emerged it had orchestrated a secret surveillance operation intended to undermine efforts to ban the deadly fibre. The campaigners took legal action after discovering details of ‘Project Spring’, where K2 retained Robert Moore to infiltrate and spy on the campaigners’ anti-asbestos network, including covertly recording phone conversations and meetings.
Leigh Day news release. The Guardian. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Study warns of link between burnout and mental harm
People feeling burned out at work are likely to experience symptoms of paranoia according to a new study. Pahl, chief executive of the Society of Occupational Medicine, commented: “It is important to ensure people experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition are supported.”
R Bianchi and L Janin. Burnout, depression and paranoid ideation: a cluster-analytic study, Occupational Medicine, published online 12 November 2018. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Sister of killed electrician backs culpable homicide bill
The sister of an electrician killed at work has backed a proposed law in Scotland that would give families new ways to pursue corporate killers. Louise Taggart, whose brother Michael Adamson was electrocuted aged 26 in 2005, said Labour MSP Claire Baker’s culpable homicide bill would “plug the justice deficit.”
Claire Baker MSP news release. Unite Scotland facebook page. Scottish Hazards. Morning Star. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Director convicted after narrow escapes in roof collapse
A director of a construction company has been convicted of a criminal safety offence after three workers narrow escaped injury during the partial collapse of a building during roofing work. Company director Jason Lycett was found guilty of a criminal safety breach and fined £30,000 with £7,026.58 in costs.
HSE news release. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Dairy company fined after yoghurt machine injury
A dairy company has been fined after a worker's toe was crushed by unguarded part of a machine. Marybelle Pur Natur Limited was found to have failed to ensure that access to dangerous parts of the machine was prevented and was fined £32,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,767.09.
HSE news release. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: Unveiling of workers’ memorial stained glass window, 23 November
In the build-up to International Workers Memorial Day on 28 April 2019, Greater Manchester Hazards Centre will be unveiling a memorial ‘Fallen Tears’ stained glass window on 23 November at the People’s History Museum, Manchester, from 3pm to 5pm.
GMHC news release and Fallen Tears invitation. Workers’ Memorial Day. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Canada: Widow thrilled as anti-bullying law is introduced
A new bill to be introduced in a Canadian province is designed to offer better protection from bullying in the workplace. Prince Edward Island’s (PEI) Eric Donovan Bill is in memory of a man whose death was linked to harassment on the job.
CBC News. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

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

USA: Tesla medical clinic designed to ignore injured workers
When a worker gets smashed by a car part on Tesla’s factory floor, medical staff are forbidden from calling emergency services without permission. The electric carmaker’s contract doctors rarely grant it, instead often insisting that seriously injured workers – including one who severed the top of a finger – be sent to the emergency room in a Lyft taxi.
Reveal. Confined Space blog. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Hazards news, 10 November 2018

Britain: Work stress is a ‘growing epidemic’, warns TUC
Warm words won’t fix the ‘growing epidemic’ of work-related stress, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 31 October that show that across Great Britain 15.4 million working days were lost to work-related stress, anxiety and depression in 2017/2018 - an increase of nearly 3 million on the previous year and the highest level on record.
TUC news release. HSE news release and report, Health and safety at work: Summary statistics for Great Britain 2018, HSE, 31 October 2018.
Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. More on work-related stress. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Over 30m days lost last year to work-related health problems
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show 1.4 million workers were suffering from work-related ill health and around 555,000 from non-fatal injuries in 2017/18. A total of 30.7 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury; workplace safety crimes resulted in 493 convictions, with fines totalling £72.6 million – however the report shows HSE enforcement action has fallen sharply.
HSE news release and report, Health and safety at work: Summary statistics for Great Britain 2018, HSE, 31 October 2018. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Work with safety reps to tackle stress, Prospect says
Civil service union Prospect has called on employers to work with safety reps to tackle record-high levels of work-related stress. The official Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show stress-related absence is at the highest level since the regulator started routinely collecting the data in the early 2000s.
Prospect news release and guide to preventing work-related stress. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Mental health concerns in BT under the spotlight
Union reps in BT are continuing to press for urgent action at the telecommunications giant to address harrowing stress problems in the workplace. CWU assistant secretary Dave Jukes said: “All the indications to date are that BT is keen to work alongside the CWU to address just the sort of concerns that have been raised by branches – but the proof of the pudding will ultimately be in its actions, not words.”
CWU news release. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: After two losses, Uber takes gig economy case to appeal
Cab hailing firm Uber has taken a court challenge on the status of its drivers to the Court of Appeal. In earlier GMB-backed legal hearings, the union argued successful that Uber’s drivers were ‘workers’ and not self-employed, entitling them a swathe of employment and safety protections.
Leigh Day news release. The Independent. More on the health and safety risk of insecure work. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: No hiding place for bullies in the ambulance service
There should soon be no hiding place for bullies at the South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS), health service union UNISON has said. The union was commenting on the publication of an independent four-month study found a third of staff had witnessed bullying, mostly of their colleagues, but of managers in some cases too.
UNISON news release. Independent report. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Rail union issues ‘phoney guards’ safety warning
Rail union RMT has told the rail safety regulator the use of inexperienced, under-trained managers as ‘phoney guards’ is creating a ‘serious’ safety risk on the railways. The union was blowing the whistle on ‘serious breaches’ including three instances of ‘ready to start’ signals being used by ‘contingency guards (PUGs)’ when lights were at red.
RMT news release and related news release. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Strike threat over the sacking of assaulted RMT activist
Rail workers at Great Western Railway’s Paddington depot are to vote on industrial action over the victimisation of RMT activist Ben Frederick, the union has said. RMT general secretary Mick Cash he was fired because of a “vexatious and false allegation” as the result of a management grudge against a respected union activist.
RMT news release. Morning Star. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Deadly risks increase as firefighter numbers plummet
The loss of 500 firefighters in England in the last year has left the fire service struggling to protect the public, their union said. In a safety warning issued ahead of bonfire night, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the loss of professionals and services means it is now taking 30 seconds longer for crews to reach callouts compared to 2010.
FBU news release. Morning Star. Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Teachers sent home for refusing to teach violent pupils
Teachers at Kaimes School in Edinburgh have had their pay stopped and been barred entry to their classrooms after refusing to teach eight pupils in a dispute over violent and disruptive behaviour. Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: “The action the council is taking against our members is far more disruptive to children’s education than any action the teachers themselves are taking.”
NASUWT news release. BBC News Online.
TUC violence at work guide and related violence and assaults reporting form. Risks 874. 10 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

Britain: 'Audit culture' causing burnout in school staff
The Department for Education (DfE) has pledged to ease pressures on teachers in England, after it accepted the recommendations of a new report that said an “audit culture” in schools was causing anxiety and staff burnout without improving results. The report by the DfE’s teacher workload advisory group says teachers have to waste time producing data on their pupils, with the recording, monitoring and analysing of data being demanded by multiple sources, including local and central government, Ofsted school inspectors and multiple tiers of school management.
DfE news release and DfE Workload Advisory Group report.. NASUWT news release. Schools Week. The Guardian. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Study identifies a workplace ‘exhaustion epidemic’
Britain’s workers are falling victim to a workplace ‘exhaustion epidemic’, a study has concluded. The research from Westfield Health found almost half of British workers regularly turn up to their job feeling too tired to work, 3 in 10 have had an accident or made a serious mistake due to fatigue, and 13 per cent have even drifted to sleep whilst driving.
Westfield Health blog. IoD news report. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Global: Attacks on journalists are bad for democracy
More than a thousand journalists were killed between 2006 and 2017, according to a UNESCO report published ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November. The UN agency said last year the percentage of journalists murdered in countries free of armed conflict (55 per cent) exceeded that of journalists felled in conflict zones for the first time.
UNESCO news release. NUJ news release. IFJ proposal for an International Convention on the Safety and Independence of Journalists and other Media professionals. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Japan: Serious overwork common in school teachers
Teachers and officials at elementary, junior high and high schools across Japan are working more than 11 hours per day on average, raising concern about serious health repercussions or even deaths. In a government survey, which drew responses from some 35,000 school teachers and officials, 80.7 per cent said they have stress or concerns related to work, of whom 43.4 per cent cited long working hours as the cause of their distress.
Japan Today. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Korea: Samsung agrees to payouts after work disease deaths
A major campaign spearheaded by occupational disease victims and their families has forced Samsung to agree a wide-ranging compensation scheme. Those affected - and workers' children with related ailments - will receive up to 150m won (£102,907) per illness.
Sharps ‘Stop Samsung’ blog and SHARPS webpage. BBC News Online. Yonhap News. NDTV News. More on health and safety in the electronics industry. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Hazards news, 3 November 2018

Britain: TUC action call on ‘workplace killer’ diesel exhaust
Diesel exhaust is one of the biggest workplace killers, the TUC has said, but has warned the UK is failing to take the action necessary to protect workers. In response, the TUC has published a guide to diesel exhaust that highlights the practical and simple steps that employers can take to protect their workers.
TUC news release and Diesel exhaust in the workplace: A TUC guide for trade union activists, October 2018. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Shiftwork increase makes it time for action
The number of people working night shifts has increased by more than 150,000 over the past five years, a TUC analysis of official figures has revealed. The union body says the number working nights now stands at more than 3 million workers – or one in nine of the total UK workforce.
TUC news release and analysis. TUC blog. HSE webpage on shiftwork and breast cancer risk. The burden of occupational cancer in Great Britain – Breast cancer, RR852, HSE, December 2012. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: UPS is denying drivers night-time toilet facilities
Global logistics giant UPS could face industrial action in the new year in an escalating row over drivers denied access to night-time toilet facilities at its depots. Unite said about 350 HGV drivers were not allowed to use toilets at some of UPS’s 50 depots if they turn up with deliveries during the night.
Unite Live. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Lack of clarity on BT changes causing ‘stress and anxiety’
BT managers’ union Prospect has warned the telecoms giant is creating “a perfect storm of stress and anxiety” among members by rolling out fundamental jobs restructuring without first agreeing the related changes to pay, terms and conditions with the union.
Prospect news release. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Lack of support implicated in suicide at Amnesty
A veteran worker at Amnesty International killed himself after complaining of a lack of support from management, the union Unite has said. In a statement, the union’s Amnesty branch noted “popular and highly-respected colleague” Gaëtan Mootoo, who worked out of the London office, took his own life at Amnesty International’s Paris office on 25 May 2018, leaving a note that stated he had not received the support from the organisation he had requested.
Unite news release. More on work-related suicide. Amnesty International statement, 8 June 2018. NDTV News. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Unite welcomes RSPCA chief’s commitment on harassment
The head of animal welfare charity RCPCA has promised action to address high levels of bullying and harassment in the organisation. New chief executive Chris Sherwood pledged to tackle his organisation’s toxic culture, revealed in a major survey undertaken by Unite.
Unite news release. Third Sector magazine. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Welcome progress on harassment and bullying in parliament
The union Prospect has welcomed a decision of the House of Commons Commission to implement the recommendations of the independent report by Dame Laura Cox into bullying and harassment of staff in parliament. Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham responded: “This is a long overdue and very welcome decision that is a vital step in rebuilding trust between parliament and the staff who work there. Parliament may write our employment law but it has certainly not led the way on employment practices and it is disappointing that it has taken such public pressure to drag it into the 21st Century.”
Prospect news release. House of Commons Commission statement. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Dismay at government ‘no’ to a maximum work temperature
The union Unite has said it is ‘extremely disappointed’ the government has rejected a call from MPs for a maximum working temperature. Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “By failing to take action the government is making life more difficult for the good employers who try to do the right thing and look after the welfare of workers as they fear they are being placed at a commercial disadvantage.”
Unite news release. Heatwaves: adapting to climate change, Environment Select Committee report, 26 July 2018 and the government’s response. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Unions make a stink over ScotRail backsliding on human waste
Railway unions have called for urgent action to prevent train operator ScotRail from breaking an agreement not to dump human waste on Scotland’s railway tracks. A deal between the unions and the Scottish government ended the dangerous and disgusting practice in December 2017, but a shake-up in the ScotRail fleet is set to see its return.
RMT news release. TSSA news release. The Guardian. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: CWU wants falling accident rates, not falling workers
CWU area safety reps (ASRs) and their management counterparts are to carry out a series of ‘spot-checks’ at Royal Mail delivery units around the country, as the union and the business jointly launch a safety campaign targeting slips, trips and falls on 5 November. CWU national safety officer Dave Joyce said: “It’s about firstly working out how best to prepare, identifying what the potential hazards are, making sure that the walk risk assessments and dynamic risk assessments are carried out, and fully complying with the appropriate safe system of work.”
CWU news release. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Usdaw vows to continue its fight for injured workers
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw has vowed to continue its Justice for Injured Workers Campaign after MPs pushed through ‘unfair and unnecessary’ changes in the government’s Civil Liability Bill. The government’s proposal doubles to £2,000 the threshold for employer liability cases taken in the small claims court, a move strongly opposed by the union.
Usdaw news release. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Stronger protection from violence for NHS staff
The first ever health service violence reduction strategy is to be introduced, the government has said. UNISON head of health Sara Gorton, welcomed the new strategy, noting: “It is encouraging that the government has listened to unions and agreed to review measures in place to ensure staff safety.”
Department of Health and Social Care news release. The Sun. Daily Mail. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Government accepts compo call on hand disease
Thousands of former miners and other manual workers may soon qualify for state compensation for a debilitating hand condition caused by their jobs. After a long delay, the Chancellor’s autumn statement this week included provision for Dupuytren’s contracture to be added to the list of prescribed diseases qualifying for industrial injuries benefits.
Chancellor Philip Hammond’s 29 October 2018 Budget statement. Budget 2018: Policy document. Budget 2018: Policy costings. IIAC 2014 report. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Employers need to act to end dangerous skills card fraud
Construction union Unite is calling on construction employers to ‘up their game’ to root out fake Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards, warning the practice is putting site workers at risk. The union was speaking out after a fake CSCS card seller was jailed for fraud.
Unite news release. Warwickshire County Trading Standards news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Director jailed after waste worker’s crush death
Waste and recycling company director Jonathan Gaskell, 47, has been jailed after the death of a 39-year-old worker eight years ago. Liverpool Crown Court heard how Polish national Zbigniew Galka was crushed to death in a baler with a deliberately disabled safety system while working at Gaskells Waste Services in Bootle on 23 December 2010.
HSE news release. Gaskells statement. BBC News Online. Liverpool Echo. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Shed firm fined after worker killed by forklift
A Leeds garden shed manufacturing company has received a six figure fine for criminal safety offences after a worker was killed. Leeds Magistrates' Court heard how, on 23 July 2012 sawmill worker Andrew Hanshaw, a 45-year-old Woodlands Homecare Ltd employee, was moving wood offcuts when he was struck by a side loader forklift truck (FLT) that had been unloading a delivery wagon.
HSE news release. Yorkshire Evening Post. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Farm fined over worker’s tractor death
Carlisle farm partnership JS Wood and Son has been fined £100,000 after a worker died when he was hit by a tractor. Labourer Stephen Toppin, 57, suffered fatal head injuries at Wragmire Bank, near Cumwhinton, Carlisle, in January last year.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

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

Turkey: Union safety campaigners behind bars as airport opens
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opened Istanbul’s third airport on 29 October amid a labour safety dispute that has led to the jailing and criminal investigation of 31 workers, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said. Union representatives told HRW that an unrevealed number of workers who joined the protest were promptly dismissed from their jobs an d that the airport construction site is being heavily policed to prevent any further demonstrations.
HRW news release and video. The Independent. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Hazards news, 27 October 2018

Britain: Warning - your accident book could be hazardous
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced a new accident book – and it includes changes of crucial importance for the work of safety reps. The new version confirms safety representatives must have access to information on work injuries, regardless the requirements of the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
TUC blog. HSE Accident Book, 2018 edition, TSO – make sure your workplace has the ticked-boxed up-to-date version. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Cleaners at the sharp end of needlestick injuries
Almost two-thirds of workers who claim compensation successfully for needlestick injuries are cleaners – mainly because the needles weren’t correctly disposed of, the health service union UNISON has revealed. A UNISON analysis of nearly 100 successful compensation claims for needlestick injuries lodged by union members over a five year period showed that 62 per cent came from cleaning staff across all sectors, including health, social care, education and local government.
UNISON news release. More on needlestick safety. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain:Scottish government must end public services ‘aggro’
Public services union UNISON has called for action from the Scottish government to “end the aggro” faced by council and NHS workers. The union’s 2018 survey of violence at work revealed assaults on public service workers are running at more than 40,000 incidents for the third successive year.
UNISON news release. Violence at Work: A Survey of UNISON employers and staff in Scotland 2018. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: PCS to train reps to challenge sexual harassment at work
Civil service union PCS is to launch a one-day sexual harassment awareness course in the wake of ‘shocking’ reports exposing the culture of bullying, harassment and intimidation across the civil service. In conjunction with TUC Education, the union has designed the workshop to “raise awareness among all union reps, and give them the confidence and tools to challenge management where change is not forthcoming.”
PCS news release. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Commons staff press for action on bullying and harassment
Union members working in the Houses of Parliament may have “little other choice” but to resort to action unless there is a tough response to the widespread bullying and sexual harassment revealed by a just-published probe, the union representing senior civil servants has warned. Amy Leversidge, assistant general secretary of the FDA, which represents top civil servants, said staff had been “pushed to breaking point” and Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham has written to the leaders of all parties at Westminster, stressing the need for effective leadership to put the wellbeing of staff ahead of political interests or personal agendas.
FDA news release. Prospect news release. Morning Star. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Compensation changes could create court chaos
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw is warning ministers that their proposals to force more injured workers through the small claims court could overwhelm the compensation system. Government proposals in the Civil Liability Bill would force more injured workers through the small claims court, by doubling to £2,000 the value of claims referred by this route.
Usdaw news release. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Retail staff need protection as shoplifting continues to rise
The government must act in light of new Office for National Statistics (OHS) figures revealing a further increase in shoplifting in England and Wales in the year to June 2018. The union says these police-recorded reports confirm an upward trend that has seen a 32 per cent increase over the last decade.
Usdaw news release. Police recorded crimes in England and Wales, released 18 October 2018. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Prospect reps highlight safety and enforcement concerns
Civil service, science and specialists’ union Prospect has warned that a combination of workplace hazards, inadequate enforcement and difficulty getting time off for union safety training are worrying commonplace. The union’s analysis of aggregated data provided by Prospect reps to the TUC’s latest biennial survey “reveals that stress is of particular concern and, despite the considerable expertise of our health and safety reps, many employers fail to effectively engage with them when making decisions about health and safety.”
Prospect news release. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Slashed firefighter jobs stoke safety fears
The government has continued to cut firefighter jobs in England, the firefighters’ union FBU has said, despite the service dealing with more incidents, more fires, and more fire deaths. Official Home Office figures show since 2009, the number of firefighters in England has decreased by 23 per cent; as of 31 March 2018, there were 32,340 full-time equivalent firefighters, with 421 firefighter jobs having been lost over the past year.
FBU news release. Home Office fire and rescue workforce statistics for England, April 2017-2018. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Public inquiry call after coroner’s toxic cabin air warning
A coroner’s warning on the deadly risk posed by toxic cabin air on board aircraft should be a catalyst for a public inquiry, the union Unite has said. The union was speaking out after finding new guidance was issued to coroners in England and Wales, following the unprecedented letter of concern in April this year from the senior coroner in the inquest into the death of Unite member and British Airways cabin crew Matthew Bass.
Unite news release. Why Matt died website. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Virgin staff safer after union bodycam ‘victory’
The use of bodycams by frontline workers on Virgin Trains has resulted in assaults on staff falling by more than half, in what the union RMT has described as a campaign ‘victory’.  Following a pilot scheme, Virgin Trains said assaults on Virgin Trains staff have fallen month by month, from 20 in March 2018 to 6 in September.
RMT news release. Virgin Trains news release. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Blockbuster profits for Asos, gut-busting conditions for staff
Soaring trading that saw Asos post a £500m rise in sales last year should be reflected in much better conditions for its under pressure warehouse staff, the union GMB has said. GMB said while the blockbuster sales figures are great for the Asos owners, workers at its giant Barnsley warehouse still face ‘draconian’ working practices and unsatisfactory pay, terms and conditions.
GMB news release and Respect Asos Workers campaign. BBC News Online. Sky News. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Britain: Scrap metal deaths firm families 'await answers'
Relatives of five African men killed in a Birmingham scrap metal plant in July 2016 have expressed dismay at a lack of answers to questions about how their loved ones died. All five, from The Gambia and Senegal, died when a 15ft concrete wall fell on them at Hawkeswood Metal in the city’s Nechells district.
BBC News Online. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Australia: Unions welcome work manslaughter recommendations
Australia’s national union body ACTU has welcomed a Senate inquiry’s call for a uniform national system of industrial manslaughter laws. The report released by the committee on 17 October also recommends that unions and families be given the right to bring cases under the new laws on behalf of workers.
ACTU news release. Senate inquiry into industrial deaths in Australia: Recommendations. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Canada: Relief at asbestos ban, dismay at exemptions
A nationwide ban on asbestos introduced in Canada has been welcomed by unions and campaigners, however loopholes that allow some asbestos exports and the exploitation of asbestos tailings have caused alarm. Critics point out the occupational exposure standard for asbestos to be used on an Alliance Magnesium (AMI) asbestos wastes project, to be run with financial backing from the government, is that favoured by the asbestos industry.
Government of Canada news release. CLC news release. Globe and Mail. CBC News. National Post. Risks 872. 27 October 2018

Europe: Unions and employers want reprotoxins action
The chemical industry and trade unions have agreed a future framework to better protect European Union workers from the risks associated with exposure to substances toxic to reproduction. In a joint declaration, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the union federation for the chemical sector IndustriALL Europe, the European Chemical Employers Group (ECEG) and the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) call on the European Commission to strengthen the current system of protection of workers’ reproductive health.
Joint ETUC-IndustriAll Europe-Cefic-ECEG news release and Joint Declaration, 16 October 2018. Risks 872. 27 October 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

Hazards news, 20 October 2018

Britain: No place for vaping in the workplace
Caving into pressure from Big Tobacco to allow vaping in enclosed workspaces could put non-vaping workers in harm's way, the TUC has warned. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said while e-cigarettes may be safer than traditional cigarettes, “that doesn’t mean we should allow vaping in enclosed workplaces, despite growing pressure from the vaping industry for employers and public transport providers to allow it in enclosed spaces where it is currently banned.”
TUC blog and updated Ensuring smoke-free workplaces guide, including an e-cigarettes section, June 2018. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Union warning on the workplace fatigue culture
Pilots’ union BALPA has told MPs that more needs to be done to create a workplace culture that understands, prioritises and manages fatigue, particularly in safety-critical industries like aviation. BALPA head of flight safety, Dr Rob Hunter, told a ‘sleep and health’ seminar at the Houses of Parliament: “In aviation, and in-fact any safety-critical industry, we must understand fatigue and create a culture that prioritises and mitigates it.”
BALPA news release. Sleep and Health meeting. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Police copped barring the sick from jobs
Public sector UNISON has expressed outrage at the revelation that the police operate a blacklist that can bar staff for life from jobs in the service based on their sickness record. The police ‘barred and advisory lists’, brought in by law less than a year ago, contain the names of police staff, special constables, and officers who have been dismissed, however UNISON’s police and justice conference heard inclusion on the lists is not limited to those fired for misconduct, but also includes workers dismissed over attendance and performance evaluations.
UNISON news report. Police Barred and Advisory Lists Regulations 2017. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Pay worries are damaging to mental health
A survey of over 10,000 retail workers has laid bare the issues that working people are facing as a result of low pay, short and zero hours contracts and insecure work, their union has said. Usdaw’s research found 92 per cent of respondents have seen no improvement in their financial situation over the past five years and nearly two-thirds of workers (63 per cent) say financial worries are having an impact on their mental health.
Usdaw news release, It’s good to talk mental health campaign and Time 4 Better Pay campaign. More on the health and safety risks of low pay. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Community mental health charter gets another sign on
Mitie Care and Custody Ltd has joined a growing list of employers from across the UK economy that have signed up to the union Community’s mental health charter. The union says its initiative sets out to get employers to make mental health a priority in their workplaces.
Community news release and mental health charter. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Bigger push needed to reduce teacher workload
The government and the education standards watchdog Ofsted must do much more to reduce the crippling administrative burden on teachers, the union NEU has said. NEU’s latest survey of 11,341 primary and secondary teachers working in 6,908 schools found: “Unnecessary accountability tasks and measures previously enforced by government and Ofsted were one of the biggest contributing factors to teachers’ excessive workload and a major reason for many teachers leaving the profession.”
NEU news release. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Hundreds of serious injuries blight Amazon warehouses
Amazon warehouse workers suffer hundreds of serious injuries each year, including fractures, contusions, head injuries and collisions with heavy equipment, a GMB investigation has found. The union’s freedom of information requests found more than 440 serious health and safety incidents at Amazon warehouses have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) since 2015/16.
GMB news release. More on Amazon’s safety record. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Time for proper legal protection from dangerous dogs
A change in the law to protect workers and the public from dangerous dogs and their irresponsible owners should be introduced as a priority, the postal workers’ union CWU has said. The union was commenting after a House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee report on ‘Controlling dangerous dogs’ called on the government to ‘commission a comprehensive review of existing dog control legislation and policy’, with a view to focus on prevention, early intervention, and consistently robust sanctions for offenders’.
CWU news release and branch briefing. House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Parliamentary Select Committee – Report on ‘Controlling Dangerous Dogs’ and Recommendations to the UK Government, 17 October 2018 – news release and full report. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: ‘Precarious’ footballers to get protection from ‘injury calamity’
Amateur and semi-professional footballers deserve protection, as well as advice and support for their lives both in and out of football, the GMB has said. The union’s call came as it launched a ’Footballers United’ branch, which it says will protect ‘precarious’ players from ‘injury calamity.’
GMB news release. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Brexit mustn't be ‘Trojan horse’ to scrap safety rights
Brexit must not be a ‘Trojan horse’ to scrap necessary health and safety laws, campaigners have said. The call from the Hazards Campaign came as a study from the manufacturers’ body EEF urged the government to avoid any “disruption” to business that would arise from replacing or abolishing current labour laws when the UK leaves European Union.
EEF news release. Morning Star. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: New report must signal end of parliamentary bullying
A newly published independent report into parliamentary bullying and harassment should be ‘the final nail in the coffin’ of the culture of abuse of parliamentary staff by MPs, the union Prospect has said. The report from Dame Laura Cox found a culture of “deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence” in Westminster where abuse was “tolerated and covered up”.
The bullying and harassment of House of Commons staff: Independent Inquiry Report, Dame Laura Cox DBE, 15 October 2018. Prospect news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Contentious RIDDOR changes should be reversed - official
A legally-required Health and Safety Executive (HSE) review has concluded the official workplace safety watchdog should reverse much-criticised changes to the workplace injury and disease reporting regulation. The move, to capture less common occupational health conditions and reduce the number of non-workers included in work accident figures, is recommended in a government-required post implementation review (PIR) of the effectiveness of the RIDDOR reporting regulations.
Post Implementation Review of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, HSE, 2018. Environmental Health News.
Hugh Robertson. The Health and Safety at Work Act turned 40, Occupational Medicine, volume 65, issue 3, pages 176-179, March 2015. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Prison union welcomes safety equipment roll out
Prison officers across the country will be equipped with incapacitant spray to help keep them safe and maintain order, prisons minister Rory Stewart has announced. The news, which has been welcomed by the prison officers’ union POA, “will ensure every prison officer in the adult male estate is equipped with PAVA - a synthetic pepper spray which temporarily incapacitates those it is sprayed upon,” the government said.
Ministry of Justice news release. POA news release. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Firm failed to assess vibration risks
British Airways Avionic Engineering Limited has been fined for failing to assess the risk to workers from vibration. Cardiff Crown Court heard how people working at the company were exposed to vibration from use of a wet blasting cabinet and vibrating hand tools – but it was not until late in 2013 that action was taken by the company to assess and reduce vibration risk, despite the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations having been in force since July 2005.
HSE news release. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Get ready for National Inspection Day, Wednesday 24 October!
This year National Inspection Day falls on Wednesday 24 October, the middle of European Health and Safety Week. The TUC is urging union health and safety representatives to inspect their workplace on that day. This could be a general inspection, or a topic-specific inspection on issues like fire safety, shiftworking or short-and long-term health risks.
TUC facebook safety page. TUC guide to safety rep inspections and guide to fire safety inspections. European Health and Safety Week guide. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

China: Destitute migrants ravaged by work dust disease
Migrant workers dying of horrific dust-related lung diseases are struggling to pay for medical treatment or to raise enough money to cover their funeral costs. More than 600 workers from Hunan province in central China are seeking money for medical care and to support their families – a reflection of the forgotten human cost of turning Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, from a sleepy fishing village into a city with a gross domestic product of US$338 billion in 2017.
South China Morning Post. Love Save Pneumoconiosis. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Europe: New ‘compromise’ standard for diesel fumes
The Europe-wide trade union body ETUC has welcomed a new diesel exhaust fumes exposure standard. It says 3.6 million workers in the EU are at risk of exposures, adding the new European occupational exposure limit will prevent at least 6,000 deaths per year from lung cancer.
ETUC news release. Socialists and Democrats news release. SCOEL recommendation Risks 871. 20 October 2018.

India: At least 12 dead in steel plant blast
A gas pipeline explosion at the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) Bhilai steel plant in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh on 9 October has killed at least 12 workers, with several others suffering life-threating burns. Global union federation IndustriALL said the tragedy “is yet another fatal accident in the Bhilai steel plant, exposing the safety crisis at Indian public sector steel plants.”
IndustriALL news release. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Hazards news, 13 October 2018

Britain: Stress is top workplace health concern, say reps
Almost seven in 10 (69 per cent) trade union health and safety union representatives say stress is a top health and safety concern they deal with at work.  The TUC’s biennial health and safety rep survey found bullying and harassment rated the next most common problem, and then overwork was a concern for 36 per cent of the 1,073 union reps who took part in the TUC’s survey followed by slips, trips and falls 31 per cent).
TUC news release, stress guidance and Safety representatives survey 2018. Usdaw news release. Personnel Today. Morning Star. The Mirror. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Shoppers agree that shopworkers deserve protection
The overwhelming majority of shoppers believe the government should protect shopworkers from violence and abuse when enforcing age-restricted sales laws, according to a new poll published by the Co-operative Party. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis commented: “When parliament passes laws that shopworkers have to enforce, they should also provide legal protection for shopworkers.”
Cooperative Party news release. Usdaw news release and Freedom from Fear campaign. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Asbestos checks ‘Catch 22’ for former helicopter repair staff
An estimated 1,000 former Ministry of Defence (MoD) employees, who may have been exposed to asbestos while maintaining Sea King helicopters, are now caught in a Catch 22 situation over getting tested, their union Unite has said. The union, which is calling for the government to advertise the availability of screening, said the MoD’s advice for former workers to fill out a personal asbestos record form was ‘inadequate’, because those ex-maintenance staff servicing Sea King helicopters since 1969 would be unlikely to know of the form’s existence.
Unite news release and asbestos register. MoD health and safety forms. Daily Echo. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Study confirms the vital safety role of train guards
New research from the rail union RMT has revealed the vital role train guards play in delivering a safe, secure and accessible railway. The union says the crucial safety critical role of guards is demonstrated by the fact that 80 per cent of guards have prevented an emergency situation and used their safety critical training in an actual emergency situation.  
RMT news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Rail violence hike shows need to halt staff cuts
Rail union RMT has called for an immediate halt to plans to axe train guards and ‘de-staff’ stations after new official figures from the British Transport Police (BTP) revealed a sharp 17 per cent increase in violent incidents on Britain's railways. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the “shocking figures” demonstrate “nothing short of criminal negligence on the part of those rail companies that have axed guards and de-staffed stations‎ in the drive for profits."
RMT news release. BTP news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: New dignity at work agreement protects postal workers
A new dignity at work collective agreement between the postal workers’ union CWU and Post Office management pledges the organisation will be “a safe space for all, where everyone feels valued and treated with dignity, courtesy and respect.” CWU postal executive member Lynn Simpson, who played a leading role in constructing the new policy, said: “It sends a clear message that bullying, discrimination, intimidation or threatening behaviours are not acceptable and there are robust procedures in place to ensure a safe working environment.”
CWU news release and joint statement. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Long hours on film and TV sets are bad for you
The mental health of workers in film and TV is being damaging by the sector’s long hours culture, the union BECTU has said. The union is calling for all parts of the industry to come together to form a commission dedicated to reducing the industry's reliance on a long hours working culture.
BECTU news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Coal chiefs plotted to ‘delay’ payouts to dying miners
British Coal plotted to ‘delay’ payouts to tens of thousands of miners dying from occupational lung diseases, newly discovered memos have revealed. The firm hatched plans to make it “costly and unattractive” for miners and their families to pursue claims, the documents show.
The Mirror and related editorial. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Construction firms targeted in health inspections blitz
Construction firms across Great Britain will be targeted throughout October to check their health standards. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it would be the first time its inspections had included a specific focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease, looking at the measures businesses have in place to protect their workers’ lungs from exposures including asbestos, silica and wood dust. HSE news release and free #DustBuster selfie cards. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: B&CE launches site occupational health pilot
Construction benefits organisation B&CE has launched a pilot scheme involving 18 companies to help develop a new approach to improving occupational health provision across the construction industry. The new tech is intended to allow construction workers to access their site occupational health records on their mobile phones.
B&CE news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Doctors hit by stress, burnout, depression and anxiety
A lack of resources has left UK doctors facing a ‘toxic’ work environment that is placing them at greater risk of work-related stress, burnout, depression and anxiety than the general population, a new study has found. The report by the Society of Occupational Medicine and The Louise Tebboth Foundation also found the incidence of suicide, especially among women doctors, GPs and trainees, is comparatively high.
University of Bedfordshire news release. SOM news release and report. NHS Employers news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Electric cars halve taxi drivers' exposure to toxic emissions
Zero emission capable taxis can halve their driver’s exposure to toxic exhaust pollutants, according to new research. The study into air quality by King’s College London’s Environmental Research Group (ERG) found that drivers of diesel taxis are exposed to pollution levels 1.8 times higher than those driving less polluting and more air tight electric models.
Fleet News. IOSH news report. Air Quality News. Motoring Research. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: IKEA worker lost two fingers in Bristol store
Swedish furniture multinational IKEA has been prosecuted after a worker lost part of two fingers while checking a faulty roof fan at its Bristol store. The maintenance engineer carrying out the work had not had any health and safety training from the retailer.  
Bristol City Council news release. Bristol Post. BBC News Online. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Australia: Two-thirds of cabin crew sexually harassed
Two-thirds (65 per cent) of airline cabin crew have experienced sexual harassment, with one in five crew reporting more than 10 incidents, a union survey has found. The findings “show that airlines are not taking the problem seriously and are not supporting workers when they are faced with what are daily assaults on them,” said TWU national secretary Michael Kaine.
TWU news release. Skift. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Bangladesh: Five years on, injured workers face poverty
Those bereaved or injured in garment factory tragedies in Bangladesh are still facing “dire poverty”, despite the focus on the issue resulting from the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse which killed over 1,100 workers. The Clean Clothes Campaign is calling for the creation “of a national employment injury insurance scheme and a bridging solution would be the realisation of one of the major lessons learned after the Rana Plaza collapse and end the insecurity and dire poverty of the workers that were killed and injured at the workplace in the five years since the collapse.”
Clean Clothes Campaign news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Europe: New report finds exploitation of non-EU drivers
A new report on the working conditions endured by non-EU professional drivers paints a picture of ‘an unappetising race to the bottom’ that must be resisted, UK union Unite has said. Unite was commenting on research by Dutch trade unions that found non-EU drivers from countries including Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine were driving for extreme hours on western European roads on wages starting as low as €0.79 an hour.
Unite news release. The Black Sea. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

USA: Outrage as government sets faster poultry line speeds
Already overworked poultry workers will suffer more work-related repetitive strain injuries and illnesses as a result of a shock government decision to allow much faster line speeds, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) has warned. Debbie Berkowitz, programme director for worker safety and health with the National Employment Law Project, said: “Overwhelming evidence supports the conclusion that allowing poultry processing plants to operate with faster line speeds than allowable by law is inconsistent with the USDA’s waiver regulation, undermines the rulemaking process, violates the Administrative Procedure Act, and most of all, endangers both workers and consumers.”
NELP news release. Citizenvox. Food Safety News. Food Integrity Campaign blog. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Hazards news, 6 October 2018

Global: Amazon improves wages, but is still bad on unions and safety
Trillion-dollar corporate behemoth Amazon’s announcement that it will increase the wages of its lowest paid workers in the UK and US shows that pressure from national and international unions is having an impact, unions have said. However, they warn the pay rise comes with a cut in benefits and the company still shows no sign of improving working conditions and ending its global anti-union strategy.
TUC news release. GMB news release. ITUC news release. ITF news release. Amazon UK news release and related blog on the minimum wage scheme. Amazon USA news releaseThe Guardian. BBC News Online. Morning Star. More on Amazon’s poor health and safety record. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Why a ‘no-deal’ Brexit threatens workplace standards
The government's own papers show that crashing out of the EU without a deal would put the UK’s workplace health and safety regulations at risk, the TUC has warned. Hugh Robertson, the union body’s head of safety, said “we must ask for respect for EU health and safety standards to be at the heart of any future partnership agreement between the UK and EU to ensure that UK regulation remains, as an absolute minimum, at the level afforded to EU workers both now and in the future.”
TUC Blog. A right mess. Brexit waffle worrying for workers; safety watchdog loses its head, Hazards magazine, Number 143, 2018. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: PCS call for mental health awareness and action
In the run up to World Mental Health Day on 10 October, civil service union PCS is urging all union branches to hold workplace events to promote good mental health – but is also calling for action to address the workplace causes. “The hard work of union reps in supporting individual members is valued and important, but we don’t want just a ‘sticking plaster’.”
PCS news release. Mental health in the workplace, TUC Education workbook, 2018. TUC mental health awareness training. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Government pressed to reduce teacher workload
Teaching union NEU is urging the government to reduce teachers’ workload after new research revealed that unnecessary tasks are the main reason for teachers quitting. The union’s report says that 78 per cent of secondary school teachers and 69 per cent of primary teachers think that the amount of marking they do is unmanageable.
NEU news release. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Union praises ‘brave’ prison officers
The disturbances at Long Lartin prison are a further illustration of the crisis engulfing Britain’s prison system, the prison officers’ union POA has said. In the wake of a weekend of riots at the prison, the union said its call for protective measures to help staff quell the ‘unprecedented levels of violence’ had been vindicated.
POA news releases on prisons in crisis and the Long Lartin disturbances. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Union says tyre giant’s £500,000 fine shows safety pays
A six figure fine handed to Pirelli after two workers were injured in separate incidents on the same machine demonstrates that health and safety regulations should never be diluted, Unite has said. The union was commenting after the tyre multinational was fined £512,000 at Carlisle magistrates’ court following separate incidents in 2013 and 2015 where workers were injured by inadequately guarded machinery.
Unite news release. HSE news release. News and Star. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Partial cladding ban does not go far enough, says FBU
The government’s announcement of a partial ban on the future use of some flammable cladding does not go far enough, the firefighters’ union FBU has said. Commenting after housing secretary James Brokenshire told the Conservative Party conference that new high-rise residential buildings, hospitals, registered care homes and student accommodation will be covered by the ban, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This is not the outright ban on combustible cladding that firefighters have been calling for.”
FBU news release. IOSH news release. ABI news release. Construction Enquirer. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Rail union strike over Underground safety concerns
Members of the train drivers’ union ASLEF working on the London Underground’s Central line took 24-hour strike action on 5 October after a breakdown of industrial relations with London Underground. Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s organiser on the Underground, said: “The strike on the Central line is the result of management’s failure to deal with the issues our reps have raised regarding service control problems affecting our members; abuse of the attendance at work procedure; breach of agreements regarding managers driving trains; abuse of the case conference procedure; harsh and unfair use of the disciplinary procedure; and imposition of new and unsafe ‘flash and dash’ working practices.”
ASLEF news release. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Crime rising on trains as staff are cut, RMT warns
Crime levels on Northern rail services are climbing because ‘greedy’ operators are putting profits before passengers by shedding staff, rail union RMT has said. The union said the problem will worsen if the company succeeds in removing safety-critical guards from trains.
RMT news releases on the Piccadilly Line strike and on Northern Rail. Morning Star. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Global: Scientists hid Monsanto’s hand in their ‘independent’ research
An academic journal has conceded that agrochemicals giant Monsanto didn’t fully disclose its involvement in published research that claimed Roundup, the world’s best selling herbicide, is safe. The ‘Expression of Concern’ issued by Critical Reviews in Toxicology, a journal that analyses health risks of chemicals, may bolster arguments that Monsanto, acquired by Bayer this year, ghost-wrote safety reviews.
Work cancer hazards blog. Bloomberg News. 26 September 2018 Expression of Concern and main article:  Williams GM, Aardema M, Acquavella J, Berry SC, Brusick D, Burns MM, de Camargo JLV, Garabrant D, Greim H, Kier LD, Kirkland DJ, Marsh G, Solomon KR, Sorahan T, Roberts A, Weed DL. A review of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate by four independent expert panels and comparison to the IARC assessment, Critical Reviews in Toxicology, volume 46 (supplement 1), pages 3-20, September 2016.
D Bernstein and others. Health risk of chrysotile revisited, Critical Reviews in Toxicology, volume 43, number 2, pages 154-183, 2013.
TUC glyphosate guide. Risks 869. 8 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: Dangerous site director gets community service
A construction company and its managing director have been sentenced for criminal health and safety failings on a London site. CJ Langs Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,000; company MD Kewie Doherty pleaded guilty to a criminal health and safety offence was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid community work and to pay costs of £1,673, and was also disqualified from being a company director for a period of three years.
HSE news release. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Waste firm fined after two workers burned in explosion
A Bedfordshire waste company has been sentenced after two of its employees suffered burns when a flammable gas cloud released by shredded aerosol containers exploded, with one worker suffering ‘life changing’ injuries. B&W Waste Management Services Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,603.14.
HSE news release. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

India: Cuts linked to death of Mondelez worker
Mondelez worker Milkhi Ram was killed in late September while operating a moulding machine in the company's Baddi, India plant. Global foodworkers’ union IUF said the death of the 35-year-old father of two followed ‘massive’ workforce reductions accompanied by a ‘voluntary separation scheme’ initiated by Mondelez India management, which workers were pressured into accepting at the food multinational that owns household names including Cadbury, Oreo and Toblerone.
IUF news release. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Global: Airport workers protest for decent treatment
On 2 October, 48 airports in 13 countries saw simultaneous demonstrations as workers demanded fair pay and conditions and airport safety and security. Under the banner Airport Workers United, the protests took place at airports controlling 36 per cent of global air travel and that see nearly 4 million people pass through every day.
ITF news release and ITF/UNI report, Fix what is broken: Why airport workers demand change. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Turkey: Workers describe appalling conditions at airport site
A union representing workers at a Turkish airport construction site where hundreds were arrested last month for taking strike action over safety concerns has said the employer wants to treat them like ‘slaves’. Dev Yapi-Is union president Ozgur Karabulut, who was one of those arrested, said the workers were engaged in “a fight to be human,” adding: “They are attacking us to make us slaves.”
Morning Star. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Vietnam: Workers get sick peeling shrimp for export
Tiger shrimps produced for export to European supermarkets are being processed in ‘outrageous’ conditions in Vietnam, a Danish labour standards group has found. Danwatch uncovered practices including 17 hour shifts and exposure to chlorine gas that has left workers with chronic, physical disorders.
Danwatch news release. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Hazards news, 29 September 2018

Britain: Injured workers facing a safety double whammy
Shopworkers’ union leader Paddy Lillis has called on the government to pull back from ‘deeply damaging’ proposals in the Civil Liability Bill. The Usdaw leader said the current plan leaves workers facing the double whammy of worsening health and safety conditions and restricted access to justice.
Usdaw news releaseRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Rise in violence and threats against shopworkers
The government has been urged to stem a rising tide of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. The call from retail union Usdaw came in the wake of its latest survey results, which reveal two-thirds of shopworkers were verbally abused last year, 42 per cent were threatened and there were over 265 assaults every day.
Usdaw news release and report on violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers in 2017Risks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Wilko safety rep wins award and gets sacked
A safety rep with the retailer Wilko who won a prestigious national award for health and safety has been fired by the company. GMB rep Teresa Farmer picked up the safety rep of the year gong at the TUC’s 150th congress in Manchester this month; her sacking came after she raised a series of serious safety issues.
GMB news release. 2018 Congress AwardsRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Overworked public service staff at ‘tipping point’
Public services support staff – including teaching assistants, hospital porters and police community support offers (PCSOs) – are doing more than 40 million hours of unpaid overtime a year and facing ‘intolerable pressures’, according to a report from UNISON. The union says the figure is the equivalent of 25,000 extra public service staff working full-time.
UNISON news release and We can’t go on like this report. The Mirror. More on the hazards of low payRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Top Tories back Brexit push to axe safety protections
A plan published by a right-wing thinktank and backed by prominent Tories is calling for key safety and environmental laws to be ditched as part of a ‘hard’ Brexit. The Institute of Economic Affairs report, ‘Plan A+: Creating a prosperous post-Brexit UK’, was unveiled by former Brexit secretary David Davis and leading Tory Leave campaigner Jacob Rees-Mogg, and has been backed by ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson.
IEA news release and report, Plan A+: Creating a prosperous post-Brexit UK, Institute of Economic Affairs, September 2018. GMB news release. DeSmog. The Express.
A right mess: Brexit waffle worrying for workers; safety watchdog loses its head, Hazards magazine, September 2018. Risks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: HSE asks who you gonna call? Dustbusters!
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors are planning to visit construction sites across Great Britain to see if businesses have measures in place to protect their workers’ lungs from the likes of asbestos, silica and wood dust. The watchdog “will specifically be looking for evidence of construction workers knowing the risk, planning their work and using the right controls,” and adds that it wants workplace ‘#DustBusters’ to show their support for the campaign “by downloading our free selfie cards and sending us your photos via the #DustBuster and #WorkRight hashtags on Twitter at @H_S_E, or on Facebook via @hsegovuk and @SaferSites.”
HSE news release and Selfie signs enjoy retirement, kids, occupational asthma, play footy, die young and die young #2.  HSE pointers - is your site ready for a health inspection? Risks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Garden centre fined over chemical spill injuries
A popular Essex garden centre that failed to undertake adequate checks to protect staff from hazardous chemicals has been fined over £100,000. In a prosecution brought by Colchester Borough Council, Perrywood Garden Centre and Nurseries Ltd admitted to three criminal safety offences after a member of staff developed breathing difficulties after clearing up a spill of garden chemicals in April 2017.
Colchester Borough Council news release. East Anglian Daily TimesRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Yorkshire Water fined after fitter’s fire death
Yorkshire Water has been fined £733,000 after a worker suffered fatal burns at a water treatment plant. Mick Jennings’ clothes caught fire while removing valve bolts at the Tadcaster sewage works in July 2015. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the valve was half open and sparks reacted with high oxygen levels; a near miss report had been recorded at the same location in September 2014 but no action had been taken to reduce the risks.
HSE news release. BBC News Online. York PressRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Firm fingered after woodworker suffers saw injuries
Timberline DIY Limited has been fined after an employee seriously injured three of his fingers while cleaning a band saw. South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 30 June 2016, the worker was cleaning the saw at the premises in Jarrow, when he made contact with a moving blade.
HSE news release and woodworking machinery guideRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: Two site firms foot over £1m in fines for lost toes
Two construction companies have been convicted of criminal health and safety offences after a worker’s foot was trapped in a rotating screw. Liverpool Crown Court heard how, on 5 March 2015, Costain Limited and Galliford Try Building Limited were upgrading water treatment works in Cheshire when a worker’s foot became trapped in a large rotating screw, which led to the amputation of three toes.
HSE news release. Construction EnquirerRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Global: World Day for Decent Work, 7 October 2018
Workers from around the world will be holding activities to mark the 11th World Day for Decent Work on 7 October. International trade union confederation ITUC, which coordinates the event, says year’s global theme, ‘Change the Rules’, highlights the deeply entrenched injustice of the global economic system alongside shrinking democratic space and deteriorating labour rights in many countries, documented in the ITUC Global Rights Index.
ITUC news release and World Day for Decent Work webpage. ITUC Global Rights Index. For more information on the World Day for Decent Work, and to obtain examples of the logos, infographics and social media messages, please send an email to wddw@ituc-csi.org. Risks 868. 29 September 2018

Europe: Fighting cancer ‘should not be a trade secret’
Organisations representing governments, employers and trade unions have agreed to extend a collaboration to fight work-related cancers in Europe. The commitment, agreed at a Vienna conference organised by the EU’s Austrian Presidency, extends the initiative launched in Amsterdam in May 2016 by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), BusinessEurope, the European Commission, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and two EU countries, the Netherlands and Austria.
ETUC news release. EU-OSHA news release. EU Roadmap on CarcinogensRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Japan:  Sexual harassment still not taken seriously
Progress this year towards an International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention on harassment and violence in the workplace has focused attention in Japan on an issue often ignored or downplayed in the country. On 19 September, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare's Labour Policy Council began serious talks on the subject.
Mainichi Shimbun. Reports of the Standard-Setting Committee on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work: Summary of proceedings, ILO, 2018. Risks 868. 29 September 2018

South Africa: Unions call for action after ‘protest suicide’
A South African union has expressed dismay at the inaction on stress and bullying that drove a parliamentary worker into a ‘protest suicide’. Section manager Lennox Garane shot himself dead in his office, leaving a note saying his suicide was a protest at 20 months of bullying.
IOL News. Sunday Times. Business Live. Eyewitness News. The CitizenRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Turkey: Dozens of site workers jailed after airport protest
A Turkish court has jailed 24 workers, including four union leaders, pending formal charges for their alleged roles in a safety protest at Istanbul’s new $13 billion (£9.9bn) airport. The workers complain of deadly pressure to complete the airport, a flagship project for president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in time for the 29 October anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic.
VOA News. Al-Monitor. The Independent.  Risks 868. 29 September 2018

Hazards news, 22 September 2018

Britain: Better protection for emergency workers
Unions have welcomed a new law that will make it a criminal offence to assault emergency workers including police, paramedics, firefighters, prison officers, search and rescue personnel and custody officers. The current six-month maximum sentence for common assault will be doubled to a year for the new crime created by the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, which will also enable judges to increase terms given to people committed for a range of other crimes where the involvement of emergency services was an “aggravating factor”.
GMB release The act Protect the protectors campaign. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Prison workers act on violence
The prison officer’s union, the POA, has taken protest action over the huge rise in violence in Britain’s prisons. It was triggered by a letter from Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke to the Secretary of State issuing an Urgent Notification Notice at HMP Bedford following a catalogue of failures.
POA new release. POA update. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Shopworkers welcome amendment on weapons
Shopworkers’ trade union Usdaw, has welcomed an amendment to the Offensive Weapons Bill that will make it a specific offence to obstruct a shopworker in their duty to enforce the law on the sale of offensive weapons. Shopworkers face growing violence and intimidation when they refuse to sell prohibited items such as acid and knives to those considered underage.
Usdaw release. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: TUC warns that compensation is at risk
The TUC has added its voice to calls for the government to withdraw its proposals to increase the small claims limit for workplace injury claims. The small claims limit is the level at which you can reclaim legal costs if a claim is successful.
TUC Blog #Feedingfatcats. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Union warns about cladding
Unite the union has issued a timely reminder of the importance of employers doing across the board checks on all workplaces which have cladding following the Grenfell fire tragedy. After the fire, the government ordered safety checks of cladding on residential buildings, NHS properties and schools, however even this is not always being done.
Unite press release TUC fire safety advice. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Union calls for action on weedkiller
The GMB union is calling for urgent action to protect workers from the effects of the weedkiller glyphosate which, in 2015, was classified as "probably carcinogenic" by the World Health Organisation. Glyphosate, which is sometimes sold as Roundup, is the biggest selling weedkiller in the world and is used both in agriculture as well as gardening and forestry.
GMB press release TUC guidance. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Union aims to change unhealthy shift patterns
Unite has raised a “collective grievance” with one of the operators in the North Sea over the impact of three week off, three week on (3/3) rotas and seeking reviews with many more, including all those working for BP. This follows a report from the Robert Gordon University (RGU) in April, which said workers on three-week, equal-time rotas were nearly twice as likely to experience ill health as those on two on, two off rotas.
EnergyVoice. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Changes needed to avoid another Grenfell
The author of a report into fire safety and building regulations following the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire has warned that another “catastrophic event” cannot be ruled out unless there are changes to the regulatory system. Speaking at the IOSH conference, Dame Judith Hackitt said she was “truly shocked” about standards in the built environment when she started her review.
IOSH press release. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: £1.5 million fine after worker killed
A Dudley logistics firm has been fined £1.5 million following the death of an HGV driver who was trapped between his vehicle and a trailer. Leighton Jardine, who worked for Tuffnells Parcels Express Limited, was fatally injured in 2016, whilst attempting to
HSE press release. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: NHS bullying to be tackled
The government has said that it will crack down on NHS directors who fail to act on what ministers say are “alarming” levels of bullying of hospital staff. Stephen Barclay, a health minister, has told The Independent he wants the current “fit and proper” person test for NHS directors to be widened to require action on harassment and discrimination.
Independent. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Britain: Company fined after broken spine
A structural steelwork contractor has been fined £150,000 after a worker was injured while demolishing a farm building. Northern Structures Ltd of Amble, Northumberland, pleaded guilty to breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act when they appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
HSE press release. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

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

Global: Toxic substances are a global health crisis
The UN Human Rights Council has been told that exposure of workers to toxic substances can and should be considered a form of exploitation and is a global health crisis. A UN expert on hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak, told the Council that governments and companies must strengthen protection for workers, their families and their communities from any exposure to toxic chemicals.
Report. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Belgium: Country wakes up to asbestos crisis
According to research from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB – Free University of Brussels), at least two million tonnes of cancer-causing asbestos were imported into the country between 1948 and 1998. This is much higher than previous estimates
Brussels Times (in English). Risks 867. 22 September 2018

USA: Research confirms work and suicide link
The USA is finally waking up to the link between work and suicide. While the subject has received a lot of attention in France, Japan, Australia and the UK, less attention has been paid to the connection in the US. Now however, the government’s The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has highlighted the importance of suicide prevention and the organisational structures that can contribute to poor mental health. CDC report TUC suicide prevention guidance. Risks 867. 22 September 2018

Hazards news, 15 September 2018

Britain: Exploitation is part and parcel of Amazon’s business model
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos this year become the world’s first 100 Billion Dollar Man - but one man’s fortune is built on a world of pain, the union GMB has warned. In a new feature in Hazards magazine, GMB director of safety Dan Shears notes: “On the back of labour exploitation, unhealthy workplaces and cost-shifting to the public purse, his global firm was valued in September 2018 at $1 trillion.”
Dan Shears. Rich pickings? Exploitation is part and parcel of the Amazon business model, Hazards, number 143, September 2018 and accompanying That’s rich! poster. GMB news release. Daily Express. Birmingham Mail. Morning Star. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Unions want justice for Grenfell and harassment victims
There must be justice for the victims of the Grenfell fire and those harmed by workplace sexual harassment, unions have said. Delegates to the TUC Congress, held from 9-12 September in Manchester, called for politicians to be held to account over the decisions that led to 72 people dying in the Grenfell Tower blaze last year and endorsed a motion calling for changes in the law to empower victims.
TUC Congress 2018 webpages and Congress motions. TUC blog. Morning Star coverage of the TUC Congress on Grenfell and sexual harassment. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: New union push for justice for injured workers
Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis is urging MPs on the Civil Liability Bill committee to opposed damaging changes that would hurt injured workers. Usdaw is calling on MPs to address concerns about government proposals that will restrict injured workers’ access to justice, by forcing more cases in England and Wales through the small claims court.
Usdaw news release. Use Usdaw’s ‘Justice4InjuredWorkers’ webpage to send a message to your MP. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Over 1,000 helicopter repair staff need asbestos checks
Every worker who has serviced Sea King helicopters since 1969 should be offered checks for the effects of asbestos exposure - not just those currently employed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the union Unite has said. The union said it believed that there were more than 1,000 former MoD employees who could have been exposed to asbestos while repairing and maintaining the Sea King helicopters, which first came into service nearly 50 years ago.
Unite news release. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: School support staff experiencing ‘shocking’ violence
Half of school support staff have experienced ‘shocking’ violence at work, with incidents including stabbings and attempted strangulations, a study by the union GMB has found. More than half of school staff had first-hand experience of violence at work – with more than 16 per cent suffering attacks every week, the new GMB figures show.
GMB news release. The Independent. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: School staff buckling under intolerable stresses
Intolerable cuts, restructuring and rocketing stress levels are becoming the norm in UK schools, according to a survey of school support staff by UNISON. The study highlights a funding crisis the union says is having a ‘devastating’ effect on workloads and morale.
UNISON news release. Lessons in Austerity: A UNISON survey of school support staff, September 2018. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: The TUC wants to stop work hurting mental health
The need to address the factors at work that cause or exacerbate mental health problems must be prioritised alongside providing support for those affected, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Robertson points out that the newly updated edition of TUC Education’s ‘Mental health in the workplace’ workbook “places more focus on the need to link supporting individuals with the importance of preventing mental health problems being caused, or made worse, by work,” adding : “It also makes the role of the union representative clearer with more emphasis on changing workplaces.”
Mental health in the workplace, TUC Education workbook, 2018. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018. HSE news release. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Poor mental health at work 'widespread'
Poor mental health affects half of all employees, according to a survey of 44,000 people carried out by the mental health charity Mind. But only half of those who had experienced problems with stress, anxiety or low mood had talked to their employer about it, with fear, shame and job insecurity some of the reasons people may choose to hide their worries, the survey found.
Mind news release and Mental health at work gateway and toolkit on Workplace stress: fulfilling your responsibilities as an employer. CBI news release. BBC News Online. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: House builder’s concern after site injuries increase
Barratt Developments has launched a safety review after injury rates on its sites increased by over 20 per cent. A statement from chief executive David Thomas in the company’s final results for the year to 30 June, said: “Increased activity levels across the industry in terms of site openings and production volumes combined with shortages of skilled workers has contributed to an increased risk of accidents on sites.”
Barratt final results for the year ended 30 June 2018, 5 September 2018. Construction Enquirer. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Supermarket mutilated worker's hand in meat slicer
A Birmingham supermarket firm has been fined £36,000 plus £3,268 costs after a member of staff had four fingers mangled in an unguarded meat slicer. MAS Bazar Birmingham Limited pleaded guilty to criminal health and safety offences at Birmingham Magistrates Court.
Birmingham Mail. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Apprentice slips into gastropub’s deep-fat fryer
A Michelin-starred gastropub has been prosecuted after an apprentice fell into a deep-fat fryer and severely scalded his foot. The 18-year-old had been told to clean an extractor fan at The Cross in Kenilworth when his foot slipped and fell into the fryer, which was running at roughly 180°C.
Warwick District Council news release. Kenilworth Weekly News. The Caterer. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Fine for motor repair firm with no liability insurance
A company that carries out maintenance and repair of motor vehicles has been fined for not having the legally required employers’ liability insurance. AE Motors Birmingham Ltd pleaded guilty to breaking the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 and was fined £726 and ordered to pay costs of £557.
HSE news release and Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance guide. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Australia: Warehouse workers suffering in Amazon ‘hellscape’
Workers at two Amazon warehouses are being subjected to ‘horrific’ pressure to meet daily targets and are afraid to use the bathroom outside of specified times, a media investigation has found. Fairfax Media found that casual employees aren't hired by Amazon, but by a third-party labour hire firm Adecco.
NUW news release. Sydney Morning Herald. Daily Mail Australia. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Japan: First officially recognised Fukushima work cancer death
Authorities in Japan have accepted for the first time that a worker at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant died from a radiation-related cancer. The man, who was in his 50s, died from lung cancer..
Asahi Shimbun. New York Times. BBC News Online. Sky News. The Guardian. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

New Zealand: Driver escapes injury as boss turns off vehicle remotely
A worker driving a company van narrowly escaped injury after her boss remotely turned off her vehicle while she was going through a roundabout, causing the van to stop abruptly in traffic. The Blenheim vineyard employee said: “I'm halfway through the intersection and all of a sudden my van is immobilised with workers inside and a semi-trailer is coming at me through the roundabout.”
Radio New Zealand. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Qatar: Global unions welcome end of migrant exit permits
Global unions have welcomed the announcement by Qatar on 4 September of new legislation that means many migrant workers, who have faced exploitative and dangerous work conditions, will no longer have to seek their employer’s permission to leave the country. Commenting on the amendment to the labour code, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said: “An estimated 1.5 million workers will now have the freedom to leave Qatar without their employer’s permission with this elimination of a central part of the kafala system of modern slavery, which is still in place in other Gulf countries.”
ILO news release. ITUC news release. BWI news release. ITF news release. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Hazards news, 8 September 2018

Britain: RMT demands urgent talks with SWR over safety breaches
Rail union RMT has demanded urgent talks with South Western Rail (SWR) after the safety regulator confirmed there had been a series of serious and potentially lethal safety breaches during earlier strike days. The letter from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) identified safety problems arising from what the RMT described as the company “winging it by deploying scab ‘contingency guards’ in a desperate effort to break the workforce.”
RMT news release. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Union concern after new evidence of prison safety crisis
Further revelations of the extent of the safety crisis in prisons should spur the government to act, the prison officers’ union POA has said. In a 3 September statement, POA said in the preceding seven days 33 members of staff were the victim of unprovoked and sometimes serious assaults; seven involved “potting”, where prisoners throw urine and excrement over staff.
POA news release. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Overworked drivers told to work extra hours ‘or else’
Overworked UK Mail drivers who are victims of ‘bogus self-employment’ have been told they must accept additional Saturday working, lower pay rates and fewer breaks or give up their jobs. GMB said its organising drive at the Gildersome depot has seen more drivers opting to join the union because of “the outrageous demands that are being put on them.”
GMB news release and GMB drivers website. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Long hours in TV and film production damage families
The long hours culture in film and TV production is not just bad for workers, but for their entire families, their union BECTU has warned. The latest phase of the union’s ‘Eyes Half Shut’ campaign against excessive working hours is emphasising how hard families are being hit by long hours.
BECTU news release and Eyes Half Shut campaign. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Train company tries to recruit ‘slaves’ in place of workers
A privatised train company is asking for unpaid ‘ambassadors’ to do a job essential for the provision of decent services and safety to passengers, train drivers’ union ASLEF has said. Mick Whelan, the union’s general secretary, said: “It’s outrageous that Grand Central expects unpaid volunteers to turn up to work and look after passengers at stations which are unmanned because the company wants to boost its profits by not employing – and properly paying – people to do a job.”
ASLEF news release. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: TUC repeats calls for prevention of mental health problems
The TUC has reiterated its warning that increasingly popular mental health first aid (MHFA) initiatives at work should not substitute for effective preventive action. The TUC’s comments came after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) research report confirmed there is ‘no evidence’ that MHFA training leads to improvements.
TUC blog. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Fire chiefs take ‘revenge’ against campaigning crew
Fire chiefs on Merseyside have been accused of “an act of revenge” by breaking up crews from two fire stations who successfully campaigned against life-threatening cuts. Firefighters’ union FBU said bosses told the crews at Liverpool city centre and Wallasey fire stations they would be dispersed to other sites across Merseyside.
Morning Star. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Investigation after schools supplied with asbestos mats
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched an investigation after being “made aware that two UK laboratory supply companies have supplied schools and potentially other users with gauze mats which contain asbestos.” Commenting on the ‘shocking’ discovery, Chris Keates, general secretary of the teaching union NASUWT, said: “There are serious questions to be asked and answered about this appalling situation, including why it has taken so long to identify that suppliers are using such hazardous materials and what action the government intends to take to support schools in the light of this revelation, including the costs that may incurred as a result of the disposal of this material.”
HSE news release. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: HSE blasts oil firm of relying on trainee cover offshore
An oil company has been criticised for using trainees and apprentices to cover shifts on a North Sea platform. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the firm Apache was “significantly failing” to meet its safety obligations on the Beryl Bravo platform.
BBC News Online. HSE improvement notice. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Emails while commuting should count as work hours
Commuters are so regularly using travel time for work emails that their journeys should be counted as part of the working day, researchers have said. Wider access to wi-fi on trains and the spread of mobile phones has extended the working day, the study from the University of the West of England found.
UWE news release. BBC News Online. The Independent. The Sun. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Experts warn embracing vaping is ‘irresponsible’
Environmental health experts have echoed union concerns and urged ‘caution’ over calls to ease restrictions on e-cigarette use in public places and to promote their use in smoking cessation programmes. Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) head of policy Tony Lewis said: “Whilst we whole-heartedly support measures to encourage smokers to give up, we believe that the evidence gap on the long-term health implications of vaping needs addressing as a priority and more research carried out.”
CIEH news release. EHN Online. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Serial criminal Tata fined after worker's pit fall
A major steel company has been fined £450,000 after a worker was badly injured when he fell back into an uncovered pit. The prosecution came in the same year steel firm Tata was fined over £1 million over the death of a worker, and two years after it was fined nearly £2 million for criminal safety offences at another plant.
BBC News Online. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Machining firm fined after workers exposed to asbestos
A Birmingham machining company has been fined after workers were exposed to asbestos fibres when demolishing an internal wall. Birmingham Specialities Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,454.40.
HSE news release and guide to managing asbestos in premises. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Kent council fined after school asbestos exposures
Kent County Council (KCC) has been fined £200,000 after asbestos was disturbed at Lansdowne Primary School. The council pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £21,500.
HSE news release. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: Want to know more about musculoskeletal risks at work?
The TUC has produced a short online guide for union health and safety reps, signposting where they can get Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice and guidance on musculoskeletal disorders. The guide is badged jointly with the HSE. It provides links to HSE toolkits, regulations and guides on musculoskeletal disorders.
Musculoskeletal disorders - HSE material for health and safety reps, TUC/HSE, September 2018. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Australia: Union push for work manslaughter legislation
Australian construction union CFMEU is continuing its push to make industrial manslaughter a specific criminal offence under workplace health and safety legislation. The union wants the offence to encompass all circumstances where any person is killed in a work-related incident; this would ensure justice for members of the public killed by work activities and workers in industries such as construction where multiple contractors and sub-contractors work on a site.
The West Australian. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Global: UN expert urges firms to take action on chemical risks
The UN’s expert on toxics and human rights has urge firms to take action to protect workers from chemical risks throughout their supply chains. Baskut Tuncak, the UN’s ‘special rapporteur’ on the implications for human rights of hazardous substances and wastes, makes the call in a paper for the UN’s Human Rights Council.
OHCHR news release. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, OHCHR, 2018. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Global: Latest dock death part of a ‘global epidemic’
The death of a young New Zealand dock worker has left the global union for the sector ‘in shock’. Paddy Crumlin, the chair of ITF’s dockers’ section and the national secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, said: “Another dock worker, has been killed at work,” adding: “This is fast becoming a global epidemic.”
ITF news release. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Korea: Worker asphyxiated at flagship Samsung chip plant
A gas leak has left one worker dead and two critically ill at Samsung Electronics’ flagship chip plant in Korea - an event reminiscent of a fatal gas leak that hit another Samsung plant five years ago. On 4 September, three workers passed out in a basement unit of Samsung’s Giheung plant in Gyonggi province, suffocated by carbon dioxide as they carried anti-fire cylinders containing the gas.
Stop Samsung blog. Yonhap News. Korea Joongang Daily. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Hazards news, 1 September 2018

Britain: Government’s Brexit waffle pretty worrying for workers
Government guidance on employment rights after Brexit should no deal be reached “says pretty much nothing”, the TUC has said. “It basically says that nothing will change, which may of course be true on day one but after then all the coming changes to EU regulation, including proposed improvements to chemical safety limits will not apply to Britain,” commented TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson.
TUC safety blog. TUC news release. Workplace rights if there’s no Brexit deal, BEIS, 23 August 2018. Prospect news release. Personnel Today.
Department for Exiting the European Union webpages. HSE EU Exit web community. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Lloyds signs up to TUC’s ‘dying to work’ charter
Lloyds Banking Group has added its name to a charter aimed at helping employees living with terminal illnesses. The firm is the latest to follow in the footsteps of employers including Rolls Royce, Royal Mail and the Co-op in signing up to the Dying to Work Voluntary Charter.
Accord news release. TUC news release. TUC Dying to Work campaign and signatories. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Fatigued ambulance staff treated ‘like machines’
Sickness levels among overworked paramedics demonstrate how close the system in Wales is to breaking point, a union has warned. The GMB said staff were fatigued due to increasing workload, a lack of br eaks and working over their hours.
BBC News Online. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Union hits out at council over asbestos concerns
Union members have accused Aberdeen City Council of withholding information on asbestos risks in the city’s schools. The union statement is the latest development in a growing asbestos exposure scandal, that saw education authorities admit 25 people were allowed into Bridge of Don Academy after asbestos was disturbed during maintenance last month.
Evening Express. Mesothelioma deaths amongst school staff 1980-2016, JUAC, August 2018. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Civil service unions raise harassment concerns
Civil service unions in Scotland have said all workers must be safe from harassment at work. Unions PCS, Prospect and the FDA provided the statement to members employed by Scottish ministers, Scottish public bodies and in the Scottish parliament in the wake of media coverage of harassment allegations by two civil servants against former first minister Alex Salmond.
PCS news release. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Unions take their solidarity safety message to Salisbury
TUC South West is to host its health, safety and well-being conference in Salisbury “in a show of solidarity following recent chemical attacks in the city.” Announcing the on 3 September event, TUC regional secretary Nigel Costley said: “As we promote the benefits of good health and safety practices in workplaces, we have the opportunity to acknowledge all the brave workers in Salisbury who responded and dealt with the chemical attack to keep the city safe.”
TUC South West Health, Safety and Wellbeing Conference, Salisbury, 10:30am to 3:30pm, Monday 3 September 2018. Further details: TUC South West event page. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: ‘No evidence’ mental health first aid works says HSE
While there is growing enthusiasm and government support for mental health first aid (MHFA) in the workplace, there is ‘no evidence’ it actually leads to any improvements, a new ‘summary of the evidence’ by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has concluded. It noted: “There is consistent evidence that MHFA training raises employees’ awareness of mental ill health conditions. There is no evidence that the introduction of MHFA training in workplaces has resulted in sustained actions in those trained, or that it has improved the wider management of mental ill-health.”
HSE publication alert. RR1135 - Summary of the evidence on the effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training in the workplace, HSE, 2018. Hazards Campaign statement.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Nautilus welcomes windfarm vessel fatigue campaign
Seafarers’ union Nautilus is backing a new industry initiative to combat crew fatigue in the offshore energy support vessel (OESV) sector. Following a year of research, the National Workboat Association (NWA) has launched its campaign to tackle the problem “in direct response to widespread concerns about the occurrence of fatigue among workboat crew members.”
Nautilus news release. NWA news release. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Asbestos warning for Sea King helicopter staff
Thousands of engineers may have inhaled asbestos while working on Britain’s Sea King helicopters, the government has admitted. Defence chiefs have confirmed they had issued an alert to Royal Navy and RAF personnel who have maintained the Sea King since it entered service in 1969.
Mail on Sunday. The Express. BBC News Online. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Deadly exploding firm later exposed workers to asbestos
A wood processing company whose factory exploded killing four workers in 2015 has been fined after subsequent unsafe asbestos work was carried out at the premises in Macclesfield. Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 20 October 2016, in the aftermath of the large explosion at the Bosley site, Wood Treatment Ltd employees removed, cut, shaped and replaced asbestos cladding.
HSE news release. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: TUC health and safety inspections webinar, 3 October 2018
Should inspections be a core element of a health and safety reps’ work? What should the focus of an inspection be? Are your workplace inspection procedures working or is there room for improvement? Hugh Robertson, TUC's head of health and safety, is hosting a live webinar to discuss in detail how workplace inspections should be carried out.
Register for the TUC health and safety inspections webinar, 2:30pm, 3 October 2018.
TUC Education YouTube channel – see earlier health and safety webinars on workplace mapping, campaigning, sexual harassment, well-being in the workplace, occupational cancer and workplace stress. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Global: ILO accused of bad taste in partnering with McDonald’s
The UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) has been criticised by unions after welcoming ‘exploiter’ fast food giant McDonald’s as a partner in its Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth. In a 22 August news release that has since been removed from the ILO newsroom webpages, the ILO noted: “McDonald’s ties up with the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth,” adding: “Leading quick-service restaurant brand joins 43 partners who have pledged to reduce barriers to decent employment for youth while boosting access to decent work around the globe.”
IUF news release. Hazards Campaign news release.
ILO Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth and Decent Jobs for Youth partners. BFAWU McBurned campaign. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Australia: Truck drivers demand action on deadly risks
Truck drivers are demanding urgent action after a major study exposed the massive toll claimed by Australia’s deadliest job. Truck drivers are 13 times more likely to die at work than any other profession, while the long hours, social isolation, time pressure and lack of job control also make it one of the unhealthiest jobs, according to the Monash University study.
TWU safe rates news release. Full Monash University report and report highlights. ITF safe rates campaign factsheet. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

USA: Union clips Uber’s wings after taxi driver suicides
The New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance (NYTWA) has won a groundbreaking cap on new ride-hailing vehicles in the city and says other unions can learn from its victory. The new law followed six suicides by yellow cab and black car drivers forced into poverty by the over-supply of ride-hailing vehicles, as well as increased road congestion.
ITF news release.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists , January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist , Hazards, number 141, 2018. More on work-related suicide. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Japan: UN says Fukushima clean-up workers risk exploitation
Workers used to decontaminate the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan are at grave risk of exploitation, independent UN experts have warned. Tens of thousands, reportedly including migrants and homeless people, may be being deceived about the risks of exposure to radiation, according to the experts, who in August urged the Japanese government to act to protect them.
UN OHCHR news release. BBC News Online. Risks 864. 1 September 2018



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