Accidents and incidents Newsletter 4th June 2011

Share your thoughts on specific incident alerts

Accidents and incidents Newsletter 4th June 2011

Postby raymondoscaff » Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:50 am

Union News
Warning on Qatar World Cup exploitation
Romec off track on tracking technology
Slip ended driver's career
Heathrow rail safety risk warning
Other news
Chief scientist confirms white asbestos risks
Plea for asbestos victims 'fund of last resort'
Deregulation is really a death wish
Businesses overlook injury and illness costs
Mobiles 'may cause brain cancer'
Brazilian worker buried alive in basement
Gear box firm fined over crush death
Firms fined after worker's electric shock
Packaging firm crushed worker's arm
Heinz canned for torn off finger
International News
Japan: Radiation limit scrapped at stricken plant
USA: Can the Feds tackle labour trafficking?
USA: Union mines are substantially safer
USA: Union protection against sex assaults
Resources
Why safety deregulation will kill - the evidence
Put agency workers on fair ground
Events and Courses
TUC courses for safety reps
Action Mesothelioma Day, 1 July 2011
Useful Links
raymondoscaff
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:56 am

Re: Accidents and incidents Newsletter 11th June 2011

Postby raymondoscaff » Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:54 am

* Union News
*
o 'Beware behavioural safety', says Unite
o UNISON pushes organisation on safety
o Victimisation is money down the tube
o Unite welcomes Crossrail no bogus jobs pledge
o Care worker holed up with attacker
o Bike crash led to months off work
* Other news
*
o Chevron refinery blast kills four workers
o Relief for man dragged through CD size hole
o Risks stacked against new workers
o Scaffolding death was 'entirely preventable'
o Phoenix firms must face justice
o Firms fined after worker killed on M25
o AMEC and RWE npower guilty over death
o Family firm pays after director's fatal roof fall
o Ex-squaddie loses arm at recycling site
o Worker's wrists 'shattered like glass'
o LA inspector oppose relaxed injury reporting
* International News
*
o Guatemala: Another union leader murdered
o Mexico: Union-busting at unsafe Excellon mine
o USA: Six figure payout for popcorn lung
* Events and Courses
*
o World day against child labour, 12 June 2011
o TUC courses for safety reps
* Useful Links
raymondoscaff
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:56 am

Re: Accidents and incidents Newsletter 4th June 2011

Postby raymondoscaff » Sat Jun 11, 2011 6:31 pm

Sorry cannot seem to link page as normal and attach docs,help anyone?

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-19658-f0.cfm
raymondoscaff
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:56 am

Re: Accidents and incidents Newsletter 18th June 2011

Postby raymondoscaff » Sun Jun 19, 2011 8:18 am

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-19681-f0.cfm

Union News
Bullying hits hard as cuts bite
Engineers walk out on bully bosses
GMB concern at contract 'harassment'
Move towards a 'sweat-free' Olympics
Bid to get more women safety reps
Government must not ignore dog dangers
Rail could become 'a mugger's paradise'
Firm was several rungs short of safety
Ford pays out for double failure
Other news
The only way isn't up, says HSE
Cable admits Red Tape Challenge has backfired
Peers arrest police safety opt out bid
Poor wood dust control caused cancer
Grassroots research uncovers cancer link
Foreman fined after trench collapse
Death due to safety failings at textile firm
International News
Germany: Presenteeism costs twice as sickness leave
Global: ILO admonishes Canada on asbestos
Global: Deadly attacks on unions continue
Global: Over 100 million children in dangerous jobs
Events and Courses
TUC courses for safety reps
Useful Links


Bullying hits hard as cuts bite

Six in ten workers across the UK have been bullied, or witnessed bullying, over the past six months, a survey by the union UNISON has found. The union is warning that government cuts are fuelling workplace bullying and silencing workers fearful for their jobs. One in four workers say staff cutbacks have led to workplace bullying - double the number from two years ago - and around half say they would be too scared to raise concerns during the period of cuts. The union is predicting the amount of workplace bullying 'will rocket further', as the cuts really start to bite. Findings from the survey of more than 6,000 staff, carried out by for the union by the Centre for Organisation Research and Development (CORD) at Portsmouth Business School, reveal that one in three employees are being bullied at work across the UK, with many more witnessing it. Despite reporting bullying related health concerns, more than half of the bullied workers said they would stay in their jobs and suffer in silence - compared to only a quarter of staff in 2009. Dave Prentis, UNISON's general secretary, said: 'Workers are stuck in a living hell, as they are faced with a double whammy of cuts and bullying. Our results show that bosses are failing to clamp down on workplace bullying and staff are too scared to raise concerns in the current climate of staff and job cuts. There is more pressure than ever from management and the levels of stress are soaring.' He concluded: 'The government must rethink its savage cuts agenda, or see workers' health and efficiency deteriorate. It is more important than ever that workers join a union, as this may be their only point of call for help.'

UNISON news release.
Engineers walk out on bully bosses

More than 550 engineers at Royal Mail subsidiary Romec have taken to the picket lines following claims of management bullying and 'Big Brother' abuses of the company's vehicle tracking systems. The Communication Workers Union (CWU), which represents more than half the firm's technicians, led strike action at mail centres across the country to protest against ill-treatment of its members (Risks 508). CWU national official Ray Ellis said members were responding to a 'regime of intimidation' and bullying of staff. Working hour's changes introduced unilaterally by the company have angered staff, 'who are already being harassed by managers using tracker data," he said, referring to the company's vehicle tracking systems. The company also offers 'portable tagging solutions' - electronic ankle bracelets for individual employees - on its corporate website, providing clients with 'real-time accountability 24 hours a day.' Ellis condemned the company's 'Big Brother' approach, adding the union believed the misuse of the vehicle tracking software was in breach of data protection laws. Electronic surveillance at work has been linked to increased stress and strain injuries.

CWU news release. Morning Star.
GMB concern at contract 'harassment'

A council trying to impose a new employment contract is bullying and harassing staff to sign, a union has said. GMB says some staff at Central Beds Council report they have been told by managers and councillors their 'card will be marked' if they do not sign. The union is now planning a confidential survey to gauge the extent of the problem. GMB organiser Tony Hughes said: 'When GMB gets reports of bullying and harassment we act immediately as the effects of can be highly damaging to people and can have long term health effects.' He said the union wrote to all members in response to the council's attempt to force through the new terms and conditions, and 'got an immediate response from members who told us they are being bullied and harassed,' including being told 'their 'card will be marked' if they do not sign the proposed new contract.' GMB is asking members to complete a bullying survey so it 'can evaluate the depth of the bullying problem and pass on the results to the employer Central Bedfordshire Council whose responsibility it is to make sure that its staff are not bullied in the course of their work."

GMB news release.
Move towards a 'sweat-free' Olympics

A new agreement signed in Indonesia between major sportswear brands and textile, clothing and footwear unions in the country has raised hopes that merchandise produced for the London 2012 Games can be produced in factories free from exploitation, the TUC has said. It believes the protocol agreed in Jakarta between the unions and several large factories which make goods for famous sportswear brands like Adidas, Nike, and Puma, opens the way for the unions to represent Indonesian workers making sportswear and Olympics merchandise for next year's Games. The Playfair 2012 campaign - of which the TUC is part alongside campaigning organisation Labour Behind the Label - is hopeful that a union presence in the Indonesian sportswear factories will lead to workers being paid a living wage, ensure their fair treatment and put an end to excessive working hours. This increases the likelihood that goods being produced for next summer's Olympics will be produced in a 'sweat-free' environment, says the TUC. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: 'This agreement is an important first step, but the real test now is to see if it does anything to change the poor working conditions for hundreds of thousands of sportswear workers across Indonesia, and in other countries producing sportswear and Olympic goods, such as China and Turkey.' He added: 'British sports fans who have been lucky enough to get tickets to Olympic events in 2012 will want to know that no worker has suffered making any sportswear or merchandise that will be going on sale between now and the opening ceremony next July.'

TUC news release. Playfair 2012 news release. ITGLWF webpage and Protocol on Freedom of Association [pdf].
Bid to get more women safety reps

Safety enforcers have joined with unions to encourage more women to become workplace health and safety reps. 'Help make your workplace safer', a leaflet published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and backed by rail safety regulator ORR, the TUC and individual unions, notes: 'European research suggests that women are under-represented in the health and safety decision-making process. In particular, more women are needed to be safety representatives.' The leaflet adds: 'By representing your colleagues you're playing vital role', including making workplaces safer and 'making sure that women's views and experience of workplace health and safety are taken into account.' And there are benefits for safety reps' themselves, including new skills. It urges women interested in becoming safety reps to get in touch with their union.

Help make your workplace safer leaflet [pdf]. TUC safety reps webpages. HSE worker involvement and HSE health and safety representatives webpages.
Government must not ignore dog dangers

The government must revise the 'out-dated' dangerous dogs law in England and Wales, a union backed coalition has said. The group of 20 animal charities, enforcement agencies and trade unions wants the government to include a Dog Control Bill in next year's Queen's Speech. Communications Workers' Union CWU, which has been at the forefront of the campaign, says despite thousands of attacks by out of control dogs every year very few result in a successful prosecution because attacks on private land are outside the scope of the law. Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: 'Our members, along with thousands of members of the public, are suffering because of out-dated laws on dangerous dogs. The government must listen to the expert organisations which have all agreed a better way forward on responsible dog ownership. It's time the government brought forward some positive legislation to protect working people and this is it.' CWU national safety officer Dave Joyce, who has spearheaded the union's 'Bite-Back' initiative, said: 'Dangerous dogs are an occupational hazard for many of our members with 6,000 attacks on postal workers and over 400 attacks on telecom engineers each year.' He added: 'We want the out-dated laws to be made fit for purpose and brought in line with the new laws introduced in Scotland and Northern Ireland this year. We want responsible dog ownership which helps prevent horrific attacks taking place, whether on postal workers or small children. Where attacks do still occur, it's vital the new laws suitably identify and hold owners to account. Victims of dog attacks have been let down for too long.'

CWU news release and joint briefing paper [pdf]. Morning Star.
Rail could become 'a mugger's paradise'

Rail union RMT is demanding an urgent meeting with transport secretary Phillip Hammond in a bid to head off proposals that could turn the rail network into 'a mugger's paradise', with safety critical staff slashed on both stations and trains. It says the union's detailed study of the fine print of the McNulty Rail Review (Risks 507) show its recommendations would bring in widespread ticket office closures and reduced opening hours in many that did survive the axe. McNulty's proposals would halve the number of ticket offices on the rail network, leaving threequarters of stations without a ticket office. The McNulty review also recommended that Driver Only Operation should be the default position on all services, which RMT says 'gives the train operators the green light to dump all guards from their services by the beginning of 2013 on top of the ticket office cuts and closures - axing safety-critical staff from stations and trains in one blow.' RMT general secretary Bob Crow warned the McNulty proposals would result in 'wholesale de-staffing of trains and stations to fatten up profits at the expense of passenger service and passenger safety.' He added: 'We warned that the McNulty carve up would turn the rail system into a muggers and a criminals paradise, where profits are the only show in town, and this latest research shows the full extent of the dangerous track we are being dragged down. For passengers it means paying higher fares to travel on unsafe, de-staffed services while the train operators are laughing all the way to the bank.'

RMT news release.
Firm was several rungs short of safety

An employer that routinely provided workers with ladders that were too short and failed to train its staff in the safest way to work at height has been forced to stump up compensation after a labourer suffered a hernia. The 49-year-old GMB member from Maryport in Cumbria needed major surgery after suffering the injury as he pulled himself up from a step ladder through a loft while working for Home Group in Whitehaven. It was normal practice to use ladders which were too short and for workers to balance themselves on the top to pull themselves up. Under the Working at Height Regulations employers must risk assess the use of ladders and ensure they are used safely. The worker, whose name has not been released, had to wait 12 weeks for his operation and then was forced to take three months off work as he recovered. Home Group did not admit liability but lawyers brought in by the union were successful in obtaining a court settlement. The member, who has two daughters, said: 'Since I involved the union we've received training and now use new, longer ladders so hopefully this won't happen to anyone else in the future.'

Thompsons Solicitors news release.
Ford pays out for double failure

A machine operator at a car manufacturer has received £20,000 compensation after an unsafe storage system led to a workplace injury, which was subsequently aggravated when he fell through a rotten floorboard in the factory toilets. Barry Lester, 64, was forced to take three weeks off work after he strained his groin attempting to lift a box of car parts at Ford Motor Company in Dagenham. The parts were in bags of 500 and were stored in interlocking boxes to make them easier to transport. As he went to lift the top box it caught on the boxes below and he was forced to take the weight of the entire stack, weighing several tonnes. There had previously been a number of accidents and complaints about the way the boxes were stacked, but nothing was done to fix the problem until after Mr Lester's injury. He was able to work through the pain for a year after the original incident, but then aggravated the injury when he fell through a rotten floorboard in the staff toilet. In a union backed compensation case, Ford admitted liability and settled the claim out of court. Unite acting regional secretary Peter Kavanagh said: 'As soon as complaints were made about these storage boxes Ford should have reacted quickly to fix the problem. Instead it took a loyal employee getting injured for them to finally resolve what was clearly a health and safety hazard.' Tom Moore from Thompsons Solicitors, brought in by the union to act in the compensation case, said: 'Ford had been told there was a health and safety problem with these boxes but they did nothing to make the process safer. Ford turned a blind eye to their duty of care to make sure they keep their employees safe.'

Thompsons Solicitors news release.
Other news
The only way isn't up, says HSE

Major safety successes in which the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has played a central role could be a thing of the past for the resource-strapped and hamstrung safety watchdog, a senior official has indicated. Speaking at a health and safety forum held at the Olympics site in east London earlier this month, HSE principal inspector of construction for London, Mike Williams, said the health and safety record of the London 2012 Olympics construction project had been 'fantastic'. But he said budget cuts and government-driven changes mean that when it comes to major sites the watchdog will no longer be able to replicate a proactive approach at the Olympics where it had opted 'to get involved early, checking that all the arrangements are there and looking to others in the chain to see what they plan to do.' He said: 'The HSE's role is not what it has been. We are under much more scrutiny, and expected to remove burdens and simplify things. Our website, now, will be the main vehicle for 'talking' to people. Construction is high risk and, as such, it is a sector we will continue to focus on, but our primary focus will be on smaller sites, not large projects, so we will just have to see how it goes.' The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) this month said the Park and Village workforce had achieved 3 million hours worked without a single reportable injury. ODA said the reportable accident rate on the Olympic Park is around a third of the construction industry average and below the national average for all workplaces.

SHP Online. Sypol news report. HSE London Olympics 2012 webpages.
Cable admits Red Tape Challenge has backfired

Business secretary Vince Cable has admitted a 'red tape challenge' for the retail sector has 'backfired' because the great majority of responses are supportive of regulation. The secretary of state told a British Retail Consortium (BRC) symposium that the website is being targeted by lobby groups who want more regulation, and that retailers 'haven't won the argument' over reducing regulation yet. 'The challenge in some ways has slightly backfired. People who want regulation are bombarding the website so we're getting more people clamouring for regulation.' Trade magazine Retail Week said he added that while the scheme was intended for business groups, it was becoming a 'bit of a political tug of war' because groups representing disabled employees, for instance, are making their voices heard. He said to retailers: 'If you want to get your voice heard you have got to muck in. It gets drowned out by others if you don't.' If a more moderate approach to regulation is to be taken, he said, the case needs to be made for it. The government has urged the business lobby repeatedly to press for removal of regulation, including an explicit May 11 request from the Chancellor George Osborne in a speech to the Institute of Directors.

Retail Week. 11 May 2011 Speech by George Osborne to IoD.
Peers arrest police safety opt out bid

A bid to exempt police forces from workplace safety law has been dropped. The House of Lords debated an amendment to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill on 9 June 2011. An amendment moved by Tory peer Lord Blencathra, which was subsequently withdrawn, would have repealed parts of the Police (Health and Safety) Act 1997. This would, in effect, have removed the statutory protection afforded police officers by the Health and Safety at Work Act. Asking the peer to withdrawn his amendement, the government promised instead to look at whether more discussions are needed between the police, government departments and safety agencies on whether the necessary balance has been struck in protecting both police officers and the public. In the debate, former Labour health and safety minister, Lord McKenzie of Luton told peers the repeal of the 1997 Act 'would be a seriously retrograde step'. He added: 'The law, as it stands, serves both the public and police effectively. It is certain interpretations of the law that have produced isolated anomalies. Therefore, clarity of interpretation is needed rather than the unnecessary changes to health and safety law that could turn the clock back decades on the protection afforded to society.' On behalf of the government, Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Lord Blencathra to withdraw his amendment. He added: 'We will institute a dialogue, if it is needed, between the Police, the Home Office, the DWP and the HSE, as suggested. We recognise that this has to be a question of balance and we will assess whether the balance has now been struck in the most sensible place.' The application of safety law to the police is support by top police officers, the Police Federation and safety enforcement agencies (Risks 505).

Hansard report of the House of Lords debate, 9 June 2011. IOSH news release. SHP Online.
Poor wood dust control caused cancer

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is to investigate the occupational risks facing those in the furniture and woodworking industries, more than 10 years after the last checks found the official standard was routinely ignored. It says about 50 people a year are diagnosed with nasal cancer related to their exposure to wood dust, while others have asthma as a result of their occupation. The news coincides with a £375,000 compensation payment to the widow of a cabinet maker who died of nasal cancer in 2005. Ken Mitchell died in April 2005 aged 56 after 'a gruelling four years of biopsies, operations, radiotherapy and chemotherapy', said his wife, Deborah. She met and married Ken years after he worked for a now defunct east London cabinet maker, E Lock and Son, in the late 60s and early 70s. Her lawyer, Pauline Chandler of solicitors Pannone, said: 'His job involved a lot of sanding and sweeping up the dust of hardwoods like oak... Nasal cancer caused by wood dust seems to be on the increase so far as compensation claims are concerned and, like most cancers, it develops many years after the exposure.' A statement from HSE said: 'Funding has been secured for HSE to commission a piece of research, alongside intelligence gathering activities undertaken by HSE, to update our understanding of exposure risks in the woodworking industry.' Sample checks on employers by the HSE more than a decade ago indicated that workers were exposed to higher than permitted levels of wood dust at more than a quarter of sites. Two-thirds exceeded the limit some of the time. There have only been a handful of prosecutions or convictions related to wood dust exposure in the past seven years, the most recent last month when Millbrook Furnishing Industries Limited was fined £27,000 plus £25,000 costs.

The Guardian. HSE wood dust survey 2000 [pdf]. HSE news release on the Millbrook prosecution.
Grassroots research uncovers cancer link

A new medical research project is investigating links between the region's steelworks and bladder cancer, an association first spotted by a groundbreaking grassroots workplace health project. In the 1970s, Simon Pickvance was a founder member of Sheffield Occupational Health Project, which started by asking people in the city's working men's clubs about how their work was affecting their health. It has since become an respected model based in GPs practices which has been copied and influenced practice in the UK and abroad. Simon's regular contact with current and former steelworkers, and the vast knowledge and anecdotal evidence he has picked up as a result, paved the way for his latest research project, investigating potential links between chemicals used in heavy industry and bladder cancer. 'It started during routine interviewing with people at their GP practices as we tried to work out what special industrial disease benefits, if any, these bladder cancer patients were entitled to. I spoke to about 30 different people in five different practices and what transpired immediately was that some of them had worked with dyes.' The dyes were commonly used in crack testing of metals. Working with urologist James Catto at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, more cases were found where there was history of working with such chemicals and the pair informed the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of their initial 'strong suspicion' that there was a link. 'We were finding there were particular chemicals being used in the steelworks and foundries that kept cropping up in bladder cancer patients,' Simon said. The further research is being backed by Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Yorkshire Cancer Research news release. Sheffield Star.
Foreman fined after trench collapse

A site foreman has been fined after a labourer was killed when a trench collapsed. Graeme Scott, 30, from Dunfermline, was part of a team working for Cameron and Stevenson (Scotland) Ltd, a company that is now in liquidation. He was walking along the side of a 3-metre-deep trench dug to replace a sewer in Cranhill Park, Glasgow, on 3 April 2008 when it collapsed beneath him and he fell into the trench. He began to make his way out but part of the trench wall collapsed on top of him. Mr Scott's colleagues made frantic attempts to dig him out, and when emergency services arrived they continued these efforts. But when Mr Scott was found, there were no signs of life and he was pronounced dead at the scene. A post mortem examination established that he had died of chest injury and probable suffocation. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation established that there had been no edge protection to the trench and the sides of the trench had not been supported to make them safe. HSE inspectors also found that even though trench boxes were available on site to help keep workers safe, they had not been used. HSE concluded that William Parry, as foreman, had put himself and his colleagues at risk by not using the safety measures his employers had told him to use. After the case, HSE inspector Graeme McMinn said: 'Mr Parry was working as the foreman and was properly trained in the right way to do trench work. The team had been told at the beginning of the job to use trench boxes to protect themselves. Although the team's employers should have supervised them more closely, as foreman Mr Parry had a duty to take reasonable care of the safety of his team.' It is the latest in a series of cases where individual workers have been targeted for prosecution, but no action has been taken against company directors, despite HSE finding evidence of negligence on the part of the company (Risks 507).

HSE news release and excavations guide. Construction Enquirer.
Death due to safety failings at textile firm

A West Yorkshire textile firm has been fined £60,015 after its safety failings 'led directly' to a worker being crushed to death in a baling machine. Bradford Crown Court heard that Gary Lee, 40, was cleaning inside the baler at Westwood Yarns, Holmfirth, when it re-started. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) blamed the tragedy, on 3 January 2008, on 'management safety failings'. The company admitted a criminal breach of safety law. In addition to the fine, it was ordered to pay £20,625 costs. The court heard that Mr Lee, who had worked at the company since he was 18, had received no proper training in how to clean the baling machine but had tackled the task when asked to do the job. A colleague heard shouts minutes after Mr Lee had begun cleaning the machine and rushed over to hit the emergency stop button. He found Mr Lee with severe crush injuries and he was later pronounced dead at the scene. The HSE investigation suggested Mr Lee may have inadvertently obscured an electronic sensor, which re-activated the operation of the baling compressors as the machine had been left in automatic mode. It should instead have been shut down completely. HSE inspectors found a lack of supervision and consistency in work processes at the factory. A lack of equipment also meant some procedures could not be carried out properly. HSE inspector Kirsty Townend, who carried out the investigation, said: 'This was an entirely preventable tragedy. The dangers of baling machines are notorious in the industry but are still all too common. At Westwood Yarns, there was a common misunderstanding that isolation and lock-off at the mains were not required.' She added: 'No one seemed to appreciate fully how the baling machine worked from a safety perspective, so dangerous assumptions were made which led directly to Mr Lee's death.'

HSE news release. BBC News Online.
International News
Germany: Presenteeism costs twice as sickness leave

Presenteeism, where the working wounded labour on despite being ill, costs twice as much as sickness related absence from work, a German study has found. Researchers from the Felix Burda Foundation also estimated the annual cost to the German economy of worker sickness at 225 billion Euro - 9 per cent of the country's GDP. The total sickness-related cost per worker - absenteeism and presenteeism together - they estimated to be about 3,600 Euro per year. The researchers reached their conclusions after undertaking a qualitative survey of businesses and experts. They advocate a preventive approach, tackling in particular psychosocial and organisational issues at the workplace, and health promotion activities.

EU-OSHA news report.
Global: ILO admonishes Canada on asbestos

The Canadian government has been given a sharp warning by the top international standards body about its behaviour on asbestos. The International Labour Organisation has told Canada to adopt better standards to protect workers' health and to review outdated national laws and regulations on asbestos. The issue was raised at the international labour standards organisation by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). ILO's landmark decision on 11 June singled out Canada, noting it had an obligation to 'keep abreast of technical progress and scientific knowledge' because it is one of the world's main producers of the cancer-causing material. The ILO Committee on the Application of Standards instructed the Canadian government to adopt the 'strictest standard limits for the protection of workers' health as regards exposure to asbestos' and to consult with its worker and employer organisations on upgrading its asbestos laws. The Committee told Canada to 'take into account the evolution of scientific studies, knowledge and technology, as well as the findings of the World Health Organisation, the ILO and other recognised organisations concerning the dangers of exposure to asbestos.' Both the WHO and the ILO have since 2006 supported the union line, calling for a ban on the use of chrysotile asbestos. From 20 to 24 June chrysotile asbestos will be high on the agenda of the UN's Rotterdam Convention meeting, which lists those substances which are so hazardous exporters must ensure there is 'prior informed consent' (PIC) by the country receiving the product. This is the third time chrysotile asbestos has been recommended for listing. So far Canada has led a group of asbestos producer nations that have vetoed the addition of the known carcinogen to the list. On 14 June, global union bodies made a renewed 'call on Canada and other asbestos stakeholders... to accept that the time has come to include chrysotile on the PIC list so that developing countries can make informed decisions on a subject of such deadly importance.'

CLC presentation to the ILO meeting. IMF new report. A statement on Chrysotile at the Rotterdam Convention meeting.
Global: Deadly attacks on unions continue

A 'grim record of murder and repression' in Colombia and the Americas means they maintain the lead in a global listing of abuses of trade union rights. The latest 'Annual Survey of violation of trade union rights' from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) includes data from 143 countries and 'paints a picture of people fighting for greater economic rights and freedom to organise, with many governments and businesses responding with repression, sackings, violence, death threats and murder.' The survey reveals that in 2010 there were 90 murders of trade union activists, with 49 in Colombia alone. Another 75 death threats are recorded and at least 2,500 arrests and 5,000 sackings of unionists because of union activities. 'Around the world, workers, communities and populations are trying to claim basic rights to decent work and a decent life, and in many countries these people are being met with sackings, violence and in extreme cases murder by governments and by employers and businesses,' commented ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow. The global trends highlighted in the survey include governments not enforcing labour laws, a lack of support for the funding of inspection or protection, the lack of rights and abuse of migrant labour across the world, and the exploitation of the mainly female workforces in the world's export processing zones.

ITUC news release and Annual Survey of violation of trade union rights. AFL-CIO Now blog.
Global: Over 100 million children in dangerous jobs

Over 115 million of the world's children and young teenagers, or more than 7 per cent of the total, are engaged in dangerous and life-threatening jobs, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said. Overall, there are 215 million child labourers worldwide, says the global labour standards body. A new ILO report, 'Children in hazardous work: what we know, what we need to do', cites studies from both industrialised and developing countries indicating that every minute of every day, a child labourer somewhere in the world suffers a work-related injury, illness or psychological trauma. The report also says that although the overall number of children aged 5 to 17 in hazardous work declined between 2004 and 2008, the number aged 15-17 actually increased by 20 per cent during the same period, from 52 million to 62 million. 'Despite important progress over the last decade, the number of children in child labour worldwide - and particularly in hazardous work - remains high,' said ILO director-general Juan Somavia. 'Governments, employers and workers must act together to give strong leadership in shaping and implementing the policies and action that can end child labour. The persistence of child labour is a clear indictment of the prevailing model of growth. Tackling work that jeopardises the safety, health or morals of children must be a common and urgent priority.' The ILO report concludes that while there is a need to strengthen workplace safety and health for all workers, specific safeguards for adolescents between the minimum age of employment and the age of 18 are needed. These measures need to be part of a comprehensive approach in which employer and worker organisations and the labour inspectorate have particularly critical parts to play, says ILO.

ILO news release, slideshow and report, Children in hazardous work: what we know, what we need to do.
Events and Courses
TUC courses for safety reps
raymondoscaff
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:56 am

Re: Accidents and incidents Newsletter 25th June 2011

Postby raymondoscaff » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:19 am

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-19705-f0.cfm



Union News

UK union calls for global piracy offensive
MPs echo union warning on coastguard plans
Fatal firm hit by fine and family payout
Worker crushed by red hot two tonne pole
Smoke alarms can't put out fires or rescue you
Other news

Victims made to pay in new offenders bill
Minister's snub to bereaved families
Worker dies after fall from Shell oil rig
Shell ignored warnings before blast
HSE alert after shellfish diver deaths
Gas cylinder explosion kills worker
MS 'needlessly' cuts careers short
Employers are failing older workers
Teacher wins bullying tribunal
Sick former sportsman was unfairly sacking
International News

Australia: Dock union wins radiation testing
Global: Gerdau workers hold minute of silence
Global: Project links safety with business survival
Global: Hotels told to disclose harassment rules
Events and Courses

TUC courses for safety reps
'We didn't vote to die at work' meeting, Manchester, 12 July
Useful Links
raymondoscaff
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:56 am

Re: Accidents and incidents Newsletter 25th June 2011

Postby raymondoscaff » Sat Jun 25, 2011 8:26 am

Still cannot attach docs PDF's or word docs anyone know why?
So.

Union News
UK union calls for global piracy offensive
UK seafarers' union Nautilus is calling on unions worldwide to prepare for an international boycott of high risk piracy areas. The union was commenting following fresh evidence that the threat to merchant ships and seafarers is increasing. The international campaign against piracy, Save our Seafarers (SOS), reported this week that 62 seafarers have died in the past four years as a direct result of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Nautilus says the deaths were the result of 'deliberate murder by pirates, suicide during the period of captivity, malnutrition and disease, drowning or heart failure.' The SOS campaign reports that during the same period, over 3,500 seafarers have been kidnapped, held hostage and subject to extreme trauma. Abuses include being used as human shields, hung by the ankles over the side of the ship, shut in the ship's freezer room, and having cable ties tightened round the genitals. Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson commented: 'The piracy problem needs sorting out now - and before it gets even worse than it presently is.' He added: 'Some governments appear to think that a certain amount of piracy can be tolerated. But that's not the view of Nautilus or its members and it's time to make a stand. That's why Nautilus was amongst those demanding that the ITF make urgent preparations for a global call for all seafarers to refuse to sail into the high risk areas.' Nautilus says it will shortly be submitting evidence to the House of Commons foreign affairs committee inquiry regarding the issue of piracy.

Nautilus news release. ITF/SOS Save Our Seafarers news release. SOS Save Our Seafarers campaign.
Support the Save Our Seafarers campaign.
MPs echo union warning on coastguard plans

Unions are calling on the government to rethink a move to cut coastguard stations and jobs after the plans received withering criticism this week from an influential committee of MPs. The Commons transport committee report said the government plans raise 'serious safety concerns'. The government has proposed reducing the number of coastguard centres open 24 hours a day from 18 to three. Committee chair Louise Ellman, said the coastguard proposals were 'seriously flawed'. She added: 'We found little support for the current proposals and we have no confidence that... the coastguard will in future be able to respond to emergencies at sea as well as they do now, let alone in a more effective way.' PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka commented: 'This report could not be any clearer - the government got it wrong and needs to start again from scratch with the full involvement of staff. It's totally unacceptable that the issues - which are often by definition matters of life and death - have been treated in such a high-handed manner by ministers and management.' Steve Todd, national maritime secretary with the union RMT, said: "The committee quite rightly exposes the dangers to the UK coastline posed by the very damaging cutbacks and closures to coastguard centres.' As well as delivering a searing criticism of the plans on coastguard cutbacks, the report from MPs was also highly critical of the government's intention to axe Emergency Towing Vessels (ETVs) and the fire rescue cover provided by the Maritime Incident Report Group. The government's final proposals are due to be published later this summer.

Commons transport select committee news release. BBC News Online.

Fatal firm hit by fine and family payout
A south Wales firm that faced criminal and civil court proceedings after the death of at work of a father of three was hit last week with a fines and compensation bill of £235,000. Unite member Paul Thorngate, 44, from Porth, was crushed to death when a metal rope gave way and sent 1,600lbs of aluminium car parts crashing down on top of him in November 2006. The components had been lifted by a ceiling-mounted crane and were due to be lowered into a furnace for heat treatment at Melloy Ltd, near Upper Boat. The rope supporting the load was frayed after it was installed incorrectly, causing it to rub against its casing. Last week, a union-backed compensation claim against Melloy on behalf of his children and his partner Jayne Beer was settled for £60,000. Two days earlier the firm was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £75,000 costs at Cardiff Crown Court, after pleading guilty to criminal breaches of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Paul's partner, Jayne Beer, said: 'Words cannot describe how much of a gap Paul's death has left in all our lives. He was a vibrant and fun-loving person and he was much-loved by friends, family and colleagues.' She added: 'He was dedicated to his job and worked hard to make sure his work was completed to the highest standard. If only his employers had had the same attitude and work ethic then perhaps in a different life Paul would still be with us today.' Unite regional secretary Andy Richards said: 'Mr Thorngate died needlessly because of Melloy Ltd's gross failure to make sure the equipment he was using was safe. Had the company involved the workers and the union in its safety discussion these health and safety breaches could have been spotted and resolved and Paul would still be with us today.'

HSE news release and risk assessments guide. Thompsons Solicitors news release.
Worker crushed by red hot two tonne pole
A factory worker who was saved from being burnt alive when he was trapped by a filing cabinet as fires broke out around him has received compensation for his injuries. The GMB member from Kidderminster, whose name has not been released, was injured at Somers Forge Ltd in Halesowen. The 53-year-old works as a forge helper for the open die forgemasters. In August 2007 he was working beside a waist-height track and was waiting for a two and a half tonne metal pole to be lowered by a crane onto a wheeled trolley. The 16 foot pole had just come out of the forge and was red hot. As it was lowered it dropped from the crane and rolled off the trolley.The member, who has worked for the firm for 24 years, couldn't get out of the way in time and as the pole rolled towards him it hit a filing cabinet, pushing it towards him and pinning him to the track. The member was crushed against the track for several minutes as items around him started to burn. He was rescued by colleagues and despite not being burnt he suffered crush injuries to his left leg and his left shoulder was wrenched, leaving him with long term problems.He also suffered post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including nightmares and flashbacks.Following the incident he was forced to take nine months off work. At first his shoulder was so bad he was unable to lift a glass of water. He has received physiotherapy and has now been able to return to work but cannot do any heavy lifting. Lawyers brought in by GMB argued that the company was using poor lifting equipment and should have had safer procedures to move heavy and hot objects. Somers Forge admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £25,000. GMB organiser Russell Farrington commented: 'The working practices involved in moving the pole to the trolley were obviously flawed and in a dangerous environment like a forge, where even small accidents can lead to serious injury, the safest possible processes should be adopted to avoid accidents from happening.'

Thompsons Solicitors news release.
Smoke alarms can't put out fires or rescue you
There is no substitute for the lifesaving role of properly resourced firefighters, the union FBU has said. The union was responding to a BBC 5 Live Breakfast investigation into smoke alarms, which confirmed they don't prevent fires, put them out or rescue people. FBU points out that nearly as many people die in fires with working smoke alarms than die in fires where they are absent. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: 'We fully support the greater use of smoke alarms but it is a complete myth that people don't die in fires if there is a smoke alarm fitted and working. Smoke alarms also have a high failure rate, when they don't operate, because people do things like take the batteries out or they fail for technical reasons.' He added: 'Smoke alarms help save lives and reduce injuries. But they don't prevent fires, they don't put them out and they don't rescue you.' Nearly half of fire deaths in buildings in 2010 happened in a property with a working smoke alarm, according to figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast show.

The deaths accounted for 157 of the 340 people killed in UK property fires. The firefighters' leader commented: 'Smoke alarms are not and cannot be a replacement for firefighters. Too many fire services have used the fitting of smoke alarms to justify cuts to their local fire service, and these figures show why that is very wrong. We have highlighted for the last two years our concerns about increasing delays in the speed of fire service response times - how quickly we can get to an emergency. There is no doubt people are dying as a result of these delays, which are happening because of cuts in the service.' He added: 'It is critical to remember that firefighters rescue over 7,000 people every year from fires. Smoke alarms cannot do that.'

FBU news release. BBC News Online.
Other news
Victims made to pay in new offenders bill
Victims of occupational injuries or diseases will be unable to afford a compensation claim or will have to pay the legal costs as a result of a proposed law introduced this week by the government. The TUC says provisions in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill to switch the cost on personal injury cases from those who negligence caused the problem to the victims will not deliver a saving to the government but 'will simply line the pockets of insurers.' The Bill will do away with Conditional Fee (CFA) or 'No Win No Fee' agreements. These currently allow all legal costs, including the solicitor's success fee, to be recovered from the negligent defendant. Under the proposed new law, the injury or disease victim will be expected to give up 25 per cent of their compensation to meet his or her legal costs, even in cases where the defendant has been grossly negligent. The draft law leaves open the possibility for victims who lose cases to be required to pay legal costs incurred by the employer. The changes have been criticised by unions and work injury and disease victims' advocates. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson commented: 'This bill will mean that many workers who suffer an occupational injury or disease will no longer be able to afford to make claims against their employer or, if they do manage to fund a case, will find their damages reduced. It is a blatant assault on victims and will simply line the pockets of insurers.' Tony Whitston, chair of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups' Forum UK, said dying workers are being 'told that they must carry the risks of suing for compensation', adding 'isn't the risk of losing their lives enough?' He said the reality of the 'shameful attack' is only negligent firms and insurers will benefit from the government proposals. 'The fact is that many frail and terminally ill sufferers will no longer sue for compensation, fearing more uncertainty and stress of litigation,'he said. The union Unite said there were other damaging changes in the proposed law, estimating 650,000 people 'could be denied legal aid and advice to help them with housing, employment and immigration problems.'

Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill [pdf]. Prime minister's office news release and transcript of related press conference. ASGVF news release [pdf]. Unite news release. Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release. Simpson Millar Solicitors news release.
Minister's snub to bereaved families
The government's health and safety minister has refused to meet with representatives of the families of people killed at work. Employment minister Chris Grayling, who pushed through unprecedented funding cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and demanded a dramatic reduction in proactive enforcement by the safety watchdog, has rejected requests for a meeting from Families Against Corporate Killing (FACK), to hear their views about his workplace safety strategy. The group, which was founded by relatives of those killed at work, said in snubbing them the minister has exposed his intention to 'ease the burden on employers' without taking account of the far greater burden borne by families and the public purse as a result of criminal health and safety failings at work. FACK first wrote to Mr Grayling on 6 May to request an audience, arguing that 'there seems to have been no attempt to contact, involve or consult those harmed by work - injured and made ill - or the families of those killed by gross negligence.' In response the minister said that he regretted that 'diary commitments mean I am unable to meet with you at the current time'. He has found time for meetings with other organisations, including business groups - and told campaigners including FACK members who doorstepped him at the DWP HQ on Workers' Memorial Day 'my door is always open' (Risks 504). FACK founder Linzi Herbertson said: 'FACK families are utterly disgusted with Chris Grayling's refusal to meet with us about the effects of the cuts he is proposing to the already inadequate health and safety system which allowed people we love to be killed just for going to work.' She added that the minister was more interested in 'listening to the false accounting of the business lobby.'

Morning Star.
Worker dies after fall from Shell oil rig
An experienced oil worker has died after he plunged from a North Sea oil rig. Lee Bertram, from Northumberland, fell from Shell's Brent Charlie platform - about 120 miles north east of Lerwick in Shetland - on 16 June. Grampian Police confirmed the 37-year-old worked for Aberdeen-based BIS Salamis and that he was working from ropes on the oil platform when he fell. He was pulled from the water after the alarm was raised by work colleagues. A Shell spokesperson said: 'Shell UK Limited can confirm that a man rescued from the North Sea after falling overboard from the Brent Charlie platform subsequently died on board the standby vessel Ocean Spey. The man was recovered from the water after workmates raised the alarm. Workers on the Shell-operated platform were called to muster when the alarm was raised.' She added: 'All personnel were accounted for and the relevant authorities have been notified.' A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal. Unions have expressed concern at a deterioration in safety performance offshore (Risks 489). Major injuries offshore almost doubled from 106.3 per 100,000 in 2008/09 to 188 in 2009/10 (Risks 471), while spills of hydrocarbons were up from 61 to 85.


The Journal. STV News. Daily Record.
Shell ignored warnings before blast
Oil multinational Shell UK ignored safety warnings from its staff before a gas terminal blast that could have killed, a court has heard. The company was fined £1m plus £242,000 costs at Norwich Crown Court this week after admitted seven safety and pollution offences following the explosion and fire at the Bacton terminal in Norfolk in February 2008. The blast could have killed 10 people, according to prosecutor Andrew Marshall. The only reason there were no fatalities was because staff were changing shifts at the time, he added, something the company admitted in its own internal report. The prosecution was brought by the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive. Shell admitted breaching two health and safety regulations and five areas of environmental legislation, including pollution prevention and control. Judge Martin Binning heard Shell managers had been warned several times by workers over the presence of high levels of North Sea condensate, a highly-flammable hydrocarbon. Shell UK had previously admitted not taking sufficient steps to protect staff and the public. Mr Marshall said: 'Management were sleepwalking into danger, no matter what was brought to their attention. What is not in doubt is that what took place could have been fatal for those in the vicinity of this lethal blast. The Crown estimates that 10 people could have been killed and that is not taking into account the injuries, serious injuries and further issues that can follow from such a situation.' Mr Marshall added: 'Plant personnel were swapping for the late shift and were out of the way. So it is only by good fortune that nobody was killed or hurt or that worse damage was suffered.' Corrosion in a water separation vessel used to cool plant systems meant the chemical balance reached an unsafe level. Basic errors, including temperature gauges being wrongly placed, were discovered by inspectors.

Environment Agency news release. BBC News Online. Norwich Advertiser.
HSE alert after shellfish diver deaths
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a safety alert after two shellfish divers died in separate incidents in inshore waters in Scotland. James Irvine, 42, disappeared in Largo Bay in the Forth Estuary on 24 March. His body was recovered the following day by an underwater search unit. On 11 June, Graeme Mackie, 31, who had been diving off the coast of Methil, also in the Forth Estuary, was pulled unconscious from the water. He was taken to shore by lifeboat and then flown to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, where he later died. HSE says the incidents are still under investigation and the facts surrounding the deaths have yet to be established. It has however issued an alert to remind the industry of the 'essential aspects' of safe diving operations. HSE says its guidance makes clear that the minimum team size normally required when diving for shellfish is three - a supervisor, a working diver, and a standby diver. Additional people may be required to operate the boat and to assist in an emergency. The standby diver should be in immediate readiness to provide any assistance to the diver in the water. Chris Sherman, HSE's chief inspector of diving, said: 'Diving for shellfish can be a dangerous activity and needs to be carried out by competent and appropriately qualified divers. Suitable plans and procedures are key to the whole diving team conducting activities safely and reacting effectively in an emergency.' He added: 'Simple measures taken to ensure that the diver in trouble can communicate to the dive supervisor and that the diver is marked by a line and float, or by a line to an attendant on the dive boat, maximise the chance of a successful outcome to an emergency situation.'

HSE news release. STV News.
Gas cylinder explosion kills worker
A London supplier of high pressure gas has been fined after an explosion killed a worker and severely injured a member of the public. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Oak Farm Gas Company Ltd, (trading as Mr Fizz), after the incident at a site in New Denham, Buckinghamshire. The firm specialises in the supply of high pressure carbon dioxide, nitrogen and gas mixtures for licensed trade drink dispensers. Uxbridge Magistrates' Court heard that Kerry Daly, 21, was employed at Mr Fizz solely to fill empty gas cylinders with various types of pure and mixed gas. The high pressure cylinders were normally brought to the workshop from customers' premises. On the 19 June 2009, Maurice Kelly, a 45-year-old driver, brought a gas cylinder to Mr Daly from an east London pub. As the valve fittings on the cylinder did not match those on the high pressure filling station, Mr Daly, who was working alone in the workshop, phoned a colleague to ask his advice. Though Mr Daly was advised not to fill the cylinder he still attempted to do so and the cylinder exploded. Mr Daly was severely injured and died later that evening from his injuries. Mr Kelly had his leg amputated below the knee and suffered injuries resulting in him losing some function in both hands. The HSE investigation showed the equipment at Mr Fizz's workshop was totally unsuitable for filling a low pressure gas cylinder. Mr Daly's training consisted solely of verbal instruction and there was no documentation of this, nor any written risk assessments. The company pleaded guilty to criminal safety breaches and was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,000.

HSE news release.
MS 'needlessly' cuts careers short
Providing support for workers with multiple sclerosis (MS) would significantly reduce the annual welfare bill and prevent people from missing out on an average of 18 years of their working lives, according to a new report from The Work Foundation. 'Ready to work: Meeting the employment and career aspirations of people with multiple sclerosis' concludes that with greater employer awareness and more co-ordinated action, the majority of people with MS who are willing and able to work could be supported to do so. Lead author Stephen Bevan said: 'The UK is not doing enough to support people with MS to stay in work. At present, 44 per cent of people with MS retire early - many more than the European average of 35 per cent.' He added: 'Employees may not ask for assistance at work due to fear of discrimination and potential job loss, all the more so during difficult economic times - and such fears may not be unfounded. To get support, it is important for employees with MS to inform their employers early on; however, this self-advocacy must be met with a good understanding of the disease, particularly its unseen symptoms and fluctuating nature.' The report notes ability to work may be affected by physical symptoms such as fatigue and difficulties with writing, balance or walking, combined with cognitive symptoms affecting memory or concentration. It adds that because many symptoms can be invisible and can worsen or improve rapidly, MS can be a difficult condition for employers to understand.

The Work Foundation news release and report, Ready to work? Meeting the employment and career aspirations of people with Multiple Sclerosis [pdf]. MS Foundation news release.
Employers are failing older workers
Older employees are missing out of training and most say employers are failing to make the adjustments necessary to help them do their jobs, according to a new survey. However, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found workers of the age of 65 also reported better physical and mental health than their younger colleagues. CIPD says its findings highlight the need for employers to ensure they are managing the performance of all employees effectively, particularly before the phase out of the Default Retirement Age (DRA) in October. Across the sample of 2,000 employees, older workers were most likely to have noticed a decline in their physical ability to do their jobs, with 28 per cent saying their physical ability has declined a lot and 51 per cent saying their physical ability has declined a little. For those workers who felt their physical ability to do their job has declined as they got older, 76 per cent said their employer had not made any adjustments. Where employers had made adjustments, employees report that access to occupational health services (7 per cent), offering a reduction in hours (7 per cent) and flexible working (6 per cent) were the most common. The survey, however, found 91 per cent of workers aged 65 and above say their mental health is good or very good, compared to a survey average of 74 per cent. And 69 per cent of older workers report their physical health is good or very good compared to 64 per cent for workers across all age groups. CIPD diversity adviser, Dianah Worman, commented: 'The survey shoots down the myth that workers' ability to do their job suddenly declines after they hit 65. However, the survey does show that employers need to do more to provide reasonable adjustments for workers of all ages to enable them to carry on working in light of physical or mental health difficulties, or indeed caring responsibilities, either for children or for an ageing spouse or partner.'

CIPD news release.
Teacher wins bullying tribunal
A teacher who claimed her boss locked her in a cupboard at an exclusive private school has won an employment tribunal. Fiona Michie said she was bullied and threatened by her department head while working at Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen. The art teacher said: 'It started as verbal aggression, and it got to the point where I was being locked behind a closed door, up to an hour and a half, an hour and threequarters at a time.' Ms Michie claimed she was forced to resign in early 2009 when nothing was done after she was locked in a storeroom. She told the tribunal it was head of department Andrew Hopps who locked her in a store cupboard and shouted at her. In November 2009 - after her resignation - he sent her an apology, which tribunal judges described as 'half hearted'. The tribunal report said school headteacher Hugh Ouston failed to carry out proper disciplinary procedures, trying instead 'to smooth the matter over with a minimum of fuss.' The case is now expected to proceed to a remedy hearing, where compensation can be determined.

STV News. BBC News Online. Aberdeen Evening Express.
Sick former sportsman was unfairly sacking
A former sportsman has been awarded compensation totalling nearly £195,000 under disability discrimination legislation after he was sacked from his job, which meant he was denied access to his company's private health insurance scheme. The man, identified as Mr W, was dismissed after having to take long periods off work due to the effects of injuries received during his sporting career. The tribunal found that it was unreasonable for the company to sack Mr W because the dismissal meant the loss of his private health insurance. Bridge McFarland partner and head of employment Richard Parnell said 'it seems that no-one at the company considered the effect that dismissal would have on Mr W's health and medical insurances, which were a contractual benefit of his employment. Not only were his benefits cut off, but Mr W was held liable by a hospital to pay for an operation that had been promised under the scheme.' He added: 'We argued at the tribunal that, when he was dismissed, Mr W was disadvantaged in comparison to an able-bodied employee by having his insurance benefits withdrawn. The tribunal agreed and found that there was an implied term in his contract of employment that he would not be dismissed while incapacitated for work and therefore in need of the scheme's benefits.' The tribunal awarded compensation of just under £195,000 to Mr W to reflect his loss of health and medical insurance benefits, loss of pension entitlements and injury to feelings.

Bridge McFarland news release. Gainsborough Target.
International News
Australia: Dock union wins radiation testing
The Australian authorities have bowed to a dock union's demand that imported Japanese cars are screened for radiation. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) this week screened 800 cars arriving from Japan. This batch test for radiation followed months of campaigning by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) to ensure Japanese cargo and cars are screened, following concerns that the Fukushima nuclear disaster (Risks 508) had led to widespread contamination. In early May, cars arriving in Chile from Japan were found to be contaminated with radiation. ARPANSA refused initially to commit to scanning cargo, but changed its position this week after long-running talks with MUA officials. 'This is a win for workers, and also a win for the Australian public,' said MUA assistant national secretary Warren Smith. 'Any risk of radiation is too big a risk to take. Workers and consumers come into direct contact with these cars - the government watchdog must ensure there is no health and safety risk. The Australian public has a right to know if there is a radiation threat.' Ports Australia and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) supported the union's push for radiation testing. 'We know from the tragedy in Japan that people are feeling the effects of radiation hundreds of kilometres away from the destroyed nuclear plant. We can't take the risk of contaminating workers,' said MUA's Warren Smith. MUA wants to see radiation screening for all Japanese cargo entering Australia.

MUA news release. ABC News. Herald Sun.
Global: Gerdau workers hold minute of silence
Workers at Spanish steel multinational Gerdau have walked out after the latest death at a company plant. On 17 June at around 4 am, Raúl Gutiérrez Gonzalez, 40, was killed in the Gerdau plant in Reinosa, Spain. Workers at the plant responded with a 24-hour strike as a mark of respect to their colleague. They also demanded an investigation into the cause of the fatality and safety improvements at work. Less than a year ago another Gerdau worker was killed in the Gerdau plant in Basauri, Spain (Risks 476). After the latest fatality, the Gerdau Workers' World Council called for a minute's silence on 20 June at all Gerdau plants worldwide, in memory of Raúl Gutierrez Gonzalez and all those killed at work. The council is also demanding the creation within the company of a Joint International Committee on Health and Safety. A meeting of the union network in October 2010 expressed concern at the company's practice of 'hiding' accidents by putting workers back on the job before they are able to do their work (Risks 478).

IMF news release.
Global: Project links safety with business survival
Safety professionals' organisations in the US and UK have joined forced to 'raise awareness of the ways health and safety can secure the future of businesses, making them more sustainable for the future.' The Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS) was launched last week in Chicago and was created by the UK-based Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). IOSH president Steve Granger explained: 'Sustainability is now firmly placed on the corporate agenda, and, in fact, we view the protection of the workforce as a key part of what it involves. Achieving high standards for health and safety reduces unnecessary wastage of resources in terms of staff turnover and health, as well as damage or loss to physical assets.' The president of Illinois-based ASSE, Darryl C Hill, said: 'The case to be made for safety and health as an integral part of organisational sustainability is a compelling one. Every year more than two million people die worldwide from occupational accidents or work-related diseases, and there are several millions more cases of non-fatal occupational accidents and diseases - yet, work safety and health play a relatively small role in defining business sustainability today. We need to act now.' The groups say the new centre 'will provide new insights into the measurement, management, and impact of safety and health sustainability, with the goal of being a recognised thought leader for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. It is also a stakeholder of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) - a network-based organisation that pioneered the world's most widely used sustainability reporting framework.'

AIHA news release [pdf]. IOSH news release.
Center for Safety and Health in Sustainability (CSHS). GRI webpage.
Global: Hotels told to disclose harassment rules
Hotel operators worldwide are being asked to show they are taking serious measures to protect staff from sexual harassment at work. IUF, the global union federation for sector, has written to major international hotel chains including Intercontinental, Wyndham Hotels, Marriott, Hilton, Accor, Hyatt, Rezidor, Starwood, Carlson Hotels, and Melia to highlight the vulnerable situation of hotel housekeepers. IUF says the predominantly female and migrant workforce is often employed on precarious contracts and routinely face indecent exposure and other 'indignities' from male guests. Often they are too scared to speak out when harassment occurs for fear of losing their jobs as a result. To assess their approach on this issue, IUF is asking hotel chains if they have an anti-sexual harassment policy in place for their hotels. Where there are policies, IUF asks if guests are made aware of this policy, and informed that harassment of staff will not be tolerated. It also wants the chains to reveal if they have sexual harassment awareness training programmes in place for staff and the procedures in place to support a member of staff reporting harassment. The global union federation says it will publish responses as they become available. 'We also encourage unions to integrate the necessary programmes and procedures into their collective bargaining with employers in the sector,' says IUF.

IUF news release.
Events and Courses
raymondoscaff
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:56 am

Re: Accidents and incidents Newsletter 2nd July 2011

Postby raymondoscaff » Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:04 pm

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-19727-f0.cfm
Union News
TUC concern over sharp rise in deaths at work
There has been a dramatic upturn in the number of workplace fatalities, new official statistics show. Figures published this week by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal the number of workers killed in Britain in 2010/11 was over 16 per cent up on the previous year. The provisional data for the year April 2010 to March 2011 shows 171 workers died, compared to the record low of 147 in 2009/10. The fatality rate increased from 0.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers to 0.6/100,000. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber expressed concern at the reversal in the recent downward trend in workplace fatalities and stressed the need for official inspections and enforcement. 'The responsibility for the increase in deaths this year must be placed at the door of negligent employers, but more needs to be done to ensure that all employers protect their workers from harm,' he said. 'The government's recent decision to reduce workplace inspections and the budget cuts for both the HSE and local authorities make it more far less likely that problems will be identified before something goes wrong. Traditionally injury rates increase as we come out of a recession. If we are going to stop this year's increase becoming a long-term trend we need more inspections in the workplace - not less.'

HSE news release and fatal injury statistics. TUC news release. STUC news release. Irwin Mitchell news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online.
Cuts mean there could be worse to come
The sharp increase in workplace fatalities show the government must reverse it attack on workplace regulation and enforcement, unions have said. Prospect, whose members include staff in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said the government must now rethink plans to cut the safety body's budget by 35 per cent. Prospect negotiator Mike Macdonald said: 'The increase revealed by these figures is even more alarming given that economic output has remained stagnant over the past 12 months. We fear that as the economy recovers and the workforce grows the number of workplace deaths and serious accident rates will rise even further.' He added: 'Not only does HSE's work save lives and reduce the misery felt by friends and family following the death of a loved one, it saves industry and the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds in lost working days and medical bills. Therefore we have to question how appropriate it is for the government to make cuts of 35 per cent which will result in fewer frontline inspectors.' Macdonald said members were particularly concerned by the withdrawal of up to 11,000 'proactive inspections' normally undertaken by HSE but axed in a bid to meet budgetary restrictions. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey also expressed concern. He said: 'The reality is that 171 people went to work and did not come home again. From Potters Bar to Piper Alpha the lesson to be learned is that strong and effective enforcement of health and safety legislation is vital, not the cuts and deregulatory agenda being pursued by the government.' He added: 'The only way to stop deaths at work is more inspections, more enforcement and no cuts.'

Prospect news release. Unite news release.
Unions denounce safety red tape 'sham'
The increasingly desperate tone and tactics employed by the government in its attempts to justify the removal of safety protection at work have been described by unions as a 'sham' bordering on 'reality TV show' banality. In a news release issued this week by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), employment minister said the government's Red Tape Challenge on health and safety regulations, which will run from 30 June to 21 July, 'is the opportunity that every beleaguered business leader, incredulous community group or outraged newspaper reader has been waiting for - a chance to directly change the laws underpinning Britain's health and safety culture.' In a statement, the TUC was highly critical of the government approach. 'The government is, once again, spreading the myth that health and safety regulation is 'red tape'. We do not believe that government policy should be made on the basis of who shouts loudest, and do not think that the safety and health of workers should be determined by the outcome of a web-based discussion forum,' the statement said. 'The need to protect your workers is not a burden, it is a responsibility and, at times like this we should be trying to ensure that employers do obey the law and do not cut corners. Instead we have seen a retreat away from enforcement, two reviews of health and safety regulation and now this. What is to be next - a TV reality show to decide what piece of legislation gets ditched?' TUC added that the approach is 'a flawed process which undermines the existing decision-making process on health and safety which seeks to regulate on the basis of consensus and evidence.' Unite general secretary Len McCluskey dismissed the red tape challenge as an 'insult' and 'a sham.' He added: 'It is not an appropriate way to determine government policy on health and safety at work - and it is an insult to workers everywhere, particularly those who have been injured themselves or for those families who have lost a loved one.'

HSE news release. Unite news release.
If you think it is a good idea to have strong regulations properly enforced to protect your health and safety at work, you can tell the government this on its Red Tape Challenge webpages.
Expert slams government's safe jobs 'fantasy'
Cuts to safety enforcement, regulation and budgets are being justified with government 'lies', UNISON members have been told. Addressing 150 concerned workers at a fringe meeting of the union's annual conference last week, Hazards Campaign spokesperson Hilda Palmer ripped into the cut price, cut back health and safety strategy which will see most workers in 'low risk' workplaces shunted off the official enforcement radar (Risks 507). 'The government claims that offices shops and schools - the kind of places where UNISON members work - are non-hazardous. This is wrong. You are actually quite likely to die of stress-related illnesses,' she said. She added that people who work with computers or in call centres are more likely to suffer from muscle and joint disorders. Employment minister Chris Grayling 'hated health and safety' and wanted to throw the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on the 'bonfire of the quangos,' she said. The minister has fronted a government assault on health and safety that has seen HSE inspector numbers slashed, preventive safety inspections cut back by 11,000 a year and an attack of safety regulations based on an unfounded claim they inhibit enterprise and are bad for business, she said (Risks 499). 'There is an acceptance that proactive inspections work,' Palmer added. 'But they are not taking place in agriculture, which kills more workers per 100,000 than any other industry, manufacturing and the whole of the public sector. The idea that work is safe is a lie.' The Hazards Campaign is leading a 'We didn't vote to die at work' campaign, to challenge the government's safety strategy (Risks 508).

Morning Star. We didn't vote to die at work facebook group and webpage. Campaign resources: T-shirts - Adult sizes s, m, l, xl, xxl, xxxl: £6 (UK postage free), Child (ages 5-13): £4. Posters 'Job killer' and 'We didn't vote to die at work' (free). Details from the Hazards Campaign, Windrush Millennium Centre, 70 Alexandra Road, Manchester M16 7WD, UK.
'We didn't vote to die at work' meeting, 6.30pm, Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester, 12 July [meeting flyer].
'Massive campaign' to protect rail services
Rail union RMT will run a 'massive national campaign' in a bid to head of what it says is a dangerous assault on UK railways. The union's annual meeting this week endorsed the campaign strategy, which includes a cross-industry strike ballot 'if necessary.' It says if the government implements the job cutting recommendations of the McNulty rail review (Risks 507), rail services, safety and employment conditions for rail workers would all suffer. A report backed by conference delegates notes: 'Any attempts to attack the jobs, pay, conditions and safety of our members or free collective bargaining in the industry will be met by a ballot for industrial action.' RMT has also vowed to work with other unions, passenger groups, politicians and local communities 'to build a mass campaign of national resistance to McNulty.' RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: 'McNulty would leave no rail worker and no section of our industry unscathed whether they work for the train operators, Network Rail or one of the many sub-contractors.' He added the union 'will be building a mass, national campaign against this all-out assault on our railways that will leave no stone unturned in the fight to stop us being dragged back to the days of Railtrack (Risks 506), Hatfield (Risks 495) and Potters Bar (Risks 506) while the private companies are locked in to gold-plated deals that leave them laughing all the way to the bank.'

RMT news release.
Ford forced to up rotting flesh payout
A Ford worker who was offered just £2,000 after developing occupational dermatitis which left his flesh 'rotting' has received £24,000 with the help of union lawyers. The 41-year-old Unite member, whose name has been withheld, developed the painful skin condition after he was exposed to a rubber lubricant used while building engines at the Ford plant in Dagenham. He has been left with a life-long condition, which leaves his hands red, itchy and blistered. The irritant must not come into contact with skin and must be handled with specialist gloves, but the Unite member was never warned about the dangers. He first noticed problems with his hands in December 2006 but it took Ford's occupational health department more than eighteen months to give the employee a patch test to discover the cause. By the time he was diagnosed his hands were covered in blisters and his flesh was rotting. He still works for the car company but is now limited in the jobs that he can do because he needs to avoid contact with the lubricant. Unite brought in lawyers to negotiate a compensation payout. Ford quickly admitted liability but offered just £2,000. Unite regional secretary Steve Hart commented: 'This member has been let down by Ford and now has real concerns about his working future. The final settlement sum in this case proves how important specialist legal help can be - he got 12 times more compensation than Ford initially tried to short change him with.'

Thompsons Solicitors news release.
Council job caused deafness
A council driver was made deaf by exposure to dangerous levels of noise at work. GMB member David Carr, 65, from Rotherham has received £6,000 in damages after suffering from noise induced hearing loss and tinnitus. His hearing became damaged while working for Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council during the 1960s and 1970s. He worked as a roadworker, JCB driver, HGV driver and mower for the council. As a roadworker, he was exposed to unsafe levels of noise from tools like jackhammers, drills and vibrator rollers for up to five hours a day. He was exposed to engine noise for just as long when working as a driver on JCBs, HGVs and lawnmowers. Mr Carr was diagnosed with deafness and tinnitus after a check up in the workplace in August 2009. Facing a union-backed compensation claim, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council admitted liability and agreed the £6,000 payout. Mr Carr, who is now retired, said: 'We were never warned about the dangers at the time. We just got on with our work and never imagined what damage it was doing to our hearing. All these years later I'm now left hard of hearing. It can leave you feeling isolated and I now wish we had been given the correct protection for our ears to have avoided this happening.' Paul McCarthy, GMB North West regional secretary, said: 'Industrial deafness is usually a condition associated with factory workers and those using pneumatic drills. As Mr Carr's case shows employers who have staff driving heavy machinery must also be aware of their responsibility to provide suitable hearing protection.'

Thompsons Solicitors news release.
Other news
Waste and recycling up to 15 times more deadly
New official statistics show the number of workers killed in Britain's waste and recycling industry last year has sharply increased and now has a fatality rate nearly 15 times the average for all workers. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provisional data for the year April 2010 to March 2011 shows nine workers killed in the sector, compared to three deaths in 2009/10. The 2010/11 waste and recycling fatality rate of 8.7 deaths per 100,000 workers compares to 0.6/100,000 for all workers. HSE's head of waste and recycling, Peter Woolgar, said: 'The increase in number of workers killed last year in the waste and recycling industry is disappointing and remains a serious cause for concern. The fact that nine people failed to come home safe and well from their jobs last year is a stark reminder to the industry that it still has a long way to go.' He added: 'The rate of injuries in the sector has consistently fallen in recent years but we need to see this improvement transferred to fatal injuries and sustained. Waste and recycling must learn from other higher-risk industries and not fall behind in managing workplace risks.'

HSE news release.
Agriculture deaths still over 13 times higher
The number of workers killed in the agricultural industry last year decreased slightly, but the overall fatality rate remains over 13 times the average for all workplaces. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provisional data for the year April 2010 to March 2011 reveals 34 workers were killed - a decrease on the previous year when 39 died. HSE board member Sandy Blair commented: 'The number of workers killed each year in the agricultural industry remains stubbornly consistent.' He added: 'This slight decrease is obviously welcome and should give some encouragement to the industry to keep seeking improvement: a step in the right direction but one that will only continue to save lives if the effort is maintained.' The rate of fatal injury in the agricultural sector in 2010/11 fell to 8.0 per 100,000 workers. By comparison, the death rate for all workers is 0.6/100,000 for all workers. The agriculture average rate over the last five years has been 9.6 per 100,000, consistently over 10 times the all industry average. The 2010/11 death total of 34 compares to an average over this period of 35 deaths each year. Prospect negotiator Mike Macdonald warned government cut backs will mean an end to preventive HSE inspections in the sector this year, making a hazardous industry more dangerous still. He said: 'Agriculture is one of the key areas to see a withdrawal of proactive inspection despite the excessive number of fatal injuries. Enforcement and the prosecution of people who break health and safety law is important - but so is HSE's intervention to reduce the risks of hazardous situations in the first place.'

HSE news release.
Construction deaths up by 22 per cent
Site fatalities have risen by 22 per cent, ending a four-year period of declining deaths in the construction industry. The latest provisional figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal the number of construction deaths rose to 50 last year, up from 41 the year before. The construction death toll equates to a rate of 2.4 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to a rate of 1.9 recorded in 2009/10. The latest figures reveal a death rate in construction four times the all industry average. The bad news prompted construction union UCATT to call on the government to 'urgently rethink' its safety strategy, which has seen HSE's resources slashed. George Guy, the union's acting general secretary, said: 'These latest figures must serve as an urgent wake up call for the government and their policy of cutting safety laws and legislation. This rise in deaths occurred before the government's cuts kicked in. By slashing the HSE's budget and the organisation's effectiveness the government are in reality giving a green light to business to avoid taking safety laws seriously.' Pointing to the government's Red Tape Challenge, which will highlight health and safety for three weeks from 30 June, he said: 'The government's constant attacks on safety laws are sickening. The simple fact is that in dangerous industries like construction, there aren't too many regulations. There isn't too high a level of enforcement. There simply isn't enough. Every single day workers are facing unnecessary dangers as basic safety laws are ignored.'

HSE news release. UCATT news release. Construction Enquirer.
Warning on deadly 'asbestos protection crisis'
There is an 'asbestos protection crisis' throughout the UK as a result of government cut backs on safety campaigns, enforcement and resources, a victims' advocacy group has said. The warning came on 1 July as hundreds of sufferers of the aggressive and deadly cancer mesothelioma and their families gathered to mark Action Mesothelioma Day. The Asbestos Victims Support Groups' Forum (AVSGF) says the crisis stems from a government policy that has seen the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) halt its award-winning 'Hidden Killer' asbestos campaign, an end to preventive health and safety inspections in state schools and from plans to allow tenants to undertake repairs on their frequently asbestos riddled homes. The forum says government policy means that people will continue to die from mesothelioma, including from low levels of exposure to asbestos in social housing and in schools. Cancer sufferer Carole Hagedon commented: 'I was diagnosed with mesothelioma after a 35 year career in teaching. Needless to say, I had not imagined teaching to have such deadly potential. It is shameful that some schools are still failing to protect the children and staff in them. We must campaign for proper controls.' Forum chair Tony Whitston added: 'Government policy is putting maintenance workers, tenants and school staff and children at risk. It is unforgivable for government to repeat the policy mistakes of the past which have caused so many deaths. The Hidden Killer campaign should be reinstated and action taken urgently to protect tenants, school staff and children.'

AVSGF news release [pdf]. HSE's shelved 'Hidden Killer' campaign. Plymouth Herald. Telegraph and Argus. Action Mesothelioma Day.
Boring jobs can cause burnout
Boring, 'under-challenging', administrative and service jobs can lead to exhaustion and burnout, new research has found. A survey of 400 university employees found undertaking 'monotonous and unstimulating' tasks can lead to disenchantment and high stress levels. Researchers at the University of Zaragoza in Spain found a distinct category of 'underchallenged' employees who end up finding they can take no more of the 'monotonous and unstimulating' tasks they are expected to perform. They 'have to cope with the disenchantment caused by feeling trapped in an occupational activity to which they are indifferent, which bores them and produces no gratification,' concluded lead author Jesús Montero-Marín. Writing in the journal BMC Psychiatry, the research team described two other types of burn-out: 'frenetic', in which the employee works 'increasingly harder to the point of exhaustion'; and 'worn-out', where workers 'give up when faced with stress or lack of gratification.' Longer-serving employees were more likely to be "worn-out", with those clocking-up more than 16 years' service most at risk.

'The longer the service, the greater the likelihood of having this burn-out,' the study found.

Jesús Montero-Marín and others. Sociodemographic and occupational risk factors associated with the development of different burnout types: the cross-sectional University of Zaragoza study, BMC Psychiatry, volume 11, number 49, 2011 [abstract and full text]. The Telegraph. The Guardian.
Marine company put diver's life at risk
The owner of a Cornish marine company has been fined £10,000 plus costs of £2,000 for safety breaches which put a diver's life at serious risk. Kenneth Dunstan, owner of Mylor Marine Maintenance of Marlowe Bridge, pleaded guilty to breaching four diving safety regulations. Truro Magistrates' Court heard Mr Dunstan used incorrect equipment and an unqualified diver. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the breaches on 5 May 2010. The court heard one of Mr Dunstan's employees had been working underwater on moorings in the estuary near St Mawes. Inspectors said they found the diver, Benjamin Taffinder, was using one tank of breathing gas with a mouthpiece. They said a full face mask and a secondary supply should by law have been used. The court heard there was no standby diver or a lifeline and the employee did not have the proper qualifications. There was also no diving plan for the work being carried out, which should have included a risk assessment and a project plan, the court heard. In addition, Mr Taffinder was only qualified to carry out recreational dives, not commercial ones. The inspectors used a prohibition notice to stop the dive and issued three additional improvement notices to the firm. In 2004, Dunstan had been issued a prohibition notice for diving safety offences. Speaking after the prosecution, HSE inspector Bill Chilton said: 'Working underwater can be unforgiving should anything go wrong. Therefore, diving projects need to be planned, the equipment needs to be suitable for the task and the divers and their support team need to be competent.' He said Mr Dunstan 'fell far below the standard required of a diving contractor,' adding: 'He had been made aware of these important standards in 2004, but six years later he was still not adhering to them; in fact, he was so far below the benchmarks that we had no choice but to prosecute.'

HSE news release and diving webpages. BBC News Online.
Fines after worker left with brain damage
A construction worker was left fighting for his life after he was hit on the head by a 7lb piece of scaffold tube that fell 18 floors, a court has heard. Bristol Crown Court fined main contractor Miller Construction £40,000 and £17,232 costs and specialist lift company Hoistway Ltd £70,000 and £14,616 costs for criminal safety breaches. Both firms had previously pleaded guilty to failing to protect the health and safety of site worker Richard Chodkiewicz. The 53-year-old father of five, who was wearing a hard hat, was left suffering serious brain injuries, in need of emergency surgery, unable to return to work and facing months of painful rehabilitation after the incident in July 2008. Richard's wife Karen Chodkiewicz said as well as being relieved at seeing the guilty firms brought to justice she was 'pleased to hear that as a result of what happened, the companies have since implemented new safety systems to hopefully ensure similar tragedies are avoided in the future.' She added: 'Richard's life has been turned upside down as a result of what happened that day. His life will never be the same and he now has to live with the consequences of the terrible mistakes which happened on site that day.' During the criminal prosecution, brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it was revealed that the 7lb section of scaffold tube had been tied to a piano wire plumb line and was being used as a makeshift 'plumb bob'. This came loose as it was being winched 18 storeys up inside a lift shaft and fell to the base of the shaft, striking Mr Chodkiewicz who was working below. Deborah Bigwood from the law firm Irwin Mitchell, who is representing the family in a civil compensation case, commented: 'This particularly horrific workplace accident highlights the importance of the health and safety regulations which exist to protect workers.' She added: 'Sadly, Richard will never be able to live independently or return to work. Whilst no amount of money will ever turn back the clock, it is important that we now secure justice for Richard and his family so that he has a care package that will provide rehabilitation and financial security for the rest of his life.'

Irwin Mitchell Solicitors news release. HSE news release and construction webpages.
Two firms guilty over Legionella risk
Fines and costs totalling nearly £250,000 have been imposed on two firms after workers and members of the public were put at risk of exposure to the potentially fatal Legionnaires' disease. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted multinational automotive parts manufacturer Eaton Ltd and water treatment services provider Aegis Ltd after an investigation in 2006. Wolverhampton Crown Court heard HSE inspectors found Eaton Ltd had failed to properly manage the water cooling systems used in manufacturing processes at its plant in Brierley Hill. Aegis Ltd, now trading as Aegis Water Treatment Ltd, was also found to have failed significantly in its duties. There was no comprehensive and up-to-date risk assessment in place and neither company had taken reasonable steps to control the potential spread of Legionella by assessing the risk or properly cleaning and maintaining the water cooling system. Employees had not been properly supervised. The management failings by both companies were present over a prolonged period of time. Eaton Ltd pleaded guilty to criminal safety offences and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £45,000 costs. Aegis Ltd was found guilty at a trial in May and was fined £40,000 with £80,000 costs. After the hearing, HSE principal inspector Paul Billinger said: 'Legionnaires' disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, which can affect anyone coming into contact with it. Neither Eaton Ltd nor Aegis Ltd, which was specifically contracted to manage the water system, took the Legionella risk seriously. They failed to deal with their own risk assessment and service agreement in respect of cleaning the system. These were persistent and systemic failures, which put people's health at risk.'

HSE news release and Legionnaires' disease webpages.
Managing presenteeism pays off
Employers can save money and improve the health of their staff if they manage presenteeism alongside sickness absence, according to a discussion paper produced by Business in the Community (BITC) and Centre for Mental Health. 'Managing Presenteeism' examines how employers can deal with reduced productivity among people who come to work and are not fully engaged or perform at lower levels as a result of ill-health. The paper says simple, low-cost measures that can cut the costs of presenteeism include training for line managers in recognising the signs of mental ill-health, creating an open atmosphere for staff to talk about health issues, and recording presenteeism through staff surveys. BITC's Workwell Director Louise Aston said managing presenteeism effectively 'not only saves money in both the short and longer term, but also contributes to the development of an engaged and productive workforce. Progressive employers are increasingly recognising the need to actively manage presenteeism.' Centre for Mental Health joint chief executive Professor Bob Grove said: 'Presenteeism from mental ill-health costs the UK economy £15 billion a year. This is almost double the cost of sickness absence due to mental ill-health. And presenteeism is growing as white collar jobs become more common and more people carry on working while unwell.' He added: 'Employers need to manage presenteeism alongside absenteeism. The two are intimately connected and cannot be managed separately. Bearing down on sickness absence, for example, could simply increase the costs of presenteeism, whereas managing absence more flexibly may help to cut the costs of both.' A German study this year found that presenteeism, where the working wounded labour on despite being ill, costs twice as much as sickness related absence from work (Risks 510).

Centre for Mental Health news release, presenteeism resources page, and Managing Presenteeism discussion paper.
International News
Canada: Unions appalled' at asbestos crassness
Canada's top union leader has said he is 'appalled' the Canadian government has blocked an international effort to list chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance. Ken Georgetti, the president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), was speaking as Canada stepped in to veto listing of chrysotile asbestos under the Rotterdam Convention. Listing a substance under the convention is not a ban, it only requires that countries importing it be informed by the exporting country ahead of time what hazards exist. Information on safe handling and proper precautionary measures has to be included and the importer has to sign prior consent. According to CLC's Georgetti, who was speaking last week as it became clear Canada would block listing: 'The science is clear and experts from around the world have said repeatedly that chrysotile asbestos is a dangerous substance that causes cancer. Yet our government continues to pretend that in selling asbestos to developing countries it is exporting a safe product. Canada's government is putting people's lives at stake for what can only be described as crass politics.' The Rotterdam Convention concluded on 24 June, with Canada having stepped in to block listing when it appeared a consensus might be reached on adding the cancer causing fibre to the 'Prior Informed Consent' list. India, the major customer for Canada's asbestos exports, had earlier switched sides to support listing of asbestos. CLC wants Canada's federal government to support a ban on all asbestos production and export, to support a just transition of workers from the industry, and to stop providing financial support to the one mine left in production in Canada. Canada's role in blocking listing at a third successive Rotterdam Convention meeting unleashed a barrage of criticism both at home and abroad.


CLC news release and Ken Georgetti's June 16, 2011 letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Montreal Gazette and related story. The Tyee. Yukon News. The Province.
Korea: Leukaemia linked to semiconductor work
Authorities in Korea have for the first time accepted cancer among workers in the semiconductor industry as an occupational disease. On 23 June, the Seoul Administrative Court ordered Samsung Electronics to compensate the families of two workers, Hwang Yumi and Lee Sookyoung, who died of acute myeloid leukaemia, a white blood cell cancer. Both had worked in the same job on a Samsung production line. This ruling overturned a decision in 2009 by the Korea Workers' Compensation and Welfare Service not to pay compensation and funeral expenses for the deaths and which refused to recognise them as work-related. Handing down their decision, the Administrative Court panel of judges stated: 'Although the cause of the employees' leukaemia has yet to be determined clearly on a scientific basis, it is presumable that their constant exposure to toxic chemicals and ionising radiation had caused or, at least, expedited the illness. It is fit to say there is a link between their leukaemia and their careers.' Campaign group SHARPS had spearheaded the campaign for recognition of these cancers. Its records show that 23 Samsung workers so far have suffered from hematopoietic cancer like leukaemia or lymphoma, at least nine of whom have died. On 1 March 2010, activist groups including the Korean Metalworkers' Union (KMWU) and SHARPS launched a global campaign calling on the Korean government to investigate the link between these cancers and employment in electronics manufacturing. Samsung, which has strongly denied that its production lines pose a cancer risk, refused to accept the Seoul court's ruling. Company spokesperson Park Chun-ho said: 'As the ruling is not final, we will try to clear suspicions through continuing trials.' Samsung said it will announce in July the result of a one-year investigation into possible health risks posed by its facilities and currently being conducted by a group of overseas experts retained by the company.

SHARPS news report. IMF news report. Korea Herald. Korea Times. Washington Post.
India: New occupational lung disease identified
A new deadly occupational lung disease caused by inhaling plastic dust may have been discovered. Health experts in India have identified four workers at a single factory developed a serious respiratory disease within a year of starting work. Dr Aruna Dewan, a toxicology expert, said the disease came to light after she examined 27-year-old Naina Gajjar. She was suffering from 'severe fibrosis along with pneumothorax'. After checking up what the factory - Corel Pharma Chem's factory at Kadi, Mehsana ? produced, Dr Dewan got in touch with the Vadodara-based People's Training and Research Centre (PTRC), a grassroots occupational health project. PTRC head Jagdish Patel said they visited Gajjar's home on 3 June 2011 and found her 'bed-ridden, frail.' She had difficulty speaking because she was breathless. The day labourer recalled being required to fill and stack bags of an unidentified powder for between 10 and 12 hours each day. PTRC believes the powder, used to make gel used in beauty and grooming products, is a polyacrylate. It began looking for other workers at the factory suffering from similar symptoms, and found three more. A further worker, Alka Thakor, had reportedly died of lung disease last year. One of the three surviving workers had already been diagnosed with an 'occupational lung disease'. There have been a series of occupational lung diseases unearthed relatively recently. In Spain, an outbreak of deadly Ardystil Syndrome affected textile workers exposed to chemicals. Two conditions have been identified in groups of US workers, 'flock workers' lung' and popcorn workers' lung.

Indian Express.
USA: Honeywell lockout a serious safety concern
When union workers were locked out over a year ago at the Honeywell uranium facility in Metropolis, Illinois, they warned that the unskilled replacement workers bussed into the plant did not have the experience to operate the uranium enrichment facility safely (Risks 469). Despite these warnings, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission certified the workers as suitably qualified, and the plant has continued to operate. Since then, a series of explosions and gas releases have alarmed the community. And now the safety fears raised by the locked out members of the steelworkers' union USW have been confirmed by the official safety watchdog. In June, the federal safety agency OSHA cited Honeywell for 17 separate 'serious violations' that could have resulted in death or serious harm and fined Honeywell $119,000 (£74,300) for the uncontrolled release of HF gas in December. Union workers say the new safety violations are even more evidence that Honeywell needs to settle the lockout. 'The OSHA violations further validate the USW claims that union members are the guardians of safety in the plant, and left to themselves, Honeywell will not ensure a true culture of safety first,' said Darrell Lillie, president of USW Local 7-669. 'The findings rebuke Honeywell for attempts to block the OSHA inspection and send a loud message management has something to hide on unsafe work practices that threaten our community outside the plant. You would think after a full year of locking out our experienced union workforce, Honeywell would negotiate in good faith to quickly settle the dispute that includes safety issues.'

OSHA news release. USW news release. In These Times. USW TMC blog. USW news report. ICEM news report.
raymondoscaff
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:56 am

Re: Accidents and incidents Newsletter 9th July 2011

Postby raymondoscaff » Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:04 pm

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-19745-f0.cfm


Union News
Unions call for action to cut asbestos deaths
Unite demands investment in asbestos treatment
GMB slams Canada's asbestos promotion
Union warning on fire firm collapse
Unions criticise change in school trip guidance
Gloves off in cleaner's dermatitis case
Other news
Blacklisting campaign goes Europe-wide
Manslaughter charges after roof fall death
Oil giant INEOS fined £100,000 for leak
Chemical giant enforced dangerous practices
Companies fined for fish farm deaths
Poorly trained teen severs hand
Two injured as scissor lift overturns
BP faces renewed blast criticism
Lack of nano regulation 'a danger'
International News
Australia: Move to recognise firefighters' cancers
Italy: Call for 20 years jail for asbestos magnates
USA: Deadly gunpowder maker agrees to quit
USA: Extended Honeywell lockout threatens safety
USA: Second set of books hid mine dangers
Events and Courses
TUC courses for safety reps
Useful Links

Unions call for action to cut asbestos deaths

Unions are calling on the government to introduce a requirement on local authorities to give parents and school workers an annual report on the asbestos risk in schools. The Joint Union Asbestos Campaign (JUAC) says although every year asbestos-related mesothelioma claims the lives of 16 UK teachers, and more than 70 per cent of school buildings contain asbestos, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently cut school inspections. They say schools will no longer be 'proactively' inspected, even though HSE knows a significant proportion of local authorities have serious flaws in the asbestos management systems, which they have a statutory duty to maintain. UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: 'Despite the warnings, and the heavy death toll, less is going to be done to protect school workers and children from the threat of asbestos. We are calling on the government to boost safety by introducing legislation to make sure local authorities assess the risk of asbestos, and let staff and parents know about them. School staff and parents have a right to know that their school is a safe place to work in and learn in.' JUAC chair Julie Winn said over the last three decades the asbestos cancer mesothelioma had killed well over 200 teachers. 'More than 60 per cent of those deaths have occurred in the last decade,' she said. 'It's an alarming upward trend, and for every affected teacher, there's a classroom full of children, and school support staff, who have been exposed to the same danger. If we are ever to solve this deathly problem, a policy of complete openness is essential, and must be introduced as a matter of urgency.'

UNISON news release.

Unite demands investment in asbestos treatment

The union Unite says the UK government must provide funds to investigate effective treatments for mesothelioma, the asbestos related cancer. Speaking on 1 July, Action Mesothelioma Day, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail, said: 'The coalition needs to provide funds for greater investment into understanding and treating this terrible disease that kills 2,000 people a year... many of them working in the construction, engineering, ship building and rail industries.' In 2009, Unite, together with asbestos support groups and other unions, called for the government to invest millions in research, but only a limited amount of funds has been forthcoming. Unite says mesothelioma is the least researched of the top 20 cancers, a disease which has devastated millions of families worldwide.

Unite news release.

GMB slams Canada's asbestos promotion

The UK union GMB has condemned Canada's continuing defence of unfettered global asbestos trade. The union was speaking out on 1 July, which is both Canada Day and Action Mesothelioma Day. Last month it was revealed Canada has vetoed the addition of chrysotile asbestos to the UN's Rotterdam Convention list of hazardous substances where 'prior informed consent' must be obtained from an importing country (Risks 512). Canada is a leading exporter of asbestos to developing nations. GMB also called on the Canadian government to ensure that asbestos mines in Quebec do not undergo a planned massive expansion, using 'illegal public subsidies in order to export asbestos to Commonwealth countries such as India and Bangladesh.' GMB national health and safety officer John McClean commented: 'There has already been enough human misery and suffering due to asbestos. On Canada Day it is not too much to ask that Canada ratify the Rotterdam convention.' The multi-million loan guarantee promised by the Quebec government to underwrite the expansion of the province's Jeffrey asbestos mine could be in jeopardy, after the Balcorp Ltd-led business consortium backing the mine admitted they had failed to meet a 1 July deadline to raise a share of the mine development funds. Industry minister Clément Gignac said the Quebec government has agreed to put back the deadline until mid-August - but hinted it is growing impatient and that the offer of a loan guarantee will not be prolonged indefinitely.

GMB news release. Montreal Gazette.

Union warning on fire firm collapse

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has demanded that London Fire Brigade managers disclose the contingency plans in place should the private company which owns and maintains the capital's fleet of fire engines go out of business. The demand came as it was revealed that AssetCo - which was handed the multi-million 20-year contract in 2001 - has applied formally for an administration order. The union is concerned about the impact on London's fire cover in the event of an AssetCo collapse. Executive council member for London Ian Leahair said: 'Over recent months, we have witnessed AssetCo in meltdown, and this prompted us to seek assurances about what contingency plans were in place. Regrettably, brigade managers have obstinately refused to disclose this information, telling us at a recent meeting that they had 'no desire' to share details with us.' He added: 'There are huge implications for the safety of Londoners, and it is simply unacceptable for the London Fire Brigade to refuse to reveal how it will keep the capital safe if AssetCo goes to the wall. If there are no contingency plans, they should say so. The relationship with AssetCo has been a catastrophe for the brigade. We always said that selling off large chunks of an emergency service was dangerous folly, and we have been proved right.'

FBU news release.

Unions criticise change in school trip guidance

Teaching unions have warned that changes to official guidance on school trips could lead to more accidents. The unions were speaking out after the Department for Education published new guidance, cutting 150 pages of guidelines to eight. Education secretary Michael Gove said this was a 'more common sense' approach. But the National Union of Teachers (NUT) was critical. NUT's Amanda Brown said: "What we wouldn't want to do is to see a reduction of guidance which could lead to a lot more accidents. What we want is advice which is very clear and straightforward but long enough to cover enough of the detail so that people do feel secure.' NASUWT said cutting back guidance could reduce parents' confidence and make teachers more nervous about school trips. 'The decision to scrap over 140 pages of guidance is potentially reckless and could increase litigation against schools and teachers,' said general secretary Chris Keates. 'There is no evidence demonstrating the need for the previous guidance to be abandoned, and no educational reason for doing so.' She added: 'The dilution of guidance for schools is likely to reduce rather than increase the number of educational visits.' The new guidelines clarify that written parental consent is not needed for each activity and encourage schools to use a new one-off consent form signed once when a child starts at a school. In a parallel move, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) this week launched a consultation on replacing the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA), which is being abolished, with a code of practice. HSE said the sector is 'low risk' and there have been no prosecutions brought under the Adventure Activities Licensing Regulations 2004.

Department for Education advice [pdf]. HSE news release and consultation document. BBC News Online. The Independent. Daily Telegraph.

Gloves off in cleaner's dermatitis case

A London Underground station cleaner developed a severe skin condition after his employer introduced an industrial cleaning chemical and took away his protective gloves. The Unite member lost his eyebrows, developed hypo-pigmentation on his face and had black patches on his hands after using the product Traffic Film in his job as a cleaner at Piccadilly tube station. Despite telling his employer, GBM Services, that the product was causing dermatitis, he was forced to work with the hazardous agent for more than six months before steps were taken to help him. The cleaner, whose name has not been released, had worked as a cleaner for more than 20 years. He began working for GBM Services Ltd in 2004, cleaning the tube station's ticket hall. His employment was transferred to Initial in 2010. In June 2007 he was told by his boss that the type of multi-purpose cleaning agent he was using, Sprint, was being replaced by Traffic Film. It was provided without any labels or instructions and he was given no training in how to use it. He used the product as he had used Sprint - diluting it in a bucket and using a long handled brush to wash the walls and ceilings. He later found out that the product should only have been used on floors and with a machine. Around the same time the product was issued, he was also told he would no longer be able to use the black latex gloves, which were replaced with household rubber gloves. His symptoms began within weeks. In a Unite backed compensation case, Initial Facilities Services did not admit liability but settled the claim for £14,900 out of court. Acting regional secretary at Unite, Peter Kavanagh said: 'The fact that our member's condition was made clear to employers six months before they took the problem seriously shows the absolute disregard this firm had for its employees' welfare. This product was never intended to be used to clean station walls and should never have been introduced without clear instructions and training in its use.'

Thompsons Solicitors news release.

Other news
Blacklisting campaign goes Europe-wide

UK anti-blacklisting campaigners believe a Europe-wide law banning the practice could have moved a step closer, after a top level meeting with European officials and politicians. A delegation of blacklisted trade unionists and safety representatives from the Blacklist Support Group held private talks in Brussels last week with EU commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion LászlóAndor. The meeting was facilitated by Labour MEPs Stephen Hughes and Glenis Willmott and the delegation said that the 'genuinely positive response from Commissioner Andor exceeded all our expectations.' Mr Andor was given documentary evidence from victimised union reps Brian Higgins, Steve Acheson and Dave Smith. Each presented secret blacklist files kept about their activities as union safety reps in the British construction industry. The files were compiled by the covert blacklisting outfit the Consulting Association. They contain damning evidence that major multinational building firms systematically dismissed and victimised workers who raised concerns about health and safety issues or unpaid wages. MEP Stephen Hughes said: 'The meeting was very positive and the delegation received a fair hearing. Mr Andor said he was very concerned at reports that the practice was continuing. Blacklisting is a genuine issue which affects all member states and I will work with colleagues to address this serious concern and apply parliamentary pressure to trigger action.' Mr Hughes, who is a senior figure in the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs committee, added: 'This meeting is the beginning, not the end, of a process. Once we have planted the seed with Commissioner Andor, we will follow up with action in the European Parliament's employment committee and the full parliament.' Regulations banning the practice of blacklisting came into force in the UK last year but have been criticised by unions, employment law experts and campaigners as too lax, with insufficient redress for affected individuals.

BSG news release. Blacklist blog. Morning Star.

Manslaughter charges after roof fall death

Three company directors have been charged with manslaughter after an employee fell through a roof in Greater Manchester. Steven Berry, 45, died following the fall at Lion Steel Equipment Ltd in Hyde in May 2008. Kevin Palliser, 59, Richard Vaughan Williams, 42, and Graham Coupe, 59, have been charged with manslaughter by gross negligence. They have also been charged with criminal safety breaches and will appear at Tameside Magistrates' Court on 2 August. All three men are directors of Lion Steel Equipment Ltd, which manufactures storage products. The firm has itself been summonsed for corporate manslaughter- only the second case brought under the law - and health and safety offences. Mr Berry fell through a plastic roof light on 29 May 2008. He was taken to Tameside General Hospital where he later died. Alison Storey, reviewing lawyer in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: 'I have taken this decision after very carefully reviewing the material gathered in the police investigation and have concluded that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that it is in the public interest to bring these charges.'

CPS news release. Greater Manchester Police news release. BBC News Online. Manchester Evening News. Bearsden Herald.

Oil giant INEOS fined £100,000 for leak

INEOS Manufacturing Scotland Limited has been fined £100,000 following an uncontrolled release of crude oil at its Grangemouth refinery in May 2008. The incident happened when a pipeline containing crude oil became over pressurised as a result of a process known as thermal expansion. The failure of the pipeline caused extremely flammable crude oil to spray out across a nearby pumphouse and adjacent pipelines containing other dangerous substances. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the 7 May 2008 incident, with the assistance of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). HSE's investigation found that INEOS were aware of the risks from thermal expansion and the need to install and use engineering controls, but instead the firm chose to rely on staff to manually drain crude oil from the pipeline. Falkirk Sheriff Court heard that crude oil drained from the pipeline was stored in a metal skip, not designed for the safe storage of an extremely flammable substance, so the risk of fire and explosion was increased. INEOS Manufacturing Scotland Ltd was fined £100,000 after pleading guilty to a criminally safety breach. HSE's investigating inspector Brian Kennedy said: 'The crude oil involved in this incident was extremely flammable and had the potential to result in serious injury had there been a fire or explosion. Despite having recognised the need for engineered thermal relief on their crude oil pipelines following an incident at their refinery a year earlier, INEOS chose instead to rely on a manual system for managing thermal expansion. This system of work actually increased the risk of fire and explosion and ultimately failed to prevent the pipeline from becoming over pressurised.'

HSE news release.

Chemical giant enforced dangerous practices

Global chemical firm INEOS has been prosecuted after using disciplinary measures to enforce unsafe practices, leading to a worker suffering a serious injury. The 58-year-old worker, who has asked not to be named, lost his ring finger and suffered damage to his middle and little finger after his gloved hand was pulled into machinery. Multinational INEOS Enterprises Ltd, which has an annual turnover of ?900 million (£811m) and whose facilities include the Grangemouth oil refinery, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation into the incident on 21 September 2010. Runcorn Magistrates' Court was told INEOS had failed to follow health and safety guidance, which advises against wearing gloves when using metalworking lathes. Instead, it introduced a new policy on 1 May 2010 making wearing protective gloves mandatory for most workers on the site. Several employees were reprimanded for not wearing gloves following the policy's introduction, and the injured worker was reminded to wear his gloves by his line manager on the morning of the incident. He was removing the rust off a hitch pin, used to connect a trailer to a vehicle, when his glove got caught in the rotating mechanism, dragging in his hand. INEOS Enterprises Ltd was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £6,607 costs. Mhairi Duffy, the investigating inspector at HSE, said: 'The company ordered its staff to wear protective gloves on the factory floor, even though some workers tried to explain that there were often specific reasons for not wearing them. New guidance was introduced nearly six years ago on not wearing gloves while using metalworking machines, but INEOS failed to keep up to date with the latest health and safety advice.'

HSE news release.

Companies fined for fish farm deaths

Two companies have been fined a total of £640,000 following the death of two fish farm workers while trying to rescue a colleague who has passed out in an oxygen poor chamber in a barge. Scottish Sea Farms worker, Campbell Files and engineer Arthur Raikes - employed by Logan Inglis Limited, Cumbernauld - were fixing a hydraulic crane on the barge when they went below deck to find cabling and pipework. The oxygen levels below deck were very low and Mr Files passed out while Mr Raikes managed to climb back out. In an attempt to rescue Mr Files, two colleagues, Maarten Den Heijer and Robert MacDonald, entered the small chamber below deck but lost consciousness almost immediately. The three men needed to be rescued by emergency services but only Mr Files recovered, while his colleagues died at the scene. Following the incident on 11 May 2009, inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered Scottish Sea Farms had not provided suitable information, instruction and training for employees working in the small sealed chambers on the Loch Creran barge or a safe way for them to work. Logan Inglis Limited had not provided information, instruction or training for their engineers on working in these confined spaces so Mr Raikes was also not aware of the risks he faced on the barge. Neither company had identified the risk to their respective employees from working in confined spaces. At Oban Sheriff Court this week both firms pleaded guilty to criminal safety breaches. Scottish Sea Farm, was fined £600,000 and Logan Inglis Limited £40,000. HSE principal inspector Barry Baker said: 'Since September 2007 the Marine Accident Investigation Branch has started three investigations into incidents in which a total of six seafarers have died in confined spaces. The deaths in this case should have been avoided - the risks should have been identified and a clear and safe system of work prepared.'

HSE news release.

Poorly trained teen severs hand

A teenage novice severed part of his hand while operating a vertical panel saw on which he had received little training. Lewis Maker, who was 18-years-old at the time of the incident, was using the panel saw to cut a piece of board, which he was holding steady with his left hand. As he operated the saw his hand got dragged into the blade and the top half was cut off. Although surgeons were able to reattach part of his hand, he has regained very little use. Truro Magistrates' Court was told that Lewis, from Truro, had started work just five days before the incident on 20 July 2009 and was given very little instruction on how to use the saw safely. Frame Homes (South West) Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal safety offence and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £13,700 in costs. HSE inspector Gareth Cottle said: 'This was a devastating, life-changing injury for Lewis which could have been avoided if Frame Homes had provided adequate training.' He added: 'It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that workers are given sufficient information and training to work safely, as well as access to fully trained and competent supervisors. New workers are particularly vulnerable to workplace incidents and Lewis had every right to expect far more protection than Frame Homes afforded him.'

HSE news release and woodworking machinery webpages.

Two injured as scissor lift overturns

A specialist plastering contractor has been fined after two workers were seriously injured during construction of a Derby shopping centre. The workers, who did not wish to be named, fell around seven metres when the scissor lift they were using to transport plasterboard between floor levels overturned. The incident happened on 16 August 2007. One of the workers, a 22-year-old from Dronfield, suffered a fractured pelvis and cheekbone, broken nose and heavy bruising in the 16 August 2007 incident. His 39-year-old colleague, from Sheffield, fractured his skull, eye socket, elbow and thumb and also sustained heavy bruising. Both were hospitalised and had significant periods of time off work. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the men were using the wrong type of equipment to transport the plasterboard sheets. Clark & Fenn Skanska Ltd pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 for failing to ensure the lifting of materials was properly planned, supervised and carried out in a safe manner. Derby magistrates fined the company £5,000 plus full costs of £11,348. After the hearing, HSE inspector Kevin Wilson said: 'The incident could have been prevented with appropriate planning and selection of equipment suitable for the task. Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWP) known as scissor lifts are not designed for use as material hoists. They are designed as a working platform for positioning operatives and their tools. In this case, the platform was heavily overloaded.'

HSE news release.

BP faces renewed blast criticism

BP and its former chief executive Tony Hayward are facing further accusations of insensitivity regarding the victims of the 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico disaster. Hayward first came under fire for public relations gaffes after a BP oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April of last year. The explosion killed eleven workers, but ill-advised Hayward statements including telling a reporter that there was 'no-one who wants this thing over more than I do - I'd like my life back.' Now, in a videotaped deposition of Hayward obtained by The Daily Caller, the former BP CEO says he's sorry, but admits he can't remember the names of the rig's victims. He only gets one name right: Karl Kleppinger. The company comes off even worse in the deposition, which includes details of a legal pleading filed by BP referring to the 11 victims as 'callous, indifferent and grossly negligent in causing this explosion.' It was filed in April 2011 on the one-year anniversary of the accident, after Hayward had already left his post. The plaintiffs' attorney accuses Hayward of lying in his testimony to Congress, when he said the company was conducting a 'full and complete investigation.' Hayward denies lying, but admits he never read the Presidential Commission's report on the oil spill, which found that 'most of the mistakes and oversights... can be traced back to a single over-arching failure, a failure of management.'

Daily Caller.

Lack of nano regulation 'a danger'

Health is being put at risk by the growing list of products on the market containing nano materials, a new report has warned. It says more than 1,300 products now claim to incorporate engineered nanomaterials (ENMs). The US-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) says none of these products have undergone a pre-market safety assessment. Its report, 'Racing ahead: US agri-nanotechnology in the absence of regulation,' argues ENMs must be regulated and tested prior to commercial release. 'Many nanomaterial applications are classified as confidential business information, and those that are known have had little to no publicly available testing by regulatory authorities for human health, safety or environmental effects,' commented IATP senior policy analyst Steve Suppan. 'We know from academic studies that ENMs present hazards that merit regulatory review.' He added: 'As nanomaterials in internationally traded goods increases, administrative, technical and budgetary constraints are keeping US and international agencies well behind the pace and variety of product commercialisation.' According to Suppan, the lack of regulation and 'austerity budgets for regulators' mean a White House order to protect human health, worker safety and the environment from ENM hazards is not being realised.

IATP news release.

International News
Australia: Move to recognise firefighters' cancers

A push to compensate Australian firefighters who develop certain types of cancer has received a significant boost, with federal backbenchers from both major parties pledging to back legislation introduced this week. Greens MP Adam Bandt introduced the bill into the lower house, supported by MPs from the main parties. Overseas research has linked exposure to chemicals, dusts and fumes from fires to much higher reported rates of cancer among firefighters and Mr Bandt's bill will reverse the onus of proof for certain types of cancers, and will presume them to be work-related. A similar 'rebuttal presumption' exists in jurisdictions in the US and Canada. The cancers found to be much more prevalent in firefighters include testicular, bladder, prostate, brain and rectal cancers, leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 'Firefighters do a dangerous and difficult job for our community, putting their lives at risk,' Mr Bandt said. 'It is not too much to ask that if they contract cancer likely to be caused by their job, then they should be given the support and the rehabilitation they need.' United Firefighters Union national secretary Peter Marshall said firefighters experienced unique hazards at work. 'For those cancers which are prevalent among firefighters, it will be up to the employer to prove that the disease was not due to their work,' he said, adding that while breathing apparatus stopped the inhalation of toxic substances, the uniforms firefighters' wear breathe to stop heat building up and this is how chemicals reach the skin.

The Age.

Italy: Call for 20 years jail for asbestos magnates

A public prosecutor has called for 20 year prison terms for two asbestos magnates charged with a wilful failure to protect worker and the public from the deadly fibre, resulting in thousands of deaths. At a criminal trial in Turin,prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello this week delivered a closing statement in the trial of Stephan Schmidheiny and Belgian Baron Jean Louis Marie Ghislain De Cartier de Marchienne. Guariniello said their firm, the asbestos multinational Eternit, was responsible for 'an appalling disaster.' Schmidheiny, the former Swiss owner of building materials giant Eternit, and Jean-Louis Marie Ghislain de Cartier de Marchienne, a top shareholder, are being tried in absentia. In a mass civil action, some 6,000 people are seeking damages over the deaths of around 3,000 people who worked at or lived near Eternit's plants in Italy. The prosecution in the criminal case has requested the maximum sentence of 12 years imprisonment and demanded eight more years be added on the grounds that asbestos can trigger ailments decades after exposure. 'I had never seen such a tragedy... It has affected several regions in our country, employees and residents. It is still sowing death and who knows how much longer it will continue to do so,' Guariniello said. Victims' groups welcomed the heavy sentences requested by the Turin court. 'We are satisfied, this is the result of a 30-year struggle for justice and health during which we never gave up hope,' said Bruno Pesce, who heads an association representing victims from two of Eternit's northern plants. A verdict could be handed down at the end of the year.

Asbestos in the Dock report. Yahoo News.

USA: Deadly gunpowder maker agrees to quit

The head of a US gunpowder company that shut down after two of its workers were killed last year in an explosion has agreed never to return to the explosives business. The unusual enforcement pact was reached between Craig Sanborn, the Vermont-based president of Black Mag LLC, and the US government's safety enforcement agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Black Mag - whose operation in Colebrook, New Hampshire was the site of the deadly May 2010 blast - also agreed to quit the explosives business. Jesse Kennett and Don Kendall, who had been on the job for a month, were manufacturing a gunpowder substitute when they were killed in an explosion that rocked the downtown area of the community. 'Neither Black Mag LLC nor Mr Sanborn will ever again place employees at risk in any kind of business that uses or makes explosives,' said Marthe Kent, New England regional administrator for OSHA. Last October, OSHA fined Black Mag LLC $1.2 million for 54 'wilful, egregious and serious' health and safety violations, which the company said then it would 'vigorously contest' (Risks 480). According to OSHA, however, Black Mag has now withdrawn its notice of contest. 'While nothing can ever bring Jesse Kennett or Don Kendall back to their loved ones, this resolution is designed to prevent future deaths or injuries,' said Michael Felsen, the federal Labor Department's regional solicitor. 'It includes a provision that will allow the Labor Department to charge Mr Sanborn with contempt in federal court if he violates the terms.' The New Hampshire fire marshall and state police still are investigating the case.

OSHA news release. Fairwarning. Union Leader.

USA: Extended Honeywell lockout threatens safety

With collective bargaining set to resume later this month, Honeywell Inc 'continues to place the residents of Metropolis, Illinois, at risk by operating a uranium conversion plant with inexperienced scab workers,' reports global union federation ICEM. The union body says the year old lockout would have been resolved in June, until Honeywell rescinded contract provisions immediately after agreeing to them. In Metropolis, Honeywell mills yellow-cake uranium into uranium hexafluoride (UF6) that is frozen and then sold to companies for nuclear power applications. According to ICEM: 'For the past nine months, Honeywell has been using scabs provided by a contractor to do this dangerous work. The results show in Honeywell's environmental and health and safety record.' A series of penalties for related violations 'have become a daily reminder of the threats posed by a hugely profitable company as it unnecessarily attempts to spiral downward work terms on a skilled and dedicated workforce,' ICEM said (Risks 512). USW Local 7-669 and Honeywell would already have a new labour contract and experienced workers would be back on the job if it had not been for the company reneging on a deal. In bargaining on 6 June, the two sides reached a compromise and a tentative agreement was imminent. But the following day the Honeywell negotiators charged with writing up the deal, presented a reworked and seriously weakened agreement. On 1 July, the two sides agreed to resume bargaining on 19-20 July. ICEM has called 'on Honeywell to stop its hazardous conduct in America's heartland, and to reach satisfactory terms with USW Local 7-669.'

ICEM news report.

USA: Second set of books hid mine dangers

Massey Energy managers hid serious safety problems at a deadly mine from US federal mine safety officials by keeping two sets of records, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) officials have revealed. A 5 April 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia's coal belt killed 29 miners. The mine's production log noted issues such as accumulations of coal dust, ventilation problems, equipment malfunctions and other issues, but no mention of those problems was included in the official set of records Massey was required to provide to MSHA inspectors, said Kevin Stricklin, MSHA's head of coal mine safety at a public briefing. Failure to control highly explosive coal dust, inadequate ventilation and a longwall coal cutting machine's faulty water sprayers and worn cutting bits all played a role in the massive explosion that roared through the mine, according to MSHA. Stricklin said a mining company can keep as many sets of books as it wants, but safety issues such as those noted in the production log must be included the official books. Cecil Roberts, president of the mineworkers' union UMWA, said the discovery of two sets of books 'demonstrates the utter contempt for mine safety and health laws that was pervasive throughout the entire management structure at Massey Energy.' MSHA's Stricklin said the agency's investigation found that mine management was aware of chronic hazards but did not correct them and pressured employees conducting pre-shift and other inspections not to record hazards. Mine management also failed to conduct many examinations required by federal mine safety laws. Coal production was routinely put ahead of safety and managers were threatened with dismissal for failing to meet production rates, the investigation found. There was inadequate miner training and in some cases no training at all for miners shifted from one job to another. Miners feared retribution and firing if they reported safety problems.

UMWA statement. AFL-CIO blog. Common Dreams. Fairwarning. The Charleston Gazette. The New York Times.

Events and Courses
TUC courses for safety reps
raymondoscaff
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:56 am

Re: Accidents and incidents Newsletter 16th July

Postby raymondoscaff » Sat Jul 16, 2011 9:51 am

Union News
Report confirms 'strong' union safety effect
Call for ministers to put safety before profits
Labour rights reminder in M&S flashdance
Union warns 1 in 10 firefighters could go
Tube Olympics volunteers 'may be lethal'
Romec staff to walk out over bully bosses
Bullying is 'rife' at problem council
Carpenter's family helps local hospice
Other news
Court rules work toxins caused Parkinsonism
Stroke payout after firm insists on stressful work
Suicide rates 'linked' to financial crisis
Car parts giant in court again
Third fine after construction death
Essex school fined over caretaker injury
Interiors firm fined after two are injured
Coach firm fined over drivers' hours
International News
New Zealand: Unions call for recovery of mine dead
New Zealand: Expert blames safety deregulation
USA: Unions push for safe hospitals
USA: 'Model' workplaces escape scrutiny then kill
USA: Death highlights behavioural safety dangers
Events and Courses
TUC courses for safety reps
Useful Links
Union News
Report confirms 'strong' union safety effect
Workplace injuries would be slashed 'at a stroke' if all workplaces had a union health and safety rep, a new TUC report has concluded. According TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson, author the 2011 edition of TUC's 'The Union Effect' report, 'the new evidence shows that the union effect is just as strong as ever.' He points to government figures showing 'British industry saved between £181m and £578m each year as a result of lost time reduction from occupational injuries and work-related illnesses of between 286,000 and 616,000 days as a result of trade union representatives.' However, he warns that too many employers are denying union safety reps the time off they need, and only just over a quarter consult automatically with safety reps on a regular basis. The worst problem, however, is in those workplaces that are not unionised, the TUC safety specialist said. 'The facts outlined in this report are indisputable. Trade union health and safety representatives prevent hundreds of thousands of injuries and illnesses every year and, at the same time save employers millions of pounds. Yet the positive effect this band of volunteers has goes almost totally unrecognised by employers and the government.' He added that the new briefing 'shows that the most effective thing that the government could do to protect workers would be to enforce and strengthen the current consultation regulations. If every workplace had a union safety representative we could cut the number of fatalities and injuries at a stroke.'
The Union Effect - How unions make a difference to health and safety. TUC worker involvement webpages. Stronger Unions.
Call for ministers to put safety before profits
The government must not allow workers to die to boost business profits, civil service union PCS has said. The union, which has hundreds of members in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), made the call in responses to government-initiated reviews of health and safety legislation. It says when coalition politicians talk about 'reducing the burden of health and safety legislation on UK businesses... this demonstrates a lack of care for employees by the UK government.' The union says its members in HSE are fighting a 35 per cent budget cut over four years, which it believes would make it 'very difficult' for them to do their jobs properly, a problem amplified for the government's risky strategy. According to PCS: 'The proposed changes are pro-business. They will increase risk-taking by employers and increase the number of work-related stress cases, near misses, injuries and fatalities.' The union adds that a three-pronged attack on workplace health and safety is currently underway. The government commissioned Löfstedtreview of health and safety has been given a deregulatory brief and is due to report in October (Risks 504). A government initiated sickness absence review is being co-chaired by the head of the strongly anti-safety regulation British Chambers of Commerce (Risks 495). And the government's Red Tape Challenge is highlighting health and safety regulation until 21 July (Risks 512).
PCS news release. TUC report: The case for health and safety, December 2010.
We didn't vote to die at work campaign.
Labour rights reminder in M&S flashdance
Shareholders attending the London AGM of high street store M&S were greeted with a song and dance protest at the labour abuses at one of its major suppliers. Unite activists reprised a musical number seen recently in flashmobs at M&S stories, drawing attention to low pay and insecure labour at Thanet Earth (Risks 505). They also spelled out their opposition to exploitation in giant letters made of tomatoes at the 13 July event. Unite has been taking up complaints from the workforce, who pick and pack tomatoes and other salad and fruits, over alleged irregular labour conditions. The alleged offences include hostility to union organisation, bullying, taking bribes by agency supervisors and managers, and denial of holiday entitlement and pay. Unite regional industrial officer Dave Weeks said: 'We want to highlight the rotten working conditions at Thanet Earth. Most workers have no direct contract of employment and can be hired and fired at will. This is a major supplier to M&S which claims to be an ethical retailer. It is time for the supermarket to insist that Thanet Earth cleans up its act.' He said the union was waiting on the outcome of a Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) investigation into its dossier of complaints. 'We want to tell M&S to take its commitments seriously and to use its financial muscle to get Thanet Earth to sit down in a room with Unite and M&S and resolve these serious complaints,' he added.
Unite news release and musical protest.
Union warns 1 in 10 firefighters could go
One in ten firefighter jobs nationwide could go because of savage budget cuts, firefighters' union FBU has said. New research by the union, based on Freedom of Information Act queries, confirms that over 1,000 jobs were lost in the first round of cuts to April 2011. The union is warning that cuts in the central government grants to fire authorities up to 2014 'will lead to the loss of 6,000 firefighters and possibly a great deal more.' FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: 'Fewer fire crews means it will take longer for the fire engine to arrive in response to a 999 call. There will be ever increasing risk to life, homes, businesses and our cultural and natural heritage as the cuts bite harder year after year.' He added: 'We've faced mass wildfires, terrible floods and freezing winter weather which stretched fire crews for weeks. How does the government expect us to cope with big labour intensive incidents with far fewer frontline fire crews? Claims that fire services can fall back on each other and pool resources don't stand up when the cuts are widespread. The overall pool of resources is being drained away and it will get worse year after year.' The union leader added: 'Cameron's promise not to cut frontline services has proved worthless. You don't get much more frontline than a 999 response and we're being cut to pieces. We're over-stretched now, and frontline crews are making it clear we'll be at breaking point when the cuts really bite over the next two years. The simple fact is that cuts cost lives.'
FBU news release.
Tube Olympics volunteers 'may be lethal'
There could be 'lethal consequences' if London Underground (LUL) uses volunteers to guide passengers during the 2012 Olympics, rail union RMT warned. The union said using 'non-trained staff' at busy stations was a 'recipe for disaster.' RMT was speaking out after discovering LUL planned to use 'non-licensed volunteers' to work throughout stations doing 'way finding.' The union says this is a coded term for crowd control and maintains this is 'a skill and task that should only be carried out by experienced competent members of staff.' LUL admits it wants to use volunteers to cover an extra 400-600 Olympic duties per day. RMT general secretary Bob Crow commented: 'Using unqualified, non-professional, non-trained staff at key crowd control pressure points is a recipe for disaster with potentially lethal consequences.' He added: 'RMT senior stations reps have already made it crystal clear to LUL management that we will not accept this dangerous suggestion and we now call on LUL to reverse the 650 jobs cuts and to get back to the safe and sensible policy of having trained operational railway workers carrying out safety-critical operational railway tasks.' Transport for London (TfL) has said the volunteers will only give travel information. It added that all staff carrying out safety critical work on stations during the Olympics will be licensed.
RMT news release. BBC News Online.
Romec staff to walk out over bully bosses
Workers at engineering and facilities company Romec will walk out for 48 hours this month because they believe managers are refusing to address bullying allegations. The union CWU said that it had given notice for a national strike at Romec starting on 20 July and involving 550 members. The call-out ban which started in May will also be extended for a further six weeks (Risks 508). CWU national official Ray Ellis said: 'We will not allow the situation in Romec to drift further. Our members are suffering daily attacks in the form of withholding pay, changing their hours, suspending annual leave, unacceptable use of surveillance equipment and threats.' He added: 'We're bitterly disappointed with the behaviour of senior management and their failure to take action to resolve this dispute. We want to negotiate a solution to the serious problems facing staff. However, a scheduled meeting was cancelled at short notice last week leaving us with no option other than to set further strike dates. We remain ready and willing to enter meaningful talks with the company but strike action will go ahead unless progress is made.' Romec contracts include Royal Mail delivery offices and mail centres, Tesco and Sainsbury's supermarkets and the British Museum. The engineering and facilities company is owned 51 per cent by Royal Mail and 49 per cent by Balfour Beatty. Balfour Beatty was one of the major names singled out by the Information Commissioner's Office for blacklisting staff for their union and safety activities.
CWU news release. Morning Star.
Bullying is 'rife' at problem council
Almost 8 out of every 10 workers at Central Bedfordshire Council have been bullied or harassed at work, a union survey suggests, with the problem linked to an attempt to impose a new contract. GMB, which conducted the survey in response to complaints from members (Risks 510), is calling for an immediate halt to the bullying and 'a completely independent investigation in to the bullying culture by council management and councillors.' GMB branch secretary Martin Foster will present the results of the survey to the council chief executive on 25 July. The research found 79 per cent of respondents reported that they have been harassed, bullied or had experienced discrimination. The top reason workers said they had been bullied was related to the council's bid to impose a new contract, accounting for 41 per cent of the total. This was followed by workers saying they were targeted for the trade union activities (21 per cent). Calling for a 'fully independent investigation', GMB organiser Tony Hughes commented: 'The examples of bullying and harassment are a total indictment of the council as an employer and its complete failure to give even the most basis consideration to its workers.' The union said the council was 'a long way' short of complying with its duty of care to employees. It added: 'GMB is highly experienced in dealing with bullying at work and will take action to protect its members and their health which is so often the first victim of an environment of bullying and harassment.'
GMB news release.
Carpenter's family helps local hospice
The family of a carpenter who died of an asbestos related disease has received a 'substantial' sum in compensation and has recovered costs for the hospice that helped him in the final stages of his illness. GMB member Grahame Chiverton from the Isle of Wight died in August 2008, three days before his 50th birthday, after a nine month battle with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma. The compensation settlement obtained for the family in a union backed claim also included a payment of £5,000 to Earl Mountbatten Hospice. Grahame was exposed to asbestos while working as a carpenter for Isle of Wight County Council from 1987 until 2008. During that time his employment was transferred from the council to Island Group 90 and Mountjoy Ltd. He was responsible for maintaining the council's properties and this included working on roofs constructed from asbestos. His wife Jane said Grahame contacted his trade union, the GMB, to help him claim compensation because he felt a strong sense of injustice about being diagnosed with a fatal disease caused by his work. The hospice, which had provided care to Grahame free of charge, was reimbursed its costs as part of the settlement. Jane said: 'Everyone at the hospice went out of their way to make sure Grahame was comfortable. By bringing this claim it has helped the hospice recover the costs of the care they provided.' Richard Ascough, regional secretary of GMB's southern region said: 'Tragically this family has been devastated by mesothelioma. The disease often affects men who have worked with asbestos or alongside colleagues using asbestos-based materials. Typically many employers knew the dangers at the time but never did anything to protect their workforce.'
Thompsons Solicitors news release.
Other news
Court rules work toxins caused Parkinsonism
An RAF corporal who was left with a devastating degenerative neurological condition after he was exposed to dangerous chemicals has won a groundbreaking legal victory at the Court of Appeal. Shaun Wood, 52, was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy-P (MSAP), an incurable condition related to Parkinson's Disease that affects the nervous system, after exposure to organic solvents as a painter and finisher at RAF sites across the world (Risks 500). Last week, the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the MoD bringing to an end Mr Wood's 18-year-battle for justice. It ruled that on the evidence presented - which was not rebutted by the MoD - that there was in legal terms a 'probable connection' between heavy solvent exposure and neurological damage. The decision paves the way for other people who develop neurological conditions in similar circumstances to pursue compensation. Mr Wood, who now has to use a wheelchair, said: 'I come from a military family and making the decision to pursue compensation went against my instincts but when I die my wife will be left without an income because my war pension will be taken away and I have always wanted to ensure that she is provided for in the future.' Representing Mr Wood, Andrew McDonald from Thompsons Solicitors said: 'This is the first time there has been any adjudication of the link between organic solvents and this kind of neurological damage. We expect that this decision could be used favourably for other claimants who have developed neurological conditions in similar circumstances.' The case will now be transferred to Middlesbrough High Court where damages will be awarded. Mr Wood's job involved painting aircraft and motor vehicles for sometimes in excess of 12 hours a day at solvent exposure levels up to 20 times the official maximum exposure limit. The solvents included cancer-causing trichloroethylene and dichloromethane, now banned by the European Union for consumer use. He was medically discharged from the RAF in 1995, two years after his Parkinson's was diagnosed.
Thompsons Solicitors news release.
Stroke payout after firm insists on stressful work
A worker advised by his doctor not to return to stressful work after suffering a stroke has been awarded nearly £400,000 in compensation after his employer indicated stress and long hours were part of the job. Jonathan Jones, a branch manager in Wales for builders' merchant Jewson, was dismissed on the grounds of incapacity five months after he suffered a stroke in April 2009. An August 2010 employment tribunal in Cardiff had accepted that Jewson Ltd discriminated against the 56-year-old, after sacking him from his branch manager position in Cardigan. Prior to the stroke, he was averaging more than 60 hours at work per week and had not taken his full holiday entitlement. Mr Jones' doctor stated that he would need to avoid stress at work in order to return to his employment but Jewson decided that no role at the company would be without stress and so decided to dismiss him. The tribunal found that the dismissal amounted to disability discrimination as the employer had failed to make reasonable adjustments. At an employment tribunal remedy hearing last week, Mr Jones was awarded a £390,870.58 payout from Jewson, part of the global building material giant Saint Gobain. The company had offered just £57,206. Mr Jones' solicitor, Stephen Jackson of Cardiff-based Jackson Osborne employment lawyers, said his client 'had to endure tactics of delay, unfounded allegations and obstruction. He has lost his career after 21 years of service working, as the tribunal accepted, more than 60 hours a week without taking holidays. For a company which is part of a £20bn turnover, the whole affair was handled very badly.'
Jackson Osborne news release. Wales Online. Personnel Today.
Suicide rates 'linked' to financial crisis
The financial crisis 'almost certainly' led to an increase in suicides, health experts have concluded. An analysis by US and UK researchers found a rise in suicides was recorded among working age people from 2007 to 2009 in nine of the 10 European nations studied. The increases varied between 5 per cent and 17 per cent for under 65s after a period of falling suicide rates, according to the report in The Lancet. Only Austria saw suicide rates fall. This was put down to the country being less exposed to the financial crisis than the others. Greece had the worst record. The authors note 'we can already see that the countries facing the most severe financial reversals of fortune, such as Greece and Ireland, had greater rises in suicides (17 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively) than did the other countries... Finland, also with strong social protection systems, had an increase in suicides of just over 5 per cent in the same period.' The UK saw a rise of 10 per cent to 6.75 suicides per 100,000 people. Co-author Dr David Stuckler from the University of Cambridge said: 'There was a complete turnaround. Suicides were falling before the recession, then started rising in nearly all European countries studied. Almost certainly these rises are linked to the financial crisis.' He added it was also possible there would be other health consequences from the economic problems as the impact on heart disease and cancer rates was not likely to be seen for many years, something he also predicted in a 2009 paper (Risks 414). Insecure or 'precarious' work has been linked in other studies to higher rates of suicide, sickness, heart disease and injuries (Risks 415).
David Stuckler and others. Effects of the 2008 recession on health: a first look at European data, The Lancet, Volume 378, Issue 9786, Pages 124 - 125, 9 July 2011. BBC News Online.
Car parts giant in court again
A global car components manufacturer has been fined after an agency worker fractured and burned a finger while operating a welding machine. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted ThyssenKrupp Tallent Ltd following the incident at the company's factory in Cannock on 24 August 2010. The 43-year-old agency worker, who does not wish to be named, was using the machine to weld nuts onto car parts when her left hand middle finger became trapped between the electrode and another part of the machine. South Walls Magistrates' Court heard that the woman fractured her finger and suffered a severe electrical burn, which has left her with continuing numbness. She was unable to return to work for four months and was in a great deal of pain during her recovery, needing help with day-to-day tasks including washing, dressing and preparing food. An HSE investigation found that the machine had no jig fitted to hold the work piece in place and was set to single hand operation control. Workers had to hold the work piece in place with their left hand, while using their right hand to press the control button to operate the machine. This meant that the left hand was very close to the unguarded moving parts and could become caught. ThyssenKrupp Tallent Ltd pleaded guilty to criminal breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. It was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £5,972 costs. The court also heard that the company had been fined as a result of a prosecution by HSE in 2009, following a previous incident relating to machine guarding at the Cannock site. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Katherine Blunt said: 'This was an entirely preventable incident in which ThyssenKrupp Tallent failed to follow its own procedures... It is regrettable that the company had not learned the lessons from a previous HSE prosecution a year before this incident happened.' Thyssenkrupp Tallent Ltd is currently awaiting a crown court hearing on criminal charges relating to the crushing death on 8 July 2009 of Paul Clark, 52, at its plant in Aycliffe, County Durham (Risks 504). Earlier this year, ThyssenKrupp's top executive in Italy was jailed for the murder of seven workers in a December 2007 factory fire (Risks 503).
HSE news release.
Third fine after construction death
A defunct building company has been fined after a foreman died when an excavator bucket filled with concrete fell on him at a London construction site. Euro Earthworks Ltd general foreman, Gerry Fox, was crushed by an excavator bucket in August 2007 when it fell from the arm of the 12 tonne excavator being driven by a colleague. Principal contractor Euro Earthworks Ltd, which is in administration, was convicted of a criminal safety breach in connection with the tragedy and fined £20,000 plus costs of £13,000. City of London Magistrates' Court was told by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), prosecuting, the firm had failed to adequately plan, manage and monitor the construction work on site. Fellow defendants Hydro Plant Ltd and excavator operator Michael Denis Cunningham were sentenced for separate breaches at a hearing in May 2011 (Risks 507). The prosecutions followed an incident on 28 August 2007, when a 'quick hitch' pin necessary to safely lock the excavator bucket in place was not inserted, causing the bucket to fall on Mr Fox. Magistrates heard HSE issued advice on the safe use of quick hitches on excavators in March 2007. Euro Earthworks Ltd was aware of this advice and had made amendments to its written risk assessment, but still failed to take reasonably practicable steps that would have prevented the incident. HSE inspector Loraine Charles said: 'This tragic incident was entirely preventable. There had already been a significant number of incidents involving buckets becoming detached from quick hitches, in particular semi-automatic quick hitches where operators had failed to insert the safety pin.' Euro Earthworks Ltd was tried in its absence.
HSE news release.
Essex school fined over caretaker injury
An Essex school has been prosecuted after one of its staff suffered serious injuries when he fell from height while at work. Caretaker David Springett was recladding the outside of the kitchen at Shenfield High School near Brentwood in Essex on 28 July 2010. The 54-year-old was working with a colleague on an unguarded work platform when he lost his footing and fell 1.9 metres to the ground. He broke two ribs and needed a three-inch metal plate and multiple metal screws inserted into a broken arm. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), prosecuting, told Chelmsford Magistrates' Court that Shenfield High School failed to take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent the fall. After the hearing, HSE inspector Corinne Godfrey said: 'As falling from height often results in severe injury or death, the outcome of this incident could have been much worse. However, it could have been avoided altogether if an appropriate work platform had been provided by Mr Springett's employers. The school has a duty to protect its staff and working at height brings with it risks they should be aware of, and protect against.' Shenfield High School pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of safety law and was fined £6,500 and ordered to pay costs of £2,243.85.
HSE news release.
Interiors firm fined after two are injured
A Staffordshire-based interior design company has been fined after two workers were injured while carrying out refurbishment work at a TK Maxx outlet in Hounslow. Three men were pouring concrete to fill in an opening in the first floor of the retail unit, left following the removal of stairs and an escalator. The Old Bailey heard that on 21 September 2006 the men had only just begun to pour the concrete when the temporary propping erected to support the underside of the decking, installed within the opening, collapsed. This caused the men to fall more than 4.8 metres to the floor below. All three were taken to hospital. One had a dislocated shoulder and another had a fractured pelvis and elbow. The third worker was unhurt. Bridgford Interiors Limited pleaded guilty to a criminal safety breach and was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay costs of £23,392. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Viv Neaverson commented: 'This prosecution arises as a result of Bridgford's failing in their duty as the company responsible for the temporary work. Whilst they had appointed a structural engineering company to execute the permanent works, they had not appointed a temporary works engineer and, as such, this duty fell to them.'
HSE news release.
Coach firm fined over drivers' hours
A Middlesex coach company has been fined £137,500 after being found guilty of abusing drivers' hour's regulations. BM Coach and Rental was found guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court of 131 drivers' hours offences after an investigation by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) in summer 2010. It was also ordered to pay £35,000 in costs. In addition, 27 of the company's drivers pleaded guilty to drivers' hours offences, receiving fines totalling £7,228 plus £2,700 costs. Acting on a tip-off, VOSA officers visited BM's premises in Hayes and seized documents including time sheets, pay records and digital tachograph data. VOSA's analysis of the documents and digital data showed that drivers were not recording all journeys. Time sheets and diary records produced by the company confirmed there had been journeys where no driver's hours were recorded. Alex Fiddes, VOSA's operations director, commented: 'Drivers' hours regulations exist to make sure passengers and other road users are safe and to ensure fair competition between companies. Tired drivers are dangerous drivers and this case demonstrates that those operators who do not make sure that their drivers have had adequate rest could find themselves in court facing substantial fines.'
VOSA news release. Bus and Coach.com.
International News
New Zealand: Unions call for recovery of mine dead
Unions in New Zealand and worldwide have called for the recovery of the bodies of 29 miners killed in a November 2010 methane gas blast at Pike River Coal Ltd's colliery. Local union EPMU, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) of Australia and global mining unions' federation ICEM want the miners' remains returned to families before New Zealand's largest underground mine is sold and reopened. At a press briefing in Greymouth, the trade unionists said it was 'morally irresponsible' for New Zealand's government to allow the trustee of the mine, PricewaterhouseCoopers, to sell the mine and allow production to begin before bodies are recovered. The blast on 19 November last year killed 29 miners, including 11 members of EPMU. It was the worst New Zealand mine disaster in 119 years, killing 24 Kiwi nationals, two Australians, two UK citizens, and one South African. A subsequent explosion occurred on 24 November, after which authorities declared the miners dead, and in the days that followed two further explosions occurred. 'Mine workers have a special bond with one another and we will use our influence globally to assure that production at Pike River does not re-start until the bodies are recovered,' said ICEM general secretary Manfred Warda. EPMU National Secretary Andrew Little said New Zealand's government must be mindful that the Pike River catastrophe had reverberations worldwide, highlighting the nation's lax mine safety regulations.
ICEM news report.
New Zealand: Expert blames safety deregulation
As a Royal Commission began this week into the Pike River mine tragedy, which last year killed 29 workers in New Zealand, a mine safety expert is pointing to the dilution of mine safety rules as a major contributory factor. This included axing the role of workers' inspectors in mines. Dave Feickert, a mining expert who has worked in the UK, China and New Zealand, said the disaster 'will come to be seen as another market failure,' adding: 'The professional mines inspectorate and the regulatory system that we inherited from the UK, along with Australia, was abolished in the 1990s, along with the worker safety inspectors, elected by the men from among experienced miners. The industry was moved to self-regulation.' He concluded: 'Pike River represents a spectacular failure of self-regulating companies in a high-risk industry. Why we allowed an economic theory of business competition to persuade us that competing companies would co-operate on mine safety is something else I will never fathom. The tragic fact is that the small band of companies involved in mining did not co-operate to replace abolished regulations with voluntary codes of practice. Why we ever expected they would beats me.' A total of 31 miners were caught in the blast. One dragged a colleague to safety, while the other 29 perished and eight months later their bodies are yet to be recovered. Bernie Monk, whose son Michael died in the disaster, said that all the bereaved families want to find out the truth about what went wrong and to make sure it never happens again. He said that the government had not learned from previous mining disasters and condemned it for hacking back health and safety regulations in recent years. 'We are nearly back to a third-world situation with mining here,' he said. 'This is not what New Zealanders want or expect.'
New Zealand Herald. Morning Star.

USA: Unions push for safe hospitals
A coalition of California hospital workers' unions is reviving its call for the state to address safety concerns at mental health hospitals. The four unions joined together to form the Safety Now! Coalition after the death of hospital psychiatric technician Donna Gross in October 2010. The group protested in March this year outside the Napa facility where Gross died. Last week, about 120 employees protested outside Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk to call on the state Department of Mental Health to improve safety. Since Donna Gross was strangled by a patient at Napa State Hospital, the rising violence at the state's mental hospitals has come under increased scrutiny. Unions that represent workers formed the statewide coalition to press for major improvements. But the employees who slipped on union T-shirts, hoisted posters and chanted demands say little has happened. The workers said Metropolitan needs more staff,hospital police officers stationed full time on the units, high security housing for the most dangerous patients and an improved alarm system. They said employees are frequently less alert from working double shifts, pulled from patient care for paperwork and assigned to units where they are unfamiliar with the patients. Union leaders met with hospital administrators last month. But Denise Nicks, a rehabilitation therapist and chief steward for one of the unions, said the department's response to safety concerns has been the same for years. 'They keep saying they're going to look into it,' she said. The California Division of Occupational Safety fined Napa State Hospital more than $100,000 for lax safety measures in the wake of Gross' death. The hospital is appealing the fine. Metropolitan State Hospital is appealing a similar fine of nearly $10,000. The citation said 42 hospital workers suffered assaults in the first three months of this year - a rate of about one assault every other day.
Safety Now! Coalition facebook group. Sacramento Bee. Los Angeles Times.
USA: 'Model' workplaces escape scrutiny then kill
Since 2000, at least 80 workers have died at 'model workplaces' the USA's official safety watchdog OSHA has designated the nation's safest, and which it exempts from some inspections. This is the conclusion of an eight month investigation by the Center for Public Integrity that found in 47 of these cases, inspectors subsequently found serious safety violations and, sometimes, tragedies that could have been averted. According to the investigation, even within industries so hazardous the government targets them for intensive enforcement, 'model workplaces' under OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program are exempt from these special inspections. This policy has left nearly one in three refineries off limits - with these unpoliced model refineries responsible for at least seven deaths. According to the Center's investigation, even when workers die and inspectors find safety violations, 'model workplaces' often face minimal consequences and keep the special designation. At least 65 per cent of workplaces where a fatal accident occurred remain in the Voluntary Protection Programs. Critics suspect some companies in VPP operate a system of 'cosmetic compliance', demonstrating only that they are good at preparing paperwork. Wade Smith, a former safety official for some of the nation's largest construction contractors who now works for a consulting firm, said contractors in VPP are no safer than those that aren't; they're just better at looking like they're safe. 'They do their little song and dance in front of OSHA,' Smith said. 'It's just paperwork; that's all it is.'
The Pump Handle. i-Watch News and related story.
USA: Death highlights behavioural safety dangers
Serious safety failings at a DuPont factory in the US which led to a workplace death highlight the dangers of a 'blame the worker' system of safety management. The report of a US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) investigation published last week criticised behavioural safety champion DuPont after Carl Fish, 58, died at the company's Belle facility in West Virginia, in January 2010. He was sprayed with the deadly chemical phosgene. CSB said DuPont had used old chemical tubes and relied too much on automated software. The incident happened a day after two other highly dangerous chemicals - methyl chloride and oleum, a type of sulphuric acid - leaked at the same DuPont facility. Rafael Moure-Eraso, CSB chair, said: 'We at the Chemical Safety Board were quite surprised and alarmed to learn that DuPont had not one, but three preventable accidents that occurred over a 33-hour period.' Internal DuPont documents released with the CSB draft report indicate that in the 1980s, company officials considered increasing the safety of the area of the plant where phosgene is handled by enclosing the area and venting the enclosure through a scrubber system to destroy any toxic phosgene gas before it entered the atmosphere. However, the documents show the company calculated the benefit ratio of potential lives saved compared to the cost and decided not to make the safety improvements. DuPont promotes behavioural safety methods throughout the world, principally through its 'STOP' behavioural safety system. Most behavioural safety systems in use are variants of the STOP Programme. UK union Unite last month launched a campaign warning members of the dangers of behavioural safety system (Risks 509). It commented: 'In the US, the United Steel Workers Union (USW) has been critical about DuPont's approach to safety for many years. In 2005 the union published a report illustrating that DuPont's many violations and accidents are not just isolated incidents of worker failure, but establish a clear pattern of denial of corporate responsibility.' It added: 'In conjunction with the USW, Unite has also been very critical of behaviour based safety and has warned its members about the potential dangers of behaviour based safety programmes of the type promoted by DuPont.'
CSB news release. Unite news report [pdf] and behavioural safety campaign. Not Walking the Talk: DuPont's Untold Safety Failures, USW report.
raymondoscaff
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:56 am

Re: Accidents and incidents Newsletter July 26th 2011

Postby raymondoscaff » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:17 am

http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-19813-f0.cfm
Union News
Safety concerns remain over new coastguard plans
Government must replace 'useless' dogs laws
Legal changes will hurt victims
Asbestos killed power station electrician
Pothole caused forklift to topple
Nurse compensated after fall in reception
Other news
Network Rail still getting it wrong, says regulator
Boston fire's Lithuanian victims identified
Offshore improvements need to be faster
M&S convicted of safety crimes
Workers survive electrical fireball
Industrial 'corkscrew' removes arm
Worker injured by falling truck
Skin cancer warning for construction workers
Reports highlight growing cancer risk
International News
Global: WHO backs work-related cancer action call
Germany: Unions call for healthy lunchtime siestas
New Zealand: Seafarer abuse an 'embarrassment'
USA: Court tells firm to ditch BS
Resources
TUC guide to using safety statistics
Tell TUC what you think of WCA
Events and Courses
TUC courses for safety reps
Useful Links
Union News
Safety concerns remain over new coastguard plans
Watered-down government plans to slash the number of Britain's coastguard centres will still risk lives, unions have warned. Originally it was proposed that the number of centres be cut from 19 to eight, with only three remaining open 24 hours a day. But Transport secretary Philip Hammond announced in the Commons last week that 11 centres would remain and that they would all operate round-the-clock. The union PCS welcomed the climb-down from the government's original proposals, but said it will still oppose any new plans that would result in safety being compromised. It added the announcement was 'a partial victory for the communities who campaigned to save what is an essential public service that they hold dear. But it will be a bitter blow for those still under threat.' PCS expressed concern the government had made no commitment to prevent compulsory redundancies, and insisted the new plans must be subject to 'full and meaningful consultation involving staff, unions, the public and other interested parties.' PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: 'We pay tribute to our coastguard members and people in their communities who have fought so hard to defend what is a vital public service.' He added, however: 'This fight is not over. We are committed to ensuring we retain the local knowledge of our coastlines that is essential to saving lives, as we are determined to defend all public services and our communities from the government's cuts.' Bob Crow, general secretary of the transport union RMT, said: 'While the government have clearly been forced by public and union pressure to make significant changes to their original proposals we still remain concerned that the revised plans may leave gaps in the service and we will be seeking further assurances that there will be no impact on the safety of our members out on the high seas.'
PCS news release. Morning Star. BBC News Online on the revised closure plans in Scotland and Wales.
Government must replace 'useless' dogs laws
The government should stop stalling and introduce improved dangerous dogs legislation in England and Wales to replace 'a mish-mash of useless laws', communications union CWU has said. CWU national health, safety and environment officer Dave Joyce followed up this month's parliamentary debate on the issue with a strongly worded letter to government minister James Paice calling for urgent action. The letter reminds the Defra minister, who has responsibility for the dangerous dogs issue, of the 'powerful cross-party message' that emerged from the Commons debate and urges him to replace the current 'ineffective mish-mash of useless laws with a consolidated, modernised, updated law which is effective, easy to understand and enforce.' CWU says a loophole in UK law effectively prevents prosecutions in cases where dog attacks take place on private property. Thousands of postal workers, telecoms engineers and many other public service workers are injured in such circumstances every year and the CWU - along with a range of other public and voluntary organisations - has been campaigning for several years for this loophole to be closed. CWU adds the union's campaign has succeeded in winning this key legal reform in both Scotland and Northern Ireland. The letter reminds Mr Paice of the pre-election pledge made by the then leader of the opposition David Cameron in April 2010 when, in a letter to Dave Joyce, Mr Cameron stated: 'We support extending the Dangerous Dogs Act to cover all places including private property.'
CWU letter to government minister James Paice, commentary, news on the debate and Dangerous Dogs - Bite Back campaign.
Legal changes will hurt victims
A government shake-up of the legal system will be bad news for many of the hundreds of thousands of people harmed by their work each year. TUC's Hugh Robertson was commenting as the government confirmed it will press ahead with the reforms to civil compensation, including personal injury claims (Risks 511). These proposals, contained in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, 'will seriously damage access to justice for many working people,' writes the TUC head of safety in the union body's Touchstone blog. 'While attention has focused on those sections of the bill dealing with legal aid and sentencing, other parts could also prove to be disastrous for those people seeking compensation because of an injury at work caused by the employers' negligence.' He adds: 'Union members will be among the millions who are deprived of the ability to claim compensation, or who will lose damages. As many as 25 per cent of injury claims will not be brought. Those that proceed might lose up to 25 per cent of damages for the success fee and further substantial reductions for required legal expense insurance.' He says many people will no longer be able to obtain legal representation, particularly for low value or complex cases. 'However, although a claim of £3,000 or £4,000 may be considered to be low value by the government, it is not low value to a cleaner who earns £6 an hour and represents four months wages.' He warns workplace safety will be another victim. 'By reducing the threat of litigation in workplace accidents and diseases, health and safety at work will be undermined. The money taken from claimants and their representatives won't benefit the Treasury, but the big insurers will gain a windfall.'
Touchstone blog.


Asbestos killed power station electrician
The family of a South Wales electrician who died from cancer caused by exposure to asbestos at a power station has been awarded 'substantial compensation' following a lengthy legal battle. Unite member John Vaughan was 71 when he died from mesothelioma. He was exposed to asbestos while working at Aberthaw Power Station, which at the time was run by the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB). Mr Vaughan had worked at the power station for 32 years when he retired in 1992. He was exposed to the dust as he worked alongside laggers who were handling asbestos insulating materials. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2008 and told he had just six months to live. Mr Vaughan pursued a union-backed claim for compensation, but died before it was finalised. His wife, Glenys, carried on his claim and has now been awarded an unspecified amount in an out-of-court settlement. She said: 'He was determined to pursue compensation because he wanted to make sure that his family were provided for. We'd much rather have him here beside us but we know that he'd feel vindicated that his employers have admitted responsibility for his death.' Andy Richards, regional secretary at Unite, said: 'The sad reality is those retirement dreams which mesothelioma sufferers have worked so hard to achieve are often never realised all because their employers failed to protect them from the known dangers of asbestos when they were younger.' RWE npower, which runs the now privatised power firm, agreed the payout.
WalesOnline.
Pothole caused forklift to topple
A forklift truck driver was left with an eight inch scar on his arm, bruised ribs and injuries to his leg and chest after the forklift he was driving went over a sunken manhole cover and toppled. In the incident in his employer's yard, the truck spilled its load, a 300 kilo pallet containing 12 metal plates, which struck him as it fell. The 49-year-old GMB member, whose name has not been released but who has worked for the firm for 26 years, was put on light duties for a fortnight and had to take strong painkillers for a month to help manage the pain in his bruised ribs. In a union backed compensation claim, the employer, whose identity hasn't been disclosed, admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £5,350. Tim Roache from the GMB said: 'The use of forklifts in this yard was well known and employers need to make sure maintenance includes yards where potholes can cause a serious hazard. Thankfully though unpleasant for our member this accident wasn't much more serious - he was extremely fortunate.' Nikki Sharpe from Thompsons Solicitors, which represented the GMB member in the case, added: 'A simple risk assessment could have avoided this accident from happening in the first place and avoided our client being left with a prominent scar.'
Thompsons Solicitors news release.
Nurse compensated after fall in reception
A nurse who needs risky surgery on her spine after she slipped on a wet floor as she arrived at work has received £17,500 in compensation. The Unite member, a specialist nurse working for an NHS Trust in London, has been told she will need the operation on her back after she fell heavily. She had just entered the building when she slipped on a wet floor in the reception area. She suffered injuries to her ankle and lower back and initially needed to take two weeks off work. However, six weeks later she began to suffer pins and needles in her left leg, which became difficult to move. She needed to take a further three weeks off work. The nurse was subsequently diagnosed with a displaced disc that is pressing on the nerve. The injury means she can no longer sit or stand for long periods of time and she cannot drive long distances. Doctors have said that she needs surgery but there is a 50 per cent chance of serious complications arising from it. In a union backed compensation case, the NHS Trust admitted liability and settled the claim out of court. Peter Kavanagh, acting regional secretary at Unite, said: 'Our member has been left in a great deal of discomfort as a result of this accident which was foreseeable and avoidable. The most common cause of falls at work is spillages but they can easily be avoided with the correct health and safety strategy in place.'
Thompsons Solicitors news release.
Other news
Network Rail still getting it wrong, says regulator
Network Rail has been singled out for stinging criticism in a new report from the rail regulator, labelling its systems 'ineffective' and its performance 'disappointing'. The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) summarises the rail giant's performance as: 'A disappointing year with clear evidence of a poor safety culture, patchy implementation of procedures and slow progress on some key risks, often requiring formal enforcement.' The conclusion comes in the regulator's annual health and safety report 2010/11. This notes: 'We found increasing evidence that Network Rail's internal assurance processes to assess health and safety compliance are not effective. Too often, our inspection activity revealed significant issues that came as a surprise to the company. An effective assurance regime would have found these beforehand and led to corrective action. The company cannot rely on ORR to do that which should be at the core of effective safety management. We have been disappointed that stated commitments to improve health and safety are not reliably translated into action - especially when enforcement action had already covered the issue.' The rail operator was prosecuted on two occasions in the year covered by the report, costing it nearly £174,000 in fines and costs. It also received 12 improvement notices and two prohibition notices. The ORR report suggests measures to address systematic under-reporting of injuries by the company and its contractors and driven by performance targets (Risks 491), had revealed an unacceptably high injury rate. 'The fatality and weighted injuries (FWI) is also higher than the target, and this is of more concern because this measure reflects numbers of major injury accidents, which were not under-reported and which remain unacceptably high,' the report adds. ORR was also critical of Network Rail's handling of contractors, noting it 'repeatedly missed opportunities to specify health and safety standards as part of the contractual arrangements when acting as a client, or sponsor.'
ORR news release and full report.
Boston fire's Lithuanian victims identified
Five men killed in an explosion at an industrial unit in Lincolnshire have been identified by police. The five victims of the blast in Boston on 13 July were all Lithuanian nationals living in Peterborough. It is thought Vaidas Krupenkinas, 39, Laimutis Simkus, 32, Ovidijus Mejeris, 26, Ricardas Gecas, 24, and Erlandas Duzinskas, 18, died instantly in the intense fire at the unit on the Broadfield Industrial Estate in Boston. Lincolnshire Police said their relatives had been informed with the help of the Lithuanian Embassy. A sixth man survived after suffering 75 per cent burns and is said to be in a critical condition in hospital. Police said they have discovered evidence that suggested the unit was being used as an illegal distillery when the explosion took place. In response to questions from Hazards magazine, the Health and Safety Executive indicated they were not involved in the investigation and were not treating the incident, involved an industrial process in industrial premises, as an industrial accident because it was a criminal activity. As yet the status of the deceased - whether they were involved knowingly in criminal activity, or just employed formally or casually to undertake the production work - has not been determined. HSE indicated the deaths would not be recorded as work-related fatalities. A later statement to Hazards said HSE and its lab wing HSL were providing specialist assistance to the police, but were not investigating the deaths.
Lincolnshire Police news release and earlier release. BBC News Online. Hazards magazine.
Offshore improvements need to be faster
The offshore industry needs to 'pick up the pace' if it is going to meet its target to reduce potentially catastrophic oil and gas leaks, the offshore regulator has said. The warning came this week, as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released figures showing the number of offshore oil and gas leaks that could potentially lead to a major incident fell in 2010/11. There were 73 major or significant hydrocarbon releases associated with offshore installations in 2010/11, compared with 85 the previous year. This compares to the 61 recorded in 2008/09 - the lowest since HSE began regulating the industry. For the fourth year running, no workers were killed during offshore activities regulated by HSE - although a worker did die in a fall from a rig in June 2011, outside of the reporting year. There were 42 reported major injuries compared with 50 the previous year, which HSE said brought the total in line with the average of the previous five years. The combined fatal and major injury rate fell to 151.8 per 100,000 workers in 2010/11, compared with 192 in 2009/10. There was also a continued fall in the number of reported minor injuries that led to three or more days off work, with 106 - down from last year's 110 - which represents a new low in the over three-day injury rate. Steve Walker HSE's head of offshore safety, said the figures were 'a step in the right direction.' But he warned the industry was falling short of its own Step Change target of halving the number of hydrocarbon releases over three years. He said 'although there has been a reduction in oil and gas leaks, the industry needs to pick up the pace of improvement if it is to meet its own target. I expect all operators to be drawing up and implementing plans to achieve that goal. The Gulf of Mexico disaster should continue to be a stark reminder of what can go wrong offshore.'
HSE news release and Offshore Safety Statistics Bulletin.
M&S convicted of safety crimes
Marks and Spencer plc and two of its contractors have been convicted for putting members of the public, staff and construction workers at risk of exposure to asbestos-containing materials during the refurbishment of two stores. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the retail giant, Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd and PA Realisations Ltd (formerly Pectel Ltd). The work was carried out between 2006 and 2007 on shops in Reading and Bournemouth. Winchester Crown Court heard construction workers at the two stores removed asbestos-containing materials that were present in the ceiling tiles and elsewhere. The court heard that the client, Marks and Spencer plc, did not allocate sufficient time and space for the removal of the asbestos-containing materials at the Reading store. The contractors had to work overnight in enclosures on the shopfloor, with the aim of completing small areas of asbestos removal before the shop opened to the public each day. HSE alleged that Marks and Spencer plc failed to ensure that work at Reading complied with the appropriate minimum standards set out in legislation and approved codes of practice. The principal contractor at the Bournemouth store, Wilmott Dixon Construction Ltd, failed to plan, manage and monitor removal of asbestos-containing materials. It did not prevent the possibility of asbestos being disturbed by its workers in areas that had not been surveyed extensively. After the hearing, HSE principal inspector Charles Gilby said: 'This prosecution exposed serious failures by Marks and Spencer and its contractors that we hope others will learn from. This verdict is a wake-up call for the retail industry. Client accountability and responsibility is at the heart of this case, because asbestos can and does kill.' The companies will be sentenced on 26 September 2011.
HSE news release. Construction Enquirer.
Workers survive electrical fireball
A global packaging firm has been fined £90,000 and £26,790 costs after two workers suffered life-threatening injuries when they were engulfed by a fireball at a factory in Cumbria. Gordon Metcalf, 62, and apprentice electrician Raymond Crumpler, were about to clean debris from a damaged fuse box when a ball of fire shot out, setting their clothes alight. Innovia Films Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation into the cause of the fire at the plant in Wigton on 13 September 2006. Carlisle Crown Court heard how bosses at Innovia Films Ltd, which has production sites in the UK, USA, Belgium and Australia, had chosen not to turn off the power to the damaged fuse box because this would have necessitated a 36-hour shutdown of the whole plant. So when works electrician Gordon Metcalf started cleaning out the debris next morning he was working so close to a live electric cable that he caused a huge explosion that nearly killed him and the apprentice helping him. The court heard both Mr Metcalf, who had worked at the factory for 19 years, and Mr Crumpler might have died but for 'advances in medical science in the treatment of burns injury patients'. Mr Metcalf who suffered burns to 47 per cent of his body, is still undergoing treatment for his burns, nearly five years on, and will never be able to return to work. He was in a coma for four weeks, intensive care for six weeks and in hospital for five months. His colleague's injuries were less severe and he has now been able to find employment. Mr Metcalf, who is married with two children and two grandchildren, said: 'I still cry at the drop of a hat. If someone asks what's happened to me, that's the hardest bit. I wake up in the middle of the night and just can't get back to sleep once I start thinking about it.' He added: 'I just wish Innovia had cut the electricity supply before asking us to do the work.'
HSE news release. News and Star. Construction Enquirer.
Industrial 'corkscrew' removes arm
A Leicestershire manufacturing firm has been fined after an employee's arm was torn off by a giant industrial 'corkscrew' as he was carrying out repairs. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted London Concrete Ltd after a manager accidentally turned on an auger - a large corkscrew-like machine which moves dry materials from one level to another - while it was being repaired at a factory in Gerrards Cross. Aylesbury Crown Court heard that a 50-year-old employee, who does not wish to be named, was working on the machine on 28 and 29 May 2008. On both days he attempted a repair to the auger. On neither occasion was the auger properly isolated from the power, nor was the required permit to work completed. During the second attempted repair, a supervisor accidentally activated the machine and it tore the man's arm off above the elbow. The experienced fitter had worked in the industry for 23 years before joining London Concrete Ltd 10 months before the incident. The HSE investigation found that although London Concrete trained its workforce on safety and could isolate power to machines and prevent them from being used during repairs, it failed to provide the injured man with initial training or any additional information about the equipment he was working on or company procedures. Inspectors also discovered that the plant manager did not supervise work correctly, which meant company permits to work were frequently not completed. At Aylesbury Crown Court, London Concrete Ltd was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,397 after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to a criminal breach of safety law.
HSE news release.
Worker injured by falling truck
A Nottingham cleaning products manufacturer has been found guilty of criminal safety offences after an employee was seriously injured when a powered industrial truck toppled and fell on him. The worker, who has asked not to be named, suffered a fractured cheekbone, multiple skull injuries and long term impaired vision after the incident, which happened when he was helping load a lorry using a semi-electric stacker truck. The truck was pulled over a kerb and fell onto the employee. His employer, Revelholme Marketing Ltd, trading as Unic International, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation. The company, which makes solvent degreasers and cleaning products, was found guilty of breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations at a three day trial. It was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £18,000. Nottingham Magistrates' Court heard that after the incident on 23 January 2009, the employee was hospitalised for 10 days and was off work for almost three months. Although he has returned to work, the man still suffers from the after-effects of his injuries. Commenting after the trial, HSE inspector Stuart Pilkington said: 'The stacker truck was mainly used in the factory and car park but on occasion employees used the truck to load lorries in the road. A slope between the two surfaces and the lip of the dropped kerb made the terrain unsuitable for this type of equipment to be used.' He added: 'Companies need to ensure that the work equipment they use, such as stacker trucks, is suitable for the task, and for the conditions in which it is used.'
HSE news release.
Skin cancer warning for construction workers
Britain's 2.4 million construction workers need protection from potentially deadly over-exposure to the sun, the Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) has warned. The alert came as new research published this week in SOM's journal, Occupational Medicine, suggested skin cancer in construction workers could be as common as asbestos-related disease. Researchers from the University of Manchester found that some construction workers were up to nine times more likely to get skin cancer than other workers from a similar social group and background. They have a higher risk due to long periods working outside in direct sunlight and ultraviolet rays reflected from nearby surfaces such as concrete, the research concluded. The study also reveals that labourers in building and construction trades have significantly increased incidence of other health conditions because of their work compared with other workers. Dr Raymond Agius, who led the research team, said: 'Construction workers are an important focus of our research. Many are unaware that their work can put their health at risk of a whole range of conditions including asbestos induced tumours, serious skin conditions and skin cancer.' SOM said that by prioritising and targeting employees who work in the construction sector with preventive measures, lives can be saved. 'Workers in the construction industry suffer from a lack of occupational health provision and this also needs to be addressed and improved,' said SOM president Dr Henry Goodall.
SOM news release.
Reports highlight growing cancer risk
Two reports have highlighted a growing risk of getting cancer in the UK, as global cancer experts call for urgent measures to address neglected occupational and environmental causes of cancer. A report last week from Macmillan Cancer Support said rising cancer rates mean more than four out of every 10 people in the UK get the disease at some point in their lives. It said a decade ago about a third of people, or 33 per cent, developed cancer at some point in their lives. The charity says that figure has risen to 42 per cent. A report this week from Cancer Research UK (CRUK) said cancer diagnoses in middle-aged men and women have soared by 20 per cent in a generation, linking this to improved screening and lifestyle factors. CRUK has been criticised by both workplace and environmental health organisations for routinely dismissing non-lifestyle contributors to cancer. These are, however, getting increasing recognition elsewhere. A paper this month in the online journal Environmental Health Perspectives, co-authored by two experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO), notes 'credible estimates from the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for Research on Cancer suggest that the fraction of global cancer currently attributable to toxic environmental exposures is between 7 per cent and 19 per cent.' It adds: 'Primary prevention?environmental interventions that halt the exposures that cause cancer - is the single most effective strategy. Primary prevention reduces cancer incidence, and it saves lives and billions of dollars' [more in International News, below].
Macmillan Cancer Support news release. CRUK news release and related blog entry. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Landrigan PJ, Espina C, Neira M. Global prevention of environmental and occupational cancer, Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 119:a280-a281, 2011. doi:10.1289/ehp.1103871
International News
Global: WHO backs work-related cancer action call
Urgent action is needed to tackle the occupational and environmental exposures 'responsible for a substantial percentage of all cancers,' a new report says. The paper published this month in the online journal Environmental Health Perspectives, says 'credible estimates' suggest these exposures could account for up to 1 in every 5 cancers. The authors, Philip J Landrigan of New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Carolina Espina and Maria Neira of the World Health Organisation (WHO) write: 'Despite their proven feasibility and cost-effectiveness, efforts to prevent environmental cancers have lagged. In contrast to vigorous and well-coordinated global efforts to prevent cancers caused by tobacco, much more needs to be done in environmental cancer control and to further develop strategies for prevention of environmental causes of cancer.' The paper summarises the 'Asturias Declaration' agreed at a March 2011 WHO-convened conference, saying the 'recommendations will also prevent recurrence of such tragedies as the global asbestos epidemic'. The declaration, which is posted on the websites of both WHO and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), includes a call on WHO to 'develop a global framework for control of environmental and occupational carcinogens that concentrates on the exposures identified by IARC as proven or probable causes of human cancer'. Corporations should comply with all rules and regulations for prevention of environmental and occupational cancers and adhere to the same standards in all countries - developed and developing - in which they and their subsidiaries operate, it adds. To be successful, these prevention efforts 'will require partnerships among countries and collaborations of public health authorities with ministries of environment, labour, finance, and trade,' it concludes.
Landrigan PJ, Espina C, Neira M. Global prevention of environmental and occupational cancer, Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 119:a280-a281, 2011. doi:10.1289/ehp.1103871. The Asturias Declaration: A call to action [pdf].
Germany: Unions call for healthy lunchtime siestas
German unions have called for a return to official siestas as part of the working day, referring to studies proving its health benefits. The DGB trades union confederation argues that a short, lunchtime power nap makes sense for health and performance reasons. 'Even though the siesta is something that isn't a given anymore in the southern European countries, it is still a good idea for health reasons,' said Annelie Buntenbach, a DGB executive board member. 'A short afternoon nap reduces the risk of, for example, a heart attack, and provides an energy boost,' she told Tageszeitung in an interview. Studies bear this out. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Athens Medical School in Greece found that Greek workers who took regular siestas had 37 per cent lower mortality rates from coronary illnesses than their napless counterparts. The idea has caught on in Germany, where big German companies such as BASF, Opel, Hornsbach and Lufthansa provide special rooms for their workers, and employers say they benefit from the increased productivity of well-rested employees.
The Guardian.
New Zealand: Seafarer abuse an 'embarrassment'
The New Zealand government has announced an inquiry into the abuse of crews on foreign fishing charter vessels in the country's waters. Unions said the move was 'long overdue', adding ongoing problems with the abuse and underpayment of overseas crews on joint venture vessels in New Zealand waters have become 'an international embarrassment.' The inquiry follows allegations foreign fishermen worked in poor safety and working conditions. Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) general secretary Joe Fleetwood said the Maritime Union and International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) had found it necessary to intervene in numerous cases in the past few years. He said the current regulation of the New Zealand fishing industry and joint venture operators using international crews was being shown up as a failure. 'It is time to lance this boil. There needs to be a thorough investigation of the industry and immediate concrete steps, not just talk, to clamp down on the abuse and exploitation of overseas crews in New Zealand waters.' Mr Fleetwood said MUNZ will be demanding that the ministerial inquiry is not just a 'smother job' that sits on the bookshelf gathering dust. 'This must not be a box ticking exercise. We know what the problems are, what we need now is action, proper regulation, proper enforcement, to clean up a mess that has been allowed to grow for years under successive governments.' Indonesian crew members who worked on fishing boats on New Zealand waters say they faced months of abuse and were called names like "monkey" and "pigs". The issue came to a head when three Indonesian crew members were killed after the Korean-registered fishing ship Oyang 70 capsized and sank 800km southeast of Dunedin last year.
MUNZ news release. TVNZ.
USA: Court tells firm to ditch BS
A labour rights court in the US has ruled that a manufacturing company that tried to impose a behavioural safety system broke the law and should have negotiated with the union USW. After the ruling, USW commented: 'This win by our union is timely in that some paper companies are trying to go to health and safety programmes that focus on worker behaviour. In this case a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge ruled a tool maker must bargain with its union over a new safety programme.' The union said the company programme 'resulted in workers getting disciplined for safety violations and injuries.' USW Local 5518 filed NLRB charges nearly a year ago, when Kennametal Inc failed to bargain over implementation of its Management Based Safety (MBS) programme at its Lydonville, Vermont plant. The company's unilateral implementation of a new discipline policy for safety violations was also an integral part of the NLRB case. The company had rejected a union request to negotiate, claiming it was not a mandatory subject of bargaining. It also asserted that its discipline policy for safety violations - called 'Procedure for Corrective Actions for Safety Violations and Work Instructions for Corrective Actions' - had no relationship to MBS. The change in discipline policy meant that a first-time serious safety violation resulted in a three-day suspension and a second serious violation would result in the worker being fired. NLRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Arthur J Amchan rejected the company's contention that its disciplinary policies had nothing to do with MBS. He noted that MBS eliminated the union's participation in accident investigation, contrary to the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. By changing the investigation process, Kennametal diminished the possibility that factors such as production quotas would be considered in assessing the cause of an accident, he ruled. The judge wrote that MBS, in making it more likely an injured worker would be found at fault for an accident, had a 'clear relationship to disciplinary measures taken as the result of an accident.' The company was told to 'cease and desist' from imposing the MBS programme.
USW news release. NLRB decision.
Resources
TUC guide to using safety statistics
The TUC has published a short union safety reps' guide to finding and using safety statistics. It says a safety rep's first stop should be with the employer. 'They have to give health and safety representatives information on injuries and sickness if you request it and also let you inspect any documents that relate to health and safety.' With some exceptions regarding confidentiality of personal information, reps can obtain anything from RIDDOR reports and accident book entries, to sickness absence records and reports. The guide provides links to other sources of statistics, including official agencies. It explains some of the language used by the number crunchers and how to make effective use of the stats you unearth.
Statistics - how to find them and use them: Guidance for health and safety representatives.
Tell TUC what you think of WCA
The Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and the accompanying Work Capability Assessment (WCA) - fitness for work tests - were introduced in 2008 as a replacement for Incapacity Benefit (IB). The tests, which have been criticised by unions, welfare and disability organisations, have seen many people with serious health problems and little chance of finding work thrown off of disability benefits. The government department responsible for the system, DWP, is currently calling for evidence on the system - and TUC wants to make sure its submission puts the strongest case for a fairer approach. If you have comments or evidence you think TUC will find useful, it would like to hear them.
TUC briefing document. DWP call for evidence.
Send any comments or evidence you'd like to inform the TUC submission, to Richard Exell, TUC Economic and Social Affairs Department, by 5.00pm on 8 September.
Events and Courses
TUC courses for safety reps
raymondoscaff
 
Posts: 138
Joined: Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:56 am

Next

Return to Incident Alerts

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest