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January 2018

Wishing all our readers A Happy New Year full of peace, safety and good health at work!

UK Trades Union Congress and the future of safety representative training

The TUC is developing exciting new ways to train its legions of union safety reps.

Every health and safety representative recognises the benefit of good trade union training, says Jackie Williams of TUC Education, noting it is what gives reps the skills to do their lifesaving, life enhancing job and to keep a safe distance from the employer. And she says there are a lot of life-saving reps out there – every year the TUC trains around 10,000 safety reps, and many more are trained through their own union health and safety programmes. She says there is an increasing demand for an expanding suite of online training courses.

More information:

News from the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Annual Health and Safety Statistics Launched

Workplace injury and ill health cost Britain £14.9 billion in 2016/17.

The annual statistics for health and safety at work in Great Britain have been released. The figures cover work-related ill health, workplace injuries, working days lost, costs to Britain and enforcement action taken.

View and download the statistics from HSE’s Website.

Pre-Order Vital Statistics Poster 2017

This new poster visualises the key health and safety statistics from 2016/17 in an infographic style.

The vital statistics poster allows health and safety professionals to easily educate their workforce about the consequences of poor health and safety.

Pre-order your vital statistics poster from HSE’s Website.

Event: Asset Integrity Management Lifecycle Seminar

15 March 2018, Central London UK

Contribute to discussions around recent advances in designing in asset integrity management, and how to maintain this through the asset lifecycle.

The seminar will be of particular interest to those with an interest in the most efficient lifecycle planning and operation of industrial assets which are required to maintain their structural integrity.

Non-members can take advantage of the Early Bird rate until 31 January 2018.

EEMUA Members and Associates: FREE

Non-Members: £250 (Early Bird), £300 (Standard), £95 (Higher Education establishments)

View the full programme:

Pilot medical rules should be reviewed, says British pilots’ union BALPA

British pilots’ union BALPA has called for a full review into medical restrictions for pilots, describing the current limitations as ‘outdated’.

The union was speaking out after it was revealed in December 2017 that an aspiring pilot had been denied a job because of his HIV status. BALPA says similar restrictions are in place for a ‘vast range’ of other conditions. The rules apply to those entering the profession, whereas those who develop the condition after getting a medical certificate or their licence are allowed to continue their career – something which the union says is ‘nonsensical’.

More information:

Police end probe into five Birmingham recycling plant deaths in the UK

The UK West Midlands Police has ended its investigation into the deaths of five workers at a Birmingham metal recycling plant. The move takes the possibility of manslaughter charges off the table. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it has now ‘assumed primacy’ in the investigation into the 7 July 2016 tragedy, and will investigate whether there were criminal breaches of health and safety law.

More information:

Economic blackmail by Russia against Sri Lanka’s asbestos ban decision slammed by international trade unions and health networks

International trade unions led by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Global Union Building Workers International (BWI) have joined with health networks including victims’ groups representing those suffering from asbestos related diseases and their families from around the world, in declaring their outrage at the economic blackmail on Sri Lanka by the Russian Government.

On 18 December 2017, Russia abruptly halted imports of tea from Sri Lanka, causing a major threat to the Sri Lankan economy. Just 2 days later the Sri Lankan Government announced its decision to defer banning asbestos imports from Russia. Sri Lanka had previously announced a phasing out of asbestos starting 1 January 2018 with a full ban planned by 2024.

More information:

ILO head warns that there are still 152 million victims of child labour

International Labour Office (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder warned that there are still 152 million victims of child labour worldwide, and called on the international community to work together to achieve the total eradication of child labour by 2025.

In his opening address to the IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour, Ryder acknowledged the progress made in this area in the past 20 years, but warned that there is still a long way to go to eradicate child labour in all its forms.

More information:

HSE news on REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & Restriction of Chemicals)

Below is the latest HSE REACH Competent Authority e-bulletin contents listing.

The full document is available at:

Registration 2018

Update to REACH 2018 registration statistics and new interactive infographic

Communication of 2018 registration intentions

New letter templates for use with negotiations on data sharing and joint submission

New IUCLID and IUCLID Cloud tutorials

Regulatory activity

Committee activity

Committees’ opinions on applications for authorisation available

ECHA updates the list of substances potentially subject to compliance checks

New substance evaluation conclusions published

New intentions to identify substances of very high concern (SVHC)


Call for evidence – flame retardants

Testing proposals

Reports, Guidance & Updates

Webinar presentations available: Updated REACH Guidance for nanomaterials – what you need to know

Weight of evidence/uncertainty template published

Update to the Guidance in a Nutshell on requirements for substances in articles published

ECHA report – progress on alternatives to animal testing

Enforcement Forum

Board of Appeal (BoA) decision


Workshop on EUSES update needs (10-11 April 2018)

Help workers Go Home Healthy this January

January can bring greater workloads, longer hours and wintry conditions...

As part of UK Health and Safety Executive’s Go Home Healthy campaign, why not take a look at the top tips for businesses to tackle the risks of stress and MSDs during the busy January period?

Work-related stress led to the loss of 12.5 million working days last year. Excessive pressure and demands at work can cause stress and lead to chronic physical and mental health conditions.

Find out more about what you can do to tackle the risks of work-related stress.

HSE says: Make sure winter is working for your business

With more wintry weather forecast, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) urges you to make sure you’re up to date with how the temperature in your workplace can affect employees...

Whether it is clarification on minimum working temperatures, information on cold stress or guidance on outdoor working, there are plenty of issues to consider at this time of year.

Their website has answers on a host of temperature-related issues:

Cuts in public health grant leads to decline in support for smokers

A report by Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health showing that cuts to the public health budget nationally have led to dramatic changes in services for smokers. Only 61% of local authorities continue to offer all local smokers access to evidence-based support in line with NICE guidance.

Local areas report year-on-year budget cuts to stop smoking services. There is now at least one local authority in England where there is a zero budget for addressing smoking.

The survey of local authorities across England also found that 1 in 9 areas report that GPs are no longer prescribing nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches or gum, to smokers. One in 10 GPs do not provide access to varenicline, an effective prescription-only medication that helps smokers to quit.

More information:

New Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) publications

Nanotechnology in construction and demolition: what we know, what we don’t

Nanotechnology is an exciting, innovative area promising great benefits to many areas of life, industry and commerce, including construction and the built environment.

However there remains concerns about the health impacts from nanotechnologies. We don’t know which materials contain nanoparticles; we don’t know which nanoparticles are present; we don’t know how easily they could become bio-available; and we don’t know what to do if they do become bio-available.

This research, aimed to provide some clarity regarding the current use of nanomaterials in the built environment and was undertaken by Loughborough University. A supplementary guide has been developed for health and safety practitioners and industry stakeholders.

Return to work after common mental disorders

Perspectives of workers, mental health professionals, occupational health professionals, general physicians and managers

Common mental disorders (CMDs), such as anxiety, stress and depression, are among the leading causes of disability worldwide and have a major impact in terms of lost productivity and sickness absence. Returning to work is a complex process in which different stakeholders may be involved and have to co-operate.

This report discusses the return-to-work process of workers on sick leave with CMDs, and the barriers and facilitators from a multi-stakeholder perspective, i.e. workers, managers, mental health professionals, occupational health professionals and general physicians. This research was undertaken by Tilburg University.

UK HSE to take lead of investigation into death of five workers at Birmingham recycling plant

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) announced on 14 December 2017 that it will be assuming primacy from West Midlands Police of the investigation into the death of five workers at a metal recycling plant in Birmingham on 7 July 2016. HSE will now be leading the investigation into whether any health and safety laws have been breached.

Five workers aged between 40 and 56 were killed when a wall collapsed on them at the site in the Nechells area of the city.

More information:

SFPE Europe Conference on Fire Safety Engineering

5-6 February 2018, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Two speakers Ricardo Weewer and Lieuwe de Witte would like to see a world where fire prevention and fire suppression were the specialties of a single profession. “In the past, for example, FSE modelling was applied to predict the behaviour of buildings and fire in the building for the purpose of prevention. But we apply it also now to explain and understand fire behaviour during real fires,” says Weewer, PhD, a professor of fire service science at the Netherlands Fire Service Academy. “We think that fire risk advisers can learn from real fires as well as firefighters. Firefighters have to be acquainted with fire prevention measures – and the other way around is also true – that fire prevention engineers should know about how firefighters will fight the fire.”

Witte and Weewer will be presenting “Overview of Recent Research for the Fire Service: Practice and Science Connected” at the SFPE Europe Conference on Fire Safety Engineering, 5-6 February 2018, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

“By applying the FSE modeling to real case fires, we will be able to optimize understanding of models, optimize assumptions that have to be made during modeling as well as the choices for parameters will be improved,” Weewer says. “Participants can learn about what is going on in the fire service regarding tactics, what we are doing at the Fire Service Academy research, and specifically, how to combine FSE and real fires to learn from for prevention as well as fire fighting. This is a rather unique approach because almost never has this combination of theory and practice plus prevention and suppression been made.”

The presentation promises to bring many special opportunities for participants to hear new research for the first time. “Our research into the quadrant model – which was developed in the Netherlands after a fire in which three firefighters lost their lives – is unique. Likewise our research into the real fires in single-family dwellings is unique,” Weewer says. “Our attempts to apply FSE modeling to explain the fire development is also unique, and the inverse modeling process we use to retro-explain what happened in the experiments is unique as far as we know.”

More information:

UK TUC calls for an end to agency worker loophole

Commenting on the report on agency workers by the Resolution Foundation, which shows agency workers are regularly paid less even when doing the same job as other colleagues, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Two people working next to each other, doing the same job, should get the same pay rates. But too often agency workers are treated like second-class citizens.

“That’s because there’s a loophole in the law that allows bad bosses to deny agency workers equal pay.

“It’s time to end this Undercutters’ Charter and for the government to scrap this loophole. Its recent review into modern employment practices called for precisely that.”

More information:

Unions in the UK North East help asbestos victims receive £3.8 million

Asbestos is the biggest cause of workplace deaths. Last year 5,000 people were likely to die prematurely as a result of asbestos exposure. This is around three times the number of road accident deaths. Most of those who die do so as a result of mesothelioma, a kind of cancer that can be caused by very low levels of exposure. Tragically it is always fatal.

Almost all of the people who are dying today were exposed to asbestos decades ago, so asbestos is now often seen as being a problem of the past as its importation and use have been banned since 1999.

That is not the case. The dangers of asbestos are still with us. Asbestos-containing materials can be found in around half a million non-domestic premises (and probably around a million domestic ones).

This means that people are still being exposed to asbestos. It is often people who are working in maintenance, refurbishment or demolition, but people can, and do, become exposed simply by working in a building with asbestos, as fibres can become dislodged and breathed in.

This killer is often hidden or has not been identified as asbestos. As a result it can be found in factories, homes, schools, shops, hospitals, offices, restaurants etc.

Most of these diseases take many years to develop and so deaths occurring now are largely a result of past workplace conditions.

A total of £3.8 million has been secured for asbestos victims and their families in the North East and North Cumbria between April 2016 and September 2017. The Northern TUC Asbestos Support and Campaign Group (ASCG) was launched in 2010 and has helped its clients claim the money during the past 17 months, which includes benefit gains and compensation.

The group, a partnership between Northern TUC, Macmillan Cancer Support, trade unions and West View Advice and Resource Centre, provides support, advice and information (including help with benefit entitlements) to people living with the effects of asbestos exposure, their families and carers. People helped by the group have asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer and other workplace cancers.

More information:

UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE): Managing asbestos in schools – Frequently asked questions

This guidance covers the following headings:

More information:

Grenfell Tower Fire: Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety – Interim report

The independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety is being led by Dame Judith Hackitt. Its purpose is to make recommendations on the future regulatory system.

The Interim report which was commissioned by government following the Grenfell Tower fire to make recommendations on the future regulatory system.

Published on 18 December 2017 by the UK Department for Communities and Local Government.

ISBN 978-1-5286-0128-3, CM 9551, 121 pages

The UK needs a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles

The UK Environmental Audit Committee calls for the introduction of a UK-wide deposit return scheme for plastic bottles, a requirement to provide free drinking water in public premises, and to make producers financially responsible for the plastic packaging they produce.

Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said:

“Urgent action is needed to protect our environment from the devastating effects of marine plastic pollution which, if it continues to rise at current rates, will outweigh fish by 2050. Our throwaway society uses 13 billion plastic bottles each year, around half of which are not recycled. Plastic bottles make up a third of all plastic pollution in the sea, and are a growing litter problem on UK beaches. We need action at individual, council, regional and national levels to turn back the plastic tide.”

The Committee calls on the Government to:

More information: