News from around the World
- Statement: Death of Red Arrows pilot (2011) – company pleads guilty
- Event: Racism at Work
- Event: Dementia 2020 – The Next Phase
- Transport unions welcome clamp down on laser dangers
- Safety warning on nano use in construction
- Survey exposes bullying of staff by MPs
- Australia: Rise in truck deaths prompts union warning
- Canada: Asbestos ban moves forward
- Global: Half of women journalists suffer violence at work
- Future of Work Commission
- British Safety Council (BSC): Future risks
- USA: OHTA announces a new partnership with NIOSH
- Emotionally demanding work is stressing out GPs
- ECHA: 236 substances shortlisted for possible regulatory action
- ECHA Communication in the supply chain web pages updated with information on different roles
- Event: Is Britain Prepared for Floods? Enhancing Flood Resilience through Innovation, Technology and Collaboration
- UK Trades Union Congress and the future of safety representative training
- News from the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
- Event: Asset Integrity Management Lifecycle Seminar
- Pilot medical rules should be reviewed, says British pilots’ union BALPA
- Police end probe into five Birmingham recycling plant deaths in the UK
- Economic blackmail by Russia against Sri Lanka’s asbestos ban decision slammed by international trade unions and health networks
- ILO head warns that there are still 152 million victims of child labour
- HSE news on REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & Restriction of Chemicals)
- Help workers Go Home Healthy this January
- HSE says: Make sure winter is working for your business
- Cuts in public health grant leads to decline in support for smokers
- New Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) publications
- UK HSE to take lead of investigation into death of five workers at Birmingham recycling plant
- SFPE Europe Conference on Fire Safety Engineering
- UK TUC calls for an end to agency worker loophole
- Unions in the UK North East help asbestos victims receive £3.8 million
- UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE): Managing asbestos in schools – Frequently asked questions
- Grenfell Tower Fire: Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety – Interim report
- The UK needs a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles
Wishing all our readers A Happy New Year full of peace, safety and good health at work!
Statement: Death of Red Arrows pilot (2011) – company pleads guilty
Before Lincoln Crown Court, Martin Baker Aircraft Ltd on 22 January 2018 pleaded guilty to a charge under Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974. This follows the death of 35-year-old Red Arrows pilot Sean Cunningham at RAF Scampton on 8th November 2011 following an ejection from his aircraft whilst stationary on the ground during which the main parachute attached to the seat failed to deploy.
Martin Baker Aircraft Ltd manufactured the ejection seat.
This prosecution has been brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
No sentencing date has been set, however a hearing has been arranged at Lincoln Crown Court for 12/13/14 February 2018.
A HSE spokesperson said: “HSE acknowledges the defendant’s guilty plea but will not make a further comment until after sentencing.”
Event: Racism at Work
Thursday, 8 March 2018 from 09:30 to 15:00, Liverpool
Racism in the workplace sadly continues to be a daily issue for millions of people. Data from as recently as 2015 shows that nearly a third of employees have either witnessed or experienced racism at work, whether from managers, colleagues, customers or suppliers – a stark reminder of the need for robust protections in the law.
However, it is also clear that a great number of people affected by racism at work are unable to access justice. A 2017 analysis found that senior staff and employers are commonly indifferent to or actively complicit in racial abuse and discrimination, making it difficult for victims to speak out. Further, the increasing casualisation of labour acts as a barrier to access to justice, with people in precarious work, such as zero-hour contracts, hesitant to raise their voices for fear of dismissal.
Migrant workers, in particular, are known to be vulnerable to a wide range of abuses – including racism – due to the fact they are less likely to be organised into unions, more likely to be unaware of the rights they are entitled to, and more likely to be in precarious work. Exploitation is particularly rife in the unofficial economy, with many of those who take cash-in-hand jobs to make ends meet finding themselves tied to employers who then use their dependence against them.
Since the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, there have been concerning signs that the problem is worsening. Charities and migrant worker organisations last year reported that employers were using the uncertainty over EU workers’ right to stay to abuse the migrants on their staff.
At this one-day conference, our panel of lawyers, academics and campaigners will analyse the situation as it stands today, identify weaknesses in the legal system, propose reforms to the law, and discuss how unions can play a part in protecting workers from racism.
More information: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/racism-at-work-tickets-42117436386
Event: Dementia 2020 – The Next Phase
17 April 2018, Royal Society of Medicine, London
Govconnect are delighted to announce that the next conference in their Dementia 2020 Series will be held on the 17th April 2018 at the RSM, London.
Dementia 2020 – The Next Phase is an opportunity to consider progress of the Implementation Plan up to 2018 and will assess whether it has achieved the actions included as it moves into phase two. This conference will allow participants hearing from senior leaders from many of the key partner organisations involved in the 2020 Challenge.
More information: http://2018.alzheimers2020.co.uk
Transport unions welcome clamp down on laser dangers
UK Transport unions have welcomed measures to tackle the sale of unsafe laser pointers, including new safeguards to stop high-powered lasers entering the country.
The government has pledged additional support to local authority ports and borders teams to stop high-powered laser pointers entering the UK. The 8 January 2018 announcement came the day before the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill introduced by the Department for Transport (DfT) had its second reading, with the measure set to expand the list of vehicles, beyond just planes, which it is an offence to target with lasers.
Safety warning on nano use in construction
Self-cleaning windows, very high strength concrete and thin, lightweight, super-efficient insulation are among the new construction materials using nanotechnology, and could carry significant risks, new research has suggested. Estimates suggest that by 2025 up to half of new building materials might contain nanomaterials.
A research team at Loughborough University in the UK, sponsored by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), has produced guidance based on their investigation into where these materials are used, how widespread this is, potential risks and how workers in construction and demolition might manage these risks.
The researchers set out to discover what is known about the prevalence of nanomaterials in construction, to test possible risks in the lab and to give guidance for manufacturers of nanomaterials or products containing them and people working in construction or demolition. The project was led by Professor Alistair Gibb and Dr Wendy Jones, both from Loughborough University.
Survey exposes bullying of staff by MPs
Research by the BBC has found almost a quarter of staffers working for MPs have been bullied at Westminster, with 1-in-7 of all those responding saying they had suffered at the hands of the MP for whom they worked. The findings came in responses to a questionnaire sent by BBC 5 live to all staff publicly listed as working for MPs in parliament.
Some 1,500 questionnaires, guaranteeing anonymity to respondents, were sent out in November. In total, 166 people responded, out of which 39 said they had experienced bullying while working at Westminster. Of these, 24 said they had been bullied by the MP they worked for, seven had been bullied by another MP and eight had been bullied by someone else, a colleague or other person in the House of Commons. Only a third of people who said they had been bullied reported the behaviour.
The most common reasons for not reporting it was belief that “it wouldn’t make any difference” and “fear of losing my job.” The BBC 5 live research also asked staff employed by members of parliament whether they had experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment while working at Westminster.
Australia: Rise in truck deaths prompts union warning
A spike in fatal accidents involving trucks in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has prompted the transport union to call for the return of a road safety watchdog.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) said deaths were “out of control” and demanded something be done. A total of 88 people were killed in crashes involving trucks in NSW in the 12 months to September 2017, an increase from 61 deaths in 2016, according to statistics from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. Nearly half of Australia’s truck deaths were in NSW.
The TWU said the number of transport workers killed on the job nationally rose from 56 in 2016, to 65 in 2017. The jump contrasts with a drop in workplace deaths overall. TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon said transport workers now accounted for 40 per cent of all work-related deaths. He said the federal government had to take responsibility, because in April 2016 it chose to scrap the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which was established in 2012 to make trucking safer by establishing pay conditions for drivers.
Canada: Asbestos ban moves forward
Unions and campaigners have welcomed progress on Canada’s promised asbestos ban.
The Canadian federal government had now published a draft law prohibiting the use, sale, import and export of asbestos and products containing the hazardous material. The federal health and environment departments are both sponsoring the proposed changes aimed at eliminating the market for asbestos products in the country.
The government now acknowledges that all forms of asbestos fibres, if inhaled, can cause cancer and other diseases. According to the proposed regulations, the government estimates asbestos was responsible for approximately 1,900 lung cancer cases and 430 mesothelioma cases in Canada in 2011. A single case of lung cancer or mesothelioma costs Canada’s health system more than $1 million, the government says.
Global: Half of women journalists suffer violence at work
Almost one in two women journalists have suffered sexual harassment, psychological abuse, online trolling and others forms of gender-based violence (GBV) while working. Overall, 85 per cent say no or inadequate action has been taken against perpetrators and most workplaces do not even have a written policy to counter such abuses or provide a mechanism for reporting them. The trend is revealed in survey findings from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
The global union’ survey of almost 400 women journalists in 50 countries revealed almost half (48 per cent) had suffered gender-based violence in their work and a similar proportion (44 per cent) had suffered online abuse. Among the most common forms of gender-based violence suffered by women journalists were verbal abuse (63 per cent), psychological abuse (41 per cent), sexual harassment (37 per cent) and economic abuse (21 per cent). Almost 11 per cent had suffered physical violence. Only 26 per cent of workplaces had a policy covering gender based violence and sexual harassment.
Future of Work Commission
The world of work – the heart of our lives and the centre of our Labour identity – is getting ever more complex and uncertain. Complex, because new automated technologies are fusing with the internet, and creating models of work and jobs we haven’t seen before.
Earlier this year, Tom Watson MP set up the Future of Work Commission to look into how the UK is dealing with the new technological revolution.
The Commission, which is independent, concluded that the most apocalyptic predictions about the impact automation will have on jobs are far too pessimistic. Instead, the report says automation and artificial intelligence will create as many jobs as they destroy – if we get the right policies in place. But it contains some stark warnings about the future too. Because we are not doing enough to exploit the opportunities created by this new world of work.
Read the executive summary and full report: www.futureofworkcommission.com
British Safety Council (BSC): Future risks
The world of work is rapidly changing, as are its associated risks, whether from an ageing workforce, increasing automation, insecure job contracts or reduced regulatory resources.
The British Safety Council is committed to understanding the latest developments in the world of work, of safety, health and wellbeing, and broader societal changes. We can only deliver our vision that no-one should be injured or made ill at work if we stay up to date by working with our members, thought leaders, academics and researchers who are at the cutting edge of these changes.
BSC two latest films, Future Risk: The Next 60 years and Emerging risk, explore these issues, both in the short and long-term.
More information: www.britsafe.org/campaigns-policy/future-risks
USA: OHTA announces a new partnership with NIOSH
The Occupational Hygiene Training Association (OHTA) has announced a new partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
NIOSH and OHTA have agreed to use their collaborative efforts and expertise to advance the protection of workers and to promote best practices to improve worker safety and health. A four-year agreement outlines areas of collaboration which may include: developing and enhancing training resources, participation at occupational health and safety conferences and meetings, and sharing and exchanging occupational health and safety information resources.
Work between the groups began during the summer, when NIOSH experts joined the editorial review teams of several OHTA modules. The modules – some undergoing revision and some in initial development – were chosen because they were a suitable fit for NIOSH expertise and in particular need of volunteer resource. The review teams will be continuing their work over the coming months.
Emotionally demanding work is stressing out GPs
The emotional impact of their daily workload and confrontational patients are among the key stressors for family doctors in England, a new study has found.
The analysis of feedback from general practitioners (GPs), published in the online journal BMJ Open, reveals dysfunctional working relationships and unsupportive or bullying colleagues, combined with the fear of making mistakes, complaints, and inspections, are additional factors compounding this emotional labour effect. The study authors base their findings on in-depth interviews with 47 GPs to gauge their wellbeing and how well they cope with workplace stressors.
The interviewees were either depressed/anxious and/or suffering burnout, or returning to work after treatment for mental health issues, or off sick or retired due to illness, or had no mental health issues. Over half, 33, were women. They found many of the reported stressors were interlinked and cumulatively contributed to, or worsened, existing distress.
ECHA: 236 substances shortlisted for possible regulatory action
The European Chemicals Agency has selected 236 substances for further scrutiny by the Member State competent authorities in its annual screening exercise.
The competent authorities will carry out a manual examination of dossiers they prioritise to decide whether regulatory action is needed.
ECHA Communication in the supply chain web pages updated with information on different roles
The web pages now provide information also on the roles of other actors in the supply chain, as well as on tools that help them to meet their obligations. In addition, the downstream user web pages have been moved under this topic, to reflect the significance of downstream users’ roles and responsibilities.
Keep an eye on these pages to stay up to date on developments on this topic, including updates from the Exchange Network on Exposure Scenarios (ENES).
More information: https://echa.europa.eu/communication-in-the-supply-chain
Event: Is Britain Prepared for Floods? Enhancing Flood Resilience through Innovation, Technology and Collaboration
Thursday, 8 February 2018, Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, London
Present estimates state that annual flood damages for the whole of the UK are £1.1 billion, with around 5.4 million properties in England at risk of flooding from rivers, the sea, or surface water. In 2017 coastal areas across the UK have been hit by severe winds and heavy rain, causing power cuts and damage to properties. In North Yorkshire flash flooding caused road closures and trains to be cancelled. Whole communities across the UK have been left isolated, without power, with severe disruptions or damage to local transport infrastructure.
Funding for flood defences is a source of continuous political debate and controversy. Under the coalition government spending on flood defence did increase overall, despite initial claims it would decrease. Whilst revenue funding is allocated for a one-year period only, the 2015 Government protected maintenance funding in real terms at the 2015/16 level (£171 million), and allocated funding up until 2020, totalling about £1 billion. Future capital investment is moreover contingent on £600 million partnership funding contributions, of which the Government had raised £270 million in 2016.
More information: www.publicpolicyexchange.co.uk/events/IB08-PPE
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.
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.
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.
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: https://www.eemua.org/tni/calendar/events/eemua-asset-integ-mgmt.aspx
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKHSE/bulletins/1cd8bcc
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
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
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
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: www.hse.gov.uk/temperature
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.
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.
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: https://sfpe.site-ym.com/mpage/2018Europe
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.”
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.
UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE): Managing asbestos in schools – Frequently asked questions
This guidance covers the following headings:
- What is asbestos?
- Why is asbestos dangerous?
- Where is asbestos found in schools?
- Who’s at risk from asbestos in schools?
- Who’s responsible for managing asbestos in schools?
- What is the ‘duty to manage’ asbestos?
- What does the dutyholder have to do in practice in a school?
- What is the role of school staff?
- What do dutyholders need to know about using contractors?
- I have been told that asbestos is present in my child’s school – should I be concerned?
- Does a school have to close if it thinks it has an asbestos problem?
- Should parents be told about asbestos in their children’s school?
- What about pupils – can they damage asbestos?
- Is asbestos in heating systems particularly dangerous?
- What are the risks if a roof void is contaminated with waste asbestos material?
- Why do different testing methods for asbestos fibres appear to give different results?
- What types of monitoring and testing are necessary for asbestos in school?
- I know how important it is to manage asbestos in my school – where can I get straightforward advice about what I need to do?
More information: www.hse.gov.uk/services/education/asbestos-faqs.htm
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:
- Introduce a Deposit Return Scheme for plastic drinks bottles
- Introduce a requirement for all public premises that serve food and drink to provide free drinking water
- Increase the number of public water fountains
- Make producers financially responsible for the plastic packaging they produce and to phase in a mandated 50% recycled plastic content in plastic bottles, to be achieved by 2023 at the latest.