News from around the World
- Chemical pollution: EU ratifies Stockholm POP convention
- Helping business cut the cost of work-related stress: launch of new management standards
- UK Pub and club workers left to choke on deadly smoke
- Report finds no observed evidence to tie negative child health trends to environmental chemical exposure
- HSE board 'eroding safety' say inspectors
- New Global Food Standard Revealed
- HSE launches new slips assessment tool
- Launching OSH UPDATE: New Internet-based service
- Worksafe is a European portal on occupational cancer
- Important information sources on the ILO website
- US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Partnerships in Economic-Evaluation Research
Chemical pollution: EU ratifies Stockholm POP convention
The European Union (EU) has stepped up efforts to get rid of the world's nastiest chemicals by ratifying the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Whilst EU legislation already implements all its provisions, the Convention is by far the most important global effort to ban the use of toxic chemicals. By becoming a party to the Convention, the European Union can push for its efficient implementation all over the world and for the inclusion of additional substances to be banned globally.
Welcoming the ratification, Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström said: "This is an important step to rid the world of the worst man-made substances. As a party to the Convention, we can push for higher global chemicals safety - not only for our own sake, but also for the sake of people living in countries where some of these nasty substances are still being used. It also gives us the possibility to propose additional POPs to be banned under the Convention."
She added: "The Commission has already prepared a list of such substances that should be the next generation of phase-outs. I am urgently waiting for the go-ahead from Council to submit this list to the Convention". POPs are toxic, persist for generations, can travel long distances and accumulate in human and animal bodies. They have been widely used in industry and as pesticides. Traces of these substances can be found in humans and animals all over the planet. The EU has deposited its ratification instrument with the United Nations in New York and will become a full party to the Convention 90 days later.
The Stockholm Convention entered into force on 17 May 2004 and has so far been ratified by 83 countries from all over the world. Among the twelve POPs whose production and use are banned are three types: pesticides (such as DDT), industrial chemicals (such as PCBs) and unintentional by-products of industrial processes (such as dioxins and furans). Most of these substances are known to cause cancer or be otherwise toxic. Thirteen EU member states are already parties to the Convention, the others are expected to ratify shortly. [IP/04/1379]
Helping business cut the cost of work-related stress: launch of new management standards
Over 13 million days a year are lost due to work-related stress making it the the biggest occupational cause of working days lost through injury or ill-health. An average of 29 days lost per case, costing society about £3.7 billion a year. In 2001/2, over half a million individuals in Britain experienced work-related stress at levels that made them ill.
That is why the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new approach to help large employers work with their employees to manage the risks from work-related stress.
With input from a range of businesses, professional bodies, unions, and other Government agencies such as ACAS, HSE has developed an approach based on a continuous improvement model featuring a benchmarking tool and to help managers gauge stress levels, compare themselves with other organisations, and work with employees to identify solutions.
The Management Standards are not new regulations. Along with the toolkit, the standards help large organisations meet their existing duty of care and their duty to assess the risk of work-related stress. The standards define the characteristics of an organisation where stress is managed effectively.
Jane Kennedy, Minister for Work, said: "We need to work on practical methods that show organisations how easy it can be to tackle and prevent health issues. The Management Standards for work-related stress provide an excellent example."
Janet Asherson of the CBI, said: "This is an authoritative set of principles and a framework to help employers and employees tackle stress at work."
Hugh Robertson, TUC, said: "In the absence of legislation these standards are the most effective tool that employers can use to help end the epidemic of stress related illnesses. We hope employers will work with safety representatives and stewards to use the standards."
Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health and Safety Commission, said: "Pressure is part and parcel of all work and helps to keep us motivated. But excessive pressure can lead to stress, which undermines performance, is costly to employers and can make people ill. The Standards highlight the components of good organisation, job design and management that keep stress levels in check and enhance productivity."
Clive Sheil, Shell plc, said: "The health and safety of our employees is a priority for Shell and we welcome the HSE Standards. Shell participated in the HSE pilot scheme, which we believe, helps raise awareness across various business sectors."
The Standards and advice on how to use them are available at www.hse.gov.uk/stress
The Standards, informed by the expert research linking job design to ill health, consist of six main factors that contribute to work-related stress: demands, control, support, relationships, role, change.
The Management Standards were piloted with over twenty organisations before they were made available online for public consultation in May 2004. This material was distributed direct to managers and employers via a CD-Rom carried free with editions of selected journals and sent to the top 350 companies.
Examples of good practice are available in The Real Solutions Real People guide, which includes guidance on risk assessment, from HSE books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury Suffolk, CO10 2WA, UK or Tel: +44 (0)1787 881165 or www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books, priced £25.00.
ACAS has produced a booklet 'Stress at Work' giving practical advice on handling stress issues in the workplace. It is available free at www.acas.org.uk. Employers or employees can obtain free confidential advice on the ACAS helpline Tel: 08457 47 47 47
UK Pub and club workers left to choke on deadly smoke
Welcoming the restrictions on smoking in workplaces announced in the UK Government's Public Health White Paper just published, Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, said:
'The Government's plans are a major advance but they simply do not go far enough. Banishing smoke from pubs, bars and restaurants serving prepared food is of course welcome, but the proposals will do nothing to protect the health of workers in the pubs and bars where smoking is to continue. Many pub and bar owners will just find ways of getting round the law.
'Thousands of pub and club workers will still have to choke on the deadly smoke that kills one of them a week and inflicts numerous others with emphysema, bronchitis, asthma or other smoke related illnesses . Protecting the health of bar workers should be as important as protecting the health of office and factory workers. Under these proposals pub and bar workers will still be at risk, a risk that could have been avoided with a total ban on smoking in all workplaces.
Report finds no observed evidence to tie negative child health trends to environmental chemical exposure
A new report cited at Cefic's Long-range Research Initiative (LRI) workshop could not identify any significant evidence of links between low level, long-term environmental exposure to chemicals and childhood illnesses. The ECETOC* report, which reviewed major scientific publications, is to be published in December. The workshop presentation provided a first overview of the report's findings, which are expected to have strong relevance for current environmental health debates in the European Commission.
The ECETOC report presents a scientific review of research addressing many concerns around the much-discussed topic of children's health. It sheds light on the role of environmental chemicals in child health trends, an issue important to the industry and society. The report also makes recommendations for further research and improved test methods.
On child health trends, the report describes an observed increase in asthma. Childhood leukaemia appears to be rising but is still at a very low incidence. However, no trend is established for neurodevelopmental and reproductive disorders.
According to the report, allergens responsible for asthma and respiratory allergies are almost invariably proteins, not environmental chemicals. On the other hand, some evidence suggests a role for volatile organic chemicals in aggravating asthma symptoms by irritating the airways.
Though exposure to lead, mercury and PCBs is linked with neurodevelopmental disorders, exposure to environmental levels of these chemicals, except for lead, is not proven to have an effect. The main causes of disorders such as autism and Attention Deficit and Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are found to be genetic and socio-economic.
The only identified trend in reproductive health is the earlier onset of puberty in girls, apparently linked to improved health and nutrition. Cryptorchidism and hypospadias, male reproductive disorders believed to be linked to parental exposures to hormone modulating chemicals, are found to be related to a variety of non-environmental factors.
These findings help provide direction to the environmental health debate, and establish a clear picture of scientific data available. They also allow Cefic to further focus its research on the effects of chemicals on health and the environment. Through LRI, Cefic will continue to investigate areas of societal and industry concern such as children's health.
*Note: The European Center for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (ECETOC) is an independent technical resource for the identification of research needs to assess health effects and environmental impact of chemicals.
Marc Devisscher, CEFIC, Brussels, Belgium | Email: email@example.com | Tel: +3226767223
HSE board 'eroding safety' say inspectors
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) frontline staff say cutbacks and a move to leaflet rather than legislate pushed through by senior management is eroding workplace safety. In a devastating indictment of top HSE bosses, 96.4 per cent of HSE inspectors, scientists and other professionals responding to a ballot by their union Prospect said they had no confidence in HSE's board to manage the organisation in a way that would maintain both staff and public confidence. '
We are disappointed that we've had to take this step,' said Prospect negotiator Richard Hardy. 'But the executive's response to criticism from MPs (Risks 167), unions and employer organisations has been far from impressive and we are concerned that workplace safety is being eroded.'
The announcement came on 18 November, the day MPs debated a Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee report (Risks 180) which backed Prospect's call to adequately fund HSE and double the number of HSE field inspectors (Risks 181). The union has warned HSE that it must acknowledge the recommendations made by the select committee and start rebuilding staff morale or risk the loss of both public confidence and experienced personnel from its workforce. Steve Kay, Prospect HSE branch chair, said: 'Workplace safety will not improve while HSE cuts trained inspectors and replaces them with visiting staff armed only with a handful of leaflets to encourage employers not to kill their workers.'
New Global Food Standard Revealed
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is publishing a new version of the globally recognised BRC Food Standard on 31 December 2004. This will come into force on 1 June 2005.
The BRC Global Food Standard is used by certification bodies operating in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Far East, Australasia and North and South America, to enable food suppliers to achieve certification against a globally recognised standard.
The Standard sets the benchmark for food safety management systems, laying down criteria against which companies can be assessed and so allowing purchasers to buy with confidence.
Changes to the Standard reflect changes in legislation including traceability, product segregation and the process by which product integrity is managed through the supply chain. Interpretations of requirements are more concise and the protocol more extended and detailed. The revisions are based on extensive consultation between the BRC and key stakeholders across the industry.
BRC Head of Technical Services, Kevin Swoffer, said: "Most large UK retailers will require their supplier to have gained certification to the appropriate BRC Global Standard and so we are pleased to now offer the revised Food Standard that reflects the changing industry, and clearly focuses on the need to establish the highest standards across the food chain.
"The BRC Global Food Standard is used by certification bodies in 23 countries across 4 continents. Its success since it was introduced and the engagement of stakeholders from the food industry has meant that best practice is established, achieved and maintained."
The new BRC Global Food Standard will be published on 31 December 2004 and will come into force on 1 June 2005. To pre order, see TSO details below.
The Standard will also be available as a download in German, Swedish, Spanish, French, Norwegian and Dutch from February 2005.
To pre order the Standard contact the TSO (The Stationery Office), the Standard is priced at £90 plus £3.75 for postage and packaging. 15% discount is offered for all orders over 15 copies. It can be ordered by quoting ISBN number - 0117022233 by telephone on 0870 243 0123, by fax on 0870 240 3701, online at www.tsoshop.co.uk (discount is not available by this method), by visiting a TSO bookshop or by post from TSO, PO Box 29, Norwich, NR3 1GN, UK.
British Retail Consortium, 21 Dartmouth St, 2nd Floor, London SW1H 9BP | Tel: +44 (0) 207 854 8920 | Fax: +44 (0) 207 854 8901 | www.brc.org.uk
HSE launches new slips assessment tool
A new online Slips Assessment Tool (SAT) that evaluates potential risks to workers and others from floor slipping hazards in the workplace is being launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
SAT has been designed for those with responsibility for assessing slip hazards on smooth floors prone to contamination from substances such as water, food, oil and dust. Already being used successfully by HSE and local authority enforcement officers, it is now being made available to the wider health and safety community.
SAT is easy to use and full instructions are included with the software package, which can be downloaded from HSE's slips web page at: www.hse.gov.uk/slips/sat
Users will need to purchase a surface roughness meter.
The software consists of a computer-based package that is used in conjunction with a hand-held surface roughness meter to generate a 'slip-risk' rating. This rating can then be used to determine the risk of pedestrians slipping in the area. A summary of the results can then be saved to file for further analysis or a hardcopy can be produced to provide those responsible for workplace safety with a record of the findings.
Unlike conventional slip test methods, SAT prompts the operator to consider a wide range of contributory factors, including floor surface properties, cleaning regimes and recontamination rates. This will enable the user to determine the main causes of the slipping risk and to identify the most effective remedial action to control it.
HSE information and press releases can be accessed on the Internet: www.hse.gov.uk
Launching OSH UPDATE: New Internet-based service
Want to keep up-to-date in worldwide occupational health, safety, hygiene, road safety, water safety, environment trends and the latest information? Do budget constraints not allow you to buy all the journals, newsletters and documents that contain the latest information? Can't afford the time to search for the latest information, legislation and standards? No staff to search for this information? And no time yourself to spend hours searching for information?
Then a new, very affordable Internet based service OSH UPDATE, from Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd is the answer for you.
Powered by Head Software International's Headfast/Discovery Internet publishing software*, OSH UPDATE will be launched in the Autumn 2004 and updated monthly. It contains a number of bibliographic databases from worldwide authoritative sources such as the UK Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the UK Health and Safety Executive, US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Canada Ryerson University, the International Labour Office CIS Health and Safety Centre, European Union legislation and other legislation sources and OSH standards specifications including those from the British Standards Institution.
OSH UPDATE records will have links to the full text where possible.
OSH UPDATE will expand - we are continuing to make agreements with other well-known information producers around the world and these databases will also be included. As well as the latest information many reference sources go back 80 or more years and so a valuable tool for researchers.
This new aggregation of databases will contain thousands of relevant references with abstracts or keywords and will keep you and your colleagues alerted to hot topics such as the health risks of nanotechnology, corporate killing and corporate social responsibility, bioterrorism, management of road risks, preparedness and business continuity.
The title price for a single user via the Internet will be GBP250.00 / US$ 450.00 per year - less than 68 pence / 1.2 dollars per day.
The price reflects our aim to bring health and safety guidance, advice, research, journal articles, papers, standards to the attention of health and safety practitioners and managers, researchers, trade union safety representatives, occupational physicians, information specialists in industry, colleges and universities, government staff, inspectors, university and college safety directors, university and college lecturers and those in training - at a cost that is affordable and a service that is time efficient.
If you are interested in taking up this service on trial please complete the OSH UPDATE Interest Form, or contact us to ask further questions
* Headfast/Discovery is being used for important bibliographic and full text information services on the Internet by other publishers including CERAM Research, Ellis Publications, Inspec, Nielsen BookData, Oxmill Publishing and TWI.
Worksafe is a European portal on occupational cancer, developed and maintained by medical and occupational health research institutions and IT companies
The information accessible through high quality semantic web services is related to occupational cancer risks and prevention based on scientific knowledge including epidemiological data, statistics, safety guidelines, good practices, as well as information about legislation and training. Expert consultation services are also available. Worksafe contents are mainly related to occupational cancer prevention and workers' safety, and include safety guidelines, good practices, databases, epidemiological data, statistics, legislation, full references to articles and books.
Occupational cancer is to a large extent a preventable disease. Nonetheless, many occupations and some specific chemicals encountered at work are associated with increased risk of cancer. Occupational cancers most commonly involve the lung, the skin, the urinary tract, the nasal cavity and the pleura.
The most accepted estimates of cancers in the general population attributable to occupational exposures in developed countries are in the range of 4-5%. The proportion of cancer attributable to occupational exposure among those actually exposed to occupational carcinogens is estimated to be about 20%. (ILO, Encyclopaedia of occupational health and safety, 4th ed).
Globally about 20-30% of the male and 5-20% of the female working-age population (people aged 15-64 years) may have been exposed during their working lives to lung carcinogens, including asbestos, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, diesel exhaust, nickel and silica. Worldwide, these occupational exposures account for about 10.3% of cancer of the lung, trachea and bronchus. About 2.4% of leukaemia is attributable to occupational exposures worldwide.
The Worksafe portal is created with the purpose to gather, host and disseminate relevant information on occupational cancer mainly in Europe. You will find facts about substances, research results, legislation regulating workplace safety and much more.
All contents are classified into "thematic areas" (Legislation, Prevention, Accidents, Substances, Workplaces, Health risks, Training and Links) in order to help users to retrieve information within defined areas of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) domain. A particular content can belong to one, several or even all thematic areas.
Worksafe does not only classify contents: by means of specialized semantic tools (Search Engine and Ontosafe Browser), it also allows knowledge-based exploration and smart searching.
Ontosafe ontology is an extension of an OHS thesaurus initially developed by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EASHW): a browsable hierarchy of more than 3000 OHS concepts connected by more than 1000 relations allows users to interactively explore the global structure of the Worksafe domain and to discover relations between contents that might otherwise not have been observed.
Contents are collected mainly from the countries of the institutions participating in the Worksafe project (Finland, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden). Additional data and information are obtained via links from other national, European and international websites on occupational health and cancer.
The largest part of Worksafe contents is available at least in English: some contents are multilingual and some are available in only one of the languages specified above. However, an English title for the content/resource is always provided.
The Reviews database service collects and organizes schematic reviews of articles and publications on occupational cancer, selected by Worksafe experts from different renowned OHS and biomedical journals.
The service provides users with a simple comparative tool: reviews can be accessed and organized in several ways and a simple index-based search tool is also provided. Each review is organized into sections highlighting the most important issues of each article: reference, exposure, study design, occupation / workplace and main results.
Information on reviewers' expertise is accessible directly from the service.
The Reviews database service is a paid service available for registered users only.
Expert consultation service provides registered users with a direct contact with renowned professionals and experts in the sector of occupational health and occupational cancer prevention.
According to specific needs and related topics, users can require one of the following expertise's: Occupational cancer, Occupational epidemiology, Molecular epidemiology, Primary prevention, Environmental hygiene and epidemiology, Tumor registry, Information retrieval, Information services and Biostatistics.
A preliminary answer specifying expected costs and time is always provided within 48 hours (= 2 working days) from submission: upon user's acceptance, the definitive answer will be produced (contacting third parties if necessary) respecting the approved agreement.
Further information and instructions are accessible directly from the service.
Partners is the project are:
Contact Person: Irja Laamanen
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
Cours Albert Thomas 150
Contact Person: Annie Sasco
National Cancer Research Institute
Largo Rosanna Benzi 10
Contact Person: Daniela Vecchio
Novum Research Park, Halsovagen 7
Contact Person: Helena Wennborg
Parque Tecnologico 202
48170 Zamudio (Bizkaia)
Contact Person: Marta Gonzalez
Softeco Sismat S.p.A.
Via De Marini, 1 - Torre WTC
Contact Person: Gianni Viano
A multilanguage support (English, Finnish, French, Italian, Spanish and Swedish) is also available for main pages. Worksafe has been developed within the EU-funded eContent programme.
Important information sources on the ILO website
Two important sources of lifesaving information are now freely available to the public on the ILO's website. The English version of the ILO Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety and the bilingual (English/French) CISDOC database were previously available only on subscription through partner institutions. Internauts are now invited to point their browsers at www.ilo.org/public/english/protection/safework/cis/products/encyclo and www.ilo.org/dyn/cisdoc/index_html (underscore, not full stop, between "index" and "html").
The ILO's International Occupational Safety and Health Information Centre announced the news in Brussels on 18 September at a meeting of knowledge management specialists from 20 countries. The delegates represented some of the 137 institutions world-wide that contribute time and publications to an active and self-sustaining information exchange network, a network that was an important source of expertise for the Encyclopaedia and continues to provide material for the CISDOC database.
Now in its fourth edition, the Encyclopaedia is a unique and widely respected reference. Its 1000 articles and copious illustrations have been available on paper, CD-ROM and the World Wide Web since 1998. But always at a price. Responding to calls from International Labour Conference Delegates and the ILO Governing Body to provide free access to more resources, the InFocus Programme on Safety and Health at Work and the Environment (SafeWork) has now made the Encyclopaedia the centrepiece of its "SafeWork Bookshelf", which presently also includes the ILO/WHO/UNEP International Chemical Safety Cards.
CISDOC is the fruit of 30 years of screening the occupational safety and health literature of the world for interesting and useful books, articles and audiovisual materials that occupational safety and health specialists can use in their fight against workplace accidents and diseases. It already guides users to over 62,000 publications, and 2000 more references are added every year.
The Encyclopaedia and CISDOC are still available from their long-time vendors. The two are searchable together on the World Wide Web at www.ilocis.org, and CISDOC is combined with other important occupational safety and health databases on CD-ROMs from the Croner unit of Wolters-Kluwer (UK) and from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. It will also be shortly available on the new product OSH UPDATE www.sheilapantry.com
An important tool is included with the Encyclopaedia and CISDOC: the CIS Thesaurus. This trilingual (English/French/Spanish) collection of terms is used by the ILO to index CISDOC references, and by a number of occupational safety and health libraries around the world to organize their collections. In the Internet age, it is a valuable source of "meta-data" for making Web pages easier to find.
US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Partnerships in Economic-Evaluation Research
Data from a NIOSH-funded study estimate that the costs of occupational illness in America total more than $171 billion per year, an amount five times greater than the costs of AIDS and equal to the economic costs of all cancers. Such findings point to the importance of quantifying the costs of occupational illnesses and injuries more precisely, and of advancing the methodologies needed to do so. Through collaborations with industry, government and global partners, NIOSH is engaged in several activities specifically related to characterizing the costs associated with workplace illness and injury. Below are examples of those partnerships.
Exploring Economic Evaluation of Interventions at the Company Level
In partnership with the World Health Organization, NIOSH organized a conference on Nov. 3-5 2004 in Washington D.C., of invited, diverse research partners from the global community. The conference focuses on the economic evaluation of occupational safety and health interventions at the company level. Co-sponsored by the NORA Team on Social and Economic Consequences of Workplace Illness and Injury, the NORA Team on Intervention Effectiveness Research, the International Labor Organization, and the International Commission on Occupational Health, the meeting provides a forum for sharing experiences, offering recommendations on evaluating health and safety interventions in an economic context, and providing examples of key economic evaluation tools currently used by companies. More information on the conference and next steps can be obtained from Elyce Biddle, NIOSH Division of Safety Research, at EBiddle@cdc.gov.
Economic Research Groups
There are three working groups comprised of experts interested in economics research both within the Institute and among NIOSH and its partners.
- The NORA Social and Economic Consequences of Workplace Illness and Injury Team
includes NIOSH researchers and representatives from academia and private research
organizations. In addition to cosponsoring the economic evaluation conference, the
team is finalizing a research agenda for future economic focused intramural and
extramural funded projects. More information on the team is available at
- The intramural NIOSH Economics Interest Group provides collegial collaboration
across the Institute and is in the final stages of developing a NIOSH Economic
Compendium capturing both intramural and extramural economic-evaluation research
- Through a collaboration under the CDC Health Economics Research Group, NIOSH has joined with the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control to conduct an economic evaluation of safety and health interventions designed to decrease intimate partner violence.
NIOSH has increased its investment in economic evaluation research, and its capacity to conduct such research, by hosting two Fellows under the CDC Prevention Effectiveness Fellowship program. The two Fellows are post-doctoral economists, Kwame Owusu-Edusei (hosted by the NIOSH Division of Safety Research) and Tapas Ray (hosted by the NIOSH Division of Applied Research and Technology).
Coming in the December issue of NIOSH eNews: more coverage of NIOSH's economic- evaluation research, surveying examples of research projects within NIOSH, as well as examples of outside studies funded by NIOSH, that will further advance the measurement of economic costs associated with occupational illnesses and injuries.