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News Archive

January 2008

UK New Parliamentary Group to Champion Accident Prevention has been formed: good news

A new all-party parliamentary group has been formed to champion the cause of accident prevention. Its aim is to provide a voice for the relatives of the 12,000 people killed in accidents in the UK each year and millions more who suffer injuries.

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen has been elected chairman, and has written to the Prime Minister seeking the appointment of a minister with responsibility for accident prevention.

Baroness Gibson said: "Many people do not understand the scale of the accident problem and the impact it has on families and society as a whole. My father was killed in a road accident and I know it can take years to cope with such a devastating event."

She said the current government approach was fragmented with one department dealing with workplace accidents, another responsible for road safety and very little being done to prevent home accidents, which lead to nearly 4,000 deaths and 2.7million injuries each year. There was a need to unite the different elements under central government leadership.

Baroness Gibson, who is President of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "No one in Whitehall or Westminster is looking at the whole picture as a problem which the Government should be addressing.

"The all-party parliamentary group will carry out a hugely important role by focusing on all accident prevention issues, lobbying and campaigning for change where necessary."

Vice-chairmen will be Lord Brougham and Vaux, Baroness Masham of Ilton and Mark Hunter, MP for Cheadle. The secretary will be Mary Creagh, MP for Wakefield, with David Drew, MP for Stroud, as treasurer. RoSPA will provide the secretariat for the group.

RoSPA's mission is to save lives and reduce injuries

RoSPA House, Edgbaston Park, 353 Bristol Road, Birmingham B5 7ST, UK |

Europe: Euro MPs call for work disease action

Euro MPs have called for measures to protect workers from a new generation of health threats at work. The all-party European Parliament employment committee wants a Europe-wide drive against cancer-causing exposures in the workplace as well as measures to combat musculoskeletal disorders such as back pain and repetitive strain injuries.

Socialist spokesperson on the committee, Stephen Hughes, said: 'The European Commission has proposed to cut accidents at work by 25 per cent throughout the EU. We need similar ambitious targets for cuts in occupational diseases and cancers.' British Labour MEP Glenis Willmott, who drafted the employment committee report adopted in December 2007, said: 'We need new EU legislation to deal with new and emerging risks and where the existing laws have proved to be inadequate. In particular, we need binding new limit values for cancer-causing substances, such as crystalline silica, which can cause pulmonary diseases.'

The report approved by the employment committee is critical of the European Commission's strategy, which was last year slammed by unions as the 'poorest yet' (Risks 296). The Euro MPs committee echoed the union concerns, expressing 'regret' that the strategy 'is silent on targets for the reduction of occupational diseases but understands the difficulty in measuring occupational diseases.

The Euro MPs therefore urges the Commission to further develop the necessary statistical instruments, put in place the necessary measures and ensure that the necessary research is carried out in order to ensure that occupational diseases and in particular cancers are correctly identified, recognised and addressed.' It also called for improved control standards for a wider range of carcinogens, mutagens and reprotoxins.

Meeting the Global Challenge of AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria: The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) commitment to Global Health

Julie L. Gerberding, MD, MPH, Director Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently gave a presentation to the Chairman and Members of the Senate Committee on the role of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the implementation of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. She covered a number of the Department's recent accomplishments under the Emergency Plan, as well as provide some considerations for the future. Staff at HHS are proud to be one of the main implementing agencies of the Emergency Plan, under the leadership of Ambassador Mark Dybul, M.D.

HHS has a long history in global health, and appreciate the Committee's bipartisan support for HHS international work. The Department, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), played a leadership role in the eradication of smallpox, and is currently working to eradicate polio and guinea worm, and eliminate measles. Over the years, the scope of HHS' global efforts has expanded to strengthen the capacity of other countries to conduct critical public-health activities. Today, HHS have made global health a central part of our mission, and continues to be on the frontlines of international disease eradication, health promotion and, increasingly in the 21st century, global health preparedness - focused on protecting the United States and the world from emerging, and re-emerging, worldwide threats.

To read more

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Close Call Analysis: Was Anyone Almost Hurt on Your Worksite Today?
by Scott Schneider, US Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America

Have you ever been walking and a truck pulls out right in front of you? A few steps quicker and you might have been hit. Have you lost your balance at heights and caught yourself or been saved by a safety harness or guardrail? Has something fallen from a crane overhead and nearly hit you? A close call could easily have been a serious injury or a fatality. Close calls are accidents waiting to happen.

Each year, almost 240,000 construction workers lose work time due to injuries on the job. For each person injured, probably four or more are almost injured. We call these "near misses" or "close calls." In total, approximately one million close calls occur each year. A 2003 study of almost 700 construction Laborers in the northwest found that 56 percent had zero to one, 29 percent had two to five and 14 percent had six or more close calls during the previous year.

Like real safety incidents, close calls are caused by a variety of production pressures and safety hazards. Everyone may be rushing to get the job done and not paying close attention to where they are going or their work. Close calls can also be caused by unsafe conditions that have been ignored (e.g., guard rails left unfinished or trip hazards not corrected) when workers feel they do not have the time or the responsibility to correct them. Whatever the cause, an assessment of why a close call occurred is the best way to take necessary action so that the next similar incident is not a serious injury accident.

What should be done to prevent close calls?

Most companies do accident investigations, but these only focus on the tip of the iceberg. Yet, any close call could have been an accident if conditions had been slightly different. In fact, real injury incidents are just a tiny portion of the total incidents that might have caused a serious injury. Realizing this fact, some companies do close call investigations as well. Then, they can get a true picture of the major hazards on their site and where corrective actions are needed.

The first step is a company and union commitment to reporting close calls. Company safety personnel or a joint health and safety committee should establish and publicize a reporting procedure. Each reported incident, then, should be investigated the same as incidents that actually cause injuries or illness. Based on the investigation and its assessment, corrective action should be implemented.

Safety is no accident. A safe worksite requires paying attention to close calls. They reveal the major problems and result in effective prevention. Close call analysis is the best way to uncover potential problems and make changes before injury occurs.

To view Lifelines from the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America

UK's Major Contractors Group (MCG) leads industry commitment to construction health and safety training

The Major Contractors Group (MCG) has announced that, following a review identifying Supervisor Health & Safety training as an operational priority, all supervisors on their sites must attend ConstructionSkills' Supervisors Safety Training Scheme as part of their commitment to Health and Safety training. The MCG said the decision demonstrated that supervisory Health and Safety training is an area to which industry must turn its attention.

With the MCG representing the UK's largest construction companies, this is a significant move for the sector. It is estimated that, as a result of this commitment to a safer workforce, thousands of supervisors will receive health and safety training from ConstructionSkills by 2010.

The two-day Site Supervisors' Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS), which is part of the ConstructionSkills' Site Safety Plus (SSP) suite of courses, provides an introduction to health and safety, welfare and environmental issues. It is designed for those requiring an understanding of the current legislation that applies to them and their work activities.

It is intended that MCG companies will lead the drive to ensure that all supervisors achieve the SSP qualification by 2010. Those who have already achieved this qualification will be exempt until the renewal date, which is five years after certification, following which they will be required to renew the qualification. After the initial two-year period, MCG will implement a "zero tolerance" policy for those without this qualification on MCG sites, effective from 1 January 2010.

This latest announcement builds on the MCG's implementation of a zero tolerance policy towards employees who are not CSCS accredited, which was brought into force at the beginning for 2007. The decision to introduce the SSSTS course comes following a MCG review of supervisor courses being offered in the market, and the selection of the ConstructionSkills course as the one best suited to meeting their on-site health and safety needs.

Vaughan Burnand, Chief Executive of Shepherd Construction and Chairman of the MCG Health & Safety Group said of the new initiative:

"By working together MCG members have made a tremendous contribution to improving conditions on site and in reducing the incidence of accidents and work related ill health. Our front line supervisors assume huge responsibility and we are very pleased to have been working with ConstructionSkills in the development of a course designed specifically to help these supervisors fulfil these responsibilities. The course has been designed not only to refresh their Health & Safety knowledge but also to enhance their skills in intervention techniques, managing behavioural change and communication."

Kevin Fear, Head of Health Safety & Environment for ConstructionSkills, added: "I am delighted to hear that the two day site supervisors' course has been recognised by MCG companies as the benchmark standard course to provide an underpinning in Health & Safety competence. The MCG are clearly demonstrating leadership in this area and should be applauded for their contribution to making the industry a safer place."

Gordon Crick, inspector of Health & Safety for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), welcomed measures such as those taken by the MCG, which prioritise health and safety. He said: "The HSE recognises the vital importance of training for site supervisors and encourages all contractors to consider their approach in ensuring that the training needs of supervisors are given priority."

The range of courses within the Site Safety Plus programme build on the well-respected ConstructionSkills Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS), which has been running for over twenty-five years and has come to be considered the standard for health and safety training in the industry. The courses are designed to provide an integrated programme of safety training from operative to management level. Both the SMSTS and the Supervisors Safety Training Scheme are shown as examples of competence within the CDM 2007 ACoP.

The SSP programme is delivered across the UK through 130 training providers. The largest of these is the National Construction College, which is already planning to run more than 70 site supervisor courses across the country in 2008.

For further information, visit or call 0844 844 1315 or email

For other NCC courses call 0844 8440466 or visit

Safety posters in Polish for industry, construction and office

Almost all of the Safety Point range of safety posters from Heath Technical Services can now be produced in the Polish Language.

The full range can be seen on

Or contact Stan Allen in the UK on +44 (0)208 6534648 or at

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act: organisations face a fine line between being fine or receiving big fines!

Recent issues of the Fleet News publication in the UK have included the following headlines regarding Corporate Manslaughter:

The aim of this briefing, the first daft of which was written by Lloyds TSB autolease, is to provide practical information on the new UK Corporate Manslaughter (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and Corporate Homicide (Scotland) Act that takes effect 6th April 2008.

Under the new Act, employers have a Duty of Care to ensure the safety of employees driving for work purposes. The revised legislation makes it easier to prosecute large and medium sized organisations for manslaughter following a work related death.

Put simply, prosecutors will no longer have to identify the single individual, director, or senior manager responsible before they can bring criminal proceedings. The new legislation simply requires that a significant element of the procedure or system failure that caused the incident must be at a management level. It means that senior managers and directors will be more accountable after any fatal work related collision.

Employers must ensure risk assessments are carried out and recorded, followed by auditable measures to minimise and manage the risks to employees.

Although some influential voices suggest this will be a burden to organisations, it should be embraced as an opportunity to improve safety, profitability and employee effectiveness by reducing road crashes, fuel use, insurance, maintenance and fleet costs.

The current law

To secure a conviction currently, the prosecution must identify an individual 'controlling mind'. This is difficult in large organisations, and to date successful prosecutions have mostly been brought against small companies where the controlling mind is obvious.

The new law

The new Act makes it easier to prosecute companies that fail to protect people. In the event of a work related death, attention will focus on the way in which a company's activities are organised by senior management (persons responsible for making decisions about, or playing a significant part in, the way their organisation is managed) to ascertain if:

  1. These have caused the fatality.
  2. They amount to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed by the organisation to the deceased.

The Act will not rely on an individual being found guilty of gross negligence and being prosecuted under the Act, but the organisation as a whole, and effects:

Penalties for employers

In the event of a conviction the court may impose:

Other areas of potential accountability

Individuals, managers and directors can still be prosecuted under existing health and safety legislation and common law manslaughter. Civil claims may arise against employers where an employee has been prosecuted for negligent driving, and also if an employee is injured whilst driving for business purposes. Potential criminal prosecutions, for example, contraventions of mobile phone legislation whilst driving on business, could also arise.

Advice to fleet operators and their advisors

A range of risk management, training, fleet leasing, legal and other organisations have provided guidance. The following is typical.

Organisations need to able to demonstrate working health and safety procedures in line with all existing Health and Safety legislation to protect themselves from prosecution.

Work related road safety should be incorporated into existing health and safety procedures. Guidance can be found in the publication entitled 'Driving at Work: managing work-related road safety' produced jointly by the UK Health and Safety Executive and Department of Transport in 2003, which has become a minimum benchmark and focuses on risk assessment and management of an organisation's drivers, vehicles and journeys.

The detailed steps below are widely regarded as best practice:

Further information

BAFSA Directory 2008

The British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) has recently issued their first Directory of Members. Edited by well known international fire expert Stewart Kidd, the 104 page book has:

BAFSA represents a significant majority of third-party certified sprinkler installers as well as manufacturers, suppliers, contractors, insurers, the fire service and others with an interest in the field. The association is dedicated to making sure that sprinkler systems are installed to the highest professional standards.

Contact: BAFSA, Richmond House, Broad Street, Ely CB7 4AH, UK | Tel: +44 (0) 1353 659187 | Email: |

Women, men and work in the EU: the gender perspective

The working conditions of both women and men throughout the European Union (EU) are analysed in detail in a new Eurofound report Working conditions in the European Union: the gender perspective. The report explores gender in the context of occupational segregation, working conditions, working time and subjective well-being. It includes an analysis of job satisfaction, work-life balance and health outcomes and looks at possible policy orientations.

While men work longer paid hours, women's composite working time, including employment, commuting and unpaid work at home, tends to be longer than that of men. This is the case whether women are in full-time or part-time employment. Women often choose part-time work due to the pressures of juggling paid employment with unpaid work at home. Full-timers, especially men, enjoy greater autonomy at work, while women are more exposed to the risk of violence, bullying, unwelcome sexual attention and discrimination.

Published as the European Year on Equal Opportunities draws to a close, the report shows that three quarters of the EU workforce are managed by men. It found that among white-collar managers and professionals, women have less autonomy and are more likely to work shifts. Women are also more at risk of being paid low wages and of poverty. High poverty rates are particularly apparent for lone mothers and retired women.

However, women are only half as likely as men to be contacted concerning their work outside working hours. This applies for both full-timers and part-timers and across all occupational groups. And women in clerical jobs or lower skilled blue-collar occupations express satisfaction with the fit between their working hours and non-work life. This is also the case for professionals, both male and female. Women also tend to have more regular schedules and are less involved in evening, night or weekend working. While women are less likely to have working-time autonomy, the most satisfied workers are those with some working-time autonomy and who work full-time but not more than 48 hours a week, even though they may work unsocial hours. Most women employed part-time do not want to change the number of hours they work. Nevertheless, one in three women would like longer hours in paid employment. Fears about job security affect clerical and blue-collar workers more than white-collar workers.

The report underlines the gender inequality in unpaid domestic workloads. It suggests men be encouraged to avail of parental leave and seek to adjust their working hours. It also suggests curbing long full-time working hours, thereby facilitating a more equitable pattern of paid and unpaid working time. Childcare and eldercare responsibilities also need to be addressed. The report notes that long hours make jobs incompatible with family and other commitments for both men and women.

The report Working conditions in the European Union: the gender perspective
European Foundation for Working and Living Conditions. 2007
ISBN 978 92 897 0814 2
Full text:

Contact: Måns Mårtensson, Euro Foundation, Dublin, Ireland | Tel: +353 1 204 3124 | mobile +353 876 593 507 | Email: |

ILO World Congress, Korea 2008

World Congress on Safety and Health at Work and The annual general meeting of the Asia Pacific Occupational Safety and Health Organization (APOSHO), a cooperative organization of safety and health institutions in the Asia-Pacific region, will be held simultaneously in Seoul, Korea this year.

The Ministry of Labour (MOL) and KOSHA said on 5 June that the 24th annual general meeting of APOSHO will be held for 4 days beginning 29 June 2008 in Seoul.

Closing event of the European Lighten the Load campaign

The closing event of the Lighten the Load campaign will be held on Tuesday 26th February 2008 at the Euskalduna Conference Centre in Bilbao, Spain.

The Summit provides a unique opportunity to hear from professionals, practitioners and participants what has been achieved during the European campaign on musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). After an opening plenary with Vladimír Špidla, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, delegates will have a choice of three thematic workshops:

In the afternoon, keynote speeches and the presentation of the Good Practice Award Winners round up the programme.