Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd

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News Archive

June 2009

New research shows surprising attitudes towards health and safety as the UK HSE launches new strategy for a common sense approach to rise to work

Workplace deaths and injuries have fallen over the past thirty years but thousands still die every year as a result of work-related accidents and ill health.

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new strategy, Be Part of the Solution, on 3 June 2009 designed to reduce the number of workplace accidents and take a common sense approach to ensuring that risk management is an enabler for business not a burden.

New research due to be published on Wednesday demonstrates that employers and workers alike both recognise overwhelmingly that providing a safe workplace makes sound commercial sense. Nearly 90 per cent of business leaders say that people are their organisation's most important asset. In addition to preventing accidents, 65 per cent of employees say that good health and safety practices make them feel valued.

The recession could make some workplaces more dangerous, as more than a quarter of business leaders say that that their organisation will face pressure to cut spending on health and safety this year. This is not only potentially dangerous but could also be bad for business; nearly eight in ten business leaders acknowledge that good health and safety standards are beneficial. In part this is because the cost of preventing accidents is almost always less than the costs associated with an accident once it happens.

Almost half of Britain's workers know someone who has been injured at work, yet the actual rate of deaths and serious injuries is greatly underestimated. On average, employees think that 3,000 people were killed or seriously injured at work last year, but the true number is 137,000 - more than 45 times higher.

Too often health and safety is seen as trivial or the preserve of 'jobsworths', rather than preventing tragedy. A third of employees wrongly think that HSE bans wearing flip-flops at work or children playing with conkers. In fact, HSE is focused on real risks and preventing the serious harm that dangerous workplaces can cause.

The most effective way to improve health and safety practices is for senior management to show leadership on the issue. HSE is thus calling on leaders today to sign a pledge to 'Be Part of the Solution' and improve health and safety standards.

Judith Hackitt, Chair of HSE said:

"HSE is not, and never will be, 'the fun police.' Our new strategy shows the way towards a common sense attitude to health and safety. As regulators, our approach to businesses will be proportionate to the risk they present and their approach to managing it. We are calling on employers and business owners to take the lead themselves in preventing the thousands of deaths every year which are caused by work - it is their moral and legal duty and it is good for the business."

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, James Purnell said:

"There are too many clichés about the role of 'health and safety' in our society. But amidst ridiculous myths about banning donkey rides and flip flops, the fact is that too many people are still needlessly killed or injured. The fact that some people go out to work and never return home to their families is a human tragedy. The new HSE strategy recognises that a significant challenge now faces everyone with a stake in health and safety. We need to do everything we can to drive down the toll of death and injury."

Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said:

"At a time when employers are trying to cut costs, getting the message across on the importance of health and safety is more important than ever. Today's strategy is short on rhetoric, but big in vision. Unions and health and safety representatives are committed to supporting this strategy as well as the day to day work of the HSE."

Sir Steve Bullock, Chair of the Local Government Association (LGA) human resources panel, said:

"Having a healthy and safe place to work is a fundamental right of every employee. But it is not a right that everyone enjoys. We must all work together to improve Britain's safety record. We must also join together to reject the trivialisation of the health and safety agenda - we must not be distracted by silly or frivolous issues when the larger issue is about protecting workers from serious injury or death.

"As well as being a regulator alongside HSE, local government is also a major employer. We are proud to be part of the drive to make Britain a safer and healthier place to work."

Interviews were conducted online among 1002 employees and 200 business leaders between 1st and 11th May 2009. The data for employees has been weighted according to the Annual Business Inquiry run by the ONS, in terms of age, sex, region and company size.

HSE's mission is to prevent death, injury and ill health in Great Britain's workplaces. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice and, working with local authority partners, by inspection, investigation and enforcement.

HSE ran a three month consultation on the new strategy, and invited a wide range of stakeholders to take part. Further information on the consultation can be found here www.hse.gov.uk/strategy.

The Be Part of the Solution pledge can be found here www.hse.gov.uk/strategy/pledge. Business leaders are invited to sign up online to show their commitment to keeping workplaces safe.

Don't cut health and safety corners in the recession: OSH UPDATE will save you time and money to get quality information

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Contact: Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd, Sheffield S26 1JG, UK | Tel: +44 (0) 1909 771024 | Fax: +44 (0) 1909 772829 | Email: sp@sheilapantry.com
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A+A 2009 leads off its themes for this year

A+A 2009, to be held in Düsseldorf on 3-6 November 2009, is a leading international trade fair focusing on personal protection, security and safety at work.

Personal protective equipment, corporate fashion, safe appliances and installations can be found as well as products and services related to fire protection, environmental protection and measurement and control technology and equipment. Also, products covering health and safety at work (e. g. occupational, environmental and travel medicine) aspects of workplace design and office job ergonomics will be on show. This is also where the Special Show "Success Factor Office" will showcase ergonomic products, especially designed office workplaces and solutions for air-conditioning, lighting and acoustics.

New to A+A this year will be the "Innovation Park Hazardous Substances". In a special exhibition area, new products, concepts and services will update visitors on how to handle hazardous substances by way of presentations as well as live demonstrations and lectures.

Despite the current market situation there is every indication of good exhibitor participation at A+A. "Current registration activities imply that A+A will exceed the 50,000 sq m limit in exhibitor space. All key market and innovation leaders in the sector will be taking part," said Birgit Horn, show director.

Running concurrently alongside the trade fair is the A+A Congress, which comes under the theme of "Innovations for a Safe and Healthy Business". Content of the 60-lecture series (with over 350 speakers) will cover a wide range of sectors from economic issues, health-related themes (e. g. occupational diseases), possibilities for workplace design to challenges posed by specific hazards and loads (e.g. handling of hazardous substances) and such technical aspects as plant safety.

Programme highlights of the Congress include the Conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the "European and International Network Meetings" and the "International Lecture Series". Simultaneous English-German interpretation is provided for each of these.

For further information and services related to A+A 2009 visit the website www.AplusA-online.de

European risk assessment campaign engages 6 new partners

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has announced that 6 new partners - CSEE-ETUCE, EMF, ETSC, EuroCommerce, European Network FOCUS and FEES have signed up as official partners of the Healthy Workplaces campaign 2008-2009, bringing the total number to 39.

Promotion and many other interesting projects continue to provide the necessary support to our campaign message: risk assessment as the essential step for a sound safety and health management.

More details of Healthy Workplaces: a European campaign on risk assessment at https://osha.europa.eu/en/healthy-workplaces-campaigns/previous-healthy-workplaces-campaigns

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U.S. NIOSH supports Fire/EMS Safety, Health, and Survival Week, 14-20 June 2009

NIOSH once again supports the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Fire/EMS Safety, Health and Survival Week, 14 - 20 June 2009.

The theme this year is Protect Yourself: Your Safety, Health and Survival Are Your Responsibility. NIOSH products from the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program are included among the recommended resources for this fire fighter safety and health campaign.

Fire departments are encouraged to use this week to review safety policies, correct safety deficiencies, provide training as needed, and evaluate the progress of efforts to improve fire fighter safety and health. More information is available at www.iafc.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=306

Child Labour worsening due to Global Crisis

Millions of children, especially girls, risk falling out of education and into work as the impact of the world economic crisis deepens, the ITUC has warned today, the World Day Against Child Labour.

"With rising poverty and inequality, and funding for schools under pressure in developing and transition countries in particular, the economic crisis is likely to add even more children to the 200 million who are already at work instead of getting a proper education. This is a tragic scenario just ten years since the ILO adopted Convention 182 on eliminating the worst forms of child labour," said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.

The ITUC has launched a new video spot to highlight the problem and press governments to tackle the exploitation of children more effectively, both through funding quality education and enforcing labour law.

Tens of millions of adults are losing their jobs due to the crisis, putting family incomes under huge pressure and making it even more difficult for poorer families to cover the costs of education.

"The consequences of child labour, often devastating for the children concerned, are also felt in terms of economic and social development in the longer term. Countries which do not ensure universal education will not have the broad base of skills and knowledge required for solid economic foundations for the future," Ryder added.

The ITUC and its Global Unions partners have also pointed to major deficiencies in the global response to the crisis for the poorest countries. While the G20 governments agreed to make special funding available at their London Summit in April, not enough money is available to support the poorest countries in particular. On top of this the International Monetary Fund, which is the main vehicle chosen by the G20 to deliver the funding, is putting similar conditions on its lending as in the past, despite G20 pledges of reform. This means that public spending on education, as well as other key areas, risks being limited or even cut at a time when it is most needed.

To see the new ITUC video spot on child labour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zZXVq7elLw

To see the ITUC special web pages on the crisis: www.ituc-csi.org/spip.php?rubrique262

Other useful links:

The impact of safety representatives on occupational health: a European perspective

The impact of safety representatives on occupational health. A European perspective published by European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) Health and Safety Department asked the question "Does the presence of union officials in a workplace actually help to improve safety and health protection for workers?"

To try and answer this question, three researchers reviewed the studies done on the matter in Europe. They conclude that having trade union representation leads to better observance of the rules, lower accident rates and fewer work-related health problems. The findings of the study, done under the European EPSARE project, are published in this ETUI report. This publication is the outcome of EPSARE - the European Project on Safety Reps carried out by researchers and trade unionists. It is a condensed version of the report which gives the essentials of an initial assessment of the enabling conditions and factors for the work of safety reps in the European Union (EU). The project reviewed all the available literature, and collected information and knowledge from descriptive studies and key informants. It also developed a theoretical model to describe the key conditions and factors relating to safety reps and their influence on health and safety at work. This initial report starts with a status review of safety reps in the EU, followed by an analysis of the conditions and factors for effective representation, and concludes by attempting to pinpoint the key needs and challenges for trade unions, safety reps, researchers, policy-makers and government agencies.

The impact of safety representatives on occupational health: A European perspective
by Maria Menendez, Joan Benach and Laurent Vogel
European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) Health and Safety Department
2009, 32 pages. ISBN 9782874521447
Language: English; French
www.etui.org/Publications2/Reports/The-impact-of-safety-representatives-on-occupational-health

US OSH Budget proposes increase for 2010

The President's budget for fiscal year 2010 proposes $424 million for NIOSH - an $8 million increase over FY09 funding.

The proposed increase includes $5 million for NIOSH's strategic research programme on the occupational health and safety implications and applications of nanotechnology.

More information can be found on page 36 of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Fiscal Year 2010 Budget in Brief: www.hhs.gov/about/budget/fy2010

Stop exploitation of shipbreaking workers

IMF and EMF call for a new independent authority to govern ship breaking. In a joint submission to the European Commission, the International and European Metalworkers' Federations have called for the establishment of a new independent authority to regulate one of the world's most dangerous industries, ship-breaking.

The submission also calls for mandatory legislated standards after the failure of voluntary codes established by the International Labour Organisation, Basel Convention and International Maritime Organisation.

At present, ship breaking is concentrated in a few developing countries (mainly in Asia) on account of the low wages and lack of compliance with international standards on safety, health and lack of environmental controls offered in these nations.

"It is no longer acceptable that we close our eyes to the daily exploitation of ship breaking workers. Both IMF and EMF demand a safer and greener global system for dismantling ships. Our joint submission aims to give a voice to the affected workers and their concerns" states Jyrki Raina, the newly elected IMF General Secretary."

"By presenting a joint submission we hope that the Commission will recognise the importance we place on this issue. The EU must not wait for the implementation of a new international instrument in 2015 as this will cost hundreds of lives. The EU must show leadership by creating the conditions for a European ship breaking sector that can set exemplary international standards", says Peter Scherrer, EMF General Secretary.

In their submission to a public consultation on ship breaking, the IMF and EMF call for immediate implementation of new measures to improve working conditions for ship breakers.

The submission calls for:

Heavy vehicles tyre blowout and explosion - IRSST guide

A new guide published by the Institut de Recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST) discusses the phenomenon of mechanical blowout of heavy vehicle tyres mounted on wheels, and the process and events that lead to tyre blowout or explosion as a result of heat build-up.

Based on current knowledge, preventive measures are suggested. It must be emphasized that the best-known preventive measures are those aimed in particular at personnel who repair and maintain the tyres on heavy trucks. In the case of drivers, the information is rather limited because there are no objective criteria and very little knowledge about how to identify the hazards, and even less knowledge about the level of risk. The precaution principle applies at all times.

To download the document: www.irsst.qc.ca/files/documents/PubIRSST/R-590.pdf

Good Practice Note Asbestos: Occupational and Community Health Issues

The purpose of this Good Practice Note is to increase the awareness of the health risks related to occupational asbestos exposure, provide a list of resources on international good practices available to minimize these risks, and present an overview of some of the available product alternatives on the market.

The need to address asbestos-containing materials (ACM) as a hazard is no longer under debate but a widely accepted fact. Practices regarding asbestos that are normally considered acceptable by the World Bank Group (WBG) in projects supported through its lending or other instruments are addressed in the WBG's General Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Guidelines. This Good Practice Note provide background and context for the guidance in the WBG EHS Guidelines. Good practice is to minimize the health risks associated with ACM by avoiding their use in new construction and renovation, and, if installed asbestos-containing materials are encountered, by using internationally recognized standards and best practices (such as those presented in Appendix 3) to mitigate their impact. In all cases, the Bank expects borrowers and other clients of World Bank funding to use alternative materials wherever feasible.

ACM should be avoided in new construction, including construction for disaster relief. In reconstruction, demolition, and removal of damaged infrastructure, asbestos hazards should be identified and a risk management plan adopted that includes disposal techniques and end-of-life sites. The guidance note consists of 7 pages of referenced text and 10 pages of appendices with references and links to guidance in many countries.

Good Practice Note Asbestos: Occupational and Community Health Issues.
World Bank Group
Good Practice Note, May 2009, 17 pages
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTPOPS/Resources/AsbestosGuidanceNoteFinal.pdf