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Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd

News from around the World

News Archive

May 2014

  1. Celebrating Europe Day – 9 May 2014
  2. UK HSE launches consultation on draft Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH) Regulations 2015
  3. Focus on working at height at leading health and safety conference
  4. New Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) amendments enter into force
  5. Training Course on Occupational Respiratory Diseases – Prevention and Risk Factors
  6. ABSA 57th Annual Biological Safety Conference
  7. USA: New web pages on Safety and health advice for poultry workers
  8. Fire Safety Seminar
  9. Event: Return to Work after Sickness Absence
  10. The Economist Features NIOSH Research
  11. US Researchers win Best Aerosol-related Paper Award
  12. National Safety Council Celebrates 100 Years
  13. Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) latest reports
  14. EU-OSHA has launched the 12th edition of the European Good Practice Awards in occupational safety and health – call for nominations no open
  15. Remember…
  16. New History of Occupational Health and Safety website launched
  17. 28 April 2014 – World Day for Safety and Health at Work
  18. London Fire Brigade simulate London plane crash in ‘largest ever exercise’
  19. Over 2 million Britons now regularly use electronic cigarettes
  20. Fire Information Group (FIG UK) Seminar “Mind the Gap in Fire Information: Update 2014”
  21. Third FABIG Technical Meeting: “Explosion Risk Evaluation”
  22. Bangladesh: Brands must pay up for Rana Plana victims
  23. Chemical Safety Board Ongoing Investigation
  24. Bangladesh Workplace Safety Accord Underway, but Government Failing on Workers’ Rights
  25. Sherpa Dorje Khatri Reported Killed in Everest Avalanche
  26. Climate report shows job growth linkage with climate action
  27. Europe: Get out, don’t be taken in on 28 April

Celebrating Europe Day – 9 May 2014

Only weeks ahead of the 2014 European elections, Europe celebrates Europe Day on 9 May. It marks the anniversary of the ‘Schuman declaration’ and the historical start of European integration.

This year, EU-OSHA contributes to the Europe Day celebrations through its currently running Europe-wide Healthy Workplaces campaign that raises awareness on the importance of effectively managing stress and psychosocial risks at the workplace.

UK HSE launches consultation on draft Control of Major Accident Hazard (COMAH) Regulations 2015

This consultation was launched on 2 May 2014 and will run for eight weeks, closing on 27 June 2014.

This Consultative Document issued by UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) invites views on the new regulations, titled ‘The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 2015’ to implement all but the land use planning aspects and Article 30 of Council Directive 2012/18/EU (Seveso III Directive) on the control of major-accident hazards involving dangerous substances. It also seeks comments on the public information requirements, scope, some other areas of change and the initial assessment of the costs and benefits of the proposed changes.

HSE urges stakeholders to consider this consultative document and respond fully within the time available.

Focus on working at height at leading health and safety conference

Cutting the number of people killed and injured in falls from height at work will be a focus at the UK’s pre-eminent health and safety conference in June 2014.

With falls from height still the biggest cause of deaths in the workplace, the CoreSkills+ track of IOSH 2014 (ExCel London, 17-18 June) will feature sessions on factors critical to tackling the problem, including the hiring of tower equipment and the use of ladders.

Don Aers, technical director at PASMA (Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ and Manufacturer’s Association), will lead a session call ‘Working at Height – which bits are you missing?’

Working in consultation with the Health and Safety Executive, and in partnership with the Hire Association Europe (HAE), RoSPA, PASMA has launched a new campaign championing EN1004, a standard that looks at the design of mobile scaffolds and tower scaffolds made of prefabricated parts. This initiative focuses on how to specify, buy or hire the right tower equipment, and how to use it safely.

In a separate session, Mr Aers, also technical manager of the Ladder Association, will examine and evaluate the implications of the Health and Safety Executive’s revised and simplified guidance for working at height in the UK, in particular the regulator’s ‘Safe use of ladders and stepladders – a brief guide’.

He said: “Work at height has gone through a lot of changes in recent times. Our talks in the past have seen great success in trying to get these changes across as part of the AIF’s Toolbox Talks programme, reaching professionals with the kind of industry-specific knowledge they need. Bringing the same kind of in-depth knowledge to the CoreSkills+ programme will give a whole new audience the chance to hear this vital information.”

The popular CoreSkills+ track will wrap up on Day 2 with a session called ‘Working at Height: spoiled for choice?’, led by the Access Industry Forum (AIF), the forum for trade associations and federations involved in working at height.

Using a series of studies, the forum will examine and explain how, in each case, the work was properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people, with a particular emphasis on the decision-making process for selecting the most appropriate equipment for the job.

AIF Director Peter Bennett said: “In previous years our Knowledge Base seminar programme has been a big draw at the Safety & Health Expo. By expanding this into workshops for the CoreSkills+ programme, we are looking forward to the chance of speaking to health and safety professionals in particular.”

Organised by UBM Live, the annual IOSH conference is a flagship event of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.

IOSH executive director of membership Simon Bowen said: “Last year’s CoreSkills+ workshop programme was the most popular to date, so this year we’ve produced an even more comprehensive and diverse programme of sessions for delegates.

“There is something for everyone there. Whether you’re new to health and safety or in need of a top-up, the workshops are designed to provide in-depth content and detailed solutions to the challenges health and safety professionals are facing.

“Those attending will be able to tailor their workshop programme to suit their learning needs and CPD goals.”

To register for CoreSkills+, visit the official website

Further details are available on the PASMA ( and AIF ( websites.

New Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) amendments enter into force

The amending regulation (334/2014) which enters into force today addresses a number of aspects of the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) to give further clarification to the regulation that entered into application on 1 September 2013.

The key aspects of the revised BPR include:

Companies are invited to take note and comply with the relevant new provisions.

Further information:

Training Course on Occupational Respiratory Diseases – Prevention and Risk Factors

5-9 October 2014 –Säröhus Conference Hotel, Särö, (Gothenburg area), Sweden

Course leader: Kjell Torén (University of Gothenburg, Sweden) is professor and senior consultant in occupational and environmental medicine and clinical allergology.

Occupational respiratory diseases (Asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease, different pulmonary fibrosis and rhinitis) are still important and prevalent occupationally caused diseases. Prevention is the cornerstone in the treatment, and there is a strong need to disseminate current scientific knowledge in this field to occupational physicians, allergists, ENT-physicians, chest physicians and researchers in the field.

More information and registration: Siv Jansson, Course coordinator, NIVA, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FI-00250 Helsinki | Direct +358 30 474 2488 | Mobile +358 43 8241 696 | |

ABSA 57th Annual Biological Safety Conference

2-8 October 2014 – San Diego, California

The American Biological Safety Association invites you to participate in the 57th Annual Biological Safety Conference in San Diego, California October 2-8, 2014. The Exhibits will be held Sunday October 5 at 6:00 PM through Tuesday, October 7 at 4:00 PM. The Conference and Exhibits will be at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. We also have sponsorship opportunities that could expand your exposure at the conference.

There will be approximately 500-700 biosafety professionals from the United States, Canada, and dozens of other countries in attendance. This will be an excellent opportunity to expose your company’s offerings to an international audience.

NEW in 2014, we will be opening the exhibits to non-conference attendees to increase traffic in the exhibit hall. Each exhibit booth will receive four exhibit only passes to share with customers and colleagues. We will also sell day passes to the exhibits to members and non-members.

By exhibiting at our conference, your company will have the unique opportunity to showcase its products and/or services to biological safety professionals. Sponsorship of a conference event is available for the conference. This additional exposure will give your company added recognition as a supporter of the educational objectives of the American Biological Safety Association and of the importance of biological safety.

Please review the enclosed information at your earliest convenience. If you should have any questions, please contact Karen Bigelow,, or Edward Stygar,, or call the ABSA Office (toll free) at 1-866-425-1385.

USA: New web pages on Safety and health advice for poultry workers

A new topic page focused on NIOSH research and recommendations to prevent work-related injury and illness among poultry processing workers is now available.

The page provides resources to help employers and workers identify risk factors and take effective measures to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses in poultry processing.

Fire Safety Seminar

14 May 2014 – Dublin, Ireland

The deficiencies in the management of fire safety at Rosepark contributed to the deaths in that a number of key circumstances would have been quite different if there had been an adequate system of fire safety management (Rosepark Care Home Fire Fatal Incident Enquiry Finding).

This Warrington Certification CPD Seminar, Fire Risk Management – A Recipe for Success, will include a specially commissioned video on the Rosepark Care Home Fire by the Scottish Fire Service which will highlight some of the common mistakes that contribute to fire loss.

There are still a few places available for this Seminar, which features presentations from leading industry figures that provide a template for a holistic and proactive approach to fire risk management, offering practical solutions for the effective control of fire safety for any organization. The seminar will be of benefit to health and safety, fire safety and procurement professionals that work in the social housing, local authority, HSE, care home, school, university, social/public or private sectors; who have a responsibility for fire safety management.

The Seminar Programme is attached and further information including booking details is available at There is a small charge of £40 that includes lunch, teas & coffees which seems remarkable value for money.

Association for Specialist Fire Protection, Kingsley House, Ganders Business Park, Kingsley, Bordon, Hampshire GU35 9LU | Tel: +44 (0)1420 471612 |

Event: Return to Work after Sickness Absence

8-10 October 2014, Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik, Iceland

Registration deadline: 20 June 2014

Course leader: Ásta Snorradóttir, MA, BS, Administration of Occupational Safety and Health, Iceland

Management of sickness absence and successful return to work is crucial for employees, the labour market and the society as a whole.

In this course, successes and obstacles in reducing sickness absence and increasing successful return to work will be of scope.

The purpose is to give up-to-date information on the issue by leading practitioners/researcher in the field. This course will focus on practical solutions and tool kits for employers and practitioners within the health care or social system working on rehabilitation, management of sickness absence and return to work.

Contact: Katja Pekkarinen, NIVA, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FI-00250 Helsinki, Finland | Tel: +358 30 474 2488 | Fax: +358 30 474 2497 | Mobile: +358 30 4741 | Email: |

The Economist Features NIOSH Research

Research by Dr. Robert Park of US NIOSH is cited prominently in an article in the 26 April 2014 edition of The Economist. The article reports on current scientific evidence suggesting a link between occupational exposure to manganese at levels below current permissible limits, and risk for Parkinson’s-like nervous system impairments.

Risks presented by manganese in welding fumes are the focus of a current NIOSH scientific investigation.

On 24 March 2014, US NIOSH researchers John Snawder, Mike Breitenstein, Eric Esswein, Max Kiefer, and William Sieber were informed that their paper, “Occupational Exposures to Respirable Crystalline Silica During Hydraulic Fracturing,” published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, won the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s (AIHA) Aerosol Technology Committee’s David L. Swift Award for best aerosol-related paper published in 2013.

The award will be presented at AIHA’s annual conference in June 2014.

The full article is available at

National Safety Council Celebrates 100 Years

As part of the National Safety Council’s 100 year anniversary celebration, the organization has developed a special issue of the Journal of Safety Research showcasing a sample of research that has made an impact in the safety arena since the journal’s inception in 1969.

Articles in the special issue include successful occupational safety programs and committees, among other accomplishments.

To view the issue, visit

The issue will be available through September 2014.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) latest reports

Two new reports from the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Health Hazard Evaluation Programme.

Exposures of Helicopter Pilots and Gunners to Firearm Noise and Lead during Gunnery Target Training Exercises

The HHE Program received a request for technical assistance concerning helicopter crews’ exposures to gunshot noise and lead during airborne offshore and ground range gunnery training exercises. The helicopter crews assist in intercepting and disabling drug- and contraband-running watercraft. NIOSH investigators found that helicopter pilots and gunners were exposed to loud noise during gunnery target training; peak noise levels corresponded to levels that can damage hearing. Airborne lead exposures were below occupational exposure limits, but surface lead was found inside helicopter cabins. HHE Program investigators recommended

Evaluation of Chemotherapy Drug Exposure in an Outpatient Infusion Center

The HHE Program was asked by managers of a regional hospital to evaluate health symptoms among outpatient cancer and infusion center employees working with or around chemotherapy drugs. Although the investigation could not definitively link employee symptoms to chemotherapy drug exposures, many were consistent with what is reported in the literature and in other settings where chemotherapy drugs are handled. HHE Program investigators recommended

EU-OSHA has launched the 12th edition of the European Good Practice Awards in occupational safety and health – call for nominations no open

The awards welcome applications from European companies or organisations who are implementing measures to successfully manage stress and psychosocial risks in their workplaces.


To move forward it is necessary to close the data gap, because knowledge is the key to prevention.

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General

Message on the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, 28 April 13

New History of Occupational Health and Safety website launched

The new UK History of Occupational Safety and Health website was launched on 28 April 2014 to coincide with the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which is also Workers’ Memorial Day.

The website sets out developments in workplaces in the UK from the 1802 Factory Act to recent regulation changes is an initiative of the UK Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents National Occupational Health and Safety Committee.

The website which provides a wealth of information tracking the development of occupational safety and health and includes:

Full text documents, including some that are more than 180 years old, can be accessed via the website.

More information will continually be added to further expand the information already available.

Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the website and thanks especially to Sheila Pantry OBE who has led the ‘History of OSH’ project and produced this very valuable resource.

Anyone wishing to send information to be added to the website please contact Sheila Pantry, Email:

28 April 2014 – World Day for Safety and Health at Work

On 28 April we remembered all those who have been made ill or suffered fatal injury in the workplace and resolve to make extra efforts to improve the standards of health and safety. In many parts of the world, national authorities, trade unions, employers’ organisations and safety and health practitioners organise activities to celebrate this date in various ways. See:

The theme for the International Labour Organisation (ILO) 2014 World Day for Safety and Health at Work is Safety and health in the use of chemicals at work. Chemicals are key to modern life, and will continue to be produced and used in workplaces. With concerted efforts, governments, employers, and workers and their organizations can achieve the sound management of chemicals for an appropriate balance between the benefits of chemical use and the preventive and control measures of potential adverse impacts on workers, workplaces, communities and the environment.

Trade Union Movement

Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) held on 28 April every year commemorates those workers. All over the world workers and their representatives conduct events, demonstrations, vigils and a whole host of other activities to mark the day.

The day is also intended to serve as a rallying cry to “remember the dead, but fight like hell for the living”. The TUC coordinates activities across the UK, publishing a comprehensive listing of events and suggestions.

A listing of the global activities is available from the and information on Workers Memorial Day at More info at

This year the UK TUC is calling on health and safety representatives, trades councils and safety campaigners to make 28 April a day of action to defend health and safety.

This is a list of some of those events that are happening up and down the UK. Most will also feature a minute’s silence at noon, or a suitable time. All are on 28th April unless indicated otherwise.

More information:

UK Memorial Website

Look also at the UK Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Memorial website:

This is RoSPA National Occupational Safety and Health Committee (NOSHC) initiative.

London Fire Brigade simulate London plane crash in ‘largest ever exercise’

The London Fire Brigade hosted one of the largest and most comprehensive exercises in its history over the weekend 26 April 2014, with fire crews taking part in a three-day exercise based around a plane crash in the capital.

The exercise aims to test local and national emergency response procedures to a major air crash incident in London. Over 220 emergency service personnel will take part, including specialist Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams from London and across the country, the Metropolitan Police Service, and London Ambulance Service.

It is a unique opportunity for the blue light services to work together effectively to practice the life-saving skills that would be used should a major incident ever occur in the capital.

The exercise will be based on the scenario that a plane has crashed into a building by the river in east London. The exercise will feature a real fuselage from a Boeing 737 plane, which a specialist rescue team from the London Fire Brigade have painstakingly installed in the hanger of a large, derelict Victorian flour mill, known as Millennium Mills.

Using 400 tonnes of rubble, the team has spent the last four weeks creating a ‘crash site,’ and have partially buried the plane’s fuselage under the rubble. This will create a scenario that offers an exceptionally realistic representation of the aftermath of an aircraft crashing into a building.

Real flames and smoke will be used to make the scene look as convincing as possible and to create an extremely challenging training environment for the rescue teams involved. Crash debris and working black box simulators are being placed into the docks for the Met Police Dive team to recover.

As well as the crash site inside the building, the exercise will also play out in the docks outside, with firefighters trained in water rescue searching the water for ‘survivors.’ and specialist police marine diving teams undertaking evidence recovery over the course of the following two days.

Over 100 volunteers from a university paramedic course and actors from Amputees in Action, an agency which provides amputee actors, will play the part of ‘casualties’ to provide a realistic mass casualty environment for the emergency service personnel taking part.

London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, said:

“Whilst this scenario may appear worrying for some, I would like to reassure the public that these sort of exercises are vital to ensure that rescue teams are fully prepared should something like this ever happen in London.

“It is only through this kind of exercise that we can fully test our plans and ensure that all the agencies which would be involved can respond effectively together, in a co-ordinated manner.

“Air traffic incidents are extremely rare, but it is my responsibility to ensure that our fire and rescue teams, working with the other emergency services, are ready in the unlikely circumstance that something catastrophic were to occur with a plane in the capital.

Director of Operations at London Ambulance Service, Jason Killens, said:

“Today has been a valuable learning opportunity for our staff. Working in partnership with our emergency service colleagues, we have been able to test our equipment, systems and procedures for coping with a real life major incident like this.

“Although this type of incident is extremely rare, it is important that we work together and plan now so we can continue to be well prepared for every possibility.”

Commander Peter Terry the head of Emergency Preparedness for the Met, said:

“Major incident exercises like this one provide us with the perfect opportunity to practice and test our response with our partners in a realistic fast moving environment.

“They also allow us to examine what worked well and what difficulties we faced so we can take that learning and use it to improve our response and co-ordination when dealing with real live incidents in the future.”

The Brigade said that the exercise has been planned for over a year and is completely unrelated to the tragic incident involving Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which occurred in March.

To allay any potential concerns that may be raised, people living and working close to the site of the exercise have been advised that there will be a large number of emergency service personnel and vehicles present in the area for the duration of the exercise.

Agencies taking part include: London Fire Brigade water rescue and USAR teams; Metropolitan Police, London Ambulance Service, Newham Council, Emergency Planning and Air Accident Investigation Branch.

Over 2 million Britons now regularly use electronic cigarettes

Figures released by health charity ASH on the day the ASA’s consultation on the advertising of electronic cigarettes closes reveal that usage of electronic cigarettes among adults in Britain has tripled over the past two years from an estimated 700,000 users in 2012 to 2.1 million in 2014. Nearly two-thirds of users are smokers and one third are ex-smokers, an increase in the proportion of ex-smokers compared to previous years. Once again, current use of electronic cigarettes amongst self-reported non-smokers is negligible (0.1%) and only around 1% of never smokers report ever trying electronic cigarettes.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by ASH, reveals a dramatic rise in the number of current and ex-smokers who have tried electronic cigarettes over the past four years. In 2010, only 8.2 per cent of current or ex-smokers had ever tried electronic cigarettes. By 2014, this figure had risen to 51.7 per cent.

There has been a consistent rise in the number of current or ex-smokers who use electronic cigarettes on a regular basis from 2.7 per cent in 2010 to 17.7 per cent in 2014.

Just over a third (35%) of British adults believe that electronic cigarettes are good for public health while around a quarter (22%) disagree.

For the first time, the ASH YouGov survey asked about the type of electronic cigarette commonly used. Over a half of electronic cigarette users started off using rechargeable electronic cigarettes with prefilled cartridges, with only one in four starting by using cigarettes with a tank or reservoir. But amongst current users the balance is more evenly split with 47% most often using rechargeable e-cigarettes with prefilled cartridges and 41% using rechargeable devices with a separate tank. Only 20% started off using disposable electronic cigarettes and only 8% most often use disposable e-cigs currently.

There are a variety of reasons given by current and ex-smokers for why they use or have tried electronic cigarettes. Among current users of electronic cigarettes:

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“The dramatic rise in use of electronic cigarettes over the past four years suggests that smokers are increasingly turning to these devices to help them cut down or quit smoking. Significantly, usage among non-smokers remains negligible.

While it is important to control the advertising of electronic cigarettes to make sure children and non-smokers are not being targeted, there is no evidence from our research that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking.”

A separate ongoing survey – the Smoking Toolkit Study carried out in England – has also found that smokers are increasingly using electronic cigarettes as an aid to quitting, overtaking use of medicinal nicotine products such as patches and gum. The proportion of smokers who have quit in the last year has increased and smoking rates in England are continuing to fall.

Commenting on the findings, leader of the study, Professor Robert West, said:

“Despite claims that use of electronic cigarettes risks renormalizing smoking, we found no evidence to support this view. On the contrary, electronic cigarettes may be helping to reduce smoking as more people use them as an aid to quitting.”

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use.

Fire Information Group (FIG UK) Seminar “Mind the Gap in Fire Information: Update 2014”

Wednesday, 11 June 2014 starting at 13.15 free of charge to invitees

Location: Imperial Hotel, Tudor Room, Russell Square, London

This seminar is kindly sponsored by the Fire Protection Association, Burgoynes Management Ltd, International Fire Consultants Ltd, Lane, Jefferies & Associates Ltd and Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd


12.30 – 13.15


13.15 – 13.20

Introduction by Chair Sheila Pantry OBE

13.20 – 14.20

“Updating Mind the Gap in Fire Information” session – Setting the scene – FIG UK and fire information worldwide

Sheila Pantry OBE


Update on FRSUG – Fire Statistics User Group overview – recent work on various projects

Kirsty Bosley, Chair FRSUG


Fire and rescue incident data and statistics – the status quo and future evolution

Gavin Sayer, Head of Fire Statistics Team, Fire, Resilience and Emergencies Directorate, Department for Communities and Local Government


‘Saved from the Flames’, the history of the Society for the Protection of Life from Fire (SPLF)

John Wilson

14.20 – 14.50

Recent research on mass evacuation

Prof Ed Galea – University of Greenwich

14.50 – 15.05


15.05 – 15.35

Fire research into practice in 2014

Dr James Glockling, Technical Director Fire Protection Association

15.35 – 16.05

Wildfires and preparedness

Rob Gazzard, Forestry Commission

16.05 – 16.35

Marine fires and information

Dr Chris Foster, Burgoynes



Summing up – Chairman


Refreshments and Networking

To book a free of charge place or for any further information

Contact Sheila Pantry OBE, Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd, 85 The Meadows, Todwick, Sheffield S26 1JG, UK | Tel: +44 (0)1909 771024 | Email: |

Third FABIG Technical Meeting: “Explosion Risk Evaluation”

This 3rd Technical Meeting in Korea is a half-day event covering “Explosion Risk Evaluation” held on Wednesday, 14 May 2014 in Busan, Korea.

The programme comprises the following:

Welcome Address
Prof. Jeom K. Paik – KOSORI
Using FLACS CFD for the Assessment of Explosions and Toxic/Flammable Releases in Onshore Petrochemical and LNG Installations
Djurre Siccama – Gexcon
3D Explosion Analysis using Phast
Dr. Ky-Soo Kim – DNV GL
Assessment of Structural Damage in Explosion Resistant Design
Dr. Jurek Czujko – Nowatec
Passive Fire Protection – Products, Approvals and Solutions in the Oil & Gas Industries
Puan Roslin Arifuddin – Promat International (Asia Pacific)

The event will start with registration and lunch at 12.20 pm and the presentations will take place between 14.00 pm and 16.50 pm.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD): Members of most engineering institutions can count FABIG events as CPD. Attendance certificates are issued to delegates upon request.

Guillaume Vannier, FABIG Project Manager

Bangladesh: Brands must pay up for Rana Plana victims

A year after the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1,100 people and injured around 2,000 more, major fashion brands have stumped up less than half the sum needed to compensate victims and their families. So far, companies keen to improve their public reputation have donated about £10 million, but that leaves a substantial £14.9 million gap.

According to Jyrki Raina, of the global union IndustriALL: “The needs of the workers who survived this catastrophe, and the families of those who did not, are desperate. This last year the victims have seen medical expenses, lack of income and the horrors of that day relived. The brands can show that they can be part of the solution – but only if they pay up.”

Over 150 companies have signed up to the union-led Fire and Building Safety Accord which is now beginning to force change in health and safety conditions through a quality inspection system, publication of the inspection reports and legally binding commitments from the corporations.

One other core demand, for workers to be allowed an independent trade union voice, also appears to be being realised. Last week, ILO deputy director-general Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo said: “Registration of over 140 trade unions in the RMG (ready-made garment) sector in the last 15 months is a staggering growth… The formation and registration of new trade unions is a sign of a new era of collective bargaining and freedom of association in Bangladesh which can act as a catalyst for change in other industries.”

More information: TUC Risks Newsletter 651

Chemical Safety Board Ongoing Investigation

Chemical Safety Board Ongoing Investigation Emphasizes Lack of Protection for Communities at Risk from Ammonium Nitrate Storage Facilities; Finds Lack of Regulation at All Levels of Government

On 22 April 2014 the CSB released preliminary findings into the 17 April 2013, West Fertilizer explosion and fire in West, Texas, which resulted in at least 14 fatalities, 226 injuries, and widespread community damage. Large quantities of ammonium nitrate (AN) fertilizer exploded after being heated by a fire at the storage and distribution facility. The CSB’s investigation focuses on shortcomings in existing regulations, standards, and guidance at the federal, state and county level.

The investigative team’s presentation will occur this evening at a public meeting in West, Texas, at 5:30 pm CDT.

CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “The fire and explosion at West Fertilizer was preventable. It should never have occurred. It resulted from the failure of a company to take the necessary steps to avert a preventable fire and explosion and from the inability of federal, state and local regulatory agencies to identify a serious hazard and correct it.”

The CSB’s investigation found that at the state level, there is no fire code and in fact counties under a certain population are prohibited from having them. “Local authorities and specifically – local fire departments – need fire codes so they can hold industrial operators accountable for safe storage and handling of chemicals,” said Dr. Moure-Eraso.

CSB Supervisory Investigator Johnnie Banks said “The CSB found at all levels of government a failure to adopt codes to keep populated areas away from hazardous facilities, not just in West, Texas. We found 1,351 facilities across the country that store ammonium nitrate. Farm communities are just starting to collect data on how close homes or schools are to AN storage, but there can be little doubt that West is not alone and that other communities should act to determine what hazards might exist in proximity.”

The CSB’s preliminary findings follow a yearlong investigation which has focused on learning how to prevent a similar accident from occurring in another community. “It is imperative that people learn from the tragedy at West,” Dr. Moure-Eraso said.

The investigation notes other AN explosions have occurred, causing widespread devastation. A 2001 explosion in France caused 31 fatalities, 2500 injuries and widespread community damage. In the United States, a 1994 incident caused 4 fatalities and eighteen injuries. More recently a July 2009 AN fire in Bryan, Texas, led to an evacuation of tens of thousands of residents. Fortunately no explosion occurred in the Bryan, Texas, incident which highlights the unpredictable nature of AN.

The CSB’s investigation determined that lessons learned during emergency responses to AN incidents – in which firefighters perished – have not been effectively disseminated to firefighters and emergency responders in other communities where AN is stored and utilised.

The CSB has found that on April 17, 2013, West volunteer firefighters were not aware of the explosion hazard from the AN stored at West Fertilizer and were caught in harm’s way when the blast occurred.

Investigators note that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that firefighters evacuate from AN fires of “massive and uncontrollable proportions.” Federal DOT guidance contained in the Emergency Response Guidebook, which is widely used by firefighters, suggests fighting even large ammonium nitrate fertilizer fires by “flood[ing] the area with water from a distance.” However, the investigation has found, the response guidance appears to be vague since terms such as “massive,” “uncontrollable,” “large,” and “distance” are not clearly defined.

Investigator Banks said, “All of these provisions should be reviewed and harmonized in light of the West disaster to ensure that firefighters are adequately protected and are not put into danger protecting property alone.”

The CSB has previously noted that while US standards for ammonium nitrate have apparently remained static for decades, other countries have more rigorous standards covering both storage and siting of nearby buildings. For example, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive states in guidance dating to 1996 that “ammonium nitrate should normally be stored in single story, dedicated, well-ventilated buildings that are constructed from materials that will not burn, such as concrete, bricks or steel.” The UK guidance calls for storage bays “constructed of a material that does not burn, preferably concrete.”

At the county level, McLennan County’s local emergency planning committee did not have an emergency response plan for West Fertilizer as it might have done under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. The community clearly was not aware of the potential hazard at West Fertilizer.

Chairperson Moure-Eraso commended recent action by the Fertilizer Institute in establishing an auditing and outreach program for fertilizer retailers called ResponsibleAg, and for disseminating with the Agricultural Retailers Association a document called “Safety and Security Guidelines for the Storage and Transportation of Fertilizer Grade Ammonium Nitrate at Fertilizer Retail Facilities.” It also contains recommendations for first responders in the event of a fire.

“We welcome this very positive step,” Dr. Moure-Eraso said, “We hope that the whole industry embraces these voluntary guidelines rather than being accepted only by the companies that choose to volunteer.”

The Chairperson called on states and counties across the country to take action in identifying hazards and requiring the safe storage and handling of ammonium nitrate. “Regulations need to be updated and new ones put in place. The state of Texas, McLennan County, OSHA and the EPA have work to do, because this hazard exists in hundreds of locations across the US. However, it is important to note that there is no substitute for an efficient regulatory system that ensures that all companies are operating to the same high standards. We cannot depend on voluntary compliance.”

The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.

The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website,

For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen, cell 202-446-8094 or Sandy Gilmour, Public Affairs, cell 202-251-5496.

Bangladesh Workplace Safety Accord Underway, but Government Failing on Workers’ Rights

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is calling for Bangladesh and international clothing brands to stop holding back progress on workers’ rights, as the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse approaches. 1,134 workers died when the building collapsed on 24 April, with many more injured. That tragedy, as well as the Tazreen factory fire the previous year, shocked the world and led to heavy pressure on international clothing brands and the Bangladesh government to act.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said “There has been some significant progress towards safer workplaces with the Bangladesh Accord; however, workers still face enormous obstacles and even violence and intimidation when they try to get respect for their basic rights. Many new unions in the garment sector have been registered, but the government is failing in its duty to ensure workers can bargain collectively for decent wages and conditions, and employers are simply refusing to bargain.”

Factory inspections under the Bangladesh Accord on Building and Fire Safety, a binding agreement between over 160 mainly European and US apparel companies and Global Union Federations IndustriALL and UNI, are underway. Some minor improvements to the labour law have, however, fallen well short of international standards, and hundreds of thousands of workers in Export Processing Zones are still prohibited from forming unions.

When workers at Taratex BD Ltd sought to register their union on 4 February, management began a fierce anti-union campaign. Over 100 workers including 12 union executive members were sacked, and many were subjected to intimidation and physical assault. Union members have been forced to leave the homes out of fear for their safety, and two new leaders of the factory union were detained by management and forced to sign pre-prepared forms to resign from the union.

According to Sharan Burrow, “Workers continue to labour daily under highly exploitative terms and conditions of work. The Government of Bangladesh has much more to do to ensure that workers’ rights are protected. Similarly, international brands have yet to assume their responsibility to ensure that workers’ rights are respected in their supply chains. Without worker rights, any gains on building and fire safety will not be sustainable.”

The ITUC represents 176 million workers in 161 countries and territories and has 325 national affiliates.

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Sherpa Dorje Khatri Reported Killed in Everest Avalanche

Nepalese Sherpa Dorje Khatri, leader of Nepal’s trade union of Sherpas and a committed defender of the environment, was reportedly amongst 12 people killed in one of the worst disasters on Mount Everest ever recorded. In 2011 Khatri planted the ITUC flag atop the peak of Everest as part of global mobilisation by unions pushing for action on climate change leading up to the Durban Climate Summit, which he attended.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC (The International Trade Union Confederation) General Secretary said, “Dorje Khatri has left an indelible footprint as a man committed to the wellbeing of others, and an activist on the frontline of climate action. We are devastated by the loss of this gentle but determined leader, one of the very elite of mountain climbers, and those who lost their lives with him.”

Khatri spent untold hours organising fellow Sherpas into their union to achieve decent wages and employment rights, matched by his work to show the damage caused by global warming to Everest, known as Chomolungma in his local language.

Dorje Khatri’s ITUC interview and video in Durban can be viewed here:

Climate report shows job growth linkage with climate action

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued yesterday in Berlin, gives renewed confidence that the world can still avoid catastrophic climate change with rapid and sustained cuts to carbon emissions.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC (The International Trade Union Confederation) General Secretary, said, “The world’s leading climate experts told us a week ago that climate is already changing in every part of the world, and that the costs of inaction would be catastrophic. Yesterday’s report shows that the world has the capacity to meet the challenge. Governments need to cease their prevarication and rise to that challenge now.”

The IPCC brought together hundreds of reports which show that investments in zero and low-carbon energy sources will need to at least triple by 2050.

“These investments are critical for fighting climate change, as well as for tackling other major social priorities, such as unemployment, said Burrow. We know that millions of jobs can be created in the renewable energy, building efficiency and public transit sectors. Governments must send now the right signals and show their commitment to a climate-sound and job-friendly transition”.

Mobilising for climate action will be a central issue at the forthcoming 3rd ITUC World Congress, next 18-23 May 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

“Working people are at the forefront of the climate struggle. Unless we are able to stop dangerous climate change and create sustainable jobs, the dreams of prosperity of millions around the world are at risk. We still have time to make it happen,” concluded Burrow.

The ITUC represents 176 million workers in 161 countries and territories and has 325 national affiliates.

Europe: Get out, don’t be taken in on 28 April

One of Europe’s senior trade union health and safety official has said workers should not be taken in by ‘false sentiments’ on Workers’ Memorial Day, as official bodies have no intention of ‘walking the talk’ the rest of the year.

Laurent Vogel, senior researcher of the European TUC’s health and safety unit, said: “Death by work is an ongoing reality determined by the pursuit of profit, flexibility, a lack of democracy in the workplace… Deregulation policies are deepening these inequalities.”

The Brussels-based safety specialist added: “On 28 April, national and European institutions will wax emotional with solemn pledges to improve working conditions. The other 364 days of the year, they will not be walking the talk. EU health and safety at work policy has been at a virtual ten-year standstill under the two Commissions headed by President Barroso.

New legislation has been snarled up in reams of red tape, having to clear impact study hurdles which show that workers’ lives and health are a profitable commodity, that they are not a ‘burden’ on employers.”

Casualties included planned directives on work-related cancers and strain injuries, he said, concluding: “Trade union action must turn every day into a 28 April by making working conditions and social equality central to the policy debate. And let us remember the battle cry issued a century ago by the American union activist Mother Jones: ‘Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living’.”

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