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News Archive

December 2014

  1. England-wide survey confirms e-cigarette use confined largely to smokers
  2. Beat that Christmas bulge
  3. Latest Research Reports from the UK Health and Safety Laboratory
  4. More than 16 million children live in States where they can buy e-cigarettes legally
  5. G9 publish offshore wind good practice guidelines
  6. Event: Women’s health and work - Sharing knowledge and experience to enhance women’s working conditions and gender equality: ETUI Conference
  7. The Winter 2014 issue of the ECETOC e-newsletter is now available
  8. Event: How to use research information to improve occupational health and safety, 10-year Cochrane Systematic Review experience
  9. HesaMag #10: Occupational health services in need of emergency care
  10. Engineer’s suicide puts international organisation immunity on the line
  11. Six new substances of very high concern (SVHCs) added to the Candidate List and one entry updated
  12. All they want for a merry and safe Christmas: 10 Christmas shopping list reminders
  13. Sharing the best health and safety practices
  14. Utility services giant pledges support to RoSPA’s battle against one of the UK’s big killers
  15. U.S. Chemical Safety Board Members Identify Modernization of Process Safety Management Regulations as the Agency’s Second Most Wanted Safety Improvement
  16. No Cancer Risk from Power Lines, Says the New York Times: Big Score for Industry Scientists
  17. Bhopal disaster 30 years on: Still killing and still no justice
  18. Nautilus warns UK government over piracy plans
  19. Chinese coal mines continue to kill scores of workers
  20. Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update: Recommendations Provided to Reduce Silica Exposures When Maintaining Dirt Roads
  21. US NIOSH Launches Training for Emergency Responders to Reduce Risks Associated with Fatigue due to Long Work Hours

England-wide survey confirms e-cigarette use confined largely to smokers

For the first time, the annual Health Survey for England published today has included questions on electronic cigarette use among both adults and children. The results show that among adults 29% of current smokers and 6% of ex-smokers reported ever using e-cigarettes while just 1% of never smokers said they had used the devices. Among children the survey found only very small numbers of children aged 13-15 who had used electronic cigarettes. These results are broadly similar to the findings of the ONS Opinions and Lifestyle Survey published last month and the ASH commissioned YouGov survey conducted in March.

Although the survey reported a 1% rise in adult smoking rates this is not a significant change. The report notes that the much larger Integrated Household Survey and Opinions and Lifestyle Surveys show that overall smoking rates in England are continuing to fall.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“It is encouraging that the latest government research shows use of electronic cigarettes is concentrated among smokers with very few children using the devices. This is in line with other national surveys. While it is clearly important to continue to monitor both smoking rates and use of electronic cigarettes in adults and children so far there is no evidence that use of electronic cigarettes is proving to be a gateway into smoking.”

Beat that Christmas bulge

‘Tis the season for office parties, Christmas get-togethers with family and friends and impromptu drinks and canapés with neighbours, which for many means overindulging on alcohol, high calorie treats and rich Christmas nibbles. It’s estimated that some people will eat an astonishing 6,000 calories on Christmas day alone, that’s three times the recommended daily energy intake for a woman and two and half times that of a man.

What’s more, according to DrinkAware, alcohol consumption in the UK increases by 40% in December, so it’s not surprising that so many start the New Year with an extra few pounds piled on over the holiday season.

Excess alcohol intake (above 3-4 units per day for men and 2-3 units per day for women) can increase blood pressure, raise cholesterol levels, weaken the heart muscle and lead to weight gain, alcohol dependency and depression – all of which may increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, liver failure, heart failure and even stroke.

Follow our hearty festive tips with some healthier party snacks and drink solutions to keep your alcohol and calories in check this Christmas and keep the pounds in your pocket, not round your middle:

As you near the end of 2014, drink to your health, wealth and happiness, but keep an eye on those units and calorie-laden treats to get the best out of your Christmas and give your heart the best start in the year to come.

For more information and advice about healthy living, contact Heart Research UK on 0113 297 6206 or email

Latest Research Reports from the UK Health and Safety Laboratory

RR1027 – Ventilation of vehicles used for carriage of acetylene
Following a fatality caused by an acetylene gas explosion involving a van carrying oxy-acetylene welding equipment, HSE commissioned research to investigate foreseeable gas leak rates, vehicle ventilation rates and possible vehicle modifications that would increase the ventilation rate and hence help to mitigate the explosion risk.
RR1023 – Reliable corrosion inhibition in the oil and gas industry
The objective of the work was to undertake a literature review on the subject of corrosion inhibition in the offshore oil and gas industry to understand the current issues. The report covers the main factors affecting the effectiveness of chemical corrosion inhibitors.
RR1017 – Literature review: Understanding how to improve the management of exposure to wood dust amongst construction sub-contractors and manufacturing SMEs
Available evidence was reviewed to develop a better understanding of how to improve the management of wood dust exposure in small and medium-sized construction and manufacturing enterprises (SMEs).
RR1016 – Insight into procurement of construction by private clients
This research explored the perceptions of homeowners in respect of what constituted construction work; whether they thought about health and safety issues before or during the work; and the influencing factors in choosing contractors when commissioning such work within their homes.

More than 16 million children live in States where they can buy e-cigarettes legally

More than 300 million Americans live in states without protection against indoor e-cigarette aerosol exposure.

Forty states have enacted laws prohibiting the sale of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), including e-cigarettes, to minors, but 10 states and the District of Columbia still permit such sales, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

More than 16 million children aged 17 and under reside in states not covered by these laws. The latest data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey showed 4.5 percent of all high school students and 1.1 percent of all middle school students had used e-cigarettes within the past 30 days in 2013.

“We know e-cigarettes are not safe for youth,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “While ENDS may have the potential to benefit established adult smokers if used as a complete substitute for all smoked tobacco products, ENDS should not be used by youth and adult non-tobacco users because of the harmful effects of nicotine and other risk exposures, as well as the risk for progression to other forms of tobacco use.”

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G9 publish offshore wind good practice guidelines

The G9 Offshore Wind Health and Safety Association (G9), in partnership with the EI, has now published two good practice guidelines for the offshore wind sector. These cover Working at height in the offshore wind industry and The safe management of small service vessels used in the offshore wind industry.

These new publications represent a significant milestone in providing leadership on the HSE challenges facing the offshore wind industry.

For more information

Event: Women’s health and work - Sharing knowledge and experience to enhance women’s working conditions and gender equality: ETUI Conference

4-6 March 2015, ITUH, Bd du Roi Albert II, 5, 1210 Brussels

Sharing knowledge and experience to improve the working conditions of women and strengthen equality is the main objective of the international conference ‘Women’s health and work’ that the ETUI organises on March 4-6, 2015 at the ITUH in Brussels. The conference will touch on 6 areas organised in workshops of broad interest: health inequalities and division of labour; women workers exposed to chemicals, work organisation and the interaction with private life, the hardships of work, the design and use of protective clothing, personal protective equipment, tools and machinery for women’s work, and ageing and the long term effects of work. The latter workshop is organised by EU-OSHA.

The conference is organised in such a way that it will enable the symbiotic interaction between workers’ action and knowledge development in a dialogue among all stakeholders (researchers, professionals, trade union reps and activists) towards the improvement of women’s working conditions and health and strengthen links between European institutions and organizations engaged with improving working conditions and gender equality.

Confirmed speakers for the plenary sessions include Lucia Artacoz (Salut Laboral de l’Ajuntament de Barcelona, Spain), Colette Fagan (Manchester University, UK), Katherine Lippel (Ottawa University, Canada), Karen Messing (Université du Québec à Montréal - UQAM, Canada), Elke Schneider and Sarah Copsey (EU-OSHA), Carme Valls, (Centre d’Anàlisi i Programes Sanitaris - CAPS, Spain).

The programme will soon be available on the ETUI website. Additional information will be added in the run-up to the conference so please check out this page regularly.

The conference will start at 9h on Wednesday, 4 March and will end at 14h on Friday, 6 March. Interpretation from and into English, French and Spanish will be provided.

Registration is free of charge but compulsory.

The Winter 2014 issue of the ECETOC e-newsletter is now available

Winter 2014 issue of the ECETOC e-newsletter contains:

Contact: Ian Cummings, Communications, Media and Web Manager, ECETOC (European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals), 2 avenue E. Van Nieuwenhuyse, bte.8, B-1160 Brussels | Tel: ++32 2 663 38 17 | Fax: ++32 2 675 36 25 E-mail: |

Event: How to use research information to improve occupational health and safety, 10-year Cochrane Systematic Review experience

25-27 February 2015, Hotel Copenhagen Island, Copenhagen, Denmark

What is research in the field of occupational health and safety good for? Nothing if it doesn’t lead to an improvement of occupational health and safety.

On this course, you will learn how to best use evidence both at the practice level and at the policy level. This consists of a systematic approach of first formulating an answerable question, searching for the best evidence and applying it to your problem.

The course will give the participants an opportunity to work on their own problems in small groups.

Please visit for more information.

Contact: Katja Pekkarinen, NIVA, Email:

HesaMag #10: Occupational health services in need of emergency care

The special report of the latest issue of HesaMag looks at the main factors that are undermining occupational health services in Europe: shortage of specialists, overwork that undermines the quality of services, loss of direct contact with actual working conditions, feeling of being forsaken, commercialism of health and safety at work services, etc.

Download the articles

Engineer’s suicide puts international organisation immunity on the line

The parents of a European Space Agency employee who killed himself are fighting for recognition of the link between their son’s suicide and the years of bullying they claim he endured at his workplace. The case raises issues about the immunity enjoyed by international intergovernmental organizations and their staff.

On 20 December 2011, 38-year-old French engineer Philippe Kieffer, an employee of ESTEC, the European Space Agency’s development and testing centre located in the Netherlands, committed suicide at home. Denise and Daniel Kieffer argue that their son’s suicide was connected with his work because he had confided in them, and wrote down in the suicide note he left and in his private diary, his complaints of bullying by a line manager. Philippe Kieffer said he had been “frozen out” after being stripped of responsibility for a project which he had initiated and was very keen on.

The young engineer’s parents turned first to the French courts, filing a criminal complaint against the ESA for “breach of the duty of rescue”. An investigation was opened and a judge appointed, but matters have ground to a halt due to ESA’s special legal status. Since its inception in 1975, the Agency and its 2,200-odd staff have enjoyed absolute immunity from prosecution. Various people were interviewed in the Netherlands under a warrant for judicial assistance, but a number refused to talk to the investigators, citing their immunity.

Read more:

Six new substances of very high concern (SVHCs) added to the Candidate List and one entry updated

The ECHA has added six new SVHCs to the Candidate List, based on the agreement of the Member State Committee and updated an existing entry to address an additional reason for inclusion.

More information:

All they want for a merry and safe Christmas: 10 Christmas shopping list reminders

As the Christmas gift-buying season reaches its peak, quality and safety organisations Intertek and RoSPA have set out a shopping list of 10 things to remember amidst the rush.

Intertek, who test, inspect, and advise on product quality and safety, and RoSPA, the UK’s family safety charity, want to help people avoid having their Christmas celebrations interrupted by a trip to A&E. Taking a few moments to think about the safety of the gifts you’re giving and the decorations in your home is a great place to start.

Sheila Merrill, public health adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “In the run up to Christmas, we always receive enquiries about how to stay safe over the festive period, with people looking for straightforward advice to help them make the most of the season and yet avoid unnecessary injuries and trips to A&E. Spending just a few moments thinking about safety in the midst of everything else that is happening can pay dividends.”

Intertek’s UK & Eire Chief Executive Rob van Dorp adds: “We spend all year testing, inspecting and advising on the safety and quality of products, so hopefully our 10 Christmas shopping list reminders will help people to stay safe over the festive season and during the coming year.”

10 Christmas shopping list reminders

  1. Who doesn’t like bath bubbles, lotions or lipstick?

    Check that the smellies you’ve chosen are “dermatologically tested”, “dermatologist approved” or have the British Skin Foundation stamp of approval, otherwise they might cause skin irritation. Reputable brands and retailers commission clinical dermal safety studies to ensure the safety of their skincare products.

  2. Let’s buy a new tool to get next year’s DIY projects sorted.

    In England in 2012/13, more than 3,000 people were admitted to hospital after coming into contact with powered hand tools and household machinery*. If you’ll be buying some DIY equipment this Christmas, consider some safety gear too, like strong gloves and goggles.

  3. For younger children, the choice of gifts seems endless...

    Toys in the EU must be labelled with a CE mark, but also check that the toy is suitable for the age of the child you’re buying for. In particular, for under-3s make sure there are no small parts that could be swallowed or cause choking, and keep an eye on younger children playing with older siblings’ gifts.

  4. Older children and young people might have the latest tablet, phone or games console on their wish list.

    Always ensure that the power cables and chargers you’re buying are the licensed accessories for the particular product. Unlicensed accessories can be poorly made and poorly insulated, with the potential to cause electric shocks or fire. Always buy accessories from reputable retailers.

  5. Has grandma requested some replacement slippers?

    Slips, trips and stumbles resulted in more than 90,000 hospital admissions in England in 2012/13, with more than 60 per cent involving people over the age of 70, and women being at particular risk*. Slippers with a good grip on the sole, as well as a proper back – not flip flop style – can help to reduce the risk of falling at home.

  6. Would grandad like the latest gifts for the garden?

    A pair of gardening gloves, some sturdy outdoor shoes and an RCD (a device that protects against electric shock) could be just the thing to complement next year’s gardening projects. In England in 2012/13, more than 500 people were admitted to hospital after contact with a powered lawnmower, of whom more than 25 per cent were over the age of 65, with men being at particular risk*.

  7. In preparation for a spell of snow and ice this winter, consider a pair of well-gripping shoes or crampons for those who will be venturing out and about.

    The number of falls increases with the arrival of wintry conditions. In England in 2012/13, there were more than 7,000 hospital admissions as a result of people falling on snow or ice*. A pair of well-gripping shoes, crampons to fix on to existing shoes or even Nordic walking poles could be a quirky investment for those who will still need to get out and about.

  8. It’s not too late to check your Christmas lights.

    If you have older fairy lights, they may be safe, but as the rules governing them were changed in 2010, lights from after 2010 are more efficient and use less energy; with less energy comes a lower risk of electric shock or fire.

  9. Go mad, decorate your house, but think whether the decorations are safe for children.

    Remember, some Christmas novelties (items intended to be used as decorations) are not toys, even if they resemble them, and they do not have to comply with toy safety regulations. Give careful thought to where you display them – for example, place them high up on Christmas trees where they are out of the reach of young hands.

  10. Make sure you have all the batteries you need.

    Smoke alarms need to be working as Christmas can be a more hazardous time with regard to fire safety with cooking, alcohol consumption, increased use of candles in the home and decorations which may burn easily. Remember to buy good quality batteries for all the gifts that need them – that way you won’t be tempted to remove batteries from smoke alarms.

* Hospital Episode Statistics 2012/13, external cause, Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Sharing the best health and safety practices

At the end of November 2014, the British Safety Council held a short one-day meeting as part of the celebrated Sword of Honour (SOH) and Globe of Honour (GOH) Award Luncheon. It was an opportunity for winners, some British Safety Council Five Star audit users and other British Safety Council member organisations – from the UK and elsewhere – to network and share insight on SHE management systems and auditing and unpack some ‘big’ questions in relation to this subject.

One of the most discussed topics was the legal value of having robust systems and good management systems in place to ensure compliance with the law. Mark Tyler, Solicitor at Fox Hartley, discussed the interpretation of the Health and Safety at Work Act duties and Health and Safety Executive enforcement policy, as well as the current and proposed new sentencing guidelines and Fee for Intervention. He said: “There are clear legal frameworks and procedures that should be put in place to protect the organisation and the individuals responsible ... it’s likely the courts will increasingly focus on responsibilities which run through different levels of organisations, looking closely at evidence of systemic failings to address SHE risks.”

A panel with representatives from leading UK and international organisations discussed why SHE remains at the heart of their respective business activities. It was a reflective session, as members of the panel shared their success stories and personal insights about their motivations to keep SHE on the business agenda. The issue of whether organisations can realistically expect to attain ‘zero’ accidents and whether it is an appropriate approach to managing health, safety and the environment was discussed at length.

Occupational health also featured in the day as Dr Tim Marsh, Director at Ryder Marsh, ran a short workshop looking at health and wellbeing as an extension of a behavioural safety culture. Tim stressed the importance of subconscious perceptions in determining behaviour and wellbeing and the inter-connectedness of the key cultural components such as learning, leadership and empowerment. He said, “You’ve got to remember, there’s no magic bullet to addressing a poor health and safety culture. So often the question asked is ‘where did we go wrong?’ There are a number of elements to this question, including physical wellbeing and the degree to which your staff actually enjoy doing their job. For example, recent research that shows around 60% of workers off with bad backs are actually off with mental health issues ranging from stress and depression through to general unhappiness because of the way they feel treated.”

The meeting was also provided with an update on the development of ISO 45001, which is anticipated to be released mid-2015, as well as ISO 14001. Dave Parr, Head of Technical Services at the British Safety Council said: “The Best Practice Exchange offered us the opportunity to look at the business benefits of auditing, provide an update on changes to the five star audit process and explain the development of the new international standard in OHS (ISO 45001). There are some significant enhancements incorporated within this new proposed standard which will eventually replace the current OHSAS 18001 standard. The new standard will allow for alignment with the revised environmental management system (ISO 14001:2015) and the quality management system (ISO 9001).

“Organisations need to understand what these changes will mean for their businesses, and importantly how to manage the transition to the new standard and interpret these enhancements. We are looking to support our members to ensure that they not only stay abreast of the developments, but for those that are seeking to be best practice leaders that they can confidently remain there.”

The meeting was held at the Wellcome Trust in central London.

More information on the Sword of Honour and Globe of Honour award scheme is available. Watch this year’s event or see photographs of the winners.

See more at:

Utility services giant pledges support to RoSPA’s battle against one of the UK’s big killers

The UK’s leading utility service provider has joined RoSPA’s “Family of Fundraisers” in a bid to protect those most at risk from the top cause of early, preventable death – accidents.

Morrison Utility Services (MUS) has pledged its commitment to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, following an appeal from the Birmingham-based charity to the private sector.

MUS works with utility companies in the electricity, gas, water, rail and telecommunications sectors. The company won the most prestigious competitive trophy at RoSPA’s Occupational Health and Safety Awards in 2013 because of its continuous improvement in accident and ill health prevention and outstanding performance in reducing the number of injuries to staff and contractors.

Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA’s chief executive, said: “Morrison Utility Services has demonstrated a continued commitment to strong and unwavering health and safety leadership across its business and this show of support will add significant impetus to the many life-saving campaigns that our charity conducts.

“It comes at a time when accidents are the top killer of children, young people and young parents – and when prevention is suffering from a chronic lack of investment. If our cause received a fraction of the support that other causes do, we could have a massive – and almost immediate – impact.”

Charles Morrison, chief executive of Morrison Utility Services, said: “We are committed to the safety and wellbeing of all of our employees and all those in the wider community who come into contact with our business. Safety is our number one priority. It is our licence to operate and the ethos that ‘nothing that we do is so important that we cannot find the time to do it safely’ runs right through the heart of Morrison Utility Services. We are delighted to pledge our support to RoSPA’s ‘Family of Fundraisers’ initiative, underlining our commitment to supporting its hugely impressive work in the field of accident prevention.”

RoSPA is asking all companies that put safety first at work, to put safety first in the wider community by making it a central pillar of their Corporate Social Responsibility programme.

By joining RoSPA’s “Family of Fundraisers”, firms will receive a number of benefits, including a “Family of Fundraisers” logo to use on their website and in their annual review.

RoSPA has spent nearly a century producing many of the “common sense” features of UK life. By campaigning on issues like drink driving, seatbelts and safer foam furnishings, the charity has helped to prevent millions of accidental deaths and injuries.

Each year, accidents kill 14,000 people and injure millions more. RoSPA is the only UK charity working to prevent serious accidents at every stage of life – and in almost every area of life.

Anyone wishing to support RoSPA’s life-saving work should call its fundraising team on 0121 248 2507 or email

RoSPA House, 28 Calthorpe Road, Birmingham B15 1RP, UK |

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Members Identify Modernization of Process Safety Management Regulations as the Agency’s Second Most Wanted Safety Improvement

On 1 December 2014 the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) formally announced that to “Modernize U.S. Process Safety Management Regulations” is the Board’s newest Most Wanted Safety Improvement, concluding that implementation of key federal and state CSB safety recommendations will result in significant improvement of Process Safety Management (PSM) regulations in the United States.

Over the last two decades, the CSB has made a number of recommendations related to OSHA’s
PSM program and EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP), many of which have not been fully implemented. By adding the modernizing of U.S. process safety management regulations to the CSB’s Most Wanted Safety Improvement list, the agency is identifying this issue as one of the board’s most important recommendations-related goals.

CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “As Chairperson of the CSB I see this as an important opportunity to advance national process safety management reform by advocating for this issue as part of the board’s Most Wanted Chemical Safety Improvements Program. My hope is that reform will help to prevent future catastrophic accidents.”

The CSB notes that despite some positive improvements in PSM regulations in the U.S., regulations have undergone little reform since their inception in the 1990s. Of particular interest are the board’s recent investigations of major refinery incidents that found that PSM and RMP, although written as performance-based regulations, appear to function primarily as reactive and activity-based regulatory frameworks that require extensive rulemaking to modify. This potentially results in stagnating risk levels, even as industry-recommended best practices and technology continue to advance in the U.S. and overseas.

Specifically, the CSB’s investigations of recent major refinery accidents found that there was no requirement to reduce risks to As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP); there was no mechanism to ensure continuous safety improvement; no requirement to implement inherent safety or the hierarchy of controls; that there should be an increased role for workers and worker representatives in process safety management; and that there needs to be a more proactive, technically qualified regulator.

As a result of these findings, the CSB made recommendations at the federal, state, and local levels to prevent major incidents by adopting a more rigorous regulatory system that requires covered facilities to continuously reduce major hazard risks.

CSB Board Member Mark Griffon said, “Modernizing PSM regulations is an issue rooted in critical safety recommendations made over the last two decades to prevent recurrence of catastrophic industrial accidents. Recent activities have provided the board with a unique opportunity to advocate for these much needed reforms.”

In particular, President Obama’s August 1, 2013, Executive Order 13650, Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security has resulted in both OSHA and the EPA issuing Requests for Information (RFI), and both agencies may soon initiate rulemaking to revise the existing regulations. The CSB submitted a comprehensive response to each RFI detailing needed improvements to the existing regulations, which are supported by a number of CSB ongoing and completed investigations.

For PSM, the CSB recommended that OSHA:

For RMP, in addition to PSM program related enhancements mentioned above, the CSB recommended that EPA:

Dr. Moure-Eraso concluded, “The CSB has a statutory, Congressionally mandated task to address the sufficiency of OSHA and EPA regulations. That is a key obligation of the CSB, and I intend to continue pursuing this mandate vigorously.”

No Cancer Risk from Power Lines, Says the New York Times: Big Score for Industry Scientists

Still worried about power lines and cancer? That’s so retro, says the New York Times. You’re just stuck in the 1980s.

This is what the “newspaper of record” wants you to know about the risk of childhood leukaemia from power lines: A “fairly broad consensus among researchers holds that no significant threat to public health has materialized.”

The full message is told in a new 7+ minute video, produced by the Times’ RetroReport, which boasts a staff of 13 journalists and 10 contributors, led by Kyra Darnton. The video even credits a fact checker. What’s missing is the common sense to do some digging when reporting on a controversial issue.


Bhopal disaster 30 years on: Still killing and still no justice

Thirty years ago in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh – India, the worst single industrial accident in the world happened at the Union Carbide chemical plant. A chemical explosion and leak, caused by inadequate maintenance, bad health and safety procedures, and inept emergency procedures, led to an immediate death toll of around 3,000 people.

Many thousands more have died since then with a continuing injury and disease toll that has now affected more than half a million people. The criminals responsible for this mass murder have never been brought to justice while workers and their families are still battling to get compensation.


Nautilus warns UK government over piracy plans

Any government move that would restrict or outlaw ransom payments when seafarers are kidnapped by pirates could have deadly consequences, seafarers’ union Nautilus has warned. The union has written to UK shipping minister John Hayes to express its concern, which it says is shared by marine insurers, over the possible impact of proposed new counter terrorism laws. The union is urging the minister “to ensure that the government clearly retains the legal distinction between terrorism and piracy.”

General secretary Mark Dickinson pointed out that a significant number of Nautilus members have been held hostage in recent years – and as recently as October one was held captive for a fortnight in Nigeria before a ransom was paid for his release, and that of other shipmates who were taken from his vessel. “We continue to believe that any attempt to make the payment of ransoms illegal – or even to delay the payments – would jeopardise the safety of seafarers held captive and that pirates would have little reluctance to carry through threats to kill and/or cause environmental damage if they are not paid,” the union leader warned. “At no stage has any minister provided us with the requested assurances or information on what the alternative to non-payment of ransoms would be.”

More information:

Chinese coal mines continue to kill scores of workers

The end of November 2014 saw two major accidents at Chinese coal mines. The first one was at a State-owned coal mine of the Hengda Mining Company, in Liaoning province. Accumulated coal dust ignited a fire in which 24 miners were killed and more than 50 injured.

A day later, an explosion at the Songlin coal mine in Guizhou Province, killed at least 11 workers. Coal mines in China are among the most dangerous in the world as poor health and safety conditions, lax regulations, and corruption create a murderous environment for workers. Only independent unions will be able to effectively fight for better conditions.

Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) Program Update: Recommendations Provided to Reduce Silica Exposures When Maintaining Dirt Roads

Road maintenance crew overexposures to respirable crystalline silica led HHE Program investigators to recommend ways to minimize dust exposure during dust-generating activities. They recommended wetting the soil prior to work, scheduling dust-generating tasks on days when the soil is moist, and regularly maintaining air filters in the equipment.

Final report:

US NIOSH Launches Training for Emergency Responders to Reduce Risks Associated with Fatigue due to Long Work Hours

NIOSH’s new interim training program is for emergency workers who deploy to disaster sites caused by weather, earthquakes, and other catastrophic events like Ebola.

The 30-minute online training is for workers and their managers to help them better cope with the demands of these emergency operations.

Emergency responders in healthcare, public safety, utilities, construction, humanitarian aid, and clean-up services can learn strategies to reduce risks that are linked to working long hours.

To learn more and take this training, visit