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Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd

News from around the World

News Archive

January 2015

We wish all our Readers a Very Happy, Successful, Safe and Healthy 2015

  1. Annual Conference on Fire-Related Research and Developments (RE15) – Call for Proposals
  2. Launch of first ever comprehensive research into behaviour during fires in the home
  3. UK Fit for Work Referrals: TUC Guidance for Union representatives
  4. Working on your farm building roofs this winter?
  5. US NORA Decade Review
  6. New US NIOSH Publication on Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers
  7. US CSB Names Poor Design and Failure to Test Dust Collection System Among Causes of U.S. Ink New Jersey Flash Fire that Burned Seven Workers in 2012
  8. Event: Europe’s largest outdoor event, “The National Ploughing Championships” in Ireland
  9. Event: ETUI Conference – Women’s health and work
  10. Event: How to use research information to improve occupational health and safety, 10-year Cochrane Systematic Review experience
  11. Event: The Health and Safety Conference 2015
  12. HesaMag #10: Occupational health services in need of emergency care
  13. US CSB Releases Safety Bulletin on Anhydrous Ammonia Incident near Mobile, Alabama
  14. Event: The 4th World Congress of Clinical Safety
  15. Event: Enhancing the UK’s Cyber Resilience
  16. Event: ICCE-23, 23rd International Conference on Composites or Nano Engineering, ICCE
  17. Event: Fire Risk Assessment and Management
  18. Event: Gas, Vapour and Dust Explosion Hazards Protection
  19. Event: 14th International Conference Fire and Materials 2015
  20. Event: Safety Promotion – from theory to best practical solutions
  21. Event: 6th International Symposium Human Behaviour in Fire
  22. In a Nutshell Science Newsflash: ECETOC workshop addresses aquatic toxicity using species sensitivity distribution
  23. EU-OSHA welcomes 33 new official partners to its Healthy Workplaces Campaign
  24. US EPA Takes Action to Protect Consumers from Harmful Chemicals That Can Cause Reproductive and Developmental Harm
  25. Evidence that electronic cigarettes can help smokers to quit
  26. Latest UK Health and Safety Executive reports
  27. Tragedy shows the need for more HSE inspections
  28. Pilots issue warning on drones dangers
  29. FIFA challenged on Qatar exploitation
  30. The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on the role of planning in preventing major-accident hazards involving hazardous substances
  31. USA: Cancer deceit of the petrochemical giants exposed
  32. Japan Unions aim to head off overwork deaths
  33. Europe Union action call on work safety
  34. Crisis has affected supply and demand in healthcare
  35. IRIS – Integrated Risk Information System December 2014 Update
  36. Significant fall in smoking in the UK suggests Government tobacco control strategy on track
  37. Six new substances of very high concern (SVHCs) added to the Candidate List and one entry updated
  38. Remembering Bhopal – 30 Years On From Disaster

Annual Conference on Fire-Related Research and Developments (RE15) – Call for Proposals

This event is taking place on Thursday, 12 November 2015 at the Fire Service College, Moreton in Marsh.

Please note that Thursday, 30 April 2015 is the closing date for the submission of presentation proposals. Early expressions of interest are welcome.

More information:

Launch of first ever comprehensive research into behaviour during fires in the home

An innovative research project has been launched that for the first time will provide a comprehensive insight into how people behave when confronted with a fire in their home and the reasons behind their behaviour.

The research project – LIFEBID – involves nine fire and rescue services across the South East and the University of Greenwich – and next year will be rolled out as a national project.

The project began in 2009 when Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) began to undertake in-depth research with people who had been involved in fires in the home. The initial research produced challenging findings about human behaviour in fires and this prompted a decision to widen the work. KFRS developed a research partnership with the University of Greenwich and were successful in achieving funding for extending the project, initially across the South East (involving fire and rescue services in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, East Sussex, West Sussex, Buckinghamshire, Royal Berkshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight) and next year nationally. The Chief Fire Officers Association is also backing the research. The survey will form the first ever national database identifying human behaviour during fires in the home.

Prof Ed Galea (Lead Academic) said: “From an academic perspective this is an area about which very little is known and yet has enormous importance and value. We have seen a lot of interest in this project both here in the UK and from international colleagues.”

Ann Millington, Chief Executive of Kent Fire and Rescue Service said: “Having a better understanding of the public’s reaction when confronted with a fire at home will give fire and rescue services a valuable insight into what we need to do to keep people safe. I know fire and rescue services across the UK are very interested in this project and are keen to see the outcomes and how they can be put into practice.”

The survey is designed to be completed by people who have directly experienced a fire in the home, whether they needed to call the fire service or not. The survey is online at and local arrangements are in place to support anyone without internet access.

Jason Thelwell (CFOA lead officer for research), said: “We are very pleased to reach this important stage of the project and are working with the LIFEBID team to support its continued development. LIFEBID is a very welcome way to ensure we can systematically capture individual experiences of fires in the home and then apply the findings to strategic thinking and planning.”

The LIFEBID project has been awarded just under £200,000 through the Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme, including funding by Innovate UK (Technology Strategy Board) and the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council.

The South East region comprises Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, East Sussex, West Sussex, Buckinghamshire, Royal Berkshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight. A national pilot of the survey will begin in November 2014 with the full national launch of the survey planned for March 2015.

The survey includes two key and innovative research developments, a new method to help capture people’s perceptions of the fire conditions and an interactive timeline. Further information for the LIFEBID project including details about the project team and publications etc. can be found at

UK Fit for Work Referrals: TUC Guidance for Union representatives

Fit for Work is a new Government service involving a referral for an assessment for employees who are off work. A phased roll-out of referrals to the Fit for Work assessment will take place over a period of months starting in January 2015.

Once an employee has reached or is expected to reach four weeks sickness absence they can be referred by their GP for a Fit for Work assessment by an occupational health professional who will look at the issues preventing a return to work. The referral will usually lead to a Return to Work Plan.

The referral service could have significant implications for employees and trade union representatives will need to be aware of what the new service entails and the issues that are likely to arise so they can advise members who are referred to the service.

Working on your farm building roofs this winter?

With the winter storms setting in and snow forecast it’s the time of year when roofs get damaged and unsafe roof repairs can lead to life changing serious injuries and family tragedies. If your roof needs attention then do take a few minutes to decide your best course of action.

Stop and think: Can you really do that repair yourself? Do you know what the right access equipment is? Do you have it or can you borrow or hire it? Are you agile and fit enough to do the work? Is it still windy? Remember carrying roof sheets in gusty or windy conditions can blow you off the roof, or a ladder, without warning.

Consider getting a professional qualified person to do the work. If you are going to do the work yourself make sure you have the right equipment organised before you start the job.

Ask yourself: have you got enough help? Is the roof fragile? What about skylights? Is the roof too damaged to take your weight? How are you going to prevent a fall from a height?

Check: is your ladder in good condition? Consider: whether it would be better to hire a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP).

And what about snow loading? Over the last couple of winters there have been plenty of cases of agricultural buildings collapsing under heavy snow. Work out your emergency plan – no one has been killed yet saving the tractor, or the cows, from a collapsing building but it could easily happen. Don’t let it be you.

US NORA Decade Review

In 1996, US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) unveiled the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). NORA is a partnership program to stimulate innovative research and improved workplace practices. Since its inception, NORA has become a research framework for NIOSH and the nation. Diverse parties collaborate to identify the most critical issues in workplace safety and health. Partners then work together to develop goals and objectives for addressing these needs.

In 2016, NORA will celebrate 20 years of accomplishments. In 2005, the accomplishments of NORA’s first decade (1996–2005) were collected and reviewed. Currently, an evaluation of the second decade (2006–2015) is being conducted. This review is focusing on the accomplishments of the decade and progress toward meeting goals and objectives. Part of the review is the collection of input from stakeholder groups as to the strengths and weaknesses of the second decade of NORA, including general strategic approach and tactical execution of the approach. The evaluation is designed to answer three main questions: What did we do in the second decade of NORA? How well did we do it? What was the impact?

Audiences for the evaluation include funding agencies, stakeholder groups, NIOSH researchers, policy-making groups, other occupational safety and health organizations and agencies, and thought leaders. NIOSH data on intramural and extramural research activities, outputs, and impacts during the second decade of NORA will be analyzed. NIOSH program leaders and NORA sector council members will be asked to respond to questionnaires about council and program activities, effectiveness, and impacts. A NIOSH docket will open in early 2015 to accept comments and insights from the general public and from NORA partners about NORA during the second decade.

New US NIOSH Publication on Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers

A new NIOSH publication highlights how workers in grocery stores can reduce strains and sprains when moving materials from the delivery truck to the sales floor.

Designed for retail workers and safety experts, Ergonomic Solutions for Retailers uses a series of illustrations to show how and where employees in a retail setting, such as a grocery store, would use mechanical assist devices to lift, push, or pull heavy materials – job tasks that can lead to musculoskeletal injuries.

US CSB Names Poor Design and Failure to Test Dust Collection System Among Causes of U.S. Ink New Jersey Flash Fire that Burned Seven Workers in 2012

OSHA Again Urged to Issue New Combustible Dust Regulations

The flash fire that burned seven workers, one seriously, at a U.S. Ink plant in New Jersey in 2012 resulted from the accumulation of combustible dust inside a poorly designed dust collection system that had been put into operation only four days before the accident, an investigation by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has found.

In a report released the investigation team concludes that the system was so flawed it only took a day to accumulate enough combustible dust and hydrocarbons in the duct work to overheat, ignite spontaneously, cause an explosion in the rooftop dust collector, and send back a fiery flash that enveloped seven workers.

U.S. Ink is a subsidiary of Sun Chemical, a global graphic arts corporation which has some 9,000 employees worldwide. U.S. Ink manufactures black and colour-based inks at seven U.S. locations including East Rutherford. A key step in the ink production process is mixing fine particulate solids, such as pigments and binders, with liquid oils in agitated tanks.

CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “The findings presented in the CSB report under consideration show that neither U.S. Ink nor its international parent company, Sun Chemical, performed a thorough hazard analysis, study, or testing of the system before it was commissioned in early October 2012. The original design was changed, the original company engineer retired prior to completion of the project, and no testing was done in the days before the operation of the black-ink pre-mixing room production was started up”. The CSB found that the ductwork conveyed combustible, condensable vapours above each of three tanks in the mixing room, combining with combustible particles of dust of carbon black and Gilsonite used in the production of black ink”.

Investigation Supervisor Johnnie Banks said, “The closed system air flow was insufficient to keep dust and sludge from accumulating inside the air ducts. But to make matters worse, the new dust collector design included three vacuuming hoses which were attached to the closed-system ductwork, used to pick up accumulated dust, dirt and other material from the facility’s floor and other level surfaces as a “housekeeping” measure. The addition of these contaminants to the system ductwork doomed it to be plugged within days of start-up.”

The report describes a dramatic series of events that took place within minutes on October 9, 2012.

For full details see

Event: Europe’s largest outdoor event, “The National Ploughing Championships” in Ireland

“The National Ploughing Championships is set to return to Ratheniska, Co , Ireland from 22-24 September 2015 for a 3rd year given the triumph of this year’s event.

The total attendance figures for the 2014 Championship came to a record breaking 279,500. This marks the most successful National Ploughing Championships in history, smashing last year’s figures by 51,500

Contact: National Ploughing Association, Ireland |

Event: ETUI Conference – Women’s health and work

Sharing knowledge and experience to enhance women’s working conditions and gender equality

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).

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

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.

Event: The Health and Safety Conference 2015

Wednesday, 4 March 2015, University of Salford, Manchester

Research has shown that one of the biggest barriers to success is organisations failure to manage Health and Safety in the workplace.

The British Safety Council is supporting The Health and Safety Conference 2015 which will provide delegates with the opportunity to explore the government’s vision for the future of health and safety. Delegates will also hear from experts and best practice case studies on how to develop simpler yet more effective health and safety procedures that improve occupational health and safety practices and how to develop innovative health and safety policies that save significant costs.

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.

US CSB Releases Safety Bulletin on Anhydrous Ammonia Incident near Mobile, Alabama

Safety Bulletin Notes Five Key Lessons to Prevent Hydraulic Shock

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board released a safety bulletin intended to inform industries that utilize anhydrous ammonia in bulk refrigeration operations on how to avoid a hazard referred to as hydraulic shock. The safety lessons were derived from an investigation into a 2010 anhydrous ammonia release that occurred at Millard Refrigerated Services Inc., located in Theodore, Alabama.

The accident occurred before 9:00 am on the morning of August 23, 2010. Two international ships were being loaded when the facility’s refrigeration system experienced “hydraulic shock” which is defined as a sudden, localized pressure surge in piping or equipment resulting from a rapid change in the velocity of a flowing liquid. The highest pressures often occur when vapour and liquid ammonia are present in a single line and are disturbed by a sudden change in volume.

This abnormal transient condition results in a sharp pressure rise with the potential to cause catastrophic failure of piping, valves, and other components – often prior to a hydraulic shock incident there is an audible “hammering” in refrigeration piping. The incident at Millard caused a roof-mounted 12-inch suction pipe to catastrophically fail, resulting in the release of more than 32,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia.

The release led to one Millard employee sustaining injuries when he fell while attempting to escape from a crane was after it became engulfed in the travelling ammonia cloud. The large cloud travelled a quarter mile from the facility south toward an area where 800 contractors were working outdoors at a clean-up site for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A total of 152 offsite workers and ship crew members reported symptomatic illnesses from ammonia exposure. Thirty two of the offsite workers required hospitalization, four of them in an intensive care unit.

Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso said, “The CSB believes that if companies in the ammonia refrigeration industry follow the key lessons from its investigation into the accident at Millard Refrigeration Services, dangerous hydraulic shock events can be avoided – preventing injuries, environmental damage, and potential fatalities.”

Entitled, “Key Lessons for Preventing Hydraulic Shock in Industrial Refrigeration Systems” the bulletin describes that on the day before the incident, on August 22, 2010, the Millard facility experienced a loss of power that lasted over seven hours. During that time the refrigeration system was shut down. The next day the system regained power and was up and running, though operators reported some problems. While doing some troubleshooting an operator cleared alarms in the control system, which reset the refrigeration cycle on a group of freezer evaporators that were in the process of defrosting. The control system reset caused the freezer evaporator to switch directly from a step in the defrost cycle into refrigeration mode while the evaporator coil still contained hot, high-pressure gas.

The reset triggered a valve to open and low temperature liquid ammonia was fed back into all four evaporator coils before removing the hot ammonia gas. This resulted in both hot, high-pressure gas and extremely low temperature liquid ammonia to be present in the coils and associated piping at the same time. This caused the hot high-pressure ammonia gas to rapidly condense into a liquid. Because liquid ammonia takes up less volume than ammonia gas – a vacuum was created where the gas had been. The void sent a wave of liquid ammonia through the piping – causing the “hydraulic shock.”

The pressure surge ruptured the evaporator piping manifold inside one of the freezers and its associated 12-inch piping on the roof of the facility. An estimated 32,100 pounds of ammonia were released into the surrounding environment.

Investigator Lucy Tyler said, “The CSB notes that one key lesson is to avoid the manual interruption of evaporators in defrost and ensure control systems are equipped with password protection to ensure only trained and authorized personnel have the authority to manually override systems.”

Event: The 4th World Congress of Clinical Safety

28-30 September, 2015, Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria

This Vienna Congress is organized by IARMM to improve and promote high advanced safe and clean science and technology in both risk and crisis management and governance. The congress covers a wide range of topics such as patient safety, medication safety, infectious disease outbreak, and other related subjects.

Call for abstracts

Presenters who don’t need Austria visa: 1 Feb 2015 – 31 May 2015

Presenters who need Austria visa: 1 Feb 2015 – 15 May 2015

Event: Enhancing the UK’s Cyber Resilience

Working in Partnership to Reduce Cyber Risk in the Digital Age

Tuesday, 24 March 2015, Central London

The expansion of the internet has brought enormous social and technological advancement and significant economic growth, with the internet-related market estimated to be worth £82 billion a year and British businesses earning £1 in every £5 from the internet. However, increased openness and dependence on cyberspace has also brought greater risk from criminals, rogue states and terrorism, with cyber attacks categorised as a ‘Tier One’ threat in the Government’s ‘National Security Strategy’ (October 2010). Latest figures illustrate that 81% of large corporations and 60% of small businesses reported a cyber breach, with each breach estimated to cost £600,000 - £1.15 million for large businesses and £65,000 - £115,000 for small companies.

The Government has underlined its commitment to protecting businesses and making the UK more resilient to cyber attacks and crime, launching the ‘UK Cyber Strategy’ (November 2011) and investing £860 million into the National Cyber Security Programme 2010-2016. Additionally, in 2013 and as part of a drive to strengthen the UK’s ability to detect and defeat cyber crime, the Government set up a ‘National Cyber Crime Unit’. Since March 2014, the national ‘Computer Emergency Response Team’ (CERT-UK) has helped to further improve the coordination of national cyber incidents and share technical information between countries.

Also, with public services increasingly being delivered online as part of the Government’s ‘Digital Strategy’, this timely symposium offers an invaluable opportunity for businesses, local authorities, public bodies, industry regulators, police, security/technology specialists and other key stakeholders to examine how best to strengthen UK cyber security in order to protect and promote the UK in a digital world.

In the meantime, to ensure your organisation is represented, please book online or complete and return the attached registration form at your earliest convenience in order to secure your delegate place(s).

Event: ICCE-23, 23rd International Conference on Composites or Nano Engineering, ICCE

23 July 12-18, 2015, Chengdu, China

We have received overwhelming response to our call for papers and ICCE-23 will be the largest conference on composites in summer 2015 in Asia. We are proud to have top ICCE keynote speakers including Nobel laureate lecture, during the 23rd International Conference on Composites or Nano Engineering, ICCE-23 July 12-18, 2015 in Chengdu, China.

After the conference, selected high impact “full-length” papers will be reviewed for possible publications in Composites B journal, among other SCI journals.

The pre-registration fee before May 1, 2015 is $400, higher afterwards.

David Hui, Chair ICCE-23 Chengdu, China, and editorial board member of about ten SCI journals


Dr. Akira Suzuki, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2010 will present on Monday, July 13, 2015 in Chengdu the following lecture:

Cross-Coupling Reactions of Organoboranes: An Easy Way for Carbon-Carbon Bonding

Akira Suzuki, Professor Emeritus, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

Reactions in which new carbon-carbon bonds are formed are key steps in building the complex, bio-active molecules developed as medicines and agrochemicals. They are also vital in developing the new generation of ingeniously-designed organic materials with novel electronic, optical or mechanical properties, likely to play a significant role in the burgeoning area of nanotechnology. The palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling reaction between organoboranes and organic halides in the presence of base was first developed about 30 years ago. It offers a powerful and general methodology for forming carbon-carbon bonds. The scope of the reaction has continued to evolve and broaden to meet modern synthetic requirements. The reaction has proved to be extremely versatile. It was first carried out between alkenyl reactants but over the years, it has extended the range to couple carbons in aryl, alkyl and alkynyl groups under a wide variety of conditions.

Event: Fire Risk Assessment and Management

A ten week course delivered by e-learning: Monday, 12 January 2015 - Friday, 20 March 2015

With this distance learning course you will gain knowledge of risk assessment concepts, techniques and the data required for an evaluation of fire risk in most buildings/facilities.

Course Outline:

The course has been developed at the University of Leeds and is directed by Dr David Charters.

Event: Gas, Vapour and Dust Explosion Hazards Protection

A one week course: Monday, 23 March 2015 - Friday, 27 March 2015

This course is suitable for engineers and scientists involved in both the offshore sector and the onshore chemical process and nuclear industries.

Course Outline:

The course has been developed at the University of Leeds and is directed by Professor Gordon Andrews and Dr Roth Phylaktou.

Event: 14th International Conference Fire and Materials 2015

2-4 February 2015, San Francisco, USA

Since the first Fire and Materials conference in 1992 this biennial event has grown to be the leading North American forum for discussing issues of importance to those concerned with the fire performance of; materials, finished products, the built and natural environment and transport applications.

The growth in the events stature and strength means that the 2015 conference will feature a record 81 papers given by experts from 15 countries. Presentations will be made in parallel sessions proving exchanges and necessary forums to those with specialist interests. Technical Sessions cover a wide range of fundamental and specialized subjects which ensures that throughout the conference there are papers which appeal to our diverse audience. This diversity encourages participation from a broad cross-section of the fire industry and academia enabling them to interact and discuss multi-disciplinary issues and concerns at an international level.

Technical Sessions include:

Further details from the Conference Organisers: Interscience Communications Ltd, West Yard House, Guildford Grove, London SE10 8JT, UK | Tel +44 (0) 208 692 5050; +44 (0)208 692 5155 | Email:

Event: Safety Promotion – from theory to best practical solutions

19-24 April 2015, Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik, Iceland

This international course focuses on new approaches in safety research – what are the key factors behind well going safe and errorless work. The course covers research of all kinds of accidents, e.g. occupational, home and leisure and traffic accidents as well as major accidents.

Event: 6th International Symposium Human Behaviour in Fire

28-30 September 2015, Downing College, Cambridge, UK

Human Behaviour in Fire is the study of human response when exposed to fire and other similar emergencies in buildings, structures and transportation systems. It includes an understanding of people’s awareness, beliefs, attitudes, motivations, decisions, behaviours and coping strategies and the factors that influence them. The study of human behaviour in fire is highly multidisciplinary, involving practitioners from the fields of mathematics, engineering, architecture, computer science, law, sociology, psychology, human factors, communications and ergonomics.

The primary aim of human behaviour research and its translation into practice is to minimise the risk to people from fire. This is achieved by generating and collecting quantitative and qualitative data and information on human responses which can be used to develop human fire response theory for use in performance based regulatory systems, computational models, fire safety engineering design, fire safety education and management.

The 6th Human Behaviour in Fire Symposium will facilitate the dissemination, open discussion and debate on diverse issues related to human behaviour in fire through a varied programme of research presentations, seminar discussions and interactive workshops.

All papers related to the field of human behaviour in fire are welcome, however the Programme Committee invites all those interested in this broad research area to join colleagues in Cambridge this autumn to exchange views and ideas in the stunning collegiate setting of Downing College.

Further details from the Conference Organisers: Interscience Communications Ltd, West Yard House, Guildford Grove, London SE10 8JT, UK | Tel: +44 (0) 208 692 5050 | +44 (0)208 692 5155, Email: office@intersciencecomms

In a Nutshell Science Newsflash: ECETOC workshop addresses aquatic toxicity using species sensitivity distribution

Predicting the toxicity of chemicals to aquatic communities is an integral element in environmental risk assessment. It is therefore a major component in environmental protection strategies and in the process of managing the safe use and disposal of chemicals. Hazard (toxicity) is most frequently predicted using concentration–effect data from single species toxicity tests which measure effects on individuals. However, the protection goals are generally wider i.e. populations, communities and ecosystems. Species sensitivity distributions, SSDs, describe the statistical distribution of species sensitivity to a toxicant and so can predict hazardous concentrations (HCps) affecting a certain percentage (p) of all the species in a community. Estimated HCps for environmental protection are usually the 5th percentile of the distribution and are used to derive a protective threshold concentration for an ecosystem.

ECETOC and the Environment Agency for England organised a three day workshop to discuss and review current statistical SSD models, when and how they should be used in regulatory applications and their ecological significance. A number of recommendations were made on how SSD methods could be further developed to improve the quality of decisions needed from both the prospective risk and retrospective impact assessment of chemicals.

The document is published as ECETOC Workshop Report No. 28: Estimating toxicity thresholds for aquatic ecological communities from sensitivity distributions. 11-13 February 2014. The report can be freely downloaded via

EU-OSHA welcomes 33 new official partners to its Healthy Workplaces Campaign

More than 100 official campaign partners from pan-European organisations and multinational companies now support EU-OSHA to promote the proactive management of stress and psychosocial risks in the workplace. This active support and commitment confirm their belief that safe and healthy workplaces are integral to continued economic success and sustainable future.

US EPA Takes Action to Protect Consumers from Harmful Chemicals That Can Cause Reproductive and Developmental Harm

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking action to protect the public from seven ethylene glycol ethers or glymes chemicals that can cause health effects including birth defects and blood toxicity.

“Today’s action is part of our continuing efforts to help ensure that chemicals in products we use every day are safe for the American public,” said Jim Jones, Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Finalizing this action could prevent an increase in the use of these chemicals and reduce human exposure through ingestion and inhalation.”

Some of these chemicals are currently used in consumer products, including paints, inks, and glues. The final rule will allow EPA to review any proposed new uses of these chemicals to ensure that human health and the environment are protected. EPA believes that new uses of these chemicals should not be allowed without an opportunity for review and, if necessary, to place restrictions on these chemicals, as warranted.

EPA has also added one of the more toxic of these ethylene glycol ethers, ethylene glycol dimethyl ether (monoglyme), to the Work Plan for Chemical Assessments. Monoglyme met the criteria for priority assessment because of its toxicity and use in some commercial and consumer products. EPA will conduct a risk assessment for this chemical and determine if further risk reduction action should be taken.

This rule, known as a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR), is issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act and will require manufacturers (including importers) to notify EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals in consumer products. This notification allows EPA the opportunity to evaluate the intended use and, if necessary, to prohibit or limit that activity. SNURs ensure that once a chemical has been phased out or taken off the market for certain uses, no use can resume without notification and review by the agency.

A complete list of these chemicals and additional information about this SNUR on ethylene glycol ethers (glymes) can be found at:

Evidence that electronic cigarettes can help smokers to quit

The internationally renowned Cochrane Library has reviewed the evidence and concluded that smokers who use electronic cigarettes can quit or reduce their smoking. The review draws on two randomised trials comprising a total of 662 current smokers. It found that about 9% of smokers who had used electronic cigarettes were able to stop smoking at up to one year. This compares with around 4% of smokers who used nicotine-free placebo electronic cigarettes.

Among smokers who had not quit, researchers found that 36% of electronic cigarette users reduced their consumption of tobacco cigarettes by half. This compared with 28% of users who were given placebos. One of the trials compared the efficacy of electronic cigarettes with nicotine patches and found similar results.

Cochrane’s Editor in Chief David Tovey said that this was an important study but cautioned that further research would be needed, particularly to review the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes compared to other ways of stopping smoking.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

Cochrane reviews are world renowned for their systematic analysis of the evidence. Electronic cigarettes are used by millions of smokers in the UK but the risks and benefits have been heavily disputed. This timely review indicates that that these products have a role to play in helping smokers quit. It should stimulate more research, which is just what is needed in this important area of public health which has the potential to save so many lives.

Full Citation: McRobbie H, Bullen C, Hartmann-Boyce J, Hajek P. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation and reduction. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD010216.

Latest UK Health and Safety Executive reports

L122 – Safety of pressure systems: ACOP and guidance (2nd edition)
The aim of PSSR is to prevent serious injury from the hazard of stored energy (pressure) as a result of the failure of a pressure system or one of its component parts. The revised PSSR ACOP and guidance is aimed at dutyholders under PSSR who are involved with pressure systems used at work.
L113 – Safe use of lifting equipment: ACOP and guidance (2nd edition)
This publication is for those that work with any equipment provided at work and those who employ such people. It sets out what you should do to comply with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). This edition brings the document up to date with regulatory and other changes.
L101 – Safe work in confined spaces: ACOP and guidance (3rd edition)
This publication is for those involved in work within confined spaces, those who employ or train such people and those that represent them. It explains the definition of a confined space in the Regulations and gives examples. This edition brings the document up to date with regulatory and other changes.

Tragedy shows the need for more HSE inspections

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) could do more to save lives if it was allowed to undertake more workplace safety inspections, a union body has said. Waltham Forest Trades Council made the claim after utility giant Thames Water was fined £300,000 for criminal failings that led to local man Raymond Holmes being killed by a reversing excavator at its Walthamstow treatment works. The 59-year-old sustained multiple crush injuries in the fatal incident at the utility company’s Coppermill Lane site on 30 April 2010. Southwark Crown Court heard that Holmes, an employee of Thames Water Utilities Limited (TWUL) for more than 30 years, was using laser levelling equipment to measure the depth of a large sand bed filter.

The GMB member was struck by an excavator after the driver reversed without seeing him. Waltham Forest Trades Council, which has supported the family of Mr Holmes, claimed HSE should have carried out checks on the site and blamed government cuts for the lack of inspections.

A spokesperson said: “What is so sad about this case is that Raymond’s death was easily predictable and preventable. After the incident a member of HSE’s investigating team reportedly said they would have shut the site down if they’d visited before the fatal incident.” He added: “The government continues to insist health and safety protections are a burden on business but, as this case illustrates, the awful burden is in reality borne by the deceased’s family and friends.” HSE’s investigation into the fatality established that although TWUL recognised the need for control measures to mitigate the risk of a collision between plant and workers, the company failed to implement sufficient measures on the day. The firm was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £61,229 in costs after pleading guilty to a criminal safety offence.

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Pilots issue warning on drones dangers

Strict regulations will need to be introduced before large drones are allowed to appear in the UK’s skies, the pilots union BALPA has said. Commenting after a near collision between a drone and a plane landing at Heathrow, the union said the remotely piloted craft were putting passenger jets at “real risk” The pilot of the Airbus A320, which can carry up to 180 passengers, spotted the drone when the jet was travelling at an altitude of 700 ft on its approach to the runway at the UK’s busiest airport. In a report published this week, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) gave the incident in July an “A” rating, meaning there was “serious risk of collision”.

BALPA had told a House of Lords committee in October that “safe drone zones” were needed to protect planes. Commenting after the publication of the report on the Heathrow incident, the union said that the rapid increase in the number of drones operated by amateur enthusiasts now poses “a real risk” to commercial aircraft.

The union’s general secretary, Jim McAuslan, said drones could cause a repeat of the “Hudson River experience”, when a plane was forced to land in water in New York in 2009 after birds were sucked into its engines. He said: “The risk of a 10 kilogram object hitting a plane is a real one that pilots are very concerned about. A small drone could be a risky distraction for a pilot coming into land and cause serious damage if they hit one.” The union leader added that there was an urgent need for rules to be tightened before much larger unmanned cargo planes – potentially the size of a Boeing 737 – took to the skies.

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FIFA challenged on Qatar exploitation

Building union UCATT has challenged the head of football’s global governing body to witness for himself the horrific and frequently deadly conditions faced by migrant construction workers in Qatar.

The call to Sepp Blatter came as a BBC Newsnight investigation revealed top UK construction firms are among those benefiting from the use of this labour. BBC reporter Sue Lloyd-Roberts said the BBC has “uncovered worrying testimony about pay, housing conditions and safety standards from foreign workers. They include some employed by subcontractors working for one of Britain’s biggest construction firms, Carillion, based in Wolverhampton, UK.”

Newsnight interviewed migrant workers who had suffered occupational injuries and diseases working on projects for the 2022 World Cup. Although employed by subcontractors on jobs run by the UK firm, their passes and protective clothing bore the Carillion logo. One injured subcontract worker told the programme he was “working for Carillion”, but had never been given protective equipment, was not compensated for the injury and had to pay for his medical treatment.

On 5 December 2014 UCATT general secretary Steve Murphy gave evidence to the Council of Europe on the exploitation of migrant construction workers in Qatar. He called on FIFA president Sepp Blatter to join an unannounced visit to a labour camp in Qatar, alongside UCATT and the global union for the construction sector, BWI. “FIFA cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the appalling abuses of migrant workers in Qatar who will be increasingly employed on World Cup projects,” he said. “Sepp Blatter has a moral duty to visit the labour camps where these workers live in appalling conditions.”

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) estimates that 4,000 might die before the ribbon is cut on the final stadium.

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The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on the role of planning in preventing major-accident hazards involving hazardous substances

The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on the role of planning in preventing major-accident hazards involving hazardous substances.

The consultation document seeks views on proposals to transpose the requirements of the Seveso III Directive. These affect the way hazardous substances consents operate, and the way in which the planning system reduces the likelihood and impact of major accidents. We are also seeking views on proposals to update and improve the regulatory framework on planning for hazardous substances. These proposals apply to Scotland only.

Full consultation:

USA: Cancer deceit of the petrochemical giants exposed

The petroleum industry has known for decades that benzene, one of its most important products, is a potent cause of cancer in humans but has spent millions on a cover-up, a new evidence database reveals. Internal memorandums, emails, letters and meeting minutes obtained by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) in a year-long investigation suggest that America’s oil and chemical titans, coordinated by their trade association, the American Petroleum Institute, spent at least $36 million on research “designed to protect member company interests,” as one 2000 API summary put it. CPI says many of the documents “chronicle an unparalleled effort by five major petrochemical companies” to finance benzene research in Shanghai, China.

Benzene, which is produced from crude oil to make plastics, lubricants, dyes, adhesives and pesticides, is also a key component in petrol (gasoline). According to CPI, “it is 17th most produced chemical in the US.” Benzene is accepted to be a potent human carcinogen, causing leukaemia and other cancers. In 2004, a US National Cancer Institute study suggested there’s no safe threshold for people working with the chemical. CPI’s review of around 20,000 pages of internal records reveals the petrochemical industry went to great lengths to rebut studies showing harmful effects of benzene in low doses. This included touting how the expected results of a proposed study in China could be used to reduce liability and combat stricter regulation.

Critics say such documents expose this Shanghai study for what it is: An industry attempt to buy scientific evidence. “It’s all about influencing science to get what industry wants,” said Myron Mehlman, formerly chief toxicologist at Mobil, who became a whistleblower in 1989 after the company fired him for complaining about benzene levels in its gasoline. He sued Mobil, winning a $7 million judgment. Mehlman remembers hearing about the Shanghai study in 2005 and immediately firing off letters to 45 executives at sponsoring companies. “I knew the scientists would do whatever it takes and whatever the industry needs done,” he said. In response, he said, he got a consortium form letter that “just re-confirmed how the study is being done for a single purpose – to get desirable outcomes.”

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Japan Unions aim to head off overwork deaths

Workers in Japan have been offered union-run counselling in a bid to reduce the deadly impact of excessive workloads. The trade union confederation Rengo said the two days of telephone counselling was intended to reduce the chances of a worker falling victim to “karoshi,” or death from overwork. The condition is an officially recognised occupational health problem in Japan, with bereaved family members entitled to state compensation payments. Karoshi is defined as sudden brain or heart disorder after putting in overtime exceeding 100 hours the month prior to death. “When long work hours become an everyday routine, workers can’t even feel something isn’t right,” said a Rengo official. “People close to those workers, such as their family members and friends, should also consult us.”

The International Labour Organisation warned last year that “there has been an increasing trend in cases of Karoshi and Karojisatsu [work-related suicide] in Japan. In 14 years, from 1997 to 2011, compensated cases of Karoshi and Karojisatsu have risen from 47 to 121 and from 2 to 66, respectively.”

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Europe Union action call on work safety

The European Union must take action to stop the 100,000 deaths a year caused by occupational cancers, unions have said. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) also condemned the European Commission for blocking health and safety improvements and for putting forward an extremely weak health and safety strategy to run until 2020. Putting together its own plan to improve conditions for Europe’s workers, the ETUC has called for wide-ranging action covering hazardous substances, strain injuries and stress.

A resolution agreed by the union body says there must be legally enforceable exposure limits for 50 of the most cancer-causing chemicals and substances toxic for reproduction. It also demands a Directive on musculoskeletal disorders to prevent back injuries and other illnesses caused by heavy lifting or muscular strain. It adds there should be action “to require employers to assess and prevent psychosocial risks at work such as stress which 25 per cent of workers experience.” The union body is highly critical of the European Commission, which it says has blocked a revision of the rules on cancer-causing and mutagenic exposures at work, so only three cancer inducing chemicals have European exposure limits.

Among other failings, ETUC says the commission has held back a ready to go directive on back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders. Bernadette Ségol, general secretary of the ETUC, said: “It is a scandal that 100,000 people die every year in the EU from occupational cancers, and an outrage that the Barroso Commission refused to pass any new health and safety law. I invite the new Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Commissioner Marianne Thyssen to take action to protect European citizens from death, disease and illness at work.”

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Crisis has affected supply and demand in healthcare

In the wake of the economic and financial crisis, many European governments have cut spending on healthcare services. At the same time, unemployment, financial strain and reduced prevention have increased the need for certain healthcare services, while falling disposable income has made access to healthcare more difficult for many EU households. This report identifies the groups most likely to face barriers to healthcare as a consequence of the crisis, including a number of new groups that have been generally overlooked by policymakers. It suggests a range of policy pointers, including the need to consider mitigating measures in tandem with policy reform, and suggests policymakers and service providers might consider reviewing crisis responses once financial pressures on EU Member States begin to ease.

While the crisis has been a major factor influencing complex healthcare systems, there are significant differences between countries and between services in the impact it has had on healthcare access. Even where a country’s health services have experienced few cuts, it has still been possible to identify impacts of the crisis on access to healthcare.

Vulnerable groups and the newly vulnerable

Groups in vulnerable situations, for whom difficulties in accessing healthcare have long been more common, have in some cases faced cuts in measures facilitating access. These include people living in remote areas; those with low health literacy, poor education and low incomes; people with greater healthcare needs in general (such as people with disabilities, elderly people and people with chronic illnesses), as well as homeless people and migrants.

The crisis has resulted in the emergence of new groups that were not considered vulnerable previously due to increased unemployment, especially among young men, and increased household debt problems, particularly for young couples facing housing and job insecurity.

This report explores which population groups have experienced reduced access to healthcare as a result of the crisis. It presents examples of measures taken by governments and service providers to maintain access for groups in vulnerable situations, such as economising and leniency in enforcing copayments.

Implications for policy and services

Policymakers and service providers need to be aware of the unexpected or indirect consequences of cuts and reduced disposable income on access to services. In some countries, demand for nursing home care has declined because the pensions of elderly relatives are an important source of household income. In some cases, people have moved from private to public healthcare creating increased demand, while in others private hospitals have gained more clientele partly as an indirect consequence of the crisis.

In addressing the challenge of maintaining access in the context of the crisis, policymakers and service providers may consider:

More information:

IRIS – Integrated Risk Information System December 2014 Update

The Latest News from EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program

EPA Releases the Final IRIS Assessment for Libby Amphibole Asbestos

EPA has released the final IRIS assessment for Libby Amphibole Asbestos. The IRIS Summary and Toxicological Review have been added to the IRIS website as part of Step 7 of the IRIS process. Additionally, the inter-agency science discussion draft assessment (Step 6), inter-agency comments, and EPA’s response were released. For more information on the final IRIS Libby Amphibole Asbestos hazard and dose-response assessment, please visit the IRIS website. Additional information on the Libby Superfund site can be found by visiting the Region 8 website.

NRC Released Expert Panelist Nomination Form – Due December 12, 2014

The National Research Council (NRC) has provided information on their process for identifying experts to take part in the IRIS Bimonthly Public Science Meetings. The NRC nomination form for expert discussants is now available on the NRC IRIS Experts website. This NRC nomination form augments the previous process for nominating expert discussants in the IRIS Bimonthly Public Science Meetings. Stakeholders wishing to participate in an IRIS public meeting can still register to attend and speak on key scientific questions by visiting the relevant IRIS Bimonthly Public Science Meeting webpage.

EPA’s next IRIS Bimonthly Public Science Meeting – 25-26 February 2015

EPA will discuss key scientific questions that apply to a broad group of phthalates during the February IRIS Bimonthly Public Science Meeting. Meeting materials and registration information. The phthalates to be discussed include diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP), butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). Additionally, the National Research Council (NRC) has provided a form for the nomination of expert discussants to be considered for the February discussion on phthalates. This NRC nomination form augments the previous process for nominating expert discussants in the IRIS Bimonthly Public Science Meetings. Stakeholders wishing to participate in this public meeting can still register to attend and speak on key scientific questions by visiting the IRIS February Bimonthly Public Science Meeting web pages. Note that nominations to the NRC for experts for the February meeting are due 12 December 2014.

In response to public feedback, EPA has opened a “General Comments Docket” to receive feedback that has broad applicability to the IRIS Program.

Significant fall in smoking in the UK suggests Government tobacco control strategy on track

New figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that smoking in Great Britain has fallen from 20% to 19% between 2012 and 2013. The figures are in line with the findings of a separate national survey which found adult smoking rates had fallen to 18.7% in 2013 across the UK. The decline in women’s smoking in particular puts paid to any suggestion that women’s smoking rates may be rising.

ASH welcomes the findings and also the inclusion for the first time of data on electronic cigarette use which finds that in 2014 only 0.1% of never smokers have used them. It’s important that the Government monitors the use of e-cigarettes as usage has increased dramatically in recent years. The ONS findings reflect the ASH YouGov survey which found that electronic cigarettes are used almost exclusively by smokers and ex-smokers.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

This statistically significant decline in adult smokers shows that the Government’s tobacco control plan is on track. However, children are still taking up smoking so tough new measures to regulate tobacco, like plain standardised packaging, are needed if we are to drive down smoking still further. The government must act quickly to allow parliament to vote on the regulations which will finally get rid of glitzy, glamorous cigarette packs forever.

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.

Cadmium fluoride and cadmium sulphate are added to the Candidate List as being “Carcinogenic”, “Mutagenic”, “Toxic for reproduction” and are also identified as being of “Equivalent level of concern based on probable serious effects to human health” (specifically due to the effects on kidney and bone). Two benzotriazole substances (UV-320 and UV-328) are identified as being “persistent bioaccumulative and toxic and very persistent and very bioaccumulative (PBT/vPvB)” and two further substances, DOTE and the reaction mass of DOTE:MOTE are identified as being “Toxic for reproduction”.

The Member State Committee also unanimously agreed that bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) meets the criteria for identification as an SVHC under Article 57(f) due to its endocrine disrupting properties causing probable serious effects to the environment. As DEHP is already included in the Candidate List based on its toxic for reproduction properties, this entry will be updated to address the additional reason for inclusion.

As DEHP is already listed in the Authorisation List (Annex XIV), companies that were initially exempt from the authorisation requirement may, in the future, be subject to authorisation. However, before this could happen, the European Commission would need to amend the corresponding entry for DEHP in the Authorisation List.

Legal obligations that companies may have resulting from the inclusion of substances in the Candidate List apply to the listed substances on their own, in mixtures or in articles. Producers and importers of articles containing any of the six substances newly added to the Candidate List by 17 December 2014 have six months from today to notify ECHA if both of the following conditions apply: (i) the substance is present in those articles in quantities totalling over one tonne per producer or importer per year and (ii) the substance is present in those articles above a concentration of 0.1% weight by weight, unless exemptions apply.

Information on the notification of substances in articles and related submission tools, as well as a manual with instructions on how to create and submit a notification dossier are available on ECHA’s website. The notifications can be submitted to ECHA through a web form or REACH-IT.

As foreseen by REACH, a specific procedure will be followed to decide whether the substances should also be included in the List of Substances subject to Authorisation (Annex XIV of the REACH Regulation).

Further information

Remembering Bhopal – 30 Years On From Disaster

30 years on from the Bhopal disaster, the Loss Prevention Bulletin is releasing a special issue open to all with articles remembering the event, on the lessons learned, and what we can do to prevent such hazards from threatening anybody again.

History of the Bhopal disaster and impressions from the time stand here as a reminder of the consequences when hazards are held with insufficient care. It serves as a strong motivator to check, and double check, are we really doing our best?

Many familiar topics in best practice for process safety are discussed in the special issue, chief among them being inherently safer design and land use planning – either of which would have highlighted the unacceptable hazard present at the Union Carbide Bhopal facility.

The issue can be downloaded free as a PDF via the IChemE website: