Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd

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News Archive

May 2015

Celebrating 40 years of contributing to Social Europe

Eurofound 40

This year – 2015 – marks 40 years for the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), the Dublin-based EU Agency charged with providing knowledge in the area of social and work-related policies. In a joint event with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion on 26 May – the exact day when the Council regulation (EEC) No. 1365/75 established the Agency 40 years ago – Eurofound will celebrate four decades of active contribution to improving the quality of life and working conditions of all Europeans.

At the first European Summit of the European Heads of State or Government of the nine Member States of the enlarged European Community in Paris on 19–21 October 1972, it was agreed that ‘that appropriate Community action should be built up on an inter-disciplinary scientific basis and at the same time that employers and workers should be associated in the action undertaken’, to tackle ‘the problems presented by the improvement of living and working conditions in modern society’.

In response to this challenge, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions was created by Regulation (EEC) No 1365/75 of the Council of 26 May 1975, to ‘contribute to the planning and establishment of better living and working conditions through action designed to increase and disseminate knowledge likely to assist this development. With this aim in view, the tasks of the Foundation shall be to develop and to pursue ideas on the medium and long term improvement of living and working conditions in the light of practical experience and to identify factors leading to change.’

‘It is testament to the vision of the European forefathers that in those early years they already saw the need to establish a European Agency with the unique mandate of providing knowledge on social and work-related issues,’ says Juan Menéndez-Valdés, Eurofound’s Director. ‘The goal then was to help policymakers shape a better future for its citizens. Forty years on and now charting 28 countries and 520 million people, the Agency’s role has never been more relevant – continuing to strive to deliver timely, topical and accessible information and analysis to help policymakers shape a better future for us all.’

‘Eurofound provides invaluable input into the policymaking of the EU to achieve these ambitious goals, and I look forward to working with the Agency as we forge a stronger, dynamic and more equal Union,’ comments Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility.

To mark the 40-year anniversary, Michel Servoz, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL), and Juan Menéndez-Valdés will today open a specially designed 40-year anniversary exhibition in Brussels, Belgium.

Created in 1975, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) was set up to contribute to the planning and establishment of better living and working conditions through action designed to increase and disseminate knowledge likely to assist this development.

For further information, contact:

www.eurofound.europa.eu

Assessing read-across – how ECHA does it

Read-across is the most commonly used alternative to testing chemicals on animals under REACH. The Read-Across Assessment Framework (RAAF) is being produced by European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to make sure that its experts evaluate read-across cases consistently.

The aim of the Read-Across Assessment Framework (RAAF) is to provide a structured approach to the scientific evaluation of read-across justifications made by registrants in their dossiers. The first publication covers read-across of human health endpoints for monostituent substances. ECHA will use it to make sure that read-across cases for human health endpoints are assessed consistently during dossier evaluation.

Registrants can use the RAAF to see the aspects of read-across justifications that ECHA considers to be crucial. This should help them to assess the quality of their own read-across cases. The RAAF is going to be further developed to also cover environmental endpoints next year.

“This is the first time that we are explaining how we evaluate read-across cases. It will help registrants to anticipate how we are going to assess their cases and thereby enable them to improve their dossiers. Of course, given the scientific complexity of the issue, this is not easy reading, but the scientists preparing read-across justifications will find it invaluable,” says Geert Dancet, ECHA’s Executive Director.

Read-across is the most commonly used alternative approach to filling data gaps on the effects of chemicals on humans and the environment where the test prescribed by REACH requires testing on animals. It can therefore help to avoid unnecessary testing on vertebrate animals. It works by using test results of a particular property of a substance from analogous substances to predict that property for the target substance.

http://echa.europa.eu/view-article/-/journal_content/title/assessing-read-across-how-echa-does-it

Responding to the announcement by Philip Morris International that the company is intending to challenge the UK’s standardised packaging law, ASH’s legal advice is that the measure is compatible with European law and compensation would therefore NOT be due the tobacco industry.

A Legal Opinion commissioned by ASH found that standardised packaging is compatible with European law relating to trademarks and fundamental rights which do not prevent Member States from introducing legislation to protect public health.

The tobacco industry has claimed that the industry would be due billions of pounds in compensation following implementation of standardised packaging but this Opinion demonstrates these claims are not substantiated.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

The tobacco industry knows it has little or no chance of winning but by threatening legal action it is trying to stop the infection spreading to other countries.

Standardised plain packaging threatens the profitability of the industry and they are desperate to prevent other countries from following the example set by Australia, the UK and Ireland.

www.ash.org.uk/media-room/press-releases/:ash-response-to-pmi-s-legal-challenge-on-standardised-tobacco-packaging

ECETOC Task Force reports on thresholds in chemical respiratory sensitisation

A variety of chemicals are known to cause allergic sensitisation of the respiratory tract associated with allergic rhinitis and asthma. It is generally accepted that the development of sensitisation of the respiratory tract to chemicals is a threshold phenomenon. That is, a certain minimum level of exposure is required to induce sensitisation to a given allergen. This Task Force was set up to assess whether the corollary is true: that there will be levels of exposure below which sensitisation will fail to develop.

In common with all forms of allergic disease, chemical respiratory allergy develops in two phases. In the first phase, exposure to the inducing chemical allergen, via a relevant route, will cause immunological priming resulting in sensitisation of the respiratory tract. In the second phase, the now sensitised subject responds more vigorously if the same allergen is encountered again: the subject has become ‘sensitised’. Following inhalation exposure of the sensitised subject to the same chemical allergen, an inflammatory response will be provoked in the airways that in turn drives allergic disease.

The analyses by the Task Force have revealed that the acquisition of sensitisation of the respiratory tract to chemicals is dose-dependent and that thresholds do exist. However it is commonly difficult to define exactly what levels of exposure will be required for sensitisation to develop. It is clear that in some circumstances it may be possible to use occupational exposure data to derive levels of workplace exposure that are safe. However, the Task Force highlights the fact that there remains a need to develop improved methods for hazard characterisation.

The Task Force has published its findings as an Open Access article in Toxicology:

Cochrane SA, Arts JHE, Ehnes C, Hindle S, Hollnagel HM, Poole A, Suto H, Kimber I. 2015. Thresholds in chemical respiratory sensitisation. Toxicology 333:179-194 (Open Access) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tox.2015.04.010

PRAISE Awards 2015: Apply now for the PRAISE awards – showcasing organisations that put road safety first

What have Arriva Denmark, The Hellenic Air Force, Royal Dutch Shell, Electricity Supply Board, Bolk Transport and BT got in common?

These organisations all know that prioritising road safety can help the bottom line, improve working conditions for staff, and boost customer satisfaction. And all are previous winners of a PRAISE award – for European organisations, large and small, that have committed to putting road safety at the core of their business.

If your organisation has a road safety programme, and the results to prove it, ETSC want to hear from you. The competition is divided into three separate categories: SME (Small-Medium Enterprise), large company and public authority.

To find out more, and to download an application form, please visit www.etsc.eu. Deadline for applications: 3 August 2015.

Contact: praiseaward@etsc.eu

Smoke (Still) Gets in Your Eyes at Many Job Sites

Thousands of US local and state laws have banished smoking from indoor spaces. Yet bans on lighting up in public don’t exist everywhere, and millions of American workers still are exposed to tobacco smoke on the job. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, about one in five non-smoking workers encounters secondhand smoke at least once each week.

“You get done with your shift, and you’re breathing heavy and your eyes burn and your nose is sore,” said John W. McDonnell, a bartender at a Las Vegas casino, where employees face greater exposure to secondhand smoke than in almost any other industry.

Along with protecting bystanders, smoking bans have been instrumental in cutting smoking rates from about 42 percent of adults in the 1960s, to about 18 percent today. Yet the laws remain a patchwork, and tobacco smoke remains one of the more commonly encountered airborne hazards in the American workplace.

www.fairwarning.org/2015/05/secondhand-smoking

A final progress report on implementation of UK health and safety reforms

In June 2010, the UK Prime Minister asked Lord Young of Graffham to “investigate and report back on the rise of the compensation culture over the last decade coupled with the current low standing that health and safety legislation now enjoys and to suggest solutions”. In his report Common Sense, Common Safety (October 2010) Lord Young made recommendations on legislation, enforcement, the role of insurers and compensation claims procedures.

The UK Government accepted Lord Young’s recommendations. In February 2011, the Prime Minister passed responsibility for overseeing progress of the overall health and safety reform agenda to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Good Health and Safety, Good for Everyone introduced significant further reforms (March 2011):

Professor Ragnar Löfstedt, Director of the King’s Centre for Risk Management at King’s College London was also asked to review health and safety regulation. Comments received through the Government’s Red Tape Challenge on health and safety regulation were fed in to his review. His recommendations Reclaiming health and safety for all: An independent Review of health and safety legislation were accepted by the Government. The Government used the Red Tape Challenge to go further, and committed in the 2012 Budget to scrap or improve 84% of health and safety legislation. One year on from his review, Professor Löfstedt concluded that good progress had been made and that there was evidence that the perception of health and safety was changing.

This report is the final update on the work done as a result of the above reviews. All the accepted recommendations have been acted on.

A final progress report on implementation of health and safety reforms
UK Department of Works and Pensions, March 2015, 23 pages

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/improving-health-and-safety-final-report-march-2015

Event: BRE Fire Conference 2015

11 June 2015 – BRE Watford

The Fire Group at BRE is engaged in wide ranging research commissioned by both the government and private sector, into the issues of significance to the fire industry. On 11th June 2015, BRE will be holding a Fire Research Conference to present the outcomes from this leading edge research on a broad range of topics. We are also pleased to announce Professor Albert Simeoni, as the key note speaker and world leading expert on wildland fires.

This is a rare opportunity to update your technical knowledge, network with speakers and colleagues, and learn directly from the experts about advances in fire safety and standards development.

Event programme

09.00

Registration, Tea and Coffee

09.30

Welcome and Introduction

Dr Debbie Smith OBE, BRE Global

09.45

Understanding How Wildland Fires Spread and Quantifying their Impact

Professor Albert Simeoni, University of Edinburgh

10.30

External fire spread and building separation distances

Richard Chitty, BRE Global

10.55

Tea and Coffee break

11.15

Compartment sizes – are they still fit for purpose?

Tom Lennon, BRE Global

11.40

The causes of false alarms in buildings and their mitigation

Raman Chagger, BRE Global

12.05

A cost benefit analysis for sprinklers in tall buildings (above 30 m) for life safety

Dr Corinne Williams / Dr Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell, BRE Global

12.30

Watermist systems as an alternative to sprinklers

Dr Louise Jackman, BRE Global

12.55

Lunch (and poster session)

13.45

A study of the evacuation and means of escape requirements for the mobility impaired

James Lavender, BRE Global

14.10

Development of a standard for personal fire protection systems for life safety

Nigel Firkins, BRE Global

14.35

Home-based health and social care – considerations of the fire safety implications

Dr Koo Sung-Han, BRE Global

15.00

Tea and Coffee break

15.30

Why do design fires matter?

Carl Sherwood, BRE Global

15.55

Assessing the impact of fire on some electrical cable supports and fixings

Dr David Crowder / Ciara Holland, BRE Global

16.20

Characterisation of the fire issues associated with mobility scooters

Martin Shipp, BRE Global

16.45

CLOSE

For more information: Helen Ball | ballh@bre.co.uk | Tel +44 (0)1923 664303 | www.bre.co.uk/eventbooking1.jsp?id=8667

Online price £150.00 per person, plus VAT.

New appointment – New Director General at FIOH

The Board of Directors has appointed Antti Koivula, Doctor of Science (Technology) and current Director of Client Solutions, to be the new Director General of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH). Antti Koivula will begin his duties on 1st August 2015.

Dr. Harri Vainio, current Director General, will retire in July 2015.

The term of office for FIOH’s Director General is seven years. Antti Koivula has worked at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health since 2012, before which he was managing director at Tinnoff Ltd. He has previously worked as developer, advisor and board member of small and medium-sized enterprises. At Nokia he played key roles in strategic change and knowledge management. Koivula’s PhD is in occupational psychology and leadership development.

The World Health Organisation’s report “School environment: Policies and current status”

This report includes a summary of existing policies on providing healthy environments in schools and kindergartens, an overview of environmental risk factors in schools, information on design, methods and results of selected recently conducted exposure assessment surveys and a summary of pupils’ exposures to major environmental factors, such as selected indoor air pollutants, mould and dampness and poor ventilation in classrooms, sanitation and hygiene problems, smoking and the use of various modes of transportation to school.

While most Member States have comprehensive policies aiming at providing healthy environment for pupils, implementing and enforcing some of these policies is a common challenge.

Further efforts are needed to improve school sanitation, provide adequate ventilation, prevent dampness and mould growth, reduce emission of indoor air pollutants, improve enforcement of existing smoking bans, facilitate the use of active transportation modes in some countries. Facilitating the use of harmonized monitoring method is essential for closing existing data gaps, identifying and addressing environmental risk factors in schools.

Full report: www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/air-quality/publications/2015/the-school-environment-policies-and-current-status

ITUC Pledge on Toxics: “If you expose us, we’ll expose you”

Occupational cancers kill at a rate of more than once a minute worldwide, according to a comprehensive review of the available evidence by the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation). The global union body, speaking out ahead of the 28 April International Workers’ Memorial Day, says this preventable waste of life must end and has a stern warning for rogue employers: “If you expose us, we’ll expose you.”

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “Even conservative estimates put the annual occupational cancer toll at 660,000 deaths a year. A poisonous cocktail of toxic marketing and regulatory failure has already condemned another generation to an early grave.”

“As long as there’s money to be made, industry will retain its fatal attachment to some of the most potent killers in history,” Burrow notes. “For example, next month it is all but certain that just enough governments will dance to the asbestos industry’s tune to keep chrysotile asbestos off the toxic exports list included in a key United Nations treaty.”

“This is a typical example of an industry protecting its markets without regard to the human consequences. Global asbestos production is not falling, and in some countries, including India, Indonesia and Brazil, consumption has increased.”

Benzene is another industry favourite with over half a century of evidence establishing a clear cancer link. Yet the biggest names in petrochemicals – British Petroleum (BP), Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell Chemical – all contributed to major study that ran through most of the last decade, designed to head off cancer compensation claims and to protect their valuable product from tighter regulation.

“Wherever stricter controls are proposed, industry representatives or their hired guns appear, challenging the science and predicting an economic catastrophe,” Burrow says. “Whether it is silica or diesel exhaust, dyes or metals, or the endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to breast cancers and reproductive problems, alternatives are not being used and controls are not being employed or adequately enforced.”

This year on 28 April, the international campaign day when unions pledge to “remember the dead, and fight for the living”, the harm caused by workplace toxins is being put under the spotlight. A new ITUC guide, Toxic work – stop deadly exposures today sets out how to remove toxic exposures from the workplace. At the centre of the union strategy is active, union-supported workforce participation, in finding problems and implementing solutions.

According to Burrow: “There is nothing inevitable about exposure to toxins at work. Over 40 countries, including all those in the European Union, function without asbestos with no negative impacts. Why shouldn’t workers in India, Brazil or Sri Lanka be afforded the same protection, the same respect for their health?

“Some of the world’s most profitable companies are not just defending their toxic products, they are defending weak exposure standards that mean they profit and you pay. It is not ethical, it is not healthy and it is not what we bargained for. We make this pledge: if they expose us, we will expose them.”

1. Statistics are included in a new ITUC-supported workplace cancer website, www.cancerhazards.org, which provides union representatives and others with the latest news on occupational cancer, including emerging scientific evidence and union initiatives to combat occupational causes of cancer.

2. Online campaign resources are available: ITUC occupational health and safety and 28 April activities.

www.ituc-csi.org

IPAF reports reveal more than 1.1 million MEWPs in worldwide rental fleet

There are now 1,120,000 mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), also known as aerial work platforms (AWPs), in the worldwide rental fleet. This is up 8% from the previous year, reveals new research commissioned by the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF).

The US AWP rental market recorded strong growth of 10% in 2014 to reach approximately $7.9 billion, according to the IPAF US Powered Access Rental Market Report 2015. The US AWP rental fleet expanded by 7% in 2014 to exceed 500,000 units. Strong demand from the construction sector allowed for fleet expansion and rental rates improvement, while balancing the negative impact of decreasing oil prices.

The Chinese MEWP rental market grew at a rate of 25% to 30% in the past two years to reach approximately 9,000 units.

The European MEWP rental market grew slightly in 2014 (+1%) and is estimated at approximately €2.6 billion, according to the IPAF European Powered Access Rental Market Report 2015. Fleet expansion continued at a slow pace to reach 285,000 units. The 10 European countries surveyed were: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Most European countries improved their situation in 2014. France and Finland were the only MEWP rental markets where deterioration continued. Spain and Italy showed signs of recovery after several years of shrinking. The markets in the UK, Germany, Norway and Sweden grew at similar paces, driven mainly by fleet expansion.

The IPAF rental market reports are presented in an easy-to-read format, highlighting key facts and figures for senior management, such as fleet size, utilisation rate and retention period. They include an estimate of the size of the MEWP/AWP rental fleet worldwide, with a breakdown by region and machine type.

New aspects covered in the 2015 reports include: average payback period by machine type (booms vs. scissors), most commonly requested machine features/options, and the impact and consequences of new MEWP/AWP regulations and safety standards.

The US report includes Canada. The European report includes seven individual country/regional sections: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Nordic/Scandinavian countries (covering Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden), Spain and UK.

The IPAF US and European Powered Access Rental Market Reports 2015 are available in English and can be purchased at www.ipaf.org/reports

Colgate-Palmolive Suffers Courtroom Loss in Asbestos-Talc Powder Case

Colgate-Palmolive Co. suffered a courtroom defeat when a jury in Los Angeles, USA ordered it to pay damages of $12.4 million to a woman with a deadly form of cancer she blamed on asbestos contamination of a popular talcum powder.

The case was then settled recently for an undisclosed amount before jurors could decide whether to tack on punitive damages for plaintiff Judith Winkel and her husband. Winkel, 73, of Santa Barbara, suffers from mesothelioma, a lethal type of cancer predominantly caused by asbestos exposure.

It was the first trial to weigh allegations that, in past decades, the talc in Colgate’s popular Cashmere Bouquet powder came from asbestos-contaminated mines, and that inhalation of asbestos fibers from the powder might have caused mesothelioma among victims who had no other significant asbestos exposures. Winkel said that she regularly used the dusty powder from about 1961 to the mid-1970s.

www.fairwarning.org/2015/04/colgate-palmolive-suffers-courtroom-loss-in-asbestos-talc-powder-case

Event: Fire Information Group UK (FIG UK) – Mind the Gap Update 2015 Seminar on fake chargers and other fake goods that are fire hazards

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The talk is being given by Andrew Vaughan-Davies, London Fire Brigade Investigation Team and is being held on Thursday, 17 September 2015 starting at 3.30 pm in the Imperial Hotel Senate Room, Russell Square, London WC1B 5BB.

At the end of the talk there will be a question and answer session and discussion before delegates partake of a Networking drinks / nibbles event which will be available in the Imperial Hotel’s Bar Barella area on the first floor of the Imperial Hotel. This event is included in the cost of the ticket.

CPD certificates will be available on the day.

Cost per delegate is £25.00 which must be paid for by 31 August 2015.

Booking: If you are attending please book your place as early as possible by telephoning Sheila Pantry on 01909 771024 or by sending an email to sp@sheilapantry.com

Happiness report points out some sad truths

The UK government’s way of deciding policy priorities places too much emphasis on economic factors at the expense of the well-being of the people, the World Happiness Report has indicated. The report published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an initiative under the United Nations, aims to determine the happiness of people in each of 158 countries. The UK comes in at 21, squeezed between the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

A chapter dealing with what countries can do to improve happiness and well-being is particularly critical of the UK government’s decision-making system which is based on economic benefit, not the benefit to the people. The chapter, which is co-authored by Gus McDonnell, a former Cabinet Secretary and head of the Civil Service, “makes some really useful recommendations,” notes TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson.

Commenting on the report’s critique of the current UK system, Robertson says: “Benefit to business always trumps the benefit to workers. We saw this in the recent evaluation by the EU of health and safety directives, where the emphasis was on the economic benefits.” Robertson adds: “The World Happiness Report recommends that this should change and instead policies should be analysed based on happiness as a measurement of benefit… the idea of cost-benefit analysis being based both on the benefit to people, rather than the economy, and where the focus was on the actual improvement in people’s ‘well-being’ that will come about instead of the material benefit to individuals, would be a brave and radical one. It would put people’s well-being and happiness at the top of the government’s priorities.”

https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-2015/tuc-risks-700-2-may-2015#_Toc418167022

Roundup, WHO and the pesticide lobby

The food system must be ‘transformed’ to keep deadly pesticides out of the workplace and the food chain, the global farm and food union federation IUF has said. The union body was speaking out in the wake of a March 2015 report in the journal Lancet Oncology, which revealed the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) new classification of glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and the world’s most widely-used herbicide – as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” IARC, a part of the World Health Organisation (WHO), cites evidence in Canada, Sweden and the USA linking workers’ occupational exposure to glyphosate to increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

According to IUF: “With this report, the WHO explicitly recognises the importance of independent research on the impact of pesticides on human health and the food chain – a field long dominated by pesticide manufacturers. And it gives advocates of food rights and a safer, saner food system an important opportunity to push for action.”

Monsanto, which sold US$ 5 billion worth of glyphosate last year, immediately attacked the credibility of the report. According to IUF: “Will the WHO withstand the pressure of the pesticide lobby? Much depends on the public response, which also means defeating moves to lower regulatory standards through agreements like the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”

The global union concludes: “The sudden spotlight on glyphosate, and growing awareness of the threat to food safety contained in TTIP and similar trade and investment agreements, can help catalyse a broader movement to fundamentally transform the food system. Unions should be at the head of the movement.”

https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-2015/tuc-risks-700-2-may-2015#_Toc418167030

Action needed to improve workforce health

The next government should review how it is using local organisations to encourage improvements in workforce health and wellbeing, a new report from The Work Foundation has recommended. “Healthy, Working Economies”, published by Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, recommends that a more standardised set of measures be included in the Joint-Strategic Needs Assessments that local Health and Wellbeing Boards are required to undertake, including measures of employment outcomes for individuals with health conditions.

The report also recommends that employer leadership is needed on Health and Wellbeing Boards “in order to achieve the step-change needed in improving the health of the working age population and to drive economic growth and productivity locally.”

The foundation’s Health at Work Policy Unit argues that despite pockets of good practice where areas are prioritising the health and wellbeing of the working age population, central government is failing to give local organisations clear roles and responsibilities around improving workforce health and wellbeing.

Professor Stephen Bevan, director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at The Work Foundation, said: “We’ve found there are examples of best practice where those with health conditions are being helped to stay in work and create healthier workplaces. However, government must now empower local actors to significantly improve workforce health and wellbeing at a local level.”

https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-2015/tuc-risks-700-2-may-2015#_Toc418167031

New US Study Examines Relationship between Firefighters and Cancers in California

A new study from the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) examined firefighters in the statewide California Cancer Registry and found that firefighters had increased risks for several major cancers. Black and Hispanic firefighters were found to have increased risks for more types of cancer than white firefighters. For the purposes of the study, only adult male subjects were included.

Firefighting is considered one of the most hazardous occupations, and involves regular exposure to known carcinogens. In this study, which used data from 1988-2007, firefighters were found to have increased risks for several cancers, including melanoma, acute myeloid leukemia, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the esophagus, prostate, brain, and kidney. Black and Hispanic firefighters, unlike white firefighters, were also found to have increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia and cancers of the tongue, testis, and bladder.

“California has the largest statewide cancer registry in the country,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “This focused study generates novel findings for firefighters of various race and ethnicities and strengthens the body of evidence to support the association between firefighting and several specific cancers.”

This study, now available online by the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, included more firefighters with cancer than any previous study. This allowed authors to assess the association between firefighters and the development of 32 different cancers in all firefighters combined, and firefighters of various races and ethnicities. Of the 32 cancers assessed, the risks of 14 cancers were significantly elevated in one or more firefighter groups. Black and Hispanic firefighters had significantly increased risk for more cancers than white firefighters which speaks to the need for further investigation of cancer risks among various race and ethnicities within this profession.

For access to a copy of the study please visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajim.22466/abstract

For more information on the health and safety of firefighters, please visit: www.cdc.gov/niosh/firefighters

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths.

More information can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh

Charter for asbestos justice launched

The Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum is seeking support for a new “Charter for Justice.” The forum says more people will die from asbestos diseases this year than will die on the roads, and the asbestos toll is rising. Its Charter sets out “easily affordable reforms” that would make a real difference to asbestos victims.

“This country owes a debt of justice to asbestos victims and their families. We all have a duty to make sure victims receive the help they need,” the forum notes. “We all have an interest in making sure that asbestos is removed from the buildings we live and work in so that no one suffers in the future. This Charter sets out how we could achieve these aims. We hope everyone can support it. In particular we would like our politicians and policy makers to support it. Please pledge your support for the Charter for Justice today, and make sure that any politician you vote for supports it too.”

The charter calls for a fair compensation and welfare benefits system, best practice nationwide on medical treatment for asbestos diseases, properly resourced medical research, a public information campaign and a plan for the ‘eradication’ of asbestos from schools. The forum is asking individuals to email a message of support, sign and return a copy of the charter, and encourage others to sign up.

https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-2015/tuc-risks-700-2-may-2015#_Toc418167029