News from around the World
- The UK Health and Safety Executive launches new workplace health expert committee
- World’s citizens ahead of leaders on climate change
- New UK Health and Safety Executive Publications
- USA News: No respiratory protection – $54 million settlement
- USA News: CSB Releases Draft Investigation Report into 2009 Explosion and Fire at Caribbean Petroleum Terminal Facility in Puerto Rico
- European News: Two new substances of very high concern (SVHCs) added to the Candidate List
- ITUC Global Rights Index names world’s ten worst countries for workers
- International Trade Union Bodies Welcome G7 Pledges on Supply Chains, Climate and Tax
- OECD releases new data on nanomaterials – registrants asked to consider the information
- News from the USA: June 2015 issue of Lifelines Online
- Health and Safety of Migrant Workers
- Youth entrepreneurship in Europe: Values, attitudes, policies
- UK Industry Group led False Alarm Project (Interim update)
- Why health is the construction sector’s new imperative
- World Health Assembly closes, passing resolutions on air pollution and epilepsy
- Event: Age Management – Life course Approach calls for Diversity Management
- Event: Comprehensive Industrial Hygiene – The Application of Basic Principles
- Event: REACH 2018 webinar
- World Trade Organization panel to hear oral arguments on Australia tobacco plain packaging case from 1-5 June 2015
- New FFT analyzer for low frequency electromagnetic fields
- FIFA President’s Position Untenable: Migrant workers
- Safety Notice: Earth Moving Machinery – Changes to visibility requirements
- EU Biocides Regulation 528/2012 – Active Substance(s) Approval(s): Apply to stay on the market
- EU Biocides Regulation 528/2012 – Active Substance Amending Approval
- EU Biocides Regulation 528/2012 (EU BPR) – European Chemicals Agency – Biocides Stakeholders’ Day
The UK Health and Safety Executive launches new workplace health expert committee
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has appointed a new committee to provide independent expert knowledge and advice on workplace health.
The workplace health expert committee (WHEC) will meet for the first time on Wednesday 24 June 2015. It will be made up of nine members who will provide expert opinion on emerging issues and trends, new evidence relating to existing issues and, on the quality and relevance of the evidence base on workplace health issues.
Working under the leadership of an independent expert Chair, the WHEC will provide scientific and medical advice to HSE’s Chief Scientific Advisor and Director of Research Professor Andrew Curran and to HSE’s Board.
The committee will encourage collaborative working with stakeholders and partners whilst helping to identify issues of potential concern to Government Departments and business.
In particular, the WHEC will focus on chemical and physical hazards and human behavioural or organisational factors in the workplace (such as shift work) that could lead to physiological and psychosocial ill health. It will not focus on wellbeing, sickness absence management or rehabilitation as these issues are dealt with elsewhere in government. The committee will not consider individual cases of ill health or disease.
Professor Andrew Curran said: “I’m very pleased to have secured such a world-class team of experts in workplace health issues which will supplement our own in-house expertise in this area.
“Our statistics show that around 13,000 people die each year from occupational lung disease and cancer as a consequence of past workplace exposures, primarily to chemicals and dusts. In addition, an estimated 1.2 million people who worked in 2013/14 were suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by work, of which 535,000 were new cases which started in the year.
“I look forward to working with the Committee to help us develop new strategies to reduce these and other causes of workplace ill-health”.
Chair of the committee, Professor Sir Anthony Newman Taylor said: “I am delighted to chair this important new HSE committee.
“Policy for health and safety needs to be informed by the best contemporary scientific evidence. It is our role to provide HSE with robust evaluation of emerging evidence of new hazards and new evidence of well recognised hazards. I greatly look forward to working with this distinguished panel of experts to achieve this.”
World’s citizens ahead of leaders on climate change
Governments around the world are lagging behind urgent demands to address climate change, with people voicing overwhelming support – particularly in developing countries – for immediate action, the latest International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) poll revealed.
Nine out of ten people across the globe are demanding their elected leaders do more to prevent the world’s population from being impacted by the effects of man-made global warming, the latest International Trade Union Confederation Frontlines Poll showed.
“As the deadly heatwave in India and the crippling drought in California both show, rich and poor nations alike are affected by climate change,” ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow said. “But with developing countries experiencing more and being less able to respond to climate-related catastrophes, we’re hearing the most urgent calls for government action from the Global South.”
The ITUC poll asked people from nine countries, representing half the world’s GDP, from both the developed and developing world, if and when they thought world leaders needed to act to prevent the world’s population from being impacted by climate change.
Key findings include:
- 90 per cent want to see leaders take action to protect the international community from climate change impacts;
- Almost 70 per cent want action from leaders now, without delay;
- Almost 8 out of 10 people want action in the next 12 months or less;
- While almost two-thirds of the developed world want action, the figure is far higher in the developing world at 80 per cent;
- Even in the UK (58 per cent) and the US (55 per cent), the majority are demanding action.
The two countries with the loudest calls for immediate action were the heavily populated island nations of Indonesia (90 per cent) and the Philippines (88 per cent).
“Wealthier countries like the United States emit more emissions per capita than developing countries, but the demand for government action is most urgent from nations like the Philippines which know firsthand the more prevalent extreme weather events the International Panel on Climate Change predicts,” Ms Burrow said.
The Philippines had so many typhoons in 2013 that it ran out of letters to name them, including the devastating ‘Haiyan’, which left 6300 dead and 2000 still missing.
“This could be the future for other nations experiencing a rapidly changing climate.”
The ITUC Frontlines Poll also revealed that governments could no longer use their constituents as a reason for inaction, with just four per cent indicating world leaders did not need to act.
Almost two-thirds of those aged 55 years and older wanted immediate action, and just one in 10 of this age group believed inaction from world leaders should continue.
Ms Burrow said: “Politicians who are not prepared to commit to decarbonise our world and save us from the horrors of climate change don’t deserve to be elected.
“This survey proves any pressure for world leaders to continue to sit on their hands is coming from the corporate world and not their people.
“The international community, particularly those most vulnerable, are demanding their governments ignore lobbying from big business and show real leadership on climate change. What is missing are national plans for industrial transformation and just transition.”
The ITUC represents 176 million workers in 162 countries and territories and has 328 national affiliates.
New UK Health and Safety Executive Publications
The following new publications have been issued
- L64 – Safety Signs and signals
- This guidance is for employers, dutyholders and others who have responsibility for the control of workplaces, sites and premises. It is also for those operating equipment that requires verbal and/or non-verbal communications.
- L111 – The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulation 2015: Guidance on Regulations
- This guidance is for anyone who has duties under the COMAH Regulations 2015, particularly operators of establishments, and also others such as local authorities and emergency planners. Although many duties will be familiar from the 1999 Regulations, the 2015 Regulations contain some new or changed duties.
Latest HSE Research reports on HSE’s Website:
- RR1044 – Consultation on monitoring of water-miscible metalworking fluid (MWF) mists
- The aim of this research was to examine metal working fluid (MWF) exposure limits and guidance set by other countries, summarise studies and investigations that examined water-miscible MWF mist as well as new techniques to monitor mist.
- RR1043 – Endotoxin in metal working fluid (MWF) mist
- Risks to respiratory health from exposure to bacterial endotoxins are well established. The aims of this research were to review the evidence used to develop the health based recommended occupational exposure limit (HBROEL) for endotoxin and determine its relevance as a benchmark to assess risks to respiratory health caused by endotoxin in metal working fluid mists.
- RR1030 – Assessment of the arm locking systems of two-post vehicle lifts
- Following instances of vehicles falling from two-post vehicle lifts, HSE became concerned that some lifts available for sale in the UK may not be fit for purpose due to inferior build or design. The purpose of this research was to investigate whether a selection of lifts available complied with the requirements of the relevant standard.
- RR1045 – Development of a Health Risk Management Maturity Index (HeRMMIn) as a performance leading indicator within the construction industry
- Safety cultural maturity reflects an organisation’s degree of readiness to tackle safety risks. Until recently, no equivalent model for occupational health (OH) had been developed. The current research aimed to develop an OH management maturity index for the construction industry and use the index to survey OH management maturity in the industry.
- RR1029 – Review of fit test pass criteria for Filtering Facepieces Class 3 (FFP3) respirators
- There are several fit test methods which are discussed in HSE’s guidance. This study was concerned with the fit testing of class 3 filtering facepieces, known as FFP3 under the British and European Standard.
These and over 1.2 million full text and bibliographic records from worldwide authoritative and validated sources can be found in OSH UPDATE + FIRE.
Please do take a trial see www.oshupdate.com and have free access for 15 days.
USA News: No respiratory protection – $54 million settlement
Federal judge Alvin Hellerstein has approved $54 million settlement agreement for 82 unionized cleanup workers who claimed they were made ill by exposure to toxic dust from building clean-up around the World Trade Center site in NYC.
This settlement, reached June 10 covers members of Laborers International Union of North America Local 78, which represents asbestos, lead and hazardous waste handlers in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey. The building clean-up workers claims included respiratory and digestive diseases, psychological injuries and cancer after building owners and contractors failed to provide respiratory protection equipment to keep them from inhaling toxic dust in 71 buildings near Ground Zero. The workers were represented by NYC attorneys Gregory J. Cannata & Associates and Robert Grochow.
More information can be found by reading the article by Jonathon Stemple:
USA News: CSB Releases Draft Investigation Report into 2009 Explosion and Fire at Caribbean Petroleum Terminal Facility in Puerto Rico
Report Finds Inadequate Management of Gasoline Storage Tank Overfill Hazard
The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released its draft investigation report into the 2009 massive explosion at the Caribbean Petroleum, or CAPECO, terminal facility near San Juan, Puerto Rico; the draft report includes proposed recommendations for addressing regulatory gaps in safety oversight of petroleum storage facilities by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The draft report was discussed at a CSB public meeting this afternoon at the CSB’s offices at 2175 K Street, NW, Washington, DC. The meeting was webcast and public comments were accepted. At the meeting the CSB previewed an excerpt from the upcoming video on the CAPECO incident entitled, “Filling Blind.”
The 2009 incident occurred when gasoline overflowed and sprayed out from a large aboveground storage tank, forming a 107-acre vapor cloud that ignited. While there were no fatalities, the explosion damaged approximately 300 nearby homes and businesses and petroleum leaked into the surrounding soil, waterways and wetlands. Flames from the explosion could be seen from as far as eight miles away.
CSB Board Member Mark Griffon said, “The CSB’s investigation states that there are a number of shortcomings in regulations that cover petroleum storage facilities. Facilities such as CAPECO, which store large quantities of gasoline and other flammables, are not required to conduct a risk assessment of potential dangers to the nearby community from their operations.”
The CSB’s draft report is available on the CSB website.
European News: Two new substances of very high concern (SVHCs) added to the Candidate List
The first new entry covers a series of mixed alkyl diesters (EC 271-094-0, CAS 68515-51-5; EC 272-013-1, CAS 68648-93-1) which were added to the list due to their reproductive toxicity properties where they contain ≥ 0.3% of dihexyl phthalate (EC No. 201-559-5). These substances are used for example as plasticisers and lubricants, including use in adhesives, coatings, building material, cable compounding, polymer foils, PVC compounds and artist supply (e.g. modelling clay and finger paints).
The second SVHC has been added as a group entry with very persistent and very bioaccumulative properties. This group of substances covers for example, the product with the trade name “karanal”. Public information sources indicate that the main use of karanal is as a fragrance ingredient.
ECHA took the decision to include these two substances on the Candidate List based on proposals by Sweden and the Netherlands respectively, following the SVHC identification process with involvement of the Member State Committee. The Candidate List now contains 163 substances. Of those, 31 have subsequently been included in the Authorisation List.
ITUC Global Rights Index names world’s ten worst countries for workers
The Gulf States are among the world’s worst countries for workers’ rights, while workers under European austerity measures endured the starkest deterioration of standards, according to the 2015 Global Rights Index.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) rights index ranks 141 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers’ rights are best protected, in law and in practice.
“Workers in the Gulf States where the draconian ‘kafala’ system is widespread endure many of the violations which make the Middle East and North Africa the world’s worst region for fundamental rights at work,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
“But in a worrying trend, European workers have witnessed the starkest deterioration of their rights in the last 12 months due to widespread government-imposed austerity measures taking effect.”
The International Trade Union Confederation has been collecting data on the abuse of trade union rights around the world for more than 30 years. This is the second year the ITUC has presented its findings through the Global Rights Index, offering a snapshot for government and business to see how their laws and supply chains have deteriorated or improved in the last 12 months.
The ten worst countries for working people are Belarus, China, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland and United Arab Emirates.
Other countries ranked lower but had worsening conditions this year in a clear negative trend for workers. These nations were Burundi, Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Iran, Georgia, Russia, United Kingdom and Spain.
“Workers in Colombia and Guatemala have been murdered for trying to negotiate better working conditions, while in Qatar and Saudi Arabia migrants continue to endure forced labour and labour law exclusions which amount to modern slavery.
“In 73 of 141 countries, workers faced dismissals, suspensions, pay cuts and demotions for attempting to negotiate better working conditions, while in 84 countries employers adopted illegal strategies to deny or delay bargaining with representative trade unions.
“While a handful of countries have attained perfect scores compared to last year, there’s been an increase across the board in the number of countries where conditions have worsened, including nations such as Cameroon, Hungary, Spain and South Africa,” Ms Burrow said.
International Trade Union Bodies Welcome G7 Pledges on Supply Chains, Climate and Tax
International trade unions have welcomed key pledges made by the leaders of major global economies at the 2015 G7 Summit, while warning that public confidence in governments and business is waning and stronger action for sustainable economic growth is needed on a number of fronts.
Sharan Burrow, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) General Secretary, said: “Chancellor Merkel, as Summit host, has shown clear leadership on a number of crucial issues, notably the promise for G7 action on global supply chains which today are a source of exploitation and impoverishment instead of a means of delivering decent, secure and safe jobs. Strengthening the existing international mechanisms on corporate behaviour needs to be backed up by the rule of law. This, along with other key commitments on climate action and financing as well as on taxation and on increasing women’s participation, must be taken up by the G20 when it holds its Summit in November.”
An ITUC opinion poll on trust in companies and supply chains, released on the eve of the Summit, found that:
- 55% of respondents in France, Germany, the UK and the US believe most global companies can’t be trusted to look after their workers and tougher laws are needed;
- 80% of respondents in Indonesia, the Philippines and Turkey believe that most employers prioritise profits over safety of their workers;
- More than three quarters (78%) of people in Indonesia, the Philippines and Turkey believe that business should pay all their workers a decent minimum wage – no matter where they are.
Commenting on the launch of a “Vision Zero Fund” with the ILO, John Evans, General Secretary of OECD TUAC and ITUC Chief Economist said: “The G7 leaders have acknowledged responsibility to promote decent working conditions in developing countries. The final funding of the Rana Plaza was long overdue for the families of the victims – but commitment must now be used to stop such tragedies from ever happening again. The Summit pledges must be turned into action, both to set up the Vision Zero Fund but also to ensure that the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises are strengthened. The G7 is raising the bar to make sure that the process to strengthen the key mechanism of the Guidelines, the work of the ‘National Contact Points’, is a broad-based effective implementation process, with real consequences for those who don’t observe the Guidelines.”
Amongst a raft of other issues, the Summit recognised that the task of global financial reform is still unfinished, and that unemployment remains too high. The commitments to strong, inclusive growth and investment, especially in infrastructure, have been welcomed by the trade unions.
“This G7 Summit has made advances on a range of crucial questions. These need to be broadened to engage other countries, and turned into concrete action. Governments need to rebuild public confidence in their willingness to tame corporate greed, assert the rule of law and put the world economy on the right track – one that works for people instead of just for the most wealthy and powerful,” said Burrow.
OECD releases new data on nanomaterials – registrants asked to consider the information
The OECD’s Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials has started the publication of new data on 11 nanomaterials. Registrants are reminded to consider this information and to update their dossiers accordingly.
The OECD has started the dissemination of hazard information on the following 11 nanomaterials in IUCLID format:
- single-walled carbon nanotubes
- multi-walled carbon nanotubes
- silicon dioxide (six different forms)
- titanium dioxide (six different forms)
- cerium dioxide
- zinc oxide
The new information is the outcome of an experimental programme where 11 commercially viable nanomaterials have been used to generate results from 780 studies relating to their intrinsic properties. The work has already given significant input to the specific amendments to the existing test guidelines and generated numerous nano-specific (eco)toxicological data. It will continue to be a cornerstone of the work around risk assessment of nanomaterials.
“We welcome more nano-specific data becoming publically available. Such data is highly sought after, not only in ongoing research projects and international work, but also as a contribution for better transparency of safety information on existing nanomaterials on the market,” says ECHA Executive Director Geert Dancet.
ECHA encourages registrants of these substances to carefully assess the new data. When relevant, they should take this information into account and update their registration dossiers accordingly to ensure the safe use of their substances.
ECHA is actively involved in the OECD work and chairs the Steering Group on Testing and Assessment of Manufactured Nanomaterials. The newly published data has been developed and generated by delegations and industry under this steering group. The testing programme was launched in 2007 to conduct specific tests relevant to human health and environmental endpoints on manufactured nanomaterials. The aim was to assess the applicability of the existing test guidelines to nanomaterials and to provide useful information on intrinsic properties of manufactured nanomaterials.
News from the USA: June 2015 issue of Lifelines Online
These are the headlines:
- Allergy Season Now Earlier and Longer
- Debunking 3 Myths About Acclimatization
- Keep Foodborne Illness Out of Your Lunch
- Tackling Flowback Hazards on Fracking Sites
- Powdered Alcohol (May Be) Coming to a Store Near You
- Warm Weather Brings Out Mosquitoes
- Is Night Time the Right Time ... for Road Work?
- E-Cigarette Use in Teens at Center of Pending Legislation
- Health Care Reform Updates
To view the stories and access www.lhsfna.org
Health and Safety of Migrant Workers
The UK based TUC has produced a guide to assist union workplace representatives to ensure that migrant workers are given full protection against hazards at work.
Read the full article at: https://www.tuc.org.uk/node/122908
Youth entrepreneurship in Europe: Values, attitudes, policies
Only a fraction of young Europeans interested in becoming entrepreneurs actually go on to do so, according to Eurofound’s new report Youth entrepreneurship in Europe: Values, attitudes, policies. The report looks at factors that could unlock this entrepreneurial potential, and that influence young people’s decision to become self-employed.
Fostering greater participation of young people in the labour market has become a priority in Europe, and there are a number of different strategies in place at national level to increase youth entrepreneurship. The report analyses selected policy measures aimed at fostering youth entrepreneurship, organised around three main support pillars: fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and culture among young people; providing the right information and support to young would-be entrepreneurs; and removing perceived practical and logistical barriers.
The report shows that almost half of young Europeans are interested in becoming entrepreneurs, and over 40% believe it is feasible. However, only 6.5% of young people in work are self-employed, and there are significant national and gender differences in Europe when it comes to the amount of young people that actually set up their own business.
There are significant differences between EU Member States, and the share of youth self-employment varies from 15% or more in Italy and Greece to 3% or less in Germany and Denmark. Youth self-employment is also a predominantly male activity as just 33% of young self-employed people in the EU28 in 2013 were women. There is also an issue with the overrepresentation of young self-employed people in sectors with low barriers to entry, such as construction, where there are issues with ‘bogus’ or false self-employment.
Although youth entrepreneurship is not a panacea for youth unemployment, a long-term strategy for supporting the creativity and ambition of Europe’s entrepreneurial minded young people can produce positive results. Tailoring policies and initiatives to those with the right skills, values and ideas, and encouraging the creativity and ambition of young people could significantly impact the economic and social landscape of Europe in the future.
UK Industry Group led False Alarm Project (Interim update)
Early reports from the multi stakeholder study into the cause of false alarms from fire detection systems show that many of the false alarms that call out fire and rescue services can easily be avoided.
In December 2014 the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) teamed up with partners from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE), the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the CBRE Ltd, CS Todd & Associates Ltd, the Fire Industry Association (FIA), and Glasgow City Council to undertake detailed investigation into the reasons why fire alarms have false alarms.
Across the UK over 200,000 calls to fire and rescue services are for false alarms, the cost of these to both business and the fire service are estimated to be well in excess of £1 billion per year.
Assistant Chief Officer (ACO) Lewis Ramsay, the SFRS Director of Prevention and Protection, said: “Unwanted false alarm signals are a significant issue for Fire and Rescue Services so it’s important we join with our partners to see them reduced.
The in depth research into the false alarms was carried out by SFRS officers working alongside a fire detection specialist. This UFAS (Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals) team would attend a false alarm call as soon as possible after an incident. At the incident they would then gather as much information about the alarm system and the site as possible; often being able to establish what caused the system to trigger. During the 4 months that the project has been running over 80 site investigations have taken place, and this data is now being analysed at the Building Research Establishment (BRE).
Chairman of the Fire Industry Association Martin Harvey said: “This type of project is long overdue, everyone knows the importance of having a well-designed and maintained fire alarm system, however no one from business, the fire alarm industry or fire and rescue service wish to see false alarms.”
Early results from the project have already provided some recommendations that can be implemented very quickly, such as fitting call point covers or stoppers to protect manual break glass call points from accidental damage. Other early recommendation include the use of key switches to “turn off” alarm signalling during the regular weekly system testing.
Initial project findings may also indicate that changes are recommended to both British Standards and Building Regulations to ensure that going forwards the risk of false alarms from new buildings are minimised.
Unwanted fire alarm signals are not only an issue in the UK but also a problem experienced across Europe. To this end a specialist team from Europe are hoping to attend when the full report is completed and released at an Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals summit later this year.
The project commenced in November 2014. There is no fixed timescale for research to be completed, however it is anticipated that the project may take around a year to produce a report.
Its objectives are:
- The collation of comprehensive data in relation to unwanted false alarm signal incidents
- Identification of the common causes of unwanted false alarm signal incidents, including appropriate classification
- Improved engagement between the SFRS, the fire industry, and businesses in relation to unwanted false alarm signal incidents
- A reduction in the volume of unwanted false alarm signal incidents within the Glasgow City area
- Provision of intelligence to help reduce the volume of unwanted false alarm signal incidents across Scotland
The SFRS Unwanted Fire Alarm Signal Policy commenced on 1 December 2014 and replaces existing policies, which varied between the eight Fire and Rescue Services that operated in Scotland prior to April 2013.
A previous study undertaken by the BRE has been used for some supporting data within this media release. The report from this study, which is entitled “The causes of false fire alarms in buildings”, is available at www.bre.co.uk/podpage.jsp?id=1752
The FIA is a not-for-profit trade association promoting professional standards in the UK fire safety industry.
The Association was formed in April 2007 out of a merger between two longstanding and well-respected trade associations, FETA (Fire Extinguishing Trade Association) and BFPSA (British Fire Protection Systems Association). The FIA is ‘owned’ by its members, which means that they are answerable to and representative of their members.
Why health is the construction sector’s new imperative
While safety risks associated with the construction sector have, quite rightly, been in the spotlight for some time, additional focus on health issues is paramount to tackle occupational cancers and other health risks if we want to keep construction workers healthy.
When asked to name health and safety risks on construction sites, many people outside the industry would very accurately point out dangers such as working at height or collapsing structures. What they may not be as quick to identify are the health issues that can sometimes take years to become noticeable.
And yet the statistics for those health issues make clear the scale of the problem. Perhaps the most frightening example is the 666,000 people who die each year worldwide from cancer caused by their work. That’s one death every 47 seconds.
It’s against this background that a renewed push for awareness and prevention of work-related health is starting to take place.
The UK Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) construction division plan of work emphasises a significantly increased focus on preventing occupational ill health, with Heather Bryant, chief inspector of construction at the time of the document’s publication, pointing out the scale of the problem: “In 2012/13, 39 construction workers and five members of the public lost their lives. Despite a welcome reduction in construction-related deaths from the 50 in 2011/12, these figures remain unacceptable. Over the same period we estimate that there were over 100 times as many deaths from work-related ill health and diseases.”
Last year, a month-long inspection programme found unacceptable conditions and dangerous practices at nearly half of the 1,748 construction sites visited by HSE inspectors. The focus of the initiative was on health risks and 35% of the notices served were for issues such as management of asbestos and failure to control exposure to harmful dusts.
Perhaps the most well known cause of ill health in the construction sector is asbestos, although it wasn’t banned as a building material in the UK until 1999.
Asbestos can be found in walls and ceilings, or in the structure of a building, as well as lots of other, less obvious places such as floor tiles, boilers, guttering and soffits. Disturbing materials containing asbestos releases fibres into the air which, if inhaled, can cause a variety of potentially fatal diseases, including mesothelioma (a cancer affecting the lining of the lungs and digestive tract), asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestosis (scarring of the lung).
In 2004 the World Health Organisation estimated that asbestos claims more than 100,000 lives a year across the world and is the biggest work cancer killer.
In October 2014 HSE launched its new asbestos behaviour-change campaign to encourage tradespeople (including construction workers) to think about asbestos on every job they do. A survey which formed part of the campaign launch showed that increased awareness is needed, as only a third of tradespeople questioned were able to identify all of the correct measures for safe asbestos working.
HSE’s guidelines for managing and working with asbestos outline the steps required prior to starting work in a building that might contain asbestos, namely:
- Identify whether asbestos is present and determine its type and condition
- Carry out a risk assessment
- Decide if the work needs to be carried out by a licensed contractor
- If the work is not licensable, decide if the work needs to be notified
- Ensure those carry out the work are suitably trained.
There are also a number of practical precautions recommended, such as using protective equipment and washing before breaks and before going home.
The HSE campaign has also seen an app launched which helps tradespeople easily identify where they could come into contact with asbestos and how to deal with the risks.
Other substances causing cancer
While asbestos has long been known as a dangerous and cancer-causing substance, it’s sadly by no means the only such risk that construction workers face. There are many other carcinogenic materials that cause cancer and claim lives. Well over 50 substances are listed as known factors in cases of workplace cancer.
A 2012 research report published by Dr Lesley Rushton of Imperial College London identified the top 10 causes of occupational cancer deaths in the UK.
Asbestos led the way but also included were substances such as respirable crystalline silica (commonly involved in block-cutting, stone-crushing, milling and drilling stonework), mineral oils and welding fumes.
These combine to make cancer caused by work the fifth biggest cause of avoidable cancer in the UK, behind lifestyle choices like smoking or diet. In addition, it’s estimated to cost Britain’s economy at least £10 billion a year.
This has prompted the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) to launch its No Time to Lose campaign, which seeks to raise awareness of occupational cancer and help businesses take action. It’s a hugely valuable initiative and one which, at Mentor, we’ve been actively involved with.
As the campaign’s name suggests, it highlights the fact that workplace cancers are not going away. In fact, they’re on the increase. For example, the number of mesothelioma deaths caused by exposure to asbestos in the UK rose from just over 400 a year in 1982 to over 2,000 in 2010.
IOSH has called for steps to be taken in a number of areas to reduce this number. These include extra awareness and research funding and an effective compliance strategy for preventing exposures and action from industry itself.
Good habits embedded at the start of careers can help protect long-term health.
Therefore the campaign is calling for health awareness to be included in relevant industry apprenticeships and trade-based training, where people can learn the risks at the start of their careers to increase their chances of still being healthy at the end of them.
Of course, occupational cancers are not as immediately obvious as workplace accidents and injuries but the clear reality is that they can still be fatal. Managers and experienced employees within construction have a duty to raise awareness and set good examples and that includes educating about a further risk – the sun.
The impact of skin cancer on employees working outdoors in industries including construction has also been highlighted recently. In the UK, on average, as many as five people a day are being diagnosed with a form of skin cancer contracted at work and yet two-thirds of construction workers – outside for an average of nearly seven hours a day – either didn’t think they were at risk or were unsure.
Researchers also discovered a “macho culture” and a common misconception that the UK’s climate meant that solar radiation wasn’t much of an issue.
Businesses are now being urged to take steps to not only increase awareness of solar radiation but also to take practical steps, including providing UV index updates to employees and urging them to use high-factor sunscreen.
A cost to everyone
Every instance of occupational cancer clearly has a huge effect on the employee as well as their family, friends and colleagues.
But for the business itself, there are financial implications when workers are put at risk and around 30 successful prosecutions are made through UK courts each year for asbestos failings alone.
It’s an issue that’s relevant worldwide and is not one that can be tackled overnight. Yet knowing the risks, taking preventative measures and educating employees can help drive the figures for occupational cancer down in the construction industry and at a wider level.
Ultimately, workplaces cancers aren’t inevitable – but they are avoidable
Why health is the construction sector’s new imperative, by Jerry Hill, BSC Safety Management, 1 June 2015
World Health Assembly closes, passing resolutions on air pollution and epilepsy
The World Health Assembly closed the meeting at the end of May 2015, with Director-General Dr Margaret Chan noting that it had passed several “landmark resolutions and decisions”. Three new resolutions were passed today: one on air pollution, one on epilepsy and one laying out the next steps in finalizing a framework of engagement with non-State actors.
Delegates at the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to address the health impacts of air pollution – the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Every year 4.3 million deaths occur from exposure to indoor air pollution and 3.7 million deaths are attributable to outdoor air pollution. This was the first time the Health Assembly had debated the topic.
The resolution highlights the key role national health authorities need to play in raising awareness about the potential to save lives and reduce health costs, if air pollution is addressed effectively. It also stresses the need for strong cooperation between different sectors and integration of health concerns into all national, regional and local air pollution-related policies. It urges Member States to develop air quality monitoring systems and health registries to improve surveillance for all illnesses related to air pollution; promote clean cooking, heating and lighting technologies and fuels; and strengthen international transfer of expertise, technologies and scientific data in the field of air pollution.
The resolution asks the WHO Secretariat to strengthen its technical capacities to support Member States in taking action on air pollution. This includes further building capacity to: implement the “WHO air quality guidelines” and “WHO indoor air quality guidelines; conduct cost-benefit assessment of mitigation measures; and advance research into air pollution’s health effects and effectiveness. At the Sixty-ninth World Health Assembly, WHO will propose a road map for an enhanced global response by the health sector that reduces the adverse health effects of air pollution.
Strengthening care for epilepsy
Delegates endorsed a resolution urging Member States to strengthen their ongoing efforts in providing care for people with epilepsy. Although affordable treatment for epilepsy exists, up to 90% of people with the condition may not be properly diagnosed or treated in resource-poor settings. The resolution highlights the need for governments to formulate, strengthen and implement national policies and legislation to promote and protect the rights of people with epilepsy. It also stresses the need to reinforce health information and surveillance systems to get a clearer picture of the burden of disease and to measure progress in improving access to care.
Delegates emphasized the importance of training of non-specialist health-care providers as key to reducing the epilepsy treatment gap. In low- and middle-income settings, strategies to improve access and affordability of antiepileptic medicines should be a priority. Countries are encouraged to undertake public awareness activities to reduce misconceptions about epilepsy and encourage more people to seek treatment. The research capacity of low- and middle-income countries should be built through expanded academic collaboration and establishment of centres of excellence.
The resolution calls on the WHO Secretariat to continue to lead and coordinate support to Member States in addressing the global burden of epilepsy so that people with epilepsy can receive timely treatment and can benefit from educational and occupational opportunities, free from stigma and discrimination.
Working with non-State actors
The Health Assembly welcomed the fact that delegates had reached consensus on many parts of the draft framework of engagement with non-State actors, noting that it wishes to finalize the framework by the next Health Assembly. Delegates requested the Director-General to convene an intergovernmental meeting as soon as possible and to submit the finalized draft for adoption at the Sixty-ninth World Health Assembly.
They asked the Secretariat to develop a register of non-State actors for next year’s Health Assembly. Delegates acknowledged the importance of WHO engaging with non-State actors (nongovernmental organizations, private sector entities, philanthropic foundations and academic institutions) and of ensuring that risks of such engagement are managed robustly at global, regional and country level.
Event: Age Management – Life course Approach calls for Diversity Management
5-10 October 2015, Hämeenkylän kartano, Vantaa, Finland
Contact: Siv Jansson, Course coordinator / Communications officer, NIVA, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, FI-00250 Helsinki | Direct +358 30 474 2488 | Mobile +358 43 8241 696 | email@example.com | www.niva.org
Event: Comprehensive Industrial Hygiene – The Application of Basic Principles
13-17 July 2015, Boston, MA, USA
Learn the concepts critical to creating a safe work environment and hone your technical expertise in protecting employees from workplace hazards. By attending this course, you will explore topics including ergonomics, exposure assessment, radiation protection, personal protective equipment, respiratory protection, ventilation, quality of the indoor environment, noise reduction, and sampling and instrumentation.
New and experienced health and safety professionals will benefit from a comprehensive review of the technical skills required for industrial hygiene practice. Industrial hygiene and safety program leaders will become more accustomed to the challenges facing professionals and become more effective managers of those with technical expertise in this functional area.
Who Should Participate
This course is for professionals directly responsible for the health, safety, and security of employees and the work environment. New and experienced health and safety professionals will benefit from a comprehensive review of the technical skills required for industrial hygiene practice. Industrial hygiene and safety program leaders will become more accustomed to the challenges facing professionals and become more effective managers of those with technical expertise in this functional area.
Event: REACH 2018 webinar
24 June 2015, 11:00-11:50 (EEST, GMT +3)
Know your portfolio and start preparing now
World Trade Organization panel to hear oral arguments on Australia tobacco plain packaging case from 1-5 June 2015
Today a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel will begin to hear oral arguments in claims that Australia’s tobacco plain packaging infringes WTO agreements. The hearing will take place at WTO in Geneva from 1st to 5th June 2015.
The outcome of this case is being watched worldwide by governments, health organizations and tobacco companies alike given the crucial nature of plain packaging as a tobacco control measure. Fiercely opposed by the tobacco industry, plain packaging is recommended by guidelines under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the international tobacco control treaty.
Under plain packaging, health warnings would remain as would product names in a standard size and font, but tobacco company colours, logos and graphics on packages would be banned. The brand portion of package have the same colour (e.g. drab brown) for all brands. Tobacco packages would no longer be mini-billboards promoting tobacco.
New FFT analyzer for low frequency electromagnetic fields
EHP-50F from Narda Safety Test Solutions meets the requirements of the European EMF Directive
Narda Safety Test Solutions has launched a new FFT analyzer for low frequency electromagnetic fields. This device, called EHP-50F, measures and analyzes electric and magnetic field strengths in the frequency range 1 Hz to 400 kHz and evaluates the results in accordance with current human safety standards.
The EHP-50F from Narda Safety Test Solutions is a new FFT analyzer for assessing low frequency electric and magnetic fields considering aspects of human safety. It covers the entire range from 1 Hz to 400 kHz that is relevant for sensory effects. It evaluates complex signal shapes in the time domain using the weighted peak method, which is specified in the latest standards such as the EMF Directive
2013/35/EU. The device provides automatic frequency evaluations complying with 2013/35/EU for all the specified action levels as well as with ICNIRP 2010 and ICNIRP 1998 (General Public and Occupational).
The EHP-50F uses built-in three-axis probes to detect electric and magnetic fields isotropically (non-directionally). It is battery operated, making it suitable for stand alone operation for up to 24 hours with internal data. It can be connected to the Narda NBM-550 HF measuring set, which acts as a control and display unit, by an optical cable, which does not affect the field being measured. This can also be used for connection to a PC for further evaluation and documentation of the measurement results. The PC software is included in the package.
EHP-50F is available as of now.
Narda is a leading supplier of measuring equipment in the RF safety, EMC and RF testing sectors. The RF safety product spectrum includes wideband and frequency-selective measuring devices, and monitors for wide area coverage or which can be worn on the body for personal safety. Under the PMM brand, Narda offers instruments for determining the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of devices. The RF testing sector covers analyzers and instruments for measuring and identifying radio sources. The range of services includes servicing, calibration, and training programs. The company operates a management system complying with ISO 9001/2008 and ISO/IEC 17025.
Narda has development and production facilities at three locations: Hauppauge, Long Island / USA, Pfullingen / Germany and Cisano / Italy and has its own representative in Beijing / China. A worldwide network of representatives guarantees closeness to customers.
FIFA President’s Position Untenable: Migrant workers
The ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) has described FIFA President Joseph Blatter’s position as untenable, with the indictment by US authorities of nine FIFA officials and five company executives on corruption charges, and the launch of a criminal investigation by the Swiss Attorney-General’s Office.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “After 17 years at the head of FIFA, during which the stink of corruption around FIFA grew stronger, Mr Blatter should step down forthwith, and the Swiss authorities should now place FIFA under judicial supervision. With the focus today on corruption charges, the world also mustn’t forget that migrant workers in Qatar are still being worked to death as the World Cup infrastructure programme there accelerates to meet the 2022 deadline. FIFA has failed to make labour rights a condition of Qatar hosting the World Cup and impoverished workers there are paying the price.”
Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of Building and Woodworkers’ International, which has been actively campaigning for labour reform in Qatar and engaging with multinational construction companies to get them to adopt an 11-point plan for workers’ rights there, said, “When FIFA puts money over human decency, workers are paying with their lives. The current leadership of FIFA believe that they stand above international law whether it regards corruption, working conditions or human rights. It is time for a change and new FIFA. We need leaders bold enough to take FIFA on a new road and implement international principles of workers’ and human rights.”
The new FIFA scandal coincides with the release today of a report by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre on actions, or the absence of actions, by multinational construction companies operating in Qatar. According to the group, only a handful of companies are making serious efforts. http://business-humanrights.org/en/construction-firms-in-qatar-only-a-handful-make-serious-efforts-to-improve-conditions-for-migrant-workers
Yuson said, “Workers in Qatar might get cheated by recruiting agents and exploited by sub-contractors, but in the end it is the big construction companies that are responsible for the working conditions on their sites. They must be able to answer on what they are doing to protect the rights of their workers.”
Controversy is mounting inside Russia as well, with the ITUC’s Russian affiliates FNPR and KTR condemning a proposal from a member of the national parliament to allow private companies to use prison labour to build infrastructure for the 2018 World Cup.
“Russia’s trade unions fought back to amend the so-called ‘FIFA law’ which would have stripped away vital protections for World Cup workers, yet this proposal would allow companies to profit from using prison labour to build the facilities. FIFA has become synonymous with sacrificing human rights for profit. Only change at the very top can save FIFA from an unfolding disaster of its own making,” said Burrow.
The ITUC represents 176 million workers in 162 countries and territories and has 328 national affiliates.
Safety Notice: Earth Moving Machinery – Changes to visibility requirements
On 28 January 2015, a warning published in the Official Journal (OJ) of the European Commission came into effect removing the presumption of conformity from EN 474-1:2006 +A4: 2013 Earth Moving Machinery – Safety – General Requirements in respect of visibility. This means that compliance with this standard will no longer automatically assure compliance with the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, particularly EHSR 3.2.1. Driving Position, concerning visibility from the operator’s position.
Manufacturers and importers of Earth Moving Machinery within the scope of EN 474-1 should review the conformity assessment of their product ranges in respect of visibility from the operator’s position to ensure continued compliance. Where necessary they should then implement improvements to affected products.
If this affects you please read the Safety Notice
EU Biocides Regulation 528/2012 – Active Substance(s) Approval(s): Apply to stay on the market
The following active substance(s) have been evaluated under the EU Biocides Regulation 528/2012 (EU BPR) and will be approved for use in biocidal products placed on the EU market on 1 September 2015. Biocidal products containing these active substances will therefore need to obtain EU BPR authorisation if they are to remain on the market.
- Decanoic acid (Product Type 4, 18 & 19)
- Octanoic acid (Product Type 4 & 18)
- S-methoprene (Product Type 18)
- Cu-HDO (bis(N-cyclohexyl- diazenium-dioxy)-copper) (Product Type 8)
- Iodine (including polyvinylpyrrolidone iodine) (Product Type 1, 3, 4 & 22)
All affected companies are reminded that they must apply for UK product authorisation by 1 September 2015 in order to keep their biocidal products on the UK market after the active substance approval date, 1 September 2015. Please note if your biocidal product contains more than one active substance the date by which you have to apply for product authorisation will be the date the last active substance in the product is approved.
If no application for product authorisation in the UK is made by 1 September 2015 for a biocidal product containing these active substances, the biocidal product shall no longer be made available on the UK market after 28 February 2016. Disposal and use of existing stocks of the biocidal product may continue until 31 August 2016. If the biocidal product has approval under the UK Control of Pesticides Regulations (COPR) its approval will be revoked.
EU Biocides Regulation 528/2012 – Active Substance Amending Approval
The EU Commission has published an EU Biocides Regulation (EU BPR) Implementing Regulation amending the approval of the following active substance to include its use as a curative/remedial algaecide treatment for construction materials:
- Nonanoic Acid for use in Product Type 2
This use falls under PT2 of the EU BPR but would previously have been considered a PT10 use under the old Biocidal Products Directive. Please note this also amends the date of Approval for Nonanoic Acid for PT2. All affected companies are reminded that they must apply for UK product authorisation by 1 October 2015 in order to keep their biocidal products on the UK market after the active substance approval date, 1 October 2015. Please note if your biocidal product contains more than one active substance the date by which you have to apply for product authorisation will be the date the last active substance in the product is approved.
If no application for product authorisation in the UK is made by 1 October 2015 for a biocidal product containing this active substance, the biocidal product shall no longer be made available on the UK market after 29 March 2016. Disposal and use of existing stocks of the biocidal product may continue until 30 September 2016. If the biocidal product has approval under the UK Control of Pesticides Regulations (COPR) its approval will be revoked.
EU Biocides Regulation 528/2012 (EU BPR) – European Chemicals Agency – Biocides Stakeholders’ Day
1 September 2015
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) will be holding a Biocides Stakeholders’ Day on 1 September 2015 in Helsinki, Finland.
The conference presents information about the BPR including available tools and support for companies. Its focus is on case studies and experiences from companies on the various aspects of the regulation.
The day is open to all and the content will be of particular relevance to European and national trade associations, SMEs, large companies, alternative suppliers and environmental as well as health NGOs.
Details of the programme, how to register and how to follow via web streaming can be found on ECHA’s website. For any enquiries relating to this event please contact ECHA.