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News Archive

February 2016

  1. What Do Coffee Processing Facilities Have To Do With Lung Disease?
  2. Call for abstracts: ARSC2016 – The Australasian Road Safety Conference
  3. Event: Foresight Workshop – anticipating and adapting to change
  4. Public sector workers sleep-deprived, says University of Leeds study
  5. US NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluations (HHEs)
  6. EU Biocides Regulation 528/2012 – Active Substances Approvals
  7. One in eight people experience violence at work, says the UK TUC
  8. Event: Seventh International Conference on Engineering Failure Analysis
  9. Event: US Workshop on Shift Work at Night, Artificial Light at Night, and Circadian Disruption
  10. Global scientific community commits to sharing data on Zika
  11. Countdown to the 2016-2017 Healthy Workplaces Campaign
  12. Event: Occupational Health and Safety in Agriculture and Horticulture
  13. Event: 4th International Strategy Conference on Safety and Health at Work
  14. Event: FEICA 2016 European Adhesive and Sealant Conference and EXPO
  15. New ITUC report exposes hidden workforce of 116 million in global supply chains of fifty companies
  16. Key speakers announced for new hearing conference on 2 March 2016
  17. IOSH is calling for researchers to submit proposals
  18. Know more about the effects of the chemicals we use in Europe
  19. Workers Memorial Day – 28 April 2016
  20. Event: Occupational Safety and Health Risks on board ships
  21. New guide to tackle bullying at sea
  22. Europe: Unions push for better laws on work cancers
  23. Japan: Chemical workers press for cancer prevention
  24. USA: GE workers fear PCB health effects after job loss

What Do Coffee Processing Facilities Have To Do With Lung Disease?

From the USA NIOSH Director’s Desk, John Howard, M.D. Director, NIOSH

Obliterative bronchiolitis sounds daunting, and it is. It is a severe, irreversible lung disease that occurs when the smallest airways (called bronchioles) in the lungs become scarred and constricted, blocking air movement. This can result in cough, shortness of breath during daily activities, and sometimes wheezing. Work-related obliterative bronchiolitis has been identified in employees in flavoring manufacturing facilities and microwave popcorn facilities where the flavoring chemical diacetyl (2,3-butanedione) or butter flavorings containing diacetyl were used. The chemical 2,3-pentanedione is similar to diacetyl, and it is sometimes used in place of diacetyl in the manufacture of flavorings.

Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione are volatile organic compounds (carbon-based chemicals that can evaporate at room temperature) known as alpha-diketones. Both diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione have been shown to cause airway damage in laboratory animals. These two chemicals are produced commercially by chemical manufacturers as ingredients in flavorings that are added to some food products, such as microwave popcorn, bakery mixes, or flavored coffee.

Diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione are also naturally produced when coffee beans are roasted. Grinding roasted coffee beans produces greater surface area for the off-gassing of these and other chemicals than do the whole beans. Coffee roasting facilities package newly roasted coffee in bags fitted with one-way valves or permeable paper bags to allow for off-gassing. Alternatively, newly roasted coffee beans are placed in tubs or containers and allowed to off-gas, which can contribute to worker exposures.

Physicians at a university medical center diagnosed obliterative bronchiolitis in five people who had worked at a coffee processing facility. In 2013, NIOSH and the physicians from the university medical system summarized two of the cases of obliterative bronchiolitis in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NIOSH conducted a health hazard evaluation at the same facility, and in November 2015, NIOSH investigators published an article in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine about their evaluation. Investigators found that current workers had excessive shortness of breath and reductions in lung function as measured by a test called spirometry, which showed obstructed air flow (air was exhaled from the lungs more slowly than normal). Both indicators are consistent with undiagnosed lung disease. They also found elevated levels of diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione in the air at the facility and identified three sources:

  1. Flavoring chemicals added to roasted coffee beans in the flavoring area.
  2. Grinding and packaging unflavored roasted coffee in a distinct area of the facility.
  3. Storing roasted coffee in hoppers to off-gas.

In 2015, NIOSH published a best practices document that recommends exposure monitoring and work interventions (such as engineering controls and work practices) to decrease occupational exposures to diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione.

Currently, NIOSH has ongoing health hazard evaluations at a number of coffee processing facilities and has developed a coffee processing webpage with interim recommendations that include air sampling to detect and measure potential concentrations of the chemicals. Additionally, a medical surveillance program that includes health questionnaires and breathing tests, such as spirometry, may be indicated to screen for respiratory symptoms or abnormalities in employees. These recommendations may change to reflect additional knowledge as we learn more.

Physicians who find progressive shortness of breath in current or former workers in food production industries should be alert to the possibility that this may be a symptom of obliterative bronchiolitis associated with occupational exposure to flavoring chemicals. If obliterative bronchiolitis is suspected, immediate steps should be taken to stop further exposure to prevent further deterioration of lung function.

If exposure to diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione are a concern, I invite you to contact NIOSH through the Health Hazard Evaluation Program. Site visits are often conducted that may include exposure and/or health evaluations to better understand potential hazards. No one should have a shorter or sicker life because of what they had to do to earn a living.

Call for abstracts: ARSC2016 – The Australasian Road Safety Conference

6-8 September 2016, National Convention Centre, Canberra, Australia

The call for abstracts has been extended. See for details. Your assistance to promote the call and the conference, over the year-long planning period, would be appreciated.

The Australasian Road Safety Conference is the premier road safety conference for Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region. ARSC2016 is a joint venture initiative of the Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS), Austroads, and the George Institute for Global Health. The ARSC Conference series is the result of the merger of Australasia’s two leading road safety conferences: The Australasian College of Road Safety Conference and the Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference (RSRPE).

ARSC2016 will continue to build on the momentum and success of the inaugural ARSC2015 Conference which was held at the Gold Coast, Queensland last month. ARSC2015 was attended by 670 delegates and achieved an unprecedented level of involvement from stakeholders, policy-makers, researchers, industry and the media.

The 2016 program

With the theme of “Agility, Innovation, IMPACT”, ARSC2016 will showcase the regions’ outstanding researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and industry spanning the plethora of road safety issues identified in the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety: Road Safety Management, Infrastructure, Safe Vehicles, User Behaviour, and Post-Crash Care. ARSC2016 will bring with it a special focus on how all stakeholders can become more agile to harness the latest research, technology and policy innovations to produce the best road trauma reduction outcomes possible.

The comprehensive 3-day program will showcase the latest: research, education and policing programs; policies and management strategies; and technological developments in the field. ARSC2016 will feature a strong program of national and international keynote speakers, oral and poster presentations, workshops and symposia.

Expected delegates

ARSC2016 is expected to attract over 600 delegates including researchers, educators, policing and enforcement agencies, practitioners, policymakers, industry representatives, and students working in the fields of: behavioural science; education and training; emergency services; engineering and technology; health and rehabilitation; policing, justice and law enforcement; local, state and federal government; traffic management; and vehicle safety.

Social program

In accord with taking these important issues to our nation’s capital, the Conference Gala Dinner will be held at Parliament House and the Welcome Reception at the Australian War Memorial.

Comprehensive information on ARSC2016 is continually updated on the website at

Event: Foresight Workshop – anticipating and adapting to change

9 June 2016 – Buxton, Derbyshire

One of HSE’s strategic goals for the next five years is for Britain to ‘lead the world in anticipating and tackling the new health and safety challenges that come with social, economic and technological change’.

Some of the areas under consideration include:

Thinking about the potential impact of these changes is not about discovering obscure and unlikely risks but rather ensuring that workplace health and safety considerations do not act as unnecessary barriers to future growth.

In this one day workshop we will introduce to you to the work of the Foresight Centre and show how companies can benefit from anticipating and adapting to the changing world. Based on a series of case studies delegates will use a range of techniques to identify the challenges and opportunities for future risk management.

Public sector workers sleep-deprived, says University of Leeds study

Research led by the University of Leeds has found those working gruelling hours across the public sector are being left sleep deprived – with many only managing six hours sleep per night.

A study commissioned and funded by Silentnight found nearly a third of Britons suffered from sleepless nights as a result of long work hours and job-related pressure and stress.

People employed in the public sector – including workers in education, health, and local government – slept for six hours a night on average, below the NHS recommendation of seven to eight hours per night.

A quarter of those working in social care suffered from dangerously low averages of five hours or less per night.

The research found those working in high-pressure business management or consultancy roles also suffered from extremely low levels of sleep – with half of those surveyed getting five hours or less sleep per night.

Those working in sports, fitness and tourism were among the best sleepers in Britain, with most of those surveyed maintaining a healthy seven to eight hours sleep a night, and reporting higher levels of job satisfaction and lower levels of work related stress.

One in five people reported serious issues related to tiredness – including problems staying awake, socialising, feeling enthusiastic about day-to-day tasks, driving and maintaining concentration.

About 21% reported that they worked over 40 hours a week and 30% reported that their work negatively affected their sleep.

Those who considered their jobs to be stressful were significantly more likely to take longer to fall asleep, to be unhappy with their sleep and to sleep less. Both lack of sleep and stress at work are associated with reduced health-related quality of life.

Dr Anna Weighall, of the School of Psychology at the University of Leeds, who led the study, said:

“With nearly a quarter of British people reporting working over 40 hours a week, the public sector included, work life balance appears to be challenging for many, especially when it comes to maintaining their sleep.

“There is certainly evidence to suggest that significant numbers of participants perceive work as negatively affecting their sleep.

“What is interesting is our research reveals a resounding message that while some jobs may be better than others for our sleep health, there is a worrying trend evident across all sectors that actually workers are suffering from consistently low levels of sleep.

“The extent to which our work is stressful and working long hours seem to be important factors associated with poor sleep. And in many cases British people are sleeping below the recommended amount.

“Given that good sleep health has been shown to be crucial for our health and wellbeing this is a real public health issue.

“Many respondents reported work and job-related stress impacted on their sleep, with 42% of the people we spoke to branding their job stressful, it is unsurprising sleep patterns are affected.”

Contact Ben Jones in the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 8059 or email

US NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluations (HHEs)

Ergonomics Recommendations for an Airline Catering Company

HHE Program investigators found work-related risk factors that could explain employees’ musculoskeletal symptoms, injuries, and disorders. We also found problems related to cold exposure, dry ice, job stress, and communication. We recommended redesigning workstations, employee rotation, training, and addressing job stressors. To read the full report go to

NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Program Lead Measurement Database

We have released a database to provide researchers and other interested stakeholders with lead measurement results collected during health hazard evaluation (HHE) surveys from 1991–2015. The database contains workplace lead measurement results from over 70 HHE reports, including over 1,200 personal lead exposure measurements and 1,900 area lead measurements. For reports posted online, the database provides a direct link to the HHE report for each of the lead measurement results. This database is an ongoing project and will be updated annually to add the most recent HHE lead measurement data. To view the database visit:

EU Biocides Regulation 528/2012 – Active Substances Approvals

The following active substances have been evaluated under the EU Biocides Regulation 528/2012 (EU BPR):

They will be approved for use in biocidal products placed on the EU market, on 1 July 2016. Biocidal products containing these active substance(s) will therefore need to obtain EU BPR authorisation if they are to remain on the market.

All affected companies are reminded that they must apply for UK product authorisation by 1 July 2016 in order to keep their biocidal products on the UK market after the active substance approval date, 1 July 2016. 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 July 2016 for a biocidal product containing these active substance(s), the biocidal product shall no longer be made available on the UK market after 28 December 2016. Disposal and use of existing stocks of the biocidal product may continue until 1 July 2017. If the biocidal product has approval under the UK Control of Pesticides Regulations (COPR) its approval will be revoked.

Guidance for applying for product authorisation in the UK can be found in our EU BPR product authorisation section of the HSE biocides website. Guidance is also available there on the transitional arrangements for existing biocidal products on the UK market including products currently regulated under the COPR, which are affected by the approval of the above active substance(s).

The full Union list of approved biocidal active substances, including links to the approval decisions and assessment reports can be found on the ECHA website.

One in eight people experience violence at work, says the UK TUC

One in eight people have experienced violence at work, according to research published by the TUC on 8 February 2016.

The poll, carried out by YouGov for the TUC and released today to coincide with the start of Heartunions week, reveals that 12% of people have experienced work-related violence – such as being pushed or spat on, or being punched or stabbed.

With more than 31 million people in employment, the TUC is concerned that this could mean nearly 4 million people have experienced violence at work at some point in their career.

Of those who have experienced violence in their workplace, one in five (20%) report it happening more than 10 times.

Medical and health workers were the biggest group to say they have faced work-related violence (22%), followed by workers in education (12%), hospitality and leisure (11%), retail (9%) and manufacturing (6%).

The TUC has calculated this could mean as many as 870,000 medical and health workers, 470,000 workers in education and 430,000 workers in the hospitality and leisure industry could have experienced violence while carrying out their jobs.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Workplace violence is far too common in the UK. These disturbing findings show that millions of people are likely to experience violence and intimidation at some point in their working life – with A&E staff, nurses, teachers, hotel receptionists and shop workers particularly at risk.

“There is no excuse for physically assaulting someone. Workplaces must be safe for everyone.

“All over the country, union reps play a key role in stopping violence at work and supporting union members who are victims of abuse. We need strong unions working with employers to combat unacceptable behaviour and protect workers – and anyone worried about violence in their workplace should join a union today.”

The TUC has recently published new advice on what companies should do to crack down on workplace violence. The guidance says:

Event: Seventh International Conference on Engineering Failure Analysis

3-6 July 2016 – Leipzig, Germany

The ICEFA conference brings together world-class researchers, users and specialists involved in all aspects of failure analysis and prevention from the fields of mechanical, manufacturing, aeronautical, civil, chemical, corrosion and design engineering.


Event: US Workshop on Shift Work at Night, Artificial Light at Night, and Circadian Disruption

10-11 March 2016

Many people experience interruptions in light-dark cycles due to their lifestyle choices (e.g. use of electronic devices at night), location of their residences (e.g., urban light pollution), or working at night (e.g., shift work). Exposures to artificial light at night (ALAN) or changes in the timing of exposures to natural light (such as with ‘jet lag’) may disrupt biological processes controlled by endogenous circadian rhythms, potentially resulting in adverse health outcomes.

The National Toxicology Program (NTP) is convening a workshop to obtain external scientific input on topics important for informing the literature-based health hazard assessments including strategies for integrating data across evidence streams and exposure scenarios, and on data gaps and research needs.

Global scientific community commits to sharing data on Zika

Leading global health bodies including academic journals, NGOs, research funders and institutes, have committed to sharing data and results relevant to the current Zika crisis and future public health emergencies as rapidly and openly as possible.

Organisations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Médecins Sans Frontières, the US National Institute of Health and the Wellcome Trust, along with leading academic journals including Nature, Science and the New England Journal of Medicine, have signed a joint declaration and hope that other bodies will come on board in the coming weeks.

The statement is intended to ensure that any information that might have value in combating the Zika outbreak is made available to the international community, free of charge, as soon as is feasibly possible. Journal signatories provide assurance that doing so will not preclude researchers from subsequently publishing papers in their titles.

It follows a consensus statement arising from a WHO consultation in September 2015, in which leading international stakeholders from multiple sectors affirmed that timely and transparent pre-publication sharing of data and results during public health emergencies must become the global norm.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust and a signatory of the statement, said:

“Research is an essential part of the response to any global health emergency. This is particularly true for Zika, where so much is still unknown about the virus, how it is spread and the possible link with microcephaly.

“It’s critical that as results become available they are shared rapidly in a way that is equitable, ethical and transparent. This will ensure that the knowledge gained is turned quickly into health interventions that can have an impact on the epidemic.

“It’s extremely heartening to see so many leading international organisations united in this unprecedented commitment to open science, reinforcing the decision by the WHO to declare Zika a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”

Full details:

Countdown to the 2016-2017 Healthy Workplaces Campaign

EU-OSHA’s next Healthy Workplaces for All Ages campaign will be launched on 14 April 2016. And the countdown clock is ticking.

This campaign will focus on sustainable working lives, drawing attention to the importance of good safety and health management at any age and providing practical tools and guidance in this area.

Check out the brand-new campaign guide.

Event: Occupational Health and Safety in Agriculture and Horticulture

9 May 2016 - 13 May 2016 – Ystad Saltsjöbad, Ystad, Sweden

The purpose of the course:

An important goal is to give participants the opportunity to network, exchange experiences and knowledge. Participants will also have the possibility to interact with some of the best researchers in the field.

Event: 4th International Strategy Conference on Safety and Health at Work

21-24 March 2016

“Work in a digital world” is one of five key topics of the 4th International Strategy Conference on Safety and Health at Work that will be held in Dresden from 21 to 24 March 2016. This topic, for which KAN is responsible, invites the delegates to take part in an online brainstorming session and to discuss how strongly occupational safety and health will be influenced by digitalization.

Papers, interviews, statements and examples from the field will provide inspiration for the discussion with other experts on how work will be changed by digitalization in the next five years, what conditions must be met to ensure that the digital world of work is humane, what contribution the occupational safety and health lobby can and should make to the process of digitalization, and what tools for occupational safety and health must be created or developed further. Please find the detailed programme for this topic attached to this e-mail.

The strategy conference is organized by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) in cooperation with a number of international, European and national organizations. The five key topics to be addressed are:

  1. T1: Vision Zero
  2. T2: People-centered prevention
  3. T3: Healthy work – healthy life
  4. T4: Demographic change
  5. T5: Work in a digital world.

The conference language is English.

Further information on the Strategy Conference:

Event: FEICA 2016 European Adhesive and Sealant Conference and EXPO

7-9 September 2016 – Vienna, Austria

FEICA is pleased to invite experts to share their knowledge and experience with an international audience of industry leaders and stakeholders at the 2016 European Adhesive & Sealant Conference and EXPO, which takes place in Vienna, Austria from 7 until 9 September 2016.

Year-on-year FEICA manages to attract a record number of 500+ industry professionals from over 30 countries worldwide to discuss market drivers and niches, raw material sourcing, innovation, sustainability and technological developments.

The conference will address the key industry challenges, provide multi-perspective solutions, present new developments, promote discussion among all the stakeholders and strive for the advancement of the adhesive and sealant industry.

More about the FEICA 2016 European Adhesive & Sealant Conference and EXPO on

New ITUC report exposes hidden workforce of 116 million in global supply chains of fifty companies

The global supply chains of 50 companies employ only six per cent of people in a direct employment relationship, yet rely on a hidden workforce of 94 per cent according to new research from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

“Just 50 companies including Samsung, McDonalds and Nestle have a combined revenue of $3.4 trillion and the power to reduce inequality. Instead they have built a business model on a massive hidden workforce of 116 million people,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

The ITUC report, Scandal: Inside the global supply chains of 50 top companies released on the eve of the World Economic Forum in Davos exposes an unsustainable business model, with a global footprint that covers almost every country in the world and profiles 25 companies with headquarters in Asia, Europe, and the United States.

“Sixty per cent of global trade in the real economy is dependent on the supply chains of our major corporations, which uses a business model based on exploitation and abuse of human rights in supply chains,” said Sharan Burrow.

ITUC research shows:

“Profits are driven by low wages levels that people cannot live on, these profits risk safety with the result of indefensible workplace injuries and deaths; that these profits are increased by tax evasion or tragically linked to pollution of community land and water.”

“When global business won’t pay the moderate demands of workers for a minimum wage on which they can live with dignity, $177 in Phnom Penh, $250 in Jakarta, $345 in Manila – then this is knowingly condemning workers and their families to live in poverty. It’s greed pure and simple,” said Sharan Burrow

The ITUC has set out five recommendations for companies to address the scandal of global supply chains:

“The number of global framework agreements between multi-national companies and global union federations which address these problems and establish a sustainable footing for the global economy are on the increase, but we still have a long way to go. Governments must not neglect their responsibilities,” said Sharan Burrow.

Labour leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos will be putting forward a four step plan to transform the business model of global companies and address inequality:

“Only by exposing the practices of these companies to consumers and citizens around the world will companies begin to take responsibility for their supply chains and follow the rule of law,” said Sharan Burrow.

Key speakers announced for new hearing conference on 2 March 2016

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) has announced the keynote speakers who will speak at ListenUP! – the first European Hearing Conservation Conference.

Taking place in Manchester, UK on 2 March 2016, ListenUP! will bring together international specialists in the field of hearing conservation to propose a fresh approach to the escalating problem of noise-induced hearing loss.

Speakers at the conference, which is the first of its kind in Europe, represent a broad range of disciplines. Those delivering keynote talks include:

Attendees will also benefit from presentations from other expert speakers including Peter Wilson, Director of the Industrial Noise and Vibration Centre; Fiona Carragher, Deputy Chief Scientific Officer for NHS England; Stephen Dance, Reader in Acoustics at London South Bank University and Mike Barraclough, Senior Risk Manager with QBE Insurance.

Disabling hearing loss currently affects more than 10 million people in the UK and by 2031 it is anticipated that 14.5 million people in the UK will suffer some degree of noise-induced hearing loss.

ListenUP! offers anyone actively involved or interested in hearing conservation the unique opportunity to obtain the very latest information, solutions and good practice to help tackle hearing loss. They will also be in at the start of this drive for change and can help to shape the future of a proposed European Hearing Conservation Association.

Online registration for ListenUP! is now open, but interest in this landmark conference is high so anyone interested in attending is advised to visit now to secure their place.

IOSH is calling for researchers to submit proposals

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is pleased to announce this year’s call for bids, and are inviting researchers to submit proposals by 15 March 2016 (midnight GMT).

More information:

Know more about the effects of the chemicals we use in Europe

It is now easier to find information on 120 000 chemicals used in Europe today.

There is now a new, easier way to find out about the chemicals we use on a daily basis. The information is available in three layers of complexity: the simple infocard, the more detailed brief profile and the full source data.

The infocard gives a summary of the key information on a chemical substance in plain English. Users can read about the chemicals they are exposed to, where they are commonly used, whether they are hazardous and the precautions that they might need to take.

The brief profile goes deeper into the environmental, human health and physico-chemical properties of the chemical. It provides a user-friendly overview of the information collected for each substance under the different chemical regulations. This will be most useful for employers, workers, academics and regulators.

The third level, source data, includes the raw data submitted by companies to ECHA in REACH registration dossiers and notifications to the classification and labelling inventory.

ECHA’s Executive Director Geert Dancet says: “ECHA is moving from collecting information to making much better use of it for the general public as well as for regulators throughout the world. This launch is an important step towards safer chemicals by 2020 and a great contribution from the EU to the goals of the United Nations’ World Summit on Sustainable Development set in 2002.”

This three-level approach improves the transparency and traceability of data on chemicals. ECHA is not reducing the amount of information, adding or approving the collected data but making it much more accessible.

More information:

Workers Memorial Day – 28 April 2016

The purpose behind Workers’ Memorial Day has always been to “remember the dead: fight for the living” and unions are asked to focus on both areas, by considering events or memorial to remember all those killed through work but at the same time ensuring that such tragedies are not repeated. That can best be done by building trade union organisation, and campaigning for stricter enforcement with higher penalties for breaches of health & safety laws.

Workers Memorial Day is commemorated throughout the world and is officially recognised by the UK Government, European Commission, the International Labour Office and many other countries worldwide.

In the UK the 2016 theme for the day is “Strong Laws – Strong enforcement – Strong Unions” because across the world we are seeing growing attacks on health and safety protection, including in Britain where the Government have removed protection form millions of self-employed workers, and across Europe where the European Commission are pursuing a dangerous de-regulatory strategy. However strong laws are not enough if they are not going to be enforced. That is why we need proper inspections and enforcement action against those who break the laws. Here in the UK the number of inspections has fallen dramatically in the past five years, however in many other countries enforcement has always been non-existent. That is why we also need strong unions. Unionised workplaces are safer, yet the Government is trying to stop unions protecting the health and safety of their members by restricting the right of health and safety representatives to take time off to keep the workplace safer, and also trying to reduce our right to strike when things go wrong.

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

What you can do:

Also look at RoSPA’s NOHSC 28 April website and the History of Occupational Safety and Health website launched on 28 April 2014 is also created and hosted by Sheila Pantry. It provides a wealth of information for those wishing to track the development of occupational safety and health, be they teaching or studying for professional or academic qualifications or carrying out other research, showing how this area has been at the heart of the UK’s industrial history.

Event: Occupational Safety and Health Risks on board ships

25-27 April 2016, Radisson BLU Saga Hotel, Reykjavik, Iceland

Working places on board ship often are among the most dangerous. They have specific challenges, hazards and risks and addressing these issues is a priority.

The course aims to:

Course leader: Tim Carter, Professor, The Norwegian Centre for Maritime Medicine

More information:

New guide to tackle bullying at sea

New guidance to combat bullying and harassment at sea has been developed by the industry body the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the global union the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

The ITF/ICS guidance sets out what shipping companies, seafarers and seafarers’ organisations can do to help prevent bullying and harassment from becoming a serious problem.

As well as providing advice on company policies on reporting, complaints and grievance procedures, the guidance addresses the responsibilities of seafarers and their employers to use these procedures appropriately and for being aware of any harassment or bullying that might occur within the maritime workplace. This includes any instances of cyber-bullying.

More information:

Europe: Unions push for better laws on work cancers

Unions are to work throughout the Dutch Presidency of the European Union to develop a preventive approach to occupational cancer. During this presidency, which runs from January to June, the Dutch government has expressed a desire to update the EU Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive, a longstanding union objective.

A new report from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) says the union objective is to “eliminate occupational cancer.” Promoting a six-point preventive charter, it urges unions to run a political and awareness campaign. This should include approaching embassies and consulates of the Netherlands to present the union campaign objectives, it notes. The ETUC report notes: “At workplaces trade unions are demanding that dangerous substances and processes are eliminated or substituted with less dangerous ones. Likewise we are seeking to improve work organisation in order to avoid or minimise exposures to night and shift work. To reinforce this work we are calling for improvements to the legislative framework at EU level and we are seizing the opportunity created by the initiative of the Dutch Presidency.”

More information:

Japan: Chemical workers press for cancer prevention

Two of five workers who developed bladder cancer while working at a chemical factory manufacturing dyes and pigments are demanding that the Japanese government recognise their illness as job-related. Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, the pair called on their employer – Tokyo-based Mitsuboshi Chemical – to make urgent improvements in conditions at the plant in Fukui Prefecture.

Employees Kenji Takayama and Yasuhiro Tanaka, both 56, have each worked at the plant for nearly 20 years. They say poor working conditions, including a lack of ventilation that routinely makes workers sick, could have caused the cancer. The five who contracted bladder cancer were involved in mixing or drying aromatic amines, including the potent bladder carcinogen o-toluidine. One of the cancer sufferers has retired, but the four others remain with the company.

The health ministry is now looking into the possible association between the workers’ cancer and the factory environment, while Mitsuboshi Chemical has not commented on a possible link. Hiroyuki Isobe, executive chair of the Kansai chapter of the Kagaku Ippan Rodo Kumiai Rengo, the union that represents the workers, said the union had just visited the Tokyo head office of Mitsuboshi Chemical. The company avoided comment on whether their contact with the chemicals was responsible for the cancers, Isobe said. The case parallels that at a US Goodyear plant in Niagara Falls, where over 60 workers exposed to o-toluidine are reported to have developed bladder cancer.

More information:

USA: GE workers fear PCB health effects after job loss

Workers set to lose their jobs at a General Electric plant in the US fear serious diseases linked to their exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) could hit them later in life. The union representing the workers at the GE Fort Edward plant is citing concerns over exposure to toxic PCBs – used in manufacture of capacitors at the plant – in pressing the company to pay for health testing after workers lose their jobs. But the company, which is closing the plant, is refusing the request.

A high-ranking GE executive also told the union there is “no credible evidence” that PCBs cause cancer or other serious illness, a stance that puts the company at odds with federal and international health agencies that for years have labelled the chemical as a likely human carcinogen. Gene Elk, an official with the electrical union UE, said that workers are concerned potential exposure to PCBs could put them at risk of illness later in life.

The union wants access to company-collected health records of workers at both Fort Edward and a second Hudson Falls plant. National health and safety regulator OSHA this month cited GE for safety violations at the Fort Edward plant and issued $53,000 in fines. One fine was because federal inspectors found “employees’ working surfaces were not kept clean from PCB contamination” during a 5 August 2015 inspection, according to the citation. GE has until 8 February to either accept or contest the fines.

More information: