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News from around the World

News Archive

September 2016

  1. Nearly half of workplaces have never had a visit from a health and safety inspector, say health and safety reps
  2. Driverless vehicles – where are we going?
  3. Building design must respond to risks posed by balcony fires, says new report
  4. Landmark study points to way ahead on container port health and safety
  5. TUC warns bad firms they have ‘no place to hide’
  6. Unions call for action to stop sexual harassment at work
  7. ‘Lives could be lost’ at major roadworks, union warns
  8. Refinery giant fined £400,000 after serious injury
  9. Firefighters’ guide to occupational cancer prevention
  10. Regulatory activity: Chemicals used in tattoo inks review request
  11. Event: International Scientific and Practical Conference “Fire Safety Issues”
  12. Event: Middle East HSE Technical Forum – Effective management of health, safety, environment and sustainability
  13. Bangladesh Government and Global Brands Share Responsibility for Factory Deaths
  14. Sharp rise in fire deaths as firefighter job cuts worsen in England
  15. Events: European Health and Safety Week, 24-30 October 2016
  16. Scientists start to move into the Crick, London, UK
  17. Great Fire of London – new book
  18. US NORA enters its third decade
  19. Shiftworkers are at higher risk of infections
  20. China: Power plant explosion leaves over 20 dead
  21. On Global Health and Being “Prepared”
  22. Finding way to defend safety after Brexit
  23. Hotel union challenges backbreaking work
  24. Stressed-out journalists issue strike warning
  25. Zika Virus – Enhanced Precautions
  26. The European Union Committee launches an inquiry into UK-Irish relations
  27. Figures reveal 321 people died in accidental drownings in 2015 in the UK
  28. Event: The Association of Canadian Ergonomists (ACE)’s 47th annual conference, “Harnessing the Power of Ergonomics”
  29. Safety body wants anti-slavery action to spread

Nearly half of workplaces have never had a visit from a health and safety inspector, say health and safety reps

Nearly half of UK workplaces have never had a health and safety inspection – including more than 80% of construction workplaces – according to a new TUC survey of health and safety reps published on Monday 19 September 2016.

Manufacturing is the only sector in which a majority (57%) of safety reps said there had been an inspection during the past year. In stark comparison, in the hazardous construction industry – where there were 65,000 work-related injuries and 67,000 work related illnesses in 2015 – just one in six (17%) of reps was aware of an inspection in the last year.

Nearly one in two (46%) respondents said that as far as they know their workplace has never had an inspection by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Just one in four reps (24%) reported an inspection within the last 12 months.

Workplaces with dedicated health and safety reps are usually those larger workplaces where there are greater risks to workers.

By 2019/20 government funding of the HSE will have been slashed by nearly half, and in recent years, local councils have reduced workplace inspections by 97%. The government has also restricted the ability of workers to claim compensation if they are injured or made ill at work following employer negligence.

More information:

Driverless vehicles – where are we going?

The UK House of Lords Science and Technology Committee launches an inquiry into the future uses of driverless (also known as autonomous) vehicles in the UK.

The UK has the potential to become a world leader in developing, producing and deploying autonomous vehicles. This inquiry will collect evidence on the potential uses and benefits of autonomous vehicles in contexts such as road transport, farming and space exploration.

The Committee is seeking written evidence from as wide an audience as possible and across a whole range of possible applications from cars to public transport.

More information:

Building design must respond to risks posed by balcony fires, says new report

Balconies are a growing feature of urban development as designers strive to harness precious outdoor space, especially in high rise buildings.

But careful consideration must be given to materials and structural design to mitigate the risk of a balcony fire spreading to other parts of the building.

This is the finding of a new BRE Global report for the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) carried out under the “Investigation of Real Fires” contract.

Just published, “Fire safety issues with balconies” cautions that design choices to prevent thermal bridging or improve insulation in balcony structures to meet Part L of the Building Regulations may be compromising fire safety under Part B.

At the same time, Part B provides no specific fire design guidance for balconies, except when they act as a means of escape. This effectively means that there are no statutory requirements accounting for external fire spread from the incorporation of balconies in a structure, leaving their resolution open to interpretation of the Building Regulations.

Citing several case studies of fires in high rise residential developments, the report reveals that fires which start on a balcony can be quite severe and may spread to the balcony above, or to the flat above via windows. The presence of inappropriate cladding material can also promote fire spread up the entire façade of the building. These conditions could endanger the lives of residents on higher floors and may cause burning material to fall to the ground, with potential spread downwards or to adjacent buildings.

Some of the highlighted investigations showed that in meeting the requirements of Part L there had been an adverse effect on compliance with Part B.

One such case involved a fire on a concrete balcony installed with timber decking and timber battens, underlain by polyethylene spacer rings and foam insulation covered by a woven plastic sheet. The fire spread to involve insulation behind cladding systems on external walls, and to the balcony ceiling which had expanded polystyrene insulation behind a render. It also spread under the decking to the balcony of the neighbouring flat on the same level.

To date, there have been no known fatalities caused by fire spread from a balcony fire to warrant an amendment to current regulations. However, changes in building design and materials to meet energy performance criteria are clearly affecting the potential outcome of a balcony fire. This issue must now be carefully considered by designers, specifiers, property developers, managers, risk assessors, and fire-fighters, the report stresses.

Current high demand for housing and the premium put on private outdoor space is likely to see a proliferation in balconies in new developments, with inevitable impacts on the risks of balcony fires. BRE Global reported on six fire incidents in 2015 compared with just one in 2005.

The potential remains for a fire on a balcony construction which does not adequately consider all parts of the Building Regulations to pose a significant life safety issue.

The full report is available at:

Landmark study points to way ahead on container port health and safety

An independent study published on Friday, 9 September 2016 could pave the way for significant improvements in the health, safety and welfare of workers in the global container port industry.

The study, Experiences of arrangements for health, safety and welfare in the global container terminal industry, identifies continuing risks, causes for concern and flaws in the behavioural management systems commonly employed by operators. It also offers clear pointers to improvement.

It was commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and carried out by Cardiff University in Wales.

Researchers were granted unique workplace access by six major port/global network terminal operators, which are anonymised in the data.

The report recognises the ongoing health and safety progress made by port operators. But it highlights attention needs to be paid to seven areas of concern, which are:

More information:

TUC warns bad firms they have ‘no place to hide’

The TUC has warned UK companies there will be “no hiding place” if they exploit their workers. General secretary Frances O’Grady told delegates at TUC’s annual conference in Brighton, UK that mistreatment of the workforce is becoming more widespread in the UK.

She warned “greedy” businesses that the TUC would “shine a light on you”. The union leader told delegates: “Sports Direct may be in the spotlight now, but they are not the only ones. There are other big companies that bring shame on our country. So let me give fair warning to any greedy business that treats its workers like animals - we will shine a light on you.” She added: “Run a big brand with a dirty little secret? A warehouse of people paid less than the minimum wage? A fleet of couriers who are slaves to an app? Let me put you on notice. There will be no hiding place. We will organise and we will win.”

A union-led campaign succeeded this month in getting commitments from sportswear chain Sports Direct to improve employment conditions, including a step back from zero hours contracts and a revision of its highly criticised disciplinary policy. The TUC leader said the firm’s promise to abolish zero-hours contracts for its directly employed, casual retail staff - and to make sure all staff were paid above the national minimum wage - was down to “trade union shareholder power”, adding: “Britain’s unions will not rest until every worker gets the fair treatment they deserve.” She said the decision by pub chain Wetherspoons to allow all staff on zero hours contracts to move to guaranteed minimum hours after trialling the idea in parts of the business “proves that businesses can be successful without zero hours contracts”.

Unite this week called for a ban on zero hours contracts after new official statistics showed a 21 per cent increase in the number of people saying they work on a zero hours basis as their main job. Lecturers’ union UCU said its figures suggested half (49 per cent) of teaching staff in UK universities are employed on some form of insecure contract. “People would be shocked to learn that the types of contracts they associate with Sports Direct are being used to employ the people who teach their children,” said UCU general secretary Sally Hunt.

More information:

Unions call for action to stop sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment at work is a major under-reported problem in Britain’s workplaces, the TUC’s annual conference has heard. Delegated agreed unanimously an emergency motion calling for measures to stamp out sexual harassment at work after hearing two-thirds of young women had been directly affected.

Prospect deputy general secretary Sue Ferns, who moved the motion prompted by the TUC’s August 2016 report ‘Still Just a Bit of Banter?’, highlighted the ‘everyday nature’ of the harassment, and cited her union’s campaign to address the problem of women being required to wear ill-fitting personal protective equipment (PPE). Women frequently receive derogatory comments simply for wearing required work-wear, she said.

Shopworkers’ trade union leader John Hannett, who seconded the motion, said despite an ‘unequivocal message’ from union reps that harassment has no place whatsoever in the 21st century workplace, “sexual harassment persists and continues to damage the working lives of most women workers. So we fully support the call for urgent action to promote respect and dignity, ridding every workplace of violence, abuse and harassment.”

The ‘Still just a bit of banter?’ study published in August by the TUC in collaboration with the Everyday Sexism Project found more than half (52 per cent) of women - and nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of women aged 18-24 years old - report experiencing sexual harassment at work.

More information:

‘Lives could be lost’ at major roadworks, union warns

The collapse this month of a huge steel structure on a prestigious road building project and another incident where a mechanical roadworking machine overturned has raised serious safety concerns, the construction union UCATT has warned. The union said “such huge breaches of health and safety” on the high profile £750 million Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) project “are deeply worrying as they threaten workers’ lives.” The AWPR consortium of contractors which includes Carillion, Galliford Try and Balfour Beatty appear to have tried to hush up the incidents, the union claimed. It said the UCATT convenor on site was not informed of the incidents, with the human resources department claiming this was an oversight. UCATT said ‘scared’ workers brought the accidents to the attention of local media, which has reported that some workers have quit for fear of their lives.

UCATT regional secretary Steve Dillon, said: “I’m shocked, not only at the scale of the accidents but the behaviour of the contractor.” He added: “You would imagine that not only safety would be top notch but that the behaviour of such eminent contractors would be commensurate with the prestige of the project. We want answers to not only why our members’ lives were put in jeopardy but why our convenor was kept completely in the dark. These constructors know how the industry works – and currently both health and safety, and industry protocol on the AWPR are being flouted. This must be rectified.”

The UCATT official said: “One of the major problems is that there is a safety committee but it’s not being used in compliance with health and safety regulation. It was not informed of these events. Therefore the committee is not carrying out its function properly – and the result is serious accidents.”

More information:

Refinery giant fined £400,000 after serious injury

Valero Energy UK Limited has been fined £400,000 following a serious injury at its Pembroke Refinery in the UK. Judge Peter Heywood sitting at Swansea Crown Court heard the access tower walkway that provided gangway access to a stationary oil tanker on 5 March 2012 had dropped 3.5 metres, causing operator David Thomas to be trapped by a slack wire rope. The 55-year-old was left dangling over the side of the walkway but used his experience as a rock climber to grab a cross beam to take the weight from his legs. He was rescued by his fellow workers and was later flown to Swansea’s Morriston hospital where he spent 17 days. He suffered fractures and lacerations to both legs and a dislocated knee, requiring a knee replacement.

Rupert Lowe, prosecuting, said the poor design of the access walkway had caused the incident. He said a maintenance firm employed by Valero had reported various issues and had warned of “a potentially fatal accident waiting to happen.”

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found multiple failings leading up to the incident. Among the list of criminal shortcomings, the company had failed to carry out adequate investigations into previous related incidents in September 2011, February 2011 and August 2010. Valero Energy UK Limited - previously known as Chevron - pleaded guilty to a single criminal safety charge at an earlier hearing. It was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £60,614.

Judge Peter Heywood said while the equipment had significant design problems, Valero had failed to act after a series of incidents, adding the “strident” warning from the maintenance firm had proved to be true. HSE inspector Andrew Knowles said: “It was particularly disappointing to find that although the company knew there had been problems with the operation of the access tower the company had failed to investigate these properly and had relied on changes to instructions, rather than taking action to modify the defective hardware, as required by the hierarchy of risk control.” He added: “This was even more surprising in view of the fact that the company operates a major hazard refinery site where you would expect such problems to be taken more seriously and effectively investigated, with suitable corrective actions implemented.”

More information:

Firefighters’ guide to occupational cancer prevention

The firefighters’ union FBU says occupational cancer is a ‘serious threat’ for firefighters. In response, the union has produced an initial guidance document which highlights the basic principles to follow to prevent unnecessary contamination with smoke, fumes, chemicals and other hazardous substances before, during and after incidents.

The union says FBU officials will be asked to raise these issues with management and at health and safety committee meetings. It adds that some fire and rescue authorities have already taken steps to address the problem, but says “our aim is that it will soon be on the agenda in every brigade.” The union says its publication, which includes a 10-point action plan, is only initial advice. “The FBU is looking at medium and longer term options,” it notes. “As a member you can start to make a difference today by adopting the principles suggested in this document.”

Regulatory activity: Chemicals used in tattoo inks review request

ECHA have announced their intention to look at potential risks posed by some of the chemicals used in tattoo inks and whether regulatory action is needed in light of this. ECHA will formally announce this intention in the Registry of Intentions, at which time the public will be invited to submit any relevant information to assist in this work. The request for ECHA to look at this is available on ECHA’s website.

ECHA will be using the findings of the recently published study of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) on the safety of tattoos and permanent make-up as well other scientific and socio-economic information in their review.

Event: International Scientific and Practical Conference “Fire Safety Issues”

28-29 October 2016

It will be held on the initiative of the Fire Safety Faculty at the National University of Civil Defence of Ukraine, 94 Chernyshevska Str. Kharkiv , Ukraine.

Event: Middle East HSE Technical Forum – Effective management of health, safety, environment and sustainability

17-19 October 2016

Hear from His Excellency Eng. Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy as he opens the Energy Institute’s Middle East HSE Forum on 17 October 2016 in Abu Dhabi.

Bangladesh Government and Global Brands Share Responsibility for Factory Deaths

The tragic deaths of at least 30 workers and injuries to many more in Saturday 10 September 2016 fire at the Tampoco Foil factory building in Tongi industrial district, 20 kilometres north of Dhaka, Bangladesh. This shows the callous disregard of the Bangladesh government for workers’ safety, and the failure of multinational companies doing business with the factory to take responsibility for the lives of workers in their supply chains.

The workers died when a boiler exploded in the factory building, an old structure to which extra floors had been added, spreading fire and eventually causing the building to collapse. The cramped building, full of flammable materials, was entirely unsuitable for a factory, and according to information received by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), had only one working exit.

Factory owner Syed Mokbul Hussain, a former member of parliament, is being sued by the parents of one of the deceased, for culpable homicide. More than half the members of Bangladesh’s parliament have business interests, many of them factory owners. Requests by factory workers in Bangladesh to register their trade unions are routinely ignored by the government; thus, workers have been able to organise in only a tiny percentage of factories. Major multinational companies, including British American Tobacco, Mondelez and Nestle have been publicly named as using the factory in their supply chains.

More information:

Sharp rise in fire deaths as firefighter job cuts worsen in England

The number of people who have died in fires in England has jumped by 15 per cent over the past year to 303, with firefighters’ union FBU calling the figures “a damning indictment” of government policy. The Home Office statistics for the year from April 2015 reveal the single biggest percentage increase in fire deaths for 20 years. The statistics come after the Department of Communities and Local Government, the government department responsible for the fire service until January this year, published data last year showing that response times to fires were at their slowest in two decades. Firefighters’ union FBU said the fault lies solely with the government, which has cut fire and rescue service budgets by more than 30 per cent since 2010, resulting in 9,600 firefighter jobs being axed.

Dave Green, national officer for the FBU and a former firefighter, said: “These figures are a damning indictment of how this government have managed the fire and rescue service. They have slashed budgets without regard for public safety.” He added: “The long term trend of falling fire deaths is now going into reverse, with two consecutive rises in one year – the figures are released six monthly. This shows us very clearly that the fire and rescue service needs investment immediately if more lives are not to be lost.”

The figures show that in 2015-16, fire services across England attended around 162,000 fires – an increase of 7,000 from the previous year. From these incidents, fire services recorded 303 fire-related fatalities, which is 39 more than in the previous 12 months. Brandon Lewis, minister for policing and the fire service, responded: “There has been a long term downward trend in both fires and fire deaths for many years, recently reaching historically low levels.”

More information:

Events: European Health and Safety Week, 24-30 October 2016

European Health and Safety Week takes place in October each year and is designed to raise awareness of health and safety at work. This year the week will take place in the fourth week of October, running from Monday 24 October to Sunday 30 October. The theme is ‘healthy workplaces for all ages.’

The European Agency for Safety and Health (EU-OSHA), which organises the event, says it is “aimed at people in organisations, companies and workplaces of all sizes and sectors. Everybody involved in occupational safety and health matters is invited to take part, especially safety and health institutions and occupational insurance organisations, trade unions and employers’ organisations, companies, managers, employees and safety representatives.”

The Wednesday of European Health and Safety Week – this year, 26 October – is the annual National Inspection Day when all safety representatives are encouraged to inspect their workplace.

More information:

Scientists start to move into the Crick, London, UK

The Francis Crick Institute is the biggest biomedical research institute under one roof in Europe. It’s so large that there is even app to help you navigate it.

The Crick has been established through the collaboration of six founding partners: the MRC, Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, University College London, Imperial College London and King’s College London.

The design, construction and commissioning of the 170 metre-long building has been a technically challenging undertaking. It required high specifications to be met for the most sensitive and advanced research equipment to be used – such as high vibration resistance, close temperature control, minimisation of electromagnetic interference and high rates of air change.

Researchers conducting genetics and genomic studies will have access to advanced DNA sequencing, while the latest mass spectrometry equipment allows characterisation of gene expression, proteins and metabolic pathways. Scientists will be able to study biological structures in fantastic detail in state-of-the-art electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance suites. Robots in the high-throughput screening facility will test tens of thousands of drug candidates in cells.

Collaboration and interdisciplinary working has also been a key part of the Crick’s design. Research groups from different disciplines have been given neighbouring lab space and given the building’s wealth of open work space, breakout areas and shared core facilities, scientists can’t help but bump into each other, have conversations and share ideas.

Research at the Crick aims to discover how and why disease develops so we can find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, infections and neurodegenerative conditions like motor neurone disease.

The institute will specialise in discovery science: investigating the fundamental biological processes underlying human health and disease. But the increased understanding of these key processes can lead to opportunities to develop novel drugs and innovative new treatments.

More information:

Great Fire of London – new book

This book is a commemorative view marking the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London of 1666. The book has been authored by the Worshipful Company of Firefighters to provide, from a 21st century perspective, an educational appreciation of why and how this fire progressed. It also sets out the impact that the fire had within the City of London, on livery companies, churches and on society in general. It brought about a realisation that fire safety and fire precautions needed to be enhanced and, in so doing, stimulated the development of both fire insurance and organised firefighting arrangements.

Prompted by a simple question: “Why would anybody confess to starting a fire that they hadn’t, and allow themselves to be hanged as a consequence?” world renowned fire investigator Liveryman Dr Peter Mansi decided to research the fire and, in particular, the way in which it was investigated at the time. He uses current methodologies to conduct a cold-case review and his work has highlighted some serious shortcomings in the original investigation and its documentation. In places, his conclusions are at variance with those of the Parliamentary Report, the document that was the catalyst for the production of this book.

US NORA enters its third decade

On 1 October 2016, the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) enters its third decade. Unveiled in 1996, NORA is a partnership program to stimulate innovative research and improved workplace practices. Through NORA, diverse parties come together to create a research framework for the nation, including stakeholders from universities, large and small businesses, professional societies, government agencies, and worker organizations. NIOSH is proud to continue its role as steward of NORA.

The questions guiding the third decade are two-fold: What research should be done in 2020 and beyond? Can an efficient and effective structure be found to identify and integrate research priorities? To answer these questions, NORA will move forward with an enhanced structure and a continued focus on a national research agenda.

Read More from John Howard, Director, NIOSH:

Shiftworkers are at higher risk of infections

People are more susceptible to infection at certain times of the day as our body clock affects the ability of viruses to replicate and spread between cells, suggests new research from the University of Cambridge. The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), may help explain why shiftworkers, whose body clocks are routinely disrupted, are more prone to health problems, including infections and chronic diseases like diabetes.

The researchers found that virus replication in mice infected at the very start of the day – equivalent to sunrise, when these nocturnal animals start their resting phase – was ten times greater than in mice infected ten hours into the day, when they are transitioning to their active phase. “The time of day of infection can have a major influence on how susceptible we are to the disease, or at least on the viral replication, meaning that infection at the wrong time of day could cause a much more severe acute infection,” said Professor Akhilesh Reddy, the study’s senior author. “This is consistent with recent studies, which have shown that the time of day that the influenza vaccine is administered can influence how effectively it works.” When the body clock was disrupted in either individual cells or mice, researchers found that the timing of infection no longer mattered – viral replication was always high.

More information:

China: Power plant explosion leaves over 20 dead

At least 21 workers have died and a number have been critically injured after a broken steam pipe caused a huge explosion at a power plant in central China’s Hubei province. The blast on 11 August occurred at Madian Gangue Power Generation Co Ltd in Dangyang City as workers were testing thermo-power facilities. A high-pressure steam pipe burst and caused the blast, a preliminary investigation indicated.

The plant only started operation this year and its facilities are still undergoing testing, local authorities said. The fatal blast left a scene of destruction, with distorted pipes, wires and window panes, shattered computer screens in the control room, and a few helmets of workers and their clothes strewn on the ground.

The State Administration of Work Safety has sent a work group to investigate the tragedy. The blast came a day before the first anniversary of the warehouse explosion that killed at least 165 people in the northern port of Tianjin. The massive chemical blasts sparked widespread anger over safety negligence by factory management and lack of openness by officials about the cause of the disaster and its possible impact on environment.

More information:

On Global Health and Being “Prepared”

By Rebecca Martin, PhD, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Center for Global Health

What does it mean to be “prepared?” And, more to the point, what does it mean for working in global health?

For some, being “prepared” means setting aside cash for emergencies and keeping their insurance up-to-date. For others, it means a plan of action or even a fresh supply of duct tape, a list of important phone numbers, and a supply of bottled water – just in case.

As director of CDC’s Center for Global Health, I spend my time understanding and planning for what it means to be “prepared” to keep Americans safe here in the U.S. and abroad. CDC works with other governments and global partners by strengthening detection and response systems to combat diseases at their source, building a global safety net to detect diseases once they are on the move, and responding rapidly to threats that can impact the health of the American people. Many infectious diseases are the ultimate opportunistic creatures, taking full advantage of gaps in the global safety net.

Being prepared is a critical watchword in global health, and we draw lessons from our battles against HIV, TB, Ebola, Zika, and the only human disease the world has eradicated: smallpox, to name a few. All of them provide critical real-life examples of what works and what doesn’t, what it means to be prepared and what happens when we are not. Those lessons tell us what is needed for an effective response that saves lives and better protects not just people in the country where the disease is found, but the global community – all of us. That’s the definition of preparedness.


Finding way to defend safety after Brexit

The possibility of the UK soon turning its back on the proven protection provided by EU health and safety regulations could mean workers will need an alternative set of rules to protect them, the TUC has indicated. The union body says the expected flurry of new trade agreements needs to go beyond previous deals, which included the ‘core’ International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards on freedom of association, freedom from forced labour, child labour, and freedom from discrimination, but did not include safety protections.

More information:

Hotel union challenges backbreaking work

Nine out of every ten hotel housekeeping workers in London suffers from back pain caused by their job, a union survey has found. Over three-quarters of the chefs surveyed reported having witnessed an injury or a near miss caused by fatigue

Unite said its research confirmed global hotel chains have made the capital one of the most ‘unethical’ tourist destinations in the world. The union said its report, Unethical London, exposes the low pay and exploitative work practices that have been allowed to flourish unchecked in the multi-billion hotel industry, which employs 100,000 people in London. It added the report shows that, despite many being signatories to various ethical social responsibility agreements, big name hotel chains, including Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) and Hilton, are “only paying lip service to workers’ basic human and trade union rights.”

Unite is calling on all hotels operating in London to adopt a set of ‘City Wide Principles’, based on the key provisions of the OECD guidelines, the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code and the United Nations Global Compact.

More information:

Stressed-out journalists issue strike warning

Journalists on Newsquest titles in London are balloting for industrial action over inadequate staffing levels, excessive workloads, health and safety concerns, reduced quality of newspapers and poor pay.

A union stress survey earlier this year covering staff in south London showed many were suffering from high workloads, job insecurity and struggling with a new production system and poor communication from the company’s senior management. Their union NUJ notes: “It is not just the health and safety of staff that has driven the journalists to ballot for a strike. They are passionate about their jobs and want to produce the best newspapers and websites as possible, but understaffing and the loss of experienced colleagues have put quality under threat.”

The NUJ’s stress survey found 88 per cent of journalists often or always worked intensively, 36 per cent said they had unachievable deadlines, more than half (52 per cent) did not have supportive feedback on their work, 56 per cent did not have sufficient breaks and 88 per cent said they were not consulted about changes at work.

More information:

Zika Virus – Enhanced Precautions

Zika Virus in Singapore: Local mosquito transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika) has been reported. Local mosquito transmission means that mosquitoes in the area are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people.

Zika Virus in the British Virgin Islands: Local mosquito transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika) has been reported. Local mosquito transmission means that mosquitoes in the area are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people.

The European Union Committee launches an inquiry into UK-Irish relations

The Committee is conducting an inquiry into the impact of Brexit on the relationship between the United Kingdom and Ireland following the vote by UK citizens to leave the European Union.

The inquiry will consider the impact on the Common Travel Area, trade relationships, the Irish land border, North/South relations, the peace process, the rights of UK and Irish nationals to live and work in each other’s countries, and UK-Irish interparliamentary liaison.

This is one of a series of short inquiries on the implications of Brexit being undertaken over the coming months by the EU Committee and its Sub-Committees.

More information:

Figures reveal 321 people died in accidental drownings in 2015 in the UK

New figures recently released reveal that 321 people lost their lives in accidental drownings in the UK in 2015.

The figures, published by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF), also show that the majority of those who died did not intend to be in the water, with 82 people having drowned while walking or running, and 29 deaths while taking part in a commercial activity.

The number also includes 30 people who died from suspected natural causes while or after being in the water.

NWSF’s Water Incident Database (WAID) compiles drowning statistics from across the UK and breaks these down into deaths by activity, age, geographical location, and location type.

The majority of deaths occurred at the coast/beach/shore (95) and in rivers (86). As in previous years males are most susceptible to drowning, with 232 men and boys being recorded as having drowned, compared to 43 women and girls. There was a higher number of deaths for males than females recorded in every single age bracket.

Children and youths aged up to 19 represent 10 per cent of those killed, with 32 dying in 2015, and 23 of those being in the 15-19 bracket. July represented the highest number of deaths (46, up from 34 in June and 35 in August), while many people also drowned in January (40).

In England 231 people died in drownings that were accidental or related to suspected natural causes, with 50 in Scotland, 33 in Wales, and three in Northern Ireland.

More information:

Event: The Association of Canadian Ergonomists (ACE)’s 47th annual conference, “Harnessing the Power of Ergonomics”

17-20 October 2016, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

This year’s event recognizes that the science of ergonomics and human factors together with evaluation and design serves to provide all systems with a competitive advantage. The 2016 National Conference hopes to harness the power of our collective knowledge and build upon each other’s experiences and work practices.

The technical program 18-20 October 2016 will include, research studies, applied studies/work and presentations, and panel discussions on a range of topics spanning the physical, cognitive, behavioural, psychosocial, and organizational aspects of human factors and ergonomics.

Pre-conference workshops 17 October 2016 will offer professional development opportunities.

More information:

Safety body wants anti-slavery action to spread

A newly published ‘enhanced’ registry identifying what over 500 UK companies are doing to prevent slavery and human trafficking should encourage other firms to follow suit, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has said. The safety professionals’ organisation was commenting after the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre published its new registry of 540 organisations that have produced anti-slavery disclosure statements for the 2015/16 financial year, a measure required for larger firms under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015.

Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at IOSH, said: “We would encourage organisations to share their statements with the Centre and those procuring goods and services, or considering making investments, to use this searchable database to help inform their decisions. We believe that enabling enhanced visibility about how organisations are managing risks in this vital area can help drive a ‘race to the top”.

More information: