News from around the World
- HSE is recruiting
- All tobacco packs on sale in the UK will be in standardised “plain” packs from 20 May 2017
- Large national survey finds 2.9 million people now vape in Britain: For the first time over half no longer smoke
- SFPE Europe Conference Call for Proposals
- Event: Reducing Smoking and Nicotine Dependency – Developing a Partnership Approach to Improve Public Health
- Event: The Fire Safety Conference 2017
- Asbestos review shows ‘shocking’ official complacency
- HSE expert advice lacks crucial intelligence
- Union calls for security guards to protect store staff
- Pilot mental health stigma could push problems underground
- Event: TUC conference on insecure work
- The future of work... and risk
- Australian: Nine out of 10 hospitality workers sexually harassed
- Global: UN treaty ‘discredited’ as asbestos lobby prevails
- Global: ‘Grave concerns’ as journal imposes new editor
- Iran: Mine disaster prompts call for safety improvements
- New UK TUC guide will help health and safety reps keep both men and women safe at work
- International study demonstrates importance of new legislation to help Britain’s insecure workers, says TUC
- Event: Bulk Liquid Storage 2017
- Health and Safety Laboratory – new Workplace Fatigue Management
- Event: Engaging with the National Cyber Security Strategy – Working in Partnership to Reduce Risk in the Digital Age
- Event: Australian Technical Meeting covering “Managing Fire and Explosion Risk on Ageing Assets”
- US CDC Tracking Network Enviro Health App Challenge Launches
- Event: 2017 SFPE North America Conference and Expo – Accent on Fire Protection Engineering
- Everyone’s health and safety counts
- Event: Physical Exercise at the Workplace
- More evidence links welding fumes to cancer
- Australia: Unions prepare to take on Amazon
- Global: Asbestos lobby challenged at UN conference
- Personal protective equipment and women: Guidance for workplace representatives on ensuring it is a safe fit
- News from the USA: When should you think about air quality?
- US CSB Releases Final Report into 2015 Explosion at ExxonMobil Refinery in Torrance, California
HSE is recruiting
UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) need experienced engineers and professionals dedicated to improving health and safety.
Together their work has substantial impact, helping to protect people from risks, whether in chemical plants and construction sites or oil and gas facilities.
Find out more visit http://careers.hse.gov.uk
All tobacco packs on sale in the UK will be in standardised “plain” packs from 20 May 2017
One year after the tobacco companies were required to manufacture all cigarette in standardised “plain” packs the transition period is coming to an end and all packs on sale in shops will also be required to meet these standards. Under the new packaging and labelling regulations cigarettes and tobacco will no longer be sold in bright, glitzy packs, but in drab green packages. They will have large graphic images on the front and back of the packets to highlight the health effects of smoking and health warnings must appear at the top of all packs.
The UK was only the second country in the world to pass legislation on standardised packaging following Australia in 2012, with many others following on including France, Ireland, Hungary and Norway. For the fourth year in a row the UK is at the top of the European league table for tobacco policy implementation. The transition period is slightly different for the Tobacco Products Directive and for the standardised packs regulations, but in effect all packs will have to be compliant by 20th May 2017.
More information: http://ash.org.uk/uncategorized/all-tobacco-packs-on-sale-will-be-in-standardised-plain-packs-from-20th-may-2017
Large national survey finds 2.9 million people now vape in Britain: For the first time over half no longer smoke
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has published the findings from its annual Smokefree GB survey into the use of electronic cigarettes and vapourisers in Great Britain.
The study, conducted by YouGov on behalf of ASH, shows an estimated 2.9 million adults in Great Britain currently use electronic cigarettes.
For the first time ever, the survey finds more ex-smokers (1.5 million) who use e-cigarettes than current smokers and the main reason people offered for their use of e-cigarettes was to stop smoking. While this is positive, there are still many people who “dual-use” combustible and electronic cigarettes which still exposes them to the toxic, cancer causing substances in tobacco smoke.
More information: http://ash.org.uk/media-and-news/press-releases-media-and-news/large-national-survey-finds-2-9-million-people-now-vape-in-britain-for-the-first-time-over-half-no-longer-smoke
SFPE Europe Conference Call for Proposals
The 2nd SFPE Europe Conference on Fire Safety Engineering will be held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 5-6 February 2018. The SFPE conference is being hosted by SFPE Benelux with support from our SFPE European Chapters Coordination Group (ECCG).
The deadline to submit presentation abstracts is 16 June 2017.
SFPE’s conferences have established a reputation globally as the premier events for keeping abreast of advancements in fire safety engineering. In 2015, SFPE hosted the first European conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, which drew over 160 participants from the European continent.
Fire safety engineering is growing rapidly in many European countries. The SFPE ECCG has been addressing the regional needs to facilitate greater networking, collaboration, and exchange among fire safety engineering professionals as well as a pursuit of technical knowledge and education. For 2018, the conference will focus on the following timely topics in Europe:
- Redevelopment and retrofit of offices and industrial buildings
- Transport and logistics of car parks, railroads, ships and tunnels
- Industrial hazards in power, oil and gas, and petrochemical
- Research and innovation advancements
Conference presentations will be on subjects relevant to fire safety engineering, with a focus on both the role of the fire safety engineer and on professional practice. Abstracts are being solicited for presentations from the view point of different stakeholders, and on subjects relating to the areas specified in more detail below. Please note that this is a conference abstract only. No papers need to be produced.
More information: www.sfpe.org/news/345109/SFPE-Europe-Conference-Call-for-Proposals.htm
Event: Reducing Smoking and Nicotine Dependency – Developing a Partnership Approach to Improve Public Health
Wednesday, 28 June 2017, Strand Palace Hotel, London
- Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director, British Heart Foundation
- Cllr David Gardner, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Royal Borough of Greenwich
- Cllr Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Westminster City Council
- Professor Peter Hajek, Professor of Clinical Psychology, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies
- Dr Nicholas Hopkinson, Reader in Respiratory Medicine and Hon Consultant Physician, Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust
- Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive, British Lung Foundation
- Alisa Rutter, Director, Fresh
- Professor Martin Jarvis, Emeritus Professor of Health Psychology, Department of Behavioural Science and Health, University College London
More information: www.publicpolicyexchange.co.uk/events/HF28-PPE
Event: The Fire Safety Conference 2017
Central London, Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:00 – 15:30
The Government’s flagship Policing and Crime Act contains major reforms to the Fire and Rescue Service. Services must continue to ensure fire safety in the face of policy changes and budget constraints.
Attend this Westminster Briefing to hear from our panel of experts and explore the latest developments and policy landscape of fire safety.
The Government’s flagship Policing and Crime Act contains major reforms to the Fire and Rescue Service. Services must continue to ensure fire safety in the face of policy changes and budget constraints.
Attend this Westminster Briefing to hear from our panel of experts and explore the latest developments and policy landscape of fire safety.
- Home Office Minister (TBC)
- Sir Ken Knight (Chair), Former Chief Fire and Rescue Advisor
- Senior Representative, London Fire Brigade
- Bethan Morgan, Director of Civil Contingencies, Staffordshire Civil Contingencies Unit
- John Berrisford, Business Support Lead, Staffordshire FRS
- Kenny Fletcher-Beer, Prevention Service Delivery Manager, Prevention & Protection Directorate Greater Manchester FRS
- Martin Blunden, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, South Yorkshire FRS
- Lynne Swift, Director of People and Organisational Development, Buckinghamshire FRS
Key Issues to be Addressed:
- The Fire and Rescue Service and Future Reform
- Continuing effective fire prevention and protection in a changing landscape
- Responding to emergencies: strengthening provisions to deal with different types of incidents
- The future of business fire safety: raising standards and promoting fire protection
- Good practice examples of successful local prevention and protection strategies
- Effective strategies for community engagement, safety campaigns and protecting vulnerable people
- Joined-up working with other emergency services and businesses
More information: www.westminster-briefing.com/FireSafety2017
Asbestos review shows ‘shocking’ official complacency
An official review of how the UK’s workplace asbestos laws are operating has exposed the ‘shocking complacency’ of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the TUC has said. Hugh Robertson, the union body’s head of safety, is critical of a proposal to reduce the frequency of the legally required medical examinations of those undertaking the highest risk ‘licensed’ work from every two to three years, which he says ‘seems totally irresponsible.’ He adds that he ‘was staggered by the level of complacency that there is throughout the review.’ A key concern is the repeated statement in the HSE document that the 5,000 UK deaths a year linked to asbestos are the result of past exposures when the carcinogen was “less well-regulated than today”.
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-799-13-may-2017#_Toc482265836
HSE expert advice lacks crucial intelligence
The Health and Safety Executive’s decision to use only experts from outside the workplace to advise on health hazards on the inside is leaving gaping holes in its intelligence, the TUC has warned.
TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson was commented after HSE’s Workplace Health Expert Committee (WHEC), created in 2014, published its first four reports, covering stress, silica, musculoskeletal disorders, and health issues affecting bakers. He said while the reports are informative, “the problem with them is not what they say, but more what they don’t say. The report on bakers for instance is excellent, and makes it clear that current exposure limits are not working, nor is the enforcement regime, but makes few specific recommendations. Likewise on silica, the report confirms what unions have said that silica can cause lung cancer in people who do not develop the disease silicosis, but makes no recommendation on the issue of the current limit, despite the fact that this limit was not set to prevent lung cancers (and is not even low enough to prevent silicosis).” Instead, WHEC answered just the questions posed by HSE, “and there lies part of the problem. What we need to know is whether the existing exposure limits for silica, and dust, are adequate to prevent ill-health, and if not, what it should be,” Robertson said.
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-799-13-may-2017#_Toc482265837
Union calls for security guards to protect store staff
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw is calling for higher levels of security in shops, particularly small convenience stores. The union call came after latest figures from the Crime Survey for England and Wales revealed that shoplifting is continuing to rise, increasing by 8 per cent during 2016, contributing to a 21 per cent increase over the last decade.
Addressing the union’s Annual Delegate Meeting, Usdaw deputy general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “Convenience store staff are at the sharp end when it comes to the risks of customer abuse. Low staffing levels and longer opening hours mean that they are exposed to increased risk. They often see more problems from shoplifting and alcohol related problems over underage purchases and drunken customers.” He told conference delegates, who backed the call for better protection: “Uniformed security guards can play a significant role in protecting staff, but the numbers of security guards in convenience stores have been reduced in recent years and many businesses have contracted out the security guard operation to third parties.”
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-799-13-may-2017#_Toc482265838
Pilot mental health stigma could push problems underground
UK pilots have warned that proposed new rules could increase stigma around mental health in the sector and could push the problem underground. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) said rules proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as a result of the Germanwings pilot suicide tragedy in 2015 could be counter-productive. Measures proposed by EASA include a requirement that pilots undergo psychological testing when first employed by an airline.
BALPA, however, argues there are no tests proven to be reliable for accurately determining the true mental state of a pilot. It adds that while it supports the need for psychological assessment, it could backfire if pilots fear any admission could put their job in jeopardy.
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-799-13-may-2017#_Toc482265842
Event: TUC conference on insecure work
Monday, 26 June 2017, London, UK
The TUC is to host ‘Living on the edge: The rise of job insecurity in Britain’, a major one-day conference to discuss how unions and other civil organisations can tackle insecure work. Speakers include TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, Matthew Taylor, head of the government’s independent review into modern employment practices, and union leaders and organisers. Attendance is free.
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-799-13-may-2017#_Toc482265852
The future of work... and risk
The world of work is changing fast and some thought-leaders explore what it means for how we live and our wellbeing in a new British Safety Council film.
Includes HSE, PwC and Professor Cary Cooper.
Australian: Nine out of 10 hospitality workers sexually harassed
A union poll of hospitality workers in Australia has revealed that almost 9 out of 10 (89 per cent) report being sexually harassed at work, with almost one in five (19 per cent) reporting sexual assaults. United Voice found only one-third of the over 300 workers who took part in the online survey believed their employer took sexual harassment at the workplace seriously, with nearly half believing they did not.
Jess Walsh, Victorian secretary of the hospitality union, said the survey results were an indictment of the industry. “The stories people have told us are horrible. Every day young women go to work feeling unsafe, in fear of being groped, humiliated or threatened by customers or managers,” she said. “Some employers put young workers’ safety and well-being well behind their customers’ desire to have another drink. It’s wrong and it’s dangerous. Young workers’ safety needs to come first second and third in the hospitality industry.”
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-799-13-may-2017#_Toc482265854
Global: UN treaty ‘discredited’ as asbestos lobby prevails
A United Nations (UN) treaty on the control of toxic exports has been ‘utterly discredited’, unions have said. The charge came after a bid to add chrysotile asbestos – the only form of the cancer-causing fibre still traded – to the Rotterdam Convention’s list of the most hazardous substances was blocked for a sixth time. On 3 May 2017, at a UN-organised conference in Geneva, a small minority of countries with commercial interests in continued asbestos use, including India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Syria and Zimbabwe, vetoed chrysotile’s addition to the treaty’s ‘prior informed consent’ list, a measure that would require exports to be accompanied by a health warning.
It requires a unanimous decision of government representatives for a substance to be listed. Addition of chrysotile to the list cannot now be considered until the next conference, in two years’ time. IndustriALL’s safety director, Brian Kohler, said: “The Rotterdam Convention is broken. Enough is enough. For the Convention to be effective, it must stop allowing the financial interests of a few powerful oligarchs to threaten the lives of millions. It is a shameful example of a dysfunctional system and a discredit to the entire United Nations system. How many hundreds of thousands of people must die from asbestos-related diseases before the parties to the Rotterdam Convention change this?”
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-799-13-may-2017#_Toc482265853
Global: ‘Grave concerns’ as journal imposes new editor
A top occupational health journal is facing a wave of criticism after a respected editor was replaced by the publisher with an industry consultant. The ‘grave concerns’ expressed by the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health’s editorial board – who were not consulted on the change – and others were amplified when the journal withdrew a paper by previous editor, David Egilman, that was critical of corporate-sponsored research, again without consulting the editorial board.
This move prompted 30 past and present IJOEH editorial board members and the founding editor to send a letter to the publisher, Taylor & Francis, expressing their “grave concerns” over the future of the journal, and its recent actions. The letter noted that Egilman’s replacement, corporate consultant Andrew Maier, is chair of the fellows programme at Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), a corporate consulting firm.
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-799-13-may-2017#_Toc482265855
Iran: Mine disaster prompts call for safety improvements
Global union IndustriALL has called on Iran to improve mine safety after at least 42 miners were killed and over 70 injured in a coal mine explosion on 3 May. The deadly blast took place as workers were changing shifts at the Zemestanyurt mine in Golestan, a province in northeastern Iran. In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, IndustriALL’s general secretary Valter Sanches called on the government of Iran to urgently ratify the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention 176 on Health and Safety in Mines, as well as implement the ILO Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Underground Coal Mines.
Sanches also offered IndustriALL’s help to improve safety in Iranian mines. “IndustriALL Global Union is prepared to offer technical assistance, through the solid expertise of its coal mining trade unions worldwide – in addition to any technical assistance your government may wish to request from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) – to put in place stringent health and safety standards at all mining operations in Iran,” he said.
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/risks-799-13-may-2017#_Toc482265856
New UK TUC guide will help health and safety reps keep both men and women safe at work
The UK based TUC has just published a new guide for trade union representatives to help them take gender differences between men and women into account when identifying health and safety concerns at work.
Gender in occupational health and safety says that historically the health and safety needs of men in the workplace have been prioritised over women. Risk prevention has focused on visibly dangerous work – largely carried out by men – in industries like construction and mining, with an assumption that the kind of work that women do is safer.
However, the guidance argues that a gender-stereotyped or ‘one size fits all’ approach is now out-of-date. It was issued in the run up to International Workers’ Memorial Day on Friday 28 April 2017, the theme of which this year is ‘good health and safety for all workers – whoever they are’.
Where the differences between men and women are taken into account when assessing risk and deciding suitable risk control solutions, there is a greater chance of ensuring that the health, safety and welfare of all workers is protected, says the TUC.
The new guide outlines some of the main health and safety risks women can face at work:
- Back pain: Women tend to suffer more from pain in the upper back and limbs as a result of repetitive work in both manufacturing and offices, while men tend to suffer more from lower-back pain from exerting high force at work.
- Violence and harassment: Women tend to work in lower-paid and low-status jobs where bullying and harassment are more common, while men predominate in better-paid, higher status jobs and supervisory positions.
- Not having the right tools: Women working in male professions like construction, engineering and the emergency services are at risk from inappropriately designed tools.
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/new-tuc-guide-will-help-health-and-safety-reps-keep-both-men-and
International study demonstrates importance of new legislation to help Britain’s insecure workers, says TUC
A new study just published by the TUC reveals that the UK has seen significant growth in insecure forms of employment compared to other EU countries. And it links the growth to relatively weak legal protections for those in bogus self-employment, agency work and on zero-hour contracts.
The report, International Trends in Insecure Work, was commissioned by the TUC from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR). It finds that:
- The UK had the largest increase in the number of self-employed workers for EU countries from 2008 to 2015
- The UK had the third largest increase in the number of temporary workers for EU countries from 2008 to 2015
The UK’s high placement for growth in these categories of work cannot be explained simply as a result of strong employment growth overall. Germany had the fastest overall employment growth of any EU country during the period, but its number (and proportion) of temporary and self-employed workers has fallen.
The report finds that the absence of effective legislation in the UK to regulate insecure work has allowed the growth of atypical employment, like zero-hours contracts. By contrast, atypical workers elsewhere in the EU tend to have stronger legal protections and greater job security. For example:
In France, workers can only be on a fixed-term contract for 18 months, and Germany has introduced a maximum hiring period of 18 months for temporary agency workers.
Zero-hours contracts do not exist in many EU countries, and are strongly regulated in others (e.g. Netherlands, Italy, Germany), but only lightly regulated in the UK. In the Netherlands, for example, employers are required to pay for 3 hours per shift, and to provide regular hours when the worker reaches a certain number of weekly hours over a given period.
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/labour-market/workplace-issues/employment-rights/international-study-demonstrates
Event: Bulk Liquid Storage 2017
25-26 October 2017, Dubrovnik, Croatia
Speakers from Tank Storage Association, LBC Tank Terminals, Royal Haskoning DHV, European Association of Chemical Distributors (FECC), IHS Markit and HSH Nordbank will be at Bulk Liquid Storage 2017.
To see confirm speakers and view the agenda visit www.wplgroup.com/aci/event/european-bulk-liquid-storage or request an agenda PDF via email.
Health and Safety Laboratory – new Workplace Fatigue Management
Workplace fatigue can lead to accidents, injury, ill-health and loss of productivity.
It has been cited as the root cause of many significant accidents including the Clapham Junction rail disaster, Chernobyl, the Texas City oil refinery explosion, the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the loss of the Challenger space shuttle.
Fatigue is also implicated in 20% of accidents on major roads.
Fatigue is generally considered to be a decline in mental and/or physical performance that results from prolonged exertion, sleep loss and/or disruption of a person’s ‘internal clock’.
Worker fatigue can result in:
- lack of attention
- slower reactions
- reduced co-ordination
- decreased awareness
- underestimation of risk
- memory lapses or absent-mindedness
- a reduced ability to process information
Fatigue can arise as a result of excessive working time or poorly designed shift patterns. It is also related to workload, since workers are more easily fatigued if their work is machine-paced, complex or monotonous.
HSL can help you to benefit from managing the risks of fatigue.
More information: www.hsl.gov.uk/workplace-fatigue-management
Event: Engaging with the National Cyber Security Strategy – Working in Partnership to Reduce Risk in the Digital Age
23 May 2017, Strand Palace Hotel, London, UK
The provision of critical services, the administration of government and the functioning of a modern economy are now wholly reliant upon the robustness and safety of cyberspace and the infrastructure underpinning it. E-Commerce sales, for example, were worth £573 billion to UK businesses in 2014, compared with £355 billion in 2008 (ONS). However, cyber attacks in the UK are growing in both their sophistication and frequency. 65% of large organisations reported they had suffered an information security breach in the last year, with 25% of these experiencing at least one breach a month (Government Cyber Security Breaches Survey, 2016). Indeed, cyber security is recognised as one of the greatest threats to business around the world, with the global cost of cyber crimes estimated at $445 billion annually (World Economic Forum, 2016).
In recognition of this growing threat, successive UK governments have formulated measures to ensure the UK remains “prosperous and confident in the digital world, while remaining secure and resilient to cyber threats”. The National Cyber Security Strategy 2016-2021 was published last year, accompanied by a £1.9 billion investment to safeguard the UK, deter adversaries and support growth.
With General Data Protected Regulation anticipated for Local Authorities in May of next year, and the renewed comprehensive strategy on national cyber security moving into maturity, this symposium will provide businesses, local authorities, industry regulators, intelligence agencies, police, technology specialists, academics and other key stakeholders with a timely and invaluable opportunity to engage with the Governments pursued policies, collectively enhance our defences to malicious actors and address the root causes of vulnerability to cyber threats.
More information: https://www.publicpolicyexchange.co.uk/events/HE23-PPE
Event: Australian Technical Meeting covering “Managing Fire and Explosion Risk on Ageing Assets”
25 May 2017, Melbourne, Australia
FABIG is pleased to inform you that the presentations for their next Australian Technical Meeting are now confirmed. It will be a half-day event covering “Managing Fire and Explosion Risk on Ageing Assets”.
For additional information and registration, please go to www.fabig.com/events
US CDC Tracking Network Enviro Health App Challenge Launches
US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) wants to increase public awareness that tracking data may help people understand the connections between environmental hazards and chronic illness. The goal of this Challenge is to receive innovative uses for the Tracking Network data from CDC’s application programming interface to explore the connections between the environment and health.
Through a collaborative network of experts, data, and tools, the Environmental Public Health Tracking Program connects environmental and public health information to drive innovative programs and solutions that protect and improve the health of communities across the country. Now, in an effort to identify and promote innovative uses of data from CDC’s Tracking Network, they are pleased to announce the launch of their Enviro Health App Challenge.
More information: https://blogs.cdc.gov/yourhealthyourenvironment/2017/04/26/announcing-cdcs-tracking-network-enviro-health-app-challenge
Event: 2017 SFPE North America Conference and Expo – Accent on Fire Protection Engineering
9-11 October 2017, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, Canada
SFPE invite you to join your colleagues and other fire protection industry professionals as they gather for a great technical program addressing a variety of timely and interesting topics, the annual business meeting and annual awards program, a Chapter Leadership Forum, the Expo showcasing the latest products and services in the field and a host of other activities. This annual event is THE source for technical information, research, networking and industry developments impacting fire protection engineers, fire safety engineers, fire engineers and allied professionals.
More information: https://sfpe.site-ym.com/mpage/MontrealHome
Everyone’s health and safety counts
Everyone’s health and safety at work matters – for workers, his or her family and loved ones, and for employers.
With over 168,000 people dying every year from work-related accidents and diseases, and over 3 million reported accidents at work (those resulting in at least four days’ absence from work), health and safety at work is a very serious issue for everyone.
But some workers and risks are still overlooked when it comes to health and safety. Consider the facts
- Workers in precarious jobs, in small and medium sized enterprises, young workers, migrant workers and domestic workers are more at risk than permanent employees in larger workplaces. This is partly due to less training, information, and representation by safety reps for such workers, and in smaller companies.
- About one third of building workers are exposed to very dangerous substances like carcinogens, mutagens and reprotoxins. Among all occupations, the building workers have the highest probability of premature death. The building industry includes many small businesses, genuine and bogus self-employed workers, and migrant workers.
- Concentrated in unskilled and risky jobs, migrant workers have more musculoskeletal diseases, skin diseases and accidents at work.
- Young workers aged 15-24 are at particularly high risk of injury, suggesting the need for health and safety in education and training courses.
- Hairdressers, traditionally in small businesses and small workplaces, represent about 1 % of the entire workforce, but 20 % of women affected by work-related asthma are hairdressers.
- There is still too little recognition of the risk of exposure for pregnant women to certain workplace conditions (e.g. exposure to chemical agents, ionising radiation, electromagnetic waves, stress, excessive heat, lifting heavy weights, noise etc.).
More information: www.uni-europa.org/2017/04/28/everyones-health-safety-counts
Event: Physical Exercise at the Workplace
3-5 October 2017, Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik, Iceland
The purpose of the course is to provide the participants with theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience on how to design, perform and evaluate workplace interventions for increased physical exercise and reduced sitting time for improved musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health.
- Work-related risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders
- Health consequences of inactivity and too much activity – the role of work and leisure
- Detailed walk-through of Danish intervention studies (9 randomized controlled trials) with physical exercise at the workplace effect – as well as process-evaluation – what worked for whom and why
- How to design your own workplace intervention with physical exercise – from standardized guidelines to practical challenges
- How the work environment, equipment/furnishing and facilities can be adjusted, so it encourages to daily exercise and more physical activity in passive work. Research on choice architecture to facilitate healthy choices (“nudging”) and how to use this knowledge in the working environment
- Discussions on how to develop work, organizations, the work environment, and working culture to create a healthy work life that encourages physical exercise and reduced inactivity
- Hands-on – group work with participant involvement
More information and registration: https://niva.org/courses
More evidence links welding fumes to cancer
More priority needs to be given to protecting the world’s estimated 111 million welders and other workers from exposure to toxic welding fumes, according to Harvard University’s David Christiani. The professor of environmental genetics at the university’s TH Chan School of Public Health was among 17 scientists from 10 countries who met last month at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, to review scientific literature and evaluate the carcinogenicity of several welding chemicals to humans.
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/tuc-risks-797-29-april-2017#_Toc481135684
Australia: Unions prepare to take on Amazon
Around the world, Amazon is famous for its low prices, fast delivery, ruthless efficiency and antipathy towards unions, who say it treats workers like robots. Unions in Australia – where Amazon is about to expand its operations – are taking heed. They say they will be prepared as the retail giant set up large warehouses – or ‘fulfilment centres’ as it calls them – in Sydney and Melbourne.
National Union of Workers national secretary Tim Kennedy said his union would seek to organise Amazon’s workforce at these distribution centres. “Its reputation is ruthless, running classic 19th century-style satanic mills,” he said. “We want to organise them; we will really focus on this as a big opportunity.”
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/tuc-risks-797-29-april-2017#_Toc481135690
Global: Asbestos lobby challenged at UN conference
For more than a decade the asbestos industry has blocked the wishes of the overwhelming majority of governments by refused to allow a basic health warning to be required on exports cancer-causing chrysotile asbestos.
Now a Global Asbestos Action Alliance of unions, environmental and labour rights organisations is renewing the push to have the deadly substance listed on the ‘Prior Informed Consent’ requirements of the UN’s Rotterdam Convention, being held in Geneva from 24 April to 5 May 2017.
The alliance is challenging blocking tactics spearheaded by a Russian delegation, and supported by a handful of other major asbestos producing nations, including Kazakhstan and China.
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/tuc-risks-797-29-april-2017#_Toc481135693
Personal protective equipment and women: Guidance for workplace representatives on ensuring it is a safe fit
The findings in the report are based on 2,655 responses to a TUC survey and 3086 responses to a Prospect/WES survey.
This report covers:
- The law on personal protective equipment
- Problems with PPE for women
- Examples – Case study
- Taking action
More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/personal-protective-equipment-ppe/personal-protective-equipment
News from the USA: When should you think about air quality?
Today is the day to start thinking about air quality.
What can you do? Pay attention to the Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI is a tool that tells you when high levels of air pollution are predicted and tells you how air pollution affects your health. Finding the AQI is easy. It’s on the Web, on many local TV weather forecasts, or you can sign up for free e-mail tools and apps. AQI is easy to use. If the AQI predicts a “Code Orange” (unhealthy for sensitive groups) day don’t cancel your plans – use the AQI to help you plan a better time or place for them.
The AQI tells you about five major air pollutants in the U.S. that are regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency, including ozone and particle pollution. Ozone and particle pollution may harm the health of hundreds of thousands of Americans each year.
More information: https://www.cdc.gov/features/air-quality-awareness
US CSB Releases Final Report into 2015 Explosion at ExxonMobil Refinery in Torrance, California
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released its final report into the February 18, 2015, explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California. The blast caused serious property damage to the refinery and scattered catalyst dust up to a mile away from the facility into the nearby community.
The incident caused the refinery to be run at limited capacity for over a year, raising gas prices in California and costing drivers in the state an estimated $2.4 billion. The explosion occurred in the refinery’s fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit, where a variety of products, mainly gasoline, are produced. A reaction between hydrocarbons and catalyst takes place in what is known as the “hydrocarbon side” of the FCC unit. The remainder of the FCC unit is comprised of a portion of the reaction process and a series of pollution control equipment that uses air and is known as the “air side” of the unit.
The CSB’s report emphasizes that it is critical that hydrocarbons do not flow into the air side of the FCC unit, as this can create an explosive atmosphere. The CSB determined that on the day of the incident a slide valve that acted as a barrier failed. That failure ultimately allowed hydrocarbons to flow into the air side of the FCC, where they ignited in a piece of equipment called the electrostatic precipitator, or ESP, causing an explosion of the ESP.
More information: www.csb.gov/csb-releases-final-report-into-2015-explosion-at-exxonmobil-refinery-in-torrance-california