Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd

News from around the World

News Archive

September 2017

Contents
  1. International Tall Building Fire Safety Conference
  2. ILO announces worldwide increased work related fatal injuries and diseases
  3. UK Recall of products websites
  4. HSL Event: Process and Fire Incidents
  5. Event: Health and Safety Conference 2017 – Creating a safer workplace
  6. New book: RoSPA’s Little book of big ideas about health and safety
  7. UK Government to end MOT exemption for HGV-mounted MEWPs
  8. FEICA European Adhesive and Sealant Conference and EXPO 2017
  9. European Flame Retardants Association (EFRA): Latest developments
  10. Re-think needed on workplace cancers, says TUC
  11. TUC to tackle mental health problems head on
  12. Employers lack understanding on migraines
  13. Robots should make work better
  14. Canada: First responders suffer mental disorders
  15. England one of the best places in the world to quit smoking this October
  16. In a nutshell: Improvement of the OECD 306 biodegradation screening test – ECETOC workshop and subsequent ring test
  17. Event: Air Pollution in the UK Post-Brexit – Tackling air pollution and delivering a cleaner, greener and healthier future for the UK
  18. New Book – Fall Prevention and Protection: Principles, guidelines and practices
  19. BSI launches consultation on ISO 45001 guidance
  20. News from USA: Labor Day 2017 – A Statement by NIOSH Director, John Howard, MD
  21. Brexiteers wrong to call for deregulation, says TUC
  22. Unions raise concerns about driverless lorries
  23. Union concerns at sharp drop in fire safety officers
  24. Light at night linked to breast cancer
  25. India: Unsafe, exploitative work rife in granite quarries

International Tall Building Fire Safety Conference

The recent fires in Grenfell Tower (London) and The Torch (Dubai) have highlighted the need for improvements with Tall Building design, construction, management, and firefighting. The Tall Building Fire Safety Network offers regular courses and conferences on Tall Building Fire Safety Management in locations around the world, has announced a full schedule of events for 2017/18.

The 5th International Tall Building Fire Safety Conference will take place on 19-21 June 2018 at the Excel, London alongside the FIREX International Exhibition. Day 1 will consider design and fire engineering in tall buildings, including fire testing of cladding systems; day 2, management and insurance of fire risk in tall buildings, including construction and refurbishment; while the last day will consider firefighting in tall buildings.

Firefighting summit

This will be followed on 22 June 2018 by a Tall Building Firefighting Summit. The objective of this Summit is to bring together Fire Chiefs and Firefighters from around the World to discuss and challenge the current ‘state of the art’, with regard to Tall Building Firefighting. The event will be free to serving firefighters and seek to develop the next generation of firefighting procedures for Tall Buildings.

Meanwhile, the next Institution of Fire Engineers Recognised Tall Building Fire Safety Management Course will take place at The Shard, London, UK on 11-15 Dec 2017.

Other dates in the UK: 15-19 Jan 2018, Birmingham, 19-23 Feb London, 19-23 March Manchester, 21-25 May London.

Courses are also scheduled in Australia, in Perth on 9-13 October 2017, and in Melbourne on 16-20 October and Sydney 23-27 October.

Training course

The Tall Building Fire Safety Management Training Course is packed with useful tools and techniques for those tasked with management. The training will address the issues raised by the Grenfell Tower fire. Instructors on the course are experts in their field and come with a wealth of knowledge and experience.

More information: www.thebigredguide.com/news/tall-building-fire-safety-management-conference-schedule-for-2017-18-announced.html

More than 3,500 occupational safety and health (OSH) practitioners, government, employer and worker representatives participated in the collaborative discussion at the triennial World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, which took place in Singapore in early September 2017.

The meeting, co-organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO), concluded with calls from the ILO and partners for concerted global action to address new and emerging occupational safety and health challenges.

New figures released at the conference show that work-related fatal injuries and diseases have increased from 2.3 million to 2.78 million per year, highlighting the global cost of the failure to adequately address occupational safety and health concerns. An estimated cost of 3.94 per cent of global GDP per year, or 2.99 trillion US dollars. Data also reveal that youth are 40 per cent more likely to suffer work-related injury and illness, than older workers.

In the face of these challenges, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder noted ILO’s interest to engage in the development of a global coalition with key partners amongst other ILO initiatives promoting safer and healthier working conditions including for young people.

The work of Singapore, the host country, was also highlighted during the conference: “In little over a decade Singapore has developed the necessary OSH policies, systems and programmes and has lead the world in innovative approaches to improving safety and health in SMEs,” said Labour Administration, Labour Inspection and Occupational Safety and Health Branch Chief, Nancy Leppink, in her opening keynote address.

To read the full report visit: www.ilo.org/safework/whatsnew/WCMS_573681/lang--en/index.htm

UK Recall of products websites

The following UK recall websites are constantly being updated.

Argos Product Recalls

www.argos.co.uk/features/product-recalls.html

The official Argos catalogue website. UK catalogue shopping online for appliances, DIY, electronics, etc.

Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances

Go to www.registermyappliance.org.uk for more information and to register

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/household-appliances-recalled-due-to-fire-risk

List of household appliances recalled due to fire risk since 2010.

Electrical Safety First

www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/product-recalls

The average success rate of an electrical product recall in the UK is just 10-20%. This means that there are potentially millions of recalled electrical items still in UK homes. As most of these products have been recalled because they offer a risk of electric shock or electrical fire, they present a serious risk.

London Fire Brigade – Product recalls

www.london-fire.gov.uk/product-recalls.asp

Product Recall Campaign – UK

https://productrecall.campaign.gov.uk

If there is a problem with the safety of a product, its manufacturer is responsible for making arrangements for its repair, replacement or refund for the owner. This includes contacting the person who has purchased it where possible, and publishing a notice drawing attention to the risk the product poses and what the manufacturer is doing to remedy the issue.

Register my Appliance

www.registermyappliance.org.uk

Always ensure new electrical items are registered, so manufacturers can contact you in the event of any problems. Use this website for more information and to register your electric products.

RoSPA – Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Recalls

www.rospa.com/lets-talk-about/2017/july/product-recalls

RoSPA – Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Recalls

Trading Standards Institute

www.tradingstandards.uk/consumers/product-recalls

Product recalls are made by traders about products that have problems which could affect the safety of the consumer. The product should not be used and should be returned to the trader. Traders wishing to display their recall/safety notices on should email it to publications@tsi.org.uk.

UK Recall

http://ukrecall.org.uk/search-recall-list

Vehicle, part or accessory recalls – GOV.UK

https://www.gov.uk/check-if-a-vehicle-has-been-recalled

Check if a vehicle model, part or accessory has been recalled because of a fault in how it was made.

HSL Event: Process and Fire Incidents

Buxton, UK, 18-19 Oct 2017

This two-day course is designed to introduce delegates to lessons learned from a number of significant or high profile incidents involving fires or chemical processes.

Drawing on the wealth of investigation experience within HSE, we provide detailed histories of incidents, key outcomes of the investigations and examples of how investigation and follow up research has led to improvements in safety.

Within this course there will be significant practical demonstration content where you will witness live experiments.

More information: www.hsl.gov.uk/health-and-safety-training-courses/process--fire-incidents

Event: Health and Safety Conference 2017 – Creating a safer workplace

Adelphi House, Salford, UK, 16 November 2017

Just as a reminder here are some of the key speakers which you may be interested to hear from on the day:

More information: www.salford.ac.uk/onecpd/courses/the-future-of-health-and-safety-conference

New book: RoSPA’s Little book of big ideas about health and safety

by Karen McDonnell and Roger Bibbings

A guide to help experts and non-experts alike to refresh their knowledge and understanding of the basic ideas which underpin the discourse about health and safety.

It is designed to aid in understanding the increasingly complex and debated ideas at the heart of occupational health and safety and can be used as a gateway to further reading.

Handy reference guide to remind about essential terms and concepts, or as a resource to support teaching. When, where, how, why – and to whom – do accidents happen?

Royal Society for The Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), July 2017, 25 pages

More information: www.rospa.com/occupational-safety/advice/little-book-of-big-ideas

UK Government to end MOT exemption for HGV-mounted MEWPs

The UK Government has announced the end of the current exemption for HGV-mounted Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPs) from annual MOT inspections, following a wide-ranging industry consultation.

The announcement, made by Jesse Norman MP, minister for Roads, Local Transport and Devolution, warns that the current exemption for specialist vehicles mounted on a HGV chassis will be removed from May 2018.

MEWPs mounted on a Heavy Goods Vehicle based chassis with a Gross Vehicle Weight up to 44 tonnes will be required to undertake road worthiness inspections at an approved MOT inspection site. This will also affect the requirement for these vehicles to be submitted to Whole Vehicle Type Approval before being registered for the first time.

The Goods Vehicles (Plating and Testing) Regulations 1988 will be amended and will come into force from the 20th May 2018. Larger MEWPs which come under STGO rules will continue to be exempt for practical reasons. Further information will follow from the DVSA on the planned approach and timing for bringing these vehicles into testing.

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) was one of the key respondents to the initial consultation, and has also worked in close conjunction with machinery operators, rental companies and other industry bodies including the Construction Plant-Hire Association (CPA) to formulate its response and to vocalise issues and potential problems concerning the proposal to remove the exemption and its implementation.

More information: www.ipaf.org/en/resources/news/article/uk-government-signals-end-to-mot-exemption-for-hgv-mounted-mewps

FEICA European Adhesive and Sealant Conference and EXPO 2017

550 participants from 30 countries attended the 2017 FEICA Conference and EXPO which focused on innovation and the circular economy.

FEICA European Adhesive & Sealant Conference and EXPO, held in Sardinia, Italy, from 13 to 15 September 2017, was the place to be to discuss the industry’s new market drivers, trends and innovations.

The conference’s yearly Business Forum, entitled “Driving Innovation”, demonstrated that the need to create and sustain a more circular economy can actually go hand-in-hand with exciting growth strategies in the adhesives and sealants industry. Dr Hugo Maria Schally, Head of Unit “Sustainable Production, Products and Consumption” at the European Commission inspired the conference attendees with the EU Circular Economy Action Plan and explained how seamlessly this can merge with new opportunities for business.

More information: www.feica-conferences.com/the-conference/2017-conference-report

European Flame Retardants Association (EFRA): Latest developments

The European Flame Retardants Association (EFRA) will no longer be run as a sector group within CEFIC. Albemarle, Lanxess Solutions and ICL have decided to establish EFRA as an independent association under Belgian law.

Moving forward, EFRA will be actively engaged on policy debates and regulatory trends around fire safety and chemicals, defending the role of all flame retardant technologies as part of the fire safety tool box, and promoting and leveraging the industry’s work on environmental and social sustainability.

With this in mind, EFRA is in the process of re-shaping the organisation to ensure that it is an effective and inclusive channel for the industry. EFRA’s goal to keep the organisation open to current manufactures and users of flame retardants, as well to additional organisations interested in fire safety.

As an added measure, EFRA will seek to initiate educational programmes on the role of flame retardants, fire safety and chemical management – all on the basis of solid scientific evidence.

For more information about EFRA and its next phase, please do not hesitate to get in touch by email: info@flameretardants.eu

Re-think needed on workplace cancers, says TUC

A plan to reduce occupational cancer rates in Europe misses both the point and many of the causes, the TUC has said. The trade union body estimates over 70 per cent of cancer cases are caused by exposures at work not covered by the European carcinogens directive, and adds even where there are control limits proposed these are often ‘completely inadequate’.

TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson says solar radiation is the biggest single cause of occupational cancers and these are usually easily prevented, but aren’t on Europe’s list. Shiftwork, diesel exhaust, radon and passive smoking are other notable absentees. For silica, he says, the proposed occupational exposure limit for the lung carcinogen “will mean that 2.5 per cent of those exposed at that level will develop silicosis after 15 years. How can anyone think that that is acceptable?”

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-817-16-september-2017#_Toc493343973

TUC to tackle mental health problems head on

The TUC will spearhead a major national campaign to increase public awareness of mental health problems in the workplace. The commitment came as delegates at the union’s annual conference urged the government to make understanding of mental health a priority.

Tam McFarlane from the UK firefighters’ union Fire Brigades Union told delegates a recent study found a third of firefighters have mental health issues, much of it work-related, with 40 per cent taking prescription medication for the condition. John Hannett, general secretary of the retail union USDAW, said: “Usdaw’s experience has shown that mental health is an issue of growing importance to union members.

In the UK, around 12 million people see their GP about a mental health problem every year, but mental health continues to be a hidden disability that is rarely spoken about. Therefore, it should be no surprise that recent TUC research on this subject has shown that 75 per cent of people with a long-term mental health condition are not in work.”

The TUC is pressing for increased funding for mental health services and a halt to “unsustainable cuts.” There are almost 5,000 fewer mental health nurses since the Tories came to power in 2010.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-817-16-september-2017#_Toc493343976

Employers lack understanding on migraines

Many employers do not understand the terrible effects of migraines and could do more to support staff with the condition, three UK charities have said. They believe with one in seven people affected, more help and awareness from managers is needed.

In a survey of 2,238 UK adults by the Migraine Trust, Migraine Action and the National Migraine Centre, 64 per cent said they thought employers were not properly informed about the nature of migraines or how they affected employees. One in five (21 per cent) believed health professionals were not fully aware of the impact of migraine on their patients either. Nine million people in the UK are thought to have migraines, with women more likely to be affected than men.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-817-16-september-2017#_Toc493343984

Robots should make work better

The economic gains from digitisation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) should be used to benefit working people, the TUC had said. A new report from the union body, ‘Shaping Our Digital Future’, notes that previous waves of technological change have not led to an overall loss of jobs, but the rewards from higher productivity have gone predominantly to business owners, rather than being shared across the workforce through better wages and working conditions. It says that the government, business and trade unions must work together to mitigate disruption to working people’s lives, and to maximise opportunities for working people to benefit. And with two-thirds of the 2030 workforce already in work today, efforts must focus on ensuring that existing workers are equipped to deal with the change, it says.

Ideas from the report for how the benefits could be shared with workers include using income gains from higher productivity to stop planned increases in the state pension age, set to affect millions of people in their 40s. The report also says there will be opportunities to create new, ‘fulfilling’ jobs.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-816-09-september-2017#_Toc492654193

Canada: First responders suffer mental disorders

Results from Canada’s first national survey looking at operational stress injuries among first responders such as police, paramedics, firefighters and emergency call operators suggests they are much more likely to develop a mental disorder than the general population.

The research, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, was conducted online between September 2016 and January 2017 by a group of mental health experts from across the country. Of the 5,813 participants, 44.5 per cent “screened positive for clinically significant symptom clusters consistent with one or more mental disorders.”

Statistics Canada has reported that the rate for the general population is 10 per cent.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/tuc-risks-816-09-september-2017#_Toc492654205

England one of the best places in the world to quit smoking this October

As the annual Stoptober campaign to encourage smokers to quit is launched, ASH confirms that England is one of the best places to try to give up.

The UK consistently tops the European rankings for tobacco control policy and smoking prevalence has been steadily falling for several years. At a global level, the World Health Organisation recognises the UK as a world leader in tobacco control.

There are a number of policies in place to encourage smokers to kick the habit. In the ten years since the ban on smoking in public places was introduced in England in 2007, there are almost two million fewer smokers. Support for the smoking ban is stronger than ever, especially among smokers themselves. Electronic cigarettes have had a significant impact, too. 2.9 million adults in England currently use electronic cigarettes, primarily to help them quit and to prevent them from relapsing back to smoking.

While England continues to make great progress towards a smoke-free generation, the vision of the government’s tobacco control plan, we must not become complacent. There needs to be continued access to support for quitting all year round in order for us to beat the tobacco epidemic once and for all.

Evidence shows that the most effective way to quit smoking is through a combination of professional face to face support and stop smoking aids, such as nicotine patches, gum, or electronic cigarettes. This approach has been shown to be four times more effective than trying to quit without aids or support.

More information: http://ash.org.uk/media-and-news/press-releases-media-and-news/england-one-of-the-best-places-in-the-world-to-quit-smoking-this-october

In a nutshell: Improvement of the OECD 306 biodegradation screening test – ECETOC workshop and subsequent ring test

Previous ECETOC workshops in 2007 and 2013 recommended a series of modifications and enhancements to existing OECD biodegradation screening tests (BSTs) to deliver more robust methods for assessing persistence. Specific enhancements investigated included enhanced test durations and investigating the impact of biomass density and diversity on the probability of observing biodegradability.

These methods were designed to minimise the high variability and poor reliability previously reported in OECD BSTs, such as the OECD 306 marine biodegradation test, whilst increasing the ecological relevance of the study.

The Cefic-LRI funded ECO11 project investigated these enhancements, producing a framework for selecting the most suitable inocula cell concentration method for improved enhanced activated sludge (c.f. OECD 301) and marine tests (c.f. OECD 306). In parallel, there has been increasing recognition that marine biodegradability tests, which are an intrinsic part of offshore chemical control schemes, need to be developed and improved. This recognition has come from industry, practitioners (contract research organisations), and regulators, owing to the emphasis being placed on the OECD 306 in the pre-screening of offshore chemicals under the OSPAR Harmonised Mandatory Control Scheme (HMCS).

More information: www.ecetoc.org/mediaroom/nutshell-improvement-oecd-306-screening-test-2015-workshop-subsequent-ring-test

Event: Air Pollution in the UK Post-Brexit – Tackling air pollution and delivering a cleaner, greener and healthier future for the UK

Tuesday, 5 December 2017, Central London

According to analysis commissioned by the Labour Party, almost two-thirds of the population in the UK are living in areas with illegal levels of air pollution. Furthermore, the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health estimate that up to 40,000 premature deaths linked to air pollution occur in the UK each year. These figures highlight the need for environmental reform. However, following the 2017 snap General Election, and most notably, the Brexit decision, there is a substantial amount of uncertainty surrounding the future direction of UK environmental policy.

In recent years, the British Government has taken steps to reassure stakeholders that air pollution remains at the top of the policy agenda. Chief among these steps is the UK Air Quality Plan. The plan is quoted by DEFRA as being ‘ambitious… combining national and local measures. It is focused on targeted interventions that form part of a wider approach exploiting new, cleaner technologies, such as electric and ultra-low emission vehicles’. In July 2017, the Government also announced a plan to ban the sale of all diesel and petrol cars by 2040 in an effort to combat air pollution on congested roads.

More information: https://www.publicpolicyexchange.co.uk/events/HL05-PPE

New Book – Fall Prevention and Protection: Principles, guidelines and practices

Edited Hongwei Hsiao, CRC Press, June 2017

This is a large book, covering virtually every aspect of falls – from height, between levels and on the level. It is not just about the workplace (though examples are taken from construction, healthcare and firefighting to name but a few), but rather a compendium of evidence, based on numerous streams of research and theories.

It is divided into 29 chapters, arranged into seven sections. At the outset, the book gives us evidence about slips, trips and falls (STF), which we all know to be the biggest contributor to workplace injury statistics. Rarely, though, do you find such an erudite exploration of the subject.

The first section places STFs in a public health context, which appeals to my long-held belief that the workplace is part of the wider public health domain. This enables the editors to draw on research information from a variety of sources, including falls in the domestic environment and across age groups. And the information just keeps coming: evidence-based work (so desperately needed) looking at the science behind falls; STF research; practical prevention; investigation; knowledge gaps; and emerging issues.

The book’s coverage ranges from some interesting material on how we define the subject to technical information on suspension arrest devices and how they affect the body.

Much of the research referred to in the text derives from NIOSH (a near equivalent of our HSL in the US). Its studies sit alongside other, mostly US, research sources. However, other countries do figure, including the UK, with Loughborough University research providing an insight into human factors in STFs.

There is some fascinating stuff on the mechanisms of balance control, and a somewhat misapplied yet useful exposition of a “fault tree” approach to analysing falls from scaffolding: misapplied because it seems to overlook common mode causation and is oversimplified to the extreme. Also pleasing is the section on building design (all too brief given its importance) and its impact on the work environment, particularly on STFs.

Given that STFs are the single largest category of “accident” reports, and that falls from height account for the larger proportion of fatalities, this book provides a useful sampler for anyone wishing to understand the subject in more detail. On the down side, the illustrations could be better: the book has the feel of an era when computer graphics and multi-coloured pictograms were unknown.

www.crcpress.com/Fall-Prevention-and-Protection-Principles-Guidelines-and-Practices/PhD/p/book/9781482217148

BSI launches consultation on ISO 45001 guidance

The British Standards Institute has launched a consultation on draft guidance that explains how to implement the upcoming health and safety management system standard ISO 45001.

Recommended articles:

Even though the new international standard is not expected to be published until at least November, the BSI is inviting comments on how BS 45002 could be improved before the consultation closes on 10 October 2017.

ISO 45001, which is set to replace the British Standard OHSAS 18001, was given the green light in July after 88% of participating national standards bodies (NSBs) approved the second draft, known as DIS2.

ISO committee PC 283, which is overseeing the production of ISO 45001, is due to meet in Malacca, Malaysia between 18 and 23 September to decide whether to issue a final draft international standard (FDIS), or move directly to publication of the DIS2 text.

News from USA: Labor Day 2017 – A Statement by NIOSH Director, John Howard, MD

The American Dream promises that, through hard work and dedication, we can each achieve success. In the occupational safety and health community, we support this dream by dedicating ourselves to ensuring that work is safer, healthier, and more productive for workers, employers, and the Nation.

How we work continues to change, from the tools we use to do our jobs to the jobs themselves. The gig economy, new technology, and the evolution of both new and established industries, is altering the workplace and our roles within it.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), working with our partners in the public and private sector, continues to conduct research and develop new tools and recommendations that apply knowledge gained in the laboratory to the worksite.

NIOSH’s efforts include developing tools that help keep our nation’s first responders safe and healthy as they serve our communities in times of need. Through the Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS) program, a health monitoring and surveillance framework for emergency responders, we can provide recommendations and tools to protect responders during all phases of a response, including: pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment. This year, NIOSH developed a software platform called ERHMS Info Manager™ to help responders implement the ERHMS framework and easily collect, analyze, and report health data to streamline the task of response worker health monitoring and surveillance.

The proliferation of technology has opened up new ways to share scientific information with workers and employers. Through the development of mobile apps, NIOSH has created tools that bring information from our researchers right to workers and employers, in a way that takes the science and translates it to action in the workplace. Now in the palm of their hand, workers and employers can find information on heat stress, ladder safety, noise exposures, safe lifting, and more.

As we continue to embrace this new world of work, we remain focused on ensuring the safety of those who have served as the backbone of our nation, America’s working men and women.

This Labor Day, we encourage you to take a moment and celebrate the contributions of workers to America’s strength and prosperity and consider how you may join with us in our initiatives to prevent work-related injury, illness, and death.

https://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2017/09/01/labor_day_2017

Brexiteers wrong to call for deregulation, says TUC

The removal of legal protections sought by prominent Brexiteers will just make the economy more lawless not more productive, the TUC has warned.

The union body was speaking out on the publication of a report last week by Economists For Brexit. A ‘Too much regulation’ section in the report by free market advocate Tim Congdon, blaming the failings of the British economy on excessive red tape, claims Britain could make savings by cutting paid holidays, rest breaks, limits on night work and equal pay. Congdon is also vexed by EU directives “to ban substances and manage processes”.

But Elena Crasta, the TUC’s Brussels-based European officer rebutted Congdon’s claims. “The TUC is all for a better performing UK economy, but regulation has benefits as well as costs, and there are much better ways to promote competitiveness than taking away protections for workers, consumers and the environment,” she said. “Congdon’s over-riding argument is that EU regulation has reduced UK productivity, although it doesn’t seem to have had that effect on other countries in the EU which are more productive: the UK lags France by over 20 per cent and Italy by 8 per cent. And as argued elsewhere by TUC economists, low pay and austerity have more to do with low productivity than ‘red tape’.”

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/tuc-risks-815-2-september-2017#_Toc491858930

Unions raise concerns about driverless lorries

Plans for convoys of ‘driverless’ lorries controlled by a single driver in the lead vehicle have been criticised by transport unions, who say proper investment and not ‘dubious stunts’ is required to improve Britain’s transport system.

The unions were speaking out after the government said lorry ‘platooning’ had the potential to slash fuel costs and congestion. The £8.1 million government funding for trials announced last week will see up to three heavy goods vehicles, travelling in convoy, with acceleration and braking controlled by the driver of the lead vehicle. During the trail, all the lorries in the platoon will have a driver ready to take control at any time.

Transport minister Paul Maynard said the trials would “make sure the technology is safe and works well on our roads”, adding: “We are investing in technology that will improve people’s lives. Advances such as lorry platooning could benefit businesses through cheaper fuel bills and other road users thanks to lower emissions and less congestion.”

Unite national officer Adrian Jones responded: “The crowded and cramped roads of Britain are a far cry from the long straight highways of the US and Europe where the ‘platooning’ of lorries has been tested.”

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/tuc-risks-815-2-september-2017#_Toc491858931

Union concerns at sharp drop in fire safety officers

A dramatic drop in the number of fire safety officers in England since 2011 is leaving the public at risk and the remaining workers under ‘intolerable’ pressure, unions have warned.

Unions Unite and UNISON were commenting after an investigation by the Guardian found the number of the specialist officers carrying out inspections of high-risk buildings to ensure they comply with safety legislation fell from 924 to 680 between 2011 and 2017, a loss of 244 officers. The statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed the number of specialist staff in 26 fire services. Between 2011 and 2016, the government reduced its funding for fire services by between 26 per cent and 39 per cent, according to the National Audit Office, which in turn resulted in a 17 per cent average real-terms reduction in spending power.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/tuc-risks-815-2-september-2017#_Toc491858932

Light at night linked to breast cancer

Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a Harvard University study.

The large long-term study also found a stronger association among women who worked night shifts. “In our modern industrialised society, artificial lighting is nearly ubiquitous. Our results suggest that this widespread exposure to outdoor lights during night time hours could represent a novel risk factor for breast cancer,” said lead author Peter James, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/tuc-risks-815-2-september-2017#_Toc491858935

India: Unsafe, exploitative work rife in granite quarries

Modern slavery and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions are rampant in granite quarries in South India, a study has found.

The new research, commissioned by the India Committee of the Netherlands and Stop Child Labour, also found that in some quarries, especially in waste stone processing, child labour is used. The groups say there is an enormous gulf in working conditions between permanent workers, mainly supervisors, and the casual workers who make up 70 per cent of the workforce. The first group receives safety equipment, insurance and an employment contract, while the casual labourers doing the dangerous manual work, lack these ‘fundamental’ labour rights.

The research found that granite sourced from the investigated quarries is imported by 33 natural stone companies and three banks from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Spain, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the USA. China is also a major importer, processor and re-exporter of Indian granite for the international market. The research was conducted in 22 quarries and six waste stone processing sites in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka in South India.

More information: https://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace-issues/health-and-safety/risks-newsletter/tuc-risks-815-2-september-2017#_Toc491858944